Sunday, December 13, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
My plan is to try to convince everyone that if 2012 sees Palin/Beck v Obama/Biden, that we should all vote for Palin/Beck. Nevermind my feelings about the Obama administration, if Palin and Beck (or really either one) end up atop a major party ticket, then everything is already lost. At that point, we will be better served to facilitate the endgame than to continue participating.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I missed my brother a lot tonight, but I was comforted by the (somewhat) unexpected attendance of Nate and Hope, and the baby Carmela. The little Mellow Yellow is the only small ape that I like at this point, and I gotta admit that I kinda like her (I'd lay down in traffic for that little worm...)
Holy shit, the Doctors have given me heart worms...
You know, this holiday sucked a lot in a lot of ways; but if it was going to suck, I can't imagine better people to have a sad holiday with. Thanks all. Seriously. I don't hold it together without you. Thanks for everything.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thank you to all for loving him, and loving us - it's been a terrible and an awesome time, we couldn't survive this loss without your love & support.
We plan to have an informal memorial for the family, probably between Thanksgiving & Christmas. Next Summer we plan to have a large party to celebrate Jared's life and loves, here in the yard, with a band. We'll let everyone know as plans develop."
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It's been wonderful to see everyone during these last weeks and it's been a window into Jared's life I might otherwise not have seen. Stories told, a gentle touch on his arm, a quiet tear, a whispered word in his ear - the tender gestures of love, respect and sadness that often only show themselves during a time such as this.
I have deeply appreciated this time with Jared and those who love him.
Take care, Greg"
Friday, November 13, 2009
It wasn't signed, but I'm assuming from what I've heard that this is from Chris.
I don't know what to say or feel.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This is the last update from Jared's Care Page. Chris is Jared's mom. We should know more early tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I get drunk and cry by myself. I listen to music or write words that no one ever sees and weep. I don't know how to console Scott or Katy. I don't know the words or the motions. I look at the people I love who are grieving and I've got nothing. My heart goes out, it aches, with the hope that our embrace will be comforting. But it never is. So I sit and observe their pain and they sit and observe mine and in our quiet moments we listen to songs and cry. And, frankly, it sucks.
I wish I could be more articulate than that.
The only thing that I can say is that I can't remember a time when I felt more alone.
Monday, November 9, 2009
As I think I made clear in the previous post (even if it was the only thing...)that I bluffed my way into my job. I was not qualified. Period. Since getting the keys, I've worked diligently to feel qualified and I feel like I'm finally there.
What I also tried to articulate in the last post was that in the process of pitching my business proposal, I offered what I believed to be a conservatively optimistic estimate of sales figures. The numbers that I worked with were from the Monsoon Room after it had been open a year and well established. While the expenses are about what I thought, the sales have been significantly less. This has led the owner's to become impatient. How impatient? I don't know. I don't know if I'm too up in my head or if I'm seeing some ominous signs for my future at the bar.
Jared was hit by a drunk driver. This bears repeating. Another friend we think was drugged at the bar. Try as we might, drunk driving and date rape are situations that we can't avoid. And, quite the contrary, we facilitate or abet this kind of behavior in the sale of alcohol. It is, as I mentioned, an occupational hazard. I think these are hazards we all strive to avoid, but after doing our due diligence, we avoid looking at the obvious: We send strangers, friends, and family away with maybe one too many drinks virtually every night.
I've mentioned many times how much I work. I knew going in that it was going to be something that required most of my attention, but I really had no idea what I was in for. I don't do anything else. All of my creativity and mental energy goes into the bar. If I'm not working on new product or trying to find more efficient ways to get things done, then I am negotiating personalities or state/local bureaucracies. I get home or have a free day, I am out of gas. I sit on the couch and watch television. Not only is my life passing me by, I'm doing very little with that I am experiencing. Too much of it is lost to a drunken haze in the middle of the night.
Finally, if you're reading this then you probably know me pretty well. You know that I wrestled with how to best apply my resources to make my community, if not the world, a better place. I vacillated between going back to school and opening a bar/restaurant for quite sometime before the 1022 fell in my lap. I justified it in a number of ways, not the least of which was that having a spot for people to come together and enjoy each other's company while enjoying unique cocktails would be a good thing for Tacoma and Hilltop. I still believe that this is the case. I still believe that 1022 in it's current incarnation is good for the neighborhood. I am truly proud of not only the space and my staff, but also of the cocktails and culture of drinking that we promote.
Now that caveats are dispensed with, a 600 sq. ft. craft cocktail lounge in Hilltop (or probably anywhere) is not the lever with which I will move the world. What is this lever? I don't know. I have serious doubts about it involving children. Regardless of whether or not that is where I end up, I need to go back to school. I need to take math classes, a few science classes, then go from there. It has been my intention for a while to go back to school to initially study chemistry, which would dovetail nicely with what I do now if I chose to stay in the field or would lead nicely into an environmental science degree.
I suspect things are going to change very soon.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
To make 1022 happen, I pitched an idea to the owners. In addition to the idea, they asked about numbers. They were clear and articulate that they have invested enough in projects that only break even, that they are ready to make money. And, yes, they have money. Enough to invest in projects...
So, I was pretty sure the project could make money. A little bit, at least. I had crunched the numbers and I thought...What I thought was really pretty irrelevant. Let's look at some facts for a moment, just for review:
- I "ran" the Moo for almost a year, but I really didn't do more than negotiate personalities, make sure the doors opened (and closed) everyday, and placed liquor orders from pre-existing par sheets.
- I wrote recipes and collaborated on a menu or two.
- I was reliable, worked busy shifts, and built up a clientele.
What I really did was be a lead bartender. I didn't do a whole lot more than that. Not because I didn't want to, but because that's all that she gave me for whatever reason. I realistically probably wasn't ready for more than that.
Fast-forward a year or so and I'm standing in front of the owner's of the building and the soon-to-be owners of the 1022 space and I'm bluffing, shucking, and jiving. I'm never dishonest, but I speak with more confidence about everything than is justified; I'm barely a bartender having worked very little high volume and a bit of "craft," if that's what you call what we did at the Moo. I present the numbers from the slower months when the Moo was up-and-going and present them as what we can do. I'd thought I'd factored in the Great Recession with my operating costs, I didn't figure that less people would show up...So, obviously they were into it, they gave me keys and money and here we are.
