We've been going to NYC a ton lately, almost exclusively to Manhattan, and we've gotten a little bored by how clean and sterile everything seems to be. I even tried Hell's Kitchen, the Lower East Side and The Bowery, but still- a Starbucks and/or American Apparel on every corner, it seems.
Living where I do, I see some really BAD dive bars and other business establishments that I cannot believe are still open, given the sorry state of their exteriors. But I did not expect to see this phenomenon in a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn (DUMBO). Well, it wasn't exactly IN the trendy neighborhood, perhaps, but certainly "adjacent," and definitely within stumbling distance of Williamsburg hipsters in pricey lofts who love slumming in places like this.
Yesterday, we walked several miles, from uber-trendy Williamsburg (Brooklyn) to newly-swanky DUMBO via Brooklyn's industrial waterfront. This trail is not exactly in the tourist guidebooks, but we self-styled "urban anthropologists" were looking for beauty like the dilapidated Brooklyn Navy Yards (which closed in the 1960s and parts of which are hauntingly decayed and overgrown at this point, particularly the Admirals' or Officers' Row housing).
When we came across this gnarly building, there was so much going on at the front door, I crossed the street for a closer look. The "rules" posted on the front door were just awesome- exactly like something I'd seen Upstate. Except they looked like a drunken pirate wrote them. What is with the 23-year-old-drinking-age? Belt-and-suspenders approach, I suppose.
It was about 4 pm and the front door was locked. Places like this usually open at like 6 am, right? I made a point to take a photo of the address so I could be sure to look the place up at the NYS Liquor Authority's website, to see how old the place was, and when it went out of business. Perhaps when the Navy Yard closed, 4 (count 'em FOUR) decades ago, leaving this area barren and desolate, except for a few public housing projects nearby?
WAIT! What was that catching my eye, a few feet around the building facade? Was it . . . a red neon beer sign light ON in the window? There is actually electricity running to this hellhole? I walked a few feet down the sidewalk to find the establishment's liquor license- valid 2006 through 2008! NO WAY!
I am all for dive bars- downtown LA's Skid Row has some excellent ones. But this one- I dunno, maybe it's because I don't know the area, but I just think you'd go in there and wake up in an alley, minus a kidney or something. It's just that scary. I have obtained liquor licenses before, and let me tell you- it is tough to get a liquor license in New York state. The authorities really put the applicant through the third degree, making them submit fingerprints, photos of the place, detailed drawings and an application so detailed it even asks what type of background music might possibly be played.
This place? How did it ever get - and keep- its liquor license? Even an allegation of prostitution, or one-too-many police calls to the place- and it's outta business.