Of ritual and zines
I write a blog, you should have assumed as much by now. Also, I used to be tough. But now I prefer pastries. I’m happy with my éclair tummy. I’m also happy with my “pseudo intellectual, belligerent, self referential” blog. But I recently came across something that reminded me that at the root of all things I try to explain with too many words, there are things that can’t be explained, just experienced or understood. I was reminding of this when I was given a zine. For those that aren’t punk rock or weren’t adolescent in the 90’s, a zine is a poorly copied magazine, self published, about pretty much any topic. I hadn’t received one in 4 years, and before that one, likely 10 years had elapsed. This one struck me because in perfectly instilled what I try so often to explain. It also has inspired me, and reminded me to not shrug off the toughness that I once had. These are some pages from “Constant Slop,” I don’t have permission (it was given to me 4 drinks into the evening, don’t know who wrote it, but I can guess) to reprint them, but its important that you see them. Quick note: in the spirit of the zine and the constantly copied mixed tape, I made crappy scans of the crayon colored zine.
To begin my literary explanation (I had post grad work, I’d be analyzing books, I’m a bartender, so I talk about crayons) check out the cover of constant slop. Constant: never ending, slop: a big fucking mess. Anybody would feel like they just do the same things over and over all day, but pouring a shot for a derelict clown who speaks in a aggressive vernacular, that speaks to every job.
This next page is much more complex. From top to bottom, lets take a look. She asks for the worst drink possible, a dirty vodka kangaroo. The dirty vodka, is the worst, we all know it, but look at the bar: tons of bottles, the world is her oyster, and she asks for poop. Look behind those bottles; see that thing that looks like a camel? It’s a camel. Because bars get paid to have those, even in states where you can’t smoke inside. Our lampshaded bar tender, he is looking sharp, does that inspire our patron? No, she is divorced but goes to the gym non-stop and NEEDS you to see her ass. Proof? The giant buckle on the “forever 21” purse, taking its own stool even though there are purse hooks under the bar.
I’ll be the first in line to give a kidney to Murray Stenson, but come on, every bartender in Seattle has put up with this. People, do you go home, and say to your child, while posting a crayon drawing on the fridge, “well, I’ve been to the Louvre, and this is shit kid, I mean serious, a poop mobile, but it’ll have to do for now.” Do you people pay all your compliments to a hero by talking shit to those who aren’t them? Is that respect? Moving on, angry people get drunk with coke. This can be bothersome because this problem doesn’t solve itself, well, outside of death and arrest. When I criticize drugs, it is generally through the lens of this guy, or the girl he is going to beat. But to change the subject, I love public sex; if you haven’t done it, go make some time tonight, but that isn’t what is happening in that bottom panel. Mildly upset attractive woman with a non-descript creepy guy? Hooker and a john. I remember the first time I had to throw a prostitute out of a bar, I was 18 and the bartender told me, “she is a prostitute, get rid of her.” It was like a test for being a bartender.
Thanks man, really, thanks for showing up, not only to poo in my bar, but also to use the phrase “shitter,” at the bar where I am trying to ply my trade. I might also point out, it is often the hoodie clad bearded man that can never find the bathroom. This next guy isn’t that bad, I like making the weird stuff, but what happens here is guy is that he is all status. Sun glasses at night, puts all the weight of his odd request on you, and I promise, he makes this request in front of a woman he wants to impress. Fine really, as a bartender it is your job to make people look good, but they need to help, do a little homework. Lastly, sigh skinheads and witches are commonplace and are to be avoided. What is really happening is a guy that shouldn’t drink anymore and a woman who should have stopped 40 years ago.
I was telling my mom once about throwing a guy out of a bar, and she said, “I thought you worked in a nice place?” I reminded her, “no place, is a nice place at 2 am.” The clock says 2am, time to move people out. Note the good technique here, back is straight, head that WILL release vomit is pointed away from shoes, grip the belt, I learned that one time when I grabbed only the pants, they ripped and I dropped the guy. This is an example of good form and the cyclical nature of the late night.
Much like my blog, this zine is a tough look, at the job. It is a catharsis, and a very accurate one. Outside of making me laugh, it was also comforting. Just before I was given this mirror of life I had already begun my trip to be tough again. I haven’t started boxing; I’ve just starting putting the ritual back into my life. I get up at 8am, and I start to iron a vest, shirt and pants. I roll up my clothes into my boots, pound a cup of coffee, tie my 10lb knife roll to my bag and now that I have a 30 lb bag, I begin my 10-mile bike ride to work. After a day of, well, whatever the hell I do, I sprint to the bus in my stockbroker clothes, read on the bus home, and ride my bike to one of the 20 or so bars I go to once a month. I then have a boilermaker, talk shop, and change in the bathroom and turn back into bike messenger Andrew. I take a slow ride home, normally on the waterfront and frequently listening to the first mix tape I ever made for my girlfriend. Hall and Oats, Bach’s cell suites, Sea Wolf, Stan Getz and other mismatched tunes go through my head while I avoid the tweekers and huge arches of water sprayed from night time sprinklers over the bike path. Both of which are invisible until you are right next to them.
Then I pass through the mill area, it seems these guys don’t go to work until 2am. They have work lights that are brighter than daytime, perhaps to protect them from zombie cokeheads, and they blast 80s butt-rock, perhaps to protect them from women.
Then I go through the boat yards, my favorite, I always like listening to Lyle Lovett at this part. These are boats that transport plots in crime films, that and seafood. They are epic boats that I imagine are crewed by 3 guys and a scrappy dog, all of which have fought a giant squid and have indecipherable accents.
After that, I enter the cage. For the record, this is where the weird shit happens. I see trains with plane on the back of them and scary machine I don’t understand. I one saw a man covered in a trash bag stuck into the chain link fence twitching with perfect rhythm.
When the cage lets out it does so 5 feet next to huge moving trains with blinding lights. Then the ride is a simple 10-block ride up a 20% grade hill. After that, its .5 of a beer and 13 minutes of adult swim and start at the top of the page again.