This sad little hamburger shack on Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa has managed to survive for decades now. It was my high school hang out. Quite a few punks made this a regular stop around 1978 and 1979. The manager was Dave Astor, a thirtish guitar player with a wife and baby son and member of the Standbys, one of San Diego’s first punk bands.
The food was good, the company better, and it was something to do in what was then a pretty boring town for a teen-ager who wasn’t into ASB or football.
This is where I first met San Diego’s version of Hunter S. Thompson, Thomas K. Arnold, who wandered in one day with a stack of newsprint, which turned out to be his new publication, Kicks, a rock and roll magazine for San Diego. T.K. had never been to East County and didn’t know his way around, so I showed him where the local record shops were. Years later, after I established myself as a journalist, he would refer to me as his former “East County distribution manager” and tell people he “discovered” me. Funny.
The Standbys were a heck of a good band. I still have a copy of their lone 45 single. One of these days maybe I’ll rip it to MP3 and upload it for you all. (After I left town, Dave and the two other Standbys joined Battalion of Saints, but I never saw that band perform — I was gone. )
Dave and I drifted apart, and one day after not coming around for a year or more, I hit the drive-through and his wife was at the window. I asked about Dave. I didn’t know. He had killed himself a few months earlier. It took me a long time to get over that. The idea of this guy who always seemed so happy and full of life when I was around him had chosen a gun over a guitar. Sad.