This issue features the bar photography of the editor Maureen Andary, whose note describes the motivation of the Bar Issue:
This september my roommate and I were talking about casual sex. Of course I have friends who are addicted to it, like other friends addicted to other things, like anyone addicted to anything and she asked, “Do you think it’s healthy?” Life isn’t healthy. For artists this truth is ever-present in their addictions and writings that jump courageously, always, into the dark unanswerable questions. We’re addicted to depression, to the aesthetics of sex, to our own impulses, addicted to the images of hands moving, to exploring the spiritual realm, to making life more palpable. Self destructive behavior is a double edged sword. It is a symptom of creativity as much as it is a productive contributor …
And of course relationships with booze aren’t, at all times, self-destructive. There’s an immeasurable social value and it’s a long-time tradition that writers meet in cheap bars to quietly discuss or rage about writing, politics, art, their personal lives. Along with what we consider our best submissions (twenty-three poems and four works of fiction), this issue highlights some of the best, most relaxed bars we could find. And it’s not because we endorse drinking. It’s because we’ve romanticized the idea of people coming together in dimply lit rooms with cheap boozer, a deep throated bartender who looks like he’s been around the block a few times, and the quiet, unadorned simplicity of worn-in surroundings.
So refrain from Josie Woods and Nevada Smiths or the innumerable flashy “lounges” with thirteen-dollar martinis, neon lights, white geometric decor, and endless kitsch. Adopt a watering hole, getting to know the bartenders and regulars. Bring your friends to sit down and have an ambitious talk or go to read and write alone over a jack and coke. Go to these bars and enjoy them for their genuine atmospheres. Drink up. Write fervently.
“Song Loon” Bonnie West
“BUT YOU’RE THE ONE FOR ME” William Wright
“Nightly Adventures of a Chinese Exorcist” Axel Wilhite
“Daylight, Dusklight” Jonathan Fedors
“Incident” Kate Domaingue
“Sunday” Lisa Locascio
“The National Library of Laos” Bryan Thao Worra
“While They Started New Wars” Brad Reina
“A Jew’s Forbidden Love” D. Marc Blotner
“Stereo Music” Maureen Andary
“A Love Song to La La” Daniil M. Leiderman
“Cold Soup” Katherine Folk
“Shuffling” Anna Katterjohn
“Northwest Highway” Lisa Locascio
“An Agèd Carmen Sandiego Waxes Nostalgic” D. Marc Blotner
“We Are Tomorrow’s Abortion Providers” Maureen Andary
“Love Knows the Park of Which I Write” Jonathan Fedors
“Wild World” Emily McManus
“Midnight Prayer” Kate Domaingue
“STARTS FALSE AND TRUE” William Wright
“Fall” Sally White
“Bitter Whey” Axel Wilhite
“To the New-Decisive Poet” Jonathan Fedors
“To the Bone Congress” Lisa Locascio
“Affair” Kate Domaingue
“Everything At Once” Brad Reina
This is Wendy Salkin’s “Sender”
I fear the time we spent in your stepfather’s attic when we were in the third grade has come to haunt me. Remembering your face framed in old, moth-ball engulfed trench coats, giggling as you sifted through the closets. It all returns to me each day. I’ve seen you in the supermarket, at the park, walking the telephone lines outside my house twelve times in as many days. You’ve not changed much really. You’re still such a beautiful girl—satin white-blonde hair, canvas shoes, cheeks that could make a chipmunk envious. (I do find it distressing that you’ve not gotten older than eight in the past 43 years.) I suppose you are, due to the unusual nature of our meetings, as old as I imagine you to be.
But, I mustn’t dawdle. I want to apologize. When you asked me to be “yours” for Valentine’s Day, I was scared. It’s not so much that I didn’t care for you. In fact, as a result of recent encounters with your memory, I find it highly possible that I have always loved you. It’s more than I’m not (nor have I ever been) much for possessives. If we had been “Valentines” or perhaps “special friends,” it could have worked out. But, mine, yours, being someone else’s in general…I just didn’t feel we were ready. I mean, I was still living at home. You were still wearing Onesies to bed.
