Safe at Home
Man, Lindsay Lohan has had a rough time. In a little more than a decade, she's gone from being that cute little girl in The Parent Trap remake to being associated with phrases like "drunk," "drug abuser" and "now starring in Herbie: Fully Loaded." Which of those three is worse is not entirely clear.
What's more, she'll likely live on in infamy at any number of bars. Chief among them is the idiosyncratic PJ's Sports Bar (614 W. Gray), which has unofficially given Lohan's name to one of its cocktails.
"Hmmm...we have a drink, the Redheaded Slut with Coke," says the PJ when asked if his bar has any special or custom drinks.
PJ is an unassuming man with a strong handshake. His last name is Mastro, but as far as we know, no one who visits his bar has ever said it out loud. He's humble enough to make you forget that his name is on the sign outside, but outgoing enough to help you understand how his bar has now managed to stay open for more than a decade and a half.
"It's called the Lindsay Lohan," he continues, offering little more than a smirk.
PJ answers our questions during an informal and impromptu interview in front of a bar full of people, mostly locals varying in age from their twenties to three or maybe even four times that. These regulars punctuate our conversation with jests at their leisure.
You guys have karaoke here?
"Yes, upstairs on Fridays," says PJ.
So that's what that stage up there is for?
"Well, that and the strippers," interjects someone sitting a bar stool away.
Do you have any other theme nights, something you do regularly each week?
"I hear people get fat here."
PJ only smiles.
Yes, PJ's has become a Montrose staple. Go back far enough, and you'll find that it was originally a house. After standing inside it for about nine seconds, this isn't all that difficult to deduce.
It looks like a smaller version of Grand Prize Bar (1010 Banks), back when Grand Prize Bar was still Ernie's on Banks. It has been several other businesses, another bar immediately before PJ's and a Mexican restaurant back in the '70s.
Over the course of its 16-year existence, PJ's has predictably become the default hangout for many of the area's residents.
The bar's dedication to its customers extends to its Web site (pjssportsbar.com), which has a list of some of the regulars' birthdays as well as photos of them all hanging out at various unrelated venues. It's like a Facebook page, except without all of the spam from musicians and updates on someone's really interesting Mafia Wars game.
"We come here about three times a week," says Lindsey Maestri, an art teacher and area resident who has been visiting PJ's for three solid months now — making her a mere pup compared to some of the veterans.
"It's a neighborhood bar for us. It's friendly and local. We walk in and PJ knows who we are and what we want."
"He'll take the time to get to know you," says Cody Arnall, 27, who also frequents Lola's Depot (2327 Grant) and PJ's neighbor Cecil's (600 W. Gray). "If you like sports, this is the place to come."
Aesthetically, PJ's is exactly as you'd expect. Sports memorabilia, beer signs and other expected accoutrements cover the walls, some unremarkable seating keeps everyone's butts off of the floor, and a few TVs play whatever sporting event is the most substantial that evening.
Just as noticeable, though, and considerably more important, is the general "Welcome to Our Place, We're Glad You're Here" feeling that hangs in the air.
Visit, drink a drink, talk to a person and go home. That's about how it goes.
PJ's isn't a house anymore, but it's been a home for a long time.
Sounds Under Radio
More often than not, Last Call is reserved for championing either people within Houston's nightlife scene or Houston-based bands with upcoming shows. However, this week we're fluffing the pillow of Austin indie pop-rockers Sounds Under Radio, who play at Echo Lounge (1515 Pease) on Friday, along with Brannigan, IAMDYNAMITE and Days Drive. We saw Sounds Under Radio at a small Warehouse Live (813 St. Emanuel) show more than three years ago, and have been taken by them ever since — you can learn about them yourself at soundsunderradio.com. If Echo Lounge sounds unfamiliar, by the way, that's because it recently changed its name from Jet Lounge.
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