The Good Bar

Written by Jeff Koyen on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

night, me and the girl, walking around, looking for kicks. We stopped
into Red & Black on N. 5th in, yes, Williamsburg, which, yes, is my new
neighborhood. Almost in spite of myself, I moved into the belly of the beast,
into a room in a friend’s space on N. 3rd. I’ve known Woody since
1990 or so, when I was an undergrad at Rutgers and he was in Nudeswirl, one
of the best of the local bands.

Most of
the bands I knew have been pressed into memory under the heel of day jobs and
the gravity of thirtysomething pragmatism. Some, though, managed to poke their
beaks through the eggshell of New Brunswick, NJ. The Bouncing Souls and Shades
Apart, Monster Magnet and even Nudeswirl–all were friends or friends of
friends who saw varying degrees of accomplishment. Even young Ted What’shisname,
the pretty-boy charmer who slept with two different women I wanted (but took
seconds after me on at least one other)–he turned up as a back-up player
in the Hedwig and the Angry Inch film. I was pleased to see success come
his way, but will hesitate to leave him alone with my girlfriend should we ever
show up at the same bar.

So. Into
Red & Black, looking for a spot to sit for a few drinks, a chill place where
we could continue the dinner conversation. There were two empty seats at opposite
ends of the bar. Innocently enough, I made to move one nearer to the other.
You know, so my date and I could actually be next to each other while we drank
whatever overpriced bottles of beer were on offer.

The bartender
freaked as soon as I lifted the stool off the ground. She screeched as if her
nervous system’s alarm had been tripped by an unseen switch attached to
the foot of the stool. I stood still, confused, and quickly gathered that she
was afraid I intended to intrude upon the five-foot stretch of no-man’s
land where the wait staff fetches their drinks.

no," I said, "I’d like to bring this seat down to that seat,
at that end, so we can sit together."

what I can only describe as panic, she refused to let the one stool creep closer
to the other stool. This, despite the near-empty bar and two accommodating patrons
who’d just moved their jackets for us. I don’t know if she was cranky
because she couldn’t smoke or because the place was slow on a Saturday
night, but I’m just about the most polite person in the world, and I don’t
deserve to be treated like the help by some dissatisfied cunt bartender.

Around the
corner and down the block we went, to the ever dependable Sweet Water Tavern,
which is more our style anyway. We took our pints to the back and played the
best bar videogame in the world: Big Buck Hunter II. Keep your sit-down Ms.
Pac Man, keep your bowling, keep your golfing. Give me a heavy, plastic shotgun
and the chance to kill 18 glorious, graceful bucks per one dollar.

By our third
hunting trip–and fifth pint–we were dropping eight-pointers with aplomb
and screaming at the screen when a doe got in the way. After six dollars, we
had an admirable number of bucks to our credit and it was time to go home.

Back to
watch the American remake of The Ring, a movie surprisingly sufficient
for the occasional creepy moment. It was a better movie when Japanese people
were running around investigating a cursed videotape, but for those of us with
a high tolerance for shitty horror films, the concept of discriminating taste
doesn’t exist. Especially when a little drunk.

It was a
good weekend for movies. On Saturday, we also watched Resident Evil,
and then on Sunday afternoon I saw The Good Thief, Neil Jordan’s
expat-thief movie set in Paris and starring Nick Nolte. I stepped out of the
theater wistful for travel. It made me miss that feeling of landing in a new
city where you don’t speak the language, that indescribable sense of being
an outsider in a world that couldn’t give a shit about you, but only for
the right reasons.