On the Rail: Montavilla Social Club

I start off with kolsh from 54 40 at the Montavilla Social club. The bartender asks me if I like kolshes and I say, “I do if they’re good!”He’s dubious of my choice already.

It is an OK kolsh. Old Town’s kolsh it ain’t but I am immediately distracted from my beer by the conversation the bartender and a patron are having, complaining about how you can’t call people ‘gay’ or ‘retard’ anymore. I’m having difficulty feeling sympathy for them.

“Look at this girl, (on the TV)” the patron says, “she’s got slanty eyes.” The TV is on mute, showing the US and Chinese curling teams competing.

Now they’ve moved to a discussion from ‘zipperneck’ to ‘zipperhead’, which they both agree were racial slurs. ‘Gook’ is apparently 200 years ago and…I can’t say I’m offended by this discussion exactly, because we’ve got two guys, the patron, a Korean immigrant, and the barkeep, a white dude who’s a bit older and clearly having a go at his friend, having the kind of discussion that friends sometimes have when nobody is around. It’s obvious they know each other and their conversation doesn’t include me.

Except, you know. They’re in public. I can write down what they’re saying. It makes me a little uneasy.

24420375984_42c7f8bc60_kThe Patron and I end up getting into a volatile discussion about the free market and whether or not internet access should become a municipal service. He’s a free market libertarian and confirms most of my suspicions about libertarians: They don’t understand how human beings work in a collective, so they can’t understand why certain choices are being made for society. The philosophy always sounds good: “I own my body, therefore I own everything I produce.”

But it always devolves: “Which means that when I am being taxed, because nobody asked me if I wanted to be in this country, I am being stolen from, because this transaction is involuntary,” and gets worse  and “if people don’t want to participate they should be allowed not to; they can just be set aside.”

“Like on reservations?” I ask.

“No, they get to be in cities with everyone else!”

The logistical impossibility of this doesn’t register and the creepiness of what my question would suggest also seems to fly by. Somewhere in here I get a Ft George Lucille IPA, which I remember to take a picture of but don’t have the time to write about.

Or flat out uninterested history: “The private sector would produce better than the public sector in everything and nobody would ever go without.” As with may true believers, the answer to whatever isn’t working is more of what you were doing that wasn’t working.

It doesn’t seem to matter when I bring up historical events where the free market only served everyone because they were compelled to and I don’t think pointing out conditions where the free market is ‘free’ would work. The counter to my point that municipal water and power have been a massive public good is met with “Except for the people in Flint,” as if that one example (as horrifying as it is) nullifies the fact that I can go to 10,000 other towns in this country and drink water from the tap.

But the conversation is lively and I have to admit, I got a few things to chew on. As it winds down, he introduces himself; he has the same name as me. “Good Christian name,” he says, “It’s like lookin’ into a mirror.”

“You’re probably better lookin’,” I tell him. Always leave ’em smiling.

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