The ‘Dame Block’ was a collection of bars / dives / venues that grew up organically over the past ten years or so. The Dame was the only large music venue in town. Mia’s was the lesbian bar & restaurant. And Buster’s was the punk dive pool hall, which was also sort of home to us. This block brought together all the different factions of young & exciting culture in Lexington, a home for young artists and musicians who aren’t welcomed in the traditional art circles which all have a slightly antebellum feel. Suddenly, the Webb brothers announced that they had secretly bought the entire block and were planning on demolishing everything to build a 40 story hotel & luxury condo development. It stunk of good old boy politics and back room deals. The burgeoning community that lives, works & plays downtown reacted overwhelmingly against this development, as out of scale, as crushing our nascent cultural center, and as destroying an entire block of historical buildings. There were protests, we organized a non-for-profit to fight the development, finally just begging to be heard, begging for compromise. “We need culture,’ we said, “not luxury condos.” The Webbs made a show of listening, only to do exactly as planned. As a further show of disrespect & arrogance they started knocking down buildings during our 4th of July parade, when all of Lexington gathers around that block. A year later we’re left with a ‘crater of mud’ in the center of downtown, with no signs of construction. I could rant for pages.
This alley, that I am so ceremoniously pissing in, will be a pile of rubble in a week, and then a mudpit, and then, supposedly, a 40 story luxury condo tower. They don’t get it, and I should have said so, should have told them that me pissing there was like pouring out a 40 for the dead, the only place in town I’d ever felt comfortable, slumped in a ratty booth, punk rock and pool tables and regular people, not rich Irishmen at McCarthy’s or Harvey’s, which used to be the Melodian, which again was our place, but now is some swank ass polo shirt frat boy bullshit. And now I’m pissing on it because I won’t be welcome within five hundred feet of this luxury condo development whose “inviting street level businesses” will consist of a Starbucks, a Chili’s, some stuffy men’s clothing place, and a bar just like the other five within a block which all make you feel like your guts rotting out from the inside, the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. I don’t fit in there. And for once I did fit in here, and it’s all shit now, so I’m pissing on it. The alley dirt turning to mud.
I should have said all this to the coppers, the fat one just stood there, quizzical, waiting for me to say something, their flashlight lighting up my face in the narrow brick alley. Instead I looked at the tall skinny one and burped.
The skinny one says, “We’re tryin’ to keep this part a’ town nice, and we can’t have people doin’ this sort of thing in the alley.” Which is ironic. It is so ironic that even in my stupor the irony is concrete, I can feel the grit of it.
Finally they’re letting me go. And the skinny one saying, “Don’t do this again,” I swear he says this without a drip of irony. I drift around the corner and rejoin the Kentucky hipsters outside, drinking brazenly on the sidewalk, packed with bodies and spilling out into the street. Another beer. Some of Burch’s bourbon flask. Someone has a 48 case of PBR in their messenger bag because the keg’s run out inside. My phone vibrates.
It’s a text message from her. “I’m in front of The Dame if you want to talk.”
She was standing there, lit up by the street, alone in the thronging crowd. The two of us, surrounded in the middle of the sidewalk, outside the double doors of The Dame. I don’t remember what I was thinking, only that I wanted her to take a walk with me, and she wouldn’t go. The car headlights streamed by one after another. The two of us, standing there, staring at each other, saying nothing. --Alex Brooks