You had to drive to it. In Chicago! In 2004! How was I supposed to feel about that?
It had a porch. It had a front room with a bar and low ceilings and yellow christmas lights strung up year round. It was made of wood. It was low-lit, but comfortable.
It was a hideout.
The back room -- through a narrow chokepoint of pillars and bathroom doors and stacks of mysterious boxes -- was where the bands played. It felt like it opened up to either side and before you. There were still wooden beams overhead, the floor became of concrete, and there were mystery windows that didn't open and were blacked out from the inside or the out. The beer was in bottles, you went in the summer, they were cool and slick in your hand. Everyone was sweaty, the air outside was humid, the band was loud but the Hideout was in some abandoned square of the city, so it didn't make a difference.
Cars were parked in a gravel lot with a chainlink fence around it.
There was a patio area. Sometimes Andrew Bird came by, tried to blend in, then left uncomfortably when the girls realized who he was and wouldn't stop staring in adoration.
There was music, but also readings. Davy Rothbart brought Found Magazine there in 2004, and he read from letters and journals people had sent in, writings once meant to be secret but now shared among strangers. His opening acts were his brother with a guitar ("The Poem Adept"), and Devon Sproule.
Annie and I sway along to both. We have never heard of them before. We agree that I will buy the cd of one, she will buy the cd of another, and we will burn copies for one another.
It's a little pocket of the world. You can go there on purpose, you can go there by accident. You can leave again and return, or never go back again, but think of it often with happiness, gratitude, and longing and loss. But when you think of it at all, you keep it alive.
Think of it.