Hearts are breaking across the city, and all who know Cafe Racer can only send our deepest condolences to everyone who is a part of its beautiful, strange family.
On its magic, from 2009:
Cafe Racer in the University District is home to the Official Bad Art Museum of Art, an entire roomful of sad-eyed puppies, scary clowns, Elvises, Jesuses, and one red-haired lady being menaced by a lobster. The walls of the OBAMA appear to be reaching capacity, and at least one donation— they are sometimes ditched on the doorstep in the middle of the night—comes in per week.
If Cafe Racer could be said to have an identity, it might be as a motor-scooter bar—a disco-ball-mirrored Vespa sits in the museum, and some number of various makes are always parked outside. But the main attribute of Cafe Racer is its happy hodgepodgery; here are some clean-cut college types drinking beer, here is a lady with poppy red lipstick and a big fur hat claiming your drink is her own in a friendly but insistent manner, here is the fiddle player from the band sneaking potato chips off an abandoned plate. (The menu is simple, with Racer Dogs being the clear favorite. Of note in menu verbiage: "We take pride in the fact that we are a friendly place... If you want your food in 30 seconds, go to McDonald's. If you don't want anyone to talk to you, go to Starbucks." It's true: The food takes a while, and people will talk to you.) The decor is absolutely genuine accumulation: mismatched furniture, a brass elephant with a dented posterior standing on the bar, a king-size box of Alka-Seltzer along with lots of stuff on shelves (some of it unidentifiable, no matter how much you stare).
Bands play at one end of the museum directly in front of one of the Jesuses, a large-scale savior rendered in marshmallow Peeps. (The museum is also known as the Ruby Room, and it has another smaller room protruding off it; the whole wing is a recent annexation of a former ceramics shop. Rumor has it that another planned space-appropriation will result in Cafe Racer's own barbershop, to be known as Cafe Razor. True? A joke? Hard to say; if ever a place were full of people ready, willing, and able to pull your leg, Cafe Racer is it.)
Last Thursday, a folk singer from Alaska opened for Shmootzi the Clod, a star of the not-long-for-this-world Circus Contraption. Shmootzi, a sort of gaunt, gallant, satanic clown, played songs like "(I've Got a) Red Hot Pussy for Sale" with his band (fiddle, washboard, etc.), which may or may not be called God's Favorite Beef Curtain. (Again, if legs are available, they will be pulled here.) Find out next Thursday, or the Thursday after that—Shmootzi's band, by whatever name, is booked weekly for the foreseeable future.