It's only fitting that I do this. The death of something great deserves it.
JR's Lightbulb Club and Pizzeria was, frankly, the only cool place in town to go. It was the only cool place to go for a casual beer and smoke*. It was also the only cool place in town to go for an indie show, after Clunk Music Hall closed. Sure, you could always go to the Gypsy or George's and take in some jock rock and cheap beer, or you could go to Powerhouse and pay a bundle to see a Dave Matthews cover band, but truth be told, your evening would then be crap. No, for a good night out, a good band, and good friends, JR's was the place to be.
Many dear friendships were made behind those shaded glass doors. There were the bartenders, with whom I developed a kind of brother/sisterhood the year I worked as door girl. It was there I met the Cheap Thrills guy, at the bar, over lonely drinks, both of us talking about lost loves. An ordinary summer night two years ago, after a Bright Eyes performance on TV I met Chris, formerly known as Volsequoyah, and formed a bond over jager shots that lasts to this day (the bond, not the shots.) I spent many a school night or work night drinking Tequila Sunrises with the one and only Lincoln, who I otherwise would've still to this day thought a big jerkman -- and who incidently would still think of me as the lame girl with the dyke haircut. JR's also gave me the avenue to meet Eleni Mandell, the best girl singer on the planet, and El Gato, the closest band to Tripping Daisy as I could feasibly meet. The list goes on and on.
There is a legend that the men's bathroom held a most untidy troth of flowing water in exchange for the run-of-the-mill urinals. I never verified that story.
I've moved away now, but knowing that JR's lived on - in all seriousness - helped me feel connected in some way. Checking the website to see who was playing, knowing folks were still sitting upstairs at night drinking Old Style and shooting jager, anticipating my next visit home to relive the old days. Indeed, when I did visit Fayetteville last month, I did meet up with friends at JR's, just as it should be. Other than the horrible pool table which had been set up where booths once were and the jukebox (the best jukebox in Arkansas) being broken, it was the same old JR's as always.
Now for the sad part. It seemed that in a matter of moments, the place just shut down. One minute, it was the cool, cozy, friendly bar we all knew as JR's, the next - nothing. Or something - across the ocean I heard a rumour it was becoming a gay bar. But that is the same as nothing to me. It's gone. And I never got to say goodbye. And I'll never get to go again. Where, I wonder, will I go next time I'm in Fayetteville where I know I'll see countless old pals? If only I could've played "The Conductor" by The Faint for Lincoln one last time or sang into my bottle with Cyndi Lauper, playing air guitar. If only I could scream "drunk girl" style once more at Aqueduct or run the merch table for Eleni. But alas. The days are over.
I don't suppose any of you will understand. Not unless you, too, once had a special spot, a place free from the stresses of the world, a place where you belonged (and got stuff for free) that no longer exists. Sigh. Come to think of it, Wade still owes me like 187 free shift beers. That, too, will be blotted from existence, a gray ash shuffled in the winds of time and memory.
Rest in peace, old dear friend.
For photos from the last night, care of Chris, click here.
*Lest my mother die of heart attack, let me confirm I do not smoke. Never have.