Thursday, August 31, 2006


Let's say you're in human resources -- in other words, you're the head bouncer -- and you hire some guy, and he turns out to be a pretty decent employee for a while. You hire this guy, and for the first few weeks he's working for you, he shows up on time, doesn't call in sick and takes the job seriously. For the first few weeks, you think he's the model employee, and you're just as pleased as punch to have him on board.

Then, after those first few weeks are up, you start to see some changes. You look over at the spot where he's supposed to be standing, and all you see is air. Or the wall. Or a dancing Guido. You have your little pre-shift meeting, where you run your little psyche-jobs on the bouncing staff, and you notice your supposed Golden Boy sauntering into the room fifteen minutes past his start time. The following night, it's twenty.

Then some shit breaks out, and you're all standing out on the sidewalk, and your boy's playing a major role in the ejection of the ejectees. You walk over and ask him for the relevant info, and you notice he's slurring. And glassy. And flushed. The motherfucker reeks of rack vodka, and now you're pissed because you took the chance on hiring this kid without meeting him, and it's your ass that'll be heading home without a job if someone splits their head open on the sidewalk as a result.

So you fire him. You let the guy finish out his shift, you hand him his envelope, and then you call him the next day and let him know he's done. And you're a good guy -- universally respected in the bouncing "community" -- so you tell him why. Maybe teach the kid some kind of lesson about how to hang onto a tit job like the one he just blew.

Two weeks later, your phone rings. Actually, it vibrates while you're at the orthodontist, waiting for your oldest to be fitted for his retainer. You run outside, flip the thing open, and it's Pete, the guy who recommended the Golden Boy in the first place.

"Listen, JD," he says, "I gotta talk to you about the Golden Boy."

"What about him?" you ask, knowing damned well what's coming next.

"Look, I just had a long talk with the kid, and he knows he fucked up. He's havin' a bad time right now. His father's in the hospital with that prostate shit, and he's been havin' money problems, and he just got caught up in some bad shit. He's a good kid, JD."

"I never said I didn't like him," you say.


"But, I'm not gonna hire him back, if that's why you're calling. The kid came in late every day, he didn't do what I told him to do, and I caught him gettin' drunk on the clock. What am I supposed to do with that? How am I supposed to work him in, when he's pulling shit like that on me every night?"

"Listen, man," he says. "He's a good kid. I know him since he's a fuckin' baby. A fuckin' baby! He didn't ask me to call. I'm callin' on my own, 'cause he's embarrassed. He's ashamed'a the way he acted, and he don' think he's ever gonna see that club again, but I know if you, y'know, gave the kid another shot, he'd be okay. I think he learned his lesson."


"What? I'm serious. I'll vouch for the kid. He steps outta line once, you throw him the fuck out, an' you put the blame on me, okay? Just do me this favor, JD. I don' ask you for nothin', do I?"

"Fine," you say, relenting. "I'll take him back. But you tell him if he's late even once, or he ever has a drink in that club again, he's gone."

So he comes back, on time the first night. And he gives you a whole song and dance. "Thanks, man," he says. "I know I had no right to expect a second chance, and I'm sorry about the way things happened the first time around. You won't have any problems out of me anymore. I need this job too bad, and I'm not gonna fuck it up by doing the wrong thing like I did last time."

And then, three weeks later, right on cue, you see the little son-of-a-bitch standing at the bar with a rocks glass cupped in his right hand -- like nobody's gonna see -- when the only drinks your bouncers are allowed to have anymore are bottles of spring water.

So you accuse him of recidivism. At least I would, but I'm not JD, and JD doesn't use words like recidivism. JD would probably just say, "You're fired, motherfucker," or something along those lines, which, though not quite as entertaining as being the only one in the room who can use the word recidivism in a sentence, is infinitely more effective in bringing matters such as this to a close.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I don't understand what this means...

On Sports Illustrated's website, there's a photo gallery featuring SI's list of the "10 Most Feared NFL Players." Number one on this list is Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. Alongside Porter's photo is a caption stating that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady "nearly started shaking" the first time he saw Porter across the line.

What does it mean to nearly start shaking? To me, this simply means he didn't shake -- then went on to win three Super Bowls in four years.


I did a little Q&A last night with Dan Martino, the program director at, a recently-launched internet radio station that's been the soundtrack to my life for much of this evening.

Telling you it's a "radio station" is a little misleading, because the interview itself is in print, on the site's blog, and I told Dan I'd only show up "in-studio" if he promised to give me free liquor and indulge my tendency to become intoxicated, obnoxious and violent in unfamiliar situations.

You can find my answers to Dan's annoying questions here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


For the uninitiated, Manhattan's West Chelsea district -- at least in nightlife parlance -- can be defined as the cluster of so-called megaclubs lining 27th and 28th Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues on the West Side. For the initiated, by contrast, Chelsea can be defined -- at least when one finds oneself in Chelsea between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM -- as the section of Gotham most resembling the outer ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

Spirit has been a Chelsea mainstay since replacing Twilo on 27th St. in 2004. Among bouncers in the area, it's best known for attracting inexplicably large numbers of "fat chicks." It's also one of the three names most commonly floated in my email inbox when readers attempt to ascertain where I work.

For the record, I don't work at Spirit, and never have, but it's a very good guess. Spirit's evolution has, in many ways, paralleled the development -- or descent into oblivion, as the case may be -- of my own club: starting out with grand ambitions, hitting a peak, then accepting increasingly high percentages of B&T locals -- read: Guidos and other assorted trash -- in order to keep "making their number" at the door.

Last Friday, the NYPD padlocked Spirit's doors for the second time this year, citing the city's underutilized -- as far as I'm concerned -- Nuisance Abatement Law. Contrary to what you might be thinking, I have nothing against Spirit personally. I've never set foot inside the place, and have no connection with anyone who works there other than running into some of their bouncers at a nearby deli on occasion when stopping for pre or post-shift coffee.

