In Which I Wonder About the Future of the LES

Today I fawned over a collection of old New York imagery from the late 1800’s through the end of the last century that The Museum of the City of New York recently released, wondering what corner bar now stands where an old city tenement had endured. The cache of images left me feeling wistful about the latest on the Lower East Side’s kill list, as it was recently announced that on top of Max Fish and Pink Pony’s imminent closings, Mars Bar will shutter in 2011 as well. Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable was famous for her outspoken 1963 New York Times article on the demolition of the original Penn Station in favor of Madison Square Garden, called “How to Kill a City.” She wrote: “Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.” It’s hard to be both a New York nostalgist and also feel positive about change and progress in the city, but are the cookie-cutter developments set to replace Mars Bar things that we really want?

image (Via Curbed). The current plan in place for Mars Bar is a 12-story, 60-unit building by BFC Partners (shown above), who have solidified relocation agreements with the current Second Avenue residents, though they have not yet negotiated such a contract with Mars Bar. Plans may include a 2-year closure for the ramshackle bar, only to reopen as a glossy version of its former self.

While many have expressed concern for such a loss, one person gung-ho for the development is owner Hank Penza, who told the Times: “They won’t choke me, I didn’t get off the boat yesterday with a pound of spaghetti in my hand,” noting that he was likely to “ultimately get a space that’s three to four times the size.”

When explaining the lure of Mars Bar, Nate Freeman of the New York Observer states it best: It’s a bit of a sore thumb on Second Avenue. Mars Bar is garish and gross; it’s on a street that’s so clean you could have a blanket-less picnic with your tofu from Whole Foods, which is conveniently located right next door. Mars Bar is loud, dirty, and full of unapologetic malcontents, seemingly of another age; outside people pass by, quickly and looking down, on their way to buy a bottle of Riesling and some organic kale for the night’s salad. Mars Bar serves up cheap whiskey and cancer; directly around the corner, Daniel Boulud serves up House-Made Pappardelle “Gourguignon” at DBGB. Mars Bar is not a nice place, and this is what makes Mars Bar one of the best.

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It’s one of those places I made sure to pass while walking with people who had never been south of 14th Street (or to New York in general) so I could get a decent read of them by their reaction (usually either “What a cool building,” or “Is this a safe area?”). Many people could never understand what a perceived eyesore like Mars Bar could mean to a neighborhood, but the loss seems more about the principle—a hallmark of change that belongs to every generation, whether they’ll learn from it or not. Demolishing Penn Station in 1963 proved to be so traumatic to New Yorkers that a preservationist spirit overpowered the modernist aesthetic of the time inspiring Mayor Robert Wagner to sign the 1965 New York City Landmarks Law, creating the Landmarks Preservation Commission we know today.

I’m not saying that Mars Bar should be preserved; I’m not one of those people who claims that the Lower East Side is dead, either. There is no comparison between tearing down one of the greatest Beaux Arts buildings in New York and shuttering a few crumbling venues—but a collection of these institutions add up and amount to the overall feeling that pervades a neighborhood, and ultimately, a city. I’m just wondering if we can experience hindsight, if the ongoing battle between preservation and modernity will once again influence how proactively New Yorkers become involved in envisioning the future of their ideal city, like they were once inspired to do (post-Penn Station projects that were halted by concerned New Yorkers included a parking lot in the middle of Central Park, and plans to build a Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have paved over Greenwich Village and what is now SoHo). As one blogger writes in regard to the supposed modernity of Penn Station reconstructed all those years ago: “I’d like to go back in time, drag the architects into the present, and ask them: what, you thought we would all be wearing George Jetson jumpsuits, queuing patiently for the Atomic Express? The reality is a waiting room with insufficient signage, a great hall that isn’t, and a Hudson News thronged with balding guys, ties askew, furtively paging through battered porn mags.”

Culture Clubbed, Communities Bored

As I look at things from across the river, it becomes more and more obvious that downtown culture will merely be a warm, nostalgic conversation piece in just a few years. As rumored and reported everywhere, the closing of such places as Max Fish, Pink Pony, and the threat to Mars Bar are just a few more nails in our cultural coffin. At this point, downtown nightlife doesn’t seem to be doing much more than going through predictable motions. Even though it fell way short of it’s dreams, life as we (creatures of black leather and forced sunrises) know it probably had its last fling when Collective Hardware roared. At least they tried. News comes of a return of Culture Club, that Jersey-Shore-in-Manhattan, theme-scene nightspot. This joint, famous for the hair do’s and don’t of its patrons and it’s classless kitschy décor, will occupy the former 39th Street home of Speed, a club that couldn’t close fast enough. Over the years I’ve looked at the space with operators who saw it as a gay club, a dance club, and a hybrid model/bottle house space. One gentleman caller saw it as a sort of midtown Soho House. In the end, a combination of high rent and community board frowning tempered interest.

