Sunday, December 28, 2014


Well, what can be said about Facebook that hasn’t already been said?
Chances are, if you are sitting at my hypothetical bar (I can’t bartend right now, I’m in New Orleans. Yes. My favorite town. Blog to come about The Big Sleazy next…) you are on your phone:
Scrolling. Swiping. Texting. Tindering. You know what I mean.
Nine times out of ten, when people sit next to each other at a bar, only one dares to defy trend and actually not have some kind of cyber experience over drinks. They are the brave ones. Still trying to keep it interesting. I’ve discussed the sad and terrible fate that the modern bar room has become. Even Charles Bukowski lamented this in his poems:
"The bars are finished. TV took care of that. We used to be performers. Now everybody sits and stares at the tube."
So not only do we have huge HD TV’s glowing above every bar seat with some hallowed unnatural hue, there’s the mini-screens of our iPhones and iPad’s that keep our attention. There’s practically 8 different systems vying for our focus. Where in the world is the room for dialogue? What happened to the savvy talk? No wonder people look at you strange when you start a conversation with them at a bar.
Conversation? What the hell is that? The ‘performers’ that Bukowski talked about now are dead. Killed by the ‘screens’.
Look folks, I won’t front, I’ve found myself addicted to Facebook too. It’s great. I’m connected to people all over the world. I’ve developed relationships with them, dated some, made travel plans with others, all with a couple of clicks and some well placed pics. No doubt Facebook has changed the way we live our lives.
We stay connected. We watch babies being born. Even those, sadly, that has passed on, their Facebook page remains in existence, in some strange digital memorial, floating in cyberspace.
But there are some simply unavoidable sights everyone one of us has been subjected to in the Facebook universe. These particular ‘habits’ are not only completely annoying, they fall into far worse categories: the pathetic, the cringe-worthy and the downright frightening.
These categories are literally killing Facebook, making the random collection of musings and photographs resemble a drunken, gluttonous, ear-splitting rabble roaming blind down a dark street.   
Let’s take a walk through these categories, shall we? Maybe we can learn to avoid these pitfalls and make the Facebook Universe a better place to oddly observe from afar like a peeper with a pair of binoculers.

The Pathetic

Posting Pictures Of Your Younger Self:
Hey, I’ve done it. I admit it. I’ve put exact one picture of myself from back in the old days on the news feed. And it made me sad. It made me sad because of how younger, slimmer, and downright cooler I looked back in the days. Call me selfish, but I’m a fan of youth. Of course, anyone else who is a fan of youth is locked into a bumper car headed for tragedy.
We all get older. It’s true. But have some goddamn dignity and do it alone. That’s what your mother did. That’s what your grandfather did. Own your age. And your hairline. And your waistline.
The only way it is okay to have pictures of your younger self up online is if someone else posted them. That’s cool. But at least untag yourself.

Posting Shitloads Of Pictures Of Yourself In General:
Guys, you know what it means about yourself, right? I don’t have to tell you, do I? Okay. Here goes. If you have over 10 pictures of yourself (I mean, just you. Selfies, people) than you are probably a horrible narcissist. Like a self-admiring, self-loving egotist. Again, it’s okay if it’s you and your family. It’s okay if it’s you and your dog (though that’s sad too, people).
But if you click on your profile on Facebook and see over 10 ‘selfie’s’, you probably are a bragging, conceited self-aggrandizer. Which is fine. Just know that about yourself. As Plato said: “The unexamined life is not worth living”. Listen to the guy. Know this.

Adding People Who Are Not Your Friends:
Okay. Guilty. I add people constantly. But this is for one reason and one reason only. This blog your reading. 95% of the readership for The Bartender Knows comes from Facebook. I’ve traced it. So I add people all over the world, accept ‘friendships’ from any and all countries. Which means I get a lot of ‘working girls’ personally messaging me. At first, I thought I was really popular with the ladies. Until of course they kept getting me to click on their link for Cam Love. Whoops.
Hell, The Bartender Knows will take anybody.
But if you find yourself adding friends that you don’t even know you probably are 1 of 3 people: you are a pervert, a teenage kid with no friends, or an annoying blogger desperately trying to get more people to read their shit.
Moving on.

The Cringe-Worthy

Links to Overtly Political Websites:
Okay. You’re a LIBERAL. We get it. Congratulations. Like your friends couldn’t figure that out if they ever met you, like, once. But you are aware that posting things on Facebook neither changes the world, spreads information, or changes anyone’s mind politically. Not one time in history has someone changed a political side because of a witty meme or a link to Mother Jones.  
What exactly are these posts supposed to do for us? It’s like spitting off a roof and watching who it hits down on the sidewalk. If you want to change the political system, either become a lawyer, a pundit, or a community organizer. If not, please, for the rest of us who already know your political party:
Shut the fuck up.   

