There are a number of interesting bars in this area and I thought I would explore a few of them. Another kind of grey, rainy day and it seemed appropriate. For some reason if you ever see this neighborhood depicted in a film it is always either a grey, rainy day or it is night.
525) Port Authority Bowling Alley
This is a typical bowling alley bar, which means a bit on the tacky side. They have done a nice job remodeling the bowling alley itself, but it looks like they pretty much forgot about the bar. The bar itself has a red Formica top with a fairly wide light wood edging/armrest. The front of the bar is light grey with a raised pattern of small white circles. The bar chairs are light wood with turquoise seats. The floor immediately surrounding the bar is dark turquoise and light grey square tiles. The rest of the floor is covered with a kind of ratty dark patterned coffee that was thread bare in many places and suitably stained. Metal, somewhat industrial looking lights hang over the bar. The fanciest thing in here was a large, detailed model of a four-masted sailing vessel in a Plexiglas case that sat on one end of the bar. This was kind of appropriate because this is Fleet Week in New York and there are a lot of ships and sailors in town. There was a bowling tournament for sailors that pitted teams from the various sailing vessels against each other. The stuff behind the bar was pretty plain as well, dark grey wooden shelving and metal ice-chests for the beer. The rest of the place is outfitted with a few diner type tables and diner type turquoise and red booths.
One neat thing they have here is beer towers. These are tall glass cylinders about six inches in diameter that hold three pitchers of beer. There is a spigot at the bottom for pouring the beer. These are ordered from the waitresses in the bowling area and then you can set them on the tables behind your seats. One bad thing is that they have a policy of charging you a fairly still price for a shot of any kind of booze. That isn’t so bad, it is New York after all. What makes no sense at all is that if you order a drink that calls for more than one kind of liquor (can you say cocktail) you have to pay the full price for each shot of a different booze that it calls for. Obviously nobody in their right mind would ever order that type of cocktail here. I seriously doubt if anyone would go here for a drink unless they were bowling, or The Bar Man.
A soldier in fatigues made a sweep through the place with a very large German Shepard. A few minutes later another soldier, this time a female, similarly attired with an equally large dog made another sweep. I was kind of hoping for a dust-up between the members of the various branches of the service but nothing happened.
I had a bottle of Bass Ale.
526) Jimmy’s Corner
This is a place that you might easily pass by as you walk along 44th. I spotted it the other day when I went to St. Andrews and made a mental note to return. The opportunity presented itself today. It is located at 144 West 44th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue. It is owned by Jimmy Glenn, who is a professional trainer of boxers. As you might imagine the walls are covered with aging photographs and other memorabilia that he has collected over the years. The surface of the bar is covered with a decoupage of newspaper photos and other pictures of boxers. The place is quite narrow and fairly deep.
The bartender was a friendly fellow and he explained that the house drink was a special concoction called Jimmy’s Hurricane. Apparently this is the special concoction of that Jimmy dreamed up one day when he thought he should have a signature drink. I might have to stop in to try it one day, but today was not that day. The Jukebox is supposed to be one of the best in the city, at least according to the bartender and a review of jukeboxes by the Village Voice. The selections have been personally compiled by Jimmy.
Similar to my feelings about St. Andrew’s, this is the type of bar you want to visit if you visit New York and Times Square. This bar hasn’t changed much since it opened about thirty years ago, except perhaps for more clutter and stuff on the walls. I had a draft Becks.
Whoot, another great dive bar over at 538 9th Avenue. And what a classic this place is. In fact I would have to say it is the quintessential New York dive bar and appropriately located hard by the bus terminal. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a dive bar in the very best of ways. The furniture, what little there is, dark booths mostly, as well as the bar-stools are old and beat up. I think there might have been a couch in the back too. The bar has a turquoise Formica top. Absolutely nothing fancy behind the bar but pictures of old-time strippers, Betty Paige in particular, hang high on the wall behind the bar. I understand they also play videos of Betty Paige doing her thing. There are also posters of rather cheesy movies both behind the bar and on the opposite one as well. The one that caught my eye was for “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. I have a refrigerator magnet of the same poster. Paper plates on the bar with a selection of potato chips and cheese doodles were a nice touch. The last place I saw that combination was at Montero’s in Brooklyn. The drinks here are supposed to be quite cheap but the bartender actually bought me mine. When he heard this was my 527th bar he said he was going to play the number. I guess the number 527 has been a long time favorite of the owner’s. Life is strange.
The clientele here about what you might expect, but a decent enough bunch. There was an interesting woman of a certain age, well beyond mine; I am sure, quietly drinking at one end of the bar of guys at the other end. I understand that this place is a bit of a favorite with the reporters at the nearby Daily News.
An interesting bit of trivia, and coincidence. When I was wondering where to have my 500th bar celebration I got an email from Jimmy Duff, who now has a bar in Brooklyn named Duff’s, inviting me to have it there. I am certainly going to visit his place but because he opened late and it is a bit out of the way for me, in Williamsburg, I decided upon The Gate instead. Anyway, as it turned out, he used to be involved with Bellevue and when he left he apparently took a great deal of heavy metal memorabilia with him, so that might explain why the walls were a bit on the barren side.
If you need to go to the bathroom this is a good place to check out. The bathroom is built into a large, thankfully no longer in use, walk-in freezer.
I had a bottle of Heineken and headed home.
Tomorrow might prove to be an interesting day. A film crew from ARD GermaNTV is going to follow me around for a piece that will be airing in Germany next Wednesday. They are going to show up at my place at about 11:00 A.M. to film me building a blog and then follow me around to a couple of bars. TV trickery, they are filming me creating a blog before I actually go to the bars with them so the TV crew can leave early for the Memorial Day weekend. Well, "Raging Bull" was filmed in reverse chronolgical order because it was easier for Robert DeNiro to lose weight than to gain it so I guess this is okay.