Cue Up the Semisonic

Last night I closed a bar.

The Moby Dick Bar, at The Summer House

Of course, it was a Wednesday; I didn’t consciously set out to Close A Bar.  (I”m not quite that awesome.  Okay, I am, he added immodestly.)  I was meeting a very good, very close, very old friend, late at night already, and there were Important Issues to discuss:  scripts that were troubling us (damn you, second acts!), personal lives that were whirling out of control due to the forthcoming attack of flesh-eating zombies (okay, fine, nothing that dramatic, but still…).  And the manager of this esteemed restaurant / bar was himself a mutual old friend, the kid brother of an old friend (oh, let’s not be so coy, how about a shout-out to friend of the blog Mr. Kenny Grubbs!  He’s newly engaged to a beautiful young woman, so congratulations!  My skydiving instructor told me afterwards that I was now ready for the only scarier hills in life, marriage and kids, so, Kenny:  Go skydiving!  Now!).  But we digress, it’s what we do, so, to wit:  There were old friends.  There was delicious Belgian beer.  There was whiskey, and then scotch, neat, always neat.  There was stools up, then lights up, then:

The Boarding House

We had closed a bar.

And it got me thinking about bars.  I like bars.  Upscale wine bars, dive bars with good old jukeboxes, pubs in Kinsale, Ireland, and at Epcot Center.  I like bars because they facilitate the most elusive ingredient in daily life, sparkling, unguarded conversation.  People are generally happy in bars, unless, of course, they’re utterly miserable.  But it’s the complete reason I loathe clubs and casinos–  you can have a good talk in a good bar.

Slip 14

There was a bar that dominated my college experience, the legendary Doll’s in New Brunswick, NJ.  You could wander in every night and see all different people from the theater department; you could talk shop, critique performances, or just mingle with fellow “no one will cast me!” actors.  You’d see broke college students (all redundant, I know) eat the free popcorn for dinner.  You’d high-mindedly debate Beckett or Wilson or Coward, until no one remembered the point.  You’d hit on actresses you had literally a negative percentage chance with.  I still remember the first time I snuck in, before I was 21;  I remember drinking there the night of my 21st birthday, and falling asleep in the car ride home with my friend Aaron Gutin; I remember strolling in after painting a black box theater for a show I was directing, exhausted, and getting a drink.  A good bar.

Cambridge Street

Have you ever read J.R. Moehringer’s amazing memoir, The Tender Bar?  It’s the story of a guy who went through a lot of shit, but for our purposes here, it’s the story of a guy who was abandoned by his father and raised by (and saved, destroyed and returned to) a bar.  Go Amazon it right now; you’ll thank me later and I don’t mind, I’ll wait patiently.

The Club Car

There was a bar after college, in the garment district.  A buddy of mine tended there, and it was brilliant:  the place was dead at night, we’d drink the well dry for little moolah.  It was an extension of Doll’s:  you’d see tons of friends there, night after night, and it was named after a famous novel.  (I had my East Coast 30th birthday there.)  There was a bar in Hoboken, several years later, which was very much the same set-up, though this one was Irish and had a pool table.  There was a dive in L.A. where I’d paddle to at the end of the night with a good friend, if the night was a Thursday or Saturday, ’cause we knew the cool, hot chick would be slinging drinks and she’s give us a break and listen to our stories.

The Atlantic Cafe

The Rose & Crown

There was a night at a bar in Epcot Center, in the England section, the Rose & Crown, the night before my sister Tricia’s wedding, where we drank too much and improbably shouted along Disney tunes with the very jolly pianist.  (Of course I knew all the lyrics.)  I remember that bar in part because it’s also the name of a legendary bar in Nantucket, and to detail in an entire column post the evenings I’ve spent in bars in Nantucket would be even more tedious than this already is for you:  dominating the trivia machine at Kitty’s; watching a friend’s fiancée shake her thang (can I say that?) on the bar at Shannon’s; to say nothing of singing along at The Summer House, The Club Car; killing time in between a wedding at The Atlantic Cafe; whiling away hours chatting at Cambridge St.; hitting on cougars at The Boarding House; singing along to ‘New York, New York,’ the final number at Captain Toby’s; throwing back Triple 8 distilled liquor with the boat kids at Slip 14; and, of course, dancing to cover bands at the best of the best, The (Chicken) Box.

The Chicken Box

Which is, again, to say, I like a good bar.

And I closed one last night.


One Response to “Cue Up the Semisonic”

  1. Let The Cat Die « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] more varied:  I go to ball games, I go to award dinners, I go on auditions, I watch flicks, I go out drinking and swapping stories.  I look for trouble and try to visit interesting places and seek a varied […]

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