With tax season officially over, Spartos mourns her bank account. Even her triple-threat, supermarket-savings strategy—manufacturers’ coupons (redeemed on double-coupon day no less!), bonus-club card, and in-store flyer—is not enough to keep her from the brink. “If I’m really gonna mind my p’s and q’s,” says Spartos, overpriced Kahlúa mixer in hand, “then I’m gonna have to take my drinking elsewhere.” She says au revoir to DJ lounges and East Village boîtes and renews her career scrimping at the neighborhood dive.
Spartos fits right in with the heavy-metal crowd (Motörhead roadies, VH-1 interns, Rob Zombie fans from Long Island) at BELLEVUE BAR (538 Ninth Avenue, 760-0660). “Drinking is a lifestyle, too,” explains Spartos. And the bartenders, with their randy cowboy hats and steady buybacks, like to encourage her drinking-while-thinking, even passing Spartos a business card handily doubling as a place holder that reads, “Gone to Piss: Please Don’t Fuck With My Drink.” Now that’s attention to detail! Sure, the Bellevue looks like just another Port Authority hole-in-the-wall, but hell, even Spartos’s moonlighting stoner-rock guitarist pal from Williamsburg occasionally frequents here—and he, like, never ventures above 14th Street. Spartos pounds her head and a few pints of Stella ($4) while trying to answer increasingly difficult trivia questions from her Zep-obsessed neighbor, Jeff of Levittown. (“What album is ‘The Ocean’ on?” [Tick tock tick tock.] “Houses of the Holy?” [Loud applause.] “And what do we have for our contestant today, Johnnny?”) Moral of the story: Partaking in a lifestyle is not all fun and games! It requires very specific knowledge culled from years of living in your parents’ basement.
Or years spent working at the 18th Precinct. Half a block down from that police station is YE OLDE TRIPPLE INN (263 West 54th Street, 245-9849), where the barmaids wear FDNY and NYPD T-shirts and the DT undercovers talk tough in the corner. Most everyone else, including the barfly in the too tight turquoise tube-top—no, not Spartos—knocks back $2 mugs of MGD while catching the Yankees on the YES Network and, on two smaller TVs, the Mets, still the people’s game, damn it. The rest is pretty much standard fare—lots of collected crapola and quite possibly the shittiest jukebox known to man (“Yesterday,” the Eagles, etc.). But the final straw comes when some creepy bald guy starts making small talk. No, he doesn’t want a date. He wants to know if it was Spartos he picked up for public urination last Saturday night! The nerve of some people!
Spartos says to hell with drinking alone and arranges to meet some colleagues after work in the East Village at JOE’S BAR (520 East 6th Street, 473-9093). But the drinking gods do not look kindly upon Spartos: Her friends show up at Joe’s Pub, where they have so much fun laughing it up with all the beautiful people that they don’t even realize the grand dame of drinking is MIA. Thankfully, laid-back Joe’s Bar, with its pool table, country music, and bottles of Bud ($3), is there to serve. Problem is, drinking at dives isn’t really cheap when you drink twice as much.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 14, 2002