Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Killing The Sunset

            This weather is fucking strange.
            I’m with friends, drinking out, ready for Spring. It’s everywhere. By day, the warmth demands liquid comfort. Nothing is better than drinking in the late afternoon with friends on a patio, beer in hand, letting the last light-orange glow pet the skin as we lounge with our feet up.
            We need the sun in New York. We need it like money. It’s Vitamin D we lack, hence the foul neurotic sometime bouts of mania us New Yorkers experience on any given day. And after a grey, dark Winter, these small, early respites of sun and blue skies are golden. My friends put back their pints:
            “Man, what is up with this change of weather?” I say to the group.
            My Well-Published Friend, Reuben, already embittered and a prince of Doubt, stares coldly behind his brown sunglasses: “Who gives a shit? The afternoon is beautiful.”
            Roland smirks: “I second that, Reuben. Hence the spring jacket I’m wearing. Look at Wyatt, he’s even broke out that 40-year-old Dickie’s blue button up. Oh, the tides are a turning.”
            Wyatt, puffing on a hand rolled cigarette, blowing smoke from his beard, leans back, explaining: “Well, you see Roland, I was going for the working class look. I’m a hard working man. Thank you for noticing.”
            We cheers to that.
            “Still, the weather is changing. Global Warming will kill us all. Another round?” Roland says, standing.
            Everyone nods.
            “If these are the end of days, it feels pretty fucking good. I’ll make the Apocalypse my bitch. Don’t forget the shots, Roland,” Reuben decrees.
            There is nothing better than right now. I look around, the bar is clean, a little place off Berry, everyone’s laughing and getting along.
Then it hits me, we could take it up one notch.
            “Fellahs. Let’s call 15 people and meet for the sunset at Berry Park,” I say.
            “Where’s that?” Wyatt asks.
            “North 15th, by McCarren Park. Best roof top ever.”
            Reuben slams his shot glass down. “Let’s fucking do it.”
            Wyatt looks over: “Is there women and booze?”
            I grin: “Does Mama Kennedy have a black dress?”
            And this is where the story goes to shit. What do you think happened to the young gentlemen and our little plan?  What could go wrong? We had everything going for us. The sun is out, the weather is warm, the boys are properly sauced, our buzz like a buoy in the water, staying afloat. We had 7 others agree to meet us there. The plan was perfect. 
            Now Berry Park has the most amazing rooftop, this is true, a perfect view of Manhattan, plenty of fine folks to leer at under the fading sun.
            That is until you want to get drinks.
            Our party has arrived, now we own the table, all 12 of us, chatting, lighting each other cigarettes, sneaking a bowl hit of weed every twenty minutes, and the sun is slowly disappearing behind the great monoliths of midtown. They even have a bar on the roof.
            Which is closed. On the first hot day of the year. Right? Stupid. Okay.
            “I’ll grab some beers downstairs,” I say. Wyatt joins me to help.
            “I gotta be useful for something,” he tells me.
            “You’re doing God’s work, sir.”
            We walk down the awkward long staircase that is made to kill drunk people and head over to the practically empty bar. There’s two waitresses arbitrarily standing beside the bar, a bored look in their eyes. Behind the bar, three, yes, three bartenders. The first guy looks like some weird Ukrainian pimp, bald head, bad retro sweater, 6’5”, khaki pants (always bad). The other is an emaciated girl with eyes sunk deep into their sockets. There’s another guy, a skinny, lecherous looking type, sort of the guy you’d think pays for Internet sex chat rooms, pacing back and forth.
            Everyone looks like they are high on drugs. And not in a rad Keith Richards way. More like Nick Nolte arrest photo high on drugs way. Me and Wyatt saddle up to the bar.
