Tag Archives: New York City

St. Nicks Pub (New York City, New York)

African Nights

By Richard Prins

Not that I wasn’t a Columbia student when I first came to St. Nick’s Pub in 2005; my Swahili professor had suggested the venue for its Africa Night every Saturday, and we made an outing of it, a couple students each from the intermediate and advanced classes. The novelty of socializing with my academic peers convinced me to forgo memorizing a speech I’d have to give in Albany the following afternoon.

I played the native New Yorker and directed our crew of aspiring white Africanists to 149th Street. I had already developed instinctive grudges against my freshman class for their collective reticence to cross 125th. These weren’t first-years; they actually spoke passable Swahili, enjambed entire sentences between our English conversation, and had visited East Africa and done more than ogle exotic animals. They had dreadlocks, and dashikis brighter than my tie-dye, which I also envied as we reached the bright red billboard ST NICK’S PUB and walked down the steps into a tiny narrow bar where instruments were being dragged on stage. Guitars, a bass, a saxophonist with a backwards Yankees hat; what exactly made this African, I wondered.

The waitress in the leopard-skin skirt made us aware of the two-dollar table charge (the complimentary barstools were all taken, and it didn’t occur to us to stand) as well as the two-drink minimum. I asked for coffee, thinking I could stay up all night to memorize my speech, but there was none, so I got a Guinness because I knew what it was. As an 18-year-old unfamiliar with bar etiquette, I didn’t tip. The guitarist’s arpeggios sounded like the Sahara; he sang in smiling tongues even we polyglots couldn’t speak. My colleague stood to dance; I knew soon I’d have to rise to this occasion. She demonstrated the popular dance style of every country she’d ever visited, finishing on our common interest, Tanzania, “Where it’s all in the hips,” and her own percolated. She was electric. Her thickest fuzzy dreadlock bitchslapped my face, and I made a mental note to figure out one day whether my hips were mobile. They were by the time I ran into her a couple years later at a tourist club in Dar es Salaam and chased her across the dance floor like a dying man might chase a pulse.

“I can’t dance like that.” I stood. “But I do a pretty decent hippie-on-acid impression.”

“Acid is for innocents!” she laughed as the keyboardist took a break to dance with her. I let myself be guided towards joy by a second beer and the hollow detonations of a talking drum wedged in an old man’s armpit, which he beat with a stick. What did it matter if I would be speechless tomorrow before a crowd of young activists? The night was coming to life, and my limbs and torso were exploring new rhythmic contortions. Musical guests cycled on and off stage. A Cuban came and blew a shining trumpet – his fedora looked so classy it’s a sin he wasn’t simultaneously smoking a cigar. The waitress recited a lush slam poem; a drunk squealed briefly on a clarinet but was politely ushered off stage. A bald man took over on vocals and sang a song that made us sit back down so we could brace ourselves for its griotic power. Years later I would recognize the song as “N’Toman,” by Salif Keita’s first Afropop supergroup, Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux, and still relish its buoyant refrain.

At 2am the musicians took a smoke break in the backyard patio; mindful of my 9am bus ride to Albany, I said I had to leave. Surprisingly enough, my colleagues wished to follow. It was snowing fluffily. I scooped an armful of it off a brownstone’s ledge and dumped it in her dreads on the way to the 1 train. That was the last time I ever snowed someone. I woke in the morning to a phone call from Albany – there was a blizzard, so I could keep on sleeping.

I only make the trip up to 149th Street a couple Saturdays a year, usually when I’m trying to show off the venue to new friends. I dance so hard they pull me on stage when they can’t find another willing male; I let saxophone solos pinprick my brain and gasp in wonderment; I empty my wallet tipping the band and downing overpriced sugary blonde ales; I wake up the next afternoon and can hardly walk to the kitchen for water because my hips are shaken raw; I fulminate with mirth and pride at everything I’ve acquired from my multiple trysts with the Motherland. An ability to sing along to lyrics whose meaning I don’t know. To greet the Senegalese patrons in Wolof, which has the best “hello” in the world: “Wow-wow!” Wolof’s also the etymological source for words like hip, dig, cool. I’ve put effort into my Africanness, dammit, and Africa Night is my reward. The spiritual nature of the experience becomes only more exquisite.

Exquisite isn’t always a good thing. Exquisite pain, for example. Exquisite disappointment. But I would prefer to experience something exquisite than not. To finger the jagged grain, as Ralph Ellison put it. Unfortunately, most people would prefer a pinch in the cheek to a slap in the face. And I hope they all get fucked in the ass by Lenny Kravitz.

