S.F.: Bop City/Marcus Books 5 February 2006

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So this past Saturday, I’m having one of my “if the cast of Seinfeld were negroes” days, me and my lady roll down to “Jay’s Pots o’ Soul” (on Octavia)…it’s a beautiful day…mind you. Once we got a table…I called my dear friend and lower Haight superstar, B. Love to join us. We enjoy our meal and make further plans.

To make a long story shorter…B. and I end up rolling as a duo (as “the lady” has a smidge of errands/work to do, and will meet up with us later). We visit a friends upcoming restaurant in it’s remodeling phase, and casually chat about the future HQ of melinated S.F. . It’s a beautiful location and we all hope it will become the much needed haven for folks like us.

From there we skate on over to Marcus Books (1712 Fillmore, S.F. CA). One of Marcus Books claims to fame is that it’s the headquarters of ,”books by and about black people everywhere”. Me, a lifelong fan of the “Shrine of the Black Madonna” bookstores back home in Detroit, loves Marcus Books. But Marcus Books has many other claims to fame.

For one, the physical structure was once a jazz club, “Bop City”, in the 1940’s and 50’s. The photograph up above (from l to r: John Handy, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Frank Fisher) was taken inside Bop City/Marcus Books. In the 1940s and 1950s, San Francisco’s Fillmore district was once a thriving African American community,but also the place to be culturally on the west coast, boasting two dozen active nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile. Marcus Books sits one block away from the legendary Fillmore Auditorium. With the exception of Marcus Books, the area now (on the surface) hardly feels like the “legendary” Harlem of the West. Yet, it is easy to see how this area could be a destination of creative giants then and now.

We (“my lady” rejoins the crew) ended up chatting with Karen, the proprietor of the store for at least 2 hours and got a good dose of the warm fuzzy’s. Growing up around a family business myself, I can assure you there is no corporate ideal on this earth that can compete with a with a solid family owned operation in regards to the warmth of energy.

We talked music,history,literature,metaphysics,James Jamerson,politics,blackness and then some…Karen even whipped out 3 handfuls of loose change and walked each of us through an impromptu I Ching divination. Barnes and Noble ain’t got schitt on Marcus Books, nah’mean? This visit was no regular visit…it was a ritual/excercise in divine rhythm. A pow wow of positive melinated energy. As George Clinton says, “WE were on the ONE“.

At this point I can only imagine what San Francisco felt like before the class war came to define the current era. Just a few miles north of Marcus Books is City Lights bookstore…a landmark for lovers of all things beatnik, home to the spirits of Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg and Kerouac. In the independant bookstore world, City Lights is Goliath to Marcus Books-David. In “the Super Black World of…”©, City Lights Goliath is a Goliath of pretension. The humble, steadfast Marcus Books with it’s tangible yet supressed history and spirit make a suitable David for it’s patrons…right down to their motto: “books by and about black people everywhere”.

If you haven’t been to Marcus Books, mark February 25th on your calendars. Karen, the proprietor tells me that on this day Marcus Books will be transformed back into Bop City once again, for a day of live music and living history in celebration of all of it’s rich history. Be there or be square…and dress like it’s 1946 (i.e., pull your pants up hip-hoppers).


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8 Comments

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8 responses to “S.F.: Bop City/Marcus Books 5 February 2006

  1. semilla amarilla

    what intersection on fillmore is it? is it past north of geary?
    that looks like a place i use to have on 1318 hayes street.

  2. it’s east of Geary by two blocks, inbetween Post and Sutter.

    Ha-ha…I was just in there again today getting deep into a nice groove again w/ Karen the propietor (such a nice woman).

    Once again we shot the schitt about all the thangs that seem to be getting taken out “the game”.

    It’s definately an oasis for knowledge of self.

    whaddup yellow seed?
    the lady flies to Kenya *now*

  3. semilla amarilla

    st. christopher pray for us,
    st. lazarus pray for us,
    st. rose of lima pray for us,
    st. benedict pray for us,
    our lady of guadalupe pray for us,
    st. joseph pray for us,
    all you holy saints and angels pray for us,

    moon, is that raselas place still around on divisadero?
    i miss sf.
    ima be up in columbia college the first weekend of march with the jazz vocal choir. its up east bay way.
    we may be in your stompin grounds.
    inshalla.

    chandra’s parents have been joined together again in another world.
    we’ve trying to find a way to track down id.

    peace and prayers

  4. yeah…iD hasn’t jumped on the groove yet.
    I got the “blak-signal” up too, nuthin’ yet.

    you might bump into my Mama Bear,then

    you doing S.A., in April?
    that’s gonna be the real move, Auntie Remi’s empanada’s!!!
    Lechun!!! Pansit!!!!

    man, I don’t want to miss Dr.J’s B-day

  5. semilla amarilla

    kmon moon, auntie remi’s empanadaS!!!
    boy, you know whats good for ya.
    its time to feast…

    o oh

    its lenten fasting interrupted by lechon
    ding dang it

    whats for breakfast?
    cholesterol
    my kind of food

  6. I’m down for a lentfast…all the way up until brunch is served.

    Nah’mean?

    How is Aunti Remi? She’s such a beautiful/wonderful woman. And those empanada’s….*ecstasy*

  7. semilla amarilla

    mmmm hmmm

  8. You must check in and subscribe on http://www.youtube.com/marcusbooks for the latest in keeping the spirit of Fillmore alive through Marcus Books. The original poster is correct…there is much more to Marcus Books than just the phenomenal collection of Black authors and books by and about Black people everywhere situated at 1712 Fillmore Street. Become a part of that history and the growth that continues in this nearly 50 year old independently owned establishment.

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