I had to drive six and a half hours just to be in a crowd of people yelling WORKING CLASSES WORKING CLASSES, but it was worth it.
Had a painless drive up, collapsed in hotel. The next day I was a consumer whore and went to both Aquarius Records and City Lights Books. I got the Joseph Spence record, some Tuvan throat singing, a Masada I didn’t have, and Blue Cheer. Their “classic rock” section was about 15 CDs total, three of which were Blue Cheer. God I love that place. I asked the woman behind the counter if the Tuvan record had any hippies on it, because Jared and I both wanted throat singing with no fucking hippies. She cracked up and said she wasn’t sure about the hippie content on that one.
At City Lights I pillaged their “Evidence” section for You Can’t Win (the original true crime book, beloved of Wm. Burroughs), a history of cocaine, a book about Charles Ponzi, and How It All Began: A Personal Account of a West German Urban Guerrilla. I also got some Borges.
Down the street at Caffé Puccini I hung out with some cool old guys who talked about life and smoked and drank coffee and made sense, and were really nice. They made me want to move to North Beach and grow old bullshitting at a café.
Then I went and saw Gang of Four at the Fillmore. They were very, very good. As jwz said, I’d waited 20 years for this. My last chance to see them was at the US Festival in 1980 or something when I was a minor and my parents wouldn’t let me go. Fortunately, they’re still really good. I haven’t felt the floor flexing beneath me from the people around me dancing in a long time. The crowd was singing along with just about every song. John King can still beat the shit out of a microwave oven with incomparable style and verve. I took out my earplugs for “I Found That Essence Rare” because it may well be my favorite song, ever.
The openers were okay. Menomeno was kind of Pinback Junior. Good, but nothing boomtacular, kind of precious. Radio Four sucked. Their music was the kind of thing I like, but the singer was a talentless egotist and a shitty bass player. Plus, if you’re going to do Joy Division/Stranglers/Shriekback postpunk music, don’t have a percussionist with bongos and timbales. Just don’t. They were all very carefully made up to be stars on VH1. I hope a gator eats them.
Then I went back to my hotel and KOLLAPSED, and poor genericus began his Dark Night of the Soul. I proceeded to have too much bourbon in my hotel room and pass out.
Due to the excessive Maker’s Mark, the next day started kind of slow. By 2 pm or so I managed to have a cheese sandwich and some coffee and became human. That night I had indonesio-fusio-asian food with tuliphead who was charming and kind and drove me all over town in her small, red rentacar. After a pleasant meal we went to meet gordonzola and anarqueso in the darkest bar I’ve ever been in. They bought me mineral water and we gabbled about life, love, and cheese for a couple of happy hours. Various odd people kept entering the tiny room we inhabited at the bar and opening up what appeared to be a broom closet and staring into it. One of them said he was “just looking around”.
The next day was checkout time, and off to have lunch with hep, which didn’t happen because oops. I spent some time in a Starbucks in SoMa watching a serious of dot-com stereotypes: shaved-head white guy in college t-shirt; fedora + suit coat + slacks + Pumas white guy; older white guy with very expensive retro sunglasses and fauxhawk; token black guy with wacky hair and expensive club-guy sunglasses; white guy with long narrow beard and Google t-shirt.
Then I got rained on so I left town and drove down to SLO. I checked into the Trave Lodge, stuffed my face with meat at a BBQ joint, and went back to the room where I drank a beer and read. The next day I slept in and then went downtown and enjoyed the ambience and more meat. It was market day which meant asparagus, fresh honey, and the insane. There’s a guy who looks just like Charlie Manson who will play any Zep song for you; a sprayshellacked hair guy with a Jesus sign; an assortment of anti-environmental Libertarians with a booth; and some well-scrubbed but crazy-looking churchy types.
There was also a lot of meat so I ate some more, and also some of the free almonds that the almond guy was handing out: “FOUR SECONDS OF FLEETING PLEASURE PER ALMOND GUARANTEED!” I shopped at the book and record stores but wasn’t going to be spending more money on this trip, so I just enjoyed poring through ephemera and madness in the used book store, and failures from the 80s in the used stacks at Boo Boo Records. Damn, there is a lot of Robert Hunter vinyl left over from those days, and lots of .38 Special.
I then went back to my room and drank more beer and watched TV, and read, and slept. The next day I met bruisedhips, godforesaken, and lil Owen for breakfast and street wandering. Owen is an astonishingly beautiful child and a lot easier to hang out with than I was at that age. There wasn’t even one fire! After a pleasant couple of hours I got in my car and drove the 5 hours home. Instead of going down the coast past Santa Barbara and Ventura and the Sepulveda Pass on a Friday night I went inland through Maricopa towards Bakersfield on Hwy 166, and then south on I-5. Going over the Grapevine it was raining so God-damned hard that my traction control was kicking in going uphill at 70 mph, and I could just barely see the car in front of me at a distance of about five car lengths. It was very frightening.
At home I’m a tourist.