5 Bar Crawl: Lucy’s Bar

5 Bar Crawl
Out of the blue and for no reason at all other than it would give me the opportunity to see more of the city I love and live in, and also to have an excuse to drink more alcohol I decided to do a bar review. No ordinary bar review. I planned to pick five of New York’s worst bars, go to each of them and review them at my own leisure. How did I define worst? I didn’t.  I simply wanted to visit bars that are any of the following:
1) Bars I’ve never been to before.
2) Dives.
3) Unsafe or have an element of danger.
4) Unusual / Unclean and/or unfriendly.
5) In some way interesting.
Bar #3: Lucy’s Bar
No chain-smoking bike riding dogs allowed
Lucy’s Bar
This bar was chosen at random. Sean and I were heading to another dive bar in the Lower East Side when we stumbled across this place at 135 Avenue A (between 9th & St. Marks Place). We took a peek inside and found it to be delightfully empty. The bartender was an elderly woman from Poland who turned out to be Lucy herself. As the only patrons we got served with particular attention. 
The bar itself had a natural charm that can only be found in an ever shrinking number of genuine dive bars in the city. Beers were served with a smile, conversation was easy and Lucy herself selected several songs to get the jukebox going. The setup was typical, bar to one side, cafeteria tables and chairs to the other, a Jukebox, Deer Hunter and two pool tables at the back. I fell in love with this place as soon as I entered. We were her first customers but the crowds that followed only added to the laid back atmosphere. Being surrounded by magnet knucklehead bars meant that Lucy’s reaped the reward of that filter. This was a bar for locals only.  
I like to review these dive bars with Sean because he is a total nerd, which I can relate to being one myself…kinda (I like Star Trek & Zombies but I have had full sexual intercourse with a woman). Nerds never run out of stuff to talk about and as a matter of fact Sean never shuts up. During this bar review he droned on and on about how many drinks he had at my recent wedding.
Nine drinks
Sean is a great deterrent for people who might want to talk with us due to him looking like a cross between a clown without make-up and a baby dressed up like a grown man. This means that I can do my bar reviews undisturbed by fellow patrons. He is also a budding musician* and released an album of original heartfelt cowboy songs called “Waiting For A Dream”. If you wanna hear the sound of a grown man crying without shedding tears this is the album for you.
Available on iTunes
The first single is called “She Sent Me A Text” which is a true story about Sean getting a text from a girl he liked. Nothing ever happened. My favorite track on the album is “Since you left me you’re not around anymore” because it’s the shortest.
The wood paneling, low ceiling and dim lights make for a cozy atmosphere. This made beating Sean twice at pool to win the “all time world’s best pool player in the universe ever, forever” all that more intimate. I could almost feel his pain.
Pool Table/Sean’s Table O’ Shame
The bar when people turned up
I made this shot.
Sean in shock at my superior pool playing

The real test of any dive bar is the condition of the toilets. If your genitals are the cleanest thing in there, than it’s a real dive bar.  I paid them a visit. Unlike Stillwater on 4th street which looks and feels like a dive bar but has immaculate toilets, Lucy’s was well and truly a real dive bar.

My new headshot.
I don’t even know what this is.
I seen the light
Le Toilet
Double the horror with a mirror.
The Pissing Scenery
Toilet Humor
The exterior facade of the bar has an inviting quality. Neon lights and the red glow from the bar lights inside should attract even the most stubborn alco-moth.
Someone can’t sleep in the apartments above.
Outside is cab heavy, no problem hailing.

After Lucy’s I wanted to check out a local open mic known for its Artstars and eclectic performers. These type of shows are also fading as The Lower East Side (and Williamsburg) slowly loses its alternate art scene to the outer Burroughs of Bushwick, Ridgewood, Astoria and South Bronx. Upon arriving we seen a woman wearing nothing but a trench coat mime Madonna songs and talk about her kidnapped son. Sean spotted a middle-aged man waiting to perform wearing only a G-String. I will never forgive him for pointing that out. Once you see something like that you can’t un-see it.

On a trip to the restroom I got cornered by a giant who was downing beers in a cubicle alone. He told me his life tales of crime, drunken debauchery, violence and his attempts at being a writer when not providing security at local dive bars and performance spaces. I asked for his name but he refused to tell me. I pushed him on it in case I would ever see him again but he was reluctant. Eventually he relented and said he performed under the name ‘Gerber’.

Has anyone seen this woman’s son?

After an hour of some unique and entertaining performances, Sean and I decided to leave. I made a pit stop for the restroom and thankfully the giant was gone. Washing my hands I noticed something about the manufacturer of the urinals.

