Mon, Sep 19: Starry Dynaco

– Today I woke up next to Joe, or rather slightly above him. Joe had spent the night after a  jag in Philly, enterprising to take the MegaBus into Manhattan not just the day after a bomb went off, but on a crash course with the bomb site itself, such that his bus was delayed and the train 23rd St stations were closed and he didn’t get into Crown Heights until late afternoon on Sunday. We’d had a fun and classic Crown Heights night at Glady’s and the Inn and Franklin Park, and then we came back and inflated the air mattress, affectionately known to me as Dan’s Air Mattress and something of an honor to sleep on, again to me.

My allergies have been inflamed all week and I woke up several times to cough out mucus from my sore throat into the kitchen sink, stepping onto the air mattress in my cramped room twice on accident, but in the morning Joe said he’d slept fine and didn’t even mind that I’d forgotten to give him a blanket, only a bedsheet.

We walked outside and it was raining. I said Joe, pop into the bodega and get a cheapo umbrella, but he said it wasn’t coming down too hard and he’d be fine. He went off down Franklin to find a cafe but I heard later that he didn’t even make it to Breuklyn, it had started raining so hard, that he ducked into the Bagel Pub and stayed there until lunch.

With my lungs so full of mucus lately the train ride is a real close call just about every morning, me trying to my damnedest not to spit up phlegm all over my fellow straphangers like an infant with a terrible and fatal disease. I always make it, but it means swallowing down the poison into my stomach, which gives me an ache. Hard living these days. I’m also breaking out.

Work was tolerable. I ate a soup for lunch, and later, an egg. I rolled it in salt and pepper and ate it out of a small paper bowl.

At six I started walking down 5th Avenue, through Washington Square Park, and into SoHo to try on some boots at this pop-up shop Red Wing is doing. I had a bit of an existential fraughtness thinking about whether I ought to buy $300 boots. Luckily Dan was there and we talked it over.

We took the C back into Brooklyn and walked to Speedy Romeo, which is the third best pizza I’ve had in New York after Roberta’s and Paulie Gee’s. They put a jar of pickled hot bell peppers on the table that make an excellent hot sauce alternative. I had half a pie left and they threw some tinfoil around it so that it looked like a half moon and gave it back to me.

Then we went to Dynaco, which is what made me want to write this blog post, because I didn’t want to forget the name of it. It’s a terrific Bed-Stuy bar that makes you feel like you’re someplace far away, like the Great North Woods, maybe, except its not one of those bars with the stuffed geese pretending to fly in formation or the bear on its haunches with a paw raised. It’s just dark and quiet with an enormous wooden bar that looks like petrified wood and good music uninterrupted by low voices. Dan helped me come up with birthday party ideas. I think I have a good one.

I came home and ironed some shirts and put the Bears game on and remembered why I stopped watching football.




Sun, Aug 28: Here’s to a Year

– Unless I get hit by a cab or decapitated by a jackhammered shard of concrete, I will have survived one year in New York on this coming Wednesday. It’s not much by local standards, but it feels big to me. I’ve been re-reading some of my old blog posts, and I forget how nervous I was about going through with it. I had no apartment, little money, and two suitcases when I showed up at Rachel’s place in Greenpoint. It feels like so long ago!

I haven’t exactly been diligent about updating this blog, but it felt right to come back to it now, a year removed from its impetus.

Lots has changed since I last sought judgment. The plot points connect like this:
– I moved to Crown Heights in south Brooklyn
– Attended a wedding in Williamsburg
– Broke up with my girlfriend
– Spent 10 days in Chicago
– Quit my job to go to a Flatiron startup
– Spent a long weekend in Portland
– Took two trains to Old Saybrook, Connecticut to attend another wedding
– Hung out with my sister for a weekend, saw Fun Home (my mom was supposed to come too but her flight was canceled)
– Attended a wedding in Chicago
– Flew back to New York with Kansan Dan, who slept on a twin air mattress in my room for the next four nights

The few summer weekends I’ve spent alone in New York have been relatively uneventful: dates, dancing, New York Dan, beach days, house parties, new bars, new restaurants, ice cream, bike rides, two trips to IKEA. Over drinking, over smoking, anything to make the heat more bearable. Summer in the city has been as hot as advertised. Descending into the subway is literal violence. Trapped heat sucker punches with force enough to make my eyes water. You feel instantly the beads of sweat materialize on your back, like white blood cells ready to attack a viral threat they cannot possibly defeat. But enough about that.

