Part Two Best New York Athlete ...

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Part Two

Best New York Athlete
Charlie Ward
New York Knicks
The Gauls Fought Naked. After the Knicks destroyed the Toronto Raptors, we told our old roommate that we had faith in the team to bring home the championship. Stunned, he didn't answer for a moment, perhaps giving us a chance to take the foolish remark back. We stood our ground, contrary to reason and experience. Reason and experience are not enough when dealing with the Knicks, because they possess a wealth of talent, especially in the backcourt, and they lose, consistently. The Knicks are like the Brooklyn Dodgers in every year except 1955. Faith sustains them, and nourishes the fans, even though the very act of chanting "I still believe" is recognition of the likely chances for heartbreaking, catastrophic failure.

The star power of the Knicks is no argument for their success. Between Ewing?at long last a Seattle Supersonic?Sprewell, Allan Houston, Marcus Camby and Larry Johnson, the team is truly lesser than the sum of its parts. From a fan's point of view, it's indescribably frustrating, but the conclusion is hard to avoid. The sun will set in the West, the seasons will change, and the Knicks will lose, no matter who they have sinking the impossible threes or blocking shots by force of will. It's hard not to be fatalistic when Camby doesn't recover from chronic knee problems, Houston doesn't come through in the playoffs and LJ runs hot and cold. We can't criticize Sprewell, who does everything right, and we won't bother inveighing on Ewing.

And so with all the arguments in favor of the Knicks' chronic elimination, no one made us feel more invincible this past postseason than neglected point guard Charlie Ward. He's been on the team for six years, quietly performing with martial determination. Before the playoffs, when we asked someone about Ward, we often got a puckering of lips, a skyward glance and a slow nod by way of response. No one would say anything bad about Ward, but no one felt inspired to praise him too heavily, either.

Then came Game 4 against the Satanic Miami Heat. Suddenly Charlie Ward became the most dependable player in the history of basketball. Leaping out of the ether to block shots, grabbing seven rebounds?he stands 6-foot-2?saving loose balls, finding the open man instinctually, going eight for 13 and scoring a postseason career high of 20 points. Ward was responsible for the final nine Knick points, leading the team to win 91-83 and tying the series at two games apiece. The Garden erupted: Char-lie! Char-lie! Char-lie! It's a new crowd favorite.

In the locker room, Chris Childs tapped Ward on the back with his toothbrush. "You were like four players out there, Charlie."

He smiled a little. "Yeah, I guess maybe I was."

We saw him on the evening news that night, a little quizzical that Ward was the hero. So was the press corps. Charlie grinned his Wheaties-box best, the star of the media circus. "For the first time, I felt like Allan and Latrell, you know, like the go-to guy," he said. It was the perfect reaction. He didn't aw-gee or say it was God that made him play so well, he said that he felt like an equal member of a great basketball team, thereby spreading the glory as soon as he got it. At home, we let out a few quiet Char-lies.

But the true confirmation of Ward's matured greatness came from Heat guard Anthony Carter, who said Ward scored "garbage points." He was on the news, too. "I don't feel he really stepped up. Time was running down, and he made a few shots."

How did Ward respond? "Like I was telling the guys," he said, "before it's garbage, it's always good. You use it, then throw it out. If they want to say it's garbage and we win, I'll take that garbage and keep throwing it out so the trash man can get it the next day."

The Knicks lost to the Pacers in six games, and when Ward got taken out in the last minutes of the fourth, the Garden chanted his name over and over. With Spartan players like Ward, we feel more comfortable Still Believing.