Nice. Maybe the Lower East Side still has a little mystery left in it yet.
Opens daily from 6pm-4am. Cash bar only. Pool tables work. The jukebox has a good classic rock selection. Lucy pours her drinks heavy. Regulars bar, no meatheads. Close to the L Train. Bursting with charm. Pretty good beer selection. The bar has been used for many film shoots and their posters line the walls – find out which ones yourself by paying this little gem a visit.
* I lost a game of bowling and had to promote Sean’s album on my blog. I’m sorry to anyone who bought it before reading this. I feel your pain.

5 Bar Crawl: Subway Inn

5 Bar Crawl

Out of the blue and for no reason at all other than it would give me the opportunity to see more of the city I love and live in, and also to have an excuse to drink more alcohol I decided to do a bar review. No ordinary bar review. I planned to pick five of New York’s worst bars, go to each of them and review them at my own leisure. How did I define worst? I didn’t.  I simply wanted to visit bars that are any of the following:

1) Bars I’ve never been to before.
2) Dives.
3) Unsafe or have an element of danger.
4) Unusual / Unclean and/or unfriendly.
5) In some way interesting. 

Bar #2: Subway Inn 

Photo by me walking in sober.

The second bar I chose was the Subway Inn on 143 East 61st Street (corner of 3rd Ave & Lexington Ave). This dive bar is located right across from the prestigious Bloomingdales. I heard that a woman once bought a brasier there for $900 and her husband divorced her, I’m just saying. The bar probably feels the same way I do when I sit across from a skinny glazed eyed model on the subway when I’m all gaseous and bloated and playing Tetris on my cheap android cell phone holding in farts.

I didn’t think a stink hole like this could possibly exist in such a fancy pants part of town but it does. My mate Sean suggested the place so I begrudgingly had to invite him along. Sean is the same loud guy from the previous review. He more than met his match in the loud and annoying department this time, more about that later. As of late, Sean has been doing quite well in New York and now hangs out with lots of second rate stand up comedians. This has resulted in him developing an incredibly annoying habit in which he thinks that loudly complaining about things in a heightened state of incredulation is funny. It isn’t. This is his all time favorite comedy album. I rest my case. 

He also likes to tweet about pointless shit such as him sitting beside Janeane Garofalo or that he can buy a cake at four in the morning unlike his midwestern friends and that’s why he loves New York so much. His baseless confidence is now well displayed in his unshifting swagger when ordering a screwdriver. He even twists his two fingers around indicating the craftsman’s tool itself. But as we say in Ireland: Sure he has a heart of gold, heart of gold. Translation: He is harmless retarded.  
The calm before the storm

The walk up to the bar is one of the least interesting walks in New York. The streets are littered with over priced clothing stores managed by twats who serve over-entitled douche bags, a multitude of Gyms filled with stupid frightened people terrified of tomorrow or upscale eateries filled with a combination of all of the above. Outside a homeless man begged for changed as jocks texted on their iPhones and smoked. I walked in and my first impression was how loud the place was. Seriously loud, the last bastion of culture and the most basic human joy, The Conversation, was truly being beaten with the progress stick in here. In other words, y’know that thing that makes us all feel a little less lonely, well you wont be able to partake in it in here.

The bar was to the left and ran most of the length of the building. To the right were several booths, the first Sean had already occupied. At the back lay the toilets and trash cans. The light was low, the bar was lightly populated with regulars and the bar tenders very welcoming. The latter makes a bar, pure and simple.

Noise, Noise and Noise

To my pleasant surprise Sean had invited the talented Hattiesburg routed, Mississippi transplant Sharon Spell to join us along with his Brother David and his old school friend Meg. This was a relief as although Sean is like nails on a chalk board sometimes he does have lovely friends/family. It also meant I had other people to talk to.

Excellent & Attentive Bar Keeps. 
By the time I grabbed an extra chair for our table in which the bar tenders were very helpful in helping me scout for, said my hello’s and walked to the bar it had already started to fill up. I ordered a Gin & Tonic. Without asking they poured me a Tanquery on ice with a dash of tonic. It was strong pre-tip and even stronger post-tip. I normally drink beer but all they had was domestic in bottles and nothing of interest on tap. Not that you never drink from tap in a dive bar. 
Sean & Sharon
Sean introduced me to his brother David and friend Meg both visiting for a week from Kansas. David is a baker although he had the demeanor and aesthetic of a bisexual jazz musician who travels from place to place to run from the guilt of killing a prostitute in a grappa soaked sex game gone wrong. He’ll never get caught but his conscious just might. In the eighties they could have made a TV series about him.  
Meg works in a bank and confessed within minutes of us meeting that she doesn’t know what the hell  she’s doing half the time. She has considered stealing money and eloping with her boyfriend who is a former delivery man with anger management issues. All the photo’s of him on her iPhone look like Dave Grohl which means that even though I’ve never met him, I like him. Meg has an art degree and sometimes makes elaborate paper airplanes with $100 bills when the manager is out for lunch. 
Dave & Meg
The main compaint about the bar was the music. Both the choice although I realize it was jukebox decided, a clear indication that democracy doesn’t work all of the time, most of the time. It was also freakishly loud. The speaker was right above our heads shooting us with a laser of lazy rap and sudo-tough hip hop. 
Yeah, oh yeah, cuz i’m gonna someting something, cuz my bitches be something and such and what not, 
I’m a mutha fucking something or some such, N-word, Whoot up? Yo’ 
Dreadful shite.
It was so loud and annoying in fact that I actively tried to block it out so I could listen to what Sean was rambling on about. Yeah, it was that bloody bad.  
Screwdriver Please
By pure coincidence local comedienne and all round good egg Katrin Hier stopped by. Katrin works in fashion by day and was at a nearby fashion thingy and decided to stop by for a quick beer before her subway ride home. Our dive bar was a logical stop. We made sure she stayed for more than just the one she wanted. 
Hier she is.

