Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Oscar Poole Meme 

I first caught sight of this guy over on Rick Bruner's blog, who saw a photo of him on the front page of the New York Times Website and then noticed him on Roger Simon's blog. He's also over on Slower.net and Gawker. Fortunately, in the Slower shot we can clearly make out his nametag so I did a little googling and discovered that Oscar is a retired preacher who with his wife, Edna, owns Col. Pooles Bar-B-Q in East Ellijay, Georgia. So there you go.

An Excerpt from the Opening Chapter of "Noontime Drunks" 

Noontime drunks are a thing, you know, a New York craze. Absolutely everyone wants to be one but it is tres difficult. You wouldn't believe the dedication it takes to be a lousy, stinking drunk by noon each and every day. Honestly, it requires a level of commitment comparable to, say, learning how to say Falujah or reading a the Style section of the Sunday Times without falling asleep.

Getting out of bed is murder, for a start. It all began with my best friend, Sully. He's the ultimate Lower East Side lad, since drug-addled, thin, unkempt and unemployed hipsters are the chicest thing to be here.

Someone heard he'd been drinking at the Cherry Tavern since high school, because that's what he told the reporter for the New York Post when he was arrested in there for buying shots for the Olsen twins. Anyway, it was rumored in certain circles that Sully had an arrangement whereby a can of Pabst and a shot of Wild Turkey would be placed on the bar for him at precisely 11:00 a.m. each day and suddenly everyone else wanted to be Noontime Drunks.

The drunk cannot be mild, it has to be stinking, like something from a Charles Bukowski story. He's the icon, the drunk to worship. It's beyond unhealthy. Getting drunk by noon every hurts, if you can get manage to pull yourself out of bed, which obviously you can't. Inevitably, Noontime drunks are talked and gossiped about endlessly. Every time you walk into a saloon for happy hour there's a guy at the end of the bar, hunched over a half-eaten corn-beef on rye sandwich and smelling like he woke up in a juniper bush. That guy's the noontime drunk. People titter and whisper, and if they know that once he had a promising career in journalism, they shake their heads in pity. Moi? I always buy that guy a drink on the theory that someday I may need someone to buy me a drink when I've spent all my money before most folks have finished their workday.

Anyway, according to the whispers, I'm heading that way myself, taking the deep, quick dive into dipsomania. I'll never tell a soul this, but sometimes before the bar I look in the mirror and see this guy who looks like me only older. And with less raw sexual energy than I'm pretty sure I exude.

Everyone thinks that the drunken life is self-destructive. The truth is that I owe every ounce of success I've had to drinking. A lot of folks do, especially writers. But no one dares say in case they sound like they've got a drinking problem. Even poor Scott Fitzgerald insisted he only wrote sober. Whatevs. Still, there are plenty of downsides. Like, you aren't going to be able to hold down a day job. But then again, working is for idiots and I love the smell of bars.

To be specific, last Friday I woke up on the floor of a particularly strong scented drinking establishment called The Village Idiot. The Idiot smells like a grave. A grave filled with corpses of people who drowned in bourbon. Even before I opened my eyes I could tell I where I was. The only mystery was why I was awake before closing time. That's when I noticed my cell phone ringing.

"It wasn't me," I said.

"We need to go to Bungalow!" yelled a desperate voice. It was Davis, who I worked with the last time I was working. I keep in touch with Davis because he has more money than Sully, which is to say he's got more than zero, the balance of Sully's bank account for the last two years.

"We're definitely going to get laid if we go to Bungalow tonight, my friend," continued Davis excitedly. Even though you'd think Davis, being a regular in the fashionable club and lounge scene, would know this already, I explained that a lousy drunk like me can't get into place like Bunglaow 8.

"Can tonight," he said.

