Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Life’s a Game

“I spent a year in the Atari Lounge living in a total ’80s time warp….”

San Diego Reader, September 14, 2006
San Diego Reader, September 14, 2006

'The Atari Lounge is there so you can take a break from the band or get away from someone you don't want to talk to," says Casbah owner Tim Mays of the club's back room full of vintage video games, pinball machines, and pool tables. "We've had games here since we first moved to this location in early 1994. The Jurassic Park and Guns N' Roses pinball machines were pretty popular for a long time. We also had a sit-down Pac-Man that was hugely popular. Someone actually bought it from the guys who own and maintain our machines."

Sandy Thomas, bassist for O.B.-based Xlent, says, "I spent a year in the Atari Lounge living in a total '80s time warp, going for the 'perfect Pac-Man.' That's surviving through 255 screens and eating every single dot, every ghost, every fruit and energizer, and never missing a single one. I reached the million-point mark five different times, but I only broke two million once. Believe it or not, that actually got me laid, and that score should add a million to my Pac-Man points." A perfect Pac-Man score is 3,333,360.

"For ten years I'd been telling people about a video game I loved as a kid called Star Castle," says Rookie Card singer/guitarist Adam Gimbel. "It was actually black and white, with colored plastic on the monitor to make the center rings red and yellow. No one believed me. When I moved back to San Diego ten years ago, there it was in the Atari Lounge."

As of this writing, the club's arcade games include Galaga, Off Road, Centipede, a Donkey Kong console that only works sporadically, and a tabletop Ms. Pac-Man nearly always stacked with the quarters of waiting players.

"I'm a Ms. Pac-Man snob," says singer-songwriter Marie Haddad. "Not just any machine will do. It has to be a sit-down table version, and it has to be fast. Sure, there are other Ms. Pac-Man's around town, but the joystick doesn't respond like the Casbah's, or it's a stand-up machine, or it's geriatric slow." She says her high score is "somewhere in the 95,000s," and her dot-gobbling prowess earns her occasional perks. "I was back there playing between sets, and a guy who'd been playing Galaga turned around to watch me...before I finished my game, he bought me a vodka tonic and called me 'the Eddie Van Halen of Ms. Pac-Man. '"

Grant Reinero of the Focus Group likes how the tabletop Ms. Pac-Man allows players to battle head-to-head. "One time I was in the Atari Lounge by myself, and I was sitting at the Ms. Pac-Man and searching my pockets for a quarter. Nothing. No change at all. In defeat, I resigned myself to just sitting there and watching the game's demo screen over and over.

"Just then, a girl's voice cut through the sludgy tones bellowing out of the main room. 'Are you gonna play?' I looked up to see a raven-like beauty in an antique dress. She pushed her hair back behind her ears and sat down at the other end of the game."

"'I don't have a quarter,' I said. She reached into the pocket of her dress and produced two quarters. 'Wanna play me?'"

"We took turns jamming the joystick in a mad frenzy. The flashing screen lit up her perfect pale features as we played. What began as a friendly game soon gave way to a ruthless power-pellet--eating contest. With my last turn I lost myself in the maze, becoming the insatiable yellow creature on the screen. The ghosts finally cornered and killed me, and I screamed out loud.

"I looked up to see her staring back at me, her chest heaving with excitement, her eyes wide with adrenaline. I told her, 'That's the best I've ever played,' and in one motion she grabbed the back of my neck, pulled my cheek to her lips, and whispered in my ear, 'Thanks for the game.' "

Two other Atari Lounge consoles are currently down, with the busted skateboarding game rumored to be replaced soon with either Space Invaders or Tempest. The Casbah's pool tables are always in good repair, and one cue-ball clash has become the stuff of local legend.

"Eddie Vedder and I played a game of pool many, many years ago," says owner Mays. "He bet his publishing deal versus my ownership of the Casbah. He thoroughly kicked my ass. Actually, he beat everyone he played against that night. This gave rise to a rumor many years back that Eddie Vedder secretly owned the Casbah.

