Friday, May 30, 2008


The New York in which I live – topping out at middle class and descending – consists of paved pathways not-so-lovingly laid out in grid patterns. I live on an “avenue.” Others live on “streets.” If you’ve ascended to some strata above middle class – this isn’t universal, mind you – you might live on a “drive” or a “lane,” or in something called a “Mews.”

Drives and lanes aren’t designed in grid patterns because the people who can afford to live on a drive or a lane are expected to be able to find their way home without counting blocks. This, unfortunately, doesn’t hold true for most of the parts of New York in which I’ve lived. I often wonder how some of my neighbors manage to make it back from wherever it is they go every day. Most times, I wish they wouldn’t. My neighbors make too much noise, they smell, and they try, all too often, to trap me in their time vortexes when I’m in a hurry to do something.

When you live, as I do, deep in one of New York’s grid patterned working-class neighborhoods, and you’re situated somewhere decidedly non-commercial, intersections of streets and avenues are regulated by stop signs, as opposed to traffic lights. Some intersections require all cars, coming from all four directions, to stop. Others require only those cars using the relatively less trafficked of the two intersecting streets to stop.

I live about a hundred yards from an intersection requiring all four directions of traffic to stop. In theory, this is a very good system for regulating vehicular flow. It works, provided people choose to obey the law. In New York, however, people don’t obey the fucking law. Ever. They believe that whatever they’re doing is exponentially more important than what you’re doing, so they do what they want to do regardless of whether they’re permitted to or not.

In my neighborhood, stopping at stop signs is optional. People around here don’t even do the “California Roll” anymore. They don’t look and they don’t care, and when they see a stop sign ahead, all they want is to be the first to get through the intersection. This is because they’re very meaningful people who need to get back to their laboratories to find the cure for cancer. I’ve convinced myself of this in order to make them less irritating.

Today I pulled up to an intersection with a four-way stop. I looked in each direction, and to my right, I saw a young girl in a Lexus SUV who looked for all the world as though she intended to ignore the stop sign and barrel through the intersection at about fifty miles-per-hour. At the last possible moment, she slammed on her brakes and screeched to a stop. By the time she’d stopped moving, my car had been stopped for at least five seconds.

The only reason she didn’t blow the stop sign was because she saw me sitting there. This made her angry, and she disgustedly waved for me to proceed – granting me, in her magnanimity, the right to continue on my journey to the next stop sign, some eighty yards ahead.

I let her sit there and gesticulate at me for a few seconds, remaining motionless, then rolled down my driver-side window, stuck out my left arm and gave her the finger until she sped off. I even fired it up and down a few times for good measure.

She was wearing sunglasses, so I was unable to read her mind.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Hot Spanish-looking girl flows into the club. All fucked up. E.

She spends two hours dancing her burned out E dance with her back to the fronts of random men, one by one. My turn comes close to last, before she leaves, but she’s not looking at me. She’s not looking at anything. A black guy tries to get her attention but nothing registers. He looks at me and laughs. I laugh back.

Last in line is another bouncer, Dominican Jorge from 179th and the
Concourse. Nonplussed, but heading for the 2 train happy.

“Yo, her pussy was HOT! I’m a catch a boner!”

The beauty of the English language is in its infinite flexibility.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


There are entirely too many non-shady shady characters walking around New York, which has become a massive problem for those of us who make money in the nightclub business. Non-shady shady characters are people – mostly men – who aren’t actually shady by necessity, but look, act and become shady because they think that being a shady character is trendy and fashionable. This is an error in judgment – and taste – on their part, but the disease continues to spread, and it seems like there’s nothing any of us can do to make it stop.

I think I addressed this a few years ago when I questioned both the “dirty scumbag” and “abrasive greaseball” modes of dress that have become the norm around here in recent times. People in New York seem to enjoy looking like disreputable guttersnipes when they go out to bars and clubs. They achieve this look not by shopping in thrift shops and consignment stores, but by deliberately dressing – and acting – like bad movie clichés.

I once ran afoul of an Ed Hardy type who told me his “hands were registered with the police,” and how he “didn’t want to be deadly,” but his “pops made (him).” This is a prime example of how stupid people are: obliviously using a line that’s been ridiculed – making fun of this line is, in itself, a cliché - for longer than any of us have been alive, in hopes of frightening me into respecting his nonexistent “ch’i.”

I don’t know why I find it all so distasteful. I think it’s because I’m still young – and possibly inexperienced – enough to be startled when people my age start doing “adult” things like getting divorced or going to prison for pedophilia. I have that same reaction when I see people my age and younger looking as though they should be facedown on a table in some “waterfront bar” from a bad Who’s The Boss? episode where a determined Angela dons a leather jacket and boots to offer salvation to a sullen, despondent, drunken Tony after his embarrassing behavior at Samantha’s private school compels him to flee Connecticut and hit the bottle. Or did I dream that one?