Posting Pics Of Your Children:
Do I have to be the first to let you guys know out there I don’t care about your children?
I’m not saying I don’t care about your children. I want all children in the world to be healthy, happy, educated, and live wonderful, beautiful lives. But Facebook is not a family album. It’s a social media site. Social. I repeat. SOCIAL. Kids are great at parks and parties (with other families) but I (and I’m sure I’m not alone here) simply don’t want to look at your children. I’m an adult. There’s no reason I should be looking at anyone’s children that aren’t mine? Am I the only one who thinks this shit is creepy?
Okay. And the kids in bathroom pics? Seriously, parents, DO NOT POST PICTURES OF YOUR KIDS ON THE TOILET. Not only does it make me want to vomit, but it says some very uncomfortable things about you as a parent. I’ll leave that to you.  
Just saying.

Liking Third Party Ads And Making Me Look At It:
You know what guys? I hate Home Depot. I hate Department Stores. I hate Make up Chains. I hate Corporate Chains of all kind. I don’t want to see what some third party ad you’ve agreed upon on my news feed.
You may be asking the question: “Well, bartender guy, what don’t you hate about Facebook? What do you want to see?”
Allow me to respond.
I want to know witty things you’ve written. I want to know to see that you are having a good time in life. I want to know that you are traveling, and I want to know that you are taking advantage of this all-too-short life we have on this planet. I want to look at your very sexy photos. I want to hear about how you’ve graduated from college.
See, I’m not a total asshole. Unless you have photos of your kids taking a piss on your feed:
Then I call child services.

The Downright Frightening

The Sad, Vague Post:
You know what I mean. The lone, picture-less post simply saying things like:
“You never know who will betray you next.”
“Sometimes I am just alone.”
“It hurts. Especially today.”
“Will it ever go away…”
This is when I start wanting to make late night phone calls. Facebook is for ranting, we know that. Facebook is for saying stupid shit, sure.
But these comments start giving me some chills down my spin.
If you in that mood, and I’ve been there, trust me, you don’t need a social media feed, you need a help line.
Life sucks. We get that. But those chills I was talking about earlier, no one needs that. So next time you feel that cold hand on your neck, close the laptop, and pick up the phone. And if it get real bad…
PM me motherfucker. Hell, I’ll be there. Whether we ‘friends’ or not.

Your Friends Expose How Paranoid They Really Are:

Yep. Got them friends that keep posting all the Alex Jones, Illuminati Videos, and Apocalypse Blog links? Okay, maybe it’s just my weird friends. But sometimes, I must admit:
You Are What You Post.
I get it. I’m sure there are weird secret societies that exist where they all sit around and blow each other in some Eyes Wide Shut robes and when those old cocks are done, sit down together and decide how do divvy up the world. In fact I’m sure there’s super educated, rich, crazy megalomaniac motherfuckers deciding the Fates.
I suppose if given the choice I would probably side with the Illuminati over average, highly opinionated, under-educated folks making rules out of feelings and not facts. Call me a supporter of the Masons. I’ll take it.
But man, some people just show how crazy they are from what they post. Paranoid stuff. And if I get too stoned, I get lost on their feeds watching You Tube videos all the way from the prophecies of St. John to Ancient Aliens. It’s 5am in the morning and I’m deciphering glyphs to find out the original location of Atlantis. It’s your fault. It is.
Okay. It’s probably just the weed. I admit it. But please, get a life.

The Haters:
Not normal haters. Allow me to show the difference between ‘haters’ and the real ‘haters’.
Haters are everywhere. Someone doesn’t like this. Someone doesn’t like that. Hell, I’m a ‘hater’. A ‘hater’ is just a person who is critical of things. Nothing is wrong with ‘hating’. Sure, some people say ‘hating’ is bad. I think being critical is a natural part of life. As long as you got one or two solutions as well. Yes, we all should try for the rainbows and peaches life, but in the end, we are all ‘haters’. Believe that.
What scares me in life is ‘real haters’. Yes, it is that moment when some one posts something that is actually prejudice, racist, female hating, male hating, or simply dark as fuck about other people.
People are judgmental. It is the way it is. We have to judge. We judge everything from the moves we make in business to who we want to date.
It’s the accidental ‘real haters’ that scare me the most.
NOTHING makes me feel better than erasing friends on Facebook. Nothing. Call me an asshole, but it’s true. And chances are, after I post this blog, I’m coming for anyone who falls under these categories.

