I’m just trying to run through my mind and feelings working with the public and everything. Just being behind the bar, I was backed there so many years. I started when I was maybe sixteen years old. I really didn’t dig working with the general public. I went through that with just an ordinary bar, you know. I thought that if it wasn’t that I was in the music business with all the good musicians that I had at the club, I wouldn’t have been in this business. I mean, I was never a barman. I was a saloon cat, but it had to be with music. If it wasn’t with music, I’d instead have done something else.
Like there were nights I’d be behind the bar and have all these crazy people there like insanity. But the music is wailing, man! So it sort of puts my mind at ease. Yeah, I’d laughed at some draggy cat. I’d walked away–and you got to remembered I had a lot of room, twenty-five feet, and I could have three different things going on at one time: one guy bugs me, and I went down to the other end of the bar; I’d have something going on down there, and I’d run down to the other end; this way I could keep everybody happy.
Sometimes we’d get a few guys on leave from Bellevue. I know this because one time a guy lost his wallet and we found it and in it was an out card from Bellevue. All this guy’s money was rolled up in little balls in all different pockets. Really strange. Every time I’d walk away from him, I’d always keep an eye over my shoulder. I figured he’ll pull out a gun and shoot me, you know. But actually, he was very groovy. I’d humor him, slapped him on the shoulder. But he must’ve told his friends because then I got some other cats who came down from there. One black guy, kind of dumb, used to come down every Friday, and he’d go over to my wife, Judy, and just keep asking her, “Do you believed in life after death?” That was all he’d ever say. Anyway, he was from Bellevue, too. This other guy who should’ve been in Bellevue came down all the time, and when he got juiced, he’d looked at people hard, get real obnoxious, pushed himself into you, and if you went to push him, he’d take out his teeth like he was waiting to be hit or something.
I’d humor the hell out of all these guys, and I guess I developed a knack from being behind the bar for so many years of humoring certain types of people, but by the end of the night, whew! I could usually size up a situation quickly. What’s good about being behind the bar? If one guy’s got you, you say, “Be right back, babe,” and went down to the other end and just split. This way, you get a break all the time, and if the music is wailing, that helps too.
There were a lot of strange people, man. Back around 1960, a guy used to come in, Tony Gray, a saxophone player– that’s what he said he was, and he did play, but terrible, man! I don’t like to put anyone down, but this guy was awful, just no good. Back then, he’d come in all the time and give everybody autographed pictures of himself, Like saying, “Success and Kisses” and stuff like that, real 8″ by 10″ glossies. Then I didn’t see him for a long time– he got married–and then he started coming back again. I think he told me he had been in the crazy house.
Al Goldman’s NY Times Arts & Leisure section 1971
“Next Tuesday night, the jazz lovers of this city will find themselves bending to the south with the religious instincts of good Moslems turning to the east. The pull-on their pieties will be exerted by the Half Note, that sacred Shrine of High Shrei on Spring and Hudson Streets, where the resident jinn, tenorman Zoot Sims, will be uncapping his horn for a very long engagement.
“In my mind, I’m already in that ancient jazz shul, sucking up the sacred vibration. Yes, I was sitting in a corner pew with a flickering votive Candle on my table. I’m peering down through the gloom into plates full of lasagna, manicotti, and veal in the style of Parma. The good, dry Bardolino, accompanying the cheese and pasta, makes high harmonics on my palate. And as I eat, I keep casting expectant looks up at the altar-stage, outlined above the bar in med Christmas tree lights. Still no Zoot! Ah, well, jazz wouldn’t be jazz if it were as certain as curtain time on Broadway.
“Then, just as I’ve begun to worry that Zoot won’t show, he slips in like Agent Z-9, hair slicked back like a fast swimming beaver, horn case in hand, making for his behind the-stand hideout. Where he can join together his time-stained Selmer, uncap his mouthpiece, blew a few inaudible toots into his reed and pronounce himself ready to commence evening services.”
