Life during wartime

Report from the front lines.

As every parent knows, children can sleep through anything when they’re tired enough. So it was with our two kids Monday night. They snored away, oblivious to the buzz of helicopters overhead, the constant wail of sirens — and the distinct crack of gunshots that rang out at around 10:40 somewhere in Midtown East, where we live. Their parents, on the other hand, were bundles of racked nerves.

I went downstairs to see for myself. In the four hours that followed, I felt the insecurity of lawlessness and disorder more acutely than I ever had before — and I’ve filed datelines all over the Middle East, including from the front line of the Iraqi Kurdish war against the Islamic State.

Yeah, you be sure and vote to re-elect DeBalledZero again now, pal.

Back when I was living there, one of my favorite LES dive-bars was a dingy, loud rock-and-roll/punk rock den of iniquity called Downtown Beirut. It’s long gone, alas, so I will refrain from commenting on the attendant irony now.

6 thoughts on “Life during wartime

  1. Kenny’s Castaways is a fond memory.

    I haven’t been there in 30 years but it was a great place to drop in on. Tuesday night and hear a band do a song called Hotel Hell or somesuch and mean it.

    Sigh. I’m off to burn my notebooks, what good are notebooks…

    1. “Kenny’s Castaways is a fond memory.”

      DUDE. You used to hang out at Kenny’s? I’ve played there a time or three, but the big deal here is that one of my roomies bartended there! Lisa, that was: kinda short, long black hair, some really high-caliber tattoo work, and just a lovely girl both physically and personally. She moved down here before I left NYC myself, and is married to an old friend of mine. I’m still in regular touch with her, and she remains one of my very favorite people in all the world.

      My GF and I would walk over from our not-palatial Avenue B digs every Sunday night around 9 to have drinks and wait for Lisa to get off work at around ten. Then the three of us would walk to Scrap Bar to rub elbows with Lemmy, Mike Ness, or whichever other rock gods were in attendance in that dank dungeon that particular evening. There were always a good few on hand, but the place always gave me the willies. I just couldn’t seem to make myself stop staring at the narrow staircase leading up to the tiny door that was the only exit, thinking of sudden fires.

      I’m sure you already know that Pat DiNizio was a regular at Kenny’s as well; the Smithereens got their start there, and Pat stayed loyal to the joint right to the very end. In fact, it was at Kenny’s during one of Lisa’s shifts that I made my embarrassing DiNizio-related faux pas, a tale I recounted here when he died. Good times, good times.

      If the world gets any smaller, I’m gonna fall right off.

      1. I can’t say I was in any ways a regular. My friend had a band that played there in the early to mid 80’s Elephanto Plastique or Cloud they went by. Other times we would just bar hop the area if after work in the late 80’s we were bored of the local Wall Street bars or The Seaport. I may have been there last in 1990 but I was going to school at night by then and didn’t go out much. Plus the firm was sending people to Tampa to work and I was staying in NY to join the trading desk. I had little time in those days. Plus I lived in Queens so a 35 minute subway home discouraged staying out too late.
        But I imagine at some point we must have crossed paths, me in a suit and tie askew.

  2. One of the things I like* about big cities are the old neighborhood bars. We have them in the South as well, but not quite the same as the big ethnic city bars. We, when young, measured the Southern bars that had that following by how likely it was we were going to get out without a fight started. We had places named “Eve’s Paradise” and “Cotton Club” where one was going to get in a fight just because you dared to walk in “their” place. Oh and the “The Barrel” which wins for the fastest**. The good old days 🙂

    *the only thing perhaps?

    **after crashing my car at Charlotte Motor Speedway I was left with an injured leg and using a cane to walk with. My late friend and I literally walked in and I sat down at a table and Bill went to get a couple beers at the bar. Less than one minute passed when some bad ass clobbered me while I was sitting in the chair. I just barely saw it coming.
    He lost.

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