Posts Tagged travel

400 Miles Of Bad Road

26 April 2010

Well it was a long drive to and from SoCal this last weekend, but a worthwhile trip all in all.  In lieu of a full narrative, here are 10 fun facts about the trip, in no particular order:

  1. Both shows were great, particularly the Juke Joint in Anaheim.  The 454’s “Secret Agent Man” helped us out on a couple songs.  I felt like we were all pretty solid, and I really felt like I was “on.”  I attribute some of that to a new guitar, which made its debut this weekend.  More on that in a future post, but you can see that it’s featured on the Couch Guitar Strap site, along with me, my strap, and Meg’s photography!  How cool is that?
  2. Nick was kind enough to play tour-guide for me while in Hollywood, and one of our stops was the famous Griffith Observatory, which I’d never seen.  The drive up to the top of the mountain included some close encounters with coyotes, closer than I usually get to them near my house anyway.  The building is amazing, and the view you can imagine.  We posed for obligatory pictures next to the bust of James Dean.  I narrowly resisted the urge to pose with Griffith Park’s dancing bear statue, a decision for which I am sure to receive flack from some of you.
  3. I got to see Jessica and Paulo!  We dined at the hip “Kitchen 24,” and they even made a rare appearance at our show!
  4. I got to see Colin!  We spent some time in Amoeba, and just before parting ways, we saw Brigitte Bardot herself pull up, put her two puppies in a stroller, and step into the store.  She smiled at us!  And I snapped a quick pic of her Jaguar (the plate read “BBARDOT”) as proof.
  5. Hollywood is just drowning in famous hotels, offices, high schools, avenues, and other landmarks.  Big pink Greek houses that could only belong to celebrities.  Thanks again to Nick who pointed them all out.  In San Francisco, we have the occasional small claims to fame.  This or that restaurant appeared in this or that movie.  But what a trip it must be to live in Hollywood and be just surrounded with that stuff daily.
  6. I made it to a Claim Jumper after all.  That’s right, bitches.
  7. The Castro is pretty gay, no question.  But I’d argue it’s got nothing on WeHo.  My favorite sight?  The giant billboard for Pink Moving.  Phone number is 877-OMG-PINK.  I love it!
  8. While we’re at it, Hollywood Blvd. beats the Haight or just about anywhere else in the Bay Area in terms of quantity of stores to shop at.  So much to do and see there, I think Shel and I would never get bored.
  9. Before you go thinking I have some love affair going on with L.A., let’s be clear about the cons, because they are major.  Deal breakers even.  The traffic is horrific.  There are 4 million people there, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise.  But the consequence is then terrible air quality.  I was hoarse and coughing the whole time I was down there, and it was so refreshing to breathe in the cool and moist air of home as I crossed the Bay Bridge last night.  Sorry SoCal.
  10. The most unexpected aspect of the trip was that I started to realize that as part of getting over some of my travel anxieties of the past couple of years, I’m starting to actually rediscover the excitement of travelling!  As much as the long drive down I-5 sucks, the freedom of open road, no schedule, and anything goes reminded me a bit of when I first got my license as a teen.  I’m only scratching the surface of it now… barely a formed thought… but more to come as I get my head around it.

Well then, that’s the weekend in a nutshell.  It was not what I expected, but in some ways even better, and a welcome diversion to be sure.  I’m looking forward now to some of the upcoming trips… I think.

“Shyness is nice, and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life you’d like to.”

The good times are killing me.

18 March 2010

Three consecutive weekends of shows and long nights finally caught up with me this week.  I’m down with a killer sore throat.  I guess I should count myself lucky that that’s all it is?  So far anyway.  Hope it’s better tomorrow so I can get back to work.  You’d think a few days at home would be nice, but sadly I’ve been too fatigued to do anything but grow a beard.

Those three shows were great though.  Santa Rosa’s Chrome Lotus was a nice new club that has a lot of potential for becoming a regular stop for us.  Fresno was massive as always… a sell out well before Dead Souls even took the stage.  It continues to be among my absolute favorite places to play.  (And it doesn’t hurt that I get to hit a Claim Jumper on the way out of town!)  It’s even fun to drive out there, as long as it’s only once in a while.  The farmland is a nice change of scenery, and it gives me a great chance to zone out and catch up on music.  And then Sacramento was great too.  After two recent shows, we were a well-oiled machine for that show, and ended up with time to play what felt like a dozen encore songs.  It’s great that after hitting some of these venues and towns so many times, there are still hundreds of people that enjoy themselves enough to keep coming out.  We’ve got a ton of shows coming up in the next few months including trips to SoCal, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest (yikes!), and another massive Moz birthday show at Slim’s!  And do you know we’re only a few songs away from having performed every song the Smiths released?  I’ve only got three or four left to learn!  Then what will I do?

Recently, Sus sent me this picture from Disneyland, and amazingly Joyce sent me nearly the same picture a few weeks later.  I don’t know where exactly this place is, but I love everything about this picture.  I want to live inside of it.  Do they sell t-shirts?

If I can make a sartorial digression here, I wanted to point something out to all the girls I know.  I’m no fashionista, but I know picante when I see it.  There’s a store I pass on Sutter here in SF about once a week, and though the shirts and blouses in the window are different every time, they are — almost without exception — amazing!  It’s called Nara Camacie, and I gather it’s a chain?  I’ve never seen another one personally, but I recommend you check it out.  The guys clothes look alright too, but the girls shirts specifically are lovely.  But then, what do I know?

And while we’re on the subject of clothes, you may have noticed some of the gems I’ve been sporting on the runway this season (read: the t-shirts I’ve worn to shows lately).  I’ve received a lot of compliments on a couple of Day Of The Dead / country western themed tees I have, and while I’d love to keep my source a secret, the artist deserves the exposure.  These shirts were adorned with the artwork of none other than Mekons drummer Jon Langford.  You can see his art many places, but here’s a sample of some for sale.  Yet more beautiful things I would love to decorate my place with some day.  If only I weren’t so lazy.

Tonight, however, I can blame my laziness on this blasted cold.  *cough*cough*  Goodnight!

… in which I run off to Hollywood to make it as an actor.

3 January 2010

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: chipper accomplished

Well it was a lovely Xmas / New Year’s vacation, kiddies.  So much to tell.

You know, that last week of work before Xmas, I went bowling with some coworkers.  First time I’d picked up a bowling ball in 2+ years, and the very first time it left my hand, I scored a strike.  Ended the game with a strike too, and at one point bowled three in a row. Finished with a 168, far and away the best score of my life. (Do bowling skills just naturally grow with age despite zero practice?)  Anyway, maybe I should have taken that as a sign of good things to come…

Home For The Holidays
After being stuck at home for Xmas last year, while the rest of my family was at Disneyland, it was nice to get to spend it with them this time around.  I got to see my sister’s new place and hang out with her rugrats.  Spent a couple days with my mar and par.  Was somewhat dismayed that the best reaction I got from any of the gifts I gave was from my grandma when she opened her 2-liter of Bombay Sapphire.  As always, it was nice to “unplug” from my usual daily stresses and just mellow out in that alternate universe that is my family life.

