Nowadays, if you’re going to Deep Ellum just to hang – not to see a show – be aware that your options are pretty limited. Depending on your tastes, you’ll end up at any one of a few different joints: a douche-y sports bar, an allegedly dangerous hip-hop club, or July Alley or the Darkside Lounge.
If you’re from Fort Worth and you’re at either of the last two, it’s probably only because you miss the Wreck Room and haven’t yet been to 6th Street Live (soon to be Lola’s). In other words, you are of the mind that The 817 lacks a punk-rock dive bar. While we’d like to point out that you shoulda been there for the old Black Dog, may we suggest that if you’re motivated enough to drive all the way to Dallas just to listen to a good jukebox and wear black, why not save some gas and stop off at the Ozzie Rabbit Lodge?
I know, I know – it’s on East Lancaster, and we know how loyal you are to West Seventh, West Berry, and, uh, that street The Mule is on. But c’mon! Lancaster has some cool dives, and if you’re whining about how Fort Worth needs a version of Austin’s Jackalope (which is debatable anyway), then you need to add the ports on Lancaster to your booze-cruise. Yes, some of said ports are actually on Division Street, but no matter: The area is referred to as Lancaster, sort of like how Canadians call Canadian bacon “ham.” (Pfff! Canadians.) We’d also like to mention that after the Oz-Lodge, you should direct your pilot to Caves Lounge and Milo’s, both located farther east on Lancaster, er, Division Street – full speed ahead!
Anyway, the Oz-Lodge is a lot like the aforementioned Jackalope, minus the grumpy rockabilly chicks tending bar. The Oz is smaller than its Austin doppelganger, but it has a similarly expansive patio out back, plus a jukebox that runs the gamut from Black Flag to Johnny Cash and with a couple of locals thrown in. The Oz also shares with the Jack a penchant for lagomorphic-iconography. In this case, it’s a Lee Harvey Oswald-rabbit hybrid. (And if the theme seems to add up to a complete non sequitur, take another look at the dude’s middle name and surname – ah-haaa!)
So the Oz-Lodge looks like a punk-rock bar and it sounds like a punk-rock bar, but is all that just calculated window-dressing to lure unsuspecting adventurers into a $5-domestic-bottle trap? The answer, luckily, is a resounding hell no. Serious boozehounds really can’t beat the specials, which include a weekday sliding-scale happy hour, which is at its priciest – $2 wells – at 7 p.m., and super-cheap Fiesta Fridays with all the low-rent tequila and Tecate you and your compadres can stomach.
The joint, appropriately, has a strong DIY lineage. During the Dark Ages, the Oz-Lodge used to be the Tattoo Bar, so named because its next-door neighbor was the famed Randy Adams tattoo shop. Back in the day, the Tattoo Bar was where you saw your buddy’s son’s nephew’s metal band or the occasional side project by the Brothers Abbot (Vinnie Paul and Dimebag).
A word of caution: A night of budget whiskey-‘n’-Sevens may lead to questionable decisions involving skateboards and the Waffle House on Oakland Boulevard. Then again, there may be no more suitably punk-rock way to end a night on the Lanc. – Steve Steward
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