Sunday, January 25, 2015


            We are all put on this Earth to do something. Right?
            I remember being a very young man (long before bartending), happy, playing make believe with swords and train sets (never forget the train sets). All things were okay (except when I got in trouble with my Mother). Until that Fateful day.
            The day in question?
            It was the day I realized how big the world was. Not just how big the world was, but how huge existence actually is. It hit me like later acid trips, hard, confusing, and totally overwhelming.
            It was strange. I just remember laying there in my bed and feeling the exact moment I understood that there was a much larger universe outside of myself (some adults haven’t even learned this important fact). It was scary and dark, feeling so small, knowing how miniscule I was in this grand universe.
            I wasn’t big. All of my issues and problems (as a precocious 10 year old) meant nothing. I started to cry. The immenseness was simply too big for my small mind to comprehend (nothing has really changed).
            I cried out for my Mother: “Mamma!”
            The dutiful mother she was, rushed in, me waking her from slumber with my cries.
            “What’s wrong, sweetheart?” she asked.
            I tried my best, kid-wise, to explain my horrifying revelation. I said, through tears, how big life was, and how scary it made me, and how I had no idea how to live through it all.
            My mother, in her infinite wisdom, explained:
            “It’s true, sweets, the world is much bigger than you and I. And there is trouble everywhere. But it’s up to you to pick something you love to do. Life is like a battle—like raising up those plastic swords you play with in the yard. You must know what your weapon will be. Pick one weapon and fight with all of your heart. If everyone did that, this world would be a better one. You just have to find your battle and fight it with all of your might."
            Fast forward. Now I’m a bartender. Suddenly, I realize my life is totally meaningless. I could have been a lawyer. I could have been a doctor. I could have been a cop, a congressman, a private detective, a priest, anything, but there I was, listening to some kid talk about how New York isn’t shit and how life is ‘easy, and so boring sometimes...'
            Then they ask me for a Gin and Soda and Tonic. Like at the same time.
            “Is it hard to bartend?” The girl asks me facetiously. "What other kind of drinks can you make?"
            I try to hold back the vomit.
            I put my elbows on the bar and lean forward, almost in a whisper, almost in a grimace.
            “I can make anything your Grandfather would drink, sweetheart.”  
            The whole bar goes dark around me. I can’t see straight. I think back to what my Mother told me about swords and what not. Then I’m at another bar, years later, sitting with a bunch of miscreant writers. More my kind of people. We want to write each other short stories.
            “This will be fun. It’ll be like a boxing ring. But for writers,” one of them says.
            “Exactly…” I say.
            Another downs a shot, slamming the glass down on the bar. “So we write a short story a month,” his eyes water with whiskey drunk.
            “Yes. But we do more. We write one a week…” I say.
            “What?” They both simultaneously say.
            I lean back, myself a little tipsy. “One a week. And we do it anonymously.”
            “Anonymously,” the scraggily haired one says.
            “That’s right.”
            “Like we don’t put our names on it?” the short-haired one with whiskey eyes says.
            “That’s right,” I say, “We write one a week, and we’ll put them right on the bar every…” I think to myself to try remember what fucking day it is (note: when you bartend 6 days a week, you forget what day it even is. Add whiskey, beer, serving thousands of people, listening to everyone’s problems, and trying to remain standing is a concoction not for the weak and weary).
            I continue: “Every Sunday. That’s it. We write short story each week, anonymously, print them up, and place it right fucking here,” I slam my hand down on the end of the bar, “for all the world to read.”
            All of us, giddy with writer excitement, run off totally hammered, to write short stories. Now I know. This was a good idea.
            So the little anonymous experiment began. And before I knew it, more writers wanted to jump on the bandwagon.
            “Can I write stories for this anonymous thing?” a random writer asked, walking into the bar on a Sunday.   
            I looked over at my cronies.
            “Why not? It’s open to everyone,” I said.
            Then something began. Each Sunday, we would print out more and more short stories, always placing them at the end of the bar. The end of the bar I first slammed my shot down and ran with this odd idea.
            Something weird began. More and more people started to write short stories. Now our little group realized we had started something strange. We needed rules.
             Sort of.
            “Okay, rule number one. Never Stop Writing. Rule number two: Never Stop Reading,” I said.
            “What else? Can we write whatever we want?” One of our cronies asked.
            “Yes,” I said. “But it has to be a story. I don’t care what it is. It just has to be a story.”
            “Is there rules on topics? Genres? Lengths?” Someone else asked.    
            “No,” I said. “The only thing is: We Don’t Stop Writing. No matter what.”
            We all nodded. More people came into the bar, asking what the hell the stack of anonymous short stories were sitting in a pile at the edge of the bar.
            “It’s Literate Sunday,” I said. “It’s an anonymous book club.”
            “Can we read them?” A customer asked.
            “That’s what they are there for,” I said. Then I had a vision. I blurted it out.
            “Oh, and you can write what you think of the story on the back,” I had no idea where this idea came from.
            The customers smiled, grabbing a short story. “Oh, that’s cool. It’s like a writer workshop. But at a bar.”
            “That’s right,” I said.
            “And no one does anything…there’s no readings or anything, right?”
            “There’s nothing more embarrassing than a writer reading their own work out loud,” I said.
            Nervous giggle. They grabbed a story. Each week, the submissions grew and grew. Literate Sunday was becoming legitimate.
            People wanted to know. Why anonymous?
            “We realize that most people judge stories by who’s famous, who’s their friends, what some rich person says. Then there’s all the judgments. Who’s a man? Who’s a women? Who’s gay? Who’s from Africa? Here at Literate Sunday, we realized: Who gives a shit? The STORY has to be good or perish!!!”
            Cue random hand clapping from across the room.    
            More and more submissions were sent via email to our new shiny website. More and more people became members. Our numbers topped 100. Then 500.
            And once The New York Times wrote a piece about us, it exploded. Readers and writers from all over the world joined this weird thing that started in a dark bar by a bunch of drunk people.
            LITERATE SUNDAY.
            The New York Times, you ask? Bartender Matthew, are you lying to us?
            Nope. Read all about it HERE, YES, THE NEW YORK TIMES, PEOPLE.
            So in honor of The Bartender Knows coming to an end, let me ask you guys a couple questions?
            Do you like reading?
            Do you like writing?
            Do you want to read submissions from all around the world?
            Have you ever wanted to write a short story?
            Then send an email to .
            That’s all you have to do. You’ll get an anonymous short story once a week, every Sunday. We don’t know who these writers are. We don’t care. The stories could be written by me. The stories could be written by you. It doesn't matter. 
            There’s only 2 rules.
            Never Stop Writing.
            Never Stop Reading.
            Do it, people. Just email:

