We have settled into the house now, enjoying a brief interlude of sunshine in the otherwise grey sky’s. Emmily paints a skeleton on the floor of the studio as I try to gather the last couple of weeks into a tangible form, whilst waiting for renders. We have been seeing a lot of the family, regular visits to Grandma, coaxing stories from the past. Dinners with Aunt Claudia and her partner Berge, glasses of wine with conversations of family and Frisco. Marin headlands with Aunt Sue, exploring the tunnels and spectacular views. Our day’s are filled with museums and wonderings and our nightlife has grown with gigs and events, too many to see and time is shrinking as we leap over the half-way mark for the US of A.
Hanging out around our apartment with David we have been introduced to many of his friends. An interesting and lovely assortment of characters. We have met Josh, who is the alter ego of Peaches Christ, a renowned San Francisco cult figure, best known for running Midnight Mass. A cult movieextravaganza including performances, music and celebrity guest appearances. The anniversary of which paid host to Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark and played one of our favourite films, Braindead. Vince, who is currently staying in the third bedroom is also Vinsantos a musician and performer. He pops in at random times of night and we only know that he is home when he rears his head late in the afternoon only to disappear once again. David, in organising events for the Academy of Sciences is involved in running Nightlife, the adults night at the museum, with drinks, special presentations and music. On the night which we went along we made our way through the park in the rain, jumping puddles, to be ushered in through the staff entrance and introduced to a barman who was to take very good care of us. On this particular Nightlife there was a swathe of gourmet coffee tastings and a rare and beautiful show-off display by the resident octopus as well as live taxidermy.
Americans have a very different understanding of coffee. Unless you go to a specific suburb you could be wondering around forever on the hunt for a coffee that isn’t from a chain or crappy weak drip coffee. We soon realise what coffee hungry snobs we Melbournians’ are. When whining to David about this he told us of a coffee place called “Blue Bottle” that just happens to be down the end of our laneway. A tiny little hole in the wall selling nothing but coffee with nowhere to sit (other then the sidewalk) that has a constant line of other coffee lovers. On our way back from the caffeine glory we came across a magnificent corsetry shop full of beautiful wears that I drooled over but could not afford. Whilst I was browsing and Dotahn stood patiently around he spied a postcard for “The 10th Annual Edwardian Ball” and once I saw this invitation to another world I would not be denied and Tahn didn’t need to much convincing either. After we bought our tickets and spread the word we were going the first thing said to us was “What costume are you going to wear?’ Umm, well we didn’t really pack costumes. So we pleaded our case to David and he let us search through Timothy’s cupboards and Wa La, we where ready for the pumpkin to take us to the ball.
We whisked past the line with our tickets and entered a world of steampunk dreams. Halls of Edward Gorey’s art and violin players on stilts, down marbled stairs to a vender bazar with fineries, art and treasure. Sculptures of iron, copper and steam. Natural history displays, amazing bands, circus, cabaret, performance of Edward Gorey’s “The evil Garden” and all sorts of whimsical wonders. Everyone was dressed to impress (my god the costumes where amazing) they where shopping for trinkets and wears, playing croquet in the dark garden and going crazy on the dance floor. It was all very overwhelming.
Okay, time to check out the east bay. With a little help from our friend the W.W.Web we find an art show opening at the Berkeley university and venture out on the BART transport system. Berkeley is a suburb built to cater for students, we were informed by the numerous coloured chalk scribblings on the sidewalk of all the current political outrages and where to go for the upcoming rally against them. People kept trying to hand us pep rally flyers for things like “Step” a tame white person type of breakdance, and recruit us to various sorority houses.
Here is the point of scribble where we tell the story of drinking from the “Flaming blue skull” It was cool.
