Acid Heroes

March 6, 2017

A Berkeley Square Story

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , , , , ,


The Berkeley Square was a hip New Wave rock club back in the ’80s. And I was a hip, young publisher of an underground punk rock newspaper back then. So we were a match made in heaven. Every two months when the new issue was hot off the presses, I’d distribute big stacks of them at all the hip rock clubs and hip record stores (hipness abounded back then). Which is how I ended up in front of the Berkeley Square one Friday night in 1982.

This guy Lance — who I vaguely knew from the Telegraph street scene — was hanging out in front of the joint with this hot, young chick. So I stopped and chatted with them a bit.

“I really want to see the band that’s playing tonight but I can’t afford the cover,” she said.

“No problem,” I said. “I can probably get us in. Follow me.”

So the three of us ambled up to the front door and I said to the doorman: “Is it OK if I drop off some copies of the latest issue?”

“Sure,” said the doorman.

“And can I check out the show? I want to review it for the next issue.”

“Sure. Two of you can come in.”

So me and the hot, young chick ambled into the club. And Lance was left standing out there on the sidewalk like a sad sack.

I felt a little bad about that. But she assured me Lance wasn’t her boyfriend or anything, just some guy she knew (it turned out her main interest in Lance was that she could sometimes get him to buy her stuff — you know how guys are with the hot young chicks, we’ll buy ’em anything). So it wasn’t like I was horning in on Lance’s action or anything.

We ordered our drinks and sat down at a table. It was pretty dark inside the Berkeley Square and nice and cozy, with the electric glow of neon. That’s mostly how I remember the place. Glowing neon Iights. The ambiance was like a hip strip club. And it felt very modern and futuristic. Like we had entered into something new and cutting edge. We were finally in with the In Crowd. That feeling.

I hit it off with the chick right away. She laughed at all my jokes. Which turns me on even more than sex. And she had that going, too. She had a cute, girlish face. And voluptuous curves in all the right places. So she was a package. She had auburn hair that was dyed with a reddish tint, and bangs all the way over her eyebrows, practically hiding her eyes. And pink-tinted glasses. And her mouth open in a perpetual “duh uh” expression. She was cute and crazy. Just my type. Her style was part flowing hippie skirts and part New Wave chic (she looked a lot like the lead singer of the Divynals, this New Wave band that had a hit with the song “I Touch Myself” back then — you can YouTube it if you want a soundtrack for this yarn).

So anyways, after the show was over (and I had zero interest in “reviewing” it with a hot tomato like that in front of me) I invited her back to my apartment for a nightcap. This is the one and only time in my life when I actually picked up a chick at a bar and took her home. So I guess even the losers get lucky some time, as Tom Petty used to sing.

I had a big brass bed that took up half of the living room of my studio apartment. And we hit it off there, too.

So she moved in with me for awhile. It was pretty cool. I was working as a San Francisco bike messenger at the time. And she liked to cook. So she’d have dinner waiting for me when I got home at night (bacon chunk quiche was a particular favorite). And it was also the only time in my life when I had a semblance of a normal relationship (Mom working in the kitchen, Dad bringing home the paycheck, that bit).

So anyways, one morning in 1982 I kissed her goodbye and headed off to work. And as I was walking down the street to the bus stop I noticed something odd. I spotted Lance on the other side of the street, running in the direction of my apartment building. So I stopped and turned to see what that was all about. I watched from a distance as Lance ran up the front steps and into the building (this was back in the days when they didn’t have locks on the front doors of apartment buildings in Berkeley, believe it or not).

So I figured I better go back and check out what that was all about. So I ambled back up to my apartment. The chick was sitting on my old, green couch with a distraught expression on her face.


“Are you allright?” I said.

“Yeah. It wasn’t much of a punch.”

So I went running back outside to see if I could catch up with Lance and beat his ass.

But just as I was running down the front steps of the building, Lance was running up the steps — he had come back for round 2 with the chick. So I jumped at him in mid-air, karate style. And I had gravity on my side, launching downhill. Plus I out-weighed him by at least 30 pounds. So I knocked him down on the sidewalk. And got on top of him and pinned him on his back. And I’m bracing for a fight. Only, Lance isn’t fighting back. He’s just laying there sobbing and crying, with tears streaming down his face.

So now I had to shift gears and figure out how to deal with this.

“Listen, you two need to talk this out,” I said.

So I invited Lance back up to my apartment. And the three of us sat there side-by-side on my old green couch and talked it out. Lance was still crying, but he was meek and mild and harmless now, professing his undying love for her. And she sat there completely bewildered, with even more of an “uh duh” expression than usual.

“Listen, you two work it out,” I said after awhile. “I gotta go to work.” And I left. And that was the last I saw of Lance for awhile.

Anyways, the chick lived with me for another month. Until we got in a big fight and she smashed out my windows. So I had to ask her to move out. She immediately hooked up with another guy. So now I was heart-broken.

So then one day I happened to run into Lance. And now we were BOTH avid to talk to each other. Because we were both heart-broken over the same woman. And it was the one subject we both wanted to talk about (her). So we went out for coffee at the IHOP next door to commiserate about our mutual sad sack state of affairs.

And the weird thing is, it turned out me and Lance really hit it off, too (he laughed at all my jokes, too). So we started going out for coffee regularly to commiserate. And eventually we became good friends. And long after the chick had disappeared from our lives, we would be really good friends for the next 25 years.

I guess you just never know how things might turn out when you go to a bar on a Friday night.





  1. I think I was the guy after you two. That chick is now a toothless meth zombie, in modesto w/3 kids w/different last names

    Comment by dave — March 9, 2017 @ 1:16 am | Reply

    • Nah. She’s living down in Southern California. I haven’t heard from her in 20 years. But occasionally her name will still show up on the police blotter.

      Comment by Ace Backwords — March 9, 2017 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  2. “I Touch Myself” came out in 1992 not 1982 must have been a memory timewarp.

    Comment by Ethan — March 26, 2017 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

    • I know that. I said the woman in the story reminded of how the “Touch Myself” lead singer looked. I’m well aware of when the song came out.

      Comment by Ace Backwords — March 26, 2017 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

    • The single was released in 1990, by the way.

      Comment by Ace Backwords — March 26, 2017 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

    • By “back then” I just meant that whole period when people talked about “New Wave” bands. Which the Divynals were part of that genre — not to get all “record critic-y” on you.

      Comment by Ace Backwords — March 26, 2017 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

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