Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Some Advice from Morticia Addams...

A little advice from Morticia Addams going into the New Year...

We need to remember this when we see someone who does not fit into our standards of normal. I am not by any means advocating chaos, but instead, advocating acceptance to those who choose to live their lives outside of the box without the fear of repercussion.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bartending on a Yacht

An example of a 150 ft yacht! (Not my pic) 

Back in the 90's, I used to cater in Center City Philly for an upper end private catering company run by my sister's friend Jane. I was very fortunate to work with a group of fun people at some of the swankiest penthouses and luxurious homes in Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square, the Art Museum neighborhood, and the Mainline in Philly.

Most of the clients were extremely gracious. You had a group of plucky 20 something waiters or bartenders working our hardest for Jane because she also became a very good friend. We wanted to see her succeed. My sister got me the "in" working for Jane and I worked for her for a good 8 years off and on.

Many of these catering gigs stand out. They either involved crazy parties with drunk wealthy people, Philadelphia celebrities, or over the top parties that only that type of money can buy. One stood out in particular. I was to bartend on a large yacht moored in the Delaware River just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Of course, names are changed to protect the obscenely wealthy. LOL. One week in the late 90's, Jane  called me to see if I wanted to bartend with my friend Monica at a swank cocktail party on a yacht. I figured it was on the famous Philly sightseeing boat, the Spirit of Philadelphia. Jane said no, this one will be on a 150 foot yacht called the "Evening Star" owned by the 80 year old Philly business man who owns an extremely successful auto transmission and repair chain. (Let's call him Big Daddy).

I arrived at the marina and asked a dockworker which boat was the Evening Star. He laughed and pointed to the end of the dock. "The biggest one there is kiddo!" I looked over and gulped. Before me was a 150 foot long yacht, the largest I had ever seen. WOW, I thought, so this is what money can buy.

I walked up the gang-way and was greeted by Andrea, a smartly dressed woman with an awesome accent who crisply directed me to quickly come on board. I later learned that Andrea was from South Africa (hence, her exotic accent) and was the Chief Stew (steward) which meant if she said jump, I would ask how high?

I was set up in the main salon at the bar and told to direct questions to either herself or the chef in the back galley kitchen. It was an extremely modern and luxurious space to work in. The only odd thing about the interior I disliked was the ugly white shag carpeting all over the place. It was 90's modern and chic with a throwback to the 70's.

Soon my friend Monica showed up and began helping out Andrea and her crew get ready for the cocktail party while I just stood around being nosey and poking into everything. I found out that everything on a yacht or boat has it's place and everything is usually in a cabinet which has a latch on it. It throws you off as you're used to just opening cabinets and drawers freely without having to 'unlatch' them.

I was also directed and then further scolded on where and where not to go on the yacht. Andrea said "You stand there, serve drinks, go NO WHERE ELSE. You aren't being paid to wander." Okaaaaay. I get it, I was the hired help. I'd done that many times before and it was just part of the gig.

I did wander off to the powder room for a bit. I asked Andrea where the 'head' was thinking that since I was on a big boat, I might as well use the lingo. She quickly admonished me, "EUW! It's not the 'head'! Where do you think you are, a Navy battleship???" I was told to NOT use the guest powder room and I could use the crew bathroom down those steps, make a right, and it's on the 3rd door down. Of course I got lost. But I was in the crew area so there wasn't anything exciting to see.

After a bit, the guests arrived and I was soon serving martinis, Manhattans, and glasses of Champagne. Big Daddy soon came up from the main stateroom. He was a short statured man dressed in your faux "captain" sailing suit. That's the only way I could describe it. It was ridiculous. He was wearing yachting clothes which probably only get worn once a year. You could tell he was in his 80s but he looked oddly younger. Like "major work done" younger. His skin was pulled back tight, almost glisteningly shiny from peels but overtly tanned, had plugs, and wore the largest pair of sunglasses (indoors) that I had ever seen. Think the male version of Jackie-O shades. It was rather cartoonish.

We didn't have much conversation. Again, I was the help. But he was a very gracious man. His wife, Lana, then strode in. She stood a good 1 1/2 feet taller than him, at least 6 ft tall. Gorgeous in a long flowing navy blue wrap dress, and looked at least thirty years younger than he. She may have been even younger. I later found out that this was not his first wife. IMAGINE THAT.