Over the next three weeks, I will:
– See Hamilton
– Attend the U.S. Open
– Hang out with Alex and Jo from Toronto
– Spend a weekend at a beach house in Connecticut
– Attend a full moon party
– Go back to IKEA one more fucking time

I’ve started seeing someone new. It’s early enough that it could still slip away, but she’s pretty great and we’ve been having lots of fun together. She, Jamie, has a stellar rent-controlled one-bedroom in the East Village, which is where we spend most of our time together. On our first date I moved an AC unit from one window to another, which opened up the fire escape. So now we can sit out there on the rusted iron and take in the city from five floors up, or watch the heat lightning strike at night, or observe the call to prayer at the mosque across the street, during which time fifty taxi cabs pull over on 11th Street, unfurl rugs out of the driver’s side door, and pray on the pavement. Then we’ll climb back inside and Jamie will roll us a joint and make an awesome dinner. My job is to pick out the records. It’s hard work but I’ve warmed to the task.

I’m happy I moved here. New York is not always the easiest place in the world to live—my new job is stressful and time-consuming; I’m always tired and too hot or too cold; I still have lingering tendinitis in my foot that prevents me from running; I enjoy too many vices and have no real plans to terminate my enjoyment of them; people can be cold and calculating and I am becoming more like those people in weird and concerning ways—but it’s important in one’s life, I think, to eventually pick a path and set down it in earnest. I’ve felt directionless for the vast majority of my time on earth. It’s been good for me to set a course, even if it’s still vaguely charted. And I still have moments every day where I think to myself, New York is truly, spectacularly amazing.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to post again with more regularity. I’ve stopped writing fiction on account of this new job and a potent combo of summer busyness and listlessness. But I feel the disharmony that announces itself whenever I’ve gone too long trying to make something creative. So I’m hoping writing here can be a step-ladder back to story writing again. At the least, I’ll definitely have more surface-level existentialism to whinge about in November, when I turn 30.

Wed, Apr 27: On the Move

Judges, it’s been more than a month since my last confession. I’ve sinned in the interim, but none of the really bad ones. Mostly it’s rained off and on. When it doesn’t rain, we get hot days tempered by cool nights. The drop in temperature comes quick enough that you can feel it as it’s happening, like being lowered into a well. Now I bring a jacket wherever I go, knowing what’s to come.

Last night I signed paperwork for a year’s stay in Crown Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn best known for its Hassidic population and a swell of gentrification. The location within the neighborhood is ideal—the apartment is a five-minute walk to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum, just off the main commercial drag of Franklin Avenue, 100 feet from the 2, 3, 4, and 5 train lines. Though I’ve cherished my time in Greenpoint, I came to New York in part to learn the city, and you can’t do that by sitting tight. Crown Heights is also home to a bunch of writers who host readings at bars all the time. It’s also home to bimonthly soul nights at Friends and Lovers. It’s also home to my friend Dan, and, this summer, my friend Matt. Mark and Ali are a 15 minute walk away in Park Slope. I have vivid dreams of summer Sundays playing soccer in a Prospect Park meadow, followed by drunk brunches, cheap Caribbean food, a soul music soundtrack.

excited to move

I’m moving out on Saturday. Coincidentally, my office is moving out on Friday. We’re leaving the beautiful Times building for the third floor of an office at Broadway and 38th. Less compelling than the current digs, to be sure, though I won’t miss detraining at Times Square every day.

I’ve stuck with my writing schedule well enough, meeting Emma twice a week at 7:30 and getting at least an hour in the other days. I finished my third story since moving here, a shorty about, well, moving here. The hope is that someday I’ll get these things published, which is why I don’t post them online, but if you ever want to read my stuff just let me know.

