Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chumley's Onscreen

The vanished city comes back to us, now and then, in scenes from old movies. You don't expect it, then there it is. You squint at the screen, thinking "Is it?" You recognize a piece of the decor or a certain familiar ambiance. It is.

Watching Woody Allen's lovely 1988 film Another Woman, a scene appears in Chumley's.



Chumley's before the collapse. Chumley's without the Sex & the City girls and the Wall Street guys who discovered it somewhere along the line and made it impossible except on quiet afternoons. Chumley's on a quiet afternoon where a philosophy professor, a stage actor, and a director are drinking together, playing out their drama. One says, "I used to be a devoted Brechtian." And it feels like the Village when the Village was the Village.

You wish the camera would pan across the entire space, capturing every detail of that lost world. But it doesn't. The scene is tight and brief. Then it shifts. It's over. And you remember that it's gone and you can never go back there again.

So you press "rewind."


2006, my flickr

8 comments:

Eve-Carla said...

Gosh, yes, what a beautiful place it as...it pains me to walk past its emptiness today. Woody sure knows how to shoot olde New Yawk. It's hard to think about Chumley's; also, Shopsin's, a few short blocks away is terribly missed, although it still exists in a tiny corner on Essex Street. Not the same, though! Thanks for the footage of a long era gone by...

Doodles said...

AND I DID REWIND! Wanting more....I will never forget the first time I went there...'92 maybe...and loving the wonderful secretiveness...

sallie parker said...

In the 80s Chumley's was a nice oubliette you could surprise your friends with. When I went back to it nine or ten years ago something had changed. Maybe it had been written up too much. There were...outsiders there, maybe tourists too. And Chumley's was offering its own branded beer with quaintsy names like "Biplane Ale" or some such. If they reopen it I hope it will go back to the old ambience. Is that too much?

James Campbell Taylor said...

I think a reason so many of us mourn a New York that is no more is precisely because the city we knew (or think we knew) lives on in film. The movies have helped to enhance our impressions and sensations of New York to the point where they're at the forefront of our daily reality.

Incidentally, "Another Woman" is one of the few Woody Allen movies I've never seen. I assume you recommend it?

Jeremiah Moss said...

i do recommend it. it's a great, quiet film.

Anonymous said...

My parents went to Chumley's when they were dating back in the 70s. I went there with my wife when we were dating. Sad to have seen it go.

Also just watched Another Woman a few weeks ago - a great moment in the film (my favorite) is the scene at Chumley's. It's a watershed moment in the film.

Dave said...

We used to go to Chumley's in the '80's when I lived updtate and came to the city twice a month on business. In those days it was pretty much a quiet, local place where you could relax and have a beer or two at a reasonable price and without a pounding sound system to distrupt conversation. Even fter we moved here in the late '90's we would stop there periodically, although by then it had been "discovered" by the hipsters. Gone but not forgotten and always warmly remembered.

D J R-S said...

Weird. My hi-school classmate, working on his PhD thesis on Heidegger, used to live on Jane street & took me to Chumley's a couple late nights ummm 1981 or 82...he was at Columbia, I was finishing a long-stretched out BA in Drama Lit & Anthropology att NYU-- fancied myself something of a performance artist...