Dolores Park rocks the World Cup Finals!!

We were lucky enough to be able to experience the World Cup Finals in a very unique setting yesterday, on the lawn over at Dolores Park. From what I understand, a local German dude known as the “Teacher With The Bus” was a bit frustrated that no one was throwing a big outdoor World Cup shindig in San Francisco, so he took matters into his own hands at the last minute and threw an all day party. Using his local celebrity he was able to get businesses to put up 1/2 of the $15,000 that it cost for permits, to rent the huge 9′ x 13′ screen & the crane to hold it, get the port-o-potties and have the SFPD on hand to secure it all. The other 1/2 of the costs came straight out of his own pocket. Talk about a guy who’s willing to go the extra mile to see that his local community is given the opportunity to experience this international event as it is in so many other countries in the world.

So!, Smokey and I knew that the park would no doubt be jam packed for this, so we went the smart route and headed over two hours before game time. We arrived just after 9AM, set up shop at what was currently the back of the crowd, about 150′ or so away from the screen. At that point there were about 200 people spread out on roughly 1/4 of the main lawn area. Over the next two hours, friends showed up and people trickled in, filling up the rest of the lawn. It was crowded, but comfortably so… and then the game started. It seemed like as soon as the screen came to life, the place really packed in and absolutely erupted with excitement. Estimates on the number of people in attendance range from 3,000 (that was me eyeballing the place after a friend said, “you think there are about 1,000 people here?”), to 10,000 which was more of the “official” count. 10,000 people gathered to watch the World Cup Finals!!! Talk about a blast: the sun was in full effect, the bloody marys & mimosas were flowing, locks & bagels were being eaten, Italian & French flags were flying and people were going ballistic.

In the end Italy beat France 5:3 in an overtime shootout, but you probably knew that already so I’ll stop here and say that the “Teacher With The Bus” kicks some serious ass and deserves some big ol’ shout outs (and PayPal donations) from the folks in SF.

Tour de France: no Basso, no Ullrich

Dude, what the hell is going on here? This was supposed to be a great year for the Tour de France. This year was first time that wasn’t going to be riding since 1999, and it was set to be a doozie. Jan Ullrich, who is in the twilight of his career, and Ivan Basso, who’s given everyone a run for their money lately, were both looking awesome as the top two contenders. And on top of that there was a whole slew of other riders who were going to make sure that the pressure was kept on. I’ve been looking forward to this since the end of July last year.

And then this news came out…

Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Francisco Mancebo, the three outstanding favorites to win the Tour de France when it gets underway in Strasbourg today, were sent home yesterday after their names were linked to a drugs syndicate in Spain.

Guilty by implication rather than any solid proof, the three riders have all denied any association with the drugs bust five weeks ago which was known to Spanish police as Operacion Puerto. There names appear on an official list sent to the Tour organizers late on Wednesday.

Spanish police investigating doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who is accused of trafficking in all types of performance enhancing drugs including growth hormones and the blood booster EPO released the list which contained up to 58 names of riders who are accused of visiting his premises in Madrid… [MORE]

Now So!s all down in the dumps that her Italian’s not there to represent, and I’m majorly bummed that an American’s probably going to win it just because these two dudes got yanked. There better be some real proof on this crap, because pulling the top two contenders out of this race due to “allegations” is a pretty serious thing to do. I’ll still be watching like the Tour de Phreak that I am, it just won’t be the same.

Radio(head) Ga Ga

Every time I’ve seen Radiohead, I’ve always walked away going, “Damn, I wish they were playing again tomorrow nite because I’d totally go again.” Well, my wish came true this past weekend. Radiohead played two nites at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, and I had the amazing fortune of being able to attend both. If you find yourself reading this thinking, “Why would you want to see the same show two nites in a row?”, then there’s a good chance that you’ve never seen Radiohead live. The sound & light show, combined with the energy of the band & crowd, coupled with Radiohead’s repertoire and the fact that they are one of the tightest live acts around right now all add up to one jaw-on-the-floor mindbending experience. Something I’m definitely down with checking out 2x in a row. The really killer thing was that, other than a few repeated tracks, the two shows this past weekend were almost completely different. More “mellow” by most accounts on Friday and “fly me to the moon” insane on Saturday. Good times. Damn good times.

Friday, June 23 was me, Cho’nuff, Vinimal and Uyen kickin’ it center lawn.

