Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Quality of Merced Is Not Strained


“Hey Sha Na Not.” - Chuck discussing which is more pathetic, modern hippies or the rockabilly crowd.

“I love whatever I just put in my mouth.” Rene

“Masturbating homeless people on the Metro? That’s so Cincinnati” Apparently there’s a local ad campaign where this could be used.

“That’s the last time I send you to get the Tequila.” - Joe to me.

I love maps and I love the idea of us travelling down the raggedy edge of the whole fucking country.” Lisa

Dark-Eyed Junco
Hippies (and for your edification their taxonomic hierarchy)

Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata tedious
Subphylum: Invertebrata
Class: Braless Mammalia
Subclass: Dirty
Order: Primates
Suborder: Patchouli
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo
Species: Pathetic
Subspecies: Definitely

Our eventual goal was a small town southeast of Oakland called Merced. After trying in vain to find someone to look at Lisa’s amp we figured we had enough time to spend a couple of hours in San Francisco. Predictably we went to Haight-Ashbury because there’s a bunch of fucking hippies in the band. The upside to this counter-culture tourist trap was that all the head shops and vintage stores seemed to be locally owned. The downside was that whatever echoes of societal change the kids of that neighborhood wrought back in the day have been subsumed by a kind of crassness that made me want to walk quickly to where actual people lived. (The Grateful Dead - bah) Fortunately, on the recommendation of a local we walked to a restaurant on Divisadero called The Little Chihuahua. At this juncture I feel it should be noted that I haven’t made you sit through any descriptions of meals yet. Until now. Fried plantain and black bean burrito, spicy cabbage salad, a salsa bar to die for, and an agave wine margarita. If you ever get dragged to this area there’s an absolutely lovely park called Buena Vista on Haight that was just gorgeous.

We jetted across town to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a few pictures and head to Merced. This would prove to be a tactical error as west coast traffic took this opportunity to force us into submission without a safety word. It took two and a half hours to get out of the city. We were late of course. Now, the Merced show was a little different in that it was kind of like a private show but the guy who hired us (thanks Kenny) put the gig in the local watering hole called The Partisan.

And here is where I want to have a brief discussion to explain to all the people who’ve commented on how poop-centric this blog is. In many ways your life boils down to a few basics; Food, Shelter, and Shitting. The only place I feel really comfortable is my two-foot square squirrel nest on the right side of the back bench of the van. I know where everything is and I miss it when I’m forced to sit somewhere else. For instance on our drive down the Oregon coast I navigated that day from the front and I spent the whole day crawling out of my skin with anxiety. Could have been a coincidence, it’s not like that doesn’t happen once a week regardless, but anyway, it’s my home. Food: Trying to find reasonably timely and healthy food is huge. If an army marches on its stomach then this tour has marched on nuts, dried fruit, and Starbucks. I’m proud I’ve only eaten one fast food meal and drank only one soda. This is middle-aged touring, there’s no getting around it. And then there's the bathroom issue: We spent the whole afternoon in the van trying to get to the show, and then when the bar doesn’t have a door on the stall what the hell are you going to do? Why Pay to Poop of course. Chuck chose to go the Cold Stone Creamery and paid $3.50 for a sorbet and the privilege of using their nice restroom. He went twice for a total of $7.00. I however found a little bakery/pizza place where I bought a cookie for $1.50 while listening to Sinatra. I went once which means I shit for ¼ the price Chuck did. That just makes good financial sense. I’ll talk about the joy of fitting six people in a hotel room some other time.

The show was fine. The bar was full but it was obvious almost no one knew who the hell we were. They sat at their tables and politely listened. It was a small town and maybe people just go out to hear whenever a band comes into town. It’s a different kind of challenge than Oakland where we were all out of sorts, trying to win over a crowd of strangers. A fun one though and everyone was very complimentary afterwards. Our sound guy was named Kazoo and if we could’ve found a way we would’ve taken him with us. The band after us was called Deriva and they were really good and really nice guys to boot. After the show though I had a bunch of energy so I went out walking. I was just cruising the main strip looking in store windows at over-priced Howdy Doody dolls when I was realized I was utterly alone. Not lonely but alien abduction, banjos in the distance alone. I had a moment of fear that I could just disappear and that my last thought would be, “what kind of douche bag goes walking alone at night in a completely strange town?” Small towns in the west have a different feel than the small towns in Ohio. The ones in Ohio feel more closed in and intimate. The ones out here, with the big skies and wide roads feel like colonies on the moon. It’s pleasingly unsettling.

Tomorrow is Ventura


  1. "Colonies On The Moon"

    Maybe there is some song lyrics in that... After all yer adventures and quotes and pictures and such... Maybe there is a song in all of this that will ultimately find you out there somewhere...

  2. Mark, I'm really enjoying this blog!

  3. "that just makes good financial sense" h aha ha ha ah ha