I walked into the bar, and instantly knew that I had dressed wrong. To wrongly gauge the proper dress attire for a drinking establishment is ensuring a swift social death, before you’ve really even started drinking. You can sit at the bar for hours, and nobody will even say hello. As I grabbed a seat as a bar, I could feel the scowling condescension of the other individuals. I braced myself, I reassured myself that all was well because I was here to meet Murphy. You see, I’d worn a sharp, button down shirt with a semi-trendy pair of jeans, and a clean pair of boots. Problem was, I was at Hogan’s Goat in Bayshore.
I found Murphy, greeted him, and grabbed a seat at the bar. The bar was a rough plank of wood, with some polyurethane slobbed on it. The floor was peeling linoleum. The stools felt like they had three and a half legs. The pint glasses looked a bit cloudy and greasy. The clothes were soiled. The chins were unshaved. The guy who sat next to me at the bar hunkered over his drink, his shoulders bunched up like a vulture, his neck droopy, his eyes disappeared into dark sockets. I caught him looking over in my direction with disdain when I asked the bartender what beers they had on tap. “The beers they right in fronta ya, whaddya think, I gottanotha tap in the back?” the bartender kindly chirped. People looked over with scorn. I saw that they were all drinking Bud Light, they were all tired from a long day of work, and they were all unhappy to see what they perceived to be a yuppie walk into their watering hole. “I’ll have a Magic Hat” I stammered.
What the people in the bar couldn’t figure out was how I knew Murphy. Murphy is to the south shore as the Fiddler on the Roof is to the Jews of Russia. Murphy holds much more power than any elected political figure, Murphy has more influence than any pastor, than any local mafia kingpin. Okay, I may have exaggerated some of the details there, but people in this bar really love Murphy- he’s always there, drinking a light beer slowly. How was I able to sit next to Murphy, and call him my friend?
A guy strummed away at an electric guitar in the background, crooning Jimmy Buffet tunes as the crowd got increasingly drunker. But I never listen to Buffet, so I couldn’t chime in, which made me feel more out of place. That I didn’t sing along was added cause for their suspicion. When one of the songs ended, Murphy banged his glass and got everybody’s attention. In a raspy voice he called out “Everybody, this is Kevin McEvoy.” The room was silent. Someone from the side of the bar says “Who gives a rat’s ass?” Murphy says “The Artist.”
The room went silent, then everybodys eyes opened wide, and in one, unanimous shout they cried “NO FUGGIN WAY!!!! NO FUGGIN WAY!!! I DON’T BELIEVE IT’S THE ARTIST KID!!!! You’re the guy that painted Murphy?” And the musician put down his guitar and said “I gotta print of ol’ Murph in my living room,” and the bartender said “He’s hangin in my pop’s restaurant down the road, I seen him de other day, Murphy up on the wall framed, lookin down at ya while yer eatin ya burger.” “Murphy’s in our bathroom, man, right above the sink there. Hell man, I don’t believe that you’re the guy.” People just kept coming over. “HI, I’m Peggy, yaw paintin of Murph is so sexy, shit man, I can’t believe it’s you who done it. You got a smoke?” “Man, Murphy’s like my best friend, man, thanks for doin that paintin. Damn kid, that thing is great.” Forgive my too accurate depiction of the account, but the expletives are as colorful as the people, I could no more leave them out than refuse to paint wrinkles around old, expressive eyes. Apparently, everybody had gone onto my website, downloaded the painting of Murphy, and printed him on their computers. He’s literally hanging all over the place- in a well known restaurant, in homes.
The bartender tapped the counter and said “I’m Matt, nice tameecha, next one’s on me buddy.”
I can’t tell you how nice this was, as I head off to the Washington Square Show tomorrow morning. I’m so eager to take a canvas back to that bar, and paint those people laughing, brooding, lost, pensive, singing. I have to figure out a way to paint them.
I’m famous at Hogan’s Goat in Bayshore- what could be cooler?