            There are bartender crimes galore over here. There’s only 5 other customers, other than Wyatt and I. First thing first, there are dirty empty glasses strewn across the bar. I actually have to grab a couple napkins to wipe off some dreck to rest my elbows on the bar while I wait.
Crime number two: everyone has their backs towards us. This is just a bartender rule of thumb. Never keep your back to the populace. It’s a real fuck you vibe to the drinker. I’m peeved already.
So Ukrainian Pimp Guy comes over, doesn’t smile a lick. Wyatt even tries to be charming. The guys face is a solid pink cube.
“What do you want?” he says, in some thick Communist accent.
“Gimmie the Pilsner,” I say, returning the kindness.
“No more Pilsner,” he huffs, then he’s off again, helping one of the drugged out waitresses with a question. Wyatt and I look at each other. Internet Sex Chat Room Guy now comes over. But he’s one of these bartenders who avoids the eyes of people. As if he’s he won’t be seen by the customer if he doesn’t acknowledge them, visually speaking.
“Excuse me,” I say. No response. He’s two feet away from me. He’s pretending not to listen.
I look down the bar. Every other customer looks pissed. Two girls angrily stroke their hair. A pack of guys stand stone faced, as if they just witnessed a car wreck.  There’s no music playing. Just some murmurs from the waiting customers.
3 bartenders. It’s been 6 minutes. We finally get their attention.  The Deep Eye Sockets Chick comes over. I sneak the big order quick, getting a couple of extra beers so I don’t have to come back down to this madness.
The thing is this people. You roll into my bar; you get a greeting, a smile, and beer faster than you can say Miller Genuine Draft. And that’s on my bad days.  I’ll cut the place some slack if it’s packed. I’m not that much of an asshole, but these bartenders are terrible.
We ascend the drunk killing stairs and make it back to our party. The Whiskey Twins (fine, fantastic literary characters who walked straight out of a Fitzgerald novel) smile and greet us.  There’s Victoria, the wild, chatty blonde, and her sister Anne, a brown, doe eyed people watcher.
“What the hell, you boys get lost down there?” Victoria asks, kissing me on the cheek.
“Don’t ask. Bartender Hell down there,” I say.
“It didn’t look that busy,” she says.
“And the bar up here is closed? That’s weird. On such a nice day like this?” Victoria says.
“Yes. I know.”
“Well, let’s get one of the waitress to help us,” Victoria says, pointing to the two waitresses from down stairs. “I’ll try babe, but I’m pretty sure they are on drugs or just don’t give a shit.”
Victoria nods, taking a drag from her cigarette: “Williamsburg Customer Service,” she says, grinning.  
This waitress is definitely a heroin addict.
I approach. “Hi. My friends and I were wondering if we could start giving you our drink order. It’s a little weird downstairs.”
She looks at me with strange, vacant eyes, as if she didn’t really work here, and she was just some chick I was bothering.
“What? Oh, yeah. My boss just told us to stop serving customers up here. They have to go down stairs,” she whispers, then exits with a “Sorry, dude.”
I return to Victoria.
“Verdict?” She asks.
“The boss doesn’t want them to serve up here,” I repeat in the waitress’s monotone voice.
Nodding, Victoria says: “Right? Why make anything easier for the customer.”
I brave it again downstairs; get two more beers from The Deep Eye Sockets Chick (7 minutes for each). Then they lose my credit card. Ukrainian Pimp Guy finds it, but when he brings it to me it is the wrong card. He charged some other poor sap 40 bucks. Now Internet Sex Chat Room Guy is on the case. He’s asking the waitresses for information. I stand, stunned.
Finally I’m back upstairs. And that’s it. The sunset was already gone. I still had my friends, but Berry Park killed my sunset.
Thanks Berry Park. Your beer selection is shit. You’re overpriced. You fired one of my favourite bartenders in Williamsburg for arbitrary reasons (The Bartender’s Bartender folks, she’s the shit), and you killed the first beautiful day of the season.
Losers. All of you, you being the managers and owners. And just like the Democrats this election, it’s time to get you’re fucking shit together.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Power Of The Slut

