It’s a holy site to me, Max Fish.
I rarely get down to that neighborhood, the Lower East Side, what I used to call the Lower E. In May I happened to be there, first time in a decade I reckon. It was a sunny afternoon. I had to take a look at the old watering hole. I snapped the picture above.
It was about two hours before it would open; a young fellow was setting stuff up. I told him I used to live here, come here, and he let me look around. It had changed very little. I asked about Ulli, Alan, John, Harry, Gary. Gary had moved somewhere else, the rest were all doing fine and that made me really happy. I had some tears in my eyes. The dude smiled at me. I told him, I’m getting a little emotional, this place means a lot to me... I was a charter member. That odd statue, I believe it was some kind of highway icon for a closed store somehow it arrived here on Ludlow Street. I remembered seeing it from the bar, the same view, drinking a whiskey and beer and feeling a safe happiness, a confidence; I felt comfortable being me for the first time in my adulthood. I remembered feeling welcomed by kindred souls to a degree of which I had not experienced until then and have never quite experienced since. Max Fish was somewhere I was always glad to be and when I was there, I never wanted to be anywhere else.
Before moving to Jersey City, I spent about two years in the Lower East Side or the East Village, whichever you prefer. I use the terms with interchangeability.
And as with most of the good things that I remember, it is now gone. An article appeared in the New York Times. The blog I was going to write in May finally came to being.
Max Fish when I went there a few months ago, seemed nearly frozen in amber, more remain the same inside than had been changed. It is a vestige of that End of the 80s moment. The worst of AIDS and Crack Cocaine—and Government neglect and unabashed disdain of the victims of those scourges—had only recently passed and the first signs of gentrification were emerging, of which Max Fish could be seen as one: a new business opening up in a slum that catered to the new residents that began to revitalize the neighborhood.
Those newbies tended to be professionals, the first to arrive being artists who want affordable space to live, work and exhibit. The punk and even no-wave music scenes had passed, but as the last decade of final century of the millennia dawned, the revivalist Americana scene was in its infancy, as was the pre-internet DIY attitude. What had become established was the Graffiti art—that fun mix of primitivism and Warhol with its urban, lively charm. Keith Harding images were every where. He had been canonized by the below -14th street-Vatican. Graffiti Art, street art—the aesthetic and the sensibility—it’s being auctioned off at Sotheby now, but when I hit the Lower East Side, it was only beginning to be taken seriously. Max Fish embodied that then embryonic respect.
I moved to Norfolk and Stanton. Every day from about four o’clock to nine, on the same block, heroin addicts waited for the man. Dealers loudly whispered Dragon, Dragon. Every so often a white BMW would drive around the block, speakers blaring steady beats of “House” so loud the windows of my apartment (which did not face the street) rattled. It was the same car, the same beats. My drug days, most of them anyway, were behind me. Heroin was never my thing. One time, I saw this beautiful, hot, young woman. I can still see her in my mind’s eye. Absolutely gorgeous, one of the prettiest women I have ever seen in my life. She wore an olive green waist length Eisenhower Jacket and tights of the same color which clung like paint to her perfect butt and thighs. She was pure sexy beauty. She was under 25 years old. She was there to buy Dragon. It still makes me sad to think about, she was just so lovely and fresh, a joy to glimpse. How long until she joined the girls wandering on Allen Street, a couple of blocks over, waiting for a car to stop, trading their humanity for a fix? I still think about what might have happened to her, how long did her beauty last after that afternoon. I can still see her looking down at cellophane packets of Dragon then slipping them into her jacket pocket.
It was my first apartment. I went away to college in Rural Southern Jersey, lived at home after I graduated as I tried to grow my journalism career. Most of the last half of the 80s I lived with Donna in Elizabeth, an intensely sexual five years filled with severe emotional and physiological (and substance) abuse. My father passed away the year before, Donna and I broke up. She was institutionalized and I entered into psychoanalysis. I sort of had a nervous breakdown, some of which I documented here.
On the upside, I had gotten a new job, senior editor at a Manhattan Trade Magazine company with a decent salary, had gotten out of some debt and ready to finally start my real life. I grew up entranced by Beats and Punks with a wistful longing for the bohemia.
My buddy Tony had moved back to NYC to the East Village and other friend, Michael, whom I had known since Grammar School, lived on Attorney Street. I joined the Bergen County Colony forming in the Lower East Side.