This isn’t about Guidos or giant juiceheads or any of the other elements of irritation I’m always writing about here. It’s about people – guys, for the most part – who wake up one morning and decide they want to look like someone the world won’t trust as far as it can throw. It’s about groups of these people who get together and mimic each other’s behavior and mannerisms until they reach that one fatal point-of-no-return when they’re genuine, card-carrying scumbags who drug drinks and stab bouncers.

People can redeem themselves, sure, but that summit always exists – the day you finally fling yourself over the ridge and turn into something you may not have been the day before. It’s the day a guy becomes an addict, or the day a girl turns into a slut. There’s a point in time when you turn, going from one to the other. Sometimes I wonder how I never reached it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Since I’m sort of pressed for time at the moment – yet still want to post something – I’ll go back to one of my old copouts: a reading list. Before that little hiatus I seem to have taken, these lists used to interest people, so I’ll bring them back periodically and see what kind of email rolls in. I’ve had some very good, “if you like those, you should try reading this…” responses in the past, so that’s kind of what I’m going for here.

In no particular order:

The Secret History of the American Empire, by John Perkins: Very nearly unreadable, and not because of the subject matter, either. I’m sure John Perkins is a very smart man, and I’m sure he’s done a lot of the things he refers to in his books. What he doesn’t have, however, is his finger on the pulse of the people he’s trying to reach. I can’t get past his self-congratulatory tone or his inability to convey a reasonable emotional context for the things about which he writes. The subject matter is fascinating. The writing is horrific.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson: I’ve made no secret of the fact that Neal Stephenson is my favorite author. This go-round with Snow Crash was, in fact, a rereading, and as always, it was worth the time. As “Clint” once pointed out, it’s still a dream of mine to trap Neal in a HarperCollins elevator and demand that he “say something smart.”

Spook Country, by William Gibson: Not bad, but definitely not Gibson’s best effort. In Spook Country, I think he’s trying to create the same sort of tableau he nailed down in All Tomorrow’s Parties, but it doesn’t work nearly as well. This book should’ve been a hundred pages longer for purposes of character development. I finished it knowing nothing about any of the main characters and felt a little shortchanged considering how excited I was to get my hands on a copy.

Turing’s Delirium, by Edmundo Paz Soldan: If it looks like I’m big on Cyberpunk and Cypherpunk stuff, I am, but it’s not what you think. I really have no interest in science fiction and never have. Stephenson, Gibson and others are simply terrific writers who put out some of the most engaging material I’ve ever read, regardless of genre. Turing’s Delirium is translated from Spanish, so the writing is a bit off at times, but it’s a good story and it kept my attention.

Homicide, by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson: I now know a lot more about why people act like assholes, especially in Massachusetts. Homicide isn’t about people from Massachusetts, and it doesn’t really reference people from Massachusetts, but when I pretended that certain sections involved Massholia, the whole thing made sense to me. There’s a certain evolutionary aspect to it that I hadn’t considered until reading this book. This is a scholarly work, but it’s a fairly interesting read.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday's Post

Today's post will appear as a column here. I don't know what time it will appear, exactly, but it's an account of a recent "brush with greatness."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A few weeks ago, I had a fitness epiphany. I met up with some friends who told me some things, in ways both implied and specific, that pissed me off in ways I hadn’t been pissed off in years.

I’m not going to mince words here. Over the course of the past two years, for a variety of reasons, I’ve turned myself into a pussy. I haven’t been doing any of the things I know I need to do in order to make progress. I was eating like shit, training like a little girl, and deluding myself into thinking I was “hardcore” because I was a big fish in a little pond who could stack a bunch of plates on a bar and lift it a few times.

Big fucking deal. What difference does being moderately strong make when you look like shit and you’re stuck on the same lifting and running numbers for years at a time? Are you really doing anything right?

My friend Jim Wendler from Elite Fitness Systems nailed it for me. Here’s what he said:

“I’m very, very happy that I never had the fuckin’ internet when I started training. What that forced me to do was something that ninety-nine percent of the training population has forgotten to do, and that’s lift fuckin’ weights. That’s it. Because I had to sit, by myself, in a gym with no one else to train with, and guess what I had to do? I had to fuckin’ think.”

The internet is full of fantastic training advice from people who know exactly what they’re doing. If you know where to look and what to read, you’ll never need to pay a personal trainer for as long as you live. If you want to know where to look, feel free to email me and I’ll point you in the right direction. The internet is also filled with slapdicks who have no idea what the fuck they’re doing, but so are most gyms – including mine - so what’s the difference? That’s a topic for a different day, though, so let’s move on.

