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Great Columbus Bars
The Hall of Fame: Larry's

Columbus Monthly; December 1992
By John Elsasser, Erik Battenburg, and Karen Simonian


     High Street bustles by outside. Cars and buses and people and bikes.
     Step into Larry's.
     Look around the dingy bar
     Feel the sense of community.
     The history.
     And, yes, the poetry.

     Slumming grad students, professors and intellectuals inhabit the campus-area watering hole. Slackers, poets, philosophers. Of all races and creeds. 
     Berets and beards and long hair not required, but welcome.
     "It's the only intellectual bar on campus," says one campus-area denizen.

     But...How to keep out the rowdy beer-guzzling undergrads, the campus Greeks, the conservatives?
     Easy. Spread the word. It's a gay bar (wink, wink).

     Larry's Epistemological & Metaphysical Society of Lower Woodruff Avenue, reads a sign behind the bar. 
     The place is well-worn and weathered. And comforting. 
     Old dark wooden booths, with words carved in the tables, line one wall. Thin trails of cigarette smoke float up between the high wooden partitions that separate the booths.
     A man is stretched out in one, reading. 
     The group at the next booth discusses Proust and politics over coffee and beer. 
     Two men play Scrabble, drinking Black Label, lost in the world of their booth, in the world of Larry's. 
     The pool table in the corner is temporarily ignored. 
     A man and a woman huddle intently over a game of chess. 
     Others watch.
     It's a Saturday night. On campus.
     "We've always looked for the quieter crowd," says owner Larry Paoletti, a man as low-key as his bar.
     Poetry. The art form is kept alive Monday nights at Larry's. The quietest two hours of the week. Aspiring poets humbly read their work while the audience listens, and thinks. 
     Matisse prints adorn the walls. Van Goghs and Rembrandts. 
     Sixties-style psychedelic paintings.
     Classical music wafts from the antique jukebox stocked with 12-inch vinyl records. Records like Mozart6 and the Replacements, Miles Davis and Tom Waits. 
     The bar's rich 50-year history and the promise of a long future lie within its walls. There are recollections of patrons hanging out with their dogs. Of the time a man brought in a pony, and no one really noticed. Of the '60s and Phil Ochs. Of the clientele, a curious cultural stew found in no other campus bar. A bartender reflects. 
     "A colorful joint.'



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