As I've outlined here previously, the downward spiral of any Manhattan nightclub -- especially in ultra-competitive environs like West Chelsea -- eventually devolves into something akin to desperation on the part of clubs' management and ownership. Door policies loosen and everyone coming up the line -- provided they can "hit us up" sufficiently -- is permitted entry. Again, I'm not at Spirit's door, but it's all the same everywhere. Out of necessity, I'm certainly nowhere near as fastidious with licenses as I was at this time last year. Neither are/were they, I'm sure -- searchlights, signs and police presence notwithstanding.

When clubs "let in the locals," a Faustian bargain is struck in the process. Cover charge quotas are achieved, liquor sales receive a much-needed boost and your establishment returns to the map. Problem is, it's the wrong map. The B&T map is not a desirable one to be on for long, because any influx of locals is inevitably fraught with all the problems associated with the lower strata of New York outerborough and suburban society: violence, drug sales, and a marked increase in incidents involving underaged drinkers. And, as always, the people getting the shaft as a result are Chelsea's bouncers, the NYPD, and the taxpayers of New York City.

Mind you, I'm not even mentioning the tackiness.

By law here in New York, a public nuisance is defined as follows:

"The word 'Nuisance' shall be held to embrace public nuisance, as known at common law or in equity jurisprudence; whatever is dangerous to human life or detrimental to health; whatever building or erection or part or cellar thereof, is overcrowded with occupants, or is not provided with adequate ingress and egress to and from the same or the apartments thereof, or is not sufficiently supported, ventilated, severed, drained, cleaned or lighted in reference to its intended or actual use; and whatever renders the air or human food or drink, unwholesome. All such nuisances are hereby declared illegal."

Now, as someone who has thrust himself into the middle of all of this in order to pay his bills, I can tell you firsthand that the entirety of West Chelsea is a public fucking nuisance, even if it can't be declared so by the strict legal definition of the term. The nightclub concept alone is enough to give one pause when trying to decide what should be legal and what shouldn't. On any given night, the clubs of West Chelsea admit literally thousands of subhuman degenerates of well-below-average intelligence -- lacking any degree of common sense whatsoever, even when sober -- liquor and drug them up until they're incoherent, then let them all out into the streets of Manhattan to fend for themselves and be hemorrhoids up the ass of every decent human being within a twenty block radius.

So yeah, Spirit closed down. Like any club worth a shit, they hire "spotters" to spy on their employees. They likely also hire spotters to watch the spotters, and still they can't stay clean. This, however, isn't the point. The point is West Chelsea itself, and what it's turned into.

The formula goes like this: start with a collection of two-year-old, past-their-prime nightclubs, all located within a stone's throw of each other. Cram in several thousand pieces of shit from Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey, douse the entire miasmic aggregation full of as much liquor, coke and God-knows-what-all they can hold for several hours, then send them off into the night for the police and the citizenry of New York to deal with. That's Chelsea. That's what it's all about down there, and it's a goddamned fucking joke.

If that's not the very definition of a public nuisance, I honestly don't know what is.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I get tough with a Guido

"Yo, you work here?"

FUCKING PRICK. Yeah, sure, we all need entree, so to speak, but can't you fucking do better than to ask the guy standing at the door checking IDs if he's employed by the establishment he's fronting? I mean, come on. A smidgen of creativity will take you a long, long way when breaking the ice with anyone -- especially when you're in stacked-deck situations like those of the Guido-approaches-bouncer variety.

"Yes." I no longer tend toward captiousness with club customers. The whole "lone voice in the wilderness" thing hasn't been the sort of sacrifice I've been willing to continue making, even though the entertainment value of Guido-baiting is something one should never underestimate. In other words, at one point during my "career" I would have made an issue of this. I would have said, "No, I don't work here." I would have said, "I just like to stand here in a suit and look at peoples' licenses, and these bouncers humor me because I used to wear a helmet to school."

"Yo, I already got problems wif' some n---a in da lobby, yo."

"Who?" I asked.

"I ain't goin' there."

"You ain't goin' where?"

"I mean," he replied, "I ain't goin' there."

"Then why even say anything? What's the point of coming out here and telling me you have a problem with some guy if you're not even gonna tell me who it is?"

"Yo, whatever," he said, and walked inside.

"Follow him," commanded Supreme Head Bouncer for the Ages JD.

Must we? I mean, must we? Why are you people like this?

I suck at following people because I don't try particularly had to be good at it. Mostly, I stare at them. I look directly into their eyes until they're aware I'm deliberately provoking them. I do this because I want situations to end quickly. I want situations to end quickly so I can go back to the door and resume shaking you fuckers down for your cash. Following people is a waste of my time. This instance would be no different.

"Yo, you got a problem wit' me?"

"Oh, what? WHAT? What," I asked, singsong, "is your FUCKing PROBlem NOW?"

"Yo, why you muthafuckas all lookin' at me like dat?"

"Well," I replied, "I shouldn't really have to explain myself to you, but you told me at the door you were having a problem with someone, so now, as a part of my job description, I have to come in and watch you to make sure you don't get in a fight." I really said that. You should know by now that I always say shit like that. I'm known for saying shit like that.

"Yo, I don' need all you muthafuckas. Problems come my way, I straighten 'em out."

Part of bouncing is keeping the "tough-nut" act in check until it's time to let it out. I do this well, because after so many years of doing this, I've seen the futility of broadcasting. The other part of bouncing that matters is knowing when the time has arrived to let the customers in on the angry-little-man you're carrying around, because he's in there, toiling away, from the time you arrive at work. He's tugging on ropes and spinning pulleys and doing everything he can to convince you to simply let your shit out and be done with it.

