We woke safe and sound from Steven King short story desert nightmare to our first and only day of real dry desert heat travel. I’ll take wet sweaty southeast humidity any day over dry crackly turn you to toast…the cross over to southern California brought more green but that place needed a big drink of water. La Quinta rules! No pet fees, dogs and kitties and ferrets runnin round the lobby. We got in anxious to get right back out again, thinking this would be our only night to explore the city….little did we know by the end of the night we’d be committed to staying till Friday to do a radio show! But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves here. We set out to find the nearest Bart station, passing a bumpin Pakistani place that we would eat in the next day and the next day and the next day (it’s called Kabana, if you are EVER in Berkley and you like food you must eat here!)
We meet a nice, pretty, landscaper on his way to Connecticut in the Bart, who tells us where to transfer and get off and we are in Frisker (David’s solution to being unable to decide which of the already established nicknames was least lame)!
So we get some recommendation from an out of town Marc Caswell which we follow. First stop Uptown where we compared the sizes of our uvulas (things-that-dangle-in-the-back-of-your-throat).
Erin has virtually none and she also got her tonsils out way young and we were discussing the effects the absence or presence of these arguably vestigial bits of flesh might have on the voice (we intend to explore this further and any opinions you’d like to offer would be appreciated).
Uptown was kind of dull (as you can see by the lack of expression on our faces in these first pictures) so we moved on to Benders, snagged a pool table, and the night took on a life of its own from there. The dudes we were playing pool with were wrapped up in some seriously sweet bromance. The one had flown all the way there just to play some billiards with his buddy for a few hours! Now that’s what I call man love, right Tom? They ruled and introduced us to the backroom where people were hangin out and smoking pot. Everyone everywhere in this city smokes pot, it is a fact of life as basic, maybe more basic than food. We decided that stoned people might be the perfect crowd to try out our stuff on. We were right. We rocked the backroom at Benders till closing time.
The videos should be up. We sold some CDS (we got yelled at by the bartender accusing us of soliciting), got asked to go on Pirate Cat Radio, made an awesome new friend/poet/writer of musical/ named Pam and charmed a metal head among other things. Then it was time to go home….the Bart was long closed, the bus ride through Oakland was daunting at best, and the cabs were all saying 35 bucks! Then we met Harry….he was on his way back to Berkley and said he’d take whatever we had so we gave him 20 bucks, sang him Secret Love and gave him a CD.
We get out of the cab, say goodbye and walk towards the hotel, Harry Doesn’t go anywhere and we hear our CD fade out of earshot as we walk up the hotel steps and David informs us that he saw Harry wiping tears from his face while we were tipsily singing all the way home. End of night 1.I (Ashley) wake up too bloody early ready to play music and eat some good food. Kabana, the place mentioned above, was not just packed but packed with East Asians who always know where the tasty food is. I roamed around Berkley engaged in rigorous discussion about personal responsibility with Tom Grant then went back to see if Erin and David are up. They are and are almost as ravenous as me. So we get to the little hole in the wall, which is still bumpin in the middle of the day, and devour the complimentary cucumbers and red onions with spicy green dipping sauce while we decide what to order and look at the rave reviews on the wall. (You might not understand why we are spending so much time talking about this place but you will if and hopefully when you ever eat there). We got Channa masala, Palak Paneer, and Chicken Tikki Masala (special punjabi sauce). The first two were great, don’t get me wrong but it was the special Punjabi sauce that had us coming back. David was sad cause this first time it was on a meat dish that Erin and I were cooing over as we devoured it. Of course he didn’t complain but you could tell he was disappointed so we knew we were comin back. The guy who brought us our food with a vest of white patent leather (I am starting to like vests thanks to Chelsea Kamm and Carnes, Mooj, Mike Watson and this guy), seeing the instrument case, said he played guitar and I said it was a banjo not a guitar and he looked at me funny so I showed it to him. The banjo stayed out of the bag from then on and made us friends all along the way.