"Luckily, he never claimed said ownership."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Bay Books Cafe: cook the books

It’s an artistic mix of egg, pepper, red onion, queso fresco, radish slices, and avo.
Next Article

Kanye West for president

Will San Diego voters be lining up at the polls?
San Diego Reader, September 14, 2006
San Diego Reader, September 14, 2006

'The Atari Lounge is there so you can take a break from the band or get away from someone you don't want to talk to," says Casbah owner Tim Mays of the club's back room full of vintage video games, pinball machines, and pool tables. "We've had games here since we first moved to this location in early 1994. The Jurassic Park and Guns N' Roses pinball machines were pretty popular for a long time. We also had a sit-down Pac-Man that was hugely popular. Someone actually bought it from the guys who own and maintain our machines."

Sandy Thomas, bassist for O.B.-based Xlent, says, "I spent a year in the Atari Lounge living in a total '80s time warp, going for the 'perfect Pac-Man.' That's surviving through 255 screens and eating every single dot, every ghost, every fruit and energizer, and never missing a single one. I reached the million-point mark five different times, but I only broke two million once. Believe it or not, that actually got me laid, and that score should add a million to my Pac-Man points." A perfect Pac-Man score is 3,333,360.

"For ten years I'd been telling people about a video game I loved as a kid called Star Castle," says Rookie Card singer/guitarist Adam Gimbel. "It was actually black and white, with colored plastic on the monitor to make the center rings red and yellow. No one believed me. When I moved back to San Diego ten years ago, there it was in the Atari Lounge."

As of this writing, the club's arcade games include Galaga, Off Road, Centipede, a Donkey Kong console that only works sporadically, and a tabletop Ms. Pac-Man nearly always stacked with the quarters of waiting players.

"I'm a Ms. Pac-Man snob," says singer-songwriter Marie Haddad. "Not just any machine will do. It has to be a sit-down table version, and it has to be fast. Sure, there are other Ms. Pac-Man's around town, but the joystick doesn't respond like the Casbah's, or it's a stand-up machine, or it's geriatric slow." She says her high score is "somewhere in the 95,000s," and her dot-gobbling prowess earns her occasional perks. "I was back there playing between sets, and a guy who'd been playing Galaga turned around to watch me...before I finished my game, he bought me a vodka tonic and called me 'the Eddie Van Halen of Ms. Pac-Man. '"

Grant Reinero of the Focus Group likes how the tabletop Ms. Pac-Man allows players to battle head-to-head. "One time I was in the Atari Lounge by myself, and I was sitting at the Ms. Pac-Man and searching my pockets for a quarter. Nothing. No change at all. In defeat, I resigned myself to just sitting there and watching the game's demo screen over and over.

"Just then, a girl's voice cut through the sludgy tones bellowing out of the main room. 'Are you gonna play?' I looked up to see a raven-like beauty in an antique dress. She pushed her hair back behind her ears and sat down at the other end of the game."

"'I don't have a quarter,' I said. She reached into the pocket of her dress and produced two quarters. 'Wanna play me?'"

"We took turns jamming the joystick in a mad frenzy. The flashing screen lit up her perfect pale features as we played. What began as a friendly game soon gave way to a ruthless power-pellet--eating contest. With my last turn I lost myself in the maze, becoming the insatiable yellow creature on the screen. The ghosts finally cornered and killed me, and I screamed out loud.

"I looked up to see her staring back at me, her chest heaving with excitement, her eyes wide with adrenaline. I told her, 'That's the best I've ever played,' and in one motion she grabbed the back of my neck, pulled my cheek to her lips, and whispered in my ear, 'Thanks for the game.' "

Two other Atari Lounge consoles are currently down, with the busted skateboarding game rumored to be replaced soon with either Space Invaders or Tempest. The Casbah's pool tables are always in good repair, and one cue-ball clash has become the stuff of local legend.

"Eddie Vedder and I played a game of pool many, many years ago," says owner Mays. "He bet his publishing deal versus my ownership of the Casbah. He thoroughly kicked my ass. Actually, he beat everyone he played against that night. This gave rise to a rumor many years back that Eddie Vedder secretly owned the Casbah.

"Luckily, he never claimed said ownership."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Between the Buried & Me Livestream Concert, S P A C E Artist Showcase, Outdoor Showing of Young Frankenstein

Events August 6-August 8, 2020
Next Article

Communion on the hood of a Humvee

The Apostle Paul says we see through a glass dimly
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close