Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hold Up

An alarming number of these posts start with me describing a bar. Just an observation.

One of my first bar jobs was at Bond Street Cafe.

What is today the upscale sushi joint BondSt, was, once upon a time, a coke den bar with crappy bands. I worked there on and off for a year or two. Eveyone who worked there was a coked up mess and it played host to many many terrible bands. The guy who ran the place also booked the Sunday night shows called "Rock n Roll Church" at Limelight back in the day. His girlfriend was my friend Sally. She was from England and had gone out with Slash from GnR (she is in the Sweet Child oh Mine and Paradise City videos). She hung out all the time, as did my frineds Mary, Raph, and Lisa -- but those were pretty much the only cool people that hung out there. It was mostly kids from Jersey who wanted to see metal bands.Sometimes it would be packed but usually it was really slow and I didn't make a lot of money. The building was owned by a Japanese businessman who would come into town once in a while and bring a karaoke machine. If you sang a karaoke song and did a shot with him he would give you a hundred dollars.

The bartender who hired me was a real boozy broad - gorgeous, loud, charismatic. Years later she would marry the guy who was our barback at the time. The barback was in a methadone program, trying to kick heroin. One night he missed his dose and showed up to work all shaky and pale. He said he could get through the night as long as he could drink. I must have poured him 20 Jack and Cokes. He managed to make it until 6am when the clinic opened by using sheer willpower. Amazing. The rest of the staff did tons and tons of cocaine. Sometimes we would close at 4am and would end up leaving the bar at one in the afternoon because we had all been hanging drinking and partaking of various substances.

One night a bunch of us stayed after work and were downstairs in the offiices (what is now the Bond St lounge, for those who have been there). We sent our barback out to lock the gates and a minute later he was coming back down the stairs with these two huge black dudes behind him holding guns. Sally saw the guys coming, locked the door and started yelling "Call 911." We had to unlock the door because the two dudes had a gun to our barback's head. They came in, stole all the cash in the joint and split. There is nothing like having a gun pointed in your face to make you sober up. Sally probably saved our asses because, even though we didn't have time to call the police, the robbers definitely were under the impression that we did, so they got in and out fast. We then had to wait for the police to arrive and go to the station to give statements etc. A month or two later I got called into look at some pictures of suspects, but I didn't recognize anyone, and as far as I know they were never caught.

I eventually got let go, supposedly at the behest of the promoter, but in actuality because the other bartender didn't want me around anymore. There was a lot of drug-fueled paranoia and intrigue in those days -- people would turn on each other just because they had nothnig better to do -- in those days you worked until 7am, slept until 5pm and were back to work by 9pm so your whole life revolved around being at a bar and the drugs you were doing. I cannot even imagine that lifestyle today, but at the time it just seemed like the thing to do.


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