SoHo Journal: The Magazine of Arts and Politics in SoHo and the Hamptons Soho Politics Blog Hamptons Politics Blog

August 2nd, 2007

SOHO GADABOUT

by Anthony Venditto

I love the summer in New York City. I know the prevailing wisdom amongst the cognoscenti is that summer in the city is fit for neither man nor beast. I’ve even heard those in the hipster elite compare a NYC summer to having a naked, fat epileptic chick wrapped loosely in saran wrap squat on your chest and just sweat and giggle for three months straight.

But to those foolish naysayers I say: You are weak, narrow-minded sheep! Take off your blinders of sobriety, strap on your beer goggles of enlightenment and LIVE! Summer is a time when anything and everything becomes doable. It’s the season when, perennially, the planet wakes from its slumber, comes alive, spreads its legs and dares us to dive in for a taste.

Summer in the city is a veritable feast of the flesh. It’s a decadent circus filled with scantily clad ladies and scads of spindly legged, pasty-faced foreigners. It’s a carnival of hazy humidity where filthy hippies, from time to time, will spontaneously combust before your very eyes. It’s a wonderland of playground after playground of fat, unwashed, ugly, ugly children.

In short: Summer in the city is a Fellini film come to life for those of us brave enough and drunk enough to discover it. So come with me, if you will, as I reveal to you my top ten favorite places to wile away the dog days.

The Staten Island Ferry:
For those of us who want to experience a sea faring voyage on a restrictive budget, there is the Staten Island Ferry, located (appropriately enough) at the ass end of Manhattan. The ferry is free and offers a round-trip excursion to and from the forgotten borough in just under an hour.

Now, I’m not suggesting you actually visit the Isle of Staten, for with this experience the joy is in the journey, not the destination. Add in $4 Bud can tall boys and breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and one can spend the day starring in their own drunken version of Titanic. Only, you know, with a happy ending.

The Rooftop Bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Sure $7 keg cans of Heiny seem steep, but look at all you get: Panoramic views of the Greatest City on Earth, revolving displays of sculpture and “what the fuck is that supposed to be?” modern art, plus the freedom to smoke cigarettes without being hounded by the nicotine Nazis who have taken control of our fair city.

Plus there’s something magically sensual about watching the sunset over Central Park, kissing the canopy of trees goodnight, while surrounded by free-forming herds of fanny pack wearing Euro trash as they murder the English language.

Double Down Saloon @ Ave. A & Houston:
One day I was walking by this bar and I saw a sign that shouted, “Free Pony Rides Inside”. Being a connoisseur of the finer things in life I stepped in for a look-see.

This bar was kooky. They had violent, Japanese anime blasting from the televisions and Louie Prima boppin’ out of the juke.What touched my soul, though, was the homemade bacon infused vodka they serve. They’ve got a nice, cheap pool table to boot.

What makes this bar a great summer hangout, however, is its outdoor backyard garden. It’s a green square cut between the buildings where they host parties and barbecues all summer long. Oh, and if you want to find out about the pony rides, you’ll just have to go there.

Sideshows by the Seashore @ Coney Island:
Take a train ride out to Coney Island and visit this authentic house of freaks just two blocks north of Nathan’s. They host daily entertainment throughout the summer and every day is a unique treat. They don’t only have freak shows either. They host magic spectacles and a real life burlesque to boot. The last time I was there I witnessed a guy hammer a lollipop stick up his nostril. If that’s not good, clean summer fun, I don’t know what is. Also, the beach is like a block away, if you’re into that kinda thing.

Boathouse in Central Park:
Nestled in the bosom of Central Park lies a lake. Beside the lake sits a boathouse. Inside the boathouse works an angry Polish man named Peter who rents rowboats. The boats only cost $10 an hour and they don’t frisk you for “contraband” before you disembark.

The only drawback to this tranquil trip is having to fight past all the Asian bridezillas as they and their entourages jockey for position along the shores to capture the perfect wedding photo. On one recent trip I counted eight separate Asian brides. Creepy.

