Jonathan (left) on guitar and Yosef on drums — I’m sorry I don’t know the names of the other audience members performing this set. (Photo by Taylor, another regular Sunday Blues jammer.)

I know this is late.  I spent too much time this week watching the Olympics, then on Sunday I was called in during brunch — something was wrong with the soda guns.  Got stuck there for another two hours in meetings.  I returned home just in time to take a shower and head back for my regular shift.  You know how it goes . . .

Let’s face it, I’ll never make money on Sunday at Johnny D’s.  Tips on a Friday or Saturday night are sometimes 5 times better than for the Sunday afternoon/evening Blues Jam — but that aside, it’s a good shift.

There’s something honest about Jam, and about the people in the audience — especially those who are randomly thrown together on stage for each set.  Often, they’re meeting each other for the first time . . . and they just start playing.  And it’s good.  That always amazes me.

At least for the summer, something else interesting is going on — there’s no longer a house band to start things off, the music goes straight to the Jam.  The jammers themselves now sort through the sign-up sheet and call out the next names.  There’s no more cover charge at the door for customers walking in — this summer, the Jam is free for everyone.

Yup, the jammers now run the show.  (We like to say, “The inmates are running the asylum.”)  They’re breaking all the rules, but I guess it’s a good thing.

At least Sunday is a laid-back shift.  And beyond good music, the shift has perks of its own — a lot of weird stuff happens when things are done out of the box.  There’s always good conversations and great stories from the Jam.  Here are a few of my favorites . . .

(1) Fatal Attraction

Remember the old lawyer’s adage that when cross-examining a witness you should never ask a question unless you already know the answer?  The same good advice sometimes apply to bartending.

One Sunday afternoon, a long-time regular was at the bar after just playing on stage.   I’ll call him “Paul” (not using his real name for reasons that will become clear in a moment.)  I served “Paul” a beer, and I was thinking that I hadn’t heard about his new girlfriend in a while — he’d shown me a picture of her once, a tiny gal who standing next to him wasn’t much taller than his elbows.

“So Paul,  . . . how’s the little woman?” I asked before thinking.

The look on his face told me I’d just asked the wrong question.

“Oh, God!” he replied.

He began to tell me about a relationship that had gone suddenly to hell.  Apparently this little gal had a lot going on behind her quiet, innocent smile.  As the bad stuff came out, she turned into a raving lunatic.

“She was calling me all hours of the night,” Paul said, “She was complaining non-stop about everything I did.  I did this to disappoint her, I did that to make her mad.”

“I found myself apologizing,” he said, “For things I didn’t even do!

After Paul finally broke it off, she became intent on “revenge.”

The late-night phone calls and constant blaming escalated.  There were long, profanity-laced emails flooding his mailbox.  She showed up at his front door unannounced, ranting.

She even tried to get him barred from another club where he’d been a regular for years. (She’d taken a job as a waitress there recently.)  Fortunately the club’s owner tried to get things back under control.  “Just try to stay away from her,” he told Paul, “It’ll all blow over.”

“But I’d try to hide in a corner,” Paul explained now, “And she’d find me and start in all over again.”

In the end, there was no bunny being boiled in a pot of water on the stove (Fatal Attraction), but there was at least one pint of beer dumped over someone’s head . . . and through it all, Paul was the only one who got wet.

Live and learn.  I should have known there was a reason why I hadn’t heard about the “little woman” in a while.

(2) “OK, I think you’ve had enough!”

There was a server at Johnny D’s who always ended his brunch shift by staying around for the Blues Jam afterward and having a few drinks.  Actually, having quite a few drinks.

This server was on track to become a manger, and one Sunday afternoon Tina DeLellis, the owner, decided that this guy wasn’t doing himself, or her club any good by getting shit-faced in front of the customers and the rest of the staff.

She went over to him to suggest that he might slow down, perhaps go somewhere else if he was determined to get half-in-the-bag.

But this server wouldn’t hear of it, he was having too much fun.

The discussion continued with Tina becoming more and more insistent.

“No!” the waiter said finally, folding him arms across his chest, “I’m staying here . . . I want another shot and another beer!”

Tina turned as though about to walk away, . . . then she turned quickly back.  She reached out and grabbed one of the guy’s ears.  With a firm tugging motion she pulled on his ear until he had to get up off his stool and follow her.

