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Image Source: Lonely Planet

“Oh, here we go!” Ray said. “Friggin’ Black Friday again!”

Ray and Clem were looking through the flyers that were spilling out of the New York Times as they sat at their window table at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their band, The Dickweeds, was playing the night after Thanksgiving, and they were killing time after sound check with a few PBRs and some snark.

Clem flipped the Macy’s flyer open and laid it on the table for their mutual perusal.

“I take it you didn’t partake in any Black Friday action?” Clem said.

Ray was distracted scanning the incoming crowd and hoping for adulation, or at least recognition. He turned a sideways glance to the flyer and threw out his best sneer.

“Bah!” Ray said. “No way I’m going in for that shit.”

“It is cheesy,” Clem said. “I guess if you’re in to that kind of thing, you can get some deals, depending on how much the stores mark stuff down after jacking up the regular retails.”

“Yeah, and then I’d be the type of mouth-breather that actually goes to the Garden State Plaza,” Ray said. “I wouldn’t do that at noon on a Saturday, let alone midnight on a Friday.”

With those words Clem connected a pair of dots that had been hovering in his head.

“Woah!” he said. “Didn’t I see that PBR t-shirt you’re wearing on sale for $50 in a Garden State Plaza store window, ya hipster doofus?!?”

“Yeah,” Ray said. “But I didn’t go there myself. I got dragged out with my sister, fachrissakes. “

“Ah, yeah,” Clem said. “That makes a huge difference.”

“Damn straight!” Ray said.

They ordered another round as the beautiful people filled in for the first act on the bill and, eventually, them.

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Image Source: Bridge and Tunnel Club

The first summer-feeling weekend of the year had arrived, and seemingly all of Brooklyn was out soaking it in. The lawns of Prospect Park were filled with picnickers, flying Frisbees and sun worshipers, and the paths of the Botanical Gardens were mobbed with promenaders spilling out to the farmers market on Grand Army Plaza. It was a glorious weekend to be alive in any corner of the borough.

On that Sunday, as always, the line outside Tom’s Restaurant snaked around the corner. The owner, as always, walked the line, handing out cookies and greeting his customers-to-be.

“My friends!” he said to Ray and Clem. “Thank you so much for coming on this beeuteeful day!” He handed them both cookies, clasped their hands and forearms and moved along the line. Ray gnawed off a cookie in one bite, adjusted his shades against the blinding sun and pointed up to the sign above the window.

“This isn’t it,” Ray said. “You know that, right?” He stood back a little, lit an American Spirit and waited for Clem to ask what he meant.

“What do you mean?” Clem asked.

“This isn’t the Tom’s Diner from the Suzanne Vega song,” Ray said. “Most people think it is, but nope. I know a guy knows someone that used to do publicity for her, and he got the real story. Her Tom’s Diner is the one on Broadway in Morningside Heights, by Columbia.”

Ray actually read that in an article somewhere, but close enough. Finally seated, he ordered a Chocolate Egg Cream and Clem ordered a Cherry Lime Rickey, both of which were the best in the world.

“Oh yeah, I know that one!” Clem said. “They used the exterior for the café on Seinfeld!

Ray was slightly taken aback at having his command of the conversation breached, but he handled it deftly by changing the subject.

“Oh, have you seen the ‘Hipster Trap’ poster?” he said. “It was on Laughing Squid, I think. Hilarious. It’s a bear trap, with a PBR, a pair of Ray-Bans and a pack of American Spirits. Friggin’ riot.”

“That’s a scream,” Clem said. “Tools of the trade for tools, right?”

“Damn straight,” Ray said. “Buncha wankers. ‘Oh, look at me! I’m ever so hip and ironic!’”

“’Yeah, look at my seventy-five-dollar Pabst tee!’” Clem said. “It looks original!”

“Damn, that reminds me: we’re out of beer!” Ray said. “Let’s pick up some Brooklyn. And some PBRs, in case we score!”

They sippedd their drinks, ordered BLTs, got beer and smokes at the bodega and headed back out into a beautiful Sunday.

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Image Source: Brooklyn Citysearch

“You couldn’t herd me into Times Square for New Year’s Eve at gunpoint,” Ray said.

He was surreptitiously checking himself out in the mirror behind the bar at the Vanderbilt. Ray and Clem were belly-up at the bar, nursing their first hangovers of the year with Ommegang Abbey Ale, blistered peppers and house-made jerky. Outside it was an unseasonably warm 55 degrees, but it was a winter wonderland of scarfs and knit hats in the nearly empty Brooklyn restaurant.

Ray had made a few mental notes from the Ommegang website just for a moment like this.

“Damn, 8.5%,” he said. “And you can really taste the licorice and fig notes. Anyway, no way on Times Square for New Year’s Eve. I hate mid-town enough as it is. Maps flying out of every pocket, gawkers clogging up the sidewalks…imagine being packed in with all those mouth-breathers? Getting pissed on, standing for fifteen hours? Hells no.”

Clem took a sip, hoping to taste the fig notes, and, failing that, dragged a pepper through the paprika and salt.

“Couldn’t agree more. What did you end up doing?”

“Well, it may have been even worse than that,” Ray said. He made sure to leave a nice big pause for Clem to jump in to.

“Do tell,” Clem said.

Ray was pleased to pique the curiosity of his band-mate.

“Y’know Dan and Jane, right? Well, Jane’s sister’s friend Dani just moved to town from Greenwich to study journalism at NYU. I didn’t have anything else planned, so I went with Dan and Jane to Dani’s apartment-warming party. Girl is, like, nineteen, and daddy is paying her rent on her one-bedroom on 44th and 9th.”

Clem was outraged at this little tidbit.

“Are you friggin’ shitting me?”

Ray was riding a wave of indignity.

“Yeah, and this place was mint. Pre-war building, hardwood floors, original fixtures, flat-screen. So not only am I mere blocks away from…” Ray scrunched up his nose like getting a whiff of a fart in an elevator “…Times Square, but I’m also surrounded by Dani’s journalism school friends, who are all rich, barely-legal assholes. Assholes blathering on about their bylines, and blathering about nothing, and actually WATCHing the goddamn ball dropping on TV! I was actually subjected to Ryan Seacrest, fachrissakes.”

“Jesus,” Clem said.

“Yeah, seriously,” Ray said. “I just stood in the corner all night, and kept going outside for smokes, over and over again. I got some good notes for a short story I’m working on, but c’mon, seriously? That shit gets old after a while.”

“You should have stayed home,” Clem said.

Ray thought about that for a second, before taking a pull of his ale.

“Yeah, but I didn’t want to come off like an asshole, you know?”

He grabbed a slab of jerky, tore into it like a shark devouring chum, and returned to his reflection in the mirror as the sun descended over Brooklyn for the first time in the new year.

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