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Gonzo Report: The feats of Festivus at Til-Two

Bukowski should be tippling here

Sassy Stiletto shares the story of Festivus.
Sassy Stiletto shares the story of Festivus.

I’ve always imagined the Til-Two Club as the kind of haunt where you might have found the late author Charles Bukowski buzzing around. If he dressed in black leather and lived in San Diego when he was still alive and sippin’, it could’ve been a real possibility: the joint has been standing since 1942, erected during the thick of World War II when the Germans were dominating Europe. One Bukowski quote in particular comes to my mind during this time of year: “My beer drunk soul is sadder than all the dead Christmas trees of the world.” Bukowski, I feel, would have been a perfect participant in Til-Two’s third annual Festivus party, held every December 23 on El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights.

Place

Til-Two Club

4746 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Why would Bukowski have been a great candidate for Festivus? Mostly because of the traditions of the fictional holiday (originated on the ‘90s sitcom Seinfeld), which include the airing of grievances, feats of strength, and a plain aluminum pole that substitutes for a Christmas tree. Bukowski aired his grievances all the time, through his writing about his own toxic relationships, alcoholism, shitty jobs, and dysfunctional family dynamics. His feats of strength were the creation of his stories, and I have no doubt that he would have approved of a metallic spike with no distracting tinsel — how beer drunk would your soul have to be to get sadder than that? It’s almost like the holiday was made for him. The boozy poet has been dead since 1994, but we can celebrate Festivus in his drunken spirit.

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When I walk into the always-red-lit dive bar, I find two baskets holding markers and paper. One basket is for writing down the grievances you’d like to air out publicly, and the other is to sign up for “feats of strength.” I sign up for “feats” and save my grievances to share with my loved ones later. Everybody celebrates Festivus in their own way. A table of food is placed near the entrance: anybody can indulge in pizza, baked sweets, and mounds of bagels. They might be day-olds, but I can’t be sure.

The variety show kicks off with long-legged dancer Sassy Stilleto reading the story of Festivus from an oversized, homemade book of poems. The reading is followed by a pair of red-dressed vixens taking the stage. They call themselves Schadenfreudes, a German word meaning pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. The Schadenfreudes begin pulling out the first names for the opening “feats of strength” competition, which will be thumb-wrestling. One challenger holds his own Festivus pole in hand as his other thumb is pinned down for the count. I’m told that, in previous years, feats such as being thrown into beer kegs got too wild, so events have been tamed down — a wise way to avoid liability issues. Festivus is a sensible sort of holiday.

Following the thumb-wrestling matches, the Schadenfreudes begin sampling from the “airing of grievances” basket. They read the disappointed gripes people have had over the past year into a feedback-filled microphone. These include “Someone left a giant turd on my lawn, you suck” and “Idiots who think they know shit about fuck.” The tipsy crowd boos and shouts out their judgements of each grievance. “Fuck them!” one dude cries out. It may be a holiday, but that doesn’t mean it’s happy.

Chickenbone Slim keeps the party going with a live set featuring guitarist Laura Chavez. Their bluesy tones help to raise the Festivus spirit and to keep the degenerates wiggling. I go outside for a smoke and meet the owner of the club. It turns out that this is his birthday. We engage in friendly debate over who’s the bigger Seinfeld fan. “I left my TV on at home with Seinfeld playing so my dogs could watch,” he offers. That, and the fact that his birthday falls on the day of Festivus, is enough to make me give him his props. Then I hear my name being called from inside. It’s the next round of “feats,” and I brace my thumbs for battle, but when I get to the stage, a Schadenfreude hands me a can of Tecate. It’s a beer-chugging contest.

Across from me is my opponent, a shorty strapped in black lingerie. The rules are simple: whoever finishes their beer first wins. Just before we start, she throws me the bird, jamming her middle finger up in my face. “You got a license to fly that bird?” I yell over the rollicking mob. Then we’re off. About ten seconds in, she slams her can down and raises her arms in perceived victory. I’m still chugging and refuse to stop until my can is completely empty. There is confusion. The Schadenfreudes are spinning, trying to assess the situation. It turns out my opponent threw her can down prematurely, with beer left inside. A Schadenfreude awards me two more cans of Tecate as a prize. The black lingerie shorty realizes her folly and storms away in defeat. Or maybe she has to yack.

