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Just got back from an excellent show – managed to get tickets to the house show David Bazan was playing here in Sacramento.  It’s a nice concept – only a handful of tickets given out so you can see him play in someone’s living room, who hosts for free, presumably.  Anyway, good crowd, good vibe, good set.  I’m feeling lucky to have gone, though looking forward to seeing him in a few months at a bigger venue, too.

Seeing a good show always makes me want to relive my life 10 or more years ago.  There’s a wonderful sense of escape I get at a show I get nowhere else.  I think this is what film buffs get going to movies, or some such.  Anyway, there’s a tangible feeling of bliss that settles in me when a band is good, and there’s really no external thoughts polluting my moment.  It’s not often in my life I find a place where I’m free from worry, but concerts do it.  I think most my happiest moments growing up were at shows, with or without my posse, or with my band.  I want to dive right into it again, after a night like tonight.  Sitting on that floor, I was planning how I could force myself to go see more bands in Sac and get some of that back, though knowing the whole time that it’s a futile effort.  Until I feel free and rich, going out to shows must be an extravagant luxury, both mentally and monetarily.

I should have been keeping track of every time I’ve seen Dave Bazan.  It’s uncountable now, the total number.  I can think of at least a handful of different venues I’ve seen him in – this house, now, the Independent, the Bottom of the Hill, Bumbershoot, a teen recovery center in Bellevue once… the RKCNDY?  I miss the RKCNDY.  I tried to find pictures of it online the other day, only to realize that there aren’t many (save this tag set on flickr),  This means that the RCKNDY, like so many other formative things from my childhood, exists functionally only in my mind.  Like my childhood home(s).  Like Teriyaki.  Like Marbletop, and the Java Jump, and 2nd Time Around, and the Fremont Sonic Boom.   And these days, even like my best friend.  I know life moves on, but I wish I had, at some point, realized that I was trading a new world for my old world.  I thought I could have my cake, and that the plate would still be there when I got home.  Turns out, even the house is gone.

Los Angeles

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  Just didn’t seem like daily blogging was the recipe for my summer.  But I did want to post a little recap of my Los Angeles vacation.  I wrote this on the train home.  Perhaps I’ll do another post of pictures from the road trip portion – I foolishly took none in LA except at the wedding!

Amtrak.  Friday.  8:00 pm.  Somewhere between Salinas and San Jose.  Shaky writing, but done with a distinct feeling of relaxed self-satisfaction.

We should be in Davis in 4 hours or so, wrapping up our ludicrously successful vacation.  I can’t believe how much we’ve done.  Mom and Dad met us Davis last Saturday, and we drove to Tahoe to see Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and the Wiyos play.  It was a neat show – good to see Bob, and an excellent introduction to Willie.  mom was very pleased to be doing this for our anniversary / Lewis’ birthday.

Drove to Bishop the next day, and saw much beautiful scenery en route.  Bishop was extremely cute – a tiny town all alone in the high desert.  Next day we drove to San Diego via Mt. Whitney, which was quite a sight to see.  I was very impressed with the entire range there – starkly beautiful granite faces rising abruptly from the floor of the arid Owen’s Valley.  Also saw Mono Lake – beautiful but surprisingly alkaline, thus pungent and seemingly less-than-salubrious.  A lake best enjoyed photographically.

San Diego was nice per usual – saw grandparents & cousins, and had an above-average visit with Mom & Dad.  It’s good to have time to warm up to Mom; our visits lately have always been too short for me to overcome my testiness at being mothered.  This trip was just right.  Stayed something like three days and then caught the train up Friday to LA, where Lewis met me (he had gone up a day earlier for bachelor party fun).

First few days in LA were occupied primarily with wedding stuff.  Friday was the rehearsal and dinner.  It was a bit chaotic, as the pageantry of a conservative Jewish wedding is somewhat complicated.   Lewis and a bridesmaid, Meredith, were assigned the small balcony to decorate, which was serving as the retreat space required for the couple to have some minutes of quiet time between the ceremony and reception.  We spent the greater part of Saturday searching out materials (plates, food, a book of poetry) for their comfort.

