//oakland, calif.
//age 33
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//the daily photos

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Blogger: The One-Man-Company

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:: 7.12.2002 ::

(listening to: Neko Case & Her Boyfriends: Furnace Room Lullaby)

neko case
pj harvey
cat power

Dear Neko Case, Polly Jean Harvey, and Chan Marshall,

To tell you the truth, I've never really been into the female singer/songwriter thing. Actually, I've openly despised many for what I saw as whining, screeching, and prancing around like you owned the whole world. We'll blame Courtney Love for this assumption of mine, since I've always (and still do) cringe at the sight of her crinkly face.

But a lot of that changed when I heard Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea a couple years ago. I remember driving down highway 116 through the outskirts of Sebastopol, Calif. and thinking "wow, this music goes really well with those apple trees." I was surprised, delighted actually that I found something new to listen to constantly. To be honest, the only reason I copied the CD from a friend was to hear the song Thom Yorke sings, but at the end of the year I put you at #1 on my year end top-ten list. Radiohead's Kid A got stuck at #2. I ended up purchasing your record in its proper form and now it is a frequent visitor to ye olde CD wallet. I missed seeing you open for U2 because the press pass I was hoping to snag didn't materialize, but I'm sure I'll catch the live show soon.

Earlier this year, the overwhelming sway of public opinion caused me to download Moon Pix. Of course, Chan, I had heard about your crazy live antics, whether they were true or not, in multiple places on this great internet. But I had never heard the music until a couple weeks ago. Wow. You've won me over, really. Driving through Central California last weekend I said to myself "you know, this is perfect driving and brooding music, kind of like that PJ Harvey record I hold so dear." Of course, Moon Pix came out a couple years ago and it's far too late to include it on any top-of-the-year list, but it probably would have been there too. A friend and I even talked about starting a website devoted to crazy Chan Marshall gossip. Whether this happens or not, you can be comfortable knowning that I actually dig your music.

I have my brother to thank for introducing me to Furnace Room Lullaby when he put "Porchlight" on a mix CD for me. That's a good song, almost as good as "Set Out Running," which I've walked around singing for almost a week now, much to the chagrin of Miss Rodeo America I'm sure. Actually, I'm positive my coworkers would prefer if I weren't constantly singing "Want, to, get it all behind me, you know everything reminds me..." in a high pitched countrified voice. I'm sure it gets repetitive and annoying, but it's something I can't stop doing for the time being. On Tuesday I listened to your record three times. That's three times IN A ROW, and was actually tempted to go for a fourth. Contrary to popular belief, I do have a bit of sense left in me. I plan to hear that New Pornographers record you did too, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

So, thank all of you for changing my mind. Really, it feels like the day I realized that, after years of hating them with all my might and bad mouthing them to everyone and anyone, The Smiths were a really good band. You deserve every ounce of success you've accumulated. I'm sure the fact that you're all easy on the eyes helps, but really, it's your talent as songwriters and musicians that raise you above the dull drab "look at me I'm an indie-queen" bar. You won't please everyone, but you've done gone and pleased me. Thank you, and keep up the good work. Down a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon for me, and the next time you're in town, I'd be happy to buy you one.


(11:20 AM) :: (link)

(listening to: The For Carnation: Standard LP)

Lists make more sense sometimes:

  • My boss got fired on Monday afternoon. Two hours later, I had a new, cooler boss. She's barbecuing lunch for us today. Life is sweet.
  • Ugly Casanova tickets all sold out for next week. I lag, big time.
  • We wrote a Strokes song at Amscray practice last night. It was a joke. Do you know how easy those songs are to write? Do you?
  • My brother is driving up today from Los Angeles for a weekend of hanging out, Bay style. I'm hoping he'll realize the folly of his move and decide that the East Bay is where it's at.
  • Yesterday Bunny the cat didn't want us to leave for work. As we got into the car, he ran up a tree in the front yard, looked at us, and then began savagely biting the little limbs like he was posessed. Sometimes his brain short-circuits.

The coffee is watery today, and I'm sleepy with a capital "S". But it's payday and the weekend is going to kick major ass my friends.

(9:10 AM) :: (link)

:: 7.07.2002 ::

(listening to: Dntel: Something Always Goes Wrong & Mogwai: Rock Action)

The Pope Valley, Calif.

