Wednesday, March 20, 2019
There's a poem out there. A poem called Objection, Warning, Acceptance. A fine little work, in a fine little journal that comes out right before the trees begin to bud. That publication? Orson's Review. Its issues have a crisp, crumb coating. Wait...that's terrible. How does an online journal have a crumb coating? I mean, the crisp is fine. I wouldn't direct any living actor in Shakespeare this way. This is not the finest French champagne...I'll be in my trailer.
Saturday, March 16, 2019
A poem of mine "Cher Sunny" is in THE CONGLOMERATE. You'll have to search or scroll down to find it. Come on, you can use the online exercise. You've been spoiled all these years by direct links. On the way you can enjoy art that features ravens, or crows. I can't tell the difference. Believe it or not, ravens don't actually shout "Nevermore!"
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Happy Sunday morning. Are you feeling disoriented from Daylight Savings Time? Put that to good use by reading some poems of mine in the McKinley Review to put your world back together.
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Bored with too much time on your hands this weekend? Go over to the Potato Soup Journal and read a short story I wrote. It's called "I Mustache You a Question."
Thursday, March 7, 2019
|Pictured: Not the current flag of Malawi|
Sunday, March 3, 2019
|He's above the blue hoodie|
|Authentic Brooklyn snow|
The weather gave me mixed feelings. I’m not sure if there’s a name for it. The snow was a disappointment on one hand, and a blessing for me on the other. I wanted there to be a big turnout so the event would be a success and get coverage. On the other hand, I wanted fewer people there so I could get a good view. It’s like how you want everyone in the world to use public transportation, just not when you want to get on the train or the bus. When I reached the end of the 2 line and got off, I saw lots of people moving with me. That was the first time I got a sense of how many people were going to the rally. It was a lot.
Of course, none of us knew exactly where to go or how to get in. As I left the Flatbush Avenue Station, I headed into the part of Brooklyn I call Little America. Traffic was coming in all directions and Berniecrats stumbled around looking for the college. Eventually, I got my bearings and found a side street that took me to the entrance. That was not enough though, there was a line to get in, and it snaked around the block and then some. I’d never seen anything like it before. It just went on and on with no end in sight. At one point I thought maybe I would end up all the way in Canarsie, or Dead Horse Bay, freezing and hardly feeling the Bern.
I didn’t have to travel that far, but it was still a good distance. Good for Bernie, I thought, good for America, bad for me, but then again, I too am America or something like that. It was hard not to be in a Whitmanesque mood. Everyone was upbeat, including the campaign volunteers. Even the people selling buttons stuck to umbrellas seemed happier than normal, as well as the cranks shoving newspapers and poorly xeroxed manifestos in our faces. Sure it was cold and wet, with snow clinging to the branches. Nevertheless there was a sense of excitement and anticipation.
It only grew as the line inched closer to the East Quad, the site of the rally. The path to the event was lined with campaign volunteers who thanked us all for coming, then high-fived us. I admit I was a little restrained at first. What was I getting myself into here? So many genuine people, what was the catch? As a Millennial, I’m not used to such displays without a catch. I remember plenty of occasions of forced fun throughout my years in school, college, work retreats, and summer camp bondings. Energy and enthusiasm for the lamest of things like new regulation coasters, corporate sponsored trust falls, and cheers about how one particular student government association was going to kick the ass of another particular student government association.
In my head I went through the possibilities. Was I being led into a cult? I know a thing or two about them and I couldn’t say this was one. There were no matching uniforms or rhetoric. I heard no code words and twisted forms of grammar. I had a clear example of a cult outside of the event too. In addition to the members of other Leftwing groups, there were LaRouche supporters. I saw them while I was waiting in line to get in. One of them had a sign that read: THE GREEN NEW DEAL IS SUICIDE. Another had a shirt that asked WHO IS LYNDON H. LAROUCHE? “A dead man!” I wanted to yell at him, but I didn’t. (Don’t engage with LaRouche supporters folks, just blast music at a non-scientific pitch at them).
