johnny’s, tonight with cinnamon toast crunch shots and prairie fires and white russians and a man screaming while justin beiber played, and the same man, who an hour later couldn’t stand to walk home; pizza deliveries and girls with scars on their necks that told the future and girls with tattoos on their shoulders where there shouldn’t've been and christmas lights blinking in august and the counting crows singing about a long december and the strokes and johnny cash and marvin gaye and two men riding the same bike the wrong way down greenwich and the street and the summer and a tuesday and the city…
everyone is exhausted but trying to make it through, august weighing heavily and not even half way done. the music was twisted and all over, even though the heat, which isn’t even that bad, it’s been almost like september, is almost gone. the bartender, she’s always been good to us, but tonight she poured drinks diligently. once we caught her smile as her shirt fell off her right shoulder, but it was all tired and we all needed a break, i think. we all needed… i don’t know but something, though, so i paid my tab which was more than i thought, deservedly so, and caught a cab downtown with my friend, and the cabbie joked at us and we joked about ground zero and how ten years is actually a long time and it was hard even to remember back then.
and so then we got there, to a whole other place, a shitty bar where we’re supposed to play pool but where the a/c is broken and it feels like the heat from a few weeks ago, but this time indoors, and there’s just as little chance of it getting better as there was in july. the bartender is wearing a bra and a pair of panties and torn stockings, her unvoluptious curves confused with rolls of fat running down her sides, she was ugly in the face, and maybe looked like she was fifteen and a little retarded, there was thick red lipstick smeared along the approximation of her lips and she seemed like she didn’t know where she was or at least’d never been there before. maybe it was the powder she was doing in the bathroom with the guy with tattoos from staten island who’d left his wife that morning, crashed his truck on the other side of the verrazano and took the ferry in. he offered us some advice about the consumption of alcohol and to buy us drinks but got distracted by the black lace of those sweat stained and ridiculous lingerie. those two were going to fuck, that was clear, probably on the pool table, and the drunk wasted drugged out retarded fifteen year old bartender with weird lipstick seemed to regard that as a distinctly positive outcome to the evening, at least based on how she climbed over the bar to lick her man’s face while we all tried not to look and waited instead for our drinks.
and there was another girl there too who told some strangers she was an actress but was open to doing photo shoots, “photo shoots of any kind, just as long as i have a chance to rest inbetween”, she said, and they smiled and drank their Heinekens and put Motorhead on the juke box and my friend drank his pineapple and vodka and i shuffled my feet and looked at the time and the girl who was probably a freshman in college or something like that laughed and raised her hands, thrashing to the dissonance of the sound system that was too loud for the small room.
and then of course lastly, the club. some cuban girl who used to clean houses told me this was the best gig she’d had since she’d taken the boat and all i could think of was how sad castro would be and some big black man in a nice suit and fancy spats lost control and grabbed things he shouldn’t've and puked on the way out, next to the glass stage and some mexican guy who has to clean everything up is asking some anorexic russian girl to step aside and ke$sha vibrates in waves in the pool of vomit and upstairs some fuck in a pink shirt and penny loafers started yelling at the bathroom attendant about how he shouldn’t have to wash his hands at all and next time he’s just gonna wear diapers…
it was late and i was tired and the cab seemed to float over the bridge on the way home. tonight it’s all been too much and it makes me sad. about us. you and me and our friends, our citizens and kids and families and daughters and economies and tonight i know that i have been surrounded at every moment by a sadness, a kind of optimism of the soul infused with desperation, delirious delusions, at every moment, unrelenting and concentrated, a confusion that is the specificity of august in new york and a people in decline.
i think i should call my doctor and for the first time in almost a year, i actually miss vermont.