$2 Dispatch: Leslie’s Classic Wines

August 28, 2014

Leslie's Classic Wines: Click to enlarge

Location: Leslie’s Classic Wines, Brooklyn, NY

Date: January 12, 2014

Transaction: Purchased a bottle of wine with a $2 bill

“No! No! You can’t spend this! You can’t!” asserted Michelle, above (click to enlarge), when I used a $2 bill to pay for a bottle of wine. 

“Someone gave me a $2 bill once and I never spent it. I never spent it. I’m probably gonna put this one in my purse”…and put two of her own $1 bills in the cash-register drawer, she said. 

In sum: She never spent it. 

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$2 Dispatch: Mariella Pizza

August 25, 2014

Mariella Pizza: Click to enlarge

Location: Mariella Pizza, NYC

Date: January 7, 2014

Transaction: Paid for a slice of pizza with two $2 bills 

Phil, above (click to enlarge), did what many people do when they receive $2 bills — he identified it not just visually but verbally: “$2 bills!”

I love when someone does that. It’s as if simply seeing a $2 bill isn’t enough to confirm its existence — it must be verified by putting a vocal stamp on it. 

I asked Phil if he ever gets $2 bills at his place of employment. 

Phil: “Once in a while.”

Then I asked whether he minds getting them. 

Phil: “Ah…it’s all the same. It’s money.” And then… “It’s money, right?”

Upon further thought, he continued, “I don’t like two dollars’ worth of pennies.” (Who does, Phil?) 

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Special Event: Show Us Your Junk

August 15, 2014

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Attention, $2 bill enthusiasts! On Wednesday, August 20, I’ll be speaking about the $2 bill — specifically its 1976 reissue and redesign — at Show Us Your Junk, an “educational show-and-tell night” at Union Hall in Brooklyn. I’ll discuss the bills pictured here. Admission is five bucks, and the winner of my trivia question will get a 1976 $2 bill, so admission really works out to three bucks if you come armed with $2 bill knowledge. Come say hi if you attend — ideally during intermission (because I’ll have to leave during the second half to go run a karaoke night).

More info:

Union Hall

Brooklyn Brainery

Facebook event page

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$2 Dispatch: The Gate

August 13, 2014

The Gate: Click to enlarge

Location: The Gate, Brooklyn, NY

Date: January 1, 2014

Transaction: Paid for a drink with two $2 bills

It was New Year’s Day, and I was feeling mildly celebratory. I set down two $2 bills for my drink. “$2 bills!!” the bartender exclaimed when she saw them. She said she always keeps $2 bills when she gets them, and she carries them in her wallet. She and her roommate “just decided that it was good luck — always keep a $2 bill in your wallet.”

That’s something I hear from people a lot — always keep a $2 bill in your wallet (“because then you’re never broke,” as a guy put it to me once). Back in February I posted about a bartender at Montero’s who does that too: “I carry one in my wallet for good luck,” he said. 

The above bartender at the Gate said that a friend of hers who worked at a place in Red Hook rejected a customer’s $2 bill because he thought it was fake. Further, he thought all $2 bills weren’t real. I felt a surge of envy upon hearing that — I wanted to be the customer whose $2 bill was rejected. Because even though I support the idea of $2 bills being more commonly circulated, I savor the experience of having them denied. (Here’s an example.)

(Photo taken by Emma Williford on her telephone)

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$2 Dispatch: Antonio’s Pizza

August 8, 2014

Antonio's Pizza deliveryman: Click to enlarge

Location: My apartment doorway, Brooklyn, NY

Date: December 31, 2013

Transaction: Slipped two $2 bills into pizza payment (Antonio’s Pizza)

I’m not ashamed to say that on New Year’s Eve I called for a pizza delivery and watched a VHS tape of Pulp Fiction while the rest of you were out scallywagging around town. (I’ll mention that it was preceded by a very nice New Year’s Eve-ternoon.)

To be festive, I gave the pizza deliveryman two $2 bills instead of just one, since it was New Year’s Eve, and all. He didn’t have a firm grasp of English, so I’ll never know whether he recognized the $2 bills as special. Maybe he thought they were normal. Regardless, continuing the spirit of festivity, I wanted to take his picture with them, which I think just bewildered him. (As you can plainly see, if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a professional photographer.) Happy New Year to him! 

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$2 Dispatch: Sea Witch Tavern

August 5, 2014

Sea Witch: Click to enlarge

Location: Sea Witch Tavern, Brooklyn, NY

Date: December 28, 2013

Transaction: Paid with a $2 bill

This fuzzy photo of a bartender hard at work was generously taken for me by the owner of the drinking establishment (the blurriness is excusable — I hope — by the time and the means: a shaky cell phone at 3 a.m.). Thank you, Mr. Andy Hawkins, for stepping up to the plate.

The bartender shown, David, no longer works at the Sea Witch. And frankly, I had a hard time remembering his reaction in the first place. So Mr. A. Hawkins stepped up yet again and answered my questions about $2 bills and bar ownership. Whatta champ! 

Two Buckaroo: Do you like getting $2 bills in your bar? 

Andy Hawkins: I like them just fine. They break the monetary monotony. 

TB: Do you put $2 bills in the register or somewhere else? Do you give them to customers as change? 

