Jeffs, Pols and Coeds At the New Paul's in Orange!

Gustavo Arellano
[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our newest nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read this week as our bold editor-in-chief, Gustavo Arellano takes over for web editor Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby and stumbles into the dive bar scene to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]

There's apparently a Chapman University tradition that dictates seniors hit Paul's Cocktails off the Orange Circle the morning of Graduation Day for a precommencement drink. That sure wasn't around when I graduated from the private college in 2001 (nor was its infamous Undie Run, for that matter). And such a august ritual certainly doesn't mesh with my Paul's tradition: nearly getting into fights.

Oh, I never sought them--they just came. One time, a cholo kept trying to hit me up, not content with me claiming a P.O. Box in Anaheim as my set. Another year, a lowlife out of Ask the Dusk had a problem with my pal and I talking in Spanish so early in the afternoon--if I remember correctly, he called us wetbacks, spics, beaners and wabs (and did I mention that the gabacho was darker than us light-skinned Mexis?). And I can't remember the exact details of the third near-fight, except it involved a girl I once knew, a jealous boyfriend, how he once fainted when she broke up with him for me, and how I laughed about it at a dinner party years before. In each case, a wise, sober friend stepped in to avert me cracking a pool cue over someone's head, and that was the Paul's I loved: a rough-and-tumble hole filled with locals ornery enough to keep the hipsters and bros at bay forever.

So imagine my surprise when I hit up Paul's on a recent Friday night along with the Jeffs who own the fabulous Chapter One: the modern local in SanTana, Hall and Jensen. (Also in tow were two politicians, whom I won't mention by name because I promised our drunken escapades would be off the record--first and only time that'll happen, so consider yourselves lucky, cabrones!) The two Jeffs, the two pols and I were ready to dive it, ready to have illuminating conversations with random weirdos, so we got a taxi ride from downtown SanTana with a guy who called himself Mo but whose license said "Mohammad" (make us drunken kaffirs say your name, son!). He dropped us off, and we were excited . . . until we walked into a college bar out of Tempe.

Gone was Paul's dank; in its place were bright lights, a bunch of flat-screens and a digital jukebox that blasted songs slightly too cool for KRTH (Gladys Knight & the Pips' version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," James Brown's "Night Train") but very out-of-place at an OC working-class bar. The old signs, slate-wood walls, bar and pool tables were there, but what happened to the shuffleboard? One section had turned into an ottoman-filled room where gals chirped away while their guys tried to act blue-collar by ordering generic beers.

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