The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for March 23rd, 2017

haughty hermit

with 5 comments

It’s National Chips and Dip Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An acquaintance of mine, an immigrant frenchman that works at Delmonicos as a butcher (that’s him, all blurred up in the long exposure above) whom I know from the local saloon asked me just the other night “do you always hold meetings in the bar”? The answer is “yes.” If I have to sit down and chat with someone about work and there’s an opportunity to do it over a pint rather than in some banal office, I take it. One has always favored the “Irish Bar” variant of watering hole. One of the first times that I reveled in the glorious and often forgotten history of NYC was back in college whilst wondering about why Third Avenue in Manhattan seemed to host a group of Irish bars at seemingly regular geographic intervals (14th, 23rd, 34th etc.), and that’s when I learned about the former existence of the Third Avenue Elevated. The Irish bars agglutinate do around its no longer extant exit stairwells, and provided a clue as to “what used to be.”

Back when I was still doing comics, and doing promotional appearances at conventions around the country, I’d often find myself in some strange city or town all by myself after the show and would wander into the local licensed establishments for diversion. That’s when I discovered that there were ethnic influences in the set up of various regions – the “Slavic” style bars of the Midwest (a central island with low slung counters built around it, where shots of clear liquor are favored over tap beer) or the restaurant style setups of the American Southeast – where the bar itself is not meant for sitting at, and the patrons gather around tables and chairs set up in the manner of a coffee shop or diner. Further, you can tie the presence of the Northeastern style Irish bar, in say… Pittsburgh or Nashville, directly to the presence of a railroad line that connected to New England or New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In political circles, they’ll call a working guy “Joe Six Pack,” which was distinctly the sort of drinking that was favored in my old neighborhood back in Canarsie. Going to a bar was largely precluded for my cohort, as the law kept on changing and the level for legal drinking age was constantly being raised as I approached it. When I was 17 turning 18, they made it 19, and then again it was raised to 21 just as I was turning 19. Never stopped us from buying a bottle of suds at some bodega, but the bodega owners would only sell us the crap that no one else wanted like Meister Brau Light (shudders). There were bars in my neighborhood that looked the other way at your fake ID, of course. Famously, one of them in nearby Sheepshead Bay employed a bouncer who was a young Andrew Dice Clay. Dice didn’t care about ID if your face was familiar to him, and his parents lived a block away from mine, so…

The cool thing about my old neighborhood, right on the edge of an increasingly Caribbean Flatbush, was that the beers that nobody else in my social circle wanted to drink but were abundantly available included Red Stripe and Mackeson’s Triple Stout. Back in the 80’s, everyone was still salivating for Bud, Heineken, or Corona, and Coors was still a newly introduced brand in NYC, so… more of the “off the radar” stuff for me. I still like keeping a six pack of Red Stripe in the fridge during the summer, as the Jamaicans really have something going with their national lager as far as hot weather is concerned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has never embraced the high end beers which began to proliferate in recent years as part of the “microbrew” revolution. IPA just causes heartburn to blossom in my skinvelope, and a “flight of beers” as pictured above is just such a  “fancy shmancy” and “hoitie toitie” way to suck back a cold one that my inner “Joe Six Pack” just can’t help going all sarcastic.

The thing one finds disturbing about the Irish Bars which I love hanging out at – these days – are the sudden proliferation of the “sore winner” Trump guys who get angry when they overhear a humble narrator, or anyone else for that matter, using multi syllabic words whilst discussing the news of the day with the other “alta cockers.” Whatcha want from me, bro, you’re the one who voted for a walking trash fire to become President. Can’t we just argue about the relative valuations of the Rangers or the Mets like the good old days?

Just last week, a drunk gym teacher from some charter school comes up behind me and… well, that’s another story.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2017 at 11:30 am

%d bloggers like this: