Barry Hannah died yesterday at age 67, which doesn’t sound very old to me any more. This Southern storyteller taught at the University of Alabama for about a minute and a half back in the day. I don’t think he liked it very much. He didn’t stay all that long, and the only time our paths ever crossed was at the Chukker.
Now, the Chukker deserves a blog posting all on its own. It’s been around downtown T-town since the 1950s, but in the mid-to-late ’70s it was basically a biker bar frequented by the Alabama Brothers motorcycle gang, local literati, and wannabe cool kids who’d probably have had a heart attack should a Brother or a literati actually look their way. On a good night, the Brothers’ hogs would be parked along the sidewalk for a block.
The paint was peeling on the walls, people stuck their polaroids up as decoration, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting of the creation of Adam was reproduced large on the ceiling. It was a pretty good version, or at least it seemed so at the time, surrounded by bikers and beer. I once claimed to be a palm reader there and read the palm of some guy who later shot up a daycare center. But that’s a different story.
Anyway, Barry Hannah would hang at the Chukker, where he’d sit in the corner with cigarettes and beer and fill the role of crotchety sage. I was more afraid of him than the Brothers. And that’s my Barry Hannah story.