Exclusive: The Foggy Monocle Clears Up What Makes a Good Bar Tale

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Some of us here at the office are admittedly kind of big drinkers. Reading The Foggy Monocle, a site devoted to tales of urban mischief, helps us feel like we’re not alone — besides giving us good laughs while we’re (potentially hungover) at the office. Flavorwire recently tossed back a few and then met up with its gentlemen founders on AIM to get the lowdown on the project, learn their favorite local watering holes, and see just how “this economy” is affecting their drinking habits. Spoiler alert: Not much.

Leah: OK first some background. What the hell is The Foggy Monocle? Leah: And how’d you come up with the idea? Was it just an idea for a quick buck following the success of Postcards from Yo Momma? Erik D.: It all started at a bar, like most good ideas. Erik D.: Possibly all good ideas. James J.: We’re a similar concept, but a bit different… or rather, our submitters and appeal are different, cause everyone has a mom, but not everyone has a drinking problem. Erik and I both work in media, and despite our low salaries we always got the perks of free booze at media events. We’d usually behave pretty poorly and had loads of self-effacing IM exchanges piecing together the night before. We figured if we had so many funny ones, then other people probably do as well. So the FM became a repository of good, old-fashioned funny stories of nights gone awry Leah: But with a decidedly gentlemanly bent. How’d that trope come into play? James J.: Following these evenings out I would always have this self-loathing anxiety the following day. Erik would always tell me not to worry, for we’d merely been behaving as gentlemen. That became a running joke with our friends — referring to our less-than classy antics as gentlemanly… so that tone just lent itself well to the site. Erik D.: “It was a gentleman’s evening,” we’d say. Leah: But these exploits aren’t merely reserved for, uh, men, right? Do you get many anonymous women writing in with debauched stories? James J.: We get a lot of women writing in, which is great. We didn’t intend for it to be a dude site, just a site written by and for people who love a good drunken night out and a little misadventure, who have the wonderful ability to laugh at themselves and their behavior. Erik D.: Women’s stories are often quite worse than the men’s. More lewd, more crude. I’ve never read such shocking tales in my life. James J.: Totally. I sometimes have to ask my girlfriend, “You don’t actually talk like this with your friends over IM?” My monocle has fallen out many a time in shock when reading these ladies’ tales. Leah: Do you often receive submissions that are just too out-there? That you think are too scary/outlandish/reckless to print? James J.: The only ones that we don’t print, aside from the ones that just really aren’t that funny, are the self-congratulatory ones, where a guy is talking about some “slut he banged out.” I mean really? That’s just chest-thumping and not funny. We want to hear about the time you made an ass out of yourself, the time you got all dastardly and cheated the system, the time you made a fool out of yourself with a girl, or just all the bad decisions that have resulted in the current soul-crushing hangover you’re experiencing. James J.: Self-deprecation and misadventure is key. Leah: So that’s what makes a good bar story, in general? Erik D.: My favorite bar stories are the ones that get told to you because you can’t remember the shit you did. A classic blackout epic adventure, in which our protagonist is searching for clues of what might have transpired. James J.: Just general tomfoolery really and the enthusiasm for a good night out, regardless of the consequences Erik D.: And more importantly, what the f*ck happened last night? Through these discussions, gentlemen and gentleladies are able to come to the crux of the matter, boil down the specifics, and place blame accordingly. Leah: Sharing the love, the laughs, and the hangover with the world. James J.: Misery loves company. It’s also hilarious to think that a lot of these convos are taking place at work. So-and-so is all buttoned up and professional in the work place, but over IM, with their friends, they are describing what a degenerate they really are in the most crass ways possible. It’s a hilarious duality. Leah: You guys are based here in NYC. What are your favorite bars to drink towards some FM fodder? James J.: We hatched the whole idea for the site over Greyhounds at Botanica Bar. James J.: Which has to be our favorite spot. Leah: Yes! Botanica shout-out! That’s totally the Peach Pit of Flavorpill. James J.: We also love The Brooklyn Inn, where the blog header photo was taken. Erik D.: They make some amazing Greyhounds, and for cheap. James J.: Jimmy’s Corner in midtown is fantastic, especially for after-work drinks. Erik D.: Brooklyn Social has a great old-school vibe without the sleekness of a Manhattan trendy place. James J.: Though we’ve both been kicked out of there… Leah: I always go for the Skinny Bitch — vodka and Diet Coke. What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage for a night of debauchery? Erik D.: Jimmy went through a long phase of bringing back the Irish Car Bomb. James J.: Yeah the Car Bomb is awesome, aside from the frattiness. Our favorite thing to do for a while was to order them at really pretentious bar, where some bartender who is in a band is so annoyed that he has to make it for you. Erik D.: They’re actually hard to find in NYC. Most bartenders refuse to make them because of their history of turning people into reckless freaks. James J.: In which case you order a pint of Guiness, a shot of Baileys, and a shot of Jameson, and assemble the drink right in front of him like some black market bomb-maker. That really puts their skinny designer jeans into a knot. They get so visibly mad. Leah: OK, so are you ready for the obligatory “economy angle” question? James J.: Fire away. Leah: Are you getting fewer or different submissions? Like, are you seeing stories that start at a house party or as opposed to club-hopping accounts? Are gentlemen curbing their spending? James J.: We’ve gotten some submissions about being fired or unemployed, but for the most part we never got submissions about swanky nights out. Thankfully people got the tone and idea of the site right away. So we get a lot of submissions about being at dive bars, drinking cheap drinks, etc — ’cause the lowbrow antics combined with the highbrow intros is what makes the stories and the gentleman joke funny. Erik D.: I think the core of our readers and submitters are generally a pretty financially-savvy ilk to begin with, although at the same time, not ones to necessarily skimp on fun and adventure. If they are cutting back on stuff, it sure as hell isn’t cutting into their going out. James J.: In regards to booze, women, and tomfoolery, gentlemen never curb their spending. They know what’s important. Erik D.: And really, historically, why would they? I read somewhere that vice spending only increases during times of economic instability. Erik D.: If you get fired from the bank, what else are you going to do during the day anyway? Polish your monocles? Overall, I enjoy the notion that the blog is actually helping people. We were approached by some gentlemen at Union Hall last week who thanked us, genuinely, for creating the blog and publishing the stories. They said it made them feel better about the horrible things they’ve done. James J.: The rest of the Internet is so full of negativity and snark, we just wanted to create a site that celebrates bad behavior and ridiculous antics and awkward scenarios. The Foggy Monocle, in essence, is a celebration of the gentleman in all his/her stupidity. Leah: Any book deal yet? James J.: None yet, but we have an agent and have actually met with a few people that are interested in different projects from us. We’ll publish info about it on the site when it’s all firmed up. Leah: Awesome.

For some Valentine’s Day advice from the Foggy Monocle, check with this week’s issue of Time Out NY.