The Flats





Week 3 Contest – Bar Hopping


CK – As I try and remember all of the partying and experiences, I’m having a lot of laughs thinking about who I was and what all I had done, but the strongest thread is all of the music I was so blessed to see. All of the shows at all the venues, and many of the adventures which I really don’t care to publicize that took place at each one. One show stands out, especially in light of recent music news.

A show was coming to the newly opened Nautica that was billed as Jimmy Cliff and special guest. Jimmy was running hot with “I Can See Clearly Now” at the top of the Billboard Charts, and I really didn’t consider going because the ticket price was high. I was in college at the time, and at the beginning of my journey at WCSB. I was talking to the head of African American Studies about the show, and he told me Fela Kuti was the special guest. I went out and got a ticket that afternoon. My friends and I were excited at the promise of a glimpse of what every weekend was like at The Shrine in Nigeria. I had fantasized about taking a trip there to experience what the Stones and Ginger Baker had sought out, but realized that I could muster the resources to get there, but then what? It was pre-internet and I couldn’t afford the kind of security that rock stars could. You can look up what eventually happened to Ginger. I didn’t think my quick wits and boyish good looks would be enough to keep me safe.

We hit the Flat Iron on the way down for a few pints and party favors. We were elated! We knew something transforming was going to happen to us that night. We got there early, taking our seats in the bleachers left of stage. Jimmy came out to start the night. Most of the crowd, or should I say those who were there, were shocked. They had come to see Jimmy Cliff! Most had no idea what was going to happen to them. Many showed up late, missing close to the whole set. After a short intermission, Fela came out, with all of his wives, and one of the largest bands I had seen on stage, other than the Orchestra. One musician was sitting on a huge hollow log with a skin over one end, an original drum. Fela introduced himself and the band, then said “I have so much to tell you tonight, but your city has a curfew.” He then went into a 2 hour session of the greatest Afrobeat I have ever experienced. It was 4 songs that changed my life forever! Many people left upset and confused during the first song. They had come to dance to feel-good Reggae and were in no way prepared to open up to the beautifully harsh realities of Fela’s music. That night continues to shape my consciousness.

The next week’s Scene had a number of letters from those upset and confused attendees, wanting their money back for what they felt was a bait-and-switch. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jimmy Cliff! I do not have anything but admiration for him, and felt the need to program a tribute to his significant musical legacy on his passing over. But with the latest list of possible Rock Hall inductees announced this week, along with you’re asking for Flats memories, I just had to recount the night my life was saved by the former head of the African American Studies Department of CSU! Thank You Okanta!


ND – After a night of debauchery at Pirates Cove we’d sit on the hood of the car with our 5 gallon bucket full of beer and pulling on a spleef, watching the bikers do burnouts on main at 4am till CPD would tell us its time to go home guys.


AL – All of my cousins and their friends were in town from Detroit, and we did our usual and headed to the flats EARLY. We were outside at, I believe, Dick’s Last Resort, it was probably noon or 1:00, and we’re all hammered. I was joking with my cousin’s boyfriend, and I went to fling a solo cup of ice cold water at him, and he moved exactly as I did it, and I totally doused this beautifully dressed, unexpecting, and innocent woman behind him. I WAS MORTIFIED. She was so gracious about it, I was offering to pay for her dry cleaning and everything, she laughed and forgave me, and partied the rest of the day with us!!


MC – In the early ’80s, a bunch of us all underage. We parked in Settlers Landing (before they concreted it) We drank and just hung out. All the ppl made fun of us cuz we were teens. It didn’t matter we had booze anyway. Then we would go to Quigley for the drag racing.


MS – Two of my Nitebridge musicians woke up at my house in 1983 and decided to go bar hopping in the flats to see who made the best margarita. I dropped them off and told them to call me when they ran out of money!!! 4 hours later they called and they where so drunk they didn’t realize they where in a strip club!!!!



Week 2 Contest – Peabody’s Down Under


KD – Pleased seeing The Janglers on a flier with Pearl Jam…..they are part of my story about PDU. Two bands whose CDs I issued as Oroboros is on there too!



JR – SO many stories, from seeing the Rubber City Rebels AFTER they had released their record and came back from Los Angeles to meeting Timothy Leary backstage to interviewing Duran Duran and X to meeting and hanging out with the legendary Snakefinger to shooting and interviewing Fairport Convention to missing The Residents (lol) to all those Gary Lewis concerts before he moved back to LA from his Lakewood home. But I think my favorite memory actually started the night before at the old Agora on East 24th Street.

