Monthly Archives: August 2014

Early Cirque Du Soleil

18RobinEricHertaOne2014Not too many people know that Cirque Du Soleil began in the parking lot of the Trident back in the mid 70’s.  This also was thought to be a pyramid scheme but was simply multi-level marketing.   Very clever in its day …..  Herta, Eric, and Robin …top to bottom…

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Thomas Rain Crowe

I worked with Robin for three years at the Trident Restaurant in Sausalito (on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge). We worked the same three-day shift as busboys in the Trident–that hired only young people who were serious and active in the arts. I was publishing Beatitude magazine and living in San Francisco in those years (the old original Beat generation magazine which was started in the late 50s) and taking the ferry to work every day.

Robin was a hoot and the restaurant was in stitches whenever he was working his shift. Nothing and no one was safe from his sketches and antics. I remember him pulling down Katie’s elastic top one afternoon. This was typical occurance when Robin was on his shift. Robin was doing stand up comedy at small venues in the city, then, some of which were venues where I was doing poetry readings on different nights. I knew him as a pensive, intellegent and very well-read person, who despite his constant antics in public, was a rather quiet and somehow sad person behind the mask of his social personae. He always seemed “troubled” to me.

Guess I was right–given his substance abuse problems and now his suicide. He had qualities of genius, even then, and everyone recognized that potential. He more than lived up to that potential, clearly. Too bad he couldn’t enjoy that on into old age. Big loss, this news. It will rock the world a bit.

Thomas Rain Crowe
Poet/publisher of New Native Press

I probably could have written a short novel on my years at the Trident. What a place. I think Robin’s sudden and dramatic death has stopped everyone’s clock. Rationally you can say, “yes, he was carrying a heavy load and this could have been the outcome.” But emotionally it’s hard to digest. We lost a good man. He gave it all he had and just ran out of steam. But his legacy–like Joplin, Hendricks, Lenny Bruce, etc lives on.

Thomas

Vince Guaraldi

          John Beck wrote in the Marin Independent Journal’s Here Magazine recently that, “Vince Guaraldi became an institution at Clubs like the Hungry i in San Francisco, and the Trident in Sausalito.”

          At this year’s Sausalito Film Festival director Andrew Thomas and producer Toby Gleason premiered their new film The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi. Guaraldi saw himself as a boogie-woogie player, and didn’t want to write hits, he wanted to write standards. Vince Guaraldi passed away at the age of 47. In this film, putting his life into perspective are such luminaries as George Winston, Dave Brubeck, Dick Gregory, Malcolm boyd, and David Benoit.
 
          Curiously, the one time Mill Valley resident may be best remembered for scoring more than a dozen songs for the “Peanuts” TV Specials and pulling off the ultimate slight of hand where he made parents and children bob their heads and tap their toes without even knowing they were listening to Jazz.

For the entire John Beck article click on:  Vince Guaraldi The Most Unknown Jazz Musician 

Click here for Paul Libertore’s Vince Guaraldi article: George Winston Pays Tribute to Marin Jazz Pianist Vince Guaraldi

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Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company

Sam Andrew is a musician, playwright, and painter from west Marin and knew the Trident (Horizons today) well. He was Janis Joplin’s guitar player in Big Brother and the Holding Company and her Full Tilt Boogie Band.  The Trident was one of their favorite hangouts.

Notes by Sam Andrew about the Trident restaurant when writing a play about the “Counter Culture” movement:

 ” A guy came into the Trident with a roll of Necco Wafers.  You remember the candy?  And, each wafer had a drop of Blue Acid on it. He went around the Trident one morning giving one to each person, waitresses, busboys, the manager, who was then Skip Cutty, and all the kitchen staff.  The place was dosed big time and as the lunch hour peaked so did the staff!  One waitress was pouring coffee until the customer started shouting at her as the coffee was overflowing from the cup to the saucer and on to the table as the waitress stared at the wonder of it all!

Also at the Trident, “windowpane” was being passed around the kitchen.  The two cold side cooks, the guys that made the salad and sandwiches as opposed to the guys on the hot side that made steaks and hot dishes, decided to share a hit.  So they put it on the cutting board in front of the refrigerated containers that held ample portions of ambrosia, green and mixed salads, to cut it in half.  As the chef’s knife cut through the gelatin of window pane the two halves popped out of sight.   They froze looking at each other for a second and then started laughing.   Later that afternoon, a woman customer was so enthusiastic about the deliciousness of her salad that the maitre d’ thought maybe she was a bit tipsy.”

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Phil Lesh Grateful Dead

18PhilLeshGD I use to eat lunch with Phil Lesh when he was in town, we would drive on weekdays to the Trident from San Rafael in his car for a legit reason to drive somewhere FURTHER than Marin Joes.    If I remember correctly, Kelly had something to do with the tee-shirt design. I don’t remember buying it, but I do remember having a Trident shirt.  David Crosby talks about the Trident and his sailboat in his first book.

Photo and post courtesy of Tom Smith
(Photo taken at Giant Stadium in 1978)

The Trident and the Tequila Sunrise

ABOUT A YEAR AGO   Mark Lomas, a former bartender who runs the Trident Restaurant website, and I had lunch. We sat in the main dining room of the Trident in Sausalito and swapped bar stories. I had once worked at the briefly reopened Ondine, which was above the original Trident.

Owned by the Kingston Trio, the Trident was way ahead of its time. From 1966 to the mid- 1970s it was the place to be in the Bay Area. Famed for its beautiful waitresses and musical pedigree, it also featured such innovations as sashimi, a fresh juice bar and an espresso bar.

After numerous stories about rock ‘n’ rollers, waitresses, Robin Williams (once a busboy at the Trident), Lomas mentioned that the tequila sunrise had been invented there.

Now, I was reasonably sure that the tequila sunrise had been invented long before that, but I tucked away that information along with the phone number of the bartender who supposedly did that inventing.

From my research, I learned that:

• The Arizona Biltmore hotel claims that bartender Gene Sulit invented the tequila sunrise there in the late 1930s, consisting of tequila, lime juice, soda and crème de cassis.

• The recipe most people are familiar with; tequila orange juice and grenadine appeared for the very first time in the 1974 version of Mr. Boston’s Bartender’s Guide.

Hmmm.

Drink origins are always a little murky. Take the martini, for instance. The town of Martinez claims that it was invented there in 1874. In fact it put up a historical landmark to “certify” the event. It doesn’t seem to matter that the drink invented there was called the Martinez Special, or that it included bitters, as well as a different kind of gin and a totally different kind of vermouth. There it sits, certified in stone: “Birthplace of the Martini.”

Eventually I called the so-called inventor of the tequila sunrise. Bobby Lazoff, 63, splits his time between computer IT work and teaching tutorials while living in Hawaii. But back in 1969 he was a fresh-faced 20-year-old looking for work in Sausalito. “I did about two or three days as a dishwasher,” he said. “Then I was a busboy and when I got old enough I became a bartender.” He claimed to have taken the bartending very seriously. “The Trident was a rock ‘n’ roll haven and tequila was the ‘in’ drink,” he said. So he and another bartender, Billy Rice, started experimenting. “Anything made with gin or vodka we started making with tequila,” he said. “A couple of them didn’t turn out too well.” One drink that did turn out well was a resurrected tequila sunrise. “We built it in a chimney glass; a shot of tequila with one hand, a shot of sweet and sour with the other hand, the soda gun, then orange juice, float crème de cassis on top, grenadine if you wanted, and that was it, the tequila sunrise.” Eventually, the bartenders simplified the recipe to just tequila, orange juice and grenadine.

“We had a Rolling Stones party (the kickoff of the media frenzy that was their 1972 tour) one Monday night when we were usually closed,” Lazoff said. “The owner called me in and put me behind the bar. We had a select menu, a couple of the prettier waitresses and that was the party. Bill Graham brought in about 35 people, and you know the place holds several hundred. Mick came up to the bar and asked for a margarita, I asked him if he had ever tried a tequila sunrise, he said no, I built him one and they started sucking them up. After that they took them all across the country.”

OK, I thought, all I had to do was get the Rolling Stones to verify that and we could reasonably assume that Lazoff might be indeed be responsible for the most recognizable incarnation of the tequila sunrise.

Rather unlikely. As a result, the story sat until I picked up Keith Richards’ book “Life,” published this past October. Chapter nine, sentence No. 1: “The ’72 tour was known by other names — the cocaine and tequila sunrise tour … ” I could not believe my eyes.

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I realized that I should probably be a little more trusting, and that the Trident might want to look into historical markers.

Jeff Burkhart is an author, regular contributor to National Geographic Assignment and an award-winning bartender at a Marin restaurant. Contact him at jeffb@thebarflyonline.com.  The National Geographic Article by Jeff, Not Just Another Tequila Sunrise, can be found elsewhere on this site. Similar, but completely different. Or, as they say, “The Same Difference?”

Thanks For Dropping In….

3JimMarshallPanHandleSFGRoupsRock2014 As many of you already know the musical groups that created the “San Francisco sound” in the sixties lived in Marin County.  This photo was taken by Jim Marshall in the San Francisco Panhandle.  This photo includes the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Charlatans all of which were frequent visitors to the Trident back in the day. Tune in, turn on,  and thanks for coming by!