Archive for the ‘Agouti archives’ Category

Fabulous Disaster Interview (June 2003 issue)

August 13, 2008

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Juggie speaks with Natalie and Mr. Nancy before one of their recent SF shows.

Jughead went to Bottom of the Hill and spoke with Lynda Mandolyn, guitarist and vocalist for Fabulous Disaster, before the band’s final show with lead singer Laura Litter. Occasionally, bassist Mr. Nancy would pass through and install two cents’ worth of deadpan regarding their recent tour of Europe promoting their latest album, Panty Raid!, the future of the band without Litter and cat daycare.

You guys just came back from Europe; how did that go?

Lynda: It was amazing; it was like one of the best tours we ever did. We did a two-week club tour on our own. We toured with some really cool European bands, and on May 28 we caught up with the Deconstruction Tour, which is like Europe’s answer to the Warped Tour, and it was amazing. We played with a lot of great bands and a lot of great people.

So you’ve been to Europe before?

Lynda: We’ve been to Europe every year for the last four years.

How long has the band been together?

Lynda: We just turned 5.

What was the best part of the European tour?

Lynda: Italy and France especially were great; we were mobbed.

What’s it like dealing with the euro?

Lynda: It’s actually a lot more convenient for everything to be in the same currency — although switzerland, they still have the Swiss franc, and of course, the UK still has the pound… I used to love all the different currencies because all the money was really beautiful.

Do any of the band members speak any foreign languages?

Lynda: I speak German, sorta.

Does it help when you’re in Europe?

Lynda: Oh yeah. For the most part people speak English (though).

You got to play with NOFX on the Deconstruction Tour.

Lynda: Yeah, a lot of shows. Great… very great. On the Deconstruction Tour I joined them on guitar for a song for like five shows. I was rockin’ out with 12,000 screaming NOFX fans.

Are they as much fun as they seem?

Lynda: They’re awesome, and their new album rocks. That’s my boss; hi Mike!

Does the band really call him “Daddy”?

Lynda: Yes.

So I read on the Web site that this is Laura’s last show with the band.

Lynda: True. Today is her last show.

What does this mean for Fabulous Disaster?

Lynda: We’re going to go on as a band. And we’re gonna find a new lead singer and stuff. We have some people in mind already.

Care to name any names?

Lynda: Um, not at this present time. We’re a little sad she is leaving, but she wants to do her thing, and we want to continue.

How does this affect a new album? Will there be one?

Lynda: Of course there’s going to be another album. Sally and I are already writing a lot of stuff. We are actually going to do a show at the end of the month as a three-piece.

As an active participant in the local music scene, how come I had never heard of you until Panty Raid! was released? I should have seen you all at a show by now, right?

Lynda: We played a lot of local shows, but we are on the road a lot. We try not to spread ourselves too thin here, you know. In San Francisco we don’t do all that great. I mean, we always do great at Bottom of the Hill (Mr. Nancy tends bar there), but at other clubs we like, it’s not really… you have to go outside your own backyard to be appreciated.

What is it like to open for The Dictators?

Lynda: Awesome, they’re legends. I love ’em.
Lynda (to Mr. Nancy): He loves Panty Raid!

I had wanted to ask Laura whether she really likes candy as much as she says she does and was aware of November 1st.

Lynda: Oh yeah? What’s that?

It’s the day that Halloween candy is half price. Does she really carry around that much candy?

Mr. Nancy: Oh yeah, believe me, she drags around bags of it.
Lynda: She brought like 35 pounds of candy on the American tour.
Mr. Nancy: No shit, we go to lift her bag, and it’s all candy.
Lynda: Her bag was full!

Of all the bands you have toured with, what was your favorite?

Lynda: I really enjoyed playing with The Briefs. We did a cool American tour with them back in March. One of my favorite tours was with The Dickies when we played with them in Japan. Every tour we have had we had a great time. Our first long tour we did (was in 2000) with Propaghandi and Avail. We did five weeks and then we had one day off and then we went to Europe for the first time with The Mad Caddies and The Ataris. Last year we did a (U.S.) tour with NOFX and then we went back to Japan with The Dickies and then we went to Europe. This time of course we did our own club dates and stuff, but I dont know. I would have to say The Dickies or The Briefs are my favorite. And The Real McKenzies! We shared a bus with them on the Deconstruction Tour, and they’re really good friends of ours. After we got back from Europe, we did a one-month tour of canada. Ten thousand miles in a month in a minivan. They’re like our big brothers.

Have you toured all 50 states?

Lynda: Just about. I think the only two states I haven’t been in is Montana and Idaho.

What about Alaska?

Lynda: No, I haven’t been to Alaska!

So 47 then?

Lynda: Yes. Forty-seven out of 50.

Where do you do best? Where are your best fans?

Lynda: We do great in Texas.
Mr. Nancy: Green Bay.
Lynda: Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Midwest.
Mr. Nancy: Orange County.
Lynda: Yeah and the LA area. We do outstanding everywhere. (We have a) solid fan base in Germany.
Mr. Nancy: France was really good.

Who drives the van?

Lynda: Everybody but me.

Have you ever played at Gilman?

Lynda: Yes, once. We haven’t been back, but we would like to. We played with The Mad Caddies.

What sort of demographic is your fan?

Lynda: Itused to be guys, and now we’re seeing a lot more girls. That’s good that we have a diverse crowd. When we play with a lot of Fat (Wreck Chords) bands, a lot of young kids come; if we play a 21 and over show, well, of course…. We like playing for kids because they’re enthusiastic, and they buy stuff . They aren’t jaded (yet).

Are you going to do more shows or find a singer first?

Lynda: I think we might wait (after our show at the end of the month as a three-piece). I don’t want to go about it half-assed. It sounds good as a three-piece, but I really think the harmonies make the band.

You’re wearing cat ears. Are you a cat person? Do you have cats?

Lynda: Spooky and The Wizard. They’re the best thing. They make my day. When I am on the road, I miss them so bad.

Who takes care of them?

Lynda: My husband. He is a built-in babysitter.

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Hypnogaja/Sky Tyler Show Review (November 2002)

August 13, 2008

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Jughead checks out Sky Tyler and Hypnogaja last month at the Voodoo Lounge in SF.

On an October Saturday evening, I visited the Voodoo Lounge in San Francisco to see Sky Tyler and Hypnogaja open up for three other bands. The best of the night were these first two performers.

Tyler has received commercial radio airplay despite not being on a major label, which shows her talent is on the brink of superstardom. But would her style of powerful singing translate to the stage? Tonight, it did. With five backing musicians, Tyler got the evening off to a great start, exhibiting a powerful voice and tremendous range. Her six-song set was painfully short. I am sure she could have gone on forever, given the opportunity.

