Tuesday, January 24, 2012


                We're back at it, folks.
                Part four.
                I’ve got a treasure trove of material regarding what a soul crushing experience trying to establish a trusting, fulfilling, and honest experience with a person in this fine town. I’m sure it’s rough in Tucson, or Tupelo, or wherever, but out here on these mean streets, dating can turn into a full time murderous act.
                And when I say murder, I’m talking about the murder of our little, fragile, hungry hearts and its dear friend dressed all in white: hope.  
                Now, if you’re reading this and you’ve already found that person that both embodies your physical, emotional, and intellectual needs, this blog is not for you. Y’all need to you go off and spoon to Netflix on demand together in the darkness of night.
                This blog goes out to the lonely, the hungry, the passion filled, roaming the streets, forever searching, maybe not for that eternal someone, but for SOMEONE WHO WILL JUST FOR A SHORT TIME PLAY THINGS CLEAN.
    I've listened to thousands of stories behind the bar about the torments of dating in New York City. I’ve heard all about how this one person fucked up or is playing hot and cold with you, or how you just found out they were fucking three people behind your back (without condoms).
    The list of minor psychic atrocities goes on and on.
    I know so many beautiful, smart, successful women who can't keep a relationship for more than 3 months. I know men who would give their lives to an ideal of honor and respect, and get shit on by the average girl strutting down Bedford Ave.  
                My roommate and I were discussing this last night over two tall boy Coors.
                He said it perfectly: “Well, there’s only two options round these parts. Either you play everything straight and get shit on or you join the viper pit and get used to the taste of poison.”  
                Maybe it’s because I’ve just returned from one of the most romantic cities in the world to the one of the most cutthroat, and like a new cell phone, I’m not quite used to the settings just yet.  
                Everybody seemed to be making out in Paris. Like All The Time.
    But already since I’ve returned, I’ve heard tales of breakups and deceptions, experienced heartbreak and serious let downs, and watched at least two people cry in the process (and I’ve only been back like 5 days).
                I’m sure there are tears in Paris as well, but they are no doubt romantic ones falling into the Seine and full of tannins.  
                So, yet again, I will jump into the abyss of why it is so damn hard to find something that isn’t full of some form of deceit, emotional cowardice, and excessive amounts of promiscuity.
                Here’s three little ‘stabs’ at, yet again, why dating sucks in the Big Apple:

                 BODY GREED

                Seriously. When sexologists and gender rights activists in the 60’s and 70’s talked about sexual liberation, I don’t think they meant for people to start using each other like fuck machines with no emotional connection whatsoever.
It’s like someone gave you the keys to a bright red Porsche and you crash it at 95 miles an hour into the nearest tree.
As a French girl lectured me over there in the land of frommage: “Matthew, sex is natural. We don’t use it frivolously. We use it extravagantly! There must be talk. Always talk. It’s like making soup. The more things you put in it, the better it tastes” (This is an actual conversation with a French girl no older than 21).
                Now compare and contrast that lovely little quote with one from another young lady of about the same age, but this one buys into the bullshit of Williamsburg nihilism and sexual flagrancy: “Well, I was feeling sad and scared of a relationship so I just had to go and sleep with this other bartender that I don’t even like. I mean, he doesn't even read books!”
                Where’s the poetry in there, folks? Wanna know why you can’t hear it?
     Because there is none.  
                Now it seems that people use the supposed ‘sexual revolution’ as an excuse to violently degrade themselves on a day to day basis.
   Hey, what can I say? It’s perfectly alright to fuck people, but don’t you want to add a little poetry in there? Must it be like a business? I mean, how low of self esteem do you have to merely let anyone touch you? Here’s a little metaphor for you:
              Imagine all human beings are like radio stations, and when you have sex with them you are tuning into that particular station. Now, that music never really goes away. So it’s pretty quiet if you only tuned into a modest amount of radio stations over the years. But when your numbers start resembling the National Debt, you can imagine how loud and piercing all of the mismatched tunes can be.
            We’re hung up on this sex for sex sake out here in the States. Damn Puritans.
Perfectly fine with guns. Lots of guns. But sexuality is treated as a commodity like anything else.
So when everybody is running around being body greedy and using each other like fuck machines and robots, it's not surprising they keep waking up asking themselves:
“Why in the world am I so unhappy?”
Take a wild guess, kid.            
I’m with the French on this one. They make the best kind of soup because they know just what to put in it.    