The problem with the internet, at least as I see it, is that without learning things in the way Jim describes – the way I originally learned them in my basement as a kid - we’re all capable of taking the good advice we’re given and warping it into something that doesn’t even come close to resembling the original product.

For a while now, I’ve had a problem with the concept of “infrequent training.” The idea behind this is to turn rest into a training methodic. You build muscle through getting the proper amounts of rest between sessions. You recharge your central nervous system (CNS) by taking days off between “hard” workouts. You keep yourself injury-free and able to come back stronger by taking “deload” weeks where you lighten your load or, in some cases, take an entire week off.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this method. In fact, it’s actually the ideal way to train. All of the above concepts are irrefutably true. The only way to make real progress as an athlete, or as someone who simply wants to get in better shape, is by getting enough rest between workouts. I know this is true because I’ve experienced it myself. It’s why professional football teams, by the time they get midway through a season, pretty much don’t do shit in practice after Wednesday. It works.

The caveat here is that you have to be working hard enough to earn these rest periods. I was lying to myself on this point. I was mailing in some seriously half-assed workouts three or four times a week, then taking entire days – and sometimes weekends – off because I claimed to be adhering to the “infrequent training” principle of resting my CNS. I was scheduling deload weeks once a month whether I needed them or not – and believe me, I didn’t need them.

This was a total crock of shit, because what I was doing was turning myself into a pussy who was able to rationalize not going balls-out in the gym by thinking I was taking the advice I’d gotten from the best in the world and running with it. Meanwhile, “taking advice and running with it” wasn’t what I was doing. I was turning myself into a mentally weak person who had a thousand excuses – disguised as “training science,” of course – for not doing the things I instinctively know are right.

Here are the steps I’ve taken to solve the problem. Be advised that I’ve been a fairly high level athlete in the past, which has helped me to learn my body and mind better than most people I see in the gym. The way I’m doing this is working for me, but it’s not for everyone. Some of it has no “training utility” whatsoever and is intended strictly to de-pussify my mind. That said, here’s what I’ve been concentrating on of late:

1. Conditioning: Without getting into any heavy science, I’m going to define “conditioning” as follows: the ability to do hard shit repeatedly for long periods of time. Essentially, I’ve been doing this “hard shit” until the point of vomiting just about every day for the past three weeks. I’m well aware that this is not the ideal way to go about doing things, but I’m training this way to benefit my mind rather than my body. Every day, when I’m on the way to the gym, I say to myself, “Self? What’s the thing you’d least like to do today?” Usually, this involves the use of the Prowler, so that’s what I do – back and forth, with short rest periods, until my legs go lactic and I end up puking water all over the place. This has gotten easier with time, which is precisely what I wanted to happen.

2. Nutrition: I have eaten “clean” for the past three weeks. During this time, I’ve lost 14 pounds of water weight – which is fine because I’m continuing to get stronger. I eat nothing but chicken, fish, vegetables and oatmeal – all organic when I can help it. I eat every three hours, and I cycle the amount of carbohydrates I take in based on what I’m doing in the gym that day. I love eating like this because I look different every morning when I wake up. People are already noticing.

3. Gym Habits: I’m back to being a lit fuse in the gym. I don’t talk to anyone from the time I walk in the door to the time I’m finished. I throw on headphones and a hat from one of the football teams I played for, and I just fucking go. I pace like a mental patient between sets, staring at the floor or at the exercise I’m about to do. People at my gym have gotten the message.

4. Setting Records: I keep records of every exercise I do, and I try to better them the next time I’m in the gym – whether it’s lifting more weight, doing more reps, or doing more conditioning. I’m taking my assistance exercises – the little shit – as seriously as I take the major stuff, trying to do better and better every time out. When I don’t get a record, I get pissed and I curse, loudly. This has made a huge difference. The extra conditioning has helped a lot because I’m not hanging on for dear life at the end of my sessions anymore. I feel myself getting stronger as the workouts go on and I’m actually getting something out of the latter parts instead of just going through the motions.

5. Motivation: Being an athlete has always been “my thing,” but I’ve felt, lately, that it’s been co-opted and taken away from me by people at my gym – and elsewhere - who feel they have the right to bother me while I’m training, or to interfere with my life to the point where I can’t train properly. I’ve been motivated these past few weeks by the feeling of taking back what’s mine, and it’s been liberating like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t particularly like Slipknot, but the song Snap is on my MP3 player. I love the part where they say the lines, “All I want is what’s mine…All I want is what’s mine…” over and over again. I save that one for when I need it.

Now, before you think I’m jumping into this too quickly and things will level off, you need to know that this isn’t being written by someone who's ever stopped training. I’ve been in the gym at least five days a week since junior high, and that was a long time ago. I’ll never stop doing this. In fact, I’m more likely to stick with doing things this way, and I’m more likely to quit if I think I’m being half-assed and getting nowhere.

