Back in 2007, I interviewed Reed Korach about his film New York Lost. Now Reed is back with a second project, New York Dive, chronicling the life and the loss of New York City's favorite dive bars. Still in progress, it will be a feature-length film and Reed hopes to finish by early 2011.
He and his co-director and cinematographer John Brunetti were inspired to make the film by a visit to Rudy's in Hell's Kitchen. Said Reed, "I realized this was one of the last real bars left in Manhattan that has a variety of real New York characters. There was a fight outside...and this prompted us to see what was going on. We were greeted by the sounds of Metallica's 'Enter the Sandman,' and roasting hot dogs and cheap beers. It was like a godsend compared to the $7 beers next door. It was like traveling back in time."
at Rudy's in Hell's Kitchen
In the film, a Rudy's regular says, "It would be devastating if one day they're closing the place, and you know when the lease it out, then Starbucks coming in, with a lot of money, and then you have all this plastic shit coming in, one after another, and nobody needs these fucking stores... it becomes too much Yuppietown."
But dive bars do close, as we know, and Yuppietown sweeps into their place. Recently, Ruby's of Coney Island was given the boot after 76 years on the boardwalk. Reed and Brunetti feature Ruby's in their film, talking to one regular who's been drinking at Ruby's for 69 years.
Old-time regular at Ruby's in Coney Island
They also visit the Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge, Holland Bar, J. Mac's, Superdive ("totally fake" say the filmmakers), and Max Fish. "We also filmed quite a few yuppie bars on the LES to differentiate between the two atmospheres." A yuppie bar is definitely not a dive.
On film, a regular at the Holland Bar defines the "dive" as "a cheap bar, not painted up to look good and shit. You get good drinks for the price of your money." And as the bartender says, "I have the real New Yorkers here, not your la-di-da-la-la-la."
at the Holland Bar
At the (possibly 100-year-old) Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge in Brooklyn, which is currently being demolished, a gal explains, "people come here, some people need somebody actually to sit and talk, it's not just all about the dancing and feeling up on nobody. Some people just need that common, you know, communication."
That common communication is exactly what you find at a dive bar. What will happen when they are all washed away and replaced with Shake Shacks and artisanal cupcake shops?
The Navy Yard
The filmmakers both agree, "It would be a real punch in the stomach" to see more of the city's beloved dives disappear. "These are the places that portray what the real New York is all about, in my opinion--life-long New Yorkers and sociable people, unlike today's generation."
View the extended trailers for New York Dive here and here.
Ruby's son-in-law, sharing memories
More dives on VNY:
Holiday Cocktail Lounge (rescued)
Holland Bar (rescued)