These people, they know whether you mean it or not. This is New York, and these are street people, and they can tell. So you have to be selective about when you let the angry-little-man see daylight. You feel it out. You make sure the timing is there, because you're going to have to sell it, and sell it hard. Sometimes, though, it doesn't matter.

"Oh, you got a policy on problems? You straighten problems out when they come your way? Is that your fuckin' policy?"

"Yeah, I straighten 'em out..."

"Yeah?" I asked, my face directly in his. "So do I, motherfucker. But is it okay with you if I do my fuckin' job? I just wanna be sure. Is it okay with you we watch our own fuckin' place here? 'Cause since you got such a great fuckin' policy goin', I just wanna clear it with you before I do that. Is that fuckin' okay, asshole?"


"Tell me yes or no, motherfucker, 'cause now I know I need your fuckin' permission if I'm gonna do my fuckin' job. That okay with you?"

"Yo...I..." he sputtered, as a group of bouncers made their way over.

"You wanna stay in the fuckin' club?"


"Answer the fuckin' question," I screamed. "You wanna fuckin' stay? Are we clear on who's not gonna fuck around with who here?"

"Yo, no disrespect..."

"No," I said. "There's plenty of disrespect, motherfucker. You want me to put your head through the fuckin' wall? Is that a problem you're gonna be able to straighten out?"


"Keep your fuckin' mouth shut, you fuckin' pussy motherfucker. Oh, WHAT? You wanna swing? Go 'head, pussy. Hit me, you fuckin' pussy!"

"Yo, I ain't gon' hit'chu!"

"Get out," I said. "Go. Just get the fuck out."

And then he left, and that was that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


For Howard:

Dude, even if everyone who reads this site emailed and said they'd donate $100 apiece to a PayPal account, I still wouldn't solicit donations. I work for a living, thank you.

You want money? Get a fucking job.

Let my girlfriend go...

Thanks to Shell for sending this video. I could critique all of it on so many levels...

Ten Foot Pole

There are people we don't want to touch. I don't want to touch Guidos. Guidos can be excessively sweaty -- due to the drugs, I'd suspect -- and sometimes, when they greet you, your hand ends up smelling like cologne for hours afterward. I don't wear cologne, so I don't like when my hand smells like some perfumed eau de Guideau because I'm afraid people will think I'm wearing that particular brand. And Guidos tend toward your lower-end fragrances, so my misfortune often doubles before I've even had the chance to dig my own grave.

When Guidos fight, however, I have to touch them sometimes. This is okay, because Guidos generally bathe. They can be greasy, and many of them carry diseases, but it doesn't enter your mind, at least at first, that "this is a dirty person I'm touching." You know, not like it would if your job entailed going around touching people at Penn Station or the Port Authority Bus Terminal -- places where "dirty people" congregate.

There was a "freak" in the club last weekend. A "dirty freak." Dirty freaks are fun to watch from a distance, but when they get close to you it makes you uncomfortable. You'll say, "Look at that dirty freak!" to all the other bouncers as you gather around to stare at the dirty freak. "Isn't it funny how that dirty freak is acting? Who's a dirty freak like that dirty freak?" But when the dirty freak comes your way, you'll scatter like dust.

And then it comes around to, "Who let that dirty freak in?"

It wasn't me. I wasn't the one who let the dirty freak in, but the dirty freak got in, for sure. The dirty freak was standing at the bar, wiping the dirty freak's face with napkins and throwing them on the floor. The dirty freak had a face made of leather, and the dirty freak was causing concern. Drawing stares. "This," I thought, "is going to come to a head soon."

When something like this is going on, and you're a bouncer who's turning over a new leaf and pretending to care again, you feel like the dirty freak is your responsibility. It's funny how this works. I didn't let the dirty freak in, I didn't provoke the dirty freak and I wasn't actively stirring the dirty freak to action, but I knew, somehow, that the world was blaming me for the presence of the dirty freak. And that the world -- or God, or somebody -- was going to punish me because the dirty freak was making ripples.

And then, on a no-smoking night, with me standing closer than any other bouncer, the dirty freak lit up. "Terrific," I thought. "Now I have to interact with this dirty freak."

When you ask dirty freaks to do things, even if you ask nicely, they often don't want to comply. I suppose if life had dealt me the dirty freak hand, I'd resent some scrubbed-up punk-ass motherfucker telling me what to do, too. I'd rail against the injustices of the world -- that you could be born and live your life and be clean, while I was spit the fuck out and relegated to the dirty freak pile.

You get to certain points in life, and there's no going back. Everything's negated once you're over that precipice -- the crib, the playpen, the toys, all of it. It doesn't matter for shit anymore once you have a disease, or somebody cuts off your balls, or your veins get so trackmarked up that the only thing in life you can ever be, from here on in, is some dirty, freakish untouchable who's miles past the point of no return.

"You gotta put that out," I said. "You can't smoke in here." Please don't touch me.

"I'll smoke wherever I want."

"No you won't," I said. Please don't touch me. "Put it out now, or you're leaving." Please don't touch me. Fuck you. I don't want you spitting at me. I don't want to touch your hands. I don't want to touch your hair, or your clothes, or anything else that's ever been within a football field of your dirty, freakish existence. Fuck you for putting me in this position. It was your choice -- your life -- not mine.

What would you do? You know you can do whatever you want, physically, because this person can't handle you. But at what cost? Being bitten? Spat upon? If something happens, do you even want to swing back? Do you lose your mind and cease to care for those few minutes it'll take you to do your job, and deal with the consequences later on?

Or do you face reality: that putting yourself at risk for God-knows-what in order to enforce the smoking ban simply isn't worth what you might've thought it was ten years earlier?

