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According to the copy in a sponsored Facebook link, a local marketing company wanted to know if I could spot a deliberate error. If so, perhaps I had what it took to fill a “Proofreader/Junior Copywriter” position. The error was obvious enough to make me feel qualified for the job, so I dug around my laptop for my resumé, dusted off the exaggerations, and submitted it. I assume it is still whirling around the firm’s servers like a hot-dog wrapper across a parking lot on a blustery day –– hopefully my outdated experience and dubious achievements catch the eye like a mustard stain or a dribble of pickle relish might. But when your job history can be reduced to “writing about bands and bars” for most of the last decade, you don’t hold your breath.

Anyway, under my resumé’s “Freelance Writer” heading, the first bullet is “Wrote Last Call nightlife column from 2009 to 2017,” which precipitated an hour spent browsing eight years of my old Last Call columns. I am nothing if not nostalgically self-indulgent. But on a practical level, I also needed to find a place to write about for this week’s column, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating myself. As much as I’d like to write about how I recently witnessed a couple of testy drunks get kicked out of Applebee’s, that’s a tale as old as time. 

Another tale I’ve told that’s equally ancient is “Steve Visits a Blue-Collar Dive on the Outskirts of Town.” Per that trope, a customer at the Boiled Owl recently left me a business card (next to an agreeably generous tip) for a place called Jesse’s 50/Fifty on the Jacksboro Highway (technically, Lake Worth Boulevard), where it intersects with Roberts Cut Off Road. “Come check out my new bar!” said the guy. He seemed nice, so I said that I would. The name on the card rang a bell, and I suspected that I’d written about that place before when it was run by a previous owner and under a similar name. Sure enough, I detailed a couple of nights spent at the former 50/50 Club in a column from May 2012. But Jesse’s 50/Fifty has a 7am opening time, which is usually an interesting characteristic. The way you bait that story hook is by reporting on the wacky characters who go to dive bars before the morning commute starts. But in the way that “Sad Dad at Applebee’s Slurs for More Coors” is a well-worn narrative, so is “Alcoholic Gets Up Early for Productive Day of Alcoholism.” I wasn’t too keen on documenting someone else’s life choices, but I dropped by the bar the other day around 9am all the same.

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Because I was probably faded when I went there five years ago, I didn’t recall what the inside looked like. But in the freshness of morning sobriety and a pint glass of Coca-Cola, I made note that Jesse’s was crisp and clean. The bottles shelved in front of the back-bar mirror were neatly, almost cheerfully arranged, eight colorful flavors of Ol’ Smoky Moonshine practically calling out, “Good morning!,” while a chorus of giant bottles of Crown, Crown Apple, and Crown Vanilla seemed to ask, “How is your day?” A pair of glass-doored refrigerators framed the back of the bar, chilling an interesting inventory: cans of Rahr and a box of wine, a tray of Jell-O shots and a bottle of Pepto Bismol, Monster Energy Drinks, and food wrapped in foil. Hand-lettered signs advertised dip and cigarettes and raffle tickets for Mavs games. The bartender and his buddy were talking about 8-liner payouts, and I followed the customer’s gestures to a video poker machine against the wall of a side room containing a pool table. Later the two dudes played Golden Tee. The thought occurred to me that whoever wrote the soundtrack for Golden Tee probably listens to a lot of Steve Vai.

Maybe some of those details are new, but overall, I’d wager that the vibe at Jesse’s is pretty similar to the bars that inhabited the building before it, in the way that my ability to proofread and draft advertainment copy hasn’t really changed in five years. Both the bar and my skills are competent and functional: Jesse’s 50/Fifty is a bar on the Jacksboro Highway. I went there and had a pretty good time. 

Jesse’s 50/Fifty

5908 Lake Worth Blvd, FW. 817-378-0052.

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