Bash Compactor: Journalists Flock to Tracy Westmoreland’s Manhattans—in Brooklyn

Written by Matt Harvey on . Posted in Bash Compactor, Posts.


On Friday night, at the grand opening of Manhattans, a new dive bar in
Prospect Heights, it looked like the bearded, burly bouncer had a few
too many. A tear in his eye, he looked at the tight crowd of revelers and
said, “It fucking rocks. I’ve got a lot of fucking good friends and
happy people here.”

In case you don’t know, the burly dude isn’t some
biker—he’s Tracy Westmoreland, and he owns the joint. — His old-time
debauchery revival, Siberia, had been kicked around from pillar to post
in Hell’s Kitchen, its toilets yanked out by Japanese landlords. It
finally closed down; rudderless for years, its former booze-soaked
denizens—writers, scoundrels, bullshit artists and misfits—have finally
found a home on the fringes of Brownstone Brooklyn.

One of Westmoreland’s most ardent acolytes—Der Spiegel reporter Stephan
Mueller
—had to take a couple of trains out from Midtown. Tipsily, in
his German accent, he said that it was totally fitting: “The first
Siberia was in a subway station, and it still has to do with the
subway!”

But some of Siberia’s more louche former clientele weren’t
willing to take it quite that far. Observer columnist George Gurley
jumped out of a cab with his half-brother, filmmaker, Jack Bryan.
Glancing around like he had been dropped off on the moon, Gurley threw
up his palms. “Am I in the right place?” he asked.

Westmoreland stepped
out from the door and gave him a big hug. Bryan was so enflamed with
passion for Siberia when it was closing that he directed a documentary
about it called Life After Dark. (Sample reminiscence from lithe
female former Siberia patron: “I loved to get naked there and
fuck.”)

Inside there was no fucking, at least on the record: It was practically
a journalist’s convention. Some of us even had jobs. Talking through
the alt-classics soundtrack, Lauren Wolfe, from the Committee to
Protect Journalists, was asking someone in my direction if they had
gone to Columbia J-School. Oh, wait, did I go there?

Gurley was
slightly shell-shocked that his old therapy columns had just netted him
a book deal and pilot—what he calls, in a Kansas twang, “the TV thang.”
Wondering at the socialite dinners, power breakfasts and sheer family
connections that netted his book deal, he said: “It’s almost like I
didn’t do anything.”

Westmoreland came over and looked out at his writerly flock. Ben
McGrath
, a New Yorker scribe, was chatting with a girl in a darkened
corner. Westmoreland asked me to turn on my tape recorder. “I’m pissed
off,” he said. “David Carr didn’t get his silly ass over here.”

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