As I meant to report earluer on this blog, I left Virginia last Thursday for a long weekend in the San Francisco Bay area. My goals were few:
1)Hang out with Rich Bunnell.
Rich is the editor in chief of the award-winning Daily Californian, the newspaper of the University of California-Berkeley. Prior to this, starting in the mid-1990s, he was a reviewer and later webmaster for Mark Prindle’s record review website. It was on this website in 1996-1998 I got my first experience writing for popular consumption, as did Rich. I moved to England and crapped out of the site – Rich took it over. From the late 1990s to 2003, he was running the hub of a very fun and nearly inexplicable group of music geek community called the Web Reviewing Community, or WRC.
Did I just say it was inexplicable, and then explain it? Sorry. The point is, Rich is one of two people responsible for my entry into journalism and my obsession with music. And I’d never met him til Thursday.
2)Meet Tim Cavanaugh.
The award-winning web editor of Reason magazine, who lives in a particularly homey part of San Francisco and has published some of my forementioned journalism.
3)Buy a shitload of records.
To my knowledge, the Bay area contains two of the best record stores on the planet. One’s the Amoeba in San Francisco, pictured above. The other is the Amoeba in Berkeley.
4)Visit scenic San Francisco.
Writing about San Francisco in any fresh way is really beyond me – the city is so alive and so beautiful that it makes good on all its cliches.
Here’s how it went.
12:30 pm – Arrive at Oakland airport and navigate public transportation back to Berkeley, where I deposit my luggage at Rich’s co-op.
1:30 – Have lunch (Ghanan food) with Rich and his friends, then return to his place.
3:30 – Shop at Amoeba and then Rasputin music (a lesser but still cool store). Purchase 14 CDs for $58, then find the out of print Galaxie 500 box set for $35.
6:00 – Eat at Top Dog, a quality take-out restaurant near Rich’s place, then walk back home.
9:00 – Go to a bar with Rich and a friend, then come home to crash.
10:00 am – Wake up and ready for a trip to San Francisco.
11:30 – Walk to BART train with Rich after eating breakfast burrito.
12:00 pm – Arrive in downtown SF, and take a cable car part of the way to the Notes From the Underground Cafe, where I will meet Tim.
12:40 – Meet Tim, then walk to a restaurant to buy a fish taco.
1:00 – Take fish tacos to the bar owned by an erudite friend of Tim. Eat, drink, and converse for hours.
4:00 – Walk, guided by Tim, to the Marina.
5:30 – Picked up by Mike Pap Rocki, another WRC vet and music nerd, with Rich and another WRCer named Mike DeFabio in tow.
6:00 – Arrive at Haight-Ashbury and locate the big Amoeba.
8:00 – Exit Amoeba, buy burritos.
9:20 – Arrive at Slim’s to see The Go-Betweens. Sit through lame opening act that comes to life only during a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth.” Locate GB’s singer Robert Forster watching the opener, and stand beside him before he goes backstage. Watch decent show (7/10) interrupted by a fight.
11:45 – Arrive back in Berkeley, avoid hoodlums that bust up a nearby Chinese restaurant.
12:30 am – Arrive at Rich’s house, dawdling before going to sleep a few hours later.
12:45 pm – Wake up and go downtown for California-style hamburgers.
2:00 – Go to the downtown (Shaddach st) cineplex and buy tickets for Batman Begins. Hang out in local comic store before movie starts.
5:00 – Exit Batman Begins and return to Rich’s place. Call Mike DeFabio, who lives nearby in Richmond, and schedule hanging out.
7:00 – Mike arrives, and we visit book stores on Telegraph Ave.
9:30 – Rich comes back and takes us to The Patio, a restaurant/bar that plays Brian Eno’s “Here Come the Warm Jets.” Drink local beer and eat lamb sandwich.
11:55 – Leave to meet someone at Top Dog. He never shows.
1:00 am – Return to co-op and watch an episode of “The Shield.”
11:00 am – Wake up and head to BART station sans Rich. Buy banana and cranberry “smart muffin” (inedible wheat and nut base) for breakfast.
12:00 pm – Arrive in the Mission. Walk up Valencia Street stopping in interesting shops. Sudden diarrhea attack prompts trips to vegetarian restaurant, where I buy a $7 meatless cheesesteak to win bathroom privileges. As universe decrees it, I find $6 on the bathroom floor and defray the meal’s cost.
2:30 – Reach Castro/Market and observe attractive gay couples. Walking up a hill to Haight Street when a cabbie stops and offers me a free ride to Haight/Ashbury.
3:30 – Hit Amoeba again to purchase CD I had put down on Friday. Begin walking to the Golden Gate bridge. March up many hills and then march through most of the Presidio.
5:45 – Reach Golden Gate Bridge and take photos. Am summoned back to Berkeley, and stumble back into downtown through several high-end Presidio neighborhoods and some substantial brush.
7:20 – Locate San Francisco proper and take a bus to the BART station.
8:30 – Arrive in North Berkeley and meet with Rich and friends at bar that’s holding trivia contest. Lose contest, but buy barbecued chicken and eat it.
11:30 – Arrive back at Rich’s. Watch two episodes of “Oz.”
11:00 am – Wake up and pack. Take the books I’ve bought down to the post office to mail them home.
12:30 pm – Meet with Rich and have Chinese food at restaurant with abysmal service.
3:00 – Back at Rich’s, swap CDs and MP3s. Pack the rest of my belongings.
6:00 – Go in the direction of BART. Buy boba and pot-stickers for the ride home.
7:10 – Board BART in direction of San Jose airport.
10:10 – Finally fucking reach San Jose airport. It’s a septic third world pile of skinny terminals and broken soft drink dispensers.
11:00 – Board plane.
Keep in mind, that last event occured at 2 am ET, and five hours later I was transferring planes in Atlanta. Four hours after that I was at the office to work a full day.
All in all: Best trip ever.