Here’s some other stuff I’ve been up to:

– I spent two separate occasions at Emma’s North Brooklyn Farms, one volunteering and the other at a barbecue. Both were extremely enjoyable. The farm is beautiful and so unexpected, parked on the water below the Williamsburg Bridge, right next to the abandoned Domino sugar factory that was once home to a dope art installation.

– With Amanda sitting across the table from me, I’ve eaten eggplant parm at Walter Foods, burritos at Hotel Tortuga, piri piri chicken at Jack’s Wife Freda, tapas and oysters at Ten Bells, tacos at La Esquina, and several other meals that I can’t presently recall. She and I attended an amazing gospel show in the basement of an East Village church. We’ve had cocktails at speakeasies and chewed weed gum.

– Rachel, one of my oldest friends, moved to the East Village with her boyfriend Adam. Seeing them again has been very wonderful. Next week we have plans to see Jesse on Broadway.

– Dan and I played bocce ball in Gowanus (Union Hall, maybe?), had drinks at King Tai, ate tacos at Gueros, and laid in the park with Janelle

– Hallie and Kyle came to town, my sister came to town, my other friend Dan moved to Chelsea.

– I watched six seasons of Justified, which got a little old but was worth it for the finish, and have nearly exhausted Bored to Death, which is so in my wheelhouse that I sometimes wonder if life is a lucid dream. Amanda and I watched the first season of Burning Love and 21 Jump Street (see: weed gum).

– On a bit of a sci-fi kick, I’ve read The Death of Grass, which should be a movie, and Childhood’s End, which everybody told me I wouldn’t like but did. I finished Private Citizens, which I think I wrote about, and am currently reading Killing Yourself to Live, which I’ve enjoyed so far.

Other stuff has happened that I can’t remember, not because it wasn’t fun or interesting but because my memory is shot. I’ll try to be better about updating next time.








Mon, Mar 21: The Dancer’s Hipbone

Awhile back I went for a run on the treadmill and felt something unpleasant occur to my left hip. I was a few miles in already, meaning some adrenaline had kicked in, and oftentimes when I run things feel unpleasant, so I kept on going. When I began ambling around the house the next day, I couldn’t help but notice my hip felt as if it were popping out of its socket every time I took a step.

This same feeling has persisted for some months.

I looked it up on WebMD. The condition I’ve diagnosed myself as having is called snapping hip syndrome, otherwise known as dancer’s hip. The hip isn’t popping out of the socket—that would be horrific—but there’s a ligament rolling over the outside of the bone weirdly. An article in Runner’s World or something provided a few exercises to try, intended to strengthen and limber up my hip flexors, which are evidently at fault.

I also made an appointment with a physical therapist. But to do that, I had to get a referral from a doctor. So I went to a local guy, against my better judgment, instead of finding someone in Manhattan. The local doctor was Polish, like everybody above the age of 35 in Greenpoint. This is what happened during my visit:

As I was being attended to by a kindly old nurse with little English, the receptionist tiptoed into the room with a grave look on her face. She whispered something to the nurse, who made a birdish noise, and they both left. Then I sat there alone for twenty minutes until the nurse came back in and rummaged around the cabinets for an ice pack. As she was leaving again, she turned to me and said, “Frac-ture, frac-ture, she fell” and nodded her head. What had happened was some extremely old Polish lady had broken her shoulder and instead of going to the hospital came to this dinky doctor’s office. I know this because I could hear her and the doctor talking in the other room through a translator (which I don’t totally understand, maybe the doctor’s Polish isn’t that good). He was trying to get her to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist, but she wasn’t really having it. “What about transportation? I don’t know. Perhaps the bus will go there? Ask [Polish name].” Eventually she left and he saw me.