Hollywood Swingin’
Staring down a whole week off, I started to think that maybe I should, you know, do something.  I decided on a spontaneous trip down to SoCal the day after Xmas, being the first time I’d taken my current car there, not to mention the furthest I’ve driven in a couple of years now.  A good challenge, and an excellent chance to catch up with the friends that I only ever get to see when TCB plays down there, and briefly at that.  I stayed on Sunset at the same place TCB used to.  Fabi and Megan were kind enough to take me around to a couple of excellent honky tonks, as well as an unbelievably delicious meal at P.F. Chang’s of all places (kung pao with five-spice tofu instead of chicken… good gawd!).  Oh, and they taught me the proper way to pronounce the local baseball team’s name: “Los Doyers.”  I met up with Jessica and her man at The Cat & Fiddle (no Moz sightings), and then Amoeba (saw Forest Whitaker there).  Sadly, I missed Colin altogether.  🙁  And there were others too that on short notice I just couldn’t hook up with.  Next time though!

On the way out of town, I hit up Sunset’s Guitar Center and Sam Ash, places that historically have been rushed stops during TCB show trips.  Here I got to take my time and explore.  Saw the array of Gretsches that dwarfs Bay Area guitar stores, as well as a ton of vintage gear… LED Rics, 12-string 335s and Coronados, Vox 2×15 AC30s, and on and on.  Candyland, basically.  Anywho, I was surprised to find the drives there and back were both easier even than I remember.  And I’m so glad to be a comfortable with that again, because I’d like to make little weekend SoCal trips a regular occurrence like they used to be.  Too many friends down there to let so much time go by between visits, you know.

New Year’s Eve In Seattle
I popped out for a quick 24 hours in Seattle to spend New Year’s Eve playing the Showbox (SoDo) in Seattle.  We were staying in a dodgy area near the airport, with strange people milling around outside for no apparent reason… reminded me a bit of the hotel from that first Fresno show a few years back.  But I quickly forgot about all that in dealing with the constant waxing and waning rain all day and night.  Made driving a bit of a hassle, but for once I got tremendous use out of the rental car’s GPS, and I have a new found respect for them.  If I drove my own car in unknown areas more often, I might even pick one up for myself.  Pretty neat.

The show was more fun than I expected, with a highly entertaining bill that included Dead Souls, Love Vigilantes, and Fascination Street.  All the bands’ members seemed to be in good spirits, and we all got along great.  I joined Love Vigilantes as the fake Johnny Marr in a successful rendition of Electronic’s “Getting Away With It” (which I had picked out last minute in my Hollywood hotel room earlier in the week).  Some of us went to eat afterwards and found a former Denny’s.  You ever seen “Coming To America?”  Well this was the McDowell’s of Denny’s.  Nick and Orlie can attest.  It was hilarious.  Instead of “Moons Over My Hammy,” they had “The Rising Sun Sandwich.”  But the menu was identical in terms of content.  The building, the fixtures, everything.  Denny’s, but not.

One note about logistics.  I got it from all sides at the airports this time around.  On my way home, I was almost arrested for wearing a belt buckle that looked like brass knuckles.  They were not in any way functional, but apparently they were enough to earn me a stern talking-to along the lines of “do you know how stupid it was to try to bring this on an airplane?”  I am not a thirty year old man; apparently I am a 15 year old Beavis.  Oh well, just doing their job I guess.  My guitar was swabbed by TSA for bomb residue, and they almost wouldn’t let me bring on my pedalboard until a musician working there vouched for what it was.  And aside from all this, I have never received so many disapproving looks from old folks in the airport, brazenly inspecting the stickers on my pedalboard (none of which are very offensive, save the “I <3 Hunting Accidents” one).  Apparently images of Mozzer and Marc Bolan offend them.  But they looked at me like I was a gutter punk moonstomping through their garden party.  All hilarious to me, because I’m probably a more stand up guy than their own sons and grandsons, but whatevs.  It’s the way of the world.  I’m sure in their day, old folks used to fuss at them when their dresses showed ankle.  Someday, I will be fussing at young’uns for whatever they’re up to.  Hell, I probably already do.

It was an interesting way to ring in the new year.  And a major change from last year.  See last year, I didn’t want to leave the house.  Too anxious.  This year I flew to Seattle in the rain for one day to play a show in front of hundreds of people.  What a difference a year makes, huh?  🙂

I don’t usually take a lot of long vacations.  Most of my days off are used to make three-day weekends for TCB trips and such.  I gotta say that this last week off is one of the few vacations I can remember that feels like it was really well spent.  In a single week I made it to see the family for Xmas, drove all the way to SoCal and back, flew to Seattle and back, visited with countless friends, and learned and played a lot of music.  Even made it out to New Wave City and Leisure this weekend.  Oh, and I saw The Road yesterday, too.  (Super creepy and also amazing.  Check it out.  Do it.  Do it.)  But yeah, I’m feeling like I really made the most of this time off.  If only every week could be so action packed.

flyer-100108

OK, so hopefully I’ll get to my “new year” blog next time.  It’s been so busy, I haven’t even had the time to sit down and reflect yet, much less make plans and resolutions for 2010.  But I’d say it was a pretty good trade.  Nice to be spending my life lately actually living it rather than just busy planning it.

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
— W. C. Fields

Aww, that’s so sweet!

9 August 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: chipper accomplished

Well kiddies, just got back from a pleasant weekend in Anaheim.  The House Of Blues show was our best one there yet, with a crowd that included Moz Krew, Irving, Fabi/Megan, Miles, Couch Straps’ Dan, and many more.  Saw the Lew women.  Met Balls Sr.  Visited Montebello for the first time.  Got some Claim Jumper and some decadent butterscotch pancakes.  Survived the flights.  Researched ungodly piercings with Sus and Paul.  Lost a pillow fight.  A million other things I’m forgetting to mention too.  All in only about 24 hours.  If only every day could be so eventful.  Good times.

I made the mistake of looking in on a bunch of my high school classmates on MySpace and Facebook.  Holy shitake!  The vast majority of them have goodlooking spouses and/or children in their pictures.  WTF?  I guess by now the breeders among us have gotten started.  To be expected, I suppose.  But still shocking.  Am I behind the curve?  Or did I avoid the trap?  Or…?  Meh.

