Thursday, February 10, 2011

Industrious Fellows

My beat, if I have one, is not what is new and cool. There was a time in my life when being at the place everyone else was at was of utmost import. Since moving to New York ten years ago, I have enduring the sameness of Bowery Bar, the overpriced drinks at Duvet and the allure of the John Blair Gold Card. As much as I may loudly proclaim my status as an outsider, I have spent more than my fair share of time on the inside.

Winter is a difficult time in New York City. Before the year ends, the city swells with unbearable tourists, clogging every artery like unwelcome cholesterol, the heart of the city seizing under the stress. January brings in the inevitable trade-off of fewer people but more snow and bitter cold. If you polled eight million New Yorkers, they would overwhelmingly champion the latter. These twin anxieties lead to a kind of hibernation. As uninhabitable as most NYC dwellings are, they become more palatable as the pendulum swings in their favor during the darker months of the year.

I am equally guilty. When the thermometer drops below forty, I drop largely out of sight. Now that nearly everyone I know in the city is in a relationship, my necessity as nighttime prop has faded with the daylight. I am freely available to entertain at children’s birthday parties, bar mitzvah, and whatever social engagements require a comedic if ultimately sad clown. However, Erik, lately my most reliable evening comrade since I took it upon myself to introduce him to gay society as I see it, has insisted we get together. Tonight we ventured out to Industry.

Industry is a new club in a nondescript building across the street from the long reigning champ of Hell’s Kitchen nightlife: Therapy. My last few trips to Therapy have included my own waning enthusiasm. The music and crowd are still great but increasingly I am unable to attend without being assaulted by a sub-par drag show, singing contest, or other heinous act. So the thought of visiting what I had long assumed was a postal annex across the street was a welcome diversion.

It is a big club by Manhattan standards, “roomy” as Hannibal Lecter would opine. Industry has one of those new liquor licenses the city has proudly championed of late, which force the club to close at 2am. The goal is to reduce the overnight noise of the city, which is a wonderful idea, but making NYC no better than anywhere else continues its inevitable slide from world city to cool mall. I didn’t like the noise of the city so I moved to the suburbs, I didn’t petition the city about the sound emanating from the sex club I willfully moved in next door to. It is one thing to be natives complaining about the puritans landing on your rock and quite another tacky thing to be a puritan who arrives and then demands the natives give up their ways.

Like Duvet before it, the drinks at Industry are shockingly overpriced, a fact I discovered after I was finally able to acquire one. I got in a position behind someone ordering drinks only to be cut off by some young thing. When I said something loud to Erik about it, the young man politely apologized, and then squeezed his way in further down the bar which allowed him to both seem kind and get his drink ahead of me anyway. This is what is known as a win-win, the kind well-known to the best thieves of Wall Street and other clever New Yorkers.

The crowd was young and fun and filled with chatter. Erik and I settled next to a temporary partition near the back. It was there I noticed that the bar was even bigger than I had first thought. Next to us was a couch resting comfortably on a lovely oriental rug. That’s cute I thought to myself, knowing full well that after a few months of soaking up spilt drinks, the rug will be able to float out of that place under its own steam. The couch will doubtless remain until it is brutalized beyond recognition by the feet and asses of a thousand twenty-somethings and buried unheralded in an unmarked grave at the city dump, taking with it sharp memories, a distinct odor and a colorful history of bed bug infestations.

But it was nice to see Erik. We caught up on old times (2010) and discussed his impending birthday which I promised repeatedly to attend. Our conversation was interrupted occasionally by the distracting preparations for impending drag show. At one point, to make room, the temporary partition was taken away and an attempt was made to dislodge the human occupants of the couch. Erik and I left before whatever show was about to happen could disturb our otherwise good time. How nice to see that Industry is falling into the same trap as Therapy, and what a perfect reason never to come back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the old days,there was a bad called Armory. There was a stage, some seating and the best damned drag shows around, along with a puppet show. The days the drag show wasn't on, there was a silver screen and the best movie I ever saw them play was of a boy, naked of course, eating ice cream, melting and dripping all over his hot, hairless, smokin' body in the floor of someone's kitchen. Oh gawd, the ecstasy.

Ok. Where was I ? Ahh yes!

So, the bar had a separate dance floor, a separate bar, and a sitting area / lounge, and later a roof-top outdoor area. It was the best damned twink, 20s age bar in town, and it had the best damned drag show ever.

When they built the high-rise in it's place and destroyed the only other place, Charlie Brown's (Backstreet). I became severely disinterested. The thought of a damned drag show in the middle of a crowded bar-floor, annoys the piss out of me. I refuse to go to bars these days during these times for the same reasons.

Oh yea, and I'm old now.
And Grumpy.