I took this picture in Jan. 2008 and this has nothing to do with polo. Except that it has to do with me. Even with the threat of showers, I rode over the Manhattan Bridge into the city to play bike polo in The Pit today. I crossed paths with a biking friend who i would sometime shoot pool with. We haven’t shot pool in a while and she said she had been playing at SoHo Billiards because it’s close to her house. I never really like it there because of the floor to ceiling windows that let you have full view of all the distraction that are on Houston. I have always liked shooting pool in windowless rooms. Or at least with the windows covered. I learned to play on the table in my grandparents basement when I was young. I always liked pool. Even when I was young I was tall with long arms and had an understanding of the game. Later when my friends and I got cars, we would go to the pool halls and shoot late into the night so much that our grades reflected our hours at the table. And when we were old enough to go to the clubs and bars, I would play pool instead of drinking or dancing.
Before living in New York I lived in California for five years. And for all those years I worked at a bar, located in a basement, and with a pool table. I played a lot pool there too. One decent bar table in room with just the table, no chairs or other junk in the way. I probably played 40-60 games a week there. I even played Kiefer Sutherland for money and won about fifty bucks off him there. I also served Scott Ian a beer once but that’s a different story.
Anyway, moving to New York I thought I’d find lots of great pool halls and get even better at pool by being around better pool players. But after going to some of the few pool halls around, most were way too fancy and cost too much to play, or had elements about the surroundings i didn’t like, such as big windows four feet from the tables.
One place I did like was this place, Broadway Billiards Cafe. On the very short block of East 21st Street between Broadway and 5th Av. it was open 24 hours and charged just $5 an hour. To put that in perspective, I was paying $4 an hour at my favorite pool hall in Dayton Ohio and this place is a block behind the Flatiron Building, just steps from where Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect and they only charge a dollar more that some regular spot in the mid-west. And NO! the tables didn’t suck. Nice, well maintained nine foot tables. 22 of them, and all lined up nice and neat in a basement, no windows, and an OK jukebox that nobody ever played so it was nice and quiet. Just the sound of billiards.
Well, my pool playing friend on the bridge today said she had heard they closed. After polo I rode up to 21st Street to see that they had indeed shut their door(s).
Sad. I really liked that place.