Wednesday, April 9, 2008
WHERE HAVE ALL THE DIVE BARS GONE?
Long time passing....I started thinking about this while having a beer at my Brooklyn neighborhood haunt, Angry Wades. Then, I realized, Wade's used to be a dive bar itself at the corner of Smith and Douglas. It was a latin joint called Carlitos Way. I remember walking in their when I arrived in Brooklyn in 1996 looking for a local place to hang my hat. I'll never forget the eerie silence when my yuppie self strolled through the front door and walked over the sticky formica floors. Now that's a dive bar.
Dive bars in Brooklyn and elsewhere around the city are becoming harder to find, mainly because of gentrification. That's brought in higher rents and a more refined upscale crowd that's looking for a lounge rather than a dive. For me, I like dives. Here's a list of some of the best that remain. This is by no means a complete list of the city's dive bars, but a look at five I particularly like and a tribute to those that in this age of gentrification continue to survive. Feel free to comment on your faves.
5) Nancy's Whiskey Pub. The corner of Hudson and Lispenard in Manhattan. I first found this place on September 11th, 2001. I had been covering the World Trade Center attacks and was forced by police to move away from ground zero. I was also looking for a payphone. I found a payphone and cheap beer at this place. It's right across from a police station, so some of the cops drop in on ocassion and everyone seems friendly enough.
4) Johnny's Bar. 90 Greenwich st. in the Village .This is a tiny little joint and my fondest memories are of a big black pitbull and its owner who used to sit at the bar near the window. One day the dog spotted a friendly face at the other end of the bar and proceeded to jump up and over the bar, run down the back of it and leap over the other end landing on top of the guy and knocking him off his chair to the ground. The dog then proceeded to lick his face.
3) Rudy's Bar. 627 9th Ave. in Hells Kitchen. Hells Kitchen used to have some of the best dives in the city, but because of gentrification and a growing gay population in the neighborhood, some of the best dives are gone. Rudy's remains. I never really went there much, but when I did, I always enjoyed the cheap beer and free, yes I said, free hotdogs.
2) Blarney Rock. West 33rd st between 7th and 6th avenues. I've spent a lot of time in this authentic 1960's era Irish bar. This is what dive bars are all about. Good bartenders (ask for Mike or Ray), great conversation, sports on big screen t.v.'s, foul and rude banter, a slight stentch of old beer, decent food and an electrical system that looks like its been pieced together by blind men.
1) Montero's. 73 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn Heights. Ok, this is the real deal. Although I only ocassionally wandered into this dump, Montero's is rich in seafaring history. Back in 1947, when the place was built, the bar was home to hundreds of dockworkers who worked just a few blocks away on Brooklyn's waterfront. It's nautical decor keeps those memories alive. This place is a melting pot of crackheads, yuppies, old Italians and neighborhood folk. Here's what else makes this place a dive: The bar opens at 8:00AM. The drinks are cheap and I'll miss "Poncho" the parrot that lived inside for so many years. He recently died. Ah, if that parrot could talk. That's the thing, he did! Maybe he was offed by some local mobster who didn't want the tweety snitchin on some godforsaken event that surely took place in that joint.