            The scene:
            Iggy’s on the Lower East Side.
            The happy hour crowd is here. 6:30pm. The bar is already body to body, but not in a bad way. There’s still breathing room. The beer and shot combo they got going is keeping everybody happy. I’m there, calm, which is rare for me, not having any particular plans, wandering.
            New York City is the finest place to wander aimlessly. It’s the wandering that teaches you about the 9 million collected inhabitants squeezed into each corner of the city.  And there’s a bar on every block if you need a drinking respite for the weary legs.
The Central Park walk is good. Up Third Ave, my friend and I discovered a peaceful bar, hosted by a Greek/Italian bar keep. He cussed every other sentence and we took to him immediately. He liked my friend, her blonde hair in particular, barely taking his eyes off of her as she ordered some appetizers.
            Then, properly drunk, hours later, we went for the inebriated 1 hour run through the Met. There are rules to museum adventures. You should never be in a museum longer than 2 hours. Otherwise, it’s just Art Porn. But with a little drink in you, the museum is fun as all hell.
            That was last week. Now alone, I went for another walk. This time from Williamsburg across the bridge descending onto Delancy. Thirsty, I took a quick right and Iggy’s it was. I thought I knew someone who worked there. But that’s what all us drinkers hope for.
A friendly face, a buyback. A funny story.
Goddamn benevolence is another word for it.
            The bartender was nice enough, a curvy little thing, pacing back and forth, a sardonic grin, shaking up some martini’s for two suits leaning by the corner, awkwardly laughing, watching the bartender’s ass as she bends over for each Miller High Life she grabs from the ice bin.
Now the crowds are here. All types. The two suits, a gang of obvious NYU kids reeking of self-importance, lost in some Spring Break fantasy. Some punks, remarkably still in existence, smelling of body odor and leather, take the back corner. The place fills slowly, the door cracking every 10 minutes. The suns already going down, the bulb lights inside glow a sick orange hue hanging from long wire cords behind the bar.
The music gets turned up and it happens. You feel it in your bones. Eyes start flashing at everyone else.
Alcohol has just unleashed lust into the room.
            The normal bar routine starts. I’ve seen it a million times behind the bar. Now I am just a civilian, a drinker. Part of the jungle.
            The hunt is on. The men walk a little taller, the women, with coy confidence, all look their best. I usually spend most of my time in dive bars far dirtier than this. There are barely any women in places like that, and any young ladies that do stroll into the Subway Bar for instance were either suffering from depression or on a slumming kick.
            But here at Iggy’s there’s a mix. Everybody is looking for someone, or on their phones texting the person they’re hooking up with after they meet someone here.
            The sexual milieu is present.
Rule One: Act uninterested. It’s the New York Way.
Here, it’s disinterest that gets people interested. They like the challenge. They’re all little masochists.
            I can see people looking over shoulders, giving sideline glances to someone walking back from the bathroom. This is the human game, especially on a Friday Happy Hour. The workweek is over. Now it is time to play.
            The rules are obvious when you observe them from afar.
Rule Two: Keep your options open.
People will talk to you, but not pick one until they’re on their way out. Or, like some others I know, take as many numbers as they can.
It’s a usual Happy Hour shift in Manhattan.
Then the door opens, and in she walks.
            Big hair, tussled, thick and lovely, hang over her all but bare shoulders. No make up, black dress, cut right up above the knee. Deep d├ęcolletage, her breasts almost spilling out of the little black thing.  She’s obviously already drunk with a huge smile, howling right when she walks in. This girl rolls in like lightening and the whole places pauses as if a record scratched.
            She languidly swims through the crowd, winking at every man near her, lightly touching their stomachs, their shoulders, their backs as she passes. Every woman immediately in the place has hate in their eyes. Every man suddenly, like a starving prisoner who can smell food when the cage bars open, puts an eye on her. I watch the tide change in the room. The girl reeks of sex. It’s the way she slinks across the room. It’s the way her easy eyes have no fear of recourse, staring down both the men and the women.
            She makes her way to the bar. I see her laugh and raise up her arms to a hipster dude. They hug and she plants a kiss right on his bare mouth. Then she moves to the next man, maybe she knows him, maybe she doesn’t. All I hear is:
            “What’s up, baby?” And kisses him too.
            She’s coming my way now. I try to avert my eyes. Next to me she mounts a bar stool, legs spread a little too wide, the skirt creeping up her thighs. She smells of yesterday’s perfume.
            “What’s up, you?” She says over my shoulder.
            I turn. “Not much.”
            The bartender comes up, scowling, already full of disdain.
            “What can I get you?” the bartender asks, deadpan.
            “Darling, you can get me every fucking thing you got,” she says, then looking over at me. “How about you quiet guy, what do you think I should drink?”
            “As much as possible,” I say.
            “Good answer. What’s your name?”
            “Frank.” (Note: I always give this fake name when I don’t want anything to do with the person.)
            She takes up my hand, and right there in front of the on lookers, sucks on my pointer finger, keeping her eyes on me, finger deep in her mouth.
            I look to the bartender: “2 whiskeys, please.”
            Suddenly, we are surrounded by other men. She takes the finger out of her mouth and, sticking out her tongue, licks up my arm. I’m stunned, dumbstruck.
“To Fuck it,” she cheers, and slams the shot back.
            Before I know it, I’m pushed out. This girl is now flirting, kissing, leaning her breasts on all of these men. I slowly sneak away from this sickening pack. I don’t know who she’s going home with, but it’s going to be someone. I don’t even start theorizing about her childhood.
            Women hate this kind of girl. You know what I’m talking about. When a girl plays the sex card like our ‘lady’ here at Iggy’s, it devalues the cat and mouse game everyone else is playing. It makes the sex too ‘easy’, as they say. All the men would rather chase the Slut then have to go through the useless pedantic games of trying to fuck a regular person.