So a few weeks back, I posted that parody AFSCME PSA right?  Weirdest thing… on my flight today were a ton of people wearing AFSCME shirts.  Well in other funny commercial news, who among you remembers this one:

Let’s see, what else?  I saw The English Beat with Shel, and it was amazing!  I’d never seen them before, but I was blown away.  A lot of fun, and Dave Wakeling seems like a nice guy.  Oddly enough, they were opening up for Reel Big Fish.  I don’t know how that works, but whatevs.  RBF was fun too, though we only stayed long enough to here the one song of theirs I remember from my years with Maya: “She’s Got A Girlfriend Now.”  A while back there was an SF Symphony event where they were playing old Warner Bros. cartoons, but doing the orchestral soundtrack live along with it!  I was so sorry to miss that, but I think I had a show that night.  Am I crazy or does that sound like the funnest date?  Had I a date instead of a show.  Hmmm…

I had just been thinking about that old T.V. show “The State” when I saw on Amazon that the whole series is finally coming out on DVD!  It got me to thinking about a few other of my favorite shows that are now also available in complete DVD sets.  I’m thinking Kids In The Hall… Dr. Katz… Brisco County Jr.  Part of me wants to horde that stuff, but it seems clear enough that DVDs are on their way out in favor of Blu-Ray.  I think about the folks I used to know with massive VHS collections.  So collecting DVDs seems like a similarly losing battle.  I don’t want to buy another DVD.  As rarely as I watch the ones I got, the format will be obsolete before I get my money’s worth.  I suppose that logic applies to CDs too, but I’m much more heavily invested in that, and plus there does not yet seem to be an heir apparent.  But still… I hate to think about that.  *cringe*

flyer-090814

If you’ve ever flown out of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, then you know that they were long ago pressured to institute a ridiculous noise restriction on flights in and out of there so as not to offend the surrounding communities.  The end result is that pilots have to execute this strange take off procedure where you go nearly straight up in the air, then coast silently for a while, and then the engines kick in again.  The pilot typically explains this process before you take off, and my flight home today was no different.  The quote of the week — nay, the month — comes from the pilot during the “coasting” period of our take off today.  Just as the engines go silent, he whispers to all of us over the intercom:

“Shh… we’re flying over rich people.”

Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

1 June 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: happy warm

First things first, the trip was a big success.  We all had a lot of fun in Portland and Seattle, and the flight and logistics went off with almost no issues.  I got to spend a lot of time with friends, and a little time poking around a new city.  Portland is a nice town, and it was great to catch up with several friends I hadn’t seen in years.  The hotel was cheap and very nice.  The Wonder Ballroom was something like a big high school gymnasium.  We got over 350 people out for that one, and there were plenty of fans singing and dancing along.  We hit an all night Cajun restaurant afterwards.  The next morning, we got lost in the industrial area of Portland near the bridges and inadvertently found Dunder-Mifflin, then had brunch with my old PeopleSoft friends, and then headed out to Seattle by car.  Seattle is beautiful, and we were staying and playing right in the thick of it.  Pike’s Market.  Which I guess is sort of the Fisherman’s Wharf of Seattle.  Lots of tourists.  The hotel was expensive and tiny.  But the show was fun… 650+ people in a venue not unlike a mini House Of Blues, all rocking out to covered Smiths/Moz, New Order, Depeche Mode, and Cure tunes.  Wrestled and danced in the green room.  Ended up at some ex-grunge hangout called The Hurricane.  Ate greasy food.  Woke up and headed to Bruce Lee’s cemetery on the way to the airport.  Had we started with the NeverLost, then we probably would have never been lost.  Once we found the place though, we had a very The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly moment of trying to search through the cemetery to find Bruce and Brandon’s graves.  We did finally find them and pay our respects, and then it was off to the airport and home.  Oh, and Paul’s new nickname is “The Balls.”  I know I left a ton of the story out.  Hopefully if/when the others read this, they can fill in the gaps.

But the big news for me personally is that this trip came and went without any major issues.  It’s been a hard year, you know.  But I wouldn’t change it.  The obstacles that have challenged me have forced me to face and consider many things that I almost certainly would not have otherwise.  If I had just lived the last year exactly as I have the previous ones, and not done all of this growing and exploring… well I’d feel sorry for that hypothetical me.  I am so much better off now than I was a year ago.  On a related subject, I highly recommend you take the 20 minutes to watch this lecture on perceived happiness.  It has caused me to reconsider the way I approach many situations.

Out of nowhere, I got on this kick of thinking about old skateboard culture.  For one hot minute back in the late 80’s, I was into skateboarding.  I had a Schmitt Stixx Lucero X2 deck (similar to this one, only mine* was white and had custom hot pink grip tape).  I remember being totally into decals at the time, and going to the skate shop on De Anza and picking up decals for brands of equipment and parts that I didn’t even understand.  I just liked the designs, you know.  I went looking on the web for this stuff and found some awesome sites dedicated to late 80’s skateboarding decals (Retro Skate Stickers) and decks (Wheel Bite, Skateboard Junkie).  Going through those pages brought back so many memories.  I see logos and designs and brand names I haven’t thought of in 20 years!  Powell Peralta, Santa Cruz, Slimeballs, Independent Trucks, Nash, Jimmy’z, Rob Roskopp, T&C Surf (remember their yin-yang logo, cartoon t-shirts, and even Nintendo game?), Vision, Sims, etc.  Too many to name.  And then the clothing lines like Maui and Sons and Gotcha, shoes like Vans and Airwalks.  All this stuff I remember being popular in my neighborhood during my short skating career.  Ah well, memories.  I feel at least Starla and Jonah would appreciate all that.

* An interesting story about my Lucero… so I never really got good at skating.  I think I was always too afraid of injury.  But I still had fun with it.  Back in San Jose, I used to take it up to the local 7-Eleven with my friend Olin to play their arcade games — Double Dragon and the like.  I guess I left my board out in front next to his bike while we were in there one evening, and when we came out, someone had run off with it.  I think Dad and I drove around looking for it that night, but it was no use.  A few weeks later, my friend Jonah and his big brother and their dad were coming out of a movie theater across town (the Town & Country which used to be where Santana Row sits now).  They saw some teenage kid with a distinctive white Lucero and hot pink grip tape.  Jonah recognized it as mine and alerted his dad… who then confronted the scared-shitless teen on the spot and got my board back!  Do you believe that!?  I love that story.

So that all brings me to my philosophical dilemma.  Checking out that skateboard sticker site, I see a bunch of the decals I used to love.  In fact, I just ordered a vintage Slimeballs decal (always one of my faves) for about $20.  They don’t make them anymore.  It’s a 20-year-old sticker that someone has managed to keep pristine for decades.  Is it wrong to use it?  My first inclination is that it’s an antique and shouldn’t be wasted on my pedalboard case.  It should be preserved and cared for.  But my new “shedding materialism” side says that we’ll all be dust soon anyway, and this sticker was created with the purpose of being stuck on something.  It will bring me and my friends more joy to occasionally see it on my pedalboard case and think about our youth than it ever would bring anyone just sitting in a drawer somewhere.  Preserving it for the future is meaningless and futile.  It only becomes valuable when it is used and brings joy and it fulfills its destiny.  And on that note, I picked up a Garbage Pail Kid sticker too.  Tell me, is it wrong to use these stickers, knowing that by doing so, they will eventually be scuffed and worn away over time, lost forever?  These stickers which are among the last of their kind.  Do I have a responsibility to protect them from harm… and use?

slimeballs

The other day in the FiDi, I saw this slick-looking black guy in front of my building, brightly colored suit, pressed straight hair, a few gold teeth.  He was stopping people on the street and opening his jacket to reveal the jewelry he was selling.  I think I actually laughed out loud.  Could you be more of a cliché?  Do you not know that you are an extra in a 1980’s Eddie Murphy movie set in New York City?  I mean, you might as well be a burglar running around in a striped shirt and a mask.

“The odds are a million-to-one against your being one in a million.”