            Time to pick up a sword.
            Be a part of us. Whoever we are.

            Until next time.

            Only 4 more blogs left. It’s been a great ride. Thanks for reading.






Sunday, January 11, 2015


            It’s true. I know. I know.
            Everybody’s asking me, “Why Are You Leaving?” I know a lot of people rely on these blogs to answer all of the most perplexing questions in this world. There’s a lot of answers out there. And I know them.
            But let us not shed a tear for a bartender, slowly walking off into the sunset. I’ve put the bar rag down, washed my hands, heavily Purell-ing my hands to get the gunk of the New York City bars off my skin.  
            Imagine the average bacteria on a servers/bartenders hands here in New York City. Hell, imagine just the bacteria on the hands of the average New Yorker. First they leave their apartments, all jacketed up, turning the doorknob closed. Their roommates also have touched their doorknobs, as any of the one night stands they've had traipsing through the house. Then to the Dunkin Donuts or some other ambiguous ‘organic’ coffee shop for those with an anti-capitalist streak. They get a coffee to go handed to them by a pasty, acned faced Puerto Rican. God knows where she’s been all morning. Then onto the subway, touching the seats and slipping ones fingers around the hand rails. How many people ride the New York Public Subway each day?
6.1 million people. Google that shit. That’s 6.1 million doorknobs. 6.1 million coffee cups served. 6.1 million hand-rail fingerprints. Why we are all not bleeding out of our ass from some horrid Bird Flu from Mars?
Thank you, penicillin.
Other than knowing way too much about bacteria and health stats, I also know everything you need to know about life. This is the ‘speed dating’ round, since FEBURARY 4th, 2015, we are closing this bitch down. No more The Bartender Knows. After the 4th, I don't know anything anymore. 
Take heed. Let’s get all this info fast to you like a viral infection (okay, I’ll stop with the metaphor).



