November 11th, 2011 / 11:45 am
Behind the Scenes

Midtown Skin Essay Series Part 1: Happy Hour

Midtown Skin Essay Series with Parts 1-5
WINTER 2011-2012

1. Happy Hour

The sound from exhaling smoke is everywhere. People breathe with their hearts as rain clouds come from New Jersey. But they do not fall. The sky is gray and empty of a future. Women cruise through revolving doors into catalogs of private romance. Men linger with their fantasies for a moment, on the curb, outside of the brokerage firm. The bosses wait together for their car service, placing bets on who will fuck at the VP afterlounge. Lincolns in line stretch down the blocks past marble stairs and hedges. These cars are thick and black and they do not forgive. At this hour, corporate art can sneak into our souls. The markets change over to Asia.  All through Manhattan, the people are killing their day lives. Captains of Industry are embracing their moment of blindness, at the intersection of work and sex. Everyone follows a different path to the gratification called home.


Some people go together to place their faith in beer and bar food. On a Samsung LED, the Yankees play a team that will lose to market forces. Music plays from the American South and West. Many of these people are not from New York. They simulate townlife by drinking and talking of old friends. They sit in booths, just blocks away from the places they work – the places that crushed their past lives into a dust of wealth and ambition. But it’s best not to think about American history. The future is ahead. These people drink the happy hour special. They share bowls with straws. Some pair off to watch network television and have missionary sex. Their night ends with vodka, pizza, and small, comfortable apartments.

Other people use happy hour to go inward. They do not want to disappear into meat. These are the killers and the poets of Wall St. The legends of Madison avenue. They are afraid of not dying. They are afraid of what they have already become, of the things that New York has made them. Their Happy Hour is a feeling. A round smooth surface. It comes quickly as the last major transaction of the day has been completed. The heat is off. The money is cool. It’s time to reflect. Outside the office, the world rapidly changes, business changes, personalities refract into a patternless mosaic of style and influence. These people will relax for a few hours before they take the New York nightworld by the throat, and choke her until she feels alive again. Happy hour, for these Midtown agents, means checking social stocks. Private relationship investing. Fashion. Art. Music. Manipulation. Disappearance. Emptiness. These are the Happy Hour themes of the Second Happy Hour. The settings is a quiet place. A nice bar. A terrace. A Xanex and a half sleep – until the shower and the new set of clothes and the infinite world of lights and faces.

The last kind of Happy Hour is the insurgent. It is not characterized by cruel sensuality or calculated blankness. This Happy Hour is everywhere in the world – but it starts in Midtown. This is the truly and purely empty hour. The hour that sucks away life, that invades feeling with matte black pain, numbness. This is the resttime for the already-dead. It is beyond race and class. Experience this Hour by simply slipping out of your own optimism. Lounge naked in the darkness or your dim room, thinking of time and wealth. Catch this Happy Hour in the faces of anyone you see, walking home alone or in pathetic pairs. This hour is the non-analysis of the fear economist. His conclusion: that the world is ending, that the economy is ending. He sips dread. He feeds on raw market data. His teeth are the Internet.  He does not need comedy or tragedy to understand his workday. He is the headless totem of the deeply fucked. This last Happy Hour is the economy of certain destruction, without purpose or meaning.

Coming soon:

2. Hedge Fund
3. Lunch Hour
4. Job Market
5. Captains of Industry

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  1. goner

      “the Yankees play a team that will lose to market forces.”

      That is the best way anyone can put it.

      Bravo, this essay is really good.

  2. c2k

      Very good.

  3. ommzms

      The music of chance played on empty ramen noodle bowls, Red Bull cans, Mercedes rims, Champagne flutes, and crumbling infrastructure in the key of fucked. Pitch perfect. (linked via Twitter)

  4. Leapsloth14

      Well done

  5. noteswithnoparents

      Hey Erik, I’ve got some nice sentences about city grime, #42 is the most recent one, but #s 27 and 38 are also nice and about city grime, mostly Paris though.

  6. Anorphan

      those are very nice sentences.

  7. Tomk

      this is great.

  8. Melissa Broder

      last night i participated in a poetry pub crawl and ben mirov had to read in a sports bar on bleecker but he did really well and everyone was excited to hear about death

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