She was lovely, tanned and tight faced. Luckily that garish lip and cheek plumping was not yet in Vogue with the wealthy. She had work done but didn't look too fake ... but still looked like a tanned Kabuki doll. Diamonds were dripping from her ears, dripping into her decolletage, and hanging off her wrists. She reminded me of the 70's/80's actress Leslie Ann Warren ... except with large chic-let teeth. I could've been on an episode of the Love Boat! Where was Gopher, Isaac, or Doc when I needed them?

The cocktail cruise got underway and all we did was sail up and down the Delaware several times. BORING. No high seas for me! I later learned that Big Daddy has always been extremely seasick and only had the yacht because it was the wealthy thing to do. They would have the yacht sailed down to the islands and then FLY their plane down to meet the yacht! They would stay overnight on the yacht, host parties, but never go out further than the harbor. Then, they'd FLY to the next island and the yacht would sail to meet them! YES, it was that ridiculous!

So while bartending, the boat went a rockin' as someone's speedboat zoomed past and I spilled a glass of red wine on that damn shag carpeting. Of course it had to be white shag carpeting. I poured an entire small bottle of club soda on it and mopped it up. Didn't help. I poured a full glass of white wine on it to counter act the red wine. That didn't help. WHERE WAS THE BLEACH? No bleach. So I did what any other nervous 20 something bartender would do to preserve my tip, I moved a large potted plant over the red spot.

The rest of the cocktail party went off pretty much without a hitch and Lana ended up getting pretty sloshed. She was a lot of fun though. I called her Lana because she reminded me of that character by the same name on the 70's sitcom "Three's Company". She was the flirty glamorous party girl-neighbor of Jack, Chrissy, and Janet. The name Lana fit her to a "T"!

At the end of the night, Lana was passing by the bar thanking me and my coworker Monica and exclaimed, "Oh DAMN!" as she looked down at her hand. She called for Big Daddy. He came wandering over and asked what was the matter? She stated her cocktail ring had lost one of it's diamonds again!

We all looked agog at her hand. Her 10 carat solitaire diamond cocktail ring was further surrounded by many one carat diamonds. This ring looked like it weight 5 pounds. One of them had fallen out ... apparently again!

Big Daddy was nonplussed and simply said, "Don't worry my Sweets, let it go and we'll replace it." and shuffled off with his younger glamorous in tow. She turned back to us and said laughingly "It happens all the time!" She blew us a kiss and waved good bye. They retired to their stateroom.

Monica and I looked at each other with our eyes widening. We immediately dove down to our hands and knees knocking our heads in the process. We never found that huge diamond in that damn white shag carpet as hard as we looked!

To this day I search white shag carpets for diamonds.

And yes, I did fess up to the red wine stain. I just didn't want to ruin the party at that time. AND we still got an awesome tip!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Quote from Artist Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He is known for portraits and nudes in modern style characterized by elongation of faces and figures, that were not receives well during his lifetime, but later found acceptance. Modigliani spent his youth in Italy, where he studied the art of antiquity and the Renaissance until he moved to Paris in 1906. There he came into contact with prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso and Constatin Brancusi. (source: Wikipedia: Modigliani

I just love the quote below and have always admired his works. The quote may seem like an off the cuff excuse, but it goes so so much deeper. Check out his works online. They are hauntingly beautiful. 

Why do artists create what they create? Take the time and ask the artist! Their reasons may astound and confound you but you will definitely be amazed. Their reasons are not what you think. Remember what you see in a work of art may not be what was originally intended. But that's OK. There is no wrong answer here. 

ART may mean one thing to someone, another thing to someone else, and an entirely different original meaning to the artist. Respect and appreciate each meaning and interpretation. That's one of the first steps to appreciating and understanding the great art around you. 


Monday, December 11, 2017

May Our Holly Rest in Peace

Marc, Holly, Suzanne & Maria at Suzanne's Wedding Aug 2016

It seems that tragedy becomes a right of passage during one's adulthood. It happens and one struggles to make sense of it and adapt to it. Around and around my mind goes wondering how or why did this happen?

I can't wrap my head around it. Just endless thinking about the scenario wondering how it could've been prevented. It is so hard to comprehend why it happened. Just a tragic and senseless murder.

My coworker and friend Holly tragically lost her life last week at the hands of her own husband. He killed her in cold blood. I write that not to shock you but to relay how cold and horrible that it truly was.