Let’s stop Killing Facebook. Together, we can make the Facebook world a better place (and way less lame). 




Sunday, December 21, 2014

To Be, or Not To Be A Corey...

I’m pretty sure Corey Haim and Corey Feldman ruined my life.
Those two little prepubescent bastards were just a few clicks older than me, just shy of two years or so. But they were in every movie dedicated to my demographic. If it could be said 8 to 13 years be a demographic in the 80’s. Knowing what I do about that decade, I wouldn’t put it past any predatory loan, trickle down, Reagan-styled America to take advantage of young minds.
I think to potential Reagan with a sniper rifle marking on his forehead punk rock posters that would have adorned my bedroom if I were older.
But sadly, no, I was in Rhode Island and really into Paula Abdul and Cat Stevens. There was no way in hell my mother would have allowed any kind of that rebellion. And three sisters and the older lady cousins kept a steady flow of Shannon, Climaxxx, and George Michael ringing in my ears.    
            I didn’t know much at that point. I knew about my train set. Yeah, it was set up on this piece of plywood on two stands in the basement. There was the train figure-eighting around the plywood board, all adorned with fake grass and little model trees. The houses were all meticulously crafted sitting cross-legged on the cement basement floor with a magnifying glass, tweezers, a very super-gluey smell hanging in the musty air.
            When I think back, I don’t think its weird at all that I named the town, knew its climates and all of the town officials. At the hobby stores they sold miniature little humans; little husbands and wives, and little kids. I placed them doing odd jobs around the yard and heading down the street to the post office. I wrote endless profiles of each person in town.
Okay. Maybe this was an example of early megalomania. So what? I was creative. Video games didn’t really interest me. I like personalities and working with my hands.
I was destined to become a bartender and a writer.
I knew about moving around way too much. My Mother had to do her best all alone to keep us kids alive, single working mother style. School supplies, socks and underwear, my craving book addiction; my Mother did her goddamn best to keep me in lunch money. But it meant a lot of moving. I knew about being the new kid in school thing. I knew about the making new friends (and enemies) thing.
I knew about girls. I had already had sex with a woman. Or thought I did.
Here was this girl, no older than eight like me, named Colleen. Now Colleen was the harlot of third grade. And by harlot, I mean she had already kissed like three other boys in the class. Or so her reputation preceded her.
I would sit in the back of the glass and stares at her ponytails, fantasizing every time she would turn around and giggle to her best friend Cindy. Her beaming smile, her charming jokes about the teacher, I was hooked. She was beautiful and looked like Buttercup from The Princess Bride. I had it bad for Colleen.
I’m not sure about what I was fantasizing about doing to her. I just knew there were these things that boys and girls did together and I very much wanted to do these things with her, whatever they were (I'm still learning what this is).  
I got lucky one day. First, I made her laugh. Our teacher, Ms. Bernie, was always angry and hated us kids. She was late one day and in her quickness of step, dumped all of our spelling papers off of her desk. In some kid version of schedenfruede, I laughed and make some crude remark.
Colleen turned, grinned with lizard teeth, nodding at my dis, and her eyes...lingered. I was in.
Minutes later, after cracking my number two pencil on my paper, I stood up and walked to the pencil sharpener. To my surprise, Colleen jumped up from her seat and snuck over to the corner sharpener before me. I froze, not knowing my next move. Behind us both, Ms. Bernie droned on like the teacher in Charlie Brown. I waited for the right moment to pass, but in some divined accident, she skipped from the pencil sharpener and we collided, body to body.
She jerked back: “Watch it!” she said.
I was speechless. My embarrassment was overwhelmed by another feeling. There was a strange stirring in my loins. I went guiltily back to my seat and determined, in my eight year old infinite wisdom, it could only be one thing:
I just had sex.
I beamed and blushed, not even able to lift my eyes from my desk. I heard Colleen whispering to her friends and giggling, no doubt equally as surprised by our such passionate and sudden intimacy.
I was all about Colleen after that. Trying to carry her books home for her (I saw that in a movie once). I swung on the swing next to her. We talked into the waning hours of the afternoon. Until the day I had to move away, again.
My heart was broken. “To California”, I told the other kids when they asked me where our family was moving to. They all growled and talked amongst each other.
“They got pools in the schools out there,” one kid said, thick with the New England accent that lost its “r’s”.  
“And sharks. Lots of sharks,” said another to the ooh’s and aah’s across the room. But Colleen didn’t ooh or aah. She dealt with her sadness by making out with a popular kid the next lunch break. Everybody knew it before me. She told me quickly after Science.
“I don’t like you anymore.”
Despite all of our supposed intimacy, it meant nothing. Sadly placing my hand on the airplane circle window, I felt the cold air beyond its plastic as we took off and flew out of Rhode Island to sunny Southern California.
This was the land of beach Gods and skateboarders. No room for a book wormy young man with a penchant for trains and miniature city council sessions. They didn’t even have basements in California.
On one dark and lonely night, I watched The Lost Boys. There were those Corey’s battling cool biker leather'd vampires. And the theme! A couple of misfit kids moving to California with a single Mom (same premise happened in The Karate Kid; it was an epidemic of cathartic singe-mom roles in Hollywood at the time).
But the Corey’s were cool. So was the raven-haired Jaime Gertz (later to rock my world in Less Than Zero) and the cool older brother we all wished we had Michael, played by the ‘earring-when-it was-cool’ donning Jason Patrick.       
Then I watched Dream A Little Dream. And there was Meredith Salenger. Oh my fucking God—her as a cheerleader dancing in the gym sequence. Heart wrenching. It was over. I wanted brunettes. I wanted cheerleaders. I wanted girls in spandex. And more importantly:
I wanted to be a Corey. These guys were doing everything cool. Killing demons. Driving cars. Kissing Meredith Fucking Salenger. 
Throw in License To Drive in there somewhere and I had a full blown kid-crush. Feldman was in Goonies, he was in Stand By Me, he was in Michael Jackson videos or at least appeared to chill with MJ, the list went on and on. Admittedly, I wanted to be Feldman above Haim.
Haim had Lucas, but none of our friends were into ‘loser porn’ films about social outsiders (but thank you Lucas for bringing us another perfect girl, Winona Ryder).
But as soon as teenage years arrived, I was passed my ‘Corey’ phase. It was new time.
Dungeons and Dragons were out. The Corey’s were out. The train set was definitely out. Now it was oral sex in hatchbacks, weed smoking out of Coca-Cola cans, and grainy Cinemax films late at night.
The world would never be the same again.
And how did I get there? 

