guac-night-bell-house-01

Hipster riot for free guac

The 5th of May is a lot of things to a lot of people. You couldn’t turn on the radio or open up a web browser yesterday without someone telling you that the 5th of May is the day Karl Marx was born, the day Cy Young threw the first perfect game in modern baseball, the Day that Kublai Khan became the ruler of the Mongol empire, and the day that Coco Chanel debuted Chanel No. 5. It also happens to be the day that Mexican troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza repulsed repeated attacks by French troops under Charles de Lorencez at the Battle of Puebla. This is the occasion celebrated as “Cinco de Mayo.”

How do we commemorate this historic battle for freedom? The same way we celebrate Leontes’s defeat of the Persians at Thermopylae, or the defeat of the Romans at Asculum by Phyrrus of Epirus: by making delicious ethnic foodstuffs and getting wasted on cheap beer.

Celebrating Mexican (almost) independence

Celebrating Mexican (almost) independence

The long and the short of it is this: I saw that The Bell House (named for a southern mansion in Lexington, Kentucky) was having a free guac tasting the evening of Cinco de Mayo. I had never been to the space before, but our star reporter covered the burlesque festival there, so I imagined it to be a cavernous, well-run, event-type space — the kind that can handle a hoard of New Yorkers who read on the internet that someone is giving away free food. Because anyone who has lived in New York City for more than six months knows that anything good and free is mobbed. Ever try getting tickets for Shakespeare in the Park? Yeah. I hope you like sleeping on pavement, ’cause that’s the only way you’ll get into the show. Really, it doesn’t even have to be free. Try showing up thirty minutes before the screening of some crazy old movie at Film Forum. You’ll stand in the stand-by line with with the clueless.

But I am an optimist. I wasn’t daunted by the line that went out the door when we first arrived. I wasn’t even upset to see that the line wasn’t really a line, just a mob of random hipsters drinking Tecates and Negro Modelo Especials. After fifteen minutes standing in the door I started to worry that the free guac was just a Kafka-esque torment. People behind me started to ask if I was in line, and I couldn’t tell them. Am I? Are you? One gentleman decided to celebrate Mexican culture by building a pseudo Chichen Itza beer pyramid (pictured above) and asking everyone for quarters to play Frogger. EVERY GUY IN THE JOINT HAD UNFORTUNATE FACIAL HAIR. What is it with guys under 30 and facial hair?

Frogger and Facial Hair -- Hipster Paradise

Frogger and Facial Hair -- Hipster Paradise

I got a beer. I waited another 15 minutes. Then a young woman’s voice came over the PA and said: “Hey guys! Sorry about the wait. We didn’t expect such a great turnout! It looks like Mandy is back with more tortilla chips, so you should be getting tasty guac any time now!” I saw Mandy wade through the crowd carrying two of those black plastic bags you get from a bodega, and in each one of the bags were two medium sized bags of Utz tortilla chips. At forty chips a bag (you know — they settle after processing) I figured that the first third of the line would be able to sample delicious guac before Mandy had to make another run. So I left. Without tasting guac. Without celebrating post-colonial liberty and Mexican identity. And as I walked out the door I heard the young woman’s voice on the PA again saying “Hey guys! Sorry for the mix up! We just sent out for more paper plates. If you’ll just be patient…”

Advertisements