And here we are. And where we are is that I've felt that shadow of me bluffing myself into a position that I never had any right to be in. I didn't know enough about booze or service or the logistics of running a business to be given the keys to a place. Looking back in it now, it seems laughable. At that point in January, I knew as much about renovating, construction, and the daily grind of running a bar as I knew about elephant proctology. I didn't know how to work a power tool when I agreed to remake the place, much less a number of tools. I didn't know how to manage people, labor (hours worked plus about 20% on top to the government), liquor costs, where to source product, how to deal with vendors, what to do when...You get the idea. I had no idea. The most prominent signifier that I had no idea was that I was clueless about the extent of my ignorance. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have had the balls to bluff. I would've probably still tried (because I'm that kinda guy), but I would've shot my own dick off. It would have failed. Completely.
And now today I find myself staring down the barrel of that grand bluff to make 1022 happen. I told the owners that it could make money quickly. It hasn't. We break even every month. It's a bit disconcerting how close the numbers come. Since we've opened the bar has paid for itself and that's it. We cover operating costs and whatever arises, but no more. We paid for the patio, we pay for whatever, but at the end of the day, it breaks even. It's uncanny...and it's also not good enough. They, the owners, love the bar and are proud of it. They respect the work I've put in to make it happen. At the end of the day, they count beans and 1022 has none. This leaves me, after spending 7 months working an average of 60 hours a week, looking over my shoulder. Breaking even in a brutal economy in a fickle market isn't good enough, the bar needs to make money. If it doesn't, I think I'll either be lop-offed at the head or cut off at the knees. Either way it's an unfortunate truth that leaves me less invested than I was yesterday.
I feel like I should have a picture of my Bitburger and glass of Strega for this last disclosure, but right now I'm far too lazy and tired to get out my camera. Janice's death and Jared's (what do I call it? Devastating injury? Catastrophic? Accident?)...injury has me putting things in perspective. And let's do that for a moment. I designed and orchestrate a great bar. In any market, it's a pretty amazing bar. It does craft and it does homey, neighborhood flavor. It is both elegant and comfortable. It is something that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. And, at the end of the day, it's a bar in a working class neighborhood. We serve booze to people and make them feel good. We create a space where people can come together and in the best of all possible worlds they have a human moment. But, we also have over-service and drunk drivers as an occupational hazard – and for those keeping score, Jared was hit by a drunk driver.
And now I am digressing a fair bit, but I have to wonder about levers and fulcrums. Is this my best place to stand? Is this my best lever? Is this my best fulcrum? Is this the best application of the gifts and privilege afforded to me? To create a place where people come together where the outcome is intoxication and the occasional drunk driving? The occasional date rape? Not to be too melodramatic, but these are the realistic stakes that we work with every night.
I think I've answered my own questions.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Insomnia lost the battle last night as I was finally able to sleep through the night. The price was that I also slept till noon.
Is this a soundcheck? Where is everybody? It's still fun...
Undead, undead, undead.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Maybe I am worrying too much. Maybe those who oppose "everything-but-marriage" should be not only dragged to water, but forced to drink. Maybe social change is affected by legislating something that people find reprehensible. I've been reading The Man in the High Castle after having read Plot Against America and I think that it's pervaded my thinking a bit. I've also been thinking a lot about a couple of influential books, Love They Neighbor and War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. I worry that this country is inherently unstable due to a very large cultural divide. There is historical precedent for people scapegoating and villifying minorities when the societies are under duress. Will this happen here? I don't know. I do know that a trip into east Pierce County reveals a world distinctly different from the Tacoma's isolated city center. Likewise a trip south into Lakewood will do the same.
The echo chamber is reverberating with the meme that right is on the verge of a civil war between the Palin/Beck factions and the more centrist conservatives. I encourage everyone to spend a few minutes watching Glen Beck. I think it's important to understand under whose sway large swaths of this country have fallen. I think it's also important to understand the message they are carrying. I concur with Chomsky that these people - the disenfranchised that have found a voice with Palin/Beck - should be taken seriously. I don't know what that means, but I suspect it doesn't mean dismissing them as uneducated country bumpkins.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Except, change is coming...
Sunday, October 18, 2009
And, the Sheriff told me that she'd sleep fine (which I'm skeptical about) because there were no iconic scenes. You know, the type that burns itself into your psyche. Crab walking down the stairs, blood spilling forth from elevators, rooms filled with curing human flesh. At first blush, PA was missing those moments. But, upon reflection, which I've had all day to do, I think it is actually filled with those moments of terror.
It's a good movie. For those of you who love your horror, it's a must see. Watch it so we can talk about it. Consider it an exorcism.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
So, we went and saw old DJ the other night. Since the only people who read this were there, I'll spare everyone the recap (nice sweater!) As always, that asshole inspires me. He inspires me against my better judgment, he inspires he against my rationale self. That floppy haired, D&D-playing, non-dresser somehow makes me want to quit my job and blow up a dam (of course, then I'd go live under a log somewhere and play with baby foxes (kits?), live in harmony with nature...until a hungry bear ate me.)
I read his work and it changed everything. Now, I didn't and don't buy it completely, but I buy enough that I keep listening, I keep reading. Once I read the latest, I think I will probably have read more words by him than any other author. He has a way of framing ideas that are both disputable and inspiring. Who cares if he is inconsistent in his numbers for rates of sexual assault against women? If his most conservative estimates are close, it's still far too many. Who cares if it's not "90%" of the fish in the ocean? Say, it's 60% and it's only the large fish. That's still too many. Say there's not dioxin in "every" woman's breast milk. One is far too many.