Robert Watman is the main man here. He was reported to describe the Culture Club experience as follows: “Good, clean fun” and “It’s a safe, easy place, non-threatening.” Having opened 30 joints in 30 years, Mr Watman says, “It’s not my first rodeo.” His liquor license was approved unanimously by the Public Safety Committee of Midtown’s Community Board 5. It’s ironic that the loudest objections come from the neighboring Elite Day Spa. A day spa complaining about a nightlife spot seems to be a reach, as the two should be operating at very different hours. Maybe it’s the “elite” thing, as Culture Club promises to be anything but.

I have no objections to Culture Club. It’s a sort of “is what it is” place. The problem is that the Disneyfication of Times Square, hotly debated years ago, has become a city-wide cancer. Good clean fun in safe, easy, non threatening places is getting fast-tracked, while anything edgy is struggling to survive, or get a license to operate. The same goes for the new Bowlmor in Times Square. It’s absolutely wonderful, and is to be celebrated, but it must be understood that they are paying a rent equal to my neighborhood. They are, to their credit, providing much needed jobs, and are excellent at providing good “clean fun.” With 50 lanes and a better location, Bowlmor seems to be in a position to take out Lucky Strike Lanes on 42nd street and 12th (or is it 16th?) Avenue. It’s so far west you feel like you’re in Colorado. Bowling at the new Times Square Bowlmor will cost me and mine about 70 bucks an hour on the weekend, and 60 during the week. A cheeseburger will run me 13 bucks. You do the math. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Vegas everywhere I go. Except in Times Square, where the hookers have been banished. New York seems destined to become a Disneyfied Vegas.

Both the Culture Club and Bowlmor are banking on the bankers and other normal, routine types that live in the hampster habitats built for them over the last decade. The crossing of our great river divides all the peeps who used to be called “Bridge and Tunnel” into the high-rent high rises in our beloved hoods. Over time, franchise stores that catered to these non-trendy types displaced low-rent boutiques and mom-and-pop places that made our streets quaint and hip and unique. The chain stores followed the Starbucks, and soon Brooklyn was our only hope. The tantrum thrown by locals over the new Duane Reade, which opened on Bedford Avenue, seems silly until you realize what it will eventually bring.

The opening of Culture Club shows New York culture in its worse possible light. Tourists, a revenue stream that will keep this joint, Bowlmor, and the entire city afloat, will get their “New York experience” without ever meeting a New Yorker (who isn’t serving them). From their hotels, to Broadway shows, to the landmarks, they will be hanging out with people from all over the world, but none from here. We are designing our “New York” to cater to their needs, and losing our edge in the process. Just as buildings have a Landmark committee, culture certainly needs one. Maybe developers must preserve the Mars Bar just as it is, with its wonderful warts and all, if they are going to be allowed to build up 12 stories. Maybe the community boards must realize that if they don’t allow the edge to survive, they’ll just be left with communities bored.

New York: Top 10 Bars to Kick Off a Serious Bender

Le Souk Harem (Greenwich Village) – East Village pariah/magnet Le Souk adds “Harem” to the name, signals that it’s not going all PC yet. Belly dancers, hookahs, general debauchery spread out over massive tri-level space. Start this thing off classy. You’ll eventually make it down to the Mars Bar level. ● Little Branch (West Village) – Apparently, “little branch” is Native American slang for “get loaded, righteously, with elegant grace and speed.” Subterranean lounge known for stiff pours. Will definitely kick-start a couple of weeks to not remember. ● Superdive (East Village) – Bottle service is so 2008 — hook us up with a keg, brah! Adult supervision not an emphasis here, therefore good launching pad for the myriad enticements of the EV.