Flying Coach With Coach

29 April 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  accomplished

I spent a good portion of tonight working on my ongoing housecleaning.  Tonight, I tried to make yet another dent in my shredding of boxes of old paperwork.  There’s a ton of it.  Destroying all these documents.  Don’t ask me why, but I have virtually all of my pay stubs, and I’m not kidding.  I literally shredded hundreds of them tonight, back through my job selling pool supplies in 1996, my days at Blockbuster where I made so many friends, my entire PeopleSoft career from internship through consulting, my time at Mercury.  I had dozens of old credit card statements and receipts from those days too.  The last surviving records and mementos from my trip to Atlanta (complete with reminders of Crista), my stint in Thousand Oaks, etc.  Reading through some of them brought back memories.  The restaurants I ate at, the places I shopped.  Holding them in my hand tonight… the last person to touch this piece of paper was me 13 years ago.  A message from the past.

If you could, what would you say to the “you” of 13 years ago?  What advice would you give him?

Should I have kept these papers instead of destroyed them tonight?  Well, it made me wish I had been blogging or keeping a diary back then.  But in the end, I’m telling myself that keeping this stuff is like scrapbooking.  Why waste my current (and precious and limited) life cataloging my past life?  Life is short enough as it is.  As I said recently, there isn’t any time to dwell on the past.  We’ll all be dead before we have time to sort it out, catalog it, and enjoy the scrapbook.  So goodbye memories of Atlanta restaurants (like Dante’s Down The Hatch in Buckhead), and goodbye records of what hotels I stayed at on which consulting trips, and goodbye list of purchases from 2001.  There’s nothing to stop you from fading away now.  Those things seem important to me because they’re mine.  My life experiences.  But it’s so easy to get bogged down by the details of everyday life.  No one, including me, will ever need all this information.  There’s no reason to treat it like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Shredding all these papers, I shredded an offer letter I once got from a company in New York (Vitech).  I was making that career decision back around the time of my project in Reno.  I ultimately turned them down, but looking at this offer letter… it’s mind-boggling to think about all the different paths your life could go at any moment.  That job in New York you didn’t take.  That party you skipped.  The shoes you bought.  Chaos theory.  One little decision made differently, and who knows where your life would be now?  Maybe you’d be living overseas.  Maybe you would have never met me.  Maybe you’d be married. Maybe you’d have been hit by a car that very afternoon.  You can’t even get your head around it.  So many ways life could have been different.  And now, as ever, as always… infinite possibilities for your future.  And mine.

After all those musings, if you’re now bored, Starla advises you to go look at this fucking hipster.

I braved getting on a plane this last weekend for a quick round trip, for the first time in over a year.  I was expecting the worst, but despite Murphy’s Law being in full effect (my initial flight was cancelled, the flight I did get on was completely packed, turbulence so bad the passengers clapped when we landed), I survived and felt pretty good about the whole thing.  I got to meet up with Colin and his girls for a brief tea, and then it was back to the Bay.  There’s also a questionable picture Selene took of Colin and I.  I’ll see if I can nick it and put it up for you voyeurs.  Quick side note, on the flight to Burbank, Todd Bridges was on board, and on the flight back, so was Coach’s Craig T. Nelson.

I continue to hear positive feedback about that Blackthorn show a couple weekends back.  Big shows coming up, and some changes in the works regarding my gear.  I won’t bore you with the details here and now.  But I might next time.  🙂  Anyway, in addition to providing the clever title for this blog, the quote of the week comes from Sus, on the subject of her assuming absolute power over TCB:

“The whole band bear dances right now!!!  Oh my goodness, I’m so close to getting you guys to do it, I can feel it.”

This is me breathing.

25 November 2007

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  sick

It’s been a busy week, kiddies.  I don’t even know where to start, but I guess it makes sense to go chronologically?

Crash Mansion
So I just worked Monday last week and then flew out Wednesday to Los Angeles for the Crash Mansion show.  Given that it was major holiday travel time, I gave myself plenty of lead time.  But my trip seemed to be blessed from the beginning.  When I got to SFO, I found that long term parking was full (which I’d never seen before), but they gave me a voucher to use short term parking for the same price!  The checkin and security lines were short.  My flight was full, but the airport seemed surprisingly dead.  I got to LAX to find that my Hertz gold service was still in effect and I was automatically upgraded to a Ford Mustang for no reason at all.  I got to my hotel in plenty of time, and though it had a Spanish grotto design on the outside, it was pretty shabby inside.  No big deal though, I only needed a place to sleep really.

The venue (Crash Mansion) was very big and open.  The stage was huge, and the sound was great.  After soundcheck, Orlie and I walked down the street to eat at an Italian restaurant.  The waiter asked if we were coming back from a club.  After explaining who we were and what were doing there, he says, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of the Smiths.  Like old school, right?  Mark Ronson did a Smiths song… I liked it.  Are you with those guys?  Mark Ronson?”

Back at the Mansion, while waiting to go on, I decided to have a drink to loosen up.  I apparently drank my Tom Collins a little too fast, and followed it up with too much strenuous dancing.  I almost immediately felt sick and almost had a panic attack.  Nothing like compounding the nausea with the stress of knowing that you’re about to go on stage so hundreds of people can watch you intently while you throw up.  Luckily, we had a delayed start and I had some time to pace and sip water and get over it.  By the time the show started, I was fine.  The Moz Krew, Irving, and many others were in attendance for the show.  We played some new songs including “Barbarism Begins At Home” and it got a great reaction.  Great crowd participation in general.  People seemed to have a great time, and I got a few pats on the back on and off stage.  It was a lot of fun.  I’m sure Sus will provide the videos soon.

Orlie crashed with me, and when we got back to the hotel that night, we had the pleasure of watching a drunk guy puke all over the parking lot, while his friend carried in his passed-out girlfriend.  There was only time for a few hours of sleep before heading back out to the airport to come home.  This part of the trip wasn’t quite so smooth, but it wasn’t awful.  Again, I gave myself plenty of time to get to the airport, and it was nice not to have to rush.  Once through security, I got some iced tea, and took a nap in a chair at the gate while I waited for my flight to board.  Slept some more on the flight.  It was great.

I did have two gripes with my trip home though.  When I got back to SFO, I had a ticket on my car.  I got my “2008” license plate sticker in the mail months ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to putting it on my car yet.  I figured if a cop saw me on the road and looked me up, they’d see that I was all paid up and was only missing the sticker itself and would ignore me (as surely they have more important things to do).  Then if I ever did get pulled over, I had the sticker in my glove box, so it would be a very short conversation with the cop.  Well apparently, not only does SFO have a police force patrolling the short term parking lot, but it has a lot of time on its hands and it pays attention to detail.  I got a $25 ticket for not having my 2008 sticker on my plate… I repeat, I got this ticket from the airport while parked at the airport!  So beware!