Not giving your best in the gym – or wherever – is fine if that’s not where you want to apply yourself. There’s definitely something wrong, however, with lying to yourself and thinking you’re giving a hundred percent when you’re not. That’s what I was doing, and it’s just fucking weak.

Those days are over for me. On to better ones.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nightlife: Taking a Stand

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Making your way from one area of a busy nightclub to another has always been a challenge, even for veteran clubgoers accustomed to maneuvering through the tightest of spaces. Nightclubs have historically been more than willing to skirt occupancy laws in order to get as many customers through their doors as possible. In the nightlife industry, it’s all about numbers, and the amount of money collected at the front door, in the form of lucrative “cover charges,” is the most important number of all.

Here in New York’s Meatpacking District, however, nightclubs and their patrons have taken the art of egress blockage to an entirely different level – and if you ask the people who work there, the problem has nothing to do with overcrowding.

“You can’t get there from here,” said bouncer Stephen Walsh. “I say it every night, to a hundred different people, but they never listen. You just can’t get from one place to another the way some of these people want to go.”

According to Mr. Walsh, 32, this isn’t because his nightclub is too crowded. “It’s all about the bottlenecks and the choke points,” he said. “I still can’t figure it out, exactly. They just don’t let each other move. Either people have no fucking idea what’s going on around them, or they do it on purpose. Sometimes I’d like to carry a chainsaw to work and just start hacking away.”

Customer Jonathan Cervic disagrees with Mr. Walsh’s sentiments. Mr. Cervic, 26, is an unemployed mortgage broker from Atlantic Beach who said he’s often disappointed with the “disrespect” shown to him by club employees. “These clubs cost a lot of money to come to,” he said, “and I think that if I’m paying a fifty dollar cover at the door, plus a tip to the guy to let us in, I should be allowed to stand wherever the fuck I want. I’m sick of people telling me to move all the time.”

“I told him to move,” said Mr. Walsh, “because the fucking slapdick was standing in a doorway and nobody could get through because he was in the fucking way. I mean, how stupid can you fucking be? Then, when I tell the guy to move, he starts yelling at me, and he takes out a money clip and starts waving it around. Is that normal? Is that fucking normal?”

Ever since childhood, Mr. Cervic has enjoyed forming bottlenecks, taking immense pleasure in knowing that people’s forward progress – or lack thereof – could be regulated by his actions. “Every time I go anywhere,” he said, “the first thing I do is take a look at the layout and see where people have to go single file in order to squeeze through. When I find those spots, I make a point of standing there and making people run into me. There’s a certain rush to it. You don’t know what it’s like to be the guy who started the traffic jam until you’ve done it, but once you’ve done it, you’ll always find yourself wanting to go out and do it again.”

Finding strength in numbers, Mr. Cervic said he’s not alone in his affinity for standing in inconvenient places. “There’s a lot of us out here,” he said, “and we need to be heard. Just like the rest of you think you have the right to go places and get things done, this is a free fucking country, and I’m well within my rights to stand wherever I want to fucking stand. People block my way all the time. Sometimes even I have to go take a leak, and there’s some guy in the way. You know what I do? I go around him.”

While Mr. Cervic may, in fact, have every right to occupy whichever square foot of space he likes, there are some who disagree with his methods. John Arsenault, director of the New York Protest Reaction Monitoring Organization (NYPRMO), a watchdog group dedicated to tracking annoyance complaints resulting from public demonstrations and protests, said Mr. Cervic’s energies would be best applied elsewhere. “I think it’s a complete waste of his time to be this passionate about being a pain in the ass,” said Mr. Arsenault. “There’s a time and place for everything, but if you’re going to sit there and argue for your right to make everyone else’s life miserable, you’re not some kind of pioneer. You’re not Rosa Parks. In my book, you’re just a fucking prick.”

Mr. Walsh concurred with this assessment, but said there’s little he can do, as a nightclub bouncer, to curtail the behavior of customers like Mr. Cervic. “My hands are tied,” he said. “The guy comes in, he meets the dress code and he spends money. Even when people push him out of the way, he doesn’t get in fights and he’s never been violent here. I mean, I think he’s a fucking pussy, but if we didn’t let pussies in the door we’d be empty every night and I’d be out of a job.”

As for Mr. Cervic, he said he plans to continue the fight. “You’re damned right I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing,” he said. “If you’re walking behind me, you bet your ass I’m going to stop suddenly. I’m going to stop my car on all the parkway merges so you’ll have to wait, and I’ll stand in every doorway and at the bottom of every flight of stairs. You know why? Because I can.”

“That,” said Mr. Walsh, “is why people get shot.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008


You can find today's post here.

