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Tandem (Brooklyn, New York)

A Visiting Friend

By David Detroit

Seeing as I’m a relatively lazy, unemployed, welfare muncher these days, I generally don’t make a lot of effort to get exotic with my nights out. I’m sure there’s amazing shit going on in Queens, Harlem, The Bronx, and anywhere else for that matter. It’s fucking New York City, there’s shit popping everywhere. But that shit is too far away from my home base, and a night out is often a gamble. Since it’s been a fairly laid back summer, I’ve been staying local to where I live, Bushwick. Yes, Bushwick, the neighborhood you’ve probably heard of by now. Or “East Williamsburg,” as the realtors call it. Bushwick is the place where evil gentrifiers such as myself don’t have to quite worry about displacing any true community, because Bushwick, historically, has never really held any kind of specific community, unlike Bed-Stuy, which has a significant amount of history and culture intertwined into it’s streets. Bushwick is just a poor dilapidated neighborhood, that seems to be undergoing a rapid amount of ‘gentrification’. I find the word gentrification to be inherently racist, as it often denotes white people, and as if all white people are part of some fucking ‘gentry’. I’m a dirt-poor, fucking white nigger from the sticks, and there’s not much ‘gentile’ about me, other than my education, which I’m up to my ears in debt for. So yeah, I’m some poor white guy who moved to Bushwick, and if some realtor asshole wants to use my broke ‘hipster’ ass as a selling point for the neighborhood, it’s not my fucking fault if this place turns into condos. It’s that relator’s fault, and the property owner’s fault, because I’ll get driven out of the community too. I just need a cheap place to live, where the statistics of me getting murdered are relatively low. So here I am, in Bushwick. And last I checked, it’s a free countryso fuck anyone who tries to tell you where you should live.

And so, being the lazy fuck I am, and not having a lot of money, not wanting to leave the neighborhood, and not wanting to get murdered, my options are fairly limited with bars and venues to visit. I generally like all the spots that my fellow Bushwick exploitationists tend to congregate, such as Northeast Kingdom, Life Cafe, Goodbye Blue Monday, Wreck Room, Wyckoff Starr, The Archive, Kings County, and the new Bodega wine and beer bar. Not to mention all the various house parties in the neighborhood. But in the past year, I’ve found that out of anywhere local I tend to enjoy myself at the new spot Tandem the most.

Tandem

Tandem has only been around for a year, it’s off the beaten path in Bushwick, near Knickerbocker and Troutman, and upon first glance it seemed like pure evil. Such a sleekly designed bar and restaurant in the middle of the fucking ‘ghetto’ will surely drive property value up triple in the coming years. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. That’s right, I don’t care if this place displaces every resident within it’s radius. In NYC, when a new bar applies to start in a neighborhood, they have to hold a town hall meeting, and if the community objects against it, they can’t set up shop. So, the community didn’t object, and Tandem set up shop. It’s as simple as that. If the community had a problem with this bar they should have stopped it, because they could have. FOR FREE. It’s the responsibility of a community to understand these situations, and just like me, they’re lazy and negligent. So fuck it, let what happens happen….

And to fully expand on the brutal amount of gentrification I’m willing to invite to the neighborhood, my tale this month is about the odd bender I had with my future lawyer, Josh. Josh is Harvard educated, currently studying law at The University of Chicago, and I’m totally encouraging him to move here after he graduates. You know why? Because I like being around smart people, smart people tend to be interesting, and Ivy League educated people tend to be smart. And Josh so happens to be a fucking working class dude who worked his way up through academia the hard way, working as a property inspector for several years. And fuck anyone who’s going to tell people like us where to live and where not to live. But despite his education, he’s relatively poor too. But not for long, that lucky fuck. I should have went to law school….

Anyway, this past week, I haven’t had a phone. I recently went on an all expenses paid trip to Fire Island with my girl and my buddy’s ex-girlfriend in the hopes of having a wild orgy in paradise. Pretty awful, I know, but what can I say? Upon excitedly jumping into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time all summer, I felt my phone writhing in vibratory death in my left pocket. Not to mention, my girl got incredibly sick and had to be rushed to the hospital.