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It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen.  Tina was maybe 5’ 6”, 110 pounds, a lovely sixty-something blond lady who was dragging this twenty-four-year old server toward the door by his ear.

He was 6’ tall, 200 lbs, but at the moment he looked like a little boy being dragged along by his ear by his mother.  As Tina pulled him bent over toward the door, all he could do was yell out, “Oouuch!  Hey, stop!  Ow . . . Ow . . . Ow!”

Like I said, it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a bar.

(3) Any story from Taylor is a good one

John Taylor (everyone just calls him “Taylor”) is a veteran drummer/vocalist who’s been coming to the Jam for years.  He’s one of the audience-performers now running the show.  He’s also by far the best story-teller at the Jam.

Taylor reminds me in a way of Steven King — most of King’s stories are in the horror genre, but then he writes something like “Stand by Me”, which is heart-felt tale about young boys on their way to becoming men.

In the  same sense most of Taylor’s stories are about bars, the nightlife, and about being a musician . . . but I think some of his best are about growing up in a tough Cambridge MA neighborhood.

One afternoon he told me a story very like “Stand by Me.”

It seems Taylor was confronted one day by a groups of young toughs several years older than he was — these guys were fifteen and sixteen years old, while he was only twelve.

One of the guys challenged him to a fist fight.  Taylor had done some boxing, and thought he could beat the kid, but he was worried what would happen afterward with the kid’s friends.

“I let him hit me a few times,” Taylor recalls, “I kept moving, tied him up, pushed him away . . . but I never really swung back hard.  I knew his friends would beat the crap out of me if I knocked him down.”

The next day, Taylor showed up on that kid’s doorstep.  The guy’s mom answered the door.

“Hi, Mrs. ____,” Taylor said politely, “Can Tommy come out and play?  I’m one of his friends.”

When Tommy came out, Taylor invited him to a secluded spot and proceeded to give him a lesson in boxing.  He knocked him down again and again, bloodying his nose until the kid begged to call it quits.

“Those guys never bothered me again,” Taylor explained.

I don’t know why, but I really love that story.  Every young man remembers the first time he had to make a choice — to stand up for himself — or to back down, and then live with that.

(4) First time on stage

Grant is also one of the jammers now running the show on Sunday.  He’s been playing at the Jam for twenty years, since he first arrived in Boston from his native New Zealand.

We like to bust his balls, saying that when his plane took off from New Zealand, he was seconds ahead of the local constable who stood on the runway beneath the jet’s exhaust waving a warrant for his arrest.

Grant still tells the story about the first time he stepped onto the stage at Johnny D’s — it was the first time he’d been on any stage anywhere.

“I was nervous as hell,“ he recalls, “Just starting out on guitar.”

Somehow he managed to hang in there, and after his solo he was feeling pretty good about it all.

“I thought, . . .  that wasn’t too bad,” Grant recalls, “I thought I’d gotten through it in one piece.”

Then the young man beside him began to play his solo.  The kid couldn’t have been more than thirteen years old.

“He began ripping through stuff like B. B. King or Stevie Ray Vaughan,“ Grant laughs, “He blew me off the stage!”

That first time on stage, Grant just happened to be up there with young guitar prodigy Mike Welch.

The same Mike Welch who would later be asked by Dan Akyrod to play at the opening of the original House of Blues, in nearby Cambridge, MA.  The same Mike Welch who would have that first House of Blues crowd applauding and cheering so wildly that Akyrod would leap up onto the stage shouting, “Mike Welch, ladies and gentlemen . . . Monster Mike Welch . . . Monster Mike Welch!”  It’s a name Mike Welch says has stuck with him, whether he likes it or not.  Mike now tours America and Europe with the Monster Mike Welch Band.  (Imagine being on stage for the first time at a local jam, and being followed by this guy.)

5) Stormy Monday

This might be my favorite blues jam story, but it’s too long to do justice to it here.  Let me just say that it involved the three Sunday regulars in this photo . . . and it ended with the guy in the middle trying to give the guy on the right an engagement ring — while they were sitting in a crowded blue-collar bar.  (It’s not what you think . . . read the full story here.)


This is another of my favorite Blues Jam stories.  I’ve told it before, so I’ll just give a quick synopsis here.

