Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
As you can see from exhibit A, the floor has been trashed from several parties, additional work, and a squirrel named "Sparky." I got down on my hands and knees and used my Lancaster Services Dalmatian technique and hand wiped the floor clean, then shined it with Liquid Gold, prepped it with Mineral Spirits before putting down a coat of Polyurethane. As you can see from Exhibit B, the finished floor looks amazing with hues of deep red and chocolate. Stay tuned to Waystationbk.com for a full spread of the finished bar hopefully by the end of next week.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Behold the glorious logo for the Way Station, Brooklyn's first Steampunk bar and performance venue. The logo was created for me by the incomparable Elizabeth Daggar/Electrofork.
We had a very successful secret opening last saturday and you can see some of those photos at Way Station's facebook page. I'll post some here soon. Stay tuned, we're going to have an Octoberfest on October 10th featuring Balkan Brass Bands, Bratwurst, and Beer!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I looked at all 600 planks during the Big Sort and when I came accross this one, I fell in love. Its tough to tell but there's a beautiful starbusrt emenating from the knot and i can't wait to see how it shines once i stain it. I'll be sure to give this board a place of honor in my bar so keep an eye out for it, because its got its eye on you. Filthy Board. You're Mine. Stop Looking At Her!
We're getting close. Bill finished the risers for the Banquettes and the Platform. I began work on the Bar. By the end of next week, we'll have all major construction done and be in the design, painting and trick-out phase. Woot! There's Roger working on cleaning the brick wall. God bless his soul. He's also a budding mixologist and I can't wait to taste the beverages he's been working on. All we need now is a sink, ice maker, beer cooler, taps, bar stools, inventory, walk in cooler, some patrons and we're open for business. Oh yeah, and a liquour license. Damn. Over a month into the application process and it still hasn't been assigned yet. Eee gad.
Remember, there's still time to become a micro investor in the bar. Along with your investment of 5k or 10k comes "Bragging Rights" that you own a bar. Your first beer is always on the house, and you get a lucrative 5% interest return on your investment or 1% of net profit (whichever is greater) over the next five years. Supplies are unlimited. Order Now!
Well, actually, it was delivered in the afternoon. They were supposed to call and give me a 1 hour heads up that they were coming so I would have time to call in the troops, but no, so It was up to me, Bill and Lulu to unload all 1700 lbs of lumber. Yeah, this is the after picture. The before was lumber EVERYWHERE. The fine folk at Carlisle who I bought the flooring from sent a great assortment of lengths and widths which then I had to organize once we unloaded it. So i think i single handedly lifted at least 3400 lbs. I am the Hulk. Hulk Likes Lumber. Hulk Not Smash. Actually the boards are so smooth and creamy I wanted to take a nap on one. Now I have to let them acclimate to the NYC climate, but next week... Instalation! stay tuned for Floor Saga!
By the way, Carlisle has amazing customer service. And after I ordered they sent me a package that was like "what to expect when you are expecting a new floor." Hand written note and all! Delirious after the load-in i remember saying to Bill: "Dear Diary, today I got my wood. I think that means I'm a man now."
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wow, look at that, my very own interrogation room! Waterboarding is out. Making a person drink three gallons of water and then sit in a room next to a working bathroom is IN! here's a picture of the working bathroom. Aww, its shy. Its trying to hide behind the door. Well, once I install the doornobs it will be able to lock the door and noone can bother it. Speaking of instalation, here's the sink i put in. 2 down, one to go. I might not have a bar to serve people from, but at least they can go to the bathroom. Earlier this week Bill had the best line after doing some sheet rocking on the bathroom (also known as "rocking). "I've got good news and I got bad news. The Good news is you've finally got a fully private bathroom. The bad news is it is not the one with a working toilet."
So BARK opened up on Bergen between 5th ave and flatbush in Park slope. The first day they opened I had to get their chocolate shake. Now, 6 bucks seems like a lot for a shake, but it was amazing. if you are in the mood for one, its definetely worth the splurge. On Wednesday, I tried their NYC dog with onions and mustard. Man was it good. they grill the outside of the bun, the dog snapped when you bit into it and the onions were a great compliment. Today, I tried the Kraut dog pictured here. No, that is not a penis. The saurkraut was perfect. not to sour, just enough crunch and not overwhelming. Right now tho the NYC dog is my favorite but I have more to eat. I will update you as I continue to consume the fantastic menu at Bark. and, if you were wondering about the name as I did. just think Dog.