Time for a beer. The tall boys out here are like monster Big Show tallbros and only a buck 75.
Ashley's Note - Erin resumes blog here and is going to rush through events in order to catch up to the present.So we went to this public space open mic at a Bart station where spoken word and music found its way into the streets of the city. Our friend Pam did a spoken word piece called, “Where do I go potty?” which is a children’s story she wrote. It was awesome. We played two tunes and people really seemed to like it. Here's one of them ->
They act as if they’ve never seen a banjo or heard girls sing semi-country music. The people in this city eat it up. Everytime we walked down the street, every three persons would say, “Is that a banjo?” with excited child eyes. At the open mic, the coolest thing happened. Let’s say there are like 3,000 cab drivers in this city right? Well, while at the open mic, Ashley all of the sudden heard our music coming from the street. Low and behold, it was Harry (Haresh) listening to our cd in his cab! Here's proof!
He pulled over and we all said hello. What are the odds? Next , we went to a bar with our new friend Pam, and had to stay the night at her place in the city because we missed the last train to Berkeley.
The next morning we had to check out of our hotel so David and I got up early to get a train to our hotel and pick up our kitties (whom had made themselves quite comfortable there.) Any place we are in for more than a day, they think is their new home. By the time we made it back to Berkley we realized that we probably would not have time to pack all of our stuff and get back to the city in enough time for the radio show. We decided to just keep the room another night and I rush back to the city to make it to the station before 3:30. I got off the train at 3:30 still 15 blocks from the place so I hailed a cab and hauled ass to Pirate Cat because I thought Ashley would be incredibly pissed if I was not there on time. David decided to bring his bike into the city so he rode around on that all day. And of course when I got there Ashley was not there yet and everyone was running late. There we met the DJ, Diamond Dave. He was a red dude. Probably seventy years old, dreadlocks, and sweet as can be. He said he had been to Gainesville and said to me, “See, there’s the common thread!,” which everyone says here. I guess the cab driver incident was also “finding the common thread, man.” I love this town, it is full of hippies whom manifest good things for themselves. Everyone in this city has been SOOO nice, I can’t believe it. And nice, not in a southern way. It’s different. These people are trusting of everyone, no matter what you look like. The concept of just “being human” thrives in this city.
So, we waited our turn and played on the station. Ashley was a little nervous, I think because she took a shot of mystery liquor beforehand that she found in Pam’s apartment. Who knows what that could’ve been. My mic was too quiet but you can listen to it online. Just Google Pirate Cat Radio and look under “The Common Thread” with Diamond Dave on September 11, 2009.
After the radio show, we met up with Mike Watson in Haight-Ashbury and went to an old timey folk jam with him. It was so awesome. This woman Faith had turned her entire, beautiful home into a Folk Center. There were several jams going on. When you first walked in there was singing room, which I must say looked very dull. It was like twenty old people sitting around singing church songs. In the basement was a fiddle jam where no one wanted to do anything but that. So, finally we found the perfect jam where they greeted us with smiles and aid it was a free for all.
There we met Linda.Explain Linda-
Feisty, feisty older woman, gray hair, played a mean guitar, pounded it like nobody’s business. At one point, David asked what kind of finger pick she was using, but it was just her nail. She picked on me and Ashley all night and said that we were “Hilarious.” We got a kick out of that since “hilarious” is a description of the Damsels that I don’t think we have heard yet. At the end of the night she apologized for picking on us and said that young girls “fluff her dander” and offered us a hand grown joint in amendment which we politely turned down. I’m telling you, everyone smokes in this town, young and old alike!!!San Francisco was a blast. David and I love it and may apply for jobs here when I am done with school. I love it I think, mostly because of all the nice people, and the fact that this was the first time we really have gotten to play any music on the trip. And it really was appreciated which gave us a new glimmer of hope about what we do. We slept soundly and took off for the Redwoods in the morning. More to come.