My other gripe has to do with people using their miserable job to take out aggression on customers.  Case in point: at LAX, I had to check a bag.  Rather than check it in for you, they require that you get a sticker from the ticket counter, then go give your bag directly to a TSA security guy to put through some conveyor belt machine.  A little hassle, but not too bad.  Well they were backed up, and they basically had people just leave their bags in a pile out in the open with the implication being that they’d gradually get to it.  Well maybe I’m paranoid, but I didn’t like the ide of just leaving my bag unattended until they got around to it, so I left my bag and stood against the wall watching it until it went through the machine.  Eventually a TSA guy asks me “what are you doing?”  I explain that I didn’t want to leave my bag unattended so I wanted to watch it go through the machine.  He rudely says “do it over there” without pointing anywhere.  So I politely moved over to where I assumed he meant, and even more rudely he says “I didn’t say there, I said back there!” and this time he points to an area behind a wall to where I obviously can not see my bag.  At this point I’m getting pissed, but I eventually find a “back way” so that I can see my bag until it goes through the machine.  But on the back end of the machine, there’s another TSA guy who gets each bag when it comes through, puts a sticker on it, and literally slams it onto another conveyor belt… seriously, he completely throws it, totally unnecessarily.

So to these particular TSA guys, I’m sorry you hate your job, being rude douchebags for absolutely no reason at all.  Yes, go ahead and pretend to be king of LAX.  Obviously you spend a lot of time here and know how things work, but I guarantee I’ve been to more airports than you have, and trust me, you’re a huge d-bag.  No other TSA guy at any other airport has treated me that way.  While your job (airport security) is important in the grand scheme of things, you being a rude d-bag is not enhancing your ability to fight terrorism in any way.  Slamming people’s luggage around for no good reason, and then giving me an attitude for doubting you as if things don’t get lost, broken, or stolen by you fuckers all the fucking time.  I should end this by saying that I have at least one friend who works for the TSA, so I don’t mean to slam the whole organization.  I wonder if he could speak to this issue… did I run across a few bad apples or is this an epidemic?

Popscene
The Thanksgiving show at Popscene was a lot of fun as well.  No big surprises there… we always have a good time.  And it was great to do the whole Meat Is Murder album, which is my favorite.  Jamie, Sus, and Colin were all there to see it.  I think some of the show has popped up on YouTube already.  Good times!

One final thing on the subject of TCB.  I noticed on the SATH website that they have a prominently-featured graphic that they stole from us.  How do I know that?  Because I made the graphic myself.  They grabbed it from our site, recolored it for their site, and used it as their own.  Not a big deal I guess.  Whether it’s the clubs we play, the way we interact with the crowd, or even website graphics, the TCB-showing-SATH-how-it’s-done trend continues on every level.  Bitches.

The Reunion
I had some good family time this weekend.  Visited the folks.  Played guitar and wrote some music with Dad.  Saw my sister’s new place.  Bonded with my latest neice.  Ate and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate.

My 10 year class reunion was last night.  I don’t know if I’ve really had time to process it all, but I’ll say what I can about it.  Jamie and I dressed up and went together, starting out with a nice dinner in North Beach.  At the reuninon, people looked mostly the same, with a few exceptions.  Some people got way tall and/or skinny and I hardly recognized them.  The weird thing for me was that if I saw any of these people on the street, I’d of course go say hi.  But in this one room, where I recognized everyone more or less, I wasn’t sure how to act.  Do you say hi to everyone?  I didn’t.  But I did catch up with some old friends.  Ran into some old enemies.  I just didn’t even know what to do there.  There was nothing but good will in the air, but frankly I used to despise some of these people.  It’s nice you matured and all, but I still don’t care for you.  Then there were times that people reached out to me to say hi, and I worry I didn’t respond with the same level of enthusiasm, often because… well… we weren’t really friends back then.  But oh well.  If any of you are reading this, I wish you all nothing but the best.  Sorry if I came off like a dick last night.  I was confused.

I did get a lot of compliments.  Apparently I look a lot different nowadays?  I didn’t think that was the case, but I guess I must have really looked like crap back then.  I saw what appeared to be shock on a lot of faces.  I was having a good hair day.  Maybe that was it?  I venture to say I had the best hair in the room.  Ha!  Just what my ego needed.

Anyway, Jamie and I grabbed some In-n-Out and relaxed back at the house afterwards.  A nice relaxing finish to an extremely busy week.

The Rest
Man, there are so many movies out or coming out that I’d intended to see.  I’m falling behind!  Look at all these I’ve yet to catch!

  • Hitman
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Mist
  • Lars And The Real Girl
  • I’m Not There
  • I Am Legend

And I’m probably even forgetting a few!  And speaking of lists…

It’s coming up on Christmas time, and I thought I’d share my Christmas list this year for anyone trying to shop for me but wondering what I need these days.  This is what I am submitting to the collective Santa of my friends, family, and benefactors:

  1. A Levi’s white jean jacket (Men’s XL) – I realize these have not been popular for a while, at least not in white, but I’m bringing them back.  If only they weren’t so hard to find!  I’ve been checking eBay.
  2. Layrite Pomade – I am most of the way through the cannister I got in SoCal last month, and I need to get more!  Unless you live in SoCal, I think you gotta order it from the site.
  3. The Jesus & Mary Chain’s greatest hits on CD – I saw them in concert recently and would like to get more familiar with their studio work.
  4. My two front teeth (tho I could with you merry Chrithmath).
  5. A bucket of International Klein Blue paint – Ever since I saw some of Yves Klein’s work at the SF MOMA, I’ve been obsessed with the story of his pattented color, and I want some of it.  Or perhaps one of my art school friends could tell me how to get a reaonable substitute for it?
  6. A coin holder that will fit in my car – I often find myself needing change for parking meters and I have a ton of change at home, but it’s never on me.  I need a little spring-loaded coin holder that I can keep in my car so that I can always have parking coinage ready.  You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a little coin holder.  Trust me, I’ve been trying.
  7. My early 20’s back.
  8. A white Gibson Firebird V or a gold top Gibson Les Paul Standard (60’s neck) – There are still several guitars/amps/gear on my list “someday” list, but these are the highest at the moment.
  9. A black and white letterman’s jacket – I never lettered in anything, but I think this would still be a good look for me.  This place online, you can make a black and white jacket, use vinyl instead of leather for the sleeves, and embroider a name (“Benzilla?”) on the chest.  I guess I’d be an XXL for this jacket?
  10. George Michael’s heart (which I foolishly gave away last year).

Actually though, before you run out and buy or steal me any of these things, I should note that while I pay off some stuff (such as my recent $650 computer repair), I will be in no position to do any lavish gift giving this year.  In fact, I am effectively cancelling Christmas.  Please don’t buy me anything, and I won’t buy you anything.  Let’s just go have dinner together instead, umkay?

I’m not sure if I’m getting sick, but this afternoon I started feeling achy.  And as I type this, I might be running a fever.  I shook a lot of hands last night, so maybe I caught it from an old classmate?  I guess we’ll know the score when I wake up tomorrow.

Finally, the quote of the week was also incidentally the highlight of my holiday travels so far.  As I passed through security in SFO wearing a Morrissey tour t-shirt (the one with the picture of a hot, young Moz), a TSA employee about my age asks me:

“Is that you on your shirt?”

Yes, miss.  Yes it is.

A New Lease On Life

18 November 2007

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  accomplished

Maybe that’s an overstatement.  But I have had some eye-opening experiences lately that have changed my outlook on what I’m doing with my life.

