John Waters on Dive Bars, Perverts, Pasolini, and Levi Johnston

Rufus F.

Rufus is a likeable curmudgeon. He has a PhD in History, sang for a decade in a punk band, and recently moved to NYC after nearly two decades in Canada. He wrote the book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (2021).

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18 Responses

  1. “That fact that you move to New York makes you faux-something.” Nice.Report

    • @William Brafford, I also posted this because it made me think, “Man, I wish we could get him to blog here”.Report

      • @Rufus F., if I see him around Baltimore, maybe I’ll ask him for a guest post? Maybe he could tell the rest of the story about the guy who traded deer meat for crack?Report

        • greginak in reply to William Brafford says:

          @William Brafford, I don’t think he would be a good blogger. he has enough natural charisma to say stupid things and have it be fun, but that wouldn’t translate. But i haven’t read his books so who knows.

          I have to admit i have never thought much of going to dive bars because they are somehow more “real” or something. That sounds more like poverty tourism or just making a fetish of the weird. But that does explain a lot of his career and style.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to greginak says:

            @greginak, I can’t speak for John Waters, and actually I live below the poverty line, so maybe I’m not an expert anyway. But I’ve always gone to dive bars because they’re cheap and I feel more comfortable in them. Also I like to watch boxing in bars and the more upscale places don’t usually have it on.Report

            • greginak in reply to Rufus F. says:

              @Rufus F., Oh i used to go to a “dive” bar in Manhattan because they had cheap beer and tequila to get the night of bar hopping started. The way Waters talked about it came off as “oh those poor folk are so cute and authentic” which rings shallow and demeaning to me.Report

  2. Sam M says:

    Wow. Lots of Baltimore types here. We might have gone over this… but when were you there?

    Me? 1996-2001.

    Late, to be sure. In the fifth or sixth wave of terrible gentrification. But it still had an edge that I liked a lot. Plus, I did enough time there that I earned the right to go back and talk about how all the new versions of me RUINED the place.

    JH Saloon. A terrible strip bar named Boots. Butts and Betty’s. At the time, the best bar in America was a place called Kislings. About that, there can be no dispute. I’d even fight you over it, but all that drinking made me too tired.

    Once, I went to a polka mass and found a bottle of Crown Royal under my seat.Report

    • William Brafford in reply to Sam M says:

      @Sam M, I just got here last spring.

      It’s easy to complain about gentrification, but it seems to me that Baltimore’s never going to get industry back, so… they’ve got to draw the professionals back into the city somehow, right? But I don’t really know; I haven’t been here that long. I’m planning to read a book on Baltimore neighborhoods soon, so I’m sure I’ll understand things a little better once that’s done.Report

    • MFarmer in reply to Sam M says:

      @Sam M,
      I forgot, we’re against gentrification why?Report

      • Sam M in reply to MFarmer says:


        Isn’t it obvious? It’s so when old people like me go back, we can complain about Kids These Days.

        Seriously, as mentioned, I was a late, late comer. I was a bouncer at a bar called The Horse You Came In On. They guy who owned it bought it way back in the 70s, before they really did anything to Fells Point. There used to be shootings there. A lot.

        By the time I was there, I mostly had to grab people by the Izod insignia and threaten to call their moms.

        But forget about that. Kids These Days!Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to MFarmer says:

        @MFarmer, I’ve traditionally been opposed to gentrification mostly when it encouraged my landlords to jack up the rent.Report

      • Chris in reply to MFarmer says:

        @MFarmer, yeah, screw the poor! What have they ever done for anyone?Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:


          If you just made poverty more difficult, instead of incentivizing it, they’d find a way not to be poor.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to Chris says:

          Chris, I don’t know what you are talking about, and I don’t know how poor you’ve ever been, but I grew up in poverty and have a pretty good understanding of poverty and compassion for those who are poor. I think you might have temporarily blown a switch in the noggin or something.Report

          • Chris in reply to MFarmer says:

            @MFarmer, if you don’t know what I am talking about, then you don’t know anything about gentrification.

            We’re against it, many of us at least, because of its effects on the low income residents of areas that are targeted for gentrification. And I doubt my income history is relevant to that.Report

            • MFarmer in reply to Chris says:

              I don’t find that property improvements are detrimental to the poor — usually means that more people are moving up the ladder an can afford better living environments. If there weren’t so many regulations, and if government policy hadn’t inflated the prices of homes, innovative builders/investors would find a way to provide low rent properties that are decent. I had an idea for this awhile back, but it’s too burdensome to go through the hassle.Report