Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Many Things

So, I mentioned earlier this year that I'd launched a new project, screams. Since my other projects (Face TatGirl-Face) were mostly in the reformation stage as people moved and adjusted to life changes, this is was mostly going to be a solo side project, with the goal of finishing up a bunch of songs I'd started over the years but didn't get finished as other projects got in the way. But as these things go, ended up writing up a bunch of new material.

Since it was just going to me with my friends helping me to flesh out the ideas and appearing as guests on the tracks, I really wanted to go for a lo-fi electronic sounds, a la Black Moth Super Rainbow, Suicide, early Grimes, with just a tinge of industrial, a real stripped down lo-fi sound. So I released the first screams song: Many Things.

I wrote the principle music for Many Things in one go (as I'm sure you can tell) and messed with it here and there. The bassline is a MicroKORG, the lead is a Roland Gaia, and the drums I built off a  Roland Octapad SPD-30. The Gaia is killer, but not as easy to interface with as the MicroKORG or the Octapad (though the Octapad has a bit of a learning curve and there's plenty of things that it can do [looper, sequencer] that I don't use cause I have other machines that can do the same and a lot easier to use). I initially recorded it just to save an idea, but really like the grittiness so I decided to round it out. Found a killer movie quote from Dune, when the Guild Navigator tells Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV that little Paul Atreides need to get whacked, and threw it on there. It took me a while to clean up the sample, there's all sorts of machine and hissing noises cause those Navigators are weird mutants and that white noise was part of the scene so I just decided to include in the song cause to take much more of it out would have taken some from the voice quality of the Navigator.

I looped the "plans with in plans" part at the end and got it to extend out so far by automating the volume on that track so that it kept increasing as the loop faded out, thus making it last nearly five minutes. Which is longer than the music. Studio magic, my friends. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Desert Daze 2012

Guess this tour diary is a bit late, seeing as how it's about Desert Daze 2012, but I just played Desert Daze 2018 and wanted to write about it and couldn't write about one without writing about the other, so here goes.

Back in 2012 I lived with two roommates, my Mist Giant bandmate Rap Dan and some guy called Al Lover, who's put out a thing or two.

Me, Al Lover, and long time goodbuddy and bandmate Mike G got together and made a few cuts: Al on an MPC-1000 doing beats and samples and Mike and me on fuzzed out guitars trading harmonic and melodic lines. It was simple, stripped down, and a lot of fun. We practiced, showed up, played some shows. Called ourselves: Al Lover & the Haters.

Well, we (and by we I mean Al) got invited to play down at the 2012 Austin Psychfest and then the Moon Bloc Party's Desert Daze 2012 music festival. So we booked up a few more shows, SF, Santa Barbara, LA, ABQ, Las Cruces, and a few spots I forget and took our show on the road. Mike and Al drove down to LA and played Burger Records while I stayed in SF to finish up some work thing, then I flew down and met up with them and off we went.

We played Desert Daze soon thereafter. It was crazy. I mean, it was great. They had the fest at an old beat up roadhouse called Dillon's down in Desert Hot Springs. Actually, don't know how run down that place usually is, might even be a fancy spot, but we didn't get there until day eleven of the fest. You read that right, they ran an eleven day music fest at a roadhouse in the desert. One-hundred and twenty acts, two stages, eleven days. So, you know place was hit kinda hard. I mean, actually, for an eleven day music fest, it wasn't as wrecked as it coulda been. But then again nothing is as bad as it coulda been, except Nazis.

Desert Daze set up some camping nearby for the attendees, but all us artists(!) got to stay in a nearby motor lodge type place. One of them two-storied horseshoe shaped deals with a big pool in the middle, though they didn't let us swim after dark and it's a fest, so nobody got to use it. The cool thing was that after the fest we got to go back to the motel and keep partying, going room to room, while the owner operators mean mugged us.

After the fest, we went back on the road and played some shows on our way to Austin, TX. Played the Trainyard in Las Cruces with the Cosmonauts.