Anyway, the same day as we’re leaving the island, Josh is coming from the airport, and he ends up losing all his luggage at the airport, and we can only communicate via instant message. My girl is going to bed, and she’s fine after the asthma attack from twelve hours previous, and knows that I’ve been planning for Josh to come visit for over a month. I feel kind of reluctant leaving, if anything happens, but she persists on me going out with my old friend. He gets to the house around 11pm, and wants to immediately eat somewhere nearby that’s really tasty. After walking to Wreck Room, Life Cafe and Robertas, which are all closing the kitchen as we arrive, he ends up getting a hot pastrami sandwich at Brooklyn Natural, but they totally lather it in mayonnaise, which royally fucks it up.

Now, Josh tends to have some of the best taste of anyone I know. Appreciating most of the same punk and indie rock I do, and hating most of the punk and indie rock I do, enjoys good food, good liquor, good films, good books, good art, good conversation, and good women. Just sitting outside on Bogart, Josh can’t help but eyeball all the pretty women walking to and fro, despite him being in a big-time relationship. Neither can I, ugh…. He wants to go to a good bar nearby, and catch up about things. The choice is obviously Tandem. I mean, Kings County is cool too, along with the other places I mentioned, but Josh tends to be quite the particular alcoholic, and Kings County doesn’t quite cut it with their selection.

So we walk along, and grab a road brew at a local bodega, where the clerk/owner gives Josh only two bucks back from his twenty. The clerk kindly apologizes, and I remind Josh that he’s gotta keep on his feet here. The clerk could have honestly been mistaken, there’s no way of knowing. We drink road brews as I ramble on about the various disasters on Fire Island, and we come to Tandem. Generally, I’d probably be carrying a small flask with me to any bar, during this economic crisis I’m in. I probably shouldn’t be drinking at all. But Josh, on this very night, has officially completed all the work in his first year of law school so celebrations are in order. And god-damn do I wish I could buy him a few rounds, as I have a long and awesome history with Josh. He’s a very generous soul, and I desperately want to pay back that generosity someday.

So we walk in, and to my surprise, it’s a totally gay party, which I haven’t seen at Tandem thus far. A couple dudes are totally on the bar only in g-strings, dancing away. It makes sense, since the Pride Parade is coming up this next weekend. I ask Josh if it’s cool, testing to see how homophobic he may or may not be, but he’s down to hang. Which is rad, because at this point at 12am, I don’t really want to leave the neighborhood, and I’m not the straightest guy that ever lived either. Not that I’m looking to meet anyone, by ANY means, but I certainly don’t care if dudes shake their asses in front of me. For whatever reason, I think most people can tell we’re straight, so we don’t really get hit on.

We take a look at the liquor selection tonight, me and Josh both being whiskey drinkers. Josh insists on getting us both a Buffalo Trace. He drinks his whiskey neat, I drink mine with a little ice. Josh is immediately impressed by our bartender’s pour, which is almost the equivalent of two drinks. Good thing too, because that type of whiskey usually costs ten bucks or more a glass. Throughout the night, we end up each drinking Woodford Reserve, Michter’s, Basil Hayden’s, Maccallan (I forgot the year), and Knob Creek. To top it off, after drinking twelve total drinks of the best top shelf whiskeys in the joint, the bartender actually discounts the tab quite a bit, just because she’s rad. Now, some bar owners might think that this is not profitable for a bar, but I argue the other way. If you hook up your customers, they’re going to keep coming back, and they’re going to keep spending money. And they’re going to bring all their friends to come, and spend their money. So hook up your customers. Trust me, it works.

Okay, let me discuss a little about Tandem. I remember seeing this bar under construction while apartment hunting a year and a half ago. I honestly regret not trying to get a job there when it first opened. Upon opening, me and my girl went in and got a delicious meal of artichoke dip, mac and cheese, and a kale salad. The food was absolutely delicious, great in every way. But the portions were a little too small, given the price, but whatever. That’s life in the big city. I went back again for a solitary brunch one morning, and got a dish that had ham, eggs, cheese, in a bread-like souffle (I forgot what it’s called). It was really good.  And then one night, I went to Tandem for my friend’s zine party, and it was pretty rad, but still felt like just a neighborhood bar. But finally, a few months later, I went to a dance party on a Friday night, and it was the best dance party I’ve ever been to in NYC. Hands down. Better than Rubalaud, better than Ghetto Goth, better than Wierd, Misshapes, Mind Your Own Business, Smiths Night, better than any house party, loft party, night club, or any other fucking party I’ve been to in NYC. I’m convinced that Tandem has the best dance floor in NYC.