Let's talk about what we can do. We can go and blow up dams(for shits and giggles - more shits that giggles, btw - google "number of dams in us"), take down cell phone towers, or lop off the heads of CEOs. The unfortunate thing is that this isn't The Monkey Wrench Gang and that they will kill or imprison us. We lose. One dam blown up, one dead white guy, one stupid cell phone tower down and that's it. They rebuild the dam; like the hydra, another CEO pops up in its place. We cannot win. Whether it means "getting there first with the most...," or "in war, they will kill some of us; but we will destroy all of them," we lose. We lose no matter which way you count it. Or spell it. Or sing it. Or dance it.
We can have well attended protests, beautiful and inspiring words, we hustle door to door to get out the vote. We lose. No one gets to a position to being elected without selling out, without being a corporate shill. That includes Obama, whose race occludes the fact that he is an agent of the status quo, and Clinton (both of them), who are agents of industry. They don't care about you, me, us. But this is old hat...
Let's talk about how this isn't a war to be won. Let's look at each other and be frank and honest. The war is lost. It was never a war; it was a slaughter. Any bloodshed that could have (maybe...) made a difference happened a century before we were born. Let us look at each other and admit that we are not going to change the world. Whether we are woofies or school teachers, bartenders or longshoremen. Yea, we can change a life here or there; we can work in a soup kitchen, or protest outside the SeaTac Mall (or Federal Way Commons - not ironic at all - or whatever it's called), or try to teach kids to read in our "spare" time, or we can do whatever, but what we are doing is useless. I'll spare you obnoxious metaphors about tweezers and sand. What we are doing amounts to vanity projects, to padding our social resume or appeasing our guilty consciences so we can go back to eating fast food at 3AM, smoking, porn, teen romance television, getting drunk, or whatever.
Full disclosure. More than you probably want to know (although it is a blog...), so if you don't want to go there, then click away.
Porn. Ok, so it was porn, smoking, and baseball. Now it's porn, football and eating meat. Which, after typing that out, sounds really gay...These are the concessions that I make that I am not proud of. I'll allow myself some porn erstwhile feeling guilty, not because I am watching porn, but because how the women are treated. I'm almost exhausted typing that because it's such a trope, but really, if you doubt it at all, then go to you porn and check that shit out. It's awful. Best case scenario, it's actresses pretending like they like to be raped. It's fucking awful. More than likely, it's a whole lot of women who have been assaulted, are sad, lonely, desperate, and don't even really know it. I remember reading Endgame when I was in Mexico and just wanting to hug the strippers or the girls pressing their tits into tourists faces. And like so many things, the feeling faded away with time. Now, porn.
But it's not ok. It's not ok to watch women get fucked, women who most likely have been assaulted early on (get there first with the most) and whose assault reverberates throughout their lives now reenact the violence for our carnal pleasure. Everytime. Every single fucking time I look at porn, whether I am out of mind (for whatever reason) or dead-to-rights sober, I think, "She's been raped." I know it in my belly. It's the same way I know it when I see it. Still, I left click until I find something that is not quite so disconcerting, take care of business as quickly as possible, then move on about my day. But, to be completely honest, I know what just happened. I know what I watched. I know what I did. It's despicable and I should be ashamed.
Lest anyone thinks that this is me being crazy about sex and all that, I have no problem with porn (eerily enough, the same way I have no problem with the death penalty) in and of itself; it's the knowledge that a fair number of the women participating are not doing so from an exhibitionist desire ("Yah, I totally want you to fuck me in the ass on camera so lonely, sad human beings can watch it on their computers late at night..." That conversation happens...), but from something far more unhealthy.*
Porn is bad. Porn is bad because of the probability or merely the possibility that these women are only doing this because they've been assaulted. Period.
Ever since reading DMFJ for the first time, I've been unable to reconcile any idea of resistance with the fact that I smoked. I was consoled by the fact that many other people who read him or felt the same way smoked as well. Janice died. That was the last night I smoked.**
I banged most of this out with ESPN on in the background. K gets whatever teen romance makes her forget her shitty day, I have baseball and football. I can do better. We can do better. Nate once challenged me to stop watching, listening to, and reading sports. In return, he would give up meat (except at the mom's, which is fair to middlin).*** I failed long before I had a chance to catch up to see where he was at. Progress not perfection, I suppose.
Here is what we do. We are all very busy folks. This makes dinners difficult. So we rally when we can. We get together, we stay in touch, we stay close. When we get together for dinners and drinks, we savor it and appreciate it. And.
We make dates. Ya, let's have dinner and rally the troops. Let's get greased and talk politics. Let's scare our more timid friends and inspire those that are ready (it's happened already...). Let's also go shoot guns, take gun safety courses, and learn how to clean and maintain firearms. Let's go fishing. Clean and gut fish. Let's garden. Then we can have real dinner parties, the way it really should happen. Harvest celebration. Let's talk first aid, preservation techniques (see gardening). Let's have pickle and jam parties. Let's have stitch and bitch, all genders welcome. Let's talk self-defense. What do we do? Let's stockpile food and each summer, if the worst hasn't happened, tap into it for our camping. Then build it back up each year. Let's be creative about this. What's the worst that can happen? And in the interim, we can work to make our community better, our world better. Hell, we can and should challenge each other continually. We can be better than we are in virtually every imaginable way.
And in the meantime, if there's any question of what we can or should do, I would say rally around the family...
*This most definitely is not the word I want, but I'm going with it for the sake of expediency.
**On an edit of the last paragraph, I'd left a sentence that I'd thought read, "And I hope I'll never do it again." I read it multiple times and I had a subsequent paragraph that mas o menos responded to the idea of hope. Well, the actual sentence was lacking the never. It took multiple passes for me to notice. While sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes it's a cigarette haunting you.
***Give me the opportunity again. I'll both go vegan and throw down with the sports abstinence. If you got it in you...
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Yeah, that's green chartreuse and one of the Sheriff's beers. And I'm done. I'm so tired after working a shift then posting over at the 1022 blog that I'm falling asleep with a drink or two in my hand. But in the interim before passing out and finishing a few fabulous cocktails, I feel like I need to get in a few words...
It's been a rough few weeks. Down right shitty. I've been thinking about how to write about this a lot. I've been thinking about how to articulate my feelings and about who reads this. I struggled every night. Posts died (justifiably) on the cutting room floor. So, here I am. Here we are. Ready to do this.