A County Tour: See, I ended up not going to Los Angeles this weekend. The combination of hot weather, lack of plans, and a busy brother led me to postpone the trip until I can have a little bit more time down in the smoggy city. My backup plan was to drive somewhere up the coast, spend the night huddled up in the backseat of my car, and then down to Oaktown on Sunday. However, I didn't want to leave the cat alone for that long (I know, it's just a cat, but he's needy), so I decided to take a (!) style daytrip.

(Spoon: Kill The Moonlight)
I packed all my electronic gadgets (CD player, MD player, camera, pager, cell phone, portable radio) and my book (Tony Horwitz's Confederates In The Attic) into my little yellow bag and threw it on the passenger seat of the car. Headed up the street to pickup some coffee and a scone for the road, since I didn't plan on eating lunch until a bit later, and it was already past noon. When I got to the freeway, I was mighty relieved to find it virtually traffic free.

(The Beatles: Abbey Road)

Petaluma, Calif.

Since I started out heading the same way as I do for my Wednesday deliveries, I put on the usual Beatles record. It's weird, but because I've listened to the same record on the same route for a couple years now, all of the places along the freeway have their corresponding Beatles song. I can tell whether I'm running late or ahead of schedule by which song is on when I pass certain landmarks. I crossed the Richmond/San Rafael bridge and headed north on US101, hoping to avoid the traffic jam that I got stuck in last Wednesday. Luckily, it took me only five minutes to travel the same stretch of road that took an hour and a half three days before. I rolled into Petaluma, found the post office and bought some stamps, then headed downtown to get lunch.

There's this cafe I get coffee at almost every Wednesday that looks like it has good food, except that by the time I get there it's always way past lunchtime. I finally got to get this enticing grilled chicken sandwich, and I have to say it was very, very good. I propped myself in the window and ate, drank some mango iced tea, and read for a little over an hour. Although I was familiar with the surroundings, it was good to have time to relax instead of having to jump in my work truck and hurry back to Berkeley. I felt lucky to have the entire day to sit there, and I enjoyed the sun and the book and the feeling of being away from the city for a day.

After lunch I wandered around some thrift shops, then headed down to a large two-story antique shop loaded with goodies. I spent about an hour and a half in there, going through people's stuff which was piled everywhere, on the stairs, under chairs...it was a large unorganized mess. This is a good thing, since it felt like I had free reign to go through someone's attic. I found a few things I wanted, including a gorgeous wooden suitcase (the handle of mine broke off) that had hand paintings on the side belonging to an Air Force pilot. However, it was a little out of my price range so I had to put it down and get on with my shopping. Near the front there was a huge box of postcards, so I went through those for awhile looking for cheap ones. They were all pretty pricey, and I again mentally kicked myself for not buying up a box of them cheap at an antique store in Duluth last year. I was content with my browsing, so I left the store, picked up some iced coffee, and hopped in the car again.

(Gram Parsons: The Gram Parsons Anthology, Disc One)

Napa Valley, Calif.

Northern California is made up of small mountain ranges with smallish valleys in between. Of course, the most well known of these are the Napa and Sonoma valleys, respected for their fine wine and goregous scenery. There's a freeway that runs up the middle of each, North to South, but I wanted to head Northeast (to avoid the highways) so I checked out the map and found some small mountain roads to get to where I wanted to go. I headed up and over the Sonoma mountains and into the back end of Glen Ellen (where I mail all my packages from), checked the map again, and headed up and over another range and into the Napa valley. I crossed the Highway 29 (where all the richies from the city drive up to sample wine), and crossed the valley to see it from the other side. The view was great, large green vineyards backed with dull brown mountains, with the occasional palm tree sticking up in the middle. I found Highway 128 and started heading East again towards Lake Berryessa, but decided to stray north into the Pope Valley, since it was a place I had neither heard of or been to.

(Cat Power: Moon Pix)
Going somewhere new was the most pleasant part about the entire trip. There was literally nobody else on the road, and the way it was laid out made the driving very fun. The valley was made up of nothing but ranchland and vineyards, no stores or gas stations or even visible houses. I stopped and snapped a couple pictures, including today's daily photo near a crossroads. It was starting to get hotter the more inland I got, so I had the windows rolled down and the music loud. Stopped there in the middle of nowhere felt great, listening to the silence and looking at the blue, blue sky. Everything was going fine until the road ended at Lake Berryessa.

