Archive for March, 2011

They Glow

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2011 by SLUTLUST


“Yo did you see that?”

“What was it?”

“The bunny rabbit…”

“Nigga we in Pacha are you trippi…?”

“Nah, nah, look at that blond in the blue dress hopping around the club with all those dude just, just chasing after her…”

“Oh my God they are falling over each other trying to keep up with her…”

“Yo that’s why you pop bottles and buy drugs in the club, for that… Niggas go bald for that.”

A slightly embellished conversation between Dances with White Girls and myself. Pacha NYC.

I was too wasted to remember “Playboy Bunny” so I called her a bunny rabbit. She must have been a good 5’9, and with heels that made it her super model tall. Her hair was platinum blonde that glowed under the neon lights and bounced with her every step like her shoulders were trampolines. Her face was of a 15-year-old girl and a body of a porn star neglected by her father. Not like the ones that silicone up and do Gonzo porn because it doesn’t require a script for reading but like the ones with natural bodies and cancer free tans with huge Vivid Video contracts. She exuded sex. Her lips said “less talk” while her body said “fuck the shit out of me” and yet her actions where as innocent as a child flirting with daisies. See how that messes with your train of thought? That’s exactly what the men embarrassingly stumbling over themselves to be near this woman looked like to me. She would pull off from one corner of the mega club like the last train out of Paris and all of these random men were holding on for dear life, some falling off to an uncertain death on the dance floor. She couldn’t have been that hot, these mushrooms must be on dust or some other drug.

But she was.

Her dress was electric blue, very tight and elegant. Her jewelry looked straight out of the Harry Winston Barbie doll collection. Her shoes looked like she wore them at a prom in Las Vegas or Beverly Hills. Her skin was a glazed porcelain, far from pale and comfortably tan.  If someone had told me before hand that she was completely sober I would have believed it. This was the high that popular kids feel in secondary school before they start trying drugs. She didn’t even carry a clutch. No cell phone or credit card just men auditioning for a spot in Madonna’s Material Girl video. I couldn’t even tell if she was there with anyone, just a flock of men trying to dry hump every single inch of her perfect body. She didn’t care; she just danced and giggled, sounding like what I would imagine Paris Hilton would sound like on helium but without all the annoying.  She was a walking champagne bottle in the middle of an alcoholic marathon.

The men looked sketchy in comparison to her 3am sunshine. Armenian men with slicked back hair and elaborate watches with black crocodile leather bands and little Vinnys from the Jersey Shore in their first button down shirt.  A mix of European driver shoes and those unsightly sneakers that Diesel made for club goers not ready to switch their dress code followed the ripped American Eagle jeans and the Calvin Klein slacks that wanted to be found on her bedroom floor. While one man would pull out his black American Express card to pay for a bottle the other one would snatch her to the dance floor where an auditorium of men awaited to gyrate with her.  The men not confident enough to approach her shyly adjusted their boners while wilting in pain from blue balls. No one even tried to talk to her. Everything was a grunt or moan for her attention. The information these men needed was immediate and didn’t require the speed bump of conversation. It was the touch of her skin they spent every day of their lives working for and the pressure of their hard cocks bulging in their pants pressing against perfectly round ass is what they showered and wore cologne for. The feel of her youthfully perky breast against their sweaty pit stained shirts and the sensation of her fingers bear trapped in their jealous hands. The more one man spent at the bar to get her attention the more the other danced or showed off his steroid perfect body. She just danced, oblivious to the violent courtship that orbited her celestial self.

“yo I got go talk to her…”

I needed to see this for myself. What could possibly reduce a man back to the animal kingdom, where survival is as basic as eat, fight, and fuck? I left Frog at our usual spot on the dance floor at Pacha, underneath the 2nd floor balcony where all the Chinese ecstasy addicts hang out, in the middle of his old man dance.  I followed the trail left by the bunny’s glowing blue dress through the crowd of New Jersey Guido’s and midtown real estate agents. DJ Erick Morrillo’s big room house music set has the crowd pulsating like an erratic heartbeat. The closer I got to her the highs and mid ranges from the music drowned out leaving me with nothing but life flooding bass. Then the bass started to filter out as I licked my lips contemplating what my first words were going to be to be. Everything was a sonic mumble. Would she even talk to me when she has an entourage of The Situations and Tom Fords surrounding her? Me? 5’9 on a good posture day wearing nothing but my thrift store finest? I doubted if she even used the same tooth-brush twice and here I am, smelling like Beacons Closet, a ratty second-hand store from Brooklyn.