Assholes. Every last one of them.
My sister, one of them (I’ve got three), is a lawyer. She always went on when we were kids about something called ‘the social contract’. Not sure what legal book she picked this one out of, but a degree from Georgetown ain’t no joke, so whatever pre-teen research must have paid off somewhere.
Her version of the social contract is this. You’re born into the world. You did not choose this. Now that you are here and want to join in the festivities of a democratic society, but we have to agree to a certain code of ethics. No matter what some Cleric in Syria says or even Sigmund fucking Freud, if you are here in this society you must leave other people alone. Unless they break the law. Like rob your mother. Or rape your co-ed friend.
The idea of the social contract is that you let people be as free as they want to be, open as they want to be, and worship who they want. What is not acceptable is killing people. No matter what.
Okay, if you have a gun and find yourself in a foreign country firing live ammunition at other people who live in that country, and you get hurt or killed, well…what the fuck were you doing there in the first place? If someone with a gun and live ammunition came to your country and started firing on the common populace, you wouldn’t like that very much, now would you? 
We have got to leave people alone. Until they fuck up. Then we nail them. To the wall.
So Terrorism, go fuck yourself. You may think you’re getting a private room in Allah’s Mansion of a Thousand Virgins. We know all you’re getting is a six foot cold slab down at the morgue.
Good riddance, fuck faces.


Never thought the day would come. I’m here actually to defend hipsters.
Now I have written in extreme detail about my hatred for these fucks. But now, everywhere I go, from Williamsburg, Brooklyn (where it all began), to Berlin, Germany, all I hear is hate for whoever these ‘hipsters’ are. And the hate is coming from people other people would call hipsters.
So I’m at the flea market in Mauer Park, Berlin when I overhear a girl with bangs, thick black rimmed glasses in tight jeans and some puffy military coat complain: “Oh, and there’s SO many hipsters around now.”
I pause, confused.  I refrain from yelling in this broads face: “You are a fucking hipster, lady!” I don’t. I'm nice.
Or the other person, in Uniqlo and some ratty yoga pants, mat roll over his back, and a man bun. He says: “Williamsburg is ruined. Hipsters killed it all.” This dude rocks a man bun. Seriously, what category would you put him in?
A ‘hipster’ is some one who’s cool, stylish, knows a lot of obscure records, tries to eat non-GMO’d foods, tries to stay skinny, plays in bands, and does all of this well into adulthood.
I ask you, friends, what the hell is wrong with that?
Isn’t that better than ignorant, unread, overweight, boring, gas-guzzling, sweat pant-doning, WalMart shopping, 9 to 5 stooges busy staying uniformed yet opinionated?
Case closed. Hipsters are cool. Leave them alone. They know no better.


Oh, I’m with you on this one, guys. If my soul was a color, it would be a Rothko blue. My color used to be a crimson red, but these days I’ve moved to the other color spectrum and that sort of post-death, mystery blue just gets me every time now. I love, love, love listening to Chet Baker on rainy mornings, sipping coffee and  reading Dostoyevsky. People used to make fun of me about being too ‘morose’, or overtly dramatic, or 'too philisophical'. As the years roll by, those that once called me dramatic for no reason admire the fact I spend most of my adult life making art, studying languages, reading obscure novels, creating songs and films, and traveling the world.
So all those people out there who take a lot of shit for being ‘too sensitive’, ‘too emotional, or ‘too philosophical’, know I am here for you.
And it gets better. It does.
Try to walk on the sunny side of the street.
Just be happy your not provocative cartoonists in Paris this week.
It gets better.

It does.