Loud and crowded

Sharon & Katrin

The toilets: For a dive bar they were quite functional. A complimentary beer was left on the toilet.

 On the house.
The graffiti, the true indicator of a classic dive bar was somewhat lacking. I neither learnt nor unlearned something. What a shame. 

Good? I wouldn’t Bansky on it.

Strangely enough behind the shitter was a double over hand paper roll ass wipe apparatus. I guess sometimes you need both hands.

Let’s fucking do this.
The Menu – All food cooked in noise.

Bling – Sean thought this was hilarious. 

Food came in styrofoam boxes.

Four screwdrivers in.

Who caused the 2008 banking crisis?
Guys, you gotta listen to the notes I’m not playing, Jaaaazzz!

Screwdriver #6
Have you heard of my band Depeche Mixolydian Mode?
Peter Moses later joined us for two beers. Peter is also a New York based stand up comic who I always refer to as Lil’ Don Draper. No one else calls him this but then again no one else calls me Mr. Super-Fantastic but that doesn’t make it not true. Peter at about 5′- 9″ is a fun size Jon Hamm.  

Lil’ Don Draper/Fun Size Jon Hamm
Actual Don Draper / Big Jon Hamm
Photo by me walking out drunk.

We all staggered out for the subway home although I don’t recall much of it. Jazzman apparently spent the following day getting sick as he turned out to be a teetotaler that I pressured into drinking. Sean, Jazzman and Meg went back to Inwood, Katrin dashed back to Brooklyn and Lil’ Don Draper, Sharon and I got the N train home. My last memory is of trying to speak without slurring on the train which always looks terrible regardless. Overall a fun night out, this is New York after all.


Credit cards accepted. The bar is wheelchair assessable but the toilets are not. The jukebox is hogged by brainless tone deaf thugs and way too loud. Friendly bartenders. The regulars leave you alone while the irregulars pad out the place and get in your way, even on a week night it got very crowded. Most people there were more into getting hammered than conversing which alway gives a bar a desperate feel. The food was alright, nothing you would eat sober but not terrible. It’s not a real dive bar just a lesser regular bar in a fancy neighborhood. Drinks were standard price. They do serve screwdrivers. If the person you are with is loud and annoying there will be music to drown them out and beat them at their own game.  

The bar opened in 1937, Charlie the 97 year old owner is still on the scene and according to what I heard has no trouble chasing trouble makers from the place himself. The bar won the 2004 Dive Bar of NYC award. I can’t help but feel it was a different bar back then. If I could make just one suggestion it would be to turn the music down. Then we could talk and discover what bars are really for. In the words of an old friend – A bar is the beach for people who cannot swim.   

Where is it again?:
Subway Inn

143 East 60th Street, New York, NY10022

How do I get here via the subway?:
Lexington Ave/59th Street – N/Q/R Trains *60th street entrance in front of bar 
Lexington Ave/63rd Street – F Train
59 Street Station – 4/5/6/6X Train

*Side Note: 
If you’re in the area I recommend a good Irish bar called Murphy’s on 2nd Ave between 51st & 52nd. It is the very first bar I drank in when I moved to New York. 

5 Bar Crawl – Bar#1: Mars Bar

5 Bar Crawl

Out of the blue and for no reason at all other than it would give me the opportunity to see more of the city I love and live in, and also to have an excuse to drink more alcohol I decided to do a bar review. No ordinary bar review. I planned to pick five of New York’s worst bars, go to each of them and review them at my own leisure. How did I define worst? I didn’t.  I simply wanted to visit bars that are any of the following:
1) Bars I’ve never been to before.
2) Dives.
3) Unsafe or have an element of danger.
4) Unusual / Unclean and/or unfriendly.
5) In some way interesting. 