Tandem Dance Floor

But why you ask? The reason is the architecture of this venue. Tandem has a general bar in the front, with bar stools and tables, where people can eat till 11pm and drink till 4am. There’s also a private sort of area in the middle, which is great for make out sessions, or to have a long-winded and obnoxious discussion with your old friend (it’s multi-functional). Then, there’s a back dance room, which is set far off from the other parts. And there is NO seating, a really heavy duty fog machine, and a light machine. But really, what gets me, is every time I’ve been there, it’s incredibly dark. And when a dance floor is both incredibly dark and there isn’t a bunch of haters sitting in chairs judging people, the party can get going. Not to mention, there’s a fairly eclectic group of people in the bar and on the dance floor, which I tend to prefer. I don’t dance much these days, as my black girlfriend consistently has laughed at how white my dance moves can be. But almost every time I go to Tandem, I dance. It’s too dark for anyone to really see what you’re doing. So it’s perfect for both the incredibly confident and the incredibly self-conscious person to dance. Sadly, at this point, the dance parties are only on Friday and Saturday nights. Good DJs too, if you dig vintage dance music (I certainly do).

Tandem is the only club I will go to on a Friday or Saturday night. Every bar and night club in Manhattan SUCKS on Fridays and Saturdays; every single one is packed with jerks. A lot of them suck in Brooklyn too. The only options are house parties, art events, or Tandem, in my book. On this particular night, there was a ton of dancing in the back room, and I recognized this one girl who was only wearing hot pants, but shied away from small talk with her. Josh and I opted to just sit around and chat in the middle room. Nothing entirely crazy happened, just me and Josh discussing music and art for hours upon end, getting incredibly drunk, closing down the bar. Then we stumbled to a bodega, got a few more beers, ate breakfast sandwiches and drank beers in Maria Hernandez park as the sun came up, and ended up passing out. One of my friends that night, had invited me to a really wild party with tons of cocaine, drugs, women getting naked, and soul music. He showed me pictures the next day, and was bummed I didn’t come. It would have been fun, don’t get me wrong, but who knows? Maybe I would have done some shit I would regret later. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have gotten to catch up with my friend, I wouldn’t have heard about all the rad law school shit he’s learning, and how he might fight evil property owners in the future. In my book, an insightful conversation beats a crazy party hands down. At Tandem, you can accomplish both.

Locations in Brooklyn

Tandem Bar
236 Troutman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11237

(718) 386-2369
http://tandembar.net

Northeast Kingdom
18 Wyckoff Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237-2635

(718) 386-3864
http://north-eastkingdom.com

Life Cafe
983 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206-4792

(718) 386-1133
http://lifecafe.com

Goodbye Blue Monday
1087 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11221-3013

(718) 453-6343
http://www.goodbyeblue.com/wordpress

Wreck Room
940 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206-4706

(718) 418-6347
http://www.wreckroombrooklyn.com

Wyckoff Starr
30 Wyckoff Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237-2646

(718) 484-9766
Google Maps

The Archive Cafe and Independent Video Store
49 Bogart Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206

(718) 381-1944
Google Maps

Kings County
49 Bogart Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206-3836

(718) 418-8823
Google Maps

Bodega
24 Saint Nicholas Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237

(646) 924-8488
http://thebodegawinebar.wordpress.com

Roberta’s Pizza
261 Moore Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206-3816

(718) 417-1118
http://www.robertaspizza.com

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Swanage, England

A Walk in the Park is Inevitably Interrupted by Some Dirty Old Bum

By Sasha Boyesen

Swanage is a seaside town set on the beach. It is situated at the very tip of the Isle of Purbeck, a penisula where perhaps the only palm tree in Britian can be found. It is so far south it is even blessed with its own weather system. Some days, if you sit-down on the beach, you can look out to Bournemouth and see it pissing down, while you bask in the sunshine on a clear day. In lingering moments you can even see the Isle of Wight in the distance and hear the ministry of defence bombing away at their practice range up in the hills.