01 You And Whose Army
02 The National Anthem
03 15 Step [Thom says “Ok California” with an accent]
04 Morning Bell
05 Exit Music
06 Arpeggi
07 Videotape
08 I Might Be Wrong
09 Street Spirit
10 Nude
11 Down Is The New Up
12 Pyramid Song
13 Like Spinning Plates
14 Bangers ‘N Mash [Thom “This fog is strange”]
15 There There
16 Spooks
17 Idioteque

Encore 1:
18 A Wolf At The Door
19 4 Minute Warning
20 Bones
21 Lucky

Encore 2:
22 House of Cards
23 Everything In Its Right Place [“ANDEVERANDEVERANDEVER” scrolling on video screens above stage]

(more about this show at at ease and green plastic)

Saturday, June 24 was me, So!, Cho’nuff, BoyKani, Steph, Kris, MegJam & Jeff, just left of center (on da lawn again).

01 Airbag
02 2+2=5
03 Where I End And You Begin
04 15 Step
05 Kid A
06 Dollars And Cents
07 Down Is The New Up [with long jam at the end]
08 Nude [Thom stops then starts at the beginning and says, “Don’t go anywhere, stay where you are”.]
09 Paranoid Android
10 No Surprises
11 The Gloaming
12 All I Need
13 Climbing Up The Walls
14 Go Slowly [“Then we’ll do ‘Burn The Witch.” jokes Thom]
15 Myxomatosis
16 Bangers ‘N Mash
17 How To Disappear Completely

Encore 1:
18 Fake Plastic Trees
19 Arpeggi
20 Black Star
21 True Love Waits
22 Everything In Its Right Place

Encore 2:
23 Bodysnatchers
24 The Tourist

(more about this show at at ease and green plastic)

Journey across the top of The Boot: Part II

…continued from Part I.

Since we’re such high rollers, we plunked down EUR € 3 extra for first class train tickets to Venice. When we got on board though, we quickly realized that just because you’re holding a ticket does not necessarily imply that you get a seat. We checked every cabin in the first class car and when we were completely out of luck, ended up standing with all the suckas crowded together near the bathroom (hey, at least it was the first class bathroom!!). The highlight here was the two American bozos who were complaining to the conductor about how, “Someone must be in our seats because we bought first class tickets and every single spot is taken up.” To which he replied in broken English, “Ehhhhh, first-a come-a, first-a served-a (Americani stupidi)…”. People began deboarding about 1/2 way to Venice though, so we were eventually able to find two adjacent seats that let us kick it while watching Italy whip by. An hour or so later we arrived at the Venice train station where we said, “ciao!” to conventional modes of transportation for the next few days.

Just outside the train station we crammed in to the water shuttle which took us straight down the Grand Canal. This being my first real firsthand look at Venice, I was dumbfounded. The walkways and waterways were teeming with life and the buildings appeared to have sprung up straight out of the water. There were tons of tourists taking their EUR € 75 Gondola rides, but there were just as many locals going back and forth in working boats and taxis. At the end of the Grand Canal, we jumped off with our wheeled luggage in tow and joined the fray. 2 canal bridges and a few side alley ways later and we were at our hotel, The Westin Europa & Regina.

Today was our two year anniversary and we wanted to get out and soak up some of Venice. We cruised thorough St. Mark’s square where we watched hundreds of stupid tourists getting their picture taken with pigeons all over them. This is supposedly an illegal practice, yet there are two licenced bird seed vendors smack dab in the middle of the square! Then through St. Mark’s Basilica, which was really amazing, but packed to the gills with tourists. Then out past the Doge’s Palace to the water where we walked by the Bridge of Sighs, which was covered in tourists. I think So! could tell that I was growing tired of the touristy masses, so she pointed us in to the city via one of the mostly deserted alley ways. This was much more my speed. Cool shops, good restaurants, locals hanging out… I started to relax and really enjoy Venice.

Now that we were in our groove, we had some stuff to take care of. First stop, the jewelry store. I promised So! a ring a while back, and because her family used to spend so much time here, she knew exactly from where she wanted to get it. The guy in the shop was really cool and ended up giving us a good deal. So! walked out sportin’ a sweet new ring and was all smiles all nite long.

Feelin’ good, feelin’ great, we moseyed over to Harry’s Bar for some drinks. Sonia had one of their famous Bellini’s (they made this drink up), and I had a Martini. Definitely overrun with tourists, but we got there early enough and the place was small enough that it was still cool to check out.

