Here’s one of many reviews of a new movie — it’s a hit on the film festival circuit. About a dive bar that’s getting ready to shut its doors, once and for all.

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets: the story of the drunkest film of the year

Wikipedia defines ‘dive bar’ as ‘a colloquial American term for a disreputable bar or pub. It may also refer to a neighborhood bar where local residents gather to drink and socialize.’ Origin of the term dates back to the 19th Century.

In most towns, the dive bar is one favored by veteran drinkers of a type often described as “colorful”. Some cities are known for dive ‘districts’: Vegas (where this movie is set), New Orleans, LA, New York, San Francisco. Establishments for “regulars” who may not have bottomed out, but aren’t that far off. If they last that long, which is a question.

It’s fun for the public to speculate on what drives someone to literally disappear inside the bottle. Leaving Las Vegas was an illustration of the “slow suicide” theory, popular during the heyday of psychoanalysis. I never found it all that convincing, since I kept running into people in Detox who admitted their heavy consumption began long before the tragedies that supposedly ‘triggered’ it. Maybe later traumas simply accelerated the progression. It might well have occurred even without them.

Then I recalled a once-celebrated author who had disappeared from the limelight for more than a decade. The media eventually noticed his absence and began speculating as to what happened to the guy. Ironically, he and I watched the story on TV in the hospital Day Room. “I know! I know!” he joked. “I was drunk!”

“Would have been more fun if I didn’t know how I was gonna feel in the morning,” he added ruefully. But he just couldn’t seem to stop.

The culture around that sort of drinking becomes as much a part of the disease as the drinking itself. It’s surprisingly difficult for some to renounce. “I’ll lose all my friends,” they worry. I’m thinking, you lost your friends years ago. Replaced them with drinking buddies. What you have in common is what’s messing up your lives.

In a way, drinking for these folks is comparable to the heroin user’s endless chase for the intensity of that first, memorable hit of dope. It’s a memory, of course, replaced long ago by the need to medicate withdrawal.

A temporary remedy for an enduring problem.