Best Chance to See Art Hype on Overdrive
Damien Hirst at Gagosian
555 W. 24th St. (11th Ave.)
Anatomy of a Con. Damien Hirst's exhibition at Larry Gagosian's football-field-sized digs in Chelsea, opened this past weekend, and portentously titled "Theories, Models, Methods, Approaches, Assumptions, Results and Findings," raises the ante on art-world publicity and razzmatazz. Including some 16 new sculptures and a new series of paintings, the Gagosian exhibition features Hymn, a 20-foot-tall painted bronze model with proportional anatomical parts (of course), which art speculator Charles Saatchi already purchased for a staggering $1.6 million. Recently shilling $750 "limited-edition prints" on the Web and in a Times advertisement, Hirst has officially joined the company of Salvador Dali, Peter Max, Andy Warhol and Julian Schnabel in the one-would-sign-any-old-shitty-thing-for-bucks club. There's a long line behind them just dying to get in.

Best Local Music Product
Tris McCall
Hey, It's Practically Local. Tris McCall is a cute little pop guy with great spastic pop songs, and it's a shame that everybody ignored that album he released years ago as a member of the Favorite Color. But maybe conventional rock stardom wasn't in the cards for this proud resident of Union City. Instead, he decided to concentrate on the most uncool pursuit imaginable: a series of songs about New Jersey. Yes, we keep hearing that Lauryn Hill and The Sopranos have made Jersey all cool and shit. There are still plenty of people who don't know that NJ stands for No Jive.

If One of These Bottles Should Happen to Fall: Jersey Songs by Tris McCall won't exactly change anything. It's still better than the state-by-state tribute project coming out of Brooklyn from that guy in They Might Be Giants. In fact, it's a consistently fine album. That's pretty good for a collection of songs that sometimes have to cram in that Jersey touch. It's educational, too. The booklet contains a quick guide to the state, and the record offers such schoolhouse rock as "Dear Governor Kean" and a faithful ode to "The New Jersey Department of Public Works."

We don't really know much about the cover image, but we bet it's explained in great detail at There's an impressive education to be had in the part where Tris thanks a roll call of every musical act, both famous and obscure, he can recall being from New Jersey. Yo, Mary Chapin Carpenter in the house! Any rampant Manhattan loyalist would have to admit that Tris also has come up with some very snappy melodies. It's been a long time since someone's written a decent song about New York City. Tris McCall treats this town like a satellite, and it probably serves us right. Besides, his very reasonable rent allows him to practically give the CD away. It's only $5 to Tris McCall, 1014 Palisade Ave., Union City, NJ 07087.

Best Ditched-After-Sex Entertainment Kit
Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville and Matthew Klam's Sam the Cat
Something Old, Something New. Okay, so everyone knows Exile. Everyone listened to this album a zillion times in 1993. Etc. Over. But sometimes it's necessary to resurrect an old classic. We had totally forgotten about Liz Phair until we heard the familiar refrains of "Fuck and Run" at our neighborhood bar, and suddenly it struck us: This is it! This is what we need.

Our group of girlfriends experienced the same thing this summer: we had all been rejected in one way or another. Some of us had been dumped, some of us had done the dumping and then regretted it; some of us slept with people who never called us again.

We didn't really hold anything against them; it was only our egos that hurt. We were usually the ones who didn't answer the phone. So we grew up. We dealt. And for a few days, Liz Phair and Matthew Klam helped. After a sex rejection, there's no soundtrack like Exile: "Mesmerizing," "Divorce Song," "Fuck and Run": it doesn't get any better than this. And Matthew Klam's Sam the Cat: amazingly tight, dead-on stories full of sullen men, neurotic women, relationships going nowhere, people just being people. It's the one book to read to remind you why you don't want to be in a relationship; why your last one ended and, probably, why you'll leave your next one.

Best Questionable Local TV Intro
Channel 11's Saturday Afternoon Movie
"Hey, Neat! Superman IV Again!" For well over 10 years, whenever we'd find ourselves around the apartment with nothing to do on a weekend afternoon, we'd tune into Channel 11 (later "The WB") around 2 or 3 to see what they were showing on their matinees. There's always that slight, if pathetic, thrill when the intro begins?a computer animated flyover of New York, from Flushing Meadows to the World Trade Center. And during the flyover, the well-modulated voice, intoning, "Welcome to The WB's Saturday afternoon movie..." A voice that promises big stars, big directors, a delightful cinematic morsel from "One of the largest film libraries in North America."

