You know what’s funny? It’s funny how things from your past can come back around sometimes and it typically either makes you chuckle to yourself remembering it or it’ll make your ass pucker real quick depending on how exactly it comes back on you.
Several years after I turned off RemuS Radio and moved out to the Stinktown Triplex (Deer Park/La Porte/Pasadena) and a couple of years into my personal relationship with “The Devil,” I had one of those moments when I was checking out a new bar that had opened up on Preston near the intersection of Spencer Hwy. I had the seen the sign a couple of times while driving by and then I began hearing KPFT plugging some of the shows that were getting booked there during the Sweet Nightmares radio show and at that point, my interest was piqued.
The signage at the bar as well as the name being mentioned on the radio was a new music venue called “Cardi’s Rocks” and I was immediately taken aback to the RemuS Radio years when I use to attend shows at Cardi’s 2000 when it was at the old “Backstage” location at 9301 Bissonnet & SW Freeway. It’s where I met my bar-maiden friend Kellybelle as well as where I planted a seed of discontent with the bar owner Eleftherios Kaldis aka Theodore Kaldis aka Ted Cardi’ and apparently his then bride Monica Kaldis.
Back in 2002 after receiving many emails regarding it as well as after hearing a bunch of complaints first hand from bands that had played at Cardi’s 2000 and left there unpaid, I rallied behind the idea that people should boycott the bar. I felt that bands should stop booking shows there and also felt that people should stop giving the bar their patronage in support of this boycott. Too many times bands had booked shows there, came to terms with Ted regarding the money they were to be paid and when it was all said and done, didn’t get paid what was agreed on and in most cases, didn’t get paid at all.
From the patron side of it, Ted was infamous for not having a “set in stone” drink price list or whatever. Most everyone I knew who had been there before and spent an evening partying there remembers never paying the same price for whatever they were drinking over the course of an evening there. Your drink would be a different price almost every single time you bought one. Ted would bring the drink over to you after he made it then eyeball you for a few seconds to try and gauge how fucked up you might be and then he’d set the price and charge you loosely based on how glassy-eyed you might look at any given time as he was serving you the drink.
They also had a soundman there that would take this incredible PA system the club had and use it to just fuck a band’s sound up. You could sound check and everything and it would sound great but the guy wouldn’t leave the knobs alone for some reason. I realize that throughout a band’s set some tweaking here and there will naturally happen but what this guy did was out-and-out sabotage and it happened to a lot of bands that played there.
This is why some of Houston’s better known and well-polished bands would usually bring in their own soundman to run the board there. A few even did this no matter where they played and when you’re in a band that gets paid a lot more money than a lot of the other bands in town that also happens to draw much bigger crowds than everyone else and in turn, draws more drinkers to the bar than most bands do then you can swing your dick around a little and get away with that kind of thing.
Obviously, not too many local bands have a sound engineer that they can afford to pay to hit all their gigs with them in order to ensure better than average sound no matter where they play. In most cases, which is certainly the situation most of the time in any of Houston’s live music clubs and more so at Cardi’s, your band is literally at the mercy of the in-house soundman. In the case of Cardi’s 2000, this would be an asshole by the name of Mike Lomax.
Lomax would literally just jack up a band’s sound out of spite or something; there was no rhyme or reason to it other than to just be a dick. He would get drunk and start tweaking them knobs and slide bars until the band that was playing would begin saying shit to him about it between songs and then he would start getting verbally abusive with them about it. It was a major pain and a huge point of contention between the club, (i.e. Ted) myself, and the rest of the music community that wanted to play shows and attend shows there.
To preface some of this I should at least speak about the club in question and its physical location as well as the building’s history which is located in the Westwood area of Southwest Houston at 9301 Bissonnet and was built in 1985 just a year or less after I moved to Houston from Huntsville. It was part of a typical “L” shaped shopping center and Backstage occupied the corner where the two lines of the “L” meet. Now on paper when you are looking at the online specs of the shopping center it is described as one story only shopping space and for shopping purposes that’s exactly right but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to the space that Backstage and ultimately Cardi’s 2000 occupied there.
In its heyday [noun], it was initially called “Gary and Ray’s Backstage” then it evolved into just “Backstage” and that was when I was first introduced to the place. I was still living just up the street from there at Bissonnet & Roark Rd. and a poker/stoner buddy of mine had mentioned several times that on Sunday nights at Backstage they would host these big 15(+) piece “Big Bands” that would come in and play Jazz and Swing a la the Glenn Miller Orchestra or Duke Ellington and other bands of that ilk.
Bride #1 and I went down there one Sunday night and checked it out and were amazed at the beautiful interior décor. It looked like they had taken old plaster or concrete columns from previously demolished buildings and had them flanking the upper performance shell that extended into the upstairs balcony area. It had theater type seating upstairs and down which was nice and they had a bar upstairs as well. It was quite swanky back when it was still new.
When I next visited the place many years later it was already the Hard Rock/Metal club that Backstage was most noted for and they use to have some practice rooms upstairs from the lobby that extended left down the retail space towards Bissonnet Street so they were all upstairs over the street level shops that occupied the downstairs during daylight hours. My first interest in doing something with local music came after I figured out how to write basic HTML and started building websites. I was just going to put a link page out there linking to different bands and venues etc. and I befriended a guy somehow, probably in a Yahoo Chatroom of some kind and told him what I wanted to do. He thought it was cool and invited me down to hear his band rehearse and they had a room there upstairs at Backstage.