Eventually, after being burglarized twice in six weeks, then being in an unpleasant room mate situation, I and Maureen moved in together in Jersey City. I realized my destiny lay on the Jersey Side, but I still need to be as close as possible to the everlasting promise of possibility—that enticing Goddess & Whore known as Manhattan. That first year or so in the Lower East Side, before the burglaries, I changed my life and a lot of that change was enabled by the comfort of Max Fish.
Tony and I like to drink, especially then. And as understatements go, that is equivalent to the Sky is a Nice Color Blue or George W. Bush was a disappointing President. Mike had gotten married and soon after I moved into town he absconded to Ramsey New Jersey to raise a family. He had been in the neighborhood through the worst of the plague and drug years that was the Reagan Era so I guess he had enough.
We were at the No-Name Bar, a groovy pub on Avenue A one late afternoon when Tony said, let’s drink whiskey. Aside from the occasional C.C. & Soda, I did not drink whiskey. I never even tasted the stuff before, except for Scotch, which I had never taken to. I drank Vodka & Club Soda or Beer. Tony asked the Bartender, what is whiskey? So we got the rap about the differences between Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, the typical spiel about the whiskey family. Then he brought out the Irish, the only real Whiskeys, Jameson and Bushmill and explained how the former was Catholic and the latter Protestant. Tony and I were both former Altar Boys and Bushmill tasted more like Scotch. Thus began a long and continuing relationship with Irish Whisky. As sunset turned to evening at the No Name, Tony and I swore allegiance to the IRA.
It was Tony who told me that he saw a new bar had opened up on Ludlow Street. I had walked bye, some construction was still going on. It looks like a heavy metal bar, like Down Town Beirut (a gin joint I disliked), I said. I was wrong about the heavy metal impression. I don’t remember much about the first time we went there, except that we were told it had only been opened for two weeks.
It was not a heavy metal bar, it was an art bar. The owner, Ulli said she would hold art openings there, act as a gallery. I loved the idea. Finally, after all those years of boozing in dreary Bergen or Essex (Elizabeth, remember) County joints, I didn’t have to talk about or listen to talk about the Jets or the Giants. Instead of team pennants and other sports memorabilia adorning the walls alongside multiple television sets, there was hip urban art, funky and funny. Keith Harring and Bastiat are to this place what Michelangelo and Da Vinci were to the Renaissance. I liked that, I liked the way the ambiance was organic to the neighborhood, an art scene that was original and still fledgling. Only one television too, a small black and white set in a corner above the bar, but not behind it, so patrons weren’t forced to watch television. The only show I remember it playing was Down by Law, the Jaramusch film, without sound. It might have been looped. I saw that soundless version dozens of times as I drank. Years later I actually rented the video. What tedious garbage, much better without the lame dialog.
That first time though at Max’s, I remember seeing the juke box. Not that I played it all that much, it was the song selection. The Velvet Underground and Howlin Wolf. It was still the vinyl 45 juke box, they hadn’t gone C.D. I thought I (and maybe Tony) was the only ones who listened to both the Velvets and the Wolf. One Television? Velvets & the Wolf? No Sports? It had taken three decades, but I finally found a home.
Tony and I, alone and together, soon became regulars. The No Name was forsaken. We loved Max’s from the moment we first went there. As far as I am concerned, it is more than the greatest bar, more than the epitome of bars. It is sacred ground.
In the back were pool tables and pinball machines, planks nailed to the wall for benches, a couple as chest high ledges for drinks. There was another bench, about mid-bar, and a naugahyde couch near the front that would not be out of place at a waffle house, might have actually been in one at time, like the all the furnishings, it was old and used. Max Fish had a mash up furniture, a collection of discarded remnants refurbished for the bar. This Salvation Army aesthetic worked as a unified whole, even though when looked at separately each part seemed out of place. The lack of symmetry created its own symmetry. It was post apocalyptical. God, I loved to drink there. I remember the walls were often dark green, but they were constantly repainted as one art show replaced another. It was always fun when there was new art. On the ceiling for the longest time, World War II model airplanes were suspended. There was a also a bust of well, a hideously disfigured face of Ronald Reagan wearing an Elvis Jump suit. Was he morphing into Elvis, or was the King morphing into the Gipper. Clowns are evil of course, and behind the bar was a large picture of a Clown, a jester really, similar to a classic Joker in a deck of cards. I was apprehensive about drinking within view of an image of Satan’s minion, but Tony reassured me. He compared the Max clown to a vaccine, where they inject a little bit of polio in you so your system becomes immune to the disease. Some evil did find me, as Evil always does and let’s not forget, I lived in Manhattan, an American Gomorrah. Without the clown at Max’s it might have been worse.