The other possibility? My mind went to Disney. That’s the only other example I had to go with. All these smiling people, excited, and welcoming me forward, they were leading me to Bernieland. Or maybe Sandersworld. On the other side of the gate would be rides and games. I could play whack-a-Bezos and go on the equality-coaster, which would just go in a circle on a level track. Of course, this idea was nonsense. As soon as I reached the East Quad, I saw nothing but signs, bleachers, flags, and a crowd of people nervously waiting for Bernie to take the stage. This is what faith in democracy looks like, I guess.
It was a diverse group, though it was younger and Whiter than Brooklyn as a whole. It was still a far cry from the stereotypes from 2016. College-aged Berniebros were there for sure but their voices didn’t dominate or drown out anyone else during the event. I saw people from all walks of life from the borough, including people too young to vote. There was also a snowman covered in merchandise for the campaign. Bernie Snowmanders, if you will.
|The Whitest Berniebro|
A series of speakers went before Bernie. I understand why they were there and they all said good things. However, it was cold and I wish the introductions were a little bit shorter. I’m sure everybody prepared their remarks for warmer weather. Jane Sanders went on and talked about Bernie’s roots in Brooklyn. I learned about Bernie’s support for a strike in Pennsylvania from a union official, and received pep talks from Nina Turner and Terry Alexander. Shaun King spoke about Bernie’s history in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. I learned about his protests against the Willis Wagons, which were substandard trailers used to house Black students in overcrowded redlined schools in Chicago.
|Waiting for Bernie|
Then it was finally time for Bernie. I was losing feeling in my fingers, but I soldiered on. I had a rolled-up copy of the Independent and used it to make noise by rapping against my hands. That kept the frostbite at bay. I didn’t have a sign and I don’t know where they came from. They were everywhere though, and they came out to welcome the candidate. I was fortunate to have a good view of Bernie and saw him embrace his wife while surrounded by a sea of signs. They were white or blue, and the blue was either, sky, navy, or Dodger. It was a nice image. Sometimes you come across them in real life and wonder if you’re in a movie.
Bernie looked energetic, although I could see the pink in his face all the way from the back of the East Quad. At one point we began chanting his name and he shushed us. It was not about him, he said, it was about us and what we were going to do together. He pulled no punches and went after Trump directly. However, he didn’t just go on and on about norms and how the Orange man was bad. He made his attacks and then pivoted to the kind of campaign he wanted to run and what he was running for. He mentioned Medicare for All, college for everyone, a reduction in American intervention abroad, criminal justice reform, a $15 minimum wage, ending the Drug War, and making it easier for workers to join a union.
We were all enthused, cheering, shouting, clapping, and pumping fists. I never thought I would ever get to hear a major party candidate say these things, and use this kind of rhetoric. Of course, he did in 2016 as well, but here I was in public, hearing it directly from Bernie Sanders. Talking about labor rights, and the struggle against the oligarchy in particular. Plus the military industrial complex. Who was the last to sue that phrase? Kucinich in 2008? No vague platitudes and bromides about “opportunity” and the “American Dream.” A real vision and a road map to getting us to the kind of hope we need and real change we can use. Did he whip out charts and crunch the numbers in front of us? Certainly not.
This was no TED Talk. This was no corporate presentation. This was something more. It was a rally, in the sense that it gathered us together and boosted our beleaguered spirits. But it also needs to be pointed out that it was all about the ideas. Sanders had no slick production behind him (there were no Bernie Babe Dancers). He wasn’t young and bouncing around the stage, his hair was white, thin, and disheveled in the wind. There were no pithy or memorable turns of phrase. Just as in 2016, we were for Bernie because of the vision, not the man. It’s something a lot of pundits and commentators still fail to understand. He has charisma through his ideas, not apart from them.