Tyler made the most of her time, singing some songs from her first album Now U Know, including “Tear It All Apart” and “Society Girl.” She ended with “Fireworks” and “It’s Only Sex,” a couple tracks from her upcoming album, which comes out early in 2003.

Dressed in a midriff-revealing red shirt, Tyler had the crowd’s attention with her never-tiring voice. It is too cliché to say her voice is soulful. She simply has a strong voice and the stamina to belt it out for all to hear.

After Tyler’s performance, the crowd was treated with Hypnogaja. Despite the excellent job that the sound people at The Voodoo Lounge did with Tyler, they couldn’t seem to figure out how to make Hypnogaja sound as good as they played. Everything seemed to be turned up all the way, so instead of hearing the nuances of their different songs, the attendees simply heard loud, and lots of it.

Hypnogaja did their best to overcome this inconvenience, and they appeared to win the crowd over. They played a nine-song set, all of which came from their 15-track CD, Post-Hypnotic Stress Disorder.

To say Hypnogaja is eclectic is putting it mildly. One minute, they are trying to be soulful, singing like Creed. Suddenly, here comes a dub number, and the same guy is singing on both tracks! Actually, the five-piece only has the one singer, although the keyboardist occasionally did some backing vocals.

Some tracks carried a 311 vibe, especially those with a reggae feel. Others made me think of Duran Duran. But the best track featured some harmonizing with the keyboardist and the lead singer. “Too Fast” was the name of the song, and that was how the song went; too fast. If Hypnogaja ever settled down and picked one direction to go in, it would be this way that would suit them best.

Hypnogaja finished with “Voodoo Baby.” Considering the name of the venue, they could have made a stupid pun, but really, after the first two or three tracks, the band did not speak much with the crowd. I think they wanted to make sure they got all nine of their songs in because they were only allotted about 30 minutes.

Hypnogaja would be a great party band because of their disparate song selection. Personally, I think they could benefit from being a little less diverse in their style, but a lot of people like variety, and I suppose if people want cake, then let them eat cake!

Gilli Moon Show Review (September 2002 issue)

August 13, 2008

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Jughead checks out Gilli Moon’s debut show at Club Galia in San Francisco.

Gilli Moon played in the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time July 20. As the opener at Club Galia (also on July 21 and 30), she played mostly in front of the other bands scheduled to appear that night. Club Galia is a relatively new club and so far has few regulars.

Moon (normally playing as part of a six-piece) was alone on this debut tour, and it was just her and her keyboard. Now before you go making those Tori Amos analogies, please understand the difference between the artists. Amos’ neuroticities are what make her stand out. Not to take away from her skill set, but she would seem a lot more ordinary if she were not so wacked out. The woman is crazy.

Level of composure is what sets Moon apart. Raised in Australia, but now living in Los Angeles, she is a tremendous singer with good-enough keyboard skills to perform solo. While her five bandmates were not there, she was able to symbolize their existence by putting Beanie Babie-like creatures on her monitor for us. At one point during her set, she introduced them. Two songs later, while doing a drum solo a cappella, the “drummer” fell off. After the song was over, she got up, moved “Hawk” (yes, they all had names) back next to the “guitarist,” and went back to performing for the humans in the building.

Leading off her nine-song set with “Tiny Diamonds,” Moon captivated me. With a voice so strong, it was easy to be swept up in her vocal pleasantries. Every song in the set was great. Her style forced you to think she was singing just to you. Admittedly, with the crowd so sparse, that wasn’t far from the truth, but her stage presence indicated to me she could do that in a room of thousands.

Moon also sang the title tracks of her albums, “Temperamental Angel” and “Woman,” which she just picked up at the beginning of the tour. “Hot off the presses,” as she put it. “Woman” required audience participation. With a mostly female lineup that night at Club Galia, about 75% of the audience were women as well. This made interaction with the song that much easier, as they were asked to sing back “Woman” at the appropriate times. Moon was quite the conductor, getting these women to sing on cue (and on key).

So if she is so good solo, then why have a band? Because she gets even better. One of her bandmates normally plays the keyboard, and this frees her hands to… paint. Yes, that’s right. She paints on a glass “canvas” during her performances, which she promptly washes off afterward. This sort of depressed me upon hearing it. However, she sometimes uses a real canvas if, for example, the venue can auction it off for charity.

Such gimmicks are normally reserved for someone who needs to cover up mediocre talent, but that’s not the case here. Some people really know how to focus on their strengths. A published writer, she says in her book, “I Am a Professional Artist,” that if you spend all your time working on your weaknesses, you will never be able to develop your strengths. I can see her point. Everybody has weaknesses. I have no idea what hers are, and I likely will never find out. She knows what she does well, and she blindsides you with it. Fine with me.

As cliche as it sounds, Moon is wise beyond her years. The thing is, all those cliches are true for once. Her book explains the professional side and the fun side of prioritizing your time and getting the most out of being an artist. Moon takes what should be, but normally isn’t, common sense and explains it in an efficient manner. It would be too patronizing to call her book “Artistry for Dummies,” as even the best artists stand to benefit from reading this book. But she is more than an author, as well.

She runs a record label, Warrior Girl Music, which “Woman” and “Temperamental Angel” were released on. She has a Finnish artist signed and is working on signing others. How does she manage all this and still find time to tour, yet be one of the friendliest and most selfless people I have ever met? Read her book. We all can be more efficient, but the things she has figured out will improve anyone who takes the time to read it.

Moon will play to larger and larger crowds, as the word gets out as to how talented she is. Get in on the ground floor. Check out her Web sites. See her live if she’s in your neck of the woods. You won’t regret it.

Operation Makeout Interview (July 2002 issue)

August 13, 2008

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Jughead kidnaps Operation Makeout and takes them to a Korean health food place in Downtown Oakland.

Katie (guitar, lead vocals) and Anna (drums) share a smoothie. Jesse (bass, backing vocals) has yogurt-flavored chips. We won’t get into what Jughead ate.

Jesse is the most outspoken of the bunch. He always has something clever to say. Katie and Anna are original members of the band, so they have the wisdom that is old-school Operation Makeout. Jesse at one point even calls them “OGs.” Anna is the quietest by far. “I’m just happy sitting here.”

