Friday, July 22, 2016

Cool Things 9:30 and Other Reading Matter

Beware Washingtonians. The excessive hot air coming out of Cleveland lately will be steaming our way this weekend. Time to retreat to a shade drawn room or perhaps a river bank under a tree. With a book. And perhaps a cold drink at hand. While reading, we might want to remember last winter with something akin to nostalgia.

In January the 9:30 Club threw a swell anniversary event, and book launch, but until this week, I had only paged through my copy, not expecting too much in the way of substance. I have to say I should have known better. Whatever the 9:30 Club does- it does well.  There's plenty of eye candy here including numerous Mark Holmes postcards, but every page is strikingly visual, full of photographs punctuated with wonderful little stories from those who were there.

The club originated as a hole in the wall, but the space was a godsend for the maladjusted. It was created by brave and visionary people who filled a void and breathed life into a decaying F Street N.W.  Thus an edgy kind of refuge was born where misfits could gather together as kindred spirits. We were a strange but happy family.

9:30 X-mas party
Now the 9:30 Club is a musical if not mythical anchor of the DC scene, but the thumbnail sketches in this book sparked a myriad of memories of the old place -and reminds us of the many stories left untold. Some of you who frequented the old F Street location (and d.c. space) may remember a bartender named Raymond Martin (or Framin' Raymon' as we used to call him in honor of his day job.)

photo by Marie Broussard

Raymond has many talents including poetry which are almost short stories in themselves.
Here's one:

The naming of a dog
can be a delicate thing.
My friend Judith 
sent me a Chocolate Lab
for my sixtieth birthday.
I was looking for a female name.
so far I`d used iconic names,
Lucy, from the Ricardo
Gus, from Lonesome Dove
Stella, only from Brando
Wippet, from Devo`s Whip-It-Good
And of course, The Dude
Even Dora Mar,
(She was one of Picasso`s lovers)
but I`m not responsible for that one.
Then I started in on
people I`d worked with.
(There have been a lot of dogs)
I thought maybe
A name that went with Dante
So with good reason
a former bar owner`s name
popped into my head
I thought the 930 Club was
the best run bar I ever worked
And the only place
where an owner shut down for a week,
took the staff on vacation
to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
(I don`t know where those mushrooms came from.)
It seemed right
Until I tried to write this story.
Then I saw the insult,
You never name a dog after a woman you know
No matter what!
You can name dogs
after men you know
We`re used to being called dogs
It`s almost an honor
So to avoid insult
I`ve changed my Lab`s name
to Dede.
(For Dodi Bowers)

Right now Raymond is working on a story called "The Heart of Tenley." Send Raymond an email if you would like to read this evolving piece for extra credit. ( In the meantime here is another poem which seemed especially appropriate to pull up for this weekend's heat wave:

    A Draft Beer 

If it had not been 
such a hot Saturday afternoon 
My brother and I might not have stopped 
for a draft beer at a tavern at Tenley Circle. 
Everybody knows that when the humidity and the temperature 
are hovering at 100, one beer is not nearly enough 
and it was cool inside, the windows all covered 
The bar a rich oak with a curved rail 
There were big mirrors with glass shelves, 
maybe a twenty-foot bar with fourteen stools 
and a large open area for people to stand. 
We were drinking near the exit 
and there was this little pest of a bartender
and he kept hovering 
like a mosquito on cocaine 
Never shutting up 
and it was all profanity 
f this and f that, on 
and on, and screw them 
and G-d them, over and over, 
Then I saw the look. 
Jerome had this way of tightening his eyes 
just before he exploded 
-He had it before he went to Viet Nam- 
And now his eyes were locked 
and that little pest of a bartender 
kept right on cursing, right 
up to the second an empty draft beer mug 
went flying past his ear. It crashed 
into the glass shelves with enough force 
to send all the stemmed martini glasses flying 
Shattered glass flew all over the bar 
The bartender’s face turned ashen 
He was realizing what would have happened 
if that mug hadn’t missed. 
When I looked over, Jerome was gone 
I told the shaken bartender 
I didn’t know who that was. 
Five months later 
I return from a trip overseas 
and now Jerome is behind the bar. 
The bartender that day turned out to be the owner 
When he found out who my brother was 
He hired him; figuring, he wanted 
to keep someone that crazy on his side. 
Jerome gets me a job as a doorman.
Then when someone doesn’t show up 
I get shifts as a waiter. Someone 
else gets drunk at work 
and now Jerome is teaching me 
to tend bar. Sending me 
on a new lifestyle 
That all started with an if.

1 comment:

  1. I remember once years afterwards saying "Dody Bowers is in the house!" She corrected me firmly. Now she is Dody DiSanto.