Tales from our neighbors: “I miss the wildness”

L.Du Ickes is sitting under a large black and white movie poster. The film is “Jaws”. We’re talking about Zoom because of the pandemic – Lou from his house in Lawrenceville, me in my basement in Trafford. On the computer screen, it looks like the shark is devouring Lou head first with its jaws open and teeth the size of teeth. This is how he has felt for a few days since the COVID-19 pandemic led to the shark being switched off in Brillobox, a Pittsburgh landmark, bar and concert venue that he and his wife Janessa Walters have owned since 2015.

“We had just before our fifth anniversary as owners,” says Lou, adjusting his pirate baseball cap and running a hand over his chin, which was mostly hidden under a woolly beard during the Brillobox days. Now, after trying a corporate trip to Brillo, Lou is clean shaven. “We did not make it.”

Lou is 50.

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I have had My own pandemic since the spring when I realized it was over no matter what we tried. At first, every morning I was tearfully worried about what we would do. My wife is not a screamer – no tear has been shed there – but she has her own flower shop. When we closed Brillo, it also lost its storefront. She worked outside the home. She knows her side of life – flowers, people who get married, people who die – will come back one day and she will make it work. But right now our house is full of flowers and I still cry a lot and we are still paying rent and bills at Brillo. Some days it gets really dark.

Of course it’s not just us. The rex closed. Howler. Hambones. So many places. I’m trying to imagine what will happen to Pittsburgh. Before, I thought we had too many things ahead of us. And now. If your business is people, if you want to bring people together, if you lose that, you lose the soul of the place.

First we tried take away. We have opened and closed twice. But I faked it. I kept trying to tell myself everything would be fine, but now who knows when this will be over and how it will permanently change all of us?

Lately, I’m going to see something on TV and the people on the screen are going to hug and I’m going to say, oh man, oh dear, don’t do that. I was with my family when my nephew turned 8. We had a birthday party. But no hugs, nothing. Most days it feels like humanity has been sucked out of everything. I don’t know what that will do to us in the long run. I think we’re a little damaged.

210112 Lou Ickes Pgh Mag Neighbors Elan Mizrahi Photography 15I miss people. I miss our employees. I miss the human mood. I miss Brillo’s wildness. I miss the life of the place. I didn’t know how much a part of me the bar was.

After we closed I tried to find something new. I started a sales job. I would go in early and go late. I tried to get involved with the idea of ​​a fresh start. I did it for two weeks.

I’ve done something with computer operating systems. I don’t know anything about computer operating systems. I would talk to someone about improving their Linux knowledge and wince and think, oh god dude, you are not that person.

Then one day the owner called me. He called Charlie’s Angels every morning like Charlie. That day he called and said, “Let me hear your voicemail.” The message I would leave on people’s voicemail was basically, “Hey, this is Lou from X. I’m just checking if there’s anything we can help you with.” The owner turned ballistic upon hearing this. He said, “Would you buy something from someone who left this voicemail?” He told me to do it again. I went through my routine. He told me to do it again. He said, “I want you to emphasize this word more, this word more. Do it again Do it again. “For an hour and 30 minutes. Do it again. Do it again.

After he finally hung up, I was drenched in sweat. I went home and said to my wife, “I’m done.” It might be difficult to run the bar but I’ve never been mistreated and I try not to mistreat other people. I’m not used to cruelty.

It felt good to go, but now I’m worried about where to fit. Where can I work and not go crazy? I don’t think I could have a normal job at this point in my life. I do not know what is normal. Cruelty maybe. I hope not.

I am currently taking philosophy courses online. We speak of free will and determinism. I’m writing my thesis on metaphysics in “Star Trek”. I ordered a huge beanbag so I could sit in it and read philosophy books. I think it will change your life. I couldn’t imagine turning 50 and looking forward to a giant beanbag chair and taking a course in metaphysics, but the void is so vast. Something is missing right in the heart. Some days it’s hard to feel anything. Some days I am happy about the tears.

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From nowthe Brillobox is waiting to be sold. It sits frozen in time. The paintings by Lou and other artists; the jukebox; the red leather cabins; the ceramic Elvis busts; The Specials Board is all still there, along with Brillo’s famous 18-foot replica of a great white shark. Since 2016, the shark has been chewing on the plastic head of a certain politician. If Brillo sells, Lou says, everything will sell with it except for the jukebox and the shark, which will find a new home in the jujitsu studio where Lou was a passionate student. He hopes to be able to return one day.

Lori Jakiela is the author of the memoir “Faith May Be Its Own Kind of Truth” and several other books. She lives in Trafford and directs the Creative and Professional Writing Program in Pitt-Greensburg. Please visit lorijakiela.net for more information.

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