Janice was amazing. There's no getting around that. No on is ever going to reveal one of her flaws that will change that opinion. She was one of those rare people that was beautiful. She was the type of person that was so genuine and kind that I would be embarrassed if I lapsed into sarcasm, cynicism or disingenuous behavior around her. She was one of the rare people that by dint of the quality of her person she demanded humanity out of the people around her. (There's going to be a gap between this sentence and the next that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fill.) And here's where I need an aside to say that I knew her only casually. I never had the opportunity to ask her if she did this purposefully (which I doubt), or if it was merely a by-product of her being an amazing person. I wonder if I can stop crying today because of how beautiful she was or by my selfish loss of not getting to know her better. I can't explain why I break down every time I hear Asleep.
Really, having listened to the song again, I think I know why. You know when you meet someone who is better than you at something? For instance, you're on the basketball court and the other guy is obviously way more athletic; or the other girl is skinnier or prettier, or whatever; or you're sitting across from someone and they have a cold recall of facts that is vaguely inhuman; whatever it is, you've met that person that is better than you at whatever, painting, fucking, cooking, smiling. Janice was a better human than me and the majority of people I've ever met. Period. She was kind and gracious in a way that I always strive to be. She smiled in a way that I wish I could smile. Honest and easy, like she was happy. She was so kind and gracious that I took it for granted that she'd be around forever. I figured that I had a lifetime to get to know her. A woman as beautiful as her doesn't die a year after her wedding, weeks after she turns 30. I've cared for and loved people who've died by self-inflicted gunshots, cancer, COPD, and cardiac arrest. Her death was a tragedy. It was terrible and it shouldn't have happened. It's a testament to her person that I still cannot imagine this world without her.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
For October, I'm giving all of my Monday night tips to the local YWCA. Given current events, I think that this is a great place to start.
Show up for a cocktail, throw some coins in the coffers. Drink for a good cause this time.
And thanks to Nate for returning the volley. This medium is important. Don't walk away now...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Posted here because it's probably not the best on the posted on the bar blog...
Let's talk for a moment about 86ing people. This is something that I've never taken lightly as I have on more than many an occasion been that asshole, miscreant or undesirable in your bar (sorry Olympia and Capital Hill...if you were a bartender at one of the places and remember, then your next drink's on me).
More to the point since my days of brazenly drunken revelry are nearly over, I've only 86ed a few people from 1022 South. One because, after an obviously intoxicated woman lit a cigarette in the bar, I pulled her drink. The host of the party became quite angry and refused to pay a portion of their tab. So, that was that. I comped a portion of the tab and after the gentleman made a scene, I asked him to not return. The other far more interesting story was this evening. As I mentioned previously and in other places, we were busy tonight. We didn't set any records, but I was deep in orders for a while tonight (which, incidentally, makes me obsess about my mise en place, foot and handwork, and the general efficiency of my station). Get around to the end of the night where the bar's mas o menos emptied out except for a few regulars and locals. I pull drinks a few minutes before 2am and I go to the patio to pull the chairs in. One of the locals who I have a long history with (she's been trouble in multiple establishments) is shit-faced and decides to wander behind the bar. Not because she's curious, not because she's confused, but because she spies a beer on the back bar. I hear her say that she is going to go for it. I tell her in no uncertain terms that she can't go behind the bar as I stand in the doorway. She starts to shift and shuffle behind the bar while grasping desperately for the beer. Her drinking companion is trying to get her to leave to no avail. As she gets her hands on the beer and begins to drink, I've made my way across the bar and I take it from her. Before she got to the beer, as I was moving across the bar, I let her know that if she did continue and if she did drink the beer that I would 86 her. She continued, I took the beer after a single drink, then I let her know that she's not welcome back.
That transgression and a mouthful of beer rids 1022 of a person who has given me endless grief as a bartender at multiple establishments. Small fare for something that will pay off in the long run. I've wrestled with 86ing people, but this time is was clear and definite. I don't want my staff dealing with anything like this. Drunk people shuffling behind the bar to consume whatever open containers they can find is a great way to get shut down. And, it's awkward. And, unprofessional. And, it's gross. Sit on your barstool. Enjoy your cocktail. Then, when it's that time, go home. Don't shuffle behind the bar looking for one last sip. If that's how you gotta roll, then I'll happily introduce you to this fellow Bill W. His friends meet around the corner from us. You can work the rest out there.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
All that is necessary for the evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. - probably misattributed to Edmund Burke, something of a badass.
We have a lot of work to do. And, base on the last few posts, I have some explaining to do...
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I was half in the bag when I got home tonight (shocking) when I decided to cook and listen to AM radio. Coast to Coast to be exact. They had some nonsense segment about the Ouija boards that got me thinking, free associating really, about mistakes that me make. And this leads me to this:
We excuse you men and women for entering the military when they are young and impressionable. Whatever excuses we use (poor families, lack of options, blah blah blah), we are comfortable using them for military service but not for other choices. Now, (another caveat) some of the people in my life who I care about most are ex-military. These people are the kindest, smartest people I've ever had the privilege to meet. Ok, so all of this being said, and here's where I went from Ouija boards, if someone is young and they make the mistake to join the military where they are obligated to kill poor, sometimes defenseless people a world away if ordered, then we forgive them. Because, you know, they did it for our country. Or they were cajoled, indoctrinated, or they didn't think they had any other options. Or whatever.
Now, if some dood is half (or entirely) wasted at a frat party and he fucks a passed out girl, do we forgive him? Or if he commits any of the other myriad versions of rape that occur, do we forgive him? What if he does it again? And again? what if he's an alcoholic and it only happens when he drinks? What if it happens enough that he gets the moniker "Date Rape..."? What if, what if, what if...
What if he feels like he doesn't have any options and he joins the service? What if he drops bombs on an Afghan village in pursuit of a terrorist? Google Afghan village, btw.