Tonight I have to go there (in order to write this here article). It’s been almost a year (since I spent most of the year frequenting even wilder clubs in Tanzania) so I need a refresher. I was going to go with a fellow St. Nick’s enthusiast who I could sleep with afterwards, but she got invited out to Long Island for the weekend. The last time I went to St. Nick’s, I went alone; I had just extricated myself from a long-term relationship so I was cultivating solitude. I’m not anymore; a sweat-drenched dashiki already makes me conspicuous – I don’t also want to be conspicuously alone. I left a facebook status asking if anyone wanted to see some African music; everyone was either uninterested, or they thought I was inviting them on a no-expenses-paid trip to Dar es Salaam, because the only response I got was from a long-lost friend in Texas informing me that she hula-hoops at a drum circle every Wednesday. So I polish off some Jim Beam after brushing my teeth (bad idea) but before getting on the subway (good idea) and spend the trip listening to South African jazz and Maasai hip hop on my iPod, muttering to myself about how so goddamn many people are interested in African music, or intrigued by it, or feel generally positive and groovy towards it, but so few make any effort to know it. Other than the occasional dreadlocked drum circle or viewing of Fela! – The Musical. Not that both aren’t awesome, in their own way – but what does one really discover? One should see music as Vasco de Gama saw continents!… rape & pillage optional.

Try naming a historical character cooler than Frank Serpico. Sure, they exist, but it’s hard to top a hobo-looking, ballet-enthusiast cop who single-handedly exposed the extent of corruption in the 1970s NYPD and was nearly assassinated by his colleagues in retribution. There’s a reason for the non sequitur; he once said something that I would be remiss not to quote when writing about music. Al Pacino interviewed Serpico before portraying him in the 1973 film of his life, and one of his most pressing questions to the whistle-blower was, why did you do it? Why did you testify against police corruption when the entire NYPD had made it clear you would do so at risk of your life?

Serpico’s reply: “Well, Al, I don’t know. I guess I would have to say it would be because… if I didn’t, who would I be when I listened to a piece of music?”

I like this notion that we are someone when we listen to music; that music acts as a reflective conscience by forcing us to confront our own humanity.

That’s pretentious; I could have just written, isn’t what Frank Serpico said just the most fucking beautiful thing you’ve ever heard? and left it at that.

But I want to know who you will be when you listen to a piece of music. Are you waiting for the spirit to feel you up? Is your untouchedness innocent or lonely, and when it writhes are you also an electric snake, and do you coil through your own spininess? Or shed your skin and flicker your tongue at tomorrow’s edge where each beat is a horizon? Or slither away from all the heroic acts you didn’t perform?

Important questions, these. And who am I each time I venture Uptown, sipping whiskeyed ice tea on the subway so I won’t have to buy too many of their drinks, so I won’t have to feel the letdown of sobriety as I enter the orgy of music, will only feel electricity crossing the diaspora between their instruments and my body? Who am I that Africa Night at St. Nick’s Pub is my favorite music in the city?

“No matter who you are, or where you come from, you are an African,” repeats the guitarist each time he dispatches the tip jar through the crowd – bills which will later be tossed one by one at the musicians. (One must always tip the griot directly. Why do the hunters always defeat the lions in the stories? I once heard asked. Because the lions aren’t the ones telling the stories.)

A text message arrives from a musician friend as the train is rolling over the Manhattan Bridge…  was goin’ on tonight? Probably saw my facebook post – he digs African music. He should dig St. Nick’s – who knows if I ever told him about the place. He should also dig God – he has a lot of spirit inside him, but won’t recognize it as Jesus. We tripped on 2C-E once in high school; he thought he had been poisoned and began calling everyone he knew so he could pin his death on me. Meanwhile I wandered into the bathroom to urinate and felt a supernaturally powerful orgasm rushing through my urethra; it knocked me back on the ground and piss rivulets dribbled in my pubic hair. If he hadn’t been so afraid, God could have touched his genitals too, I frequently remind him; he assures me that my peculiar religiosity is a symptom of schizophrenia, and the public usually takes his side in this ongoing argument.

He asks what the cover is, but the train’s crossed the bridge and entered the tunnel, so I have to get off at Grand to tell him it’s free (not mentioning the astronomical price of a beer) and get back on the next D.