I had abandoned Vodka and was mainly a beer drinker but one of the things I found out soon after the No-Name Whiskey initiation was that whiskey and beer make a swell couple. It’s the pepper and salt of booze world. My usual drink was a Red Stripe and Jameson rocks (I like ice). This was before the wave of cosmopolitans and mix drink mania hit the bar scene. Being a bar regular, the bar tenders soon knew what you drank and the Max Fish Bartenders—Greg, Alan and this Australian woman who’s name I can’t recall—they hadn’t gone to bartender school, they weren’t mix-ologists. Anything beyond say a Screw Drive was simply not ordered. A running joke was that I would come in, be asked what I was having, and I would say something like can I have a Blue Hawaiian with Mango instead of Pineapple, wait a few beats, oh just give me a Jameson Rocks and a Red Stripe. I kept making up more exotic drinks (Frozen Mai Tai with bananas) to precede my usual set up. I recall Greg thinking it quite funny.
The bar didn’t have tap beer and I was one of the few patrons who asked for a glass for their beer. I just happen not to like drinking beer from the bottle or can, I like to use a glass. Also, I prefer just a regular glass, not a mug or pint glass or stein. Just a tall cylindrical glass. After a while, not only did I rarely have to ask for one, they kept a glass in the ice just for me, at least my memory enjoys believing it was just for me.
One time, Tony and I went to Max’s with this guy, Ron. He was from Boston and a TV cameraman. He had just moved to town, he was part of the room mate situation that was the transition point between the apartment and the move to J.C. Greg was tending bar. He knew what I wanted, Tony’s order was almost always similar (he drank Bud) and then Ron orders a Grasshopper. Greg, sort of a big guy with a beard and light brown hair, was like, a what? Ron repeats himself as Tony and I crack up. Ron says, forget it, just make me a Rusty Nail. Beer sprays out my mouth as I tumble out of my chair, overcome with howls of laughter. Ron has to explain the drink, which apparently is easy, and Greg affably makes it, laughing at my uncontrolable laughter. What kind of bartender doesn’t know how to make a Rusty Nail, asks Ron, honestly bewildered. Welcome to the neighborhood. Ron didn’t become Max regular.
Ulli, the owner, had blonde hair I recall as a wild bush of blonde dreadlocks that she tied up like a bunch of celery stalks, bound in the middle, overflowing on the top. She was German, her accent thick and was tall to the point of being almost gawky. She resembled Glenn Close. She seemed intimidating and when she was on the premises of the bar, she tolerated no shenanigans. I remember her tearing Harry a new asshole for rolling a joint out in the open during one crowded evening.
In a remarkable coincidence, Ulli and I had a mutual friend, Mary who was the wife of a friend I met at my previous magazine gig, Bob, a publisher which means advertising sales, who was about 15 years my senior. Mary and Ulli worked as waitresses at the same restaurant for a long time during the 80s. Mary finished a psychology degree and became a therapist and Ulli opened Max Fish, her own bar. Bob and I were close. I hung out with Bob—in the upper west side, New Yorkers disdain leaving their neighborhood for anything other than work—and traded asked about hers between Ulli and Mary several times. Max Fish in its own way was like a CBGB or Lion Heads or Algonquin, a cutting edge bar signifying a specific bohemian scene of some renown, a place that epitomized the hip of the moment. It’s great publicity, why mess with something legendry. The reality with Max Fish was that a hard working woman had an idea for a bar in neighborhood few in the city cared about except artists and other outsiders, and she successfully realized that idea after years of front line hospitality drudgery. She became more admirable to me once I got her back-story from Mary, which only further endeared Max Fish to me.
