Here’s a story about Little Brother’s closing.
Dan spent yesterday afternoon at the club, the front door propped open so that people could come in and buy t-shirts or old posters he had on sale. It was kind of a depressing day, with people mostly coming in to gawk, take pictures, or, to his amazement, say “you mean you’re really closing?”
He came home deflated that he hasn’t saved more memorabilia over the years, and that business has been so lousy in this final month. This all happened so quickly, it was impossible to create any real finale for the place. People might have stayed away for fear of getting trapped in the crowds, so there weren’t many crowds. Or they never believed it was really going to happen, thanks to the dubious reporting of The Other Paper, where the only real coverage was the speculation that Dan was bluffing or that the landlord was going to have a change of heart. (Never, I repeat never, trust TOP‘s “facts.”)
Fortunately, I read Space.com almost every day. So yesterday, I found out that last night’s full moon would appear to be the biggest of 2007. Venus and Saturn are also hanging out together in the western sky.
So, here on the realio, trulio (props to Ogden Nash) last weekend of Little Brother’s, we loaded our son in the car at sunset on Saturday night and drove to the country. The sky was electric pink and an old, unmarked mix tape of mine that I unearthed in the club’s basement played Neil Young’s “Long May You Run.” Venus was bright, with the faint Saturn nearby, and fireworks were going off all over the countryside west of town. When the moon peeked over the horizon, it did indeed appear to be huge, streaked with hazy red and orange stripes.
“Is it Jupiter, daddy?” Declan asked.
This is the planet that Dec is both the most fascinated with and the most afraid of. After watching a few specials about it, I must admit that I’m a little scared of Jupiter too.
As The Sopranos goes into its final three-episode countdown, actors keep making appearances on talk shows, reminding us that they first started filming the series ten years ago. That was right around the same time that Dan was holding staple-pulling, linoleum-laying and painting parties in a former library and used furniture shop, then gritting his teeth at commission and city council meetings as he encountered an unexpected and expensive fight to rezone the building.
Today, I also realized that 1997 was the year that Harry Potter first appeared on bookshelves in England, and his final volume is due this summer. (I was deeply relieved when I read this article on Salon a few weeks back, and found out that I wasn’t the only woman in her thirties who is steeling herself against the loss of these vivid characters.)
All I can say is, as far as endings go, at least we’re in good company.
There’s an interview with Dan about Little Brother’s history here.
Yesterday he was asked (by a different reporter) if the announcement of the club’s closure might be some elaborate media ruse designed to manipulate the landlord into letting him stay. If that were the case, it would have needed to have happened over a week ago.
Dan truly thought that if he could get the landlord to sit down and talk in a room, something could be ironed out, but the man and his lawyer flatly refused any negotiations. It was basically presented as “you can sign this document or be prepared to be asked to leave.” At that point – the one when a person you’ve maintained a working relationship with (however frayed) for several years won’t even look you in the eye – how do you fight to stay? I know people do it. I also know that there are those who can sleep well at night as they tell themselves that “business is business” as they make bloodless decisions that profoundly affect the lives of the people they are financially entangled with. My husband isn’t one of those people. And he’s definitely not a person who can deal with those sort of people.
I had fantasies where Declan and I stormed the landlord’s office (he has never met us so he wouldn’t know to hide the way he did when Dan showed up), and asked him, if he couldn’t face my husband, to face us – two people who count on Dan – and justify his actions. To look at us and tell us that he hadn’t worked out details with Dan before disappearing behind his glacial attorney. It would have been manipulative (not to mention very daytime TV drama). But if that harebrained scheme somehow miraculously worked, then where would we be?
We’d still be in a business where the owner of the building had clearly demonstrated that he has no understanding or regard for what the club is, was and has been. It has never simply served a small group of people from the neighborhood nightly – it has always drawn people to the area from all over the city, and sometimes even the state or region. (And obviously musicians from all over the world.) Unfortunately, it will be long gone before civic leaders and the landlord realize this. And I do believe that eventually, they will realize this. All of you Richard Florida groupies who research the reasons cities like Austin or Pittsburgh have an easier time attracting the “Creative Class,” put this one in the minus column.
So… anyone have a line on an ice cream truck?
We have had a rough couple of weeks. You can read about it here (my husband’s business).
There is too much to say about this. Closing looks basically inevitable at this point, it’s just a question of when. After many sleepless nights, I am working on at least trying to do something positive and focus on collecting and preserving the legacy of the place.
Within hours of putting out this notice through Internet channels on Friday, we received about 25 emails where people laid out some of their memories, and they keep coming in. There are some incredibly moving testimonials that aren’t just about particular shows, but the deep sense of personal loss people feel over the shutdown of their countercultural home – a place that helped to shape some part of their identity (for better or for worse), even if they haven’t come though its doors in some time.
We’ve had our moments where we’ve lamented the shows our son won’t get to see. And the fact that he won’t be old enough to remember running around on the stage where his parents got married. I cannot imagine ever wanting to lay eyes on it again after we have left. (This is assuming that whoever is signing the lease that is undermining and forcing Dan out might leave the stage standing. I almost hope they do not.) I definitely will not miss the stress Dan has endured under this landlord for years.
At any rate, these are going to be a long last couple of months.