I took this photograph when I was in New York last week, back in my old neighborhood…
The Corner Bistro was my regular watering hole, back when I lived in the West Village in the late 1990s, back when I was first drawing my trademark “cartoons on the back of business cards”.
I’d stumble in there late-at-night a few times a week. Great hamburgers.
Jeff would pour me a drink. Maker’s Mark on the rocks.
Jeff was a photographer. Nice guy. Great bartender. He liked my cartoons. I’d show him the new ones. He’d tell me which ones he liked.
I liked Jeff. We had a rapport. This was before I was ever published. This was long before blogging or Web 2.0.
This was when I was still unknown. A nobody. A goofball nobody in a tweed jacket, who would sit at the end of the bar for hours on end, doodling on the back of business cards for no reason.
So the Saturday I was in New York last week, I walk into The Corner Bistro, again.
Jeff was working; he’s still there. He’s married and has a kid now. He’s got a regular job doing something, but tends bar once a week for the hell of it.
He remembered me!
I give him a signed copy of Ignore Everybody [I had brought one with me, with the express intention of giving it to him], the book that was inspired by my days when I lived in New York- my lazy weekends in the West Village, my Saturday afternoons at the Corner Bistro, enjoying a drink, watching the cabs through the window, driving up Hudson, as Charlie Parker played on the best jukebox in Manhattan.
It as really good to see Jeff again. It had been over a decade. It felt like coming home. It was nice to be able to say to somebody from the old ‘hood, “Yeah. I made it. Finally.”
“This is an awesome New York story,” he said.
He’s right. It is.
Thank you, Jeff. Thank you, New York. Seriously…
Last September I was in New York with my girlfriend. Our flight from Australia had been delayed, we missed our connection in LA and wound up landing at JFK well into the evening. Sitting in our apartment that night, jet-lagged and wide-eyed (it was her first time to NYC), we stumbled out into the night and wound up at The Corner Bistro, relieved to be back in a city that understands people like to eat after 10pm at night, a lesson my island is for the most part yet to learn.
The place is immediate, and it’s obvious how that kind of spot could be the local you come looking for. It was for us.
And the burgers were brilliant.
Yeah, it’s one of those places. Feels very special if you catch it in the right moment, in the right state of mind.
Glad I’m not the only one in my ‘sphere who knows of it 😀
What a great story!!
Awesome post. As New YAWKER myself, I always am on the lookout for a good burger. Will definitely stop by. Love the way you gave props to Jeff who supported you in those early days. Must have been a blast to present him with a book of toons ,many of which he undoubtedly saw and approved. What a great story. Just another example of why we should never blow people off. You never know who they will become. And also a great lesson in never forgetting where you came from
What a great little story!
As a former denizen of Soho, now temporarily living abroad (that is, outside of NYC), this story felt true to me. I could almost smell the Village air.
I’m new to you, but this inspired me to learn more.