After Sanders left the stage, we shuffled out through the campus. The Doobie Brothers’ “Takin It to the Streets” played overhead. Perhaps it was a nod to Sanders call for decriminalization of marijuana. It was followed by Jon Lennon’s “Power to the People” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” All of these superior to the Star-Spangled Banner. It was jarring to leave the collective warmth of the Brooklyn College campus for the hustle and bustle of Little America (i.e. Flatbush Junction). I watched as people carried their Sanders signs through the neighborhood and did their best to disburse. Some people waved the signs at the cars and buses, others held them close.
Since all the places to eat were packed by Berniecrats, I started walking back to Ditmas Park. The snow had started to melt, and I thought I could make it smoothly along the sidewalks. But it hadn’t melted enough. There were plenty of patches that remained, along with piles blocking the intersections. People hadn’t shoveled and it left glistening hazards behind. I guess it was evidence against the twin pillars of today’s Left. The snow was proof Global Warming is a hoax, and the fact nobody wanted to remove it showed Bernie Sanders’ socialism can’t work. Checkmate liberals...
|...nevertheless the specter of Communism still haunts us|
Friday, March 1, 2019
I have two poems in the "Heroes" themed issue of Call Me [ ] (that's the way the title of the journal is structured that's why it's called Call Me Brackets in official correspondence, no, I won't explain it further). Not only that, there's an interview with me. So if you were wondering what the process is behind my writing, you can read about it!
Sunday, February 10, 2019
To this blog? To writing poetry? To writing in general? Hell no! It's the name of the place that published my poem Dry Conditions.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Sunday, January 20, 2019
|Pictured: a seducer|
Friday, January 18, 2019
A poem of mine is in the latest issue of Streetcake. It's a publication in the U of K. I'm talking about Great Britain, folks. The Big Uneasy. The Windy Country for Old Men. I'm the other Big Ben now, in case you were wondering. Pretty soon I'll get the DM to be the PM.
Sunday, January 6, 2019
|A used Beer Book in the wild|
However, like Columbus I had my Marco Polo’s guide that I was trying to follow. Instead of spices, I was seeking suds spread out among the rumored bars, pubs, and taverns of Southern Brooklyn. The name of this guide? The Brooklyn Beer Book, specifically the one for Zone 2. That is, for bars in Brooklyn below Atlantic Avenue. However, it is no ordinary guide that gives you a list of places to go and their addresses where they might be found. No. That would be what this blogpost is for.
For $30, you get 30 coupons, each one entitles you to a drink at the bars listed. That’s right. 30 beers for $30, and all you have to do is a little bit of walking to get them, well, that plus using the subway, the bus, or the car service of your choice. The coupons aren’t all the same. Some can be redeemed for any beer at the bar listed. Some can only be redeemed for a beer up to a certain dollar value. Tip is obviously not included. There’s no fancy magic involved. You just rip off one of the coupons in the booklet and hand it to the bartender.
The bars are spread out across lower Kings County, which does discourage bar crawls among the timid. However, I am not one of them. While there are establishments in the beer book located in many of the far-flung areas, most of my adventures occurred in a few clusters of bars, that formed constellations of discounted inebriation. One was centered around the Gowanus Canal, another was grouped around 5th Avenue in park Slope, and yet another was located near Franklin Avenue. But there were exceptions, with bars on Coney Island, Sunset Park, or in Bay Ridge.
With that said, here are the bars I encountered as the result of 2018’s Beer Book. I visited them between August and December of 2018. Who knows what the 2019 version will contain?
Abilene (442 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231) – A retro looking spot with outdoor seating and plenty of decent beers on tap. It’s lively and feels like a part of the community. Friendly staff and interesting light fixtures. They have Genesee Cream Ale, which is nice. I went there while doing a pub crawl before a Chapo Trap House show at the Bell House.
The Adirondack (1241 Prospect Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218) – Nestled in Windsor Terrace, this bar has an interesting New York state theme, which is fitting with its name. A rustic look with rustic paintings. I went there late in the summer. It was nearly empty when I went in, but then it filled up with the teachers of a nearby school, looking to blow off steam from training and have one last hurrah before the start of the school year.