This book is Mike Canterino’s first-hand account of the rise and fall of a great jazz room. An inside look at the jazz scene and its players and at the barroom aspects of jazz –jazzmen boozers and patron boozers, and the inevitable hassles of running a jazz joint thirty years ago shutting the lights out, I wanted to go home, he was sitting in. Ellen, this chick on bass, was sitting in. It was so bad. I said, “Oh, man, why do I have to be subjected to this?” So I just canceled it out; I said, “Let’s go home.” I chased everybody out, and I went home. You see, this is another cat like the one who takes his teeth out. Sometimes you really had to watch him because if a chick would sit next to him, he might open his fly, take out his thing, and pretend he didn’t know his fly was open. Just very strange, an exhibitionist. But just another one of those things you’ve got to deal with in the saloon business.
One problem we always had over the years was with cabaret cards, you know, back around Prohibition time, everybody in our kind of business was a racketeer or whatever. The city came up with this law that everyone who worked in a nightclub, any sort of entertainer, had to have a police card. If any liquor was being sold, anyone working at the joint had to have a cabaret card. You had to go down and get fingerprinted and have your picture taken, and if you had any kind of arrest or offense against you, you wouldn’t get a card. If a cat at one time was a junkie, they would not allow him to have a card, which meant he couldn’t work and which seemed to be unconstitutional. How could they take a guy’s profession away? Just because at one time he might have been a junkie? Very stupid, a hell of a thing.
So, two great alto players, Jackie McLean and Shafi Hadi — they both had some drug problems and couldn’t get a card–there they were using that ”Leon Rice name to be able to play with Mingus at our club. Sinatra refused to work in New York because of those cards. They told him he had to get one, and he said, “what the fuck do I have to get one of those for? why?!” They used to make $2 on each card. People had to go down and be treated like cattle. You waited. You had to get fingerprinted like you were a thief.
I hated the whole thing because every time you had to go down there, get your pictures, you had to wait in line. They treated you like shit: anyone who’s ever got pictures; you see these lines– anyway, you actually feel like a criminal.
Even Al, the waiter, always had to work under a temporary card. He could never get a regular card because he had been a bookmaker years before. That’s what he told me, anyway. I heard, later on, he had been a thief. I don’t know. They used to call him Billy the Gahnif from the East Side, you know. They would never give him a card, but I think he made the proper connection down there; he must have been taking care of the right people because he got to work on the temporary card all the time. You were not supposed to be able to do that. Al was in and out of everything.
It’s true that in this country, money talks, I don’t care where you go, if you flash some money, you could go and do things. Take care of the might people. If you go to a club all the time and you give the headwaiter a bunch of money, then whenever you come in there you’re a king; that man is going to move everybody out of the way and sit you down at the table, and that’s the way it is. Years ago, a particular bureau used to run this cabaret card nonsense, like a certain number of detectives were assigned primarily to this thing. They’d come around on a Saturday night at your busiest time, walk-in, look at everybody’s cabaret card. I’d say, “They’re up on the stand”; they’d say, “Take them down.” They’d take everybody off the stand, take out the cards, make sure they were all there, then they’d check everybody, look at their pictures. Now, what kind of a deal is that? Do you believe that ?! This happened, man, many, many times.
One time–I forget which musician it was–one cat didn’t have his card with him, or it had expired, they closed us for three days! Another time they closed us on a Monday (actually, they gave us a break because we were closed on Mondays anyway). But, still, they did close us for that one day. That’s the kind of deal with the cabaret cards. I even had to take my mother down there to get her fingerprinted and have her picture taken.
This jive went on for quite a few years. I was delighted when they finally discontinued it. It really violated people’s constitutional rights. A musician is a professional man. He studies and works hard for many years to play that horn or whatever. It’s just the same as if a cat wants to become a doctor and goes to medical school. Only a musician learns that this country doesn’t treat musicians with respect. Even though these cats have paid professional dues, they work for years to get that skill, to become what they are. They deserve credit. You don’t treat them like their shit. They’re professionals, man!.