Then the mushrooms started to peek.

After successfully using club security as a football tackle to lose the parade of testosterone following her, the bunny leans against the back of a speaker using its shadow as a cover. I have now been following her around the club for 15 awkward minutes, every breath as heavy as the 808 kicks coming from Erick Morillo’s CDJ’s. I had just gone from investigated reporter to card-carrying creep. Every time common sense told me to walk away the euphoria threatened to murder me if I did.  Every man has their “The worst she can say is no moment” and this was mine. Suddenly everything around me lost shape and turned into an array of pastel colors. I was in the middle of a mushroom/ bass reaction. I took another deep breath in an attempt to grasp on to the world I felt slipping away. God damn these mushrooms are good. By the time I exhaled I was standing right next to her.

“How exhausting is it to be you?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well all of those men chasing you around the entire club, I’ve never seen  nothing like that…”

“I know right? Is it always like this in New York? So much fun!”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m just here for the weekend it’s my first time in the big city. I’m a ballet dancer from a town outside of Seattle and I rarely go out. These guys are sooooooo crazy right? I just love dancing and everyone …”

“Huh? Did you just call that dancing?

The bunny was really a bunny, a bunny that just fell into Alice In Wonderland’s rabbit hole. Her accent had a drawl that you would only find on the cutting room floor of a Dolly Parton movie. Her breath smelled like fresh-baked pie and her fingers looked like they wrote thank you notes to her grandparents and voted with her heart.  Her eyes were blue and wide and as magnetic as a black hole.  Her eroticism didn’t come from sex but from her unadulterated optimism and genuine belief in people.  People still live like that outside of New York?? In her mind the perverted bottle service and Ed Hardy zombies that kept trying to rape a hole in her satin fabric where just being friendly; expected night club behavior like she saw on reality TV shows. She didn’t know what to wear for her big night in the city so she borrowed a friend’s prom outfit down to the tiara her male friend was holding for her. The only thing his suit was missing was a bow tie and the theme song from Green Acres.  He hands her a bottle of water, I take whatever I was going to offer her and slip it back into the tiny sin pocket on my Levis.

“So you’re from Brooklyn huh? Tell me alllllll about it!”

“No well,  I live there now but I was born and raised in Harlem and…”

Everything I told her fascinated her. She leaned into me and did that thing with her hair that blondes do when they are Farrah Fawcett hot, only this girl was young enough to not know who Farrah Fawcett was.  To nightlife vampires she was the holy grail of day walkers, an American Dream in every sense of the word. I started to feel guilty. I went from Nosferatu to Edward from Twilight and she was my night club Bella of the moment. Every question I answered returned with another question. Her attention made me feel like the nerd who won his dream girl in the middle of a cage match against all of  her jock ex-boyfriends, before the match starts. Between that and her attentive eyes my ego elevator took me from penthouse to basement and back with no care for what the g-force was doing to my stomach. Great, I’m going to have to fight my way out of this breakfast club like it’s a suburban school parking lot. She takes my phone, puts her number in, thanks me for being such a sweetheart, and vanishes into the neon lights and fog machine smoke. Some random dude purposely bumps me with his shoulder on his way to follow her, knocking over my drink.  I’m too hypnotized, confused and dumbfounded to care. The music filters back in and the mids and highs from Morillos DJ set come rushing back into my ear like a tsunami. Oh shit I’m still at Pacha.

I skip through a bunch of sweaty weekend warriors in crop tops and tank tops in order to get back to where I left Frog. Without hesitation, I shove my brightly lit cell phone in his face. Frog and I have had this unspoken competition since back when I first met him at Morrissey Park and we both had on the same exclusive Nike’s sneakers on in different color ways. Needless to say ever since his “anal sex with a midget in an oven” story I was trailing far behind in exploits. This coup, the hottest girl in Pacha, was sure to even the playing field.

“I GOT THE BUNNYS NUMBER!”

“Yo you got the bunny’s number??”

