This morning as I was having breakfast I was alerted to the fact that a couple of Dallas institutions were closing. And when I say institutions, I mean great establishments that were quite dear to me and I am quite sad to see them go. Per this entry at Unfair Park though, and it is indeed true, both the Meridian Room and CD World both closed yesterday.
People have often been known to argue about it, especially with Bill's and Good Records, competing in a city notorious for not just lacking support for local musicians, but of being often culturally void and fickle, but I've always felt CD World to be the best record store in this town. As a teenager I treasured my visits there, often unloading what at the time seemed to be an absurd sum of money on Mudhoney CDs, Nirvana t-shirts, and assorted vinyl, stickers, and buttons. It was conveniently located in East Dallas (as opposed to Good Records which didn't exist until I was a senior in High School, and Bill's which was in Richardson then), had bargain prices with $8 CDs, and an assortment of general crap which any music fan would love. And unlike Bill's, it was actually organized. And as I got older, the store just kept getting better as I did enjoy perusing the bargain bin of $3 CDs and for every Mariah Carey or Guns 'n Roses CD you'd come across a gem like a hard to find Seaweed or Stanford Prison Experiment record.
And while I may be responsible in some small part for it's demise, what with my complete and total embrace of on-line music piracy (with the exception of local bands), it doesn't mean I'm sad to see it go. In the height of my hypocrisy, there really is still something magical about the record store experience, and I really will miss CD World. As a parting gift though, I did get my ticket for Mudhoney there a few weeks back.
So as though that weren't enough of a bummer day, as the stars aligned also closing yesterday was the Meridian Room. Besides having a killer Guinness Steak Sandwich and half-price food on wednesdays, Meridian Room also provided me so, so many memories. For while I live walking distance from both Lower Greenville and Lakewood, I've always loved Expo Park. It's like Deep Ellum except without the douchebags, trendy bars, and cops. I have fond memories from high school of spending afternoons in what is now Amsterdam Bar (it was then New Amsterdam Coffee Haus) drinking coffee, reading, playing chess, watching 'Walker, Texas Ranger' filmed on the street in front, and buying cigarettes. But this isn't about Expo at large, or Amsterdam, it's about Meridian Room.
The Meridian Room, well, it was a one of a kind place. With Expo Park being right on the cusp of South Dallas, it was the farthest tip of civilization, and yet it was a great European style bar serving fantastic food and great beer (even if Blake is still bitter they got rid of Boddingtons on draft). Flanked by a dive bar (Bar of Soap, also now closed), a '50s style barber shop (Rob's Chop Shop), and what used to be a very strange antique store before becoming the short-lived Sloppyworld-Meridian Room joined Amsterdam Bar in bringing just a touch of drunken class to a chaotic and yet fantastic neighborhood. Whole inside you had so much fun you forgot about being propositioned by 6-month pregnant Mexican hookers as you entered the bar, or the crackheads that would wander over from South Dallas.
Beyond my normal patronage, every year I would meet my out of town friends there for drinks right around Christmas time, including the weirdest reunion ever last year of Elementary School people, which turned out to be a blast. And despite living in Denton, I spent a great many nights there with my now ex-girlfriend, with T-bone, with Trish, with Jordan, and with all manner of people. Maston made the strangest marriage proposal ever there, followed by Stacy's now ex-husband finding some great tacos. And while I do enjoy the Libertine, and it helps that it's 3 blocks from my house, I will always have a place in my heart and a little sadness regarding the closing of the Meridian Room.
So as the Meridian webpage says, Civilization Began With Distillation, and Cheers!