The Old Absinthe House

Absinthe HouseNothing goes together like art and absinthe.

Absinthe was the drink of choice of Toulouse Lautrec and Vincent Van Gogh, among other well known alcoholics.

Only recently made legal once again in the United States, it was also the drink of choice at the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans prior to prohibition.

When I spent a week in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I spent my afternoons at the Absinthe House on Rue Bourbon. The day time bartender was Wendy. She came to NOLA from Chicago.

It is rumored that Andrew Jackson met with the pirate Jean Lafitte at the Old Absinthe House to help end the war of 1812. The original copper topped bar survived Prohibition, having been stowed in the basement during the purge caused by hateful alcohol abolitionists.

Jack, the evil bartender

The Erin Rose
Jack, the evil bartender

The Erin Rose, New Orleans.

On our last day in New Orleans, last trip, we stumbled into a bar on the outskirts of the safe district.

This was after hurricane Katrina all but wiped out the birthplace of jazz. Bourbon Street was still half vacant.

The Erin Rose was a local joint. The bartenders and dancers and employees of other NOLA establishments began or ended their day at the Erin Rose. They did not cater so much to tourists as to locals… my kind of dive.

Jack was a bartender with ESP, he knew exactly what you wanted before you asked. We had intended to have a few drinks before our flight left. We have a habit of arriving at the airport two hours before our flight leaves.  We leave nothing to chance. Jack changed all that.

Nothing but honest, Jack told us in advance that his goal was to make us miss our flight. A few beers turned into a few beers and a few shots. Then more beers, and more shots. Then more shots. Then he gave us shot glasses and other gifts as we ordered more drinks.

You see, the bartenders at the Erin Rose had a contest going to see who could make the most people miss their flight. The night before, they held a bachelor party captive, and the entire party missed the wedding. All in good clean fun.

We watched as locals came and went, preparing for their shifts or ending their shifts. Yet we stayed. Finally, Liz was the voice of reason and ended our stay. I wanted one more round, and jack agreed. Liz won. We arrived at the plane just as the last passengers were boarding.

When our flight reached Dallas/Fort Worth, we were still drunk. We barely found our connecting flight. When we landed at Philadelphia International Airport, we were still a bit inebriated.  But we made it home in one piece.

As much as I like Jack, I am glad he lost that bet!

Superstition Skies

Superstition SkiesSuperstition Skies is a classic honkytonk in Apache Junction, AZ.

When Elvis was filming Charro, his last movie, at the famed Apacheland Movie Studio, he would have lunch at Skies. He had a table in the corner that he reserved, and would invite locals to dine with him.

Last year, Merle Haggard’s son Scott played there. After the gig he hung around at the bar and chatted with us locals.

The panting is oil on canvas, and features Liz’s late nephew Mike (in the foreground, his back to us) on the last time he spent the evening with us there.

Skies has had its ups and downs, but somehow survives, like the desert plants weathering drought and all too few rainy days.

Gil Bear’s

Gil bears was the epitome of a Millville Neighborhood bar.

The Kerr Glass 3rd shift workers would congregate at Gilbears when their shift ended. 8am would bring a packed bar.

With the demise of Kerr Glass, and the glass industry in general, Gil’s took a hit. There wasn’t enough of a neighborhood to support a bar.

Pretty soon, Gil was open only a few hours a day, and on Sundays for the dart league.

Sadly, a few years ago the landmark tavern burned to the ground. I managed to get a few good paintings before he closed the doors for good.

Dog Run

The Dog Run. Oil on canvas.

The Dog Run is one of the first bars we explored in AJ after moving here. I don’t go there often because of the karaoke, I have to be in the mood to watch people that can’t sing try to.

During snowbird season, service is lacking… ad the all you can eat fried fish is that, $9.99 is you can get served.

They do have pool tables, all year around. And great bar food. It is a great locals bar during the off season. But, somehow I gravitate to Captain’s.

Cowboy Bill’s in Key west

Cowboy Bill’s is not a local dive. It is a redneck bar in Key West. Tricycle races,  bucking bronco, and good times.

Maybe next year I will get back to Key West. Of course most of my time will be spent at the Green Parrot, a real bar. But Cowboy Bill’s is a great place to waste an evening. I came in second in the trike races. I just have to be sure not to choose the bike with a loose front wheel.

Cabanas, Cape May

Back in Jersey, life was not always bad. Sure, we had the Lou Magazzu’s and George Norcrosses to deal with, along with the surety that every election was crooked.

My big mouth ensured that I was on Norcross’s list. Judge Gary Wodlinger, before becoming a judge, warned me that I was messing with the wrong people, but unlike him, I felt integrity was important in the political process.

But enough of that bullshit. Cabanas! Cabanas was one of two bars in Cape May that hosted the jam sessions for the twice annual Cape May Jazz Festival. Friend Alan Weber always reserved a table for us.  Lou Capozzoli, owner of Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar in south Philly would join in with Alan Weber, both playing sax, during the jams.  Gino White would often join in on guitar.

We never missed the jams, always going with the Old man, Mo Pagano. I miss the Old Man. We would meet us at out house, and pour a shot of Dewars in his coffee before we headed out to Cap May. We were always first in line, watching the waves hit the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, rain or shine.

It was never long before Mo had singled out an attractive young woman to dance with. He sure could cut a rug.

As Mo used to say, “Good times!”

It’s official – upcoming exhibit

Exhibition – May 2019

Gallery 50, Bridgeton, NJ

I will be exhibiting new work next year along with Liz Nicklus in New Jersey.

Yes, Sharon Kiefer, director of Gallery 50, finally gave me a reason to return to New Jersey, albeit for a few days.

Liz and I will be at the opening reception on the First Friday of May. We will be displaying our paintings and mixed media 3-dimensional art. I will post more as time rolls on.

Independence Day

The only thing this post has to do with Independence Day is it was written on July 4.

I have been invited to exhibit my art in New Jersey in May of next year. It is good that the date is far away, It gives me time and incentive to get behind the easel again.

I took inventory of paintings that I have, that have never been shown. I spent the morning photographing them. Now I have reason to post more .

These paintings are all part of my American Bar Series.  Comprised of mostly local neighborhood and dive bars, the series documents drinking establishments from coast to coast.

Today’s painting is titled “Captains”. Oil on canvas, 8×10, and framed.

Captain’s is my go-to dive bar in Apache Junction. The owner and regulars are like a second family. On any given Friday, you can find Liz and myself there.  So, until next time, have a drink on me.