When Johnny D’s first started the Blues Jam, we had a young woman checking ID’s at the door.  One afternoon this huge guy walked in.  He looked like the Incredible Hulk, complete with bulging muscles beneath a torn T-shirt.  That T-shirt was smeared with dirt and it looked like there was blood on it, as though he’d already been fighting somewhere else that day.

The door lady stopped him.  It was clear they were having words.

“What the FUCK do you mean, I can’t come in!” the big guy said.

I came out from behind the bar.

“What the fuck is the problem?” the guy asked as I approached, “Why the fuck won’t this girl let me in?”

He was two feet away from me, arms away from his body as though he was about to grab and crush me.

I tried to straddle that fine line between being unbending, yet non-confrontational.  As we talked, I was thinking about what this guy might do to me.

I would later learn that he’d just gotten out of prison.  He’d been serving time for beating the shit out of people, and sending them to the hospital.  Right now he was clearly messed up on some kind of drugs.

He stood there looking at me, but when he saw that I wasn’t going to back down . . . the strangest thing happened.

His eyes began to water.  He had a few tears trickling down his dirt-smudged cheeks.

“Give me a hug,” he said, stretching out his massive arms.

“What???” I thought.

“Give me a hug,” he said again.

I hesitated.

If he got those arms around me, I’d be fucked.  There’d be no chance for a quick defensive strike to a vital area.

Give me a hug,” he said.

So I gave him a hug.

We stood in the open area by the front door, two guys with their arms wrapped around each other for a minute as I patted him on the back.

Then he turned and left.

“Thank you,” he said over his shoulder as he left, “Thank you.  I know I’m all fucked up . . . I’m all alone.”

“That was the first time in here I’ve actually been afraid for my safety,” the young door lady said afterwards.

“But all he wanted was a big hug!” she laughed.

Yup, I took a lot of ribbing for the rest of the shift.



(7) OK, I’ve run out of room — but I have to cite all the conversations and stories from the jammers on any given Sunday.

We have a great crew of regulars . . . Dan (on harmonica and vocals) and his lovely lady, Ashley.  Kevin, a regular who absolutely smoked his set this week (guitar and vocals).  Jonathan is has been stopping in again recently –one of the best guitar players at the Jam (he’s in the photo at the top of the page.)  There’s Sharkbite Mike (harmonica), and another Dan (guitar) who when he’s not rocking his stuff on stage, is a manger at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, in Sudbury MA.

Good conversation, great music, plenty of classic stories . . . I can live with that for one shift.

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SHIT CUSTOMERS SAY (when they think we’re not listening)

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It always amazes me when customers carry on private conversations — when they discuss things they clearly don’t want overheard — while there’s a bartender working just two feet away. 

They talk trash about their girlfriends or boyfriends, their bosses, even their own mothers.  They discuss the crimes they’ve pulled off, or new ones they’re plotting.  They plan to share these secrets only with the person sitting beside them although we’re standing right across from them both.

I’ve seen customers look to the left, then look to the right to make sure they aren’t being overheard . . . then tell someone the most personal things even as I reach out to pick up their glasses, or hand them their change.

Sometimes behind the bar, we’re like the invisible man (or woman.)

Often when you hear this stuff it’s hard not to laugh out loud.  Other times you want to reach over and slap them up the side of the head, . . . and sometimes it’s just like a 30-second novel, an epic story in a few dozen words.

Here are a few of my favorite things overheard while bartending:

(1) Two women in their late twenties were sitting at the bar talking; they were rough-looking gals who’d clearly been around the block a few times.  One of them said to the other, “He’s a great guy, but my God, he has the worst-tasting pee . . . !

(2)  An older, connected-looking guy (thick gold chains hanging from his neck and a gaudy pinky ring his little finger) was talking with a body-guard-looking type.  The “body-guard” listened attentively to everything the old-timer said.  The old guy sipped his brandy as he spoke in low tones:  “The guy’s real good . . . he did a lot of work for us when I was in the can.  I want you to get hold of him Monday . . . he’ll end this shit.  You know what I mean.”

(3) A middle-aged man and his girlfriend were regulars at this bar in upstate New York.  They always got along well, but one day they seemed to be arguing.  As I walked by, I happened to overhear him tell her, “You’re such a fucking slut . . . you’ve suck more cock than I saw in the Army!”

