Entries in Joe's Bar (1)


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.


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