Monday, May 26, 2008

A Quick Note About Going Up Onstage at a Concert

Don't do it.

Don't do it unless, of course, you are Madonna, Freddy Mercury, Beth Ditto, Robert Plant or any other talented person who is paid (or otherwise intended) to be up there. Why?

  1. This might be a generalization, but it's likely you are not a very good dancer -- not, at least, compared to Prince, M.I.A., or whoever else is supposed to rocking the song you are destroying with your storm of fist pumps or half-hearted hip checks.
  2. This ain't no disco.
  3. Furthermore, if you are up onstage, there's a good chance that you are there -- and feel entitled to be there -- because you are drunk or well on your way (Lord knows how you managed to get up there). As someone who has rushed the stage, you are already persona non grata to your fellow concert-goers. Imagine how much less they will like you if you accidently step on a cord and stop the music mid-song. How much less will the performer like you?
  4. Frequently, this stage phenomenon rarely ends with one. If one drunken fool gets up there, suddenly every fool, drunken or not, wants to party facing out. To what end? The coquettish songstress or charismatic lead guitarist that drew everyone to the show in the first place is now forced to manage the affections of fans onstage rather than deliver his or her usual caliber of performance. 
Since it might come up, I have to mention that I myself have hopped up onstage before. I have done it more than once, in fact. Having reviewed the footage of it on YouTube afterwards, I can guarantee that it was not cool (even after having been encouraged by the performer himself to be up there). 

About four years ago Greg Gillis of Girl Talk began souping up what would be a an otherwise mundane laptop DJ routine by cultivating a party atmosphere at his shows. He would throw beach balls into the audience along with other fancies; but his best known gimmick is/was inviting everyone and their cousin to come dance along side him onstage. This maneuver, I assume, was to imitate the feeling of the house parties where he first got his start DJing. With this, the line between the audience and performer quickly disappeared and the show became like one big party -- what's not to like about that?

Flash forward a few years to the Presets show that happened last week: the Australian electronic duo were dressed nicely, moving between their numerous gadgets and gizmos, addressing fans or enjoying introspective moments, alternately. Excellent. Meanwhile, I was up at the front for this show, thoroughly enjoying the performance. At one point I heard a few girls to my left say, "Okay, let's go." Christ, I thought. Sure enough, "One... two... three!!" and up they went. The girls had shimmied and thrusted for a total of five seconds before the security guards, thankfully, came to escort them off the stage. The looks on the performers' faces suggested that they weren't impressed by the attempt to steal their show. "This last one is for you San Francisco... and also for Mezzanine's excellent security," they said before their final encore song.

There was a time when going up on stage was really special. Do you remember when Michael Jackson would invite a screaming girl onstage, give her a flower, sing to her and she would (cry first and then) faint? I certainly don't (I was all of about five), but it happened! This was closer to the performer-audience norm. Now fans feel entitled to time onstage alongside the performer and it makes the affair feel sloppy. I don't want every show to feel like the same party. If I wanted to see bad dancing on a platform I would go to Ruby Skye.

I reiterate: don't do it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Impromptu Sightseeing by the Golden Gate Bridge

"At least half an hour," said the reporter on a local news radio station. We had already been stuck for about twenty minutes without any sign of moving.

I was on my way back to the city from Marin County, where I had just gotten a cavity filled (tsk tsk, my sugar habit) by my dentist in Tiburon. Suddenly, I brought my junky Ford Escape to a screeching halt somewhere just before the Sausalito exit in order to avoid a wall of cars already there. Seconds later, cops whizzed by in the emergency left lane, lights ablaze, and I wondered: accident or jumper?

The latter would not be farfetched (someone jumps from the GG Bridge about once every two weeks), but on this occasion it was the former -- a six car pile-up from a head-on collision that forced the police to close off both sides of the the highway onto the bridge. We were told by the radio announcers to hang in there because we weren't going anywhere fast.

The people in the cars around me must have been listening to the same announcement because at that same moment I saw the mood on the highway change considerably. Rather than the usual stop-and-go-is-this-lane-better-than-that-lane sort of urgency, people could no longer fuss because they couldn't rush. They couldn't move, period. And so they accepted their situation and made do.

