I know there will be many of you that will refuse to believe that today I could be celebrating my 25th anniversary of my hiring as manager at The Spoke…mainly because I look so young of course, but also because it will probably make a few of you wonder how you got to be old!
Sean Kelly started it all off by adding my name to the staff list one summer while there was no permanent manager. So when Rich Culley came in, I was just a dj that he inherited- never having dj’d before, just with a love of music and dark windows to hide behind. I think Rich did not enjoy me dj’ing as I would never play Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, or maybe it was because Tony Zidar used to come into the booth and change the spped on the records- or pop on Psycho Chicken at the most inopportune times? he did not let that linger though as when it came time for him to leave, he suggested to the Students’ Council and those on the hiring committee to give me a chance.
April 1, 1991 Joey and Ted offered up a contract. $24000/year, 2 weeks vacation and made me promise, as they had been through a few managers in the previous few years, that I would plan on being there at least 2 years…10 years later, I finally left! Scott Feschuk also did his part as he wrote The Gazette editorial asking that I be given a chance to turn the bar around as it had lost some money and they were thinking about closing the Western institution. Elliotte Friedman wrote the first article in the same paper introducing me to the students of Western. Can you believe they entrusted me with the social lives of so many?!
The Spoke was everything to me for 12 years. The best bands, the best music- or maybe just music I liked?- best of the comedians, BLT or CLT deluxes, one of the first in London to carry Stella (a big deal at the time) or our giant Keith’s sales (for Culley who was the rep at the time!), the opportunity to close out one legacy in Somerville House and begin another at in the UCC in 1996…but more importantly, obviously, it was about all of the people that lived and worked at The Spoke. I am always amazed at the impact we had on people’s lives- again, those students that were touched by something that we offered and especially to those that we were able to work at the bar. To be able to go anywhere in the world and have people know the name, or know someone that worked there- amazing. To be able to work and grow with family, both those that were actually related, and those that became family, I am not sure that there could have been a better place to be for those 12 years, especially the 10 I was lucky enough to be manager. To be able to look back now and see how many people are still close, to see another generation begat so to speak by The Spoke! To see and hear what The Spoke meant to their university days.
I kind of wish that camera phones were around when I began in the biz- or that I had thought that this would be the next 25+ years of my life and I had the foresight to begin writing a book! then again, with some of those stories- and VHS videos, maybe it was better that we were without?
Today is also the 15th anniversary of me leaving The Spoke and beginning at GT’s (a completely different but also an amazing experience), and in one months time, the 7 year anniversary of signing the lease for The Morrissey House.
I know people think The Morrissey House is a success, and to many, that that success is mine and that it is only a 6.5 years in the making success. Any success though is 25 years of you teaching me, allowing me to try to teach you, and for letting me learn about the business while you took care of the actual business! For listening even when you thought I was crazy, for trying to implement an idea, even when you thought I was crazy, to offering an opinion on why you thought I was crazy! That success also goes to the people that came to those places and perhaps understood what we (because in all of my career, it has always been a we) were trying to do- the fun we were trying to impart. in current bizspeak- my tribe.
So many names of course, so many great friends, one great employer (Ryan Mishriky you can share with your dad), coworkers and employees (not always the same thing, although in my case, a far greater number of friends than ‘just’ employees- even as I get cranky in my old age), so many great customers, so many great people that I was able to work with outside of the actual people on payroll- the ladies of USC Finance for example, or Entertainment Productions. Too many to tag or name, I will thank you when I see you! I want you to know that that you have had an impact! I knew how much I liked this business back then, but I did not know 25 years later I would still be a part of it! At least on this side of the bar anyway. I would say, here’s to another 25, but I don’t think I have that many in me! So to you, thank you, the first 25 have definitely been the best 25 I could have asked for.