Bar Cord (1008 Cortelyou Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11218) – This is one of my main watering spots. The other is Sycamore, where you can buy flowers for your loved one, or if you’re alone, for your beer. But back to Bar Cord! Ditmas Park’s best bar, when it comes to live music! They have a nice jukebox, Afro-Cuban bands, and free pretzels. It gets crowded on Saturday nights, especially if the band’s good, so come early.
Berg’n (899 Bergen St, Brooklyn, NY 11238) – A large bar that’s almost like a warehouse. I don’t know if it was at one point. Big with families and the brunch crowd because it has lots of tables and seating. It also has several counters serving food, much like a small food court.
Building on Bond (112 Bond St, Brooklyn, NY 11217) – I went here as part of a pub crawl after the Kavanaugh hearings. The place is whimsical and it has one of the nicer bathrooms I’ve been in, which is no small feat among the Bars of this or any other borough.
Canal Bar (270 3rd Ave # A, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – I went here as part of my Chapo Trap House pub crawl. A survivor, just like me after that night. It’s a holdover from the way the neighborhood used to be, which was industrial, polluted, and put the “anus” and “anal” in Gowanus Canal. The bartenders and the customers are close and there’s popcorn for the taking. There’s a TV too, and I watched an episode of Fresh Off the Boat without any sound.
Cebu (8801 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209) – An okay place, I guess. Not really a bar as much as a restaurant that happens to have a bar attached.
The Commissioner (247 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – A narrow place that’s geared for sports viewing. I guess it’s an okay standard bar. I don’t remember much. This was at the end of my Kavanaugh pub crawl.
Coney Island Brewery (1904 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224) – An interesting place. It’s a bar attached to an actual brewery. The brewery is near the beach and the amusement parks. I went there on a December night though, so it was kinda weird, the only light on at the end of Surf Avenue. If I went during the day, I’m sure I could’ve taken a tour.
Covenhoven (730 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238) – A cool little bar that specializes in European beers. On a good day, it’s a delightful place to sit, either in the backyard, or near the street, looking at the leaves changing color, or the flowers coming in, depending on the season (or saison).
|Not to be confused with Faulkner, though I'm sure he would've dug it|
Franklin 820 (820 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225) – An aptly named bar, maybe the most aptly named. I can vouch for the food here. I had the macaroni and cheese, which was good. The staff were friendly and the music was good. They played a bunch of songs from the late 90s that made me feel like I was at a middle school dance. But this time I got to drink.
Freddy’s Bar and Backroom (627 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – A hidden gem, at least from the street. Esquire Magazine called it “one of the best bars in America.” It’s an eclectic, crazy place, that’s vibrant even when you’re by yourself on a Saturday afternoon. Freddy’s Bar has the kind of décor that TGI Friday’s wishes it could have. Lots of old time art, statues, strange devices, and my favorite, a friggin’ fish tank. You never drink alone when you drink with a fish tank.
Greenwood Park (555 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – This bar used to be a gas station and has a mechanical feel to it. Out front they were selling Christmas trees when I was there. It’s a community institution of sorts, and you pass a giant cemetery while going there.
Halyards (406 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – I went here to start the Chapo Trap House pub crawl (not affiliated with the Chapo Trap House Podcast). It has rooms with a kind of nautical theme in the back, where you can play pool, if you are so inclined. I encountered a lot of pool tables on my way through the bars of Lower Brooklyn. I didn’t play with any of them, either according to the standard rules of the game, or using the balls and cues in fun, new, and obscene ways.
High Dive (243 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – Yeah, I went here for the Kavanaugh Crawl. I remembered neon lights, bright lights, people in the back laughing, laughing and a bathroom with a chalkboard (and chalk) where I kept writing “we are using our skins for wallpaper and we cannot win.”
Irish Haven (5721 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220) – A classic old school mid-century bar. Of course, it has an Irish theme. Nothing too excessive. When you go into the men’s room, there’s no leprechaun staring at you. There was a drunk, bloated guy at the bar who looked like Steve Bannon, but with a beard. The bartender called him a car to take him home. So you know they take care of you there. The decor is simple, but sturdy, the beer is cheap, and there’s a pool table in the back to pass out on.
Kimoto Rooftop (216 Duffield St, Brooklyn, NY 11201) – This bar is the highest one on the list. It’s on top of a hotel in Downtown Brooklyn. It’s got a fun view, but was a little too hip for me.
The Kings Beer Hall (84 St Marks Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217) – This German themed bar is on St. Marks Place in Brooklyn, not Manhattan. They have plenty of German brews in giant mugs and German dishes. It’s much bigger inside than it looks from the street. Which again, is in Brooklyn and not Manhattan. There’s lots of games for people to play, including darts. From time to time the place hosts the Simpsons Trivia Night, which I’ve been to there before.
Krupa Grocery (231 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – This bar and eatery were built on an old grocery, hence the name. The place is nice, good for brunch, I imagine. I didn’t eat there.
Lavender Lake (383 Carroll St, Brooklyn, NY 11231) – This bar is close to the Gowanus Canal, and it represents the way the area has transformed itself. It reminded me of a scene from an Impressionist painting. It’s got an extensive and sophisticated beer and drinks menu, which me being me, found intimidating. I can’t remember what I got. I think I just sucked on a napkin that soaked up various beers on the bar counter. A moist smorgasbord.
Lowlands Bar (543 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – A good, solid bar. Enough said.
Midwood Flats (577 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226) – A rustic chic bar, as some might say. It’s packed on Saturday nights. It’s a gastropub, although I didn’t find the menu all the appetizing. But I didn’t actually eat the food, so I can’t say who it was. Maybe nachos made with potato chips are in fact good, and not just something I would create at home for myself out of kitchen odds and ends after a night of heavy drinking.
The Monro Pub (481 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – We’ve had Irish Bars and German Bars, here is a British Bar! Or pub, I guess. Unlike the others though, it actually acts as a cultural embassy of sorts. It serves British food and shows British sports. I don’t really follow this and that FC, but it’s nice that those who do have a place to go to.
The Montrose (47 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217) – So many bars on 5th Avenue! I could go back and just do 5th Avenue all over again, and add bars I haven’t been to yet. This bar is convenient for people going to the Barclay’s Center for a game or a show. I forget what was going on the night I was there, but everyone else was definitely waiting for it to happen. Maybe…I was the show.
|I think this was the way to the bathroom at Robert Bar|
Skylark Bar 477 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – A retro bar with an aesthetic that I’d describe as “late Ford Administration.” There’s furniture and paintings from estate sales and thrift stores, and a fine selection of beers (thankfully that’s not stuck in the past, with nothing but Pabst). It’s like drinking at your grandmother’s before or after Thanksgiving dinner, but without having to deal with the rest of your family.
Strong Rope Brewery (574 President St, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – A family-run taproom. It’s less a bar, and more of a tasting room.
Ugly Duckling, or UglyDuckling? (166 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201) – Now last, and maybe the least. I didn’t get much out of this place, but it might’ve been the time I was there. It was a weird time in the afternoon and they were moving things around to get ready for the dinner rush. Then again, the true Brooklyn Bar worthy of respect, is always open and ready for its drinkers
Well, that’s it. Those are the bars of lower Brooklyn from the Beer Book. Overall, I think it was a nice thing to do, I don’t think I’d do it again next year. It was hard getting around to all of them because of the way the trains are arranged here. You can’t go crosstown without difficulty. Or I might try the Beer Book for upper Brooklyn, above Atlantic Avenue. I wonder if half the bars are just in Williamsburg.
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
|Editors petitioning yours truly for more poems (dramatization)|
Monday, December 24, 2018
|Try to find the classical allusions in my poem "Preserved in Fragments"|
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
The Winter Issue 2018 of Come and Go Literary. It includes a poem of mine named Results of Service Not Found. Thanks to Nick Campanella for putting together the issue with everyone's work in it.