That evening we had tickets to see Harvey Danger play at the Largo on their farewell tour.  The Largo seats only a few hundred people, but it’s a theater, so the set up was both intimate and somewhat awkward.  They have “a strict no talking policy”, and the whole timbre of the show was a little like the band playing a show in their own fantasy, and the audience looking in from outside.  They did not disappoint, however, and I spent a good portion of the show chuckling at Sean Nelson who was doing his best to be both amusing and acerbic.  The best part of the show was certainly the second half, in which they took requests only if properly prefaced by an “interesting question”.  The band’s working definition of “interesting” was quite strict, thus there was more mocking the audience than playing requests, and those questions which were answered rarely were done so with focus on veracity.  What made the night truly unforgettable was the after-show, in an as yet smaller theater.  We had great seats here, and the show took the form of a jam between friends – Sean did several songs accompanying himself on piano, and Shana Levy (ex Rilo Kiley) played.  The best sets were with Jon Bryon and an excellent pianist backing Sean, doing audience requests of classic rock songs – I remember “Maybe I’m Amazed” and the Monkee’s “Porpoise Song” specifically.  It was really wonderful, and left me feeling both touched and lucky.  Harvey Danger will be truly missed, but I can console myself with the knowledge that what I always loved most about Harvey was Sean, and I have no doubt he will remain in the public eye in some capacity.  (I also forgot to mention the hilarious introduction John Hodgman recorded for the band – a word-for-word copy of the introduction Bob Dylan is using on his tour!)

The following afternoon, we saw Gabe and Melanie get married.  The ceremony was beautiful, the weather fine, and the company superb.  All Lewis’ old roommates were present, and even happily attached to lovely girlfriends.  There was much bonding and dancing – we danced the horah for at least half an hour! This big group closed the night out – dancing till midnight and finally leaving out of pity for the exhausted bride and groom, and our own sore selves.  Both this night and the previous filled me with blissful, life-affirming thoughts and I felt more connected with life and love and the universe than I have in some time.

The remainder of our trip was occupied with seeing friends.  We met our old lab manager, Laura, on Melrose and shopped.  We moved in with Sepideh and Cyrus for a few nights, and spent very much quality time together.  Getting to know Sepi better first-hand was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.  She’s a truly kind and interesting person, and a very good friend to have.  We also managed a trip to Zankou Chicken + Amoeba to stock up on records.  Nearly the whole group of boys from the wedding was there, and it was really amusing to watch a group of music school kids all shopping together in the jazz section.  We had dinner with Sepi on Sawtell (tiny Japanese restaurant strip in West LA) and met Nick & Suzanne at Beard Papa to catch up.  Beard Papa has some seriously delicious cream puffs, and Nick Martin is one of the best conversationalists I’ve ever met.  We also managed to see Chris and Ashley for dinner.  He cooked us exciting Mexican fare – shrimp and cactus!

Finally, we finished up our week with Devin.  We went out to dim sum (in my old neighborhood!) at the Empress, and got coffee downtown.  Greg joined us for dinner at Father’s Office, which was delicious but somewhat snooty.  Greg & Dev were as always hilarious and I laughed a good deal all day.  Got to hear lots about Devin’s escapades as a somewhat newly outed gay man in West Hollywood, and Greg amused us with jokes on the same topic.  It’s lovely to have college friends still living in LA to remember good times with.

Life in LA was wonderful.  We saw campus – including the new cinema building, and even visited with our old advisor, Joyce!  Campus made me proud to be an alum, as did seeing all the neat things our fellow alumni are up to.  LA itself has changed remarkably little since we left.  We saw most all of our old haunts, and even ate at the Brite Spot twice!   I had to force myself not to pontificate on the wonders of LA and how much I love it’s streets, people, drivers, and scenery.  I saw with ease how we could come back some day for another extended portion of our lives – if we could ever get employment in the area.  LA is full of love and life in a way I never found in the Bay Area.  I am looking forward to coming home to Davis, but I do so knowing I left a piece of my heart in the streets of LA, and the smallest corner in Sean Nelson’s foppish breast pocket.


Finals week.  Things to say.

Awesome day off yesterday.  Got hair cut by favorite, Melody.  Much catching up.  Ethiopian dinner with Ben.  Major life questions deftly unanswered.  Mind-blowing free jazz concert at favorite Oakland club/cement box/accordian repair shop.  Home very late.  No studying at all.

