Read the Blog in Full

Read the Blog in full

Read the Blog in full

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Part 2

One of my first jobs in NYC was working at a club named Uncle Charlie’s in Greenwich Village.  It was located in Greenwich St.  It was a bar; well actually it was four bars under one roof.  It also had a dance floor and video room.  We referred to it as the stand and stare room because there was very little dancing going on.   “Deep in Vogue” was a big hit by Malcolm McLaren and when Willi Ninja would walk in I would make Scott the DJ play the video.  Willi would get embarrassed and give me a little wave.  Willi was a great guy and I loved talking to him.

I had at this time moved to a carriage house on 13th street between 6th and 7th. Café Bruxelles was on the corner (another job I worked at) and further up the block was Uncle Charlie’s.  I worked as a cocktail waiter/doorman/occasional bartender and expert rat dodger.  Charlie’s had two owners at this time.  One owner was an old queen named Gary who would arrive at work during the winter in a ratty old fur coat, pay for his tan and have the boy dujour on his arm.  Usually this was some skanky call boy who would order around the staff because he was with “the boss.”  Little did he know that his power would last the night or until Gary got bored.  The other owner was silent.  He was actually on the run from the police for murdering his lover.  It was a huge torrid story, one we were not allowed to mention while on the premises.
This silent did however have his son Seth running the business and counting the money in his absence.  Seth really didn’t want to be there.  He was married with a wife and kids at home.  This was the last place he wanted to be.  Seth would often call you in the office try to intimidate you.  The office was in the basement and you had to walk down these long crooked stairs well half stairs/half slide.  He was usually on the phone when you got there and he would signal you in and tell you to have a seat.  Then in between pauses with whomever he was talking to on the phone he would tell you what he expected of you that night.  That way he rarely had to come upstairs and make an appearance during the evening.  When he was done he would wave you away with the flip of his hand.
One of my favorite bartenders was Steve.  He was sweet and kind and usually drunk by the time the night was over.  He would also over pour a drink so that you could join him while he was drinking.  He loved to make B52’s and Mind Erasers.  Steve looked like an LL Bean Model and actually was an actor on the side.
Another one of the other bartenders was named Joe.  He was also an actor but unlike Steve most of the patrons had seen his work.  He was the star of The Pizza Boy delivers, yes it and was exactly what you imagine it might have been.  He was the guy in the film who ordered delivery.  We were warned that if you ever wanted Joe to give you drinks or not make your night really bad you were not to mention his film resume anywhere around him.  He was this big Italian jock with a crooked smile and a thick Brooklyn accent.  He was also one of the dumbest people I have ever met.
Every now and then someone would run out of liquor and whoever was not doing something would run to the basement.  On your way to get liquor was a maze made by boxes of beer that were stacked to the ceiling.  One of the favorite games of all the employees was to toss glass bottles of beer at each other as someone would enter the maze.  If you got to the end of the maze first you would grab lose beers and throw them over the boxes into the maze.  The beers would hit the floor and explode like mini grenades, showering whoever was in the ways with sticky foam.
Now also living in the maze were rats.  Now, I’m talking NYC rats, smart, cunning and scared of nothing NYC Rats.  They would dive at you on your way the through the basement.  The cellar doors opened onto the street so our busboy David could bring the garbage right outside.  Rats seeing a good thing would scurry inside and set up home in the basement.
David the bar back was nice but a little odd.  He was my age but told everyone that he fought in Vietnam.  He dressed every night in army fatigues and carried a large knife.  The knife was for the occasional threatening and rat beheading.  Our manager Jeff was actually in Vietnam and would have “flashbacks” during work.  These usually caused him to stop working and to stare blankly into space.
Our front door was protected by John; he was a really nice guy who modeled his look on “Super Fly”, he sported a large afro and had a black belt in Karate.  John refused to show us any tricks because in his words “Karate is no joke.”  During the fall and winter, we would add Alan to our family.  He would set up coat check in a little cubby across from the front door.  The word was to never go in Alan’s booth unless you wanted to get felt up and believe me no one wanted to be felt up by Alan.
One time while working a shift a patron who had been coming to the club for several weeks decided that he was going to take me home.  He took my tray threw it to the floor, tossed me over his shoulder and made a run for the front door.  This guy was 250 pounds 6’3 and had the thickest Russian accent I ever heard.  Everyone thought it was a joke until I started screaming and he pried my fingers off the door jamb as he dragged me out the door.  
To be continued………………

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writting "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.

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