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, when I grabbed my camera and my thoughts so I could make sure their long-day journey into night didn't disappear with them.

Had to do the same with Grassroots. Every pivotal moment I had between 1976 and 1983 I had at that bar before I switched over to girls and coffee shops and the Duchess for a while.

But after returning to boys and a more solitary existence, there was Grassroots.  Stumbling through my city, this world and way too many stupid relationships left me feeling like like the rug was constantly 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 Grassroots' 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.  I even found myself describing a certain event that, 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 when 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 once was at the tender age of 17 and had a shot of rye - my first drink at the bar in 1976 and now my last.  For a couple of hours I was all the parts of me I had forgotten or had packed away.

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.