(4) Two guys in their mid-twenties were talking about the business one of them had gone into recently, something that involved medical equipment and services.  “There’s a lot of money to be made from them,” the young man said to his friend, “They’re helpless, pathetic . . . sooner or later they’re going to need everything.”

He was talking about “the boomers.”  People in their sixties.

“It’s only going to go one direction for them,” the young man continued, “You’ll be able to charge them anything you want.”

“I’m telling you,” the young man confided to his buddy, “ . . . It’s a gold mine.”

(5)  Maybe I like this next favorite because it’s so recent — just happened the other night.  It’s not from the bar, but from the door at the club — but I want to include it anyway.

At Johnny D’s when there’s a big show and a line down the street, obviously the people waiting to pay are let into the club first.  But if there’s room, people can say they’re just here for a drink, and then hang out on the bar side to enjoy what’s happening.

On this particular night, a few casual customers were being allowed into the bar side.

Joe was on the door when a shaky-looking guy stood in front of him.  “I’m not here for the music,” the man said, “I just want to come in.  Let me in . . . I just got out of the half-way house and I really need a drink!”

(6)  There was a college professor who showed up now and then at an upstate New York bar where I was working.  He once told me he taught psychology.

Sometimes he’d sit with another man in his late forties, early fifties — who I assumed was also a professor from the college.  Other times he’d come in with one or two younger guys that I figured must be among his graduate students.

I was in my early twenties, and still pretty naive.

One night the professor walked in with a young man wearing a cowboy hat.  In his mid-twenties, this guy was speaking with an exaggerated western-movie accent — which with the hat made him stand out like a sore thumb in our bar — but he didn’t seem to mind.  I think if anything he was enjoying the attention, even if it was mostly in the form of quizzical stares.

All the other times the professor was at the bar with someone, they’d just sit there talking privately  But after a few drinks, this cowboy really began to ham it up.  Soon he was all over the place.

First he was dancing in the back room with just about everybody, including men — always a couple of feet away from his dancing partners, he was doing old sixties-type dance steps.  He stopped to talk with someone at the jukebox, then with a young couple seated at one of the tables.  The couple couldn’t stop laughing at his exaggerated antics.

I was working the service station, not three feet away from where the professor was sitting.  I couldn’t help overhear hear what he said when the cowboy came back for his drink.

The young man didn’t even bother to sit down.  He just stood at the bar and took a long swig of his cocktail.  He was about to head back into the crowd when the professor spoke.

“Why do you do this to me?” the professor asked.  His voice, which was normally deep and measured, now seemed to crack a little.  I glanced over, and his eyes were brimming.  He was on the verge of tears.

“Why do you do this to me?” the professor asked, “ . . .You know I love you.”

“Oh no, . . . don’t you start that here!” the young man snapped.  He laughed, and after one more long gulp, he went back to the dance floor.

I tried to look busy, as though I was making drinks and hadn’t heard a thing — but out of the corner of my eye I saw the professor looking at me.

For whatever reason, I never saw the professor in there again.

(7)  Two striking young blonds were at the bar, dressed to kill.  They both had two- hundred-dollar haircuts, and sleek clothes to match.  One of them lifted her glass thoughtfully, tossed her hair to one side as she spoke to the other, “Well, he looked like he was established . . . but you never really know, do you?  I’m going to try to find out this weekend.”

(8) The next favorite isn’t really something overheard, but certain customers have said this from time to time . . .

A shady-looking guy walked into the bar where I worked.  He kept looking around as he sat down.  There was something strange about his eyes; they were flat, a little deadened.  “I haven’t been here in fifteen years,” he said, looking over his shoulder again.  “. . . I’ve been away.”  Judging by his behavior and what I now believed was a jail-house stare in his eyes, I figured he’d just gotten out of prison.

“I haven’t been here in . . . ten years,” another guy said one day at this same bar.  “I’ve been in . . . California.”  From the rest of his conversation, and his efforts to act like a tough guy, I figured he wanted me to think that he’d been in prison.  It was a tough bar.  He’d probably heard another customer say something like this, and he wanted to give the same impression.

(9)  Two men in business suits were sitting at the bar in a Quincy Market place.  One man said to the other, “The auditors are coming Monday . . . I think I’m fucked.”

(10)  A group of very attractive women in their early thirties were at the club on what was clearly a girl’s night out.  Each time I went down to serve them, they were talking about dogs — different kinds of dogs, which dogs they preferred, and why.

