Dive Bar Jukebox with Jason Diamond
"Havin' hard times, in this crazy town."
Welcome to Dive Bar Jukebox, where bartenders, writers, chefs, musicians, and a cast of cool characters answer the question: If we were hanging out together at a bar and I put ten credits on the jukebox, what songs would you punch in and why? The answers reveal thoughts on their favorite dive bars along with a hand-picked, annotated playlist for your weekend listening pleasure.
Please join me in welcoming today’s special guest…
Jason Diamond is a Brooklyn-based writer, frequent contributor to GQ and New York magazine’s Grub Street, and author of the books Searching for John Hughes: Or Everything I Thought I Needed to Know about Life I Learned from Watching '80s Movies and The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs. He is also at work on New York Nico’s guide to NYC, which will be published by HarperCollins/Dey Street in 2024.
A former editor at Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal, Diamond’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Esquire, and Pitchfork, among others. His passions and pursuits are diverse and his beat defies an easy elevator pitch. And he’s prolific as AF, writing passionate essays and observations on everything from Long Island bagels, vintage L.L. Bean, Japanese egg salad sandwiches, Amy Irving, Adam Sandler, Dimes Square, the Chicago Bulls, Cormac McCarthy, Goodfellas, the Safdie brothers, Steely Dan, and beyond.
As Diamond writes in his eclectic Substack newsletter,
“I’m into a lot of stuff and have never been happy just focusing on a single topic and trying to make it my beat. Instead, if you like pizza or pickles, eating in old bistros that have great French onion soup, movies from the 1970s, hardcore records from the 1980s, Larry David, Nancy Mitford, Alice Coltrane, old issues of Interview magazine, wishing you could have hung out at the Friars Club in the ‘50s, or you think Franz Kafka is hilarious and the title credits from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing … old diners or Japanese jazz bars, [or] you think a lot about sandwiches and/or Nora Ephron, old paperbacks, soup, martinis, old black and white Gap, etc. etc. etc. etc. then boy, have I got a newsletter for you!”
Read on to learn why Diamond thinks the idea of the New York dive bar is now a thing of the past, dive bar encounters with two icons (Bill Murray and Jim Gandolfini), and a very eclectic, Diamond-approved playlist running the gamut from Ike and Tina Turner and Sturgill Simpson to Del Shannon and The Cramps.
Talking Dives with Jason Diamond
What is your favorite dive bar and why do you love it?
Diamond: Currently, I don't know if I have one since my idea of a "dive" has been pretty much destroyed in New York City. I feel silly splitting hairs over this sort of thing, but I think a good dive bar needs to skew a little on the older, maybe less, um, excited side. I really don't want to be anywhere that might entice a bachelorette party or where guys in finance firm vests might hang out after work.