(Eleanora playing at Club Bart, 2010)
Maybe it doesn't help that I'm listening to Vic Chesnutt's last release before his untimely death, and that I'm drinking merlot, and that my apartment is a mess. But the news that's been hitting lately is throwing my moods into difficult spirals. First, we heard with less than a week's notice that the Belmont was closing. Well, no, actually, first we heard that the Burton Theater was moving. That was a bummer, considering its promise and the fact that I'd only been there once, to find out the night's show was sold out. Then we heard the Belmont had been sold and that there would be a last hurrah on June 11th. I was directly impacted by this, because I was supposed to have a solo art show at the end of July. I didn't attend the closing party because of the competing Lager House filming. Now, with only four days notice, Ferndale's online world has become aware that Club Bart will close and await a transformation into what some are saying will be a French bistro. I was told that last bit a day before it was published, but I thought the bearer was sorely misinformed. He wasn't. I'm devastated.
(Hanging out at Club Bart, 2010)
Of course, everything is in flux, especially when it comes to Detroit musicians, artists, DIY-ers, and young entrepreneurs; the target market hangs at financial threads itself most of the time. I know half the shows I've been to in the last three years, I couldn't afford the cover. I can't say that my own shmuckiness didn't contribute to these places shuttering. I can't say that it wasn't due to poor management, shady employees, asinine customers, or simple geography. In most situations, I guess it's a combination of these, flicked into oblivion by bad luck. It must be expected, I suppose, with stability a rarely used word in the Detroit arts, that our mainstays are not always staying.
While everything around our culture shifts, we must keep tallies on the memories we've shared with one another and the places they're attached to. Being a part of two filming sessions at the Belmont, wearing a beard at Club Bart, passing out 'til dawn on the couches at Trowbridge House of Coffee--these memories, the grittiest, most Detroit, most genuine and at times most frightening moments of my life, lived at bars that worked for years to make sure stupid kids could do stupid things at will with the caveat that they achieve something brilliant once in a while. I think some of us got to those moments. Perhaps the best we self-proclaimed helpless bystanders can do when our little dives and venues disappear really is to realize that that $3 can of Cream Ale was totally worth it.
(Trowbridge House of Coffee, 2009)