Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Bars Bite the Dust

            News came out this week that Motor City, a bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is closing. Motor City was a good bar, though honestly it had been years since I’d been. It could be hit or miss. It could be full of trendy yuppies or full of punk rockers or metal heads on any given night. I’d spent much time drinking there with punk rock friends but sometimes I’d go and leave before I could even get a drink because it was full of rude people in their Upper East Side finery. You could buy someone a drink even if they weren’t there. They had a chalk board and would write the name of the person and the drink you bought them. And when I’d leave a drink for “Mike Dynamite” or “Knick Knickers,” the bartenders knew who I meant.

            The Lower East Side is nothing like it was when I was a youth. I’m still amazed at the fancy hotels and wine bars that now sit where there used to be flop houses and hoards of homeless. But for many Motor City was one last vestige of drinkable grit in an area of New York that once boasted grit and toughness as its major charm.

            Possibly worse news was that Coney Island’s Cha-Cha’s is gone for good as well. Cha-Cha’s was a beach bum’s dive on quickly gentrifying Coney Island. It was troubled even before Hurricane Sandy and Sandy put the final nail in the coffin of the pace, even though there had been plans to reopen. It was full of leather-skinned, salty beach people who were glad to spend their days getting blind drunk at the beach. It was a bastion of authentic Coney Island sleaze and booze. And they even had live music. It was a pleasant place to be when you were at Coney Island, a sign that the old times were still alive in some way. Not that’s gone also.

            We’ve gotten used to it now, places closing. It no longer fazes us. The churning engine of real estate capitalism built New York, and spares no one in its money-fueled gallop. There is no sentimentality in calculating the bottom line. If they could tear down Yankee Stadium without a fight; nothing is sacred. 

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