At one point they were looking over the club’s schedule, and one of them noticed that a band called The Love Dogs would be playing that weekend.  “Oh, THE LOVE DOGS!” she snorted, with a deep-throated, slightly raunchy laugh.  “I have to see THAT band!”  And they all laughed.

Another time when I came down to them, one of the girls was describing a dog.  “He’s such a beautiful animal,” she told the others, “. . . But he doesn’t know what to do.”  And they all laughed again.

This went on the entire time they were there, probably over the course of two hours.

When I recounted all this to a woman friend a few days later, she said they had probably noticed I was listening and decided to take me for a ride.

“I’ve done things like that myself,” she told me, “When I thought someone was listening to the conversation.”

I’m not really sure what was happening that night.  Maybe they were toying with me, or maybe they were just talking, oblivious to my presence.

Anyway, these are just a few of the things overheard.  A word to the wise . . . the bartender is there.  And we can hear you.


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Usually when people talk about a bartender’s escape, scenes of tropical islands or some weekend ski resort come to mind.  But today I’m thinking about a different kind of break . . . an escape from the real world in the opposite direction.  Something that happens every time you step behind the taps.

What do you do when you split with your girlfriend, your apartment sucks, or you’ve just about had it with life in general?  Want to stop thinking and get away for a while?  Working behind the bar might be the best answer.

The most obvious reason (and what got me into this business) — is that behind the taps you’re constantly meeting new people.  Men meet women, women meet men — whatever you’re into happens more easily tending bar.  But there’s actually quite a bit more going on.

(1) Keeping busy.  Everyone says the best solution for difficult times is to keep your mind off things.  In a busy bar, you have no choice.  When the rush hits, the biggest problems in the world are pushed to the background.  They melt away.  During the crunch you don’t have time to think . . . you don’t have time to notice that you’re hungry or thirsty, there’s no time to worry about that psycho roommate or the rent.  There’s no time for anything but pushing out the drinks.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve come to work in a bit of a funk . . . and then half an hour, an hour later, I’ll suddenly notice that I don’t feel so bad after all.  Without doing anything — by simply escaping behind the bar for a while — things seem to have a way of smoothing themselves out.

Yes, there’s pressure (Lucy in the chocolate factory comes to mind), but after a while you find yourself looking forward to that rush.  It is a great escape.  It’s like a veteran boxer stepping into the ring, worn and tired.  But then the rush hits, the bell rings, and everything becomes automatic.  The fighter still remains, . . . and when the crunch is over whatever was nagging you has somehow lightened up.  You feel strangely refreshed.

(2) “Where everybody knows your name.”  Of course that’s not always true, but it might as well be.  It’s the rare customer who remains a complete stranger for long.  People are much more open and social in a bar.

Imagine walking down the street and trying to strike up a conversation with someone walking the other way.  Sometimes on a bus you might talk with the person next to you, but those conversations are usually infrequent and short.

At the other end of the spectrum, people in bars are primed for interaction.  That’s why they’re here.  Every bar is different, and certainly there are the uppity-up places where status and protocol rule . . . but in most bars, conversation is welcome and even expected.

And no one has so much spontaneous conversation as the bartender.  No one has it so easy.

The Lark Tavern, Albany, NY.

I remember working at The Lark Tavern when I was twenty years old.  One afternoon I ended up talking with an old-timer who felt my  generation spelled nothing but disaster.  I could see it in the way he looked at me.

But somehow we began talking about the New York Yankees — maybe there was a game on the TV at the time.  He began talking about some of the great Yankee moments of his day — the home run sluggers Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1952 World Series.  He clearly enjoyed reliving those times, and I thoroughly enjoyed listing.  He had some great stories.  By the time he left, this old guy and I were shaking hands with a genuine mutual respect . . . something I don’t expect would have happened if not in a bar.

(3) Shared enthusiasm.  Watching something you enjoy on TV or online is great, but there’s nothing like the shared enthusiasm of a crowd.  At a game in person, or at a concert, the overwhelming energy of the crowd is part of the experience.

That’s what it’s like working the bar in a busy place.

This past Saturday night at Johnny D’s, our good friend Justin stopped in — he wasn’t planning to stay long, but there was a band called Gilmour’s Breakfast playing a Pink Floyd tribute.  These guys were really, really good.  Everyone was loving the music, the crowd was applauding every song, and Justin ended up staying until the last one was over.

