The menacing Harry Payne once asked a mouth breathing Officer Jack Traven, “Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?”
I think we’ve all been in the position were an eccentric madman with a bomb on a bus has threaten us. Well, at least that is how I feel about working the club on a busy night. Last Saturday was one of those evenings. We were four deep at the bar starting with a wine pub crawl. Is there a bigger recipe for disaster than a pub crawl where all the participants chug wine? Probably but don’t tell the women’s restroom. Before 9 o’clock the bathroom looked like a Jackson Pollack painting.
I was almost instantly four deep at the bar the moment we opened the doors. Four deep does not have any sexual connotation—it simply refers to having people queued four back and along the entire bar. The best way I can visualize it is to imagine a border crossing in Mongolia. Thrones of the dirty masses are waving their hands, spitting, yelling, shaking papers, carrying baskets and whistling for my attention. One woman actually threw a chewed orange wheel at me. Thank goodness my glasses deflected it. When asked if I actually listen to the dueling piano show, my answer is no because I am too busy acting like Lieutenant Geordi La Forge trying to pick out what people are screaming amongst the cacophony.
It was a zoo and an ugly night. Good looking people tend not to drink like savages. A slow weekend usually means the bar is filled with hot people trying to look even hotter than their fake cans make them. When the club is packed like sardines and I am saturated in sweat at the end of the evening, it is a better than average chance that we should rename the club Westminster.
CASE STUDY. She is easily 35-years old. The early stages of pattern baldness is making its way across her over-teased hair as she tries to order through a face with too much foundation and eye shadow. Do you have any 101? Of course I pour the bird. I love Wild Turkey. Good enough for Hunter S. and it is damn sure good enough for you. Of course, she doesn’t mean any of Austin Nichols bourbons—she means Ice 101. Ice 101 is a knock-off peppermint schnapps reserved for perverts and high school juniors trying to impress their girlfriends. I told her that we carry Rumplemintz but it is only 100-proof. She rolls her eyes like a wild slot machine and tells me to forget about it. The one-proof difference between the two horribly whorish shots shouldn’t make a difference and I tell her to stop acting like a Trollope. She acquiesces and greedily shoots the schnapps. I wish there was a happy ending to this story. At the end of the night, I have to tip out extra to my doorman, Aron Murray, for the mess she leaves in the women’s bathroom.
For the record, Aron Murray holds the unique distinction of being 2010 Raskin’s New Friend of the Year Award. I am a big fan of him even when he ticks me off. You should get to know Aron. He is a mensch.
In describing last Saturday, the one thing that comes to mind in the fact that we ran out of Coors Light. This is more than a red flag, it’s a God damn shot across the bow. Coors Light drinkers are a dangerous group of people because their beer of choice is more like a soda pop than a pilsner. They drink it because it taste like club soda and think they don’t get as drunk on it. Ever smell the breath of a guy who has downed six silver bullets? Smells like a sick dog that got into the trash. At one point in the night, I wish I had a firehouse from Golden Colorado to blast back the seething masses.
Bartending is a tough job if you spend your entire shift judging people. I don’t mean this disparagingly towards my brethren who pour drinks for a living but I think the vast majority of bartenders are of the mindset that slinging drinks is the interruption between making money and going home to get drunk. Hot chicks and big tippers are given special note but most bartenders just treat their shift as an obstacle to bowls to be smoked and late afternoon brunches. For whatever reason, I made the decision to professionalize my job years ago. I guess after getting my teeth kicked in running The Woodshed I decided to treat my next bartending gig as a profession and not a job.
People who think Daniel Tosh should be taken off the air pro-censorship and people who think Daniel Tosh is funny are idiots. In fairness, I am a recovering idiot regarding Daniel Tosh. I think one of the reasons that I like him is he is one of the rare guys you have to say both his first and last name when talking about him: Daniel Tosh, Daniel Tosh, DANIEL TOSH! Tosh is too close to Tasha and Daniel is a dumb name. Is he inappropriate? Absolutely but that’s what makes him compelling to watch. He says things that the vast majority of us would never risk saying for fear of broken noses and liable lawsuits. I think it’s ridiculous that something said at a comedy club merits losing your job. He messed up silencing a heckler with a rude joke but came back to apologize. I’m from the camp that you’re allowed to make mistakes providing you recognize them, apologize for them and don’t repeat them. That’s been the key to my 7-year relationship with Erin. Want to take Tosh.0 off the air? Stop watching it and buying its sponsors’ products. He’ll be off the air faster than you can say web-redemption. Signing petitions makes you a censor and that’s a much dirtier word than anything Daniel Tosh said.