And your older brother didn’t care for me. Did I ever tell you that? Fourteen years old and so angry, so disconnected. He always stole me snack. Licorice. I don’t even know that could have eaten it. Didn’t he wear braces? It must have been a terrible pain to clean out of the wires. I now see it for what it was! A vicious cycle. Having eaten sugary sweets, only to find his mouth rotting in a film of sucrose. Molars sticky, thoughts remorseful—a misery-loves-company dilemma. Day after day, he would steal from me to try and inflict the same pain he was feeling. Please tell him that I forgive him.
This is, however, really about us. Our lives. Out “connection.” Across space and time. When I shower, I imagine that you are the hot, harsh water cascading against my body. When I make my bed, I imagine you are the folds in the comforter—lumpy and warm. When I compliment my daughter’s friends on their taste in clothing or their appearance in general, I imagine it is you, sitting across the kitchen table, squirming uncomfortably and glancing at my daughter for an explanation. I like to make them feel awkward so I can feel closer to you, dear.
Of course it is difficult, knowing so little of you past 1961. I imagine you are 51 as well. A lawyer, perhaps. Or a doctor? You always knew to be careful not to throw gravel at me too hard when I chased you through the playground. Maybe a concert pianist? An engineer? Whatever it is, dear, don’t worry—to live the life I’ve dreamt for us, we will need little more than a kayak, some masking tape, and a couple of Valencia oranges injected with antifreeze.
Darling, I request your presence at a dinner of our souls! Come any time you want. I will make it a point to be there every Monday, Tuesday, and alternating Thursday at12:30in the afternoon. I will be sitting in the non-smoking section and reading The Bergen Record. There will always be a medium-rare cheeseburger waiting for you when you arrive.
And I’ll make sure they bring extra catsup. I remember how much you liked catsup. Yours, Samuel.
A few years after the Bar Issue was published, an anonymous NYU student emailed to share an experience involving a copy. Some screenplay format involved—whoa!
Last week while meandering through the Village with a friend to whom I’ve not yet come out, I made sure to pass as many gay flags, gay bars, and hand-holding boys as possible. Then at Duplex, one of the waiters a little older than me was wearing an open hipster dress shirt and faded red snug briefs, that’s it. Just nonchalantly wiping off a table outside. I did a triple take. It was almost a quadruple. It was confounding but I was grateful. I returned home later that night and told my father that I took Jordan through parts of Midtown and through Greenwich Village.
INT. LIVING ROOM—12:45 AM SUNDAY EARLY MORNING
You go there to the Village?
Yeah. I go to school there though, so. . .
Don’t go into the bars there. You go there?
I can’t help a smirk here.
You go there, don’t you..
lmao No. Not inside, we walked there.
Because a lot of AIDS there. Don’t go in there—there’s lots of gays. At my hospital, two of the doctors—they say let’s go drink in the Village. Yeah, they got AIDS. The cups. You drink there and there’s syphilis on the cups. And the chairs. Don’t go to the bars there. It’s a dirty place.
(to self) Oh it’s a dirty place, alright: there was this hipster boy with snug briefs—
AIDS, syphilis, herpes, . . . syphilis.
This incidentally is sort of the first sex talk I’ve received from my parents. And it’s about AIDS.. shrug.
Twenty minutes prior, on the Q ride home, I was just reading through your bar issue for an East Village location to sample soon. Sophie’s doesn’t have those syphilis cups, right?
The Spring 2005 Editorial Board
Editor-in-Chief: Maureen Andary
Managing Editor: Kate Domaingue
Submissions Editor: Brad Reina
Copy Editor: Jonathan Fedors
Publication Staff: Selwyn Chu, Anna Katterjohn, Frederick Limson, Lisa Locascio, Emily McManus, Rishi Patel, Hanna Schlender, Axel Wilhite