Salty Air

R.I.P. Otis O’Kernick – Falmouth’s Bartender

Written by Brian Tarcy


FALMOUTH – One of the most well-known bartenders from Falmouth’s heyday in the 1980s, and a friend of Cape Cod Wave, has gone to serve drinks to the angels.

Steve “Otis” O’Kernick, longtime friend of Cape Cod Wave and one of the few people who knew of our harebrained plan for this online magazine before we went live, died on Wednesday, May 17. He will be missed by many.

As we mentioned in a story on the Towne Tavern closing in 2014, if you had fun in Falmouth in the 1980s, there’s a good chance you were served by a big smiling man named Otis. He was also a bartender at the Casino-By-The-Sea, and at Amigos Mexican Restaurant.

I (Brian) didn’t know Otis back then, although I am sure I bought a beer from him at more than one of those places. I didn’t meet him until years later, playing softball in Woods Hole with an amazing group of hippies and sailors and schoolteachers and scientists and doctors and laborers, and even a Navy Seal.

Back then, Otis was one of the guys you didn’t want to play third base against. Lots of people who played softball against him knew this. If he hit the ball at you, it might kill you.


Otis Okernick… If you had fun in the 1980s in Falmouth, Otis most likely helped.

And yet with all of that power, it turned out once you got to know him, no one was a bigger Teddy Bear. He was one of those special people that Falmouth seems to have, the guy who will do anything for you.

And after a long career in bartending, Otis had a second career working for Edwards Interior Decorating, where he helped make many of Famouth’s finer homes look even more beautiful.

He was also a fun-loving bass player in a couple of popular bands, playing originals and covers.

This is being posted not because Otis was a friend of Cape Cod Wave, but because we’re pretty sure he was friends with about half the town.

We are extremely sad to have lost a great friend, but feel lucky to have known such an original. Our thoughts go out to his children, Kellie & Steve and to all of his many friends, as well as his bandmates from Plan B and Paradise Rock.

Finally, Otis was one of the funniest people I have ever met, and perhaps the quickest witted.

I found on my computer one last bit of Otis that will, I’m sure, resonate with a few folks in town who knew of that humor. Otis always talked about his fictitious idea of the world’s worst boss, a guy named Lee Kabooby, who wrote a book called “Compliments Are Cheaper Than Cash.”

Well, in a different life before Cape Cod Wave, I used to ghostwrite books for people. One day, Otis and I sat down and hashed out a short outline of Lee Kabooby’s book. Afterwards, Otis became involved in other things and I forgot about it too.

But here it is, a rough draft of pretend book proposal outline by Otis and myself from several years back.

Rest in Peace, my friend.


My name is Lee Kabooby and I am a bad boss. I am the greatest bad boss ever and now I am a bad boss consultant. I did not become Lee Kabooby by sitting around waiting for awesome things to happen to me. I stole from a charity.

Then I bought a company, cut everyone’s wages and eliminated all but one of the toilets. Employees at my company are required to pitch into the “Toilet Paper Fund,” which I pilfer and use as drinking money. It’s not much – shit money really. I just piss it away.

Yes, I am Lee Kabooby and I am a go-getter and if you don’t like it, get going and start your own company. But first buy my book because the world needs more bad bosses…


A Guide For Bad Bosses

by Lee Kabooby



  1. Your third house is more important than their third child
  2. You need more vacation than all of them together
  3. Refuse to sexually harass ugly people
  4. Catch them with drugs and you get their drugs!
  5. Laugh at their ideas, and then steal them
  6. Talking temper tantrums


  1. Keep them confused; chaos is your friend
  2. Empty promises are better than an empty checkbook, and keeping promises sets bad precedent
  3. The best ways to say, “The check is in the mail”


  1. You do Nothing and the employees get Nothing
  2. Say Nothing bad to strangers and Nothing good to employees
  3. Invest in Nothing and complain that Nothing works


  1. Be mean to leverage the value of compliments
  2. Befriend and then betray
  3. Turn hypocrisy into bureaucracy
  4. Get rich by saying, “Great job!”

APPENDIX – Giving Compliments As Holiday Bonuses

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About the author

Brian Tarcy

Brian Tarcy is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. He is a longtime journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the Cape Cod Times and several other publications. He is the author of "YOU CAN'T SELL RIGHT FIELD; A Cape Cod Novel." He is also the author or co-author of more than a dozen mostly non-fiction books, including books with celebrity athletes Cam Neely, Tom Glavine and Joe Theisman. His previous book was, "ALMOST: 12 Electric Months Chasing A Silicon Valley Dream" with Hap Klopp,who created the iconic brand, The North Face.
For more information, see
Brian is a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan with a long-running NFL predictions/political satire column connecting weekly world events to the fate of his favorite team, now at


  • What an honor to have been a friend and fellow band mate of Otis! Rock the heavens brother, Love ya!

  • Joe rocha Otls was one Great human and friend you could ever have. I’ll never forget how much love a friend could give to me. I know there is a heaven it just became funnier. I love you and I will see you some day! PS you can’t cook

  • The gentle giant, that’s about the only way to explain Otis (Boom Boom’s) demeanor. I worked with Otis for many years, he actually made going to work fun, if you can believe that. Otis was also a pretty good baseball player, can you imagine someone that big playing third base, I’m still in awe of that one. Otis you were loved by more people then you could have ever imagined, and I’m one of them. Otis I am honored to have had you as a friend, you did it the right way. God bless you Boom Boom.

  • Nice piece, Brian. I’m guessing I bought a beer from Otis, too, and I’m glad I wasn’t in the infield when he was at the plate.

  • All of this, I would say everything here sounds like the Otis I grew up with back in Canfield Ohio where he had the nickname of Bloot. I remember him on the softball field throwing just about a line drive from center field to home plate with a beer in one hand.

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