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Posts Tagged ‘bar’

Ghost Stories

October 20, 2016 | by

Seeking out spirits in one of New York’s spookiest bars.

Photo: Alex Strada.

Photo: Alex Strada.

You’d think it’d be relatively easy to pin down a ghost in this town, with all of its historic buildings and unsettled scores. Most of the haunts frequented by the city’s cognoscenti are said to have an apparition or two knocking around, if you believe in that sort of thing. There’s the shadowy figure that paces the shore of Rockaway Beach. A young girl’s screams are sometimes heard coming from within McCarren Pool. And from the stories told about the Brooklyn Bridge, you’d think its walkway would be incandescent with floating orbs and strange lights.

After hearing that a glamorous specter often manifests and smokes sullenly in a corner of the women’s restroom at the Astor Room in Queens, I drank far too much wine and drifted in and out of the bathroom stalls a few weekends ago, but to no avail. And returning home in the early hours that morning, I thought of the original owner of my apartment building, who hanged himself from the front-door frame in 1890. He, too, has yet to materialize.

So I stopped by the perennially spooky KGB Bar in the East Village after work one night last week to see if Dan Christian, the longtime bar manager, might act as my spirit guide. I’d always heard that the bar was very haunted. Read More »

Rubbish Collector; Barman

August 23, 2011 | by

Detail from Jean-François Millet, Peasant Spreading Manure, 1855, oil on canvas.

Most dust jackets list only literary accomplishments, but I’ve always been a fan of offbeat author bios. So I asked some of my favorite writers to describe their early jobs.

Sophie Cunningham: I was once a “Do the Right Thing” girl for the Environment Protection Authority. This meant that I roamed the beaches of Victoria for an entire summer in, I think, 1985, wearing a “Do the Right Thing” T-shirt, with a robot rubbish bin controlled by a puppeteer hiding behind trees. The robot would say, “Please put your rubbish in me,” or, for larks, “Fuck you.” I would smile and hand people a “Do the Right Thing” rubbish bag.

Michael Cunningham: I worked in bars for years. Most prominently, a gay bar in Laguna beach, which featured bartenders who all looked more or less like Michelangelo’s David and wore only slightly more by way of costumes. I, however, did not look anything like any sculpture I had ever seen.

I learned early on that the bar manager always hired one odd man out—specifically, a boy who was more clever than he was beautiful, who functioned as comic relief, who was, as I gathered, meant not only to entertain the patrons but to assure them that the wall of air between them and the men behind the bar was at least semipermeable; to be their animal familiar in a world of robust male camaraderie they were invited to observe but not ever to enter. My predecessor had been a sweet, Rubenesque boy they called Bubbles.

The bar sported a South Seas theme. Brown palm fronds strung with white Christmas lights curled down from the ceiling. Tiki heads scowled from the walls. The bar top was made of glass and, under it, bug-eyed Japanese goldfish swam in listless confusion over a bed of blue gravel. Every now and then one of the fish expired, which would not be good for business in any establishment but was especially unfortunate there, where reminders of mortality did not play well to the generally elderly crowd. If one of the fish went belly-up during a busy night, as they were mysteriously wont to do, we covered the corpse with a pile of napkins or a dish of peanuts, though throughout the night it was necessary to keep moving the napkins or peanuts, as unobtrusively as possible, because the deceased tended to float in unpredictable directions.

Chris Flynn is the books editor at The Big Issue and the fiction editor at Australian Book Review.