28 June 2006

Barbarian at the Dive Bar Gate

The other night, I was holding up a section of the bar at Jimmy's Corner, the last great dive in Times Square, drinking a Sam Adams, listening to the random output of what may be the best juke box in Manhattan (Chi-Lites, King Curtis, Stylistics, Billy Paul), when Mr. Clean Cut Connecticut engaged me in conversation.

Are there any other bars like this around here, he asked? Nope. Last one. Gentrification drove them out. He was sad. He gravitated toward these "scummy" dens no matter what city he was in. Well, good for him. Said he lived in Fairfield with his wife and three-year-old girl. Was staying at boutique hotel a couple blocks north. He was in real estate, whatever that meant.

Then he mentioned he actually owned the hotel he was staying at. Oh. That's convenient. Owned another nearby. Uh huh. Was developing a condo highrise on Flatbush in Brooklyn. $750,000 a unit. Great. Where'd I go to school? Northwestern, in Evanston, IL. Hey! He owns the Orrington Hotel, just across the street from the campus. I said I knew it well. He said, Oh, it's much nicer now than when you were there. (Funny, I remember it being pretty nice.)

Talked with this guy for 45 minutes, mainly because he bought me a beer and I felt obliged. What I wanted to say was: Stop building your ritzy boutique hotels and condo highrises, and these dive bars you love won't be driven out of business, you land-raiding fuck. What I said instead was "You know what you should do? Buy this building. Save this bar. That would be a good deed." That was the polite Midwestern version.

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