More later, but after a weekend filled with rumors that Lovejoy’s Taproom is closing, the word came down from on high. Owner, Eric Wolf, confirmed that the beloved, iconic bar is indeed to shutter on August 5th 2012.

Now it’s later:

I was there for the full ride.

Back when a night on the town in Austin meant a 1000 mile motorbike ride, I didn’t think too much of it. I’d head to New Orleans for a couple nights then punch through the haze and kill the final 540 miles so I could hit Lovejoys before last call. I was friends with an Austin nurse who loved rock n roll and dive bars and drinking.

We’d roll across downtown hitting the Black Cat, Blue Flamingo, the back courtyard of Bohemian Wrapcity {Meadowlark! Short Hate Temper!}, Emos when Big Kevin ruled the roost and then close out the night with pints of cider or Anchor Steam at Lovejoys.

Back then you could barely see the jukebox for the thick haze of tobacco smoke but Gary Floyd’s voice still managed to be heard. Lovejoy’s barkeeps always loved the Dicks.

Then there was the night that the punk kid from the Terminator {Stahl} got mouthy and was sent packing minus one of his flip flops. It’s still nailed up behind the bar.

I lost count of how many time I heard Homer Henderson belting out Picking Up Beer Cans On The Highway on a Monday night with 10 people in the bar. Still got all those 45’s Homer gave me out of the trunk of his car one night too.

Jason McMaster brought his Ignitor into the little bar room a while back and brought the house down. It was like being at the Backroom eons ago during his Dangerous Toys-era.

But the best part of Lovejoys has always been the bartenders. Kevin, Davis, Mike, Ethyl, Waldo, Rowdy, Cello and all the other good hearted souls are what made the bar the best in Austin. How many times did we hunker down over plates of brisket or bowls of chili at the end of the bar while Hank 3 serenaded us?

Let us also remember what drove the knife through the heart of Lovejoy’s. The smoking ban. The rockers, bikers and weirdos that make up the clientele are perhaps the hardest smoking bunch of desperadoes outside of the old Beverly’s. When the right to smoke was ripped out of their lungs, their patronage declined along with the revenue of the bar.

Anybody remember Gus Garcia? The former mayor of Austin took a look at Round Rock Texas’ ban and liked what he saw. Instead of moving to Round Rock so he could cavort in their patron-free clubs he decided to plant himself in the affairs of Austin’s nightlife community and institute a smoking ban.

It’s reductive, but what if Gilbert Martinez had bested Garcia back in the early 90s when Gus began what would be a long residency on the city council?

It’s amazing that Lovejoy’s lasted as long as they did after the ban. Yes, they flaunted the new rules in a desperate bid to remain solvent for a couple years but the city inspectors finally came in and put the mean mouth on the bar so tough that they caved in.

It’s a sad day in Austin y’all. We’ve lost one of our lions. The third place that so many of us yearn for as we shuttle between work and home is about to be gone forever.

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