N1 Hot Takes fm a Phish Dick’s Noob

Newness! What’s this? Who’s that? Waaa??? Huh!

10th Anniversary for the band, and many phans. A first trip for yours truly.
  • Two miles to the venue? Sure, I’ll walk. Suburban North Denver; the sun; almost no food or grocery stores; more sun; there it is, just beyond this empty field! Whew… made it.
  • Vax check line: a bit long, moved very fast, barely barricaded and no security (easy to cut past the one person checking cards/IDs)… done in 6 minutes.
  • Shakedown? Keep hearing the word but no idea where it sprouted.
  • Gates open, line moving! That’s a fast line. OK, I’ll jump in.
  • Much faster than Shoreline…
  • “Take your ticket out of your laniard.” Hmm, OK. Whaaaaat?! She just marked my PTBM art with a sharpie! Damn. They all have sharpies at the gate. WTF? Doesn’t your scan cancel the ticket?
  • An English themed sports bar at the stadium. OK. Fish and chips? Nah. Chicken pie and chips?! Why yes, thank you.
  • Hmm, where did my bottle of water go? And my hand sanitizer? Oops!
  • Dick’s is a soccer field. The pitch is covered with plastic flooring. Guess they have a machine that rolls it out.
  • What?! Purchased water and no cap? Hate that. I’ll hide it under the disabled seating area.
  • Woah! There’s Tom Marshall, drinking a Coors. I ask the Bryce crew if any of them know him. None do. I just glance from a distance at the “mighty legend formed”.
  • That was a fun “Carini”.
  • “Chalk Dust” not my favorite, but I wandered up to the rail (the barrier at the stage) Page side, stood behind the folks getting the lyrics signed to them from two folks, and actually enjoyed it.
  • Ack! The cigarette smoke. Everywhere. Must avoid it. Wander. Think of a place. Oooh, here’s an open area where I can take off the mask. Annnd, about 6 smokers all around. Ahhhh, here’s a seat Page side with no one around. Fresh air at last!
  • Where did the Bryce crew go? Cannot find any of them. Phone not working well. Hover outside Gate E away from a second line band (and too closely packed people). No word from my ride back. I start walking….
  • Hello, hotel room. That cool walk back much nicer than the sunny one…
  • Chill with boring TV….. read a little…. zzzzzzzzz…..

Never Underestimate a Water Balloon Slingshot

Then one of the guys I didn’t know asked, “You think we can hit the wrestlers with a balloon?” The general response was, “There’s no way one of us can shoot a ballon that far. Let’s try it!”

After over 30 years, I think I can safely tell this story to the public. During my sophomore year at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, I almost got a beat down Mid-Atlantic Wrestling style. Some details, and names, are hazy, but there are parts I’m retelling that I will never forget.

One lazy afternoon, most likely in 1989, I had nothing to do on the Wofford campus. A freshman, I think named Bill, asked me if I’d like to check out a guy’s water balloon slingshot. I’d never heard of that kind of slingshot before, so instantly said “Yes!” We walked over to the Wightman dormitory, which had open hallways, like a motel, that faced into campus on one side and over the shared parking lot of the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on the other.

We walked up about four flights on the auditorium side and saw two or three Wofford guys standing around a marvelous apparatus. The water balloon slingshot was basically surgical tubing, most likely stolen from the science lab, tied off of two vertical support posts, with some kind of pocket in the middle that held the balloons. These guys were slinging water balloons onto cars in the parking lot. I’d say the range was maybe a few hundred feet; about halfway into the fairly large parking lot.

It looked fun, so Bill and I tried a few to see how it worked. My try wasn’t that good: the balloon didn’t go that far into the lot and it totally missed what I was aiming at. “You’ll get better with practice,” someone told me.

At some point during our senseless fun, three pro wrestlers walked out of the back exit of the auditorium far up on the other side of the parking lot. I only remember the two legends: Roddy Piper and Ric Flair. We stopped slinging the balloons and had a moment of starstruck awe. Wrestling gods, in the flesh and just chatting behind the auditorium.

Then one of the guys I didn’t know asked, “You think we can hit the wrestlers with a balloon?” The general response was, “There’s no way one of us can shoot a ballon that far. Let’s try it!”

