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Karen Miller Leaves the Keyboard

Some Thoughts by John Kenrick

Karen Miller & John 
    KenrickKaren and the author on Karen's last night at Eighty-Eights. You can click on this thumbnail to see us a larger shot of us looking like wrecks.

Knowing that this was coming did not make reading Karen's farewell message any easier. She told me this was coming a few weeks ago, and I've been wondering what the hell I could possibly write when the time came. Well, here goes.

I'm racing through so many thoughts and emotions right now. Tremendous sadness, of course. And all sorts of wishes. I wish Rochelle was here to help see us through this. I also wish Jimmy Phillips was not thousands of miles away, and that we had a lot of people back who are with us in spirit only. I also wish someone would drop a house on the wicked witch who had the FACE to cause all this tsurris – but I know what comes around goes around, and just hope I am nowhere near when that creep's nightmare karma comes due. Most of all, I wish we could rewrite the last twenty-four months and wipe away the bad stuff – but we can't.

Karen and her friends have been on one hell of an emotional roller coaster. Wasn't it just the other day that we saw a renovated Eighty-Eights re-open with a crowd packed in wall to wall? Then came a whole lot of behind-the-scenes crap that cannot be discussed here. It resulted in Ro leaving . . . Karen having Fridays taken away then restored . . . too many opportunities to learn who one's real friends were . . . the brief reunion at The Garage . . . Ro off to P-town . . . the seemingly impossible loss of Eighty-Eights . . . and "Les Millerables" taking the act to Danny's. Now Karen, understandably exhausted, has decided to step away from the keyboard altogether.

The folks at Danny's have made her regulars feel at home – which gave Karen the time and emotional space she needed to make this difficult decision. (Danny is one of the classiest acts in town - heaven bless him!) I understand only too well why Karen is making this change. It is more than the loss of Eighty-Eights. Much has changed in the last twenty-three years. New York is not the same, the crowds in the bars are not the same. All too often, "sing-along" has turned into five theatre queens singing while fifty spectators drown out the music with conversation. I know how deeply Karen loves her work with animals, and that she needs to give the last two years some real closure. Thank heaven she's got Maggie, giving so much love and support through every twist and turn.

As desperately as we will miss Karen playing, we have so many nights around the piano to look back on and celebrate. We also have the knowledge that she is going on to something she loves to do – which is more than most people I know can say. (Tell us Karen, will the puppies in your care "dine on quiche"?)

Don't get me wrong – I know I'll be a wreck about this. Hell, the day she called to tell me about her decision, I gave her my loving encouragement and support – then burst into tears the minute she hung up. (Yes Karen, I know . . . I'm a big mush!) But I believe this is the right thing for Karen to do right now. Easy? No. But right, nonetheless. I also know she is holding on to her sheet music, and as anyone aquainted with me knows I am a big believer in revivals. So who knows? My gut feeling is that, after a solid break, Karen will find a way to keep the yuppies and guppies in her schedule – as well as the puppies!

Whatever happens, the ultimate comfort is having Karen as a friend – nothing is about to change that. And rest assured that this website will be kept up to provide updates and help "Les Millerables" stay in touch. Hey gang, we'll always to boast that we were part of a great tradition. Hell, after more than two decades, Karen and her gang rate as a genuine piece of New York nightlife history.

Hard as it is to face this change, I will cheer Karen on every bit of the way – she'll just have to deal with a few tears too. Godspeed, Karen! Our love and prayers go with you now and always.

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