An Ode to Max Fish
Photo via nacho26
RIP Max Fish, the bar that never lost its cool.
Location trucks from a movie being shot around the corner line one side of Ludlow Street while on the other side hundreds (probably thousands during the course of the night) pour out from the crammed Max Fish bar to pay tribute to a great downtown cultural institution and to Ulli Rimkus, the tall, striking woman who has kept it going all these years, the catalyst for the vibe that has created this frenzy of excitement, the last night of Max Fish (to be resurrected in Williamsburg!).
When Max Fish opened some 25 years ago on a "drug-infested" street in a low-rent neighborhood inhabited mostly by artists, musicians and local Hispanics, no one could have predicted that 25 years later it would be priced out of the neighborhood and be treated with the reverence of a latter day CBGB. Once a scary neighborhood and the only bar on the block -- if not on the entire Lower East Side -- it was always friendly to the locals as well as the celebs like Jim Jarmusch, Johnny Depp, James Gandolfini, Matt Dillon and others. Rimkus treated everyone the same, following the credo we have often espoused here at Paper -- treat the celebrities like nobodies and nobodies like celebrities. Artists Tom Otterness, Kiki Smith, Charlie and John Ahearn, Jane Dickson and others from the Colab group were friends and regulars. Aaron Rose's Alleged Gallery, where many of the now-legendary street artists like Shepard Fairey, Chris Johanson and Thomas Campbell had their first shows, was next door and Max Fish was their local hang whenever they were in town. Art critic, PAPER editor, and erstwhile doorman Carlo McCormick welcomed his eclectic band of artist, musician and writer friends with complimentary drinks thanks to Ulli's generosity and appreciation of the creatives in her midst. And, of course, there were the skater boys like Jason Dill, Steve and Alex Olson and Dustin Dollin along with Mark and Tino Razo who worked at the bar.
Many of the old timers were there last night, remembering the good times and bitching about what had become of the neighborhood, now a high-rent district with a Bourbon Street feel on the weekends. But for one last night, it was like the good old days: hanging with friends, making new friends, enjoying a cool summer breeze. But it wasn't until I headed home, taking the walk I had taken many times before that I realized it was over, that there would be no turning back the time.