Late in Infinite Jest, the reader is finally granted access to Don Gately’s derelict and dependent pre-sober life, “crewing” on the North Shore for the loan shark Whitey Sorkin. (Sorkin is presumably a nod to Whitey Bulger, who was also inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Departed,” and spent 15 years on the run from authorities, ending in his capture in June 2011.) Despite Gately’s violence against property and, occasionally, persons, it’s made clear that he is not otherwise “inclined toward violent crime,” and has a louder conscience than his fellow criminals. So Gately becomes an endearing figure, and one the reader cares about as he becomes “disastrously involved with one Pamela Hoffman-Jeep”:
Gately got introduced to her by Fackelmann, who one time as he came up through a sports bar called the Pourhouse’s parking lot to dialogue with a Sorkin-debtor Gately saw Fackelmann staggering along carrying this unconscious girl to his ride, one big hand quite a bit farther up her prom-looking taffeta gown than it really needed to be to carry her, and Fackelmann told Gately if Don’d give this gash a ride home he’d stay and do the collection, which Gately’s heart wasn’t in collections anymore and he jumped at the trade … Pamela Hoffman-Jeep called Gately her ‛Night-Errand’ and fell passively in love with his refusal to Take Advantage. Gene Fackelmann, she confided, was not the gentleman Gately was.
Although Pamela Hoffman-Jeep is undeniably a disaster herself—Gately recalls that he never saw her “actually get from one spot to another under her own power”—their relationship is not doomed for the usual reasons one might expect from an alcoholic and an oral narcotics addict. However, “P.H.-J.” knows the details of Gately’s buddy Gene Fackelmann’s epic triple-cross of Whitey and two bettors on a Yale-Brown basketball game, and what transpires thereafter is both disastrous and includes some of Infinite Jest’s finest passages.
Back to the “Pourhouse,” the only details we really have from the story are that it is a sports bar, and it has a parking lot. The real Pour House has the first one covered but, as for the second, I think’s just a bit oversold. In fact, the Pour House is sandwiched between—I promise this is true—two different Irish pubs, McGreevy’s and Lir. If there is a parking lot here, it can be no more than a few spaces in the alley behind it.
Located on Boylston Street in the Back Bay (right around the corner from the Back Bay Hilton), The Pour House looks more tourist-friendly than it sounds in the book. Anecdotally, however, I’m told The Pour House used to be more divey and something of an “old man bar,” and its website still courts this reputation—not the criminal presence, of course—stating it is a “no frills establishment” and “inexpensive watering hole” and a good choice, whether you are in a “casual or rambunctious mood.”
Alas, I was in a “hurried” mood, so The Pour House is yet another bar I passed by without stepping inside (see also: Ryle’s Tavern) and thus can’t say too much about. With the benefit of hindsight, not to mention another chance to thumb through these late pages, I wish I’d walked around back to the public alley to see for myself. Based on what I can tell from Google Maps—wait, I mean, from Infinite Atlas—it still doesn’t look to me like much of a parking lot.