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Tuesday, June 3, 2014



Rittsmans Bar and Liquor. Ron, on the right, served on a Navy ship in Vietnam in 67-68. Just before I walked in, a middle-aged white guy had keeled over from some medical condition, so an ambulance had to be called, but people were most excited about a nearby shooting. On the way to this bar, I saw a fire truck and an ambulance, with their sirens wailing, but this morning, I checked the newspaper and could find no homicide yesterday in Trenton, so maybe said shooting was just a rumor. The southern part of Trenton is much safer than the north, in any case.

Rittsman is clean and very cheap, with happy hours prices of only $1.50 for a bottle of Coors, $2 for a bottle of Heineken and $2.50 for a 12-ounce can of Guinness. Behind bar, bags of peanuts, kettle chips and pork rinds, and a sign that says, "American-owned and family operated." The owner, though, is a rather austere Indian immigrant who didn't greet or acknowledge a single customer during the brief time he was there yesterday, although many of them were clearly regulars. Another glitch is that it's only open until midnight except for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, when it closes at 1AM. The later the hours, the more recklessly people will drink, so he's losing out on quite a bit of money here.

For a more gregarious Indian bar owner, check out this man in North Charleston, SC.


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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.