This story is not for the feint of heart. It is a dark and foreboding tale involving sharp knives and broken glasses. If you have children, do not, by any means, let them read this, for it is filled with debauchery and violence, and it will shake them to their very core. And even though this tale involves pastries, such delicious references will do nothing to distract the reader from the fact that nothing is as it seems; paper towel will be confused with cannolies, cinema will be confused with reality, and my liver will be confused with a bottomless vessel, a cargo ship if you will, capable of containing enormous amounts of Amstel Lite. And as if these warnings weren’t enough to make the reader tremble with fear, this is also a tale that is peppered with gratuitous, unnecessary references to one of history’s darkest figures: Adolf Hitler. Let’s begin.
The First Cut Is The Deepest
The time period between June 30 and July 2, 1934 has been referred to by historians as The Night Of The Long Knives. It was a purge carried out by the Nazi regime in which they executed at least 85 people for political reasons. Similarly, on Saturday night, in the West Village of Manhattan, my friend Matt O’Halloran had a knife pulled on him. After drinking at the Four Faced Liar, a bar on West 4th Street, we decided to go back to Brooklyn. Driving only half a block away from the Four Faced Liar, a stretch limo stopped in front of us, and its passengers got out way too slowly. Matt honked his horn. The limo’s windows were open, and a passenger shouted, “Fuck you!”
“No, fuck you!” Matt shouted back.
Proving false the stereotype that Italian-Americans have bad tempers, the guy from that famous youtube video “My New Haircut” got out of the limo and charged Matt’s car. If you haven’t seen the video, don’t worry. I was nice enough to include it at the end of this essay for your viewing pleasure. Basically, “My New Haircut” is a video about your typical Queens/South Shore/ Bay Ridge Italian-American. Anyway, it appeared as if Matt and I were about to fight an entire stretch limousine full of people, a fact that would normally make me nervous if it weren’t for the fact that I once killed an entire town with my karate. Not surprisingly, Stereotypical Guy’s name was Vinny. I know this because his friends kept shouting,”Vinny! Calm down!” It wasn’t until after we had gotten back into Matt’s car that I had learned the reason why everyone wanted Vinny to calm down: he had a twelve inch knife pressed to Matt’s chest! The reason why I didn’t know this at the time was because I was distracted by the fact that, at that very moment, one of Vinny’s friends–I’m not joking–ACTUALLY THREW A CANNOLI AT US! Well…sort of. Some sort of white object splattered across Matt’s windshield and, without actually tasting it, we were both convinced that it was some sort of pastry. I know that this is hard to believe. After all, it would be equivalent to getting into a fight with some Japanese people, and having them throw sushi at us. But before I continue, I should mention that in Ron Rosenbaum’s book Explaining Hitler, he mentions that some historians believe that the holocaust occurred because Hitler was under the impression that he might’ve actually had some Jewish blood, and he was trying to eradicate it by killing all of the Jews. Other historians say that there was no way that Hitler could have been Jewish, but they’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter whether or not Hitler was actually Jewish. All that matters is that he might have believed that he was Jewish. So what does this have to do with a bunch of Italian-Americans throwing a pastry on West 4th Street? It wasn’t until the following day that Matt realized that what had hit his car was actually a large, wet clump of paper towel. What’s important to know, however, was that for about fifteen hours, both of us believed that it was a pastry. Unlike Hitler, this false belief did not have major historical consequences. Matt and I did not go on to kill six million Italian-Americans. What did happen though, was that we laughed for about four hours after after this occurred, constantly saying, “I can’t believe they actually threw a cannoli at us!” I almost got into a fight with ten people, and Matt was almost murdered, and yet this was one of the funniest experiences I’ve ever had!
By the way, I think the only reason why Vinny didn’t stab Matt was because he was afraid that I might give him a red card. A lot of you might recall that a couple years ago, like a referee in soccer, I used to issue penalty cards to people that would misbehave. For about two and a half months, I was significantly improving society by doing this, but then my whistle got destroyed. I was at a party at my friend Owen Planchart’s apartment in Long Island City. He was drunker than I had ever seen him, and at one point, he decided to take a shower even though he still had his pants on. Unfortunately, just before he got into the shower, he took off my whistle and wrapped it around his neck, giving whole new meaning to the term “wet your whistle.” It goes without saying that my whistle was ruined, but I eventually enacted my revenge when I got that son of a bitch deported back to Venezuela! Even so, that particular incident has scarred me, and I haven’t refereed ever since. As a result, violent crime across the city has increased by thirty percent over the past two years, as have quality of life crimes. Thanks, Owen!
It’s been nearly two years since I’ve refereed, but I don’t think that Vinny was aware of my retirement. I guess it pretty much goes without saying that if he had stabbed one of us, I would have definitely issued him a red card. So just like Hitler believing that he was Jewish, and just like Matt and I believing that it was a cannoli, Vinny believed that I was still an authority figure, and so, he got back into his limousine.
I’m Shipping Up To Brooklyn
Later on that night, Matt and I found ourselves at an after hours bar somewhere in Brooklyn called The Irish Haven. We took car service there, and on the way over, Matt informed me that this was where they had filmed the bar scenes in The Departed. As if this night couldn’t get any more surreal, as we walked in, the song “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphy’s (the main song from The Departed) was actually playing on the bar’s stereo system! Between the knife wielding mobster wannabe from “My New Haircut,” to the fact that we were hanging out at the same bar from The Departed, to the fact that they were playing the theme song from The Departed, it began to feel as if this were some sort of mafia theme night.
It wasn’t until we walked in that I realized that I had been to this place five or six years earlier. In fact, I had played pool on the exact same table that Jack Nicholson was smashing Leonardo DiCaprio’s broken arm.
I turned to Matt and slurred, “I know that you want a Bacardi and Coke. I, on the other hand, have no choice…being where we are…but to order a cranberry juice!”
“Don’t order the cranberry juice,” Matt warned.
“Because the bartender is probably sick of hearing people order it.”
If you haven’t seen The Departed, you won’t understand why we were having this argument about cranberry juice. But once again, your Uncle Keith was nice enough to include a clip from youtube at the end of this e-mail. After arguing for several minutes, I decided to compromise.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what,” I said. “You order the cranberry juice, and then I’ll say the period line, and then you can break a glass over my head!”
“You seriously want me to break a glass over your head?”
“Because it would be hilarious!”
“I know it would. But no.”
I ordered an Amstel.
Strange times. Strange times indeed.
New York City. May 2008.
My New Haircut: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5QJ9i_o5vo
Cranberry juice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM6AeW8ok6E