Moreover, so say we know someone who raped someone or who killed someone. What if he killed someone we know? What if he assaulted someone we know? It's so easy for us to quote Derrick Jensen, who is being fed peanut butter sandwiches from his mother while he pounds out jeremiads on keyboards manufactured by Korean children, while we go to rallies or tour the pre-industrial world on vacations that are exploications.
I'm so close to saying something that I can't take back. I'm that pissed. And not just at you. At me. Because when I go to sleep I don't see all of the shit I don't like about you. All of your selling out or buying in or hypocrisy or sophistry goes away. Because we're family and I love you. What doesn't go away is everything I've done or abide by; is everything that I've sanctioned by silence.
The best of us fail. And the best of us are guilty. What I wonder everyday is where that leaves us.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
What I am interested in is the common courtesy due to the guests and the bartender in a bar. I had a moment this evening where I failed at my job. A young lady and her friend came in just as I was starting to get busy. Orders for craft cocktails are starting to stack up as we are making exchanging pleasantries. One on the the drink orders coming in, I politely asked for their ID's (people can name-drop common acquaintances or remark about how many times I've seen their ID's before, I don't care. It's my job. And. And! When the LCB did their sting at 1022 South, the young man looked just like all of the rest of you who are younger than a Joy Division album.) So, she gave me a bit of grief about carding her again and this and that while drinks are piling up. I'm trying to be be polite, talk to them about the bar, and figure out the most efficient way to build all of these drinks. Then after she finally shows her ID, which for her was a heartbeat but seemed like an hour, she started describing the “martini' that she wanted.
“Um...vodka. We want vodka martinis.”
No big deal. Throw some vodka martinis in the queue and I'll bang those out as soon as I can. But, I have to ask.
“How do you like those martinis?” Continue drink orders backlogging.
“Oh, well, do you have basil back there?”
Here is where I failed as a bartender. The gears in my head seized and I became that asshole. My response was totally inappropriate.
“No, I don't have any basil (anymore). So, you don't want a martini, you want a cocktail in a martini glass?”
Hem and haw, gibber jaw and nonsense ending with, “No, we want martinis.”
So, instead of being gracious and whipping something up, I obfuscated their order as my rail began to fill with drink orders. Not intentionally, mind you, I really wanted to figure out what they were looking for. I want every drink that I pass across the bar to amaze and/or mystify (it is Tacoma...) all of my guests. I want everyone to say something to the effect of, “This is my new favorite drink,” or for them to stop mid-conversation and ask me what they are drinking. Before you think I am insane, I've talked to cooks who work in open kitchens who've echoed the same sentiment. All of this being said, I'm not intentionally being an obnoxious prick when I was equivocating over what a martini is or is not. Finally, they agreed to try the special of the night (substituting vodka for tequila).
el Jimador reposado
1 orange juice
.5 raw ginger simple syrup
2 dashes kava kava
2 dashes Regan's orange bitters
1 serrano wheel
dash of cayenne
Shake and strain into cocktail glass half rimmed with Himalayan sea salt.
Real basic but with enough “stuff” going on to keep a casual drinker interested. By the time they agreed to this drink I was in the weeds. They had irritated me, so they weren't getting bumped forward in the queue, so they had to wait. It took probably 15 minutes to dig myself out after they finally decided. As I set up to make their drinks, after letting them know that they were next, the lady looks at her watch and they leave.
That's it. They walk out. The worst part is that I don't blame them.
Now, let's be clear. The type of thing we do, sometimes cocktails take a bit. I believe that artisanal work takes time. However, if I'd been more gracious initially, then they would've been less likely to leave. They were obnoxious, but I screwed up.
So, here we are. Next time they come in their first round is on me. Luckily, this time there's a mutual acquaintance so I can get in touch.
Caveats and rubrics out of the way, let's talk about customer etiquette for a moment. I don't want to get into the broader scope of how you comport yourself in public, how you treat people in the service industry, or any of that at the moment. I just want to talk about proper etiquette when dealing with servers and bartenders.
Get off your cell phone. Or go outside. Prepare to not be served if you're being that guy or gal. A friend once told me story about when she was working and an Italian restaurant in Seattle. She went to the table with multiple guests repeatedly and one girl wouldn't get off her cell phone. Eventually my friend took everyone's order but her as she continued to jibber jabber away. Finally, after the orders were put in, she got off her phone and became indignant. She asked when she could order. My friend cloyingly replied that she thought that the guest was going to call her order in.
We are not objects, sexual or otherwise. Don't treat us like such. I hear about how female servers and bartenders are treated and I am ashamed. You don't talk to me that way. You don't talk to my staff that way in front of me. Aren't you a little embarrassed? If not, then you should be.
Speaking of objects, while we are in the service industry, we are also in a trade. Be polite. Recognize us as we come to the table. We only want to facilitate your experience. We don't want attention for the sake of itself. We want you to have a good experience. It's difficult for us to do that when you won't acknowledge us.
If we are busy, then, trust me, we're sorry. The joint may not look busy to you, but we may have someone two tables over arguing about what a martini or a puttanesca is. If we are not gracious and respectful (this includes not making excuses for tardy service), then be angry. But if we are, cut us some slack. Please. Trust me, we'll make it worth your while.
The experience of going out is reciprocal. We take care of each other and it is predicated upon us being polite and facilitating your experience. In return, we simply ask that you be polite.
(Apologies for the cross-post at the 1022 blog)
Monday, September 7, 2009
Akimbo record release at the Comet. So near the end...
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Ok, deep breath. So, after the incident with the dog, I'm acutely sensitive to the brothers from the barbershop hanging out in front of the bar listening to loud music, smoking weed, selling whatever, and generally accosting nearly every single woman who walks by. I've had many conversations with a friend about how she can't walk or ride through the neighborhood without brothers yelling at her. Everyday it's a new story. It usually turns out that she ignores them or says something flippant or dismissive, which then aggravates the men leading them to become confrontational and insulting. Still, my liberal White guilt dismisses these things as "cultural differences," which now that it's typed in front of me is woefully condescending. I don't hold brothers from the neighborhood to the standards that I would any other civilized human being because they are black, listen to rap music, smoke weed, and are gangsters (literally). If all of the aforementioned were true, but it was a gaggle of white guys, I would have no tolerance. Jesus Christ, is this institutionalized racism at its worst? I consider myself a self-aware, progressive individual, but I haven't thought all that much about this. It certainly warrants more consideration.