Damn you, Corey’s. You had led me astray.




Thursday, November 27, 2014


Artists. Are. Everywhere.
            This has been a topic I have written about for years. Where in the world is the best place for an artist of any streak; the painter, the writer, the photographer, the musician—to live, to work, to survive and flourish? All fingers point to Europe. This is nothing new. Who hasn’t heard the ‘I’m big overseas’ announcement from American artists? It’s a common explanation to family members, doubters, and other desperate artist types here in the States lauding Europe as some sort of Shangri-La for the creative temperament. And there is a reason for this.
            Paris, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Dublin, Prague; these cities are listed as the most hospitable in Europe for the Artists of the world. But only Berlin (and Prague) stands alone (for now) as the affordable choice.
            This will probably change over the next 10 years, as popularity and news spreads about this artistic city. Let me tell you some wild facts, financially speaking, regarding Berlin.        
Average one bedroom apartment in a slightly boring part of the city:
400 euros. (that’s about 550 dollars)
Average price of a six pack of beer (and we’re talking good German beer):
3 euros.
Average pad of regular butter:
.35 euros.
Average night out per person sans booze at a sit-down restaurant:
12 euros.
Average schwarma street food sandwich (delicious, btw):
2.50 euros.

Already, you can understand why people, especially artists, would want to live here. Weed and alcohol are tolerated on the streets. Smoking is allowed everywhere. Prostitution totally legal in the Red Light District. The bars rarely close at a certain time, and obviously the clubs don’t close. Drugs are available quite easily outside Gorlitzer Park in Kreuzberg. All you have to do is be a white person and the ‘businessmen’ will approach directly.
Artists are welcome here in Berlin. No one chides an artist as they do here in the States. No one is worried about what you make or drops the annoyingly passive aggressive line: “so have you sold a screenplay?”
There is a sense of some kind of camaraderie, a lost bastion out in the world, and they stick together, supporting one another, going to each others rocks shows, film premieres, and art openings.
I stumbled accidently into the artistic elite. Held up in the bougie neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, I wandered, night by night, trying to find a place for this bartender, not bartending. Of course there were beer halls. No such thing, really, as a ‘regular’ bar in Berlin. It’s either a restaurant, a beer hall, or a wine bar.
Then there’s 8MM Bar. My Holy Grail of Berlin.
            Rumors of the bar were already floating about even before I left to Germany. They told me, that’s the punk spot, dark and whorishly red-lit. Old film canisters adorned the shelves, and screenings on the far wall of odd psychedelic cut-up films, ranging from the sexual to the perverse, gleam under the smoke filled small main room of 8MM Bar. They make their own version of Jager, some mysterious concoction called Melloch, delicious and potent, and offered by the kind and generous bartenders that work behind the bar. Most were musicians, in their own psych-rock bands; others were photographers, painters, and pianists. Really, anything interesting only started at 3 in the morning. And that’s during the week folks. Yes, all ages, all styles, all variance of drug induced dance party people, all of these happenings occur past the witching hours—into the night they go…
            That is Berlin. I didn’t go to the clubs. I don’t like electronic music. Nor am I a fan of crowds. I start getting that strange feeling of an ocean rising up to my throat. Of course, if I had ingested some Molly perhaps, easily available on the streets, I would have become a dancing fiend. But no, instead I became a wandering drunk, taking my drinks on the streets below glowing yellow street lamps, and pocketing small Vodka bottles in my overcoat. Then I found the free concerts at the Berlin Philharmonic at noon every Tuesday. I stumbled upon violin players, accordion players, and strange folk-tribal groups playing by The Spree and on the random streets.
