Before they changed it. I’m not getting into the whole “it was so much better before” bullshit, because most folks who say that didn’t go in there back then. The old guy’s ashes were and still are above the bar, they still have the original sign. Even in 2012, 9th Avenue south of the Port Authority Bus terminal manages to remain scummy and sketchy. I do miss the old jukebox, though. That one had some great blues and a Dexter Gordon CD I used to play a lot. I’m sitting at the end of the bar one afternoon, writing away, with this slim, middle aged, silent black guy sitting next to me, saying nothing to no one. And on the other side, this short, scrappy white dude making a lot of meaningless noise with his vaguely hispanic woman, obviously a lot calmer than him, but probably sticking with him because she likes the attention. So they’re carrying on, the other guy is a statue, and I’m writing away when suddenly the scrappy guy slams this kind of handle with a huge curved blade on the bar in front of me and says to the black dude. “You’d gamble with your life to fuck another man’s wife.” Keeps staring him down, then says it again. Guess he caught him looking. The other guy kind of mumbles, couldn’t tell if he was frightened or ready to rip the guy’s head off. Meanwhile the chick is shaking her head in a “just ignore him” kind of fashion, and the old bartender is coming over saying “he’s not doing anything, why don’t you leave him alone?” More was said, but apparently it didn’t leave that big an impression. The guy and his girl were eventually hustled out, and I pondered he was probably full of shit. The man to really worry about is probably the one who doesn’t let you know he has that blade until he’s already using it. Then again, scrappy guy seemed at least a little crazy and very stupid. Dangerous combo, no matter where you’re perched. Whatever, it was a good day to write.