We were both die-hard movie buffs. She called them her two hour vacation. I discovered John Cassavettes when the Film Anthology Archives launched a lengthy retrospective that included all of his films. It was the first such retrospective of this master and some film historians credit his widespread influence in indie cinema from the late 90s to present day to the fact that many of the directors were in NYU film school at this time and saw the Cassavettes oeuvre during this showcase. I saw an early one, with Tony, called Too Late Blues because I was a fan of Bobby Darin. I wound up going to just about every film. I fell in love in Cassavettes and this retrospective was another transforming event for me. As I left the theater after Opening Night, a towering woman with a blonde palm tree hair do was next to me. It was Ulli. We were both headed to the same place. As we walked we became lost in an intense conversation about this Cassavettes Masterpiece that we continued in the bar. I seem to remember that one scene Ben Gazara hit Gina Rowlands, she didn’t like that, although she liked the film. I remember talking to her about this film more than I remember the specifics of the conversation, or in fact the actual film. Thus began an ongoing film discussion between us, what we saw, what we were thinking of seeing, what the reviews said in the New York Times. This was before the NYC Revival Theaters went the way of the Jersey Drive In. Cinema 80, the Thalia and the Biograph had daily programs of old films. The Angelica Film Center had recently open, the original French version of La Femme Nakita was a big hit on Houston Street. Films were not thirteen dollars either; I think they were seven, although maybe lower, like five—well below ten bucks. I remember the Cassavettes were below the market rate of the time. Ulli and I talked films constantly, she leaning the elbows of her long arms on the counter of the bar. She possessed an astute and observant mind. It wasn’t just high-brow either, we saw mainstream garbage too and the discussions weren’t about film theory or history, it was the enthusiastic chat of committed film goers. What did we like, what we did not like.
I still see a film in a theater once a week or so, often more and since knowing Ulli, I have come to refer to that as my two hour vacation.
I think her name was Trudi, I can’t really remember name. She was very pretty, Model-Pretty, NYC thin, dyed her hair in punk colored streaks ( I remember chromatic sky blue), from Australia. She had that accent and the tendency towards arrogance that often marks citizens of the down under nation. She was one of the bartenders, funny, sarcastic and often acerbic. She wasn’t quite as nice as the other bartenders, but that was just the exterior. She didn’t take guff and seemed intent to remind you of that fact even if you were not a giver of guff. I wish I could be sure of her name. She left while I still lived there. Once she knew you, she was genuinely sweet hearted.
My job required a lot of travel, at least once a month. Business travel is a lot of work and I would be intensely busy—interviewing people, writing what they say, assembling notes, taking pictures—up until the moment I left for the airport. I had to interview eye doctors and often it was some meeting and convention in Memphis, Chicago or Anaheim or at a resort where I would have to watch them play golf. Air Travel is mentally exhausting because in a period of 12 hours you are bombarded by sensory overload, waking up in a beautiful resort and going through a variety of different settings, check out, airports, airplane, airports, etc. I loved coming home. I marveled how I preferred the grungy neighborhood that was giving me the murky night to the splendor of a hotel resort that greeted me with crystal clear morning. If I was awake enough—which was often the case flying west to east or after a turbulent filled near death experience that is airline travel—I would take a walk and inevitably wind up on a Max Fish stool. One excruciating flight, I was wired and depressed and needed to see familiar surroundings. I can’t remember if they were closing when I arrived or right after I arrived. The Australian Woman was tending the bar. The particulars are dim, but this is clear—she closed out the cash register, said my drink was on her and I just sat there, listened to Juke Box music, smoked (it was well before the Fascists took over) and talked with her and the guy mopping the floors and washing down the tables, who I think was also Australian. The floor got mopped, I remember her pouring me another drink with a smirk and waved away my attempt to pay, and she cleaned the counter, except for my spot, and the stools were aligned on top of the bar, except for the one I was sitting on. My spot was the last to be cleaned; I walked out with them to the sidewalk as they locked the front, pulled down the gate. If you ever read A Clean, Well Lighted Place by Hemmingway you might understand what was going on. I’ll never forget her act of simple kindness, letting me stay, pouring that extra whiskey. We were both grateful for the brief company I guess, or maybe she could just tell I really needed the comfort and was glad to oblige in providing that comfort in what had become a sanctuary for me. I think she like chatting with me and I was a pleasant distraction as she did all the things bartenders do when they close out the bar. I had been accepted as somebody you didn’t have to worry about, somebody you could leave unsupervised at the bar and talk with while you closed up, somebody who never gave guff.
Fame caught on fast for Max Fish. Ulli installed pinball machines at a time when Bars were still riding the last wave of the Pac-Man craze. The Bar hosted a tournament that got some press, and the East Village also got other attention and one thing led to another, Max Fish got too popular to hang out on popular hang out nights—Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It became a joke, coming and saying how it was too crowded the other night. People were coming from out the neighborhood, and the bartenders expressed annoyance to the regulars. Business was booming—remained so for 20 years or so—which makes me happy. I hope they did well.
Sunday night became the night for regulars. Tony and I decided it was a great night to drink, We always got good seats at the bar, most everybody was a regular, you could be well hammered by 11:00 and since Monday morning was always a struggle, a hangover at the job was practically incidental. Mondays suck, might as well be hung-over. Those Sunday nights were great, talking with other regulars and neighbors and the staff, it was never that busy so they liked the company, the endless but silent Down by Law on the sole TV, the Juke Box playing… As bar experiences go, never better.
