The place first opened in the '20s as an adjunct to a company (in the same building) that outfitted the interiors of movie theaters. Second Avenue was Seattle's "Film Row," where the big studios had their regional distribution offices and warehouses. The Rendezvous' performance space, the Jewel Box Theater, was both a showcase for the companies' wares and a screening room where theater operators would preview new films. In recent years the Jewel Box has hosted art-film screenings, music-video shoots, fringe-theater shows, literary readings, band gigs of all imaginable types, and AA meetings.
The Rendezvous bar, meanwhile, became one of greater downtown's last refuges for old-timers and blue-collar drinkers. The recently broken-up local band Dodi was named after the joint's tuff 'n' lovable, beehive-coifed, longtime barmaid.
Former OK Hotel mastermind Steve Freeborn is taking over the place, and promises to reopen it early next year, restored and brought up to code. He also plans to show some of the OK's old brand of art exhibitions, and to feature progressive performance bookings at the "new Rendezvous." But it just won't be the same.
Robert Sund, 71, who died of cancer September 29, was one of the leading members of the nature-poetry clique that dominated the Northwest writing scene from the early '50s to the late '80s. He was a frequent performer at (and promoter of) live readings and poetry festivals, and also hosted a poets' interview show on the old community radio station KRAB. But Sund's sense of perfectionism limited his published output to a few books (including Ish River and Bunch Grass) and a handful of smaller chapbooks.
Sund's brochure bio for the 2000 Skagit River Poetry Festival says "His poems are grounded by the rich landscape in which he dwells, yet he will not let us forget our origins.... Listening to Robert Sund's poetry reminds us of the power of the oral tradition, not only to entertain, but to comfort, sustain, and teach us." Long-time friend and painter Charles Krafft describes Sund as "actually a pretty fun guy with an irreverent sense of humor. He once ran for mayor of La Conner; his platform was to have the farmers plant their corn closer to the road so we wouldn't have to get out of our cars to steal their corn. He also wanted to have caps put on the pilings in the Swinomish Slough, across from the Swinomish Indian Reservation, because he felt the seagulls standing on them all day long were wearing them away."
In recent years, Krafft noted, "He lived very frugally in a beautiful two-room shack in a boatyard in Anacortes."