A makeshift community of stopped motorists temporarily flourished. One woman smoked a cigarette out her car window while she read a book with her legs propped up on the dashboard. People began to emerge from their cars. One man put his hazard lights on before approaching the car in front of his to flirt with its driver. Children from various traveling parties chased each other between lanes, often narrowly avoiding the swerving motorcyclists on their perpetual mission to get to the front of everything. A father bounced his child on his shoulders, encouraging her to wave, as though a parade were passing, at the few Northbound cars on the other side of median. A tall woman used her cell phone to snap photos of a view none of us would have noticed were we not paused at that unusual spot on the highway. Meanwhile, I blasted a CD I purchased at Amoeba yesterday -- yes, nice and loud so as to impose my impeccable musical taste on my captive audience. Fortunately, the woman taking pictures seemed to like it and threw me a rock fist (perhaps inappropriately, given the nature of the music).

Eventually, some voice on a loudspeaker (much like the one that commands us every tuesday at noon from Lone Mountain) instructed us all to return to our vehicles. Cars began to whoosh by on the opposite side of the road, faster and faster until, finally, it sounded like a highway again. Hearing this, cars around me started up and suddenly we were all inching forward once again, just as irritated with each other as we were before we learned we'd be stuck. The block party was over!

Although I don't regret the moment (as long as it doesn't happen often!), I also feel I must consider the gravity of the accident that caused it. Those who have driven over the Golden Gate Bridge know how daunting the middle lanes are -- a slight move to the left and your car is heading into oncoming traffic. I generally move to the right lane for this very reason. You can see in the video above (hit mute if you have a low tolerance for John Mayer) how close the passing cars come to one another. 

Traditionally, the most interesting argument concerning the bridge involves whether or not we put up a net of sorts to prevent bridge suicides; however, given today's event, I think it would be wise -- and relatively easy -- to focus on putting a median in there first.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Italians Do It Better This Sunday

Oh man ohmanohman!

This Sunday, May 25th Rickshaw Stop is going to host an all-star lineup of bands from the Italians Do It Better label (NY), including some of my current favorites:


I've captured the band in this short video from the last time they played at Rickshaw Stop:

and Glass Candy 

The show also features Farah, DJ Mike Simonetti, and San Francisco's Popscene DJs. 

The event is 18+ and doors are at 9pm. See Rickshaw's calendar for more info. Save me a dance!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bay to Breakers... Sort Of.

So, I didn't make it to Bay to Breakers today because I was stuck in the dorm dealing with this:

Accumulation of Matter Outside Dorm

I helped close USF's Fromm Hall for the summer. Many students discovered they had more things than they intitially thought!

Fortunately, later that evening I did spot a few lingering "runners" ordering some grub at Farolito Taqueria in the Mission, where I was enjoying a horchata and Quesadilla Suiza Especial (that's with melted cheese, avocado, salsa, and my choice of meat -- make mine carnitas, hold the sour cream) with Sky.

Fish Have to Eat, Too!
It's a pair of the famous Bay to Breakers salmon! 

Bay to Breakers - May 2007
Originally uploaded by Angie Ryan

Every year a group of "salmon" run the race the opposite way, like salmon heading upstream -- ya dig? 

Watching a salmon wolf down a burrito at the end of the long day made me feel better about missing out on one of our city's most exciting traditions.

Rubber Cement: 33 Stanyan Inbound, Sunday, 8:03p

"Here's a trick: You order fries without salt so that they have to make them fresh. Then you put lots of salt on them."
-- man explaining how he sticks it to fast food places

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Media Studies Department Rulez(sic)!

In addition to feeding me a delicious Italian dinner, members of the Media Studies department honored me with unexpected recognition tonight. Booya! As I now put the finishing touches on my Goodwin paper, I am already enjoying some tea in the rad KUSF skull-and-cross-bones mug (chocolate candy removed) that I received as part of the award. Thanks!

Congratulations to Amber for her award! Have fun in Peru!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Blog in 100 Words or Less

If anyone has missed my blog posts for the last couple of months (heaven forbid), here is an interesting way to catch up! Sara turned us Davies Students on to this Tag Cloud generator a little while back. Frankly, I'm not sure if I have done this correctly, but if it works you will see a floating "cloud" of variously sized words that represent my life this past semester -- as well as words can.

created at

Obviously "Lulu" and "San Francisco" come up, but it's also pleasing to me to see words like "community" and "exploring" in there. It makes me think I'm actually doing what I set out to do: explore my community and let others in on it. Although, I think the arrangement "ate away Bartlett bite bootie" is probably the most telling combination in the group...

Saturday, May 03, 2008