On stage, Katie paves the way with to-the-point lyrics while Jesse runs around with his bass like a controlled lunatic. Anna fires away behind them with some of the best drumming I have seen, with her left arm held high to keep the beat, almost looking like she has a question for a teacher that only she sees. They exhibit together a cohesive talent that one rarely sees. You won’t be disappointed catching them live, as I suspected when I reviewed their EP last fall, First Base. If you like drummers, I really recommend this band because Anna is the best of an already good trio of musicians. Still, you just can’t go wrong with any of these people. Here’s the best of our 90-minute conversation:

I’ve noticed you guys play a lot of all-ages shows, which a lot of bands claim they can’t do.

Katie: It’s easy to play all ages shows in the Bay Area.
Jesse: It’s hard to find all ages places in Seattle. They have a law there that basically says you can’t have live music there without alcohol.

I see you all are wearing Chuck Taylors.

Jesse: I like them because they are only CDN$40 instead of CDN$240. And they’re not going to go out of fashion anytime soon. Because they haven’t in like 60 years.

Permanent hipness.

Jesse: Yeah. Like certain tattoos. If you got an anchor, or a heart with your mom’s name in it, you know you’ll always be cool. Because they’ve never gone out of style. Certain tattoos, they’re staples.

What kind of direction do you see the band going in?

Jesse: I don’t think with my songwriting… I dont think that it will change much for the rest of my life. Musically, we’re starting to sound more like us. Things are starting to sound more accentuated; we’re sort of coming into are own. We’re sounding more like Operation Makeout than Operation Makeout ever did. Our new record is both poppier and heavier and quirkier and weirder all at the same time. We’re kind of a bit more eccentric. What do you think, Katie?
Katie: I don’t know. I’m always surprised with how records turn out. There will be times when I don’t think I will really like them and then I don’t like them until we record them and then I like them.

Your Web site has three people modeling Operation Makeout T-shirts. Do people think they are you?

Anna: We just put that picture up right before we left.
Katie: That’ll be really funny (if people think that’s us).

We’ll have to see I guess.

Katie: We’ll get this e-mail: Did you guys change members AGAIN?

Is it easy for you guys to just get up and tour?

Katie: I just graduated. So basically when I was in school we would tour on the breaks. But now that I have this job, they’re really nice about giving me time off.
Jesse: I’m self-employed, so it’s good because I’ll allow myself to take the time off. But it’s bad… because I run a recording studio, so my expenses (in running the studio are the same either way).

I guess the tour isn’t exactly a moneymaker.

Katie: Well, we get a grant from the Canadian government.
Jesse: My old band got CDN$10,000 to tour Europe. It’s free money but it requires a lot of paperwork and persistence. It’s pretty awesome actually. They give you so much money it’s more than you ever would have made on merch.

Have you sold a lot of stuff on your Web site?

Katie: I’m not sure how many hits we get, but we sell stuff about twice a month. We sell on the tour. We do really well on the tour.

Do you get recognized when you tour?

Katie: In Arcata we do.
Jesse: People remember me from when I was in my old band (dbs). After you go through five or 10 times, people start to remember you.

Rilo Kiley Interview (March 2002 issue)

August 13, 2008

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Joel meets up with members of Rilo Kiley before their Noise Pop appearance at Cafe du Nord. Burritos, snow shoes (or lack thereof), touring and their upcoming release top the conversation.

A stroke of luck provided me a primo parking space, and I was 10 minutes early for my appointment with Rilo Kiley, a Southern California foursome led by vocalist Jenny Lewis. They were to play that night at Cafe du Nord on the second night of Noise Pop, an annual music festival held in San Francisco.

As I waited for them, the clock struck and surpassed seven bells, and I began to worry a bit. The doorman at Cafe du Nord told me they had gone out to get something to eat but that they would be back soon. At 7:10, up walked Lewis and bassist Pierre de Reeder, each holding a plastic bag filled with burrito goodness.

“Oh! So good!” Lewis said, biting into some of El Farolito’s finest. “Why is it that San Francisco has the best burritos?”

We walked inside Cafe du Nord and had a seat. In between bites, they filled me in on what was new with Rilo Kiley, including recording in Nebraska, what snow is like when you’re surrounded by it and just how cool it is to be part of Noise Pop.

Guitarist Blake Sennett and drummer Jason Boesel were visiting friends in the city, so this conversation would be an intimate threesome. If they were half as funny as Lewis and de Reeder, then the four of them must have a lot of fun together.

The followup to their first album on Barsuk Records, Take Offs and Landings, is just about ready to be recorded. “We’re recording our record in Nebraska, starting on (March 2),” Lewis said. Look for that to come out later this year. But recording in Nebraska? That can be a tough drive if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

“One time, on our way back from Omaha — we had toured with a band called The Good Life; they’re from Omaha, and they let us stay for four or five days, and they were really nice to us.” Lewis continued, “And we were on our way back, and we got stuck in a blizzard in Wyoming off of (Interstate) 80. It was brutal. We had to pull off in our van outside of a truck stop, and the snow was coming down, and we were afraid to take the same path (on our next trip to Nebraska).” I assured them that the weather looked good, but as de Reeder pointed out, while there — they plan on spending a month or so recording — it would undoubtedly snow at one time or another. Could these Californians handle it?

“Snow is a bummer, for sure,” Lewis mused. “I always wear Converse, and we’re in the snow in Wyoming, and I stepped out in the snow, and I went like this.” She motions with her hand, palm down, and lowers her arm to the ground.

“My only pair of shoes. One pair,” de Reeder, who also exclusively wears Converse, thinks aloud while pointing to the floor.

“One pair of Converse,” Lewis remarks. “Even though you got three pairs at Christmas?”

A Kevin Devine song plays in the background, as de Reeder and Lewis work on their burritos and knock back their respective cups of horchata. These are the two biggest horchata fans in Rilo Kiley. de Reeder takes the lid off of his and examines the best part of horchata: the cinnamony goop that lives at the bottom of every cup. Lewis decides to save the rest of her burrito for later. “There’s no salmonella on the road,” she says.

This is Rilo Kiley’s first appearance at Noise Pop. Unfortunately, with a show the next day in Moraga at St. Mary’s College and then just two days to drive to Nebraska, there is no time to see the other 80 bands play. “There are some great bands playing this year, as always,” Lewis says. “I feel pretty fortunate that we’re part of Noise Pop culture.” She added that they had played at North by Northwest and South by Southwest, but they felt that they belonged here.

After recording, Rilo Kiley will return to Southern California, but they will be back April 14 for a show in Los Gatos at the Outhouse.

“We are?” asked a surprised de Reeder after I mentioned this upcoming show to him. “Oh yeah, back here.” Rilo Kiley found out about the venue on the way back from a tour last summer. The show will be all ages and alcohol-free. It certainly will be a good opportunity for younger fans to get to know this band.

