Nightclub Rebop Deluxe by James Thompson
There’s a gathering of the tribes at Bill’s Bar Saturday, May 1. What tribes? Those of us still alive who haunted Spit/DV8 and Axis, starting back in 1979. I’ve got a “voices of/from Spit” story in the Boston Herald – www.bostonherald.com – Sunday, April 25, which will give you some idea of what was and what’s to come. The show, promoted by ex-Spit security guys Mario Taddeo and Jerry Colpitts, is approaching sellout status. Tickets are $25 and you can access them through www.spitboston.com. Robin Lane and the Chartbusters and Lizzie Borden & the Axes will play live. Oedipus, Albert O, Henry Santoro and Willie LeMay will spin. Now, I’ll be posting some of the comments from various Spit people over the years on this site next week, bits that wouldn’t fit into the Herald feature but will complement it. Right now, I wanted to post something written by old pal Jim Thompson. Jim was a bartender at Axis. He’s now a best-selling crime novelist, based in Finland, with the grisly detective novel “Snow Angel.” I asked him about his take on it all. The following is his work:
I wandered into Axis some twenty years ago. That seething cauldron of a nightclub and I took one look at each other, and it was love at first sight. I asked for a job that same evening, and the odyssey began. I was home. Our love was true. Every time I walked through the door, I left the real world behind and entered a separate universe, subject to its own laws of existence, and megalomaniacal youth made me believe that, like God, I could change those laws and alter existence at my will and whim. Who knows, maybe I could.
The next years now blur together and reel through my mind like a movie. I work Bar 1, near the stage. The PA, as measured by Pete, barback, MIT student, and resident genius, rocket-blasts at 160 decibels. The bands blow me away. Rock is not dead. I stop selling booze and stand on the bar to commune with it during the unforgettable moments. Kurt Cobain angsts “Teen Spirit.” Eddie Vedder belts “Jeremy.” White Zombie grinds “Black Sunshine.” Clearly, the women that populate my Axis universe are demi-goddesses incarnated by Isis for my sole benefit: a parade of walking and talking wet dreams. The friendships I form with both my co-workers and customers are the closest I’ve ever experienced working in a club. And there have been many.
This is the studio version of my mind movie, but outtakes clutter the cutting floor of my psyche. A pretty little blond girl, tanned, in a white summer dress. She cries and drools blood down the front of it. I scrounge around on the floor with a flashlight and gather up her teeth. Wrap them in a napkin and put them in her purse, so she can take them with her to the emergency room.
Another pretty girl. A regular. Sweet, pleasant. Two psycho geeks follow her from the club to a gas station. They abduct her, rape her, beat her to death with a rock.
Intervening in the attempted rape of a bartender. I get the rape-o off her. It’s not a matter of whether I’m going to beat him, just how badly. I scream at him. He laughs, says, “Hey, come on man. She’s my sister.” His utter lack of humanity shocks me so badly that I do nothing, just walk away. The bartender and I never speak of it. I still hear his laugh today.
My fellow-bartender and housemate. He goes to work to sling drinks, but is stabbed and nearly killed by a drug-addled fool. His haunted face when he comes home from the hospital. The list goes on.The love between Axis and myself faded and died. The outtakes of my mind-movie killed it, and eventually, I had to leave. I sometimes missed the place, was occasionally tempted to go back in the time that followed, but never walked through the doors again, even as a customer. It took me a
long time to understand why. The era was over, and there’s nothing worse than a warmed-over love affair.