So long, Greg
The Cat Man is dead; long live the Art Czar
I met Greg Carr at the old Capitol Garage one night in 1993. I was booking shows and hosting an open-mic there. I liked his warmth, his intelligence and his sense of humor. He loved the arts and really had a desire to help artists here in Midtown, and possessed just the right amount of eccentricity to be interesting and engaging but not pretentious. We became pretty good buddies.
Midtown Sacramento was very different back then. We had places like Cafe Paris, Duke’s Coffee Gallery and Luna’s Café & Juice Bar, but it was the Garage where many of us musician-artist-freak types hung out, and I spent a lot of time there with Greg. He wasn’t a great singer or player, but I always tried booking him as much as I could, because I liked him.
I’m not sure how he came up with the name, but Greg liked to be called the Art Czar, and worked on a concept he had that he called “pure hep” that encompassed music, art, fashion, food and film. He even did a zine.
Eventually, Greg and I lost touch with one another. I had heard rumors of him battling with various health issues, but had no idea where he was or if he even still lived in Sacramento, until my wife Allyson had mentioned seeing him one day.
He did come by the old True Love Coffeehouse a couple of times, but after that I didn’t see him for a few years.
Then, about a month or so ago, Greg came by the new True Love and we sat down and chatted. He looked ravaged and a good 10 years older and was having some trouble standing up. He talked of his life on the streets and expressed fear of being assaulted or killed. I was affected pretty deeply and yet I had no way of helping in any real significant way. I offered him some food and coffee and gave him the few bucks I had in my pocket.
He came back about a week later, but this time was really being a pain in the ass. He was drunk and bugging customers, and I asked him to chill out. He asked me if I could give him a ride back over to 16th Street, but I couldn’t, and he left.
I felt horrible.
It saddens me to think that Greg, who died on October 22 and was found on the front steps of the Midas muffler shop, will only be remembered now as just some homeless dude. I realize that most people out there didn’t know Greg, but there are a few of us here who do remember him for a few things much better, brighter and happier.
Greg, Art Czar, Cat Man: My heart hurts to know that you spent your last few years sick, cold, hungry, sleepless and in fear for your life. You deserved so much better. You were a good man who loved art and animals and you were genuine I can dig that.
So long, pal.