Wednesday, August 13, 2008

tour entry 3: san francisco, northern california

So after our arrival into L.A., we spent the evening drinking whiskey from flasks and bottles going clockwise around our little pool party which we were supposed to have played. The residents of the home were the band Blanket, a band made up of two dudes named Scott. Yes, very similar names. Our members are Bill, Will, and Willis, so we bonded.

I jumped in the pool and caught a chill, then slept under the stars and the fragrant breeze out in Chris Colthart's garden. Woke with the sun, forced Chris out of bed, drank coffee, called a car rental company called "Rent A Wreck." They came and picked us up, only an hour late, and took us to a non-descript, somewhat bleak neighborhood right off the freeway called "North Hollywood." The streets were mostly empty and there wasn't a tree in sight. Lots of parking lots. Our driver was somewhat of a maniac, pulling through lanes, yelling into his cell phone, asking me questions all the while. I looked back and saw Will gritting his teeth as we screeched around a curve.

The "rent a wreck" office felt bleak and depressing. The air was thick and stale and slightly sweet, like a carpet slightly damp with cleanser that hadn't properly dried. The "rent a wreck" sign was chipped and faded, appropriately so, and perhaps even intentionally. We picked a blue mini-van, hurried through the paperwork, and were shown out to the vehicle. The doors wouldn't open, the windows wouldn't roll up, the seats were ripped, and the engine made a loud repetitive "thwack" sound when in reverse. Perfect. We christened the vehicle "The Blue Turd."

After being assured and re-assured the vehicle was in tip-top shape, we headed north on I-5 towards San Francisco, stopping to check the engine's vitals and filling the air with tires. We pulled across the Bay Bridge around 9pm, and as I called ahead for directions to Adobe Books, I could hear Mark already playing in the background. And one of the my favorite songs too! I wove through traffic, pushing our beloved Blue Turd as hard as she would go. We made it to Adobe Books in time for a song and half of Mark's... and such sweetness we did hear. He now has an upright bass player, quite sympathetic. We played our set... very innaresting. We had recorded John Kolar playing drums before we left, and we burned this onto a DVD. Using my toy projector and an audio feed, we projected John playing onto the wall and it came off pretty well... looked like John had been astrally projected into the room with us. We played amongst Adobe's stacks of books and felt warm and happy and people were actually dancing while we played! Never in Austin, never in clubs... we had to hit a bookstore in San Fran to finally get people moving. We played an unrehearsed encore consisting of "It Glows (memory" and "Zombies." I do believe I was screaming louder than I'd ever screamed. To honor the scholarly feel of the venue, I screamed "Zombum," a sort of Latin take on the song. To honor the place, I suppose. It felt right.

I roamed the shelves and bought Willis a copy of "Terminator: the Novel." It was pparently based on James Cameron's screenplay. For myself, bought Djuna Barnes, Balzac, Gide, and The Psalms, all in beautiful Penguin classics editions.

Afterwards, we feasted on pastries pulled from a dumpster down the street and drank another bottle of whiskey. We ended up at a dive bar nearby, where we commandeered the piano and sung like the drunk folk we were. The bartender didn't like us much, and kept yelling at us to "shut up." Metallica was playing on the jukebox and honestly, I didn't think Metallica deserved any special treatment, so we kept singing until we basically got kicked out of the bar. The back to Mark's house where we smoked spliff up on his roof, feeling the fog in our lungs, and taking in the hills bulging up all round the city. Everything felt back on track, finally.

Willis slept up there and passed out on the floor in Mark's room. He dragged me by the leg and I slept on his couch. We woke to another amazing day and walked a short ways for a fine Salvadorian breakfast, thick tortillas, queso fresco, rice and beans, the works. Cheap price.

Then walked back with Mark to his place, talking all the while of music and growth and change and travel, honoring the creative instincts, moving on, life and death, the passing of youth, and also digging all the crazy murals all over his neighborhood, the Mission. We stopped at a cheap tourist shop and Will bought a belt decorated with drawings of marijuana leaves. It looks pretty good.

Stopped back into Mark's, listened to his new album (a work-in-progress) and I got the chills 3 different times. Good job, Mark. Man oh man.

Then dropped Mark at work and we headed North on the 101, stopping briefly on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Took some photos, got our hair blown around, and headed further north, on into Humboldt County. At some point, our "check engine" light came, definitely an ominous sign.

Arrived into Arcata, and drove still further north to Trinidad, where Willis' friend Mike had retreated to the forest. We set up and played music on his porch, sat by the fire, drank more whiskey, and smoked spliff til morning. Mike is quite the gardener, if you understand my meaning.

Next day, we hiked several miles up Redwood Creek and found a pristine spot, untouched, nobody around. We swam and soaked the sun, surrounded by ancient redwoods and pine and spruce and we stopped all along the path, picked fresh blueberries and blackberries and other berries I don't even know.

Campfire, warm dinner, guitar playing, more spliff.... perfect.

Now we are headed futher North, to play KEXP in Seattle tomorrow morning. Hope our engine makes it.


Willis McClung's thoughts:
It has been about 5 years since I last saw my friend Mike Black in his town of Arcata California. To see him again, this time further north just outside of trinidad, CA, Brought my great joy. We hand picked our dinner from his garden with broccli, Kale, and carrots fresh from the dirt to bring on a trek thru the Redwood National Forest. With Sunshine the dog by our side we arrived creekside at a campsite where we swam and reflected on all things beautiful. We said our goodbyes and Peace was restored to my soul.


Will Patterson's thoughts:

Humboldt County is the most rediculous place I have ever been. Guarenteed fun. Were leaving the town we stayed at and are journeying north to Seattle. Our rented wrecked minivan is on the verge of breaking. Hopefully if we break down, there will atleast be fields of blackberries. This is the most interesting and exciting tour I could imagine. There is a lot of improvising.

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