Tonight I paid a visit to my old hood, Hells Kitchen. I lived in several different neighborhoods in New York City, but for me, Hells Kitchen has always been my favorite.

I always loved the energy and character of the place, but I think it was the people that appealed to me most. As I walked through my old neighborhood, memories of the people of Hells Kitchen flooded my conscience. I remember Juanita, a homeless woman. I would buy her chicken noodle soup from the deli and we would chat on the corner of 45th and 9th. I remember Jimmy Fallon stumbling into the Gaf, knocking over bar stools and loving the fact that everybody noticed him. I remember Law & Order crews sipping hot coffee and shooting crime scenes on my block. I remember my neighbors, watching The Apprentice together and talking about life.

But I also remember the pig. On 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Sts stands a venerable Hells Kitchen icon: Rudy's, the dive bar with the giant pig on the outside. Many a drunkard have taken their picture with that hog. Tonight I caught up with a friend over a couple of beers there, and I was reminded of how much I miss the old neighorhood. It was good to see that Rudy's is still Rudy's. The cheap beer, the aroma of hot dogs, the bathroom that looks like it ate Papa Smurf. And the tunes were just as I remembered: Johnny Cash, the Stones, Marvin Gaye. Doesn't get much better. I looked around and noticed the clientele. Unlike many other bars in NYC, you can't describe a particular demographic that Rudy's caters to. Hispanic, Asian, Black, White, every type of person seems to make its way there. In many ways, Rudy's is a microcosm of Hell's Kitchen and tonight reminded me how much I'd come to love this place.


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