Thanks to social media, other news outlets, and undoubtedly me, The Basement Bar is sure to be packed whenever Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas bars are allowed to open their doors again. “Mid-May” is when he said he would like bar-bars to reopen, along with barbershops, hair salons, and gyms. The guv approved restaurants, retail stores, malls, movie theaters, and museums at 25% capacity a week ago. The humble little dive and sometimes venue at 105 W Exchange Av has become Ground Zero for the reopen-yesterday contingent. Across the country.
It all started a couple of weeks ago when the Stockyards watering hole posted on its Facebook page that the beer and shots would start flowing inside on May 1. May 1 came and went and no booze at the bar was served but not before social media saw about a million comments and news stories, including one in these pages (“Basement Bar Doubles Down on Opening May 1 Amid Pandemic,” April 22). The Basement Bar’s likes jumped. The detractors gnashed their teeth and beat their breasts as loudly as if speaking directly to Donald J. Trump himself. And the firestorm indeed had become political, with conservative commenters claiming it was their right to become exposed to a deadly virus and with the left saying, essentially, “It’s not you we’re worried about. It’s the people you’re going to infect that’s the problem.” The battle is still raging.
The drama about Michael Rapaport was the next evolutionary step. While the actor from Boston Public and Once Upon a Time in Queens claims he was hoodwinked into giving a video shoutout to the Basement Bar on April 30, the bar says otherwise. Later that day on Facebook, the bar said, “Thank you everyone for the support. We love all you guys and our City! Edit: Mikey Rapaport is being a pussy now cause all the dumbfuck haters conned him into believing the bar was opening illegally. Nope, the bar never said that. The post in question was posted a week before [Abbott’s] new orders. Bar posted it was opening AFTER the shutdown expires. Mike was told everything. Either way he’s one of the funniest humans on the planet and being cussed out by him is a honor.”
Fort Worth chef Damien Grober sided with the bar, posting the Rapaport video and saying, “This guy is rude. And he turned on a Fort Worth local business.”
Nearly 100 Facebook users had opinions on that. Most of them against Grober, but some for him, including someone named Amy: “This is totally bullshit. I can’t believe you guys are buying into this. No one was lied to. [Rapaport] knew exactly what he was getting into. In the end this will probably help the bar out and this POS will still be sitting on his couch waiting for the next bone to be thrown! He disrespected the Bar, Ft Worth, and most of all our Country. Just my opinion.”
A user named Nick was having none of Amy’s opinion, replying (perhaps in the spirit of May the 4th): “ignorant bullshit is strong in you, ain’t it.”
“Nick,” Amy wrote back, “your [sic] definitely a special kind of stupid!!!”
As evidenced by the soldiers of fortune populating Exchange on the day of the Basement Bar’s purported opening –– the bar says it simply mistakenly assumed Abbott would include bars like theirs among the establishments able to reopen –– the Basement Bar is going to be packed with a certain kind of customer from now until November 2020. And, undoubtedly, beyond. The Basement Bar ended one post quoting someone saying, “#Trump2020.” –– Anthony Mariani
There was some confusion related to last week’s Metropolis (“Proceed with Caution”). To clarify, I am saying patronize restaurants but be safe about it. No need to take a selfie with a dozen other people or go around hugging friends you bump into. The restaurants will make sure their environs are spotless and the employees are dutifully hygienic. You can count on that. — A.M.