You know, I really like The Hemlock Tavern. I don’t really know why because it’s in the Loiny part of Polk Street and the place is a bit of dive bar, although it looks insanely upscale compared to some of the other joints in the other. But even with all that in consideration, there’s some odd attraction to it for me.
If the crowd that hangs out there now was hanging out there in the very early 90’s (the time previous to my legal drinking age) it would have seemed like something of a sell out, because the patrons are all kind of alternative. I mean that in the 90’s, grunge sense of the word, not in the, “Ooooh, look at me, I dress like I’m out of the Matrix and have piercings. Grrrr.” kind of way. What seems to be alternative now is really what I call Goth. Of course, no one who dresses like that likes to be called that, but that’s what they’re doing and honestly, it’s kinda lame, especially the white kids with the black-dyed dreadlocks.
So, to quote a song that came out somewhere around 1995 that I can’t remember the name of, I’d have to say the Hemlock is “Alternative to Alternative”. That line was meant to be a joke in the song, but it’s ironically true these days and is about the best way to describe the place. There are people there I like talking to and while the music they have is not anywhere in line with my tastes, I can overlook that because of the crowd. Naturally there are some nights that seem to be a bit more metalled-out or punked-out, but overall, I’m down with the place. And thankfully, it doesn’t have any overly sensitive, pilsner drinking (not that there’s anything wrong with good pilsner), pony-tailed dorkwads like The Albatross over in Berkeley, because flat-out lookswise, that’s the only place I can say even closely resembles the Hemlock, although it’s a bit of a stretch.