Viva Bene – #95 on the Tour

The Bar Viva Bene

The Address 144 Commercial Street

The Day and the Time Sunday at 7:30

The price I can’t recall. Which is weird, because my memory is not that bad, but there was something about this place that just robbed me of thought. It was a drain of a joint and it did it to my powers of recall (damn you Viva Bene! Damn you!)

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime I didn’t get one. Oh wait, I think I paid eight bucks for the drink, I think that was the price point, because I have a memory of thinking, “Eight bucks and no lime.” So let’s pretend that I am a steadfast reporter and I know that it was eight bucks (I’m not quite sure, but I am steadfast)

What was the type of gin I think after some difficulty I got tanqueray because they were out of Well. It took the bartender a bit to realize that the bottle was empty so had to set up a fresh one.

What was the gin and tonic like It was fine. If when I state fine I mean I thought it was a placeholder drink. A drink of no consequence with the hope something better might appear on the horizon.

The Joint It is a long mainstay of downtown, a venerable Italian joint that has weathered the vagaries of time and every time I have walked by it, it has been completely empty. This is true, this is the fourth time I have walked by the place thinking I would go in and have a gin and tonic. The first three times, there was no customers in the place. I am not exaggerating, no one was there. And this wasn’t Monday at three in the afternoon, two of them was me walking by on a Friday around eight or so, and yet, still no one there. I wasn’t up for the sadness of it. I didn’t want to be so alone in such a large place. I wasn’t Dante enough for it. So I passed  This time I earlier had a conversation with a friend who hates the place. He hates the food, hates the service and hate hate hates it and was not surprised that it was empty, so I figured, this is the next stop whether people are present or not.

This time there were people. But for a reason. They were having a concert starting in about forty minutes, it was the Worcester appearance of that great band of the 70s, The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Yeah, I don’t know a damned thing about them. Not one bit. Wait, let me go to wikipedia and see if I know them. Be right back.

Well that was an illuminating two minutes. So Jerry Garcia was in the band in the beginning. Well he isn’t any more. I’m pretty sure.

But with all my ignorance, and I certainly do have that in abundance, people were out for the evening. There was about 40 or so older people present who had paid 35 dollars to see them, so what do I know. I think I, in my forties, was one of the youngest there. Let me just say one thing, they made everyone (not me, I talked them into letting me in for a drink without paying) wear one of those plastic bracelets that you see the kids wear when going to a club. I must say that I think its ridiculous they made a bunch of people in their fifties and sixties wear these impossible to take off ID bracelets. Were they worried there was going to be a lot of people sneaking in to see New Riders of the Purple Sage free? Was this a true security concern? .

General Impressions Despite the influx of people there that I had never seen before, it still felt lonely. It still felt sad. Maybe if the food was great Maybe if they had awesome forgotten bands playing every night it would be great. I watched one of the bartenders struggle with a beer tap that was sudsing up and seeing her frustration with the equipment and the establishment and I knew to leave.

Amount of Time in the Joint 10 minutes

Will I come back No. I don’t know how it is still in business, but good for them. I know that I left a half filled joint feeling like it was some barren outpost of a long forgotten Worcester. Remember when Viva Bene was great and vital? Remember when we listened to New Riders of the Purple Sage? Those were lovely times indeed.


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