Monday, 25 July 2011

San Francisco part 10

We left Santa Cruz at midday on Friday (8th July) and drove back up to Orinda to dump our bags before going straight onto Berkeley. I spent the afternoon in Amoeba and Rasputin's record shops. Everyone raves about the Amoeba stores but I actually think Rasputin's in Berkeley is my favourite record spot in the Bay Area. The selection of older records is more extensive, they have continual knock-downs on newer vinyl and it seems to be a bit cheaper in general. I picked up Nilsson's terrific children's story/concept record 'The Point', Jefferson Airplane's classic psychedelic rock album 'The Surrealistic Pillow', Melanie's 'Garden in the City' featuring the ace folk funk of 'People in the Front Row', a Harry Taussig folk guitar repress and another Randy Newman lp all for less than $20. Admittedly none of it's rare - God knows I've stupidly left 'The Point' behind in more charity shops than I care to remember over the years - but good records all the same.

We grabbed a beer on Telegraph then made our way to Oakland to see some bands at the definitive Bay Area hardcore/punk venue Gilman; a long standing volunteer ran club where the shows are cheap with a strict no alcohol policy. Fortunately it sits directly opposite a brewery so we got our drink on there first. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances we didn't make the show in the end. I don't think I'm ever meant to make it inside the Gilman for one reason or another...

On Sunday (10th July) we got BART into the city for the Renegade Art fair which is a huge touring art and craft event that travels through the US. I've been to a few of these type of things in London and their usually pretty lo-fi taking place in the basements of musty Working Men's Clubs. This was altogether a more polished affair. And massive.

There was still a substantial amount of 'kooky' knitted owl type shite but I suppose that's to be expected with so many 'quirky creatives' in one place. In fact knitted moustaches seem to be the new knitted owl. I was a bit disappointed by how good-looking everyone was as well - I like my art/craft/zine folk to have horrendous acne, smell of charity shops and be painfully awkward. That aside there were some decent illustrators and printmakers in attendance; I chatted to Kevin Tong for a while about his work, the US poster making scene, how rad Rich Kelly is and general screen-printing techniques. I also bought this stunning print from him.

We then set off to the Castro for a button exhibition at a ceramic studio to meet up with some of Annie's friends and after a couple of street PBRs went onto the dimly-lit Elbow Rooms for a few more happy hour beers.

The following week was a mixture of working on illustrations, some design work and a couple of days in the intense heat of suburban Sacramento for an incredible bbq where I discovered that hot links aren't nearly as nice as spicy Italian sausage. In addition to some swimming (floating) I also found myself inexplicably drawn to the latter stages of the Women's World Cup. I can only assume it was due to the lack of football in general but it was really rather good all things considered. Which isn't meant to sound nearly as patronising as it does.

On Friday I squeezed in another super secret Threadless submission for Threadwars IV (more later) finishing off the art-working at about five in the morning and then had a day of concrete laying in the basement. The concrete traveled up a long hose from a concrete mixer at the base of a steep hill and I had the job of directing said hose accordingly. Handling the hose full of concrete was rather like wrestling an anaconda and combined with the heat of the day was incredibly hard work. We laid five square yards of concrete in about two hours. I'm not entirely sure what that means either but it seemed quite impressive. We finished the day in Balboa with a welcome bowl of caldo de camaron - a delicious Mexican spicy tomato and prawn soup that's eaten with crackers.

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