The precise minute, alongside our whereabouts upon certain momentous events are indelible; 9/11 is a prime example, everyone remembers where they were seeing and hearing that atrocity unfold. The night of December 8, 1980 I was at the I-Beam with Mary Lou Green, a dear hairstylist friend visiting from New York City. San Francisco’s intimate I-Beam on Haight Street didn’t have the reputation of LA’s Whiskey a Go Go or New York’s CBGBs, but did showcase bands pre-stadium-stardom, from The Cure to The Smashing Pumpkins.
There was and may always be a “love” leftover vibe on Haight Street. The I-Beam second floor space, I dare say, received an otherworldly contact high from a sidewalk below, shrouded in bone chilling fog. Mary Lou and I had two mutual friends: Luther Blue, quasi-manager of Indoor Life, along with suave lead singer, Jorge Socarras. After parking my Vespa, Mary Lou and I headed up the I-Beam’s wide stairway, feeling toastier than outside, battered by 40 mph air driving through San Francisco’s windy precipitation.
Fashionably late we were, everyone appeared snug inside; the club looked and felt like a sardine can. Jorge, both a Bryan Ferry and David Byrne protégé took the stage, one single white spotlight above revealed an expression I’d not ever seen on him. His first few words sounded mumbled, though cleared finished stating, “John Lennon is dead.”
So much for peace and love — an odd location to discover a generation’s skipper had been slain. If the shoe was on the other foot, as one might say and it had been Yoko who’d been assassinated outside The Dakota standing beside John, I doubt he would have allowed Yoko’s blood-splattered spectacles to be art directed on their windowsill overlooking Central Park, photographed, then published for world consumption.
There seems to be a subdued, sensationalist character flaw in Yoko which many (other than myself) believe interfered with John’s brilliance. During their brief breakup, John recorded Walls and Bridges in Los Angeles; David Bowie stayed close to his side. A well-worn vinyl copy of my Walls and Bridges album dematerialized decades ago. If you haven’t lately, please look at its jacket, inside and out, have a deliberate listen. I’m gonna buy that record again, along with another turntable as soon as famiglia di Schiavo’s modern bedouin days conclude.