View of Swanage

The Isle of Purbeck (explicitly not the ‘Purbeck isle’ but ‘The Isle of  Purbeck’) is in the County of Dorset of south east England. For decades it has been the destination for idylic British holiday-makers. The only way in and out of swanage is a very narrow countryside lane. You can be sure in the Summertime rain or shine you’ll find yourself in traffic stuck behind hoards of merry sunscreen-smeered jolly conservative Mommies and Daddies pulling sticky, screeching Jamesies and Bettsies leaning out of windows back into their cars. They clutch their little plastic sandcastle-buckets and pudgy sugar-stuffed tummies, while the metaphysical stout iconic British-Bulldog pants with pride in the backseat.

Up the road from Swanage is Corfe Castle, home of Enid Blyton, England’s most beloved children’s writer. The genius of “Noddy”, “The Famous Five” and “The Magic Far Away Tree,” the last which was my personal childhood favourite, can be seen clearly in the hills, pasture land, cliff side walks, and woodland; making evident the magic fantasy world that ran rampant in Enid’s mind.

“Oh how I do like to be beside the seaside,” The alltime British holiday maker’s anthem, was surely composed for Swanage. The Funworld Arcade on the beach – equipped with minature carousel – entices all children.  Punch and Judyin the sand 15 Times a Day, Ice-cream, Beach huts, Fish and Chips, the pier, peddle-paddle boats, the steam train: this makes up the picture-perfect image that is Swanage.  Roll up, roll up, folks, this ain’t Cornwall, but it will do.

The Ice-Cream Starts to Taste of Childhood Lost

As I have often done for 18 pounds (extortionate), you can take a bus from Victoria Station in London to Poole. It takes approximentaly 3 hours. You arrive in Poole, a town near swanage. From Poole you can catch a bus to swanage costing a fiver and another hour of your time. But take note, there is only one bus that leaves Swanage for London at 6am everyday. Most likely it will be raining upon arrival, and after passing the lucious greens of the vallies, hedges, and hills on your bus-ride, Swanage may look bleak and somehow gray. There’s something about the old Purbeck stone houses in contrast to the very tastless 6o’s-styled Mowlem Theatre, the supermarket, the drizzle, the pensioners dressed in their fleshy colored clothing, that can make you sigh.

One night some years ago in Harmans Cross (a mile and a half outside Swanage) two of my good friends had come to visit me on the farm where I was living. I was getting a good deal on a static caravan from the farmer there. We walked into Swanage through the woods, had a pint, dawdled around with the locals, and then with the boredom of youth running rife we decided to get coked out in the countryside, which is probably not the best thing for stiffleing boredom. With no real solution to our desires we drank up and marched back toward Harmans Cross, with the sharp countryside air whipping in our ears, listening to The guise of silence that dissolves into melodious fresh bird-song and chirruping insects.

One of my friends visiting at the time was a dashingly androgenous young lady by the name of Joe. To her delight and conveniance, as she had a preference for seducing woman, she was perpetually mistaken for a teenage boy. Myself, Fidan, and Joe came to the edge of Swanage, and we found ourselves outside The Legion Club. Legionaires, British nationalists, etc. were only allowed here. At the door of The Legion stood a lad, 20 something, smoking his fag. “Hey mate,” Joe said to the lad, “What’s going on in there tonight?”

“Aw, nawt much, eh? Just a bit of this n’ that,” said the lad.

I asked the lad for one of his fags and took a post beside Joe. “Hey, Joe, maybe he’s got something,” I murmered.

“Ask then!”

I introduced myself, my companions, and asked the lad if he could score some blow.

“Yeah sure, I just haveta call my mate ang on a sec.” The lad disappeared inside, I felt gleeful to be seeing another side to this strange legionaires joint that had always seemed shady.

The lad reappeared. “Hey, yeah. Girls arn’t alow’d so yell. Hayve to wait here.” The lad nodded to Joe, and Joe grinning at the hilarity followed the lad inside.

Joe reappeared 10 minutes later with the stuff and a very funny story to tell. She had followed the lad down into a stall in the mens room (as he supposed her a bloke) to make the deal. As well as pulling out the Coke, the lad also pulled out his cock. he stood there looking expectant. Joe laughed and suavely said, “I’m not inta that, mate.”

Nationalists.

Walking is really the only way to get around Swanage. You may find yourself walking to one of the neighboring villages just to broaden your horizons, and to get the hell out of Swange before the robust everyday British routine gets too much.

You will find the nearest village is a minimum of 2 miles from Swanage (Hence this walking business). Gets a bit iffy after the 5th time.

