Friday, July 27, 2007

Dealing with it

Unless you’ve been sleeping in a box car this past week, you’ve probably noticed track season is here. Broadway becomes the city’s largest parking lot, Caroline Street becomes the region’s largest beer garden and the per capita asshole quotient generally triples. Liquored fiends swarm around any eating establishment within the city proper, ravenously consuming anything or anyone that happens in their path. For the denizens of track season, the modus operandi is quite simple: get hammered, find horses and throw money at them; repeat for six weeks.

Apart from this bacchanalian sloth, a flood of refugees pours from the city proper in search for any corner left untainted by the relentless hordes. Indeed, this is no short order. And once a slice of salvation is found, it doesn’t take long for the masses to catch on.

So here’s a bit of advice to cope with the long days and longer nights of track season. First of all, keep your liver limber. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or in this case, as the barbarians are sacking Rome, do as the barbarians do. And these troglodytes do enjoy their liquor. Suggested drink: gin and tonic; when else can you get drunk and prevent malaria at the same time?

Next, find a watering hole and a good barkeep. Contrary to what "la tourista" might think, the best bar is the one with no one in it. You’re generally not going to find one of these on the main strip or any of the arterioles. Odd as it sounds, the best hidden secret is the Alley Bar. This is a filthy little grotto tucked behind Broadway, where if you’re sporting a full smile or sober demeanor, you’re bound to turn some heads.

For the more upscale drinkers, there’s the back patio at the Adelphi, which is obscure enough that it’s generally not crowded at night. You’ll pay out the ass for the class, but it is one of the nicer spots to get watered during the season. Just bring an umbrella. There’s always a chance Bruce Levinsky’s building next door will start raining bricks.

But dealing with the masses isn’t all about getting crocked. It’s also about avoiding the masses altogether. In other words, avoid Broadway at all costs. And while you’re at it, don’t bother with Lake Avenue, Phila, Caroline, or Putnam streets either. The city is webbed with small back alleys, which are much easier and quicker to traverse than the main strip. Who knows, you might find a new part of the city to dwell.

While you’re avoiding Broadway, do yourself a favor and avoid eating out, period. Fire up the grill and bust out that recipe book Aunt Gerty gave you before college. Even the most neophyte epicureans will cook up better grub than what’s being shoveled downtown.

At the top end of track season, you may find a few deals here and there. But as the mayhem progresses, the food quality regresses. Keep in mind, most restaurant workers party harder than the tourists themselves and often later –just peak in Clancy’s tavern around daybreak for proof of this. Usually this means what is being served isn’t as high on the priority list as simply getting it the hell out to the customer.

If you do happen into one of the many Broadway establishments, make sure you secure a patio spot. This is another cathartic activity for frustrated locals. Find a seat on Broadway and gawk at tourists. Especially the freak yuppie wearing a pink shirt with the collar turned up. These people leave an open invitation for you to chortle your aggravation away.

Leaving is also a recommended activity during track season. Many the downstaters view Saratoga Springs as a sort of refuge from an area that would otherwise be a scene from the movie Deliverance. But in truth, there are plenty of day refuges that are much better than contending with a group of jerk-offs waving pink sheets. Just a half-hour away is the Great Sacandaga Lake, which has largely avoided the development that has befallen Lake George. Every inch of the lake shore is owned by the state and rented to the surrounding landowners. In a few spots near the towns of Day and Edinburg, there are turnoffs where lake access is free and generally unpopulated, aside from a scattering of rednecks.

Hadley is also a pleasant treasure away from the throngs of tourons. There are rafting companies in the town that will haul you up to the Stewart’s Pond dam to float down the Sacandaga River. Couple this with a few friends and a few beers and you’ve got a relaxing time to wash away the angst of tourist season.

Yes, it’s a difficult time when the ponies come to town. The black flies are almost as relentless as the compulsive gamblers. But with a nice buzz and few cronies, it’s pretty easy to temporarily melt them into obscurity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's difficult when the ponies come to town? Those feckless track tourists are the lifeline of Saratoga: get on your knees and assume the position!

5:22 AM  
Blogger Ellen said...

Lots of good advice there.
I am going to try and live around the edges of this onslaught.
I caught a little glimpse of the festivities when I came out of the Film Forum tonight. People were standing around watching some musical act. It reminded me of the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which I always avoided in the evenings when I lived in L.A.
Crowds like that are just havens for pickpockets.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Don and Sher said...

Great tips, I live exactly between Lake George and Saratoga and the best time to visit both June and September.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re; the first commenter --

i'm guessing you've never worked in an industry that has forced you to deal with the level of entitled snob or bottom-feeding low-life that this season attracts to our town. you've clearly never had them bark at you, demand of you, or look down upon you. easy to say you've never been made to feel unsafe by the drug-addled scum oggling the women, staring strangely at little kids. the cheap saratoga shirts and the cheaper saratoga hats. the greasy gold chains, chest hair, goofy big-brimmed hats, over-priced beer and bad breath. lord, the bad breath.

one can only assume that you have no problem "getting down on your knees" upon the approach of this 'wonderful' time of year. it's pure speculation that you get a kick out of the increased crime, the congestion of a__holes and wannabe heiresses. the masturbatory exercise of pseudo-socialites in their pseudo-social circles.

yeah. we assume the position alright. and we get f__ked.


9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm.... there's the door. Don't let it hit you in the ass on your way Troy.

7:46 PM  
Blogger heystopthatman said...

very original. very intelligent. very classy.

you fit right in this month!

congrats! you just earned a bobblehead.

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Paul,

Now that's the spirit! At least you are being honest in what it means to get humped by the tourists during track season. It isn't pretty, and it certainly isn't dignified.

Saratoga is one giant orange that is annually squeezed of all its juice. People want gambling, to feel a part of a "historic town" and to be served their dinner/alcohol quickly with a smile.

If you're gonna get f*cked, you might as well enjoy it! Get drunk. Participate. Ogle. And look on the bright side... gambling has created one hell of a nice library.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Lieutenant said...

Clancy's? Now that's a High-class Joint.

6:25 AM  

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