Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Anniversary Night

Tuesday night was 007 at the reopened Saturn Bar. Now, as long as I've known it, the Saturn bar has barely had room for customers, much less a band. It's one of the world's great dive bars, but of late, the broken jukeboxes and air conditioners had started to accumulate (apparently O'Neil was a handy guy who couldn't say no when friends asked for repairs, hence the appliance graveyard); also, the cats had become less than finicky about what constituted a litter box. So, it became almost a chore for me to show my friends from out of town the great Saturn Bar.

O'Neil made it through the storm but passed away in December. I thought at first perhaps the Saturn Bar had run its course; whether closed forever or given a new incarnation, the Saturn Bar was gone. It stayed closed for months, becoming the cause of much Marigny speculation. Finally, at a benefit reading to promote a lovely little anthology of New Orleans writing a few months ago, we had a sneak preview: gone was the jukebox graveyard, the cats, the jumble that had taken over the back half of the bar; booths and pool table were suddenly visible in the back, the path to the bathroom unobstructed. And somehow the new owner, O'Neil's great nephew Neil Broyard, had managed to clear the place out without losing any of the eclectic charm. It was still the Saturn Bar, but there was more of it now (well, more bar, less stuff).

Tuesday night's show at the Saturn was therefore a great milestone. It has been, I believe, a full decade since live music was seen at the Saturn Bar. The place was crushing-full, and both Egg Yolk Jubilee and 007 had the crowd jumping. All my favorite Marignians and Bywaterites were on the dance-floor or bellied up to the bar. The odor of hipness had replaced the stench of cat piss.

I stepped outside for air and saw a National Guard humvee parked on the neutral ground. The Guardsmen had come across the street to ask about the bar and were now flirting with a girl with a full-on brassy yat accent. For a second, I thought about curfew, wondered if they were enforcing it. Then I remembered, we come a long way dawlin.


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