Took Quechua final this morning.   Utterly flubbed oral portion.  Actually spaced out instead of answering questions in dialog!  Brain: -1.  More amused than bothered.  Feeling happy about pass-fail.  Confident about spending study time at Ethiopian + jazz.

Came home.  Celebratory (abashed?) sushi lunch.  Recieved email from neuroimaging professor / goon.  Surprise, your quiz *is* an essay!  Discomfited.  Rejected from working memory until semantics is attended to.   Worked outside on semantics paper all afternoon.  Did I mention, 75 degrees today?  Saw more birds than semantics.

Manual labor break to wash, clean, oil bike.  Feeling very mechanical.  Much grease under fingernails.  Hands well chafed, bike well tended.

Spent all night (is it midnight already?) working on semantics.  Triumphantly (abashed?) emailed Quechua professor all remaining lexical questions.  Feeling somewhat assified.  Isn’t this paper done yet?

Wasichay, wasichayqa

Massively productive day.  Now I’m massively tired.  Better opt for list:

  • got 2/3 of fellowship application done
  • finished semantics reading for the week
  • made eye doctor appt
  • did quechua homework
  • got class schedule straightened out
  • assembled new desk chair!
  • yummy chinese food with lewis
  • went to jazz show @ the mondavi

And now, honk shoe.  Three more days this week?  Everything’s looking pretty easy except Friday, where I”ve got some stuff piling up.  But then my sister will be here!  And Monday is a holiday!  Is it bad when I’m looking forward to Monday on… Tuesday?

The Real…

Just got home from a concert at Yoshi’s tonight!   Much fun!  Perhaps I’ll put up a picture or two tomorrow… but for now, bed!

Built to Spill!

Gasworks Park

Gasworks Park

It’s been a few days since I’ve gotten to update, partially owing to our train having been old school enough to have no outlets to compute at, and also our days being rather travelly-long. Today was our first full day in Seattle, and it was most excellent!

We started off hanging out with my sister for a bit and trying out new baked goods she’s thinking of carrying in the store. We also got to see her new space! I’m really excited for her to work her magic on this, and to move in and all. I think with all the plans they have in mind, it’s going to be really beautiful when they’re done, and Lisa will have something to be really proud of. I sort of wish we had come up two months later to see all the finished product! It’ll certainly be a treat for next time, at any rate.

The afternoon was our pilgrimage to Ballard, since that’s where we needed to be to pick up our car anyway. After a very calm, very easy trip to Enterprise, we headed to main street Ballard and had some times. I love going to Sonic Boom here, since they have records I’ve been looking for in California with little to no success. It’s strange how productive the local scene can be here, and how distinct from elsewhere. I always feel a little like perhaps I’m crazy when I’m looking for stuff like “the band the 764-HERO guys were in before that band” when even Amoeba records doesn’t have a section for 764-HERO. Then I can walk into Sonic Boom and they’ve not only got a proper section (and signed 764-HERO poster on the wall!) but their info card tells me the names of the other bands with the same members in them, and even those bands have sections! Needless to say I’ve made a point now of coming to Sonic Boom every time I’m in town and going through the entire rock section by hand from A to Z. I bought several lovelies I’m very excited to check out!

We also went to Cupcake Royale and got a nice selection of comestibles to share with Lisa back at the store. On our way back to LIsa’s house we passed by Gasworks, which I suddenly realized I had to show Lewis!  We spent a few minutes walking about and it was wonderful as always.

Crashed a bit after that, so we ended up ordering delicious Chinese food in at her place before Lewis and I headed off to the Built to Spill show at the Showbox! It was really awesome to be back at the Showbox since it’s probably been five or six years since I last got a chance to go – and that was to see Elliott Smith, I think. Anyway, it’s always great to show Lewis another piece of my old life and live a little bit like I’m still in my glory days. Did see a few folks I recognized at the show, not to mention meeting up with Cerise! Cerise is the best. The show totally rocked, despite the crap-tastic second opening band (the first was alright), and I had an awesome time. Yay!

Now it’s almost 2 am and time for me to go to bed. I’ve got silly movies & pizza plans with Steeny tomorrow night, and before that Lewis and I are either going to head down to the Nisqually valley for a little nature walk, or we’ll go blueberry picking in Bellevue. Seattle! So great!