Fire in the Hole!

At the risk of being a killjoy here or a bore for walking this blog over well-trod terrain, your friendly bartender echoes this theme nonetheless. He just can’t help it. Because another bartender set fire to his bar, got arrested and hauled off to jail, again reducing his trade to a carnival side show.

Now you’ve probably already read about this… the guy who appeared on “The New York Housewives” putting on a show for the cameras, shooting his flames some four feet high (dangerously close to the curtains) alerting the local fire marshal to shut down the show. A show he’s been doing nightly with imbecilic delight. But what you haven’t read is this. Those of us who also tend bar… the guys and gals who (in between drinks) do not set fire to our workplace… find this high wire act to be so much bullshit. Period!

And it seems this latest arrest and seizure (seizure of an outsized ego both armed and dangerous), is more of a study in arrogance than those in the past. Or in flat out delusion. Because the perp in this case in defending his antics claimed in the various articles, “I’m an artist”… “I’m a mixologist”… “I’m a bar chef”… “I’m really an entertainer and the bar is my stage!” Can you imagine? No, Sparky, if you’re standing behind the bar you’re a fucking bartender. Got it? And as I said, if you’re torching the scene for “oohs” and “aahs” you’re a side show. And if you burn down the house or maim your patrons you’re a felon who’s driven his bus right into the burn ward. Because people have actually gotten hurt from this shit and no amount of job descriptions can justify it.

So why is it, dear reader, just because they work with a flammable substance these bartenders can’t resist proving that point with a fire show? Because it’s not done in other professions where alcohol is present. And they have egos too, right? They have reasons to try and add flair to performance.

Well maybe this is why, let’s have some fun!

The Setting: Bloomingdale’s, the perfume counter.

The Players: Marge McFeely and Gladys Sheen

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Marge: Boy does business suck lately, huh, Gladys?

Gladys: You said it, Marge. If this keeps up I’m going off commission. At least a lousy salary is better than no money.

Marge: Geez… if we only had a gimmick. You know, something that could draw the people over to our counter.

Gladys: {sigh} Yeah, but what? I feel like we’re invisible!

Marge: Whoa, wait a minute, wait just a cotton pickin’ minute… perfume contains alcohol, am I right, Glad?

Gladys: Well yeah, like a lot! Why?

Marge: Never mind why, hand me a bottle of Shalamar, a bottle of Chanel No. 5 then please stand back! (Gladys does as she’s told while Marge goes into her purse and pulls out a lighter.)

Gladys: Good heavens, Marge, what are you going to do?

Marge: (as she’s pouring the two perfumes along the glass counter) I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I saw this bartender once who drew like this really big crowd, after he poured some booze on the bar and lit it.

Gladys: Are you crayyyy-zeeee???

Marge: (lighting the pour) Crazy like a fox, Glad, crazy like a fox! {Kaaaaaaaaa-Poof!!!!!}

New York Post: Page Six…

Counter Attack!!! At 3:47 yesterday afternoon Margaret McFeely and Gladys Sheen, each devoid of eyebrows and lashes while wisps of smoke billowed from their charred coiffures, were escorted out of Bloomingdale’s for allegedly trying to burn down the store. The building was completely evacuated and a SWAT team was called in to head off any further shenanigans.

“They’ve been disgruntled of late,” said Lyle DuBois, manager and head of the perfume department where both of the women worked, “so maybe this was a case of lashing out. You know, a  form of rebellion, like those postal workers who… well… who go postal! I’m truly shocked by this act, these are both good women and both very good workers. What can I say? This is tragic, very,very tragic,” he added, his voice trailing off as he blew his nose in his kerchief.

The two suspects (and McFeely in particular) seemed dazed and confused when they climbed in the back of the squad car. Mainly because Gloria Allred squeezed in beside them!

But seriously, gang, and back to the point of this rant… of course that couldn’t happen because it’s only bartenders (claiming not to be bartenders) who risk the place where they work for the price of a side show. And now here’s the kicker. That guy in the recent article… the guy with more professions than The Great Impostor… actually added this to his too-long list. He said, “I’m a magician!” Hey, pal, if that’s the case… if you really think you’re a magician… get a rabbit, a high top hat, a deck of fucking cards, come out from behind the bar and rent a hall. Whaddaya’ say? And one that’s preferably wall to wall asbestos!

Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end!

Update: For those of you who read my recent post “A Trip To Bountiful”, I’m happy to report that the Englishman really came through. Give credit where credit’s due, the man was a prince. Two shirts and a vest are being sewn in England as I type this, and will be joining your friendly bartender in four to six weeks. Yet another reason I won’t be setting fire to my bar!

22 Responses to “Fire in the Hole!”

  1. 1 Comrade PhysioProf June 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Dude, if you start talking with an English accent wearing your fancy-ass vest, I’m gonna punch out your fucking lights. Just sayin’.

  2. 2 scribbler50 June 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Physioprof: Just sayin’, not to worry!

  3. 3 M.Lane June 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    What a great post! And a great point. There was a time when people put value on dignity and that created the elegance of their work. The great bartenders of my acquaintence still have this trait. Not these other people who would set themselves on fire for their fifteen minutes on TV.

    No occupation is immune. I know mine isn’t. Thanks for the diatribe. It is well deserved.


  4. 4 scribbler50 June 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    M.Lane: You’re welcome, my friend, and believe me this “diatribe” was my distinct pleasure. Glad you enjoyed!

  5. 5 Anonymoustache June 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

    —““I’m an artist”… “I’m a mixologist””— reminds me….the overall quality of a Subway sandwich dropped the moment they dropped the title of “Sandwich artist” on the people who work there a few years ago. Seems to me some of these artists took the words to heart—I’ve been at the receiving end of sandwiches of which Jackson Pollock would’ve been proud!!
    BTW, now that you’re ‘vested’, you need to find a good monocle and a fine walking stick with a hidden sword in it. We’ll call you the honorable Lord Scribbler, Earl of Stick.

  6. 6 physiobabe June 20, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Hah! What a schmucky bartender, mixologist, wizard, whatthefuckever. Not like our Scrib, a gentleman, and soon-to-be Lord of the Manor!

    Nice to come here today and sit a spell with my hangover remedy 🙂


  7. 7 Jager June 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I’m immpressed when a simple task is done with style, ease and simplicity. The bartender who takes an order for 2 drinks, picks up a glass with his right hand, flips it to his left as he picks up the second. No wasted effort, incredible style. I see the same thing watching good cooks, carpenters, sailors, just simple things, done very, very well.

    I saw the “fire in the bar” the first time in Aspen. The bartender would fill his mouth with some flammable liqour, light it and blow it in the air over the patrons heads…my date said, ” if he screws up, some lawyer is going to make a ton of money!”

  8. 8 scribbler50 June 20, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Anonymoustache: Hilarious, man, you never let me down. I particularly like the sword-in-cane business, in “sticky” situations it will help me make my “point”. Also… if I’m to be Scribbler, Lord of Stick, you, Sir, (based on your clever punning each week) are Stache-ly, Lord of Schtick!

    physiobabe: So I’m now a cure for hangovers, eh? I used to be the cause. Feel better, bella mia, and ciao to you!

    Jager: I’m with ya’, man, ease and style in any job earns kudos… not manufactured showmanship which usually leads to a poorly made product. In my case a cocktail. And as far as this fire in the bar stuff goes, particularly your example which REALLY sounds insane to me, I’m amazed that owners (who are liable) encourage this nonsense. You’re wife was right… this an accident waiting to happen (to a good lawyer)!

  9. 9 Ken June 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Frankly, it wouldn’t even need that good a lawyer. The only issue would be the damages. Everyone uses the same book to figure that out. It would be strictly a negotiation with the adjuster. Doubt it would ever get to court.

    I’m amazed any management would let this happen more than once. One bad moment and dozens are killed or maimed for life. All because of a jerk who thinks he’s in the circus.

  10. 10 scribbler50 June 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Ken: Thanks for the professional’s view on this and yes… why in the world WOULD management permit this? I’m picturing the lovely lady who owns our place and the expression on her face if I ever tried Pyro Man. Horror laced with fury comes to mind. (Not that I ever would, of course!)

  11. 11 Petro June 20, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    There was a short-lived Polynesian-themed bar/restaurant in Phoenix a few years back. Lively place with a great menu, umbrella-drink heaven for those who are so inclined (a raw sugar-cane grinder provided the sweetenings), plenty of eye-candy strolling thru, with or without escorts. In short, a pretty nice place to sip a pint in the late afternoon… but I digress.