He hadn’t heard of dancer’s hip, I suppose not surprisingly, but agreed I probably needed physical therapy and referred me to a P.T. who operates out of the basement of the same medical clinic. I came back the next day. The scene was surreal. Red carpet faded to dark pink. Four exercise machines and four very, very old people using them, pedaling or rowing slower than seemed possible. When I walked through the unmarked door, everybody stopped mid-motion and turned to look at me. The room was totally silent except for a single oscillating fan. The doctor at his desk looked up from some papers, held me in regard, and told me he’d be with me in a moment. When we finally spoke, it was hard to understand him, his accent was so thick. He, too, had not heard of dancer’s hip. What he did was put on me a big table with a curtain cordoning it off like a hospital bed, pull my pants down so my ass was hanging out, goo me up, slap some muscle stimulator pads on me, and cover me in blankets. Then he turned the machine on high, until my leg muscles started spasming twice a second, and left for an undisclosed period of time. Smoke was actually rising from beneath the blankets. Twenty minutes later, he came back, cracked my back, and sent me on my way. So. I am reconsidering physical therapy, and really any future medical appointments, in Greenpoint.

Here’s some other stuff I’ve been up to:

– Found a new writing partner, Emma, for my morning klatch. We’re trying to meet twice a week before work, sort of like gym buddies. It’s going well.

– Walked from my place to Mark’s friend Mikey’s apartment in Fort Greene to watch basketball. Passed through East Williamsburg along the way, home to a large population of Hasidic Jews. Like, 90% of the people on the street qualified. The men wore these monster hats that look like giant cakes covered in black fur. I snuck a picture that I hope nobody noticed me taking. The houses there are pretty old, so the whole scene felt kind of like time traveling. Mikey made a feast—roasted lamb shank, Jerusalem salad, tabouleh, roaster cauliflower. Was super dope. Afterwards I met Amanda at her friend Ani’s private room karaoke birthday party in Williamsburg. Someone there was a former Broadway performer, so the bar was set pretty high. Then we migrated to Maracuja and I sort of lost track.

– Matt was in town seeing his girl, so Walker and Swish and I met him at Gladys’s in Crown Heights for delicious Caribbean food and drinks, and then took a case of Tecate up to his Astroturfed roof. Matt’s in medical school, so I asked him lots of questions about my dancer’s hip.

– Dan and I went to a bar throwing a party for the anniversary of Biggie’s death, but it was a bunch of mad lame remixes and nobody dancing so we left for The Crown Inn instead, which has a great patio. This Wednesday we’re going to see actors get drunk while performing the movie Clue at Littlefield’s.

– Swish and I went to a basketball-themed art installation in Soho that was cool. It was a beautiful night, so afterwards we met up with Amanda and her sister and Drew for drinks on the rooftop of Brass Monkey, then got burgers at Corner Bistro, apparently an institution. Dope burgers.

– I started a new story that I’m going to try hard to finish this week.

That’s all I care to remember. Until next time, Judges.


Tues, Mar 8: Springboard

We’re getting a sneak preview of spring this week, with temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday forecasted to hit 72 degrees. I plan on spending those evenings with a smile on my face and a drink in my hand on one or more of Manhattan’s finest rooftops. Should the heatwave hold out, it would constitute an early end to a mild winter. And something about that doesn’t feel right.

Maybe because so much of my life in Chicago dealt with a quiet, undignified, frostbitten suffering—of being a caveman encased in ice who could move only his eyeballs, though there was mostly just cold and grey snow and clouds to see. Of holding out for the thaw. But when it came? When the prophesied and profligate sun returned with a sub-hemispheric tan and its head hung low? Then the glaciers calved and the rushing waters remade the streets as canals and you shook snow from the top of your head like a dog, looked around, and realized that your friends had been there beside you all winter long. The feeling was singularly ecstatic, the whole city on shore leave.

We’ll see how close we come. I’m not holding out for ecstasy. A good buzz will do. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

– On Saturday Amanda and I met up with Mark and Ali at Royal Palms in Gowanus, a sprawling indoor shuffleboard court and tiki bar in what was probably once a munitions factory. We played some shuff. It was cool. Later on we left to meet Dan at Friends and Lovers in Crown Heights for their bimonthly Soul Night, where DJs spin rare 45s plucked from dusty record store crates in Motown and Memphis. This Soul Night was a lot like the one I used to go to in Chicago, one of my favorite things to do there. The music is great. Songs you’re hearing for the first time ever that feel intimately familiar, because all the artists back then were trying to make hits and were produced by the same people and so everything sounds like something you already know, but not quite. It’s dreamlike in that way, and the people who are there largely appreciate the effect. Everybody dances. You can’t not.