                FUCK FIRST, BUY LATER
                Now that we established that here in New York sex is very much like a poorly formed handshake, we must ask ourselves…why are we in such a rush to fuck a person we don't know?
                I started a little sexual social experiment in the last years. I've decided to wait to have to sex with people and get to know them. And do you know what happens to me nine times out of ten?  
                The girls actually get pissed off. Either they insult you, or they retaliate by sleeping with some one you know. They'll call you boring, or they say they feel unwanted. I'll never understand it. It makes me want to go right back to my whorish days. If a woman asked me to wait to have sex with her so we get to know each other, I would think that's fantastic. What a relief! You mean you actually want to get to know someone? What a concept!
                But there is a danger in letting someone get to know you. There is a vulnerability that comes along with that. And that vulnerability is looked at as weakness. And New Yorkers can't have that.
                And I don't blame them. This city is tough. Survival is necessary at all costs. Everybody knows sex gets way better the more you know someone. That way you can learn all about each other's special proclivities, and the two of you can skip down the yellow brick road of sexual perversity together. It's like the good meal metaphor. Without that vulnerability, it's like eating food that has already expired on the shelf.
                And it's this whole 'fuck first, buy later' phenomenon that kills most of that learning process. Random sex can be fun, no doubt, but it's a fluke when you don't feel slightly demoralized. Remember that 'walk of shame' down Driggs Avenue?
                Remember biting your fingers nails in the waiting room of the Chelsea free clinic?
                It's best to get to know someone so you can find out just what a depraved, lying, depressed individual they actually are so you can stop wasting your time, and your body, on spoiled food.

                HEDGING THEIR BETS

                I know people here in New York, both men and women, who literally keep around a cache of partners. They may like someone, and they get to be put on the front burner, but it's the 'Dark Dog' they call up after you just kissed them at the door goodnight.
                They keep around these lovers like a Swiss Army knife, pending on the particular needs of the day, and which tool will suffice. It's wild how much people here treat their love life like a card game, keeping human beings around like a decent hand in poker.
                And this can back fire badly when you actually meet someone you like.
                Here's a scenario (and it works for both genders):
                You're single, you're out there, you're hooking up. There's one person who good for some things, another good at others. Then, out of the blue, comes this human being that's like a glass of water in a hot desert. Before you know it, this Fresh Glass Of Water puts everyone else to shame. But because of particular emotional cowardice and a horrid fear of being alone, you keep these others around.
                Well, when this Fresh Glass Of Water dares to ask the most evil of all questions: "Hey, are you sleeping with anyone else?" That's when everything comes crashing down.  Because when this Fresh Glass Of Water suddenly realizes this cache exists, I don't care who you are or how much you respect honesty, the romantic myth is crushed.
                Bukowski had this to say about this very moment: "Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of reality."
                And it's a damn shame when it happens.
                And it's happens everyday here in New York City.         

                So I don't know what to tell you when you come in and sit at my bar. I'll keep buying you drinks when you're sad. I'll tell you my terrible jokes just to make a little smile cross your lips.
                But as far as why dating suck here? I guess we'll just have to wait for part five.  
                Till next time. Stick with the thing that never lies or deceives you.
                Au Revior!     




Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Not To Do In Paris

                I crack a Blonderbrau at 11 in the morning.
                Yes, Chet Baker is on the CD player, his narcotic horn soothing my ragged soul from last night’s horrid affairs:  fighting with Swedes, fighting with friends, fighting against the Seine as the river rushes fast against the old worn cobblestone rocks.
                I’m an asshole.
                I learned that about myself recently. I suppose I always suspected it, but like the faint scent of shit in your home, you hunt, nose forward, to where the smell is coming from. You realize, with distain, that it’s coming from your own shoes.
                I smelled some shit recently, and realized it was all me.
                Sorry folks for the disgusting imagery.
                Of course, I come to Paris and start talking in scatological metaphors.
                No wonder the French make the most disgusting films in cinema history (for the brave, try Catherine Breillet’s The Anatomy of Hell). They have a very odd attraction to the perverse, and, being French myself, I can relate. In regards to my sexual penchants, one woman was quoted saying that I had a “very jaded sexual palette”.
                It’s sort of like looking through a dirty windshield driving 75 miles an hour in the rain.      
                I’ve learned there’s a lot to do here in Paris.
                I’ve also learned there’s a lot of things you probably should not do in Paris.  You can go to the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s wrought iron dick, erected in the most boring (and conveniently, most rich) part of Paris.  You can go there and you too might get pick pocketed by Taiwanese street thugs.
                You can check out The Champs-Elysees. This is a long boring street where wealthy people stroll, arm in arm, back to their decrepitly old inherited aristocratic apartments and lay in fine linen, dreaming about all the Algerian backs they’ve broken just to keep their sheets white and clean.
                You can go get lost in the Louvre and find yourself remarkably yawning. The world’s history of art spanning thousands of years and after an hour you’re already looking around for the fucking bar.
                In typical D’Abate fashion, I came to Paris through the ‘back door’, if you will. And, like a dirty mistress, Paris has fucked me in ways my wife never would.
                Paris is a flexible woman.                                 
                Paris gives it up on the first date.
                Paris dresses up in the bunny outfit without question. 
                Unfortunately, I have also done nothing in the right or ‘’functional’ way. And, resembling a mildly retarded young child lost with his arms flailing, I have, with swift authority, got myself into all kinds of shit. There will be short stories. But first, allow me to share a modest list of things you should not to do in Paris:

                HANG OFF BRIDGES
                As I stated in the last blog, there are no gates on these crazy old bridges. I have found myself almost every night hanging off the outer lips of these ancient structures, staring down into the black churning waters of the Seine, completely drunk. Now, doing this drunk is certainly a dangerous endeavour. But it feels really good.
                My Well Published Friend Reuben Turck, who has just arrived to join in the festivities here in Paris, has let his legs hang off the edge on several of these black, cold nights.
                Maybe I’m just friends with a lot of suicide cases and depressives. Maybe I like The Cure way too much. But I must say there is nothing like spitting in Death’s face and being inches away, drunk, discussing life, on the edge of these bridges. I’m such a writer cliché. Thick as butter and cheese.
                Notable Bridge Hanging Moment:
                After Reuben and I had a lovely home cooked meal and drank 14 bottles of wine, we decided to hang off one of these bridges and shoot the shit. We were just coming back from Pigalle and trying to wash the sin off of our clothes when we leap over, pop out the flask of shitty Scotch Whiskey, and start pounding it down like it had the antidote. We talk and talk. I’m surprised Reuben has not wanted to kill me yet. My personality is a little grating for some, especially in large doses.        
                Another woman once told me: “Matthew, you’re like molasses. Really sweet to taste, but too much of you just makes me sick.”
                Thanks, bitch. That’s how they roll in New York . Really kind women, but I digress.
                Reuben starts to get tired and wants to go home. I am thoroughly against this move of defeat.
                That’s when I see the fire.
                “Reuben, check that shit out,” I say, pointing down to the Quai, where there is a little fire burning and some dark figures huddled around the orange flames. “We have to go to them! Come on!”
                Reuben Turck, a well planned man, takes a small moment, contemplating following me all the way down to the rapey, old stone paths by the Seine at four in the morning as opposed to getting a good night’s rest.
                “Come on! Let us go to the fire!” I scream.
                Reuben Turck shrugs: “Fuck it. Let’s go. I’m in Paris and we’re chasing fire. Why the fuck not?”
                We head down to the Quai and come upon the small, fire warmed party. It’s three 16 year old boys celebrating one of their birthdays (one’s turning 17). They have a little radio playing The Doors. The one whose birthday is the Alpha Male, cool clothes, flicking his Zippo, tagging with his black pen on the old stone.  
                The Quiet One has got a serial killer vibe going on.
                “That’s the future writer,” Turck tells me later.
                And then there’s the kid who looks like Bob Dylan. Both Reuben and I look at each other, knowing this kid is probably destined for greatness.
                We all shoot the shit and I keep asking: “Where’s the women?”
                Reuben looks at me, dead pan: “These guys are kids. Why the fuck would they have women around? I didn’t have women at their age.”
                I look at him and mutter under my drunk breath.
                “I did,” I whisper.  I suddenly then realize how debauched my existence has been. 
                Fuck yes.
                The kids break out the weed, birthday boy pulling it out from the cuff of his pants. Reuben and I gladly smoke the teenagers drugs. Then we give them whiskey.
                If you ever come to Paris and you are looking for drugs, just walk the Seine late at night.

