As I’ve reposted my Myspace blogs here on WordPress, I skipped over this one countless times. I never thought I’d have a reason to repost it. But thanks to my Myspace friends on Facebook, especially Donovan, I now know of this. And so here. We. Go!
There is a building within walking distance from my home. It’s had a sign on it for many years now, that it’s for sale (lease? Either way.). It’s run down, covered with weeds and assorted greenery, and overall, has a true feel of an abandoned building, or a running business you might see in Hewlett’s Landing, Lake George. Same diff.
And apparently, this building might be filled with rats. Apparently, that is what transformed the place to begin with, from a semi-classy town joint to a dilapidated rat motel that makes people shake their heads, as they go over that one bridge that separates Freeport from Baldwin.
It’s right at the foot of the bridge right near T&L beer store, home of myriad microbeers and fancy sodas. The bridge right near the storage place that hosts my most sentimental of possessions. The bridge that’s right near the little deli that makes the best breakfast this side of Manhattan.
It used to be Bobby Rubino’s. “A place for ribs.” It was a casual fancy restaurant, or a fancy casual restaurant, depending on your take. The place I went to meet my high school boyfriend’s parents for the first time back in 1992, when they wanted a place they were proud of and liked but would still be cool for a young girl. It was the place that my baby brother really loved a year or so later once he got teeth, and that my parents enjoyed as well. They went there a lot, back when I was in my late teens and exercising my right to avoid quality dinners in lieu of staying home to eat Domino’s and watch “90210” and “Melrose Place.”
Recently, I was with friends, driving back to Baldwin Harbor. As we passed old Bobby Rubino’s, they reminisced about and lamented the place that used to be. The valet-parking rib joint that made our town proud, even though it was technically a town away. Where younger and older could go to a restaurant that both would enjoy equally. A place where we would still be going, if it were still open for business, and not just….there.
Because it’s still there, technically. The building with fancy windows that now are covered with years of dirt and grime, where the weeds grow, and the sign encouraging people to buy this building gets more potentially depressing with every passing year.
But even though it’s been so many years, I still can’t help but think that any day now, a “Coming Soon!” sign will appear on the parking lot/lawn of old Bobby Rubino’s. My money would be on Outback, which seems to pop up in these situations with its Seinfeldian red lights. Plus, ribs. Natural transition.
I still hope. That the restaurant will return, in some form that does Bobby Rubino’s and by extension, our town, justice. Because that little building meant a lot to a lot of the people I love the most.
So while it makes me sad, and makes people sigh, when we cross back over into the town we’ve shared for over two decades, I’m happy to see old Bobby Rubino’s, in all of its faded, weed- and rat-infested non-glory. Even though I know that inside, the reality wouldn’t match the memories, it’s still there, representing.
Alive, a little bit.
That’s how I feel about Myspace. It is my Internet Bobby Rubino’s. Because as long as Myspace is still here, existing, there is a chance. It will maybe never get its OG glory back, and even if it does, the people nostalgic enough to return will remember the rats, and the for-sale sign. The years-long absence. The ostensible betrayal.
But I feel like while there may no longer be a Bobby Rubino’s over in Freeport, or a recognizable Myspace, the literal and metaphorical town of Baldwin, the community itself, is waiting. I thought it might die. But a restaurant is a restaurant. It sucks when it goes away, but it doesn’t change the fact that the people who used to be in it, that now live around it and miss it, are still there, and still the same. Doing their thing, hoping to one day, once again, have a tangible Place For Friends.
And the second there is a “Coming Soon!” sign amongst the weeds, there will be people counting down the days until that place re-opens. If it’s half as good as old Bobby Rubino’s, half as good as old Myspace…well, in the fitting words of a movie that ushered in those epic early ‘90s — If you build it, he (and she) will come.
Build it back, Myspace. Someone, buy this dilapidated building and make it great again. Your cool buzz may have left the building, but there are many people just waiting to pick up the phone and make a reservation.