Studio 54 Opened. Elvis Died. Charles Manson May Have Escaped.

Summer, 1977. My family of four road-tripped up to San Francisco in my dad’s gold Ford Thunderbird. My brother and I were stuck in the back seat, which was pretty stuffy, and my dad smoked his Salem Menthols and kept saying it would be OK, the air was on. Meanwhile my brother was telling me Charles Manson had escaped and was coming to get me. I was ten years old, and I believed it. They always said: Watch Out For People On Drugs. Oh, and no wonder that backseat was so stuffy; it had no windows and thick brown interior. I think of that car every time I see gold and brown together.

San Francisco, late 70’s. What a fantastic town to find yourself in (unless you’re ten years old stuck with the parents on a road trip). A little thing called punk rock had begun, not that I was old enough to get it. There was disco, halter dresses, Saturday Night Fever, The Dead, sideburns, gay pride, women’s liberation and (I imagine) wild promiscuity. There was Anton LaVey’s Church Of Satan and the cultish EST movement (Google it). It was, and still is, a beautiful, chilly haven for freedom and grooviness. Unfortunately the AIDS virus and the Dot-Com explosion came along and ruined everyone’s fun and cheap rent. Still, the city is the most socially conscious place I’ve ever been. Composting bins everywhere, electric busses, vegan food. Those hippies really do care about the planet after all.

1977. By this time in my life, I was hanging out at my next-door neighbor’s, obsessively listening to Dark Side Of The Moon and Frampton Comes Alive. My brother had stacks of albums from that year: Hotel California, Bat Out Of Hell, The Stranger. The phenomenal Rumours was released, and really, is there a more beautiful song than Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams? Hot little 70’s babe Stevie Nicks says she wrote it on the piano in ten minutes, and the band recorded it the next day (which doesn’t surprise me, because they were all doing about a pound of coke a day). When I have ten minutes to myself, I file my nails, or talk to my dog. Stevie writes a mini masterpiece. It’s enchanting. There’s something so pure and authentic about it, like a pretty girl with no make-up on. Christie Brinkley had that look, that all-American girl-next-door California look, along with Cheryl Tiegs and my all time favorite idol, Farrah Fawcett. I feathered my hair, tried to copy her smile, and practiced my two-handed backhand just to be like her. The woman was so fucking beautiful it’s frightening.

We stayed at The Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill on that family trip to San Francisco, which, if you ask me, is way too nice for kids. Years later, I ended up living a block away from it, on Pine Street.  And 19 floors up is the legendary Top Of The Mark, a “sky lounge” famous for it’s 100 Martini Menu. I can see myself (in another life), wearing a shiny jumpsuit, oversized cocktail rings, and Farrah hair, laughing it up during cocktail hour and flirtatiously playing with the olives my fancy martini. In reality, I’m terrified of heights. I’ve never even been up there. The Mark also had one of those lobbies with the photos of old movie stars visiting, and New Year’s Eves and other gala events. Very Kubrick-esque. As far as the photo, four words: Jack Torrance. Overlook Hotel.

1977. It’s been 35 years since Ataris and Chia Pets came into our lives. My brother and I, we stayed up late every week for Saturday Night Live. We loved Slurpees, TAB Soda, and Otter Pops. We stood in line for Star Wars at The PicWood in West L.A.; Fonzie jumped the shark; The Son Of Sam got caught. Annie Hall wore men’s clothes and Roots made TV history. Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd went down in a plane crash. We ate Pop Rocks and I wore Charlie perfume. We used E-Tickets. Studio 54 opened. Elvis died.

I really don’t think I got enough time to do my thing back then. I’d like to buy the world a Coke, I’m learning how to play Scarborough Fair on the guitar, and I still love Dark Side Of The Moon. I’ve seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre about 74 times. I do remember laughter, and I wanna fill the world with silly love songs. I’m actually wearing bell-bottoms right now. And I might put some flowers in my hair. Until then, keep on truckin’. ❤ ❤ ❤