I ended up spending the rest of happy hour trying to pull myself together enough to get past the doormen at Bungalow. Davis was a member of an exclusive concierge service that was throwing its New York launch party at Bungalow and he was certain we would have no problem getting in. Still, I thought that even his concierge service might balk at letting me in unless I could keep myself in an upright position for more than a few minutes. Davis was sure we were going to meet a lot of women that night, and I told him I didn't know how to talk to women anymore. At least, I didn't know how to talk to women who weren't in the business of bartering my money for their booze. He fed me all the pick-up lines he'd thought of recently, like "The voices inside my head told me to come over and talk to you." That's probably a good line if you're a well-dressed, obviously sane investment banker like Davis. If, on the other hand, you look like you may have slipped through the gates of Bellevue earlier that evening, it'll probably come off as creepy.

[Continue Reading"Noontime Drunks" by Manhattan Transfer.]

Monday, August 30, 2004

R: The Party 

My gang successfully infiltrated the party. Everything you've heard is true: mishandled media, Jenna and Barbara as royalty, cash bar, line dancing, bands you've never heard of, souless preppies and southern sorority sisters listing sinward. More details when I'm not as hungover. And no, you're not drunk; the picture's blurred because I was when I took it.

Also lurched my way through a media party at the Time Warner Center and something held by a Republican congressman at Bowlmoor.

The Convention Kicker 

As I pointed out last week, the Kicker is back to cover the Republican convention. I haven't actually read any of it yet, but it looks like they sent Carl Swanson to the Bush girls party at Roseland while everyone else on the staff of New York magazine was sent to "flood the zone" with coverage of yesterday's protest action.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Fire Up the Gimlets, We're Off 

Got to run to catch the Captain Morgan's Bus out east. Back Sunday to check out all the hot cop-on-protestor action.

Please don't forget to feed the Republicans while I'm gone.

Oh, and also, I'm currently accepting crash strategy suggestions for the Bush Twins party at Roseland. Email me at ManhattanTransferatgmaildotcom, yo. Why do I think that this is going to get me on the terrorist watch list?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

An Open Letter to L Magazine 

First of all, fuck you. I found a copy of your tiny little magazine in a bar I passed on the way to getting drunk last night. I tried to read it but it was soaking wet and smelled like whiskey. But that wasn’t really your fault, I guess, since it was my whiskey that I spit out laughing at this. Here’s the problem. So you did this whole summer issue thing and didn’t even bother to ask me to write anything for it. I’m thinking I would have been good for the whole "Caustic" thing about whether New York is swell or sucky in the summer. That little cute Mainer girl Jessy Delfino would have pulled her whole “I’m poor, have no air-conditioning, I sing and I’m really funny” bit and I would have CRUSHED her with this.

Oh, also, is Rebecca Shuman single? "Rainer Maria Rilke didn’t have so-called ‘air-conditioning’ and it didn’t stop him from writing Slaughterhouse-Five" is just about the hottest thing I’ve read in like forever. If she’s not single, does she cheat?

And another thing. Nope. That’s it. No ‘nother thing for you this time, you lucky bastards.


Choire Sicha: Youth of America, Leave Your High Schools 

So to the youth of today I say -- fuck high school. Take the equivalency test. All high school will do for you is force you to socialize with snotty nitwits and wannabe gang members and if you're not having fun, leave now and never look back. Yeah you'll have some shitty jobs after you graduate. Don't worry about it."
Right the fuck on. Right the fuck on, man.

[Choire Sicha Dot Com]

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Planet Taken at Otto 

Dropped by Otto last night to share some wine with Laren and her blistfully blogless friend, who is also the cutest rabbi I have ever met. Brilliant, piercing eyes; tangled curls; and an easy, comforting laugh. She is, of course, totally taken. Not just taken, but taken by a guy who has written a blog for the past year about their engagement and obviously will publish a book about being a groom in the near future.

