San Francisco, 2003
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A new day brings new weather. Gone is the slate-gray, spitting fog. Itís
back to sunny and high 70ís. Iíll be damned if Iím going to sit through a
PowerPoint presentation on a day like this.
So itís off to the Mission, a little arty, funky neighborhood with a large
Hispanic community. Used book stores and voodoo spiritualism, Italian
delis and coffee shops with internet access.
I donít even check my email.
Hell, thereís free lunch at the conference
and I ainít even going back for that. There are pretty girls sitting in
sidewalk cafťs and perfect spots to perch. Put the feet up, suck down an
iced coffee and a chicken salad sandwich with the
required-by-the-state-of-California fresh avocado.
Beach Boysí California
Girls comes to mind, but in my head itís impossible to keep David Lee Roth
from butting in, all spandex and karate kicks.
I chatted with a random girl at the cafť and got a few tips on good bars
but like many Iíve met sheís only been in town for a few weeks. San Fran
has more newbies that anywhere Iíve ever visited, so she doesnít really
know the city too well. But she does point me to a park with
a wonderful panoramic view of town. The sun warms my pale skin while I snack on
Another trend alert Ė yoga and sushi are the new coffees of San Fran. You
canít go two blocks without seeing someone toting their yoga mat,
frequently in front of or into a sushi shop - Sushi Rock, We Be Sushi, Voodoo SushiÖ if
someone could just figure out how to combine yoga and sushi theyíd make
millions. I can hear it now, ďOK, now shift into Downward Dog. Good. Lean
forward, palms flat on the floor, and take a bite of Uncooked Dog. Good.Ē
I got yer chakra right here and it ainít served cold, ya trend-hopping
Meh. A week of care-free fun can make one bitter. I have got to win the
After a swing by the hotel to freshen up, I returned to Nob Hill and Polk
Street. Iím becoming so familiar with these neighborhoods Iím tempted to
give misdirections to lost tourists. One of the many advantages of foot
and cable car transit - you actually get to know the areas through which
intended to eat some Mexican food, but Myconos Fine Greek
Cuisine caught my eye instead. I opted for Pastitsio, the Greek
equivalent of lasagna, with a salad and, as if I need more bread
and carbs, a side of pita. Not bad. Not spectacular, but not
A journey through the kitchen to the bathroom reveals that, like
99.9% of any food prepared in America, the cook is Hispanic. It
might be Greek music piped through the speakers in the dining
room with a big Greek man guiding you to your seat, but in the
kitchen itís Salsa music and EspaŮol.
I rolled on in search of
somewhere to waste a couple of hours before the nightís show and ended up
at Royal Ground Coffee, a pleasant shop with sidewalk seats and an odd but
tasty mocha chai tea.
Now whoís being trendy, you ask?
sign out front of Red Devil Lounge said ďArnold Ė First
California, Then Mars.Ē Iíd found a review of one of the acts on
the bill and it sounded ok, and the ads for the venue looked
good, so I headed there for the evening. Itís just another
wonderful little neighborhood bar with slightly better dťcor,
all red lights and wrought iron, a stage at one end and a
balcony running the length of the place so they can add a few
more patrons (max 200, according to the certificate behind the
place is crowded, a nice crowd for a Wednesday night. It turns
out most of them are friends and/or fans of the opening act,
Goodbye Brian. They do simple stuff with percussive guitar,
letting the bass carry the tune, sort of geek rockish with
catchy hooks. A cute girl on bass backs up the lead singer,
making that wonderful sandwich of male/female vocals that too
few modern acts employ.
Their friends/fans are the
young, hip crowd thatís considered pretty these days.
ďI used to be with it, but
then they changed what 'it' was. Now, what I'm with isn't it, and what's
it seems weird and scary to me.Ē
I donít wear my belt buckle off to the side, it gets in the way of getting
into my pocket, and those plastic mesh baseball caps are uncomfortable,
even more so when worn off-kilter. Somehow the look that screamed ďdorkĒ
in the 70ís and early 80ís Ė cheap jeans and plaid shirts - has become
fashionable. Makes me wish Iíd kept all the clothes I hated in high school
when I couldnít afford cool clothes.
on stage, Shiver, a 5-piece with a lead singer that reminds me
of the singer, Lorenzo St.DuBois, aka L.S.D. played by Dick
Shawn, in Mel Brooksí The Producers. Incredibly overwrought,
overdramatic presentation of vaguely 70ís stuff with sort of a loungey feel, swinging from funk to ska to groovy 70ís fusion.
Musically, itís not bad, but the lead singer is comically
distracting when I donít think thatís his intention. It chased
off some of the cool kids, especially when Shiver cranked out a
cheesy ballad a la Stairway to Freebird.
Third out of an ambitious
4-act Wednesday night show, Drag the River, rootsy country twangy stuff
frequently called ďAmericanaĒ by others but Iím going with ďAbout as
exciting as cold oatmeal.Ē
It made for a very eclectic
lineup, but, crap, Iím sleepy enough with the whole time difference, a
long day of walking, and a couple of drinks. I donít need nearly-monotone,
introspective stuff, I need some goddamn rock and/or roll! And some of
this quaint, heartfelt stuff really should be kept to yourself.
But then again, I guess Normal Rockwell and Hallmark would be out of
So fucking dull Iím out on the sidewalk getting some smoky air with the
nicotine addicts. Then I realized it was about time for the last cable car
up the mountain so I hobbled off and caught the last car up the mountain
but missed the connection, as always, and had to march down the other
"These people could put us out of
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