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Memories of Zack's from the Mid 2000s

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A lot had changes in DC over the last 30 years but I found a great bit of memories from the mid-2000s that I wrote around 2005 when I was going to Zack's Bar to play pool, drink, and hang out with my friends a lot. I also riff on life living in the city of Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.
Memories of Zack's from the Mid 2000s

Zack's Former Location

A Bite to Eat at Zack’s

I went to Zack’s for a bite to eat because I was hungry and especially thirsty. I don’t like to think of myself as a drunk, but lately, in spite of my daily runs, I have been drinking quite a lot these days. Most of it has been a way to get out of the apartment and a lot of it has been to get out of myself. The strange things happening as of late have really put the kind of pressure on me that have made me want to get outside myself and get outside of the house. Things have been getting way too weird. What does all of this mean?

Zack’s is Small and Dark

Zack’s is small and dark and people knew me from the neighborhood. And I drank bottles of Bud. And I wanted to smoke some cigarettes. And of course, I usually do. So, after I pulled the documents onto the USB dongle on my keychain I took some time off and dropped by Zack’s for some pick up pool, maybe a burger, and some bottles of Bud.

Situational and Locational Drinking

My taste in beer – and drinks in general – has a lot to do with places and situations. Unlike most people as snobby as me who will really make a fuss until they can be appeased with the appropriate Belgian lager or single malt whisky, I am a situational drinker. I have always been a situational drinker and situations define what kind of fellow I am. Not pretend to be, but really am. At Zack’s I am a man. I smoke Camels and play pool. I hang out with the guys and hit on the girls. I eat blue cheese burgers and drink amber bottles of Bud. Bud bottle. Other places I order a Stella Artois or a Red Stripe; a Yeungling or even a Newcastle Brown Ale. And I will always try the local offering if the place brews its own. I do that in everything and I guess I can be a bit of Chameleon. That said, since I have lived in the same place and with the same people for over five years, I believe that people don’t perceive me as such. If a chameleon spent five years the color of argyle socks, one would probably consider that lizard to be argyle – or preppy at least.

The Chameleon About Me

For those who pay attention, there is still a lot of the chameleon about me. Even in subtle things, things that tip people off in the most unfortunate ways.

Ceding my Food Choice

When I am out to dinner with a group and cede my food choice to others, people sometimes misplace me as someone who needs to assert myself, someone who has no opinion or someone weak in his ability to make choices. Quite the contrary. In fact, I cede as many of the inconsequential choices as possible to the people around me. This has always allowed me to have a more authentic experience of the world around me. Especially when I was traveling and abroad most of the time. Who am I to choose the cheese in France or the pasta in Italy? Who am I to choose the cuisine in Katmandu? And the tastes of others even in one’s hometown can readily say more about at person that anything else. Growing up in Hawaii where oh so many of the people have really finicky diets, I became very sensitive to the selective diets of those around me. The vegetarians, the lactose intolerant, the vegans, the pescavegetarians, the people with peanut allergies.

A Spidey Sense

I am surprised how many people don’t have this sensitivity. I am always surprised how many people are not just insensitive to feelings but really just deadened. Deadened to subtlety and nuance. Zero empathy. I really believe that I have a Spidey sense, that I have a real sixth sense. My friends Jana and Carrie both say that God has me on a tight leash, but there are so many times that I wish I could either retard or remove that aspect of myself. As I said before, this sense really served me well when I traveled alone through many lands as a traveling photographer. I carried around ten grand worth of photo equipment on my back throughout the world and never had an issue with my security. I live in the gentlest, loving, supportive and beautiful world you can imagine. I can nary believe that there are such awful things in ubiquity going on not only across the globe but literally across the street. I am far from naïve. And although I am over six-feet tall and well over 250 pound soaking wet, I don’t think that this is the only explanation for my safety: my size.

Fucking Haole

Growing up in Hawaii, I had to fight quite a lot. There was of course the normal fight for alpha which any young man must endure, but add to this that I was effectively a minority. I was a haole, a Caucasian, who attended a private school. I was a “fucking haole” and in a school system that actually supported an emergent “kill haole day” -- usually on the last day of school, but no always -- I learned how to be a scrapper. Scrapping is of course not the only way to make sure that there is peace. In many situations, it is essential pick and choose your battles and wars. And there were rules of engagement. All that anybody ever wanted was to be acknowledged. I learned that the best defense was a good offense which has worked every time. I call it my street rules of engagement.

City Rules of Engagement

The city rules of engagement revolve around very primal notions of acknowledgement. As I mentioned before, I am the favorite person to both fuck with as well as to fear. I am almost 6’4” and well over 250 pounds most of the time. And I am just big and strong-looking. Whenever I am in an environment I am not familiar with – especially at night – I always make sure that I keep my hands in my pockets. People are never sure what your hands have a hold of. Hands that are out of sight on the street could possibly be holding a weapon. Secondly, I always walk either with purpose and direction, or with insouciance and carelessness. Thirdly, and most importantly, I always make eye contact. And when eye contact is made, it is essential to either raise your eyebrows or to nod your head. The best outcome is a, “hey” or “what’s up” followed by a nod or an eyebrow raise. If this isn’t returned, it is important to raise your personal alert level or orange because as we know from day to day life, the way someone treats you rarely has anything to do with you, it has more to do with him. So, in this case, he might just be pissed, bitter, hurt, wounded, intoxicated, or possessed. He might be a psychopath or he might be so absorbed in his own thoughts (or in the best case, scared shit of you) that he’ll just fade into the night. If someone passes me and I don’t get an acknowledgment, I put up my guard and take evasive action. Evasive action might be stopping in a store or a bar or someplace open, or it might take the form of taking a turn into another road and doubling back. There have been times when I have done this after my hackles rise and I am under heightened alert when I am “surprised” to see my middle-of-the-night acquaintance turned around and walking on my previous vector as if to follow me, as I wait in the shadows. I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but I also do the same thing if I feel like I am being followed. I will double back, I will recede into the shadows and there have been a number of times when intentionally or otherwise, I have caught the elleged tail turn the corner, look around quizzically, and then, baffled, move on. I can only assume that this was motivated by their desire to keep me, dark and bulky, in their radar, but I have been known to go to a little bit of trouble to shake what I perceive as a tail. Primarily for the amusement. Much of my life is fueled by amusement, and being able to put into practice techniques and skills that I learned as a Rotsee Ranger just amuses the hell out of me on my way home. Equally, these techniques are important to practice, to hone, and to keep. When you’re drunk, American, alone, and a traveler and its well after midnight in Saint Petersburg or Katmandu, this sort of diligence is not only sane (as opposed to what you’re thinking which is, “my lord is this boy paranoid”) but it is smart. Especially in light of the constant ten-thousand dollar necklace I have until late always brought along.

Fire can Lick Behind these Eyes

I guess after all of that training even though its been about twenty years ago, I do believe I was trained well to smell a tail, to smell someone who’s got evil on his mind. To feel out someone’s intent, and to hide all of that savviness behind the sweetest, most mild exterior you could ever imagine. But fire can lick behind these eyes; a growl can pass these lips.