It's nearing last call on a Friday night and a rowdy group of twentysomethings just stumbled through the front door of the Cat's Meow. Through a thick haze of cigarette smoke, a few grizzled regulars shoot them looks of contempt. The interlopers take seats and send a representative to the bar, which is draped with a racy rainbow of Mardi Gras beads. The wrinkled blond bartender sizes him up. Eyeballing him over her glasses, she checks his ID and takes his order. "Three Bud drafts and four Jell-O shots." "That'll be $7.25, honey" she says. There's a grin, a balancing act and a slurred proclamation as he returns to his friends: "This dive has the cheapest drinks in town." "It looks the part," his thickly bearded companion says. "There's wire mesh over the windows — I feel like I'm in the country bar in Blues Brothers. And it's so close to the Bud brewery, beer should come from the faucets." "Get this," whispers the guy who ordered the drinks, drawing his friends in closer, "it's co-owned by the Ninth Ward alderman, Ken Ortmann. He's an ex-Marine." "No shit?" the girl of the group says, pausing to slurp purple gelatin. "Cheap booze and cigarettes. Now that is a political platform."
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