Thursday, August 19, 2004

sf part III: i left my hard-on in san francisco

damn... by now it's been close to two weeks since i left san francisco, so i should try to finish this shit up...

warning redux: all photos are 1280x960 & range ~200-300kb

on friday afternoon we went to see spider-man 2. i had some free passes to amc, connie wanted to see it, & nothing else showing (that they would accept passes for) looked that good, so that's what we went to see (i'd seen it once; connie had not). i enjoyed it, again. after the movie, some kid in the bathroom was asking people what movie they had seen & even asked me to give him my ticket stub, i guess so he could sneak in to see spider-man 2, but he had obviously already made it past the ticket-takers, so he didn't actually need my stub to get in... i didn't bother to explain any of this; i just lied & said i had lost my stub.

after the movie we began our trek toward the somarts gallery for sfemf night 2. connie was pretty hungry so we stopped at a chinese restaurant in the market district. i just ordered some hot & sour soup: even after the waitress warned us it was "a big bowl" i still figured it would only be a serving or two's worth. i was wrong: this bowl was a good 4-6 servings, & on top of that we ordered pot stickers & chow fun. way, way too much food. but it was fairly tasty. we decided we would offer our leftover soup to a homeless person during our walk to the show, but we weren't outgoing enoug, so that didn't happen (i guess i was waiting for someone to ask me for spare change or something).

so we made it to the show only a little late. CMAU was playing. they had several members strewn across the stage, some using electronic instruments, some apparently playing with found objects, & one holding a videocamera: the footage was projected onto a big screen at the back of the stage. their sound kept morphing nicely, & occasionally got fairly dissonant (although later on wobbly complained that he would've liked them to've been more dissonant, that he'd seen them "rock out" more during other performances). here's another blurry no-flash photo.

then came christopher willits. he played using a guitar run through a laptop. the laptop would process the sounds somehow (custom software, according to the program) so it all came out as odd tones and clicks. it was sorta amusing to watch him standing there, guitar in hand, jamming to his music like he was in a club-rock band, but the sounds really didn't change all that much during his performance... after a few minutes it started to get old. not too bad, though, & he only played for 15-20 minutes. here's another pic.

after that came intermission. we went outside so i could have a cigarette, then went inside so i could get some wine. there we ran into wobbly again... he said he was feeling much better than he had been the previous day (when he had pneumonia) & we chatted for a bit about the sfemf & his views on "academic" experimental music (like the fact that academics these days seem terrified to use even a hint of rhythm in their work, & how he felt maybe there wasn't enough variety in the sfemf lineup: too much drone). he asked about my true data 12". when i said that i hadn't brought any copies with me to sf, connie suggested that i could send him a copy. and really, we were there that night because he had put us on the guest list, saving us $30, so shipping his one 12" was the least i could do...

after the intermission came krystyna bobrowski. she had an elaborate setup. first she played a solo piece on a big water jug, playing the edge for awhile, then dipping her hand in the water & changing the timbre of the tone. that piece was very short. then three more people came onstage for her main piece. she had four custom glass tubes, each four or five feet long, set up on a pivot. inside each tube, apparently, was a speaker, and each speaker, so i hear, played a different track off of a multitrack recording. the speakers were attached to some kind of long string, and the players would pull on these strings, moving the speakers inside of the tubes, which would make all kinds of subtle changes in tone and timbre of the sounds. this was when the fact that i'd been taking slow-exposure no-flash photos really paid off, because i got a couple really nice ones with motion blur (see also the first link in this paragraph)

last for the evening was keith fullerton whitman (also known as hrvatski; he goes by his "real" name for his "serious" work). he sat in front of his laptop & also had a pretty nice video, with slow cinematic landscapes as well as twitchy digital-looking footage. wobbly had told us that he plays "drones, just drones" but it wasn't all drones. there were some clicks, and at the end he got very noisy (the noisiest and most dissonant i'd heard at the sfemf, probably). because he was in a dark corner & the video screen gave off so much light, i couldn't get any good pictures of him but here is another one anyway.

after the show, we took the 9 bus back home & made delicious choco/peanut butter milkshakes.

saturday afternoon we hung out for awhile watching more upright citizens brigade. then we caught a bus up to "the haight" to go back to amoeba... ostensibly so i could do some record shopping for humdrum (who had supplied a list of records he was looking for), although naturally i bought a few more things for myself while we were there. for dinner we went to some cafe (don't recall the name; it was an odd name). it was a breakfasty kind of place with lots of crepes on the menu. i had a croissant sandwich (like ham & eggs on a croissant; tasty but huge & a little messy). this time we were more assertive with our leftovers and immediately gave them to a homeless couple who were seated nearby the cafe entrance.

from there we caught another bus to the market district to go to bootie, a monthly mashup/bootleg event. i had never been to such an event, & connie had never gone because it's not in a good neighborhood & she's nervous walking around there alone. on top of that, it was the one-year anniversary for the monthly, so it was a special event & they were giving away free mashup cds w/each $10 admission.

we showed up around 9 (when the doors were supposed to open) but the doorman said they were behind & wouldn't actually open for another 20 minutes or so. we decided to hop a bus back to connie's house for a quick smoke (& so i could drop off my big bag o' records, which i didn't feel like having to carry around all night at the club). by the time we returned to the club, the doors were open & things had started happening. we snagged a table near the wall, but with an okay view of the stage (except we were off to the side). there were "fun size" candy bars on the tables, so we got our snack on too.

pretty quickly i noticed that the PA did not sound very good. it was very muddy sounding, making it hard to hear the vocal track clearly sometimes (not good for mashups). maybe it sounded better directly in front of the stage, but it sounded pretty bad where we were.

