[First Person Account]
I worked at Brick By Brick…
Jason Calhoun remembers being a doorman for Dave Perlman at The Brick
[This account is a first-person recollection of events around fifteen years old. If anyone has a different version they are invited to submit the story to Reviewer Magazine. ~Editor]
by Jason Calhoun
I worked at Brick By Brick (formerly the Spirit Club), 1130 Buenos Avenue, in the late 1990’s for about three and a half years. I worked security at night and did maintenance during the day.
The club was owned by three partners: Tim Hall, who booked the shows and handled advertising, Chris Haney, he handled the sound and lights, and Dave Perlman, who handled everything to do with the bar.
In theory, this should be a great partnership. All three men were good at what they did and worked hard to make the club successful, and in the beginning it was. Jewel played there a few times, Body Count, Kid Rock, Bow Wow Wow on New Year’s eve. I even partied with John McEnrow when his band played there.
But at some point the business relationship soured, mostly due to Perlman’s management of the bar. As you should know, the bar is the cash cow in a club. But having an angry alcoholic as bar manager is bound to cause problems.
Dave didn’t just manage the bar. He also worked the bar. The only time you didn’t see Dave behind the bar was when he was passed out drunk in the office. When he was working he was the most abrasive, surly prick of a bartender you’ve ever seen. He was such an asshole customers would want to kick his ass, and if they didn’t start the fight Dave would be trying to start one! Oh, and did I mention Dave liked cocaine? … A LOT!
One hot mid-summer day my plans were to head over to Mission Beach to do a little surfing and hang out with friends. The phone rings. It’s Dave. He says he needs some help moving some coolers around, etcetera.
He was already slurring and it was barely 11:00 a.m.. No big deal, I was used to that by now.
So I hopped on the trolley to ride from my apartment in the building above the Star Club downtown where I also worked security and was in Bay Park within 20 minutes. I love San Diego public transportation.
When I show up to the club the front door was wide open. When I walked in Dave was slouched at the bar drunk. He looked like he slept on the couch in the office all night. I could tell because he was wearing the same clothes that he had on the night before and he hadn’t even brushed his hair.
The first words out of his mouth were, “Jayboy, I need some coke!” Now I’m no drug dealer but when you work the backdoor at a nightclub you’re bound to meet the right (or wrong) people.
I didn’t want to but I made a deal with Dave that if I got him his shit he would pay me for three hours and I could leave. So I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and call my buddy Chris in Mission Beach to drop it off and pick me up – perfect!
When Chris showed up he had three young ladies with him who I didn’t know he was bringing, but I knew them. The thing is two of them were only nineteen.
Chris told me his homie would be there within an hour with an eight ball. Dave doesn’t like waiting.
Chris, myself, and the girls were hanging out on the bench outside for about half an hour when Dave came staggering out of the bar, he walked past the others, right to me, and said, “Where’s it at?” I explained it would be here soon.
This is when Dave’s switch flipped. He stood in front of Chris staring at him and said, “I wanna fuck somebody up!”
Now Chris is nobody to fuck with. Chris got up ready. That’s when I stepped in between them and told Dave, “If you want to fight someone it’s gonna have to be me.” Dave pushed me, not good. I asked Dave, “What, you really trying to fight me?”
He says “I’ll fuck you up!” That’s without hesitation. Surprisingly, he swung on me. I ducked and out of pure instinct struck back hitting Dave in the jaw and knocking him out cold!
I honestly felt bad at first. I looked around and the girls were in shock, and the owner of the barbershop next door was standing outside laughing (he didn’t like Dave). Chris and I picked him up and put him on a bench inside the bar. I got on the phone trying to call his business partners, to no avail. I left a message for his wife telling her to get to the club right away.
I didn’t know what else to do. I got off the phone and went outside, before I could get a word out of my mouth one of the girls, Jen, screamed.
When I turned to see what she was looking at Perlman is coming out of the doorway with a broom in his hands.
I asked him, “Are you gonna hit me with that?”
Dave yelled back, “No, I’m gonna fuck you up!”
Ha ha – I’m 6-1, 220 pounds, and I like to and know how to fight.
Dave took his swing. Now, just a week before this I had removed a cast from my right arm which was broken in a bar fight while working at The Star Club downtown. When I caught the broom to block it I felt a cracking sensation where I had previously broke my arm, as I was throwing the broom away from us my buddy Chris brushed past me toward Dave with anger in his eyes. I yelled “NO!” and told him to back off, this is my fight.
By this time spectators had gathered including the barber and owners of the jewelry shop next door. It was surreal, like a crazy dream.
I told Dave “you already swung at me once and lost. If you do it again I’m gonna let you hit me then kick your ass, call the cops and sue the shit out of you!”
I said, “I have witnesses.” The barber raised his hand.
Once again without hesitation Dave comes at me again but this time he wants to wrestle. We locked up and he actually got my bad arm in a quarter nelson pinning it (I forgot how strong Dave was). For a minute, before I could free myself Dave was behind me and pounding on my face from around my left shoulder he hit three or four times until his wedding ring cut me under my eye. That’s when I SNAPPED! I stomped on his foot. He let go as I turned to face him he was bent over and bringing his head up. My right arm was fucked up but I caught him with a left uppercut followed by a couple more lefts and a kick that knocked him on his ass! The barber is laughing again.
At this point Dave got to his feet and stumbled into the club and slammed the door shut. You should know, Dave wasn’t only my boss, he was my friend (when he was sober) but I had been putting up with his shit for years and this wasn’t the first time he tried to start a fight with me. But this time my arm is re-fractured and my fiancé and I had just had our first child. At this point I definitely won’t have this job any more so I decided to follow through with what I told Dave I was going to do. I called 911 from the payphone outside the club and told my friend Chris and the girls to jam, so they went to Subway across the street. My buddy Bishop had pulled up in the parking lot a few minutes earlier and witnessed the whole thing from the front seat of his car.
This is where the story gets really weird. I’m on the payphone with my girlfriend and Perlman comes out of the bar. He walks over to Bishop’s car and asks for a ride home. Bishop told him to fuck off and rolled up his window. Dave walks to the back of Bishop’s car, puts both hands on the trunk and proceeds to piss himself! I couldn’t believe it at first but as I watched his faded jeans turned dark with urine.
San Diego’s finest finally pulled up. After being called a “couple of bitches” as well as some other choice words Dave was arrested for battery. In the police report it said Dave was “drunk, dirty and unkempt.”
Dave fought the charge in court but was found guilty. He was sentenced to three years probation, a fine and ordered to pay me about $6000 in restitution. I never saw a penny of that but I did sue him (not the bar) and Dave’s lawyers settled out of court for a nice chunk of change. After that Dave was pushed out of the business. His wife Norma divorced him. Since everything they owned was in his wife’s name Dave was left with nothing.
The last time I contacted the restitution office I found out Dave was in jail, he was found sleeping in some bushes at a park in San Diego, was taken to County for a warrant and charged with vagrancy.
The bar today, Brick By Brick, lives on under new ownership and is thriving.
If you happen to see Dave holding a sign on an offramp you should give him some change. He probably needs a drink.
[Jason Calhoun currently lives in Northern California, is married and is a father. ~Ed.]