So after ripping out the walk in cooler and exploring the floor below, Bill discovered that it was rotted through and some scary freaky albino like worms were wriggling through it, feeding on the festering floorboard. well, that was enough for me to jump into action with my sawzall and start cutting out the infected rot like a surgeon going to town on a gangrenous leg. I met with many obstacles along the way, including the stubborn kickplate. While trying to wrench it free with a crowbar it came loose unexpectedly and i went flying above the void, but thanks to my cat like reflexes i landed on those two beams in the center next to the wall. This wasn't the last time the bar tried to take my life. Today while cutting the new floor to fit the space, i fell through a gap into its open maw. But I have succeeded. I gave birth to a floor today, and I named it... Floory.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Bill and I keep coming across projects that we dub "White Whales." Here's the old walk in cooler that I had to demolish and it took about 2 weeks start to finish. fortunately the compressor and vent were salvageable and we'll install a new cooler in the basement. I am now a master of the sawzall!
I love this shovel. We found it in the basement during the cleanup and it has proved to be the most useful tool in the shop. Brooms break, dustpans crack, but this champion keeps on scooping. Thank you shovel. I love you.
This is my shovel. There are many like it but this one is mine. My shovel is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my shovel is useless. Without my shovel I am useless.
This is all that remains of the kitchen grill hood. Its the ductwork for the exhaust. I stood atop a rickety ladder and using my new favorite tool, the reciprocating saw, cut thru the mother to set it free. It vibrated so hard, was so loud, and i was so scared with the process because the yellow rope holding it up so it wouldn't fall when i cut thru it, was right at neck level with me. When i finally cut thru it and got off the ladder i couldn't stop shaking for the next 5 minutes. But its done, and the dude who took out the grill hood for me is also a junk metal collector so he'll be back to take this behemoth out of the shop this weekend. As Bill puts it, use every part of the buffalo. mmmm, buffalo.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
So after reading about German engineering getting the banquettes to my bar I thought you might like to see a picture of one. I left my bag in the picture so you have a frame of reference as to how frickin huge they are. What i forgot to mention about the day of the great banquette move was that they are soooooo big that they did not fit through the door. We had to take out the front windows not only at my bar but at Barette to move them.
Behold the Grill Hood. Yes, the Way Station was once upon a time a Jamaican Restaurant and they left behind this giant 10 foot long grease filled grill hood for me to get rid of. Currently the banquettes are underneath it and in an attempt to not kill my customers when the fire suppression system accidently goes off i am trying to give it away for free on craigslist (you remove it, its all yours). So if you know anyone who would like a grill hood for their apartment, back yard or office, have them get in touch. Makes a great wedding gift!!!
Friday, July 10, 2009
So last Thursday was the big move. I bought the banquettes and benches from Barette on Vanderbilt and organized a team of ten to help move the furniture the 4 blocks to Way Station on Washington. Sadly, the banquettes were too big to fit in the van I hired. The solution, strap them to the roof of a VW Jetta that belonged to the owner of Barette. Imagine a Jetta with another Jetta strapped to its roof. That's basically what it looked like and suprisingly we were able to move all four banquettes without a hitch.
Behold the master plan for Way Station! Katie and Twain, both with architectural backgrounds were kind enough to put this together based on my chicken scratch design in exchange for a bottle of single malt whiskey.
I like the way they work. Let me break this down for you. To the left is the bar side. It is divided by a wall from the venue side where i have all of the beautiful furniture from Barette. The stage is that 1/4 circle near the top. Now the challenge is to see how close i can get the raw space as it is now to match this plan.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
See that? That's the bar side of Way Station looking out towards the street, but you can't see the street because i cleverly taped newspaper to the window to keep the prying eyes out. (Creepy prying eyes). Now, see that there wall on the right? Yeah, Bill and TL tore it down for me. I felt like Regan talking to Gorbachev. Except behind this wall was just another wall. But a much better looking one.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Bill and I were cleaning out the basement when we discovered, among other things, a box full of Sporks and several garbage cans full of sand. Sand? Since the sand was too heavy to move we decided to shovel it out into smaller buckets. I happened to find a box of smaller buckets that once upon a time contained Jerk Sauce. I made the tactical error of actually opening one. What was released was a horrendous thing, unimaginable to the senses. If the bombing of Hiroshima could be combined with the holocaust and turned into a smell, thats what it smelled like. I reeled and gagged uncontrollably for about 5 minutes from the hellish odor. That was not a good day.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Its been 3 months since I first saw the space on Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights where I decided to open my bar and it took that long to negotiate the lease, mostly because the landlord's lawyer can't copyedit his versions of the lease, and liked to take 5 days to get back to any response my lawyer had. Anywho, the lease is finally signed and I'm in the space, getting ready for the buildout.