                Meeting characters out of novels is dangerous.
                Most folks in life are quite commonly normal.
                Then there’s the Other Ones.
                I would like to take a moment to offer a literary selection for those who may not have read this particular classic of literature. It’s by Hemmingway and it’s titled “The Sun Also Rises”. In this novel there is a young, attractive, unbelievable charming woman, who both commands the room and the hearts of any man she crosses by the name of Lady Brett Ashley. She is set to marry a man that is at the same time sweet and clueless to his future destruction. Jacob, the protagonist who pines for this women and because of a terrible groin centred wound cannot ‘love’ her, are both thrown into a maelstrom of alcohol, bars, and purposeful lies,  spanning countries and the unfortunate limits of their hearts.
                Do not meet women out of novels. They sometimes walk out of them and make reality truly fiction.          

                SPEAK AMERICAN.
                About the third week here I gave up being concerned about my shitty French. My ego could not bare the fact that I couldn’t speak to people, and when I did, my dialogue lasted as long a teenage kid’s sexual talents.
                I respect the French culture and language. It’s roughly 2,000 years old. I’m with them. Any American who talks shit on these people is either an idiot or simply an arrogant fuck. These French people are trying to preserve a beautiful and absolute gem of a culture against the capitalist claws of modern commercialization. Yes, they have the Pantheon. We have mini-malls. They hold the allure of hundreds of artists over time. We have Girls Gone Wild.
                These people are a prideful folk. How would we feel if people kept stopping us on the street just to ask us if we spoke Cantonese, right? We’d be like “No motherfucker, learn English.”
                Same rules apply.
                 French women are fucking beautiful. They are pulling me slowly into the chaotic abyss. And the abyss is like chocolate. Sweet, dark, and in the end, probably bad for you. 




Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why Paris Hates Me (or, How The French Are Not Like Us)