Well, we're sorry, but if that is indeed the case?that they have such a huge film library?then why have they been showing the same eight fucking movies over and over for the past decade? We just figured it was time somebody pointed that out to them.

Best Venue For a Rock Benefit
Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St. (Bowery)
A Real Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Last fall, when Danny Hellman's supporters were organizing Danny's legal defense fund benefit, they went to Bowery Ballroom and the event was a great success. Last spring, when we organized our New York Press "Rock in New York" benefit, we went to the Ballroom again. That both events went off as well as they did is a testament to the management, the staff and the space itself. The sprawling nature of "Rock in New York"?all those speakers, followed by all those bands, in an evening that went from 5 p.m. past midnight?would've tried anyone's patience. Put bluntly, we were ass-pains. But the Bowery folks put up with us like champs, their smooth professionalism containing the chaos and ensuring a fun, if long and wobbly, evening for all. The sound was fantastic, the barkeeps were aces. And we raised a few thousand bucks for charity. They were both evenings we will always look back on with fondness, and with big thanks to the Bowery and its people.

Best Reason to Work at Home
Julia and Jacques
Also the Best Reason to Get Drunk on Your Lunch Break. Fuck Iron Chef, forget Yan Can Cook and accuse The Frugal Gourmet of pedophilia (oh, wait a second...) Jacques is a dear, but like any great comedy duo, it's the heavyset sidekick who steals the show. Who could forget when Conan released a herd of sheep onto the set one night, and a straggler wandered over to Andy Richter. The sheep started drinking out of his mug and Richter ad-libbed, "Hey look! It likes scotch!" There wasn't a single junior high lunchroom in this country that wasn't buzzing over that gag the next day. Sadly, just like Conan, Julia and Jacques' antics are a tree falling in an empty forest, except for the lucky few possessing the leisure time to enjoy them?retirees, college freshman, homebound overeaters and George Tabb.

The trade-off? They get to witness exchanges like the following: "And I think today we will have some white wine with our sandwiches," Jacques says pouring two glasses. "We always have wine," Julia counters, producing a bottle of lager she'd hidden behind the sugar bowl, as a shocked Jacques looks on in wonderment. "I want beer!"

Best Trip Down Memory Lane
Laser Zeppelin Show, American Museum of Natural History
Laser Zep's for Pussies. Bring Us Laser Skynyrd. "How did you know there would be a naked lady dancing to 'Heartbreaker'?" our boyfriend asked after it was over. Call it a hunch, or chalk it up to the fact that we spent our entire junior year of high school at the local planetarium, waiting in line for Laser Zeppelin. Sure, now that we've moved to the big city, Laser Zeppelin shows are in 3-D, and Laser Aerosmith, which opens the night, replaces Zeppelin's older, more worthy adversary, Laser Floyd. Word spread fast through certain circles when the Museum of Natural History announced it had a laserologist named Rob willing to perform the ritual. By the time we got wind of things, the show was already playing. "Have I seen it?" one notorious barfly responded, as we were soliciting reviews. "Shit, I was there on opening weekend!"

Since Laser Zeppelin hit the planetarium, the best part has been finding out who saw a version of it in high school, and how much, if at all, these versions vary. "Yeah, we went to see it last weekend," we told our friend John, from Detroit's the Go. "Wow! I haven't seen one of those in years!" John replied. "Hey, was there a naked woman dancing to 'Living Loving Maid'?"

Best Confusion of Art and Life
Christine Hill's "Pilot"
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
31 Mercer St. (betw. Grand & Canal Sts.)
Quiet on the Set. For her exhibition at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (through Oct. 14), Christine Hill builds a functioning television studio inside the gallery (complete with working production offices, hired writers, professional sets and a hired band), invents a talk-show pilot, rehearses the performance, runs through the show's technical aspects, then tapes the premiere episode before a live studio audience on Oct. 6. Maybe she'll do Conan O'Brien's "If They Mated" for the gallery set. Picture photos of Mary Boone and Larry Gagosian. Ugghhh! It looks like a lizard and a snake!

