Updated! Murray Aid: Fundraising for Ailing Bartender, Murray Stenson

Murray (left) in his younger days, impish grin and all

Ah, Murray.

One of my favorite things to do is sit in front of Murray at Canon, where he's been tending bar several nights a week, and  order a straight-up gin martini, with an olive. Because a martini made by a real bartender is a beautiful thing. I like that he nods with a look that seems to say very good, a look any good bartender should offer whether you've just ordered a Lemon Drop or a Sidecar. He goes about mixing the drink, sets it before me, and without fail he'll come back a few sips into it and lean just a hair over the bar to look me in the eye and ask whether I like the drink.

That's the thing with Murray. He's not a loud guy, he's not gregarious, and if he cracks a smile you've done good; it's no easy feat. You'll more likely get a nice nod and the smallest grin. Understated and careful, a warm presence but never a big talker, Murray'll mutter one or two words here or there but he's mostly listening. There's never a wiff that Murray believes his own good press (and ho boy, there's been plenty of it, from his days at Zig Zag and before, in the olden days, when Murray and I worked together at Il Bistro, he the illustrious barman, me the hapless salad and dessert slinger). 

That's my long-winded way of winding up to tell you that that this past weekend, Canon owner Jamie Boudreau broke the news that Murray--who, like most restaurant and bar staff, is uninsured--is going to need heart surgery. And he needs help funding it.

If you've had the pleasant privilege of sitting at Murray's bar, watching the man work his magic, and if you feel so inclined, please visit the MurrayAid Facebook page to donate, or go directly to MurrayAid.org.

Update: As of today, there are six local fundraisers planned, the first at Paratii this weekend (both Saturday and Sunday evenings) and Tuesday, October 30th at Canon, when every penny spent will be donated to Murray. There are fundraisers planned in Portland and Australia, too. So far $29,000 of the $50,000 goal has been raised.