In 1994—the year that Fellini’s shut down—I was sixteen years old. That was the summer that I started to spend all of my waking hours downtown, and I knew Fellini’s only as something legendary that I’d just missed taking part in. The restaurant’s reputation for debauchery and its position as a hub of the downtown social scene were and remain legendary, but it’s remained in the realm of oral tradition until recently. Over the past two weeks, C-Ville Weekly has published a two-part series of J. Tobias Beard, “The (Mostly) True Story of Fellini’s” and Here’s Looking at You, Chief.” I found these to be fascinating reads, and learned both that Fellini’s was far more interesting than I’d ever known and that, if I had been able to hang out there, my parents probably should have been investigated by social services. I’m tempted to summarize the story here, to pique your interest, but I couldn’t possibly. It’s got sex, drugs, murder, crime, and a whole lot more, and concludes with Beard tracking down Chief Gordon in L.A.
This is the sort of story that, I’ve found, is a sort of a litmus test. One group of people will find this terribly exciting, and another will find it exhausting and self-indulgent. Chalk me up as an enthusiastic member of the former.