End of an Era on Pine Street
Rumor had it that all the bars on the 500 block of Pine Street would close forever on the same night, Friday, November 30, conjuring visions of loyalists run amok, breaking glass, and rioting at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Rumor was wrong, and the rioting was intermittent.
The Bus Stop was there one day, gone the next. The last night of this most basic of bars—room, chairs, tables, liquor dispensary, abundantly graffitied bathrooms—involved presumably teary karaoke. Plain though it was, the Bus Stop was beloved. Its cessation of existence moved local drinker/philosophers to comment on the apotheosis of place, on essence, on being; the Bus Stop, it seems, was more than the sum of its parts. (The part of the Bus Stop seldom noticed: the skylight over the bar with its view of the branches of an enormous pine high above—an unexpected beauty to be razed along with all the bars to make room for a condominium development.)
Kincora's finale a few days later was a private party, odd for such a democratically grubby place. Loud cheers could be heard from outside, and even the most malevolent-looking of what was generally a malevolent-looking clientele could be seen embracing in celebration and comfort. The same night, a few doors down, "PONY'S LAST RIDE" had been spray-painted across the front of Seattle's best temporary gay bar. The line to get in went to the corner. The bartenders each had a tooth blacked out and sprayed each other's bare chests with Cook's champagne; the cans of Crisco in a pyramid behind them were for sale, $5 each. Despite the hardcore gay porn projected on a wall, it was wholesome good times—until the end, which devolved into shouting and the shattering of bottles.
And three nights later, Manray called last call around 1:00 a.m., after a capacity crowd had done their gay utmost to drink the place dry. (Among the alcohol still standing: Strawberry Pucker and Mr. Boston Anisette.) "It's like being in a relationship and breaking up—or someone dying," said a longtime bartender. "I'm sad. The city of Seattle can go to hell."
But the last bar open on the block was around the corner, in one room of the condemned Belmont Apartments, which had been transformed into a one-night art installation. The bar was housed in a very small closet with ancient floral-patterned wallpaper, and per its signage served DIRTY! CHEAP! GIN! or, depending on the spin of a wheel, hard-boiled eggs. (The least lucky spin: brown, which meant gin and root beer, "a cowboy drink.") The evening and the essence of the block as it was ended with a strange, beautiful, and nightmarish performance piece on the roof by Implied Violence, followed by a standoff between a huge, drunk, riotous crowd and the cops on the street. Finally, everybody dispersed into the night, ending an era.