Act One: Unlimited Hot Sake
This story opens on a rainy night in Greenpoint. The location of my tri-friended meetup was Sakura 6. From the outside, one could easily mistake the bamboo curtained facade for just another cheap sushi place. What sets this cheap sushi place apart from all the other shitty cheap sushi places in New York is that this shitty cheap sushi place provides an unlimited supply of free sake with each meal. Upon meeting my friend Tom, we proceeded to toast our way through the first ceramic carafe before our third compatriot, Hugo, even arrived. Once we were all accounted for, complimentary miso soups were placed before us as we ordered our sushi boat for two and a few added rolls (this was approximately 3-4 carafes in). A few minutes later the boat docked and was immediately boarded. Wishing to expand my knowledge on sashimi species, I asked the waitress (when she came over to refill our 5th or 6th carafe) to clarify the identity of two visually similar white fish varieties left sitting on the deck. She looked down, puzzled for a few seconds, then darted away to the chef for confirmation. “Yellowtail” she said when she returned. “And the other?” I replied. The puzzled look returned to her face and after another pause replied “salmon.” “No the white one,” I tried to explain. “Oh! Yellowtail!” She said excitedly. “The other one” I repeated, pointing, the tip of my finger almost touching the fish in question. Now the puzzled look was directed at me. Her tone turned from helpful to contentious. Staring me directly in the eyes, she uttered, “red snapper.” The unspoken message of her words being, “I’m lying to you. I don’t know what it is, but you better shut up and accept my answer or that’s the end of your free sake. We all feigned excited smiles and ‘aaaahs!’ in return for our false educations, and thanked her again in advance for our next refill. Finishing our boat, final round of sake, and conversation on the most effective applications for VR besides porn, we contemplated our next move. Knowing my penchant for arcade games, Tom proposed a ‘pinball bar behind a laundromat’ across the street and I wholeheartedly consented. Lighting his American Spirit Tom said, “Hugo, I think you’ll like this but it’s really a ‘Cerise place.”
Act Two: Stay Puft
We stumbled through the laundromat, making awkward eye contact with a middle-aged woman. Judging by her piercing glare, she was obviously less than pleased by the continual interruption of semi-drunk young hipsters, and slightly drunker older gamers stumbling through while she waited for her spin cycle to wind down. Pushing two swinging doors aside, we discovered what gave ‘The Pinball Bar’ its name. Full Disclosure: after an indeterminate number of sake sips I could definitely have been seeing double but either way, I would estimate there were at least 15 to 25 pinball machines in there awaiting some action. Somehow despite the inviting noises and lights we decided drinks took priority. We each ordered a pint of ginger cider (a strange group order looking back) and circled the bar, trying to decide on a machine that would please all three of us. My first thought was The Addams Family game. But then I spotted the Game of Thrones, ACDC, and Twilight Zone alternatives, and the decision became much harder. Just then, I spotted the ‘Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’ waving at me from inside the Ghostbusters machine. The choice was made. Hugo and Tom agreed. After a few unsatisfactory rounds of random whizzing and noise, and a few satisfactory swigs of ginger cider, we realized pinball is a pretty dumb game. Unready to call it a night, we plotted our next move. Again Tom came up with a brilliant plan. “Have you ever been to Brooklyn Bazaar? It’s across the other street and they have a Putt Putt golf course INSIDE!” Done.
Act Three: Souvenir Golf Balls
We entered a building I had passed by many times thinking it was either a Russian wedding hall or a funeral home. Maybe it is/was both, but fortunately its also a bar. Walking in, we were greeted by a bored looking bouncer. Apparently there was a gig happening somewhere on one of the many upstairs levels. We got nervous we’d be asked to pay a cover, but he just looked at our Vermont IDs, messily affixed us with neon green wristbands, and dismissed us on our merry ways. We passed an eerie mirrored hallway, entering into an alternate dimension in the shape of a starkly barren events room, which for some reason had a small tinfoil buffet tray setup filled with mini burgers and mac & cheese. I still have no idea who the trays belonged to, but I’m pretty sure I made the right decision in not sampling any of the tepid consumables. We walked from room to room passing air hockey tables, foosball, and a photobooth. Grand tour of the ground floor covered, the Bazaar got even more bizarre. We spiraled down a set of stairs to an empty basement, revealing a musty mini-golf course that was either made by aliens from the 80’s or stoners from a Bushwick art collective. The jubilant murmur of drunken karaoke wafted from the closed door next to us. How was this whole place unsupervised? I was very confused but not going to ask any questions and risk getting my fantasyland privileges revoked. We approached the rack of clubs waiting at the start of the course. Beside them sat a giant bowl of golf balls ranging in fluorescent hues. We all chose a different color and began. There were nine holes in total. I think I got through two holes before giving up, realizing it was much more fun to dance around the course with my bud light and putter, singing along to whatever 90’s hit was playing in the next room. After ‘finishing’ the ninth hole, and not so subtly pocketing my self-designated ‘souvenir’ golf ball, we headed back upstairs. We wanted to cap off the night by playing a final game of ping pong, but all the tables were net-less. Being rather serious table tennis players (as most Vermonters are), we decided to call it. I crossed the bridge via via, and went to sleep recounting the night’s accomplishments. Free sake, secret pinball, and a private mini golf session complete with karaoke serenade. What more could I have asked for on a rainy Tuesday night in New York? Besides Ping Pong, of course.