Monday, October 21, 2013

Just plain Bill's.

Back in 1970, during my first year as a New York City resident, my roommate and I brought dates to this place on East 54th Street.  At the time it was named Bill's Gay Nineties and, as the name implied, it was a pitchers of beer, peanut shells on the floor kind of place with a guy in a straw boater playing banjo and singing "Sidewalks of New York." Some years later I walked by and noticed that the name had been changed to "Bill's Nineties Bar," no doubt to avoid possible misidentification as a gay bar.  A few days ago, I walked along the same block again and saw that the name is now simply "Bill's." I suppose the passage of time means that "Nineties" now opens the question: do we mean the era of Diamond Jim Brady and "Remember the Maine" or the more recent decade characterized by, as a friend put it: "lots of Backstreet Boys and body glitter"?