Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Groovier Than the Diner

Our sleepy little hamlet turned just a little more hedonistic when a cabernet lounge opened up on Park Avenue a couple of weeks ago. Fanwood and Scotch Plains were never blue law temperance strongholds; being a small, suburban New Jersey community, of course we already had four liquor stores in town and a depressing dive that reeked of cigarette smoke, sports pennants, and tubby, unshaven, withered middle-class dreams. I hoped we'd be getting a coffeehouse, but, on paper at least, my town feels a little more complete anyway with a place that will probably serve alcohol to high-school students and provide a midnite stage for their shitty poetry. In your face, New Providence!

I checked out "Peace Music Bar Love Vienna Go" (that's its real name, as far as I can determine) a few days ago, on a lonely Friday night, hoping to re-write the narrative of my boring town: bank, bank, copper fitting factory, Chinese restaurant, Chinese restaurant, bank. The front door is solid and there are heavy scrim curtains obscuring the curtains, but the back door was ajar, letting heat trickle out and cold trickle in. I had a hunch from its incomprehensible name, and I was right: Peace Music Bar Love Vienna Go is a 60's themed speakeasy, really really striving for that acid-tainted orgiastic Factory salon of post-modern critique: lava lamps and Buddha statues, copies of Life magazine dated April 12, 1963 or June 8, 1965 on a petrified wood table for your perusal because even your indolent lounging has to be sophisticated.... Except the crowd was New Jersey suburbanites, between the party hat-shaped glass my rum and coke came in (just standing within ten feet of the thing made me look super-fey) and the football game on TV, with oversized hairy ladies cheering periodically, the net vibe adds up to Austin Powers being served with papers for alimony and child support.

Not that I have anything new against Peace Music Bar Love Vienna Go; I just think that ten years ago, it would have fit nicely as a grand character in my small town narrative, instead of a footnote, just the only other place in town with mood lighting. Maybe — I hope, cause this place is totally stifling — the lounge functions better as a salon. The people necking seemed to enjoy the place, its funky chairs, and its mood lighting.

I tested the waters at around 10, probably before the busy season, and immediately stumbled into some dude with a guitar and then into two kids who kindly took a break from feeling each other up to stare at me. I, in turn, stared at the dopey Lee West egg chair they were simultaneously crammed into and splaying out of. "Where the hell did all these people come from?" I wanted to know, like they're carpenter ants. Fanwood's population is 7,174, and of that, 7,160 are second-grader moms with second-grader mom hairdos and second-grader mom jeans, and the lounge has maybe fifty people in there, none of whom are second-grader moms. I walked past some blue-collar professionals, people who still think they're attractive, sipping beer out of cosmo glasses. The owner... it's a 60's bar, he's wearing an 80's power suit, the kind of shiny metallic tie in vogue in the late 90's, and a Tony Little ponytail I can't really place in a particular decade, it's so timeless. Somehow I feel you could chop up the individual facets of his soul into maybe fifty pieces and you'd wind up with the whole crowd.

Now that I'm looking at these pictures of Tony Little (for the link, asshole — even if I was into hyperactive informercial man-whores I wouldn't scour the internet for Tony Little pictures. Billy Blanks, duh!) I'd like to recommend that our Peace Music Bar Love Vienna Go owner do something about his dry, split ends. Holy shit, will you look at this guy's hair? The freaking Girls Next Door don't have hair that sleek.

I stood around, drank my cuba libre, read Time magazine and got all the latest news from 1961. Gawked at the bartenders, who I swear are still in high school, and therefore can't be blamed for not knowing how to mix a cuba libre (or for not carding me, and I'm always carded). Hummed along to "I'm a Believer." Fascinated by a lava lamp. Went home and watched "House," not even a little drunk.

I'd go back, though. I'm a sucker for that mood lighting.