22 MONTROSE VOICE/June 11, 1932
'Prufrock's Montage' opens tonight
By Billie Duncan
The world premiere of Keith McGregor's
fifth play, Prufrock's Montage, takes
place tonight, June 11. at Chocolate
Bayou Theater, 1823 Lamar.
The play is a comedy that is based in
Pru frock's Tavern, which was a well-
known intellectual hang-out in the Tils
located at 423 Westheimer.
According to McGregor, the play is written as if the bar still exists today and concerns a former customer of the bar who
returns with his wife (who is attending a
business meeting) and winds up using his
return visit to the bar as a setting for his
memories and his wish-they-weres.
McGregor is a former member of the
Pru frock's group himself, and has
designed the set as a re-creation ofthe bar.
Other former customers have loaned the
theater personal memorabilia and funi-
ture that used to be in the actual place.
Among the former Prufrockians who
have lent assistance is Dorothy Schwarz,
who was the owner of Prufrock's land of
the Round Table, which was in the next
The play is directed by Leonard T.
Wagner, the artistic director of (Chocolate
Bayou Theater, and it will run through
A personal observation: Prufrock's Memories
By Billie Duncan
All the metaphors of T.S. Elliot's "Love-
song of J. Alfred Prufrock" managed to
come to life in the bar that bore its name
from 1969 to 1978 when it finally was consumed by flames to gather dust until it
became a pet shop. How fitting.
The first time I went in Prufrock's I
didn't know when bar closing time was. I
didn't know what the different brands of
beer were. I had no idea what to order in
the way of wine.
I found the place because I had been
outside of it once while a friend of mine
went in to see if a friend of hers was there. I
remembered where it was.
That was exceedingly important,
because there was no sign at that time
outside of the old vine-covered house on
Westheimer that formed the shelter forthe
minds and activities that were the bar.
If someone didn't lead you by the hand,
the place was impossible to find.
I walked past the overstuffed chairs and
sofas in the front room to the small room
that had part of the bar and room for two .Scene from "Prufrock's Montage.
chess tables. The main chess and bridge
room was through a large open doorway.
Edith Piaf was singing on the jukebox.
"What would you like?"
"Oh, I'll have a glass of wine."
"L'h. Well, uh ... I'm not sure. I guess I'll
have what I usually have."
"What do you usually have?"
"Uh ..." The questions were getting
"Yeah." You said it. Go with it. "Pink."
"Okay." He poured me a glass of Ali-
anca Rose. "That will be 80t."
I handed over a hard-earned dollar and
got 20C change. I kept it. I seriously didn't
know that tipping was part of the trip.
When my terror at being in a bar all on
my own subsided a bit, I looked around.
No one seemed to notice that I was there.
Soon a guy who did not seem to notice that
I was there walked up to the bar and
ordered a beer (55<C).
"Hi. How you doing."
"I see you like Alianca."
"It's what I always order here," The con-
versation went on. Ultimately, we got Keith McGregor, playwright; Dorothy Schwarz,
around to dicussing the relative ments of ■"" _ D «„_,,. ,., _, _ j „
Emily Dickinson and Lawrence Eerlingh- former Owner of Pruf rOCk * S I & producer
etti. I was the Dickinson fan. Leonard T . vVagner .
Soon another guy who did not seem to
notice that I was there walked up and
entered the conversation.
"You're both full of shit. There is no
great American poet and if there were one
it sure wouldn't be Ferlinghetti or Emily
for-Christ's sake Dickinson."
I thought of my other favorite poet.
"What about Edgar Allen Poe?" They
both lookd at me as if I had lost my mind.
"Yeah." Don't mess with the poet after
whom I named my teddy bear. "Yeah, Poe.
Okay, so his rhythms might drive some
so-called modern poets up the wall, but he
had a great sense of sound in his verses
and he told a story. And he knew what he
wanted to say before he started out, not
like most of the writers now who just write
whatever comes to mind and don't care
anything about rhythm, sounds, images,
stories. All they do is write sentances and
break them into shorter lines on the page
and call it poetry."
"Would you like another glass of wine?"
"I'd love one. Do they have something
that's not so sweet?"
I didn't win the argument, but I won
acceptance. I proved that I knew how to
argue. Intellectual argument was the
basis ofthe pick-up game at Prufrock's.
But the pick-up game was not the only
game that was played at Prufrock's.
There was the martial arts/Eastern philosophy game that was played by many,
including Doug, who decided he was ready
to move to a greater plane in 1977 and
calmly blew his brains out.
There was the love and marriage game
that was played by Don and Debbie who
got married and bought a restaurant
across the street. They are now split and
don't have the restaurant.
There was the spy game thai was played
by Richard who drew beautiful pictures
and tried to recover from having worked
undercover for the government and was
found shot to death with a stolen police
revolver. It was called a suicide.
There was the drug game played by just
about everyone, including Steve who was
found dead in a service station men's room
with a needle still in his arm in 1974.
There was the pool hustler game that
was played to perfection by Leo who was
only tall enough to see over the edge of the
table, but who (when he set his mind to it)
could beat any comer. Of course, that was
after the pool table replaced the chess and
bridge tables in the middle room in 1976,
and the chess and card games were moved
to the front porch and back room.
Prufrock's went through as many
changes as the people who inhabited it. In
the years in which I was associated with
Pru frock's (as a customer, bartender,
entertainer, manager), one ofthe most frequent comments I heard was, "This place
has sure changed. I used to come here, but
this isn't the Prufrock's I knew."
Well, a bar is people, and thedenizensof
Prufrock's shifted with the vagaries of
time—although some of them were well on
their way to making a career on a barstool
and would have been happily content to
grow old in that elevated position.
Spending time in one bar gives a person
a chance to see where the hums on the
street get their start.
Milo was one of the brightest minds in
the early Prufrock's, but he was already
worrying his friends with his drinking by
197,'}. when I took off for the safety of San
Francisco after my divorce.
When I returned in 1976 to help Dorothy
(Schwarz, the owner) change the club to
"country/western" and put in live music,
Dorothy picked me up at the station,
bought me lunch and took me to the bar.
As we walked down the drive from her
parking space in the back, we passed an
Dorothy said, "Hello. Milo," and kept
I was stunned. "That was Milo?"
"Yes. We don't let him in the bar anymore."
But by then Milo was content to sit out
in front of Dr. Butler's office on the comer