One of the last vestiges of the real, old New York remaining in Times Square is Jimmy's Corner. Don't worry, it's not vanishing, as far as I know.
A snug dive on 44th, dedicated to the sweet science of boxing, it's "exactly the kind of place where a stranger might walk up to you and ask you to step outside--the kind of place where almost anything could happen," writes Brendan Patrick Hughes in Mr. Beller's Neighborhood.
When you step inside, the misery of tourist-clogged New Times Square, with its bland gruel of flashing TV screens and family-friendly fare, all falls away. It just disappears. The door closes behind you and everything else ceases to exist. You are suddenly in New York again.
The regulars are talking and it's a pleasure just to sit and listen:
"When my wife had another girl, I resented it at first. I wanted a boy! Then I saw she had 10 fingers and 10 toes, and I just thanked God for another healthy baby. Did you know, my aunt told me this, back in the day, people were so ignorant, when she had her fifth girl, her husband beat her up. Because he wanted a boy and she didn't deliver! People were ignorant back then."
"You know what they say? They say it takes a real man to make a girl than it does to make a boy."
"Is that right?"
Jimmy's wife, Swannie, is the only woman at the bar. She's fixing the drinks. A photo of her hangs on the wall, in an article naming the bar an essential part of New York. Today she's talking about the city's habit of tearing up the streets.
"They're always fixing the streets," she says, "but the streets don't get any better."
The regulars agree. They talk about pensions, they talk about retirement. One man says he's tired of breaking rocks. He's too old for breaking rocks. And, by the way, did you hear, now the city's eliminating entire bus routes.
"I hear they're eliminating a lot of things," says Swannie.
And isn't that the truth? Times Square betrayed McHale's and dumped the Rum House--it's only a matter of time before Jimmy's is threatened with a knock-out, too. When that day comes, let's hope they put up a mean fight.