Welcome to the Johnsons (Lower East Side) – Funkiest spot in town — at least in the smell department. Our fraternity basement was Bliss Soho compared to this joint. Décor looks like the rec room of a pedophile uncle, convenient when verticality or even bar stools are more than you can handle. Do not touch any surfaces. ● Automatic Slim’s (West Village) Once dazzling, now dingy black ‘n’ white floor says it all. Bender- starting kind of begs for bar-top dancing, does it not? ● Tortilla Flats (West Village) – Girls gone wild turning muy moronic. Ahh, the real Cancun right here in Manhattan, sans the tans and natives, though commensurate number of social diseases. Perfect when you’re about to indulge in an extended spate of anti-culture. ● Jeremy’s Alehouse (Financial District) – What’s more refreshing than a mega-sized Styrofoam cup of brew under a low acoustic-tile ceiling? Real New York scene of firemen and brokers, plus MTA crews enjoying after-work beers at 8am so you won’t have to drink through the morning alone. ● 123 Burger Shot Beer (Midtown West) – Spring break hits Hells Kitchen. Gimmicky, sure, but satisfyingly cheap. Two burgers, two beers, one shot, one tenner. Easy math for newly unemployed financial analysts. ● Holland Bar (Garment District) – Hard times? Good times. Holland Bar gets squeezed out by rent hike, only to have Port Authority-ass-end retail not look so hot after all. Original memorabilia is gone, so come bleed on a new era’s worth. ● Mars Bar (East Village) – Regulars are a bunch of grizzly drunks, and not the cute variety, who definitely don’t want you fucking with their jukebox, no matter how “authentic” you think their joint is. “Authentic” as in bloody condoms on the windowsill. Can only go up from here.

Hugh Dancy on ‘Adam,’ Claire Danes, & Guinness

An immensely talented actor, 34-year-old Hugh Dancy has tackled many tough roles: an amoral hedonist in Savage Grace, a troubled alcoholic in Evening and a teacher immersed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in 2005’s award-winning drama Beyond the Gates. But to most American audiences, he’s best known for his wildly charming parts in lighter fare such as Confessions of a Shopaholic and Ella Enchanted. All that’s about to change, however, with the release of Adam, a thoughtful, heartfelt story about a young man with Asperger Syndrome looking to confront the death of his parents and the odd sensation of love. Here, Dancy — profiled and photographed as various iconic rebels in BlackBook’s August issue — discusses his new film, his fall engagement to actress Claire Danes and the best place in New York to find a good pint of stout. Plus, see a full gallery of behind-the-scenes pics from his photo shoot.

Was it difficult to connect with Adam? It’s your job, as an actor, to understand emotion and expression, but that’s exactly what someone with Asperger Syndrome can’t do. You’ve got to intuit your way into the mind of somebody who has no powers of empathy himself. Most of the time, you rely on other people when you’re acting, how quickly and immediately you can react to what the person opposite you is doing. But in this case, I was denied all of that. He doesn’t react. Still, he is reaching out, somehow. He is drawing conclusions; they’re just often the wrong ones. That’s the paradox, at the heart of this movie—Adam’s clouded bubble, which isn’t entirely opaque. That’s the beauty of the condition—the way that it creates this different mindset—but that’s also the tragedy of it. People with Asperger Syndrome can grasp enough of the outside world to want human contact, to want love and affection, but they don’t necessarily have the tools to go after it.

How did you research the part? There are online communities of people with Asperger’s—Aspies—who have meetings to assist each other and figure out how to deal with the world. I had access to some of those. I knew that people would find the research interesting, but I’ve always felt it’s best to keep that to myself. I will say that I had a brief insight into the incredible day-to-day complexity of living without something that we take for granted, which is the ability to look each other in the eye and see something.

It’s something you and I will never wholly understand. With enough work, you can imagine what it would be like to be a trapper in Alaska, but this is different. In this case, I was asked to figure out somebody whose mind is a different machine. I was a bit daunted by that.

I haven’t seen you carry a film in this way before. I hate that phrase, “carrying a movie.” I never really buy into that, but I know what you mean and, in some ways, it’s easier than having to turn up for two days and just be brilliant. On Adam, my safety cushion—

Your safety net? My safety cushion? [Laughter] What am I even saying? I actually carry one around with me. I’m sitting on it now. Anyway, had I known for certain that Adam was destined for some kind of release, I would have been much more nervous about screwing it up.

Especially when portraying someone with Asperger Syndrome. I’m always very cautious not to be seen “acting.” Some people want to see an actor performing and that’s fine, but it’s not to my taste. The amazing thing about Daniel Day-Lewis, for example, is that, in There Will be Blood, he managed to give a performance so big, yet so completely internalized—there was no bullshit.

