Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Grassroots is Dead. Long Live Grassroots

It took everything left inside after another long-ass brutal freelance gig to take out the camera, charge it up and then get down to Grassroots.

Just like I did the night Florence died and the night Seymour died.   I wanted to make sure their long-day journey into night didn't disappear with them.

The same with GrassrootsEvery pivotal moment I had between 1976 and 1983 until I switched over to girls and coffee shops and the Duchess once in a while.

But after returning to boys and a more solitary existence, there was Grassroots.  In a city and a world and in relationships that constantly felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me, Grassroots was the one thing that stayed consistent.
Anytime there was someone I liked, I took them to Grassroots.  Anytime there was a crisis, I went to Grassroots.  Anytime I just wanted a quiet visit with good friends, I went to Grassroots.   And one of the most important conversations I had about how to love a dying parent happened at Grassroots with Kosky.

The visits became more sporadic over the decades as I drank less, worked out more and had less money to blow.   But still, as I joked with a young colleague recently, the seats knew my ass from way back.  That bar held my life's DNA.

Over three days this past week, I took about 700 photos, and I still didn't capture its core or my love, even after bumping into Jeremiah of Vanishing New York and pouring my heart out.

Found myself telling him stories I hadn't remembered until that moment, could never ever put anywhere but in fiction and describing a certain event that, even while it just about destroyed a part of me, my Yeudi and the guys at the bar - Frazier, Cliff, Eric, Bobby, Mike, Langley - made sure I was O.K.  "They had your back," Jeremiah said.   Looking back 40 years, I suddenly realized, yeah.  They did.   In a time women were so rarely protected, I was.

Still, in between reminiscing, I kept snapping.

Kosky on the right joined in last week to say good-bye

Jeremy looking for old photos of old friends
Recognize the guys on the left, and that's Frazier and Micky on the right

But, even if I fell short there, I captured others people's hearts, broken and otherwise.

The two brothers have been coming here for 20 years - they too had all the big talks at this table or one near by.  They always joked: when Grassroots closes, it's the end.  We're going to have to move back home upstate.

On the last night, New Years, I dragged my Mariner aka my lovely husband down to say goodbye. He stood patiently for hours as I took another 370 pictures, hung with the Ancient Mariner aka the best storyteller around, hooted and hollered, became that old barfly that I was at the tender age of under 21 and had a shot of rye - my first drink there in 1976 and now my last.  For a couple of hours I was all of me in a way that I had forgotten.

The Ancient Mariner aka Phil Giambri -best storyteller around and his pal Linda
the countdown begins

the New Years kiss.... and then...

We left after midnight and in the new minutes of 2018, I cried all the way to Veselka's. 

Coming soon: Grassroots Stories and a F*&*) Load of Pictures

Thank you, Jeremiah. 

And may a new year be a happy one for this old bar.