Back to my point, I was sensitive already to the culture around the barbershop, so when I was leaving the bar the other day on my bike I had a problem with my deraileur as I was changing lanes. A guy leaving the barbershop decided to try to intimidate me by slowing down, pulling into my lane (I was in the turn lane), then basically threatening me. I stopped riding, handled the situation, then rode on. This kind of thing happens all the time with motorists of all shapes and sizes, but it just so happened to be a brother driving some ghetto fabulous car with nice rims. And! As he pulled away he was driving without hands so he could count his rather large roll of cash.
This got me thinking: is something like the barbershop necessarily good for the neighborhood? Previously, my liberal White guilt didn't allow me to ask those kinds of questions. To dare question whether a black barbershop belonged in a black neighborhood was to be part of the culture of gentrification, it was to be part of the Whiteness that makes me so uncomfortable. But after the incident, I began to wonder (not without some guilt) whether a business that also serves as a social spot for gangsters and drug dealers is really the best thing. I genuinely don't have a feeling either way. I'm not sure that a cocktail lounge where privleged, fixed gear, white belt wearing hipsters congregate is necessarily any better (or worse). What this last week did was provoke some rather uncomfortable questions about race and class that I haven't found any easy answers for.
What really inspired me to sit down and rant about my week was this: (h/t to Everything is Terrible).
Watching that made me nauseous. It's the milquetoast homogeneity of White culture that I am ashamed of. It's not just them; if you took the same crowd shots of the Apollo, I would be equally repulsed (as much as I'd let myself acknowledge it). I see previews for anything involving Tyler Perry and I want to shoot my eyes out. I also hate cars, specifically new cars. I hate shiny new cars with Abercrombie polo wearing would-be jocks with white caps askew who, along with their skinny-pretty bleached-and-waxed girlfriends, treat people in the service industry like a lesser class of human. I hate the lawyers and judges, real estate agents (Oh man, do I hate real estate agents) and property owners who "flip" houses. Middle aged, bourgeois white people. People who look like they shop at REI. Anyone who thinks it's hip to be ironic. The fucking Tacoma Police Department. You know what? Fuck you you fucking pigs for everytime you harass a bicyclist for not wearing a helmet but you don't come when called. It's 911. Get your ass out here. Fuck corporate financiers who rob everyone blind. Fuck you Matador bartenders. You should be ashamed. Fuck you you tribal tattooed, gauged ear, heavy metal woman beating rapist who malingers between Hell's Kitchen and every other shitty hard drinking bar filled with Rock of Love skanks, PBR, and grape vodka drop shots. Fuck you you fat lazy fucks waddling around Safeway looking for a Kit Kat bar. That's right. Fuck fat people. Look around at our culture. Seriously. Stop and look. Being fat is a crime. The amount of shit you have to eat to get this fat is staggering. Those faceless corporate monsters who are stripping the ocean of fish and wiping out the rain forest are doing it so you can have a $2.99 Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's at anytime, anywhere. Your bloated corpse inculcates you in every crime of this irredeemable culture from the war in Iraq to rampant deforestation to the incidents of sexual assault against women. If you stopped sleepwalking through life long enough to put the Twinkie down you might realize that your being corpulent is a crime. So, get fucked you fat ass.
Fuck you Christians. Get off my fucking lawn. Double fuck you Michael Bay. Fuck professional athletes who rape and murder without consequences. That includes you, Roethlisburger. You're not off the hook because you are the white QB. You're a fucking asshole. That motorcycle accident should have taken your career if not your life.
I'm fucking done. Over it. This world fucking sucks from the hood rats parked in the street who refuse to get out of the way to let cars pass to the smarmy fucking judge with the bluetooth headset who thinks he's the cat's meow. Get fucked. All of you.
Edit: Jesus, sorry guys. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. By that I mean the side w/o spell check or a dictionary...
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
James Howard Kunstler over at Clusterfuck Nation does good work. His book The Long Emergency is a must read. Kunstler writes about how our Culture of Leisure and Happy Motoring is predicated upon easy access to cheap energy. This is going to end sooner or later (all signs point to sooner...), at which point what happens to the suburban sprawl, planned obsolescence, and the general toxins and detritus left behind from 60+ years of rampant consumerism? Look around you at everything that is plastic. “Except for a small amount that has been incinerated...every bit of plastic manufactured in the world in the last 50 years or so still remains.” (The World Without Us, Weisman) This plastic, a large portion of which ends up in the ocean, concentrates pollutants in the environment and as it degrades enters the food chain at the smallest levels. Now, just so we are clear, these are compounds that have a shelf life greater than the Pyramids of Giza and the Roman Aqueducts. These tiny pellets and everything that we make out of them has an expected life that is measured in terms of a geological scale. Say 100,000 years. To put this in perspective, 100,000 years ago we were living caves; we were far from the only bipedal hominid; and (although still contentious), we (as Homo Sapiens) began our mass exodus from Africa. Your cell phone, plastic bag from Safeway, and potentially the majority of the buried newspaper in landfills, could be around long after our art, philosophy, and science have been reduced to dust and ash. Our great legacy will be sun bleached plastic and garbage that has reduced to the size of krill food and, the elimination of biodiversity that is being called the sixth great extinction, the Holocene extinction. This anthropogenic event promises not only to be a dark legacy of our over-consumption, but also promises to make it much more difficult for us to return to a sustainable way of living. Even after we kill each other in the streets as we run out of energy, fresh water and food; even as the coastlines rise and displace or kill millions; as the era of mass production ends and we are left with a wide swath of aggrieved, unemployed peoples looking to scapegoat someone (always the Other...); even after desertification, floods, malnutrition, AIDS, obesity, and cancer wipe out large portions of a soft, artificially-supported population; there still might not be enough for those who are left. Those that live into the Long Emergency may look out upon a world that resembles more McCarthy's The Road than Mad Max. Those left will rummage through the great wastes of the 20th century culture looking for things that will