The Noise Pop show was the first of what will be many days away from home, and for de Reeder, it is the first time he will be away from his three-month-old daughter, Sophia. “I haven’t really been away yet,” de Reeder observed. Sophia is with his girlfriend, Melissa. If only we had one of those video phones,” Lewis wondered aloud.

It was getting late, and the doors would be opening in less than an hour. Lewis and de Reeder mentioned multiple times of their love for El Farolito and San Francisco. I’m sure they will return with Sennett and Boesel again and again.

Their set that night was 35 minutes of raw energy, and with a blend of songs from the upcoming album and old favorites, such as 85 and Always, they got the crowd going and the cameras flashing.

But for now, it’s time for them to take to the road, and Rilo Kiley is driving down Interstate 80 in their big ol’ touring van, stopping at truck stops and hoping for no snow all along the way.

Jughead, A Loaf of Bread and Thou (January 2005 issue)

August 13, 2008

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If you run a record label, the most important department you have is your promotions department. This is the arm of your label that sends stuff to radio stations and magazines and Web sites. After all, with thousands of bands out there willing to do anything for airplay and attention, you have to find a way to set your guys apart.

Agouti receives tons of stuff every month: wooden signs, stickers, T-shirts and so on. Sure, we notice. I mean, that’s the point, right? But the most important thing is that we get the CD. After all, we do not review signs.

Would you believe that some bands and labels don’t get this? Some bands and labels swear up and down that they will send you promotional material, and then nothing graces the almighty P.O. Box. What’s up with that?

Whether it is because they don’t communicate well, they are too full of themselves, or they just hate music reviewers, some bands and labels are as two-faced as Two Face. I have had label reps, bassists, lead singers and more look me in the eye and say that a press pack was on the way to Agouti Land, and you know what? Every subsequent meeting, I look Agouti Tom in the eye and ask, “so, where is the new CD from that band?” and he stares at me blankly and says, “there’s pizza in the kitchen.”

I am not going to name names. I do not need to give these guys any publicity. There are plenty of appreciative artists and labels out there that take care of us, and that’s fine with me. But sometimes, it can really hurt.

A few years ago, I reviewed the debut album from a band. It was absolutely fantastic. Then I heard they were coming to town. You know I was stoked to see that show. You might even say they had a “reputation” for being one of my favorites. So the fateful day came, and I drove up to San Francisco, California, and watched a great set. After the show, I introduced myself, and they even remembered me from my review of their first album.

This is where I get about as excited as I can be, because I just don’t get appreciated enough to suit my egotistical needs. Then the lead singer told me that the band used quotes from my review in their press kit. Well, getting their newest album to review should be a piece of cake after this, right?

Of course not. I wouldn’t be writing about it if it were. Haven’t you guys learned anything about me by now?

The lead singer said I should “look out” for their label rep. It seems that the band’s second album was another label, but their rep was in the building. I caught up with her and gave her the spiel of how great Agouti is and how they keep me in pizza and hooray for them.

The rep said that the person I needed to talk to did not make the show because of some bullshit reason (so she said herself) and she gave me her card with contact information.

When I got home from that show that night, I sent an e-mail to the person I met, as well as the person I was supposed to contact. I e-mailed the band, thanking them for their time. When I got to work the next day, I called the number I was given and left multiple voice mails, over the course of the next month.

Next Agouti meeting? Agouti Tom showed me the pizza.

It really makes me sad that one of my most favoritist bands in all of history can’t benefit from my obvious adoration. And if you have seen my reviews, you know that I don’t exactly praise everything like a Fat Boy Slim song.

How about another example? Last “summer,” I thought I would have “fun” seeing an “all-girl band.” It, too, was a great show, and I even bought a canvas bag made by the lead singer all by herself! She said that they would mail us a CD. I e-mailed a few times. And every time it was the same thing. Agouti Tom introduced me to a lot of pizza in the coming months.

You want another one? OK. I attended a show and after it ended, I was “vis”-a-vis with a “queen” of a lead singer. She was awfully nice to me and friendly and all that. She told me to e-mail her and help give Agouti Tom something to say besides, “pizza’s ready.” So I did. And she didn’t. This time, Agouti Gene wasn’t at the meeting, and I had to eat pizza with only olives as a topping. Bleah. I like olives, but I need something else on a pizza besides it.

This band returned to town a few months later, and she remembered me. She apologized for not sending us information, but she said to e-mail her and she would get it out the next day. Guess what? I set a record by eating 16 slices of pizza at the next meeting. Agouti Tom’s arm must be sore from all the pointing toward the kitchen he has been doing.

These are extreme examples. I just received an e-mail this morning from a band that just released an album. The lead singer just dropped their album in the mail this afternoon. The system works. It’s the promo reps that sometimes don’t.

Jughead, A Loaf of Bread and Thou (October 2004 issue)

August 13, 2008

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You know that the ballot has a lot of stuff on it when the Voter Information Guide comes in the mail, and it’s 164 pages. That’s an awful lot of stuff to read, and maybe you’re just a little too busy to read it all. Maybe this is enough to keep you from voting. Well, all I have to say to that is “Not on my watch!”

This isn’t going to be as simple as me telling you how to vote on everything, although you could certainly get that information from this column, and I certainly would not mind. The main goal of this column is to serve as a Cliff Notes-style summary of the Voter Information Guide, with some of my invaluable personal opinions thrown in, but fear not. It should be pretty obvious which is which.

One last thing: Obviously, not everyone has the same ballot. For you to get the most out of this, you should live in my neighborhood. Of course, it is unlikely that any of you do, so you’re just going to have to pick your own people for your local school board. With that said, let’s go from front to back on my West San Jose sample ballot.

President and Vice President

This is the least important of everything on the ballot. More than 100 million people vote for president, and you’re essentially joining those ranks because it’s your civic duty, and jury duty is fun. I preface my selection with this because I am trying to point out why you should vote for who you want for president, not who has a chance to win. Even Florida in 2000 was decided by 500 votes. There is not going to be a tie. Vote for who you like, not who will win. Don’t be such a New York Yankees fan. You get the point. I am voting for Leonard Peltier and Janice Jordan, who represent the Peace and Freedom ticket. If you truly feel John Kerry and John Edwards are the best candidates, go ahead and vote for them. I don’t.

State Senator

I live in District 11. This means I am represented by Joe Simitian. This guy has done a lot over the years, and I don’t see him stopping now. The Democrat annually holds a “There Oughta Be a Law” contest, in which his people (that’s me!) get to write him with things that they think should be laws. Is there no better way to represent the people? My vote goes to him.

