Once owned by Sgt. Freddy, ex of the N.Y.P.D., and set just down the way from the 78th Precinct, Freddy’s is the kind of local dive that makes a neighborhood a home. It’s a pub, a venue, a stop-off, a drop-in, a hook-up, a place to play and a work in progress. It’s dark and shabby and gruffly cobbled together in a way that grunts maximum comfort. It’s got a sign over the bar, just under the routine beer listing, advertising “The Brooklyn Fucking Philharmonic.” (If you’ve never seen the Brooklyn Phil, by the way, you’re missing one of the great progressive orchestras of our time.) I get to Freddy’s for band shows only once in a while, but when I do, I’m always glad I’m there.
Freddy’s was to host a barroom spelling bee last night, and after hearing David Tidmarsh gasp his way through “autochthonous” to win this year’s national competition a few weeks back, I’m inspired to get graphemic with strangers in the company of alcohol and good cheer. It’s a buck to play and winner takes all, and after I completely forget where I’m going – “somewhere over here,” I think to myself, running my finger around a good quarter of Brooklyn on the subway map – eventually Pierre and I end up in a dark corner of the bar, waiting for the festivities to begin.
No; no; nothing happening; not yet but surely soon. When the sign finally goes up announcing that the room is double-booked and that a band is here and ready to play it’s a case of to bee or not to bee, and the spellers get the short end of the slings and arrows this time out. No matter. On nights like this there’s plenty of night to go around, and we shuffle off into the gloaming of the mortal coil in search of those thousand natural shocks I hear the flesh is heir to.
Next stop is The Gate, Park Slope’s estimable beer bar, where we actually score a table on the patio out of the insatiable inside heat. Consumabled: one Dogfish Head Aprihop, a balanced mix of sweet fruit and bittering hops that works wonders on a sticky night. Local mooks are up to motorcycle tricks up and down Fifth Avenue, and we all half hope for the worst for them; they are asking for it.
Then down to Lucky 13 Saloon, self touted as “Brooklyn’s only full-time Punk Metal Deathrock Alternative Bar,” for the six-month demi-anniversary party. The ceiling is plastered with appropriate postery, crepuscular ghouls and leather-n-spikes accessories are dappled here and there, and the current artwork is odd and interesting. The Lucky 13 writhing celebratory go-go girls are especially yummy. They don’t do much in the way of actual dancing; cool by me. Consumabled: some frou-frou Grey Goose orange Cosmo thing that’s pretty tasty, in the end, though most of the fun comes of drinking such a sissy drink surrounded by so many determined tattoos. Hey, I didn’t make it up, they had it listed as a special.
Come midnight I’m on Fifth Avenue waiting for the bus and this girl walks by. She’s aimless, she’s restless, she’s not done with her night, she might as well not be wearing what she’s wearing, she stops for a long complicated call at the phone booth by the bus stop. She is stunning, wafting, irresistible, irrelevant, an accidental tourist on my night street. Summer in the City. “You are ambrosial,” I want to tell her. “A-M-B-R-O-S-I-A-L.”