Get Out Of Town
The changes that have been wrought in the West Village have been varied and profound.
The gentrification, if one can call it that, of the Meatpacking District has bled down Bleecker and Hudson Streets; smart new shops proliferate like mold spores on old bread. Just a few years before, Village denizens were up in arms about transgendered prostitutes, gay inner city PATH riders and the sex malls that opened when our former mayor pushed those businesses out of midtown and into residential areas across the city. Now, these same Villagers have to cope with crowds of tourists lining up to sample awful cupcakes and window shopping at designer boutiques that have taken the place of their local launderettes and newsstands.
The Village has long been rendered obsolete by the transference of au courant gay life first to Chelsea and then on up to Hell's Kitchen. The bars that remain appear to be on borrowed time. The word on the street is that the Monster will soon be a Starbucks. The rumor mill has it that Ty's lease is up at the end of the year. Who knows if they'll be able to continue their storied 34 year history on Christopher Street.
I would miss Ty's if it were to close. It's figured in all my various incarnations. I was regular in my (late) teens, and when I arrived back on the scene in my late 30's it was still there for me. I became friends with Tim there, years before we got together.
Lately, though, we haven't been feeling it. A lot of the small Village restaurants we've frequented, in some cases for decades, have shut down in the past couple of years. The proprietors were able to get good money for their spaces and ran. I guess you can't blame then when you look across a half empty room on a Saturday night.
For years we've been able to grab some dinner and have a couple of drinks and carry on a bit at Ty's or a neighboring bar, and still be home in time for Tim to get a decent night's sleep before he has to hit the Dugout on Sunday. Sadly, our options have dwindled.
The two television monitors in tiny Ty's combine to suck any possible energy out of that room. All attention is focused overhead at the latest episode of Drawn Together or some nonsense that narcotizes the clientele into a dull stupor. No fun.
We've taken to traveling on Saturday nights. Other restaurants, other bar rooms.
This past Saturday we headed up to 50th Street to have dinner with our good pal Eric. When we arrived at the old French restaurant we like to frequent, we found Eric seated, transported by the Edith Piaf music that alternates with the cafe melodies played on accordion. He's like that. So are we, in fact. We indulged in some great Manhattans and caught up. The food and service were excellent, and the meal was highly enjoyable. Most of us resisted speaking in a Pepe le Peu accent.
We headed around the corner for a quick drink at Posh. Eric had never been and was amused by the young-ish crowd and the distinct sensation that he was in Illinois. We moved on to Therapy, which I had intended to show Eric strictly for it's architectural merits. I'm also aware that the friendly bartenders upstairs fix a pretty decent drink. Once we acquired some prime real estate at the edge of the gallery overlooking the staircase, we decided to hang out for a bit and watch the crowds.
It wasn't long before a young man introduced himself to Tim and Eric on the pretext of discussing their leather jackets and boots. The Black Party is coming up, you know! Were we going? In fact, Tim and I are not. Not sure about Eric. Our new found friend stayed and chatted, even buying a round. When the inevitable question arose, he turned out to be 22 years old. I was rather dumbstruck to meet such a prepossessed and enterprising person, if only because he was 30 years younger than me. I didn't even make any of my usual crack about owning t-shirts older. Because I don't.
As the evening progressed, we invited our new friend down to Siberia. He joined us for the trek down Ninth Avenue and met many of our old friends there. Tim and I took our young ward down to the basement to see the dancers and enjoy the relative lack of ambient light. More drinks were consumed until Tim and I extricated ourselves, and were poured in a conveniently waiting taxi to head home.
Where to next Saturday?