Believe me, I'm not moving anywhere.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


This is going to sound cryptic. I’m sorry about that, but it kind of has to be that way right now because I don’t want to cause problems for a friend of mine. I also don’t want to get sued, which is what would probably happen if I told the real story of what I’m planning on complaining about here.

I’m not writing a regular post today because I’m absolutely fucking enraged about something. A very good person I know is being fucked over by some very bad people I know. This person has gone way above and beyond the call for me and countless others for several years now, and I’m proud to call him a friend. He has been an incredible help to me both personally and professionally in more ways than I could ever adequately describe in this medium.

This selflessness of his played a huge role in putting him in a prominent position where he was vulnerable to attacks from the aforementioned bad people. These people attacked him because they didn’t want him in this position. They didn’t want him in this position because they were jealous of the fact that he’d succeeded where they’d failed, so they fucked him over and acted in ways that grown men shouldn’t ever act. I wish I could get into specifics here, but I can’t.

No matter how many times I’ve been around to see it, it still amazes me when bad shit happens to good people, especially when the bad shit is avoidable because it’s unnecessarily instigated and perpetuated by assholes. One guy who has helped hundreds of people is being fucked around by a handful of people who’ve never helped anyone but themselves. Believe me when I tell you that the world is decidedly not a better place for it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nightlife: Wee 'Pocket Men' Make Everyone Miserable

NEW YORK, N.Y. – At 5’11”, Christopher Bright isn’t often described as being excessively tall, at least by conventional height standards for American men. In fact, Mr. Bright, a bouncer in Manhattan’s thriving Meatpacking District – where being well over six feet tall seems to be a prerequisite for nightclub security employment – has become accustomed to the good-natured ribbing of his less vertically challenged coworkers.

“I’m used to it,” said Mr. Bright, 29. “I’m the shrimp out here.”

One look down Gansevoort Street would seem to contradict Mr. Bright’s self-deprecatory comments. An examination of the steady stream of patrons waiting for admission to the popular nightspot at which Mr. Bright is employed yields somewhat less-than-stellar results in terms of the average height of the men in line.

If you’ve found yourself standing in the middle of a Manhattan drinking establishment with an unfettered view of all four walls, you’re seemingly not alone. Then again, according to a comprehensive survey done by the New York Entertainment Industry Research Group (NYEIRG), maybe you are.

“We’ve been doing our research on this for almost three years,” said Serena Lydon, executive director of NYEIRG, “and we’ve come to the conclusion that Manhattan nightclubs, especially those in lower Manhattan, are virtual magnets for shorter men. For 2008 alone, the average height of male customers in Meatpacking District establishments is approximately five-foot-seven.”

Mr. Bright concurs. “I’ve worked at a few places down here, but I like this one the best because I’m at the front door. Everyone coming in here has to roll past me, and I say the same thing to the guys I work with every night about how I can’t believe how short some of these motherfuckers are. After all the shit I take from all the bouncers that work here, standing up front makes me feel really good about myself.”

After three years of observation, Ms. Lydon said NYEIRG has developed a large enough statistical sampling to detect height-related behavioral patterns in male nightclub patrons. “I hate to generalize,” she said, “but shorter men, on average, tend to cause more problems. We thought this was an anomaly at first, but the vast majority of incidents we’ve seen here in New York have involved at least one man of less than average height, and sometimes several.”

Eyes on the Prize

Anthony Zizzadoro is one of the men who’ve been on the study’s radar for the past year. Mr. Zizzadoro, 38, is a self-described “small business owner” from Staten Island who frequents Manhattan nightclubs “at least three or four times a week.” At 5’5”, he’s also typical of the troublesome variety of male customer Ms. Lydon describes.

“I’ve watched his evolution for a while now,” said Ms. Lydon, “and it parallels what we’ve seen from most shorter men who fit the profile. When we first saw Anthony come here, he waited in line with everyone else and his night consisted of having a few drinks at one of the bars. Now, two years later, we’re seeing him spend exponentially more money, he’s wearing more jewelry, and he’s obviously been spending a lot of time at the gym.”

Ms. Lydon said Mr. Zizzadoro’s behavior has worsened in the process. “As soon as he shaved his head and started adding tattoos, I had a feeling things were about to get interesting, and they eventually did. He’s much more angry and aggressive now.”

Later in the night, Mr. Zizzadoro’s demeanor - Ms. Lydon said he’s rather “soft-spoken” when not inside a nightclub – had undergone marked changes. Gone was the collared silk dress shirt he’d worn initially, replaced by a “wife beater” – the ribbed white undershirt popularized as outerwear by young working-class males from New York’s outer boroughs and suburbs.

At the start of the evening, Mr. Zizzadoro seemed content to sit quietly in the club’s VIP section, sipping Grey Goose vodka and chatting with friends. After a few hours, however, he was perched atop a sofa, shouting and pumping his fists in time with the music. By 3 AM he was on the sidewalk, ejected by bouncers for attempting to instigate a fight with another patron who, he claimed, had encroached on his space.

