Monday, June 24, 2013

LIFE LESSONS (bar style...)

            It’s been a little while, hasn’t it folks? Let me personally say to what readership may still exist that I fully apologize for my lack of correspondence. I feel like your Bartender has been off at war, battling on front lines in some foreign land, where the languages are raw and the customs unfamiliar. There have been a series of near misses, close encounters, attacks from within and without, and a slew of casualties and innocent victims.  
            Well, if the world insists on becoming savage, then let us implement savage tactics back. I suppose the world has always been this way, and only in some kind nostalgia cloud did the world ever seem easy and free. Like the iCloud, except not totally evil.
            Your grandparents’ time was not easier. There were not more ‘honest’ times. There were still swindlers, gangsterism, and charlatans. So be it.  We will just have to match them with wits. Get a little blood in our eye.
            It’s also summer in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which means everything has gone completely off the charts. The bars are filled with sweaty want, the alcohol flowing rapid. We got beach days at Brighton with Cava and Mezcal Tequila. We’ve got friends becoming famous over night. We’ve got Paris Review parties to attend.  
Hell, to the outside world, my deranged lifestyle appears like some alcohol soaked vacation. In reality, it is fraught with peril, life obstacles, and one or two horrible mishaps on my part. As time crawls forward toward the unknown future, even your Bartender has to come to terms with some life lessons that are both a little scary and a little exciting. As my step-father told me and what now I must begrudgingly accept: “Life is full of trade offs. You can’t have everything. The moment one door closes, another opens”.  Shit, I spent most of my trying to stuff the whole circus through the exit door. Guess it doesn’t work that way. Not well, anyways. 
            That’s why I love the bar world. When you’ve got your elbows comfortably placed on the old wood, a nice bar stool under your ass, a half-drunk cocktail on a wet bev nap next to you, you are the Everyman. Everyone can get a drink (unless you’re an asshole, see previous blogs).  One sits, dreaming about the future and past in one moment, consulting the ice cubes (and of course your bartender) for advice.
Everybody drinks to find their own version of solace, even if that solace means falling off your bar stool or languidly, eyes gently closing and opening again, ordering another cocktail (your fifth) at 6pm.
            My solace came in the form of being really, really, really nice to people. I spent years as the sad, angry writer, alone, me against the world, roaming from Eureka, California to Boston, from Los Angeles to New Orleans, notepad clutched between my bony fingers, scrawling whatever sad ass shit I was composing at the time. I felt as if the pen and paper was the only thing holding from spiraling off into the abyss. I’d work shit job after shit job, just to get by. I would sleep with anyone who ever showed me any attention (which does happen sometimes). There was no way out of the dark tunnel, and I yearned for some kind of quiet death in a basement room. But alas, death never came. 
            Now my philosophy has changed. Now it’s all about changing the circuits the other way, reversing the flow.
            So now, as you all sit at my bar, allow me to describe some helpful advice to help the flow go your way too. Everybody got their drinks in there hands? Good. Let’s raise our glasses to pontificating bartenders!

            The Happy List.

            Not a ‘bucket list’ jerk off. Bucket Lists are lists about places you want to see before you die and adventures you want to go on before the Fat Lady sings. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the ‘Happy’ List. It’s easy. Take out a piece of paper. I want you to write five things that, during your day, really make you happy. Not people, not banal things like Iced Mochas and shit. I’m talking about actions that you absolutely love to do and could not live with out. Let’s take my happy list from 2006.

            1. Sex
            2. Alcohol
            3. Writing
            Not the most creative guy at the time, and I’m not saying my happy list has changed much since, but it was a start. Maybe you have knitting on yours. The point of the happy list is to isolate things we love, and often times forget to do. Do you know how much shit we do everyday we don’t want to? Do you ever ask yourself why you continue to do that? If the mind is a garden, then whatever blooms in that dirt is the exact reflection of what was put in it. So what happens when all you put in your head is shitty free NetFlix movies, The Walking Dead, Starbucks, traffic, and arguments with your significant other? Ugh. I don’t even want to know, but I’m sure De Kooning would love to paint it.
            Write out your Happy List and attempt, with great power and belief, to do those things everyday. Trust me. Things will begin to improve dramatically.

            Somewhat Healthy Lifestyle

            You ever hear about those kids whose parents never let them play in the dirt and they always end up sick? Bacteria is incredibly important to the immune system. It’s like a continuous reminder to the body to keep up its action. Why do you think New Yorkers always seem super thin and remain attractive? Do you know how much bacteria probably exists every time we walk out the door, ride a subway, or open any door? Jesus Christ, it’s like an orgy of disease and bacteria over here. That’s why the Muslims hate us so here in the Big Apple and try to fuck with us, because we are just having way too much of a good time here. We have to work 30 jobs, pay absurd rents, deal with an insurmountable amount of bullshit on the regular just to do simple mundane activities, but we know how to have a good time. But to continue to live the way we do, we must, eventually, come to terms that the human mind can only stand so much, and if pushed too far (which can happen daily here), even a rational person as myself can literally go bat shit crazy if not careful. I used to joke when I was young that I wanted to be crazy. The scary part comes when you actually become crazy. Yikes. Now crazy is not only regulated to the 5 Boroughs, it can happen anywhere. So listen to my mother advice she recently texted me:
            -Matthew, please eat, drink water, do exercise. Try not to drink hard liquor and stick to wine and beer and do not take drugs for at least a week and tell me if you feel any different. Love, Mom.-

            Wow. Sounds like a person who knows me, huh?

            Make Peace With Your Enemies

            I know this sounds crazy. Enemies? It’s 2013. Who’s got vendettas out there? Well, as an Italian person, I am prone to some of these. Like I’ve said before, there’s only one thing Italians love more than food and sex and that is vengeance. We look for any opportunity to implement ‘projects’ out of people. However, most recently, I tried to imagine all the people that I have sore feelings about and narrowed it down. I then tracked these individuals down and stuck out my hand in apology. Now, these people did not deserve any kind of apology from me, and should have been the ones, most certainly, to apologize back. But I did it to clear my conscious, so that my Karma was clean. It’s like what you do in A.A. or something, or converting to a religion. Except it isn’t a religion, it’s me setting out to make things right.
            Anger and resentment will crush you and eventually eat you out from the insides. Trust me on this one. I’ve had a Doritos bag of chips on my shoulder all my life.

            So drink up, kids, and I’ll try not to be such a stranger. I’ll let y’all know when I’m a millionaire. Then I’ll buy the whole bar drinks. Till next time.