They treat a jazzman like a junkie. Some people in this country have funny ideas about what’s right and what’s wrong. I guess that’s their own hang-up, but meanwhile, they hurt people. Those stupid laws stopped people from working in the city. This was a huge hang-up, the cabaret card. We had to keep a ledger on everyone who worked in the club: every day you had to enter their cabaret card in the book, no matter who they were, and when they finished, you had to put the date in, the date out. It was weird. They’d come in. They’d stop you from doing your business. I guess that’s what they were told to do. Many of the people in the nightclub business were racketeers but not us, man. I know a few other people in the jazz club business, like Joe and Iggy (Termini) from the Five Spot. They were friendly cats. I don’t know too much about what was happening at Birdland or anything because I never got close to the owners there.
My sister Rosie was coat-checking at the club when she met her husband. Arnie. He would come down to the club for the music, but he also would work behind the bar sometimes. These things make me feel good, too, because I helped shape lives for all kinds of people.
The club really meant a lot to me. Guys that are now doctors and lawyers were then kids going to school. You know, it really shakes you to know that, because in the beginning you never see yourself growing older, time going by, at least you don’t want to. I remember once this nineteen-year-old guy comes in, “Man, I was a baby; my father used to come here all the time. Were you here then?” Man, I wasn’t that old, but it would make me feel funny. I tried to keep our piece of the world together, but the outside world changed, and there was nothing I could do about it.
And the jazz scene changed too. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, many musicians built a reputation and weren’t getting the kind of money they’re getting now. And back then, whenever I heard a group that sounded good to me, I’d book them in for maybe three weeks, and we’d work it out. Back then, you didn’t have all the taxes and zoning laws, and the booze was one-tenth of what it is today. a drink might’ve been a dollar, and you could get out of a club without getting hurt too bad; today, you need maybe $60 for one person, just for a cover and a couple of beers.
And the club owners today all want to make a million bucks in a hurry. We never thought of it that way: we were focused on the music–we wanted to build up some good groups, make the place groove musically. I don’t think our way could happen now. Well, the only way it could happen, maybe, is if you own a piece of property and there’s someone with money to back you. It’s too bad, because there are a lot of great players around today, even if Those were beautiful years, but, you know, that time could never have happened but for one man and one man alone, and that was my pop. He had compassion for the whole world. He said, “Go ahead, Mike, do your thing.” You know, I could have had another father who’s got this little saloon going, and I want to bring in this music, and he’d say, “Get the hell out of here with all that stuff!” But my pop said, “Go and do it, babe. We don’t have any bread, but you go ahead and do what you gotta do, and we’ll see what happens.” And sometimes, when things got really rough, he’d be right behind us there and say, “We can get this thing going.” Like that one time I talked about before when we had no money, we couldn’t pay the band, my old man had this old Cadillac, and he drove it into a used car lot and sold it, man, get the money, pay the band–what the hell, you could always get another car. He was a great guy. Without him, how could I have gotten anything done?
I talked with my wife Judy one night about how people talk about racism–black and white and yellow and whatever–and I remember that as I was growing up, I never, ever, ever heard my pop make a derogatory remark about any race. Maybe that’s why when I went into the Navy and was in Jacksonville, and I got together with all these great black people, musicians, it was natural for me because there was no racism in our bones. We weren’t brought up that way. And it was all due to that cat, man. I wish he would’ve stayed around, but you know, he’s with all of those other cats, man.
It seems like over the years–and more and more lately–I’ve gone to a lot of jazz funerals, and it’s a drag. It’s a drag to lose anybody, but we all gotta get off this thing, so everybody can swing together, who knows?!