First and foremost, the big news is that the people who worked on my computer were able to recover all of the important files I wanted them too.  The recovery was $400 and the other repairs were about $250, so it was not a cheap lesson.  But the end result was that nothing crucial was lost, and I now have a backup strategy in place to prevent this in the future.  And after spending most of the weekend on it, I finally have my computer back to “normal.”  This may not sound like much of an “eye-opener,” but this whole experience (in addition to showing me that I rely way too heavily on my computer and that I desperately needed a backup strategy) brought to light something that I’ve been pretending not to notice.  Basically that I have a lot of half-baked ideas just sitting there waiting for me to forget and ignore.  Dozens of songs I haven’t finished.  All my collected notes and seeds for creativity that I’ve done nothing with.  I’m always thinking how valuable those things are to me, and yet I’m wasting year after year of my life doing nothing with them.  Soon it will be too late to do anything with them.  I’m continually putting fires under my ass to move forward there.  This is just the latest fire.  Maybe it will be the last?  Let’s go Benjamin, let’s go!

I’ve found BART to be pretty safe and clean for the most part.  I’m happy with it.  I think I’ve only been on a MUNI bus a couple of times, and I don’t remember the experiences really.  Jamie, however, takes MUNI all the time, and has several stories to tell about things she’s seen.  Apparently criminals, drunks and drug addicts, and sleazy pervs are common riders of the city’s bus system.  I must be the most naive guy on the planet to not assume this was the case, but I just hadn’t thought of it.  The stories I heard… teenage girls being accosted… old people pushed around… graffiti happening in plain view of everyone including the bus driver and no attempts made to stop it… and more serious incidents such as when a man apparently politely asked another man to turn down the boombox he was blaring and was instantly slapped across the face in response… he did not fight back, and no one stepped in to help.  I can’t imagine seeing these things and just standing by, and God I know I’d be right there telling (probably less-than-politely) that ghetto d-bag to turn his stereo off… and God help us all if he slapped me.  I’d probably end up shot.  So what does all this mean?  I can’t even find the words to express how much it bothers me to know that asshole tyrants ride the bus every day and make life miserable for other people, many of whom may have no choice but to ride the bus too.  Generally, at my size, I don’t get accosted too much.  But I feel so much for the people that do.  Are there not MUNI police the way there are BART police?  What can be done to clean up MUNI?  Finally, here is a cause at the local level that I can get behind.  I’m not talking vigilantism here, but how else do you teach tyrants not to push little old ladies around on the bus?  Probably wouldn’t take more than a few well-publicized incidents of people fighting back, or even such tyrants being shot by an unknown assailant… I’ll keep thinkgin of ways to help that situation.  Any ideas?  Are the Guardian Angels or some other group already looking at this issue?

Onto lighter topics… let’s see, Arizona was fun.  The weather there is so hot and dry, but it was a lot better to be there for a TCB show than for consulting work.  Orlando and I got there early and walked around old Scottsdale, which is all western wear stores.  Had drinks at an Mexican restaurant in the dusk.  Relaxed a bit before show time.  We did our acoustic set that night.  Edgar, Jose, and Aaron of the Moz Krew all amazingly came out to AZ for the shows.  Had some interesting exchanges with them, and some rumors were started.  Oh and thanks to the Moz Krew, I was a little tipsy, and I believe I performed the set standing on a light-up pedestal, leaning against a stripper pole.  Perhaps Sus has pictures to confirm that?  Anyway, fun night.  The next day, Sus, Orlie, and I checked out a huge guitar store called “Bizarre Guitars,” ate at the very Claim Jumper I used to frequent when I was consulting here, and then had our show that night at Chasers.  DJ Manchester and Ona were both super nice, and we had a great time.  Hope the folks in AZ enjoyed it!  Getting up after just a couple hours sleep and flying out of there was no fun.  Nor was coming home to find my computer crashed.  But that’s all water under the bridge now.  Good times.

I saw the video for Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” again the other day.  It still makes me tear up.  You should read his last autobiography.  Forget the movie.  That book added a whole new gravity to “Hurt.”

It’s that time of year in San Francisco where the fog rolls in every afternoon and stays until morning.  It’s only clear around lunch time, and that’s fine with me.  I think I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I love the fog.  There’s just something cozy about it.

This last week was Oracle’s big convention in downtown SF.  You can imagine how much interest I had in going to that, but it did kinda take over a few blocks near my work.  On its last night, I did sneak into the wrap-up party.  A cover band was playing 80’s songs.  Free food.  Open bar.  I just stayed for a few minutes, but I saw all I needed to.  Apparently Oracle’s OpenWorld was being held simultaneously with the North American Ugly Convention.  Which is to say that there were not many attractive people in attendance.  With their tennis shoes and their convention bags displaying the logo of this or that vendor.  Most of them from elsewhere in the country, here for a week, on expenses and staying at some SF hotel.  Doing the touristy things.  All for a database tradeshow.  It felt like spring break for losers.  That sounds so awful and mean spirited, I know.  I sound like a fucking bully, don’t I?  I don’t know why I was so repulsed by the whole thing, but I was.  Do you think people get drunk and hook up there?  Ew.

I saw a couple of great movies recently.  First was Control, the Ian Curtis bio directed by the guy that does all the Depeche Mode videos.  It was really well done I thought, and most memorable for me were the excellent live music sequences.  I really felt like I was at the show.  Part of that may have to do with my own band experience now.   I could and should write a whole separate blog about that topic.  I used to see live shows even at little clubs and bars and be mystified by the band.  Now that I’ve seen the other side, seen the man behind the curtain as it were, I’m no longer mystified.  In fact, even at huge shows by huge bands, I no longer watch them as a star struck fan, but instead almost like a colleague.  I’m there, thoroughly enjoying whatever show I’m seeing, but still with arms crossed, wondering about what pedals the guitarist is using and how the green room is.  I can relate to the guys on stage in a different way than I used to, and it has changed me forever.  Anyway, I digress.  The other great movie I saw was A History Of Violence.  Realistic and unsensationalized violence against bad guys that deserve it.  Highly recommended.  And actually, what am I saying, I saw one more movie last night!  I saw Superbad.  Totally juvenile, but I didn’t stop laughing from the moment it started till halfway through the credits.

When I was in middle school and high school, I would come home every day and drink nearly a quart of Ovaltine.  Delicious, packed with vitamins, and also delicious.  Well at some point around the time I moved in with Jared, I switched to soy milk and a cannister of Ovaltine my dear mother had given me as a house-warming gift had gone unopened for what, 3+ years?  The other day, for no reason at all, I dug out this cannister that I have literally brought with me in two apartment moves, and still never opened.  Plus I’d been in the habit of using little dixie cups (which are too small to mix Ovaltine in) instead of regular glasses, which I just switched to recently.  It occured to me suddenly that I could just make Ovaltine with soy milk, and put it in a glass now that I had one.  And sweet Jesus was it delicious.  I finished off that whole can and bought a new one (it’s expensive though!) already.  Much like my spaghetti and cold cereal experiences over the last year, here is another shining example of me resurrecting my childhood eating habits, for better or worse.  This paragraph was probably more interesting for me to write than it was for you to read, but tough.

