This column is doomed to failure. Despite its best intentions to inundate the East Bay with incisive interviews, crass witticisms, useless facts, and low-fat brownie recipes, we fear the interviews will fall through, the witticisms flat. That the facts will be rendered even more useless than we imagined. And the brownies will be dry and crumbly.
Everyone hates a goddamn crumbly brownie.
Do not blame yourselves, nor your environment. The sheer depth and grandeur of culture in this area is staggering -- almost overwhelming. There is no shortage of strange places to sneak into, strange people to interact with, strange bands and styles of music to absorb as we stand in the back clutching our $9 White Russian.
Perhaps this is a trifle melodramatic, but should this column stay afloat in such a sea of artistic prosperity, it will have beaten incredibly long odds. And the fault lies entirely with the columnist.
These are the charges against him.
New Columnist Is Too Tall
Tall dudes at rock shows are the scourge of mankind. You can be drunk, belligerent, violent, profane, overly chatty, clumsy, or aromatically repulsive. Just don't be 6'4" and blocking anyone's view. Complete strangers despise you. They hurl foul epithets. Death threats. Globules of spit. Beer bottles. Fists. Chairs. Other concertgoers. Their hatred is never-ending and all-encompassing.
All this hostility fucks with one's chi. (In fact, this phenomenon is so disturbing that we've named our column after it.) But maybe our own bad attitude is the problem here. Everard Strong, a fellow outsized Oakland gentleman who in July will unveil Tall magazine, sees his height as a benefit, not a violence-inducing deterrent.
"A lot of times people will say, 'Hey, can you move?' but I'm like, 'Screw it, man, I paid money too,' you know?" he says. "People usually forget it after awhile when they realize you're not goin' anywhere."
Everard's glass is half-full. He admits he has a better shot at snagging guitar picks thrown into the crowd, or high-fiving band members, or looking down the shirts of shorter ladies. "The funny thing is, I'd go to a show, and halfway through I'd look behind me, and there's this sort of swath of empty space, because no one was standing behind me," he notes.
Yes, it is a lonely, solitary life.
New Columnist Is from Ohio
Picture the tail end of the "Welcome to the Jungle" video, as a hayseed-lookin', flannel-clad Axl Rose emerges from a bus in LA, fresh from flyover country, a piece of straw jutting out of his mouth, his eyes wide at all the Big City Grandeur before him. This is before the drug problems, the domestic violence accusations, the duet with Elton John, the disappearing act, the alarming weight gain. The phrase Chinese Democracy means nothing to him. He is naive, overwhelmed, hopeful, doomed. You know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby. You're gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee.
Yes, we are originally from Ohio, where everyone drives pickup trucks blaring REO Speedwagon eight-tracks. Where out-of-towners are shot in the street like dogs, and you don't want to know what happens to the dogs. For emotional support, we seek out another Midwestern transplant, eventually tracking down Odd Nosdam, current member of the Anticon hip-hop crew, with an upcoming album entitled No More Wig for Ohio, in fact -- Cincinnati, born and raised. Only been here about two years.
Help us handle this culture shock, Odd.
"I don't think I ever felt out of place here -- I always felt out of place there," he says. "Especially the older that I got. Usually people here, they're more open because they've seen a lot more, they've experienced a lot more. In Cincinnati there's only, like, two Asian restaurants. It's hard to find tofu, you know what I mean?"
We hate tofu. But please, continue.
"It seems like there are a lot more people out here who are into everything. You can walk past someone with a Mohawk and not think twice, but in Cincinnati it's pretty rare to see that shit."
Mohawks no longer unnerve us. The music, occasionally, does.
New Columnist Doesn't Get Deerhoof
We're a long way from Bruce Springsteen country. From the dingy clubs to the oddball warehouse parties to the outdoor lemonade-slurping soirees, we've attempted to absorb as much Bay Area culture as humanly possible in these past few weeks, with varying degrees of success.
Everyone raves about Deerhoof, the famed avant-noise collective. Jarring and offbeat and weird and oddly beautiful, say the faithful. Having seen the band now on multiple occasions, we must admit: Can't wrap our heads around it. At all. Everyone else looks delighted, entranced. But we stand there completely disoriented. Guitars screech and jolt as the lead singer yelps "Pong-pong, pong-pong, pong-pong-pong-pong, pong-pong, China!" Whack whack, screech screech. We are suddenly in dire need of another $9 White Russian. We are willing to pay $20, in fact.
This is going to take awhile.
New Columnist Is Controlled by a Monolithic, Soul-Destroying Mega-Corp
His company car is a six-door neon-pink SUV that gets three miles to the gallon and picks off animals on the endangered species list with heat-seeking missiles. He personally stands to earn $14.78 in contracts to rebuild Iraq. He cast the deciding vote in the FCC regulation-relaxing debacle. He threw a spaghetti squash at a Dixie Chick's head at point-blank range (missed). His clothes are hand-sewn by underage slave labor. And he considers Train's new album "Fantastic! The future of rock 'n' roll! A nonstop thrill ride of hot riffs and rampant doofy white guy sex appeal! Keep this Train a-rollin'!"
There is much to overcome. But we will soldier on. Brave the elements. Strive to bridge the cultural divide. Join us now as we submerge ourselves in the admittedly overwhelming Bay Area music scene. Against all odds. Despite our handicaps. Welcome to the jungle. We got fun and games.
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Culture Spy - April 20, 9:52 AM
Seven Days - April 18, 6:25 PM