    They had one of them there showmen, that you are so eloquently bitching about here, working there – though I saw no pyromania, he was definitely on a Tom Cruise-inspired “Cocktail” high, tossing bottles high, catching behind his back, the usual shtick. Ego included, of course.

    I was privileged to witness his demise. One of his “juggle-sticks” got loose, and smashed onto the bar right next to me. I caught barely a splash, but the majority of the beer-soaked glass ended up in the lap of a patron to my right, IN A WHEELCHAIR. Luckily, no one was hurt in this exit performance (never saw him again.)

    You go right on ahead taking these clowns down, scribbler. As a first class bartender – if we don’t mind your sayin’ so 😉 – I’m sure you know something these guys don’t. As in, we’re there to socialize, not to have the oxygen sucked out of the room by the antics of an egomaniac. If they only knew what we say to each other when they start their little “shows”…


  12. 12 scribbler50 June 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Petro: Wow! Talk about slinking off the stage with your cocktail between your legs, nothing says it better (or worse) than dowsing a man in a wheelchair during your performance. I once saw a waiter go behind the bar and, to show everyone he could do this stuff, he tried to do fancy… everything he picked up he flipped in the air and caught. Well, the drink was a Bloody Mary and when he picked up the large can of tomato juice and gave it the old high back flip, he gave himself a red stripe brow to apron. He thought the can was unopened!

    Great comment, friend, and even though I wouldn’t call myself a “first class” bartender, I definitely know the difference between pour and boor! Thanks, Petro.

  13. 13 Petro June 20, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Heh. Even worse… it was a woman in the wheelchair. She was very nice, though. When she left, I smirked, with all humorous intent, “I woulda sued ya, man.” He didn’t laugh – sensing his impending demise, I’m sure.

    “cocktail between your legs”

    OK – *snort* – that’s a good ‘un.

    (As for your reticence about “first class” – sorry, brother. We’re reading your blog, and your exemplary traits are bared for all of us. It’s one of those “unfortunate” side effects of this whole Internet thingy.)

  14. 14 June 20, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    The flowers are essential for perfumes. Most of the perfumes of spring essential ingredients of the flower which exudes freshness with natural fragrances. The mixture of perfume in the perfume of flowers creates attraction that often leads to the identity of the flexibility and charm.

  15. 15 Jager June 22, 2010 at 12:43 am


    PM me, I’d like to sned you a couple of things in refernce to your suggestion. I’d love your feedback and thoughts.

  16. 16 Jager June 22, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Jesus, scrib,

    3 Jacks and a shared bottle of wine with dinner makes my spelling really suck, wow. Good thing I’m not driving!

  17. 17 scribbler50 June 22, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Jager: To be honest with you, as I’m still feeling my own way here I hardly feel qualified to read and evaluate someone else’s writing. I hope you understand. But as I said, you do seem to have a wealth of stories and clearly the ability to tell them, so put it out there and see what the hell happens, man. Believe me I’ll be the first to come and read.
    Cheers, and again, I hope you understand.

  18. 18 JSaw June 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm


    I had a sneaking suspicion that when the word “mixologist” appeared in the lexicon it would unleash a crowd of pretentious a**holes onto the unsuspecting Bar-land public.

    Although I admire a pyrotechnic display myself, I wouldn’t want it in a long dark bar with only one clearly marked exit.

  19. 19 scribbler50 June 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    JSaw: You got it, my friend, words like mixologist certainly opened the floodgates and not just in the “mixology” profession. Designer names for the simplest of tasks now dot the occupational landscape. (Was your garbage picked up this morning by waste management engineers?) I knew a bartender once who, because most of his clientele were white collar guys (and because he refused to accept his station in life), actually had the balls to call himself an “executive bartender”. I wanted to say, “Settle down, Martini Breath, THOSE guys are the executives, you are their bartender!”

    Thanks for stopping by, JSaw, and make sure your next fire show offers two swift exits!

  20. 20 d-a-p June 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

    nothing like a “circus performer” to ruin a good bar experience…
    gladys and marge should have their own show!!!

  21. 21 petrillie June 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I’ll take hospitality over theatrics anytime.

  22. 22 scribbler50 June 29, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Petrillie: Amen and as it should be!

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