Entries in Dive Bars (3)


November 10, 2011

(This was originally going to be put up yesterday, but I heard the news of Fedora’s passing and wanted to put up a tribute to her. So here this is, a day later.)

It’s Tuesday which means it’s the night to go out in search of a swizzle stick.
Although I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be getting one tonight, it’s more of a mission of curiosity and dread.

Last week, Fat Al put up a disturbing post over at The Half Empty Glass, check it out here: Oh, this had better not be true. Fat Al reported that Eater had posted that the legendary Upper East Side dive bar, the Subway Inn had closed. After several frightened comments and yours fooly offering to buy everyone a McRib sandwich, Fat Al’s calmer partner in crime, anonymous271 left this comment: “Chill out. They’ve re-opened. They were simply closed for renovations. Not sure what a renovation in the Subway Inn would look like, applying new duct tape to the booths?”

The word, “Renovations,” kind of sends a chill down my spine. I hope they didn’t fancy it up too much. Let’s go check it out, I'm praying the Marilyn Monroe pictures made the cut.

Well, here we are, the outside looks unchanged. I love the neon here. Let's go inside and check it out.

Well, this is a pleasant surprise, it looks exactly the same, let's get a drink.

And here's Cesar, the same bartender who served me when I came here on the 365 bar crawl. When I walked in he pointed to me and shouted out, "It's the bar guy!" Ha, a true sign of a classic bartender is remembering his customers and Cesar is clearly a master of that. Here he is serving up the double gin and tonic.

There's no swizzle stick, but there is a straw and as Cesar pointed out, it's a bendable straw, so they get points for that. Cesar also told me that they were closed for maintenance issues, not renovations. He said a few leaky pipes had to be fixed. Let's go take a look around this classic joint.

Here's the well stocked supply lit up behind the bar.

Marilyn looks down at the baseball caps, hardhats and various tchotchkes adorning the top of the bar.

I love the greenish, nuclear look the booths have from the bare fluorescent light bulbs hanging to the side of them.

In the Subway Inn, the night once again surrenders to Michelob. Time to party like it's 1986!

Another classic Marilyn picture, beautiful!

The bar is crowded for a Tuesday night.

Drinks lined up at the bar. There's always at least two shot glasses on the bar at the Subway Inn.

And yet another shot of Marilyn...

And a glance out the front window and it's time to leave. Nice to see some things remain the same in New York City. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

Further reading: EV Grieve, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and 365 Bars.

Maybe you think that love was made for fools,
So it makes you wise to break the rules.

(Surprise link...click on it...I dare you!)


November 2, 2011

It’s Tuesday night, the night I go to a bar and see if I can score a swizzle stick with a drink. Mad commenter and quote supplier, ragin’ rr, had a good idea about going to bars that I was originally headed to on my 365 bar crawl last year, but never quite made it there for one reason or the other. He’s even compiling a list for me and I’m going to start hitting some of them soon. Tonight, though, I’m heading to a bar that’s close to work and on my way home. I decided to go to the Blarney Stone on 9th, it’s probably my second favorite Blarney Stone (my favorite can be found somewhere on this post, see if you can find it!) and it’s moments away. You’ll see.

See, here we are already, let’s go in and get a drink or three.

This was the 355th bar that I went to on my bar crawl last year. I was in here about 11 months ago. You can look at pictures of the bar here: Blarney Stone. It hasn’t changed at all, so there's no reason to take more pictures. It’s crowded in here and it’s not a crowd that I would assume would be too happy about a flash going off in their faces. Half of the crowd appears to be grizzled night shift workers from the nearby post office and the other half  look like they may be faces from the wanted posters in the same post office, so I’m going to take some mental snap shots and post them below.