It was getting to be time for dinner, so we headed back into the deeper parts of the city and found a great restaurant. They were pretty booked up, but So! busted out some Italian and the dude hooked us up. After a few drinks at a really killer wine bar around the corner, we had a table right in the front window. This turned out to be a perfect spot because it was quiet enough where we could talk, but was also busy enough where we could still be in with all the activity inside and out of the restaurant. Some good wine and good food and we were on our way back through the labyrinth that is Venice to our hotel.

Tomorrow we head to Murano…

Journey across the top of The Boot: Part I

Our trip to Italy began with an extended bit of travel. Left the house in a cab at 11:30 AM on Friday, flew from SFOto Frankfurtand then from there to Milano. Once out of the airport, we hopped the train into the Milano city center and got picked up by some friends who were kind enough to let us hitch a ride in their car for the two hour ride to Verona. We finally checked into the Hotel Accademia and immediately plopped down on the bed sometime around 5:30 PM on Saturday.

We were in Verona for Riccardo and Lara’s wedding, so after chillin’ out and freshening up, we met up with some peeps and headed over to the rehearsal dinner. The wedding festivities were kicked off at an Italian Pizzaria located inside an old church. Given that this is Italy, when I say “old”, I am talking old, as in many hundreds of years. From the heavy materials that were used to construct the building, to the significant wall cracks that were noticeable here and there, you could tell that this place had some serious history. We had our fill of antipasti, wine and pizza and then exhaustion crept in. It was back to the hotel for some much deserved shut eye.

Jetlagged as a mofo the next day, we drug ourselves out of bed and into the streets of Verona. We didn’t have much time before the wedding, but Verona proper isn’t so big, so we were able to grab some grub at a local restaurant and then walk around enough that we got to take in most of the major sites, including the Casa di Giulietta (yes, the “real” house & balcony of the fictional Juliet… and the tourists were eating this up).

The wedding was being held at a villa on the outskirts of Verona, so later in the afternoon we got on a bus that was chartered for the occasion and were taken over with the rest of the wedding goers. After the extended Catholic-Jewish, Italian-English ceremony finished up, it was time to party. As you can probably guess, we ate and drank like royalty. Started off with an insane assortment of antipasti and cocktails, followed by a just long enough sit-down meal, then on to the after dinner cheese bar (with over 40 different kinds of cheeese!!) and finally dessert and some groovin’. Beats were provided by two of the “most popular DJs in all of Verona” and other music by some Italian Wedding Singer-type band. The band pretty much blew, but I felt kinda bad for them because they only got to play like 4 songs. Every time the DJs went off and the band went on, the floor cleared. Every time the DJs came back, the floor filled back up. The band dudes eventually got the point and sat the rest of the nite out. Good times.

Bussed it back to the hotel and sat up for some late nite drinks with Matteo and Kim. Woke up the next morning jetlagged and hungover, said goodbye to everyone and jumped on a train headed east.

Next stop, Venezia…

I got to say it was a good day

Man, today was a good one. It was 80+ degrees farenheit with tons of sun and a slight breeze. Weather this all-around perfect doesn’t show up very often in San Francisco, and it’s even more rare when it does on a Saturday or Sunday. So, unless you’re a fool, taking advantage of a weekend day like today is a must.

Smokey and I started the day off by hooking his moms up with a big ol’ stack of Morinaga Japanese hotcakes, fresh strawberries and a glass of Tangerine Juice. Tasty. Then So! and I hopped online for the 10AM onsale of the Radiohead Berkeley Greek Theatre shows taking place June 23 & 24. Both shows sold out almost immediately, but our lightning quick ‘net reflexes enabled us to land tickets for both shows. Score. After that we took Smokey up to the Corona Heights dog park, which has recently transitioned from mud bog to dust bowl. He spazzed out with other dogs and chased the tennis ball for a while, but wore out pretty quickly given the cloudless sky of the warming day. Headed back home for a quick bite to eat and then it was off to Doggie Obedience Class at the SF/SPCA.

An hour later we were done with class so we cruised over to the San Francisco REI for their 20% off sale. I picked up a super lightweight wind/rain Marmot Essence Jacket, which is something I’ve been needing for a while now. Spring and summer bike riding is gonna be so much more comfortable with this thing.

Then we swung back by home, tried to call my Mom to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, picked up some stuff and headed to Duboce Park, where we proceeded to kick it for over two hours. We played fetch with the Smoke Dogg, caught up on some reading (I finally finished up a “page turner” novel that took me over three months to get through) and chilled out with eachother while soaking up some of the sweet sunshine.