Member of the State Assembly

I live in District 24. Only one of the three candidates submitted a statement: Republican candidate Ernie Konnyu. I generally vote for candidates that submit statements because to me it just seems lazy for candidates not to submit a statement. If you’re going to run, why not use every outlet available to you? So Konnyu has the early advantage, but it won’t last long. When people lie, I lose interest. And Konnyu does just that. I need to look no further than the second line. “Hurt by our Legislature voting to triple our car taxes?” Let me explain something to the mathematically challenged. When you reduce something temporarily by two-thirds, before restoring it, you haven’t tripled shit. This reduction was announced as temporary, with the hopes of it being eliminated, but that just didn’t happen. When the state senate could not get income taxes raised, the governor had to find another way to raise revenue. Reversing the vehicle license fee reduction, or car tax as some call it, was one of the only ways to close the gap in the budget. Now before you get so upset about this, remember two things: this was last year, so it’s time to move on, and the elimination of these taxes resulted in the elimination of necessary programs. Don’t believe me? Notice how a lot of these freeway projects still aren’t done? They ran out of money. What a fucking shock. And don’t get me started on when BART will finally make it to San Jose. We’re talking 2030, and that’s no exaggeration. But I digress. Konnyu doesn’t get my vote because he’s a liar. I prefer my politicians to be much more subtle and sneaky with their lies. So that leaves Zander Collier and Rebecca Cohn. I know nothing about either of them, but Cohn is a woman and Democrat, so she gets my vote.

School

The West Valley-Mission Community College District needs governing board members for Trustee Area 3. I can vote for up to two of the three candidates. This is pretty neat. Most of the candidates will win. That should keep a lot of feelings from getting hurt. Only Chris Constantin filed a statement, and s/he (you never know with those pesky Chrises) says that s/he has lived in the area his/her whole life. That’s important to me. It isn’t like those voters in Wyoming that vote for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney because Cheney says he is from there. Constantin actually lives here. In fact, when he first lived here, his name was Istanb. So now I have to choose between Frank Jewett and Joy Atkins. Well, the Atkins diet is stupid, but Frank is a man, and I like voting for women. So Constantin and Atkins get my votes. Hey, if I had useful data, I would make a better-informed decision, but I have to work with what I have.

State

Time for a U.S. senator. Barbara Boxer will win. She always wins. Boxer and California are a marriage made in heaven. It could even be a same-sex marriage, because Boxer supports same-sex marriage. For me, it’s time to go Peace and Freedom again. They’re such nice people over there. Who could help but like them? In this case it is Marsha Feinland. I’m sure she would make a “fein” U.S. senator.

United States Representative

I live in District 15. Mike Honda always wins. But there is only one other choice — Raymond Chukwu — and I am certainly not going to vote for a Republican. Sometimes I use lots of hard evidence to make my decisions. Other times I just pick the Democrat.

Judicial

I did not know that the Judge of the Superior Court had so many offices. It’s time to pick a judge for office No. 7. I have to choose between Enrique Colin and Griffin Bonini. Both candidates submitted statements, but Bonini’s talks about involvement with his church. If you feel the need to mention this in your statement, you’re not going to get my vote. There are more important things you should be talking about in your statement than your religion. Enrique Colin gets my vote by default.

School

Who designs these sample ballots? Now it’s time to vote for a governing board member for Trustee Area 2 in the West Valley-Mission Community College District. Wouldn’t it make sense to put this before the one for Trustee Area 3? No wonder people don’t vote. At any rate, it is the same story here: Pick two of the three candidates. Robert Owens and Christopher Stampolis have statements. Owens is a church lector. Cooties! So Stampolis and Ronald Stasiak get my votes.

The Campbell Union High School District also needs a governing board member. Of six candidates, two can be selected. This was tough. Three candidates submitted statements: Henri Zander, Diane Gordon and Matthew Dean. And all the statements were good! But it was easy to make the choice. Zander and Dean include their phone number in their statement. That takes balls (which could explain why Gordon didn’t have a statement, although Henri isn’t necessarily a man’s name either). Despite this potential conflict, I am voting for Zander and Dean.

School

You’re perhaps wondering why there was no heading for the Campbell race. Well, they didn’t put one in the sample ballot. So there. The last people decision is for the Moreland School District. They need governing board members, and they need me to vote for no more than two. No problem, Mr. Ballot! Four people out of five filed statements. Maybe there will be a problem, Mr. Ballot. It’s easy to eliminate Jim MacFarlane after reading his statement. His campaign Web site is a Geocities page! What a loser. I can’t vote for someone that has a Geocities page for his campaign site. That’s just wrong. I have nothing against Dale Barr, but David Roberson and Robert Varich both went to Moreland schools as children. That’s why I am voting for them.

Measures Submitted to the Voters

This is my favorite part. Everything can be decided with a simple yes or no. These are statewide, so if you are anywhere in California, this concerns you. The first proposition is Proposition 1A. 1A? What the fuck? I don’t understand why they gave it that number, but I should not let that influence my decision. Proposition 1A ensures that local tax revenue stays locally. The governor has a history of taking local tax money to pay for other things. This would eliminate that. If you vote no on this, it is because you don’t want the local sales tax rate to never go down again. In other words, if 1A passes, the sales tax rate will never drop below what it is now. Personally, I like that, so I am voting yes on 1A.

Proposition 59 will amend the State Constitution to force more meetings to be open to the public. I consider it a good thing to have these things available for all to see. It is an easy yes for me.

Proposition 60 deals with the rights that political parties have. Sometimes, reading the arguments for and against something is more important than fully understanding what would happen if it passes. In this case, the proponents of 60 are using scare tactics, mentioning things like that backward state Louisiana and the KKK. If you have to resort to such actions, you have to be full of shit. Otherwise you could logically explain what makes your proposition so great. Vote no on 60.

Now what? 60A? What is up with all these lettered numbers? Well, 60A is a band-aid solution to fixing the state’s budget problems. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some band-aids are pretty cool. Some have Spongebob Squarepants on them. Caltrans owns a lot of property in California. The agency buys property when it needs the land to build shit. They use eminent domain and buy it at a fair market value. But sometimes, things go awry, and they don’t need the land anymore. However, because this is the government, after all, they don’t get around to selling the land back. Because we need money to help balance the budget, it would be nice to sell this no-longer-needed land to raise money. All told, about a billion dollars could be raised. This won’t fix anything, but it will help. Like I said, it’s a band-aid. It’s important to understand that 60A does not force the sale of the land. It only says that if the land is sold that the proceeds should go to, as George Carlin said, balancing the stupid fucking budget. This band-aid ain’t no Spongebob, but it is at least a Cookie Monster. Some may see this as unnecessary legislation, but I disagree. I am voting yes.

