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Twenty-eight years ago today (11/13/80), downtown’s California Theatre hosted a new-wave concert with 20/20 that was shut down by cops.

“I’ve seen more than my fair share of police harassment at the various new-wave clubs and rock concerts around San Diego,” patron Bart Cheever wrote to Kicks magazine (12/80), “and this time it looks like they’re out for blood.

“Armed in full riot gear, police systematically harassed and assaulted patrons.… You’re never going to see a cop choking some old lady at the San Diego Symphony. People were being arrested for crossing the street or asking for a refund or unlocking their cars or whatever else the police felt was illegal.… To the over-30 world, you’re just a punk who’s better off in jail. The police intimidate you, then they dehumanize you.”

At the same time, PB’s Roxy Theatre at 4642 Cass Street was closing its doors. Owner Scott Shore had bought the venue in 1977, planning to operate it as a movie theater until distributors refused or were unable to provide first-run films. The 629-seat venue was converted for concerts, booked by local promoter Marc Berman from summer 1978 through August 1979. Berman brought in Lou Reed, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Dire Straits, and a 5/16/79 Police concert broadcast on KGB 101.5 that became one of the band’s most well-regarded bootlegs.

After Berman departed for bigger ventures, the Roxy was leased to Concert Nite Productions through early 1980, whereupon owner Shore terminated the lease amidst allegations of unpaid rent and incomplete building improvements.

Local concert promoters Fahn and Silva Presents booked the Roxy occasionally from March through August 1980, and then the theater spent months screening the adults-only film Caligula, charging $6 per ticket.

In mid-November 1980, Shore reportedly sold the site for around one million dollars. The building was demolished to make way for a new post office, which opened in 1984.

– Jay Allen Sanford

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