I cannot remember who pulled the slingshot back, possibly a second person helped, but I do remember that we opened a dorm room door to pull the slingshot further back to make the extra distance across the parking lot.

With no real way to aim, a direct shot on Piper and Flair was remote and against the odds. When the balloon was launched, we all watched with low expectations. It went past the middle of the lot where we were hitting cars. It kept going over the other cars, towards the exit where the wrestlers were talking. Then, the small dot of a balloon, most likely red or blue or white, headed directly looked to keenly home in on Ric Flair and Roddy Piper!

AND IT WAS A ONE IN A MILLION DIRECT HIT!

“Holy shit, you hit them!” someone shouted. 

As time slowed down, Piper and Flair literally didn’t know what hit them. The “punch” was wet and there were rubbery bits all over their splashed faces and clothes. Like they tend to do, Piper and Flair went from a friendly chat to being 100% pissed off. As we stood frozen hundreds of feet away and watched, they looked towards Wightman. From all that distance, they made eye contact with us.

“Take this slingshot down now!” one of us screamed. It was too late, because Piper and Flair were point at us and screaming. We couldn’t hear them, but I clearly saw what Flair’s mouth said: “We’re going to f—king kill you!!” 

“What the hell do we do?!” someone asked.

“Split up and hide! Run!” someone answered. 

As the wrestlers ran across the parking lot to beat our asses, and probably send us to the ER, we took the slingshot down and ran into one of the guy’s dorm rooms. What Piper and Flair didn’t know was that the Wightman rooms were in suites: four different rooms shared a toilet and shower in the middle. Fortunately, we ran into the room where the wrestlers knew we were and went on the other side of the dorm through another room’s open door.

We didn’t bother to explain to them what was happening, but did manage to tell them “don’t open the doors! Don’t open the doors!” We split up and I ran with Bill and a few guys that hastily pulled their dorm room keys out of their pockets. We ran down the hall into one of their rooms and hid. Maybe the other guy split off and went to his own room. I recall trying to hide under a bed, but it was a wooden bed frame like you see in hotels. Instead, we cowered in the dark and shut the hell up.

For a good 20 minutes, Piper and Flair (and the third guy) slammed on doors and yelled “Come out and get a beating, you bastards!” “We know who you are! We’re going to be waiting for you!” Eventually, after final threats and insults, they left.

Out of the group that I hid with, I was the only one that lived in another dorm. My peers weren’t going anywhere soon, but I had to leave at some point! My memory is vague, but I left well after dark. I may have changed into a shirt that Bill loaned me. I went down a different exit on the campus side and took a very long route to my dorm.

Looking over my shoulder and under every bush, I never saw Piper and Flair, and didn’t want to. I told myself that they wouldn’t hide behind bushes; they had better things to do. I didn’t take any chances during my fast walk and was glad that I got through that with my face and ribs intact.

***

I have told this story for years. You may not believe it, which makes sense. Like that moment when the launched balloon hit two wrestling legends, I still ask “how could that have possibly happened?” Yet when Ric Flair wiped the water and balloon bits off his face, tensed up in anger and screamed at being assaulted by a strange object, I’ll never forget what I thought: “That REALLY happened… and they’re going beat the shit out of us!” Did I learn a lesson form this experience? Beyond believing that miracles happen in twos, not really.

7 Ways to Get Some Cackalacky, San Francisco Style

Howdy! I’m Russell and I’m a South Carolina native. My roots are all over the Palmetto State, but I’ve called San Francisco home since 1997. After I moved here, I created this very site, which I called a fake travel agency, as a way to entice my Carolina friends and cousins to come out and see me.

If you’re from South or North Carolina, and were lucky enough to get a rare ticket to the Super Bowl, welcome to San Francisco. I don’t think this city compares to any city back home, and you will certainly see more protesting (and here) than you ever have (we aren’t that happy with our mayor, SFPD chief, and all the apparent corruption that helped build these new, shiny skyscrapers). Once you’ve been to Super Bowl City – which is NOT local SF – I thought I’d give you all a list of San Franciscan-related Carolina tourist sites to visit during all that other time you have on your hands. They’re mostly connected to South Carolina. I’m sorry to say that North Carolina gets the short end of the stick here in the City by the Bay.

