Bar and restaurant regulars, please don’t break the rules.

The Regulars. To constitute, you have to frequent a bar so often that you become enveloped in the lives of the people in it. You have to know things about the staff, like their names and if they’re married. You have to have stories that start with sentences like, “remember that night when…” You can’t just be on a first date, you can’t be from out of town. Regulars don’t make reservations or ask where the bathrooms are. Most of the time, they don’t even order a drink. The bartender knows their drink, hell, it’s usually already being made when they see them coming in. They are staples of the building, like a bar stool that has a creaky and uneven leg, or some crappy piece of art that hangs from the walls.

Form the staff, we love you, you keep us going when times are slow. More reliable than the sun rising we will see you, and we enjoy seeing you. As long as you don’t break the rules.

These are a few of the rules that the regulars will often times over look.

First and foremost never use the fact that you know my name to your advantage. If I’m busy and you yell my name and say the girl behind you wants a drink, you have broken a rule that common decency says never to break. I get it, you’re trying to look cool to the chick, you’re a local, you know people, maybe she’ll let you take her home. What you’ve just done is not only attempt to do my job for me (I know who’s next) but you have also just announced my name to the entire bar. When all the drunks know your name, your life behind the bar is living hell.

Second, be comfortable, but never get too comfortable. You’re here every night so you feel like you’re at home. Always remember that no matter how often you frequent somewhere, you’re in public, you are a guest, not a resident. Don’t assume that your favorite stool will always be open, don’t assume that the bartender knows your order. If they do, great, just don’t expect it. Never say the words “I know the owners”. We know them to, they write us a paycheck every two weeks.

Third, don’t tell me to smile, or ask “why aren’t you happy today?” If I’m not in the exact same mood as I was the last time you saw me there could be 1,000 reasons as to why that is. If you say this to me it makes me feel less like a person and more like a clown that you come to see dance.

Forth, be nice to the new people, I know you aren’t used to them but this isn’t a kennel, you don’t need to piss all over the bar to mark your territory. They’re just people working a job, treat them with respect.

Fifth, if usually we have a great relationship but I just got hit by a rush of people and I’m pissed off at you for ordering something blended, muddled, or overly complicated…. come on!

Sixth, please don’t stare at me, that’s a weird one, but I’m a guy and I still have to say it. I can’t imagine what female bartenders have to go through.

I think that’s it, for now, might be more to come. Really, just use common sense. I don’t consider myself a religious man, but I think it’s in the Bible somewhere “treat others as you’d like to be treated.”

Or maybe that was from Bambi.

I don’t remember.

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Never tell the bartender “Surprise me.”

 

If you don’t know what you want to drink, please don’t tell me to “surprise you”. I don’t know what you like drinking, I’m not you. I know what I like and it’s probably not the same thing that you like because you’re an amateur drinker that doesn’t know what they like. More over if I happen to be in the rare mood to honor this ridiculous amateur hour request, you better not F*%&ing complain about what I make.

Whatever it is… you’re drinking it!

And paying for it!!

For the record not to be discriminating, this will most likely be a woman. If you’re a man and you have ever approached a bartender and said the two little words “surprise me,” you don’t deserve a penis, or the right to be out in public.

 

thank you.

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This actually works…

If you work in costumer service, put a mirror behind your desk, people are less likely to yell or act like assholes if they see what they look like when their flipping out.

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.21 Cent Tip!

It was that kinda night!

I don’t know what goes on in the minds of these people, I’d rather be stiffed:

BTW: They told me they loved the service.

What do ya think I should buy?!?!

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People in the military don’t know how to drink socially.

People in the military. OK. I have great respect and gratitude for what they have done for me; my civil liberties and my freedom. They put their lives on the line to keep us safe and free from combative overhaul. They are warriors, braver men than I. All that being said, people in the military unfortunately have no fucking clue how to drink alcohol socially. Of course, not all of them, but I have been bartending a long time and I can tell you that nine out of ten of this country’s finest, are trouble in bars.

There are a few reasons as to why this is. The first is their body types. They are healthy, with more muscle than fat. Muscle does not absorb alcohol well… fat does. They aren’t bar rats that have decayed their bodies into drinking engines. Also they aren’t used to drinking, so they don’t know how alcohol affects them. They are generally on leave, looking for women. All these factors mixed with the “Here To Do It!” military mind results in them getting too drunk, too quick. They always want shots, not drinks. They want to start strong but always finish weak. Oh, and one more thing: they’re fucking strong. Yeah, that too. They’re very strong and hard to cut off.

I would hope that the majority of us have never tasted puke on purpose. Save for a few freaks I would hope the only time that you’ve tasted puke was when it was your own, and you were either to drunk or sick to savor the flavor.

Behind the bar however, after this young militant light weight pukes onto the bar splashing bile into your face and mouth, you taste it. You can imagine how bad your own taste imagine being sober and tasting ….. I think I can stop there and let your imagination take over. Yes.

Sweet land of liberty.

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Door Guy.

