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I went to college in Plattsburgh, New York – the North Country. Every weekend the downtown bars were mobbed with college students drinking one dollar beers and doing what they do. Scattered along side, "townies" tried to pass themselves off as us. It was always an uneasy piece, as it probably is in many places across the country. But if you really wanted to get a taste and put aside this youthful air of undeserved superiority that we haughtily wore among our community hosts – "The Royal" was the place to go. That said, we from our pretentious suburban, urban and middle class perches have all given these places a go. And while we hope our arrogance is forgiven, we are all the better for rising to the level of the down to earth people that are always encountered. I recently found a bar such as this in the unlikeliest place – West 42nd and 9th avenue in Manhattan.
Tucked up in next to the Port Authority, it’s called unassumingly enough, "Dave’s Place." In defiance of the space-time continuum surrounding New York City’s worldly galaxy, the dimensional plane that is broken upon crossing the sidewalk's threshold is like wedding a time warp to a parallel universe.
Drawn in, the dinginess is endeared by a bar surface that makes no pretense over its two sole purposes – separate the drinkers from the drinks and giving the beverages a places to rest before they are either consumed or spilled.
Doing the honors, the patrons seem as if a worm whole was the conduit for their arrival or some variable left unknown to the workings of Quantum Physics. Definitely working class, they beamed in from – I don’t know – a General Motors factory in decline, an upstate community that subsists off the prison industrial complex or the loading docks of Baltimore.
Anywhere but the heart of New York City, and the steam let off is that of collective working class exhale that breathes life into the revelry. In turn, the joy is simply contagious, and I couldn’t help raising my $4 Narragansett in hopes of acceptance.
Diverse, Down to Earth Patrons
Seamlessly welcomed, what struck me as “parallel” was the diversity of the bar’s make up. They say in the South that poor working class blacks and whites should be aligned economically and politically. But the racial propaganda of the Republican party acts to alienate poor whites from their African-American brethren. Here, the people are not falling for that racism in America divide.
Black, White, Latin – any differences fall in favor of the collective joy and pain. As such, the crowd sort of dances around the ethnic differences and make it part of seeing each other as the same. The humorous banter - a byproduct that is almost as uplifting as the beverages.
Bartenders Are Out of Place Too
Then, there’s the bartenders. Dressed in leather bikers tops and tight jeans that leave an alluring mid drift gap in between, they also seem adjoined to a place nowhere in proximity to the nearby USS Intrepid. Flirty and playfully condescending to dudes who know they have no shot, these two exceedingly attractive women give off a similar air of being out of their league - only the neighborhood surroundings are the sport in question.
In other words, they are like the college townie trying to lore a Phi Beta Kappa or Air Force pilot who can rescue her from their backwoods town. Only here, it’s the businessman who might wander in off 8th Avenue. In all likelihood, it's more that they have the same dignity that their customers possess and are content to stick to the grounded aspirations that enough West Side dwellers fail to achieve.
Either way, it all seems unreal and had me in a state of awe inspiring bewilderment. I just can’t wait to take my buddies from Plattsburgh here – if Dave will have us and stay down to earth like everyone else.