Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Okay, so I have to write about something tonight – that’s what I’m telling myself – but I have no idea what that something is supposed to be, so I’ll just make it up as I go along. That’s a rough haul, man. It’s rough knowing you want to write something when you’ve really got nothing on your mind and nothing you’re particularly fervent about at the time you’re sitting down to supposedly write something for “public consumption.”

The hell of it is, there’s a lot going on in the world right now. There’s tons, yet all I’m worried about is getting my rent and utilities paid for another month – which, I suppose, is what everyone’s worried about at present. The trouble with this line of thinking lies in the fact that it’s not conducive to getting anything done other than what you have to get done, i.e., getting up in the morning, getting coffee in your system, and going to work. There’s other stuff around, but I’m kind of blind to it lately.

There exists a rather odd and uncomfortable disconnect between what I have to do and what I want to do. I know that same disconnect happens to everyone, but there’s a whole cause-effect scenario missing in my case where I’ve recently become incapable of understanding what I’ll regret not doing if I don’t, in fact, do it.

For example, I’ve been asked to work – to bounce – this Friday. The money promises to be very good, but I don’t want to work, so I probably won’t work. I’ll feel great about this on Friday night while I’m doing whatever instead of standing at someone’s door looking like a hemorrhoidal wooden Indian, but I’ll wake up on Saturday morning wondering why I took the night off.

Logically, I know I’ll inevitably go through this whole enjoyment-regret scenario, but I’m sure I’m taking Friday night off anyway. I just know it. I gave myself a day’s grace period to talk myself into it – my standing essentially reserves the spot – but I’m not working. It’s not happening. My whole week now revolves around one or two nights of bouncing, which is how I know it’s probably time to stop doing it altogether.

There’s irony in my lack of complaint. I’m not complaining about bouncing. There’s nothing hard about it, and there are many things I could be doing – or that I could be forced to do – that are far worse. I don’t complain about bouncing anymore. I just go do it.

No, the complaint here is one of inaction. It’s a complaint rooted in a sudden ignorance of the consequences of my inability to pull the trigger on something as stupid as booking myself for a night of something I’m capable of doing on autopilot.

Of course, the solution is to just tell the club I’m working and shut the fuck up about it. This would force me to show up. It would put money in my pocket. It would eliminate my Saturday morning lament. It would get me back in the mode of doing things I don’t want to do. It would break this pattern of “class cutting” that I’ve fallen into of late.

I don’t do this in any other area of my life – just bouncing, which I justify as acceptable because bouncing is not natural. It’s not something people should do for extended periods of time, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to burn out on it after a while. Of course, the disciplinarian in me calls bullshit on this because nobody’s forcing me to do anything. Bouncing is something I’ve chosen, and something I continue to choose, albeit at the bare minimum of nights required to maintain some semblance of part-time employment in the business.

Still, there’s conflict. My reluctance to make a move in either direction – to commit, or to just drop the side jobs altogether – continues to baffle the shit out of me.

I’d rip off the Band-Aid, but I’m afraid I’d start bleeding again.

Monday, September 29, 2008


We’ll remember Yankee Stadium on a clear, crisp Sunday night in early autumn, where a mediocre team summoned one last winning effort in sending off a New York institution the way it deserved to be sent off – with dignity, grace, and the echoes of eras past resounding in the collective ear of an appreciative city.

We’ll remember Shea Stadium on a shitty, rainy September weekend, where a mediocre team shit the bed and tanked their way out of the playoffs for a second straight year.

How appropriate.

The Mets have always been a second class operation here in New York, but that’s sort of been the magic of being a Met fan, at least until this weekend. These past few days, by contrast, were just really fucking annoying. From the cheesy “Shea Goodbye” banners all over the park to an inappropriately happy and oblivious Mr. Met pulling the countdown sign off the centerfield wall after the final game, the whole scene royally sucked.

Thank God for politics. At least they care.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Guy bangs on the door of a bathroom stall. Then he bangs again. He’s banging a little too hard. The bouncer in the area throws him out. He walks around the block and comes in the front door because the bouncer who tossed him didn’t tell me not to let him in.

If they don’t tell us, we don’t know.

The bouncer who’d thrown him out walks him back up to the front door, parades him in front of me and says, “Don’t let this guy back in.”

Guy walks up to me and demands to see the owner. I tell him to fuck off. He demands to see the owner again. I tell him I’m busy. He gets a little too close, demands to see the owner again, and touches my arm. I get very angry. He walks back around the block.

Call comes in on the radio: “Back door! Back door! Back door!”

I run to the back door. When I get there, the guy, plus another guy, are on the back of the bouncer who was initially involved. I peel one guy off and move him away. He tries to grab me by the collar. I give him an old-school karate move someone taught me in a garage when I was thirteen. Those come in handy against stupid people. He’s stunned. I backhand him, just a little flick. He’s stunned some more. I take him down, get my knee in his back, and press his face against the concrete.