Gary Passeri worked the door at a club I was at in Chicago, a sketchy guy with the owners ear. Over 7 feet tall, late 50’s, clad in a leather jacket and shitty silver jewelry. In his head he’s early Brando but in reality he’s about as smooth as 5 o’clock shadow.

He used to shoot pool with the owner, got the door job as a favor. We knew him as a rat, he’d try and befriend us but we knew that behind closed doors he was letting the owner know all the wrong doings of the staff.

The problem was he’d always fuck it up, he never worked in a bar, he didn’t know the difference between bar staffs rights and wrongs. I over heard him rattling on that the floor manager wasn’t putting ice in the urinals. He went on about it for an hour. If ice in the pisser is your biggest worry you don’t know what you’re doing.

Passeri was married three times, three women, all currently deceased.

His first wife jumped head first into the Chicago river late one night; after drinking two (yes two) handles of ten-high whiskey. If the blast of the water or the drowning didn’t kill her, alcohol poisoning would have done the job.

Wife number two crashed her car head on into an oak tree driving 90mph on a 35mph side street, she had also had been drinking.

Wife number three was wise enough to realize the toxic environment she was living in with him, and left. Two days after the divorce regrettably she got hit by a bus crossing the street. The rumor was that she was on the phone with her therapists, forgot to look both ways.

Passeri took the term “lady killer”, literally.

Eventually Passeri gets fired for using excessive force on a yuppie kid, owner didn’t think he was worth the law suit.

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What makes art, art?!

What’s makes an artist?

I think of myself as one, you probably do to.

Bartending in LA I worked with a guy who was a line cook. The guy that has to organize tickets effectively enough so that they are cooked correctly and sent out at the right time. He told me that there was a true art to this, chicken takes longer than beef, salads need to be sent out first, soup is easy. It’s his art. A few years ago in Chicago I met a street poet named Oba. He scripted nonsensical verses about astronauts onto paper and handed them out on the corner of North and Wells. He became such a local legend, that a college student, on scholarship, painted a mural of him under a major underpass.

He’s an artist?
I guess he is.

Art is the most difficult word to define. Marcel Duchamp played with this idea a bit in 1917, when he submitted for exhibition his piece of a porcelain urinal which was signed “R Mutt” and titled “Fountain”. Asking people, if just because it is in an art museum and presented as art, does it live up to the title.

I paint, I write, I make films. Am I an artist? I can’t answer that.

Is an artists merely a creator? Or a must your creation be validated by it fiscal worth? Is art defined in the dollar value that is placed on a piece?

Street art, vandalism, elaborate robberies, diner displays, photoshop, music, instagram, clothing, bartending…..is it all fucking art?

Help me figure it out.

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Grandma Jane

Her name is Jane, the locals know her as Grandma Jane. She’s in her 50’s but looks like she’s 30. She has a son and a daughter both grown with kids. For an older woman she’s up on technology. Carrying around all the latest gadgets to show off pictures of her grand kids. Her ipad scrolls through instagram photos of her family making dinner together and dancing on the beach. She’s very proud of them.

The first time Jane came into the bar she wanted a glass of wine and dinner after a late night jog. She told me that she writes for a local TV show.

There’s a moderate amount of maintenance required with her. She’s specific in the way she orders but not obsessive on how it comes out. She’s not the type to send back food or complain about service.

Around the third time she came in, she ordered the most expensive meal on the menu. After finishing half she asked for a togo box and the check. I dropped them both and walked off to tend to some other customers. When I went back to close her out I found an empty bar stool and exact cash for her meal.
No tip? That’s not like Grandma Jane, before she has tipped more than customary.
On her receipt I find a note, “Thanks honey”, “Your tip is in the box”.

Togo box tip? Awesome, tipping me in half eaten food? It was the filet but fuck this.

But I don’t find a half eaten steak inside the box. I find a golf ball sized nugget of high quality marijuana.

Naturally I go home and smoke it, naturally my friends come over and smoke it.
It’s good. Really good. Everyone wants to know where I bought it, but I didn’t buy it, it came from Jane.

She let a few weeks go by until she showed up again. The next time I see her she brings in eatables. Carmel candies that taste like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory. They melt in your mouth give your head a hospital high.

As time goes by Grandma Jane becomes a type of local legend. She’s the real life Mary Louise Parker from that show “Weeds”. The word gets out on her escapades in the growing and manipulating of cannabis. She starts to mingle with the regulars, handing off her “baked” goods. She brings in cupcakes, suckers, gluten free brownies, she infuses vodka with weed, she makes butter, she even brings me in a bowl of gourmet mac and cheese. Everything she makes tastes like it came out of Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen with the extra ingredient of the purest bud in town. I realize that her telling me that she was a writer for TV was a farce, she’s is a drug dealer, no denying it.

Grandma Jane another one of my bar patrons, mother, grandmother, arbiter of culinary excellence….. drug dealer.

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Flaming Dr. Pepper

I’ve never been keen on flare behind the bar. If a bartender takes 2 seconds longer getting the drink from their hand into my stomach as they prance around with bottles, I’m on to the next place.