This is the lake where all the hooligans at my high school would run off to at night to get drunk and hook up with each other on the weekends. Right before I graduated, some drunk girl at my school rolled her car and killed a couple of her friends, but everyone applauded anyway when they brought her up onstage in a wheelchair to accept her diploma. Apparently, not much has changed since then. The road ended at a bridge, with a small cove on one side and the bulk of the lake on the other. The bridge was covered in graffiti, but the scene on the water was what I found really astounding. It was like like "Girls Gone Wild" live or something. The cove was filled, I mean *filled* with buff tan men in big swimming shorts and equally tanned hotties in little bikinis. The male-to-female ratio was about 4 to 1, and there was very bad music being played at a very loud volume, people jumping off a big rock into the water, squirt gun fights with giant squirt guns, boats tied together in strings of ten or more, jetskis, and a lot of beer. A LOT OF BAD BEER. In the water I saw at least three twelve pack boxes floating around and there were cans all over the shore. It was like Disneyland for bros and hotties. Filling up the parking lot and all over the side of the road where huge SUV's with boat trailers attached and lowered, tinted Hondas with big Oakland Raiders stickers on them, and guys sipping forties. It felt strange and alarming to come upon this scene when it had been so tranquil just a few miles down the road.

So I got out of the car to take some pictures so that I could properly explain the scope of the trashy that was happening before my eyes. Unfortunately, the batteries were dead so I have no visual proof. I did take out my Minidisc recorder so that I could get all the bad music and hooting that was going on, along with the constant hum of small jetski motors. After a few minutes there I got back into the car, only to end up behind a drunk girl in a big red Minivan who was going about half of the speed limit, and would fall off the road a little bit at every slight turn. She finally pulled off to the side and I continued on my way towards my hometown.

(Pinback: Live In Donny's Garage)
I was getting pretty hungry again, so I stopped at this little store and got some pretzels and more iced tea. Outside these two guys on Kawasaki motorcyles started arguing about why one of them had thrown the others jacket on the ground. Even though I was in California, I swear these guys had Southern accents. Either that or they were *really* trashy. Their argument ended when one of them told the other one to shut up and he took off on his motorcyle before the other guy could get his started. Ah, drama in the sticks. I found a familiar crossroads and headed towards Vacaville from the opposite side as the interstate.

(Spiritualized: Let It Come Down)
All of a sudden, I remembered where I was. Shortly after I got my driver's license I took off after school to go to a friend's house who lived out in the country. He wasn't home, so I kept following the road to see where it ended up. Two hours later, I was in Napa and had to find my way back home before my mom realized I had been gone a long time. It was weird that although I've lived in the general area all my life, I hadn't been down this road in nine years. Then I came upon Putah Creek, and I remembered going fishing there as a kid. I had forgotten all about fishing there, but now I remember catching a couple fish and having to club one of them when it came out of the water because it was flopping all over the place. I think that's where I learned how to take the hook out of its mouth. I also remember drinking the water from the creek, it was ice cold and I always remembered it as being the most refreshing thing I had ever tasted in my life. Maybe I was just super thirsty. I turned down another road, and saw the lake where my best friend's mom used to drive us in her classic Volkswagen bug to fish at 5:00 in the morning. I had forgotten about the power lines, wrapped in fishing line that had gotten stuck from people casting too high off the bridge. There was the picnic area where we went with an out of town friend while she was visiting for the weekend. It was strange to think that the last time I was there I was a skinny punk rock high school kid who couldn't wait to go to college. Almost every turn on the road had a memory, and I was happy and singing in the car again as I came upon my hometown.

Vacaville is boring. It always has been, and probably always will be. It looked like they were ripping up some more orchards in order to install some more subdivisions, but other than that it looked the same as when I left at age 17. I was getting tired and burnt from the driving, so I grabbed some dinner and hit the interstate and headed home.

(Sonic Youth: Murray Street) I'd done this drive a million times, so I zoned out, avoided some traffic, reflected on the day, and pulled into my driveway. I had been gone eight and a half hours, and had travelled 220 miles, most of it on small two lane highways. The cat was waiting for me in the front window, silently meowing for me to give him some much needed attention. It felt good to be home, but I already missed the couple of moments of pure enjoyment I had on the road. Now I'm in for a nice evening of reading and drinking cold GT's. Word up to State Highways.

(12:08 AM) :: (link)