For the past four and a half years, I've spent weekend nights (and a few weeknights) trolling through Houston nightclubs and bars. I suppose that's no different from the way a lot of twenty- and thirtysomethings have spent their nights, save for one semi-big difference: It's been my job.
It's not always been easy, but it's always been fun. I mean, essentially I'd go out and do nightclubby things like talk to strangers and listen to music, and then I'd go home and write about it.
Then a few days later, a check would arrive in my mailbox. Over and over again. Week after week, month after month, year after year. A proper way to exist, I'd say.
Eventually the Nightfly column became a part of my life. It always had to be considered. Plans and trips out of town had to be scheduled around work nights, and an on-call babysitter had to be allocated into the family budget.
But it's time to move on. So now, with this article, almost 136,000 words after I started, my tenure as Nightfly ends.
A lot has changed since this thing started, but a lot has remained the same, too, both macro and micro. The most important (and most enjoyable): The people who have helped make this column successful. So let's end with some thank-yous.
Apologetic thanks to anybody who ever took the time to talk to me while they were out having a nice time. Each column I've filed has had, on average, two quotes from people about each place. And to get those two quotes, on average I had to talk to five or so people (always my favorite part of the job, FYI). That means that to write these 168 Nightfly articles I've written, I've had to interrupt the evenings of approximately 840 people. Sorry about that, guys.
Gracious thanks to anybody who kept my business card and then later called/e-mailed/texted with a suggestion or tip about a new or cool venue that deserved some ink. That was nice. Incidentally, Reverse thanks to that guy I met at Pandora who dropped my card onto the floor as soon as I turned away from him. I saw you. I'm a writer, not a robot. I've got feelings, yo.
Understanding thanks to the GMs, managers, DJs, parking attendants and other staff who run all of the wonderful hangout places in Houston. The nightlife industry is an unforgiving one. It's like Bloodsport, except replace karate kicks with assholes and occasional accusations of racism. You've got to be beyond tough to survive there for very long.
Loving thanks to my wife, Larami, who has gone with me to a bunch of these places. She is a gem, and I will never understand why she agreed to marry me. More than a few times, the only reason I was allowed into a haughty venue was because I had her with me. If Nightfly taught me nothing else, it is that my wife is considerably more attractive than I am.
And, of course, Super Special Thanks to Margaret Downing, Chris Gray, Catherine Matusow and John Nova Lomax, all of whom have, at one point or another, edited my garbled-up thoughts into the coherent words you've read each week. I don't know how many run-on sentences they've corrected or how many inappropriate jokes or unnecessary references to Road House they've removed along the way, but I know it's closer to A FRIGGIN' LOT than it is to zero. I will never pass up an opportunity to say something nice about them.
There are things to look forward to in the future. This column started shortly after the birth of our first two children, twin boys. It's strange to think about: The very first time I went out to research a Nightfly article (Howl at the Moon, 2007) was the very first time my wife and I left the house after our sons were born.
Now it ends as we await the arrival of our third child. And there's a book on the way that I'm excited about. I'll still be writing about music and other things for the Press, and that's pretty great, too.
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But right now, right at this very moment, The Nightfly space is just a party that's over. It is for me, anyway.
It's 2:15 a.m. The lights have come on. The music has stopped.
Everyone is being asked to leave. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.