City Weekly once again lowered their standards and did an interview with me. It’s not the first time I’ve been in the local alternative newspaper. I advertised with them when I owned The Woodshed and of course as the ghost writer for Ask A Mexican. If there is one thing I know it is Latino culture. Rachel Piper (another good first and last named people) sat down with me for a 5-Spot. I double-dipped the event by recording a podcast and she was a delight. I was terrified that I would come across as a duffus or dumb or worse than anything, boring. Fortunately, she is a good writer and was able to polish this turd known as Ben Raskin. Nonetheless, here comes the self-promotion, Benny Raskin: Behind The Bar.
I was asked by Rachel Piper when we did the podcast if I was worried about my bosses learning about me trash talking the customers. I laughed it off simply because there is no way the people I bad mouth either read City Weekly, follow an obscure blog or know what a podcast is. If I was afraid of retribution I wouldn’t end every blog with very specific time and locations to find me. Besides, what are they going to do? Beat me up? We should be so lucky that somebody kicks the snot out of me—I’ll probably win a Pulitzer with the 4,300-word column I’d write about that event. You think I can complain when I am relatively healthy; imagine what I’d write if I had a black eye and a busted nose.
My buddy Gwyn is a funny guy. He’s in Mexico right now testing a new unit of measurement: Tacos Per Hour or TPH. I wish I thought of that. My TPH is low. It’s barely 14. What’s your’s?
Quick question: how did Jack Johnson become such an all-consuming artist for me? Granted “Banana Pancakes” was Erin and mine’s song when we started dating, I don’t remember why I exactly liked him. I guess he sang about a world most of us would love to lead but few have the wherewithal to do. How do artist fall to the wayside? My classic example is Limp Bizkit. The first time I saw them in 1998 at the Family Values and Limp Bizkit was dynamite. Bring on the Nookie! Somehow they lost their swagger and defending Fred Durst today is a fool’s errand. Bands that I loved in my youth are atrocious: Whitesnake’s “Slip of the Tongue” is unlistenable, Duran Duran is a gateway drug to bathhouses and why didn’t my parents stop me when I asked for Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl?
Even though I work in a dueling piano bar and have the opportunity to listen to any number of artists, I find that I keep going back to the well for those bands I liked in college: Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, Mudhoney and anything else Erin finds obnoxious. Every now and then, a new band comes along and makes my list, Shooter Jennings and Mos Def for example, but for the most part I am stuck in my ways. Old Man Raskin.
Something that I am not an old man on is Twitter. I love Twitter and so should you. Twitter is the best social media when it comes to quick responses. The 140-characters require you to be precise in what you write. I use it for three things: following sports, promoting things I am engaged in and telling jokes. Of the three usages for Twitter, I use it for joke telling the most. Trust me, I’ve written a lot of boner jokes.
In the past I’ve linked my Twitter feed to Facebook. That is probably where you’ve seen the most of my tweets. I recently decided to divorce myself from Facebook and use Facebook simply as a place to post pictures and stock customers I meet at the bar. So, if you’ve read this far that means you dig what I write. I think you’ll love me on Twitter. So, I am encouraging you to scratch my back with following me on Twitter @BennyRaskin. The blog and the podcast are absolutely free. Signing up for Twitter is free. Get what I am pushing? Free + free + free = makes Ben very happy. Simple math.
I currently have 345-followers. I’d like to try and get 1,000 by the end of August. Help a brother out.
Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @BennyRaskin. Check out his podcast, SLC PubCast, on iTunes. He’s obsessed with getting as many Twitter followers as @KyleGoon (871).