Your friendly bartender had decided last night to not do a post this week-end, to take, in a twist of a phrase, a “barman’s holiday”. There wasn’t that much that happened in Barland, I haven’t missed a gig since Christmas, so why not give my two little fingers a rest? (I’m a hunt and pecker who types with his two index fingers.) But lo and behold that game plan changed, something indeed did happen, and it happened late last night so here I am typing. (And happy to do so.) For how, as you shall see, could I not share this moment?
See, we’re not what you’d call a celebrity bar but we do get a name now and then, and when we do it always gives a lift to the shift. A high point to the joint. It’s part of having a bar here in New York City. You might rightly say it goes along with the geography. Stuff just happens here. But you also have to have the right place and treat celebs the right way, meaning not invade their privacy or make a big fuss over them. Sometimes they just want to stop for a drink and be like everyone else, and not be the person or persona that made them famous. At least that’s how I see it and treat them accordingly.
I’ll never forget the time that I had Pierce Brosnan alone at the bar, not one other customer at the time sharing the hardwood with him, but even so I never acknowledged his Pierce-ness. At least not with words. But he knew I knew who he was all right by the obvious expression on my face, l mean he was James fucking Bond and I wasn’t. So he ordered a “Jack on the rocks” that day and because of the way he said it, just like anyone else ordering Jack Daniels, I was sorely tempted to break my non-invasion policy. I was tempted to take a poke at the line he’d always used as .007… that “Bond, James Bond” when introducing himself… with, “Don’t you want to say Daniels, Jack Daniels, Pierce?” But of course I didn’t. However, after he bummed a Marlboro Light from the community pack I once kept, and appeared to be as regular as you and me, especially when he snapped the cigarette in two while trying to extract it suavely from the pack with one hand (almost blushing as he did so), I wish I’d said that line for I know he would’ve liked it. That’s how regular he was. But that’s how it is with me when it comes to celebrities. I leave them alone.
Which brings me to last night’s tale on celebrity privacy…
Jimmy Fallon came into the bar and took a seat at a table, with a person who works on his late night show as a writer. And completely unlike last Wednesday night when he’d made his initial visit, unannounced and quietly with some other writer, the place last night was packed to the gills with people… drinkin’ people who might not leave him alone. And that worried me. Because even though he was sitting in the corner, pretty much out of view, the word quickly got around and the room was abuzz.
Uh-oh, I thought, as I watched the word make its way through the gawkers and talkers, whether he wants it or not he’s going to get attention. A whole damn bunch of it! I just hope he doesn’t mind because it may drive him out of here.
Well guess what happened in a wonderful twist of fate? My worries turned out to be completely unfounded as attention turned out to be exactly what Jimmy Fallon wanted, and I say that respectfully! For after a sip of his gin and tonic he left his cozy, discreet corner, and asked the piano man who’d finished to do another set. Which the piano player agreed to. However this time around Mr. Fallon would join in the singing.
“May I have your attention, please,” he shouted, front and center with the mike, “we’re gonna’ have some fun so how ’bout joining in?” And the show was on!
Now I don’t want to comment on the quality of his voice (he won’t make you forget Roy Orbison), but I will make this humble assessment on the quality of his performance… it was absolutely fabulous. For what he had lacked in “do-re-mi” which often came out “do-fa-sol”, he made up for with his showmanship and his soul. He simply knocked the place dizzy. He put on a show for a good forty minutes, along with our brilliant piano man (a guy he said he might now put on his talk show), and everyone there in attendance couldn’t believe what they were seeing. In fact Mr. Fallon said as much during the set.
“You can’t believe this is happening, can you?” he shouted to the rapt audience, “well neither can I so let’s keep this damn joint hoppin’!” And hop it did. In fact at one point he actually stood on the piano bench, pumping his fist as he warbled, rocking the crowd like Mick fucking Jagger at the Garden. And the crowd pumped right back. And when he wrapped things up with a solo performance of Van Morrison’s classic “Moon Dance”, he did hit all the right notes and the place went wild.
He then finished his drink and just like that he was gone. As was another great moment.
Now I didn’t get to meet him on either occasion, as I said, he’d sat at a table, but I wish I had as I gladly would’ve shared this history with him. Which I’m sure he would’ve loved. See, back in the nineteen seventies, and long before my tenure, of course, the original cast from Saturday Night Live used to come to our bar to unwind, we were one of the places where they held their after show cast parties. I’m talkin’ John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Dan Aykroyd and whoever else I’m forgetting… oh yeah, Garret Morris, Al Franken… all in our upstairs dining room blowing off steam. Can you imagine? Why, if those upstairs walls could talk, the words would fill the pages of at least a best seller!
And I know Mr. Fallon would like to have known this now that he’s found our establishment, now that he’s gone and extended a longtime tradition. For he’s retied a long ago thread connected to the glory days. Yeah, next time I’ll definitely make the connection, if I do get a chance to meet him, he deserves to know as a worthy alum and successor. And a really nice guy.
See ya’ next week-end, dear reader, unless either one of those fingers needs a little resting. 🙂