A character with special needs or a prostitute—those are usually the two paths to Oscar. Had you considered that? I genuinely didn’t. But now that you’ve said that, if it doesn’t work out for me with Adam, I’ll play a hooker next. There was the worry that if we didn’t pull this off, I would look doubly exposed. Like, “Really? You thought that was going to work? Better luck next time! There’s this great prostitute movie coming out—maybe you should give that a shot.”

Is there any worry… Of course there is! I’m so scared. I’m just a nervous wreck! [Laughter]

Have you considered how your portrayal of a character with Asperger’s will be perceived within that community? It would be terrible to misrepresent the people who had been incredibly generous towards me, who are anxious to gain understanding, and who haven’t really been represented much in popular culture. On the other hand, I’m not a great student of how I’m perceived. I don’t think anyone knows how he is perceived, unless he puts a huge effort into finding out.

But you’re written about a lot. I guess so. But I don’t engage with that.

And don’t know about it, or— I don’t really know about it. My private life is my private life. And the best way to keep it that way is to draw a line. It’s understandable and natural for journalists, because they’re in the business of presenting people and describing people, to ask actors, who are in the business of presenting themselves, about how they’re perceived. But, ultimately, it’s very uninteresting. Sorry, that sounded a little rude.

Don’t apologize. You’re entitled to your personal life. And I certainly don’t think the problem—it’s not even a problem, really—is made any better by complaining about it.

You come from a family of academics, right? My dad was a teacher.

His writings on Particularism are world-renowned. Picking up my dad’s books is like picking up a Boeing assemblage manual. It’s meaningless to me because I don’t have the wherewithal to understand it. So I haven’t tried. But the basis of his position, as I understand it, is that there is no such thing as a moral principle. I can say that proudly.

And I can nod. But neither of us really knows what the hell that means. [Laughter]

Did he bring that home with him when you were going up? The thing that defines your childhood experience is the kindness of your parents, and they were wonderful. But, yes, he was a teacher who would ask questions, sometimes to the point that it was infuriating. He was always one step ahead, like a good teacher ought to be.

As a teenager, having a father whose life has been spent disavowing empirical morality—it’s kind of like hitting the jackpot. [Laughs] Actually, Dad, I will be staying out late tonight.

Was acting an acceptable career path for you to choose? My parents have always supported me, so I was never waiting in fear for the day when they would call up and order me to get a proper job. But it occurred to me later that this was because my father is not just an academic, but also a moral philosopher. And if anything, acting was my “calling.”

How do those relate? You don’t go into moral philosophy lightly. I think of it as an incredibly brave choice because it sails so closely between pointlessness and brilliance. It’s so easy to mock the seeking of answers. You must really want to do it, not just because of potential mockery, but because it’s such an extreme way to spend your life. So I think my parents understood when I said, Look, there’s this thing that I really want to do. It means a lot to me, but I don’t know what kind of future it’s going give me.

Were you equally passionate about modeling? I have absolutely no passion for modeling. Christopher [Bailey, the creative director of Burberry] is one of my dear friends, and I don’t want to be casually dismissive of the entire industry at all. That whole experience confronted my expectations of fashion a little bit. I was surrounded by people—Mario Testino, Kate Moss—who were at the top of their profession, and who I found to be charming and genuinely creative. Not superficial. Not bitchy. Not any of those easy stereotypes. But the actual act of sitting in front of a camera, while fun for a day, would not sustain me.

Was that your first modeling gig? It was my first and last. Well, no, I did a Gap ad as well. Burberry was a great experience—the quintessential shoot for a British guy.

You said “last.” Do you mean that you haven’t done anything since the Gap campaign or that you won’t model again? Never say never.

In your relationship—given that Claire is the face of Gucci and that you’ve done a lot of Burberry stuff—you must be hooked up pretty well for clothes. [Laughs] Well, I’ve got this Gucci watch… but it’s a real divide, isn’t it? I sometimes get very nicely suited out for an event, which is fantastic, but the next day they usually take it back. I don’t particularly live for clothes, either. But I’m an actor, you know? I dress up for a living.

[Drinks arrive.]

Are there certain bars you frequent in the city? I went to Mars Bar a while ago. That’s a real shithole. It’s possibly the only bar in the world I’ve been to, apart from one in Romania, where I actually felt scared. In Romania, I felt scared because I thought I could get my throat cut, but Mars Bar scared me because of the lifestyle it represented. I’ve discovered some really fantastic dive bars in New York.

Have you been to Lit Lounge? It looks like a dive bar, but people like the Olsen sisters go there all the time—there are paparazzi staked out sometimes. No, that sounds like my idea of hell. The thing that defines dive bars is that it’s absolutely genuine—you can’t fake it. I like pubs, too, like the Four-faced Lion. It has the best Guinness in the city.