Mark pointed out that this is a funny thing our generation does, this reenactment of bygone pastimes. We play shuffleboard like retirement community members, drink tiki cocktails like 50s dinner party guests, finish the night in a 1960s Detroit dance hall. Maybe it all started off as irony, but I think that’s been lost somewhere along the way, because I was earnestly happy for all of it.

– Friday night Amanda and I went to dinner at Adelina’s, an Italian restaurant equidistant from our two apartments. Big portions of decent food.

– Sunday Swish and I walked around, visited Allie and took her Havanese, Lulu, to the dog park, had a beer in the sun outside Spritzenhaus. I dropped some clothes off at Beacon’s Closet where an Andy Warhol wannabe gave me a smarmy look and 0 dollars. Then I met up with people at Anna’s, watched her work her loom, watched Max play an indie videogame about a forest fire lookout, talked at length about bees, went with them to Paulie Gee’s for too much pizza.

– Saturday day Dan and I had brunch at Jimmy’s, swapped conspicuous pulls on his vape in McCarren Park, got unintentionally drunk at Pencil Factory, talked politics and his fractured wrist and Snapchat, enjoyed being childless and unburdened in dark, cool rooms with likeminded adults.

– Thursday I hate-watched the Republican debate with Rachel.

– I’ve been struggling to write since finishing my last story. Need to find the motivation, maybe by finding a new contest deadline to pencil into my calendar.



Weds, Mar 2: Outside the Club

You think every building in Miami looks white up until the minute you walk into the lobby of The Edition hotel, and then you think, now this is white. It’s like seeing whiteness for the first time, the inverse of going camping somewhere semi-remote and realizing you’ve never actually experienced the dark before. Then there’s the white felt pool table with white marble trim that must weigh a thousand pounds. White high-backed chairs, suitable thrones for benevolent, technologically superior aliens. Beautiful people of all colors and depths of tan in white shirts and white shoes and white, short dresses.

It’s Saturday night, just after midnight, and you want to go to a club. There’s one in the basement of The Edition that just opened last week, you heard someone say. But your day was spent drinking caipirinha on the beach, your evening working a wine and food festival also on the beach, and the sun and the wobbly, wealthy attendees have taken it out of your coworkers. You know nobody else in town. So you branch out, befriend a group of strangers, the friends of a colleague long since gone to bed. You order an $18 cocktail on the patio bar and pray that you have not yet exceeded your per diem. You casually mention the club to the strangers. They seem eager. You get in the very long line. But then one of the girls disappears to have a quick drink with a friend (?), and then you’re at the front of the line but the guys, a Chicagoan and an Ohioan, aren’t willing to pay the $20 cover (??), and there’s the issue of what if the girl who left comes back and can’t find us (???), so you and the strangers hover on the sad side of the velvet rope, waiting, texting, scheming.

Another club, Bodega, gets mentioned. It’s across town and supposed to be cool and someone thinks there’s no cover. You casually mention that this is South Beach and clubs have covers here and the beers cost $12 after the service fee and additional tip so what’s $20 to check it out. But the group of strangers to whom you’re basically wed at this point bails on the club at the death, goes to find the missing girl. She’s happily drinking at a second hotel bar, one with a wall plastered with red photos of bullfighters, with the guy she casually hooks up with back home. He’s there with a friend, both of them servers at Alinea, in town for a pop-up dinner after a month long stint of the same in Madrid. They say their hotel blows this place out of the water. They’re talking bidets. They’re talking their boss in a $2,100 suite. You can’t fathom how white it must be.

