Project BeYouToFull is a project that celebrates authenticity!!! It includes a series of photos and interviews from people that inspire either me or you. We live in a world where we are confronted in every direction we turn with things/people/situations telling us who we should or should not be. In reality the more we embrace exactly who we are the more we can vulnerably pour that into what we create, the more that will resonate with other people around us. Loving ourselves FULLY and then expressing ourselves vulnerably is one of the most courageous things a person can do. This project celebrates those who do just that!
Dave Cunningham interview
by Jenn Prine
Dave generously gave me a bit of his time and allowed me to stop into the Comet for a short chat and some pictures! He was as hospitable and charming as ever.
Dave Cunningham is the owner and operator of the Comet in Cincinnati’s Northside. The bar side has been around since the 1930’s but he has owned it since 1996. The Comet is known for it’s eclectic live music, a juke box par excellence, amazing burritos, bluegrass and Sunday brunch. One of the biggest reasons people continue to frequent the Comet is because of the very mom and pop feel that Dave has been able to create. I always say if you don’t feel like you fit in at the Comet I’m not sure where you’d fit in. It has a come one, come all kind of vibe.
JP: What makes you feel the most alive?
DC: The interaction with people - the world as it is - good, bad, ugly, beautiful. It’s all inspiring. I really enjoy human nature and the bar setting in its classic serving point as a pub, as a gathering spot where you come to celebrate life, where you come to unwind, to remorse over a lost one or celebrate a loved one or meet a loved one - all these things happen in this room. Certain things can be said in this room that can’t be said anywhere else. It’s a bit like a church where you are free to say things that you couldn’t say at a restaurant or anywhere else but this room. There are a million examples. I’ve seen all kinds of things. Really just being exposed to people and what they have to bring and to be a part of it and engaged with it. It’s almost like a daily meditation to remind myself that I am in the world today with no guarantee of tomorrow like we all are. Trying to be present and a part of someone’s life in that moment - any moment - any different person and all different kinds. That’s the beautiful thing about this room. You get people from all walks of life - fat, skinny, big, black, gay straight, fucking crazy, fucking insanely smart, inspirational and they all come here for a drink and a burrito and they bring with them everything else. I feel like it is the best job in the world because of that. Everybody gets to come here.
JP: You’re a very caring person.
DC: You get back what you give to the world. Some people don’t realize that. They don’t get the phone call to go to the ballgame. They don’t realize that they could’ve been called but if you’re a shit your phone doesn’t ring.
JP: Or you don’t have to be a shit. You could just be isolating and not putting yourself out there.
DC: Yeah, that’s one thing my grandmother said. She said - get up and get out there because the world is not coming to you. But in the bar it does. But it’s still work. It’s not without it’s trying moments. It’s a job.
JP: I’m sure people glamorize it the same way they do photography.
DC: Yeah - it is what it is. But I dig it and I will take it.
JP: Do you have any causes or passion projects?
DC: Making everybody’s time on this earth just a little better. For example there are some neighborhood kids and it’s summertime and they are bored. Instead of just saying clear out; I talk to him find out where he is at and let him earn a couple bucks so he can go down to the McKie Center and have a few bucks to go to the pool and get a soda for what he wants. It’s not one cause. I guess again it is case by case - person by person - scenario by scenario. Every day it’s something new. Every day I have a moment where I say I had no idea this was going to happen today. I am thankful for that.
JP: If there was one thing you could tell everyone what would it be?
DC: Try to be a little more accepting. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Open up to the idea that there are 7.2 billion mother fuckers on this planet and not everybody has much. There are a lot of people with not much and there are a lot of people with too much. But just open your mind to somebody elses perspective and take a look at where they are coming from. Everybody has something to offer both ways. I learn stuff every day from somebody - a little smile - a little kindness breaks the initial wall of conversation and that’s when you get into who knows what - God knows what. Everybody has something.
JP: What makes you feel vulnerable?
DC: Being responsible for so many people’s lives. Alex has a son, Bill has retirement, Adrian just had a daughter. All these people depend on me to do the right thing and I accept that responsibility. But sometimes I do feel vulnerable - the buck stops with me. Whether it is the toilet or the no call no show or the bill that makes the whole thing go - that’s me.
JP: What is authenticity to you and how do you infuse that into your business?
DC: You gotta feel it - it can be anything. It can be an aesthetic, a product or a person. I believe in a sixth sense. You can tell when something is bullshit or fake. A lot of times I will do something with pure intuition and think ah shit I should’ve done more research but I just go with instinct and trusted it. I’ve tried to even instill that into my daughter to trust it. I believe a lot of times it is taught out of people because it’s not a proven element. It’s not something you can put on a science paper and call it this but it is there. It’s undeniable. Dogs have it - animals have it. There is a sixth sense. Sometimes the truest moment you have is a split second before the mind starts to kick in and to say something to muddle it up. That millisecond that the truth is there is to recognize it and run with it. Some people don’t recognize it.
You can find Dave and the Comet at 4579 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45223, http://cometbar.com/