First, let me go ahead and warn you that most Californians have NO IDEA that there are even TWO Carolinas. And you’ll have to tell folks you’re from the Southeast, because coming from the South in Northern California means you live in Los Angeles, San Diego, etc. And don’t expect to find any decent sweet iced tea here either. A few places get close, but I make my own if I want the real, teeth-aching deal.

OK. Let’s get to some fun, quirky, out-of-the Super Bowl City/Union Square/Fisherman’s Wharf, Carolina-related places for you to drag your lazy ass around to if you’re here for the Super Bowl:

Continue reading “7 Ways to Get Some Cackalacky, San Francisco Style”

Panopticonic Shrugs in the Snowden-net

Almost March and no posts for the new year. I have felt eyes upon all corners of my privacy so haven’t felt too inspired to spend time staring at a screen and writing. I don’t know what think. My mind is blown. I have become introverted. I deleted email accounts. Changed passwords (so many hacked bank and store sites). Have a 2D avatar. If anything, stencils. Meeting up with friends has become important.

With gentrification comes cameras. Cameras on MUNI buses (at least 4, one pointing out the windshield, with one purpose: get evidence and write tickets for cars that park in bus stops). Cameras on bikes (thanks GoPro). Cameras on sidewalks in front of condos, and people constantly staring at cameras -er – cell phones.

The eye stares far and wide!

I am currently reading Glenn Greenwald’s “No Place to Hide” and the book’s statements make me furious. It’s a hard book to read. Fucking NSA! I never thought I’d feel a generation gap, but I feel one now. The Gen Web young adults have a very different idea of what privacy is. And I guess I like to keep it old school, i.e., “butt out of my private life.” Continue reading “Panopticonic Shrugs in the Snowden-net”

Intersection Watching: Amazed at the Chaos

I’m going to miss bike commuting the first few blocks of Sansome St. in San Francisco’s Financial District. That’s right – the nonprofit that I work for is going to move to downtown Oakland in the next three months. We are fleeing the booming high-rent space ($52/square foot in our current building) in order to grow and have the extra funds to support the growth. I may write more about my first ever desk job in Oakland, but for now – the poetic chaos of Sansome Street.

The yellow highlighted area marks the main stretch of my commute that fascinates me twice daily.
The yellow highlighted area marks the main stretch of my commute that fascinates me twice daily.

I frequently discuss traffic with a friend who happens to drive for Lyft (and Uber) and write freelance. During one of these discussions, I shared a story about how an Uber limo driver decided to drive around a Muni bus and the three cars stuck behind it. You may see a driver make this maneuver in other parts of San Francisco. On Sansome St., the Uber driver drove into the oncoming lane, into a gridlocked intersection, and only had an option of turning right (Muni buses can turn left and then zag right onto Market St. while all other traffic must turn right onto Sutter St.). Continue reading “Intersection Watching: Amazed at the Chaos”

An Obituary for CELLspace

Written by Devin Holt (I pitched in with info, editing, and whatnot)

CELLspace, community arts center, closed its doors at the end of 2012.

During the late 90s and early aughts, there was no better place to see the Mission District’s artistic, multicultural vibe than CELLspace. San Francisco prankster Chicken John was known to decorate the 10,000 square foot warehouse as a Las Vegas casino; the Flaming Lotus Girls created their first large scale fire installations in the CELLspace Metal Shop, and during Carnaval, the space would burst at the seams from the ritual drumming, colorful rattling costumes and sheer number of teenagers involved in groups like Loco Bloco and Danza Azteca.

Michael Sturtz was so impressed by CELLspace that he named his industrial arts school, The Crucible, after their art gallery.

“The name was inspired by the Crucible Steel Gallery, which was the CELLspace gallery at the time,” he said. Continue reading “An Obituary for CELLspace”

27 Sep: The Critical Mass Birthday Party

critical-mass-20th-birthday-party

Bikes, Bands, and Brews
The Critical Mass 20th Birthday Party

Live bands – check. Beer – check. Bikes – hell yeah!
Rock your way into Friday and help build the momentum towards the Interstellar Critical Mass.
Got SUV pinatas? Birthday cupcakes? A bike crew? Bring it if you wanna…

PERFORMING LIVE:
Grass Widow (grasswidow.org)
Apogee Sound Club
The Rabbles (therabbles.wordpress.com/)
Future Twin (futuretwin.com)

Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012
7pm to 1am
21+
$10 – $20* sliding scale
*door proceeds cover costs of event; profits go to the bands… please give generously if you can

CELL
2050 Bryant 
(b/t 18th and 19th sts)
SF, CA 94110

also:
bike stencils by Mission legend Scott Williams
DIY culture share… sell your bike-themed wares ($10 extra at door, byo table, while space lasts)

http://www.sfcriticalmass.org/

Hunting for Groucho on the Edge of Gas Town

Found Groucho’s book up in Vancouver. I first went to a used bookstore with books piled to the ceiling. “Now, I don’t put Groucho in the humour section,” the old worker said. “I put him in the Hollywood section.” Wasn’t sure if he was trying to be funny, until he walked me over to the piles of books about movie stars.

They had no copy of the particular book I wanted in either section. This put the number of book stores with no copy to about 6 total (SF and Vancouver combined). I leave the piles, and the aggressive hobo guy with an unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

Just up the street was another bookstore. Walking in, I heard two employees discussing something under the rattle of a jack hammer. Just behind the till, on the other side of the shelved wall, a jack hammer vibrated the whole store. It was like having a loud drunk as a third party to the conversation.

Male Employee: “Oh, boy. My neighbors at home are doing construction. Starts early in the morning. I’m getting here and there!”
Female Emp: “This is fucking driving me crazy! We start a bathroom remodel next week so I’m going to get it here and there too!”
They pause. Then she says, “they’ve been pounding the same part of the wall for weeks now. What the hell are they doing over there?”

… all the while, classical music sheepishly peeps through their stereo.

I find the book, the 1993 edition, and pay way too much for it. I don’t mind, since I’m feeding the local economy and not getting the book mailed to me. Cash feels good in the hand, and in the till. A book on a flight home will feel even better.
“I would browse some more, but I think I’ll buy this and flee,” I remark under the metal and concrete racket.
“Wish I could flee,” the guy states. We pause so that the hammer can add emphasis to his point.

I accidentally give the guy an Australian coin that’s mixed in with my Canadian change.
When I pull out the bill, the guy says, “Hope you don’t plan on paying in pesos.”
“No,” I remark, popping the bill out in front of him. “I don’t think Mexico has the Queen on their tender.”

I hastily exit the store, unlock my bike, and take a glance at the building above them. Jack hammers are going in other parts of the building. It will probably be another condo after the remodel. For now it is the din and debris of “progress” above a musty smelling, but neatly organized, (and LOUD) book store. Continue reading “Hunting for Groucho on the Edge of Gas Town”

A Day on MUNI

Devin talked about his plan since early 2012. He initially planned to ride MUNI buses, trains, and cable cars for 24 hours on Friday, March 16. After I told him that that was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, he realized that the drunk and stupid quotient would be up. He postponed the ride to June 8.

I told him I’d love to ride along a bit, so Devin decided to eat lunch, a sandwich he made that morning, in my hood. I sometimes leave my phone off all morning so missed his texts (he had his phone off for most of the ride). He buzzed at the front door, took a quick WC break, and I joined him. We walked down to Divis and spent his break at Cafe Abir. We hopped the 24 and rode it to the end of the line on Fillmore. Caught the 10 and meandered through Pac Heights, Chinatown, North Beach, and then down into the Financial District. I hopped off at Market and caught a Fulton 5 back home to do some work.

He mentions the woman we met on the 10. He does no mention the joke she told us:

Three Italian sons move to the USA to succeed in life. The first one makes money and buys their mother a house in Italy. She replies, “Thanks for the house.” The second son makes his money and buys their mom a car and a driver. “You do too much. I let the driver go,” their mom said. The third son succeeded and wanted to buy their mother the most exotic bird he could find. So he bought her a parrot and shipped it to Italy for her. His mother sent him a note, which read:

“What a lovely gift. The chicken tasted terrific.”

Anyway, I snapped a pic of Devin during his travels. And he’s begun to post stories from the 20+ pages of notes he jotted down.
Glad I got to enjoy about two hours of his 24 total.

devin-on-muni Continue reading “A Day on MUNI”

Month of Blog: Learning Points

Here we are, four weeks later and the Month of Blog is complete. What do I have to show for a month of focusing on retro content, even without the daily link to the current networking site(s) of choice?

