I have so many questions about The Picture, things that make me wonder, but honestly I don’t want them answered. No, just leave this one like it is and let it stay frozen.
It’s perfect, with no context: Mick F—ing Jagger, leaned up on the wood railing outside the Thirsty Beaver, surrounded by that apartment complex that couldn’t push them out and by people who don’t notice him.
Why it matters: Plaza Midwood’s been on a lot of folks’ minds lately. People who’ve been here for any years are worried about changes, development, the loss of a soul that was there on property that wasn’t theirs.
Now we’ve all united around looking at this photo for hours.
- It’s art. An extraordinary star trying to be ordinary, in an ordinary bar in a city that begs to be extraordinary.
- Like if Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” and da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” did a couple shots of Jack and made a lovechild in an Airstream parked around the side and called their baby painting “Charlotte 2021.”
Look at the bottle of beer he’s holding: What is it? Don’t tell me. How did he pay for it? Did he tip well? No, wait, FINGERS IN EARS, DON’T TELL ME.
All the people who don’t see him: How do you feel today? Hungover? Ashamed? Don’t tell me. Just stay there like extras.
Did he slide that stool over afterward and say something normal like, “Anybody sitting here?”
- Gosh, what if you just told Mick Jagger, “You’re good man, take it,” and then just went back to bitching about the cost of pizza at Emmy Squared? Don’t tell me.
The picture reminds me of the Pulitzer-winning Gene Weingarten feature about the world’s finest violinist performing at a Metro stop while people just walked on by. We could spend hours wondering what The Picture says about our city and our busy lives, the way that great story does.
But this isn’t that kinda art. This isn’t Joshua Bell. This is Mick F—king Jagger, at our Thirsty F—ing Beaver.
Look. The checkered floors. The Budweiser lights over the pool tables. The bras hanging. The people curled over the bar. Knowing the jukebox is to the left and there’s a Spuds Mackenzie figurine lit up to the right, and that “Hee Haw” is on the TVs.
Here in our most-marketed city, this place just keeps doing what it wants, and so does he.
Just like you, me, us. I’ve leaned against that exact railing without being noticed, too!
Then again, there was the Thursday night a drunk guy approached me and asked if I was David Tepper. Said I looked like him. Still not sure what to make of that, but if it were true, I’d be richer than Mick Jagger, who, again, was approached by no one.
Speaking of the Panthers, the night they lost the Super Bowl in 2016, I went to the Beaver and a band was playing Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” and I wondered how they always get the details right.
My wife and I even saw a show at the Beaver with friends one Easter. They had ham and mac and cheese on the pool table. I had questions then, too, but the Beaver isn’t the kind of place where you ask ’em. You just accept it like it is.
Once I was in line for the bathroom, standing near a velvet picture of Kenny Rogers, when a man asked me if I’d been “looking for the penis?” Thing is, I knew what he was talking about. The old NASCAR Tim Richmond poster was just the next wall over.
“No,” I told the guy. “I know where to find it.”
I wonder if anyone showed Mick Jagger the penis.
Sturgill Simpson went there once. Not sure if he saw the poster but the place left an impression.
He still talks about how he’s “proud to say the first show I ever played here was about six years ago at the Thirsty Motherf—ing Beaver. Back when there wasn’t shit around it but a big-ol’ gravel parking lot. I drove by it yesterday and was like, ‘Where is it?’ Oh, damn. That sucks. But good for them for holding out.”
There were development plans once, actual sketches still in emails of contractors, that showed the apartment complex being built over top of the Beaver. They just assumed the Beaver would sell out, because everybody sells out, but the Beaver didn’t, because f–k that.
I wonder now, Where would Mick Jagger have gone last night if the Beaver hadn’t been there?
Really, don’t answer that one.