Sometimes a bar is just a bar. The first-ever Bar Exam column, written several years back, was about the 9 Lb. Hammer in Georgetown, about which there was nothing to say. The 9 Lb. Hammer—despite or maybe because of its greatness at what it does (serve drinks, have bands sometimes, and provide free pool/free peanuts)—defied protracted thought, much less interesting description. The words just sort of slid off it. The column involved how the place feels old-saloony even though it's not, its tippy barstools/mismatched furniture, what a nine-pound hammer is, the painting of the Dumpster on the wall, and the appearance of a furry white dog. It was so boring, it never got printed. Subsequent visits found very little going on, in the best possible way. ("I've taken guys home from here and fucked them," one woman said one night, looking around; exciting for her, possibly, but not exactly unusual.) Enjoying the 9 Lb. Hammer for what it was and letting it be seemed wisest, despite or maybe because the evolution of the neighborhood was moving inexorably onward.

Georgetown is now home to both a waxing salon and an art walk, meaning the area has officially crawled out of its incubating murk, grown little flipper-feet, and is locomoting across the shore toward some terrible light. (Evidence directly outside the 9 Lb. Hammer's door: the beautiful brick Rainier Cold Storage building, half-demolished and gaping like a wartime nightmare.) The first-ever art walk—called the Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack ("I'm wearing a bulletproof vest," someone joked)—was mobbed. It looked like latter-day Brooklyn. The 9 Lb. Hammer was the site of an event/happening/scene called an "Art Jam." According to the Georgetown Merchants Association, during the Art Jam "a dozen Georgetown artists create modern masterpieces live onstage to a pulsating urban sound mix" (while the Art Attack itself addressed, in a nebulous way, "the delicate social ecology of the historic Georgetown district [as it] faces challenges posed by gentrification").

The bar was very full, making the modern masterpieces being created on the low stage difficult to see unless you shoved your way to the front. A few regulars who weren't giving up their tippy barstools looked understandably disgruntled by the crush of humanity trying to get a drink behind and around them, while the bar staff looked understandably harassed. The onstage painting was performed with a time limit, and between that and the pulsating urban sound mix, the atmosphere was weirdly tense. The delicate social ecology felt disturbed.

The smaller side room, where people leaned against pinball machines while a small black-and-white dog did tricks for peanuts, was more like before. recommended

9 Lb. Hammer, 6009 Airport Way S, 762-3373.