I was hoping the blog would suck because I’m not such a nice person and I often wish the worst for others. It doesn’t, of course. I’m still catching up—-there’s a lot there. Start with this entry about his bachelor party:
A few months ago, when talking about plans for my bachelor party to an acquaintaince, I was practically ordered to go to a strip club. 'Dude,' this acquaintance said, 'you have to go.' Really? Is strip club attendance mandatory for all grooms-to-be? Do Las Vegas airport officials not let you on the plane home unless you can prove you saw a naked breast during your trip? My acquaintance explained the reasoning behind his insistance: 'Dude, you have to say goodbye to all that.' Say goodbye to all what? Breast implants, bleach-bottle dye jobs and sequined G-strings? When have I ever said hello to any of that? If I really needed to say goodbye to something, I'd go to a bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and get rejected by short, curly haired girls carrying Kate Spade bags."
Almost makes me wish I spent time on the Upper East Side, just to witness the horror. What do I have to say goodbye to? Tattooed piercelings smoking dust on Avenue C rooftops?

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Wisdom of Elijah Sharpp 

“Oh. You see that?” Elijah Sharpp asked.

I looked up from the Wall Street Journal. Elijah was behind the steering wheel of the taxi cab, looking out to our right. We were stopped at a light in midtown, and beside us was a motorcycle with two passengers—a man and a woman holding on behind him. She had black hair braded into thick ropes and long legs flowing out of a pleated skirt.

“Hoo-weee. Legs like that would wake a dead man up,” Elijah said.

“And an extremely hungover man, too,” I said.

“Son, how old are you?” he asked. I told him. “Hmmm. I’m sixty-five years old, and I aint never lived with a woman. You work too much, you got a woman at home, you don’t have time to fool around on the side. You see?”

I had no idea why he decided to tell me all this but I grunted in acknowledgement.

“I came up from Georgia with my brother when I was twenty-one. Coming to New York, that was no mistake I’ll tell you. Hoo-weee. A lot of fine women in New York. I like a fine woman. Can never be too fine. But I guess most men do.”

Friday, August 20, 2004

A Bit Distracted 

The whiskey is still swimming too hard in my veins for posting today. All I have time for it this.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Culture Anyone? 

After reviewing the second quarter earnings report, I've decided to expand my portfolio from International Capitalism and Decadence Blogging to include writing about cultural events in New York City. I've got a good gig lined up at a ink-and-paper daily. If you have any suggestions for events, shows, books, magazines, music or institutions that you'd like to see covered please send me an email. If you're in a band or run a reading series or swallow swords or whatever, get in touch. One caveat: due to some arcane scheduling rules, concerts and other events should take place between Thursday and Monday.

Update: If you are an editor and want to put in a competing or complimentary bid for my scribbling services, feel free to send an email my way.

You Drink, They Drive 

Someone in London has invented the “scooterman.” Drive your car to a party, drink as much as you like, call scooterman who appears on his collapsible scooter, which he stows in the trunk of your car while he drives you home. Fucking excellent.

In Manhattan, of course, we import people from the third-world to drive us about in yellow cars, so we don’t need scooterman. But they’d come in handy in the Hamptons. It would certainly save the trouble of taking a taxi back to Jet East to pick up the Escalade you abandonned after your seventh gin-and-tonic. Only they should clearly be “scootergirls” and they should wear bikinis.

[via BizNetTravel Travel Log]

Update: They've got it in Los Angeles too. L.A. is so cool. Silly car people.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Whiskey and Rain 

Punk Rock Mike is impossible to get in touch with. He doesn’t have a phone, and doesn’t have a regular job. There was a time when he worked in a comic book store on St. Marks and when you wanted to find him, you could stop by there. Even if he wasn’t working, you could leave him a note. These days he works in film, with a specialty in horror, and I’ve heard he appears in at least one of the Toxic Avenger sequels. But there is no way to contact him.