Burt's Tiki. Blurry. Sry.
But the best show we played was to an empty lounge in Albuquerque, NM. Burt's Tiki Lounge (which moved locations by a block and then abruptly shut down earlier this year 😢). And but for the other bands and us and the bartender, there wasn't anyone else who showed up. At that point, some of us had toured a bit and some of us hadn't toured a bit, so some of us were dismayed at the lack of support from the locals and from the bands (all of whom jetted right after their set, an amateur move) and there may have been some talk about not playing the show cause it all seemed so pathetic. But that's an amateur move, you gotta show up, always play, barring you know accidents and flight delays, shit happens afterall, but you don't not play a show just cause no one cared to show up. Plus, at that point, we'd all drank our two free house beers, so you know, had to play.

Golec's wall.
And, of course, you never know what's going to happen at a show, even an empty one. We set up our merch, did a line check, and were about to go on when this shaggy haired kid showed up and asked if he missed Al Lover's set. Told him no, about to go on. And he stood right in front of the stage and bopped his head the whole time. It might have been a bit weird, one guy gettin down right in front of the stage in an otherwise empty room but for the amount of energy this kid had. I say kid cause he was like, I dunno, 24 at the time. He had a big smile and as soon as we were done he asked about merch. And asked us if we needed a place to stay. And do we want drinks? And do we like to party? He bought $60 worth of merch (which was everything we had) then threw in another $20 for gas money. Then he called his friends who were around the corner. So, we went and met them at this pretty swanky second story spot called Anodyne, happening place with a bunch of billiards tables, large selection of beers, and a lounge/library area that had a dog-eared copy of Samuel Delaney's Dhalgren, which appeared to have actually been half read (didn't make it a quarter away through that door stopper, myself). His friends were great, of course, had a few drinks with them, then went back to the kid's house and stayed up way too late talking and playing guitars. His name was Daniel Golec, but he went by Golec and was a great dude. Stayed in touch with him and I found out last year that tragically he was in a pretty terrible accident, struck by a car while on his bike that left him in a coma. The saddest part is I can't find any update online and his FB page is full of people asking for updates and people saying they miss him along with old grainy photos.

You never know who you're going to me or what's going to happen at a show. But you gotta play to find out.

(Hope you're doing well, Golec.)

Al Lover & the Haters.
The Behemoth in the rundown Trainyard, Las Cruces.
Entryway to the Trainyard venue.
Psychfest lineup. Everybody remember the Al Lover, nobody remember the Haters.
The Magic, happening.
Beauty Ballroom, our stage for Psychfest.
Golec's dog.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Restaurant Story

Recently, me and some friends read Stuart O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster, which is a pretty good book about love, life, and the Red Lobster. It's funny and it's short, so that's always good. We went up to a cabin to drink whiskey and talk about the book. While talking about it, we all decided to tell horror stories about working in the restaurant industry. Honestly, I worked in bars and restaurants for ten years, so there's just too many stories to recall, so I mostly drew a blank on horror stories and instead just told one of my most memorable. It's kinda cute, though it does entail a full-grown man getting burned from head to toe.

In college, I worked at the Olive Garden, the one in the Stonestown Mall in San Francisco, for about a year. It was a pretty busy place, what with the mall and college traffic. And it was easy money, and since I was going to SFSU, it worked out very well with my schedule.

The first that you offer a guest when they come to the table is soup or salad (then you try and upsell them on wine). Breadsticks come right after. So, there's always a bunch of soup coming out of the kitchen. And the corporate catchphrase about soup temp was that it was supposed to be "pipping hot." Always. Had to be pipping hot. Which is a weird phrase when you think about it. I'm sure there's some history of steampipes or pressurized heating pipes. But, whatev. That's the term they used. Soup had to be pipping hot. And then some nonsense about when you're here you're family.

So, this one day, few months in, after I've got the hang of it, I'm waiting on this three-top, a mother and her two daughters, around ten to twelve years old. And while I'm introducing myself, Willy, a bus boy, was walking into the kitchen. Willy was a nice guy, but he was one of the slowest able-bodied people I've ever met in my life, to this day. He moved slow, talked slow, blinked slow. And I don't mean there was anything wrong with him, mentally. He just was a slow dude. Potato speed.