And step into the narrowness and blinkering Christmas lights; the cackling in English, white French, black French, et al. No music yet at midnight, but every barstool and chair lining the wall is taken; the wall is festooned with a collage of photos – as if we’re in the bedroom of a 14-year-old girl who’s got the hots for Charlie Parker. No room to stand without my tote bag from Tanzania getting whacked by the waitress’s beer deliveries.

The only people who come here alone are African. You can walk into a pub posse-less in Africa and emerge with lifelong friends. I suppose it’s a theoretical possibility in America, but I don’t know anyone who makes a practice of it.

By 12:15 I’ve nervously sipped away the entirety of my Sugar Hill and only the percussionist is seated on stage. I would say TIA but that’s for honkie tourists. They put “No Woman No Cry” on the jukebox, which I find offensively obvious, though everyone else seems to enjoy it, and a group is singing along to the “Hey hey” in the chorus. A 21-stringed calabash is placed in front of the drumset, the kora-player rocking short, choppy dreads to contrast with the big lady bassist’s back-length tapestries.

Check my phone; no reply from my friend. Probably thought I was going to poison him again.

With a cascading clash of notes. The guitar & kora entangling like two lovers’ inner thighs. On their way to Harlem, they pass the nomadic pastures of the Tuareg and Peul, zig-zag through the heyday of the Mande Empire, raft down the Gambia River, make an unfortunate detour in Brazil for a bossa nova, land in the South and send everything they learn back home via a passenger pigeon nesting in James Brown’s hairdo.

A pierced-eared pansy is dancing better than me. Stiffer competition than usual in the white-boy-ass-shaking contest. Usually I’m the ringer, but that’s when I have girls with me that want to be hit on by the musicians. The chords become major when they sidestep to Nigeria for Prince Nico Mbarga’s “Sweet Mother,” and reach down to South Africa for “Pata Pata,” without the clicks.

I’m singing along to the Xhosa lyrics when he trills homosexually in my ear, “What are you doing here!”

“I just like the music,” I shrug, and somehow feel like I just gave a lame excuse, in the vein of I only read porno for the articles. His hand is on my far hip and the other one asks my hand for a dance. I let him have it, but let it go limp. I don’t know how to politely explain that I’m not very gay, so I don’t dance with dudes at Africa Night.

The chords of the keyboard pull a cord coiled taut around my heart. A sad flash of lightning that knows unbearable joy coruscates from the guitarist’s face and fingers. A djembe strikes midnight, thirty minutes late. There is not enough room to dance between the bodies but I do anyway, though some dressed-up dickhead keeps tapping my shoulder and frowning because I’ve stepped on his overshined shoes. The birth cries of blues are wailed by this small stage; I can’t tell if the top-shelf liquors are rocking to the bass or only appear to be moving due to the flickering reflection of Christmas lights. I fork over eight bucks for another Sugar Hill, and pitch my tote bag at two folded chairs in the corner, with an unapologetic shrug to the ostensible Columbia students whose shoulders I tossed it over.

Despite their svelte sweaters and impeccably-trimmed beards, I can’t help wondering where tonight might send them…. It was less than five years ago that these sonic explosions dispatched me across the ocean to study indigenous music at the University of Dar es Salaam, to traipse to Chamwino to listen to Kigogo choirs, to jet-set to jazz festivals in Cape Town, to ride with local stars to Dodoma & rap in Swahili, and to chase my favorite bands around Mwenge and Sinza.

Anything, anywhere, to figure out who I am when I listen to a piece of music.

Location In New York City

St. Nick’s Pub [closed]
773 Saint Nicholas Avenue
New York, NY 10031-3925

(212) 283-9728


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 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

Northeast Kingdom
18 Wyckoff Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237-2635

(718) 386-3864

Life Cafe
983 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206-4792

(718) 386-1133

Goodbye Blue Monday
1087 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11221-3013

(718) 453-6343

Wreck Room
940 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206-4706

(718) 418-6347

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

24 Saint Nicholas Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237

(646) 924-8488

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

(718) 417-1118

New York City, New York


By David Detroit

So like, I was hanging with my girl in the afternoon who works at Beacon’s Closet in Park Slope, this cheap re-sale shop that has another location in Williamsburg. I get totally hooked up with dirt cheap clothes, that would probably sell for a bunch of bucks at some crazy high end boutique. But Beacon’s has reasonable prices, nothing tends to be over $50 max, and hot girls work there, my girlfriend’s the one and only black girl. Lurking is highly recommended at Beacon’s, much to the girls’ dismay. I’m there on a mission to get a new shirt for a job interview at the School of Visual Arts, to be a manager for the film department’s camera equipment. I find a decent fancy dress shirt, that Karen tells me was originally $600, made by some exotic designer, but I’m getting it for $10. A few of her co-workers vaguely flirt with me, which always brightens my day. Remember that dream sequence in Fellini’s 8 1/2?