Chick Fishing, 7th ave between 27th and 28th streets:
Imagine a regular fishing trip. Only instead of a boat on a river, you’re sitting on a park bench outside the student center of the Fashion Institute of Technology. And instead of a rod and reel you’re armed with the complete works of Jane Austen and a well-worn copy of The Devil Wears Prada.

Now, just camouflage yourself to look like an emotionally vulnerable lead guitarist in an emo band, (read: old school Chuck Taylor all stars; soulful, earth toned corduroy pants; anything Charlie Brown would wear.) pretend to read your book (bait) and wait. Just like with real fishing, if you’re patient and know how to lie convincingly you’ll walk away with a catch or two.

BEWARE: F.I.T holds classes for high school kids during the summer so be sure to check for full maturity, and don’t be afraid to practice an aggressive catch and release policy. If you play it right, this will be one hole you can never overfish.

Movie Marathon @ AMC 25 on 42nd Street:
This five story multiplex is the perfect place to recapture your youth by sneaking into as many movies as you can in one day. At least once a summer I like to pack a bag of supplies (beers, candy, sandwiches, whiskey, magazines, chapstick) and head out for the day.

With minimal planning one can get into as many as five shows in a day. This is due to the insanely huge size of the theater and the complete apathy of the pimple-faced teenaged staff. I’ve been doing this for years and have never been caught. It’s a lil’ slice of urban anarchy that lets you stick it to The Man. Just remember: you didn’t hear it from me.

Otto’s Shrunken Head @ 14th and Ave. A:
This place has live entertainment nightly. They also have dj-hosted theme parties and giant rum filled drinks served in cereal bowls with fire in the middle of them. On top of that this bar may very well be the BEST place in the city to beat back the heat during the week when both the temperature and the humidity flirt with triple digits.

Monday through Friday they have happy hour from noon till 8PM featuring two for one Bud and Bud Light bottles and half price on all the rot gut house liquor you can drink. They have an insanely powerful air conditioner, a Big Buck Hunter machine, video touch screen games, (or as I like to call them: video crack) and a brand new Pirates of the Caribbean pinball machine that is way cooler than the piece of shit movie.

Add into the mix free wi-fi access, a mile high pile of delivery food menus, eye candy bartenders who can actually hold a conversation and you’ve got a great daytime retreat where you can go after calling out of work, sit back, and continue destroying your liver at a leisurely pace.

The Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria:
This is the last of the original beer gardens in the 5 boroughs. It’s basically a soccer field sized courtyard enclosed by an ancient brick and cement wall filled with dozens upon dozens of picnic tables. There are also two outdoor bars, a stage, and a grease pit where a filthy cook with little to no working knowledge of the English language cooks up bratwursts meatier and smokier than Dr. Phil’s thighs. The best part: it’s outside so smoking is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

Sure, the owners may or not have been Nazi sympathizers – I’m not a historian. What I am is a highly discerning alcoholic with a non-discerning eye for the ladies and this place is my drunken, chunky-chick-filled Valhalla. They have a dozen or so beers on tap and they sell for a very reasonable $12 or so per pitcher. A word to the wise: Get there early!

Seaside Heights, NJ:
Okay, so the Jersey shore isn’t in the city, it’s not even in the state, but it is way closer than the Hamptons and way, way more fun than Jones Beach.

If, like me, you can’t get enough of Italian teenagers wearing cut off denim shorts while driving Camaros and eating funnel cake then this is your dream vacation spot. And I’m not just saying that because this is where I went after my senior prom.

This Garden State Eden is a paradise replete with off-white sandy shores and brownish/ greenish seas. It’s an idyllic vacation spot where a man can squander away the day walking the ever-entertaining boardwalk with his head and pride held high – as is the Jersey way!

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Commentary | Community | New York

Articles

Search

Information

Extras

soho journal current cover
Newsletter

Yoga With April locations resource locations resource