“That was great,” he said, “That was really great!  I’m glad I got to see them.”

Even without live music, sometimes just the heightened vibe of the crowd is enough on it’s own to lift your spirits in a bar.  Being surrounded by people out to have a good time is irresistibly contagious.  There’s nothing quite like it.

(4) Doing something you’re good at.  Once you get your chops down, it’s nice to escape the outside struggles by doing something you’ve already mastered.  I can sit at home sweating over this chapter or that, feeling I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.

It’s good to take a break, to step behind the bar and do what I’ve been doing for most of my life.  It feels great to kick-ass behind the taps, to get the drinks out and be on top of everything for a while . . . and then go back to the life struggles, refreshed.

It’s probably a combination of all these things, but for me something about tending bar just makes for a great escape.

Here’s what happened last Saturday night, when I went to work feeling a little down.  Within in half an hour, these five people had completely turned my night around.

Val with her date at a Red Sox game.

First, Val (Valerie) came into the club.  I’ve known Val for years, every since she started coming to Monday Trivia Night.  We don’t see her nearly enough — during the week she has a serious administrative job, and on weekends she’s usually off enjoying a Red Sox game or a large-venue concert.  But every time she comes in, she brightens the place and it’s hard not to smile after she gives you a hug and a quick kiss on the cheek.

Then our good friend Dave caught me on the side to quietly say he was sorry to hear about Kate.  “That looked pretty serious,” a guy at the bar said when Dave stepped away.  I told him about Kate, and he looked up this blog on his Iphone.  He introduced himself (his name was Matt), and he began suggesting that I should get a Twitter account to drum up more readers.  I don’t know about the Twitter stuff, but I enjoyed talking about the blog with someone knowledgeable.

Justin ordered another drink, telling me how much he was enjoying the show.  He has a serious job by day, but his hobby is music — he’s an alto sax player who’s just taken up guitar.  His enthusiasm for the show was rubbing off on everyone around him, including me

Jules on stage.

One of Johnny D’s former bartenders happened to stop in.  Julian was one of our best behind the taps and it’s always good to see him in here again.  Julian plays in a rock band, and once again I tried to talk him into a song I want him to write.

While Julian was still working here, he’d meet his girlfriend’s father.  They hit it off right away, but as he was telling me that story I asked, “Does her father know you play in a punk rock band?”

Jules is 6’ 4”, 200 pounds, and he’s a wild man on stage.  I wanted him to write a song titled — “I’m dating your daughter!” — because I figured what dad really wants his little girl to date a rocker?

I can hear the notes to a song in my head.  I have an idea for the lyrics.

“I’m six foot, four . . .
“I play in a rock band,
“And I’m day-ting your daugh-ter!”

One of Jules band members overheard the conversation, and provided some fresh lyrics.

“You don’t have to ask . . .
“She takes it up the _ss,
“And I’m day-ting your daugh-ter!”

Now I have to apologize to Julian’s girl (who wasn’t there).  She is the cutest sweetheart, and there’s no way we should have been laughing at those proposed lyrics.  But at the time, in a bar, it was funny.

Bottom line, within half an hour I was back on an even keel.

A lot of bartenders (myself included) drifted into this business because it’s an easy way to meet new dates.  But there’s a lot more going on behind the taps, . . . and sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered.

(Sorry this post is late, . . . hopefully I’ll be back on schedule next week.  Next post will be late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, August 4th.)

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Sad news . . . my long-time friend Kate O’Connor passed away this week.  Kate and I worked together behind the bar many years ago, and although separated geographically afterward we always remained close via email, phone, and in spirit.  She was a smart, tough, eloquent woman who took all that life dished out and yet somehow still managed to shine.  No one who met her can forget her intelligence, charm, her refusal to sugar-coat things, and her wry sense of humor.  But she had battled multiple sclerosis for the last twenty years, and now she’s left us.  Dream sweet, beautiful lady.

(This week’s post coming Sunday or Monday.)

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Johnny D’s bartender, Oscar (left), with his brother Oliver, and a friend.

