From the Street with Alfie: Waterboarding and Whiskey at Crowbar

"Let the other side have the churches. We got the bars," said Curt Johnson, an organizer for the Young Democrats, who were looking for converts Friday night at Crowbar where Orlando's The Oaks were releasing their new CD, Songs for Waiting.

Johnson argued for mixing politics with drinking just as the Right had married politics with religion. It was clever, considering that churches and bars often serve the same function, though for two different sides of life. This is why a town is not a town without at least one church and one bar. Both act as meeting places for the like-minded. Just as many people meet their spouses in bars as in churches. Weddings often begin in churches and end with an open bar. Both serve as sanctuaries where souls go to relieve the stress of a rough work week. Above all, both utilize the cathartic power of song — the meaning of which is often lost in rhetoric while the emotions of the crowd or congregation are whipped up and dictated by a pounding rhythm. Acho Brother did just this by opening the night with fast-paced, Latin-infused tunes that alternated between English and Spanish. With drums and an acoustic guitar, the duo produced as much sound as a six-piece band.

When Christina Wagner took the stage, she didn’t have a drummer to set the pace. Instead she had a glass of whiskey. Her set moved between soft ballads and songs that stretched her voice to its limits. Even if you weren’t captivated by her music, you couldn’t deny her raven-haired sex appeal, which, judging from the contents of her songs, and the rebellious tattoo slithering up her leg, probably needed a warning label.

During Wagner’s set, one of the Super Secret Best Friends invited me to a pajama party. I envisioned an intimate evening of pillow fights, Playboy-style nightgowns and makeovers, and then realized she was only referring to the theme of her upcoming show. It made sense that we spoke two different languages. She is a journalist who deals in hardnosed facts while I’m a lifestyle writer who spends too much time in bars and gives far too much credence to inebriated delusions. Alas, I challenged her and her paper’s staff to a duel.

"What kind of duel?"

"A strip-off," I suggested after a moment of consideration.

She didn’t think it was such a good idea, considering the tendency of writers to be shy, quirky people with bodies shaped to fit computer desks. Given Alex Pickett’s recent article on being waterboarded outside of Mons Venus, I suggested a "torture-off." Staffers could compete in enduring various forms of interrogation torture administered by strippers.

She seemed to think I had some sort of preoccupation with people taking off their clothes. I tried to explain that this was part of my religion, and my devotion to supporting local artists (particularly those who dance), but like most people, she wasn't ready for such a philanthropic revelation and left me standing at the bar, contriving the best way to interrogate someone with a pillow.

Follow Alfie on Twitter, Facebook, or at shawnalff.com

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