From Barcade, The Observer and our companion ventured next to the Bushwick Country Club, whose mini-golf course the bartender humbly described as “six holes which you can put a ball into with a club.” It did, however, have a windmill made of entirely of PBR cans. (Go Bushwick!)
There were no golfers present, so we asked the bartender about the proliferation of games in bars.
He responded with consternation that his friends had signed him up for a cornhole league.
Had anyone ever gotten laid by playing in a cornhole league?
“Probably,” he said. “Every team has to have at least one girl on it. I’m sure that someone can get laid from cornhole. You end up with a lot of guys with their shirts off. But those same guys would probably have their shirts off anyway.”
We headed over to Full Circle, a bar so wedded to its skee-ball-centric identity that its name is the term for rolling an expert-level round of the “sport.”
The crowd, if that’s the word, was exclusively male, save the bartender.
(After sinking $10 into the skee-ball alley in about five minutes, we realized another incentive for bar owners to feature games.)
We encountered George McNeese, co-owner of the buzzy Bed-Stuy eatery Do or Dine. He comes to Full Circle about once a week and is even in a skee-ball league with his girlfriend.
He apprised us of the tyranny of small differences within the alco-lescent demimonde.
“If you go to Barcade, it’s going to be filled with people who are more or less looking for a bar scene. You know, it’s going to be filled with hipsters and all sorts of shit that I don’t want to deal with,” said Mr. McNeese, who was wearing oversize clear-framed glasses, a tote bag that looked like a Nintendo controller and a phone cord as a necklace. “It’s gonna be packed, and the drinks are gonna be overpriced. You know, I just want to have a couple beers and play some skee-ball.”
This last reminded us of something Jim Meehan had pointed out. “In a city like New York,” he said, “where there are so many bars and so many people, each bar can fill a specific niche, because they don’t have the collective responsibility. For instance, I just got back from Michigan—there were like two bars in town. If you’re one of two bars, there’s probably more pressure to appeal to a broad audience, whereas if there are like a million bars for 6 million people you can, and especially if you’re small, you can fill a specific niche and be successful.”
Unfortunately, he was right: there is clearly a market for bars catering to nostalgic activity-philes.