Monday, August 31, 2009

Late Summer is the new June

I don't know what it is, but everyone is getting married right now. Or breaking up. I've heard of so many weddings and breakups in the past couple of weeks. The ongoing theme is definitely "change."

We only had one wedding to deal with, but it was a big one. Aaron's best friend/business partner got married this past weekend to his longtime girlfriend, Parul. The event was a 3 day long celebration one year in the making that spanned the entire Bay Area and included a candy table, photo booth, rickshaw, umbrellas, an hour long ceremony in 100 degree heat, saris, an art gallery, wine country, shuttle buses, and lots, and lots of drinking.

The entire Edsinger clan came into town to celebrate, which means I'm still recovering today.

The highlights:

During the ceremony


The rickshaw


View from the driver's seat

driver's view

And finally, this picture that cracks me up every time.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Punk rawk

Last night I saw Greenday.

If you haven't already stopped reading, I urge you to continue.

I was first introduced to punk rock the summer before my senior year of high school. A straight-A student and active 4-Her, at the time I was pretty much the furthest thing from punk rock. But the fact I had a driver's license, a car, and the trust of my parents meant my new friends had reason enough to enroll me into the clique and drive them to Gilman to see the Gr-ups.

So naive was I that I tried to wear Birkenstocks to my first show. Fortunately someone lent me a pair of closed-toed shoes so I wouldn't lose any digits in the mosh pit, and I was hooked to the scene.

That summer, Greenday dumped local heroes Lookout Records and signed to Warner Brothers. My clique was crushed. This made them the ultimate sell-outs in our world (you know, because we were so hard-core and all), but it didn't stop any of us from going to see them that next January at the Phoenix theater in Petaluma.

The show was just a few days after their first video hit MTV and I remember being amazed at the size of the crowd that invaded our tiny little venue. "Wow, this is the biggest show I've ever been to," I remember thinking.

Fast forward many years to when I was working for the dog day care and Buddy Pritchard was one of our bigger clients. Buddy was a Shar-Pei, frequent boarder, pick-up/drop-off customer, one of my favorite dogs, and happened to belong to Mike from Greenday. I'd see Mike occasionally and things were always cool. I'd started playing in bands myself, and some of my bandmates were former peers of his so I'd run into him occasionally while dropping off his dog, at parties, etc. I'd play "too cool for school" but, in retrospect, I think I was pretty star-struck. When he asked me to make Buddy a cool, punk rock harness I was ecstatic.

Buddy had been riddled with health problems his whole life. As Greenday got bigger, Buddy got sicker. For long chunks of time he'd pretty much live with us at the day care while they were on tour, and that stress added to a naturally poor immune system did not bode well. He'd turn his nose at the gourmet meals I'd painstakingly crafted for him. "But it's so delicious," I'd coo as I took a very real and very large bite of his salmon/currant/barley dish, hoping the act would inspire jealousy-induced hunger.

Sometimes it would work, and sometimes it wouldn't, but over time Buddy's health diminished. We'd seen the cycle many times over and Buddy always seemed to bounce back, but this time it was different. He'd lost so much weight, his eyes became dull, he lost his spunk... basically, he gave up. A decision had to be made.

Watching Buddy go was incredibly hard. I'd never seen a dog get put down before, and it struck me in a really intense way. Mike handed me Buddy's harness and instructed me to give it to a dog in need.

But when I got home I couldn't bring myself to donate the harness. I still needed to process whatever was going on inside of me, which was a weird grief. Buddy wasn't my dog, but I had taken care of him for so long it felt like he was. I sat down and made two bracelets out of his harness, one for Mike and one for Diane, Mike's assistant and other primary caretaker. (side note: this was the inspiration for this policy).

Again, fast-forward many, many years.

Diane e-mailed last week and wondered if I'd be interested in going to see Greenday in Sacramento. I didn't even know they were on tour, had no strong desire to go, but I never refuse a gift. A few phone calls later I had a posse together.

Franz Ferdinand finished their set by 8:30 and we drew a collective sigh of relief. "This is great. We should be home by midnight," I mused. Stephanie and I sat in the seats while John and his daughter moved toward the stage.

An usher addressed the people behind us. "Last night in San Jose they played until 11:45," she bragged.

"Wow, you really get your money's worth!" the guy in the Sturgess denim jean shirt shouted back.

We thought they were kidding, but they weren't.

As the 3-hour set labored on I was struck by many things. I did the math and realized the last time I had seen this band I was nearly half my current age (with the magic number being 17). A lot had changed during that time. In the punk rock world, as with just about any other clique, one of the easy ways to the top is bring everyone else down. Held to a strict standard, nearly everyone fails as not being "punk rock" enough, and most of the rhetoric I'd heard about Greenday over the years echoed this mindset.

But the punk rock standard isn't the end-all. Most of the critiques I've heard over the years were uttered by quitters. In front of me were these guys who had broken through the glass ceiling and gone on to become this incredibly entertaining stage act that had the ability to rivet an entire stadium at once. I even found myself singing along at one point. I was pretty impressed.