We laugh and he throws a fist in the air as an exclamation point as to how excited he was for me. But, this is Frog; although he’s never mentioned it I’m pretty sure he’s aware of the competitive nature of our friendship. He places a hand on my shoulder, stopping me from bouncing around like a lottery winner and goes:

“So what are you gonna do with that? You do know you live with your girlfriend right?”

Fuck, the bunny made me forget I lived with my girlfriend. Back to the drawing board and quietly hating my best friend.

Delete.

(This is the video Team Facelift was filming when I took all the above pictures. Enjoy.)

Flash: A Summer Poem About Service

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 by SLUTLUST

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
Russel Baker

He hated this fucking day job. He hated the friend that gave him this shitty delivery job. Is it still a job if you don’t pay taxes? The job is pretty easy, answer a phone call then send a text with an address and shut the fuck up about it. But no, it was how many minutes this and what you got that.  The level of micromanaging he had to endure consistently tested the strength of his friendship. Because of this he adopted the “Always Keep Your Phone On Silent” method of aggregated communication. The only way he knew if anyone called or texted him was when he wanted to check his twitter status, which he did often. Like dude, how incognito are you posting crap every 5 minutes? It was the only way he could speak without confrontation.

Every day it was a different part of the city, a different way to get there, and a different amount of time to do it all. A different face with money in different denominations, clueless of the risk or hassle it took to get there. It was always bro this and yo what took so long that. He would then tell me of how he ran out of facial expressions to would illustrate his apparent disgust.

“Motherfucker I don’t ride a bike I ride the train”

Those words must have shot out of his mouth like some weird New York City I can’t drive turrets. Every out of towner or “New New York” transplant looking at him with this pitiful didn’t your public school have Drivers Ed face? Even hicks get their tractor-trailer licenses what’s wrong with you? He would try to save face with the all time favorite “well I was born here and…” but by then they had already paid him and were casually ushering him out the door. Nobody care about your non driving disability until it’s time for a road trip or you can’t rent a car then it‘s all “you’re useless”.

So there he went, with his camera in one hand, a sack of shit in a fancy fanny pack and the heat wave of the century piggybacking on his balls. In and out of the train system like a slug on salt, melting with every movement until the nearest Bodega fed his thirst. All he ever wanted was a simple address so he didn’t have to call and beg for a buzzer number while the nosy (fill in the blank) poked him with their disrespectful and suspicious eyeballs. The streets in Crown Heights were rough but Park Slope has CHILDREN, and lots of them. Children are being pumped out of fire hydrants wetting cars that were filled with children while children crossed the street. A child is giving a poorly parked car a ticket while the owner throws a temper tantrum. It was too much for him. He lived in the night and the sight of kids was sunlight to a vampire. He just really missed his son. He would later profess his deep love for children and his shame if he ever got busted in front of one.

He was in and out of random apartments like wind, knowing the next breath the host would take would be filled with mood altering smoke. Breathe in… oh my god I’ve had a shitty day. Breathe out… yeah man fuuuuuuuck that.  Breathe in… oh shit I have a dead line. Breathe out… huh? Everyone had their own anxieties to tame so he never judged them. He would just stand outside their doors in their stairway Google mapping the next address, praying just this once his friend got the information correct. Was it Smith Street or Smith Avenue? Finding the correct address at times resembled his inner struggle to find the right answers by shifting through God-given signals in order to justify his immediate lifestyle. Sometimes he would get it right, other times he would wander into the wrong part of town trying to imagine a way to hang up and slam this phone in a text message.

Everything was as scary and nerve wrecking as it was an engaging and exhilarating adventure. The smoother every hand to hand was the more comfortable and paranoid he got. Weaving In and out of random police terrorism checks and the occasional undercover like the trash that blows through a train platform.  He never stopped arguing with his friend, instead finding the art in their confrontational banter. Confident yet humble, he never felt as aware as he did dull. A smile got him a glass of water and a small joke would get him a generous rip from a strangers bong. Gone were the hard edges defined by sharp shadows that composed his world, all that remained was a city similar to a watercolor painting allowed to bleed a little too long. The heavier his eyelids got under the sun the more dilated his eyes were, allowing the beautiful light of existence to rush in, everything looking like an overexposed black and white picture.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
Sam Keen