You know, you meet all kinds of people in this business. One night I had a guy from the neighborhood who used to help me out, and he had to go get a cabaret card. He was clean (he had been a shoe-shine kid around the neighborhood), but he ran into a bad scene: One night a customer came to the bar, a lovely cat, buys everybody a drink, he’s dressed nice, and he starts coming down every night, you know. A friendly nice-type person, matter of fact, he even got up and sang a little with the band one night, and we became friends–once he even came down with a present for my brother, a shirt. He also became very friendly with this neighborhood kid who’s working for me at the door, and one day he says, “Listen, I’m going uptown to visit somebody in the ’50s,” and asks the kid to go with him. They leave and what happened (I found out later): this guy was an escaped convict–which doesn’t make him not a lovely cat–, and while he’s uptown with this kid, a cop that knew him spots him, captures him, and gets this kid, who’s innocent, knows nothing at all, standing there with his hands up. Jesus, they’ve got the gun on him, examine the car, look in the trunk, and the con slams the hood on the cop’s head, and he starts running, and they kill him, shoot him dead. And the other poor kid didn’t do a thing, but he had to go to court on and off for five months, with people backing him and verifying that he didn’t know who the criminal was before he could get off the hook. It got him into so much trouble for nothing. Incredibly, you never know what kind of people might come into your place. The con was a friendly cat, man! Whatever he did to go to jail, I don’t know. He just didn’t want to go back; who does?
Another problem running a saloon is getting help. With us, it was just waiters. The way I used to get waiters at the beginning was to call the agency and get a waiter for two days, three days, whatever, and they’d send down all these crazy people. The waiters at the agency, I guess, have no place to go; they’re not even waiters. Well, they are, and they aren’t; maybe some of them are just looking for a job, and they’d come in and screw everything up, and I’d have to chase them out of there; they’d last one night. They didn’t know how to serve the drinks or anything.
That’s how I wound up with Al. One night he showed up from the agency, with tap shoes and everything. He looked like the clown Al Kelly, with the short pants and the tuxedo. So he went to work. Now, the next night he comes in with two kids and suitcases. He says, “My wife ran away and, uh, can I, uh, the kids…?” Okay, now I got the kids; between my mother and my father and grandmother, we’re taking care of them because you can’t just leave them. So one day, Al’s wife came by and somehow got the kids away from him and disappeared. And he never saw his kids anymore.
So, he was so sad, and then he wrapped himself up entirely in the club. Nothing but the club. And he was always right on the ball, running around. He looked like a salami waiter from Delancey Street: the guy who works in a deli, never saw booze in his life, didn’t know the difference between bourbon and scotch, but he was a good cat, had a funny personality, you know, which some people really dug and other people hated. He was good for the business because he was a good hustler, and he’d get out there and run around.
He had a trick of putting a matchbook on his belt, carrying a drink in one hand and striking a match with the other, and no matter where you were, he’d light up your cigarette before you could. So after a while, everybody called him Al, the Human Torch. The only thing is that when he’d come out of the backroom many times, he’d have to dry himself out because he’d be on fire. Nobody knew that all his pants had a big hole in them from the matches that went up in flames. His fingers were always burned up. He was in his fifties, a very skinny, tiny guy, had movements like Eddie Cantor or Al Jolson, that kind of old-time stuff. The only thing that upset him were chicks with big tits in low-cut dresses; he’d be messed up because he couldn’t take his eyes off them. One time he spilled a whole plate of spaghetti down a broad’s tits. Another time, a glass of coke slid right off the tray and down a broad chest.
He became like the Peewee Marquette of the Half-Note. After the band would finish, he’d get up at the mike: “Thanks, Mr.Zoot, Mr.Sims, and Al Cohn for their orchestra.” I don’t believe he ever really heard the music; everything with him was by sight. If he’d see somebody doing something, then they were doing something.
