Rootin Tootin, Lets go Newton

Well, our excursion home has come to a close. We had a lovely time on the 4th, attempting to watch the extensive Boston fireworks from my Brothers apt, which is on the 32 floor. His deck looked right out at the barge. Unfortunately the winds picked up the massive amount of smoke from the fireworks and pushed it right at us. So the view was often blocked. But Doug made us hot dogs in his Foreman grill, and all was good. Except for Steven Tyler, who tried to sing along with the Boston Pops. I think it might be retirement time at this point. Or a decade ago. Then again, I haven’t really been following. Mmmm. . . hot dogs. . . .

I ate lots of sea food. It was really tasty. I got to hang with good high school friends, and their respective girl friends. I ran the full spectrum gambit with my folks, which is usual. There was even some time for introspection. As we get older, it turns out our folks do too. Its good to take step outside, and see how your parental relationship shifts as time goes on. Those relationships are terribly complicated, full of love and headaches. And now with the marriage, we see each of our parents accept both of us as family. Especially since we are their only hope (right now) for offspring.

There is this long standing agreement that when children enter our lives, we will head back east where both sets of parents will be around to partake in the child rearing. The thing is, until I left the east coast, I had no idea there is an option to totally skip winter. And I forgot about the summer humidity. Boston as a city doesn’t have much appeal. People are much gruffer. Most of the bars are sports bars. I love San Francisco. I love the people, the music, the energy, the vibe. We have such a fantastic community for friends out here. So I guess, what I will do, is continue to enjoy it to my maximum capacity – and not take it for granted. For now, it really feels like home. And its good to be home.

Also, our pets rats really missed me. I can tell.



2nd Wedding Anniversary

A couple months ago we decided to head back east for the celebration of our 2nd wedding anniversary (July 3rd). Two days after we booked our tickets home, a couple of bands booked a tour that we really wanted to see. It was only happening on the east coast. And the only show we could possibly see was the July 3rd date in Hardfort, CT. Fantastic. We bought us some shiny lawn tickets.

When we travel back to Newton from Cali , we always stay at our respective parent’s house. We’ve been doing this for a long time. At least 7 years. Two years ago we get married. Both our respective parents put kings size beds in our rooms. Now everyone expects us to sleep over. We (or at least I) find that pretty silly – the fact we got married didn’t change a whole lot in our relationship. We’ve slept in the same bed in Cali for 7 years. I like sleeping in my own bed in Newton. But, as our anniversary is imminent, Stina decides to break our streak and sleeps over on the night of the 1st. She wants to wake up together. Ok. I understand. This will greatly improve the odds that I’ll get laid. Too bad she decided to do this after the hottest, most humid day of the week. Not the most successful night of sleep. Or sex for that matter. But at least we wake up together. And gripe about how uncomfertable we are.

Stina decided we should go out to a fancy lunch on our anniversary. She did a bunch of research. Found that many places were closed on Monday, especially on the holiday weekend. We eventually decide on some Malaysian place. After running some concert related errands (food and drink) we say f the Malaysian place and go to Jonny’s Lunchenette. We both have coffee milkshakes. Life is good. It’s even better with bacon – which I fully indulged in.

We get on the road. By the time we are getting close to Hartford, we see some streak lightning. Not the best sign. We park the car in a sweet spot in a $10 lot (yup – look at me – paying for convenience) and begin to meander through the ‘lot scene’. Not the greatest, but not the worst either. Its starts to pour for about 15 minutes. Stina buys a $3 parker. Through our wandering, we run across some people selling tickets. Some dude is selling pavilion seats (which he claims are really good) at face. We buy them, and sell our lawn seats to the dude next to him. Aww yeah, trade up. Rain stops – we do some shopping. Lots of bumper stickers. An example of Stina thinking: she knows that our current car won’t last more then a couple more years, so she has us buy multiple sets of stickers, so we’ll be prepared for our new ride. I would of never thought of that – but I love it. Who knows when our next east coast lot scene will be?

We’ve traveled the lot – time to head in. The lawn is emptyish and inviting, so we setup camp there. Phil and Friends are first on the bill. Phil is Phil Lesh, bassist for the Grateful Dead. He puts together a somewhat different band for most of his tours. They play a mellow 55 minute set, full of tunes I don’t know. I sit on the lawn, take in the eye candy, and have a nice smile on my face. This is what summer is all about. Chillin on the lawn, taking in the good vibes. Then they take a short set break. I guess the slide guitar guy (Barry Sleiss I think) has some technical difficulties. It starts to Rain. The band starts to come out. No problem, lets head to our seats. Which turn out to be like 10th row! First song they start with: Shakedown Street. We used to live in a house named Shakedown Street – this song, which is pretty bumpin’, has sentimental meaning to us. We are elated. It seems especially rockin – why? Holy shit. Trey Anastasio (guitarist for Phish, and for the next band on the bill) has come out, to replace the slide guitarist. And he’s in complete control of the 7 or so piece band. He totally dominates, pushing the band in all sorts of new directions for the entire set. He’s having a blast. I’m having a blast. Everyone’s having a blast. This kicks total ass. Waaaaay higher energy second set. And we’re taking this in from the 10th row. This is what we live for. Totally unexpected. After 1 hr 20 min set, its over. Phil is beaming. Hugs all around on the stage – they all know that was pretty special.