Out comes the radio. "JD, you on the air?"

"Go 'head, Rob."

"Come to the main bar," I say. "No emergency, but I got a little situation over here. Bring a couple guys with you."

Fuck it.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I'll be back to something resembling regular posting tonight. In the meantime, take a look at this, courtesy of Property Grunt, and this, sent to me by John M.

You may need to register to be able to read the Times article, but it's well worth it. In case you're wondering, my reaction -- and the correct one, incidentally -- to the article's subject matter is summarized nicely in the last two paragraphs of the first page.

I don't write about the technical aspects of fighting very often, because I'm not an expert in the field. In my "old age," I've come to abhor fighting -- at least the kind done outside the ring or the cage -- so for me to offer an opinion on the subject is laughable. Bouncers aren't "fighters." However, I've been trained -- and have been smacked around, tapped out, guillotined, triangled, kimura'd and Thai kicked -- by some of the best in the business, so I'll simply state that there's much more to winning a fight than knowing a series of "moves."

Feel free to thumb me in the eye, my friend. But if you miss, and you haven't been working on your conditioning -- or your strength, speed and agility -- it's gonna be a long thirty seconds.

Sleep well. The ambulance will be here momentarily.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Recent Reading

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Norweigian Wood, and Dance Dance Dance, by Haruki Murakami: The translation from Japanese to English makes Murakami's writing seem rather simplistic, which I think is part of his charm. Lots of food, bizarre phenomena and thirty-five year old men lusting after fifteen-year old girls. Good shit. This guy can seriously make you turn a page.

The Sand Pebbles, by Richard McKenna: Not bad, if you're into pre-revolutionary Chinese military and/or American Naval history. McKenna seems to come from the Love Boat school of romantic stylings, where men propose to women after knowing them for three days. Other than that, it's worth a look if you're into historical fiction or over fifty.

Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie: Rushdie's first major work, and by all accounts his best. It took me a while to warm up to it, but it's an engaging account of life in post-colonial India and Pakistan, for what it's worth.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson: I get it, but I sort of don't. It's brilliant in its way, but I get the impression that if Thompson submitted a proposal for this in 2006 -- which would be rather hard to do, considering -- publishers would ignore the shit out of it. But like I said, I get it.

All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain and No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy: I got on a Western kick last month. And besides, you have to admire a guy who can get books published without using quotation marks on his dialogues.

The Brothers Bulger, by Howie Carr: I know you're out there, Whitey.

On deck: Portnoy's Complaint, by Phillip Roth and Kafka on the Shore, by Murakami.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Posting will be light this week. Very light. I may just switch it up a little and nail you with quick-hitters during the day. I don't know. The next four days are not lined up in my favor, and it doesn't look like I'll have much time for any writing for this site.

It is what it is.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I'm reading Memoirs of a Geisha.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Crappy and pointless Friday post

And this is what you get for expecting a good post on a Friday...

Most worknights, I try to sneak in a nap before I leave for the club. I always have dreams during these naps. Maybe this is because naps are not a particularly deep sort of sleep, and because the ends of my naps are usually punctuated by something jarring. You only remember dreams when you wake up in the middle of them, I've heard.

Today I dreamt that I had given my two weeks' notice at the club. I didn't want to bounce anymore, and I finally went through with it and quit. It all ended quietly, and there was a trip home, and I remember feeling very happy on the trip home -- though not orgasmically happy, which sometimes happens in peoples' dreams when they're thinking about sex. There was no sex in this dream, but it made me happy anyway.

In my dream, when I got home, I called all of my friends to tell them I had quit bouncing. That's how excited I was. "Clint" was in my dream. I rang him up and said, "Dude, guess what I did? I quit! I quit bouncing!"

"Why'd you do that?" came his reply. "Who's gonna work the door now?"

I found this to be a strange response, so I hung up on him and tried calling someone else. I called my mother, because of all people, I figured, she'd be the most interested in my plans. She's been telling me to get out of the nightclub business for years, so maybe, I thought, she should've been the first person I called, instead of "Clint."

"Hi Mom!" I said brightly.

"Hi honey."

"Guess what? Your wish has come true! I'm quitting the club business for good!"

"What do you mean?" she asked. "You can't do that!"

"W-why not?"

"Because the club won't have anyone at the door now! How could you leave them like that?"

Glad everyone cares so much.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I understand

Most times, this blog is about me sitting here, in the discomfort of my own hovel, passing judgment on anything and everything I see in nightclubs. It's all for shit, but I think we've established that by now. Sometimes, I'm so fucking sanctimonious that I make myself sick. I'm sure I make you people sick on occasion, too. Through it all, the one operative rule on this site has been this: when in doubt, criticize the living hell out of everyone. The one provision to this one operative rule has been this: when in further doubt, emphasize your point by repeatedly using various derivatives of the word "fuck."

Still, I'm always right when I'm sitting in this chair. I'm up on the mountaintop, and you stupid motherfuckers are down there on the floor, "in the room," and you're there to make it as hard as humanly possible for me to pick up my envelope at 4:30 in the morning. I hate you for that. I've hated you for that since day one.

I know how you feel, though. I really do know how you feel, because I've been a customer. Relatively speaking, bouncers have it easy. I can walk up to anyone I want, and do anything I want and nothing's going to happen to me. You can't do shit about it -- aside from filing a frivolous lawsuit that'll never see the light of day in court -- and I can end your night whenever I deem it appropriate. When I was an asshole at work -- before I stopped caring -- that's what I would do when people irritated me. I'd simply throw them the fuck out, no questions asked.

Try calling me "son" in the middle of a conversation and see what I'm talking about.