Beacons Closet

So anyhow, I meet my buddy Cotty at Washington Commons for a long overdue drink. It happens to be Wacom’s 1 year anniversary,which equals happy hour all night. Depending on the bartender, happy hour is either $3 or $4 for a well drink, and $2 off their beer selection. It’s the type of place that’s good for a chill hang with your bro who you haven’t seen for months, not a crazy freak out party spot, or anything romantic. They tend to have decent rock’n’roll played by the bartenders, who all seem decent thus far. Kinda low lighting, tables, an octagon bar, and an outdoor patio.

Washington Commons

So yeah, since it was really nice weather for the first time in ages, we sat outside, and Cotty ended up convincing me to go see The Smith Westerns at Mercury Lounge later that night. He played them for me on his iPhone, and it kinda reminded me of like freak beat crossed with The Undertones, with a healthy dose of Marc Bolan. And they’re all teenagers, supposedly. So I was into it, younger kids are usually better performers and less pretentious about having fun. We caught up about this and that,  and considered taking a spur of the moment road trip to New Haven at the end of the night with this kid Myles who was hanging out. Cotty wants to go to this pizza place he keeps raving about, and I wanna get some fucking cheap lobster. But they both puss out.

So Cotty really had to take a shit, and insisted on me coming with him to his apartment. But it’s like, dude, I don’t wanna walk all the way to your apartment just to sit on your video game couch and listen to your poop session. So I elected to stay at the bar and have a few more drinks, and hang with Myles, who reminded me of a younger version of myself, and discuss the differences between “Raw Power” and “Rough Power”, both of us being huge Stooges fans. I take a $3 shot of tequila, and head out the door. I ended up running late, and Cotty was kinda peeved. Stumbling along through Prospect Heights, I noticed I was just around the corner to one of the only rad Mexican joints in NYC, Chavellas. I told Cotty I was gonna get a cactus taco before meeting him at the F train, and Cotty forbid me due to tardiness. But being the disobedient type I am, I got one anyways, and they’re so delicious, yet too expensive for me on average. $3.25 for a taco is a bit much, $2 or $2.50 would be perfect. But they are perfect tacos, so whatever. They also make my favorite mole sauce in the city. Go there.

We got to the train, and discussed a bunch of jibber jabber about Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander”. All the while I’m trying to convince my girl to come meet us, but she thinks she’s too bloated to come out, despite the fact that she weighs 110 lbs, 5’6. God damn, does this country make women feel inadequate. I suspect she was all bumming out about it because she asked me how she looked in a dress that was too small for her, and I didn’t lie. But like, I didn’t want her to spend the dough to end up buying an XXS dress that was meant for a fucking teenager. So yeah, she wasn’t gonna come, and didn’t want to spend the money, and I felt this odd sense of guilt.

So we get to the Mercury Lounge, a relatively forgettable venue at Essex and Houston in the LES (Lower East Side), and due to my vague negligence, Smith Westerns is already done with half their set. However, there is a perk to this, and this is a good tip for all you cheapskates out there. If at all possible, if you’re going to see a band, and the only band you’re interested in seeing is the last band, try to show up in the middle of their set, because often times the door guy will just let you in for free, rather than charging you ten bucks for 10 minutes of music. And if the door guy doesn’t let you in, he probably had someone spit on him earlier that night, so don’t bug out. I hate it when people bug out on the door guy. In ten years of going to clubs, I’ve only had one bad time with a door guy.

So yeah, we watch this teenage band for 4 songs. They remind me of GIRLS, and I sort of don’t understand the importance of this whole explosion of sissy rock going on right now, but I don’texactly hate it either. Cotty doesn’t mind missing half the show, because we got in for free. However, he had already paid $10 for the show the night before, at the Market Hotel in Bushwick, but it got busted by cops before they went on, and he didn’t get a refund because the door guy jetted real quick. So in a sense, he already paid for the show, but didn’t have to pay twice. So yeah, they were pretty decent, in a whiny sort of way, and one of the guitarists looked like Cousin It from Addams Family when he drooped his hair down, while playing the guitar. It was kinda charming. They play an encore, and seem genuinely humble. I’m sure they’re up to their ears in pussy.