Which makes it odd that I see him as often as I do. It's Saturday evening, I'm on my way home from another noon-to-dusk brunch, sending out word to the lads and lasses in East Egg that I wasn’t going to make it to Jay Gatsby’s party that night. There is this storm coming up the coast, I am too hungover to get my SUV on the LIE and the girl in the hooker wig is throwing a Blackout Anniversary party on the Lower East Side. All this does not go over well with the “city friends are for weekdays” set, who are in the midst of greeting Hurricane Charlie with a charlie hurricane.

I'm rescued from this by ALC, a tiny, Finnish hottie who masquerades as a New York City school teacher during the day. She walks up to me near the subway entrance, flips my phone shut and starts quizzing me on my plans for the night. “Walk with me,” she says. She has a dinner she's going to a Barbuto, and her lateness had gone beyond merely fashionable to haute couture.

“Hey, isn’t that Punk Rock Mike?” she says, pointing at a guy in a grey shirt and cut-off camouflage pants. And so it is.

Now we’re trying to coordinate a trilateral plan for the evening, Punk Rock Mike is getting a look in his eye that’s got me thinking, “Okay, my little Finn, I’m afraid you’re going to have to fend for yourself. I have a feeling punk rock Mike and I are going to get ugly tonight.” Also, I’m pretty sure that Punk Rock Mike has no idea who she is, even if he’s acting as if he does because that’s what fellas do when cute broads remember them.

So the plan gets laid out like this. I’m to meet Punk Rock Mike in an hour and a half at the Tile Bar on Seventh Street and Second Avenue, and then we’ll go to a party on Avenue A. The Finn will call when her dinners done, and then we’ll all go down to the blackout party.

Two hours later I discover that is that there is no bar called “the Tile Bar,” and it’s not on Second Avenue and Seventh Street. Mike has no cell phone, and doesn’t call other people’s phones. He’s screwed up the plan and there’s no way to fix it. Fuck. I start to wander around the east village. Sully calls and is confused by the idea of a blackout anniversary.

“Doesn’t anniversary mean a year?” he asks.

“Uhm, yeah.”

“But you blacked out just last weekend. I think it’s a bit dishonest to pretend its been a year.”

I end up on First Avenue, outside a bar called WCOU, which must be a sister bar of WXOU, where I used to get drunk on laundry days when I lived in the Far West. Sitting inside is Punk Rock Mike. “You are in a lot of trouble,” I tell him

But he’s not really. We go to the party where the pretty girls ply me with booze and flattery. Mike and I swap stories about bars, bands and broads. Two blonde doctor girls inspect the wound I received on Friday night and reassure me that I probably won’t lose any limbs even if I never get it stitched up. There are rumors that a team of ninja drunk assassin girls may be going to the blackout party to collect the price on my head, and the whiskey helps me forget all about it. The Finn calls but it's too late for entertaining young women with wit. Matt and Laren called on their way to Otto but it’s too late for eating also. It’s too late for everything, really. Everything except serious drinking.

I step out onto the fire-escape four stories above Avenue A to sip whiskey alone, burn tobacco and watch the rain make the black pavement glow with light reflected from the cobra streetlights.

"Eh," Punk Rock Mike calls. "We're off to Mars Bar."

Well, yes. It's not to late for that.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Black Coffee and Cigarettes 

It’s ten to five in the afternoon and I’m still pouring scalding coffee on my wrists in an attempt to banish the hangover. The pain has subsided but now it’s gone all metaphysical on me, filling my heart with fear and loathing.

Gobs of trouble planned for the weekend, so I better get myself up to fighting strength soon.

No better way than hair of the dog, I suppose. So where are we drinking?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Water Into Wine 

Somehow I managed to beat the rain on the way through the meatpacking district to Highline last night. Just as I stepped in the door the skies opened up and let loose the deluge. I arrived with Blondie, who recently reminded me that when we first met I remarked that her hair was shorter than mine. Apparently this is not the right thing to say to a woman you are trying to seduce because it gets translated in her head as “Damn, you look like bull dyke.”

