To outsiders, I usually describe Sunny’s, the venerable Red Hook bar that’s slipping into the stuff of NYC tavern lore, as the kind of place Popeye would drink at. It’s one of the few places left in New York City where something truly Weird can happen, one of the bars where the spirit of ghostly drunk time seemed to possess every person who walked through the door: My own memories recall a very drunken evening arguing with a guy in the back garden who swore on his life he watched his friend’s leg bone grow before his eyes, plus any number of odd run ins with characters who felt like they’d become unstuck from time and New York City, floating on the last bar at the edge of the world before it drifted off into Red Hook Channel forever.
Sunny Balzano, the bar’s owner and guiding spirit, died on Thursday night after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He was, as Gothamist’s John Del Signore said, “the patron saint of misfits,” a lighthouse drawing in artists, lost souls and anyone seeking desperately for somewhere to feel like a regular. His loss was a blow for the Red Hook community, who gathered on its cobblestone streets way outside the din of regular city life to pay tribute. Here’s how they remembered one of the all-time greats this weekend. (more…)