The details will not be recounted here. They are just too horrible for me to say. Just know that a wonderfully genuinely friendly and lovingly silly mother lost her life. And now her two children in their 20s are without their mother. And her own elderly parents are broken and have to bury their daughter.

With my Mother's death in 2009, I came to believe that time does not heal all wounds. It just doesn't. You grow more adept at handling your grief. But your grief is still there.

I am comforted by a letter I recently discovered that my paternal Grandfather Leslie Haynes wrote in 1976 to my brother Adam, sister Sheryl, and myself when my maternal Grandfather Herman passed away that year. I was six years old at the time.

"Dear Sheryl, Adam, and Marc :
We do not know or understand everything, but we do know and understand that there is a Great Power that moves and directs all of our lives. We call that power God.

The wheels of time grind slowly and steadily under His direction, and for each of us it is Life.

A great poet has so beautifully said that 'life is a stage upon which each of us does his act and departs.' To the unbeliever that is a tragedy, but to us who believe, we believe that God still takes care of our departed love ones.

Therefore, as the children of God, we can accept his will when that time comes.

With love and sympathy, Grandpa Haynes"

I am not as religious as my grandfather was but this gives me comfort and solace. My grandfather was a wise man.

I will remember sweet Holly for our private hallway jokes, looking forward to the weekends to go hanging out with friends at our local bars, complaining about having to return to work each Monday, comparing notes about what we did the past weekend. She was silly, had an infectious laugh, and was incredibly positive at work.

He cannot hurt you anymore Holly. God bless you. You will be so missed.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bar Etiquette for the Holidays

Not me. This guy is working! ("Hollywood Capers" 1935)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS my friends! Here are just a couple friendly reminders on how to act and treat your bar staff when you are enjoying yourself out and about for the holidays. I am extremely lucky in that I rarely have issues where I bartend. I recognize that good behavior while at a bar is definitely a two way street. I will treat you with respect and I expect the same in return! Some of what is said is a lil' snarky but it's meant in good fun.

This blog is also for all of my bartending friends whether they work at a local bar, a restaurant chain, catering, a swanky restaurant, a ski lodge or a hotel chain. It can be a tough job. There are some written and some unwritten rules of the bar which will make your holiday, and mine, go a lot smoother.

Please don't curse. There may be kids present if the bar you are at may have a restaurant. I'll keep my mouth clean too.

This seems incredibly obvious but every other week someone finds it funny to start throwing things at the bar. It's NOT. I give you a warning and tell you to stop once. After that, don't expect me to be friendly. And if you are in the slightest way buzzed, I'm slowing you down. If it continues, you are being asked to leave the premises.

Don't stand on your bar stool or get on the bar. That should be obvious too. And if you fall back onto the floor, I'm gonna question your sobriety.

If we do not have your first choice of beverage at the bar, I am sure there is something else we have which you would like. We are not the Liquor-Mart in Delaware but we do have the basics. Look at the size of the establishment. Is it a small town bar? Is it a local Lodge or VFW? Is it a chain restaurant like Chili's? Is it an upscale restaurant or hotel like the Ritz-Carlton?

Make your choice keeping this in mind. You are most likely not gonna get a Pernod's or glass of Moet at the local dive bar. Settle for a frosty mug of beer, a good voddy tonic or rum 'n coke and you'll be just as happy. Don't expect a bar to have every flavor of vodka or whisky either. Most bars have their liquors within eyesight. Take a minute and look. Sorry, no bubblegum flavored vodka here.

I am allowed a break. I'm on my feet. LOL Don't harass me if I wanna take 5 minutes. Although I know that won't stop some of you ...

If we are jam-packed, it may not be the best time to ask me for drink suggestions. You will get a stare from me and I will suggest again a frosty mug of beer, a good voddy tonic or a rum 'n coke.

If I don't know what is in your drink choice, I may look it up in the bar book. Don't be offended. This is a part time gig and although I make a mean martini and an awesome Long Island Iced Tea, I don't know how to make everything. Even full time bartenders are always learning. So that means your pink alligator, blue whale, mind-eraser, or woo-woo may take a couple minutes longer.

If it's a packed bar, you will wait a couple minutes for a drink. Relax. I see you. I feel you staring at the back of my head. Say hi to someone and chill. I'll be right with you with a smile. I don't openly ignore people. Why would I do that? I know I'm gonna have to serve you anyway. Why would I want to jeopardize my tip? Take a breath and again, I'll be right with you.

