Mason here, with an update that didn’t make it past the editor’s chopping block. I mentioned Sidney Horowitz once or twice in Perk Noir, but didn’t go into details. All you got out of my Sidney ramblings was that Horowitz owned the joint between Ronnie Rivers and Brett Barlow. You deserve more, seeing as Sidney’s tenure as owner almost ruined the Perk. If Ronnie hadn’t been in such a jam, he’d have found a better buyer, but time was running short on the old blues guitarist. He handed over the keys to Sidney and bolted town without even bothering to collect his things.
Sidney’s calamities are entrenched Perklore and, as such, handed down to new Perkheads as sacred canon. His role in the history of Perk Noir was that of a villain, not a hero. It was his fault so many Lightning treasures were lost or damaged, the result of Sidney simply not caring.
It was before my time, but Perklore remembers Sidney as a small, balding, disheveled, white man favoring wrinkly grey suits and bad ties. I picture him as looking sort of like my agent, Myron Wolshevki, but without any of Myron’s Bronx panache. I’ve been told that Sidney resembled an accountant you’d find toiling away in the last row of cubicles, but the truth was worse. Horowitz was the night manager at a local multiplex and he saved a nickel from every bucket of popcorn he sold since he started working there at the age of thirteen.
In 1996, Sidney plunked down his popcorn slush fund and bought Perk Noir for a lark because of Ronnie’s troubles. Sidney dreamt of transforming the Perk into a hip dance club. He took down every piece of Lightning memorabilia and replaced them with TVs showing MTV videos and parties from Euro synthotheques. He carelessly packed Lightning’s priceless treasures into cardboard storage boxes and tossed them haphazardly into the basement, where they were exposed to damp floors, drippy ceilings, bugs with more than eight legs, and all-purpose basement sludge. All that remained of Lightning’s legacy were the famous black and blue granite countertops and steel fixtures, which were too expensive to replace. Without a liquor license though, Sidney’s dream was doomed to fail.
In 1999, a broke and disheartened Sidney handed over the Perk’s keys over to Brett Barlow, who had cash to burn and a healthy reverence for Earl “Lightning” Perkins. The first thing Brett did upon taking ownership of the Perk was tear out Sidney’s old-style CRT screens and restore the Perk’s original furnishings, a monumentally complex task.
Lightning had painstakingly documented each piece’s significance, tagging and bagging every article in the collection. Sidney’s rough and tumble packing job ruined his careful annotations. Documentation was lost, damaged and misplaced. For Brett, sorting through it was like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. He spent hours down there after talking with Lockwood Jr. and others who’d known Lightning, the man.
Brett did the best he could. Every Perkhead knows he made mistakes, but it’s not something we talk about. One good thing came out of it though. Brett’s basement cleanup fast tracked him into becoming the first Perklore kensai.
So, that’s enough on Sidney. Now you know why no one recognized that the photo of the turn-of-the-century gentleman wearing a top hat and tails was of Gerard Bigelow. It was all Sidney’s fault.