  • Well, I can optimistically say that my brain thinks less in the framework of “I should post that on Face Book.” Good to know that the billboards of my mind have been cut down by the chainsaws of indy-driven content.
  • I had some moments at the beginning where I was ahead of the daily postings and I had some moments here and there where I missed a day and had to back date a post (this just happened today).
  • I enjoyed taking what interested me and putting it in the context of daily posts rather than Face Book or Flickr’ing the content. There’s liberation in not posting to a feed-driven site, where one can get lost in the chatter. There’s freedom from looking at one’s personal content that is not in the framework of a clean, yet bloated, framework.
  • My brain and social network didn’t implode because of less activity on the corporate social sites.
  • I did have a few instances of not having much to say, but enjoyed posting random content that filled the gaps.
  • I realized that my webstats site is not that user friendly for a moderate blogger. Urchin 6 needs to give me graphs and more dumbed down stats!
  • Photos, thoughts, dreams, lines, stencils, politics, remembrances, music, creations … I hope you enjoyed rattling around my brain for a month straight without distractions from all the other tickers of brain rattlings.

And what about the future?

As I continue to feel ODd on FaceBook, I will continue to go retro and blog. But I doubt I’ll keep up the daily postings. This has been a refreshing exercise in mind and thought liberation.

Thank you for your participation!

Critical Mass:20 … Welcome to San Francisco!

When I moved to SF in August of 1997, I didn’t know anybody or anything. Looking back, I see myself back then as a soft-skinned rube (which I was) who had landed into an alien land of an edgy, left-leaning city full of kooks, freaks, radicals, burners, and all manner of people from all corners of the globe and economic scale. Boom times were happening back then, and not just for the dot coms and investment banks. Burning Man had just had a wild week in the desert and gained national attention exactly a year before my arrival. Back East, it was a blip on the CNN feeds. (here’s a little video taste of the Cacophony Society’s Burning Man 1996). And only a month prior to my landing in SF, an entity called Critical Mass had been harassed and roughed up by Mayor Willie Brown and the SFPD. (see a video of this event here).

I only knew about Critical Mass from picking up the latest copy of the SF Bay Guardian my first ever Wednesday in the City. They had an intense photo of cyclists getting arrest, their bikes impounded, for no real reason than being in a huge bike ride that defied any type of control. Being a cyclist in the Southeast, which meant that I rarely rode on paved roads for fear of being killed by car drivers who felt that they owned ALL of the pavement, I was instantly inspired by Critical Mass.

So, on the last Friday of August 1997, I hopped a MUNI bus down to Justin Herman Plaza to see what the hell this monthly activity was all about. I didn’t have my bike. I didn’t know anyone who would loan me one, and I couldn’t afford to rent one. So I showed up to find thousands of cyclists, piles of riot cops, media and cop helicopters, and a general sense of fun an celebration. I walked through the mass of riders, waiting to wander off into the city to cause mayhem with the Friday car commute home, with amazement. I’d never seen so many bikers in my life. Continue reading “Critical Mass:20 … Welcome to San Francisco!”

The Other 4/20: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

While plums of purple haze drift over the City from Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill, let us not ever forget the unfortunate disaster that is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The human deaths on this day in 2009 were a tragedy, the aftermath is yet another sad example of our capacity to shit where we eat.

Earthjustice Blog posted a great page with news about the spill.

Dead dolphins keep washing up on shore in unprecedented numbers. Oil-coated coral reefs are dying in the deepwater. Eyeless shrimp and crabs with holes in their shells are showing up in relatively empty fishing nets while killifish, a minnow-like fish at the base of the food chain, show signs of chemical poisoning.

And critics say offshore drilling safety and oversight remains woefully lacking.

Meanwhile, coalitions continue to form and grow against fracking, the Alberta Oil Sands (and the Keystone XL pipeline), arctic drilling. In the past two years, fracking has caused earth quakes, the Keystone pipeline as not approved, yet arctic drilling is about to begin. I cannot imagine an oil spill in the rugged Arctic Ocean.

That would be an even worse disaster than in the Gulf, if that can even be calculated in terms of destruction upon the Earth.