Local Wire

Pussy Galore

Flashback to a year ago: I'm rolling around in bed one morning, wanting to vomit and complaining about my acid reflux. My young girlfriend is just emerging from the shower when I bellow at her to throw me the Zantac. My door swings open, and a bottle hits me hard. She says loudly in a tone that still makes me cringe: "You're pathetic."

Those words still whisper in my ear, as if they had just escaped from her beautiful red lips; they resonate like a gospel of truth from an angel's mouth — she's throwing her harp at me instead of the antacids, saliva burning my cheeks: "You're pathetic."

Well, those words have been bouncing around my head a lot lately, and for good reason. I have gained 15 pounds in the past three months, and I have general malaise about everything lately (I tried for weeks to blame it on the heat because Rule Number One: Never blame the drinking), so to try to snap out of it, I opt on a recent evening for a healthy jaunt of light drinking downtown on Roosevelt Row for the infamous Third Friday — all the cool art shit without the poser crowds.

I find myself at a hip little wine-and-beer bar just down the street from MADE art boutique, and it's stuffed with cool art and concerned artists. I'm trying to blend in when I spy a wine-rep guy schlepping free mini-samples. Of course, being the Booze Pig, I belly up and drink all the freebies I can. (They actually start putting bottles away to get rid of me.)

After soaking up the mini-teasers, I amble back to my table to find intellectual art types babbling away about urban renewal and cultural diversity. I try my best to throw in my two cents, and I'm feeling like an über-hipster, drinking samples and engaging in beneficial conversations, but it's making me sick to my stomach. I want something besides a wimpy wine or an overrated Stella.

Thank the Year of the Pig gods, I run into my bowling buddy Phinneas Molten Alibi, a 6-foot-4 white dude with dreadlocks. (I know what you're thinking — "Wasp-a-farian" — but this cat is cool and he can roll.) Speaking of cats, Phinneas says we should go get some serious hooch at a place called Kats, just west of 24th Street on Indian School Road, next to where the Mason Jar used to be. So much for the hopes of feeling good tomorrow. I want to feel good tonight and, unfortunately, you (I) can't have both.

After a short cruise, we're pulling into a parking lot next to an old orange building that has a big lighted sign that says "KATS Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty." I immediately start to feel pathetic that I'm hitting a place that is luring me in like some crazy woman trying to catch a stray. Phinneas and I spy a back entrance to the place and squeeze in through the smoking crowd. I'm serious when I say "squeeze" because, together, Phinneas and I are roughly 500 pounds of pig — I'm sure we're both pushing 250, with thirsts to match. The back door opens (oh, baby) and we find ourselves in a big square room that must be 25 feet by 25 feet with really high ceilings. It's big and booming with hard rock thumping and tons of folks watching the action around the two pool tables, and a few folks stuffed around the bowling video game (which I despise).

At any rate, the place narrows to another tight squeeze at the front half of the bar, where the serious drinking action is going down. You find yourself going from this big room into this small hallway with a shorter ceiling, and then you're immediately transported from a nondescript bar into one of the coolest little dive spaces I've been to in Phoenix.

We fight our way to the front of the bar and luckily find a few seats in this small, dark, cozy area. I'm in pig heaven. I swear we could be in any cool-ass nook in NYC or San Fran — I'm lovin' this place. Marilyn, the longtime weekend barkeep, introduces herself whilst pouring some ugly-looking shots. She gets our first names and asks us what we want. I ask, "What the hell are those things you're pouring?"

"Oh these," she says. "Well . . . they're Cunts!"

Phinneas laughs out loud and bursts out the order: "Give us two Cunts, pronto!"

I'm dying laughing that we are in a place called Kats and drinking shots named after pussies. Marilyn thinks we are crazy: "Hey, no one ever drinks these," she says, but we stand our ground and say, "Bring them on!"

We choke down the nasty shots, which are huge, and we understand why no one ever orders them. Talk about going from 0 to 60 in no time: This Yukon Jack, Southern Comfort, vodka, and Crème De Noya ('cause I annoy ya — thus, Cunt) tincture will take you there but quick.

We toss around the "C" word some more and settle into some beers and the seedy crowd up in this place. The pillar next to me has an alligator glued to it with a Barbie gagged and hog-tied with duct tape, hanging from its jaws—nothing sexier than a Barbie doll tied up with duct tape (I know: creepy, but let a pig have his fantasy). Other than the Barbie, there is a pig with wings hanging from the ceiling and, brother, I love it when them pigs fly.

Shit, I'm in a bar that is orange on the outside (my favorite color), there are flying pigs inside, and, damn, this is going to be my new regular hangout! But wait. There's so much more. There's a big sticker on the register that says "Wanda" in script lettering . . . I'm hoping this is a nod to Faye Dunaway, who played Wanda in Barfly. As it turns out, Wanda is the owner, but it still makes me smile thinking Hank and Wanda could have strayed into this place.

For food, there's a huge selection of snacks, including White Castle sliders for $1.25, and there's even some homemade beef jerky and it's damn good — not too chewy, not too soft, with lots of spice to make the beers go down easy. On Sundays, you can find Crock-Pots filled with hot dogs and meatballs . . . all for free! This place is too good to be true; there's even a tacky, crane-skill game filled with porno DVDs and glow-in-the-dark handcuffs and such. No bringing home a sissy pink bear from the Kat.

While I'm filled with delight in this place, I'm also filled with beer, so I find the pisser, which is small and stinky. It's a great bar bathroom, cozy enough for you to take a shit, but smelly enough that you don't want to sit and do a crossword puzzle. There's a huge mural of a naked lady with giant tits for you to gape at, or try to feel, which is what I did. You can't help but touch the nipples before you wash up. I emerge from the bar to find Phinneas chatting up Marilyn, who is probably the friendliest person I have ever met, and, damn, she's a good bartender. Marilyn not only manages to get us laughing, she's slinging drinks for 50 people and remembering everyone's names . . . I love people who kick ass at what they do. (Mike tends bar during the week and he is equally talented).

Phinneas and I are getting ready to go when I see something that really sets me back — maybe I've got this place all wrong, maybe I'm crazy. Next to the porno crane game there's a bulletin board with pictures of someone's cat — and inflatable women. But still, there are pics of a patron's cat on the bulletin board, and the place is called Kats and it's owned by Wanda. Oh, shit, this place could be owned by a crazy cat woman named Wanda and I love this place . . . Does this mean I'm crazy, or does this mean I'm pathetic?

How long will I continue to play this cat-and-mouse game with my drinking? With my health? With my life?

I shake my head to try to snap myself out of it . . . I must be loaded . . . that Cunt packs a powerful punch! Visions of Tom and Jerry cartoons pass under my eyelids, images of the two torturing each other and beating each other up. Like my liver and my head, one has the frying pan and the other is running for his life. Kats and Marilyn have done their best to help me try to catch that little fucker, but maybe all I really need in order to feel better about myself is to go out and buy a few cats.

After another quick survey of this place . . . not a fucking chance.

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C.M. Redding
Contact: C.M. Redding