Chapter 10 - Jake's Input
Recently I received the following e-mails from Jake Ludington the former owner of Safari from December of 1997 to January of 1999. I felt that in all fairness I should post them here:
Obviously, you are entitled to whatever opinions you may have about me. I would appreciate it if you would correct a few of the facts regarding the history of the Safari.
The most glaring error in your history of Safari has to do with how my ownership ended. The end actually came about because I owed Shaun's dad, Mike, several months rent and we agreed that the best thing for me to do was allow him to find someone else to take it over. The DRAM Shop insurance was allowed to expire by the owners of Hairy Mary's not myself.
I did not get involved with the Safari Club to make a quick buck. I had been going there on and off during both Shawn and Tony's ownership periods and I loved the place. There was and still is no other place in Des Moines worth going to for live music. For the record, my ownership of Safari resulted in a considerable financial loss on my part.
As for the firing of the old staff, I kept the only two people still employed by Shawn when I took over, Kevin Miles and Kevin Cole. Shawn's advice to me when I took over was to fire everyone but Kevin Cole. One of my biggest mistakes was not talking Paul into coming back to Safari when I reopened it.
Yes, I tried to get more of the college crowd to come to Safari. Drake students and Des Moines residents alike have been complaining forever that there is nothing to do in Des Moines. My goal when I took over Safari was to change that. I tried different kinds of music because I like a wide variety of music and because not everyone in Des Moines likes loud guitar rock and punk.
The idea for the "Techno" night was inspired by Sophia John. She had suggested that I talk to Sid and crew about doing a regular gig one night of the week at Safari. Admittedly, the hip-hop nights were not the greatest idea I've ever had. I wanted to believe that people could have fun without feeling the need to behave like common street thugs. I was wrong.
Feel free to use this information as you please. I would appreciate it if you would update the information regarding the closing at the end of my ownership. The Dram Shop insurance incident happened sometime in February or March of 1999, my ownership ended January 26, 1999.
The following was my responses to the above email and Jake's responses:
Davo - When I wrote that I was going on both my feelings and my memory of the events as they happened. I was there the night in which I was informed that the club was closing because the DRAM Shop wasn't paid. As I understand it Shawn was completely unaware of this until Paul called him.
Jake - Shawn was never involved in any business dealings other than signing his name to the contract I agreed on with his dad at the beginning. There was a night that the club was closed over the DRAM Shop by Vice because the Hairy Mary's guys hadn't bothered to listen to me when I gave them a list of bills that were coming due. The reason Paul called Shawn was because Mike Graham told Paul I was planning to close the club, which was something that had only been discussed with Shawn's dad up to that point.
DaVo - As far as the money being your main focus, it was a consent feeling for most of the time you owned the club shared by a great deal of people involved including myself.
Jake - If you call trying to pay the clubs bills and my own personal bills having money be my main focus, then yes I suppose it was. I certainly wasn't the most business minded person who ever lived, but paying the bills is a necessity of any business and even I recognized that. I didn't want to get rich, just break even. If you look at the financial records from Shawn's tenure at Safari you would see that he made less than zero dollars as a bar owner as well.
DaVo -This seemed a great deal more so toward the end. It's a funny thing when you look back on sometime that the negative and the positive are increased.
Jake - I don't really care if anyone remembers me or not. I'm just hoping for some minimal accuracy in reporting.
DaVo - When it comes to different styles of music, I have to say that changing the format of a club that had already established itself as an underground club to try to gain a larger MAINSTREAM crowd was kinda silly.
Jake - The only way underground anything ever makes money is when it is accepted by the mainstream. The body piercing business is a perfect example.
DaVo - You understand that often you were in fact competing directly with Connie's?
Jake - I did not book cover bands, so no I was not competing with Connie's.
DaVo - Also the point of the history is to express how important the club has been in shaping the local scene over the past 4 years and I'm sorry but Hip Hop and Rave night tended to reduce the club's influence in the scene in my opinion. I mean come on Jake the Gay clubs and the Hip Hop clubs were more than covering this and the only real reason to bring it into a rock club was to increase profit.
Jake - I was attempting to fill in what were otherwise dead nights in the schedule. If there were bands to be had, the dance music always got pushed to the side. Hairy Mary's isn't exactly doing a roaring business on nights when they don't have bands either.
Owning a club is about making mistakes and taking chances but it is also about making a difference and effect in the lives of your clients and the culture around you. Let's face it beyond bring in a few acts here and there there was no great event that made any lasting change during the roughly year that you owned the club. It maybe unfair from the stand point that it is being compared to the period that Shawn and Tony owned the club but I have to call it as I see it.
My time with the bar may have been insignificant in your eyes and even in the eyes of many other people, but the fact is no one else was lining up to fill in the obvious gap in the Des Moines music scene. I know I was and still am an outsider to the scene. I also know that I stepped up and made an effort in a town where most people sit on the sidelines and watch, waiting to criticize the people who put their ass on the line to make a difference.
In fairness I'll add this e-mail to the page as soon as I have time to do so.
A Video tour and history lesson of the building at 2307 University - DaVo's Personal Vlog #5