Clearing out

Its been a week since the final night that Little Brother’s was open. Dan and a few other folks have been busy clearing out the place, which has to be vacated by this weekend. They’ve been organizing a yard sale and silent auction, which has me wondering which things we should keep for Declan‘s teenage bedroom wall.

Those last couple of days were amazing, though. The outpouring of support and thanks for Dan was unbelievable. I posted many of the memories we’ve received through email all over the bar, and people wrote more in a couple of books my mom bought for the occasion, even wrote new ones on bar napkins and stuck them to the wall.

Despite some trickiness surrounding the fireworks, Dan had a great, cathartic set with his band the Wahoos, and Declan helped provide the finale. At the end of their cover of “The Weight” by the band, Declan and I walked in the side door and I put him up on the stage. When the band started playing exit music, Declan started dancing toward his dad, and Dan danced back, finally scooping him up in a hug as the crowd went nuts. That was all it took for Dec to be sold on a brief career in entertainment; he went back out on the stage in front of the crowd several times and danced while people cheered for him. The band started an encore and Declan became more and more distraught as he tried to get Dan’s attention, finally flinging himself back into my arms so I could take him back outside. It took him no time to recompose himself and ask, “more dancing?” But the set was officially over.

Old friends Ned and Roddy Wreckman played a wonderful, fun set that I could hear wafting outside as I settled Declan to sleep in the car, waiting out the Red White and Boom traffic. But the last act didn’t show up and gave no warning that they would bail, so none of the dozens of local musicians in the crowd really had time to work up something to fill the gap. It was disappointing, but a little fitting. The last hour or so that the club was open, the stage was empty. It’s just a reminder that as nourishing and invigorating as music can be, it can also breed dysfunction and a kind of selfishness that most of us, as fans, forgive easily. Dan forgives pretty easily too (many would say too easily for a businessman)

The next day, the Doo Dah’s Unband gathered at Little Brother’s for the last time. Dan walked alongside a coffin scrawled with “Little Brother’s R.I.P.” pounding on a drum inside and carrying a wooden musical note. About halfway through, Declan and I joined him. Lots of people yelled “thank you Dan!” from the street side. Periodically, the Unband would stop and Dan would die in the middle of the road, a group of women keening around him until he was resurrected (they took this so seriously it was hysterical – pictured on the right). At one point, I asked Declan to give his daddy the black musical note before they pulled the shroud over him. Just when it seemed he wasn’t going to do it, he walked over and handed it to him, but damn it all, I couldn’t get my digital camera to shoot quickly enough to catch that moment.

All in all, these were a really happy couple of days, with Dan feeling like Tom Sawyer – a pirate at his own funeral. When people asked how he was, the standard answer was “great today, ask me in a about a week.”

I’ve been through more than my fair share of job losses, including at least one that I had my sense of personal identity all wrapped up in, but that was a breath, compared to Dan’s almost 20 years. I am hopeful that the better part of his history will help him find something else to do that allows him to be himself.

It certainly was surreal on Saturday night as we drove past Downtown and saw all of the traffic on the cap over 670, briefly wondering about the size of the crowd at the club, then remembering that there wasn’t one.

Life soundtrack: Freedy Johnson, Can You Fly, “Tearing Down This Place” Freedy Johnston - Can You Fly - Tearing Down This Place

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