Bar #1: Mars Bar
Photo by Uban75.org
The first bar I chose was Mars Bar on 25 East 1st Street (corner of 1st Street & 2nd Avenue). It’s known as the East Village’s last shithole and is due to close early this year. What better excuse to visit it first then? I invited my mate Sean along for safety. Sean is from Kansas and looks like a cross between a giant baby and Orson wells. He acts like the former and wont shut up talking like the latter. Due to his addiction to drinking screwdrivers and playing computer games all day he fit perfectly into my whole “I don’t have to out run the thugs, I just have to out run you” theory of self defense if any shit happened.
Sean Canady

A Baby

Orson Wells
Upon walking up to the place I was a little apprehensive. Covered in graffiti, the bar looked like a bad art project. I had heard a lot about the place but had a feeling it could not be as bad as people say. This is New York after all, how bad can bad really be? It wasn’t. Inside was dark, light from the street outside twisted in through a thick glass block window to the left. An exit sign illuminated the front section while the bar itself ran all the way down the left hand side of a long narrow room. A handful of regulars sat amongst the occasional young hipster couple. The interior seemed to be covered in a layer of grime and dust. Graffiti covered the walls as did homemade signs written on the back of pizza boxes and beer cartons. Sean and I made our way to the far end of the bar where upon I ordered a bottle of Budweiser for hygienic reasons. Sean embarrassed himself as always by ordering a girls drink. Vodka soda sparkles something or other. 
A local we tried not to make eye contact with pictured below
At the back wall near where we sat lay a huge collection of empty beer cases beside two toilets. Sooner or later we knew one of us would have to venture into them. Paulo (Paul – oh?!?) served us and she was very pleasant, chatty and friendly. As the night progressed she kept our drinks topped up, talked to the locals and even bought us a round. Barkeep = 100%. No complaints here, we felt very welcome. 
Glass block windows at the front of the bar.

There was I admit a cozy feel to the place. Most people sat at the bar and stayed there. Light levels were low for obvious reasons. I smelled food at one point and seen Paulo eating takeout behind the bar. She truly is a brave person I thought. I imagined a flock of bats swooping down from hidden caves in the ceiling taking her and her food outside, as her screams for help dissipated into the dark angry hum of the New York night Sean and I would drink ourselves unconscious. Mars Bar is the type of bar where you start thinking crap like that. The bar did kind of stink to be honest. Sean got drunk on his girly drinks and rambled on about Kansas, corn, driving cars long distances, computers and food. To be honest if I was in any other bar I would have blamed the smell on him. I explained that he should bring future dates here for that very reason. I could not understand how he was so upset by this logic, but I bought him another drink and he soon cheered up and started rambling on and on again.

How could bats not live here?
Sweet divine mother of Christ! We had a feeling the toilets would be bad but Lord Jesus Bartholomew Frankenstein! The powers of Greyskull couldn’t clean these mofo’s. I managed to urinate by touching nothing but my penis which I suspect was the cleanest thing in the entire bar.  
Jesus wept on the cross

Grey powder incased something mechanical

Seeing as we already contracted whatever disease was floating around anyway, we checked out bathroom #2

Makes soiling yourself seem logical.

The pissing scenery.

As I mentioned before about Sean, he talks non-stop. Despite this I managed to hear some of the music blasting from the jukebox. Some old Bowie and punk classics were chosen by a hipster couple who I must admit had damn fine taste in music. Sean also has great taste in music but none of it seems to move him quite like the sound of his own voice. If we had more people in this world like Sean talking loudly as he does non-stop around airports we would end up fishing less airplanes out of the Hudson river each year. Once while Sean was screaming for a cab I seen a flock of geese suddenly change their direction mid flight. A complete U-turn. I didn’t even know Geese could do that, so high up, flying so fast. That is no exaggeration, no lie at all. I seen that actually happen. Eventually we decided to leave, we were quite drunk at this point.

Sean trying hard not to look creepy while taking a photo.

The resulting picture. 
We staggered up second avenue and came across Dempsey’s pub. We decided to have one more. An Irish traditional band were mid flight as we entered and I knocked over a music stand. I bought Sean a screwdriver as a thanks for being my decoy in case of trouble even if he didn’t know it. I ended on a whiskey. I don’t remember leaving but Sean has not drunk since. This is what happens when you drink girly drinks.
No credit cards accepted and it is not wheelchair assessable. Kicking jukebox. Friendly bartender. Locals leave you alone. Plenty of room on a week night. There is a slight odor that never goes away. You won’t want to touch anything. It’s a real dive bar. Beer is not cheap, $5 a bottle. They have two toilets and if you look long enough you will see stuff written about your mother. If the person you are with won’t shut up talking you can read the graffiti on the walls.  They do not serve screwdrivers.