help them grow or catch food, capture or filter water. I-pods, digital cameras, laptops, 20 pairs of shoes, and $12 cocktails will be revealed for the decadence and luxury that they are. History will not look kindly upon us as we rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic whilst talking about how to resist as the world around us ended. Already we enjoy too much at too small a price to us and too high a price to everyone and everything else. Our sporting events, muscle cars, personal electronics, fast food, and Cult of Convenience come at a price. That price is the degradation of environment, the loss of biodiversity, the subjugation of peoples half a world away, and endless background noise of wars that we no longer (or ever did) understand. Our enemy is the Other (be it the Terrorist kind or the Faceless Government Bureaucrat); we wonder why they hate us or why they send poor, brown children to kill and die for us as we listen to NPR podcasts on our techno-fetishist accoutrement while riding our ridiculously expensive bicycles (because we're Green!) to political rallies protesting the cause du jour or the bar to get drunk, get laid, to be seen. In this way, the literate, angry, rational among us are worse than the fat, burger-eating, nose-picking, reality show-watching, shuffling, gray mass of humanity; we have a moral responsibility not only to affect change directly and to resist constantly, but we have a responsibility to lead our lives by example. We have no room for laziness or excuses like, “Progress, not perfection!” How many people have died in the name of progress? How many die each day as we assuage our guilt with the petty, insignificant acts that have come to define resistance? Eat vegetarian, ride a bike, go to a protest, plant a garden. These First World choices are not enough. Do more and get ready, for night is coming. Watch the unemployment rates around the country, especially in impoverished areas. Watch what happens when a country that has moved from manufacturing “things” to a “service” based economy reacts to contraction that is permanent. What is optional resistance now will be a matter of survival soon. It will start with people pissed off because they can't have the Blue-Ray deluxe edition of the new Michael Bay explosion montage and end with people pissed off that they can't cheaply procure white fish (or any other sort of fish, which should be a luxury item) that was caught in the Great Lakes and processed in China. I fully believe that our way of life is so unsustainable and will end so abruptly that I'll dispense with the rest of this rant about broken I-pods, green Chartreuse, and the regular reoccurence of these fits in my life. We all read the same books and listen to the same podcasts. You know what has gotten me particularly agitated. I'm going to go finish my book, take some valerian root, then fall asleep with the tenuous hope that tonight is not the night that my neighbors kick the door in or simply burn my house down. Tomorrow I'll think more on how resistance is no longer an act of self-congratulatory idealism, but the groundwork for survival as the lights dim.
Edit: I'll learn to like paragraphs when I learn to be coherent. First things first. Sorry.
The first pic is from the ascent to the summit of Ellinore. Before we reached the ridgeline, there was this staircase that went straight up into the mist.
The next pic is on the same staircase behind us. At some point we were above the trees hiking through rocks. Given that we are all pretty soft, it was intense.
The next pic is of pea climbing through rocks where the trail had disappeared. Last year we tried this hike in June and the summer path was snowed over. We made it to the chute, but probably about a third of the way up we turned around. I was committed to making the summit this time despite there obviously being no view...
The last few pictures are from what can only be called a stroll after Ellinore. They are both of the Staircase river that flows into Lake Cushman. The last one is on a giant felled tree across the river from our campsite. Serene, beautiful, exactly what I needed.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It started at work when a couple of old Tacoma musicians sitting at the rail were geeking out about music. It started with one of the going on about how the music on MJ's Thriller was so fantastic. He was playing air drums while singing the guitar parts with (to be honest) a puerile exuberance. His friend humored him until it was his turn to geek out about Helmet's AmRep records. Eavesdropping on their drunken euphoria sent me spinning off into a Neverland where I started playing music again in a heavy, indie, noise-type band that was some hybrid of early Helmet and Jesus Lizard. The feeling lingered until the end of the night when a young kid who'd seen the assailant came in. We ended up talking music with the conversation coming around to the old Paradox (U-District, not Tacoma...) and The Edge of Quarrel movie. I went home sad and nostalgic that night...
So, tonight, Independence Day, I ended the social part of the evening talking for an hour or two in the kitchen with Liza's new bf, a nu-metal guy who vaguely understands DIY and hardcore/punk, but has toured and knows what it means to play loud music then get old. The night ended with K putting on 20 from Colera and Liza and her bf indulging us for about 1/2 the song. Nevertheless, I teared up as I thought about how it was the last song I ever played live. So, I'll try to avoid the semi-turgid prose and give you a few snapshots:
I honestly don't remember this show. We played so many at Camp Nowhere and eventually they were all packed to the rafters and some sort of nuts. It was so hot and close, these were the types of shows that got me into this. Maybe we influenced somebody there like Botch did at the Velvet Elvis did for me. It was what I wanted shows to be like. This pic kinda sums up the goofy, crazy energy that was at every show.
I want to say the funny thing about this pic is...but really there's so much. I'm drunk on a balcony in an apartment in the center of Paris in between the Iranian and Chinese embassies explaining to Rye where the bruise and knot on my head came from (basement show in the Latin Quarter where, packed to the rafters, Nate's drumset keeps moving and I held it in place as people spilled over me the entire set. At one point Jon cracked me in the skull with his head stock.) That same night in that same spot Ryan broke down crying because he was so happy. He couldn't believe that he was on tour and had just played an amazing show in Paris. All of these cute French girls crowded around to comfort him because they couldn't understand why he was crying...
Our last tour was rough. We did mas o menos 5 weeks with Elphaba around the country. As bad as it was (it's the only tour that does not shine in the flattering glow of memory), there were still great moments. We played an awesome show in Detroit, but really we played the same whether it was 10 kids freaking out or ninety. This pic kinda sums that up for me. It was a long day and not a lot of people, but I remember it because it seemed so quintessential...