Sometimes, what I fail to realize is that problems start because people irritate each other. Customers, on average, irritate me about once per half-hour. By contrast, they irritate each other approximately once every three minutes. This is why fights happen. In fact, the customers irritate each other so frequently, and so consistently, that I'm surprised we don't see more fights. Contrary to what I'm usually on about, I think most customers exercise remarkable restraint when cast into the nightclub cauldron with such overwhelming numbers of jerkoffs.

A few months ago, I went out. I was invited to accompany a friend to Plunge, the rooftop bar at the Hotel Gansevoort in the Meatpacking District. Not exactly my kind of place, but fuck it, you know? Why not? I went, I paid my $12 per beer -- or whatever ridiculous amount they charged me -- and I hung out outside and looked at buildings. I haven't been anywhere else in Manhattan -- aside from my customary Irish commuter bars -- since. Fuck that.

Before we ever made it inside, however, there was a problem. On the sidewalk was a "line" that wasn't really a line, but was sort of supposed to be. There were five people in this "line," including us. Three of these were in "line" behind the two of us, having arrived a few minutes after we did. Among them was one of those fucking hemorrhoids to whom "standing in line" means "standing next to the person in front of me." As we stood there waiting for the "bouncer" to open the door, this gentleman gradually inched his way forward, eventually -- inexplicably -- standing slightly in front of me. When our turn came to enter the building, he lightly shouldered me aside -- jumped in front of me, really -- and walked in the door before I did.

If I were drunk -- and twenty-three again -- I would have hit him. I would have drilled him in the side of the head, and the bouncers would have had to run outside to pull me off. There would have been a full-scale "situation" at the front door of the Hotel Gansevoort, initiated by this guy and, hopefully, finished by me. The evening would have been ruined for us all. Charges may have been pressed. That's how bad it would've been. I can be a motherfucker when I'm pissed off.

Irrational? Sure, but there are people on dance floors all over Chelsea, right this very minute, who are a lot less rational than I am.

I had had a bad day, which had been preceded by a bad week. I saw red that night. The entire fucking world went red. Tempered by sobriety, I allowed him to pass, then simply walked in front of him when we got inside. I didn't want to get in a fight. I didn't want my "date" getting caught in the middle of a three-on-one punchup. Fueled by alcohol, though, I likely would have done something. At minimum, I would have pushed him. He would have pushed me back. Words would have been exchanged, bouncers summoned and stories about "animalistic douchebags" told the following day.

Sober or not, I was close. Really, really close. Close enough to remember that I'm no better than you people when it comes to this shit. Close enough to have thoughts as primitive as the tackiest of Guidos. Close enough to be reminded of how much more you irritate each other than you'll ever bother me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A wacko gets bamboozled by me

Guy comes up to the front door -- remember, we're not being so selective anymore -- and says, "Can I use your phone before I go in?"

I say, "Why? Is it an emergency?"

He says, "No."

I say, "Then go pound sand up your ass."

He goes in. It's early in the night, so there aren't many people inside yet. I follow him, with interest born of intellectual curiosity. I shouldn't have let him in, I think. He's wearing a tight shirt with the logo from The Godfather on it, but on summer weekend nights where everyone's out of the city, we can't afford to turn away business, or so they tell me. And I have to do what they tell me.

He walks up to the bar and orders a Budweiser -- in a bottle, because we don't serve anything on tap. I like drinking draft beer. I wouldn't come to this club for that very reason. There are other reasons, too. He says something to the bartender. She smiles a service industry smile, shakes her head and walks to the other end of the bar. He looks at the ceiling.

"What'd that guy say?" I ask her.

"He asked if I had a phone he could use."

I sit on "the stage" and start up a conversation with Carmine. I ask after a guy who used to bounce with us. How's he doing? He working anywhere else? Look at this stupid fuck with the Godfather shirt on.

"Why? What's up?"

"I'm gonna clean up a mistake before it gets out of hand," I say.

Guy walks up to a group of girls gathered at the front bar. Says something. They shake their heads and collectively turn away. He walks in a circle and looks at the ceiling.

"That guy ask to use your phone?" I ask.


I take my phone out of the inside pocket of my blazer. I carry it now. I text people, and they text me back if they're not busy. I'm pretty sharp at texting. I take my phone, open it up so it glows, and wave it in the air.

"Can I use that?"

"Yeah," I say, "but you gotta go outside. I'm on Cingular, and I don't get any reception in here."

He follows me outside. I shut the front doors behind us, pushing them until they click. Outside feels nice tonight. Fall is coming. I can smell fall long before the rest of you. The beginnings of a line stretch a dozen yards down the sidewalk, and Freddie the ID Checker watches me, waiting to see if I'm collecting. I'm not, but he doesn't know this. We don't trust each other. He'd have my back in a fight -- no question about that -- but he thinks I'm a thief. I think he's a thief, too. We're probably both honest, but when you work the front door of a club, there's no way you can ever think the guy across from you is clean. It doesn't work that way.

The guy asks me for my phone.

"Go over there," I say. "Outside the ropes, where those girls are smoking."

"Here?" he asks, stepping over the velvet rope.

"Keep going," I say.

"Keep going where?" he asks.

"All the way home, you fucking retard. Have a nice night!"

I'm tricky.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I have a theory about the human constitution. It's very simple, really: either you have one, or you don't. Where you're from is not an issue. Here in New York, it's common practice to bark about where you live, especially in those all-important club-fighting situations I'm always writing about, as if growing up in Bronx endows one with super-secret-special knockout powers for those times when push comes to shove.

Here is fact: living in a "tough" neighborhood doesn't necessarily make you tough. And growing up with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn't necessarily make you a pussy. I've proven myself a time or two, and I grew up next door to a dentist. Some people live in the Bronx, and they stay in the house and play video games all day. Others live in Upper Saddle River and train like motherfuckers. When the two meet, my money's on the guy from the suburbs.