“This is a typical night for Anthony,” said Ms. Lydon. “Over the past year, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he’s left a nightclub on his own accord.”

Captains of Misery

For men like Mr. Zizzadoro, according to Mr. Bright, the negative tone of an evening is established when they first walk through the doors of the club. “They walk in here like they’re fucking miserable,” he said. “All I see, all night long, is all these angry little dudes coming up here. I feel bad for them. Sometimes I want to bend down and say, ‘Hey little fella, what’s the matter? Why don’t you go inside and turn that frown around?’ We should fucking carry lollipops up here for these motherfuckers, I swear.”

Dr. Benjamin Waldenstein, a Manhattan clinical psychologist and renowned expert in the field of anger management, believes he understands the motivations of men like Mr. Zizzadoro.

“It’s obvious from their behavior that they believe, even if it’s at a subconscious level, that they have some deficiency for which they have to compensate,” he said. “For some men, it’s a lack of financial power or social standing. For others, it’s a physical thing. Their physical carriage doesn’t get them the attention they crave, so they try to make up for this in other ways.”

The New York nightclub scene, said Dr. Waldenstein, is a perfect incubator for such insecurities. “In nightclubs, these men feel a sense of power because nightclubs are places where people can pretend to be who they’re not. This is a dangerous business, though, because a psychologically damaged individual is always walking a fine line. When that illusion of importance is somehow broken, no matter how it happens, the results can be catastrophic.”

That, said Mr. Bright, is when nightclub security necessarily gets involved. “I hate all these little motherfuckers. That’s all I see up here is one stupid little motherfucker after another one, and they’re the ones that start all the problems. We should make a height limit for this place, like they do on roller coasters and shit. Like, if you can’t touch this line, you can’t come in. I bet we wouldn’t have a single fight in here if we did that.”

“As a research professional,” added Ms. Lydon, “I’m fascinated by all of this. But as a woman, and as someone who occasionally goes out to clubs with my friends when I’m not working, I’m horrified to think that this is what’s out there. They’re all just fucking short and gross.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back Tomorrow

My friend's brother made this documentary. You should go see it when it opens.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Big Fish

“If you think your shit doesn’t stink, it won’t stink, but even if it does, you can pretend it doesn’t. And if anyone notices and tells you your shit actually does stink, you can always just browbeat them into silence. That’s what happens when you look like me.”

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Nightlife: All in a Night's Work

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – From the open bathroom window, the sounds of throttled-down boat engines are barely audible over the sound of running water from Jessica Nelbandian’s sink.

“It’s all canals back here,” said Ms. Nelbandian, 23, readying herself for another Saturday night in New York with her friends. “People ride their boats up and down all night long on the weekends.”

Ms. Nelbandian’s preparatory process takes time - sometimes as long as three hours. For a weekend night spent in one of Manhattan’s exclusive Meatpacking District nightspots, anything less than perfection is unacceptable. “There’s a lot you can do to get the good shit,” she said, “but it all starts with how you look. If you don’t look right, you can’t get anyone’s attention and they’ll never give you anything.”

Perfecting her aesthetic for the club, however, is only the first hurdle in an evening seemingly swimming with potential setbacks. The real difficulties begin when her parents realize where Ms. Nelbandian is going. Emerging from the comforting hair dryer and perfume scents of her steamy bathroom cocoon, she knows she must eventually make her way downstairs and run the maternal gauntlet.

“I’ve always supported her in everything she does,” said Mila Nelbandian, Jessica’s mother. “She works very hard at what she does, but sometimes I wish she wouldn’t stay out all night every weekend.”

“I don’t care what they think about what I do,” said Jessica Nelbandian. “I’m young, and this is the time for me to be out with my friends having fun.”

Mila Nelbandian said she had no real objections to Jessica’s nocturnal weekend habits until last October, when Jessica was involved in a GHB - gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, commonly known as the “date rape drug” – incident at a Long Island nightclub. “Somebody drugged her drink,” said Mila Nelbandian. “She got sick and we ended up in the emergency room until the next morning. After that I told her she should stay out of these places, but she keeps going.”

By day, Ms. Nelbandian works as a nail technician at a storefront salon in East Meadow. She says her job is the reason she invests so much time in the Manhattan nightclub scene. “It’s the only place I can meet guys,” Ms. Nelbandian said. “You don’t meet guys at a nail salon. It’s just a lot of older women who are jealous of me because I’m young and I can still go out and get attention.”

Once in the club, unburdened of familial tensions, Ms. Nelbandian and her friends engage in a series of friendly greetings with acquaintances they’ve made since discovering the Meatpacking District. “We know everyone in here,” said Sophia Gagliardi, 22, a high school friend of Ms. Nelbandian’s. “The bouncers are so nice to us. I love it here.”

