Medusa’s Rising

To something less than the great dismay of certain neighbors, the hundreds of skinheads, skate-rats, 708 weekend warriors, and punkettes of every description who used to swarm around the intersection of School and Sheffield every weekend night are now gone. The attraction was Medusa’s, the venerable juice bar, dance hall, and punk club for kids. The nine-year-old club began as a no-alcohol after-hours joint where one could spend the dead time before daylight in the company of friends. Neighborhood complaints eventually forced more conventional hours; for the past five years or so Medusa’s was merely the city’s most successful juice bar. But the area’s gentrification eventually overwhelmed the place. Owner Dave Shelton’s lease was up this year, and the imposing, four-story building is now being turned into apartments.

At a closing party in June Shelton promised a new Medusa’s soon. Now it’s here, in what was formerly the Congress Theater at 2135 N. Milwaukee, just north of the intersection of Milwaukee, Armitage, and Western. The theater is a fancy 3,300-seater. Shelton is placing the main dance floor in the building’s gilt-and-marble lobby, which boasts a 60-foot ceiling, a pair of giant chandeliers, and a grand staircase. He’ll be showing movies in the main room and setting up a lounge in the balcony; later there’ll be variations on the old Medusa’s. band and video rooms. “The building’s been overlooked all these years because the outside’s nothing special,” says Shelton, who generally goes by the name Dave Medusa. “But inside it’s beautiful: the original plaster’s still there, and it’s all very ornate.

“I really hope everyone likes it,” he continues. “We had a hard time finding a place; I was almost ready to give up.”

The old Medusa’s was a juice bar as a matter of philosophy: Shelton felt, and feels, that “nonalcoholic is the way to go: it’s a lot more positive.” He’s making some concessions at the new Medusa’s, however: Fridays he’ll serve beer, wine, and vodka; Saturdays will be no-liquor nights. The new place reopens Friday with a “Kennedy ’63” theme: Shelton says he’s scored a convertible much like the one JFK was riding in the day he was assassinated; it’ll be planted in the middle of the dance floor with mannequins representing its passengers of 29 years ago. A Marilyn Monroe look-alike will be stalking the club, and Shelton will be showing Oliver Stone’s JFK in the theater.

“A lot of the younger kids don’t know anything about the assassination,” he says. “It’ll be educational.”

Quick Hitsville

While Neil Young has suddenly regained his artistic credibility over the last three years or so, Hitsville remembers the 1980s, when it seems like he totally lost it. Why Young would want to remind anybody of that period is a mystery; maybe his label for most of the decade, Geffen, is forcing his hand. In any case, International CD Exchange magazine reports that Young is releasing an 80s retrospective that will include a number of unreleased outtakes from Trans, Old Ways, and Everybody’s Rockin’, plus the several leaden singles from Landing on Water and Life and a live version of “This Note’s for You,” Young’s anti-beer-sponsorship anthem. (This last is apparently to sweeten the mix: the This Note’s for You album was post-Geffen.) Young’s strong and noisy Re-ac-tor, with the most respectable track of the period, “Shots,” is unrepresented. It doesn’t look good…

And now, Hitsville’s “Separated at Birth?” Top Ten, presented with apologies to Spy and thanks for the assistance of our crack team of researchers.

1. “Taxman” and the Jam’s “Start”

2. The Spin Doctors’ “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run”

3. The bridges of the Stones’ “Stupid Girl” and Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Girl”

4. Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart” and Eric Clapton’s “Tulsa Time”

5. “I Can’t Explain” and “Clash City Rockers”

6. Bon Jovi’s “Keep the Faith” and “Treat Her Like a Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

7. Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”

8. “Sara Smile” and “I’m Not in Love”

9. Johnny Rivers’s “Mountain of Love” and “Waitress in the Sky”

10. Big Star’s “Holocaust” and Yoko Ono’s “Mrs. Lennon”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steven D. Arazmus.