When I first drew open the front gate on Friday, it made a horrible creaking noise. The space is kinda crumbling, falling apart, is full of junk and will take a lot of work. In my head, I heard the voice of Han Solo talking to Luke Skywalker when he first laid eyes on the Millenium Falcon: "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid." I think once Bill and I have the space up and running we can use this bar to defeat the empire or at lease serve beer.
Stay tuned for more Adventures in Opening a Bar!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The following is the introduction to my latest work about the infamous pirate, Anne Bonny entitled Memoir of a Pirate Queen
I first became fascinated with pirates as a six-year-old while living in all places, the land locked and neutral nation of Switzerland. The whole family moved there from the states when my father was transferred on a three year business assignment with Union Carbide. We lived in Geneva (the French speaking part of Switzerland) where our house overlooked Lac Laman and the city’s inescapable icon, the Jet D’eau. My days were spent going to Ecolint, the International School where English was the predominating language so as far as speaking or understanding French was concerned I was completely lost.
Television was one of my main escapes in this foreign world and I would sit up at night with my dad watching the old movies that played on the few available channels. My favorites were the Pirate movies like Captain Blood with Errol Flynn, The Crimson Pirate with Burt Lancaster and the one I could mostly identify with: Treasure Island. They were dubbed in French and although I didn’t understand a word they said, the action and adventure got me hooked.
When we returned to the states I never lost the opportunity to see a pirate movie and finally got to re-watch all my old favorites, this time in English. For Halloween I dressed up as Long John Silver, or as Peter Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook. But when I entered high school I quickly forgot about pirates and became more interested in girls, and music, and more girls.
After college I started my career in publishing and wrote on the side, publishing collections of short stories and selling a script to the infamous Roger Corman. I was wondering about what to write next when my interest in pirates was rekindled first with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies starring Johnny Depp, then with the more recent attacks by the Somali Pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The latter were different kind of Pirates using ak-47s instead of cutlass and pistol, high jacking oil tankers, military supply ships and the like and holding them or their crew for ransom. They are not my kind of pirates, but pirates just the same and it was enough to make me want to know about the pirates I grew up with.
I read the histories like Captain Johnson’s A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, David Cordingly’s many books including Under the Black Flag, Colin Woodward’s The Republic of Pirates, and discovered that pirates were the first democracy of the modern world and it didn’t take me long to realize there was a far distance between real pirates and the ones of the cinema. I also kept coming across a very intriguing character in the pirate lexicon: Anne Bonny.
To acquire additional background material on my new project, I decided on making a trip to Nassau in the Bahamas, the home base and stomping grounds of the 18th century pirates cruising the Caribbean. Prior to leaving I called my father, now retired in Boca Raton, Florida, and told him about my plans. The following week he called back with news that his neighbor Lars maintained a home in Nassau and one of Lars’ good friends, Orjan, was a pirate buff and co-founder of the Pirate Museum there. Lars agreed to arrange a meeting with Orjan once I finalized my itinerary. I couldn’t believe my luck.
At the start of November 2008, I was off to Nassau for a week with my plucky research assistant and photographer, Kim (who as it happens is possibly related to one of the pirates that served with Captain Jack Rackham). We spent the first few days getting a feel for Nassau by exploring the back streets, the old homes, taverns, forts and the docks, swimming in the turquoise water and drinking copious amounts of rum. On Wednesday of that week Lars and his lovely wife Karen picked us up at our hotel for our meeting with Orjan who lives on the outskirts of town in a private community overlooking a tranquil bay.
