A few personal memories of Moe’s Bar in Brooklyn, which is closing tonight, Wednesday, April 27, 2011.
I remember walking by the corner of South Portland and LaFayette years ago before I had even moved into the neighborhood. I was living in the Village in graduate school at the time and coming to Brooklyn for a classmate’s party was the mental equivalent of going to Philadelphia.
I remember going into the store that was there and thinking “Wow, there’s actually a store that sells Zoot Suits in Brooklyn”. And expensive ones at that.
I remember moving to the neighborhood after graduating and feeling lonely at first since I didn’t have many friends in the area but loved my apartment. I ventured out to local spots like Franks and Night of the Cookers but nothing really seemed to fit my personality.
I remember seeing that a new spot was opening where the Zoot suit place had been. “Nice!”, I thought.
I remember coming in the first week of the opening and meeting Ruby and Amy and I seem to recall listening to the Human League and Journey (both faves of mine) and then some Rick James. I thought to myself “I’m gonna like this place”
I remember coming into Moe’s on 9/11 and still being able to see the smoke in the sky from the city. I remember everyone hugging each other and saying how it was going to be ok even though we didn’t know it.
I remember sitting at the bar in green sweat pants after being laid of from my first job out of business school because the attacks on the WTC led to massive job losses including my own. I recall feeling really down and uncertain but somehow knowing that I could come to this place and see a friendly face and have a good conversation with an intelligent person and hell, get a needed buzz.
I remember being one of the first DJs on Thursday nights and having to bring my turntables and mixer to the bar to perform. One night, I dropped one of my crates of vinyl (yes, vinyl) on my foot and my big toe nail came off and was super bloody. Needless to say, my love for Moe’s and the opportunity to play music for my people was greater than the pain. I DJed standing up for 5 hours and loved every minute of it.
I remember one night while DJing and looking at a crowded singing room of people thinking that I wouldn’t want to be any place else in the world.
I remember the endless conversations with people who were there in the beginning but have since moved on. I am envious of them in a way since they were able to go before Moe’s went for good.
I remember having some of my first conversations about my intention to marry my wife. By then, Moe’s had become a family to me. Everyone had their input and gave me great advice. From where to buy the ring to what kind of tuxedo to get.
I remember being awakened by the drumming and joy and getting dressed and walking down to Moe’s on the night Obama was elected. It was a scene that will last with me for the rest of my life. Moe’s was the natural place for us to convene and it was a tearful celebration.
I remember playing spades with white folks for the first time….and actually losing a few times. 🙂
I remember all the conversations with great artists, business people, photographers, actors, politicians, educators and feeling like I was surrounded by greatness.
I remember feeling like we were in the best bar in the best neighborhood in the best city in the best country in the best world in the Universe.
I remember bringing anyone who is close to me and visiting the City to Moe’s bar none.
In the absence of my blood family, Moe’s is about as close as it gets. As an entrepreneur, it can be very lonely many days. But just knowing that you have wonderful friends around you that are both reliable and trustworthy makes all the difference, especially in a City that can be incredibly difficult to navigate and sustain oneself. I always tell anyone that asks, that Moe’s is not about the alcohol, it’s about the realization of all of our collective needs: the feeling of belonging and being loved. It’s about the people and the need for interaction that we all share.
As I approach tonight, I wish I was able to stop time so I wouldn’t have to walk out of Moe’s for the last time. That last beer, that last hug, that last look back at the bar will be like watching a good friend pass away and not be able to save them. I am eternally grateful to Ruby and Chelsea for what they created. Thank you to all of the bartenders, bar backs, manager and bouncers over the years. Most of all, thanks to all of the other Moe’s regulars who sat on this side of the bar with me. You made the last 10 years better than they would have been without you.
Mayor of Fort Greene
Minister of Culture