The club’s security staff, though cordial to Ms. Nelbandian and her party at the front door, seemed skeptical of their motives. “Yeah, she’s hot and everything,” said Raymond Velarde, a bouncer at the club, “but I’ve seen her do some grimy shit, man. She’s sucked off just about every guy in here.”

Ms. Nelbandian didn’t deny the fact that her weekend club outings occasionally result in compromising end-of-the-night positions, but said the more unsavory aspects of “clubhopping” are necessary to squeeze every possible ounce of enjoyment out of the experience. “Yeah, I have to go back to the bathrooms with guys every once in a while,” she said, “but it’s worth it to me. It’s not like I have to take them home, right?”

Stephen Cardi accompanied Ms. Nelbandian on one such bathroom visit. Mr. Cardi, 34, a self-described “entrepreneur,” said such adventures make the nightclub scene worth his time and money. “I love seeing these little Long Island rats here,” he said. “Especially her. She laps it up like a fucking Hoover.”

The challenge, according to Ms. Gagliardi, is getting Ms. Nelbandian home in one piece. “The time they gave her the roofies was scary,” she said, “because we didn’t know where she was. Then there was a fight because some old guy was trying to drag her out the back door. We’re more careful now and don’t get out of each other’s sight, but Jessica still likes to party.”

“If I wanted to stop, I’d stop,” said Ms. Nelbandian, “but I’m living life to the fullest right now. If people don’t understand that, it’s too bad for them.”

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mailing It In

Last night was Cinco de Mayo – otherwise known, at least to me, as “Monday” – so I worked. It sucked, of course, because being surrounded by Guidos until three in the morning on a Monday night is not something I envisioned when I scored over 1500 on my fucking SAT back in 1948.

I have nothing of significance to report, other than the fact that there is a bartender where I work who’s not as hot as the other bartenders. She’s also not very nice, which doesn’t help her cause.

I commented on this to one of the other bouncers, who informed me that she’s known among the staff as “The Underdog.”

“Why do they call her The Underdog?” I asked.

“Because she ain’t got a chance in hell.”

Also, a guy paid me $100 to not throw him out, so I didn’t throw him out.

I’ll have a much better post for you tomorrow.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Nightlife: Cream of the Crop

FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. – Peter Minichiello is running late, but there’s ample reason. Saturday night’s pre-club customs need to be observed. There’s a routine that must be followed to the letter, else consequences – damaged leather upholstery, in this case – will result.

“I have to get a cover over the middle here,” said Mr. Minichiello, wedging a corner of a large bath towel into the gap between the center console and the passenger seat of his 2003 Lexus. “This shit’s murder on my leather.”

“This shit” is Preparation H – yes, that Preparation H – and increasing numbers of local young men like Mr. Minichiello are using it for purposes other than the treatment of hemorrhoids.

“The way you use it,” said Mr. Minichiello, “is to take your shirt off and rub it all over yourself before you go to the club. It makes you look fucking ripped.”

The science behind the use of Preparation H is somewhat hazy – bodybuilders claim it pulls excess water from underneath the skin – but Mr. Minichiello said he won’t leave for “the club” without applying it. “If you want to get laid, you have to know how to dance,” he said. “And if you want girls to dance with you, you have to look ripped.”

At CVS on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square, manager Lawrence Weisz has noticed a definite shift in the demographic of customers purchasing Preparation H products. “It’s definitely been a lot more younger guys lately,” he said. “It used to be that people would steal it because they didn’t want to come up to the counter and let everyone know they had hemorrhoids. Now, these young guys come in and they’re very aggressive about it. It’s gotten to the point where I can pick out the guys who are going to buy it when they walk in the door.”

Mr. Minichiello said his routine rarely varies. “I usually drive down the block so nobody sees me,” he said, “then I pull over, take my shirt off, rub it everywhere I can reach, then pick up the rest of my boys in my undershirt. It works best if you put it on about an hour before you go in the club.”

According to Mitchell Goldner, manager of a major nightclub in New York’s Meatpacking District, the use of Preparation H is part of the “trickle down” economic effect of New York’s lucrative nightlife industry. “I don’t care how bad the economy gets,” he said. “This is a totally recession-proof business, like funeral parlors or police departments. These kids today would rather starve than not come to our clubs, and this is certainly reflected in the rising sales of Preparation H on Long Island, in New Jersey and elsewhere.”

It’s a clientele Mr. Weisz said he can live without. “I don’t give a shit what these slapdicks are using it for. I wish they’d stay out of my fucking life. To be perfectly honest with you, I think the shit doesn’t even work, because if it did, these club assholes would all disappear. It’s supposed to get rid of hemorrhoids, isn’t it?”