I haven’t been able to find a bar in the city that pours good “Black Velvets.” What’s that?

It’s a mix of apple cider and Guinness. Which is presumably lethal. It’s like in school, when you believed that if you took three aspirins and drank a soda you would get high.

I’d like to ask about your engagement. Give me your best shot.

There’s speculation about where you’re getting married, when you’re getting married, the details of ceremony. What do you feel comfortable sharing? I’m not going to share any of it. Like I said, it’s best kept private.

Would you feel comfortable talking about her professionally? I met Claire when we worked together on Evening. At that point, it really was just a professional situation. I had great respect for her in the abstract, and my experience with Claire as an actress, which is always when you know that it’s the real thing, is that she listens so well that I felt literally picked up by the bootstraps. It’s easy sometimes to shut down, to cruise through, say, the third take. But when you’ve got a good actor like Claire opposite you, you think, Shit, I can’t cruise—she’s actually listening to what I’m saying. You have to step it up. And that’s the same with any good actor I’ve ever worked with, not only Claire. But I realized that about her the minute we started working together.

Would you consider the possibility of working with Claire now that your relationship has changed? I would think about it more carefully, obviously, but the answer is pretty obvious. Some people would say no immediately, but not me, although I also wouldn’t look for an opportunity to do it. It would have to present itself.

Moby Loves Santos’ Party House

Last night, in honor of the legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones and the 25th anniversary of the Arnie Zane Dance Company, a gaggle of limber dancers, artsy types (including Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy), and the one-and-only Moby turned out to cut a rug at Chinatown hotspot Santos’ Party House. Musical guests included Chin Chin and Arthur Aviles with a short DJ set by Moby himself to properly end a genuinely good evening. We caught up with Moby for a hot second to talk about his new album and more.

What’s your relationship with Santos’ Party House? I’m friends with all the owners but in different capacities. I’ve known Andrew WK for awhile — we worked on a record together — and Ron helped design a restaurant I used to own called Teany. And then Spencer, I’ve known from 20 years of going out. And it’s right around the corner from where I live.

Where do you go out in New York? I’m still enjoying a period of sobriety, so I haven’t been going out that much. But back when I was a drunk, I would go anywhere that had cheap beer. My favorite place was the Mars Bar on the corner of 1st Street and Second Ave.

What’s up with the new album? I’m putting out a new record at the end of June, and that’s it. It’s all finished. It’s a very quiet, very melodic and mournful record. David Lynch has directed the first video. It’s a lot more experimental than records I’ve made in the past.

What’s your advice for the youth of today? Insofar as it’s possible, don’t live near a coastline.

Make of it what you will, America’s youth.

Photo: David Ferino

NYC: Toast to Friendship Day at These Dives

imageIn such far-flung places as Guatemala and Finland, February 14 isn’t a day for all legally-bound lovers (ha ha, suckers!) to show off their ability to ensnare a mate while the rest of us suffer, sublimating our hysterics with disco fries. It’s not a day one takes time out to offer respects to martyred saints. But to those friends who, when you need a shoulder to cry on, are ready with a bottle of Merlot — or those friends who, when you needed advice about what to do now that you’ve lost your job, are also ready with a bottle of Merlot. That said, gifting a bundle of poppies is only the icing on the cake that is Friendship Day. If you’re looking to shirk the faintest mention of the V-word and anti-parties won’t cut it for you in New York (where Valentine’s syndrome can be especially devastating), treat your besties to a round at these hideouts.

Lucy’s. Located on the outer edge of Alphabet City, the barkeeps here simultaneously encourage the pyramidic stacking of empty PBR cans while casting cold stares at those who mistake the space for the privacy of their own bedroom.

Bushwick Country Club. One of many like it throughout Brooklyn, there’s a putt-putt course in the patio. Which is useful if you’d like to sit down on astroturf after your umpteenth goblet of Stella. Or, I suppose, if you’d like to play a round of mini-golf.

Mars Bar. If anything, this spectacularly graffitied hangout proves that Broken Hearts and No-Hearts alike can comfortably call the dingy fringes of the East Village home, where vile obscenities like Naughty & Nice cocktails all seem like talismans name-checked from noirish sci-fi novels.

Home Sweet Home. But perhaps this basement bar particularly appeals because you don’t risk the chance of sunlight creeping in when it’s dawn. At which point, you realize that no one’s issued last calls and that your best friend, bless him, has just bought the next round. Even though it’s well past five the next morning.

