Drrinkinng with Charlse Mudede
The Ghosts of Fillmore
"Yes, this street has really changed. It used to be all black businesses. But they were moved out when the city redeveloped the neighborhood, and though they were given vouchers to return when the development was completed, they never came back. All that remains of that time are a few jazz clubs. But who listens to jazz anymore? I'm 50, and even I'm too young for jazz. I listen to rock and soul. That's my time. Jazz? Everyone who grew up with that music is either in bed dying or dead," says Steve, the bartender at 1300 on Fillmore, a restaurant and bar that's owned by a Jamaican immigrant, who is the chef, and his partner, a regular American.
Steve is tall, smartly dressed (white shirt, black vest, black pants), and able to keep track of the orders perpetually pressed upon him by waitresses without breaking any of the conversations he is holding with those stationed at the bar. Above him hangs a wide, rectangular mirror that's tilted a little forward at the top. Most of this mirror reflects the restaurant's dining room, which has posh furniture and fixtures, long and translucent curtains, tall windows, and a high ceiling. An unseen machine projects ghostly black-and-white images of San Francisco's lost jazz world on the middle of this mirror. We see the famous dead (Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr.) and the unknown dead (a woman with a glamorous hat and a big smile, a man smoking a cigarette and staring into the distance).
It's happy hour, and I'm drinking wine and eating grits with wild mushrooms, herbs, and mascarpone. When the opportunity arises, Steve takes me to the lounge area behind the bar. The walls of this comfortable-looking space are covered with photographs of black Fillmore. Steve leads me to the largest one, which hangs above a wooden table and a plump leather armchair. He is clearly excited about something in this image, which was taken in the mid-'40s from the first floor of a building that's on the northwest corner of Post and Fillmore. "See that church in the background? That became Jim Jones's temple. His followers left that church in 1977, moved to Jonestown, Guyana, and killed themselves. Over 900 dead. The building is no longer there. It was torn down. We had to get rid of the bad vibes."