so a couple of things about this place: first of all, who needs pricey valets, city-sanctioned parking spaces, or even a club? brooklyn is hardcore and i’d expect no less of their parking skills. below you will see a stellar example of an ingenious cyclist who hung and locked their bike to an awning. anyway, back to the commodore….on a sunday night, this place was surprisingly packed (i guess williamsburg hipsters don’t work 9-5s so every night is a friday night <insert kenny g interlude here>). dimly lit but surprisingly expansive, the tables of this dive bar were covered in empty beer cans and discarded chicken bones of bohemians past. my friend graciously pushed through the masses to order me their namesake cocktail (i do love a piña colada), and managed to get offered a drink by a fellow patron, none other than legendary guitarist captain kirk douglas of the roots. except that she had no idea who he was and turned it down. ‘cuz that’s just how cool she is (nevermind the googling that happened later).
never thought you’d see one of these posts again, eh? well, nine months later on the day of our great nation’s independence, we celebrate by shoving hot dogs down our gullets and blowing shit up. but what’s more american than brooklyn, the hotbed of nathan’s yearly july 4th hot dog eating contest? my next stop in brooklyn was manhattan inn, a restaurant that moonlights as an art gallery and piano bar. while i didn’t get to see the famous white baby grand piano in the back dining room, i did get to observe some local customs that i’d never seen before, like girls covering their drinks with coasters as they stepped out for a smoke/chat, and a colleague pouring out the table’s water bottle into a neighboring plant so that the waiter would visit us more often. take note ladies, brooklyn wrote the female pick-up game, and there’s nothing more independent than that.
saint vitus: patron saint of dancing or 70’s doom metal band? one thing’s for sure, it’s a bar that time left behind. when i had originally received word from my brooklynite that we would be attending the prostitution show, i had to think hard about whether i had appropriate garb…but then i remembered that all i needed was to pack an all-black outfit and not wash my hair for a while. as we scuttled up greenpoint avenue toward the covert entrance, we came across some ex-seattlites (what are the chances?). inside, a time warp, as if i had lifted a rock and found a dimly lit secret metalhead colony underneath. this place was no-nonsense, no dress-code…but somehow they had fernet.
and so begins a series of entries pertaining to that which is uniquely brooklyn. on the eve of a federal holiday honouring trade unions and grilled meat, i boarded a plane to one of the nation’s first capitals to reunite with a long-lost friend and close the chapter to a summer of rebuilding. i’d been to new york a couple of times before, but never with a local, much less a beautiful and talented food/lifestyle journalist whom i last saw over ten years ago…oh the possibilities! first things first, a stop at the clover club, gq’s #4 stronghold, for a relaxing, air-conditioned beverage (did i mention it was sweltering after a long trek around the borough?) my misogynistic viewpoints of female bartenders were tested here, and once again, i’d have to say that i wasn’t really convinced otherwise, but maybe because we were parked in a booth rather than the bar (let’s just blame it on the proximity quality quotient). when i asked for bartender’s choice with gin, i got a negroni….somewhat uninspiring for such a wide leeway, and a namesake ingredient much less. at least the crisps lifted my spirits, potato chips tossed in duck fat with a truffled crème fraîche. ahhh, brooklyn, brooklyn, take me in.
i have a lot of guy friends and would like to think that i’ve mastered the skill of not just tolerating the “bro-down”, but embracing it. false. after spending 24 hours in the city with two college friends, i started feeling like a square peg in a round hole. i needed a fernet, and in the spirit of trying new places, the opportunity didn’t present itself at any of the brooklyn bars we graced that afternoon. resorting to champagne instead, i was feeling effervescent by the time we hit the outdoor patio of the richardson that balmy evening. excited to see a fernet cocktail with something other than whiskey, i opted for a black wing, and was subsequently wowed by the beauty of this layered wonder of ginger beer, fernet, and black strap rum. tasting as delightful as it looked, a couple of these lovelies closed out the night, but the bubbles prevailed as the morning steamrolled in and i boarded a flight for the dirty in less than top form.
it’s september 18, 2009, and i’m sitting at my desk, “working from home“. first agenda item of the day: peruse facebook. as with most important news in life, i came across a posting about a limited 2010 pavement reunion show scheduled for central park. without even considering that i had no idea what i’d be doing in a year, i rushed to ticketmaster to ply for over-priced tickets and a date with stephen malkmus. fast-forward to september 22, 2010, and i’m stuck on the milwaukee tarmack for a good hour due to rain at laguardia. that’s right– rain can evidently shut down one of america’s busiest airports. by the time i get into brooklyn, it’s well past midnight, and im starving (there was no way in hell i was going to eat at mke‘s chili’s to go). thanks to an insider tip and jet lag in my favour, i drag my friend out of the hotel bed and around the corner to union pool for a drink and late-night tacos. a quintessential hipster haven, union pool was still going strong on a wednesday night (do hipsters have day jobs?)…and i beelined it to the backyard area customary in many brooklyn haunts. there awaited a big, shiny taco truck and some of the best chorizo street tacos i’ve ever had. i’ll have to admit that there were moments in that backyard where i had flashbacks to being the nerd in school that wasn’t cool enough to hang out with the popular kids, but hey, at least i didn’t look as tragic as those crazy hipsters. well who knows, maybe i’ll be wearing that fashion in 10 years (p.s. i salute you wes from preston, space age hipster, wherever you are…)