a chilly spring morning as we depart
Collingswood, NJ on our way to Ithaca,
NY for a performance of the Off-Broadway
musical BATBOY (no resemblance to
the Dark Knight but plenty of relation
to the Weekly World News's unofficial
By the time we decide
to stop for lunch in Clarks Summit,
PA it is decidedly chillier than expected.
In fact, "raw" would be
the word I'm looking for and I'm beginning
to guess that packing shorts and sandals
for this late March trip was a wee
bit optimistic on my part. I'm no
meteorologist, but the cold rain that's
soaking us on this side of the mountains
is sure to change to wet snow at some
point during our trip.
Hungry and thirsty,
we ignore the chain eateries and fast
food joints that dot this freeway
exit masquerading as a town and opt
for JJ Bridjes, which beckons us with
its promise of 'Food & Spirits.'
The comfy booth soothes our joints
and after the first beer goes down
it becomes apparent to all involved
that it's a good thing we have plans.
This is the kind of place where you
could easily spend the day drinking
the night away. It doesn't help that
we're fascinated by the cast-off from
White Snake who is parading in and
out the establishment's doors lugging
guitar cases, amps, cables and more.
downing beers and sandwiches with
ridiculous names, we bid farewell
to our high-backed, heavily-padded
booth and start down the driveway
to finish our trip. But not before
stopping to check out the marquee
and wonder which member of Village
Idiot our axe-lugging friend is.
Later, much later, that
night we retreat to our hotel rooms.
Dinner was great, the musical amazing
with a tour de force performance
by my niece as Batboy's mother. The
only drawback has been the gigantic,
uncharacteristic zit that has erupted
on the tip of my nose, and a dinner
conversation that took an unexpected
turn towards politics.
Though an early wakeup
call and snowy forecast awaits, we
decide to head across the street to
the Ichabod Restaurant & Lounge
for a quick nightcap. Upon arriving
at the lounge's surreptitious side
entrance we find that the doors are
locked, despite what looks like customers
inside. Thinking that the entrance
lay elsewhere, we head to the front
of the building and enter into the
It's at this point that
we have one of those moments usually
reserved for movies. As we step into
the diner simply looking for
the entrance to the bar, mind you
what appears to be an army
of Jack Osbourne clones (work jacket,cuffed
jeans, ironic glasses, curly hair)
immediately stop eating/drinking/chatting/
smoking and look directly at us. All
we need is for the needle to be picked
up off the record.
We look at one another
and silently agree... slackers.
Not finding a secret
entrance to the bar we circle around,
see the doors are still locked, and
decide to call it a night. Until five
minutes later when the phone in my
It's my other niece
telling me that she was so stymied
by this situation that she phoned
the bar. They're not closed, she tells
me. The doors were simply locked because
the bartender was downstairs restocking
Energized by this info,
we walk back across the street
looking like desperate boozers to
our hotel clerk and enter Ichabod's.
handful of booths along the wall and
a small back room are deserted. A
few people with the look of
regulars hang at the bar with
the pierced twenty-something waitress.
It seems shocking, to us at least,
that in a college town on a Saturday
night we have doubled the number of
bar patrons just by entering.
Settling in at the end
of the bar we order up drinks and
begin chatting about the events of
the day... the show, Village Idiot,
and the unexpected talk about world
events with my brother-in-law Politic-Al.
All the while my niece's husband and
I exchange glances that ask that musical
question: What ARE we listening to?
While I consider myself
fairly musically savvy, he's a longtime
rock journalist with a dozen or so
books to his name. It makes me feel
better that he's perplexed, too.
After a couple drinks
and more conversation we ask the bartender
what she's playing and she brings
over the CD case for an old album
by Dead Can Dance, which leads into
a conversation about 80s/90s Goth
bands, the Cleopatra record label,
and other things I never expetcetd
to be talking about at a diner bar
in Ithaca, NY on a Saturday night.
Pretty soon she's mixing
in discs from her stack, filling us
in on details about this one and that
one, writing down names of those we
like. All is calm and pleasant at
then Gavin arrives. Actually, I can't
remember if his name's Gavin or not,
but it somehow fits. He is apparently
her boyfriend or some type
of significant other and his
arrival brings the whole room down.
He's loaded, belligerent and, unlike
everybody else in the place, unfriendly.
His friends aren't much
better and the mood begins to sour.
But we like Ichabod's.
And we like our bartender
with the pierced nose and her taste
in music, though we're starting to
question her taste in men.
So we stay for another
round or two. Last call brings the
evening to a close and we bid Ichabod's
and the bartender who plays Dead Can
Dance and her crabby boyfriend farewell.
I hit the bed in my
room with a thud and flip on the TV.
A movie featuring Santo,
the masked wrestler/ superhero is
playing on a local channel and the
guest host is the owner of a used
"Why haven't I
been to Ithaca before," I ask
myself as I drift to sleep and the
snow begins falling outside.