After the show Stephanie and I took advantage of the "Aftershow" passes included with our comped tickets. As we sat in the Sky Lounge with a handful of other fans, we watched a family playing the arcade version of "Rock Band." As I watched the little brother and sister duo playing along to Greenday, I realized this band was far from punk rock. They were mega-insane-uber-superstars, and that was pretty cool in itself.

On the drive home I found out the one-man-band I saw perform on John's bus the previous week was actually Neutral Milk Hotel. Now that's punk rock.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


A few months back, a series of events that included bad planning, missed phone calls, and sheer forgetfulness found us at our friends’ house unattended. No bother, we made ourselves comfortable riding dirt bikes (well, dirt bike), hitting golf balls, enjoying the view, and playing with goats on their secluded acre spread in the El Cerrito hills. We fantasized about living there.

Later I called Brian. “Dude, if you guys ever want to do a house swap, we’d be down.”

Fast-forward a few weeks and Brian calls. “Hey, uh, were you serious about wanting to stay at our place?” Turns out Brian and Nadia would be gone for extended period of time and needed someone to goat-sit.

We mulled it over. The timing couldn’t be worse. Aaron was in the middle of a deadline and staying there would turn his 5-minute commute into a 40+ one, depending on traffic. I had a hectic week lined up as well, but we decided timing be damned, we were going on a mandatory “Fake-ation.”

Saturday morning rolled around, we handed our house keys off to Eric and Yuni (since they’d expressed interest in “Fake-ationing” at our place sometime), and headed east. The first commute wasn’t so bad, flew there in only 30 minutes, and soon Brian and Nadia were giving us the lowdown as they scrambled to pack and leave town. As they drove off we sort of looked at each other and wondered what the heck we’d gotten ourselves into.

The first day was weird. See, when you go on regular vacation, there’s that whole period where you adjust to your surroundings and familiarize yourself with your new, temporary “home”. If something is missing, you forgot to pack an essential, or your new environment doesn’t offer the same amenities as home, well, you write it off. “Oh well, guess we can’t so anything about it now,” is the mantra.

But in this case all the comforts of home were in teasingly perfect view. “Argh, I wish we had the ______ ... it’s just right there,” and as we’d point over the majestic mountain crest toward the perfectly silhouetted Bay Bridge as it made its way through Treasure Island and onward to San Francisco (and did I mention this place has an even better view of the Golden Gate and Marin?). No internet, spotty cell reception, and minor hangovers did not help us feel any better about the situation.

Sunday morning found us back in the city as there were errands to run and Aaron had to work (deadlines know no weekends). We stopped by the house for a few essentials. Seeing somebody else’s belongings in our environment somehow felt wrong, but it was just the wake-up call we needed. There was no turning back. We’d committed to a week so we’d better start looking on the bright side.

That afternoon, as I returned to the hill with Stephanie in tow, it somehow felt different. We sunbathed, Xochitl played with the animals, I read a novel and, all of a sudden, it felt like vacation. Real vacation.

I could go on and on about how it’s all in your mindset but, frankly, a scenery change helps a great deal. Oh, and being cut off from the internet. This is actually being composed in Word (!) and will be cut and pasted when I return to civilization tomorrow.

And now for the pics...
(taken on the one grey and foggy morning we’ve had)

Bello, the polydactal manx, and Little Girl, the Nubian

inter-species love

Xdog runs from Buddy

run, Forrest, run!

One with the herd

Xochitl joins the herd

(Buddy has to stay tethered since he has a history of wandering. Little Girl, being a good herd-mate, always stays wherever Buddy is)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oops Texts

So every first Friday in Oakland they hold Art Murmur downtown. Tons of galleries open their doors, they close off the streets, and you're allowed to meander in and out, carrying booze, schmoozing with friends as you go. It's gritty, it's sceney, and it's very, very "Oakland."

The Paco Collars store is located in Berkeley, but it's essentially a straight bicycle shot (or a couple BART stops) to the downtown action. Always looking for an excuse to serve booze in the store, I got inspired last week to create a pre-Art Murmur event. Today I sent out the mass text that read:

"Turn your art walk into an art workout by coming to Paco Collars this Friday 5-7 for pre-Art Murmur wine, cheese, and dog lovin'. 2905 Shattuck ... be there!"

A few minutes passed and I got a text from my friend, English Jon. It read:

"Why do you have to be so impossible? Aaaarg!! -jON-"

This response worried me. Jon did have a point. The store is not exactly close to downtown Oakland. He's an artist and Art Murmur is only once a month, so it was safe to assume he had other commitments. Also, he and I have had a rocky friendship to say the least, and I was afraid I'd asked him to go a little too far out of his way this time.

I sent an apologetic text asking if maybe he had too many art commitments, to which the response was:

"Oops, supposed to go to [the girlfriend]. Sorry Ana Poe!"

At first I was relieved, then I laughed, and then I worried about their relationship.