Goodnight Arlo: A Going Out of Business Edition

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2011 by SLUTLUST

“CLOSED!  Man, all the places I love to hang out have closed over the past few years, especially classy coffee shops where I could sit for hours and read while only ordering a $2 coffee.  Oooooh, okay, maybe THAT’s why they’re closing.  Hmmm.  It’s just sad when these places go.  It’s just so sudden, like when a healthy 35 year old drops dead from a heart attack and you think, “What!?  I just saw him last week and he was fine!”  Dear NYC, I would like some sort of prep time to mourn the passing of my favorite places.  Thanks”

“Not worth it. $5 and a bag search to gain entry.  Upstairs was a seemingly normal crowded bar scene at midnight on a saturday night.  Still, we managed to score a corner table with some chairs to sit at and I was feeling it. Downstairs?  Hot mess.  Literally a hot, packed, sweaty mess.  So crowded it was impossible to dance without touching any less than 3 other humans at any given time.  I think they tried to disguise the grime with smoke machines.  And I agree with others, two ladies’ bathroom stalls just doesn’t cut it. Plus I think I suffered permanent hearing loss – the music was painfully loud.”

Two random reviews  of Arlo & Esme on Yelp.com

Maybe you show your ID or walk right in with nothing but a handshake and small talk, quickly finding a space near the bar. You look for a familiar face, a friend, a bartender that just happens to be a friend, start a conversation or fall right into one. Order a drink, then another one, and another one till it’s time to work the crowd like the riot police on the way to the bathroom. You wait and find an open stall. You go in alone or someone accompanies you. They watch you piss while they do a bump off your coke and you return the favor or talking until you can write a Wikipedia page on the subject of your slurred curiosities. Maybe you really, really, just have to pee like normal people. You steal a kiss, maybe a little more. Or you’re just alone and nothing could be better.

You leave your name on the bathroom wall or cross out someone else’s You fix yourself up in the mirror, tending to your outfit like a dry cleaner or you leaving without washing your hands or tipping the apathetic bathroom attendant. Your friend leaves an empty condom wrapper, a licked cocaine bag, or a used tampon on the bathroom floor mixed with toilet paper and urine along with your lukewarm and expensive drink. You gossip about every aspect of your shared lives following each sip like an alcoholic Speak & Spell.

You ask the DJ to play a song that he’ll play long after you’re gone or if you’re lucky it’s your iPod or a well stacked jukebox playing childhood nostalgia through a JBL speaker. It sounds like shit, everything sounds fucking great. You dance like you’re performing for an imaginary audience in your bedroom but you’re on the dance floor and everyone is looking. Fuck everybody, or you try too. You puke your entire night out over the sink and half the toilet. You don’t flush. You might tip the bathroom attendant now or run out in a cloak of shame and apologies.

You might be there with your lover.  You might be cheating on your lover. You might be looking for a new lover. You go back and dance without abandon or stand near a wall and watch time go by, one awkward jerk to a song you don’t like, after another. You might spill your drink. You might spill your drink and try to fight whoever bumped into you. Maybe that drink thrown at your for being a little too aggressive or over enthusiastic. You might be kicked out for the night or banned for the life of the bar owners memory.

You love this bar. You fucking hate this bar and wonder why your freakish co-workers and friends invite you here. Who wears a button down to a bar? Who wears neon to a lounge?? Who wears Keds to a club??? Maybe you’ll have your birthday here, your last night in New York City or maybe you’ll never come back and leave a malicious review on Yelp or some other corner of the internet for cowards. It’s amazing what a space with some alcohol can inspire.

Welcome to your night at the local bar/ lounge/ club hybrid in downtown New York City, a spring-board for all of your liquid dreams and vomited nightmares.

“Arlo & Esme, aka Chad and Becky’s Birthday Bonanza, aka the greatest lil shit show on earth, aka the LOWER EAST SIDE den of SIN. The best and worst of times!”

DJ Project Matt

“August 9th 2008. Soulwax afterparty with 2 Many DJs spinning and Midnight Juggernauts = DJ super bowl with pretty much everyone and their mother there.”