The first group of strangers is tiring or claiming to tire and they head home, $20 bills in their wallets safe and sound. So you successfully transition into this next group of strangers, the girl and the servers. You casually mention the club downstairs. It’s so close and now, whatever time it is, 2:30, maybe not as busy. They agree to go. This is exciting. The girl just needs to find her credit card. She lost it earlier, but she knows it’s here somewhere, maybe on the ground. She’s going to look real quick. At the same time, one of the servers, the friend of the hook up, goes out to hit the ATM and pick up a pack of smokes. He’ll be back in a few minutes. This is good, you think. This is happening. You go to the bathroom, which is configured oddly, urinals in groups of four in their own small rooms, a big communal sink that nobody knows how to turn on. You see two guys go into the same handicapped bathroom stall. This is good, you think. You’re almost clubbing in Miami.

You come out of the bathroom and some time must have passed because the girl is crying, fighting with the boy who, instead of helping her look for her credit card, was talking to some other guys. The friend who went for smokes, perhaps practicing for fatherhood, never came back. And you start to think, maybe this isn’t happening. Maybe I should get the fuck out of here. You start to say as much but the girl and the guy beg you to stay, maybe because they wouldn’t know what to do alone, and then, lo and behold, the bartender emerges with the credit card, found buried in a bill sleeve. Then we are smiling and making our way downstairs to the club. The future bad father texts to say he is at a bar drinking alone. He has bequeathed the third wheel to you. But that’s okay, because you’ll be in the club soon.

There’s no line, just a slack velvet rope. On the way downstairs you are swimming upstream. Fighting against an exodus from the club a hundred strong. You stop one tan man and ask, what’s going on down there? And he says, It sucks, that’s what, and you say, Why? and he says, Bad ratio. A bad ratio is okay, you are not here for ratio-related reasons, but downstairs on the landing you decide the girl, who doesn’t need to pay cover, should take a peek in and scope it out, then report back. She does so and, upon return, makes the throat cutting sign. The club is Dead. You definitely don’t want to go in there. This is how you don’t even get to see what the club looks like. Instead, Bodega resurfaces. Someone’s heard it’s cool.

Three strangers take a weird cab ride across town, ask each other some basic questions. You know when you’re finally approaching Bodega because there’s a line outside that extends down the block. Your night is fucked. You wait in line for an obligatory 20 minutes without moving before the other members of your party give each other significant looks and say that they’re sorry, they really tried, but they have to drop out. It’s nearly four a.m.

Bodega, whose name reminds you fondly of the corner stores in Brooklyn, is a Mexican restaurant with a long, poorly lit hallway that opens up into a supposedly raucous club. A club that you will never know. But the restaurant is still open, so you go in and order some tacos. There’s a sign above the register that advocates excessive drinking. You eat alone at the counter, completely sober, then slip into a cab that’s waiting outside, waiting there for you.

Here’s some other stuff that happened:

– While I was laying out on the beach, a group of male tourists one row of chairs up amused themselves by feeding French fries to the seagulls. The result was: hundreds of flapping, cawing, dirty birds, blocking out the sun. One of them shit on my shin. The shit was brown. I guess it only turns white after baking for awhile in the sun. After I got shit on I called across the way, not entirely friendly-like, “Hey, can you not do that?” In response the fry thrower gave me a look that I don’t think I’ll ever forget, a look like, I want to kill you now, not kidding. What’s worse, a few minutes later a woman walked by and asked the guys where they’re from and one said “Dubai.” So I’m pretty sure that they were emirates and I spent the rest of the trip looking over my shoulder.

– A sales guy I work with told me that he met Guy Fieri at the festival and got to talk to him for an hour. He said he was actually a pretty normal and cool guy, but that at one point some random dude tried to worm his way into the conversation, trying to get a picture with Guy, and eventually Guy turned to him and said “Get the fuck away from me you fucking creep” in a low and intense voice and the dude ran away.

– The weather was beautiful except (“except”) for a couple partially cloudy days. When the sun got covered up the temperature dropped quickly, but I found I could warm my legs up by crossing them and letting the roasty top part of my leg heat up the cold bottom of my other leg, then switching. Just a helpful tip.

– Small planes drag banners just off the beach advertising tonight’s DJs

– My hotel pool area was full of fat, profoundly tan men in tight swimsuits wearing huge gold watches and talking animatedly on their phones.

