January 25th, 2010

Roll’n: A Houston Landmark’s Final Night

Fresh off stealing the top spot of our Libation Bearers of the Year list, Roll’n was poised for a legendary last night. It came too soon. With Conan O’Brien’s final Tonight Show still fresh, it seemed fitting to experience finality on two consecutive nights. My only hope was that Roll’n featured less Free Bird and more free beer.

The plan is that Roll’n will get a rebirth in two months, but we all know it won’t be the same. The reboot of any franchise always comes at the expense of tradition and the original product. Unless we’re getting Christopher Nolan on a plane to Houston to direct “Roll’n: The Dark Night” as an origins story, I doubt that we’ll ever be able to forget the eclectic pioneer of inner-loop dive bars.

To commemorate the epic last night at Roll’n, I grabbed my camera and took off down San Felipe, heading toward the train tracks, to catch the last hour and a half before the register shut for the final time.

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Note the fuzzy handcuffs finding a home on the right horn. That was one kinky steer.

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There are those handcuffs again… Oh, and who knows about these Fondue Monks? Sounds like a group that The Loop Scoop needs to catch up with and interview. Longhorn Kink and Texas Funk living together in one great picture. (Fondue Monks – Mr. Mojo Rising)

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Some didn’t wait for the final bell to start stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down. I’m actually surprised that most of the ceiling tiles remained in their rightful place by the time we got kicked out.

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No dive bar is complete without a worn out pool table. It didn’t get much wear and tear on this night, but if this felt could talk…

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What is that stain on the American flag? Is nothing sacred anymore?

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It was around 1:15AM when this shot was taken and the bar was still full. People continued to cycle in and out all night long, which created a pretty amazing vibe within Roll’n. Throughout the night, patrons file in to pay their last respects and complete strangers exchanged memories at the familiar bar.

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Mel was here on 4/11/07. Chalk don’t lie.

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Roll’n began to resemble more of a neo-frat party throughout the night. Littered with empty beer cans and bottles, posters enshrining the past, and more than a few backward caps.

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By the end of the night, the bartenders had to start stealing the display beer and putting it on ice. My beverage of choice, Pabst Blue Ribbon, ran out after my second order, which reminds me of a joke. My friend asked me, “do you watch Two and a Half Men?” I replied, “no, I have too much self-respect for that.” I bring this up because I bet a lot of people feel similarly about drinking PBR. Oh, and, Fondue Monks for LIFE!!

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In the middle of the picture, written in green and right where the wall meets the ceiling, it says “boats and hoes.” To this I reply, “indeed, good sir. Indeed.”

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Here lies the infamous jukebox. It will be dormant for at least two months, for one fabulous night it played the shit out of some Abba. The usuals begrudgingly allowed this to happen, though I did have a conversation with one guy who swore to know where the skip button was located. A little Abba never hurt nobody though.

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Speak of the devil: The man in the middle is your source for skipping the pop music on the jukebox.

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No patio? No problem. Grab your beers and bring them outside. Don’t bother cleaning up either. They’ll take care of it in the morning… wait a second…

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“Bad Biker Bitch” Is this another band of which I’m unaware?

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It looks like everyone in the picture is looking up and to the right. I wish I knew what was so interesting.

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“HEY, tops! HEY, TOPS!! Over here. OVER HERE!!” Unfortunately, I had no idea what this meant. Apparently “Tops” is the photography service in Austin that travels from party to party documenting debauchery. Now I know. But I’m still not impressed.

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These women came across the bar to get me to take their picture. Not with my snazzy digital SLR, but with their point and shoot. Why? Because someone walking around with an SLR is a professional and everyone knows a professional can use a point-and-shoot better than the layman. At least, I think that was the logic behind it. To top it off, they weren’t the only group to ask me to take pictures of them with their wallet-sized cameras.

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I once had a tennis ball, which I cut similarly to this one so I could make it talk. Then, I proceeded to make it a mask and cape out of construction paper and tape. This, effectively, turned it into “Bat Ball,” which proved to offer better security than the ADT system my parents paid through the nose for. You would think I was an imaginative child before I told you I did this at a healthy age of 16.

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Three bucks for a beer. Worth it.

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Ah, the train.

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Budweiser? Check. Trucker hat? Check. Denim, fur-lined vest? Check.

Sure, there were twenty-one pictures before the big denim pay-off, but it was worth it. Check out the unaltered, full-size images over on our Flickr page. And, for those people that asked me to take pictures of them at Roll’n, send me an email at paul@theloopscoop.com and I’ll send you the originals.

— Paul

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