Day 2



I think I just died and went to heaven. I just spent an entire day in a CD shop and still didn’t manage to completely explore it. Amoeba Music is on Haight St — the former centre of hippiedom — and has to be one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It is in a former bowling alley and the CDs stretch as far as the eye can see. It claims to stock over a million CDs although now I have visited I doubt this is still the case. And they are all so cheap — almost everything is under US$15 and I picked up lots of really good ones for only US$2. I was particularly impressed by how well represented Melbourne (and Aussie generally) bands were — there were CDs here that you probably wouldn’t find in JB. Anyway, after seven hours there, with but a half hour break for lunch I was just about musicked out, so wandered down Haight St to a real ale pub/brewery my dad had recommended.

Haight St is something of a bittersweet place these days. It still harks back to the Summer of Love, now the best part of 40 years ago. There are shops full of bongs, tie-dye and everything else you might associate with hippies. It still has the colourfulness and easy-going attitude that were the hallmarks of those days. But, in what must be one of the greatest strengths of capitalism — turning any anti-capitalist movement into a new way to make money — it is no longer about pure motives, it is about the green stuff (cash, not hash). The most melancholic part is all the homeless people — largely those so acid-fucked that they still think it is 1967 and that it is only a matter of time before they bring down the Man. SF has a massive homeless problem — something you’d normally associate with a mega-city like NY or LA rather than one with fewer than a million people. It makes what happened in New Orleans seem a lot more plausible if even a relatively well-off city like San Francisco can have such poverty.

Anyway, back to the pub. I was sitting there reading my copy of the Onion (which I’d never realised was available in print) when looking through the gig guide I saw that tonight Alasdair Roberts was playing in a pub downtown. He, in particular his album Farewell Sorrow, has been one of my favourite artists for the last year or so. (He plays traditional British folk, as opposed to Alternative folk which is what I mainly listen to in the genre.) And despite having scoured both the internet and, since I arrived, the street press for every concert that was on while I was here I was finding out about it in a satirical newspaper. There is just so much happening here — of the seven nights I am in SF I am going to gigs for five of them with three of them by bands that would make my ‘gigs of the year’ list in Melbourne — that some little known folk dude from Scotland falls through the cracks. So, instantly recovering from my musicked-outness, I rushed across to the other side of town, again blessing this city’s wonderful public transport system. The gig was amazing. It was in the tiny back room of a pub holding barely 50 people and two of the supports — Marissa Nadler and Jack Rose — were almost as brilliant as Alasdair Roberts. It is just as well I live in the backwater of Melbourne because I don’t think either my bank account or my relationship with Gisela could survive a music scene like San Francisco’s.


3 Responses to “Day 2”

  1. How big is the printed Onion? Do they have heaps more content or is it quite slim?

    San Francisco sounds a dangerous place to start a holiday for you. Don’t go running out of money before you do everything else. I’ve an image of you begging for money to get home but always wasting it on more CDs.

  2. 36 tabloid size pages of which the first 12 are satire, the rest being music/movies/games. All the satire is on the website apart from a couple of local SF articles.

    Wasting?! What are you talking about? How can you describe John Vanderslice’s latest work as a waste? Fortunately, I only have my money for the US accessible. I am picking up the rest in the UK. So at worst it will just be the streets of NY I have to beg, and I am sure those small town folk will be happy to help.

  3. It’s nice being able to fiddle with this website and change the dates of comments.

    On an unrelated point: Happy Birthday, Andrew! I hope what it lacked in house-parties it made up for in touristey goodness. If I’d been late saying this I’d apologise deeply but as you can see from the date of this comment, I wasn’t.