We were in the prepatory phase of reading ourselves for Madlib (with the help of Don Julio) when David told us of a new bar down the road a friend of his had just told him about call The Smugglers Cove. So the three of us headed on down. The front was just an inconspicuous black wall but inside, it was a pirate wonderland. The decor came crashing around you with nets, glowing fish, treasure chests and waterfalls. It smelt like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland and the drink menu was impressive and extensive, mostly catering in rum. After David and Tahn perused the menu for a long while whilst I indulged in capturing the place with my camera, David went down to order and came back with a flaming blue skull so full and deadly, each sip had a tropical kick
San Francisco has more than its fair share of clubs and venues. Two areas in particular house some of the most interesting bars, the Mission and SOMA – South of Market. As soon as we arrived back from LA we decided to book a couple of shows. The first being Madlib. Madlib is a producer of mainly hip-hop. He has to be one of my favorites, particularly in his work with MF Doom and his alter-ego Quasimoto. South of Market is a great place for venues as it is fairly deserted and home to a swathe of old warehouses. No push from noise complaints as there is very little residential development. We traveled in the dark through some industrial looking side streets and came upon a thumping. We supposed, and rightly so, that this was the place. A large bus with an equally large sound system was parked out front and a line stretched a little ways up the street. Thankfully we skipped the line and were ushered right in to the club. A recently renovated warehouse space, Mighty is quite a fancy venue. With a massive three screen projector setup, HUGE bass bins and good bar. Two of the screens hang over the dancefloor and can be viewed from either side, with one large screen behind the stage. A small side room had some different music and breakdancing. We arrived just before Shortkut played and I was pleasantly surprised with a good party set and some great tricks. I had relatively high expectations of Madlib as a lot of his production is done through his DJing, however he wasn’t the greatest on the decks. He played a really heavy set, almost too heavy for the sound system which was bass heavy to begin with. He did play a few unreleased Madlib tracks and some Quasimoto as well as a range of hard-hitting gangster. The VJ was awesome, partly thanks too their inbuilt VJ setup of two computers and the same mixer which I use. http://vimeo.com/9339627
Another cultural highlight of San Francisco is the Palace of the Legion of Honor. Poised on top of a hill in the Presidio area near the coast this palace houses a mainly classical collection of art. It has beautiful gardens and views and is also home to a famous Holocaust memorial sculpture and many works by Rodin. It’s interiors are decadent and impressive with large vaulted ceilings and galleries which have been decorated, walls and ceilings in various period stylings. There was also a temporary exhibition of mummies and medicine with scans, images and the body of Irethorrou.
The next gig we went to was Prefuse 73 at a club called Slim’s. Prefuse is another favourite electronic act of ours. Once again we headed into SOMA and entered Slim’s, with a dive-bar look and just one medium sized room. We arrived in time to see the act before Prefuse, Gaslamp Killer, a native of San Francisco. He was a great performer with wild hair and crazy antics on stage. Playing a wide range of beats and working up the crowd he was a lot of fun. We learnt just how strict San Francisco is on underage drinking when I went to the bar and couldn’t order two drinks without first dragging Emmily from the dancefloor to present her passport. We have been ID’d at every single licenced venue we have been to in this city. Prefuse 73 was next with a couple of partners on stage. It had its moments, but overall was a mess with too many things being attempted at once. The best moments were the calm in the storm with just a single tune or rhythm. This didn’t seem to interrupt Emm’s groove on the dance floor too much but she was disgruntled by having her camera banned from the gig. However, photo opportunities were to be had in the park on the way home.
Mooooooooooooooooore Galleries. We went to the free day at MOMA ( museum of modern art) celebrating their 75th year. And, on the first thursday of every month, two buildings on Geary st filled to the brim with studio spaces on every floor have a grand opening of all their resident artists. And, a gallery highlight, was the opening for a Japanese artist called Tomokazu Matsuyama “In case you’re lost”. And, a group opening called “Whispers” a very juxtapoz type of collection. And, I can’t remember the rest but I think this will do for now.
Moooooooooooooooooooore museums. Got to love the free days. The Asian museum is just around the corner from us and curiosity grabbed at us when we walked passed, but budgets can be harsh when the price isn’t right. Thats why we hunt down the FREE days, which happen to be the first sunday of the month for this museum. corridors and halls twisted around and down the floors following a historical path throughout the whole of Asia, from countries like India, Japan, Cambodia and Indonesia. Amazing and beautiful artifacts thousands of years old. From very aesthetically pleasing to at times terrifying. So many amazing gods and monsters.
Mooooooooooooooore music. After seeing Death Sentence: Panda! in LA we decided that we had to catch their next show and being a band from San Francisco this was easy. We decided to spend the afternoon checking out Oakland, a suburb in the East Bay. Unfortunately since the gig was on a Monday night and we don’t really know anyone our explorations of Oakland were fairly mundane. We saw shops, homeless people and an awesome modern cathedral. After a disappointing dinner we went to 21Grand which is a non-profit artist run space. This is where Oakland lives up to its reputation as an alternative arts hub. The range of music was huge (the line up also included a nervous but funny comedian) and the crowd was interesting and friendly. We bought a CD from Kim West the singer from DS:P and got some advice about where to find underground events and art around the Bay Area. Including seeing her other band T.I.T.S, a guitar based all girl band, which we went to the following Wednesday at a bar called Elbo room in the Mission. We talked to the rest of the band who were very nice and had a conversation with the owner/operator of 21 Grand. The show was great as expected. Crazy percussion, clarinet, flute, xylophone, theremin and screaming fun….