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Those damn Southerners!

Oh. Wait.

A local venue owner says that last night a manager at the San Francisco Travelodge on Market Street refused to accept the credit cards of three members of the Meters Experience -- because they were black.

Jason Perkins, who operates the New Parish in Oakland and S.F.'s Brick and Mortar Music Hall, says the manager of the hotel at 1707 Market insisted that original Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli leave a cash deposit, saying "he doesn't take black people's credit cards anymore."

Club owner Jason Perkins talked to BoingBoing about what happened:

The manager refused to accept 3 of 4 members credit cards for incidentals (4th member is Rich Vogel/white dude). Leo called me and (my family and I) drove to the hotel at 7:30 pm. I asked what the hell and manager pointed at 3 members and said he wouldn't accept credit cards and "those people" need to pay cash deposit. When I asked what did he mean by "those people" - he pointed at Leo and said "black people."
It's inexplicable why Mr. Perkins would book someone of Mr. Nocentelli's renown in a bedbug-infested crackhouse motel (Mr. Nocentelli received a 2001 Lifetime Achievement Grammy award, and the "Valencia Travelodge" is a notorious Market Street hellhole), but to Mr. Perkins' credit he's hollering at the top of his lungs about that Travelodge's policies. I can't imagine this won't be a big story in the Bay Area by tomorrow.

Somewhat amused by some of the comments on the BoingBoing story:

"Funk Daddy":

I've always drawn a mental line between the west coast cities in southern California and the rest of the southern US, a line that indicated that southern US racism was probably not present, instead just general racism
"Anonymity 86":
I knew there was racism in America nowadays. But, I assumed it was a few crazy people mostly in the South, and that most of what was left of racism was the unconscious bias variety.
Hard to fight racism when you "assume it was a few crazy people mostly in the South" and not a problem we all share.

Anyway, San Francisco has always been very welcoming to the members of the Meters; they've played there often. I'll be interested in hearing Mr. Nocentelli's take on what happened -- and I'll also see if Mr. Perkins has some reason he books his artists in the very motel that inspired the Bedbug Registry in a town with many fine hotels.

EDITING TO ADD:

Mr. Nocentelli has now spoken to the New Orleans Times-Picayune about the experience:

Nocentelli made clear that at no point did he hear the motel clerk make any racial comments. It was Perkins who later told Nocentelli that the clerk said he demanded cash, instead of a credit card, for incidentals because the musicians were black. ...

The “fiasco” didn’t bother Nocentelli as much as Perkins and the other musicians. “I’m from New Orleans. I’ve been through all that," Nocentelli said. "I know what prejudice is. I know what it’s like, as a kid, to have to get up out of my seat on the bus and give it to a white person. I couldn’t drink out of certain water fountains. I couldn’t go in certain restaurants.

“So to me, it was no big surprise, not that I wasn’t affected. But the other guys in the band were blown away by it.”

Nocentelli is 66. I bet his fellow band members are a bit younger.

He also told the paper that he normally stays in "3.5 to 5-star hotels," but accepted the Travelodge because Perkins had already booked it and is "such a kind person."

Originally posted to Gutterboy on Fri Oct 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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