Sunday, January 04, 2004

Dispatch from Phil Leonard

(every now and then, someone emails me a dispatch to post for them. this one is from Phil Leonard, former co-owner of the Down Home and general swell guy. so good to hear from him! -- brook)

How does one go about making a proper and public apology for an infraction
that is now probably 15 years old? The specific date is not important. I,
Phil Leonard, made a big error when I shared my personal opinion in a public
forum. I was quoted that I did not consider Final Curtain to be a band that
played music. That quote of "my opinion" was correct. It was not complete. I
continued to tell the "reporter" that I considered them to be practicing
"performance art". That didn't show up in the article. That does not
diminish how improper was my not keeping my mouth shut. And it will do no
good to state whether I personally liked or disliked their shows. To this
day I owe everyone that was a member of Final Curtain at the time this took
place both a personal and a public apology. With Brook's permission I am
using this forum as a starting place from which to issue my apology. If
there is a more public place where this apology should be issued just
suggest the place and I will also place an apology there. Bottom line in
this thing is that I was out of line and I was responsible for statements
that were not fair and had no business being shared in a local newspaper in
the form it was issued. The reporter gave me a position of being something
of a spokesperson on that occasion. I am ashamed that I abused that position
and I regret any embarrassment and/or hurt that it caused others. In the
long run I would say I embarrassed myself more that those spoken of. I was
wrong. And I am sorry.

I was on the fringe of the community represented by this site. Only a person
that helped in providing one of the venues for some of your adventures and
undertakings. I have not been associated with the Down Home for four years
now. But for nearly twenty years I did help the place to be a "variety
playhouse" of sorts. A place that opened its doors to many different types
of artistic expression. While the Home was offered up to the communities at
large it was not owned by everyone and was not required to be everything to
everybody. I feel I did help to expand the venue's choice of offerings way
beyond bluegrass and old time music. Some folks in those communities thought
they were betrayed when their share of booking dates became a smaller part
of the calendar? The place did not want to be a bluegrass club nor a rock
club. But rather to offer some of the best of both. Along with poetry,
literature, film, theatre. And lots of benefits for lots of organizations. I
got a real kick out of one post that offered up how the author's group made
"a huge pile of money for Phil Leonard". This person should be informed that
the majority of any profit seen from the door for their event went to
subsidize the next three or four offerings where the door lost money. Hey,
you were contributing to the larger cultural scene when your show brought in
profit...not to Phil Leonard. And "thank you" for that.

While I am sincere about the apology issued above I must also offer a
differing memory of yamo's recollection of being asked, along with Bruce, to
leave the Down Home. I have no memory of Bruce being bloodied but I do
remember making a decision that "rednecks" in attendance might not react
well to slam dancers bumping into their person/table, etc. From my position
at the sound booth I would venture to say I could better observe what was
going on than yamo who may have even been right next to Bruce. While yamo
fondly notes how many different mind altering things were a precursor to
their roamings about town, it was my usual discipline to refrain from such
things until after the club's doors were locked at the end of the night. In
my many roles as a caretaker and host at the Down Home I had
responsibilities that extended beyond the obvious. Some of the younger free
spirits probably saw me as Grinch, spoil sport, evil vice-principal figure,
self-righteous hall monitor...and the ugly list goes on. I remember some
underage band members playing at the club were asked to meet me half way.

One was disappointed he couldn't drink his beer out in the room where all
his underage contemporaries could witness his cool defiance of the law.
Since I'm no longer one of the owners of the club I will issue a short
disclaimer that I was the only owner responsible for allowing these underage
band members to drink the beer I gave the dressing room. No one
could hold current owners responsible though I'm sure any statute of
limitations has long expired. Anyway, this is a blog for JC Stories. And the
desire by some folks to bring slam dancing to the ole Down Home, and my
admitted efforts at prohibiting it from that venue was a stimulating time. I
did lock horns with Bruce and I should have handled some of those situations
better. But I swear I don't remember ever having a physical confrontation
with anyone in all the years I spent at the club. I don't remember putting
hands on anyone and don't remember ever having anyone physically assault me.
But, yamo, if your memory brings you any satisfaction go with it. I suspect
I gave you some reasons for your personal dislike of me. My loss there.

On a personal note to Bruce. If it matters. I always saw you as a brilliant
intellect and an artist but didn't always agree that some of your directions
fit in with the Down Home. I always suspected you lived with aggravations
from finding yourself in a sea of bubbas who had no awareness of much beyond
a triple burger and a giant slushy. I remember my image of you changing from
just another young whiner complaining "there's nuthin to do in this town",
to a publisher actively making shit happen! That said, neither I nor the
Down Home owed anyone very much more than we gave to individuals and the
communities at large. And that said, some may feel I owe them more apologies
than the one expressed above. And, indeed I'm sure I'm ignorant of many of
these infractions. After all. I was busy putting a full work week into a
hobby of helping to run the one thing closest to a cultural arts center in
JC, in addition to my day job. And I'll bet I fell victim to being pretty
full of myself many times.

If this blog lasts long enough to become a chronicle of sorts some
contributors might look back after more passing of time to see that: 1) Yes
over indulgence and substance abuse are common traits during adolescence. 2)
Giving praise to this behavior and recounting it fondly is a common trait
for folks having recently moved to more restrictive adulthood situations in
life (the Glory Days?). 3) A lot of the over indulgence might have actually
been stupid and got in the way of seeing some of your early dreams become
better expressed without quite so much and such a variety used so
frequently. We pretty much ALL go through that cycle.

Hopefully we all get the chance to have our own glory days and a great group
of people to share them with. The fact is your group is not the first nor
the last to have such times. But that also does not diminish those days that
were yours and yours alone. I suspect we would be hard pressed to find a
brighter gathering of energetic and just plain good people on this planet
that found themselves in one more "nowhere place" but used their own
creativity to make their own scenes. I appreciate the joy I was given when I
held witness to all of your "carrying on"!

So Bruce, yamo and all others offended by my statements in that certain
issue of the JC Press I acknowledge my violation. I am ashamed and
regretful. You have every right to not accept this apology. But I issue it
here in all sincerity.

Phil Leonard


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