You’d be surprised how hard it is to schedule a portrait at JC Penny’s for me and my dog, Shelly. Since the old girl is getting pretty grey around the muzzle, I thought it would be nice to have something to hang in the office or get wallet sized to give to friends, family or heads of state. Unfortunately, JC Penny’s doesn’t have a single employee manning the phone to get in to take our picture. I’d take my business somewhere else but I really want one of those photos of us in profile and an insert of us looking into the distance—and maybe they could Photoshop some lasers or wizard lightning bolts.
I guess it’s time to call Gwyn…again.
With construction done in front of the club, we were back to normal at the bar. For a fortnight, the UTA were doing some improvements to the platform at Gallivan Plaza. Because they were working around the clock, they placed a couple of industrial strengthen floodlights to illuminate the road so the construction workers could work around the clock. Because light rail trains were rolling by, they couldn’t position the lights north/south, so the lights shown directly into the club. And they were bright.
Actually, bright is an understatement. They were really bright. For a week I endured a glare bright enough to know exactly what the beginning of an alien abduction would feel like. Huge globes of hot white light that shone directly into my face leaving tracers that blinded me for moments at a time. The only thing missing was a probe and I would have literally known what it would feel like to shake hands with ET.
I’m well aware that I have become even more crotchety in my advancing age but I was a wreck for a week. There was an absolute sense of dread as the sun started to set and I knew they would be firing up those miniature sunballs and I would still have to make the AMFs and dispense the Fireball. It was like a migraine had a baby with a flashlight and made that mascot from Arizona State for real.
Essentially, it was all of the worst parts of the bible rolled into a slow night at the club where my doorman allowed any knucklehead with $3 into the bar. Fortunately, they were able to finish the Gallivan Plaza platform and move north. Those glowing lights are now Murphy’s problem.
I believe that in bartending you can do two things: you can come to work to party or you can come to work to steal. Partying is exactly what you think. It means getting drunk, stoned, hitting on customers or coworkers and essentially not caring about making money. Coming to work to steal doesn’t mean skimming off the till but doing everything in your power to make as much money as possible. You can do one or the other but you can’t do both. Making change while trashed is nearly impossible. The worst part of the lights was it was the first time I almost poured myself a drink on the clock while praying for last call. I’ve never drank on the clock. Well, that’s not true. I’ve done it twice.
The last time I did it was in February of this year. It was right around Valentine’s Day and we had just had a monster shift with fights and vomit abound. I was fried from the evening and the staff simply refused to get their act in gear to get the club clean. As I went into the liquor room to see how the barback was doing, I caught him on his cellphone and I lost my noggin. After dressing him down, I went into the walk-in, opened a Miller Lite and drank it in less than 2 gulps. Not because it was a great American pilsner or that I was dehydrated and thirsty for a beer. I slammed the beer because I didn’t want to waste any beer when I hit my barback over the head.
I miss movies that would have somebody break a bottle and use the jagged shards as a weapon. In 20 years of bartending, I’ve never seen a bottle of Jack Daniels smashed and used as a shiv.
The first time I had a drink on the clock was when Dave Koechner came to the club. He was doing a show in town and wanted a beer and a shot of Maker’s Mark. He said it was bad luck to drink alone and bought me a shot. I knew it was a bad idea but that would have been a Hell of a way to get fired.
When I write I like to put on music very softly to drown out the sounds of the street. I just hit shuffle on iTunes and click-click-click (that’s the sound of writing unless you use a ballpoint pen or a pencil). Most of my music is garbage or Pearl Jam but occasionally an old tune from the past comes on and I stop writing to hum along. The shuffle brought an old friend back and I found myself cranking to Guns and Roses’ My Michelle from Appetite For Destruction. The line that I love is: “Your daddy works in porno now that mommy not around. She used to love her heroin but now she’s underground.”
I wish there was a video of 13-year old Ben Raskin pretending I knew anything about porno and heroin. I wasn’t sheltered as a kid but I definitely didn’t know the first thing about drugs or sex. The only adult magazine I had seen up to that point were the gent rags that you found in the deserted lots around my house in Las Vegas. It’s a weird thing that as a kid I could find porno magazines in abandoned lots yet not once have I found a stroker mag on any of the hundreds of hikes I’ve taken in Utah.