artless (artless) wrote,

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thanksgiving was about perfect in every way except length: twenty-four hours over my limit for close family contact. as usual, the lovely cosmopolitan city of troy, new york, hosted the annual family conclave. troy is both my father's birthplace and the home of my alma mater; as an exemplar of upstate new york's downtrodden rust belt, it also possesses that blue collar bars-churches-and- corner-groceries flavor i prefer for nostalgic reverie. said another way, it reminds me of brooklyn, or brooklyn reminds me of it. notably, one of troy's main events of the year, the thanksgiving day "turkey trot" 10K race, is hosted by the ale house, a corner bar which dates from the first wave of irish immigrants into the city's factories and sweatshops. i've been able to drink in the ale house since age 15 or so, largely because of my provenance as "young bourke," my father's son and my uncle's nephew. it's on my list of best bars on the planet.

over the years, i and my cousins have evolved several tactics for surviving thanksgiving, all of which feature leaving the house at crucial moments: touch football, drinking, basketball, drinking, darts, drinking, going out in albany, and drinking. my knowledge of troy's various saloons, taverns and bars, perhaps the greatest fruit of my four years' collegiate labor, is of course exhaustive and immensely helpful.

my friend dave (from north carolina, then san francisco) came to dinner from providence, where he's working on a secret project. not only did he mix readily with the eccentric bourke crowd, but he amazed everyone with his drinking stamina. i consumed an equal amount of hot wings and turkey during the entire ordeal. my cousin colleen and i were defeated in twelve straight dart matches at what used to be sutter's, a roughly paneled dive bar from my rensselaer days. our trip to albany gave me the insight to make the definitive phenomenological link between mullets and skinheads.

funniest moment of thanksgiving:

we're leaving the ruck (the former sutter's) at closing time (4ish a.m.), and dave has most of his pint of newcastle brown to finish. we're pulling on coats and the bartender says "looks like you need a traveler," and proceeds to pour dave's pint into a plastic cup.

best quote of thanksgiving:

dave remarks to me as i'm giving him the three-star tour of the home of uncle sam, "you seem really fond of this place." i say, "it's a function of distance." he says, "then let's get more fond."
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As a fellow ex-upstater, I salute your post for its overall touching beauty, and for catching the exact "flavor." Your friend's quote was excellent. (Was it said after the 4am take-home brewski? If so that's scary, no one should be that cogent at such a point.)