610 Bushwick Ave., Bushwick
If you woke up in New York City on November 9, 2016, you will not soon forget the experience of living in that day: what you heard strangers say to each other on the street, who you saw crying on the subway, the nausea that permeated your soul until (or if) you managed to sleep that night because—surprise!—this was not a nightmare you would be waking up from. The Joker had taken over Gotham City, only his skin was orange and he’d captured the entire country.
We all did our best that day to do normal things—get out of bed, dress, go to the office, force a smile at a passing baby, send an email. But in the end, no one did much. I personally threw in the towel at 4pm. It was time to drink.
My friend told me about Rebecca’s, a new bar on the corner of Jefferson Street and Bushwick Avenue, from the owners of Norbert’s Pizza. For a minute, I thought about taking the train. But that required effort. If ever there were a time for an Uber, this was it. My driver and I exchanged sad grunts. I thought about engaging in conversation, asking how he felt. Instead, I sat slumped against the window and was silent until we arrived.
If that entire day had been a funeral, what greeted me inside Rebecca’s was the reception that followed. In the face of worst case scenarios, normal activities—talking, eating, drinking—take on greater meaning. They remind us that, even now, life goes on, and some of it is good. And so the pair of well whiskey shots and Miller High Lifes (a five buck special) that my friend had purchased while sitting on a leather bar stool on the corner of Rebecca’s L-shaped counter, waiting to throw them back until I arrived, felt like honest to goodness Grace.
The bartender, an apparent genius, soundtracked our fallout drinking with Miles Davis. It was wordless, sympathetic salve. We nibbled on a basket of pita bread and hummus. The smallish space, decorated with throw pillows and, in back, a regal couch that cost only 70 bucks, was book-ended by a large projection screen. The night before it had broadcast despair; that evening it was a documentary by Ken Burns—sailors arriving in New York City after victory at war.
Rebecca’s is also equipped with an incredible system of lights: hanging as globe pendants above the bar, and as track lighting in back by the projection screen. Controlled on an iPad console, it allows complete environmental control of hue and brightness with the push of a finger. The bartender asked what we’d like. Without much thought, I answered blue.
Buffeted now with a cold Shiner Bock, and cast willfully in new color, everything seemed like it might be ok. At the bleakest hours, we can give ourselves new light. And at Rebecca’s, there are many to choose from.
Image by Jane Bruce