The Pretenders had just played their very first show in America there on a Monday night (St. Patrick’s Day – I looked it up lol) and the next night Iggy Pop and his band played there. It was 1980 and Iggy was touring for the Soldier album (I met the band members that night, including the late Ivan Kral, whom I had met previously when he played keyboards for Patty Smythe). Chrissie Hynde had stayed in Cleveland for Iggy’s show and the entourage trouped over to M105 for an impromptu after-show interview with a recent transplant DJ from New York, Marlene Fox.

After Iggy’s show we all went down to what was still called Pirate’s Cove (it was renamed Peabody’s Down Under in 1984) to see a punk band from Texas. After the ‘raid’ on M105, Marlene brought Iggy and Chrissie down to the Cove and they sang ‘I Got You Babe’ with the awestruck band. Needless to say, everybody in the club was happily shocked!!!


JK – Johnny Winter. I parked my motorcycle right in front with about 5 other bikes. Tour bus shows up and asks for the bikes to be moved. (legal parking space).
The other bikes moved. I could look out the door and see mine. I didn’t want to move. I asked the “cop on the street” and he said, “Hell no, you don’t have to move.” So I went back inside.
Before long, an announcement came “asking” if the owner if the bike would please move it. Uhhhh, no! Time goes by, new announcement says Johnny won’t play until bike is moved!! What?
Reluctantly, I caved. I moved it to the lot across the street. On a side note I used tickets from a David Allan Coe show of which I had extras to get into the show. Haha.


JB – I remember going to see Leslie West (Mountain, West, Bruce, & Laing) before he lost the weight – a LARGE man with a tiny guitar, shredding wonderful music. About halfway through the show, what appeared to be a shambling shirtless man climbed up on stage behind the drums – I thought it was a random person who had too much to drink; turns out it was Corky Laing and they put on a great show. Sadly, Leslie died in late December 2020, but I will always remember that show!


DK – I was part of a belly dance performance in conjunction with a belly dance contest. I performed as entertainment while the judges decided who the winner(s) would be. Considering that I had been dancing semi-professionally I had no problem doing this until – – – I went into a Turkish Drop which is a spin where you suddenly drop to the floor – it’s very dramatic and you slap your zills on the floor as you make contact with the stage for even more drama. What happened was somehow the snake arm bracelet on my lower arm somehow caught in the strap of my sandal as I dropped so I distracted the audience with belly rolls and undulations using my left hand to accent these moves while my right hand was trapped at my ankle. I was able to wiggle the snake bracelet off and ended up dancing the remainder of the set with it attached to my sandal which no one noticed – thank goodness – mahalo – Dahmia



Week 1 Contest – Fagan’s


KM – On a hot summer night in July 1993, my boyfriend and I went down to Fagan’s to meet up with some friends, like we always did, or so I thought.

At the time, there was an advertising boat on the river that you could rent, and my boyfriend rented it and was planning to propose. Shortly before it was set to arrive, I had gone to the ladies room. He was freaking out and sent a couple of girlfriends to drag me back to the table in time, “I don’t care what you tell her, get her back here!” Once I sat down again at the table, I saw the advertising boat with my name on it. That got my attention. As the message that followed flashed by, I read a sweet little poem over several messages:

We’ve been friends for years,
and with a kiss we became lovers,
you have filled my soul like no other,
I want to be with you for the rest of my life,
I love you Karen, please be my wife ❤️

All these years later I still couldn’t be happier that I said, “Yes!” Later he told me it was a good thing I said yes, he told the boat driver to look out for me in the river if I said no. (No, he wouldn’t.) The crowd response was universal, with women telling me what a sweet way it was for him to propose, while the men told my husband, “thanks buddy, now my girlfriend is going to expect me to come up with something like that”.



JB – I remember when WGCL at the time would host 98 cent happy hour. Select beers and cocktails would be 98 cents. People would order like 10 at a time, buying rounds for friends or just binge drinking, I mean it was the early ’90s in the flats. So 10 drinks, and this was pretty much still a cash heavy society back then, the bill comes to $9.80. These cheap asses never tipped. They hand over a ten spot, we hand over the 2 dimes back and that would often be the tip. I’m fairly confident hundreds of dollars in dimes were found under those patio coolers because most of us bartenders would just chuck them after making 2 kamikazes, 2 buttery nipples, 2 Alabama slammers, 2 sex on the beaches and a couple of Miller Lites for the boat shoe wearing crowd.