I don’t remember any real crazy nights at Max, probably because I was not in a crazy place in my life any more. I had survived craziness. I was interested in avoiding crazy. I was still seeing a shrink once a week, I was sorting out the craziness that filled the years previous, still dealing with the complex grief my father’s death bestowed and I really just was happy to be anywhere but Paramus or Elizabeth. I was finally able to live like a somewhat responsible adult and have a day of work I was reasonably competent at. That I discovered this awe inspiring oasis where I could imbibe and relax what an extra blessing!
Sunday was a great night just for a little boozing with my buddy, but most nights Max’s was the place to begin or to end, sometimes both. Preparing for an evening of NYC adventure or recounting such adventures in the wee wee hours over a night cap.
I was writing poetry, or trying to do and I read at open mike night at St. Marks. I met Michelle there, this Jewish blonde from New Jersey. I didn’t really date a lot when I lived in the Lower E. Around mid-point up I caught up with Maureen, a long story; we rekindled our college love and moved to J.C. Before that, I had a very brief fling with Michelle. On our first non-open mike date, I took her to Max Fish. Even she, living in Fort Lee had heard this was the hot new spot. They were always glad to see me but you could tell they were being just real cool and the gal was impressed that I was held in such esteem by the bartenders of the hottest bar in New York. She saw me was an impressive insider. Team Max Fish had my back. Love didn’t flourish between us, but yes action was had later that evening. I finally got laid in my first apartment.
You would fall into conversations with artists, some of whom had openings there, or local characters like Taylor Mead, some dude who was in Andy Warhol films which had a revival of sorts and I caught a few, like Lonesome Cowboys and Chelsea Girls (pretentious but not without merit), or Rockets Red Glare, a kind of overweight underground actor. I remember Harry told me Jim Jaramusch was there once. I asked Harry if he was a nice guy. Harry pondered this, he always sort of spoke slowly. I don’t know if he is a nice guy or not, he mainly talked with Ulli. I didn’t really talk to him.
I really could care less about celebrities. Taylor and Rocket told me who they were during the course of their conversations. They just happened to be in the stool next to mine and in a chatty mood. One local celebrity I recall having lots of fun chats with was Jasmine, she wore cat eye sunglasses and played the accordion, sang sort of new wave Edith Piaf numbers. She was the only musician I remember playing Max’s, which happened I think only once or twice, the place was so narrow and would get so crowded her elbows came close to ramming someone’s eye, She was just funny to talk to, always dropping off new cards for new gigs, which always local dives where she passed around the basket between numbers.
John was from Ohio, a real gentlemen. We were the same age, but unlike me, he hadn’t cut his hair since high school. He was an artist, but also the bus boy, clearing off stray bottles and glasses and emptying ash trays. If it was too crowded at the bar, I sometimes found a seat at one of the end of one of the wooden benches. More than once John had to be reminded that he was there to bus not to talk to me. We got into fascinating conversations, he’s just a dude I could talk with for hours. We hung out a little outside of the bar, “smoked” together a few times, I went to his art openings, saw him at the art openings of his compatriots. He sculpted glass and worked in Found Art. Found Art fascinated me, it wasn’t like that French guy who merely got a urinal and declared it art, the found art was manipulated by the artists—something wasn’t just declared art but was actually repurposed into art. The concept was new to me then. It reminded me of Primitive art. I was fascinated by how masks used by the Iroquois for what were essentially religious rituals were art, just like cookware and crockery from archeological digs had authentic aesthetic value. Found Art reminded me of this sensiblity, except what was being Found was the flotsam and discarded debris of our dehumanizing culture that had become Reagan Capitalism. Turning that into art was the artists way of salvaging our humanity. I am not articulating it well, probably articulated it even less well back then, but I remember talking to John from Ohio many times about the primitive sensibility in Found Art.
Like me, he was raised Catholic and the influence was finding its way into some of his work. For instance, he had a Weeping Virgin Mary, which was basically a cement Virgin Mary lawn statute, with her eyes drilled out and tubes inserted in the holes of the sockets. The tubes were attached to a pump. The statue was in this large bucket, a wash basin. You plugged it in and the tears perpetually flowed from her eyes. I found it hilarious. Might have been irreverent, but never struck me as blasphemous and even if it did that would not mean I would be unable to appreciate the obvious humor.