Well, I can’t remember what happened after all that but it just never panned out so I went back to noodling or whatever the hell I had been doing prior to that to entertain myself back then. I know it was a few years before I began shopping for wife #2 so…..
Anyway, segue ahead a few years to 2000/2001 or so and the Backstage as everyone knew it back in the day [sic] was long gone and the space was now occupied by Cardi’s 2000 and here I am trying to work up a boycott of the place. It really sucked too because I liked Ted just fine on the surface and it was still where I met my Kellybelle too and albeit somewhat tired looking and filthy and needing a thorough cleanup and a good maintenance-ing, it was still very much a beautiful place inside that was just under poor ownership and poor management which incidentally enough happened to be more or less the same people/persons.
Well, needless to say that when word got to Ted what I was doing he was none too pleased about it. It wasn’t too much longer after that when I received an email from a woman named Monica and she was quite upset with me over my “vendetta” against the club. She claimed to be the club’s manager and was trying to get me to call off the boycott, which I wasn’t about to do, and she too was none too pleased about it. I really couldn’t figure out why either because I still knew people were booking shows there and friends of mine were still going to shows there so other than the bands that had been dicked over by Ted for the last and final time, I couldn’t see where “the boycott” was actually doing them any harm.
Obviously there was some element that was following the boycott and not spending money at the bar that was noticeable to them otherwise I can’t imagine why they’d actively pursue trying to coerce me out of continuing on with it, but I won’t digress any further on that. So yeah, they were pissed about it and I didn’t really give a fuck about it either and I let them know as much. I’d also like to add that at no time had I ever actually met Monica in person. I had met and spoke with at length with Ted many, many times but Monica, absolutely not.
Now segue back up to 2008/2009 and I’m living in Stinktown and it’s the weekend and “The Devil” and her girlfriend were out of town on a “girl’s trip” and I was out and about bachelor-ing it for the weekend and basically being unattainable man-meat per usual, just as I am with or without a wife in tow. I had already been to “Da Pub” and it just wasn’t happening for me there so I decided I’d leave and head towards the house and possibly stop at “Just Two More” or “Janie’s Diamond Club” or “Barefoot Tina’s” or any other juke joint that I happen to pass on my way towards home that appeared to have some action.
Then I reached the intersection of Spencer Hwy and Preston and there it was, that sign reading “Card’s Rocks” and I couldn’t pull my ride in there fast enough, I had to check it out and that my friends is when it all came back to bite me square in the ass, albeit in a humorous way of course but square in the ass nonetheless.
Dude, when I say that I walked into that bar and they were laying some hardcore “Gangsta Rap” I mean they were laying it down “LIVE” and it was mean and it was nasty and frankly, I was a little bit uncomfortable with the situation I had just voluntarily walked myself into. But not wanting to look like an overly white guy who just walked into something he had no business walking into, I walked in like I owned the place and plopped down on a barstool and readied my bank card for a decent workout and this chick walks up and asked what I’m having. Naturally I tell her Miller High Life and a shot of Jack and she says they ain’t got no High Life which is strange coming from anyone running a Pasadena beerjoint so I told her to just bring me a Buttwiper[Budweiser] and off she went to fetch it. I laid my card on the bar and she came back with the beer and said “We don’t take those” so I told her that the beer would be just fine and forget the shot because I was cash poor going in there. Not to mention I was already getting a bad vibe just being there but I wanted to be hospitable and have a beer and scope the place out of my own curiosity.
The girl and this semi-thin older guy were the only people behind the bar and neither were familiar to me but I caught the guy’s profile and there was just something familiar about him so I finally asked the lady “Is that guy’s name Ted?” and she says “Who’s asking?” I told her that he looked familiar to me and I was just wondering if his name was Ted to which she replied “Yes, his name is Ted and I know who you are, Scott Deaver.” Well, you can imagine how badly I wanted to crawl out of there at that point because without being told and without having ever met her, I knew instantly that this woman was Monica Kaldis. As retarded as it sounds and despite the fact that the whole Cardi’s Boycott deal was roughly a 8+ year old story and despite the fact that I was long since retired from the game and couldn’t give a rat’s ass one way or the other about any of it, this woman clearly knew who I was and remembered what I did and wasn’t about to be nice to me.
Needless to say, I was already looking to get the fuck out of there as quickly as my ass could because the scenarios that my stoned mind was conjuring up were not the least bit pretty at all. I started thinking that Ted might’ve been buddied up to these Rap guys already and once he was fully aware of my presence he’d just parlay (/ˈpärˌlā,-lē/) a few of them brothers together and they’d be coming for me with their Gats a blazin’ and I’d end up a real dead fuck right there on Preston Street in Pasadena, Texas.
Not exactly the way I had planned on going out. In fact, I’m relatively sure that my parents had something better in mind for me as well.
But like I said earlier, I was still somewhat stoned upon my arrival and my imagination has been known to run a bit wild on me when I get an odd strain of Mister Green-jeans flowing in my system so I quickly finished my beer and waited for the right moment and got the livin’ fuck out of that bar before Ted had me killed or at least mildly injured against my will.
[Whew!] Man that was a close one…….
I went back to Cardis’ Rocks one more time though about a month or so later because Pasadena Napalm Division booked a show there and I, fully stocked with cash went to the show and had a grand ol’ time. About a month or so after that the place burned down so……..Karma is indeed a cruel and vengeful bitch.