There’s a scene in Ethan Minsker‘s “Barstool Prophets” where the narrator is finishing up his shift behind the counter at a Lower East Side bar. Baba O’ Riley plays as the night dwindles down, and there’s a beer bottle standing on a table, softly illuminated by a candle. Minsker describes this simple scene in a way that awakens all the right senses- his words hold an innocence and a peace that engulfs the dirt of everyday existence. Much of the book is written in this way- deeply down to earth, but still acknowledging of the spells we come across in our daily lives. This is a novel that does not strive to be what it’s not- it rides perfectly in its own turbulence. It is not embellished with sugary soul- searching, nor does it hide anything from the reader as it leads you through the young life of a writer and bartender. The plight of the starving artist is an ongoing theme in the book, mixed with an insider’s view of the New York hardcore punk scene, various relationships with friends and lovers, and, of course, the inner workings of the bar. Though I am a native New Yorker, “Barstool Prophets” makes me nostalgic for something I never really knew- it is a tattered but tangible snapshot of the old New York in my hands.
I also want to mention that Ethan Minsker is not only a writer, but also an artist, filmmaker, and one of the minds behind the Antagonist Art Movement. He’s a genuinely nice guy whom I had the pleasure of meeting at New York’s Zinefest. I highly recommend checking out his zine, Psycho Moto, his films, and his previous book, “Rich Boy Cries for Momma”, which is based on his own experiences with dyslexia, a punk rock adolescence, and still a pretty punk rock transition to adulthood. “Self- Medicated”, Ethan’s film about artists in the modern world, is playing this month at the Independent Film Festival in NYC and is sure to be a refreshingly raw account of triumph, struggle, and the very gray area that lies in between. Through his continued involvement with art, writing, filmmaking and zine publishing, Ethan Minsker remains not only a huge inspiration, but also a crusader of the D.I.Y. spirit.