Mono-Lagering: King’s Head Tavern
So, some sort of introduction might be in order here. Hi, I’m Joe. Way back in the blogspot days, I co-founded this blog with Mr. Cronin, Mr. Cox, and some other internet pals. It was an attempt to raise the level of discourse about comics online from your usual message board “Yes it is/no it isn’t” nonsense. After a few years, I realized I was running out of things to say about comics, so I semi-retired, a reservist like the Phantom Stranger for the JLA: commenting from time to time, and very occasionally even posting.
These days I write for Here Comes a Regular, another group blog I founded with good intentions. Several of my real life friends and I wanted to talk about the drinking life as we’ve found it, sans excuses, judgments, or stereotypes. It fell apart after a while, but has been reborn as of late. For Christmas I was given a booklet of thirty coupons, each for a free beer at a different bar in Brooklyn. I’ve decided to visit at least one a week and write about the experience; not just the bar in some Yelp-review like slant, but the environment both literal and metaphorically. In other words, I’m trying to get to the bottom of what these bars mean in my own personal mythology, this complicated, tangled narrative full of double, triple, and opposing meanings.
Anyway, I guess Brian kind of liked it because he brought up the idea of having a blog crossover in the form of a MoCCA party, and I could write one of my entries, which I’ve dorkily named “Mono-lagering” (GET IT?!?!?) about the experience, then post it here at CSBG. So, anyway, without further ado, here it is. Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to check out HCAR for more of this, and a back catalog filled with other stuff.
For this party, I actually chose a Manhattan bar. I knew some attendees might be travelers, and it’s often difficult to make them realize how much better Brooklyn can be. Besides, I like the joint. King’s Head Tavern is one of those bars you find completely by random (this one because its proximity to the L train and my at-the-time-particularly-full bladder). Twenty beers on tap, a good variety, and a very good bourbon selection. There’s a back room with lots of space, shelves full of red books, some semi-pre-Raphaelite paintings, and a big-ass throne. So the place had space, was accessible, and I knew there was tasty imbibery to be had.
So, yeah, the bar was fun and great. Hell, Weezer came on the juke within a minute of my arrival. But what more can be said? I discovered a deeper theme the day of the party, one almost too obvious. For this party wasn’t just for MoCCA attendees, internerd pals, and the like. I also ended up inviting my friends from other areas of my life. And there’s where things start to get interesting, isn’t it? When worlds collide.
It used to absolutely terrify me. I kept each section of my life in very separate compartments. This was comic book me, this was drinking me, this was professional me, this was Kentucky me . . .etc. Growing up, I straddled the clique lines like a male Lindsey Weir, so it didn’t seem so dramatic. But once I moved to New York, it became, in my head, an issue. Birthday parties would become neurotic nightmares where I flitted from group to group, trying to put in marginal face time with each one, but never quality time with anyone.
In superhero books, when two different groups of people meet, they always fight. The reasons never matter. And I suppose I feared something like this would happen: what if this group offends that group; what if this one thinks that one is lame; what if everyone ends up thinking less of me? It wasn’t derived so much from what people think of me; that’s oddly never been a big neurosis of mine. It was more a heightened sense of diplomacy, an intense need to make sure everyone is getting along. I’ve definitely inherited this from my father; the tendency made him an amazing principal and assistant superintendant back home. It’s also served me well over the years; I can’t imagine the sort of grudges and enmity I’d have accrued by this point in my life without it.
But in the past few years, perhaps since my divorce, I’ve grown more and more comfortable with mixing my worlds. I recall reading about something either G.K. Chesterson or C.S. Lewis said upon the death of a friend. He made a point that though another friend lives on, they will never see the aspects of the living person that the deceased would bring out. And it’s true; when you stir up your friendships, you can really let the flavors blend in interesting ways. Sure, I could always talk to AWOL about D&D, but upon his meeting of bar buddy Nate, I can witness them get all excited about physics together.
On this blog, nearly seven years ago, I wrote that Crisis on Infinite Earths made a hot girl ugly. The smashing-up of worlds destroyed the unique flavors each one had, and eliminated a lot of what made the entire thing special. I suppose the same would be said if I somehow tried to force every friend I have to all hang out at the same time all the time. I like that I have my comic friends, my softball pals, old college buddies, grad school comrades, etc. I like that they can interact and enrich both my and each other’s lives.
I also like when their worlds come colliding into mine, as well. At Harefield, I knew a couple bartenders and the owner, but eventually their shared friendship worlds absorbed me. My, uh, social life would be markedly different without the various folks that come and go through my friends’ spheres of life. Hell, before the party, friends I’d made through Harefield, New York’s razzle dazzle, the Jay Vons, invited me to Dap Tone to do some silly backing vocals. That was a hell of a lot of fun, and I most likely will be given a lot of Grammies for my performance.
At King’s Head, the comic folk arrived first. Brian, his lovely bride, commenters Michael P and Jason were all there before I even showed up. We got to catch up, as we’ve all known each other through the interweb for years now. CSBG commenter O the Humanatee (perhaps my favorite internet name ever) showed up and proved to be as fun and charming in real life as he is in text form.
Friends from other areas of my life soon showed. At one point I was at a booth with O, Michael, Alanna from grad school, Melissa the former co-worker, Nicole from softball and two of her friends. CBR pals Das and Yukari flanked us, while Cronin-bot watched over us all like the royal bastard he is. And it was great. The worlds collided, and all that happened was we all had a good time. It got late, folks drifted apart. I ended up with Conor, Nicole, and Anca at Royal Oak in Williamsburg for a late night of sweaty dancings.
So maybe it’s not so much that worlds colliding. Perhaps a good bar can be a Nexus of All Realities, a gateway allowing anyone from anywhere or anyhow to interact. And if you play your cards right, you might meet your Giant-Size Man-Thing.
Photos, unless noted, by Nicole Marie Ball. Except the one she’s in, but I forget who took that.
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