The jukeboxes glowed silent, not a single head was being smashed in with a hammer and there was simply nowhere to get a convenient baggie of somethin’-somethin’ late at night on Parc Avenue: Clearly all was not well in the state of Mile End. Skala, the mythic Grecian watering hole/souvlaki shrine, open for over 40 years of racial blendering, violence, madness, escape, dance and debauchery, shut its doors for a month. It reopened, under an interim regime, late last week.
"We didn’t realize how much we appreciated it until it was gone," says E., one distressed local Skala ir-regular. "And now things are still really up in the air."
Up in the air, indeed – rumours as to the state and fate of the place swirl about like a syrtaki. One local suggests that George, Skala’s fearless, perpetually smoking philosopher king, has gone back to his homeland; another explains that he was beaten up, hospitalized. Another freak assures that the cops came and shut the place down after it got "real loud with the Arabs" one night, or that the liquor license had expired.
Skala has been known to shut down when things get too "hot," and a regular, uh, freelance pharmacist was recently sent to the hospital by some newcomers bent on claiming Skala as their own territory. Is that why the tzatziki stopped flowing?
"There’s been some kind of creepiness going on, but just incidents happening coincidentally," explains E. The truth is much less sinister, much more distressing: George is in the hospital because he’s got diabetes and gout.
"They couldn’t keep it open because Nikki, his sister, can’t stay there all day long. She’s the actual owner of the place. And his wound isn’t completely healing properly."
So while his brother Cristos takes on the fearsome task of running a business of bacchanalian chaos, George, the Atreus of Parc Avenue, the more-god-than-man who handles any situation, lies bored and lonely in a hospital bed at the Hôtel-Dieu. And all of Montreal prays to the gods for his speedy and complete recovery.