Sunday, January 4, 2015


The time has come kids.
I’m ending The Bartender Knows in four weeks.
100 blogs total. 4 years. Lots of drinks. We've had many a happy hours together.
It’s true. As a dutiful bartender, I’m walking around to all the windows, making sure they are locked. I’m pulling out the dusty broom from behind the bar, straightening out the bottles by the back glass, and laced the chains through the door handles.
We got word from our landlord. The building is for sale, the block is up for grabs, and it was the money that took us down.
We’ve only got four weeks left together. I’m working every shift still, just so I can answer every question in the world. Isn’t that what we advertised on our banner?
Each week, a question is posed to the bartender at large that will shed light on all of the worlds most perplexing mysteries. The Bartender Knows.”
I can only think of that scene from “Gladiator” when Russell Crowe killed the other gladiators in the center of the arena and turned, bloody but victorious, screaming to Caesar:
“Are you not entertained?!?”
I’ve battled lions, ex-girlfriends, foreign countries, drug abuse, haters, the Fates, sobriety, doubt, New Orleans noise policies, other bartenders, local businesses, becoming Frank Harris, Tinder, and every other kind of topic under the sun—all in a blog. Wow. Search engines, people.
100 blogs. Jesus. Don’t I have better things to do with my time?
Well, this bar is still open, and let me tell you guys, as my regulars, y’all get discount drinks until we close this fucker down. Four weeks from now.
Then, after we’re good and drunk, we’ll gather all the gasoline we can, pour it along the crevasses and corners of this bar, and spend the rest of the night smiling and throwing matches.
Doesn’t that sound fun? Watching all the walls of this place go up in flames?
But wait…we still have four weeks. I’m not done answering all of the questions asked of me in these final weeks. Let’s start a new subtitle ‘title’ to The Bartender Knows this week (speed dating style):
“Your Guide To Everything In Life, Parts 1-6”.
So without further adieu:



Okay. Don’t do it. Don’t try to do it. Don’t look for it. Don’t text for it. Turn off the computer for it. Open your mouth (in a nice way) and speak for it. But don't go looking for it.
You will get this wrong. Most people they do. It’s like that famous quote:
“Marriage is like a war. It starts for the noblest of reasons and ends in unwanted casualties.”
Love is a great and grand thing. Like heroin, should only be doled out in small doses. Or with some version of the drug, a Methadone of late nights and a lack of questions.
That’s my favorite version of love: the lack of questions. I’m not talking about not learning about each other or trying to achieve some lusty intimacy. Trust me. Intimacy is always sexy, especially when its not feigned. That’s what makes one meal different from the next, right?
Where you’re eating it and when?
Sound familiar?
That’s all I have to say about LOVE in the capital sense.

Don’t do it. Don’t try to do it. Don’t look for it. Don’t text for it.
Do what is inscribed on Charles Bukowski’s grave:
“Don’t try.”

            MIXED DRINKS

            Look. Let me say this on the record for every bartender in the world.
            Making drinks is the easiest thing to do in the world. The easiest.
            Any bartender that complains/snides/huffs/talks shit on cocktails is a lazy piece of shit. Seriously, folks. It’s true. Maybe it's the customer. They are not always right. But if you bitch about making cocktail, you're just a shitty bartender.
            I can make a Bloody Mary, Mint Julep, and Cadillac Margerita in less than 2 minutes each if the proper supplements are close at hand. So don’t hate on an irritated bartender. He/She probably doesn’t have the right materials to make said cocktails or dealing with a shitty customer and therefore is pissed. It’s like trying to play football without arms. Not cool. And irritating as fuck.
            It’s probably the fault of the owners. It’s always the fault of the owners. Every problem at a bar, as opposed to shitty bartenders (see shitty bartenders here), is directly and absolutely because of the owners. Hence our next topic:

            BAR OWNERS

            The Bar Backs are the chorus players of a bar. The Bartenders the conductors. The Owners of the bar are the ‘Mozarts’ of the bar world; they are the music sheets we play from. And if the music is shit—the bar will be shit.
            Bar Owners set the tone. You can be rest assured: if the bartenders are prissy because nothing is stocked, it’s the bar owners. But remember:
            They just might be shitty bartenders.
            Let’s talk about Craig’s List.
If the Bar Owners go to Craig’s List for employees, they are shitty owners. All bar staff is hired either from knowing the owner or knowing someone who works for the owner. If they are using Craig’s List to get employees, it means either the bar is new (so you won’t make any money), or the bar owner sucks and ruins everything (which means you won’t be making any money).
            It is a total waste of everyone’s time.
            9 times out of 10, the Bar Owner comes from a different world than the world of service. They are the money people. They come from Business Management Degrees. They come from Administration (schools, the police, investments, I’ve seen all kinds).
            They come from every place other than The Service Industry. Service Industry people know how things have to go, even if they are the ones flustered most easily. Bar Owners never know how to run a successful bar unless they have been in the Service Industry for a long time. 
            You know that favorite bar you love? The super local, easy, cheap, friendly and fine one that shouts your name when you walk into it?
            That’s your local bar. Don’t have one yet?

            This ones open for the next four weeks.
            Welcome. Take a seat.

            Can I buy you a drink?