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Tar Beach

Drink in the Sites

Nearly my entire life I have had no backyard to call my own, thus precluding me from the conveniences and many simple joys afforded someone so lucky (something I discussed at some length last time (http://eepurl.com/cNkzvr) ). Of course, when it comes to a backyard the luck cuts both ways, you can’t enjoy a thriving garden without putting some work into it. In any case, growing up in New York City there were not many backyards to go around (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/31/nyregion/20080831BACKYARD_index.html) . Like many residents I was huddled up into apartment buildings, both big and small. That is not to say we were left without options for getting some respite from the daily pressure cooker. These locations came in a number of different flavors and they offered a decent option for cracking a brew. Granted, not all of these oases were meant for drinking, but hey I was young, cut me some slack.

Chief among these options is the one most closely related to a backyard or garden based on characteristics and appearance, the park. Parks come in all sorts of styles, sizes, conveniences and amenities. They also, usually, come kitted out with benches and tree shade, two key ingredients for kicking back and chilling out. On a particularly sunny day there is also the option of laying out and catching rays, especially post Giuliani. The mayor cleaned up the city allowing more safety for park visitors but the added vigilance also had a dampening effect on brown bag policies (until recently, anyway (http://www.vibe.com/2016/03/manhattan-public-drinking-law/) ).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pawel_pacholec/ Pawel Pacholec Some keys to drinking in public: don’t stand out, don’t be obvious, don’t be sketchy, don’t be stupid (or anymore stupid than you already are being by, you know, drinking in public), and be willing to pay the fine. What good is it to drink under stress? It defeats the whole purpose of cutting loose. Some of the best parts of drinking in the park: you are outside taking in the weather, the drinks are cheaper than at a beer garden, and you can bring your own beats (https://youtu.be/BIORiY9JC6k?list=RDQMoxIT5Iw1H7M) . Downside: public bathrooms; churlish looks from others, especially parents; anyone can call you in because of the ubiquity of mobile phones (don’t snitch!).

A bit closer to home, if you can’t be bothered to make it to the park or if it’s too far or if it’s too tiring to carry a sufficient amount of good beer, are two options. The first of these, and this truly depends on your building, neighborhood, and time of day, is the front stoop. Years ago I mentioned to a Jersey girl starting an evening hanging around a stoop grabbing a couple of drinks. She had to stop me midway through my recounting to ask what a “stoop” was. After having explained it to her, apparently it was more a confusion of terminology than acquaintance with the object, she said she didn’t have any in her neighborhood. The only obvious retort was to ask where she did her drinking.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dandeluca/ Dan DeLuca Night time and poorly lit buildings are particularly good “features” for this sort of drinking, but make sure you’re familiar enough with the neighborhood not to put yourself in a compromising situation. The purpose of the stoop stop? Pre-gaming, post gaming, and just plain kicking back while killing time. As a younger man I had to make do with the money at hand. The store-bought beverage was cheaper than a bar bought one, so in search of a decent buzz I would definitely take advantage of a quick stop over before meeting up at the locale of choice. After a few quick sips the prices at the establishments seemed more manageable, especially considering the head start. Stoops come in all sorts of shapes and sizes (just like parks) so there is no one-size-fits-all approach but I certainly suggest using the available physical surroundings to block off your actions. Keep the beer low while not sipping and any other cans/bottles hidden, but nearby.

The second option is no further from where you are sitting but several stories up. I’m not talking about an apartment or a staircase. While the latter at least sticks with the not quite legal drinking theme it fails on the out-of-doors criteria we are harping on. The apartment is also a waste on these criteria, though if it comes with a balcony we can stop right there and enjoy it all. No no, I’m talking about the rooftop. And not one of those bar rooftops and not one of those yuppie rooftop spaces either that come packaged with the building amenities. I’m talking old-school, four to six stories above street level, type of rooftop. Tar beach rooftop, a la Weekend at Bernie’s (https://youtu.be/YCTgcZ6ImsQ) .