I came to discover Orjan is a real estate developer and his father was the caretaker of Hog Island (now Paradise Island, home of Atlantis). Orjan’s house stood at the end of a narrow palm tree lined driveway and rose three stories tall, clad in a marble that betrayed its coral ancestry. We entered and found Orjan, barefoot and jovial asking Lars if Kim and I were “the pirate kids he had talked about” and invited us in to sit while his servants brought us Rum Dums and lemon cookies. He told me what Nassau was like back in the 18th century, showed me some of the earliest water colors of the island, and let me handle an authentic pirate cutlass. An artist friend of his had done a triptic of Nassau’s most notorious pirates including Calico Jack, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. There she was again. It couldn’t be a coincidence, could it? I told Orjan I was thinking about making Anne Bonny the main character of my project and he gave me a wink and said “then there’s something I should show you.”
It turned out the Pirate Museum was closed for repairs during the off-season but Orjan agreed to give us a personal tour the following afternoon once the workman had left for the day. As promised, he delivered on his word and we met Thursday. On first entering the museum we discovered a 1/3 scale model of a French Corvette, one of the many ships that pirates would commandeer and outfit for their missions. The tour took us through its decks with life sized dioramas of crew quarters, cargo holds and a carpenter acting as ships doctor amputating a leg. I could smell the wood, and felt the ropes these sailors would have pulled. A reel played the sounds of crewmen calling to each other and of waves lapping against the hull. The aural illusion was so complete I felt as if the ship were actually rocking back and forth. Did I mention I get seasick?
While many of the information plaques conveyed what I had already researched on my own, the immersive environment helped to drive it all home. When we finished the tour a big smile came on Orjan’s face as he led us down some stairs and took a set of keys out of his pocket. At the bottom of the steps was a massive door which he had a little trouble opening. “Now for the piéce de résistance.” Orjan exclaimed. He explained that many of the items in the room were used for a rotating exhibit in the main museum and that there were too many to display at once so they were kept safe here.
The door creaked open and Orjan turned on the overhead fluorescents to reveal a treasure trove worthy of any pirates den. There were sea chests against the walls, swords, axes, pistols and rifles hung on the walls, to my right was a dusty old three corner étagère. The top four shelves contained old coins and necklaces similar to what is on display at Max Fishers museum in Key West. Next to it was a glass covered display table which caught my attention for all it held was a raggedy covered book. It was about four by six inches encircled by a faded pink ribbon.
I asked Orjan about the book. He unlocked the case, took out the book, dusted it off and handed it to me. “Me hardy” he said in his best pirate voice, “this be the diary of the most infamous female pirate ever seen by the seven seas: Ann Boney. It be found nay five years ago in Port Royal, Jamaica when my team was renovating an 18th century tavern.
I sat down at a nearby table and opened the book. The pages were yellowed, dry and crumbling at their edges and it smelled of old leather and salt. The handwriting was faded but legible script. Orjan said the book was too precious and delicate for me to borrow or to photocopy, but he allowed me to visit over the next few days to read it and take copious notes.
What follows is the true story of Ann Boney cobbled together from her own words and historical documents.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Aside from the first and last, there are three quintessential cigarettes in a smoker’s life. I remember my first cigarette clearly. I was sixteen. It was an Yves St. Laurent designer menthol cigarette. My god, what was I thinking. I guess I was just a cheap bastard and, more importantly, because I found a coupon to get 3 for 1 in a copy of Playboy magazine featuring Joan Bennett that I bought in the next town over. Well, that and I knew I didn’t like the smell of regular cigarettes and menthol seemed more like candy… but Vicks Vapor rub was more like it. The fact that this brand no longer exists is a testament to how good they were.
So there I was, there I was, there I was… in the park, with my best friends Brian and Chris. We stood near the woods on the edge of the playing field, divvying up our packs and posing with the cigarettes to find the coolest look we could.
Snap, crackle, goes the lighter. The fuel ignites and burns. Snap, crackle goes the cigarette. The cherry red ash glows hot. Snap crackle goes the air. The blue-gray smoke wisps and whirls. Snap crackle goes my lungs as they expand and contract. Snap crackle goes my brain as the nicotine rushes and stress releases. Snap crackle goes the cigarette and all is well with the world… until I begin coughing, hacking, and wheezing, tossing the cigarette down, never to try again until I was twenty-one.
I was in college. I was having a bad day: the kind of bad day that makes you want to do something dangerous and stupid and self-destructive. Cutting was out, so I decided to buy a pack of clove cigarettes. I liked the way they smelled to me at The Cure and Smiths concerts I went to, and if I was going to smoke something, it sure damn well was going to be something I thought might taste good. So I bought my first pack of Djarum Specials, sometimes pronounced, “charms.”