Another set change. The band coming up is called G.R.A.B – its a band called the duo, with Mike Gordan (bass player from Phish) and Trey. So what we have here is the basic formation of Phish – guitar, bass (both actually from Phish), keys and drums. They play a bunch of Trey songs. We’ll I’ll be damned, its sounds a lot like Phish. They do some phishesque jams. They play some G.R.A.B originals and covers. You can sometimes hear the duo influenced sound, but sometimes they just sound like a jam band. Which happens to be very phishy in nature. Whatever – its fun. They can all really play. And they do. And we soak it in. From the 10th row.

Then it’s all over. We head back to the car. Right through the little shakedown that’s setup. Stina buys some fresh french bread pepperoni pizza. Its too crunchy she says. I’m delighted to be gifted with a pepperoni french bread pizza. She finds a chicken pita something that makes her happy. My pizza has disappeared. Oh wait, I ate it. Before we got to the car. It was so good. We are both feeling like we had a fantastic 2nd anniversary.

I have a great amount of photo documentary of this day. But I’m 3000 miles away from the cable that I need. So maybe I’ll update later with some pics. I will also be scouring the net when I return to SF for the show. I saw 15-20 tapers setup on the lawn. That second set from Phil and Friends was freaking amazing. Highly recommended.



Extreme Pool

Last night, we continued the several day celebration which is our second wedding anniversary (which is actually July 3rd). I’m psyched that my brother has moved back to Boston. It enabled both familys in their entirety to go out for Dinner together last night.

I was able to eat more seafood. I was shocked when my brother ordered a shrimp appetizer. As far I knew, nor him nor my wife ate seafood. Nor, I say. Twice. He pointed out that there was lots of garlic on his plate, which I surmised acts as a prime enabler for him. I pointed out that the garlic was dwarfed by the enormous pieces of shrimp. In the end, I was happy to eat some. Which is neither here nor there. Yes, be prepared for serious digression. Welcome to stream of thoughtville. Population: you. Or: me. Its unclear.

Anyhow, post dinner everyone went back to their suburb. Except me, because I can now hang with my Brother in Boston. Which I don’t think I’ve ever really done. Sadly, growing up in a suburb 10 mins for Boston, I’ve never really went in to Boston for an evening out. So here we are, in the middle of the North End, which is rockin’, and I suggest we go shoot pool. We amble over to “Racks” near Faneuil Hall. There’s a 5 dollar cover. In the interests of instant gratification and the fact that we are already there, we pay 5 dollars. Turns out to be a bit more then a pool hall – its a club. Their distinction from other clubs is that they have maybe 15 pool tables. We ask for table. Their all full. I want to be put on a list. There is no list. You just have to hang out and wait. Fine. I get some drinks, go to the bathroom. On the way back from the shitter I see someone about to return their balls. Thats right, I said balls. So I follow said duder, and speak with the lady about getting a table. No problem. Then she asks me to sign this waiver: so if a celebrity comes by, they have the right to knock us off the table. Okaaaaaaay. Whatever. I want to shoot pool.

We get this table which is near a bunch of upscale booths. They are playing some loud ass R & B. Thankfully, I have my magical ear plugs. At one end of the table, you look directly towards the dance floor. Which has a fancy light setup, complete with strobes and spinning lights, rendering me somewhat blind. As I continue to shoot some of the worst pool of my life, people start to fill up theses booths. Then people gather near the booth people on the floor. Right in the way of our pool game. My brother thinks people are checking me out – I look so out of place in this club, that people figure I must be a celebrity.

Two drinks later, we are absolutely done. We return our balls, and the lady gives my brother back his credit card. She says she didn’t charge him. Wow. That was unexpected, and made the whole experience much more worth while.



In laws = In Effect

A trip home wouldn’t be complete without the requisite day out with my in-laws. Its often a dinner and a movie. I saw all the lord of the rings with them. And they like to celebrate and take us to nice places for dinner. Its always a good time. Today, we decided to forgo that tradition, and visit the Harpoon brewery. Where they have 7 beers that we can sample. All we want.