5PM rolled around and we decided it was time to start thinking about dinner. Went home, was able to get in touch with Mom, talked to Grandma and then rolled over to the Safeway to purchase some fixin’s. Back home again, stoked the grill and the beer can chicken was roasting away in no time. An hour later I pulled the chicken off for a rest, slapped on some double skewered okra and soon after we were chowing down.

Days like today are too few and far between…

All that glitters is not gold…

So, in one of my previous posts, I talked about how great Future Primitive was and how bummed I was that their shop, Future Primitive Sound Headquarters, had gone out of business. Well, since then I’ve run across Mike Giant’s page on REBEL8 and found out that FPSHQ went out of business in a terribly sketchy fashion. It’s too bad that they couldn’t stay afloat as a company, but much much worse that they burned a bunch of bridges on their way out.

Here’s what MG had to say:

On October 13th of last year, I had an opening at Future Primitive in San Francisco. The show was called “Sweet Sixteen”, and I set it up as retrospective of the last 16 years worth of graffiti. I showed a photographic timeline of graffiti work and numerous illustrations. I had a lot of hesitation going into the show because the person who organized it quit working at Future Primitive a month or so before the opening, leaving me to wonder if the owner, Mark Herlihy, would be able to pick up the slack. Evidently not, considering the fact that Future Primitive is no longer in business.

Currently, much of the work from that show has been recovered and is now being stored at the REBEL8 warehouse. I have not heard from Mark about getting my percentage of art sold, and frankly I don’t plan on hearing from him. If anyone has given Mark or anyone at Future Primitive money towards purchase of any of the pieces in the show, please contact Josh. He can sort you out.

The pieces posted here are available for purchase, unless someone can prove they already paid Future Primitive for the piece, in which case the artwork will be delivered immediately. I won’t get any money for the pieces already sold, but I’d still like the art to be in the rightful owner’s hands. If any of those who’ve paid for pieces used a credit card, please contact your credit card company and see if you can cancel the charge in lieu of their going out of business. At least then I can get the money for my work instead of a shady business man getting the cash.


I guess I’m changing my stance from “R.I.P. F.P.S.H.Q.” to “Good Riddance F.P.S.H.Q.”. We don’t need companies like you screwing the artists that we love and support.

These clothes don’t fit us right

So my boy Todd Gack calls me last nite at 1:35AM Eastern time and leaves me a voicemail saying that he’s at the Georgia Theatre in Athens and REM is playing. I was going to write it off given that it was Apirl 1st and all, but his message also included about 1/2 the song that they played, so I guess the joke’s still on me. Here’s what he had to say in an email today…

Yeah Man, last nite was pretty cool. Had a busy nite checking out an art show at the Georgia Museum of Art. Lots of folks who have hung art in our shop had a big show on campus. Really cool, world class shit. Went downtown and had some drinks, then went to head toward the car to go home bout midnite. Walked by the GA Theater and bumped into some friends. This band the Minus 5 was getting ready to go on. Its basically Pete Buck’s side project with Scott McCaghey who is like the 5th member of REM. Long Story Short, we check it out, half way through the set the stage clears and you see Bill Berry hit the stage first and so you know it’s on. The rest of the crew comes up and they do a killer rendition of Country Feedback. And thats it. Everyone was all REM! REM!, but they didn’t come back out. Anyway, it was still a killer moment. They are such a great band. You forget how awesome they are, and what a killer vibe they can put forward. I really wish they would pull their shit together. If nothing else just to go out on a high note. Well, it was cool that you could hear it over the phone. Stipe can still belt it out.

Jealous? You know it, but more than anything I’m beyond stoked that they’ve still got it. You see, I’d like to consider myself one of the biggest REM fans of all time, up until two albums ago. I’m not going to go into a big rant right now, but let’s just say that Reveal more than disappointed me, and with Around the Sun, I gave it one listen on MySpace and decided that my wallet was going to be staying safely put in my back pocket this time ’round.

So REM, if you’re out there, listen up. Your fans want you back. We don’t want any more Beach Boys wannabe albums followed by ginormo ampitheatre tours where we have to sit far back on the lawn with our binoculars with all the other yuppies who only know “Shiny Happy People” and “It’s the End of the World”. Get Bill back on board, cut another real REM album and do a theatre tour. You know, venues along the lines of The Fox Theatre in the ATL or The Warfield in San Francisco. Go that route, and we’ll forget the two most recent albums even exist.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.


R.I.P. – F.P.S.H.Q.

So!, Smokey and I were walking through the Lower Haight today and found ourselves in a bit of a shock as we strolled up on the Future Primitive Sound Headquarters at Haight and Fillmore. They were closing up shop and it was their last day in business.