He screams, “You pawnched me! What you pawnch me for?”

I ask, “I what?”

He says, “You fuckin’ pawnched me!”

I ask, “What the fuck is a pawnch?”

He says, “What you pawnch me for?”

I say, “You’re lucky I only pawnched you. If I would’ve punched you, I would’ve knocked your ass out.”

Monday, September 22, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008


I went to Neal Stephenson's book signing last night at the Barnes & Noble store in Union Square. This was interesting to me for reasons that likely wouldn't interest you, so I'll skip the details. Suffice it to say that getting a signing on that stage for my next book is now a major inspiration. And yes, there is a next book in the works.

Neal is a major reason why I decided to start writing in the first place, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise - if you know me - to hear that I turned into a stammering, stuttering, sputtering imbecile when given my thirty second audience with the author.

In other words, I choked.

I would read anything this guy recommends, so here's the list of authors he gave when asked for a reading list:

1. David Foster Wallace
2. Matt Ruff
3. Gordon Dahlquist
4. Etgar Keret
5. Dan Simmons

Also, one of my favorite books, Cryptonomicon, is pronounced with a "long o" sound: Cryp-to-nO-mi-con. Who knew?

Also, I saw this guy walking down 7th Avenue.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I’ll never set foot in Yankee Stadium again after Sunday, but this doesn’t make me sad. It doesn’t make me sad because New York is a place I no longer recognize. I no longer recognize New York because its current incarnation bears no resemblance to the place in which I grew up. I’m not upset about this. I’m just pointing out a fact.

There are parts of New York that do look, smell and sound the same. I live in one such place. It’s the places we went as kids – the ones that made New York unique – that have changed. I’m neither happy nor sad about this. I’m simply watching it happen.

Some people grow up here and absorb the place. Some don’t. I’ve interacted with both types of people and prefer the former. The latter, however, often seem to have assumed stewardship of the things about which the former are sentimental. I realized this a while back and stopped worrying about it.

Sort of like Mayor Bloomberg telling us he’d wistfully watched Second Avenue buses passing by while his limo muddled through stalled traffic, thinking he’d rather be on them. You grow numb to that sort of thing if you hear enough of it.

Some people come here from elsewhere and get overwhelmed. Some come, stay for a few years, and think they’re in. I’ve interacted with both types of people and find the latter tiresome. At least the former have some respect for the place.

Yankee Stadium is done on Sunday, and I don’t care. I stopped caring the day they shoveled the last burned tire out of Tompkins Square Park and the day the first twenty-three-year-old Iowan hipster carried his messenger bag into Williamsburg.

They’ve all made it a nicer place to live, but I don’t know my way around anymore.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


It always makes me laugh to tell a guy he was the “bigger man” after he walks away from a fight. I tell them this so they won’t go back and make my life miserable by trying to make it look like they want to fight again. I tell them this to make them feel better about the decision they’ve made – which gets them out of my life more quickly than arguing with them does.

In most cases, this decision entails avoiding a royal ass-kicking, which is usually why I advocated for it – after inserting myself in the situation and breaking up the almost-fight – in the first place.

When someone claims to be the “bigger man,” it’s something you have to analyze. You have to figure out whether the person who’s telling you he was the “bigger man” is delusional or not. Most people are delusional about something. Some people are more delusional about more things than others. In clubs, everyone is delusional about everything – myself included.

You have to figure out whether this “bigger man” was really being the “bigger man” or not. When a guy can really handle himself and inflict serious damage on the Guido with whom he disagrees, it’s rather noble of him to turn on his heel and walk away from a fight. Most times, however, this isn’t the case. The so-called “bigger man,” in most cases, is playing the “bigger man” role because he’s scared to death. He knows he’s about receive an embarrassing lesson in humility in front of a large crowd of people, some of whom are his friends and relatives, and he needs an out.

A surefire sign that you’re dealing with the latter case is when the “bigger man” takes pains to let you and everyone else within earshot know that he is, indeed, the “bigger man.” The guy who knows he’d win the fight, and so can’t be troubled to go through the hassle of proving it, won’t sit around for a half hour afterward telling you how much class he has. He doesn’t need to.

Something like this happened on Saturday night. It made me feel like an asshole. It always makes me feel like an asshole to stand on the sidewalk telling these retards the decisions they’ve made are correct. You thank some guy for not making a bad decision, because the alternative would irritate the living shit out of you for twenty minutes longer than you want to spend in the company of some useless fucking slapdick with a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck that he thinks renders him impervious to left hooks thrown by some other slapdick with a spider-web tattoo on his elbow. And this is how we make money.

It’s my own fault, right? It’s my fault for still being in this stupid fucking joke of a “profession” that requires me to stand on sidewalks saying such things to such people. It’s my fault for being too much of a jerkoff to slide out of it when I had the chance, and it’s my fault for thinking this many years of bouncing is normal.