– You can still smoke in bars in Florida and packs of cigarettes cost $7

– Cuban food is delicious. My suggestion is to skip the Cuban sandwich and order a plate of marinated pork with rice and beans and fried sweet plantains, paired with a limonada. I went to a divey counter seat spot called Playa Cafe and highly recommend it.

– I started every day sitting outside with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a cappuccino

– I was constipated for the during of the trip

– My jeans reek of some unholy combination of smoke, meat, Italian food, and “Asian bites”


Mon, Feb 22: Notes from the Underground

Saturday evening I met Mark and Swish at Black & White bar in Union Square. They’re two of my best friends in New York but they haven’t had much occasion to hang out, so it was cool to see them in each other’s company. They’re similar in a lot of ways—both are engaged to be married this summer, both are blonde, both are into boardgames and beer and books and exercise. Swish plays basketball, Mark plays soccer. I’d say that’s probably the biggest difference. That and height. Swish is very tall.

We had a couple rounds in the basement bar, serviced by a bartender who looked like a former roadie for Oasis. Then our table to opened up at Ippudo—I say our table, though it was really just three seats on the same side of a communal table—and I mowed down some of the best ramen I’ve ever had. After dinner we saw Hail, Caesar at the Union Square theater. I thought it was pretty good for a movie, pretty bad for a Coen Brothers movie. Clooney is excellent throughout, though Channing Tatum steals the show, which is weird to write.

We walked down Broadway to meet up with Amanda and her friends at Genuine Liquorette on the Lower East Side. By the time we got there, the restaurant had closed. All the stools were turned upside down on top of the tables and an old Italian looking man was sweeping up. Amanda’s phone was, not atypically, dead. We thought about calling it quits, full from dinner and the candy Mark and Swish had bought at the movie, but I figured I might as well ask the dude if they had a back room or a second location or something. So I went in and said hey and the man said, “Bar downstairs.”

Bar downstairs was lit. Its walls were lined with different drinks and mixers and things that you can bring up to a drink maker (I don’t like to call them mixologists) and they construct it for you. Sort of like a salad bar for cocktails. But it was too crowded to actually do that and I was a little nervous it’d cost $30 a drink (they price ingredients by the gram, $.15 or $.20 per, usually, which I don’t understand because aren’t liquids measured by volume?), so we just lamely drank Tecates. Then they announced they were closing early because the plumbing wasn’t working, but before that happened they brought out fries for everybody. So we ate fries and got kicked out.

The party moved across the street to Mulberry Project, one of those down-the-stairs bars marked only by a red light and a bouncer, dark inside and very loud. But they had a little dance floor and a DJ who played throwback jams until inexplicably spinning a straight hour of Latin pop. Which I like, but it was a lot. Swish and Mark stayed out late, met a bunch of Amanda’s friends, danced. It was a good night.

Here’s some other stuff I’ve been up to:

– Friday night I had nothing going on so I went to The Meatball Shop, which Amanda had warned me was bad but I was in the mood for meatballs. It was pretty bad. Then I wrote for awhile at Budin, trying hard to finish this new story but it’s slow going.

– I went to the dentist for a checkup and she told me I grind my teeth, so I bought a mouthguard on Amazon and boiled it in water and stuck it in my mouth piping hot so as to mold it to my teeth. I’m already sleeping better and my mouth has healed from the burns. Very excited about this development. Always looking for ways to self-improve.

– Spent Thursday evening at Commodore with Walton and Dane, two old school friends (literally) who hadn’t seen each other in years and years. It was great. Commodore has an aquarium built into its walls, shaped like a porthole, and we sat right under it, watching the angelfish swim around and around.

– I finally finished The Goldfinch on audiobook. Holy shit that took forever. But it was really good. Moving onto Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte, whom I heard read last week and enjoyed.

– This coming Thursday I leave for Miami to work the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the sister event of the New York Wine & Food Fest that I worked in the fall. I’m pumped. We’re staying at The National Hotel, right on the water. Will report back soon, hopefully a little tanner, a little wiser.