"Note to Plummer: This sink is too low. Soap smells like piss," reads the dried ink scrawled on a wall in the men's bathroom at George’s Bar, on North Interstate Blvd. The sink is the men's urinal and the soap is a toilet sanitizer.
This quote says miles about this North Portland landmark, located at the crux of North Killingsworth and Interstate Avenue. George’s clientele are no longer the longshoremen and dockhands that that built this working class neighborhood; the forced march of increased property values and a finite amount of space have long since shooed away proletariats and the hourly motels they used to frequent. George’s remains a relic of that bygone era. The middle child of bars along Interstate; George’s is sandwiched north of the karaoke bar The Alibi, and south of The Nite Hawk.
Eric (pictured) summarized George’s as "The kind of place where you can buy a shot at 2:29am." The neon signs cuts through the dark streets like a beacon of hope during a sobriety tempest. A place where you drink to neglect responsibilities and a sign hanging behind the bar asks that if you are drinking to forget "please pay your tab upfront."
On a Thursday night, an active group of people pixilated George’s. Being right off a MAX stop ensures that anybody with $2.05 can get to the bar and for another $1.50 they can purchase a Pabst. Here you will find pedicure-punk rockers, skateboarders, and homeless people who scrounged up enough money to buy class 'J' tobacco and a cold beer for less than 4 dollars.
I order some chips and salsa from the chef de cuisine, who said the kitchen is closed, yet he came back minutes later with chips and salsa. George’s is the epitome of individual freedom. Many bars will cut you off as though you are unaware of personal limitations, but if you are drinking to forget, don't forget George’s. On a return trip I tried visiting for lunch.
Seating myself into the well-worn booth and bellying up against the marble veneered table. I order a BLT with french fries. There is a strange vibe in the air; maybe it is being in a bar at noon and watching people getting drunk while they watch Days of Our Life.
Strangers come out of the woodwork from an adjacent gambling room needing change for a 20 as cigarette smoke unfurls from their nicotine-stained fingertips. The sourdough bread was toasted, the bacon crisp and the tomato was fresh. I ate all of the shoestring fries; watching people spiral downward-I never could avoid staring at a train wreck.
This is not the bar for passive drinkers or weekends alcoholics; George’s is where those who drink for sport. If you just want a beer head south to The Alibi, there is karaoke and a chance you'll see someone you know or someone who looks like someone you know. If you feel like getting surly and rowdy head north to The Nite Hawk, where the people watching is bar none the best in Portland. But for those of you that will settle for nothing short of blotto, George’s is your new home way from apartment.
A word to the wise, remember not to wash your hands in the toilet, the soap smells like piss.