Black Fiction and Tussle in the office at the Uptown, a deserted club in downtown Oakland. A healthy number of dedicated humans had braved the trip to this inaccessible venue—-after 10 p.m. on a Sunday, downtown Oakland bears a hearty resemblance to bustling metropoli like Jackson, Miss. and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Despite an adequate turnout, our three bands had managed to net a mere $100, and were waiting for this absurd blowhard to finish his tirade so that we could divide our earnings.
“Business?” I asked. “What business is that?” My response employed sarcasm, a popular conversational technique. I have endured a lot of advice about the music business from silver-haired baby boomers. I am 30 years old and have toured for ten years. I do not need advice about the biz from silver-haired fiftyish clubowners who might once have smoked pot with someone who once smoked pot with Bill Graham.
“The music business!” the owner said. “I’ve been in this business a long time. I managed Eddie Money.”
“In your adventures with Mr. Money, were you able to learn what $100 divided by three is?” I asked.
The clubowner pushed our meager earnings our way. “I’ll tell you something about the music business,” he said. “This business—-there’s no money in it!” he exclaimed.
“That’s evident,” I said, collecting my portion of the $100. As $100 is not evenly divisble by three, this was no easy task.
The clubowner pointed to a trio of Heinekens. The Heinekens, sitting on the desk in the Uptown’s office, coolly regarded one other. “Can I at least offer you a beer?” said the clubowner.
“No thank you, sir,” I said. I pointed to a representative of Tussle. “I am this man’s father. For this reason, I forego alcohol consumption to set a good example.”
“What?” said the clubowner.
“However,” I continued. “I am an amateur photographer. Might I take your photograph?”
The clubowner agreed, and his photograph is posted above. In the photo, he is holding a photo of Bill Graham. No doubt he and the photo sit in his office late at night, trading anecdotes of legendary Grateful Dead precussion jams and bad acid trips with the Jefferson Airplane.