Best New York Sports Spectators' Companion
Hellloooo, Canarsie. In the near future, it's said, we'll be able to use our remote control during ballgames to buy official jerseys and to select alternative camera angles, or even alternative soundtracks. This last part of the oft-hyped prediction strikes us as funny, because we've been using alternative soundtracks during ballgames for years, and they come from the least newfangled technology in our home. We've come to believe that for real fans, watching the Knicks and Yanks (and Mets, Rangers, etc., we'll bet) with the tv sound muted and the radio play-by-play tuned in is the only way to enjoy games from home. You'd think that the salient difference between sports radio's and tv's commentary would be that the radio broadcasters are for people who can't see the action. But that's not the case. That distinction is minor compared to the one between the quality of each medium's analysis. The tv guys cater to people who see what's going on, sure. But they offer almost nothing for fans who like to think about it. This ties directly into the second biggest difference between radio and tv announcers: only the radio guys work every game. Since tv broadcast rights started being split among cable and old-school networks, the only place you can possibly get game-by-game exegesis is the same place that's already inclined toward deep coverage. Radio.

It's easy to make fun of Walt "Clyde" Frazier's SAT vocabulary?the man will probably never know what "vacillating" means, and "bedeviled by foul woes" is, obviously, an absurd way to say a guy gets called for a lot of fouls. But behind the nonsense is a unique and eminently lovable character, with a perspective on the game as inimitable as his rhyming catchphrases (he cut way down on those last season, by the way). We submit that Clyde's knowing silliness is more appropriate for a color man than Bob Costas' condescension from his high chair at NBC. That guy reads a bunch of newspaper clips on the flight to the game, then wants to explain to fans the gravitas of every moment on the floor. The point of Costas' commentary always seems to be that he is important?presumably because he uses big words correctly. On the radio, meanwhile, Clyde is explaining what our defense is doing wrong, and how Van Gundy is likely to try to fix it.

For mind-melding with the manager, no one can beat WABC's John Sterling and Michael Kay. Their Yankee-game broadcasts represent the pinnacle of moment-to-moment sports coverage. Baseball only starts to get interesting with attention sustained over at least a season. For young-ish guys, Sterling and Kay describe an amazingly big picture, deepening the experience without ever having to resort to nostalgia or other geezerisms. Plus, they're as close to the team and coaching staff as any other reporter, providing more scoops with better humor than any of the newspapers. And their natural chemistry and easy intelligence makes it, after only one radio/tv convergence experience, impossible to go back and listen to those goons on Fox ever again.

Best Arts Collective
Jump Arts
Great Abbs. Bassist and tuba player Tom Abbs founded Jump Arts only about two years ago, but he and fellow collective members have managed in that time to put on no fewer than 10 festivals of music, dance and poetry at venues like the Pink Pony and the Brecht Forum. That's in addition to a regular Thursday night music series at the Pony, weekly workshops for winds (Mondays, 2-4) and basses (Wednesdays, 5-7) and semiregular art and music workshops for children.

The festivals and series have attracted some real names in improvised music, like Rashied Ali, Myra Melford and Leroy Jenkins, all turning in great performances, but the real fun lies in seeing these semilegendary names collaborating or on the same bills with up-and-comers like Chris Jonas, Ori Kaplan, Jump vice president David Brandt or Abbs himself. When Butch Morris conducts the Jump festival orchestra, as he did recently at Tonic, or tenor player Louis Belogenis teams up with folks 20 years younger, there's a sense of a tradition continuing?a lively, creative interchange that's truly exciting to be around. It's easily accessible too: Jump shows usually run about $5-$10, and workshops are free.

