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Pinball Paradise


Next door to a Baptist church in Alameda, in a room lit only by a neon glow, Evel Knievel rides again. And the beat of Beat Time, a pinball machine dating back to 1967, goes on. At least on Friday and Saturday nights, when up to 30 people flip the flippers from 6 p.m. to midnight at Lucky Ju Ju Pinball.

Only 19 classic pinball machines fit into the place, but owner Michael Schiess tries to switch in a new one each week from his personal collection of about 80.

All the machines at Lucky Ju Ju are pre-1980. As Schiess notes, "I won’t have any machine here that doesn’t have a chime or a bell on it."

The crowds are a little more diverse. Parents with kids, amateur aficionados, and pinball champions arrive from as far away as Reno.

Schiess has just two rules: Players under 21 must be accompanied by an adult. And, more important, no drinks on the machines.

Lucky Ju Ju Pinball, 713 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, (510) 205-9793, www.ujuju.com. Donation: $5.

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