Sunday, October 31, 2010

Subway Vision

Happy Halloween, everyone. At the time of writing, it’s 8:32 pm on October 31, and I’m shoeless on the couch writing on my laptop. I only point this out because it’s such an anomaly. My past seven October 31sts circa 8:32 have found me: a drunk cavemen, a drunk Titanic-passenger zombie (thanks Nick), a drunk train hobo asleep in the Atlantic ocean, a drunk Geico cavemen, a drunk un-costumed guy at my dad’s house, a un-costumed volunteer for a children’s party at a Methodist Church (and drunk) and a drunk classic television character getting ready to move to New York in a few hours.

Little different this year. Not that 2010 has been an uneventful Halloween weekend: I’ve already been a slightly buzzed crazy JetBlue flight attendant, a sober Peter Pan shadow, and a probably-should-have-been-drunk Walter White from Breaking Bad.  It’s just that Halloween night falls on a Sunday and I have an actual job to attend in the morning and more importantly I have a blog quota to fill. So here I am, like Kobe, Doin’ Work.

This past Thursday I was at Port 41 in Hell’s Kitchen for the Brooklyn Comedy Underground’s one year birthday party.  This was the second time I’ve performed at Port 41. The first was way back in July and was attended by none other then Boston rock legends The Okay Win. I had long regretted not blogging about that show because Port 41 is so... unique. When the opportunity came along to perform there again, I jumped on it, mainly so I’d be able to finally write about the one-of-a-kind Port 41 and its bikini-clad wait-staff.

Located a couple avenues west of the Port Authority, Port 41 is a relic of the pre-Rudy Giuliani Midtown. (Not a Midtown I ever experienced, of course. A Midtown a pubescent Gregory could only fantasize about in his wildest dreams.)  Port 41 isn’t a strip club technically; the bartenders are wearing bikini tops and I’ve heard rumors there is underwear somewhere up there, tucked between there butt cheeks.  But not being a strip joint does not “class up” Port 41. The lack of actual nudity does not make the proceedings any more tasteful or subtle. Port 41 is about as subtle as a roll of toilet paper next to the computer.

In other words, if you look up sleazy on Google Image, Port 41 comes up. The old saying was “if you look up [blank] in the dictionary…” or “if you look up [blank] in a textbook…” but since Google has rendered both those things irrelevant, I think the saying should be updated. Here’s the first image to come up when you Google-image “sleazy:”

Not Port 41 exactly, but surprisingly close.  

(I like this new idea. I think I will try to do it once-a-blog.)

I don’t do well at places like Port 41. I’m awkward in general, but it’s completely exasperated in any situation involving scantily-clad women. Say what you will about strip-clubs, but at least the stripper – customer dichotomy has clearly set parameters: she exposes her vagina, I look at it. Easy-peasy. But any environment where the women are nearly naked and it’s inappropriate to gawk sets my conscience a-haywire. For one: I have absolutely no idea what to do with my eyeballs. I’m not making eye-contact with these ladies; I don’t want them peering into my soul and seeing the demons that lurk there. That’s for my loved ones to do.  And secondly I haven’t any idea how to talk these women because I’m petrified they are going to think I’m another creep trying to hit on them, so I end up acting like a total jerk and/or gay, which interestingly enough comes quite naturally.

At places like Port 41, it’s best to utilize what I call Subway Vision.  Subway Vision is when you are not strictly blind, but you are unable to see anything that isn’t totally pleasant. Weird shit happens on the New York City subway, and when it does, the consensus best response is to wholly ignore its existence when you might otherwise feel inclined to notice. An MTA train is just about the only place in the world where you can spot a homeless man peeing on a seeing-eye dog and have your only reaction be, oh I see Harrison Ford has a new movie out, maybe I’ll check it out, look at the poster, look at the poster, look at the poster…

Using Subway Vision is standard protocol at joints like Port 41 (or a beach, or a gym, or Hooters.)  Just pretend like you don’t see the tampon string dangling precariously close to the tribal tattoos and order your beer. Problem solved.

Note: Subway Vision is virtually required if you are at one of these joints with a girlfriend. In that scenario, it’s best to pretend you haven’t even realized there is a bar. If free IPODs start falling out of the waitress’ ass, you are not allowed to notice. 

I struggled to find ways to describe in detail Port 41, and thought it would be fun to post some reviews I found online. Alas, another blogger had beaten me to it. Here is a link to a blog post about Port 41, replete with photos and Yelp reviews, check it out:

The comedy show and the Brooklyn Comedy Underground party seemed almost tangential. I was the first to arrive so I got first dibs on my spot on the lineup and went with lucky number four.  The set went well. Dillon showed up unexpectedly and in a suit, which has to be something of a precedent at this venue. Dillon, Amy and I ditched the show early and walked around, soaking in the glitz and the squalor, the pomposity and the grandeur of Midtown, present time.

I’m feeling good about the current lineup of jokes I now have in my possession. I think it may be my best. Not bad after one year. Yes, one year ago tomorrow I moved to New York. In many ways this was the hardest year of my life. But in so many more ways it was also the best. And maybe that’s the way life should be. 

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