As usual, the bartender, as I tumbled into the Tempus Fugit last night 2:21, was leaning over the hardwood and reading a yellowed copy of "The New York Herald-Tribune" a paper that went belly-up in 1966.
As I settled into my favorite seat, one in from the end, he closed the broadsheet in half, and then folded it neatly in thirds like a wizened old newsie would in an old newsstand on a subway platform that might have sold a bag of salted peanuts for a nickel.
He shifted his center of 'gravitas' to the right, and in a sweeping motion filled for me a six-ounce juice glass with Pike's Ale (the ALE that won for YALE!)
Pike's, it must be said, turned state's evidence around the same time as the aforementioned fish-wrapping. But the amber is of such a surpassing perfection that the management of the Tempus Fugit bought the entirety of the brewery's remaining suds and they still have old wooden barrels of the liquid in some 'Cask of Amontillado' like cavern, a cavern that in all likelihood meanders its way underneath E. 91st Street where the Tempus Fugit sits, all the way up to Spanish Harlem, or even, Mott Haven for all I know.
There’s a notion that Manhattan, even in the times of the Lenni Lenape was always concrete, glass and steel. In truth, the island is little more than an alluvial impediment to the free roar of the mighty Atlantic which, in our climate-changing era—periodically subsumes those portions of our ancient rock that will, one day when we are all gone, when even the Tempus Fugit is gone, return to the sea not with a bang, like Frost said, but with a drip, drop and whimper.
I downed my Pike’s in one prodigious swallow and tapped my glass—my laconic way of indicating that I’d favor another.
The bartender complied, took a puff out of the corona that he keeps lit in the ones slot of his cash drawer, and then began the evening’s disquisition.
“It looks like,” he grumbled, “that those who control the means of production are having their way with you.”
“Yes. In the dialectic between capital and labor, labor is getting the short end of the stick.”
I nursed my second Pike’s like a newborn. He grabbed a worn white terry and wiped ever-shinier the worn rich mahogany of the bar-top.
"There are times," I continued "I'm not sure we get a stick at all. Or better, the only stick we see is the one they beat us over the head with."
"Fortunately," he said and he pulled me my third and final Pike's, "Fortunately, Pike's can serve as the opiate of the people."
I swilled down said opiate.
"To Pike's," I said as I put on my coat and shoved two twenties in his direction.
"To Pike's," he answered, knocking the wood of the bartop. "And on me."
I walked, no staggered, home as the morning was lighting up the far reach of Hell's Gate.