First, read this article about a bar in the East Village called Heathers, which is a small after-hours space that doubles as an art gallery. On weekends, there is even a brunch that doubles as an art auction. Yet, some neighbors with nothing better to do, armed with their $1100 sound meter, anxiously call 311 (NYC complaint line) to whine whenever the level on said meter goes up (check out their picture in the article and you'll see of what I preach). The fact that the owner of Heathers is a cute little momma from Rockville, MD (my old hood, by extension) is not what influences my opinion. In fact, I hate the East Village with a passion and never go there unless I have a dinner date at Momofuku Noodle Bar, my favorite, drinks at the Telephone Bar or Dojo's on St. Marks. The reason: hipsters. I know most of them have up and gone to Williamsburg, but still. And these little boutiques that offer great-looking merchandise, expensive as hell though it is, until you realize that you will have to lose your lunch for the next week to get into anything south of Houston. What does influence my opinion in this particular case is that the purpose of Heathers is to revive the art scene of the early eighties, which is a very worthy cause. I also like the idea of there being a nice, warm, cozy spot in which to gather. Honestly, I have yet to go there, but I will soon, as I imagine it is the kind of spot where a patron will not be judged unkindly because their outfit is not black.
My first suggestion is directed at the neighbors, particularly the ones I mentioned, armed with their little sound meter. Sirs, you live in a neighborhood chock full of bars and restaurants and clubs. No one ever said New York City was "a nice place to live". It's rough and you have to put up with all kinds of shit you wouldn't tolerate anywhere else. A lot of people in NYC live near rattling subways, on busy main streets and avenues, near congested bridges, etc. I am also surprised that after paying East Village rents you still have $1100 left over to spend on a sound meter. My guess is that you are the same guys who, instead of doing a full days work, sit on milk crates in front of the corner bodega and eat Bear Claws all day, getting your money from the State one way or another.
My second suggestion is to those who want a quieter, more sane atmosphere for your watering hole, or what have you: do not admit Meatheads. Meatheads are extraordinarily stupid men, usually Bridge and Tunnel and sometimes with Jersey or Staten Island accents, who like to "throw their weight around" a lot and just generally be obnoxious. This would also make your women patrons feel much safer and improve the quality of those they decide to take home for the evening (because some girls need help making decisions). Although this rule, if followed, might put most Murray Hill bars out of business (sorry, Swandad), it wouldn't be much of a loss, trust me. The Meatheads will find other spots closer to home and other women to threaten.
Third suggestion: Don't let people drink until they vomit all over the bar. Prevention, people. Learn, live, love.
Fourth suggestion: For the love of Pete, let people smoke in bars! That way, they won't congregate outside and yell and scream and whatnot. You realize that noise on the streets was never that big of a problem until the City instituted the smoking ban in bars and kicked everybody to the curb.
Really, it's not like NYC is some old school Havana, with gambling and high-class hookers and whatnot (OK, it is, but only a little). But it's not meant to become an old-folks home either. New Yorkers love the status of their city as the cosmopolitan center of the universe. This means that the nightlife the city is famous for must be kept in tact. If you can't take the heat, get out of the fucking kitchen!
PS - I just had to include this little anecdote from Overheard in New York:
Young woman running up platform, slamming into tourist lady: Damn fucking tourists! Get the fuck out of my way!
Tourist lady: Excuse me, what?
Young woman: Don't be 'what'-ing me. I just gave you a New-fucking-York experience. You should be thanking me.
--Subway station, 42nd St