Thursday, January 24, 2008

A first dispatch from the studio

We're five days into recording and I've officially lost all track of month, year, time, and reality in general. Sunday or Tuesday? Afternoon or evening? Rottweiler or centaur? These questions matter not to a Jedi. And due to this overall lack of cognizance, the details forthcoming may or may not be true. But veracity isn't what we're concerned with here. It's more a Impressionist thing. You know, if the Impressionists drank Tecate and played banjo. Which, really: prove to me they didn't.

This all began last Saturday. I spent Friday night not-sleeping and not-letting-anyone-else-sleep like the toddler-before-Christmas I knew I'd end up becoming. It had been a good year and half since we last recorded and that session was fraught with time constraints, questionable instruments, and an overall lack of good sense and experience. At this point, I wouldn't call us "mature" per se---I'm still laughing at this, for example---but we've certainly matured. We've gathered vintage. Eighteen months ago, we were a Charles Shaw whereas now we're, uh, whatever costs a little more than that. Carlos Rossi, maybe. I don't know.

So after a sleepless Friday night and a breakfast of "natural" cereal (which is really just a euphemism for "tastes like some twigs"), after a morning packing up everything we own that makes sounds, and after a harrowing drive to the studio, through the Tenderloin, a drive which at best reminds you of playing "Paperboy" and at worst gives you heart palpitations and an unhealthy dosage of misanthropy, after that, we were ready to go. Well, not quite. All manner of loading was done, all manner of tones were dialed in, but really: blah, blah, blah. What I really want to talk about is Tom.

In a profession where crazy eyes, hunchbacks, and borderline mania are the norm, Tom is a breath of fresh air. (Literally: before our first album, we had a face to face chat with a prospective producer whose halitosis wilted a large sycamore in the vicinity. Needless to say, we went elsewhere). And since a recording session is essentially just the band and the producer, its important to find someone whose personality, tastes, and sense of humor are compatible with your own. And, beyond the assumed normality of dental hygiene, Tom is working out perfectly. He's low key, spontaneous, and hilarious. And yeah, I know it sounds like I'm trying to hook you up with him on a blind date, but really, I'm not. He's a castrato anyhow.

So honestly, by the end of the first day, we knew everything would be fine. We tracked a pair of songs in the evening and it just seemed, well, it seemed effortless. Everything sounded like we wanted it to, nothing caught on fire. And five days later, we're nearly done getting the skeleton of the album on tape.

I only wish we could be showing him a less squalid part of our fair city. Unfortunately, we're in the Tenderloin. Instead of the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, the cultural milestones of North Beach, or the best urban park going, Tom's seen prostitutes of mysterious gender, drug dealer-hobo fisticuffs, brown-mouthed liquor store attendants, public defecation, and a general lack of persons with employment, good sense, and the gumption to shower once a week. I went grocery shopping so I'd never have to go outside. And, while a twice daily peanut butter and jelly habit might prevent me from seeing something depressing yet hilarious, like a man with underwears on his head playing chess with a cardboard box, it also prevents me from seeing something depressing and downright haunting, like that man losing to the cardboard box.

But Tom's been here before. He has friends here, knows the names of various neighborhoods and the names of far more low-rent strip clubs and bars where there are probably roosters fighting in the back room. It's not as if he'll leave San Francisco thinking it's forty-seven square miles are nothing more than one big George Romero movie. Which is good.


fancypants said...

I think it's interesting that when you walk down the street in the haight, passersby will mutter "green buds" or "trees" whereas in the tenderloin some cracked out guy will walk right up to you and ask loudly, "WANNA BUY SOME METH?".

SOL's view said...

ah, Winnebago Man, we love you....

rachael said...

ahem...LOST?!? Don't tell me that studio stopped you from watching the premiere! My head exploded at least 3 times.

Webb said...

...followed by maybe a second dispatch from the studio. Maybe?

Anonymous said...

Hey i know this is super random but i remember somone ranting about gummy bears of the heide variety somewhere on this blog. u know...the happiness of bears in overalls?if not sorry for bothering. If so pehaps i shall release the secret of their place of existance?

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