On a brilliant but oddly cool Sunday in April - it's always "oddly cool" in April in this city, it never seems normal to me - four friends and I got blitzed on bottomless mimosas at Benny's Burritos' brunch in the West Village. Then we went to a convenience store and bought Darjum Specials and walked around the city like we owned it before heading up to the High Line for a lovely stroll, then drinking (more) afternoon beverages on the Gansevoort rooftop. Two people had to make their exits, leaving Zachary, Jenny and I the sole troopers remaining to find something to do with the rest of the evening. We were still on the West side, but I suggested we go get dinner at the Sunburnt Cow, one of our favorite restaurants on the LES. So we hopped on a bus across town and got (yet more) wine and food while we talked about art and our dreams and hopes for the future.
The Sunburnt Cow, it should be said, has changed a little bit in the recent past, but it used to be staffed by only gorgeous and super-friendly Australian men. While we were drinking and eating, we decided we still weren't done with the day, and wanted to go to a bar to wrap it up. We asked our server what he recommended in the area, and he told us about an awesome bar named St. Jerome's on Rivington and Suffolk. He said, on Sunday nights they play an awesome mix of rock-and-roll and old school blues. He said, there's no sign on the door, you just have to know where it is. He said, I go there every Sunday night after work. We said, sounds amazing, before stumbling over, taking photos along the way.
Taken moments before our first trip to St. J, in a graffiti-covered alcove across Rivington.
We walked inside, and it was like a dream. It was dark and foggy. There was a disco ball spinning, and classic rock bumping on the stereo. The bar was practically deserted. I don't remember if there were any people in there aside from us and the bartender and maybe a few people sitting at the bar. The rounded seats were musty and falling apart at the seams. The walls were maroon, but everything seemed like it was in black and white. I didn't learn that the walls were maroon until later. Candles flickered on wooden tabletops. It smelled of whiskey and wood and tack on the backs of punk rock stickers. We sat down. A sign behind the bar read, $2 buds, every night until midnight. It was perfect. I had found my bar.
Before that first visit to St. Jerome's, I knew a little about Lady Gaga's pre-fame life go-go dancing and playing shows on the LES, but I didn't know any specifics. Some time after we first went there, I learned that St. Jerome's was her bar. She danced there, and she and Lady Starlight and Luc Carl and that whole gang of LES outcasts used to hang out there all the time. I couldn't (and still can't, really) believe that I learned about and fell in love with this place completely independently of any knowledge of Lady Gaga's former presence there. Some places just have energies.
Lady Gaga and Darian Darling in St. Jerome's, circa 2007.
Zachary and I in St. Jerome's, summer 2010.
Lady Gaga and Lady Starlight in St. J, circa 2007.
Zachary and I in St. J, summer 2010.
St. Jerome's is my bar, it's our bar. I haven't been in a minute, and I miss it terribly, especially now that Zac has moved to New Orleans. It just seems like our place, and it feels weird going there without him. I still love it there, and I'll drink a $2 bud anytime, but it's not the same.
Lady Gaga released her first song off her new record, "You and I," this summer. It's a love letter to her boyfriend/St. Jerome's manager Luc Carl, but I hear it, at least partially, as a love letter to St. Jerome's. I learned the chords and recorded myself singing a version of it - my love letter to St. Jerome's, a bar that materialized at a time when I was just beginning to be re-born and which has stuck with me throughout. I love you.
There's somethin, somethin about this place
Somethin about lonely nights, and my lipstick on your face...