I tried my best never to work on Sundays because of church. Now understand church never meant Jesus or bibles to me. It was to worship John Coltrane. Let me think on it just a little bit because remembering specific events from 1993 is not that easy. Seems like most of it happened just yesterday, but when you do the math (and you need to always do the math) the realization that it was around 20 years ago is staggering.
The Church of Coltrane was located on Divisadero just above Haight. I’m not talking about upper Haight where you get reflections of the hippies and can buy decent bags of herb, this was the lower Haight – filled with graph artists and skaters. Everything was tagged up. The church was a storefront about two blocks above lower Haight. Now, on any other day, you wouldn’t notice the shop, but on Sundays, the door was wide open. On the back wall, there was a picture of John Coltrane set up to look like a Jesus. The preacher had a tenor saxaphone. Next to him was a woman with an alto, next to her were some drums that were played by in shifts. In the audience filling up the pews were musicians from around the city all holding trumpets and sax’s of their own.
It was a three hour jam session of “A Love Supreme” and it was divine. I remember finding out about it because of the article in the paper explaining how this underground institution was closing down. They tried a few benefits and charity drives, but that kind of stuff can’t do much against the reality of rent raises. So we all just sat and enjoyed worshipping while we could and tried not to think about the rate date circled on the calendar.
After the church, I’d walk my knife route through the city. Out to North beach to where, at Cafe’ Trieste, the Opera singers from all around the city would gather and sing until the wine took over and then they’d just collapse. Everyone was relaxed for a bit on a Sunday. The park in front of the church where Josephine and I did a line of speed in front of the Virgin Mary was filled with people sporting Bikini’s, playing volleyball, working on their novels, re-reading their favorite books, rolling joint, looking at their dogs, and of course, like us, falling in love.
That was the thing about the city itself. Whoever you feel in love with, it was always a threesome with San Francisco involved. I guess she has to be part of the story as well, a character in herself. Her inviting victorians that seem cartoon-like from the exterior only to reveal themselves as vessels that hold ghosts. When you find this out, it’s too late because your enchantment has made it difficult to see.
You walk in through the city as a certain kind of person but are then transformed.