This site is great for a variety of reasons, less street interference, more seclusion (something like the VIP/velvet rope of street drinking), and access to a vantage point few outside of Batman get to regularly take in. Depending on the time of day and the weather you may experience the sun being needlessly brutal, so take heed. Given the extra space and available time it may be in your best interest to bring some water for the spot as well. Shit, while you are at it bring up a beach towel or chair and really kick back.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/handsoutyopockets/ Jackson Day or night this option has something to offer. The daylight hours and summer heat make it seem as if the city’s sound is a physical thing (technically true of course but this isn’t a physics class) enveloping you and emanating from the surrounding air. The added height usually adds a mental perspective to the visual one, your troubles seeming smaller with the horizon open to you and your mind not boxed in on all sides by building walls

At night the color, haze, and sounds retreat a bit. You can make out a little more clearly the source of each. The extra peacefulness allows you time to breathe (https://youtu.be/Luwnd3F0PLE) . And think.

Parks come in all sorts of flavors, something we have mentioned several times, but we may have been too restrictive in our mental image of what a park is, especially in the city. Another form of park is the beach. Drinking at the beach is a matter of hiding in plain sight.

On weekends the sand is packed with families, coolers everywhere, and constant activity. This is as good a time as any to pop open a brew, but if it’s nice enough to be at the beach remember that you are in fact at the beach. Meaning, act accordingly (https://youtu.be/GVBdb_NjO9A) . The sun is out and if you don’t have an umbrella to temper that light you better have some good old H2O to combat the dehydration. Fun in the Sun Drinking at the beach is also a good reminder of what else is out there in the world. Too often good beer drinking involves being indoors, especially in the North East, and just as often surrounded by mostly non-ironic beard sporting dudes. That’s all good (is it?) but there are other things to remember to enjoy. Already being outside we are ahead of the game. And unless you are some wealthy prick you most likely had to travel a fair distance to get a glimpse of the water with sand between your toes, so there’s even more action you can congratulate yourself for having taken.

Lastly, you also should have some eye candy to appreciate. Lawn chair, umbrella, beer, beer gut, and shades: check, check, check (https://youtu.be/5RiuE1rWnso?t=2m56s) … Even if you don’t make a move at least you’re building motivation (let’s hope). Not liking what there is to see in your area? Either haul camp or leave someone behind to guard your stuff and take a walk up and down the shore to get some variety.

The final and most obvious place for a drink al fresco is out on the street itself. Late at night with the stars out, even if you cannot see them for the buildings and surrounding light pollution tens of miles out (http://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2012/12/05/166587600/new-nasa-images-show-the-earths-electric-light-show) , the sidewalks are emptier than usual, though certainly not deserted, and the traffic is lighter as well. Should you have made the 4am deadline or simply been able to convince the bodega to get a few after the cut off you can entertain your own version of the New Orleans “to go cup” (https://youtu.be/7vDx4EryYz0) .

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisschoenbohm/ Chris Fors As a fellow New Yorker, and if you spend an extended holiday in the city we’ll deputize you for the occasion, you will already be familiar with eating while walking. There are the ever present slices of pizza, the common enough hot dogs, gyros and shish kebabs, and even meal sized options like chicken and rice platters that come in Styrofoam containers, to name just a few. A couple of beers is not too much to ask of your coordination. Or maybe it is, but if you’re still kicking it and unwilling to let the night go or simply killing time to give the booty call one last window of opportunity to respond to your questionable text, have a brew and chill out.

Naturally this approach exposes you to more chance of discovery since not only are the passersby constantly changing but you are also bringing about more variation simply by moving in the environment. Truth is you will probably get ticketed sooner or later so just accept that as the cost of living a little, a simple tax to cover a bit of irresponsible imbibing. Then again, maybe the night version of you (https://youtu.be/W-Cz-LK16g4) isn’t the best person to be taking a “seize the day” type of mentality from.