Thursday, May 31, 2018

Real tales of the Boardwalk Empire

I used to go to Atlantic City a lot. A lot.

At one time I would head down there every other weekend. See when you are an accountant it is pretty fucking boring. So a couple of us would head down to AC to have some fun. We weren't much for the sun so we didn't hit the Jersey Shore or the Hamptons. You had a pasty fat Irishman, a skinny Chink and a couple of Hebes. We would take the bus out of the Port Authority right after work on Friday night. $20 and you got 12 back to gamble.

We would stay in this old school hotel behind the Claridge which offered cut rate rooms. You were a block off the Boardwalk. They had a great coffee shop that was run by an Irish guy from Belfast. Some of the waitresses we knew from Times Square worked their now and again.

Anyway I often went by myself. I was not scared to be on my own. I mean I can make friends. I might of told you about one of these friends. Sal who was the bartender in "Sparky's Pub" in the Claridge Casino. It was a tiny eleven seat bar against the back wall of the casino floor. It had a couple or three tables as well as a banquet against the wall. The pub was dedicated to Sparky Lyle the old time Yankee Relief pitcher. At the time there was a lot of turis about Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and a couple of other baseball players being Casino greeters. They were even prevented from going to the Old Timers game one year. Bowie Kuhn was a cunt. Still and all the pub was a Yankee fans safe space.

Sal was a guinea from South Philly and I was half a guinea from Brooklyn so we knew some of the same things. And just like Bob Seger I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then. I always made sure I stopped off and visited. It was often my first and my last stop on a night of gambling.

I met a lot of interesting people there. Atlantic City was the only place other than Vegas that you could gamble legally at the time. There were no Indian casinos yet. Trump was just starting out. I  think he had just lifted up Marla Maples dress. So it was all brand new like a bright shiny penny.

So one night I stroll in about three in the morning. I was flush as I had a pretty good night at baccarat. I was even dressed up. I was in my James Bond asshole phase. I walk in and called a drink for the bar. It was early in 1980 I think. Maybe the first week of January. I liked to be a big shot and calling a drink for the bar wasn't a big deal because it was usually empty. I learned my lesson that night.

You see in a small table in the back a couple of mooks were sitting. Sal shook his head at me. One of the guys looked up and said "Who is this fuckin' gavone?" Sal goes "He's a friend of mine he don't mean no harm." I sized up the situation right quick and apologized. This was a couple of wise guys having a drink. "Sorry gentlemen I just had a good night and wanted to share in my good fortune." "Oh yeah. Okay. I will have a Johnny Walker Blue. My friend is having his usual cognac." "Sounds good" I go.

I go to the middle of the bar so I can't hear the conversation. I thought I recognized one of the guys. It was Greg Scarpa. If you knew who he was you would shit your pants. He would stop by to catch up with Punchy now and again on Columbia Street. I didn't now the other guy but he was a piizza faced motherfucker. Later Sal told me he was the Chicken man.

I slurped  up my drink nice and easy. Didn't give off any bad vibes. I said my good nights and left.
Didn't make it back until after the end of tax season for the Derby.

Still and all I kept going back to "Sparky's." What can I say? I am a mook.

Another time I will tell you the story of the frozen whores.


Sixty Grit said...

What does that mean, you called a drink for the bar, and why would those oily haired gents have a problem with that?

I have been in several bars, maybe three or four, and I used to go to Harrah's in Reno to see the cars, but other than winning two dollars at a nickel slot machine I never gambled.

Baccarat - Burt Baccarat. I remember him.

ricpic said...

Who Is Dis Guy?

"Ya gotta be tough, or at least put up a front,
And ya gotta know how to make friends."

"It's a high wire act from start to stop."

"So nu? Without moxie ya never contends."

Trooper York said...

I would walk in a buy a round for the house. There were often ladies there who were either depressed at losing or estatic at winning. You know Shere North MILF types.

I was young and studly in those days.

deborah said...

Holy shit, Troop, great story. The name Chicken Man puts me in mind of Gus Fring :)

Sixty Grit said...

I had never heard that version before - Bruce sounds depressed. That minor key throughout doesn't help a bit.

The video is depressing, too. B&W, shabby scenes, the Pine Barrens without the pines. I am happy to say I have never been to AC. From what I hear it has not gotten better.

Sixty Grit said...

Okay, I just relistened to The Band's version - it too is in a minor key, but the key difference is the use of 4ths. Makes all the difference. Also, Levon sings intelligibly - something ol' Bruce Mumblesteen could never do.

AJ Lynch said...

Chicken Man was Phil Testa I think- a Philly mob guy.