Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Downward Spiral

I was filming a short film I wrote with my friend Anthony King today and then had to run off to work at UCB, so this post is technically late, but to me it's still February 13th, so here it goes:

I used to work at a bar called the Spiral on Houston Street.

For a few years, the Spiral was the go-to crappy dive bar of the Lower East Side -- a huge drug bar, with junkies constantly locking themselves in the bathroom and passing out. After a few years it started to lag in popularity and it was taken over by a sweet guy who was one of those ex-rock star wannabes who feels that the next best thing is to own a bar, book bands, and get free drinks (which aren't really free since they own the joint). This was the Spiral era in which I worked. We had bands booked every night from Jersey and Long Island and their attendant crew of roadies and groupies. The band were all really terrible and it was a sonic nightmare, but eventually one managed to tune it out.

My crew of regulars consisted of the dregs of Lower East Side junkiedom. The guys were actually very sweet dudes: besides their meth amphetamine/heroine/cocaine addictions, they were awesome customers. They would literally lay down their lives for me (we had no bouncer, and these guys were my only line of defense). When I first started working there, I was shown the baseball bat under the bar, but it wasn't until after a crazed angel-dust psycho came in one night that I found out we had a loaded shotgun hidden under one of the coolers as well. This realization came after my most loyal junkie customers leapt behind the bar and pointed it in the guy's face. (I did have a word with the manager about the fact that our druggie clientele had more intimate knowledge of the lethal weapon cache hidden in the bar then myself).

The main lesson I learned from this job was that even if you are not at the bottom of the barrel, if you are surrounded by the bottom of the barrel, you will begin to feel that way yourself. I broke my wrist and they fired my abruptly. Thank God for small favors.


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