21 March 2006

Still a Player

I visited the Players Club in Gramercy Park last night and am happy to say it is still its glorious, fossilized self. Who knows who now pays dues at this Edwardian frieze of a club, but god bless 'em for keeping the place open so folks can see that actors once tried, at least, to comport themselves with dignity. The hundreds of portraits on the walls alone justify the organization's continued existence. A few John Singer Sargeants among them and one John Decker, Barrymore's boozy L.A. friend. Some of these players are long forgotten to the city's collective memory. But that makes their painted visages all the more poignant.

Pete's Tavern—the place that has flogged it connection to O. Henry into the ground—is around the corner on Irving Place. I thought about stopping in for a drink. But last time I went I had such a worthless meal of tasteless pasta at a lonely drafty table, I couldn't bear the thought of returning so soon. They have a thriving business there, and I'm glad. They'll stay open that way. I just wish the kitchen did better work. McSorley's and P.J. Clarke's can produce decent bar food, why not Pete's? Also, the help is a little indifferent. Don't let them shunt you back into the back rooms. That's not the real Pete's. Only the bar room was part of the original. Tough to score a seat there. The few booths are always roped off for some moneyed bastards who like to dream they wrote "The Gift of the Magi."

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