Sunday, January 6, 2008
the proletariat, RIP
On Feb. 4, Houston's hippest bar will close it's doors for good, a casualty of the new Richmond light rail project. Current plans for which involve establishing a light rail station on the site where The Proletariat now stands."Hipness" here being measured not by the affluence or social cache of the clientele, but rather by a relentless and unswerving dedication to promoting those nooks and crannies of the cultural milieu unique to Houston. Owner Denise Ramos has long been a patron of the Houston art scene, and has graced its stage herself with her paintings, several of which now hang in her bar.But more than any other of the arts, The Proletariat has always been a home to music, hosting not just numerous concerts by local bands, experienced and unexperienced alike, but also a number of one time musical events, encouraging communication and cross-pollination within the scene. These ranged from a night of 60 one minute improvisations by local improv musicians in benefit of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, now the Deep Listening Institute, to the infamous "Star Project." This latter was a one time musical event. Participants, including both members of local bands and their supporters / fans, drew names out of a hat, creating 5 new bands. Each band had but a single month to write and rehearse a set's worth of songs, to be performed at the Star Project show at The Proletariat. The creativity and electricity that emerged from some of these random pairings was both stimulating and inspirational.Denise details her struggle with Houston Metro and the reasoning behind her eventual capitulation here. In its final days, The Proletariat is doing what it does best: hosting as many local shows as possible. Those of us with a long history with the prole will not only mourn its passing, but remember it and its owner, and the opportunities they have offered us for so long, with reverence and respect. God willing, may it rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and bless the Houston scene again one day.