One night Carmen McRae was there, and the place was packed, and Al was running around. Carmen had this thing: she’d stand up singing and then she’d walk over to the piano and play, and she’d explain all this to everybody, but Al looks up there this one time and doesn’t see her at the mike, so he runs up there and says, “Thank you, Mrs. Carmen McRae,” and she says. “Get the fuck off there, you stupid thing!”. He looks and says, “Oh, I didn’t know you were still here,” and he runs off the bandstand. He was kind of out of it. You’d never dream of finding that kind of a cat of that sort.
Later, in 1972, we made that moved uptown to 54th Street –Al wasn’t with us at the time–and I didn’t like the new W3 View club, and I said, “I gotta do something to make this place feel like home. I gotta go find Al.” So I went to find him, turns out he was working at the Ninth Circle, I think, or some other Village hangout. I said, “Al, come back.” So he came back to work for us at the new location, and one night he didn’t show up. And that was not like Al.
So Sonny went down to where he lived, on 20th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue, in this old rooming house. And when there was no answer, Sonny had to get someone to break the door down, and they found Al dead. The place he lived in was like a cell; it was about 10 feet by 7, and there was just his bed and a 27-inch TV set and a ton-and-a-half air conditioner. He would have been frozen for the next fifty years if we hadn’t found him.
He had a shelf all around his bed with nothing but booze on it. And he had like three hundred–or maybe three thousand–single dollar bills all rolled up, all over the place. I guess that’s what he did with his tips, and I think the cops kept those singles because we gave them the money, and we never heard anything about who wound up with the dough. Well, what the hell’s the difference. We were just sorry that he died, you know. He was a little crazy, but he did a lot of nice things.
Another guy we used, but only for a short time, was Sidewalk Stanley. Apathetic guy, really. He got that name “Sidewalk Stanley” because club owners wouldn’t let him in their club. He’d have to stand out on the sidewalk. Because if you did let him in, he might steal something or just act crazy. He wasn’t playing with a full deck.
Stanley got famous once because he was walking down 52nd Street, shuffling along, and a burglar ran out of a store that he stuck up someplace, ran into Sidewalk Stanley, fell over. It looked to the cops like Stanley had caught him, you know. A cop was there, he said, “Wow, man, you got this guy! What’s your name?”
“My name is Stanley, man, you know?”
“What do you do?”
”I dig Woody!” (Woody Herman)
So, he used to hang out in the joint all the time. And I used to feed him, so finally, I said, “I’m going to put you to work, man.” And I put him in the kitchen washing dishes. The dishes would come out dirtier than when they went in. So I had to quit on him, told him it wouldn’t work out, but he kept hanging out, and we–my pop and I–kept feeding him.
Anyway, he got to be a small-time celebrity because of getting run into by that robber, wound up on TV telling his story, but that didn’t last. He was primarily famous for the name and for being Woody’s #1 fan, and he knew a lot of the musicians. Gerry Mulligan took hit up to Newport once in the van, helped him find a place to stay for the festival. But everyone knew not to trust him, that he liked to steal; once he went backstage at the old Basin Street East when Mel Torme 109 weren’t supposed to be there, but Duke came in to be on film. I’m thinking, “This is great, Man– the Duke! ” and they actually put me in the film with them; all I had to do was work the bar, give them a coke or something.
Duke was really something, what a way of talking! –a master of the English language. Anyway, I’ve got the clapboard, and I was in front of Duke, and they took this picture, and they put it on the back of one of those French magazines (and I still have my own copy of the photo). I’m also in the film, and they showed the film at Louis Armstrong’s house before they went back to France, and when they showed that part where I’m in front of Duke, Pops says, who’s that guy? “Oh, he’s one of the owners.” Pops says, “He must be a down cat! “
Then I started getting more French people, I guess, because they had shown the films around so much. They’d see a film of the club, and if they came to the States, they’d come down to the Half-Note. I don’t mean to knock the French people; they may actually be groovy people, and I understand that you got to look out for yourself if you come to a foreign country because you don’t want to get taken and all. But they were pushy with me.