Snap: I order up a double gin and tonic and the bartender dutifully brings it to me. There’s no swizzle stick and that’s not much of a shock. He kind of looks like a grizzled version of Flip Wilson. I pay for the drink and throw him a two buck tip and he scoops the cash up and thanks me. It’s crowded in here with heavy drinkers. The bar is an old school dive bar, it’s dark and the walls are dotted with aged pictures of sports stars from years ago. There’s a flat board internet jukebox on the wall near the Buck Hunter game in the back that is really out of sync with the place. House music is blaring out of it and people are shouting over the top of the dance music. There’s a back room with a pool table that no one is using, all the action is up here in the front room.

Snap: I notice that the place has a unique scent of a combination of three year old beer, that grade school Lysol/sand smell that they use when a kid throws up and just a hint of a dung/barnyard scent. I feel a little sick and try not to breath through my nose.

Snap: The drunken guy sitting to my left is slurring into my ear in between gulps from his tumbler of whiskey. I patiently nod my head up and down and don’t bother to tell him I’m deaf in that ear. After a few more drinks from his tumbler he falls silent and falls into a drunken stupor and is just staring down at the bar. I’m guessing he’ll pass out within the half hour.

Snap: A fat black woman with a shaved head drunkenly stumbles into me and asks if I have a cigarette. Her breath smells worse than the bar and I tell her that I don’t have any. She then proceeds to drunkenly ask if I’d like to have a “good time.” I thank her and tell her I that I’m already having a wonderful time and I don’t want to overdo it. She looks puzzled and I tell her I have a heart condition. A frightened look colors her face and she moves to a drunken guy at the end of the bar. They appear to be hitting it off and I’m happy for them.

Snap: I order another double gin and tonic and the bartender tells me his name is Corey. I tell him my name is Marty and we shake hands. Before we can get into any small talk, Corey has to run and throw out a woman who is attacking the ATM machine in the corner. Corey escorts her out the door, comes back to the bar and tells me it can get a little nuts in here some nights.

Snap: The loud, raging music, the yelling and the smell has given me a headache. I drink my drink, leave Corey a tip and gather up my things to leave. On my way out I wink at the good time woman and she smiles and winks back. A nice ending to a somewhat crazy evening in New York City.

Blarney Stone
340 9th Ave (Between 29th and 30th)

Further reading: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, EV Grieve, and Grade “A” Fancy.

Freak out!

(Surprise link...click on it...I dare you!)


May 11, 2011

The other day I was perusing blogs and was looking at pictures over at the fine photo blog, Musings by Melanie. One of her posts was titled, “Joe’s Bar in the EV.” In this day and age of wacky-ass theme bars, it’s nice to see a bar simply named, Joe’s Bar. According to New York magazine they’ve got a great country jukebox and they’ve made it a “Critics Pick.” I don’t know how I missed this place on my bar crawl last year, but seeing as tonight is “Swizzle Stick Tuesday,” I’d say it’s high time we paid Joe’s Bar a visit!

A view of the Empire State building from the block where I work. Goddamn, it's still pretty chilly out here for May.

We'll be taking the F train from Herald Square. I always wonder why this area is named "Herald Square?" I secretly hope it's for the character of Herold Heckuba from Gilligan's Island, but sadly, it's probably not.

Holy freaking shitballs, I just got down here and here's a train! I've been having great luck with trains lately. I hope this is the F train.

Yes! The "F" on this train stands for "Fuckin' Ada!"

Well now, this fellow has certainly made himself at home here. Nighty noodles!

Hmmm...it appears I've entered a sleeper cell.

Okay, here we are at Houston St., just a few blocks to Joe's Bar from here.

And here we are, Joe's Bar. It looks great, a nice, dark bar, Al would love this place! Let's go check it out.

Sadly, there are no swizzle sticks in here, just the shitty little plastic stirrers. The place however is a classic old school, New York dive bar. But the sadness continues as bartender Jamie informs me you can't take pictures in here. The owners frown on it and Jamie would get into trouble if I snapped any, so I took one of my drink and put my camera away. I don't want to get anyone in trouble. I can, however, share the following mental photographs with you. Sometimes words are worth a thousand photos.

