- payphone box w/ green phone
- tiny bar (w/ Guinness, evidently)
- outdoor smoking section at an Indian resto
Here and there i see “sticker walls” in various bars, toilet rooms of bars, taverns, dives of all sorts, or sometimes coffee shops – maybe – but mostly bars and toiletrooms of bars. So i take photos sometimes, especially since a pal in Squamish mentioned his affinity towards same and another pal from Whalley sometimes shares photos of crappy bar toilets and ask “where’s the sh!tter?”
So anyhow, here are some photos with minor annotations if recalled – no accuracy intended or implied. There are others, we’ll start with these and call the assortment which appears, Vol. 1 of a possible series. Also, these make the best and worst computer screen “wallpapers” too. Tip: Give a try.
On a 2005 ramble through a few western European countries (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal), i carried a satchel of art supplies and painted / sketched along the way. Mostly on 11″x17″ canvas sheet and watercolour paper.
In most cases, i “finished” the pieces in one sitting using acrylics or sometimes watercolour pencils or pastels (these are catalogued, sold/gifted and posted elsewhere).
Anyhow, i have a several which never quite got finished and now sit in a folio in a storage locker elsewhere. I snapped photos and have considered how to finish – even soliciting advice which ranged from “they are finished” to “consider gouache” or “make a colouring book” which i did for my nieces and nephews.
Regardless, they are nowhere near and as such, lonely and sad. So, here are rough drafts in ragged spontaneity and various forms and mediums.
This is Vol. 1 of a few (maybe), pardon repeats and redundancies.
Drawing Room, Sunday
Find me in the drawing room
At the Majestic Hotel
Hot toddy made with
The second-finest single malt
Curl smoke from roughest Beedies
Rather than clumsy cigars
Red velvet belted robe
Replaces the glen plaid
Hung behind the hardwood high back
The barman named Sunday
I tell him the day i was born
6:45AM if i recall Mother’s story
However unnecessarily, continue to explain,
I’m not sure exactly
Of the time in Kuala Lumpur or
Kinchasa where his family waits for
Remittance he exchanges as salve for
Pain of separation and expectation
And aching tolerance of the unroyal man
Who explains old culture and
Stumbling billiards to all within
Without hint of invitation, irony
Or a scrap gentle restraint
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2017)
I am fascinated with this mysterious bar formerly frequented by poets, writers, bootleggers and miscreants – plus served as s top of sorts on the underground railroad (not sure how this shakes down but…) and a speakeasy during prohibition.
Had hoped to visit with my pal Ephriam in NYC in around 2006 but the building next it (owned by renowned photographer Annie Lebowitz apparently no less) had fallen in on the structure during remodelling/renovations construction. By the time the damage was repaired, the area had become rather “gentrified” with whiny neighbours complaining about potential noise. Eph-man keeps an eye on the story for me and it seems it is now re-opened (as of Dec 30th 2017). Trip ahoy!
See the “Consider Perusing” section for previous articles about this humble and noble location.
Today’s Facebook moment is dedicated to my friend Dave Olson. Almost 10 years ago we were on our way to Chumley’s only to find that it fell apart. Hopefully this pic will put a smile on Dave’s face. Glad to hear that it will reopen and not be 86’d forever.
I am headed to NYC next month for a biz-ness trip (staying a fancy mid-town hotel shockingly enough) and my amigo out there pointed me to the private stash of all bars boasting a history of runaway slaves, literary heroes, illicit alcohol and haunting poltergeists. I am totally going.
Heck, I even made google map to the secret libation locale (though i’ll probably still have to find the stealthy entrance in the alley).
The bar is up for sale (3.75 million USD in case you are wondering) and the place doesn’t necessarily have a name. ‘Chumley’s‘ or ’86 Bedford’ seem to be the parlance of choice.
Anyhow, here is a snippet from the article 86 Bedford Street in NY Resident magazine by Rachel B. Doyle filling in the pieces of the stories,
Despite the building going on the block, Chumley’s isn’t going anywhere since its lease isn’t up until 2085. Touted as “the oldest speakeasy in the country to retain its original ambiance,” Chumley’s has been around since 1926 —when it was purchased by Leland Stanford Chumley, who remodeled the front of the former blacksmith’s shop with innocuous garage-like doors.
Behind this obscure facade, lay the favorite illicit watering hole of literary luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Anaïs Nin, Simone de Beauvoir and J.D. Salinger (before he became a recluse). The original incarnation contained kitchen entrances disguised as bookshelves, two trapdoors to conceal spirits, and a trick staircase designed to foil the police.
“It’s supposed to give the illusion that we’re in a basement, when in reality we’re on street level. It allowed the bartenders some time to clear away alcohol during Prohibition,” said John Lefebvre, a waiter at Chumley’s.
The entrance remains the same as it was in the ‘20s: unmarked and only accessible by a clandestine rear passageway leading from Barrow Street. And Chumley’s will likely never have a sign, as landmark designation restricts anything having to do with physical changes.
A little known fact about 86 Bedford St. is that its seditious reputation actually precedes Prohibition. According to legend, the building was also a refuge for runaway slaves – due in part to it’s proximity to Gay Street, which had a large pre-Civil War era free black community.
“In the floor of the bar there is a trapdoor that lifts up. These same tunnels that may have been used to transport slaves were later used to transport the alcohol into the restaurant during Prohibition,” said Lefebvre, who also just completed a documentary about Chumley’s. “I’m looking right at it.”
While some reviews speak disparagingly about the Chumley’s micro brews (flat and lifeless) and the meat heads (read fratboys) who have found the enclave (to high five in) while others mention the proximity to a firehall which suffered major casualties during the WTC incident or the discussion if this is where the term “getting 86’ed” originated and yet one more talks about the dog patrons – (geez i though it was just Oly’s Eastside Club which allowed dogs) – in a post What’s up with the dogs at Chumley’s?
Here’s the door – is there a secret knock?
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