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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Doc's Clock - 2575 Mission Street

Friday capped my long strange week. After another tough work week this one ended with a celebration of sorts—Halloween. With a forecast for rain and not knowing where my next stop would land me, I struggled to decide whether or not to wear a costume on this night’s Mission. Would it be another Latino bar? A hipster bar? Or, just a local watering hole?

Wearing a mask, even on Halloween, is tough to do at a bar. There’s always that question whether you’re a good guy or bad. (I recently heard an interesting story on NPR’s This American Life about a guy dressed in a Superman costume who went to a bar which was pretty entertaining. Click Here.) I’m sure that Mission on Mission would have been fine with a Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestler) character cruising the streets. A guy in white tights, blue men’s bikini underwear and blue and white mask with a strategically placed nameplate labeled “Rapido Rapido Magico” would have been quite the sight to see. Alas, I opted to go incognito, but I have included a picture to satisfy your curiosity.

Walking down Mission Street I was amazed by the activity in the street. The Mission is always busy on Friday nights but I’ve never seen it quite like this! Crowds of people of all ages cruised up and down the sidewalks. Parents escorted their costumed kids from storefront to storefront trick r’ treating, which a motley flow of folks dressed in work attire or their Halloween best zipped up the 24th Street BART station’s escalators on their way home or ready to hit some Halloween festivities. The mood on the street was both spooky and joyous on this windy autumn night.

The bar de jour turned out to be Doc’s Clock and I knew right away that it was a good find. I was greeted at Doc’s Clock by two women dressed in black handing out candy to the continuous stream of kids. With knickknacks and tchotkies adorning the walls, Doc’s had a distinct trailer park feel with an extra layer of Halloween dĂ©cor. Settling into my seat I selected a Big Daddy as my beverage of choice.

Inside the dim bar with rock music booming in the background and Halloween night all around me I never expected that this would be the place where I’d hear a ghost story—sort of. I parked myself next to a friendly bunch of folks who were pre-partying before heading out to a handful of parties but it was a South African gentleman who I ended up chatting with for most of my visit.

Hailing from South Africa he didn’t understand Halloween or why it was celebrated so I gave him my two cents. The talk of spooks and costumes inspired him to tell me a story about being cursed by witchcraft as a teenager in South Africa. Completely intrigued I peppered him with questions. A neighbor cast a spell him to make him unhealthy, self conscious and unpopular. To reverse the hex he had to confront that which he feared most… God. The story became a fable of sorts about finding salvation by confronting and accepting God. That’s when it started to get a little scary. Though the story wasn’t my own, I was brought up Catholic—so thanks to a childhood of CDC and Sunday mass, I have a built in “salvation radar” and it was telling me that the point of this story was to “save” me—and that’s not what I was looking for on Halloween or in a dive bar in the Mission. As his story concluded I quickly made my exit. Nice guy but salvation on Halloween is a tough-sell.

Doc’s Clock is an excellent bar with good service and plenty of activities. Known for its Sunday night happy hour that runs from 8pm until closing, Doc’s hosts a weekly shuffleboard tournament as well as special events throughout the month. One offering that peaked my interest was the “Barbie Mutilation Night” which took place a couple months ago. If a $2 PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) or a $3 draft along with some Barbie plastic surgery and contortionism sounds like a good time, check out their website to see the artful additions and enhancements that were made to the little lady and the various yoga-like poses and compromising positions she was twisted into. Doc’s Clock also hosted a big event for Election Night. Billed as they Election Night Celebration or the Pity Party– the bar offered a free shot if Obama won. No doubt that was a raging event!

As I left Doc’s I caught a glimpse of my next stop, Foreign Cinema. No doubt the next stop will be a start contrast to the relaxed neighborhood atmosphere of Doc’s Clock.

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