Click: I walk in. It’s dark in here. A small, well-worn dark L-shaped wooden bar is situated at the front of the place and there’s a pool table, a jukebox and a few tables scattered in the back. It feels like the past in here. You kind of expect Travis Bickle to come out of the bathroom at any minute and wait for Dee Dee Ramone to come in and order Blackberry Brandy. Nobody has a cell phone out, there’s no one texting anyone and it feels delightfully like 1977.

Click: I take a seat at one of the stools in the middle of the bar. There’s three others at the bar, all tending their drinks quietly. I order a double gin and tonic and soak in the atmosphere. I notice a deer head poking its way out of a wall behind me. Four kids are playing pool and laughing. I immediately feel at home and relaxed. It’s the perfect place for a double gin and tonic, even though the  swizzle stick sucks.

Click: Bartender Jamie and I talk about writing. He’s written and published a book, which if memory serves me correctly is called “666 Ways To Get To Heaven.” But bar memories are sometimes a little blurry, especially while drinking double gin and tonics, so don’t quote me on that.

Click: I go to the jukebox, a real jukebox, not some internet confusing piece of shit. It vomits my five dollar bill back twice and Jamie gives me singles to feed it. Some selections I chose: “Buckaroo” by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra, “Highway to Hell,” by AC/DC, “I Fall To Pieces” by Patsy Cline and “Call Me Lightning,” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It’s a great jukebox!

Click: When I return, Jamie introduces me to Pauly, who’s taken residence of the stool next to me. Pauly’s a bald guy with a rubbery, friendly face. He tells me he was born on 18th Street and has lived on St. Marks place for the last 40-something years. He tells me I don’t want to know what he pays for rent and I believe him. He’s drinking red wine and buys me a drink. Jamie warns him that I’m drinking, “tall ones, doubles” and Pauly doesn’t hesitate and buys me one anyway. Pauly points to the pool table where a cute, red-haired girl who doesn’t look old enough to be in here is taking a shot. Her ass is up in the air and Pauly and I clink glasses to that. Our conversation whips and weaves through New York stories and the movie, “The Hustler”—did you know there’s only two people still alive who had dialogue in that movie? Pauly does, but I forget their names. I’m on my fourth double gin and tonic by now. Soon we’re discussing old TV shows...“All In the Family,” “The Odd Couple,” “Barney Miller.” Jamie throws out that his first celebrity sighting was Abe Vigoda on 7th Street years ago. Pauly jabs me and points towards the pool table. The redhead's ass is up in the air again. Pauly is grinning ear to ear and it’s infectious.

Click: Time to feed the jukebox again: “Something Stupid” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, “Sing Me Back Home” by Merle Haggard, “Wooly Bully” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and “Tiger by the Tail” by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos.

Click: Back to my perch at the bar. Pauly leans in and tells me he’s retiring from his doorman gig in six months and moving to Las Vegas and buying a condo. He’s never been to Las Vegas in his life and asks if I know anything about it. And he’s moving there. I love this guy!

Click: I buy Pauly a glass of wine and have a final double gin and tonic. I’m a little buzzed by now and enjoying hearing, “Something Stupid” floating out of the jukebox. It’s dark and the quiet guy in a NY Yankees baseball cap to my right is nursing a Budweiser and eating potato chips. He hasn’t said a word since he came in, except to order a beer and a bag of chips. The redhead’s ass is up in the air again and Pauly is observing it and smiling ear to ear, his Silly Putty, rubber-dubbery face is all a-glow. All is well in Joe’s Bar.
Joe’s Bar
520 E. 6th St. (Near Ave. A)

Further reading: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, New York on Tap, Village Voice and Time Out New York.

You might also like: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Time.

Five Joes
Joe “Mama” Besser
Joe Friday
Joe Cool
Cup of Joe

The time is right your perfume fills my head, the stars get red,
And oh the night's so blue.


(Surprise link...click on it...I dare you!)