So anyway, I occasionally write Last Call, the FW Weekly's nightlife column, which means I go to bars and make them sound different and presumably interesting. Since I mostly drop into dives, and dives are mostly similar, it's kind of a challenge, but it's one of my favorite things to do. Of course, About half the time, my draft gets significantly... altered, and a lot of times the spirit of my comments gets lost in translation. As such, I present to you my original draft for the column that comes out in today's paper.
The Buggy Wheel
It’s official. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, we’re in a recession. “Finally!” says I. After all, we’ve only been talking about it for a year. Now we can at long last heave a big sigh of depression and blow the head off the top of our beers. Seriously—if there is business that stays, uh, busy regardless of the economic climate, it’s the booze biz. Or the beer biz, anyway, if you happen to own the Buggy Wheel. Situated along the Jacksboro Highway where the fabled road blows through Sansom Park, the Buggy Wheel is a “beer-and-wine-bar,” where you can watch a game, shoot some pool or knock back bottles of Schlitz for a mere $1.75.
When you walk inside the Buggy Wheel, it’s a little bit like walking into a roadside bric-a-brac emporium. In other words, there’s a lot of tenuously-related junk on the walls, including a framed-and-autographed picture of the Temptations. My research team (comprised entirely by Lifters’ bassist, Cliff Wright) postulated that perhaps the Temptations photo was a gift following a performance, given the slightly elevated part of the room that appeared to be a stage. Anything’s possible after all, especially in a bar where you can ostensibly bring your toddler, at least until 5 pm (it says as much on a posted sign). Unless, of course, you want to order liquor, which is actually not possible. Well, you can order it, but you won’t get it from the Buggy Wheel.
I’d run into the phenomenon of the “beer-and-wine-bar” before in Longview, when my band played a particularly bizarre gig at a place called Benny’s. When I ordered my usual double whiskey soda, the bartender icily rasped that Benny’s was beer and wine only, but that I could go down the block, buy my own whiskey and she would sell me the soda. Obviously, I was baffled, especially when they told me I could take my drinks out to the parking lot. Everything was backwards, from the booze rules to the teenage metalcore band burning our ears from the stage (which also featured a robed, plastic skeleton identified by paper signage as “The Previous Comedian”). I just figured that Longview is in the Twilight Zone (along with Temple and every gas-pump-and-a-stoplight town along I-10), and did as the Romans. So when I made the same mistake at the Buggy Wheel, I surmised that Sansom Park exists in yet another pocket between science and superstition, especially given that its neighbor bar, The Wrangler, had the same alcohol policy.
The Buggy Wheel might inhabit the Fifth Dimension (as vast as space, as timeless as infinity and where Bud Light is inexplicably cheaper than Schlitz), but it is not without its charms. Did I mention the cheap Schlitz? Not only is it cheap, but at this bar, it is delightfully devoid of irony. And while the service was initially as cool as the beer, I chalk that up to personal gaffes: first, ordering booze when none was for sale, then attempting to open a tab when cards aren’t accepted and finally having to run down the block to an ATM, leaving Cliff to temporarily fend for himself. Once I stopped being an awkward tourist, the bartender was a little friendlier.
While the Jacksboro Highway’s days of secretive poker rooms and gangland power struggles are long gone, there are a slew of hidden dives to be found in between the used car lots and sagging apartment buildings. Stay tuned for more reports from the field, when the Last Call Team tackles The Wrangler’s Sunday evening country jam.
The Buggy Wheel
5704 Jacksboro Hwy
Fort Worth, TX 76114