Sunday, September 14, 2008

San Francisco area

As soon as I got to my motel in Half Moon Bay, I checked the city listings online to see what might be going on up in the city. There were a few bands playing at Annie's Social Club. I'd gone there on last year's trip, but although they told me it was usually a "punk club", both nights I'd gone were folksy acoustic nights. I checked tonight's bands on myspace and they seemed alright, so I crossed the peninsula and headed up El Camino Real.

The atmosphere at Annie's was pretty cool (considering), Cramps and such playing. The first band, the Hi-Nobles from the Bay Area, were high-energy funk, with lead singer Scotty in his polyester suit leaping about and swinging from pipes while he belted out the tunes. Band #2 were the Laundronauts from British Columbia, a 3-piece who appeared in dazzling white suits and spectacles. They were pretty accomplished musicians, but their "thing" was to create songs with laundry connections - tunes like "Unbalanced Load," "Hard Water,", "Spin Cycle" etc., and the novelty wore off for me after a while. The Love Me Nots from Phoenix AZ were the headliners, and they totally blew me away. Lead singer Nicole reminded me of Chrissie Hynde and Betty Blowtorch, putting her entire body into the performance while knocking out amazing riffs on her classic Farfisa. I managed to spare some of my attention for the enchanting female bass player who kept the foundation pulsing with her fingers and pelvis. After the show, I bought both their CDs. Often when I buy a band's CD after an exciting show, it doesn't measure up to the live performance, but these tracks kept me rockin way down the coast in the Eldo.

Out of the club before 2 AM (California!), I went to Mel's Drive-In over on Lombard St. I've made a ritual of eating at Mel's while out there, and the post-club crowd along with the 50s music provided a nice backdrop to my late night dinner. The drive back down the winding highway to Half Moon Bay past 3 AM was a bit harrowing, but I made it.

I escaped the cold cloud cover Saturday morning and headed over the hills to visit a guy on the staff of A Lucky Dog, a pet care company whose website I manage. We'd communicated a lot via email and phone, and I wanted to meet him in person. He lives on the bay (sunny) side of the hills, and besides a house has a couple of horses, rabbits, dogs, and room to board plenty of dogs for the company. Great to see the life another ex-New Yorker has found after getting away.

I cruised on up to the city again and found a cheap motel on Lombard St. Pretty downscale, but I just need space and internet. After the late Friday night, I lay down for a short nap around 7:30 before heading out again. I was woken up around 3 AM by a pounding on the door (so much for another evening on the town). There stood a diminutive dude, who with a definitive speech impediment asked for J-j-j-j-jennifer. "Sorry, wrong room" - he went on about "m-m-m-medication". I couldn't tell if he was bringing Jennifer her medication or looking for some (most likely the latter), but I got rid of him. Well, here I was at 3 AM with a good night's sleep behind me, so I figured I'd go out to eat. Down in the parking lot, a loitering brother asked me for change (ah, back in the city), and the all-night IHOP next door was filled with a distinctly less interesting clientele than Mel's (which it's impossible to characterize in a politically-correct way, nuff said).

Back at the Surf Motel, wide awake at 4 AM, I watched a 1970 movie online called Getting Straight, where Elliott Gould plays a Viet Nam vet who's going back to college, somewhat wiser and more cynical than all the naive idealistic classmates who are protesting and rioting for control of the university. It paints a vivid picture of those times, which look so vastly different in retrospect.

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