Monday, November 09, 2009
UNDER THE VOLCANO IN NYC: THE DEATH OF COOL
You know the only thing worse than your favorite bar going out of business?
Your favorite bar under new management.
For many years, there was a fantastic New York bar called Under The Volcano on 12 E. 36th Street. It was a murky joint that took its name from Malcolm Lowry's 1947 book about a depressed alcoholic expat in Mexico. There were incredible Dia de los Muertos creatures placed in strategic locations. Candles dripped wax all over the bar. The music was great. The staff could actually translate and explain the literary relevance of a famous quote from the book, which had been painted on the wall: LE GUSTA ESTE JARDIN? QUE ES SUYO? EVITE QUE SUS HIJOS LO DESTRUYAN!
In a dull part of Midtown, this strange place was a beacon of cool in a sea of boring, charmless pubs. Instead of office drones knocking back Budweisers, you'd find punk pioneer Legs McNeil sneering at everyone in the corner. (Okay, I only witnessed this once, but it still counts.)
Well, I went in there recently, and the whole place had been revamped. There were flat screen TVs blaring college football. They'd replaced the spooky amber windows. They'd removed all the Dia de los Muertos art and the dripping candles. The music was shit. They'd painted over the famous quote on the wall.
And yet they've kept the name "Under The Volcano". Why? What the fuck is the point? It's false advertising. Just go ahead and rename it Andy's Ale House or McDuffy's or some other shit.
I won't be back.
Anyone else have a similar story about your favorite bar?
UPDATE: Not sure if the new management reads this blog, but I walked past this place a couple days ago to find that that they've changed the name to The Archive.