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Posts Tagged ‘Old Carriage Inn’

It’s been hard to avoid hearing about Park Slope in the news recently. The New York Times printed an article in the weekend Style section that addressed some of the neighborhood ire. Between a Sex and the City-style television show that is set to take place in Park Slope to a group of “stroller nazis” (i.e. women who have children and choose to push them in strollers all in the name of the Third Reich) trying to shut down local bar Union Hall, there’s a lot to talk about. The thing is, none of it is very interesting. In fact, it bores this shit out of me. Wait a minute, Park Slope has been yuppified? Get the fuck out of here (and by here I mean this small, overpriced Park Slope boutique)! What tipped you off, genius?

Anyway, I don’t really want to get into it, because Lord knows there have been enough articles and comments about the subject. But as a young man in his mid-twenties who has no children, is not a coop member (and thus has never missed a shift or been on probation) and has not been pushed in a stroller in the past twenty years, here are three things that I like a lot about Park Slope.

  1. There are more old man bars than you can throw an orthotic insoled shoe at. Off the top of my head, I can think of Farrell’s, O’Connors, Old Carriage Inn and of course Jackie’s Fifth Amendment, all of which have enough stories and old man musk to last me until I’m sitting on one of their bar-stools talking about World War 4 and when I was forced to vote for President Chelsea Clinton.
  2. Park Slope teens are bad ass. While they can be pretty intimidating, they’re also incredibly impressive, and seem to run in packs like wild dogs. These kids will get shit done when they’re older. And by “shit” I mean more than just chain-smoking outside of Tea Lounge.
  3. Park Slope is the perfect place to spend a hungover Sunday. There are a ridiculous amount of diners to eat away your headache, a massive park with endless green grass to sit in as you contemplate how you’re failing at life, movie theaters all around to sit in darkness and watch better looking people make life decisions so you don’t have to and, most importantly, a great collection of bars, delis and wine stores to have another drink on a Sunday evening while you forget that you have to be at work the next morning and that you’ve been late every day for the past week and that maybe your horoscope was right and you really are going to need to make some drastic changes in your life.

Anyway, there you go. Park Slope can be annoying, stuck-up, snobby and overpriced, but so can Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights and many other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Stop complaining about it, or the Park Slope teenagers will put their cigarettes out on your face.

           

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When I first moved to New York, I was a misguided Manhattanite with little knowledge of the great borough of Brooklyn. Manhattan was brand new to me, with thousands of bars and restaurants at my disposal. Why on earth would I want to leave and try out Brooklyn?

At the time, I was also reading a biography called Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, which, despite being mainly set in Portland and Los Angeles, described a small portion of Smith’s life in which he lived in Park Slope. Although he played the odd show at clubs in Manhattan, he apparently spent most of his time in bars in Brooklyn, and wrote his most critically acclaimed album, XO, while sitting in O’Connor’s.

Upon reading this, I decided to venture into this second borough, making O’Connor’s the first bar I ever visited in Brooklyn. It’s been around since 1931, and I find it hard to believe that a whole lot has changed since then. Aside from adding a few televisions, the price of any beer rests firmly at around $3 to $3.50 (well drinks are around the same price). The bar stools and booths all feel a little like they might collapse beneath you. Even the smell is one of an old, damp Brooklyn bar where you can imagine your grandfather sitting down and ordering a cheap bottle of beer.

I revisited the bar last night with BS enthusiast bearclaw, and was surprised to see that even on a Tuesday night at midnight, the bar was not empty. What is interesting about this bar is that unlike Jackie’s 5th Amendment or Old Carriage Inn (two other old bars in Park Slope), it seems to be a place where youngsters and their grandparents can co-exist peacefully. This is not to say that I have ever see a brawl break out at Jackie’s, but I’ve also never seen anyone there who didn’t have their AARP card on hand. What might bridge the age gap at O’Connor’s? A fantastic jukebox. While going through it, we saw everything from The New Pornographers to Ray Charles. They used to have XO, but have now changed to Smith’s posthumously released From a Basement on the Hill. We played a few songs from this album, in addition to some Loretta Lynn. While listening, it was easy to hear why Smith would choose a bar like O’Connor’s. It’s not a rowdy place, but somewhere you go for good conversation, or to blend in the background, listen to music and quietly drink.

Pros: Cheap, friendly staff, good people-watching, great jukebox.

Cons: No beer on tap, dark, not always available seating.

O’Connor’s
39 5th Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Elliott Smith

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