Saturday I tagged along to San Francisco with the Amadans to see them open for Mudhoney. Normally when I go to San Francisco, I take the coast so I can stop in Morro Bay. Compared to the lush and verdant scenery on the 101, the 5 is like a wasteland. The only way to describe the landscape is “neutral”. Mile after mile of dry yellow brush, just waiting to be tinder for the next big wildfire. Now and then you come across grapevines, orchards, and cotton fields, but even they aren’t much of a distraction.
We stopped at Harris Ranch for a quick bite to-go. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich, because it was the fastest thing on the menu, and time was of the essence if we were going to make sound check. I also picked up some gigantic pastries. The sandwich was a little overly sweet, but the grapes and sliced almonds mixed into the giant chunks of fresh chicken were good additions. The pastries were fantastic, especially the rich pastry cream bursting from the cream puffs. We passed on the fresh meat counter, which was not really practical for a long trip. Later, when we saw the herds and herds of cows just north of the restaurant, I was glad that I wasn’t chomping on one of their cousins.
When I first told my brother Russell, who lives in San Francisco, that Bob was playing at 12 galaxies, he started cracking up. There is a colorful local character named Frank Chu who walks around San Francisco with a sign that originally said IMPEACH CLINTON, but changes to a variety of statements now. People even dress up like this guy for Halloween. And he quotes the source of his messages as being the 12 galaxies. Check him out here:
The club, 12 Galaxies, is long and not very wide, with a narrow balcony that hugs all four walls. The people there seemed really cool. After the Amadan’s soundcheck, Bob and I went to my brother’s favorite taqueria, the simply named, La Taqueria. There is a taqueria every 20 feet on that part of Mission. It is like taqueria row. Everybody seems to have their favorite. The controversy over the best taco in the Mission district is as heated as New Orleans’ Acme-Felix’s rivalry. But this one was LA Taqueria, THEE taqueria. They had a very simple menu, just tacos and burritos with your choice of carne asada, carnitas, lengua and cabeza. They had run out of cabeza, so I got a carne asada and carnitas taco. Wow. They were huge, with a spectacularly fiery green salsa and generous quantities of good-quality meat. Later my brother said, “I bring the boys to the Mission district every Saturday for tacos." It's a pretty sketchy neighborhood for kids, but those tacos are worth it.
We hung out for what seemed like forever after the gig. I had rocked out really hard at the Amadans/Mudhoney gig in Los Angeles Friday night, slept about 2 hours, then got in the van and drove for 6 hours, then rocked again all night Saturday. It was about 2:30 am, and we were going to try to drive around and find some friends of ours so we could crash on their couch. Then we were going to get up and drive another 6 hours. I was just thinking, if this was a real tour, we would have another gig Sunday night. And then the next day. And the next day. For the next 6 months. Bob saw my exhausted look, and said, “Welcome to tour.” I asked, “How do you do this?” He said, “The urge to rock is a strong one."
(The backstage spread)
We found our friends, who are like the main wave break for touring couch surfers. They were so nice we stayed up and talked with them for another 2 hours or so. When we woke up in the morning, I was secretly dying to go to Dim Sum at Yank Sing, but this was tour, and it was not my tour. So I ran into Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels and grabbed lattes and bialys. It was very authentic, according to Bob, and everything was kosher. Literally.
The guys stopped for gas at the Wesley exit, and were going to run over to Subway. There was an unassuming-looking restaurant called Ingram Creek next to the gas station, so I ran in there while they gassed up. The menu was fairly typical, except for a Portuguese linguica sausage sandwich. The waitress said, “It’s kind of a local specialty.” Those are the magic words. I also picked up some fresh pears and pluots at a farm stand. The lincuica was kind of like Polish sausage with a kick. It was served on toasted butter-brushed French rolls, and was definitely something I would stop for again. I would recommend asking for it without cheese though, that just didn’t work.
I was lucky enough to fall asleep on the ride back home, and came straight in and watched The Simpson's “Treehouse of Horror”. What a great weekend. But I’m glad to be home instead of trying to make a gig in Portland tonight.
Harris Ranch 24505 West Dorris Avenue Coalinga, CA. 93210 1.800.942.2333
La Taqueria 2889 Mission Street San Francisco CA 94110 (415) 285-7117
Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels 151 Townshend St San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 543-0900
Ingram Creek Restaurant 4502 Ingram Creek Rd Westley, CA 95387 (209) 894-3160