Several layers of grime have been scoured away, and the legendarily scurrilous bathroom graffiti has been buried under thick coats of glossy red paint. (Lost forever: the identity of the reputed owner of the "tater-tot dick.") No matter. When you enter the famed Rock Block hangout The Gold Rush on a sunny afternoon, your pupils still widen to manhole covers in the unlit back bar, and your nostrils still sting from smoke. It feels like home.
At least that's how it felt last Thursday afternoon, after the Scene asked some of Elliston Place's hardiest denizens circa 1989 to gather for a group photo. There was little method to our madness: We just called a few people, they called a few people—and lo and behold, an impromptu Rock Block reunion swelled before our eyes in The Gold Rush's back bar.
Joe Blanton, frontman for The Enemy and The Royal Court of China, was there with his wife Sabrina. They met in that very room 17½ years before. "When other people say that," Sabrina said, laughing, "they usually say, 'Yeah, that's where I met my second or third wife.' " Shakers vocalist Rebecca Stout lives in L.A. and just happened to be in town with her 3-year-old. Dusters string-ripper Ken McMahan cornered Chuck Allen from the proto-Goth outfit Guilt on an urgent matter: "How do I get a Guilt T-shirt?"
Scene photographer Eric England, himself a Rock Block fixture of some renown, snapped a few photos, and then the group stood around swapping stories and catching up long afterward. Walking up Elliston, Mike Grimes—then starting out as a guitarist, now one of the music scene's major players with Grimey's, The Basement and Guilty Pleasures—said he wasn't even sure why he was there in the company of some of his longtime heroes.
"I was the super fan of these guys," Grimes said, casting a glance at The End's weather-beaten marquee. "I was the one tugging on their sleeves begging to play. To me, those guys were 100 percent rock stars. They still are." JIM RIDLEY