We didn’t buy any drinks there, and decided to head to Motor City to see one of my facebook friends DJ. I think it’s come to the point where I have friends, and then I have facebook friends, and there’s a big difference. We pass by the LES staple Pianos and Max Fish, both of which I don’t have a hard on for, like some folks. It’s just something that’s before my time, and the decor just reminds me of Urban Outfitters or some shit, so I can’t relax, or pay attention to what people are saying. We get to Motor City (also a bit drastic on the decorations), and it looks kinda dead. My facebook DJ friend can be mega awkward or pretentious (I can’t tell which one it is) when he’s sober. And it’s only 11:30, so I doubt he’s drunk yet, but when he’s drunk, he’s fucking hilarious. So we don’t even go in.

So I decide we should head to Mars Bar. I feel this strange sense of responsibility to try and hang there, since I could generally be categorized as a punk. But like, the place smells so fucking bad, I just can’t hang. This is coming from a dude who grew up living in a dingy basement that flooded every month or two, if that says anything. I like how the place looks, but the smell is overwhelming. Cotty described the smell as a 3 year old jizz sock, that was used perpetually to dry off his balls after jogging for three miles every day. So yeah, just like the last ten times of trying to get a drink there, I end up walking in and walking out. It’s like, why do I wanna spend the $6 or whatever to sit in a smelly bar? The clientele reminds me of a rough Cleveland crowd, which is definitely a plus, compared to the typical East Village yuppie/hipster/whatever the fuck you wanna call these people. White people. But yeah, I guess I’m just too bougie for Mars Bar. It’s a shame, because I really dig that song “That Woman’s Got Me Drinking” by Shane McGowan, that has a music video that takes place in Mars Bar a billion years ago, with Johnny Depp drinking tons of Gin — I’m a youtube addict.

Mars Bar

We head to KGB Bar, at E. 5th St and 2nd Ave. They have these really awesome Russian beers that are a pint, 8% ABV, and fucking killer. I can’t remember the name, but for $6 in the EastVillage, this is kind of like getting two beers for the price of one, and less of a beer belly in the process. KGB Bar has readings there, but I’m too irresponsible to get in with the NYC writing scene going on. Me and Cotty discussed which whiskey is the most reprehensible to order, and we both decide Johnny Walker Black, with Dewars as runner up. I love this bar, again, for hanging with bros during off hours; it’s a blood red bar upstairs that seems to have lots of old timey decor. But the bartender totally cut off one of my favorite Richard Hell songs to play Nirvana’s “In Utero” in its entirety. Me and Cotty discuss Nirvana for the rest of the hour, and end up getting the fuck out of there after some weird lady from Rome tries to pick up on us.

So yeah, me and Cotty part ways, and I stumble over to my default late night snack, Mamoun’s. I don’t get any street cred for Mamoun’s, as it’s perhaps the most widely known falafel joint in NYC. But it’s consistently rad, except on this night, I don’t recognize the cashier, and he’s getting in a bunch of arguments with three customers, because he fucked up all their orders. This guy must be new, and he’s swearing at people and shit. I work in service too, and I’ve dealt with plenty of bullshit. But look, if you fuck up someone’s order, you gotta make it right again. You’re potentially scaring away thousands of dollars on a yearly basis, by losing 10 customers. But he proudly proclaims that he doesn’t care about being rude, and tells people to shut up. I not only get my standard falafel sandwich with hummus, but this time I also get a spinach pie, as advertised on the poster on the counter. The falafel is satisfying as always, but the spinach pie was actually disappointing, in a weird microwavey sort of way. I also recommend the shwarma at Mamouns, it tastes like really good pussy (All my gay buddies should beware). Maybe if you dig the shwarma, it means you’re an in the closet straight guy? Dunno. Girlfriend was sleeping when I got home.

So yeah, not a bad Easter. Thanks, Jesus.

Locations in New York City

Beacon’s Closet
92 5th Ave
Brooklyn, New York
(718) 230-1630
Washington Commons
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
748 Washington Avenue
(between Park Pl & Sterling Pl)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 230-3666
732 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238-4607
(718) 622-3100
Mercury Lounge
217 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002-1021
(212) 260-4700
Market Hotel
1142 Myrtle Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Motor City
127 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002-3214

(212) 358-1595
158 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002

(212) 505-3733
Max Fish
178 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002-1549

(212) 529-3959
Mars Bar
25 E 1st St
(between Extra Pl & 2nd St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 473-9842
85 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003-8904
(212) 505-3360
Mamoun’s Falafel
22 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10003-8022
(212) 387-7747

Bands Featured
The Smith Westerns