Good jazz and
‘heavy catalysis’ at 52nd St. Bar
By A.S. Keller
“So many nice touches,” I scribbled among a pile of cryptic
notes on the back of last month's magazine while sitting in 52nd
St. Bar. At first glance, it looked like many of the small lounges
that have sprung up in Taichung--hidden around a corner, smallish,
hard to find by accident.
I walked in, took a table in the back and ordered a drink (NT$100).
Jimmy Rushing’s “Everyday I Have the Blues” was playing on
the stereo, a good first impression. Over the course of an hour,
there was some bebop, a little swing and a couple of crooners,
all classic--Billie, Ella, Louis, Bird, Mel, Chet. My ears have
no hesitation in recommending you find this place.
The eyes had fun, too. One entire wall, running the length of
the bar, is painted with an impressive black-and-white mural of
a working jazz band. There's a Miles poster behind the bar and
a great James Moody print hanging, like Moody would, in the very
back. Even the menu has classic Miles cuts listed inside the cover
and a transparency of Dizzy in the back!
I learned a new word, "catalysis". It appears in the
drink menu, modified by the adjectives “light”, “middle” and
“heavy”. I looked it up: "An acceleration of the rate of
a process or reaction, brought about by a catalyst, usually present
in small managed quantities and unaffected at the end of the reaction…”
There's a variety of drinks listed but the one that caught my
eye, under the heading “Heavy Catalysis”, was something called
"God Damn Floor". Doesn't sound like the sort of thing
that one associates with being "unaffected at the end of
I didn't have time to eat, but I'm always on the lookout for a
good hamburger and there's one on the food menu for NT$150. There
was also a charming bartender named Miko (who speaks excellent
English). Not enough? How about a huge projection screen TV in
the corner showing the Jets being mauled by the Raiders? Great
picture and a good place to watch the game.
I hit my two-drink limit about the time the Raiders put it out
of reach. The tune was "Hit the Road Jack" (no kidding)
but I'll definitely come back for more.