Best. Tour. Ever. The tour was maybe 5 minutes long. The dude yelled for while in the loud room about yeast and stuff. This after I liberally sampled 6 different beers. Nothing but smiles for Jimmy.

Then instead of going out to dinner, we returned to the Ruddens for a suprise. They had a clam bake delivered to their house. They knew that:

a. I’ve never been to a clam bake before.
b. I really want to go to a clam bake.

so, as special treat, they had one delivered.

It was the best seafood meal I’ve ever had in my life. Clam chowder, tha BOMB steamers, and then a lobster. All fresh. All totally delicious.

Oh man. They treat me good over there. And I get to live with their daughter.




Keyboard sweat

The east coast is a funny place. Not sure if its “Ha ha” funny, but more “watching the neighbor get it hit in the groin with a tennis ball funny”. It would be particularly funny if that actually happened, since my next door neighbor is David Ortiz. There’s nothing as funny as seeing a pro ball player getting nailed in the nitters. By a tennis ball that I threw. Sorry, I digress. . .

I grew up in a suburb of Boston called Newton. And now I’m back there, for a visitation with the folks. It’s also somewhat convenient that my (now) wife grew up a mile away from my house. And, for the time being, everyone’s staying put. There was a whole scare a couple months ago that Stina’s folks were moving to NY, but after selling a lot of their worldly possessions in preparation for the move, they thankfully bailed on that idea. We always travel back for the X-mas holidays (being the good jew that I am), and sporadically during the summer. I forget that California is basically a desert. Because I get off the plane, and I start sweating. There’s this “humidity”, and my body freaks out. So my wrists stick unpleasantly to my laptop, my trackball jumps around a bit, and everything smells of “its about to rain.”

Its always good to come back home. We have cable here. And an enormous collection of Robert B Parker and Dick Francis books. A super lazy, hella fat cat that runs away if I look at her. A fabulous grand piano which remains silent unless I’m around. Mom always makes cookies. My childhood friends come over, gather in my basement, eat all the cookies, and try to make a dent in our giant costco soda collection. We pour some on the ground for old times sake.



Tenacious Bike Thief

Maybe two months ago, someone broke into our apt building and stole our neighbors really nice bike. They cut through an enormous chain lock. Its sucked.

About two weeks ago, Stina (my lovely wife) very abruptly decided to run a triatholon (she says she’s doing a tri – I guess that makes more sense since running is only one of three segments: running, biking, and swimming). Now, we are not prone to perform tasks of extreme physical abilities. Thus, this was kinda of a shocking decision. But go Stina! Fear not – I have pledged not to run a single mile with her.

So she’s been amassing all sorts of fancy sporting equipment. Its rather intimidating, and out of place in our apartment. The piece de resistance: a new fancy bike. Our good friends run a bike shop, and sold us a fancy u-lock that cannot be cut or pried open. So we lock it to the railing that runs along our stairwell.

Our neighborhood bike thief returns yesterday morning (around 5:45 am, we learned after talking to folks in our building) to augment his meager income. Does our unbreakable lock deter him? Nope. We wake up to find that a section of the railing was cut out.

Now that’s fucked up.



Muppets + Satan = Good times!

Last night I took my friend Sarah to a show at the Independent. I took her to celebrate her performance in a voice recital earlier that day, and because I figured she’d love the opener. The show was the Dead Hensons (a muppets and sesame street cover band) and Hurra Torpedo (a band that uses kitchen appliances for percussion).

Now this is a fairly atypical show for me. I’m a big live music fan. I go to see a lot of shows. Most of the shows I attend are jam band/funk – where I’m really honing in on the musicality, and less on visual stimulus of the band. This was a show where it was more a total sensory experience – the antics/costumes of the performers, lots of banter, and enthusiasm while playing.

So here were, grooving to 1,2,3 4,5 6,7,8,9,10 11 12. Can’t keep the smile off my face. The audience eats it up. There’s a massive kick line forming right infront of us. The band (at least 8 of them) were incredibly warm and loving. They did a lot of instrument switching. A short, but lively set. You can see why they have a loyal fan base. Its hard not to feel good while they’re playing.

Set change. A bunch of beaten up dishwashers, stoves, and other appliances fill the stage. Three huge Norwegian dudes in matching blue tracks suits enter the stage. Their pants do not cover their bare asses. Then the proceeded to go INSANE. There is no way I could ever accurately portray the level of insanity that occurred on stage. Lots of screaming and flailing. A seriously evil cover of a Britney Spears song. Some honoring of Satan. These were some FUCKED UP dudes. Again, and somewhat suprisingly, the audience ate them up. People went nuts.

I felt like I really was witnessing something special, something I’ll never see again. Mostly because I can’t believe these guys will survive much longer. Their bodies will just cave at some point.