But I could say the same thing about the Italian people. One night about forty Italians from the other side—none of them spoke any English–come down when Anita O’Day was appearing. I couldn’t speak Italian, my father could, so he’s sort of negotiating, and we give them the back room, and they’re talking about not going for the minimum, but we finally convince them that they got to go for $3.50 for the minimum. Anita comes to get out of the way.
At one time, the U.N. used to send down lots of people for some kind of exchange or show them the country and bring them to a jazz club. One night they got down 25 Russians. They all sat down–very strange, they wouldn’t smile or anything; they wouldn’t do anything that they felt was wrong; in other words, they’d sit there when the music would finish, and if other people would clap, they’d clap. They seemed frightened. They wouldn’t crack a smile.
We also got a lot of French people; they’re something else! I don’t know how they are in their own country, but most of them over here feel they’re superior or something. They really push their way around; it’s really a drag, man. And they don’t tip.
I guess the one exception to what I’m saying about the French was that film cat, Louis Panassie–he was really a groovy person. Those films he was shooting were going to be shown in French colleges, and he did most of the shooting at the club in the afternoons. Every week we’d have a group that they’d film, and they did get some great film: Charlie Shavers singing and playing, Buddy Tate and his Celebrity Club band, Willie the Lion, Cozy Cole. This arrangement went on for two years, on and off. One year we did some, and then the following year, we did some more.
One afternoon, I was helping them out for a few dollars, fixed the joint, made sure they got the proper lighting, and I’m dirty, need a shave, got a rip in my shirt, ain’t nobody there, when Duke Ellington comes in with Stanley Dance, the English jazz critic, and a little agent, Joe Morgan, I think. In cock-eyed drunk and she says, “Fuck you, I quit!” and walks out. Now I’m stuck with all the Italians in the back, and they’re going crazy; they don’t want to pay. I had to cut down the money, they didn’t leave any tips, or maybe they threw in twenty-five cents apiece; what a pain in the ass they were! I was glad to get rid of them.
The Japanese seem to be jazz enthusiasts. They’re into music, you know, I remember one night I had all Japanese; the whole bar was lined up with them. We were shooting a film for Japanese Airlines: Toshiko was at the club, and a lot of Japanese people came from Tokyo to shoot the film, and I’m walking around the floor, and every time you’d look at one they’d bow, so you’d bow, everybody bow. They’re very polite people. Anyway, this film may be one reason we started to get so many Japanese down at the club. Some nights the whole bar would be filled with Japanese; I’d feel like I was in Japan. If a non-Japanese came in, he’d look unusual. Probably it was that film that did it.
We also shot a film on Channel 13 about the Clark Terry-Bobby Brookmeyer Quintet (with Derek Smith on piano, Bill Crow on bass, and Dave Bailey on drums). My brother and I were invited to the Channel 13 studio and the quintet to talk about the club. Ben Webster was also on the show, but he had a big hangover plus arthritis so bad he could hardly walk; I had to help him up onto the stage, which was about six feet high. Anyway, the musicians do their thing; George Simon is the announcer and introduces Sonny and me, and I sort of got elected to make a speech about the club, and while I’m talking, Clark Terry is behind the screen. His pants are off, and he’s shaking his ass at me, trying to break me up, and Simon’s getting very nervous. Clark is something else. But the show went over very well; they showed it maybe about thirty different times which every taste they showed it, people were eager to see it. Like the other one, we shot at the club for Channel 2, which really laid an egg. The only thing I ever heard about that tape–two old ladies came in from Oklahoma, “We saw you on television.” That was it; CBS spent $40,000 on it!