            Sounds tragically bitter?

            Here are some facts about sex:
            No matter what anyone tells you, it is a game. Call it what you will. Dating is series of well-played (and hopefully honest) interpersonal revelations done systematically by both sides to appear to be more attractive. No? Everybody puts their best foot forward when first meeting someone. That’s not how you dress everyday! You don’t wear that much make up! You don’t offer to cook people food right when you meet them! You don’t usually wear cologne! Come on people, it’s a fucking game. A human sexual chess game. 

            The power structure currently in our modern world is that men are the initiators and women are the gate keepers. They choose who shall be the victor. Admit it ladies, you get hit on at least 37 times a day (and if you don’t, either you are not paying attention or your one of Medusa Sister’s).  And, in the end, you have the choice for your personal ‘preference’.
Men, we don’t get shit. We have to ‘get up, get out, and get something’, to quote Outkast. It’s just the way it is.              
            The slut devalues these games.  Yes, the girl who sucks on your finger before you know her name changes things. Immediately, the other women are angry. If sex has value, and the rest of the upstanding women of the world insist on upholding this value, the power of the slut comes from de-valuating sex. Making it like breathing, or taking a piss, or a really fun handshake.

            I don’t know what happened to our slutty friend. I can make one or two educated guesses, however.
But I do know this. From the moment home girl walked in the bar, she changed the entire vibe of the place.
Her brazen sexuality sent a tidal wave of energy across the room, and not all for good (especially for the wholesome girl trying to talk about her day to her distracted boyfriend).
The Power of the Slut is revelatory. It shows men for the Neanderthals they really are, revealing pathetically simple and base natures. It erodes the power of sexual attraction by devalueing sex and the chase itself. The Slut puts it all right out there.
I’ve walked into a million bars and never changed shit (except that one time I collided with a bar stool, falling upon it, causing a domino effect of other falling barstools, and getting promptly kicked out of Zablowski’s a couple years back). 
            Keep your eyes in the bars. Look around for that ‘one’. Every night of the week, there’s always that ‘girl’. You’ve seen her. And now you know her power.

            Till next time by the drinking fire, kids, keep your shirts on.