I don't like when people tell me where they're from after they're thrown out of the club. It's as though they're claiming toughness-by-osmosis. You can't do that. You have to stand on your own merits. You either have it or you don't, and if your first move is to tell me where you're from, it's likely you're missing something. Geographic representation is the last refuge of the milquetoast.

"Yo, I'm from the Bronx, n----a? What'chu gonna do now?"

"Well, I'm from (middle class neighborhood in East Central Queens). But that's not important right now, because you're unarmed, fat and out of shape, and I'm about to beat your ass like a drum."

Statistically speaking, people from the Bronx are more likely to be "tough" than people from Upper Saddle River. I'm not disputing that. They're also more inclined to carry weapons, and will generally respond to perceived threats in a much more visceral manner than people hailing from more pleasant environs.

I suppose they've earned that right. If I had grown up in the Bronx, I'd have my guard up 24/7, too. I have no problem with that. But what of the kid from Franklin Lakes who's about to get a shot in the UFC and works as a bouncer to pay his monthly bill at Gracie's? You might not know it, but he's out there. Or the kid from East Meadow who just did two tours in Iraq and is spending the summer bouncing because he's trying to figure out what to do with his life? We have a couple of those, too. Are you "tougher" than them? Does the Bronx trump Baghdad out on the sidewalk?

Here's what happens:

Guys get thrown out. They start yelling. People yell back. Someone tells everyone where he's from. Someone responds in kind. Eventually, you've got two imbeciles wrestling on the sidewalk, with love handles and rippling back fat everywhere you look. We break it up, and then there's more yelling and more rep-re-senting. Tough stuff.

I learned long ago to stop getting angry at the rich. Wealthy people can hate the world just as much as you do. More, in fact, because the wealthy man usually has a better idea of how things really work. The difference between the angry wealthy man and the angry poor man is that the angry wealthy man has the resources -- and the knowledge -- to do something about it.

Even if you live near Jamaica Ave. WHAT!

***I've been shitty about responding to email for the past few weeks, and I apologize for that. People have written me long, thoughtful responses to things I've posted, and in my unflinching arrogance, I've failed to respond to many of these. I promise that both the timing and quality of my responses will improve markedly this week and thereafter. Thanks.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Old school

I got to beat the crap out of a guy on the sidewalk on Saturday night. It was cool. When I was younger, I used to really enjoy that sort of thing. I was what you might call a loose cannon. I drank on the job, and this drinking gave me both beer muscles and beer goggles. Beer muscles can be a dangerous thing for guys who can't fight. They're an even more dangerous thing for those of us who can. When I was younger, I'd drink through the night, then tee off on you motherfuckers every chance I had.

Then I got older, and the job became a job, and I stopped drinking at work and started worrying about making more money. I stopped caring about the fights, and my ego, and the size of my penis, which isn't going to get any bigger no matter how much I shout. Still, I can get it up when the need arises. I can get it way up. Still.

On Saturday night, I ran inside to help with a fight. I pulled a pretty big guy out and walked him outside. His friend was reasonable, and told me they'd leave.

"What happened?" asked the drunk. "I don't even know what happened."

"You got in a fight," I replied. "That's what happened."

"Yo, this is fuckin..."

"Dude, go home."

"You gotta..."

"Dude, go home."

"Yo, but..."

"Dude, go home."

Which was all fine and dandy until someone forgot to throw out the guy with whom he'd been fighting. And that guy came to the door and started talking shit. C'mon you fuckin' pussy c'mon motherfucker you gonna talk all dat shit come on bitch n---a motherfucker what'chu gonna do motherfucker me and you out here c'mon you hidin' behind da bouncers I'm from the Bronx motherfucker what I'm from the Bronx n----a wut'chu got to say 'bout dat c'mon yo let's finish dis shit I'm from the Bronx n---a WHAT?

So the drunk turned around and tried to get back in, and I pushed him. He looked me in the eye, bent down and came head first. Wrapped his arms around my waist and tried to tackle me. I sprawled, wrapped my arms around his upper torso, and threw four solid "Clint"-style knees to his head and ribs. When he tried to pull away, I used his momentum and threw him -- this motherfucker was airborne -- into the passenger-side door of Mercedes SUV. He made a large dent. He didn't get up. Didn't even try. He said, "Don' hit me no more..."

Then I went back inside, washed my hands, and leaned on a wall for a few hours.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Situation

My mother has (had) two sisters and a brother. One sister, my aunt, died of stomach cancer two years ago. This aunt gave birth to several pointless children. One of them, my cousin, is addicted to crack, among other things. For purposes of discussion, we'll call him "Crackhead Pete."

My mother's older brother died the year before my aunt did. He went into the hospital for a triple bypass and never came out. He had one daughter, who, like "Crackhead Pete," is also my cousin. She's quite nice.

After his death, my uncle's wife began clearing out their house. The place was a fire hazard, and the massive pile of things he'd collected over the years had to go. He was heavily into genealogy, and the office he'd kept in the house was littered with family records, birth and death certificates, copies of marriage licenses, wills and damned near anything else people use to record each other's existence.

My uncle's wife separated his things into two value categories: financial and sentimental. This is what you do when a family member passes away and you don't want their shit around to constantly remind you that we're all due to stop breathing at some point. Imagine drowning. That's what I do when I'm reminded of this. When people I know die, I think about what it must be like to drown. I think about that precise moment when you can't hold your breath any longer and you have to go ahead and swallow the water. When people die, I put their shit in storage so this doesn't occur to me as regularly as it could.

Anything with financial value went to my uncle's daughter. This is what should happen when you have children and you die, unless your children, for whatever reason, can't seem to stop smoking crack. You send them to rehab, over and over again, and still they need to drive into Rockaway to draw from the pipe. Children like that, you leave out of the will.

