For Love of the Crocodile


Due to the dovetailing factors of Van Halen and N.W.A. on my plate in this issue, I wasn't able to devote much column space to this subject, but I have to weigh in on the declining state of one of my favorite places in this city.

When Aja Pecknold broke the news last week that Crocodile Cafe booking agent Pete Greenberg had quit in the midst of much bad blood between himself and club owner Stephanie Dorgan, it was greeted by many as juicy gossip.

Frankly, it just made me sad. And very, very worried.

As SW first reported back in September, via this well-reseached piece by Laura Onstot, things have been rocky at the Croc for a while.

Personality conflicts between Dorgan and Greenberg and competion from thriving venues like Neumo's aside, things just haven't felt quite right since long-time booking agent Christine Wood stepped down last year. Greenberg did an admirable job filling her shoes, and freshly promoted assistant booker Eli Anderson is a sweet-natured and talented fellow, but when paychecks start bouncing and food service is discontinued (dinner service stopped quite a while back, and the kitchen closed entirely last month), things are heading into undeniably trecherous territory.

I'm not really interested in theorizing about the club's fiscal health or forecasting its closure, partially because only Dorgan really knows what's on the horizon, but primarily because it's just so damn disheartening. Personally, I have pretty strong emotional ties to the space: my first foray into the music industry was booking a Planned Parenthood benefit at the Crocodile; I had my mind blown along with the rest of the Seattle music community when sound wizard Jim Anderson underwent his dramatic Queer Eye For the Straight Guy-style makeover in the late '90s; I even had my wedding reception there.

When the neighboring Speakeasy caught on fire back in 2001, then-booking agent Frank Nieto and I ran out into the middle of 2nd Avenue to watch with horror as the place burned to the ground. I remember walking back into the Croc and theorizing with Nieto about how devastating it would be if something similar happened to the music venue that had been part of our city's music landscape for so long. It was unthinkable.

I only hope now that they manage to turn things around. It's just not a club; it's part of our history, and given the rapidly changing skyline around us, it's a landmark that we should fight to hang on to.

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