At any rate, he's entering the kitchen at the same time that this guy (who I don't remember) is coming out, carrying a tray of six bowls of Zuppa Toscana, a white cream based sausage soup. And right as he's coming out, just as the Zuppa guy is lined up with Willy, Big Dan stands up. Six foot four, Big Dan. See, he was bent over, refilling the ice bin and when he stood up the Zuppa had been hovering on a tray over Bid Dan's head, so when Dan sprung up and hit that tray, it was like a catapult aimed right at Willy.

There was a huge, loud crash and the whole restaurant went silent, like we were all waiting to hear what happened next. Which was Willy yelling at the top of his lungs, "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!"

Course, me thinking I was some kind of hero, I told my table to wait one minute and went over to see what I could do to help. But what could I do?

Willy was dripping in white cream soup, Big Dan was saying sorry, the other guy was trying to clean things up, and the manager was shooing us away, telling us to get back to work.

So, I went back to my table and continued with the order, but when I got to the first little girl she just look up at me and asked, very grimly, "Was there blood?" She was pretty disappointed when I told no.

Monday, August 13, 2018

New Project: screams

Hey. So, working on a new project: screams. This is mostly solo while my other projects take their time. Hope to put out a bunch of older stuff that's been bouncing around for a while. Here's the first release:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Gracie Barra, Austin, Texas, March 2017

And yet another I wrote up back in March but didn't post. Weird.

Like I said, got to go down to Austin, Texas for a minute. But I also had my first BJJ tournament coming up on April 2, Jiu Jitsu By The Bay, so I had to keep the training up. Luckily, there's some great BJJ down in Austin, and I was lucky enough to get over to Gracie Barra in North Austin

Opinions are everywhere about BJJ schools and styles. Gracie Barra has a reputation for being a bit more sport oriented, which was fine by me, what with my tourney coming up. They have a nice large open space, with a bunch of colored belts who were very inviting and supportive. They were gracious enough to let me train there the week I was in Austin. I trained with Anthony Leon, who's identified on their website as a Purple Belt, but who had a Brown Belt while training. I might could be wrong about that. Either way, he's a beast, but very humble. 

We went over this North-South (69) double bicep slicer/compression lock, that I really can't even explain let alone find a video to describe it. Point is, it's a cool space with some very friendly people. 

Austin, Texas, March 2017

Wrote this back in March and I don't know why I didn't put this up...

So, I got sent down to Austin for some REALLY boring work: coding for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. I mean, it's work, good work, very easy, low stress. Plus I get to hang out in Austin, Texas, visit friends, eat good food, and see some live shows.

I popped over to Al Lover's pad down in East Austin. Hung out at Hotel Vegas one night and the next night Al's like: "Wanna go to Brian Jonestown Massacre for free?"

"Uh, yeah," I said.

"Cool," he said. "And you can totally crash here if you want. Cause like, we're going to hangout backstage and party with the Black Angels and BJM. And do a lot of drugs."

"Okay," I said and didn't mention I haw work at 8 am in the morning, but that was my problem.

We went down to the Mohawk and BJM was already playing. My first time catching them. They were great, but they played for like three hours. Played so long I wanted them to stop. So I made my way inside the Mohawk where there was a whole other stage. Saw some local hot acts Teevee and Annabelle Chairlegs. Both of them were pretty darn good, even though Chairlegs did a 12-bar blues song that they really shouldn't have done. 

By the time I found Al again in the crowd he was pretty... well, let's just say he was on another level, in orbit somewhere around the moon. I told him he should do what he needed to do. That was the last I saw him that night. Which was fine. He was my back stage pass, and though I would have jumped on, I ended up having a decent morning as opposed to being a wreck from partying all night. So, for that, thank you Al Lover. 

Al's not been down there two years and it's already like he's a local celeb. People greet him on the street, everyone knows him. I mean, he says it's just cause it's a small scene, and that he's been coming down for Psychfest/Levitation events for a while now. Either way, It's a real nice thing to see, someone so tapped in to the local scene. Wish there was more of that in SF.

Also, we stayed up late and Al made some pretty good pizza dough.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My first Tourney: Jiu-Jitsu by the Bay 23

So, finally competed. 