Lest I confuse everyone, however, "Crackhead Pete" is my mother's sister's son. He's not my mother's brother's son. Keep that straight, because it'll be important later in the story. "Crackhead Pete" wasn't in my uncle's will.

The rest of my uncle's crap -- the things of sentimental value -- were sent to my mother. Boxes and boxes of paperwork. Every single document the man had collected in his nearly fifty years of researching the family. I'm told he developed a concrete line back to a gang-rape by Vikings in some thirteenth century peat bog somewhere in Ireland, but I don't know for sure. I haven't opened any of the boxes yet. They're in my mother's basement, and I don't get down there very often.

There was a baseball in one of the boxes. Someone told "Crackhead Pete" that this baseball was autographed by Babe Ruth. I've seen it. It wasn't. It was a ball my uncle caught in the stands at a Yankee game back in the sixties. This interests me because I caught a ball at a Yankee game once, too. It was a foul ball hit by the immortal Jesse Barfield. I took the ball home, put it in one of those clear plastic baseball holders, and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. All well and wonderful, but it's not worth shit, and neither is the ball my uncle caught in the sixties.

Tell a crackhead that his aunt is sitting on a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, however, and all bets are off. He'll be coming around, and there's not much you can do other than get ready for his visit. In other words, you lock the door and you don't let him in. That's how it works when you have a drug addict in the family. Everything stays under lock and key. Some way to live.

Crackheads get emotional when they can't get into your valuables. It's inherently unfair, and if I were a crackhead, I'd rail against this injustice just as loudly as "Crackhead Pete" did when my mother wouldn't unlock the door. I'd toss out the same series of pleadings, invectives and empty threats. When none of this worked, I'd say things like, "This isn't over" and "I'll be back," just like "Crackhead Pete" did to my mother.

And when her two sons -- one a police officer -- later threatened to "take a bat to (my) head," I'd run like a scared little bitch and tell my family how grievously I'd been wronged. Just like "Crackhead Pete."

If you're a crackhead from a family of crackheads, though, you'll get support. Crackheads believe the bullshit of their fellow crackheads, I suppose. The party line -- after "Pete" had been "set straight" -- says my mother won't hand over the boxes because they're filled with valuables she can sell. This, of course, has nothing to do with her not wanting her deceased brother's effects being tossed by a drug addict. A crackhead's desperate desire for instant cash has no bearing on the situation, because reason has never played a role in my family's affairs.

To them, my uncle's wife's course of action should've been obvious. When your husband dies, and you find a valuable -- albeit fictitious -- piece of baseball memorabilia among his remnants, you don't give it to your daughter. Instead, you're supposed to toss it in a cardboard box and UPS it to New York so a gang of no-account jerkoffs can fight over it. That makes perfect sense, no?

"Crackhead Pete" is almost forty, but looks like he's at least sixty. I can't stand the sight of him, and have no sympathy for what his family calls his "disease." I would like to walk him down the street, sending him on his way with a series of backhand slaps and kicks to the ass. I'd propel him down the block with kicks, slaps and punches. This is the same degree of regard in which I hold most members of my family.

Who's your "Crackhead Pete?"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


There are people we know, and people we both know and love. We meet people, or we're born into knowing them, and we fall in love with them. We fall in love with these people in vastly different ways -- you wouldn't express your love for your wife the same way you would for your brother -- but it's love just the same. These people, the ones we love, constitute what's known as our inner circle.

We care about the people in our inner circle. If you're in mine, I'll lift heavy things when you need me to, or I'll mow your lawn. Or give you a ride to the airport. If you're in my inner circle, I'll expect you to give me food. I'll expect this because there's a precedent. You've given me food before, and I've no reason to think it won't happen again whenever I ask. This is fine, you'll think. You'll give me the food I've asked you for because I've probably installed your air conditioner. Or put together your bed. Or carried your sofa through the snow when you moved out to Coram.

This is what an inner circle is all about. It's about keeping score, and making absolutely certain that the favor tally matches up at the end of the day. Yes, I said it. That's precisely what it's about.

Outside our inner circle is what's known as the rest of the world. The Great Unwashed. All those dumb motherfuckers out there who don't know us, and couldn't give a rat's ass if we live or die. If we dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow morning, it wouldn't make a damned bit of difference to them, and it wouldn't matter a lick to their inner circle either, unless, by some strange coincidence, their inner circle somehow overlaps with ours. When that happens, you offer some throwaway line like, "Hey, small world, eh?" and you carry on with whatever it was you were doing before you learned this information.

These moments offer what we call glimmers of recognition, but they don't happen very often. We'll adhere to the script, offer the requisite throwaway line, and smile and shake our heads as if our inner circle intersects with that of someone from the Great Unwashed virtually every day. It doesn't, and we know this because what happens, most of the time, is that we don't actually know the person who comes up in conversation. We've heard of them, but that's the extent of it. We wouldn't recognize them walking down the street. They couldn't pick us out of a lineup. For all we know, the person we're claiming to know could be the same cocksucker who cut in front of us, across three lanes of traffic without signaling, to get off the expressway. It could be, but we wouldn't know because most times, the only thing that truly matches between the inner circles of two random people are names, and names alone.

Eventually, when you get older and scarred and have to work for a living, you realize why the Great Unwashed exist. You have no use for them and don't want them around, but they won't go away and eventually you figure this out. You have a moment of clarity between infuriations, and it all unfolds before you. Why they're out there, that is.

After ruminating on this for the better part of three decades -- with much of this rumination taking place while standing on a carpeted box -- I've finally had my epiphany. I finally understand why you're all here. Why you take up space in restaurants, on the road, on the subway, in the gym, in the supermarket and everywhere else I'm trying to accomplish something.

