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.
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
& Metaphysical Society of Lower Woodruff Avenue, reads a sign behind the
The place is well-worn and weathered. And
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
A man and a woman huddle intently over a game of
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
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.'