Alex English. Girls & Boys, GBH

Ever wonder what a bar owner looks at when deciding on a potential space? If it the access to transportation or its proximity to other bars and restaurants? What about the landlords? How tolerant are the neighbors and how co-operative with the local fire marshal be? Building codes, food and health inspections; is the bar back using gloves to cut the lemons and limes? How dry and clean are your storage facilities? How do you keep a basement in New York City rat free? Speaking about rats what about the crooked police sergeant and small time mobsters hawking “fire insurance” and the neighborhood thugs who haven’t yet been moved out by gentrification upset that your bar doesn’t make an “Incredible Hulk” or stock Hennessey? What about the community board that challenges you because you stock Hennessey or the task force that suggest you to remove it from your bar because of the element it attracts?

Sometimes you don’t have enough envelopes to pay everyone off and all they see is a packed weekend ignoring the other 5 days when the bar is only frequented by 3 people stealing your WiFi. The same neighbor that calls the cops on you because the music is too loud now wants special treatment when they come in for a drink. Your bouncers aren’t familiar with your crowd anymore and treat everyone like shit and employ admittance policies that other industries would describe as purely racist except its minorities judging other minorities. You hire a promoter that wants more money for the tour bus of people who would have come to your bar anyway with or without him, god forbid he doesn’t have a table ready. And what do you tell the drug dealer who gave you a free bump once and now acts like he invested in your bar?

“Ugh.”

Your speakers aren’t good enough; your DJ booth doesn’t have a Serato set up and now all of your bartenders need food preparation licenses. On top of it all you want to do is be in love but what woman or man in their right mind would trust someone who works in a bar, let alone own one? Your mind is already an incomplete crossword puzzle and now you have the endless drunk conversation, one after the other like a universe crushing meteor shower on repeat. One problem or ill-fated idea after another like your liquor license came with a degree in therapeutic psychiatry. Everyone is shouting things that you can’t un-hear or leave in the sink with the Sanitabs. And then you have your employee’s; everyone wants more for less and no one wants to unclog the toilet or mop up the vomit. You scream, you throw stuff, fire and re-hire then lock up and go home, head dizzy from the whiskey you need to help you cope with it all.

And then it happens. You have to close your bar for good. Whether it’s a land lord/ tenant dispute, being buried alive in fines, or there’s no more money to be made in a stalled economy, you have to shut your doors. You have to sell your inventory and clear out the space in a time only 5 Superman’s can accomplish. Your patrons are sad to see you go while they read the New York magazine looking for the next hot spot. Your employees look at you like you didn’t fight hard enough for them and you’ve abandoned them to an unforgivable job market. Creditors fly over your dying business like ambulance chasing lawyers hover over a police scanner. That’s it. Fuck it all to hell you’re done right? This unanticipated departure from the daily purgatory that is running a bar is the best thing that’s ever happened to you huh? But where’s the confetti? Where’s the “I’m free” banister you’ve dreamed of unfolding while telling everyone to “SUCK IT!!!”?

There is none.

Somewhere along the line the people you have colorfully described as “scumbags” have now become your family and the place you’ve anointed as a “money pit” or a “shit hole in a wall” has become your home.

And now it’s gone.

“What I’ve loved about Arlo from early on was the great atmosphere and community feeling amongst people who worked there. It wasn’t a punch the clock type of gig—we would all stay and chill long into the afterhours because we enjoyed the space and the company. Gage did a great job putting the team together and worked hard to make the venue successful. It was fun to be a part of it, play some music, meet some great people. I feel sad knowing we can’t go back.”

DJ Johnny Cocco

Gone are the bar stools where you fell in love with that one perfect girl after she drunkenly slipped and that gave you the confidence to finally approach her. Gone are the bar tabs that poured out that one shot that opened you up and either you gained a new friend, or lost an old one. Gone are the lights that saved you from going home with that one guy who looked cute in the dark but when last call came around you knew you had way too much and went home alone. The couches you stood on to dance to the hottest rap song of the moment with rips in the leather from high heels, all liquidated and gone. The jokes with the beer delivery guy or the family shots with all your employees at the end of a stressful and very successful shift, now nothing but a few flyers and moments trapped in a digital camera or a cell phone. The life created in that space will be nothing but stories you’ll tell in another bar in another time with some other bartender serving you while the bar owner tries to fight off the impending 4am last call every business has to face.

Good night Arlo.

“I miss it everyday. Working for the best guy in the world with my best friends. If you didn’t respect the space you were forcefully removed, and remembered, and neve allowed back. It was a second home for everyone on the block and all of our friends and family.”

Brittany Saliwanchik, Bartender and Friend. Arlo & Esme.