According to legend, there was once an itinerant holy man, wandering the countryside performing incredible feats of magic. When he wasn’t controlling the weather, transmogrifying matter, or bringing the dead back to life, he dispensed bits of wisdom that were as simple as they were timeless and universal. I forget his name, but of all his famous homilies, the one that I’ve thought about the most lately is “Judge not, lest you also be judged.”
I bring this up because I found yet another bar that opens at 7 a.m., and a lot of people tend to furrow their brows at other people who get beers when most of the world is hunched over bowls of Frosted Flakes. Don’t hate on the folks who drink Bud Light for breakfast, because no matter what time of day you’re drinking, you’re still on your way to getting drunk.
Anyway, over on the north side of 28th Street, just east of I-35, you’ll find a ragged shopping center that’s pretty much nothing but bars. If you’re the type of person who likes an eye-opener to take the morning’s edge off, maneuver your car around the potholes and head to Blackhorse Saloon.
Because the Blackhorse is windowless and situated between a couple of other bars, you might get the idea that it’s another little dive no bigger than a basement rec room. But once inside you’ll find a club that’s really roomy. Named for the owner’s band, a ’70s-era power trio known for its ZZ Top-influenced Texas boogie, the Blackhorse has a spacious dance floor between the bar and a stage, from which a newer Blackhorse lineup rocks covers every Friday and Saturday night.
I’ve been there a few times, always in the afternoon, because 7 a.m. is really fucking early for me, even if all I’m getting up to do is get drunk. Each time, I nursed cheap domestic longnecks ($2.25 during happy hour) among a handful of regulars who chatted up the different bartenders like they’d known each other for years and years, probably because they’d known each other for years and years. Despite the joint’s low light, there’s plenty to look at, at least if you look up –– a lot of the black acoustic ceiling panels are chalked with graffiti, bearing messages about how much money the writer would’ve had if he hadn’t spent it at the Blackhorse and other ones promoting teams like the Longhorns and, um, the Bandidos.
Look around, and you’ll see video poker machines, pool tables, and dartboards — some people actually get to the Blackhorse before 9 a.m. on Saturdays for a dart league. Mondays through Saturdays you’ll find “Charlie’s Breakfast Club,” which sounds like a type of sandwich but is actually a bunch of people getting together to hang out with a bartender named Charlie at 7 in the morning.
My brother Andy and I ducked in there on Monday afternoon, walking in on a conversation between a patron and the bartender about the World Series. “The Giants swept the Tigers in four games, so that was pretty boring,” the one guy said.
“Not if you’re a Giants fan!” said Andy and I in unison, proud of our Northern Californian roots. The dude and his lady laughed, but then, on the TV hanging behind the bar, a TXCN newscaster started talking about Hurricane Sandy. The conversation turned serious. I thought about that aforementioned first-century wizard, particularly the story in which he saved his friends from a violent storm by walking out to their boat and calming the water. As Hurricane Sandy swirled ominously on the weather map and a reporter’s hair whipped crazily about in 90-mile-an-hour winds, I hoped for a miracle. Still do, in fact. If you want to help, you can donate funds to the American Red Cross online or give blood at stations set up at Arlington Heights, Western Hills, and Polytechnic high schools, at Cintas Corporation (3500 Northern Cross Blvd.) in northwest Fort Worth, and at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at 4100 Blue Mound Rd. — it’s only about three miles away from the Blackhorse, so if you go to morning services and get stuck with a needle, skip the complimentary orange juice afterward and treat yourself to a beer. — Steve Steward
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