Nights in Brooklyn
Nights in Brooklyn
I stop at Niedra’s on 7th Avenue for a latte to give me some gas for the evening. At my age, I die early on unless I am fortified with caffeine. I have willingly submitted myself to a caffeine addiction so that I can work more focused during the day and stay up later at night without falling asleep in the middle of something.
I walk over to Bill’s house on 11th Street for drinks. Bill lives in what looks like a museum. Only it isn’t. It is his personal statement about his life. The doorway under the stoop is painted like a subway car, straphanger and all. The bottom floor is pretty dark, but everyone walks up the stairs and it hits you. The upstairs rooms are full of artifacts of his travels, mainly Buddhist stuff, and artist friend’s work. He is currently in the process of having all his doors painted by an artist friend from New Zealand. He pays for the guy to fly over, stay at his house and in return the friend will paint something on one of his doors. Kind of cool, although I worry about him ruining the architectural integrity of his 1890 brownstone with all this red and blue and yellow color. His daughter thinks he is going to try to give the house to the City of new York when he dies. We joke about that, both knowing it ain’t going to happen.
He is feeding me some left over gunk called Celtic Honey, an Irish Liqueur. Sort of an oxymoron; Irish Liqueur? It tastes sweet and pretty awful, but I chug it down, two glasses, so that we can go to a movie a little high. This business of getting high does not leave me; it only surfaces in different forms, first booze, then dope, now booze again. I claim when the doctor gives me six months to live, I’m going straight to the bodega for a bag of weed.
We stumble into the Park Slope Palladium Cinema. The movie is “Contraband” with Mark Walburg. It is a mile-a-minute action flick with a crime pays moral at the ending. Not bad, steal some stuff, kill a few freaks, and take all the money to live happily ever after on the Gulf Coast beach.
I call the parking lot where my car is and we walk down there to drive to Fiorentino’s Ristorante on Avenue U for some good red sauce not fucking around Italian food and wine. The waiter has this I don’t give a fuck attitude, but is friendly two us. I guess he figured out we were not an old gay couple out on the town, but just a couple of old fucks out on the town. There are other guys-from-the-neighborhood groups there doing the same thing we were doing. Eating food and getting more of a buzz on. We drive away happy and full. Next on the list is Farrell’s.
Farrell’s Bar is a shot and beer paradise. Jameson’s for me and Jack for Bill. We also get a short glass of beer, probably Budweiser, but I don’t pay any attention to the brand. It is surprising how easy the shots go down in this old Brooklyn bar reminding me so much of my youth and my father, one foot on the brass rail, slowly downing his depression sorrows in shots and beer. Me, nine years old, watching him for across the room as I play the nickel pinball machines. The apple does not fall far.
Then we are off to Barbie’s on 9th Street and 6th Avenue. Why this place has a French name is beyond me. There must be some story, but I am not too interested. I finally did check out why the name is what it is and it turns that two French musicians own the place. This place is a gem and it is right around the corner from where I live. If I were younger and single, I would be here as a regular. There is a great bar and then a small back room, where they play music almost every night. They also show odd old movies and have poetry sometimes. Tonight’s group, which plays every Wednesday is The Mandango Ambassadors. They are from Guinea and play an upbeat version of afro-american jazz with a lot of visiting musicians sitting in. Tonight will be no different. We are early enough to get a seat and I order a vodka on the rocks to sip.
More and more young people come into this little dark back room. The music begins to fall into a grove. The rhythm is constant and happy. They dance before me. Close. But always moving to the rhythm. Somehow losing themselves in the music, such an easy and important escape from all the crap we now live in. The music gets louder and louder, the rhythms stronger and deeper. This little small dark room in Brooklyn bounces to the music and the dancing and the youth of it all.
We end the night at smiling pizza. I walk home eating a warm slice of Brooklyn pizza, enjoying the cold night air.
Another night. I am sitting at the bar at Talde, the trendiest bar and restaurant in Park Slope to open in awhile. I am drinking a martini and having their pork and chive dumplings fried in sesame oil. A really good bar food. This a a cool place, not a hipster type of bar, buy a trendy, upscale asian-fusian type place. The food is good. Food is one of our sensual pleasures. It is a joy to place something taste on our tongues. I do a lot of genealogy and in past my distant relatives lives much poor than I do today. I eat what I want and go where I want to go, but these ancient folks could only go where jobs were. They followed the mills from Ireland to England and down the western coast of England as the Industrial revolution over south. May father’s family ended up in Manchester, working in the mills. Then to the US to first work in the cotton and woolen mills and then into Tool and Die Making and a small success. I am the product of these men and women who struggled with survival. I am the survivor and I should respect and honor the past.
I look up and my son, Edward is standing there. He has found me. Ed is a cop turned fireman/marine. He’s a stand-up guy who I am very proud of. He is more like my ancestors than I am. He is different than me in many ways, but also similar. Ed will be leaving for Afganistan in a few weeks for a third tour in that area. He was at the trade center on 9/11 and can not let it go. It is trying to avenge the deaths of all the people we know. The restaurant fills up and we walk home.
Once again in Brooklyn at Barbes to hear Stephane Wrembel, the gypsy guitar guy. This guy is and his band are just amazing. The double vodka on the rocks helps mostly to drown out the bar sounds and let me focus on the guitar playing.
You would know this guy because he composed and played the music for Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”
I met this guy and his wife sitting next to me who had driven in from Newtown, Ct. He told me he was honored to be there. Now, I live around the corner from this place and it made me think a bit about living in a neighborhood and the places that are there. This gut and his wife drive two hundred miles and I walk two blocks. I should appreciate this place more.
If I were younger and single, I would hang out at this bar, which is probably the coolest bar in all of New York City. Lots of nice looking young ladies, many with dates but some singles. Maybe I can talk my son into coming with me one time.
The music is astounding. I have heard a lot of music and this is among the best. His finger work in beyond belief. The rest of the band is great. The drummer had a few solos that told me this guy will be more in the years to come, if he lives.
Anyway, a great evening in Brooklyn.