            There was the fine ‘walk’ I created, arranging a mix of interesting streets, pleasant to the eye, aesthetically speaking, all making for a great walk. It was from Prenzlauer Berg to the Brandenburg Gate, then onto Checkpoint Charlie, and back across to Kreuzberg.
Making my way to the long knife cut into Mitte using Schonhauser Alle, already one can feel the entrance of the city center. Walking past the closed 8MM Bar (not opening until 8pm) I came to the intersection of Torstrasse and Alte Schonhauser where the very odd bar called the Old CCCP sits under the bulbed lights of its moniker above the door. Not quite sure what was going on in this place, good DJ’s no doubt, but the workers were oddly dressed in suits and vests. I couldn’t help but shake a feeling of organized crime was somehow involved in the bars existence. Inside the place, on some late nights I got a very ‘working girl’ vibe in the place.
This made more sense as I made my way along the curved Neue Schonhauserstrasse which leads winding down along side the beautiful and picturesque Monbijou Park, a tree filled lush and peaceful place where with a bottle of Budweiser (actual Budweiser kids) and a Gauloise cigarette one can find some kind of reflection of the future and the past.
Or find prostitutes. Yes, that’s right, of course I accidently wandered into this area. Normally I took a right down Monbijoustrasse. But if one continues down Oranienstrasse past 8pm on a Friday night, legions of Eastern European prostitutes in porn attire line the sidewalks offering back massages, old fashions, and other assorted activities. I suddenly remember it is legal here, and not necessarily being a prostitute kind of guy, and being broke, I merely chatted with them. They, upon realization I was the worst ‘john’ ever, ignored me and moved on. Back to the “PG” rated beauty walk.
 Hanging a right down Monbijoustrasse, we come to the prosaic domed structure of the Bode Museum over a small bridge above the Spree River. At sunset, with the TV Tower in the background, one can witness the most pristine vision of Berlin under construction, a city still building its identity and its structures.
Past the river, hanging a left down Kupfergrabinstrasse, a small side street leads underneath a sullen grey-sooted above ground train, there is a winding beautiful little street (Georganstrasse) full of bars, bodegas, and shops that sneaks under the railway charmingly rattling above. Walk the long curve to Friedrichstrasse, their 6th Avenue, and gleefully pound a beer in front of the suited working types of this areas business district. All the way down is Checkpoint Charlie, obviously packed with tourists and such. Take a left on Oranienstrasse and follow all the way into the more grimy and hipster-laden and of Kreuzberg.
The comparison to Brooklyn to Berlin is repeated over and over again. But let me tell you the truth. Berlin is German, that’s it. If anything, many styles of Brooklyn have been co-opted from the Berliners, not vica-versa. Nothing can compare to Berlin. It stands alone as the last bastion of cheap living for the artist in Western Europe.
But coming back into the States (yes, I have returned to Brooklyn), once greeted by the custom agent, I grinned widely, slammed my bags down, and confessed: “Goddamn it! It's good to be back in the States!” The custom agent, usually a solemn bunch, punched my passport, and said grinning back: “Welcome home.” He knew I was no terrorist. I looked too relived to be back on home soil.
It felt good to speak English and not be judged for it. The taxi line at JFK even felt warm and cozy (listening to the screams of angry drivers and the full hard press of the horns in traffic). People were swearing everywhere. Taxi’s were playing hip-hop loud through the speakers. Every one was ignoring everyone else, and moving fast toward their destination, all with angry grimaces and tired eyes. I was home. I was happy.  
I was back in New York City. My favorite town.

And who knows what would await me upon my return?