Hawkins: I let them stay in the cash supply; I don’t take them out of the register. I hope the bartenders notice they aren’t $1 bills — if they don’t, it’s only a $1 mistake. I doubt any customers would complain about getting them unless they’re particularly young and/or stupid.

TB: Any memorable customers who repeatedly use them?

Hawkins: Not that I’ve heard. I’ve seen only three $2 bills since opening two and a half years ago. From the bartenders, you’d almost certainly get a range of responses: from total WTF indifference, to a dissertation on what types of people seem to always pay with X type of bills, the condition of the currency and its relation to the customer’s fashion sense and hygiene.… 

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There you have it, folks: A rocker-cum-entrepreneur spills about $2 bills. Imagine — a business owner who’s actually willing to circulate $2 bills just like any other denomination! So go right down to the Sea Witch, folks, and buy a clam roll or something with $2 bills in an effort to spread ‘em around. (Thank you, Andy!)

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$2 Dispatch: Mousey Brown Salon

July 30, 2014

Mousey Brown Salon: Click to enlarge

Location: Mousey Brown Salon, Brooklyn, NY

Date: December 14, 2013

Transaction: Tipped for a haircut with $2 bills

Do hairstylists like $2 bills? Here was my chance to find out.

Here you see Mel, an ace stylist at a great salon in Williamsburg. After I paid for my haircut with regular old cash, I tipped Mel with exclusively $2 bills. Would she be psyched? Would she be angry? 

“How cool is that?!” she said. “I’ll add them to my collection of $2 bills.”

Her collection of $2 bills? Fantastic. I asked her about it. She said that years ago she worked at a men’s salon in midtown Manhattan, where she regularly received $2 bills from one particular man. She would keep them, and now it’s a collection. 

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$2 Dispatch: Rockwood Music Hall

July 28, 2014

Rockwood Music Hall: Click to enlarge

Location: Rockwood Music Hall, NYC

Date: December 10, 2013

Transaction: Used a $2 bill to buy a drink

At an album release show for the fantastic Marcellus Hall, I slipped a $2 bill into my cash transaction at the back bar. The bartender looked at the bill noticeably, but he didn’t say anything. I hovered. When he came back around, I asked him what he’d done with the $2 bill. He said he’d put it in the register under the tray. I asked if he gets them often. He said one “about every other week.” 

Bartender: “I love $2 bills. I used to collect them. You realize they’re still around….”

Me: “Yep. You’re not fazed—”

Bartender: “Naw. A lot of money passes through here. You see ’em. You see old 50s, you see new 50s. You see the new $100 bills that look like we live in the future. They look like Canadian money.”

Does anyone else out there who works with cash get a $2 bill every other week? I’d sure like to know. (Frankly, I don’t buy it.)

1 comment.

$2 Dispatch: Revival

July 24, 2014

Revival: Click to enlarge

Location: Revival, New York, NY

Date: December 9, 2013

Transaction: Tipped for drinks with $2 bills and then purchased drinks with $2 bills

As usual, I wanted to see how a bartender would react to $2 bills. This one didn’t seem friendly, and I thought it was unlikely he’d bother reacting to the bill at all. I was right — at first. Then my buddy Stan Killian, excited about the challenge and about my $2 bill project, cooked up a plan to keep spending them there until something happened. And so we did. Here’s Stan’s take on it: 

* * * * * * * * * *

The seasoned bartender at this bar on East 15 St. seemed unmoved by the $2 bill we’d used. So we decided to keep giving him more of them.

Finally, after giving him his fifth (and final) $2 bill, I detected a slight tremble of the lower lip. So I asked, “Do you get $2 bills often?” He said, “Sometimes, but they’re a real pain in the ass,” and I could tell his mood was about to go south as he washed out the beer glasses. “The banks give us a hard time with these things,” he continued.

I explained the reason for giving him multiple $2 bills, the purpose of Heather’s $2 bill-themed website and the mission to increase the circulation of them. He smiled and changed his tone. “I actually keep two $2 bills in my wallet for good luck,” he said, and he showed them to me (above; click to enlarge). 

Suddenly at the far end of the bar, a half-drunk patron fired back, “No, they’re bad luck!” A two-minute debate proceeded surrounding the supernatural qualities of the $2 bill.

Andres Pascual, a good bartender who thinks the $2 bill is a pain in the ass, but keeps them in his wallet for good luck anyway, was friendly enough to pose for Two Buckaroo.

(Photo taken by Stan Killian…sorry about the flash.)

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$2 Dispatch: Botanica

July 18, 2014

Botanica: Click to enlarge

Location: Botanica, New York, NY

Date: December 4, 2014

Transaction: Paid for a drink with a $2 bill

When a bartender starts a conversation about a $2 bill I’ve just spent, I’m virtually guaranteed a friendly good time. In this case, I used one $2 bill among a few $1 bills to pay for a drink and tip while attending Mr. Fine Wine's weekly soul DJ set. 

Mark the bartender (above; click to enlarge): “Someone came in recently and paid for $12 worth of drinks with $2 bills.”

Me: “What did you do with them? Put them in the register?”

Mark: “No, my girlfriend’s friend traded me for them.”

He said that he and his friend think it would be easy to counterfeit the denomination since “no one sees $2 bills.” 

“I know they’re not part of the regular cycle of printing. Every 10 years…?” said Mark, starting with a perceived statement of fact and changing to total speculation. 

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