Tour Diary: San Francisco (US / Day 9)

Ranking Cheese Doodle: No Doodles. I had really hung my hopes on artisanal doodles from the hub of the farm to doodle to table movement. The Spanish have long perfected the culinary science of puffing food with their vangaurdia movement, but as in so many things, we lag behind.

Idiocy from the Van: Well I’m off to birth King Kong’s finger.

We had no trouble getting out of L.A. and proceeded north, reading all the handmade signs put forth in battle for the hearts, minds and urinary tracts of the people in the Californian Water Wars. I never visited California before the drought so I can’t compare. For the most part, if it’s green it’s irrigated. I have to not give in to the thought, but I have the same reaction whenever I travel. Seeing the massive drain on natural resources all us people create, seeing our negative impact on the world around us, I get panicky. Not so much an Indian standing on a heap big garbage heap shedding a tear, but more an Edvard Munch keening cry, like a mosquito whining in your ear while trying to memorize the second verse of It’s the End of the World As We know It, “There’s no way this is sustainable! What are we doing! We’re going to die!” The fact that Long John Silvers exists is enough to make one question all of man’s great works, but when I see a special on wild caught Cod or something, do the math* of how many shops they have in this country alone, it’s staggering. On this day we drove by a massive cow yard place. The smell of course was like Satan’s belch on taco Tuesday, the innumerable animals standing only in mud and shit, mind-boggling. And this is nothing in size compared to some I’ve seen in the Midwest. I have no suggestions. I’m not knowledgeable in realities of feeding billions of people. I just worry.

The last time we came west I had an entire day to spend at my leisure in San Francisco and I fell head over heals in love. Thus, I make no claim to objectivity. We pulled up to the Elbo Room in the Mission District, the same place we played last time, around 6:30. This is a great club, lounge-y and perfectly seedy downstairs and an old school, almost elegant performance space upstairs. Golden dragons on either side of the stage should paint the appropriate picture.


While waiting for soundcheck I started walking with eagerness of the England version of myself, got the best cup of coffee this tour so far, and marveled at the incredible murals and awesome mix of people. After check I had an amazing vegan Mexican meal at Gracias Madres. Unfortunately I was beginning to feel the effects of a bout of road stomach coming on. I was eating by myself at the bar and they had us packed in pretty much shoulder to shoulder. As what I hoped was air pressure in my lower half began to bubble like aging refried beans on medium heat, I desperately wished that I wasn’t pinned in by two comely lasses. It may an antiquated notion but I would much rather offer an olfactory amuse bouche to a man’s dinner than a woman’s. Still, we all managed to escape unmolested after a frankly heroic and dexterous clenching of specific unmentionable muscles. And then I walked up Mission Street, which was a little less hipster/boutique driven and more head shop gritty than Valencia. There were certainly more encampments of what I’m sensing is a significant indigent population.

After sitting bent double on the floor in the green room for an hour hoping I wouldn’t need a bucket, we went onstage to a pretty packed house. The lights were set-up so that we couldn’t see many faces, but everyone seemed to have a good time. The sound onstage was perfect and such that I could hear and respond to everyone else. It makes all the difference in the world and Olie remarked afterwards that it was the best we had played yet. Two of the best musicians in Cincinnati, and absolutely wonderful friends for decades, Melissa and Dana surprised us by showing up at the gig. It was a wonderful evening.

We had decided, or rather had the decision thrust upon us, that it was far too expensive to stay near the city. We found a good deal on Priceline for a hotel in Santa Rosa. As usual we paid the extra money to ensure there were two beds in each room. We arrive at 2:30 a.m. and damned if the hotel chose to ignore what they said was a non-binding request. The over-night front desk woman couldn’t have been more helpful but the hotel was sold out. It took a good 40 minutes to get sorted out, with us paying them more money for their room of last resort, which had a pull out couch. At 3:30 in the fucking morning we all finally collapsed into bed.

Tomorrow is yet another drive day.


*I don’t really do the math. Math is hard.