Interesting observations. I never worked as a bartender, but I once took a tour of the Buckman Tavern, up in Lexington MA, which is right next to the Green where they started the Revolution.
The Buckman Tavern (and all taverns of the day) was exactly the place you describe. It was a trading post of information. When you arrived in town, you showed up at the tavern to check out the latest buzz.
Around that time, that was the 2007 era - I imagined the DP as something like the Buckman Tavern.
Now it is more like a seedy, broken down joint in Chinatown. There's a lot of brawlers at the bar. They like to get drunk and start fights. But there are the regulars in the back. Lurking. Keeping an eye on things.
I have some more observations on the book in a new comment (which I am about to write) above.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
- Alan Watts
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