While some of the group's 60s and 70s-style esthetic choices don't always sit well with us, Jump gets our vote anyway. These guys, and women, aren't sitting around bemoaning our crass commercial culture and how there's no space for creative music. They're making the space, and we respect that.

Best Mainstay Venue
161 Hudson St. (Laight St.)
You Can Even Wear Birkenstocks. Hipsters laughed when this patchouli-scented rock club opened, in what was, then, not quite Tribeca. You wouldn't think it would survive neighbors' complaints in the power triangle, especially considering the club's clientele, and the fact that venues in much more business-friendly districts (East Village, Chelsea) couldn't stand community-board heat, and never saw 2000. Wetlands survived its own success, as well as a change of ownership and the catching on of an unfortunately fitting nickname (Sweatglands). The place is tougher than it looks.

We applaud Wetlands' eclectic booking, which has, over the years, brought to the Hudson St. club thousands of music fans who never thought they'd find themselves in a black-lit hallway. The place partakes of the best aspects of hippie culture?open-mindedness, commitment?and that more than makes up for its occasional indulgences in some of the worst, like Phish cover bands. We hate that shit, but we're not the only veteran Manhattan club attendees who feel that way, yet have accumulated more memories of great live-music moments at Wetlands than at any other club, except maybe CB's. And CB's doesn't have an "Eco Saloon."

Best Art History Lesson
"Ruskin's Italy, Ruskin's England"
The Morgan Library
29 E. 36th St. (Madison Ave.)
Whistler's Bother. This centenary exhibition at the Morgan Library, opening this week and up through Jan. 7, celebrates the life and work of John Ruskin. Honoring the memory of the 19th-century writer and granddaddy of all art critics in English, "Ruskin's Italy, Ruskin's England" includes, besides drawings, photographs, letters and manuscripts from the English connoisseur, artworks from the following: Burne-Jones, Fielding, Kate Greenaway, William Henry Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Joseph Mallord William Turner, among others. Relive Ruskin's lifelong defense and advocacy of Turner and the legendary spat between the critic and the American painter James McNeill Whistler, whom the critic famously accused of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face."

Best Nightclub for Free Champagne
76 E. 13th St. (betw. B'way & 4th Ave.)
Bubbly for All Our Newfound Friends. We had just found seats for all 15 of us after being asked to leave a reserved booth. Then a Britishy waitress insisted we had to buy a bottle of something to sit down. Luckily, the two suits next to us said, "Sure, we'll take two," and soon we were all toasting one another with their champagne and ogling go-go dancers shaking their thangs to danceable hits from the 80s and early 90s. We danced until 3 in the morning. The suits ordered another two bottles before they realized we were professional drinkers. In between refills you could find us on the dancefloor making human and shouting, "Do you wanna touch/Do you wanna touch me there?" along with Joan Jett. The door cover runs $20-$25, the crowd's from the burbs, but if you have visitors in from out there somewhere, they might like getting their groove on at Spa.

Best Bad Idea You'll No Doubt Be Seeing a Lot More Of
Live Broadcasts of Movies That Weren't Any Good to Begin With
Not Counting the Jerry Lewis Telethon, of Course. We didn't watch the season finale of The Sopranos when everyone else was watching it. Why? Because George Clooney's "live" version of Fail Safe was being broadcast at the same time and we thought we should see it, well, live. Basically, we think Clooney's a big blowhard?the most boring actor this side of Keanu Reeves. (All right, make that the most boring actor this side of Kevin Costner; Clooney was okay in Three Kings.) But we'll try almost anything once. Besides, actor-generated projects interest us. There's always a chance that they'll be about something more than just institutional self-aggrandizement and making a buck. We thought a television remake of Fail Safe that would be broadcast in "real" time sounded like a dumb idea, but we've been wrong before, and besides, we kept reading all this hype about the golden age of live television drama that, frankly, was a little before our time.