I had my first experience buying mp3s online the other day.  I have never owned an iPod, and never had an interest.  Among other things, I’m a snob about sound quality and I don’t like the idea of spending money on compressed/reduced sound quality.  Plus there’s the issue of DRM, etc.  Well it seems Amazon has launched a service which is sure to make a splash.  You can buy songs at Amazon now, as very high-quality mp3s, with no DRM whatsoever.  Songs are still about $1 I think.  I just needed a few quick songs for my computer, and I would never buy these albums.  Super convenient, almost too easy.  I could see spending a boatload song by song and not even realizing it.  I would be using this service exclusively if only they offered .wav format (true CD-quality sound).  I’d never need to buy a CD again.  It can’t be that much more expensive to support or offer, right?  I guess there’s just not a big market for people downloading 50mb files.  The craze is for smaller mp3s.  Oh well, maybe in time.  Thanks to Peter for giving me a heads up about Amazon’s new service.

By the way, did you all see Radiohead’s cover of “The Headmaster Ritual” on YouTube?  Pretty good I thought!  Between the three guitarists, they almost get it right.  🙂  They also did Joy Division’s “Ceremony,” also very good.

This week, This Charming Band is playing a couple of big shows.  Wednesday night, we’re in Los Angeles at the massive Crash Mansion for a big show involving Richard Blade and many others.  Then we’re back here in San Francisco on Thursday for our third straight Popscene Thanksgiving.  This time around, we’re playing the whole Meat Is Murder album, my favorite incidentally.  So whether you’re in NorCal or SoCal, you’ll have a chance to come say hi!

Oh, and back to the topic of a “new outlook on life,” this Saturday is my 10 year high school reunion.  You may recall over a year ago when I first gave my thoughts on this topic (look here).  The more I think about it, the more I’m feeling pretty blasé about the whole thing.  My close friends I generally kept contact with, and the others… well, it’ll be nice to see you, but if we didn’t have that much in common then, we’re surely worlds apart now, aren’t we?  Even so, I’m sure it will be nice to resume contact with a few people I lost touch with.  And see them older, balder, and with kids.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

And finally, the funniest thing I saw all week was Cowbell Hero (which in order to be funny, requires knowledge of the Guitar Hero video game craze and this famous SNL skit).

In Memoriam: My Les Paul’s Perfect Finish

20 October 2007

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  busy

God damn I am busy.  For the last week and a half, it’s been non-stop and it’s only because I don’t want to forget any of this stuff that I’m taking the time to write this at all.  Forgive me if I breeze through some of it… and I just know I’m gonna forget a bunch of things.

Two weeks back, I made it out to the Winchester Mystery House for the first time in my life.  Never mind that I grew up a mile away from it.  This was Jamie’s idea, but I’m glad I went and I think I got a lot more out of it as an adult than I would have as a kid.  The house is of course huge, with all sorts of weird architectural oddities like doors that open up to walls or steep drop-offs.  The famous “easy risers” which amount to tiny steps that are a nightmare for giants like myself.  The outside garden had a sign reading “Caution: Swarming Bees.”  I could understand cautioning us for bees, but specifically calling out swarming bees?  Like in cartoons where Elmer Fudd accidentally shoots a bee hive and an actual swarm chases him around the forest?  Jesus Christ!  Let’s not do that.  Anyway, too many other things to mention, but worth checking out.

I feel like I’ve seen a lot of movies lately, but the only ones I can specifically recall are The Darjeeling Limited and Blue Velvet.  Darjeeling was a little weird as expected, but it was undeniably Wes Anderson, and I just fucking love his rhythm.  As for Blue Velvet, that was another of Jamie’s ideas.  Apparently I’m the only one on the planet who didn’t know David Lynch‘s work.  To be honest, I’m not all that impressed so far, but Blue Velvet was memorable if nothing else.  Dennis Hopper as the crazy “Frank Booth” is a performance I won’t soon forget.  I particularly like how he calls people “fucker” not as an insult, but as though it were actually their name.  I’m going to start doing that.  The hooker dancing on the car for no reason at all was maybe one of my favorite movie moments ever.  But even so… oh well, maybe more Lynch flicks will change my mind.   Which reminds me, 30 Days of Night and Control are both here, and I can’t wait!

Then there was last weekend’s big trip to SoCal.  I flew in to Orange County and met up with Shel.  We stopped in Huntington Beach, had a nice lunch fighting off pigeons and then found a candy store that had seriously every kind of candy I’ve ever heard of including the stuff I was eating in Ireland and some other stuff my dad used to talk about.  I found a good Smiths shirt at a rock store there, and then we made an obligatory stop at Electric Chair.

At Electric Chair, I found a whole display of the long-awaited Layrite brand of pomade.  I had been seeing this stuff advertised for a while, but I hadn’t gotten my hands on any of it.  Without knowing anything about it, I was secretly hoping that with the media blitz they had for it at rockabilly events in SoCal, it must be something special.  I was hoping that maybe it would finally be a U.S. version of the expensive and hard-to-come-by “Cool Grease” from Japan… a.k.a. “the good stuff” which is almost as strong as wax, yet is water-soluble.  I squirrel that stuff away when I can.  But here I thought maybe my troubles were over because maybe, just maybe, a U.S. company was going to start making a comparable product, and it turns out they have!  I’m happy to say that Layrite is almost identical to Cool Grease except it’s based in Orange County, costs half as much, is easy to find, and smells like delicious cocoa butter!  It’s just a little softer than Cool Grease, but I think that actually helps me because I can work it in a little bit more which leads to better sculpting.  Until further notice, I’m a Layrite man.

OK, back to the trip.  So the House Of Blues is in the Disney “village” which I hadn’t realized, but it made for an interesting atmosphere.  Security was very tight, and we were checked and challenged often.  Sus and Shel were there, and Monica and Heather came out too.  We didn’t take care of “press passes” in time, so no cameras allowed for Sus and Shel and thus sadly no pictures or video.  But we played well, at our biggest venue yet, to a crowd of 900+.  They may not have started out Smiths fans, but I think we changed some minds.

The next day, Sus and Shel and I drove out to Hollywood.  We caught the final Moz show at the Palladium which was great!  They played “Jack The Ripper” which I had been wanting to see how the new lineup was going to handle.  Then we rushed over to Vertigo’s to play our afterparty.  Due to some scheduling issues, we weren’t able to do a soundcheck, and so when we stepped on stage, in front of a sold out crowd that had been waiting for us, we still had 10 minutes of fucking around to do with the sound guy.  In the end, we had sound problems all night, but I heard from people in the crowd that we sounded fine.  There was a weird vibe in that place, and the low point for me (and the namesake of this blog) was when a fight broke out and some girl threw a fucking glass which presumably missed its target but did not miss my beloved Les Paul.  The glass shattered all over it, leaving an ugly gash in the front, and some glass shards embedded in it.  If you know me, you know how much I try to take good care of my instruments, so this was pretty heartbreaking.  My friends all immediately comforted me after the show, instinctively knowing how upset I was, but at that point I was pretty numb.  A weird show, and some shitty behavior by some drunken bishes (who are lucky Charlene didn’t see them).  I was ready to get out of there.

