Since I’m a nightlife columnist and since the biggest nightlife celebration of the year is Sunday, I’d be failing you by not saying something about New Year’s Eve. But understand that what I have to say has nothing to do with all of the supposedly fun parties this weekend or how the New Year is a time to start over or whatever. I have something heavy to lay down, but take heart: It ain’t all bad.

For the most part, holidays are all just evil marketing schemes hatched decades ago by crafty, cigar-chomping businessmen who, apparently, didn’t have enough cigars to chomp. What were once simply days off work or school suddenly became obligations to shop ’til you drop. By exploiting our primal urge to fit in, the CEO’s of department stores, liquor companies, and television networks are making themselves partially culpable for the depression that occurs every year around this time. Think about it: The average, unenlightened person who mistakenly looks for deeper meaning in shiny earrings, drunkenness, or the faces of models paid by tv studios to act joyous beneath dropping mirror balls is bound to find only disappointment. Here’s the crazy part: Some folks react to their depression by locking themselves in their rooms and crying for days other folks by – what else? – going out and shopping more.


By preying on our sympathies, by making us feel as if our lives are worthless because they’re not as shiny and happy as the ones on tv, the conglomerates exacerbate our existential angst. If you’re considering a New Year’s resolution, another silly tradition concocted by multi-national corporations, probably the health industry and Wall Street, here’s one for you: Take the rule book that says you must buy people you love expensive toys, clothing, and jewelry, and that says you’re a loser if your life isn’t as effortless and cool as the ones on tv or in the movies, and that says you must not only be with friends and family this time of year but you must have fun with them, and chuck that sucker out the window. The sooner we all realize that we are more than merely Lilliputian consumers in a sweeping marketplace of emotional capital, the sooner we’ll all be able to get down to the real business of living, loving, and enjoying one another’s company, in ways devoid of pretense and pressure. In other words: honestly.

So with that, I say to you all, Happy freaking New Year.

Bringing Sporty Back

There aren’t any tiki torches by the entrance, and you can’t find any exotic drinks on the menu, but Houston Street Bar and Patio certainly feels like an oasis to me.

It’s not the décor. The sports bar that opened a couple weeks ago downtown is as no-nonsense as can be: polished wood tables up front, billiards in the back, and plasma screens on the walls.

What gives Houston Street its unique appeal is its location, in SoDo (South Downtown), within throwing distance of the four swanky nightclubs that have popped up in the past few months: Aqua Lounge, Bar Nine, Bent, and Embargo.

So why do I need said oasis? As much as I like seeing and being seen, and bringing sexy back and drinking fancy martinis and all that, I also like listening to classic rock, downing some brew, and not worrying about outspending other twentyfourthousandaires on the two or three really attractive people at the bar.

Simply put: In addition to serving its function as a solid sports bar, Houston Street Bar and Patio is also a nice, convenient respite. Houston Street’s owners also are considering a rooftop patio à la Reata, which will give some of us twentyfourthousandaires the opportunity to look down our noses at other people for a change.

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