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ten For Ten

I’m going away for the weekend – leaving early this (Friday) morning – so I can’t post anything of “substance” today. I do, however, want to keep my posting streak alive, so I’ll send you off into the weekend with a rather cryptic announcement:

I’m going back to school.

More on this next week…

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Nightlife: Domestic Turmoil on Long Island

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. – Vincent Guarino is an early riser. By 5:00 AM, he’s already showered, dressed, caffeinated and driving on the Cross Island Parkway, headed to one of the several jobsites he supervises as a senior member of one of the city’s Operating Engineers Union locals.

Mr. Guarino, 58, started with the union as an apprentice in 1973, learning to operate the heavy equipment used to construct high-rise building projects all over New York. “I’ve done everything in this business by now,” he said. “I could tell you more about how these buildings go up than the engineers and architects who design the things.”

His enduring love for the work is seemingly commensurate with the speed at which he cruises up the parkway, his 2004 Ford F250 often exceeding seventy-five miles per hour on the road’s straightaway sections. “Thirty-five years later and I still can’t wait to get to work every day. It still gets me excited to see what kind of progress we can make in getting these things built.”

In 1979, Mr. Guarino and his wife Marie closed on the house in which they still live, a modest two-story brick affair in a breezy, tree-lined section of Valley Stream, in western Nassau County. The next six years brought advancement in the union, along with three children – two boys and a girl. “Vinny came first, in ’81, I believe, and Lynne was born a year later,” he said. “We took a couple of years off, and then Marie had Michael in ’85. We might’ve wanted to put some more thought into that one.”

Mr. Guarino’s first two children, Vincent, Jr. and Lynne, have long since left home. Vincent, Jr., 27, was graduated from St. John’s University in 2003 and works in Manhattan as an equities trader. Lynne, 25, earned an associate degree from Nassau Community College and currently attends Hofstra University while working full time in medical billing. Both are married.

“They’re great kids,” he said. “They’re exactly what we were praying for when we decided to settle down and start a family. That’s all you want out of life, right? That you can get yourself a nice house somewhere in a nice town and send your kids out to have an easier, better life than you did. It’s Michael who threw a wrench into everything, you know?”

The first signs of long-simmering discontent were evident in a darkening of Mr. Guarino’s face as he backed his truck out of his driveway. “The little fucker’s not home yet,” he said. “It’s a fucking Wednesday morning and God only knows where the fuck he is.”

Michael Guarino’s troubles began in 2002, as a junior at Valley Stream Central High School. “That’s when I think he started getting into all the drugs and everything else,” Mr. Guarino said. “He was in all kinds of trouble, every week, until we finally had to pull him out and send him to a school upstate. Now he’s mixed up in all this nightclub garbage, and I have no fucking idea what to do with him.”

The nightclub business, said Mr. Guarino, is something with which he never wanted his children to be involved. “I used to go to some of these places back when I was younger,” he said, “but nothing like he does. I cut that shit out when I realized I had to go out and work for a living. He thinks he can make a living off this stuff, but I don’t see how it’s possible. When people ask me what my son does for work, I don’t even know what to tell them.”

Michael Guarino’s MySpace page identifies his nom-de-nightclub as “Mikey 420,” a pop culture reference to the frequent use of marijuana. It also lists his occupation as “club promoter,” a distinction of which Mr. Guarino doesn’t think much. “He’s a fucking embarrassment, to be perfectly honest,” he said. “He’s so far gone I don’t even want to call him my son anymore, but Marie won’t let me throw him out of the fucking house.”

Unlike her husband, Marie Guarino sees cause for optimism in Michael’s case. “He’s a good kid most of the time,” she said. “Sure, he can get a little abusive once in a while, and I’m not too thrilled with the tattoos or the way he dresses, but he’s our son and we have to support whatever he does.”

Mrs. Guarino, a pediatric nurse at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, is saddened by her husband’s disapproval of Michael’s lifestyle. “Kids go through phases,” she said. “Vince doesn’t understand that, because all he ever did was go to work and because Vincent and Lynne went right to college after high school. I think Michael just needs some time to hit his stride.”

“Fuck that,” said Mr. Guarino. “The fucking kid’s useless. You know what kills me? He came up to me a couple of months ago and told me he couldn’t come up with his rent money for the month. We charge him two-hundred a month, just to cover some utilities. I heard that and I backhanded the little prick.”

Mr. Guarino said he objected to Michael’s non-payment of rent because of his knowledge of where his son’s money actually goes. “He’s at these fucking clubs every night throwing his money away on shit. Any dime the kid makes goes back to those places, and for what? So he can walk around like a twenty-three year old big spender while he’s living in my basement and leasing a car that my wife fucking co-signed? I should’ve taken his fucking head off.”