Normal on whose scale? Who thinks about this shit? Who, other than bouncers, sits around having clinical discussions about the “bigger man” issue? Shouldn’t we have better things to do? Bigger goals to get after? More substantive things to think about in our idle fucking hours?

Yes, we should, but we don’t. We never do. We sit around, night after night, thinking about this shit. We talk about these jerkoffs as though any of this shit matters. It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t, but we let it suck our time away even though we know it’s pointless.

“Let it go, man,” I say. “You did the right thing. You’re the bigger man.”

Bigger than what? Bigger than whom? The dickhead whose STD-ridden girlfriend he groped? Every other asshole who went through with getting his ass handed to him in a fight with someone he shouldn’t have chanced?

Why do we lie to these people? What good does it do them? What good does it do us?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


He was the first of us to wear black sneakers. He could wear black sneakers and look cool. I could wear black sneakers and people would ask me, “Why the fuck are you wearing black sneakers?”

He wore fucking high-top black sneakers with jeans, with the tongues hanging out over his pant legs, and he pulled it off. I could wear a pair of Berlutis and have two dozen people tell me I’m tasteless within the first hour.

Seven years ago I stopped trying, because there was nobody left I wanted to compare myself to.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How it Works, Part MCMLXXI

This is what it’s like to work in the bar and club business.

On Saturday afternoon, I called our “head bouncer” regarding Tropical Storm Hanna, which was slated to roll through New York that night.

“I just wanted to know if you guys were considering cutting any staff tonight,” I said, “because the weather’s supposed to suck and we’re probably gonna be dead.”

“We were packed last night,” he replied, “so plan on working.”

“What does last night have to do with tonight? You know there’s a giant storm coming, right?”

“Yeah, which means more people will be staying around here, as opposed to going out to Long Island to be by the water.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

Makes sense, right? What you have to understand about New York is that people go to the water to drink and smoke crack and be assholes when the weather is warm. They don’t stay inland. The go out to Long Island, or “down the shore,” and they take all their assholerie with them and bother someone else for a change. I’ve always enjoyed working in the city during the summer months, and this is precisely why.

Fast forward to 8 PM, in my car on my way to work. More than halfway there, in fact. My phone rings.

“Are you on your way in?”

“Yeah,” I say.

“Turn around and go home. We’re cutting security, and I figured you didn’t want to work since you called me before.”

“You couldn’t tell me this at three in the fucking afternoon when I called you for this exact reason?”

“Sorry, man,” he says. “Phil just called me, so I cut you first. You were the only one who called that early. I’ll give you an extra night this week if you want.”

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Among other things that happened to me this summer, I had a fairly close friend end our association over $500. The story went like this:

I did some work for a guy. I was not paid for this work, nor did I ask to be paid for it. Another guy is usually involved in this work, and when he is, he gets a cut of the money I’m paid. This time around, the other guy wasn’t involved, and I wasn’t getting paid, so it was understood – or so I believed – that he wasn’t going to see any money.

How was this understood, you ask?

Because a third guy – my friend – assured me that things had been arranged this way.

So when the second guy came to me and asked for $500, I was a tad surprised. He hadn’t done any of the work, he’d supposedly agreed that he wasn’t getting paid, and he’d been told that I wasn’t getting any money out of the deal, so I was even more surprised when he called me a liar.

Before I told him to go fuck himself, however, I went to the third guy – my friend – and asked him what the problem was. He engaged in some revisionist history and told me he didn’t know what I was talking about – primarily because he wanted a business relationship with the first guy and wanted to cut me out of it.

So, having gotten hosed, I went back and told them both to go fuck themselves.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Hello, everyone. How’s your summer been?

In case you’d been following along and started wondering what happened to me, I decided to take the summer off from doing this. Of course, I didn’t announce this fact, and I apologize for not doing so, but I figured it was time for a hiatus. There’s nothing wrong, I’m perfectly healthy, nobody died – that’s a switch! – and I’ve had a halfway decent summer, all things considered.

One thing I have been doing is a lot of writing, although I’ve learned to temper my enthusiasm a bit when it comes to working on non-fiction projects. I’ve run into a few dead-ends in that department, and this has taught me something very important about the process of writing a book. Specifically, subject matter is something you have to put a ton of thought into before you commit yourself. Having some guy in a bar say, “Dude! That would make a great book!” is not a good enough reason to run around telling people you’ve got a bestseller on your hands.

When you think you’re onto something, only to start writing and realize that you only have 5,000 words of quality material, you have to switch gears and call it what it is: a magazine article, and not a book.

That’s okay, though. I had to spend the summer working on the infrastructure around here – my life, I mean – but I’m good to go at this point and I’m actually hard at work on something else that’s a little more suitable to what I’d like to do with writing. The key to everything is the luxury of several good, solid uninterrupted hours of work time, which is something I’ve managed to secure for myself of late by dint of turning off my cell phone and staying away from the internet.

So, long story short, I’m back in action. I hope everyone’s had a great summer, and I’m looking forward to posting some serious f-bomb action here soon.