Desperate Drinking in Desperate Times

Telling your story from beyond the grave is a bitch. You’ve gotta sign scrolls of release forms, and be put through an infernal vetting process that culminates with a hellish (it’s really the only word I can think of) interview with Beelzebub himself. “We musn’t meddle with the order of things,” he told me. No idea what he meant, but his serpentine voice repulsed me, so I nodded my head and million-dollar-smiled him, and here I am at my old job, in one final performance, to tell you how I lost my life to this shitty economy (and alcohol).

10:00 p.m.: Finally out of work. Have a hot date with my Brazilian supermodel-cum-intern. She’s got pricey tastes, so we start at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle. We’ve been dating for two months (still no sex), and this is our special place. The Madeline drawings on the wall remind her of her childhood, which we talk about a lot. I have an Old Fashioned — one of the best in Manhattan, a celebratory drink of sorts — and wait for my beautiful girlfriend to arrive.

10:20 p.m.: She’s still not here.

10:50 p.m.: She arrives with a real-estate mogul holding massive investments in Dubai (look for BlackBook listings, coming soon!). She tells me that a) it’s over, and b) she lied about liking Madeline. I head downtown.

11:22 p.m.: My friends are all partying at Beatrice Inn. One of them sees my pathetic Facebook status update and calls to cheer me up: an unnamed Ronson is doing blow off of a bartender’s tie. I head down there to be with a happy crowd of beautiful, artistic people.

11:40 p.m.: Rejected at the door. Pants not tight enough. I head to the Corner Bistro to sulk with other Beatrice rejects. They are unfathomably ugly and regular. Pints of McSorley’s are cheap; down four, gorge a cheeseburger, which is a better idea before I eat it. Dulls my buzz. I need somebody to talk to me. I ask the Elderly Bartender how long he’s been working at the Corner Bistro for. He responds: “Three hours.” My wit has been stymied by a geriatric. I hate myself.

12:00 a.m.: I am outside having a cigarette, my last one, gazing longingly at the Beatrice, when BlackBook executive editor Chris Mohney sends me a BBM: “Sorry Foster, we let u go. Teh media/economy sux. Also, ur American Visa (both company-card and citizenship-wise) is fucked! LOLZ.” Looks like I’m going back to Canada. I begin to cry.

12:38 a.m.: My other media friends — who’ve also been laid off — are predictably drinking at Botanica. There are former Gawker editors, Radar editors, and Cosmo girls. I thought this would make me feel better, but being surrounded by unemployed yet somehow still self-satisfied writers has made me realize how pathetic my sad media life once was. I order a specialty ginger drink. Or three.

1:30 a.m.: Scene at Botanica is growing stale, and the $1.75 ATM fee suddenly matters. Talk of where we should go next. Some suggest Beatrice, others suggest Beatrice. Following a vote, they all go to Beatrice. My barista roommates are having drinks at Little Branch, where they know the bartender. I go with the intention of finagling some free mixology. Instead of cab, I walk. The horror.

1:45 a.m.: Finagling successful. One Queens Park Swizzle, one Moscow Mule, my final taste of the New York high life. Fuck, I’ll miss it. We talk about sex. I omit my layoff from the conversation, unwilling to tell them I won’t be paying rent next month. So this is what the housing crisis feels like.

2:21 a.m.: Roommates head back to Brooklyn, I do not. Stumble through the West Village, buzz is no longer a buzz. More like a loud howl, too strong for the cold to kill. Upper lip numb, swearing at myself out loud, perfect. No money for cab, forced to go somewhere near and cheap to be around fellow scum. Ear Inn it is.

2:30 a.m.: I discover newly former coworker at Ear Inn, a regular there (again, scum). Nostalgia persuades me to buy him a drink. Asshole probably knows about my situation already but still lets me buy. He sips, I down.

3:20 a.m.: Asshole isn’t an asshole after all. Next three pints are on him. Officially the most I’ve drank in one night. He goes to the bathroom, and I send a text to three girls of interest. “Wher are youp.” Two don’t respond, one writes “in bed.”

4 something a.m.: At Mars Bar, don’t know how, but do know why. To drink. But first must snort, then drink more. Moby taught me that. Mars Bar denizen is convinced I’m Ben Affleck. Offers to shine the rims on my Escalade for money and praises me endlessly for “tapping J-Lo.” Blackout. Good night.