Proposition 61 is a bond for children’s hospitals. I love these things. There isn’t much to say here. People either like bonds or they don’t. Out of all the bonds out there, this one would result in the administration of steroids, but I promise they will only be used on kids that need them, not baseball players. I am voting yes.

Proposition 62 sure looks familiar. Hey, it’s Proposition 198 in a hot red dress! Well, unlike Elmer Fudd when he sees Bugs Bunny dressed as a woman, I am not fooled. Allow me to refresh your memory. Proposition 198 allowed open primaries. This meant that when primary elections were held, people could vote for candidates from a party that they were not registered with. For example, in 2000, my mom voted for whom she considered the worst Republican candidate for president, because that would make it easier for the Democrat to win. Her strategy did not work, but she was able to do it because of Proposition 198. This is wrong. The electoral system should not be mocked or manipulated. If you are registered for a specific party, you should be using the primary to pick your party’s best candidate! That’s the point of a primary! Don’t be distracted by that low-cut red dress. You can buy it at Ross for $19.95. Vote no on 62.

Proposition 63 will reverse some of the damage caused years ago, when Ronald Reagan let all the crazy people out of the asylums. People with incomes exceeding $1 million will be taxed an extra 1 percent, and that money will cover an expansion of mental health services. This means fewer people talking to themselves when I am at the BART station. Vote yes on 63.

Proposition 64 has had a few ads on TV. It’s pretty easy to sue people in a society as litigious as ours. The point of 64 is to help curtail unfair business lawsuits unless they are legitimate. The purpose is to close a loophole. Most people will never be directly affected by this, but I will vote yes because it seems to make the world, or at least the state, a better place.

Proposition 65 is another state mandate dealing with how to appropriate local tax revenue. The people that made this later made Proposition 1A and are asking us to vote for 65 instead. Well it’s not a risk I am willing to take. I am voting yes on both of them.

Proposition 66 relaxes the “three strikes” law. It is important to understand that this proposition is not as big of a deal as everyone is making it seem. The point is to have people in jail for a nonviolent third strike released. The truth of the matter is that the jails are so full that we need to come up with an excuse to let some people out of jail because there isn’t enough room for all of our criminals. If 66 passes, it will make official what has been happening behind the scenes for years. I’d rather have this sort of thing out in the open so accountability is easier to place. Vote yes on 66.

Some people don’t want to be taxed for anything. I don’t understand how else people would vote no on Proposition 67. For about five cents a day, a tax on your phone bill will fund emergency medical services. I don’t like the proponents’ argument because they underestimate the cost, but $16 per year is still nothing. There’s a reason that they are called emergency services. You don’t really realize how much you need them until you need them. Start keeping the pennies that people throw at you at the bus stop and vote yes on 67.

Proposition 68 has more ads on TV than all others put together, and the people for it have suddenly decided to stop backing their own initiative. But the reason why is because they want to use the court system to get what they want. The point of 68 was to allow gaming to expand to race tracks and other non-Indian places. This means casino gaming in more places, especially in urban areas. The revenue from these would help the state balance its budget. But instead of trying to get voter approval, the people behind this (race track owners and casino companies) decided they would get what they wanted more easily if they went through the courts. Well, the initiative is already on the ballot, and even though they have given up, I am still going to vote yes. This would throw a wrench in the governor’s negotiations with the tribes, and I don’t like what he has done with them so far. This is definitely a defensive vote by me.

Proposition 69 is quite the civil rights dilemma. California is trying to set up this big DNA database, and Proposition 69 would allocate money toward the creation of this, but it isn’t that easy. Besides putting convicts in this database, even people arrested of felonies will be added to this database, even if they are later found innocent. This is why many people are against 69. I am of the opinion that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. This is why I am voting yes on 69.

Proposition 70 is another gaming initiative. This one states that only tribal casinos will be allowed, but the compacts last for 99 years. Nothing should last for 99 years. The rest of the information is irrelevant. Vote no on 70.

More controversy is in store with Proposition 71. Stem cells and should we fund them is the issue here. To get the good stem cells you have to destroy embryos. If you think that is destroying a human life, then explain to me why those embryos are not included in the human population. Explain why we don’t have funerals when those embryos are destroyed. So vote yes on 71, right? Well, you can, but I am not going to. Another provision of 71 is that it prohibits the cloning of humans. I don’t think we can outlaw something such as this so early in the game. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we should make it illegal. And besides, mad scientists will try to clone humans anyway, so we might as well keep everything on the up and up. I will think like The Lemonheads and vote the great big no on 71.

Proposition 72 is pretty simple. It requires healthcare coverage in certain situations, including large and midsize businesses. Let me explain something to you. Preventive healthcare is always less expensive than emergency healthcare. In the long run it saves everyone money to require healthcare for workers. This is a great step in that direction. Vote yes on Proposition 72.

These next three measures are for Santa Clara County only. Measure A makes subtle verbiage changes to the County Charter in terms of paying public workers. Proponents want this to pass so wages can be compared with private workers that do the same thing. Well, government workers are always overpaid. While this would save the county money because it would lower salaries for government workers, it would also make the competence of said workers even lower. You think the people at the DMV are bad now? Wait till their pay gets cut 30 percent. If they even stay, they will find a way to be even less productive. Vote no on Measure A.

Measure B shifts the power of approving the decisions made by arbitrators in labor disputes to the voters. More power for voters is good. Besides, voting more means more “I Voted” stickers. Vote yes on Measure B.

Measure C is a good short-term solution to local labor problems. It would force arbitrators to determine whether a county could afford the demands by the upset laborers. Sometimes arbitrators tell the county to pay workers more, but they don’t have the money for it. Then they need to cut something else to meet these demands. That’s fucked up. So vote yes on C.

Measure H is for the West Valley-Mission Community College District. This is a bond issue to fix leaky roofs and other important campus-related fixings. This is another one where you either like bonds or you don’t. Schools are important because they make students more smarter. I’ll be voting yes.

Measure M is for the Campbell Union High School District. Because of recent cutbacks in education budgets, they would like a parcel tax to make up for it. This way the kids still get their science and other whatnot. The schools in this district are really good. It’s because they spend money on things to make the kids learn. Let’s not fuck with that. Whether they receive funding from the government or a parcel tax, it still comes from us. Let’s make sure the next generation of kids don’t all get stuck working at Jamba Juice for the rest of their lives. Vote yes on M.

