Sunday, January 27, 2008

pool days

For fun, though, and for the potential nostalgia of friends from those years, here's the inventory of places I remember:
  • Toad Hall — This is where it all started when I moved to the city. A great bar with a great set of regulars, and one of the most competitive pool crowds anywhere.
  • Construction Zone (closed) — A hellish bar, but I'd end up there either before or after a stint at Toad. Most of the bars like it went away with the encroachment of mini boutiques on West Broadway.
  • Bleecker Street Bar — Fights over pool. Fights over darts. And an infamous pool team run by the man who almost bankrolled my magazine project.
  • Barrow Street Tavern — A weird bar with two bad tables downstairs. The felt was in bad shape, and the angles forced the regular use of short cues. Still, it was around the corner from my first apartment in the city, and that counted for a lot.
  • The Stoned Crow — Betty probably still presides over the pool table. I had many, many long nights of running the table with Greg, Seth, GB, and many others. Proximity was also a great value here.
  • Bull's Head Tavern — The last bar that hosted one of my teams. I still regret not asking out the little blonde named Sabina who worked there... maybe not, but she was cute and flirted with me to no end.
  • Raccoon Lodge — Uptown and down, but mostly down. They'd cut your tie off if you didn't take it off.
  • Brooklyn Inn — Simply the best bar anywhere. At least it was then, and friends say it still is.
  • Corner Billiards (closed) — It's turned into Amsterdam downtown. No idea if that's an improvement or not.
  • Fat Cat Billiards — A dingy little hole off Christopher Street, but they were generous about time and prices. It's also the first place I learned to play straight pool.
  • Julian's (closed) — The saddest story in the world. They used to have Bud in the Pepsi machine, and you could play all night long for a pittance. It was like walking out of The Hustler. Now, it's an NYU dorm.
  • Chelsea Billiards (closed) — For a while, this was the best pool room in the city.
  • 119 — This little dive beneath Irving Plaza became my regular post-work hangout when I was working around Union Square. It was also the scene of my going-away party before I left the city. Many, many good memories... except that I hated the red felt on the pool table.
  • No Idea — And I have no idea why I remember this joint but not others.
  • The Edge — Who could forget the bar just down the street from the Hell's Angels house?
  • The Blue and Gold (closed) — One of the dying breed of East Village Eastern European dive bars.
  • ArtBar — I remember the name, but not the place.
  • Bar None — Same here.
  • Frank's — I think I have the name wrong, but I spent a good many evenings at this joint down near the end of Court Street. It had great beer, two decent pool tables, and a crowd of low-key players.
  • The Alibi — Pioneering bar in Fort Greene. No idea if it's still there.
  • The Ace Bar — A hangout before you were supposed to go past Avenue A.
And a thousand other bars I'd wander into with friends, each one distinct in its own way, and each living on in random memories.