Same goes with fancy shots or anything really that disrupts my relationship with the spirit.

That being said, this bartender is kind-a sort-a a badass:

 

 

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L.A.C.M.A. Exhibit, Steve Wolfe on Paper

Considering my nightlife of debotury, I have a requirement for my day life to resemble something close to a healthy persons verve. Be it riding my bike to the gym to work out with all the sexy Jennifer Aniston look-a-like mommies marching on their treadmills, to biking to the WII Spa on Wilshire and detoxing with all my Asian friends. My nightlife is filled with relaxing inebriation; my day life must remain full of culture and multi-vitamins. So yesterday I’m biking around town and a revelation pops into my head “you haven’t seen art in a while.”

I am an art guy. I always have been. There is nothing more rewarding to me than standing under a piece of indescribable beauty and knowing that this canvas was once touched by its creator. Los Angles is a great place to live if you fancy yourself an art person. You have The Getty, MOCA, Craft and Folk Art Museum, The Getty Villa, and of course my personal favorite The LACMA.

The LACMA is an amazing place to go and relax. So many ideas I have had were sparked sitting on benches at museums. Currently running at The LACMA is the awe inspiring first solo museum exhibition of artist Steve Wolfe.

Wolfe has formed objects and drawings of brilliant technique and visual amazement. The exhibit is a compilation of ragged books and scratched vinyl records recreated carefully and meticulously to show the mark of usage from their owners. The exhibit (I believe) is a study to demonstrate the beauty of error, the exquisiteness of flaw. The difference between listening to my ipod and putting on a record is that a record may skip. A record may scratch and sound distorted, but me, being the owner of the record, remembers how that scratch came to be. I remember where I was and whom I was with when we would put on the Elvis Costello’s Spike album and waited for track two to skip. “Wait for it…wait for it…. there it is!” It’s a personal sound that I am hearing now.

Steve Wolfe’s creations will trick you by their amazing perfection. To review art I believe it is important to listen to common folk around you. Listen to the everyday Joe who most likely would never have it in them to create something of this mystique. I find the most interesting thing about Wolfe’s exhibit is the mannerisms it brings out it in viewers. The thrusting heads bobbing as close as possible to examine the oddity of this precision. “It must be real!”

They are pieces that must be closely examined. One ogre of a man is on his cell phone, he wears an Ed Hardy tank top and matching hat. His hat cocked to the left of his chrome dome head as if to say, “Yeah bro! I’m here! How cool is that!!”. He talks as if his brain was removed, put in a toaster oven for 30 minutes, set to high, then returned. “Man this art is bogus!” he vomits out, “What…what…. like whatever! Alls he did’s was frame some records and books and crap’s….I can do that….come here baby,” he addresses his tatted hood rat gal “lets go get some hotdogs to eats” Why they are at the museum is beyond me, maybe some brochure told them to check it out.

If my Ed Hardy friend had stopped to read the fine print he would have understood that though the records look perfectly authentic in fact they are art pieces created by Wolfe. Not a framed record, rather, oil, enamel, lithography and modeling paste on a board. I get a sense of jealousy filling my system, no matter how hard I studied, I will never have what it takes to create a piece of art so outstanding. On a side note, I should add, I do believe Wolfe has a debt to pay to the pop art movement; his works are obviously inspired by them.

I paint as well, actually I don’t know if you can call it painting. It’s more of a drunken way of focusing on something so I don’t feel pathetic.

“Yes I’m loaded” I think, “but at least I am up to something!”

Some people dig my paintings but the majority of people feel sorry for me after viewing them. The pieces are frustrated oil and acrylics on canvas, mostly perverted and struggling to be painted. Wolfe on the other hand, this machine of artwork, churns out pieces of wonder, so amazingly perfect that you need to use a magnifying glass to find a flaw. Holy hell! He is so much more talented a person than me! (Here comes the self-pity).

I digress, the beauty I feel, is when you do take that magnifying glass and try to figure this oddity out, simple flaw is what you find. A perfect recreation of a dog-eared book and on closer inspection you notice the tiniest and most insignificant finger print. Did Wolfe accidentally pick his piece up before the paint dried? Did he do this on purpose as to explore mistake? Blemish seems to be the topic at hand in the exhibit, books once new, now torn by their owners. Did Wolfe not put these imperfections in at all? Perhaps some sloppy gallery attendant didn’t wash his hands after eating his KFC double down. Who knows, but I love the thought it brings out in me.

The long and short:

Steve Wolfe, at first the perfection of your work had me fooled, me like my Ed Hardy friend thought you were just another lazy artist making a tiresome statement. However, me, unlike my Ed Hardy fan, did some research and discovered the truth behind your pieces. Well-played sir! Well-played indeed.

There is no way I can view this exhibit and rate it less than a perfect 10.

Don’t forget, the LACMA is free to enter to LA locals with valid ID after 5pm. Spend some time there, you never know what you will conjure up when you leave.

 

 

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