He had this other piece where he a picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane—a famous iconic image—in the center of which he impaled this large brass bullet, like from an M-! Machine gun, three or four inches long, disturbingly phallic. The piece worked as a coat hook. John didn’t pay attention during Catechism classes because I had to explain what the image of Our Lord meant, what it depicted. I remember him asking me a few times about this, asked me to tell him the story of Jesus the night before he died again, how he prayed to have the cup taken from him, how he prayed so hard he sweated blood, how the Apostles kept falling asleep in spite of his repeated requests to be awake with him during his final night on earth. The huge bullet protruding from this iconic religious image was an appropriate statement, even though John first created the work because he simply liked the juxtaposition. I’ve thought about our talks, especially in the last couple of years as I attempted some art type criticisms in these blogs. I took a course on Aesthetics in College and ever since I’ve contemplated context. Context is something artists are not aware of when they create art. Nor should they be. Creation is about inspiration and craft. John was the first artist with whom I had this kind of conversation and we had oodles of them. Looking back, our discussions had an influence on my thinking and my writing.
I think it might have been Harry not John who painted the famous Virgin Mary Pizza Box, a hand painted picture of a picture of the Virgin Mother done one the cover a pizza box. Thus was state of Found Art, the thing about it was, the picture was really great. The concept was clever, the skill apparent.
After I moved to Jersey City, I still went to Max Fish and was warmly greeted every time. The night of the 93 WTC bombing I was there, spending the night on Tony’s couch. Nobody was talking about the bombing, which had just happened. Months passed between visits, then years. The neighborhood got more upscale, nothing more obnoxious than hipsters with trust funds. The LES became a real scene, it was one of the last bastions of street level drug dealing in the 90s; I knew a few people younger than me who told me about drinking about in my old sanctuary; it was in the neighborhood where they scored their coke. It made me sad. I don’t care about the drug use, drugs are dangerous fun and the choice is up to you; but people going there to make the scene, slumming, had an air of exploitation I find distasteful. I went there once and talked to Alan. Two women walked in and he carded them, they sort of looked Goth. I never saw them card anyone back in the day. They didn’t have to; underage partiers weren’t flocking to the East Village as much back then. He told me happened all the time now, the place was popular and had gotten real crazy, people doing drugs in the bathroom, having sex in the bathroom. I can understand the drugs, but I could not fathom a guy and a gal getting intimate in a bathroom, especially the ones at Max Fish which even in the best of times were held to the standard of just below utterly gross. They were about as hygienic as a tropical cesspool during a diphtheria outbreak.
Every time I went back, the emotions got heavier, the curtains of nostalgia and melancholy thicker. It was never the same drinking there but not living there. Tony moved to Los Angeles. We both started drinking less. Visiting became painful. I remember a line outside once. I had grown out of the demographic the bar now catered to. While we all feel nostalgic for being younger, there is the wisdom and astuteness that come with age that you would not trade for less gray hair or smoother skin. I’ve had plenty of other adventures and great times after leaving the LES. I love Jersey City in a way I could never love the LES/East Village.
But Max Fish was a special place for me at a special time. As the TV theme song says, it was where everybody knew your name. I appreciated it when I had it, and was difficult to let go of. It was more than a bar though. I was getting my life together and had a lot issues, especially incessant depression. My psychologist gave me this sort of motto which sounds really trite, but was genuinely meaningful to me. Let Tim Be Tim. Seemed family, friends, society perhaps, inhibited me from being myself. It was complicated psychological stuff and it was difficult to work out at the time, but in the long run solving this personal problem was the only way I was able to survive. Max Fish was pure... it let Tim be Tim. I swear I have tears in my eyes as I type that. I have few problems being myself anymore, but I’ll never forget how hard that used to be or how Max Fish made Tim Being Tim seem so easy.
When I saw the New York Times announcement of Max Fish closing. I became sad, the floodgates opened. I had been thinking of a blog ever since the by chance visit in May. Here it is. I’m thankful to Ulli for this place. My memories could not be fonder. I have cherished them for 20 years and will do so until I die.
Below is a picture taken in the Gulf of Mexico. I am wearing a Max Fish T-shirt. I was on an assignment covering a meeting of eye doctors and presenting survey findings at the meeting. I went on a deep sea fishing voyage, I’m holding a dauphin that I didn’t caught, although I caught a lot fish. They were all Southern eye doctors—note the hat, GOBIO, Good Ole Boys in Optometry—and they found it quite amusing they were taking some city slicker on his first deep sea fishing trip. For Irony I wore the Max Fish t-shirt.