Paris is full of ghosts.
I think I picked some up when I was over at Pere LaChaise staring at Oscar Wilde’s grave. I think they snuck into my pockets and now they follow me around this gorgeous town, purposely thwarting me at every turn.
First day in Paris, my computer crashes, erasing all of my writing, films I’ve made, music I’ve collected, and pictures of my life.
Yes. EVERYTHING. I stare out the window. I know the Seine River is a short hop away from my borrowed flat.
I will go to the beautiful bridge, the Pont Neuf, and throw myself into the black churning waters below.
I resist the urge of early suicide, and opt, like a proper bartender would, to start drinking as soon as possible.  I go to the bar.  I seek the comfort, the camaraderie, the essential bond between us serving class.
                The bartenders are not like us.
                They could give a shit. As we all know on the receiving end of shitty tippers from Europe, they do not work for tips like we do. Which means they don’t have to be nice to you. Especially if you don’t speak their language, which I do not. In fact, my French is so bad, I get looks of offense merely by speaking.  As a man used to getting by because of the ‘talk’, I am rendered completely useless, a creepy foreign loser, trying to write at the bar, meekly staring at people, unable to communicate. I run into some Americans (which you wouldn’t think would be the thing you want, but after the urge of suicide washes through your blood, it’s nice to shoot to shit with some tourists in English) and we proceed to get fucking hammered. Luckily, they are rich and pay for everything.  
Ah, the essential kindness of the Average American (until we have to bomb your country).       
I wake up the next morning in my borrowed flat, and attempt to use the borrowed computer.
The Internet doesn’t work. Fuck. Barrier Two.
I look at the time on my cell, which also doesn’t work.
Barrier Three.  
I am running out of the initial Euros I took out at the airport. I head over to the ATM machine and try to take out money. The ATM, rudely in French, spits out my card. It explains there is a ‘le probleme’. I go to the next bank. Another ‘le probleme’. Okay, now I’m really losing my shit.
Barrier Four.
No money, no phone, no friends out here, no text, no Facebook, no Internet, no writings, all welling up in my throat, TOTAL DISCONNECTION. I storm around the streets, tears welling in my eyes, about to lose my shit and beat down the first French man that snides in my general direction.
I get back to the borrowed flat and find some Dewers. A bottle. This is also borrowed, and I appropriately kill half the thing. The thoughts come, reflecting how utterly connected we are in America. The phone, the texting, the computer, it all keeps us, like a bosomy Mother, wrapped in her digital arms.
The alcohol soothes me now. I pick up the borrowed landline and call my bank, which I believe I threatened the life of a phone operator (sorry, whoever you are) and demand access to my money. Of course, they explain, in typical monotone friendliness, “Sir, you must alert us to your leaving the country.”
“I’m going to alert you to murder if you don’t give me my fucking money.”  
“Well, Sir, let me transfer you to our credit fraud department and they will help you.”
I imagining the foreign minutes cost I’m charging to this borrowed phone. I imagine my Generous Friend who allows me this flat will want to stab me when he looks at the phone bill.
“Credit Fraud Department, how may we be of service?” Like a fucking plastic voice, Barbie’s on the other end of the phone, twirling the wire cord, thinking about Ken’s smooth, lack of penis, groin.
“Murder,” I tell her.
“Excuse me, Sir?”
They make me answer all of these questions. I know they are just trying to help. That’s how they roll in America. Save you from yourself. In France, you walk near the edge of a bridge, you could fall off, jump, what have you, that’s your ass. The European Way. If you’re an idiot, they will let you be that. In America, on that same bridge, we will build giant gates to protect the idiot from falling off. If you don’t believe me, look at the Williamsburg Bridge next time you’re on it. In Paris, they’ll let you jump.
The French are not like us.
I finally get my money and burst back out onto the streets. I stumble into Le Chameleon. A dive bar. Or at least, as much as Paris has to offer of one. Out here, you couldn’t get a shot and a beer special if your life depended on it. They just look very confused when you drink heavily.
One French bartender, Nora, looks at me with slight disgust when I throw back a glass full of wine down my throat.
“Why do you do this?” she asks, all French and beautiful.
“It’s been a rough day.”
The concept of the drunkard is odd here. Maybe they had 2,000 years to get used to the idea. They don’t really have guns like we do. They don’t leer at women in a bar like the men do in America. It’s FAR different from the reputation of French Men being particularly lecherous. Maybe the lecherous ones are the guys who travel more, the ones we end up meeting in America when they are tourists. Most of the French guys I’ve met here have been total gentlemen. They are a ‘civilized’ bunch. And the women are the same. They have charm. They discuss politics. They are goofy. What a refreshing change from the stoic, man hungry, money obsessed, heavy booted, rigid typical New York Woman! These girls out here expect you to talk, not just ‘be cool’. And much to my displeasure, I cannot speak well here.  
Williamsburg and Paris couldn’t be more different places (which I will save for future blogs).
Nudity is everywhere. In the ads, on TV. They just don’t give a shit. Nora again explains:
“You Americans are all obsessed with Tits and Guns. We don’t care here. Sex is normal.”
She’s not being a bitch. She pretty correct on that front.
I forget my troubles. The nights get wild. I’m drunk by the Pantheon (they bury famous dead Frenchmen there). I’m drunk, pissing near Hemingway’s Doorway. I’m drunk, back at the Pont Neuf, truly mesmerized by the beauty of the Seine, and the night, and the madness I had been through.
Suddenly, it all becomes clear. All that matters is this paper and pen. All that matters is this bottle of wine I’m drinking that costs like 60 cents. All that matters are these beautiful winding, snake-like streets that will make you lost every time and not even care.
Paris is full of ghosts, and they have guided me around this city for weeks now. They come to my dreams, they speak in my ears and hide in my pockets.
Back in Brooklyn, yeah, I know what’s going on. I’ve got some angles.        
Out here in Paris:
The Bartender Doesn’t Know Shit.