Cheesy moustache & fellow bartender Spongebob
The hardest part of my job is deciding how to tell you that you've had too much to drink. Luckily it doesn't happen often. If you are getting too intoxicated, I may offer you a complimentary bottle of water or soda, or even something to eat. Take the hint and don't make a scene. I am attempting to slow you down without having to cut you off. If I do cut you off, I'm going to try and do it discretely, quietly, and not embarrass you. But if you create a scene, all bets are off and you'll be asked to leave without apology. REMEMBER THIS: I'd rather have you mad at me that night, but alive the next morning.

If you want a virgin cocktail and have no idea what you want, I'll suggest the ultimate virgin drink, water. I'll be honest, mock-tails are not my specialty. I can give you a Shirley Temple, a Roy Rogers, or a mix of fruit juices. Your pick?... oh yeah, water.

A good bartender will socially bounce around the bar, making small conversations here and there. Now I need to spend time with other patrons, making sure they are cool, doing the small talk thing with them as well. I like taking care of all my guests. I will also tend to scan the bar, making sure everyone's drinks are fresh. If my fellow workers need something, I will be ending the conversation temporarily to help them. Don't be offended. We are a business and I'm helping it run smoothly.

I am also not offended if you call me by my name for a drink. I'd rather you do it. IT'S MARC ... with a "C". There's a lot to do behind the bar and I could get caught up in other stuff like cleaning dishes, counting money, wiping off bottles, etc. So definitely learn your bartender's name and I'll try and learn yours, or at least your drink! I'd rather be called Marc than "YO!" And do not bark at me. If you bark at me, I turn on SELECTIVE HEARING.

We are SERVICE not SERVANTS. There is a major obvious difference. Remember that mutual respect thing I began the blog post with?

If you buy 10 shots for people, I have to make or pour the 10 shots and then wash the 10 shot glasses. So that means your next mug of beer may be a little delayed.

I never force alcohol on anyone. If they don't want your free drink, I am not gonna force it on them. That goes along with "buying" the bar a round of shots. If someone doesn't want it, I'm not gonna pour it.

In the same vein, don't feel obligated to buy rounds and rounds of free drinks just because everyone else is doing it. While I like high bar sales as much as the next guy, don't feel that you have to put yourself in debt just to match someone.

Be nice and polite if you ask for pretzels or peanuts. They are FREE. I don't mind putting them out (much to the chagrin of my bar manager, the Big Ragu). They also make you thirsty which helps me in the long run. (Come on.. you can figure it out. LOL)

I will be polite, respectful, and friendly to you even if you are ... let's see ... not a friend of mine (politically correct). There are a couple individuals out there I am ... not friends with. It's called LIFE. LOL. That's a good bartender though. I will still be "service with a smile".

BUT, if you are rude to me, all bets are off. I won't and shouldn't have to put up with rude behavior. If I see you be rude to one of my fellow servers, I am also gonna call you out on it. If you insult my fellow workers, assume that I will take their side. BE NICE. It's the holidays damn-it!

Try not to come to my bar in a bad mood. I recognize that if I'm in a bad mood and you're in a bad mood, it is infectious and brings down the overall mood of the bar. If I happen to be in a grumpy mood, I will try and get out of it, I promise. No one likes a surly bartender either. Not good for business.

In the same vein, don't play depressing songs on the juke box!!! no one wants to hear "Crying" by Roy Orbison or "Everybody Hurts" by REM on a fun Saturday night.

I will listen to your problems within reason but pleeeeze don't make it a therapy session. Otherwise, my bill will be in the mail. ;)

NOT ME. Cheesy movie. 
I saw this happen one night and I blew it off because I know the guy ... but SERIOUSLY, DO NOT STICK YOU HANDS IN MY TIP JAR and COUNT MY TIPS. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It is not done and not acceptable. In addition, don't put anything in my tip jar except tips. It's just a bit annoying.

Oh and I won't be tossing cocktails into the air, I ain't this guy from Cocktail.  Duh, LOL

Now listen ... I would not be doing this if I didn't still love bartending. Some of us have the "gift of gab" as it is called. I just love to socialize. That helps with bartending. But I also really love serving my customers, new and regular. I have probably the BEST PART TIME JOB in the WORLD!

I know I have said it before but I really mean it. I love the people who choose to hang out with me at the Lake Wynonah Lodge while I'm on bar. I am a VERY lucky guy.