Last night while enduring yet another lonely day of hearts, flowers and chocolates (with that misery compounded by really shitty weather) I finally had enough and decided to get out of my apartment and drown my sorrows at a local bar until midnight, in other words the time when Valentine's Day ends. I hate many of the bars in my neighborhood and the only options that I have not tried are Jackie's Fifth Amendment — a hardcore alky watering hole for people who are straight out of a Bukowski book — and O'Connell's, a very sleazy looking establishment that is roughly ten blocks from my apartment.
I opted for O'Connell's.
From the outside O'Connell's looks like a faceless brick bunker identified by neither number or name; the rotting sign blew away months ago during a storm and the management didn't think it was important enough to shell out the money for a replacement. On the inside the place is a classic dive bar that remains pretty much as it was when it opened in the late-1950's, a fact all too evident from the utter lack of any sort of maintainence or attempts at modernization. The ceiling was full of holes that exposed the deteriorating infrastructure and probably provided a suitable breeding ground for bats.
I met my friend and roomate from over ten years past, Jessica Goldberg, there at 9PM and we shared a couple of very inexpensive drinks while listening to the excellent jukebox, a contraption loaded with old rockabilly, psychedelic rock, r & b compilations, and the first album by my beloved Devo (note: if it were my bar, I would go with their second album, "Duty Now For the Future," but to each his own). Jess eventually split since she has to work in the morning, and I spent the rest of the alotted time discussing music with the very knowledgeable bartender, a personable guy from England named Trace.
By about 11PM the place cleared out and only Trace and I remained. Thus freed of his bartenderly duties, we had a lot of time to shoot the shit and get to know one another, and let me be the first to tell you that he's a really together guy. Sorry ladies, but he only works Monday through Wednesday... Soon Mark showed up; Mark is an fifty-something black dude who is a hardcore gambler and is apparently a regular who is easily the most articulate old school wino I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He ordered a glass of cheap red wine and two triple shoots of Wild Turkey, and regaled us with tales of his adventures playing "African Golf" — for you white folks out there that's shooting dice — actually claiming to be making $800 a night during these marathon gamaes of chance. Since Trace now had some company, I ventured home at 12:30 AM.
So, the point of all of this is that I have finally found my favorite neighborhood bar, something that would have happened sooner if I had gotten off my ass and ventured more northward toward Flatbush Avenue. Now if only I had the balls to check out Jackie's Fifth Amendment...