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Bar #26 – Feile – Post-Mortem

As you can imagine, since the release of this book and on this book tour, I've come into close contact with people of all professions:  publishers, journalists, advertisers, PR people, radio, television, film folks, and money men and women.  But without question, across the board, the BY FAR most courteous, giving, and truly professional professionals I've dealt with have been bar owners.  And, Mark Collins, a partner in Feile, is the cream of the crop.

I first met Mark early in 2010 when he noticed I was frequently using his other bar Amity Hall as my personal office space.  (When you're a deadbeat artist who can't afford “real” office space you will often use coffee shops, cafes, and bars as office space for meetings and the like.)  He joked that I owed him some rent money before inquiring into my work.  Truly excited when he heard I was an author about to be published, I sent him an early copy of “How to Fail” which he devoured over a weekend, which he truly loved, and which he truly “got.”  He recommended holding my book tour release party at Amity Hall and gave countless helpful suggestions, both artistically and strategically, for making the book and tour into a success. When Mark's new bar Feile on West 33rd opened a month or two ago and he left his day-to-day duties at Amity Hall to do the same at his new spot, I knew we'd have to have a 30 Bars in 30 Days stop there, which we coincidentally coincided with Tuesday's Jimmy V Classic matchup between the #8 ranked Michigan St. Spartans and my beloved #7 ranked Syracuse Orange, just a few hundred yards away at Madison Square Garden.

Whereas on a daily basis I find myself dealing with people with “can't do” attitudes, people that hem and haw over every little bump in the road, every little problem they have to deal with, Mark is truly an inspiration in how he runs a business.  In just an evening of watching him work I've taken away so much that I hope to translate into my own life and career.  Mark may be the “man in charge” but he never acts that way and he would never rudely order an “underling” to do something he won't.  He may wear dress clothes to work every day, but that doesn't mean he's afraid to bust his ass, hustling around the bar non-stop setting up tables, cleaning up, hooking up kegs, pouring drinks.  No job is too menial for him, he does whatever is necessary to keep Feile running quickly, efficiently, and enjoyably to his customers.  It's no wonder the bar is constantly packed, not a single person in the place having a bad time, not a single person left standing and looking around, going, “Could I get some service?!”

I've never dealt with someone in any industry so willing to make things work.  We wanted our Fail-anetics videos streaming on some TVs.  Not a problem.  Whereas other bar owners have sometimes hem and hawed, belly-aching about how “hard” it might be to facilitate such a thing, Mark just asked for the disc and ran away to set it up instantly.  When Mark found out we had a keg of beer donated to us, even though he didn't have room on a tap line, didn't even have an actual matching tap handle, he figured out how to make it work.  When I casually mentioned to Mark that at the Amity Hall event we'd had a special How to Fail Cocktail, he took charge and initiative.  “Great, give me the recipe and I'll have the bartenders mixing some up all night.”  A few minutes later I had a fresh one, mixed up by the man himself.  That's the thing about Mark, he never thinks, “I can't do that,” he always thinks, “How can I do that?”  His positivity is infectious!

Now I see I've already written about 700 words on the man and, at best you're all gonna think this is one of those sleazy “sponsored” posts that Mark and Feile obviously paid for.  And, at worst, you (and Mark) are gonna think I've just written a creepy online love letter to him.  But, I simply wanted to bring the passion to this post that Mark exhibits on a daily basis in his job.  I know many people look a little down on "bar people,” thinking them lazy folks that would rather be slinging drinks to the drunken masses than putting on a suit and tie and doing a “normal” job.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Bar owners are some of the smartest, wisest, most educated, literate, and well-read people I've met in the last month, and Mark is the best of the bunch.  If only everyone I worked for and with behaved more like him, we'd all get a lot more done in this world.

Mark has long been a friend of the book, but by now I'm proud to simply call him a friend and someone I will continue to admire. And, it's not a surprise that such hospitality on Mark's part led to an amazing “How to Fail” event, one of the best on tour so far.


We offered what we thought was a pretty cool deal:  every "How to Fail" purchase gave one a chance to win a pair of tickets to the sold-out Jimmy V event.  Unfortunately, despite tons of purchases, not a single person plucked the two lucky books from the pile that actually had the tickets in them.  And, by game time, with the bar now deserted as everyone had already entered The Garden, we had no choice but to unload the ducats to scalpers, none of whom seemed much into satirical literature.


Any day that the heretofore-seemingly shaky Syracuse Orange can solidify its placement on this year's national scene with a thumping of the Izzo-led Spartans is a day of great success.


Amazingly, I'd never before had the BPA (Belgian Pale Ale) from Cooperstown, NY's amazing Ommegang.  Fresh on tap, it delivered the goods and I was pumped to finally try it.

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