So we sat through the mind-numbingly boring live version of Fail Safe, and came to the following conclusion: Live television drama is a dumb idea, now, however dangerous or sophisticated it may have seemed in the 1950s, when cameras stayed put and actors were accustomed to performing long stretches of drama in a single take. Unless we're seeing actors encountering a script for the first time, like in those "live" broadcasts they sometimes do of Third Rock from the Sun rehearsals, the gimmick of broadcasting a performance at the moment it is being generated is beyond stupid. It has no point, no purpose whatsoever. Spontaneity in performance only has meaning in the presence of an audience that can benefit from the energy produced by something happening in a static space. With hundreds of miles of distance and electronic equipment between an audience and a "live" performance, its immediacy is meaningless. If great television programming?shows like The Sopranos and, long before that, The Singing Detective?should have taught us anything, it's that the agency of television is meta-montage, not montage or immediacy. It's not (like film) about juxtaposing single images or (like the stage) seeing what can be enacted in a single space; great television is about juggling strains of imagery and motif, drawing out unresolved chords whose elements change as they get combined in different ways.

Remember that. We don't want to have to explain it again.

Best Place to See Public Art
Vanderbilt Hall
Grand Central Terminal
42nd St. (Park Ave.)
Gloria Vanderbilt. We never used to think of going to Grand Central to do anything but race for the Metro-North. But last summer, enticed by pictures of gorgeous beaded flowers on the subway, we went to the station's stately Vanderbilt Hall to see artist Liza Lou's American Glamorama, a big, glossy exhibit that included sexy mannequin-like statues with beaded afros and red-beaded nails and an entire picnic scene?including bead-covered blades of grass, ears of corn and a lawnmower. So dazzled were we that we told all our friends about it. Another day we were early for a train and came across a huge carousel, built by students at SVA. Floating by were the grinning, toothy faces of John and Yoko, Howard Stern and Marilyn, all larger than life and sit-ready. Soon there was an Absolut exhibit with the signature bottle enshrined in sculptures, photos and paintings.

To walk into this spacious hall, which sits at the entrance to the teeming Main Concourse, is oddly peaceful, especially when you know you don't have to join the mob. And if you do, you can go on with your commute feeling refreshed and inspired. Now we often pop into Vanderbilt Hall just to see what's happening, and damn the 5:36 to Tarrytown.

Best Place to Pick Up a Lesbian
Meow Mix
269 E. Houston St. (Suffolk St.)
Pussy Galore. The outside of this so-called "lesbian" bar in the East Village looks normal enough to us: fliers for upcoming bands, political notices, neon beer lights and the like. On entering Meow Mix, the first thing we notice is women. Beautiful women. Not like West Village lesbians, the big ones with the biker jackets, extra chains and extra chins. Nope. We are talking fine. Chicks who could grace the cover of Maxim or Stuff. Even Playboy, although Darva Conger was on there, so we do have to wonder.

Anyway, the lesbians in Meow Mix get off on watching local bands that play live, as well as the porn that's sometimes shown on the club's in-house television. Girl-girl, of course. Also enjoying the music and movement are guys. Gay and straight. Meow Mix does actually attract a mix. What we find most interesting is that for men, picking up women at this bar is fairly simple. A nice smile, buying a drink or two and pretending to care about the chick's grades at FIT or Parsons usually gets us in the sack two out of three tries.

So the question must be asked: are these girls really lesbians? Well, the answer is "yes and no." Yes, because it's the hip thing to be, and "no," because they get on dick faster than your neighborhood Chinese delivers.

Best Manager
Bobby Valentine, New York Mets
Bobby V to a T. Yes, Bobby Valentine is a goofball?and ain't we all, sometimes? The fact is, anyone whom WFAN's odious Mike Francesa dislikes so much can't be half bad. Last year, Valentine led the Mets to within two games of a Subway Series. This year, he's transformed what on paper shouldn't be an especially impressive team into one of baseball's best.