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Sassy Stiletto shares the story of Festivus.
Sassy Stiletto shares the story of Festivus.

I’ve always imagined the Til-Two Club as the kind of haunt where you might have found the late author Charles Bukowski buzzing around. If he dressed in black leather and lived in San Diego when he was still alive and sippin’, it could’ve been a real possibility: the joint has been standing since 1942, erected during the thick of World War II when the Germans were dominating Europe. One Bukowski quote in particular comes to my mind during this time of year: “My beer drunk soul is sadder than all the dead Christmas trees of the world.” Bukowski, I feel, would have been a perfect participant in Til-Two’s third annual Festivus party, held every December 23 on El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights.

Place

Til-Two Club

4746 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Why would Bukowski have been a great candidate for Festivus? Mostly because of the traditions of the fictional holiday (originated on the ‘90s sitcom Seinfeld), which include the airing of grievances, feats of strength, and a plain aluminum pole that substitutes for a Christmas tree. Bukowski aired his grievances all the time, through his writing about his own toxic relationships, alcoholism, shitty jobs, and dysfunctional family dynamics. His feats of strength were the creation of his stories, and I have no doubt that he would have approved of a metallic spike with no distracting tinsel — how beer drunk would your soul have to be to get sadder than that? It’s almost like the holiday was made for him. The boozy poet has been dead since 1994, but we can celebrate Festivus in his drunken spirit.

Sponsored
Sponsored

When I walk into the always-red-lit dive bar, I find two baskets holding markers and paper. One basket is for writing down the grievances you’d like to air out publicly, and the other is to sign up for “feats of strength.” I sign up for “feats” and save my grievances to share with my loved ones later. Everybody celebrates Festivus in their own way. A table of food is placed near the entrance: anybody can indulge in pizza, baked sweets, and mounds of bagels. They might be day-olds, but I can’t be sure.

The variety show kicks off with long-legged dancer Sassy Stilleto reading the story of Festivus from an oversized, homemade book of poems. The reading is followed by a pair of red-dressed vixens taking the stage. They call themselves Schadenfreudes, a German word meaning pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. The Schadenfreudes begin pulling out the first names for the opening “feats of strength” competition, which will be thumb-wrestling. One challenger holds his own Festivus pole in hand as his other thumb is pinned down for the count. I’m told that, in previous years, feats such as being thrown into beer kegs got too wild, so events have been tamed down — a wise way to avoid liability issues. Festivus is a sensible sort of holiday.

Following the thumb-wrestling matches, the Schadenfreudes begin sampling from the “airing of grievances” basket. They read the disappointed gripes people have had over the past year into a feedback-filled microphone. These include “Someone left a giant turd on my lawn, you suck” and “Idiots who think they know shit about fuck.” The tipsy crowd boos and shouts out their judgements of each grievance. “Fuck them!” one dude cries out. It may be a holiday, but that doesn’t mean it’s happy.

Chickenbone Slim keeps the party going with a live set featuring guitarist Laura Chavez. Their bluesy tones help to raise the Festivus spirit and to keep the degenerates wiggling. I go outside for a smoke and meet the owner of the club. It turns out that this is his birthday. We engage in friendly debate over who’s the bigger Seinfeld fan. “I left my TV on at home with Seinfeld playing so my dogs could watch,” he offers. That, and the fact that his birthday falls on the day of Festivus, is enough to make me give him his props. Then I hear my name being called from inside. It’s the next round of “feats,” and I brace my thumbs for battle, but when I get to the stage, a Schadenfreude hands me a can of Tecate. It’s a beer-chugging contest.

Across from me is my opponent, a shorty strapped in black lingerie. The rules are simple: whoever finishes their beer first wins. Just before we start, she throws me the bird, jamming her middle finger up in my face. “You got a license to fly that bird?” I yell over the rollicking mob. Then we’re off. About ten seconds in, she slams her can down and raises her arms in perceived victory. I’m still chugging and refuse to stop until my can is completely empty. There is confusion. The Schadenfreudes are spinning, trying to assess the situation. It turns out my opponent threw her can down prematurely, with beer left inside. A Schadenfreude awards me two more cans of Tecate as a prize. The black lingerie shorty realizes her folly and storms away in defeat. Or maybe she has to yack.

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