We were meeting an old school friend and his young wife. He’s a equity trader for a massive financial outfit, and she works in fashion. They met five years ago at Tortilla Flats back when she lived in the Far West Village, and now they live in a very well appointed apartment on the Upper East Side. Both of them have managed to combine success in their careers with an incredibly healthy lifestyle of good food, lots of exercise and not much drink. He’s training to run in the marathon. Of course I despise them for this.

We had a couple of drinks at the bar, which is very modern, cool and comfortable. The hostess and bartenders were wonderful. We were seated at a very nice table in the center of the dining room, and I got to face the long glass wall and look out at the downpour. Our waiter was earnest and no doubt had the best intentions, but he was incompetent. He offered no advice on the menu, and declined to give any when prompted, which might not have been entirely his fault as nothing we were served was very impressive or exceptional. Perhaps there was nothing to recommend.

The wine was nice and decently priced, and rescued the dinner. As the second bottle emptied, the fit, rich married couple began to verbally swat at each other. She treats clothes like fruit—constantly buying fresh stuff, and treating her closet as if its contents had certainly gone rotten. He naps on Saturdays and doesn’t have time for movies. A bit clichéd; nothing serious; but just enough trouble in paradise to provide some ease of mind to those of us exiled from the garden.

The rain kept on, and so we tried to wait it out over another bottle of wine. And then another. I couldn’t believe that it could rain that heavily for that long. And I shouldn’t have. What I was looking at wasn’t rain at all. It was a fucking indoor waterfall that cascaded down the window directly across from me. A quick glance through the other windows revealed that the rain had all but tapered off.

So we took down the last of the wine, stole an umbrella that someone left at the bar, and stumbled out into the streets to watch the eurotrash and tunneltrash get their stilettos stuck in the cobblestones of the far west.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

10 Things Not to Say to Your Date 

What happened to your hair?

It’s nice. I just wish it was smaller.

This is the most fun I’ve ever had with a woman your age.

Hold on. I want to write that down.

Can I have that back later?

I’m not sure how I feel about the whole ‘women voting’ thing.

Is it okay if I take off my pants anyway?

This is a picture of you in college? Damn you were hot.

Have you ever heard of a blog?

I was hoping you'd bring your roommate.

[Feel free to add you own in comments.]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Short Story About a Couple, Told in the Second Person, That Doesn’t Really Work Out 

You’re not the kind of guy who spends time with his ex-girlfriends. But here you are, sitting beside her, and you cannot say you aren’t actually enjoying yourself. She orders a something made with strawberrys and champagne. The drink in your hand is Jameson’s on the rocks. You feel the ice press up against your upper lip and wonder if this will get better or worse if you get drunk. She’s been talking about going on a trip to the Adirondacks with a man she met recently.

“Well, I think you should go. It will be a new experience,” you say.

“I’m not interested in new experiences. Unless they’re chemical,” she says.

You laugh. She laughs. After that there is silence, which is less awkward than you would expect thanks to the whiskey.

The silence continues and you wonder if there is anything else to this story. There was that one joke, but it doesn’t really have anywhere else to go.

“Ask him if he’s got anything else, or if we’re just expected to sit here forever,” she says.

You look through the fourth wall at the narrator. “Well. Is there? What happens next?”

“Nothing, really. I’m actually a bit distracted right now,” I say.

“So we can go, then, right?” she asks.

Part of me still feels there might be a few more things to say but it doesn’t seem fair to keep you waiting. “I suppose you might as well,” I say.

You wave to the bartender but then decide that you probably don’t have to pay the check. In particular, if the story ends before you leave the bar you won’t have to pay the check at all.

“Could you end it right here, maybe?” you ask.

“Oh, Christ. You are a really fucking tight one, aren’t you?” she says.

It’s too late. The bartender brings the check. You take out your wallet and put a couple of bills into the leather folder. “Fucker,” you whisper under your breath.

I heard that. Just for that she’s going to leave angry.