You were put here to get in the way.

Obviously, there's not a whole hell of a lot you can do about it. And there's nothing I can really do to get the fuck our of your way. It is what it is, especially here in New York, where getting in the way is what life is all about. Where just by the simple act of leaving your house, or apartment or cardboard box, you're taking seconds, minutes and even hours away from people who need them.

This concept hits home nightly for me at work, where New York's professional obstacles choose to unwind. They stand in doorways. They block flights and flights of stairs. They stop in entryways, causing logjams. They preclude any sort of efficiency. They do this because they're drunk, and stupid, and because they don't have the "necessities" to know better.

Have you ever told a Guido to stop blocking a doorway? Have you ever told a prostitute to move out of a stairwell? Have you ever tried to reason with them? To explain to them, in terms they can understand, what they're doing wrong?

Something new happened on Friday. Something I hadn't seen before. A dilemma I hadn't ever considered:

A morbidly obese man came to the door, alone. He weighed, easily, at least five-hundred pounds. When the morbidly obese come to your door, you have to let them in. I'm heartless, but not to the point where I'd send a man in a muumuu packing. I couldn't do that. No fucking way. If what the guy had in mind, when leaving the house, was to come to the club and feel something, who the fuck am I to tell him he can't?

"You let that dude in?"

"What the fuck was I supposed to do?" I asked. "You wanna be the one to tell some handicapped guy he can't fuckin' come in? And don't even tell me that's not a handicap. I'm not gettin' involved in an argument with some guy and lookin' like an asshole out here."

What he did, however, was get in the way. That's what our obese friend did. He got in the way. You can be sympathetic toward a man and his condition. You can go out of your way not to offend. You can think all the right thoughts. You can say, "Wow, I'm lucky to have my health." And, "Boy, I'm so fortunate I'm not like that. I'll never let a day of exercise go to waste." You can be polite to him, and empathize, and make certain he doesn't feel like an animal in a zoo. You can do all of those things and still have it backfire in your face.

"Which one of you guys," asked JD, "let that giant fat guy in?"

"You can't say fat, dude. He's obese."

"Who let him in?"

"I did," I replied.


"Why not? What the fuck was I supposed to do?"

"You were supposed to use some fucking common sense," he said. "You were supposed to realize that letting a giant fucking fat guy into a crowded club is a bad idea."

It was a bad idea, because when he walked into the main room of the club, and saw daylight, he broke for it. Daylight, predictably, was someplace he wasn't supposed to stand: the service end of the main bar, where barbacks and waitresses run in and out throughout the night. The busiest part of the entire place, and he's blocking the whole fucking area and refusing to move.

"Go inside and take care of it."

"You want me to throw him out?" I asked.

"I said I want you to take care of it. Whatever you want to do is fine. Just get him the fuck out of the fucking service bar."

I tapped JD's elbow and pointed to a spot away from the podium, away from the other door bouncers. "Can we take a walk over there?"


"Listen, I get your fucking point, but do you really think it makes sense to send me in there to move that guy? Like it's my fault he's standing in front of the fucking service bar? You weren't up here when the guy came in, JD. What the fuck am I supposed to tell him? That he can't come in? Why? Because he's too fat? Who the fuck's gonna do that? The guy's clean, and well groomed, and there's nothin' wrong with him otherwise. He paid like everyone else."

"Come on, man," JD said. "Look at that fuckin' guy. What's he comin' here for? You'd have been doin' him a favor by not lettin' him in."

"Anyways, that's not even my fuckin' point. I just wanna know how it's my fault that the guy anchored himself in front of a busy area. When Freddie lets some stupid fuck from Staten Island in, and the guy gets in a fight, do you make Freddie go throw him out? I could tell you who every asshole in line is just from standin' here, but you still make me let 'em all in. Is that my fuckin' fault? Go tell one of the inside guys to go move him. That's what they're there for. And fine, lesson learned. I won't let obese guys in anymore, okay? My point is that I thought the situation through and tried to do the right thing. If the guy stays out front and calls the cops and starts yellin' about how he's gonna sue the club for discrimination, you'd have been out here tellin' me I shoulda just let him in."

"Fine. You made your point."

"I'm just sick of all the fuckin' catch twenny-two shit that goes on up here. Do it one way, I'm wrong. Do it the other way, I'm wrong too. You think I give a shit about that guy and his fucking feelings? You make a call on some stupid little bullshit, and somebody doesn't like what you did, like you, and now you're up here yellin' at me like I just dropped the test tube with the fuckin' cure for cancer in it. It's a fucking bar, man. It's just a fucking bar."

"You okay?" he asked.

"I just got a lot on my mind lately."

"I know you do. You ever want to..."

"I don't," I interrupted. "And if I did, it sure as hell wouldn't be with you."

"That's a relief."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I know this one's already been discovered by many of you -- being published in '04 and all -- but I just finished reading Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, by Nick Flynn.

What happens when your father is a delusional, psychotic, alcoholic-slash-substance-abuser-slash-gambling-addict who probably should have been sterilized shortly after puberty? You glide through the channels of life, rudderless, until you find yourself bouncing in nightclubs, and then you...

Fuck. That's me. Sorry. And Nick Flynn's father didn't gamble. He was homeless, which was a condition I was powerless to inflict on my father while he was alive.

Read this book. As far as I know, it's all true. I mean, I'm hoping it's all true, because I'd like for this book -- and its author -- to become my own little personal anti-James Frey. Flynn kind of spoke to me in passages here, and I don't want for him to have been lying. That would be one motherfucker of a disappointment. Fortunately, nothing I've found online would indicate an attempt by the author to slide anything by me with this one, so I'm going with veracity as my sentiment of choice.

Everyone's memoir should be this good.