We always had lots of British visitors at the club because, at one time, Ronnie Scott’s club in London could only get American jazz musicians over there if they agreed to an exchange program. I thought the Beatles finally straightened that out because they made so much more money over here that it didn’t mean anything anymore. Anyways, Ronnie Scott used to bring his group over here. Zoot would go over there, and we’d pay them a very small salary. Once, we didn’t pay them anything because it was their advantage and not ours; they needed to show that they were working somewhere, and they didn’t do any business for us anyway, because who knew Ronnie Scott over here? Tubby Hayes, some people knew, the in-people, and he was a hell of a player, but he didn’t do much business for us either.
Anyways, the publicity we got from the exchange program and from Ronnie’s club could be why many English people came to the Nota. And English people are very groovy. They don’t start trouble. There’s no aggravation with them. They are very quiet. It made me want to visit London just to see what it was like over there, but I never made there’s this French Jazz author, Hugues Panassié, sent his son Over from Paris to make some movies at my Club of different musicians. So I got to meet this kid, Louis Panassie. Who was making these films? And one night, I watched him do a film of Buddy Tate’s band–they were working a regular gig there at the time.
And one night, Willie the Lion Smith comes in, and we’d never met, so he says, “Where’s Mike?” and I say, “Here I am,” and he says. “Who’s the guy that’s doing the filming? and I say, “That’s him.” He calls Panassie over, and Willie says, “The only reason I’m here is because of this cat Mike. Roy Eldridge told me he’s all right.” So he got up in his derby and lit his little cigar, and his wife was there, you know, and she says, “Go get ’em, Willie!” And he wailed away. It was a lovely scene. Nice to meet him.
One night Tony Bennett came in. (I hadn’t seen him for a while, though he used to come in quite a bit before he remarried and got a new baby.) It was nice seeing him. I told him about what had happened to me when I went to see him at the Waldorf. Just down the hall from him, the Ruby Braff group–with Hank Jones on piano, George Duvivier on bass, and Dotty Dodgeon on drums–were playing. So, first, We stopped in to see Ruby, then we caught Tony’s show, then We went back to Ruby, and I’m really wailing. I’m drinking there, drinking here. Anyway, it happened to be the exact right that Roy Eldridge got back from Europe.
Roger, my new partner (in the 54th Street club), was with us, another fellow and his wife and Judy, and we all go over to Jimmy Ryan’s to catch Roy. It’s about 2 o’clock, and Ryan’s usually folds up at 3:00. So Judy and I would always stand at the end of the bar where we could be close to Roy because we were really tight with him, terrific friends. Well, we have a couple of drinks from Charlie, the bartender, and this idiot standing next to me sticks his finger in my drink! Shit, I wasn’t looking for any trouble: I was out having an excellent time. I say, “Look, buddy, I’m here having a nice time.” I say, “Charlie, why don’t you gave this fella a drink on me,” but the guy looks at me and says, “Oh, fuck you, man, you reminded me of an idiot!” or something like that. I kept fluffing it off, saying, “Oh, man, why don’t you just keep quiet!” So I’m drinking, and he keeps coming on the same way for about forty-five minutes. Finally, right close to 3:00, I say to him, “You see that trumpet player that’s playing, man! That guy is my father.” I waited to lay it on him. I wanted to see what this cat would say. Sure enough, he turns around and says, “You nigger lover!”. Hence, I call the bartender and say, “Put his tab on mine,” and I pick him up off the stool and I threw him into the wall, and I walked outside, and he comes outside, and I laid that son-of-a-bitch out. A cop showed up, and I would have gotten locked up except for my partner telling him that the guy had molested a woman. Our new place was right across the street. That’s all I would have needed; it would’ve blown the license and everything.
I want to clarify something: I’m not the kind of guy that goes out looking to fight someone that’s not my bag, I’d not gonna save the world, it’s just that that guy…. usually I can handle it easier when I’m working behind the bar because, as I said before, I can walk to the other end it), Here, the English people were either very groovy or once in a great while-just completely insane. I didn’t see any happy medium. One English chick, Irene, was utterly nuts: always on something, sniffing cocaine–once. She jumped on Judy–the stuff must have gone to her brain.