after awhile, smash-up derby took the stage. they claim to be the world's first (and only) mashup cover band, a somewhat novel concept. at first, i commented to connie that i couldn't really tell if they were any good or not, because the PA sounded bad. but it didn't take me long to decide. the idea behind a mashup cover band is fine, but to truly pull it off (so that it sounds at least comparable to the studio tracks) would require an outstanding frontman (or even two or three), with versatile voices and broad range of styles. smash-up derby does not have such a frontman. he was off-key and did not have half the range i would think such a band would really need. maybe the rest of the band was fairly competent (hard to say with a bad PA), but the frontman could not pull it all together well enough. oh well. here's another photo.

the club was really filling up so i tried to take a couple no-flash photos of the crowd. a couple of those came out okay. after the band finished someone started djing for a bit.

a stout, older gentleman (dressed like he'd just left the office; he definitely stuck out from the crowd) claimed the table in front of ours after awhile, & occasionally he would ask me to save his seat while he ran off to the bathroom, or to the bar, or to have a smoke. at one point he accidentally sat on his free bootie cd (he showed it to me, snapped in half) & had to run off to get another one. this guy will become significant later.

the headliner for the event, all the way from fucking scotland, was mcsleazy, mashup superstar. he played a bunch of his hits (a couple of which smash-up derby had covered earlier in the evening). he was at the far end of the stage so getting no-flash photos proved almost impossible. i gave up (this was a jumpin' nightclub after all, a very different environment from the quiet, museumlike sfemf shows) & turned on my flash, but even then i had to get up from my seat & walk closer to the stage to get a photo worth taking.

now that i'd stood up & was 15-20' from our table, i snatched the opportunity to turn around and snap a picture of my precious connie (not the greatest picture, but i have so few of them overall...). our tie-wearing friend at the next table spotted me doing this and suggested that we might like a photo of the two of us together. since there were no "couple" type photos of us in existence, we agreed that such a thing would be nice to have. while i was showing him how to work my camera he managed to pull off one askew unaimed picture (you can see part of connie's blouse & her half-drank cosmopolitan); then he took a fairly decent picture of me & connie.

the name of the night is bootie, so (this time at least), pirate garb was encouraged. i had totally forgotten to take any of my pirate gear with me so i just wore a doormouse t-shirt. connie wore stripes; they were kinda piratey. others had much better outfits, but this dude was the ultimate, bringing what appeared to be an actual live parrot on his shoulder. represent.

but parrot boy wasn't the only character in attendance: they also had go-go dancers! yes, the go-go dancers (male and female) would take the stage while the djs played & shake their slender asses for all to enjoy. some of the sexier audience members would jump onstage with them. i got a bunch of okay-to-mediocre photos of them onstage, (like i mentioned, we were off to the side of the stage, not a good vantage point for photographing go-go), but i did get this nice ass shot of one of the dancers (she was actually offstage standing near us at the time... [here you can see a nice profile of connie with the go-go dancer's ass in the background.] most of my stage shots look somewhat like this [extra points if you can guess the gender of the dancing crowd member in the foreground]).

the club was totally packed, refreshing to see at a mashup event (though maybe it's not that packed every month). now that i was taking flash photographs, i decided to try to take some more crowd shots to prove that the place was full of folks. here's another one.

mcsleazy finished his set, though it wasn't totally obvious he was done until i saw that he was now standing closer to us, near the side of the stage. it was actually easier to take pictures of him there, so here's a shot of mcsleazy bordered by connie's profile, and here's one with less of connie & more of mcsleazy. and here's one of connie, clearly embarassed that i'm taking her picture.

we didn't stick around too much longer, though we were still there when a few people dressed in milkshake costumes came onstage to dance to a mashup (kelis vs ray parker jr), so i got a bunch of horrid photos of them. finally, here's one more pic of connie making her way through the crowd. not long after that we ran outside & grabbed a taxi back to her house.

sunday morning was no fun. we actually had to get up early (after staying up late) to get me to the airport. i was depressed about having to leave, knowing that i wouldn't see connie again until october, & on top of that i was anxious about catching my flight ontime. we walked to the bart station, ate burger king and pizza hut in the airport, & finally kissed goodbye while i waited in the 15-minute line to get through the security checkpoint. SFO makes everyone take off their shoes for the security check. IND doesn't do that, nor does reno. on the flight i read some crytonomicon and listened to new cds.

i had a layover for an hour or two in chicago (at midway, not o'hare). but i had spent the last of my cash on riding the bus to SFO and eating burger king there. i wandered around midway for a bit looking for someplace that might accept plastic so i could get a snack (as well as a restroom that wasn't swarming like a hornet's nest). the food court was crowded & i ended up going to a small gift shop & buying a 20oz coke & a bag of combos with by debit card.

my flight back to indy was on a tiny saab plane (i called it a puddle-jumper), the kind where you have to walk on the tarmac to board. the plane didn't even board until a few minutes before we were supposed to leave. it was small. but we were only in the air for about 40 minutes. when we got back to indy, i went to the baggage claim & picked up my suitcase. barry was nowhere to be found; when he showed up 15 minutes or so later he explained that 38th street had been totally blocked off by cops & he'd had to do some maneuvering, delaying his arrival. (it was brickyard weekend, so i'm sure traffic on the west side had been horrible, although the airport was fairly empty.) we drove home & i had a few hours to adjust before having to go to bed so i could return to work the following morning.

that was my san francisco area vacation. i had a fantastic time. i hope i didn't forget anything too important. i did leave out all the hours of hot sex, though, but for your convenience (or maybe your frustration?).

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