Up the hill a few miles away, past langton, is Worth Matravers. You can find a gem there by the name of The Square and Compass, the only Pub worth going to for miles. Its round cobble stone walls and steamy windows glowing with a warm light, and the shingled mossy roof, confirms any sensation of timelessness you may have.

Since 1907 The Square and Compass has been run and owned by generations of the Newman family, the pub and venue of exotic weekend delight, shrouded by decades of gossip chattered with well-founded reason. It has been the haunt of oldtimers and goodtimers alike. It was 1776 that The Sloop in Worth Matavers, aptly named as it was the reputable place for smugglers to converge, became an ale house . In 1830 a stone mason by the name of Charles Bower took over and changed the name to The Square and Compass, by which it is now known.

The Square and Compass hosts a selection of annual events that everyone looks forward too: the jazz festival, the stone carving fair, the pumpkin contest, The Square Fair, and somehow every Friday and S aturday you can expect something good. The Square has become very, very well known for delivering in abundance some of the best acts to be found from all around the world.

Mama Rosin, The Luminescent Orchestrii, The Dead Plants, Delaney Davidson, The Hightown CrowsPhilip Clouts Trio, The New Prohibition Band, Rag Mama Rag, The Rude Mechanical Theatre, GadjoPronghorn, and numerous others have all found their way into the back room, nestled in amongst scores of locals and tourists, boozed-up, vice smeared and jolly. Only slightly aware of the saga they are partaking in.

Luminescent Orchestrii

The ghosts of good times, sometimes a classic good time, sometimes a tainted and drug addled good time, sometimes a quiet good time, sometimes the good time of wellies and Barbour jackets and jack russels, sometimes the good time of city dwelling youth well dressed and bubbling, sometimes a good time of gaunt wanderers stumbled upon unknowingly, sometimes the good time of woodfires and musty books, sometimes the good time of drunkenly hugging the wall.

The holiday makers piss off… And now it’s winter.

fucking hell!

The long cold, biting winters that linger eternally in the nip of sea wind bring a feeling of desolation to the villages in the Isle of Purbeck. From Worth Matravers to Swanage the beaches are abandoned and night time swiftly sets in. The locals meet in the pubs and warm their blood with whiskey ciders and draft beers. It can get awfully quiet and lonesome.

Rodger Brown, Philanthropist
 

Rodger Brown (an infamous local) can be seen peddling his electric bicycle from pub to pub, making his daily rounds of drinking, as he slowly makes his way home up the hill, donning his long white beard, rain mac and cussing breathlessly. He once said to me in his thick Darset accent, “I’ll take ya dawn thayt garden and give ya a good shagging!”

I kindly declined and settled down to drink my ginger wine and watch the crows make their daily jaunt from the rubbish tip to the woods.

Swanage is certainly stuck in her ways.

John Mowlem’s Grave, Founder of Swanage
 

In fact I just saw Rodger today. True to his routine, and the ways of Swanage, this morning he was sitting outside the pub waiting for it to open. Rodger kindly agreed to pose for a picture. I asked Rodger if he had anything to say about swanage. In reply he didn’t mention the Chalk Cliffs of The Isle of Purbeck, Gallows Gore, John Mowlem the founder of this fair town. He didn’t mention he is a stone mason, nor did he mention the weather. Rodger turned his grubby face to mine and in his flemmy, gruffy voice he said, “Ave an awful, awful day. Just have a bad day!” And then he disappeard inside the pub to commence his drinking.

 
 
 
 

Locations In Swanage

Square and Compass
Worth Matravers
Swanage, Dorset BH19 3LF

01929 439229
http://squareandcompasspub.co.uk/

Bands Featured

Mama Rosin
http://www.myspace.com/mamarosin

The Luminescent Orchestrii
http://www.myspace.com/luminescentorchestrii

The Dead Plants
http://www.myspace.com/deadplantstheband

Delaney Davidson
http://www.myspace.com/delaneyfdavidson

The Hightown Crows
http://www.myspace.com/hightowncrows

Philip Clouts Trio
http://www.myspace.com/philipcloutstrio

The New Prohibition Band
http://www.myspace.com/thenewprohibitionband

Rag Mama Rag
http://www.myspace.com/ragmamarag

Gadjo
http://www.gadjomusica.com

Pronghorn
http://www.myspace.com/pronghorn