< topography - Borderlands East

  

Botanica
Houston, E of Lafayette
Borderlands East
Manhattan
Botanica, what it means to be average. I hear that the DJs are, from time to time, worth checking out. [This place actually gets crowded!] { PK1 11/16/99: The first time i experienced Botanica i was impressed with its sunken "just a little gritty" atmosphere consisting of two relatively large drinking spaces filled with varied seating arrangements that were, in turn, filled by those i perceived to be "real new yorkers." But then, this was seven years ago and i was drinking illegally and had yet to actually live in The City. Now, and over the past year, despite its above-average lineup of djs, the potential of its young (21-33) crowd to be tolerable, and the sustained "just a little gritty" environment, i never return without the pretense of an invitation to the birthday gathering of this or that person with whom i am acquainted. Put it this way, my most enjoyable half hr. here was when i popped in one winter afternoon with the express purpose of changing into the new shoes that i had just purchased on Broadway, and read the paper over a red stripe.} { Eclipse the Gum 1/18/01: There's only one reason to go to this bar. It's the site of the old Knitting Factory. Remember way before it became a conglomerate to rival BMG? And all the tables had polyed over jazz albums? And they wouldn't look at your ID, much less ask for it? Remember those days? When going across Bowery meant hitting the Hinterland VU-style? Ah, college...}

Milano's
Houston, around Mott
Borderlands East
Manhattan
[It took me three years to have a drink at Milano's. I've lost count of the number of times I met people there and left immediately, the number of times, walking home drunk, I checked it out and decided  no. Whether these three years bear witness to the extreme narrowness of the space, which makes the International feel like a four-lane highway, or to the fact that Milano's often seems too crowded, I can't say. I  can say: that when I ordered a Maker's neat, the man next to me said, "Ah, that's the only way to drink it"; that when I looked around I saw an older crowd, of which I am slowly, painfully becoming a part; that the tender was very professional, in an Irish bar sense (!?); that the prices were decent; that I liked all of the kitsch; that I only stayed for one drink.] { Cassandra 2/2/01: I must have walked by this bar a million times, but since I hate walking on Houston, I missed it. I finally did walk in to join a pleathered friend at about 10:30 on a Saturday night and the crush was entirely bearable. As I crossed the threshold, a punked out couple, whose age is a mystery to me since they had that Keith Richards grizzled drug look, invited me to sit with them since they liked my face. I squeezed my way to the back and stood chairless at the bar almost salivating for a drink. A very sweet, slightly dirty middle-timer moved over a stool and offered me his seat. Props to him, because he then modestly turned back to his paper. Most people in here seem to mind their business, which is nice for girls who like to go to small grubby bars. Wasn't into the Junior High picture collages on the wall though.} { Cassandra 4/10/01: Even during prime drinking hours on a Friday night, I was able to find a seat with a friend and get a drink whenever I wanted from an extremely polite bartender, whose buyback came after my second drink. Aside from us, there was only one other woman in the bar - a nutcase who told me that I shouldn't be afraid to be a woman by wearing a dress. At least 6 different men approached our table, introduced themselves and struck up conversations about everything from movies to travel to linguistics and left before they got old...no penis envy here!} { Jakeed 6/18/01: everytime I come here some bloke asks me for a ciggy then blahblahblahs about unfiltered smokes and the service is hit  or miss and the prices are I can't remember but the location is prime real estate for starting-early evenings} { Cassandra 6/18/01: On the third try I realized that perhaps one third of the time this place is not so great. The service as well as the buy backs were atrocious. How long do I have to sit and stare at the bartender with an empty beer in my hand until I get served my umpteenth beer and still have to pay? It seemed to be macho night too - lots of yelling, like at a race track. If I were to put it in human terms, the young loud bartender had just gotten too drunk, while the older, surly bartender's wife had kicked him out the night before.}

Idlewild
Houston, Forsyth/Eldridge
Borderlands East
Manhattan
Merely a glance at the doorman before the polished steel façade and you already recognize that middle-of-the-hip price range. All the same, on an off-night, when the paucity of people makes it easier to see the interior design—including two rows of airplane seats in a kind of fuselage section—this stumbling-distance-from-LES spot satisfies one's occasional need for speed. [In the long run, if you're going to kick down the cash, the crowd should at least be as interesting as the décor. Part of the problem, apparently, is a tightly controlled crowd flow that, sometimes, involves a moratorium on dancing.] { PK1 11/16/99: This is another place that i have only experienced as a result of some invitation to a birthday gathering, including one of my own (though i had nothing to do with the planning). Though i have enjoyed those occasions, and some have been good openers to nights of extended activities, I've never had the urge to go there. There is something not right about the atmosphere. Maybe it is too much of a reminder of actually being in an airport bar and what that implies about any potential companionship. The place, in terms of design, is worth checking out, but after including all those details, why didn't they get those super flush toilets like the real deal?} { Eclipse the Gum 1/10/01: Like a five hour flight from LA to NY, this bar can be cosmically boring. So, bring your own entertainment. I recommend my friend, K***** ******, who has the superpower of going from Carrie Nation sober to WC Fields blotto in two and a half drinks. In said drink-span, I saw him toast the DJ, toast a table of random cutie-pies and dance to every song as if it were by Depeche Mode. By end of the evening, he was betting me $10,000 he wouldn't throw up.}

Spiral
Houston, E of A
Borderlands East
Manhattan
Why not? Cheap DIY music and reasonable drink prices, not to mention pinball, recommend the Spiral for your consideration. [You have to admit: not a bad place to go when you need to drink and hide and shoot some PB.]

Mercury Lounge
Houston, E of Ludlow
Borderlands East
Manhattan
I hate this place. It's unfortunate that, from time to time, the band is good. Forgiveness, in the end, is not forthcoming, for having cut off Wayne the Train, before he was finished saying what he had to say, playing what he had to play. That They should ask him not to play another encore, because Apples In Stereo is up next, is an offense beyond repair.

Meow Mix
Houston @ Norfolk
Borderlands East
Manhattan
[Although I was too late to hear the band I was invited down to see, I felt welcomed by the box tunes in progress when I did at last arrive...from  Stoner Witch to  Fontanelle to  Badmotorfinger. I drank my whiskey from a plastic cup in this cozy "East Village Ladies Club" and admired the general punkrockness, if not downright PDXness, of its décor and patrons. Roger Human Being, who inhumanly plays guitar and drums and sings simultaneously, announced a few songs into his set that he was too upset to play, so I left.]

Parkside Bar
Houston @ Attorney
Borderlands East
Manhattan
{ Eclipse the Gum 1/19/01: This is one of the perfect NYC bars. Pool table. Industrial fan/smoke sucker. Edgy, but accommodating jukebox. Backroom with occasional music players. Everyone you know—no matter how much of a cunt—will think this is a fine place to drink. Next to nothing exciting on tap; when in doubt, go whisky. The low volume (in terms of crowd and music) makes weekdays preferrable, but if you want to engage a game of elbow-tittin', I'll see you there Saturday.}

on to Noho or on to E.Vill. and St. Mark's Place and Thirst Avenue or on to Alphabet City and Avenue A
or on to Little Italy or on to LES

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Manhattan/Borderlands East