Finally, Measure S is a city of San Jose initiative. This is a library measure. It is another parcel tax, and if you have ever been in a San Jose library, you know how great they are, as far as libraries go. The previous parcel tax is expiring, so this isn’t even raising taxes. It is maintaining a tax already in place. Vote yes on S and not just because it rhymes.

I hope this helps you make your decisions this November. Remember: vote early and often!

Jughead, A Loaf of Bread and Thou (September 2004 issue)

August 13, 2008

You can also view this here: http://web.archive.org/web/20070630032027/www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=78 and you used to be able to view it here: http://www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=78.

A recent deodorant commercial points out to us that the sense of smell is the sense most tied to memory. I certainly won’t dispute that. Deodorant commercials are quite informative, and why would one ever lie? As an aside, why do they never show people putting it on in the commercial? Do other people actually put deodorant on their forearms on a daily basis? Maybe that’s why no one will shake my hand.

So yes. Smell is important. The ads never say what is second-most important, and why should they? They’ve got the lead, baby. Microsoft doesn’t give a shit about Apple, and deodorant doesn’t care about No. 2 (well, maybe that No. 2…).

I’m here to save the day, and not in a crappy band way. The second-most-important sense tied to memory is hearing. There’s an easy way to point this out. If you hear certain songs for the first time in a long time, you’re bound to simultaneously dredge up some memory while you’re at it.

We don’t intentionally do it. Maybe we were a temp somewhere that played really bad rap music, so when that formerly famous song is used in a deodorant commercial (and we come full circle), the first thing you think of is some guy telling everyone the taco truck is here but don’t forget to punch out before you go out there because you aren’t getting paid for lunch.

It’s not always bad. The most obvious examples for me are Grab Bag and Tricia Concepcion. When I had a tape deck in my car, I would listen to Grab Bag’s demo every day when I drove home from work. It was a 10-minute demo, and it was a 10-minute drive. You can’t top that. I could use the tape to pace myself. Those fancy downhill skiing Olympians have the numbers at the bottom of the screen to let the viewer know how they’re doing so far. Well, I don’t have that. But I do know that when “I Want to Be Your Girlfriend” ends, I better be at least at Highway 50 and Pioneer Trail or I am not going to make it in time. The degree of difficulty was pretty high once you fell behind, too, because those damn lights were not very helpful. And despite the skiing comparison, all bets were off if the road had snow on it. I was just lucky to get home, then.

Then one day I upgraded to a CD player in my car, and that was right around the time when I got the then-new CD from Tricia Concepcion. This CD is still in my car today. And when I play it, I can close my eyes and picture myself driving to Reno or driving down Highway 50 in my big ol’ Saturn car. I try not to do this too often though, because it is hard to drive with my eyes closed.

Other ways to remember songs depend on other types of rote memory. When I was in high school, a friend of mine took R.E.M.’s “Belong” and spoke over it, telling a story about a time he went to a drug store. He needed to buy some chips because he was going to a party, and as he said, it’s not nice to go to a party and not bring anything. Incidentally, these words have stuck with me for 12 years, and I still hold them true to my heart. And when I go somewhere, I usually bring something.

He also bought a pack of condoms, and then he went to the party. I am sad to say that I don’t remember the whole story anymore. He has long since forgotten all of it, the joys of marijuana in action, but I used to be able to recite the entire thing, in step with the song. To this day, I can still hear the backing vocals of the track, and if I see the album Out of Time on a jukebox, this is one of the few songs I will pay to listen to.

I remember now jokes about how a lot of the diseases had initials for their names, but I can’t remember how it goes. Maybe I have to listen to the song again. “Let me tell you a story… about the time I went to the drugstore. Let me tell you, let me tell you, let me tell you….”

Jughead, A Loaf of Bread and Thou (August 2004 issue)

August 13, 2008

You can also view this here: http://web.archive.org/web/20070630032027/www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=77 and you used to be able to view it here: http://www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=77.

Building a successful venue isn’t easy, although so many people try. You can’t just build something, stick a bar in it and say you’re ready for business. First, you have to struggle to be recognized in the scene, and you have to kiss bands’ asses to play at your hole in the wall. Then you have to get the media to cover events at your place (real media, such as Agouti, not a bunch of hacks, such as West Coast Performer).

People read the reviews, and then, eventually, you can do like Bottom of the Hill and make things cost more and more, and pretty soon even the food at the Sunday barbecues — when they happen — won’t be free anymore. Now you can either spend the profits on cocaine or sell the place and start over.

Getting the average joe and josephine music fans in your venue isn’t too hard, but getting their friends into your place is another story. You have to look at what they want, and then obviously you have to provide it. This is where most operators fail miserably.

Two major groups of people go to places that have live music: people there to see the band, and people there to hang out and drink. The first group is a snap. You don’t really have to worry about their attendance. They would see the band play in a BART station, if they had to.

The second group is a bit trickier. They get really disinterested about five minutes into each set. They even will ask their more-interested friend, “Is it supposed to be this loud?” You know this type. They stand out because they call shows “concerts.” Shoreline Amphitheater has concerts. The Starry Plough has shows.

This second group is the type that gets drunk at the bar, shoots pool at the pool table and never buys any merch. The entire concept of merch makes no sense to these people. But they are the backbone of the venue’s positive cash flow, so they are tolerated. Bored people are more likely to drink more, and because such people are generally so insecure, they tend not to ask their friends that do care whether they want to leave early.

So the smart places have distractions. Bottom of the Hill has those free postcards. Most places have at least one pool table. Thee Parkside has a ping pong table. Other places have pinball machines, but herein lies a problem.

Most places that have pinball machines do so as an afterthought. It’s often either far off in the corner or, oddly enough, close to the stage. The old Voodoo Lounge in San Francisco had theirs right next to the employee entrance to the bar. It’s impossible not to be in their way, and they’ll remember you should you come to the bar later for something. Bartenders are whores, but they don’t like being classified as such, so even a five-dollar tip isn’t going to change their perception of you, the degenerate pinball player.

Pinball is a fading industry. It’s been 30 years since Tommy was released, and video games are much easier to maintain. The 10-year transformation from five balls for a quarter to three balls for 50 cents also did not help. It’s not like the country’s tax base, where raising taxes actually does generate more revenue for the government.

Pinball at a venue is usually a good play. Lots of drunks play it, and generally the score required to get a free game is based on the scores of the other players, so the more lushes that play, the lower required score for getting free games.