I've talked about this show a lot this weekend. I didn't want to play it as I've always stubbornly resisted bar shows. I gave in to Ryan and Casey and I'm glad I did. It was the Akimbo record release show and one of our last. It was everything that I wanted out of shows. The place was packed, everyone had fun, and frankly, it reminded me of Europe.
I sit here now with a glass of bourbon reminiscing bittersweetly about it all. About how much has changed. How I work differently now. How my friends are half a world away or they work for me. About how I balance a checkbook and plan vacations. About how I worry about the future, my health, and my relationship. The Assailant was the apex of my youth where I didn't give a shit; I would quit any job or leave anything to play music, tour, to do it. Now, I work 60 hours a week running a business. Now I try to save money not to tour, but for the simple fact that I feel like I ought to have money in the bank. I don't write, I don't make music. All of my creative energy pours into the business and its management. My mental energy is drained by managing talented but willful personalities. I bring the same monomania to business that I brought to music, but with much different results. Ultimately, I am constantly exhausted and unsatisfied.
Monday, June 29, 2009
In this bed we cut the sod, added a bit of organic top soil, then put the corn, sweet peas, artichoke, and greens in the ground. A bit later I moved over here volunteer potatoes and squash.
Finally, over behind the beds where the soil appears to be the worst, we have planted more volunteer squash and potatoes, strawberries, and a blueberry bush.
So, we have soil of varying degrees of apparent health in each spot. It will be interesting to see how each group does. Philosophically, I think that getting the plants in the ground is the most difficult part. After that, it simply requires watering, occasionally weeding (although I keep this to a minimum as well), then enjoying the fruits and vegetables. Of course, everything could die, at which point I will been proven wrong about the amount of work required...
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
For those of you who haven't seen it. And for those that forget, here's the younger Phoenix brother doing his best Andy Kaufman:
Here's the thing about Phoenix, I think he's staging this whole thing. I think he's going to meltdown his career, grab a bun ch of headlines as a lunatic, then whatever. My only problem is that I read a while ago that he's having a friend film this entire thing for a documentary(?). Welcome to the desert of the real, my friends.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The quick and dirty on the background is that I worked for Laura at The Monsoon Room for a long time. I ended up managing, which is when I started to become the face of the place. Almost a year in, Laura made it mandatory that I go to a group therapy session with her. It was everything that I hate about crystal-sucking, dream-catching nonsense. I processed for a day, then wrote a resignation letter where I stepped down as manager, but I stayed on as lead bartender. Things continued to be weird until Laura hired the wife of the man who assaulted K. I asked her not to only because I didn't want him around the bar. She refused stating that it was business. I quit that night.
While I managed I worked mas o menos 60 hours a week. Part of the reason that I did this was that Laura covered for me while I went on three (four?) tours, two of them as long as six weeks. The other reason was that I felt I was gaining valuable knowledge, that if I wanted to be in this business, then this was an opportunity to learn what succeeds and what fails. I did it, I learned a lot, and when it was no longer cost effective, I walked away.
I should describe my time there to put this in context. The quick and dirty is that I made more money then I ever have. I was tipped in drugs and girls offered to blow me in the bathroom. I know it sounds melodramatic, but I felt like a rock star. It was ridiculous, but I got caught up in it. I drank for virtually free, I made a lot of money, and people treated me, well, let's say strangely because I was the bartender.
After I left I was angry with Laura for what I perceived to be her throwing me under the bus. I felt like she wanted me out, but she was too much of a coward. Looking back on it, that was probably the case. The woman she hired that led to me leaving quickly washed out like most of her hires. Maybe she wanted me out because I was becoming identified too much with her business (she didn't bartend at all), or maybe because she didn't like me (I think she tried, but we never really clicked - moreover, I think that we never actually liked each other), or maybe it was ultimately a business decision and nothing more. What matters is that I was gone and I wanted to see her fail. I kept an eye on her business, I watched what she did and how business increased and decreased until a year later I was working elsewhere and thinking about getting out entirely (grad school, teaching, farming, et al) when I received a phone call from a friend asking me if I would run the place if she lost it. Then another person asked me. Then another. Here's how it happened (I know I shouldn't air other's laundry, but I feel that this ties into my story as well, so here we go...):
Laura replaced me with a nice guy who had never before worked in the industry (see and beverage, hospitality). If I recall correctly, he was driving a forklift at the time. He does a good job all things considered, but the place begins to spiral out of control. For most of this time (and when I was running the show), Laura refused to bartend, to work in her own bar, despite the fact that labor was killing us. Eventually she did go back to work, but the damage done. It all came to a head when the guy who replaced me was caught serving minors. The LCB pulled the bar's records, found them to be not in order, and promptly shut it down. While this will sound like merely a clerical oversight, it is indicative of a systemic problem with how that business was run. Laura broke ties with her original business partner three or four months after opening. She then changed the name of the LLC that owned the bar. A year or so later she went fishing for another investor (her original business partner financed the entire bar), which is where my friend came in. I drank the Kool-Aid and now he's out roughly 40,000. In the process of all of these wheelings and dealings, she never transferred the liquor license over to the new LLC. We had stayed of the LCB's radar up until that point, and I honestly think it would've been a clerical/admin thing had they not been caught serving minors. It didn't matter in the end, they shut her down. Without a source of income, she eventually (I think she might always have been...) was behind in rent. It so turns out that her landlord(s) are my current boss(es). They asked me if they kicked her out if I would go in and make a craft cocktail bar. I agreed and they gave her a pay or vacate; she didn't pay and signed over the entire bar for back rent. Now, maybe my current boss(es) would've done it anyway, but I suspect that knowing they had someone to turn around the space fast influenced their finally getting tough with her.
Alors, here I am. The point of this really, really long preamble is that I am going to document the experience of opening a bar. I have the skeleton in place and she walked away from virtually everything, so I don't need to buy a lot of bar tools. What I have to do is some renovating so it doesn't look like the same space and I need to write a menu, hire a staff, and make it run. This is what I'm going to document here.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Go here. That's Natasha from the Volcano for whomever is counting.
I promise that I have more interesting things coming than this. I think this satisfies a certain something for those involved in the Tacoma social scene. You know who you are. Eat it up.