A sports business/media cabal is working rapidly to complete the "Matrix" designed to rob us of the reality of our lives. Consumerism, Hollywood, and the CNN-ing of news and politics have not by themselves accomplished the task of making us care more about issues like Terrell Owens's ankle than the tsunami in Indonesia, so the job has fallen to the sports industry to undermine our values with logo wear, HDTV, and most effectively ... the sports bar.
I warily ventured to Stubs Sports Pub with a construction worker buddy who lives in the only town in Idaho where the "Matrix" has been fully implemented. Proof of its completion in Sun Valley was evident when Alan Blinken thought he could win the 2002 Senate race, while doing things like referring to his home there as a "hunting lodge." No one in Sun Valley has lived in reality ever since. So I'm suspicious of sports bars, but Stubs is a humble shrine to sports entertainment. In fact, the bar looks like the kind of place a guy would open after his wife left him for a divorce lawyer-a very good divorce lawyer. The floors are bare concrete and the institutional white walls are covered with random sports paraphernalia that seemingly meet only one common criterion: flatness. There happens to be a living room in the middle of the bar, and it's furnished with a beat-up couch and lounge chairs, coffee table and bookcase. Stubs has 13 televisions divided between the bar and a bleak room in the back occupied by a lone pool table.
We were carded shortly after we sat down. The only people who check my ID these days are airport security who think I'm an angry Muslim. The license check was a thinly veiled attempt by the waitress to learn our precise identity, but she seemed harmless, so I let it pass. We initiated dinner with Bud bottles and Buffalo tenders-strips of battered and fried white meat chicken. If you skin it, bread it, and deep pan-fry it, then I'll eat it, and the Buffalo tenders easily cleared this low bar for consumption. Next, caesar salads were dropped off-literally-by our waitress. She spent as little time at our table as possible, and would ask us if we needed anything as she walked away. We didn't care, although her behavior confirmed my suspicion that the "Matrix" controlled her. My buddy liked his salad but I thought the dressing was bland, and the lettuce poorly selected and wilted. For the main course, Stubs offers a choice between sandwiches and pizza, and we ordered the Conn Smythe-a pie comprised of chorizo, jalapeno, and onion over a chipotle-based sauce. The pizza sounded delicious, but unfortunately it was frustratingly bland. My buddy disagreed and thought the pizza was pleasantly tangy, although the unevenly melted cheese topping did disappoint him.
As a tool of the forces trying to inebriate our senses to what is real, I'm relieved to report that Stubs falls short. There isn't enough appeal to help patrons forget about their real world concerns. As a neighborhood sports bar, while I can appreciate the frat basement look, the average-tasting food makes Stubs a tough sell unless you live or work close by, like at HP (where the "Matrix" forced Carla Fiorina out because of her desire to merge with Oracle, of course). In all fairness, my buddy had a much more favorable opinion of Stubs. But whom do you trust-a guy from Sun Valley who thinks Hidden Springs is a normal neighborhood, or me, a voice of reason?
-Waj Nasser may not be "the One," but he's in the top ten.