According to a (true) San Diego music legend, while Pearl Jam were blowing up in the mid-’90s, Casbah owner Tim Mays asked Eddie Vedder to a game of pool after a Jonathan Richman show at the club. The stakes? If Vedder won, he would take ownership of the Casbah. If Mays won, he would secure Vedder’s music publishing royalties.
Vedder ended up winning the game and the bet but never claimed his prize.
Last Friday, Mays put that same pool table up for sale for $250 by way of a Facebook post.
The pool table had been with Mays long before the pool-game legend was born, which makes it all the more museum-worthy of an artifact. To no one’s surprise, the pool table sold the first day it was available. While a lot of people were interested in acquiring it, Ilya’s Geoff Hill got it for the asking price.
One Facebook commenter noted that, “Felt or not, this is a piece of history. It's now art. It's as close to a piece of San Diego's light version of CBGB. Somebody snap it up. Hopefully there are even older stickers under the newer ones” -- sure, but let’s not go pulling that SoundDiego sticker off.
Another commented, “I want this table. I played pool against Johnny Rotten (and won) on this table at the Panther. Let me know if it's not sold.”
In retrospect, it seems like eBay would have been a smarter place to post the pool table – there were a LOT of prospective buyers.
“I could have got more -- we brought that table with us from the Pink Panther to the old Casbah to the new Casbah,” Mays told SoundDiego over the phone on Monday morning. He added that the venue got almost 30 years of use out of it. “You know, it was easy to put it up on Facebook, but once I saw all the comments, I started having second thoughts. It’s pretty beat up, though.”
For several years, the Casbah staff would get four people to drag it in and out of the Atari Lounge -- “the leg structure is not the best,” commented Mays, who pointed out that bars now use a device similar to a hydraulic car jack to move pool tables around.
While nostalgic patrons will always long for that piece of music history, Casbah pool players won’t have long to wait for a new table.
“I was looking for a used one on Craigslist -- brand new ones are $3,500 -- and found one up in Riverside County about a week ago, and the guy said he would even deliver,” Mays said.
So, while the Casbah says goodbye to a piece of San Diego music history, here’s to breaking in the new table with new legends and even more memorable stories.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.