Music » Night Ranger

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

The Night Ranger commiserates with fellow former band geeks at D.B. Cooper's.

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When we first heard that D.B. Cooper's opened at 6 a.m., we immediately started planning the bender of all benders. We would start our night at midnight or so, drink until last call at 3, then go to the Mutual Musician's Foundation for the post-3 a.m. shift before heading to D.B.'s at 6. However, when we proposed this to our editor, she had other ideas.

"Perhaps you should start there at 6," she suggested. But because it's virtually impossible for us to get up before, say, noon, we nixed our all-nighter, and decided to check the place out when we were more awake -- i.e., on a Saturday night.

Considering that it's named after the famed vanishing skyjacker, it's not surprising that D.B. Cooper's has something of an unassuming air about it. Located on the bustling 39th Street corridor, the bar, with its plain-beige storefront and small windows, almost seems to disappear among the more vibrantly eclectic shops and restaurants on the block. But despite the place's drab exterior, we were determined to check it out, mainly because 39th Street isn't a regular pit stop for us on our Tour de Drinkery. So we gathered Research Assistants Tracey and David Wayne and headed over rather early in the night.

After settling on the comfortable but hazardous (they have wheels and are on a tile floor) bar chairs, we ordered a Stoli orange and 7-Up and a Crown and Coke. The drinks were available in two sizes -- short or tall -- but to our delight, each cost $4. "It's a better deal if you get the short, though," said Greg, our bartender. "The owner approved that I can fill it up halfway with liquor."

"This is such a discreet place," David noted. "If I were having an affair, I'd come here." Indeed, the divelike joint exuded a low-key vibe, and the decorative brass that ran from part of the ceiling to the top of the bar reminded us of a hotel bar. ("Only, one with Sun Chips and Funyons," David added.) Above us, SportsCenter played on a giant flat-screen, and in the background, Greg had picked a great assortment of songs from the jukebox -- "Let's Stay Together," "Folsom Prison Blues" and big-band stuff. Naturally, such a great musical selection inspired us to discuss the best albums to fuck to, as well as the best albums to romantically fuck to.

"Purple Rain, Led Zeppelin and the Pixies' Surfer Rosa are the best fuck albums," David proclaimed. "The best romantic fuck album is Sinead's Am I Not Your Girl?"

"I love Prince," Tracey said. "He's a sexy little freak."

Little did we know that we'd be involved in another sort of music discussion when we met Jim, 29, a tattooed guy in a white T-shirt, and Amy, 25. The couple, who have been dating for 2 years, were so cool to talk to that we hung out with them for a while and did shots. That's when we discovered that Jim, despite the scrappy, tough-guy look, had competed in all-state orchestra and band contests around the same time as the NR. So we nerdily bonded over that.

"I started the violin at the age of 8 and played it all the way through college," Jim said. "I started the piano at 12. I did band in high school and played anything that needed to be played ... French horn, third trumpet, the timpani for one year, the chimes."

"I can't believe all-state band was at fucking Tan-Tar-A!" Amy said, scoffing at the Xanadu of Missouri resorts. "Dude! It's fucking Lake of the Ozarks!"

"Yeah, it was held there in January. It wasn't the most fun you could possibly have then, but it was good stuff," Jim replied.

We reminisced about the antics that occurred when hundreds of high school music dorks got together, which led our chaperones to put masking tape on the hotel doors so they could monitor whether we left our rooms at night.

"I remember seeing some chick with hairy nipples," Jim recalled.

"You deserve to see 'em at Tan-Tar-A!" Amy said.

"We smuggled a fifth of Jack Daniels in," Jim said.

"When I was in high school, I tried to buy liquor at the store at 76th and Troost with a fake ID, but they laughed their asses off and told us to go home," Amy said. "It was so embarrassing."

"That's why I ended up with tattoos and you with a law degree," Jim said, smiling lovingly at Amy and reaching for her hand.

Exactly -- band geekery will do that to you. Which is how the NR ended up plotting benders for a living.

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