At 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, Tavern 213 bartender Bryan Ganz is pouring pints of beer for an off-duty barkeep and a few regulars. The stereo system pumps out rock music as an NBA basketball game flickers on twin TVs, mounted above either end of the long wooden bar.
The Himmarshee Village strip along SW 2nd Street in Fort Lauderdale won't start hoppin' for a couple of hours, so this mere sprinkling of customers is no surprise. But minutes before 10 p.m., as if on cue, several twentysomething men and women arrive. After pouring their beers, Ganz flips both TV sets to Comedy Central, cuts the music, and pipes the TV sound over the stereo. Yakking patrons go quiet as their weekly banjo-music mantra begins: "Going down to South Park, gonna have myself a time...."
Here, and in bars nationwide, it's South Park Night, and adults are havin' themselves a time drinkin' and watchin' cartoons -- in particular, a crudely animated show that looks as if it were executed with construction-paper cutouts. Its equally crude adult content skewers pop culture with the antics of four precocious, foul-mouthed third graders: Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, the kid who dies violently in every episode. Whether Kenny is decapitated by a dessert tray or strangled by a tetherball rope, his friends respond: "They killed Kenny! You bastards!"
"It's just off-the-wall animation, and it's something that's very entertaining," explains Frank Milohnich, who watches South Park at Billabong in Pembroke Park. "When you say something from the show, people know what you're talking about."
Fans usually show up at Billabong just before the show begins and hang out afterward to talk Park. "It's kind of neat," Milohnich says, "because everybody who usually sits up at the bar gets down in the chairs and watches it on the big screen."
At Tavern 213, regulars, even employees from nearby bars, stop by for a Park fix. "The neighborhood usually doesn't get going until eleven anyway," says Suarez. "[The show] kind of starts them off. A pint of Guinness and South Park, you know?"
We do now. Belly up.
-- John Ferri
South Park is shown at 10 p.m. every Wednesday at several area bars and clubs, including: Billabong, 3000 Country Club Ln., Pembroke Park, 954-985-1050; Sloppy Joe's, BeachPlace, 17 S. Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-522-7553; and Tavern 213, 213 SW 2nd St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-463-5213.