She steps off her bar stool and walks out the door without looking back. The bartender returns with some change, and gives you a look of pity.

“You shouldn’t have let that one get away mate,” he says.

You know it wasn’t you that let her go. It was this story. Which really should have ended earlier. You wonder if it will even get posted to the blog. But it already has.

Philip Larkin Asks, The New Yorker Answers 

Toward the end, John Updike's appreciation of Philip Larkin quotes Larkin's Church Going:
"When churches will fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?"
Quite nicely, the front section of the very same issue of the New Yorker has an article on the fate of South Boston, which reveals that questions of poetry eventually become questions of real estate. As it turns out, we're going to use them as condominiums.

[You'll have to take my word for it, though. Can't find the links.]

[Update: Now I've got the links. I was a bit too hungover this morning to properly operate google. Okay?]

Friday, August 06, 2004

Steve Sailer Proves New York Times Movie Critic Has Not Seen Any Movies with Denzel Washington:
The NYT's new hire as film critic, Manohla Darghis gets off to a bad start, giving this competent but silly picture a rave, and unloads this doozie:

... "Collateral" is very much the product of a distinct vision, one as eager to push technological limits (the film was shot with the most advanced video cameras) as to upend the usual studio white-hero/black-villain formula. For the director, such casting isn't a sop to political correctness, but a reflection of his city's demographics.

Question for NYT's esteemed critic: What planet are you watching movies on? What "white-hero/black-villain" formula? Manohla should go tell Morgan Freeman about all the villain roles available to black actors because he's been complaining for years that he can't get a role as a bad guy. But, of course, she would know better than he would, wouldn't she? After all, she is a film critic for the New York Times.
[Ed.: Oh, please. When was the last time you saw a film with Denzel? Fair enough.]

[Also, this is probably just damage control. When this movie fails it will obviously be blamed on the daring premise of having black hero and a white villain. Maybe someone should give the director should get a medal or whatever they give people who make crappy movies with politically correct premises. Oh wait, that’s what the Oscars are for.]

[New York Times via Steve Sailer.]

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Doonesbury on Kerry, 1971:

Via Counterpunch.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Fuck the Schools: Ever since I can remember people have complained that we don't pay teachers enough. When I was young I thought this didn't make any sense because teachers only worked two-thirds of the year. In my teenage years I decided this complaint was crap because teachers more or less sucked. I was punk rock enough to see that the schools were a scam meant to destroy the lives and minds of uppity-Americans and replace them with complacent consumers.

I guess I am still punk-rock enough because I still feel that way and I had to choke down the venom when I read Dave Eggers Reading, Writing, and Landscaping on the sadness of teachers in Mother Jones. It made me want to go throw a brick through the window of one of the lead-paint and asbestos ridden penitentiaries that pass for schools in New York City. Or go encourage some kid to stop doing homework, stop going to classes and stop listening to the counselors. Becoming a moral drop-out did me nothing but good, and if you're a high-school student and reading this email me and I'll explain how to initiate a one-man revolution. The first step: drop out of school now.

Oddly enough, Eggers agrees with me about teachers, even if he uses mealy mouthed phrase "the quality of education is diminished." Eggers solution to someone doing a bad job is to pay them more to do it. Or, as he puts it, we should pay teachers "in line with their importance to their communities."

It would be interesting to see how Eggers would administrate this departure from the system of supply and demand that sets the wages of everyone else. Or does he intend to make becoming a teacher as difficult and as costly as becoming a lawyer or doctor? Alternatively, we could make the teaching profession a lot less easy, so that fewer individuals would be willing to take on the burden of entering it.

Look, Dave, the only way to raise the wages of teachers to that of attorneys and doctors is to make teaching an exclusive profession, to lower the supply of available teachers. Of course this would mean that teachers would become less affordable, and poorer communities would not be able to afford as many of them. So maybe we're best left not trying to introduce price-fixing into the teaching profession at all.