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New York Press, NY: Sighting
October 27, 2004, 1:15 pm



Art: Anne Plumer


DR. BRONNER'S soap is my slippery reminder of days spent attending a hippie college. There, I acquired a disdain for deodorant and a love of the peppermint suds' tingly armpit-cleansing ability. Body scrubbing is but one of the soap's 18 potential uses, of which 17 prove the Swiss Army-knife philosophy has its limitations.

With Dr. B's I can, if I so choose, wash my clothes. Maybe shave. Clean a head of lettuce. Or brush my teeth. Call me old-fashioned, but there's something discomforting about soap de-sullying more than one orifice.

So it is with great trepidation that, on a recent weekday, several friends and I roll to Williamsburg's Supreme Trading, the latest saloon to shoehorn itself into Williamsburg's crowded terrain. Like Dr. Bronner's, Supreme Trading (courtesy of the architect behind Red and Black) is a jack of all trades. The space bills itself as a 7500-square-foot bar-cum-salon-cum-concert venue featuring cultural events revolving around "the subject of fashion and design."

After a long day at work, my friends care less about haute couture and more about getting hammered. It would cost us.

"Uh, we haven't quite figured out a happy hour schedule yet," says the de facto skinny bartender with sparse facial hair. "But we have Bud bottles for three bucks."

Not willing to splurge five bucks for a Stella pint, we order American libation and settle into a black, half-rectangle booth. We have our druthers. On a prime Wednesday night, save for our contingent, not a single B-burger fills the bar. In a cozy, neon-lit dive, this would be welcome, especially given the Bedford Ave. surplus of Diesel-clad Italian tourists and NYU neophytes.

Seclusion, however, is counterintuitive at Supreme Trading. Within the dual-level digs, every utterance is magnified, echoing around the Yao Ming-friendly ceiling like leaked secrets.

"This is depressing," Steve whispers. "I almost want to get another drink just because I feel bad for the bartender."

We all watch the bartender pull our paltry dollar tips behind the bar, then sit down to read a magazine.

"Why do I get the feeling that all of Williamsburg will look this empty in five years?" Andrew asks. "All these hipsters will have kids and no one will be getting drunk."

"Whatever. It's the Planet Thailand and Sea model," Aaron says, referencing the nearby hangar-sized Thai eateries. "Build it big, and hope Manhattan comes."

So what attracts patrons? I stroll to the bar and ask.

"Well, Friday nights are the Crashin' In party," the bartender says, mentioning the guest-DJ-studded affair featuring minor celebs like Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner. "The place was pretty jammed last weekend, especially in the garden." He gestures toward the "garden"?a concrete courtyard ringed by gymnasium-esque bleachers and cigarette pails.

"So, Wednesday night: What's cooking?" I ask.

"Uhh," he says, scratching his arm, "we have DJs tonight."

I glance to the right at a set of dormant turntables with no DJs in sight.

"Want another beer?" he asks hopefully.

I order another Bud and slap a green George W. onto the bar.

Back at the table, our foursome is not placated by the juke's Modest Mouse offering.

"I could be doing this at home. And at least watch women on tv," Aaron says.

Sausage-fest-malaise brewing, Steve suggests an antidote: "Pool."

We tromp upstairs?leaving the bartender by his lonesome?and enter the secluded pool room, where we rack up a minor outrage.

"A buck twenty-five for pool!" Steve shouts. "That's bullshit. I pay $.50 back in Ohio."

"What are you going to do, go back to Ohio?" I ask.


We shoot quiet pool and, from our second-floor perch, take in the bar. In a way, Supreme Trading is half swell. Makeout nooks abound. Art openings go off in a gallery annex. Space in spades is perfect for large-scale events, like an upcoming Warriors-themed Halloween hoedown. The jukebox mixes Mos Def and Iggy Pop. And, when a crowded night comes, the 70s glass fixtures dispensing dim ochre light will sex up even the homeliest "fashion and design" acolyte.

But not tonight. Steve lines up the eight ball. With a deft flick, he taps the eight into the hole and says, "Let's go."

Volume 17, Issue 43

? 2004 New York Press

Source: New York Press