Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dive Bars

In Newsweek this week, Alexander Nazaryan discusses the death of the dive bar in his article "Yuppies Are Killing the Dive Bar."

"All across the land," he writes, "laments have been going up for dive bars in recent years, as beloved establishments pull their last pint, replaced by corporate outposts that are far more morbid than what they’ve replaced. This isn’t a trend; it’s an epidemic."

He lists a few of New York's recent losses, visits the Subway Inn, brings in Joseph Mitchell, and includes a couple quotes from me (“The new New Yorkers skeeve everything that reminds them of aging and death. They want a constantly re-lifted face-lift”).

Nazaryan also speculates on the reason for the dive bar's death:

"The reasons for the disappearance of dive bars can be found in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. No, seriously. The way we drink, where we drink, largely reflects how educated we are, how much money we have, whether we even have the leisure time for unhurried bibulous consumption. The death of the dive suggests that we don’t drink together anymore, as a single nation yearning for a quick post-work respite or Saturday-afternoon escape. The rich can pay several hundred dollars for a single coveted shot of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve; the poor, meanwhile, drink Cobra out of paper bags and Miller Lite in busted lawn chairs. The dive bar used to be for those in the middle, those who had a little money and a little time, not to mention a little curiosity about the human race: the mid-level bank manager, the cop, the teacher, the hopeful writer, the waitress. They dove together into the sloppy democracy of cheap beer."

Check out the whole article here--it's a good read.


Anonymous said...

A somewhat similar and sad situation in London as traditional pubs have been forced out due to real estate costs,luxurification forces and also sale to chains

Anonymous said...

It's great to see that the mainstream press is actually recognizing this, and recognizing it as 'an epidemic'. It's not just us cranky, negative, old New Yorkers bitching about the past, this is a real, in some ways unprecedented, erosion of urban culture. New York and apparently many other major cities across the country are turning into one giant Stepford Wife. It's just a reflection of the public at large who are blindly buying into the consumerist dystopia.

Anonymous said...

There used to be several friendly dive bars here in North Brooklyn, but they were recently overrun by young rich kids who blow in in packs of twenty and turn the place into their private event space, and stifling any previous conversation. Now, the new bar owners cater more to this yuppie dining-hall mentality than to a refuge for the working class, whatever that is.
New "dive bars" are created as such for the yuppies as a "real New York" meta-urban experience.

Anonymous said...

This is a national problem. The same loss of dives as well as hypergentrification. Esquire and GQ have written about this. The places that still good dives are smaller cities and towns. Big city dives are disappearing
I was in LA this summer and saw this problem there also.

laura r. said...

this is not unique to NY or the US but world wide. corps & chains pay higher rents. as for a fancy restaurant, i would rather see that than a cellphone store. none of this has to do w/bloomburg yunnies, republicans, or any rationale this forum uses. the bottom line is oneworld govt. small businesses are being pushed aside including the dive bar.

3:48 p.m. said...

There is a revival of the dive bars by the yuppies and foodies, except that there's a red velvet rope and bouncer/security guard and drinks costing $25. And soon handcrafted, “consciously” sourced, Maine sea-salted caramelfruit flies on your drink or on the side will be extra for $3/fly.

laura r. said...

3:48PM, the "revival" does not make it a dive bar. it is a (soon to be) historical high end interpretation.

Anonymous said...

The bar in the is the King Eddy in LA. It reopened recently after the new owners 'upgraded' it. The prices went up and they no longer open at 6am. Its located adjacent to LAs notorious skid row. If the author thinks its a dive now he's mistaken.

imnotbobby said...

Dive bars are the worst though, the absolute worst. http://stuffyouarenotallowedtonotlike.blogspot.com/2009/10/7-dive-bars.html

On another note, I kind of object to the blog on principle. What has always distinguished New York is it recycling of the old and transformation into the new. That place you lament the loss of of course displaced some other institution beloved by a prior generation and venerated as the "real" New York. The only real New York is that which changes, displaces, transforms, tears down and builds up. That's the blood and great strength of this city. So yeah, that place that you remember getting high and writing poetry at in 1997 is gone. So what? Every time some "institution" closes, I hear another dirge about how New York isn't the same anymore. That couldn't be further from the truth. 9 times out of 10 that place isn't more than 20 or 30 years old. The desire to preserve this city is indistinguishable from the desire to embalm it, to mummify it. What makes New York the quantum and ecstatic place that it has always been is its unflinching capacity to let go of the old and try something new out. That new thing always, itself, grows old and that cycle begins anew. It's beautiful and is to be encouraged not decried.