First, let me wish you a great Fourth of July now, because I’m taking this week off.  We’ll be back next Saturday with more tales of the bar life.  If this is your first time here and you’re looking for stories, you can glance through the archives on the right sidebar.  (Have you read “Danny” or “Joey Cigars?”)  There’s a list of “featured posts” and “popular posts” on the right — an “archives” box where you can search by month — and there’s even a “search” box on the top right.  (You can see if we’ve written about any friends and places you might know.)

And don’t forget to click on the sites listed on my blogroll — they’re all Top Shelf — really worth a visit.

But today, I’m using this space for a public service announcement, and one or two other odds and ends.

(1)   Free is good . . .

This Sunday, the weekly Blues Jam at Johnny D’s WILL BE FREE!  That’s right . . .  no cover charge at the door this Sunday, and in fact no cover charge at all for the jam during July and August.

(OK, it really wasn’t that much anyway, only three dollars . . . but now it’s nothing!  That’s even better.)

The Blues Jam happens every Sunday afternoon between 4 and 8 pm, and there’s always good, authentic music.  (New players welcome.  The kitchen is open — don’t forget to sample some of our local craft beers –and definitely don’t forget to tip your bartenders and wait staff.)


(2) Anonymity . . .

(Image from

If you read last week’s post, Stormy Monday, you know that I used pseudonyms to protect the identities of certain people.  I ended up choosing the name “Matt” for the main guy — just picked the name out of a hat, so to speak — but it turns out there may have been a real-life Matt involved in the story.  Here’s a comment posted in response:

“. . . The irony here is there’s a real-world Matt (a life-long friend of “Matt”), who would have convinced “Linda” to do him one last time. In the office. On the CEO’s desk.”

That’s from the guy I called “Carl” in the story.  Looks like there’s even more to the story that I thought, hmmm?  🙂

I’ve got a good story or two about “Carl”, as well.  I heard this one day when “Matt” and “Louie” were at the bar talking about what great luck “Carl” has with good-looking women.  (Except, of course, when it comes to his ex-wife and her exorbitant alimony.)

Carl does something with computer analysis and investors, predicting markets — his clients pay him ridiculous amounts of money.  It seems there was one group of investors who wanted to reward him even further for a job well done, so they flew him to Texas.  A limo met him at the airport, and inside were two, stunning Playmate-type blonds. Apparently there were bottles of Dom Perignon involved, and the girls began kissing each other, and then all three of them were naked, pouring champagne all over each others bodies.

I heard this from “Matt” and “Louie”, so I don’t have enough of the details to elaborate further.  (This would be yet another story where the names would have to be changed.)

As it turns out, it’s really only the names that must be kept secret  “I wouldn’t want people to do a search for my business, and find the (Stormy Monday) story right below one listing credentials,” ‘Matt’ explained.

As it turns out (they’ve all OK’d this) I could have used a picture of them taken recently at Johnny D’s.  Now you tell me, . . . wouldn’t it have been a riot to see “Matt” (center) in the working-class bar, trying to convince “Louie” (right) to take that engagement ring?  (It’s not what you think . . . click here for the whole story.)

Real-life photo of the three amigos; “Carl” (on the left), “Matt”, and “Louie.”











(3)  The Boys of Summer . . .

“Oh, geez,” Brooke says laughing.  So far this hasn’t been her day.  She’d been watching England play Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 soccer championships.  She and another good friend of ours, Dave, were at Johnny D’s watching the large screen TVs, cheering for England which almost pulled off a huge upset.  The two teams went scoreless for 90 minutes of regulation time, and then scoreless for two 15 minute overtime periods . . . before England finally lost in the game-ending free shootout.

Now she was on her IPhone, checking some of her friends’ Facebook pages.  “I guess Oscar is at the beach,” she laughed, ‘They’re posting pictures of themselves.”

Oscar is a kick-ass bartender, but that’s all he needs, . . . another reason to take off his shirt  And when Oscar does take his shirt off  — he often has a pretty, young woman on his arm — literally.

See what I mean?
















Here’s the picture I think Brooke was laughing at . . . his younger bother, Oliver, tries to ruin the photo (like putting a two-fingered “peace” sign, or a one-fingered gesture behind someone’s head just before the picture is snapped.)  Very creative, Oliver.














One more photo of Oscar and Oliver at the beach last Sunday (this time with Oliver behaving), and then we’ll see you next week with more Life on a Cocktail Napkin.

Two brothers from Venezuela enjoy an American day at the beach.

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