Technically, this is my second Jiu Jitsu by the Bay. Last time, in April at JJbtB 22, I made weight, showed up, checked in, and then waited hours. I had work travel plans that night for a project out in Austin, Texas, so I was on a schedule. I was supposed to fight at around 1 in the P, but they didn't call my name until after 3:30 in the P, by which time I'd already gone. (Oscar, my teammate, told me. He stayed and took gold in his Blue Belt division.) They were running pretty far behind and it was hot and a mess, and I thought, man, I don't know about JJbtB. Their rep is that they are pretty lacks. But, hey, they've been around for ages, everyone knows it, and you know, I'm still a White Belt, so many of the bigger tournaments, they don't even let White Belt's compete. Try to keep the pool small so things run on time. Though, they never do. Nothing is on time in the fight world. Except for Vasyl Lomachenko's striking. Man, that guy is amazing, but that's another post.

So, I wasn't expecting organization when I showed up at the Alemeda High School Gym. They'd even made a blog post about why they run so slow and well... they weren't planning on doing anything different, just better. I'd already gone out and worked on this year's Burning Man Temple that morning in West Oakland (yet another post), so I just popped over to the tourney. And right off the bat things were different.

First, there was less people, which makes it easier to keep things moving. It's the middle of summer, so, you know, lot of people vacationing. But they checked me in right quick, they had two check-in sections instead of a cluster of confused people with iPads they couldn't work. I made weight, was actually a few pounds under, and had skipped breakfast, so Angel suggested tacos. Keep it small. I really don't like to eat before I workout/roll/train. Makes me nauseous and well, I've thrown up during training before. So, my rule is not to eat for at least an hour before training. But since I'd just checked in and last time they took three and a half hours to call my name, I figured I had time. I shoulda known.

Right after we got back from a taco shop down the street, they called my name. I was matched up and on the mat and then off within an hour and half of checking in. 

I lost my match. 

But it wasn't cause of no taco.

I was totally under prepared. 

In Muay Thai, everything slows down. I don't know if it's cause you're anticipating strikes more or maybe with BJJ you can take a moment to breathe, but in Muay Thai, two minutes lasts FOREVER and the last thirty seconds? It can feel like an hour. But in BJJ, everything goes FAST. True, it can feel like forever when you're on the bottom and a big guy's sitting on your chest. But even then, it's not like getting knocked around for ten seconds. 

Met my opponent: big guy named Mat. Don't remember where he trained. We shook hands and then right into it.

I did well for the first part, he went for a takedown, stuffed it, he transitioned to a Guillotine, shut that down, tried to take my back, turtled up and blocked the hooks. Then I tried this fancy escape that woulda left me on top in Kesa-Gatame, if I hadn't fucked it up. Instead I went from Turtle right into his Side Control. After that it was all downhill. We rolled around for a while, he took my back, then straightened me out, went for the Mata Leão (rear naked choke, but I like how the Brazilians call it), I tucked my chin and fought for hand control, but he just pulled. Nasty neck crank. Not that I'm saying he was dirty, he was going for the choke and I allowed myself into a vulnerable position. Guy was strong and dominate.

I just wasn't prepared. I trained well, had good conditioning, though my opponent was strong. We talked afterwards and he was like, yeah, that's how it is the first time. Don't really know what it's going to be like until you do. You're in there and get a big adrenaline dump. Had to remind myself to breath in the middle there. Same thing happens in MT. There's lights and people yelling, but the hardest part for me is not being able to warm up. Not so much physically, but psychologically. One second I'm sitting there on the mat, the next, this guy is trying to choke me out. And I felt that taco getting tossed around in there. More of a distraction than anything, but still.

There was no one else in our division, so one roll and done. He got gold and I got silver for tapping out. Nah, I got it for showing up, which you know, it's a thing man.

What I was most unprepared for though was the speed. Not of his moves, but how you have to go right for it. No really feeling out, you do that on the ground. You gotta go for a takedown, make a move, set the tempo. Just like in chess. Looking back, feel like I was standing there with my mouth wide open. Was way too reactive. 

Wasn't upset over the loss. I mean, wasn't happy, but mostly I was disappointed I didn't get to roll more. Really didn't get to Jits at all. Mostly grunt wrestling. But it's all good. Now I'm just hungry for the next one. But not tacos.