Acid Heroes

December 5, 2015

Ghosts of Berkeley Past: The International Cafe

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:34 pm
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Formerly the International Café.

This building is a Thai restaurant today.  But back in 1980 it was a rock club.  The International Café.  The International Café was often referred to as a “bikers bar.”  It was a pretty wild place with a grungy, street hippie feel to it.  Let’s just say it was the kind of joint where it was rarely hard to find a drug dealer on short notice.  It’s also where I went on my first date with Molly.

I was 23 at the time.  Molly was a year older.  But she looked about 17.  She was the classic high school bad girl sex-pot.  With cat-eyes and curves in all the right places.  It was like there was always a pack of men circling around Molly, looking for an opening to get close to her.  I had a massive crush on Molly from the first time I saw her.

I first met Molly at the place where we both worked.  And after a couple months we started to get to know each other.  One Friday night, after we got our paychecks, she said to me:  “Hey.  You wanna go out for beers at this rock club the International Café?”

When you first entered the club there was this long, narrow hallway leading to the bar.  And the floor was usually soaked with spilled beer and seedy people hanging out doing god knows what.  So it was like walking a gauntlet.  I had always been kind of a loser with women.  So I’m thinking:  “It’s Friday night and I’m out on a date with the hottest chick in town.  What is this?  Some kind of trick?”  Thinking the rug was going to get pulled out from under me at any moment.  Like it all might be a horrible practical joke being played on me.

The featured band that night was this three-piece Hendrix cover band.  Me and  Molly were still sort of quasi-hippies at that point.  I was Beatles.  She was Rolling Stones.  But it was a transitional moment for both of us.  1980.  Our next date would be at this “New Wave” club to see this Devo kind-of band.  And after that, it would mostly be Punk Rock for the next 10 years (with some AC/DC and Motorhead thrown in for good measure).

Anyways, after a couple bottles of beer I’m starting to feel pretty warm and cozy.  And I’m smoking away on Molly’s Camel cigarettes.  “You don’t even know how to smoke them right,” laughed Molly.  “That’s not how you smoke cigarettes.”  I was pretty green back then.  A guy sitting at the table next to us passed around a joint.  And things started to get intense.

Molly and I took to the dance floor and slow-danced to “Purple Haze” and “Hey Joe.”  Her body was warm and cozy, too.  Molly had this incredible aura:  this alluring promise of fantastic sex and wild experiences.  And danger.

At any rate, after the show Molly invited me to spend the night at her house.  And, well, let’s just say we went on to become real good friends.  And we’re still friends to this day, 35 years later.

But every time I walk past that building I flashback to that night in 190 and the International Café.  It was a memorable evening for me.  I recently asked Molly about that night.  She said:  “What?  I don’t even remember that.”  So I guess I didn’t make much of an impression on her back then. Ha ha.  Which was a blow to my ego. But, fortunately, I’m an egomaniac with plenty of ego to spare.



1 Comment »

  1. That’s a cool story, Ace. I remember that place, though I never went in. I do remember places like that, though, and your story brings back some good memories.

    Comment by Ned Garrett — December 6, 2015 @ 1:36 am | Reply

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