I put up a few new pictures from that weekend.  I ended up eating at Denny’s for dinner twice, and IHOP for breakfast twice during the course of those two days.  Scary!  Now, I love Denny’s, but as of yesterday, I have decided to start boycotting them due to their support of Ringling Bros.  I hope they get their act together soon… I’ll miss Moons Over My Hammy (no hammy).  🙁

Finally I was home.  I was busy all week with multiple band practices and such, but the highlight was getting out one night to see Electric Six.  I didn’t really know what to expect, and in fact I had no idea what they even looked like.  I liked their one album I heard, and being from Detroit, I remember Sarah said she was familiar with them I think.  It ended up being a good time.  The singer was a mix between Tom Hanks in “Big” and the singer from Simple Minds.  Apparently this band has a strong cult following of nerdy folks (who were all participating heavily in the show).  It had kind of a Weird Al vibe, which probably sounds like an insult.  Erm… I’m sorry?

OK, I’ve spent enough time loafing here.  Time to continue on the weekend’s “to do” list.  Hope to see you all out at Fat City tonight in San Francisco.  It’s our big Strangeways anniversary show.  Details are on the flyer…

I’m sorry, did you just say “nuzzle?”

18 June 2007

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: tired

Oh Christ… my birthday is next Tuesday.  I’ll be 28.  I’m Grosse Point Blank age.  Ten years!  Ten years!

Well, way more has happened in the last two weeks than I think I’ll be taking the time to write about.  If I had broken it up over a few entries, then maybe… but last week was just too damn busy.  So it’s Cliff’s Notes time.

Hollywood and Las Vegas (Part I)
I took the Friday before last off and got myself a haircut in the Mission.  Had brunch across the street at a cafe and ate it at a table on the sidewalk in the sun.  Got home, packed up, got a ride from the best looking cabbie I’ve ever seen.  Flew out to Hollywood with Sus and Nick, got lost a few times at the Burbank airport, got to the lovely Saharan (TCB’s official lodging in Hollywood), and we were off to the Hollywood Bowl.  We hadn’t even gotten in the door before we ran into the Moz Krew (who have been multiplying… there seemed to be dozens of them).  Thanks to Sus, the three of us were right up close in the pit once again.  The show was great!  It was among the best shows on the tour so far I think.  The Bowl was packed and it was amazing to see that many people there all to see Moz.  I caught one of Moz’s half-empty water bottles (yes, his DNA!).  Ran into Sean Starr.  Went to an after party at a bar, the name of which I can’t remember.  Ran into Eli from the Troubadour show.  Stumbled back to the hotel and crashed.

The next morning, we ate at the Cat and Fiddle, hit Amoeba, picked up Secret Agent Man (Irving), and hit the road towards Lost Wages.  Due to a slow clock in the hotel, we got to the show just as the first song was finishing up.  Our cab driver got us there in a rush though… he was a Moz fan himself.  The Moz Krew got a shout out from Moz during the show!  This was all at the Palms, and after the show, we ran into all the same folks we see at all the shows.  It’s always fun to catch up with all the folks that come to Moz and TCB shows… even here, in far off places.  Lots of group photos and such.  We hopped in a limo with the Moz Krew and headed out to the Beauty Bar to check it out.  The promoter recognized us and let us in.  We danced, drank, ate at an all-night casino diner.  Ran into Charlene.  Stayed up till 6am chatting with Sus and Irving (he’s a good guy).  Discussed nuzzling, Moz lookalikes, and the sound trannies make when they grab their crotch.  Woke up, ate at New York, New York, drove back to Burbank, flew home.

Sus and Nick, what crucial details have I forgotten?

OK, before I jump to the next weekend, I thought it might be nice to have an intermission.  This time, it comes in the form of a couple of links passed on to me by friends that you ought to be aware of.  First, the questionable advice at ShaveEverywhere.com came to me from Anna.  Second, how cool is this (link taken from Graham; turn your sound on): A Really Big Show.

12 Galaxies and Las Vegas (Part II)
We had practice Monday and Tuesday, and then our acoustic show at 12 Galaxies in the Mission.  That venue has changed, but probably for the better.  The other bands seemed excited to see us, though they only really got to see TCB “unplugged.”  One of the bands had a smoking-hot bassist.  The show was good, and Orlie put some videos up on YouTube if you want to check them out.  I must admit I felt a little neutered up there without any electricity.  I was looking forward to Vegas for sure.  Sus and Shel brought a shirt they should not have brought.  Sus molested a puppy.  Good times.

Thursday and Friday, I saw Girl In A Coma with Sus.  I wasn’t sold on them the first night, but after the second show, I happily bought their CD.  The band’s good, and the singer in particular has an amazing voice… half Karen O and half Bjork.  Wild-eyed… raising eyebrows, making faces, dancing, singing beautifully, and holding down some decent guitar parts all at once.  Good for them… I hope they do well!  That second show was at Fat City’s “Cock Block” lesbian night.  Like I don’t strike out enough in straight bars.

Saturday morning, it was off to Vegas again.  We spent the day rushing around to rent gear we needed, etc.  But by the time it was show time, we were all pretty relaxed.  We played the “backyard” area of the Beauty Bar… outdoors in the midnight desert heat.  It was a fun setting to play in, and I got to rock my new 335.  Only problem was that I couldn’t rent my normal amp (a ’59 Bassman), so I ended up with a Twin Reverb.  I learned that this amp is way too crisp and clean for me… basically I sounded like ass as every little missed string or flubbed note was just hanging out there for the world to hear.  When I hear myself on a Twin, it makes me realize how sloppy I can play sometimes.  Yowsa.

The show was a blast though.  There were plenty of skeptics, but I think we won them over, by and large.  Eli and his buddies were there.  Tanya of all people was there!  Three Moz Krew reps were there.  The highlight for me was when, after Orlie had an entire song’s worth of exchange with a bachelorette party on stage, as they were coming off stage, Jose yells “happy birthday!”  There were plenty of dangerous women around, thanks in part to Charlene.  We ate late.  I think I fell asleep in my food.  It was light out when I got back to the hotel.  We saw that “Bodies” exhibit on the way out of town… a bunch of preserved and dissected corpses basically.  I had some ethical reservations about what I saw.  The idea that I might one day end up splayed on a table in a Vegas casino for the public to examine… and remain that way for decades as some of the displays have been… well, it doesn’t go a long way in convincing me to donate my body to science.  Anyway, good show, good weekend, good times.  Except Sus lost my $400.

Man, I know I only scratched the surface of all the stories from the last two weeks, but I just don’t have it in me to write it all out.  Sorry folks (including “future me” reading this months/years from now and cursing the fact that I lazily assumed my memory would hold on to all of this).

Getting back from Vegas late last night… then getting up early… I am so sleepy.  Tonight, I’m going to sleep until I’m too tired to sleep anymore.  I’m going to sleep myself to sleep.  And then while I’m asleep, I’ll be dreaming about the very sleep that I am, at that moment, actually already in the middle of sleeping.  OK, after reading what I just typed, I think maybe I should go get started.  G’night, bitches.

The quote of the week actually comes from me for once… before meeting Peter for lunch the other day:

Benjamin: OK, see you at noon!
Peter: I’ll wear some socks.
Benjamin: Don’t bother.  I’ll just end up rocking them off anyway.

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