DT – In the early ’60s, my future husband was from out of town and we enjoyed ending our dates on Saturday night at Fagan’s. The Dixieland band always played Auld Lang Syne at 12 midnight. The whole place was made up of workers from the ships, ladies in formal wear and just everybody from different walks of life. At midnight, we were all there to have fun. It was great!


MW – 1970’s: Fagan’s, Pickle Bill’s, rutty roads, gravel parking lots. We were in our 20s, the cool crew, long hair and sandals. Drinks were cheap and food was good. And there was the water — the river — the view not appreciated by any body else but us. Fagan’s was our place to be (along with the Harbor Inn). We lived up the hill, on West 32nd Street on the Near West Side. We partied and enjoyed ownership of the rutty-roaded scene. The Flats Scene was us.


EH – I remember Fagan’s when it was still a small longshoreman’s type of bar. One night I was there with some fellow Scene coworkers and saw Southside Johnny give an impromptu performance. Truly one for the ages.


SL – So Back in the early to mid ’90s, I was in a band called Charlie in the Box, and we would play there maybe once or twice a month. I played guitar, and for sure strange reason, my guitar amp was on the same frequency as the Circus( A Gentleman’s Club-right across the street). So all night long, in between us playing songs, you would here the Circus DJ come over on our PA System, something like ” Next up on stage is Amber.” “Give it up for Amber.” Or “Lap Dances are only $10.00 for the next 3 songs.” “Get your lap dances now.” Fun times!!


JO – Seeing “Alec and Mary” at Fagans and dancing until 2 am!


TL – On a warm, summer, Friday, 99¢ super happy hour evening with a normal packed Fagan’s. A young guy climbs to the top of the water fall landscape on the patio and proceeds to jump in the the little pool below and of course the crowd approves and starts to cheer the man on. The guy plays to the crowd and does this routine multiple times. By now security/bouncers are fighting their way through the thick crowd to stop the “show” as they near the guy he goes back up top turns towards the oncoming bouncers and takes one last plunge to the delight of the crowd (but not the bouncers lol) before being escorted out. An event I’ll always remember on one of many unforgettable times at The Flagship of The Flats.


EH – I was walking with 3 friends on the sidewalk on our way to Fagan’s, my favorite place in the Flats. We were laughing and not paying a lot of attention. As a result I stepped right into a hole and fell. My friends made fun of me, one guy in particular. We were just about to the door and that guy was walking backwards talking to the people behind him. He was still teasing me when he turned back around and walked right into a telephone pole. I got the last laugh on that one, as did everyone waiting outside Fagan’s. They had the best perch, btw.


CO – First time I was in the Flats, I was the 5th wheel with a couple of friends who’s two wives just happened to be the ultimate Karens of Karens. We were bar hopping that late ’90s summer early eve and as we were walking into Dick’s Last Resort, a guy on the microphone announcing names for tables said something to the two wives as we walked by. Now first of all none of us knew about Dick’s and their shtick, we only went in because all the places were packed, but at least we could see empty tables inside Dick’s. The gals were kinda puzzled and were like, “He wasn’t talking about us was he?” When we finally got seated at a table, the waitress just kinda said, “Hello” and threw our silverware at us and quickly walked away before anyone could order. Now Karen & Karen (names withheld) were pissed. When the waitress finally did stop by after walking by numerous times, while double Karens got more and more angry, she took some of our orders and then asked Karen #1 “What do you want, Madonna & Jesus?” (Her husband had long hair and a goatee). About this time I remembered the name of the place and had figured it out, but kept quiet. Finally the livid Karens asked to speak to the Manager (of course they did). After the Manager who purposely avoided us for a while finally came over, he kneeled real close to their seats as they listed their complaints. Finally he said, “You do know what this place is known for don’t you?” They didn’t but soon caught on and pretended they did. My whole evening was made that night watching this all unfold and hear their many complaints at the table. Perfect place with the perfect Karens.


CA – In 1991, I met the man who owned Centrak Laser company. He was doing laser shows for the Rib Burnoff every year. He had me go up on the roof of Peabody’s to direct a laser. After he sent me up there, they removed the ladder I climbed to get up there. By 2 AM, I was getting worried they’d forgotten I existed before they finally came to take the laser down. We did many laser shows in the flats after that and received my first public art contract to do the art for the East Bank rapid station.


Back in the day, The Flats rocked!

These images may bring back some memories.


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