Autumn in New York
Thank Christ the weather's changed.
After what seemed like the longest summer ever, cool temperatures have prevailed. I'm a Spring/Fall kind of guy. I'm not fond of the our more extreme seasons. Summer I can deal with, but I can't stand snow. It depresses me. Not enough to make me move to Florida, however.
Friday night I sat sweating in Tim's apartment. The humidity was brutal. After a couple of Martinis I asked Tim to play Jo Stafford's Autumn in New York, hoping that would conjure up a cooler climate. It helped a bit, and Tim, getting into the spirit of things, then played Jo's Ski Trails album. I guess between Tim, Jo and myself, we were able to effect the change. Today is glorious and gray.
Saturday night we had dinner with Tim's friends Richard and Howard. Both are retired gentlemen. Richard had booked a 7:30 table for the closing night of Casa di Pre on 12th Street. This seemed perilously close to an early-bird special to me. I haven't had dinner on a Saturday night at that hour since I was a child. Casa did not disappoint. The food and service was as mediocre as ever. No, actually the service was worse. I actually suggested stiffing the waiter, since we would clearly never have the opportunity to return, but instead overtipped as usual. The owner, Susie, kept grabbing my hand and bursting into tears. They've received an offer the could not refuse for the restaurant lease. It's a prime location, on the cusp between the newly glamorous West Village and the Meatpacking district. The new proprietors are planning a Scandinavian restaurant. It was gratifying to see all the various factions who regular dined there turn out there for the finale. The Franciscan fathers and the Fratti, the Episcopal priests, the retired leather men, the ancient withered woman with inch long russet eyelashes, and eyeshadow to match.
The Village is changing at an alarming pace. It seems like just last year that people were complaining about the riff-raff on the streets, and the tawdry shops that were cleared out of Times Square and into more residential neighborhoods. Now it seems like we're standing in the way of progress and re-gentrification. One wonders how long the old Christopher Street establishments like Ty's and even the Dugout will remain before somebody buys their leases out to open yet another Ralph Lauren shop.
Has anyone visited the Ralph Lauren Rugby boutique on University Place? I can't quite get a handle on it. Just who are those clothes for? The store is a jumble of English school boy clothes and rugby gear guaranteed not to be worn on any playing field, all awash in labels and appliques and embroideries featuring some combination of RL's monogram, or a skull and crossbones motif. And all cut too small for your average rugger.
Speaking of which, after dinner Tim and I slogged through the teeming rain over to Gym. It was fairly early, and the bar had a fairly dense crowd already. There were several ball games and a wrestling match competing for the patron's attentions. I found it over-stimulating. Frankly, I can't give it away in this bar. Tim and I stayed for a drink and walked back out in the rain. As luck would have it, we caught a cab and headed over to the Phoenix for a night cap.
I like the Phoenix. I enjoy the fact that it's a sort of bar-with-training-wheels. Like the Ninth Circle was for me. Young people of all ages can come and learn how to mix and mingle and throw back cocktails safely here, before heading out into the big scary gay world. I like Jim, the bartender. I like the educational jukebox; a primer in obscurity. Tim is always popular here, but this is another space I can't give it away in. Unless they're just timid rabbits and I frighten the bejesus out of them. It's been known to happen. Anyway, as we stood there drinking and drying off, more and more people we knew appeared. Greg and Michael, Bryce, Eric and Mike. Jim, who up until quite recently was in a band with Bryce called The Isotoners, was completely confused. My worlds are colliding, he wailed. He knows us a friendly neighbors, and couldn't imagine how we all knew each other. I had to explain the genesis of our inter-relations, not an easy task when you're drinking bourbon. Suffice to say everybody drank way too much, and rampant hugging ensued.
Yesterday, I hit the gym for the first time in a week. I hate slacking off like this, but I've had no choice, due to my work schedule. People are just going have to deal with a fatter Mark. Tough. I headed to the Dugout in the afternoon and was pleased to see that Tim had installed the lightbulbs I've purchased. It's been really grim in there all summer. No one was bothering to replace light bulbs as they burned out. Eventually, the entire bar was basically illuminated by the light of the jukebox. And with the new digital internet jukebox, we were dependent on the light from the screen. So I bought of slew of pink and amber spotlights and Tim screwed them in. Few things are more flattering to gentlemen of a certain age than rosy lighting. The bar was pretty crowded, though the mix was odd, skewed more towards Metrobears and leather for some reason. I had an alright time.
Thanks to all who have dropped by recently. I know I've had no end of bad news lately, and there's certainly been enough black crepe tossed around here to open a Brunschwig et Fils outlet. I'll try to intersperse the bleaker blogs with the bar crawl entries.
Speaking of crawls, any interesting ideas as to where two middle aged guys can hang for a couple of hours and throw back some beers on a Saturday night? All suggestions are appreciated.