The first time the Future Primitive name really struck a chord with me was back in mid-1998 when I picked up the Live at the Future Primitive Soundsession, Vol. 2 CD that was mixed in SF by DJs Z-Trip and Radar. On this album these dudes fused hip-hop and classic rock on 5 turntables in a live setting, and actually made it work (years before the “mashup” craze, I might add). The funny thing is, just days later we got invited to a Christmas party at an ad agency, and guess who they had booked as the entertainment that evening? Yup, Z-Trip and Radar. Hip-hop and classic rock fused together on 5 turntables right in front of my face, and it actually worked really, really well. The place was absolutely going O-F-F.

Fast forward a few years and Future Primitive had grown from a small label with a couple of compilation releases to a small collective consisting of a hand picked group of musicians and urban artists. One of the coolest things about this crew was that they they decided to showcase themselves in an easily accessible storefront setting smack dab in the middle of the Lower Haight.

Now, even though I never purchased anything from that store (which, if there are more peeps like me, could partially explain the shop’s untimely demise), I did love going in to check out their art exhibits, browse through their T-shirts and dig into their tiny but quality music selection. For me, memorable artists that showed inside the store included Greg ‘PNUT’ Galinsky, Kelly Tunstall and Mike Giant. I had seen both PNUT and Kelly Tunstall’s stuff in the past at the 111 Minna Gallery, and I think the thing that I really appreciated with both of these artists is how well they were able to show in both types of settings. At FP there’s only enough room to hang a handful of small to medium sized pieces, wheras at 111 Minna you’ve got vertical and horizontal wallspace for days. As for Mike Giant, who I believe was the last person to show at FP, I dug how he painted and drew right on the walls, turning the shop into a piece of art, albeit temporary, within which his exhibit was shown.

Probably my favorite feature of the Future Primitive shop is/was the artwork outside on the Fillmore side of the building (it’s still around as of this writing!!). These pieces were commissioned by two very well known street artists Doze Green and Mear One. The Doze one went up first, and to my amazement remained fully intact for a couple of years. It was cool to think that people actually had some respect for these amazing works of art that were right there on prime public wall space… and then, of course, some jackass came along and tagged on it late 2005. And it wasn’t event a good tag, which is probably why the idiot did it in the first place. The Mear One went up more recently, and although Mear and Doze have two completely different styles, they somehow looked right sitting there next to eachother.

So, R.I.P. Future Primitive Sound Headquarters. If y’all ever decide to get back into the storefront biz, you should call on Upper Playground for some advice. They somehow are able to keep 3 (and counting) shops in the Lower Haight going, while only regularly having their main shop open for business. I’d love to know what their secret is.

Dude, you got… an Alienware?

My Dell Precision 620 was creeping up on it’s 5th anniversary as my home workstation, and I was starting to get the feeling that it was time to look for a more modern replacement. The 21″ CRT and Full-Tower Desktop configuration had grown too bulky for me, and I was to the point where I couldn’t justify any more component upgrades. I wanted something speedy, that had tons of RAM, a small physical footprint and would allow me to be easily untethered from the desk in my home office. It was back to the land of laptops.

Being the type of person who typically likes to support the lil’ guy (or rather, anyone other than one of the biggest guys), I immediately ruled out Dell, HP/Compaq and Sony, and quickly determined that I was going to go with an Alienware running Windoze or one of them fancy new MacBook Pros. Turns out that So! was in the market for a new laptop as well, and she was dead set on the MacBook Pro, so I opted to go the Alienware route.

My first stab at configuring a new system on the Alienware website left me with a fully decked out 17″ behemoth that put me in the $5200+ US range. Super sweet, but almost as heavy as my old workstation and close to twice as much money as I had to spend. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and re-tweaked some things on the configurator, I came out with a bad ass 15″ Area-51 m5500 for under 3k. Sold. Estimated ship date, 2 weeks.

4 weeks later, and about 87 visits to the Alienware shipping status site and my machine was on its way… woo, hoo!!! Only one problem: it was being shipped from Miami to San Francisco, via UPS GROUND. I thought, “I’ve waited this long, so what’s the big deal with hanging on for 10 more business days for my super cool laptop that was lovingly put together by a somewhat mom and pop computer company?” And I waited.

8 business days later, I show up to work and I’ve got a stack of emails from friends and coworkers all letting me know that Dell has purchased Alienware. WTF?!?

2 business days later and my new machine arrives. It’s almost everything I wanted it to be, other than one thing: Dude, I got a Dell. Damn.