Posts Tagged ‘bars’
October 11, 2012 | by Alia Akkam
Liquor has never touched my Middle Eastern father’s lips. Or so he claims. In the late sixties, when he lived a spell in Munich, embarked on spontaneous sojourns to Italy, and dated a Finnish broad named Helvi I once saw in a faded wallet-size photo—activities that made him sound so much more alluring than the stern killjoy I remember—I like to think he nursed a few carefree beers just like any lonely expat. When he made his way to New York a few years later, renting a dingy studio on the upper reaches of Broadway, when he was still the man my mother fell for—an Arab version of Adrian Zmed with a rustling gold chain around his neck and swarthy looks that back then meant you were handsome, not a possible terrorist—he used to smoke cigarettes, my mother tells me. Perhaps he also took nips of whiskey from a flask.
But the only father I know, the real one, returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia when I was eight years old a sudden gung-ho Muslim. He was no longer the aggressive moderate who was content with me just saying Bissmilah at the start of each meal. Now, every moment he wasn’t holed up in a Hilton for work or stuffing fried eggplant into pita bread at the dinner table was spent hunched over a miniature Koran, recapturing the lost Islam of his youth, of his family, of the native Syria he hadn’t called home for more than two decades.
Freshly brewed mint iced tea. Distilled water from the Poland Springs gallon bottles that lined our laundry room. Dr. Pepper, when its effervescence became a salve for the wheezing that permeated my bronchitis-ridden childhood. These were the beverages welcome in our teetotaler home. Although my mother, a Catholic girl from Queens, didn’t have religion propelling her consumption habits, she harbored something worse: distaste for even innocent bubbles. “Champagne burns my ears,” I remember her whining—and she rarely invited company over for anything more than a cup of Earl Grey.
February 4, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
At which New York City bars can one sit, read, write … and drink? Yes, all at the same time. —Charlie
As you may have noticed, lower Manhattan has many more hospitable bars than hospitable cafés. This is especially true of my neighborhood, the East Village. The first novel I ever edited, I edited in the back room of Botanica, on Houston Street, where the Knitting Factory used to be. The music is loud enough that you don’t notice it, and the chairs are grouped to discourage conversation. My old favorite bars for reading, the Spring Street Lounge and the International Bar, have both undergone renovations and are hopelessly changed. Ever since the smoking ban, Holiday has reminded me depressingly of the National Cathedral: a Gothic church with a department-store smell. (A smoke-free bar still puzzles me, in my heart.) Also Stefan, famous for stirring the drinks with his finger, is dead. The Old Homestead, where my friend Jason had his nose broken with a cue stick, and where I read Dennis Cooper’s novels and David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and first read Frederick Seidel’s Going Fast, closed years ago. It was a strange bar, but very good for reading most of the time. Apart from the pool table, they had a small black-and-white TV, which sat on top of an old bureau and never had the sound on, a jukebox, and a cat who was sweet on everyone. The two most regular customers were a transvestite, who always sat alone and often fell asleep, and a middle-aged Czech dental assistant named Jan. Otherwise, the clientele was mainly Polish, mainly male, and mainly drunk. All ages were welcome, from the visibly preteen to the ancient. The Old Homestead was the first place in America I ever saw Żubrówka; the two gentle matrons who ran the place kept a contraband bottle under the bar. The Homestead was replaced by one of those “Irish pubs” with the wide-screen TVs. Lately I’ve been reading at Jimmy's 43, on Seventh Street, beside the electric heater.