Now, if he can keep the Mets playing deep into October, management will have to pay him. He's worth it. Valentine's the sort of guy who walks down 47th St. after a late dinner, waving and talking to Mets fans as they holler out to him. He disguises himself in the dugout, but runs around for everyone to see in the middle of Manhattan. If he's a goofball, he's an admirable one.

Best Cartoons on the Net
Just Keep the Sound Down, Dumbass. Temping in the city has its advantages. One of the big ones is you usually get Internet access, and a lot of free time to surf, if you keep your head down and don't draw too much attention to yourself. But don't be stupid and download porn. It's boring, and you'll get busted. Instead, check out, the best damn cartoons on the Net. Based in L.A., Icebox is the home of some of the best animation talent on the planet. They recently signed John Kricfalusi, of Ren and Stimpy fame, and his Weekend Pussy Hunt is just as subversive as that first season of the Nickelodeon hit. Our favorite is Superhero Roommate, which features former Kid in the Hall Dave Foley and music by Neils Neilson.

These ain't your six-year-old's cartoons: they're raunchy, witty and strictly for adults. The streaming video is state-of-the-art, and while it takes a few moments to download each three-minute toon, it's well worth the wait. They also offer independent shorts, so all you frustrated animators out there can submit and be seen.

Best Bar Pinball
Medieval Madness at the Library
7 Ave. A (Houston St.)
We Must've Played Them All. One of our life's goals is to someday listen to "Pinball Wizard" and feel as if we relate (besides the deaf, dumb and blind part). Unfortunately, we suck at pinball, and probably always will. Yet, when we're out, we play it religiously. We get into a zone, man, when we play pinball. We pity the poor boy who came with us. We ain't talking to you. We playin'.

If someone knows of the Starship Troopers game anywhere, please tell us. It's our ultimate favorite, our hometown mainstay. At certain intervals it calls the player "maggot" in a delightfully derisive way, and its multiball is fierce. But until we find one?downtown, please, or in Brooklyn?we'll settle for Medieval Madness. It's the default pinball, in a million bars around town. You'll find it everywhere. It's okay: knights and castles and stuff. It'll do until bar owners wise up and replace it with Starship Troopers. It's definitely better than the other two generic bar pinball games, Star Wars and stoopid ol' South Park.

So why is the Library's the best? You could go to 7B (our second choice) or any other bar in the East Village. But the Library is a great bar in general, especially if, like us, you need a lot of entertainment options. The jukebox is excellent, for one thing; you can play Medieval Madness to a live version of "Road Runner" or semi-obscure Sonic Youth songs ("Teen Age Riot" is a great pinball soundtrack.) And there's Ms. Pac-Man right next to the jukebox: another game we suck at, yet will waste many dollars playing. If all else fails, you can talk to your companion. But pinball is a much better option.

Best Drunken Rollerskating in Manhattan
The Roxy
515 W. 18th St. (betw. 10th & 11th Aves.)
Roller Ball. And as far as we know, the only drunken rollerskating in Manhattan. Now, if there's anyone willing to open a rink where you can actually skate highball in hand, let us know. The only other major flaw at the Roxy is the music, which, like its clientele, leans heavily toward the disco end of the 70s. The Roxy is also quite pricey, but if you plan on making a night out of it, you'll find it's well worth the $3 charge their ATM blows you for. Plus, it's one more way to justify your alcoholism: "We're not going drinking, honey, we're going rollerskating!"

Now, if the last time you made the rounds on eight wheels was to the Village People, wearing a white sateen jacket, don't worry. Not much has changed, except now you have to sign an injury disclaimer at the door in case you accidentally ram into that bitch in the pink thong and suntan L'eggs pantyhose, or the identical twins sporting matching jumpsuits breakdancing in the center of the floor. But by and large, the crowd is older and friendly, and, like the 45-year-old biker who pulled you up when you fell in a Chili Peppers pit in 1990, they look a hell of a lot scarier than they really are.

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