I got a text the other day from my life-mate Tony Erba. He was just letting me know about some quotes he had in the current issue of Scene. ‘Ha’ I thought, ‘I wonder why the weekly is doing a piece on Beta tapes and/or the history of the beer can.’ So, naturally, I procrastinated and never really read the article. Then I ran across a link to it on a message board and fell face first into some interesting (if not totally foreseeable) news. If you live in Cleveland and read the rag in question, well, you probably know what I’m talking about. For those, like me, not in the Cleveland gossip scene any more I would ask you to sit down because this is not shocking, not amazing but, if nothing else, timely: Jigsaw Entertainment has died.
RIP. And thanks for a whole lot of nothing. I’d say something with a little more color but I don’t wish to upset the widow. I’m looking at you Parma.
D.X. Ferris was given the chance to break out of the confines of local music blurbs and deliver a big-time piece of relevant Cleveland rock journalism; deliver he did. Like SD Jones or Lebron James in the clinch; like I never did. I know this: you should all go out of your way to read it.
I’ve thrown in my long-distance minutes on this subject a few times. I never liked the idea of one little group running four Cle clubs that, love them or hate them, have had storied pasts be it as a favored pub (the Saw), legendary venue (Agora) and famous spots for the local scene (Peabody’s and Hi Fi/Blind Lemon). I can’t imagine the stress involved with maintaining one of these joints: the staffing, bills, food cost and booking alone makes me pine for a valium and bottle of Beam. The fact that this dude who, it’s hard to argue, was an outsider in a members only clubhouse, could think that playing monopoly was a good business move is hard to fathom. I, myself, feel like an outsider these days but I would know enough not to handle a ball covered in grease.
Making bands succumb to selling tickets or other every day antics is one thing that we have all made ourselves come to terms with but bouncing checks to loyal employees, major beer distributors and suppliers of all things electric and warm is another faux pas that any one opening a business knows to stay clear of. $8,000 in delinquent electric bills? There’s little to no excuse; Tower 2012 would never be so careless.
The future of these establishments seems in disrepair: Ferris notes that the Jigsaw is temporally closed which means dozens of regulars are sitting on unfamiliar bar stools in less inviting bars all across town. I can’t even begin to walk down my own memory lanes reserved for each of the places in question. Shit man, I used to practically live at the Hi Fi. It was the first place I thought of to book out of town bands that I was cool with. Amps II Eleven reserved that stage for big shows and Southern Trespass booked more than one reunion there. The Agora is where I saw Motorhead time and time again. Where my friend Chris threw a plastic cup of piss off the balcony during a Cradle of Filth show and I witnessed Spike Dudley dive from that exact seat onto a stack of tables. Peabody’s is synonymous with Metal and tall cans of High Life. And the Jigsaw… home away from home. The most inviting, welcoming and down right magical drinking establishment I have ever been a patron of. Now it may be gone. Gone, gone, gone.
But what was most poignant, heartbreaking and utterly inexcusable was this last paragraph written by Ferris:
“Most painful to her, it seems, was the emotional goodbye from Joe, a disillusioned 80-year-old longtime regular. Tears in his eyes, he took his mug and went home.”
I think I know the guy they are talking about. If I am mistaken then it’s of no real matter because that sentiment and those tears can be assigned to many past booze hounds and rock fans who went to all four clubs. An end of an era seems wrong; it’s the end of a quick and ugly run by a misinformed and misguided attempt at making a name for oneself. Making a name in an unforgiving town that was already surviving on it’s own through an intelligent and self motivated group of wonderful people, bands and clubs.
I hope that some of those affected personally by this charade can recoup and push the legacy of the Agora, Peabody’s, Hi Fi and Jigsaw forward. Cleveland is full of ghosts… no need to fill the graveyard further.