I brought them back to my house in Willimantic where I lived while going to UCONN (go Huskys!) climbed out the window of my room up onto the pinnacle of the roof and sat on the chimney, and after unsuccessfully trying to light my cigarette seven times, the 8th match finally did the trick. I took a drag and relished in the spicy sweetness, got a head rush and almost fell off the roof. It was my first cigarette and they were already trying to kill me. This was just what I was looking for.
Now I am in New York City, the center of the universe and birth mother of vice that has abandoned its nasty habits for cleaner living. The smoking ban has taking its toll, while at the same time creating camaraderie among smokers stronger.
Friendships are forged over a bummed smoke, a light, being the only two outcasts at a wedding. Immediately there is a bond among the outcasts as they share their social shameful stigma and recall the greatest cigarettes of their life.
Sunday morning waking to the sound of heavy rain outside tapping against the window and thundering down the gutter. Make drowsy love to the bed for a while, wrapping the covers tight while hugging the pillows and writhing in the fresh sheets till ready to rise. Sliding out of bed, slipping into a bathrobe and shuffling into the kitchen. The ritual is automatic as many are after years of recital. Set a pot of water to boil, then pour and grind the proper amount of fresh beans. Clean out the French press and wash whatever is left in the sink from the night or days before. The rain is letting up. The water starts to boil. Fresh grounds avalanche into the French press followed by the boiling water. As the dark brew rises in the press, a creamy foam develops on top and the aroma arrests the senses for a moment.
Mug, spoon, sugar, half and half, plunge, pour. Take the mug of java to the living room. The clouds are parting, water drip drip drops from the leaves of the trees, a bird cries and the first rays of the days sunshine pour into the room. Take the cup to mouth, steam rising into the cool spring air and taste the sweetened bitter brew. Setting down the hot chalice, pick up a lighter, flint meets steel and sparks ignite the wick. Put flame to cigarette and inhale the first of the day. The smoke rises, making invisible eddies apparent and the gray serpentine patterns slowly diffuse throughout the room revealing all that has been hidden: the sunlight, the air currents, the day which has just begun.
The appetizer consists of smoked salmon, tuna tartar, and topped with crème fresh and caviar. The entrée: filet mignon slathered in herbed butter and the tender medium rare steak melts in the mouth just the same with a modicum of mastication. The lights dim, the night wares on. And for desert: molten chocolate cake with a 15 yr old tawny port. The fork’s first cut into the dense cake releases the molten chocolate decadence from its prison. Never has a port been more perfectly paired. Check. Tip. Step outside into the cool evening, rummage through jacket pockets for the tell tale cellophane wrapped box of smokes and smooth metal of the Zippo lighter. It’s a fresh pack. Spank it against the palm of your hand in a rhythmic manner almost hard enough to sting. Gently undress the lid. The palm is rosy. With an expert flick of the wrist a smoke jump out of the pack and is grabbed between lips and pulled out the rest of the way. In another deft movement run the Zippo head once across a jean clad thigh to open it, then back again to spark it. Pausing to smoke and reflect on the evening and enjoy the memory as the food, the night, and the company all come to great you again.
Swaying with an euphoria attributed to a combination of post coital bliss, too much whisky, and thighs weak from thrusting, head back to the bedroom. Find her, laying on the bed, hair fanned out across the pillow like the fingers of the Mississippi delta, eyes closed, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth, and a sheen of sweat reflecting the flickering candlelight. Set down the cigarettes, ashtray and lighter on the bedside table, light a cigarette and take a long drag. Hear the covers rustle behind you as she shifts and rises, wrapping her legs behind you and hugging from behind, breasts pressing against your back. Pick up another cigarette, light it and hand it back to her. Hear the crackle of tobacco turning to ash in your right ear as she takes her first drag and let your left hand brush against her smooth round calf. Not a word needs to be shared while relishing in intimacy.
These are quintessential cigarettes in a smoker’s life and all others are just an attempt to reclaim those perfect ephemeral moments that right after they’re experienced, go up in smoke that is born upon the wind and carried up to the heavens only to be remembered with a longing that borders on nostalgia. And here I am at 39. I told myself I’d quit when I turned 30, and was about to but then I got a beautiful cigarette case and a pack of smokes as a present. 40 sounds like a good time to quit, to have my last cigarette, and from that time forward remember they way they marked occasions only to never reclaim them again.