I used to swear by the name of Charlie B's. It was a holy place of sorts, a Mecca of good times and stiff pours, boasting a clientele of true grit and worth. In my mind, it had secured its place in the Pantheon of American Dive Bars.
Sadly, it seems those days are over.
Nowadays when I stumble into Charlie's, my ear drums are bombarded with obnoxious dance club music, a symphony of bump and grind, the noise of the mindless mob. This sordid atmosphere is ill-fitting for a bar of such renown.
It's interesting that Charlie's books bands such as Cash For Junkers and Lil' Smokies—bands that play string-driven American roots music—for their live music nights. Judging by the music the bartenders play on a typical Friday or Saturday night, it seems likely that live music nights will soon feature hipster DJs, fog machines, seizure-inducing strobe lights and barrels of ecstasy.
Charlie's does not need to become the next Am Vets. If its young bartenders feel compelled to assault its bar patrons with their plebeian musical tastes, perhaps they would be better off pouring drinks at Feruqi's or Bodega's.
It's a grievous insult to those with their black and white portraits lining the walls of Charlie's to have their likenesses associated with this cheap, auto-tuned, synthetic musical garbage. I probably speak for the majority of these people when I say it's high time this auditory trash is thrown out the back door and into the alley where it belongs.
Merle Haggard asks if the good times are really over for good. Are they, Charlie?