So, I had this idea…
I was going to write a trilogy of appreciative articles about specific spots that I’m particularly fond of in Carrollton, Georgia. On a whim I’d submitted an enthusiastic piece about the Highland Grill to a local paper called Squared. They accepted it and were kind enough to intimate that more wouldn’t be unwelcome. I followed up with a rambling and meandering prose-ode to Underground Books that was warmly received immediately prior to the folding of that paper. I posted that piece here and gave it to Underground to use as they see fit.
Before I’d heard of the demise of squared I’d penned approximately one and a half of my pseudo-review style approach for The Alley Cat bar. It sits now in all the cyber-dust of all my I-don’t-really-care-for-it writings. It edged towards a good point, but missed the mark. It might have worked for a public consumption publication, but it wasn’t what I really liked writing.
I don’t care much for journalism. It could be my distaste for objectivity. It could be my love for dear, old Hunter S’s Gonzo. It could be as simple as knowing that I couldn’t spell out “fuck”, regardless of the context. I enjoy certain limitations in writing, revel in them even; but there’s seven words, at least, that I don’t appreciate being taboo. Choosing not to use them is something that I’d rather reserve for myself, and I may not use them further in this piece; but, they could appear. We can embrace that possibility. Further, we can run with the thought that this is not journalism. I’m no journalist. That should be evident thus far already.
What I do like writing are these ridiculous phrasings that strike me in some manner (hoping, of course, that they strike someone else as well: “The moon tonight is round and full, brilliant, glimmering between whisps of clouds like a white-cotton panty shot in front of the nudie-tent at the fair.”) See what I mean? Even if I sound like I’m ripping off Tom Robbins (maybe, especially if I do) I like the feel of that. Strong journalism has little need of white-cotton panty shots. Shame, that.
I’m currently listening to Neil Young’s soundtrack to Dead Man (of which Robert Ebert once accused as sounding like a man continually dropping his guitar) and I’m wondering how I might write of Alley Cat to a few people who probably won’t make it there. The soundtrack is incongruous, to say the least. Interspersed with Neil dropping his guitar are conversations with Iggy Pop and Billy Bob Thorton, Johnny Depp reading Blake poetry, and sounds of car-doors and motors, all made for a fantastical wild west story told by Jim Jarmusch.
Journalism be damned. I’ll meander as I choose. You’ve been warned.
The Alley Cat is comfortably crowd-beaten and worn in a manner that reminds me of old rock and roll’s incorporation of honky-tonk; the feeling of something new-shaped to a long sense of individuality and sub-culture. There’s an immediate comfort there for a certain sort of mind; say, that mind that knows the comfort of a dirty David Lynch red, lit by a make-shift lamp and shifting hallways. Alley Cat and this Dead Man soundtrack coalesce for me. They both feel appreciated, but only in that sense that allows instant kinship of seemingly divergent ideas. Lovers of Alley Cat may not be of that David Lynch red-loviness, but I have the sneaking suspicion that they’ve something of that side-ways glance of appreciation towards things missed by all too many. Alley Cat, I think, may well be made of people (and, what’s more, people that might possibly, just maybe, be outside your norm- and what could be warmer?).
I could describe Alley Cat for you. I could tell you the words on the walls (Lynchian red or not). I could delineate paraphernalia above the bar, seemingly innocuous, meaningless, and rife with history all at once. I could talk of personalities. I could talk a little history, name a name or two. I could, in a pinch, resort to journalism. And where would we be then? Not here, decidedly. I could even bastardize Nick Cave: Alley Cat hangs the mermaids from the streetlights by their hair. That either swings or it doesn’t for you. Sorry if it doesn’t.
The owner plays classic rock predominately. I can appreciate this, but he’s got more working behind that, as we’ve talked music briefly. Behind his barfly brow, he’s got that subculture draw. I like the way he connects. He knows more than he lets on, I suspect. His ownership proves itself beyond mere deeds.
Here’s something fun: I never address him by name. I’ve heard him called by at least two different names. I don’t know which name I’m suited to call him. What I assume to be a college kid had asked me once what his name was, as he had given him three different names on different occasions. My esteem grew. I love a fuck-with.
I like my nameless friend (and friend he is, as I need no acknowledgement of reciprocation; his feelings toward me are merely moot). I’ve sat at that weathered bar and had that conversation that engendered understanding. Alley Cat is people. Busy nights and regulars relegate me to a
certainty of non-persona. I begrudge none of this. One on one pervades with this owner. He’s good people, and, I suspect, he loves individuals. Everyone is welcome at Alley Cat, don’t you doubt it. You’ll be welcomed there (and the menu will appeal).
Alley Cat is one of those rare (all too rare) locations that hold each to their own.
The best of you is possible there. I can vouchsafe this. Trust me to few things, but trust me to the best place to be yourself comfortably. Alley Cat is people. Alley Cat will accept you. After all, they let me in, again and again. It’s built already on the strong souls that love it, but it accepts each and every knows a treasure when it’s found,
Alley Cat is made of people.
Not for nothing; RIP, Mia: