Shut Up, Little Man!

“What Did You Do During the War?” : Some Notes Toward a History of Shut Up, Little Man!

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“What Did You Do During the War?” — A drunken interview with Peter Haskett

hotel taylor
The Taylor Hotel, Peter's
Tenderloin residence (1993)

We never expected the CD to find an audience, much less to sell out a few pressings. But, when it did, we felt obligated to find Peter, to explain to him that he was quickly becoming an underground star, and to give him some money. The record company, therefore, cut us a check in Peter’s name; “royalties,” shall we say, for his vocal duet with Raymond. We had heard that Peter had moved from the Pepto-Bismol Palace to an even more run-down tenement in that seediest part of San Francisco, the Tenderloin. Mitchell did some sleuthing and found his new address. At the apartment building we were informed by the ferocious building-manager (a Patel, of the famous Bay Area slumlord family) that Peter Haskett did indeed live there, but that he was not home. Therefore, we sat out on the stoop to await Peter’s arrival.

We waited and waited for more than two hours. Just as we were about to give up, Mitchell slapped me, pointed down the street, and said: “Holy shit, here he comes!” Peter was wobbling slowly up the hill toward us. He had on a little windbreaker and a pair of sunglasses to shield his booze-saturated eyes. He also had a small plastic bag containing a quart of Gin, a big bottle of discount cream soda, and a baguette sheathed in its grocery wrapper.

As Peter arrived at the entrance of his tenement, Mitchell and I hastily introduced ourselves and explained that several years ago we were his next-door neighbors on Steiner Street. He looked at us as if he was in shock. We informed him that we wanted to talk with him awhile and that we would like to buy him a drink. He stared us up and down for a moment, his eyebrows arching over his shades, and agreed to join us. Just across the street was a little dive bar called The Owl Tree Tavern. We made our way inside and ordered some drinks [Peter: “Uh, Eddie, order me a Vodker”].

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