A Fan's Farewell Tribute: The Park Bar 'Helped Detroit Make a Leap Forward'

November 30, 2017, 5:57 PM

The author, a Detroit native and Wayne State graduate ('06), is a writer, actor and comedian who lives in Detroit and Los Angeles. This is reposted with permission from Facebook.

By Mike Targus

The vision was a theater and bar in an old building in downtown Detroit.

A theater for the improv I had fallen in love with during my time at Wayne and in Chicago, and the Shakespeare that had made Jerry Belanger leave the frills, thrills and dollar bills of a business where he convinced people that psychologist Abraham Maslow had simply failed to mention car washes atop his hierarchy of needs.


Mike Targus: "We'll remember how unforgettable the place, feeling and moment in time it shepherded really was." (Photo by Karri Brantley)

A bar that would make this all possible would be in the building as well. A round bar. One that encouraged conversation, philosophical thinking, and exchange of Detroit-centric politics. Its patrons would be Detroit's knights of the round table, people who cared deeply about the city, longtime residents, transplants, former techno weirdos turned entrepreneurs, punkers who practiced carpentry on the side, over-educated potheads, erudite barflies -- basically everyone who's been kicked out of the burbs for not being white or straight enough.

It would give Detroit's indie art, theater and music scenes a foothold in center of the city that had lay dormant for too long and we all believed would inevitably come back.

Although Detroit is far from being back, we have certainly made steps throughout downtown -- some more tenuous than others, some more naive than others, and some more akin to stomps, but steps nevertheless.

And regardless of how one may feel about any or all of the developments of the last ten or so years, none of them would have been possible without the courage of folks like Jerry, the Park Bar, its regulars and its staff.

Whether it was taking the million or so bucks you had amassed over the course of a career and investing it another business, or getting ripped off by Shorty every time you just wanted a beer, or sat outside whole nights on a bar stool with a pack of smokes and a fifth of crown royal on your knee praying a drunk with money might stumble into the bar, or were one of the workers who toiled over every detail of the place, you were part of it.

You helped Detroit make a leap forward. You helped make a statement as to what our town was all about.

Perhaps there's more static. Perhaps Detroit is more saturated by different types now. And it might seem as though the voice that we toiled on -- and helped to hew with every concert, comedy show, beer and awkward makeout session -- will be lost, or quieted in some way. But that's not how music works.

By Tim Meeks and Eric Patrick Kelly.

Music lasts forever, and the Park Bar and Elizabeth Theater are music.

And every time something reminds us of the song that is the Park Bar, we'll sing along in our heads and we'll smile, because we'll remember how unforgettable the place, feeling and moment in time it shepherded really was.

And that it'll remain one of our favorite songs as long as we live.

See you this Saturday, everybody!

Mike Targus' website is here

Related article today:

Last Call: Six Music Acts Will Close the Park Bar on Saturday

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