Let me say this about that.
Someone once said that: “Old bars never die, they just smell that way.” But, lets be honest. Which would you prefer …….. the dank, musty smell of an old sleazy bar, or of say, a dentist office? That’s what I thought.
There is one sleazy bar, however, that may never die. And like most true institutions in Europe, it measures it’s age in centuries. So, aficionado’s of sleazy bars, I give you the “Bierhalle Wolf”. As I am one of the world’s recognized experts on sleazy bars, I can certify that this is one of the planet’s greatest. “Bierhalle Wolf” is located on the banks of the Limmat River, just down stream from the lake in the old town section of Zurich, Switzerland. No one remembers how long this bar has been in this building, but I saw a cornerstone in the basement, where the ‘johns’ are located, with the date 1387….over 100 years before Columbus discovered America!
Before you could understand the reasons for this bar’s appeal, you must know a little about Zurich. When I started working there in the 80′s, Zurich was one of the most… tolerant places on earth. I remember walking through the park in the city center and watched as uniformed police officers handed out new needles to drug addicts to prevent the spread of AIDS. On the shores of Lake Zurich, there was a permanent kiosk that gave away free condoms to whomever asked for them after being approached by a ‘Pleasure Technican’. Although drug use and prostitution were technically illegal in Zurich, Swiss tolerance usually sought to help, rather than punish offenders. But, even with all this ‘debauchery’, there was NEVER any violence.
The first time I visited the ‘Wolf’ was in the dead of winter. As I approached the front door, I could hear loud polka music and a sound like horses galloping. I cautiously entered to see an eight piece brass ‘oompah band’ playing a German drinking song, much to the delight of the esoteric crowd of old men, kids, grandmothers, hookers, office workers, and six large young men with high powered rifles, who were stomping their rifle butts against the picnic table on which they were dancing. Everyone in the place was blasted, including the band.
I thought to myself: “Shambo, pinch yourself. You may be in heaven.”
I grabbed a seat at the back of the room and signalled a big-titted waitress to bring me a stein of beer. When she returned, a well developed sense of self-preservation required that I ask about the guys with the guns. She told me they were Swiss soldiers and (unlike the U.S.) they were required to carry their weapons everywhere they go, even while they are getting snokkered in a bar. Not being my first rodeo, I sent over a pitcher of beer as a precaution.
I woke up the next morning with the mother of all hangovers, but couldn’t wait to return to ‘the Wolf’. As I entered the bar around five o’clock that afternoon, I witnessed one of the most bizzare sights of my storied sleazy bar career. (author’s note: This scene is almost impossible to describe, so please be patient.)
The tuba player of this 8-piece brass ‘oompah band’ was playing the lead in their rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise. Jimmy Buffett played on the tuba ….. “Fraulein, bring beer NOW !!!
But what happened next cinched the “Bierhalle Wolf’s” place in the sleazy bar Hall of Fame. The trombone player wrapped his legs around the trumpet players neck and hung upside down while both continued their accompaniment of the inebrated Buffett-playing tuba player. As the trombone player moved the trombone’s slide back and forth it looked like the trumpet player had a giant brass penis that continually extended and retracted as they played on. An old woman stood up and approached the “giant reciprocating brass penis”, hiked-up her dress and sung out: “…… I like mine with lettuce and tomato.” The crowd went wild!
“Pinch yourself Shambo, you may be in heaven.”
And, that’s all I have to say about that.