The Haunt: Green Means Go
The obvious descriptor, of course, is that the Plough & Stars is an Irish bar, which makes it one of roughly 3,000 such establishments around the city. What separates it from the garden-variety Tam O’ Purple/Rose/Shamrocks that dot downtown is its conspicuous absence of Erin-go-schlock accoutrements: no gaudy four-leaf clovers dangling from the ceiling, no shot girls in naughty leprechaun outfits. In fact, unless darkness counts as minimalist accessory, there’s hardly any décor at all. It’s a pub as God (not to mention Brendan Behan) intended.
Conversation is everything at the Plough. A coterie of latter-day Statlers and Waldorfs on the edge of the bar hold forth on the Pats, the weather, and whether, if lost at sea, you’d be more likely to die by shark bite or hypothermia (it’s a draw). Then it’s on to the economy. "All I know is, some kid in Roxbury steals a hubcap, he’s going away for three years," one says. "These effing guys stole 50 billion dollars." The regulars have a knack for nimbly mixing genius with the profane. (The Plough sits halfway between Central and Harvard squares, in philosophy as much as geography.) One patron mentions something he heard on the radio, and he means MIT’s station. Soon enough, it’s time for another round of pontification and pints, but certainly not in that order.
Behind the wizened elders a young man bearing the distinctive marks of the third-year comp-lit student—flannel, underdeveloped beard, dangling earbuds—sits alone at a table diddling away on a Mac, nursing his PBR tall boy. He could be the next David Mamet, who once wrote here, or he could just be some kid working his Gmail. Either way, he’s a little early for the funky/folkie set that wanders in around 10 for the live music. It’s worth pointing out that, once upon a time, the bar was briefly home to the late, great early-’90s band Morphine: While it’s true that the Plough is as Irish a watering hole as one would find on the Isle, it’s also one that is authentically Cambridge.