But those drunks. It’s not all guns and roses. They spill their drinks on the game, whose wiring is directly below the playfield, so trouble is most definitely being asked for there. And when you used to be able to smoke in California bars, people would often use the glass as an ashtray. When you’re drunk and stupid, the logic makes perfect sense.

The worst is that the owners of the venue don’t usually “get” pinball when they have a machine. And truthfully, maybe they do not need to. Drunks will play anyway, and that’s a significant source of income for the machine. The sharps that exploit the machine are generally not welcome because they get free games and play for longer. It’s not cost-effective for the owner.

The owners fight back. They do things like taking all the lights out of the playfield. At the aforementioned Voodoo Lounge, they had The X-Files. This game has a lot of green lights, but not if you play it there. When a band is playing, all the lights in the joint are obviously out, and it makes the playfield very hard to see. Well, who would go to a show just to play pinball? Maybe a bored music reviewer who is covering the show but can’t stand the bands? But again, they have the pinball machine for the drunks, so that’s just the way it will be. I would like to say the reason Voodoo Lounge closed and reopened was because of the poor management of the pinball machine, but really it was just because of poor management.

The other thing that’s great about pinball is the sound. Funny sound effects and a soundtrack often make or break a machine, but when a band is playing, you can’t hear it. That’s not really anyone’s fault. I don’t think a band would like to play if the pinball machine was louder than they were, but oftentimes, it would be an improvement.

The biggest problem with pinball machines in a club is that if something is wrong, nobody cares. If a flipper is dead or part of the playfield is breaking down, so what? You won’t get your money back, and they won’t get it fixed. Drunks don’t notice these things, and it does cause said drunks to finish playing sooner, resulting in higher turnover, should people be waiting to play the machine.

Really, a venue would stand to make the most money by turning all the switches off, so the ball just goes straight down every time. Then they can focus on increasing other revenue streams. Perhaps they will start charging for water.

Jughead, A Loaf of Bread and Thou (July 2004 issue)

August 13, 2008

You can also view this here: http://web.archive.org/web/20070630032027/www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=74 and you used to be able to view it here: http://www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=74.

I’ve recently relocated to San Jose, the town in which I grew up, and long-held suspicions are accurate: San Jose is the weirdest large city that I have ever seen.

For starters, there is no local music scene here. Well, I mean there is, but after spending numerous evenings in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, it’s quite a drop-off coming to the South Bay.

San Jose isn’t a cultural wasteland by any means, but as far as music goes, it’s no leader, either. So what is it about here that keeps people from wanting to see live performances of independent artists? The answer is quite simple.

Growing up in San Jose, I figured that the whole world was like it was there. But after enrolling at Cal State Hayward in 1993 at the tender age of 17, I was in for a rude awakening. There were mean, pissed-off people everywhere! And I don’t just mean Jerry Falwell. People didn’t trust each other. They never smiled. Any word that ended in “s” suddenly ended in “z.” However, local music prospered.

Turns out that Hayward is the other extreme in a lot of ways, but the point was clear: You can’t have a scene without angst. And you can’t have a scene without insecure 20-somethings that are just searching and crying out for an excuse to get drunk.

It makes sense if you think about it. When you see a show, look how many people aren’t even there to see the band. They’re there so they can say the next day that they were there. The band doesn’t care as much as you think, because they paid a $6 cover for the pleasure of being there, and the band gets their cut regardless of how much attention these over-stimulated barflies pay.

So what does this have to do with San Jose and why they suck? Well, that’s just it. They don’t suck, and that’s the problem, from an indie-lover’s point of view. You see, San Jose is such a positive place, with low crime and great social services (see, there is a connection after all — stupid Libertarians), that everyone is happier there than in the rest of the Bay Area. I didn’t realize it until I left and came back, but San Jose has a lot of small-town charm for a large city. It comes across as subtle initially, but it eventually beats you over the head when you realize it.

For example, let’s take the men’s locker room at my gym. It’s like being locked in an AM radio tuned to the sports talk station. No one cares that everyone’s naked. They’re just talking about how the Miami Heat will do with Shaquille O’Neal or the San Francisco 49ers are screwed with Tim Rattay or whatever. It’s never-ending and entertaining.

Let’s contrast this as I reminisce of my gym in Hayward (the same gym, just a different location). The first thing you will notice is that all eyes are on the floor. No one says a word unless they are on their cellular phone, which is about as bad as it could get anywhere. The only thing worse than an inane conversation is half of an inane conversation. The vibe is completely different. I hesitate to use the word urban. Instead I will just say that it sucks.

But, you say, there are lots of bars in San Jose, and there must be at least some places for bands to play. Well, yes, that’s true. Let’s discuss venues first. I can name seven places in the South Bay that I have seen shows, but two of them are The Tin Can (that’s the San Jose Arena to you, or even the HP Pavilion to Carly Fiorina) and Shoreline Amphitheater, brought to you by the San Francisco Chronicle, or whatever it’s called. The Agenda Lounge no longer does live music, and The Cactus Club has been closed for years. That leaves The Quarter Note, The Gaslighter and The Blank Club. There’s no support for potential alcoholic 20-somethings because there just aren’t many of them. They are too busy being productive members of society. Imagine that.

No, that’s not nothing, but it is seven. Considering more than 900,000 people live in San Jose alone, that’s pathetic. I’ve been to at least 30 places in San Francisco, a city with a smaller population, but also a city with a lot of troubled individuals with personality problems. Yeah, that’s politically correct enough.

But it’s not San Jose’s fault. They (I can’t say “we” — only half of my life has been lived there) are well-adjusted and friendly. What’s up with that?

So how do these other bars stay in business if they don’t have live music? Well that’s easy. They get the clientele that every city has — the white trash. San Jose has some of the least-dramatic and unassuming white trash that I have ever seen. It’s uncanny. Having tended bar at some of these places, I have to say that if Japan had white trash, they would be as polite as San Jose’s. It’s really unfair to refer to them as trash because they give white trash a good name. But they wear the 1992 Smith Family Reunion T-shirts and sport the mullets all the same. There’s no mistaking what they are, but it’s still baffling how congenial they are!

So where does the typical white trash go? They relocate to Contra Costa County. I swear, they have the most insecure citizens I have ever seen. Don’t believe me? Look at how many SUVs and five-bedroom houses there are in Walnut Creek or Pleasant Hill. San Jose is modest enough to have minivans and three-bedroom houses.

I fear for their future because San Jose continues to blow up buildings that once held manufacturing jobs, but maybe the city will enter an age in which tech workers are the new white trash. I guess only time will tell.

So it’s nice to be back in San Jose, the city where being indie means being goth.