Southern California – San Diego and LA (July 15 and 16)
I don’t hate Southern California, I hate LA. I don’t care if it’s fashionable or unfashionable to hate LA. I just hate LA. But San Diego is another matter. I know nothing about the city or whether a city actually exists, but the weather here, the light here, the breezes here are so beautiful, they almost compensate for all that concrete. It’s an oddly soothing place especially if you spend the day in the confines of Humphry’s-By-The-Bay….so my perspective is slightly skewed. Coming down from our three day sojourn through the desert, the cooling breezes coming off the San Diego Bay were all the welcome that we needed as we stepped off the bus. We never got the air-conditioning unit fixed but the #2 unit did a bearable job.
The gig at Humphrey’s is always fun because it’s such a great set-up for the travelling musician. It’s on a great piece of real estate: an outdoor venue sitting in the courtyard of the hotel, with the stage backing on to an immense marina. It is mere steps from backstage to ones hotel room. I think our performances here have been inconsistent over the years. Tonight was one of those shows that I couldn’t get a read on. My sound on stage wasn’t great. I wasn’t even enjoying my guitar sound, but I feel that we played well. It took its own course so we rearranged the set list mid-way through in order to go with the flow. Not a huge crowd tonight, but some pockets of real enthusiasm. Overall, a very good day.
I guess the truth is that I don’t really “get” LA. Maybe saying that I hate LA is a bit strong. Perhaps if I lived here or visited it more often or was given a tour by a native Los Angelino I wouldn’t find the place so ugly, so devoid of character, so uninteresting at street level. In any case when we arrived, Alan, Jeff and I hopped a cab and when to the one place here we knew we would find something unique and peculiar to this city: the Hollywood Cemetery. It’s odd that in all my visits to LA I have never visited this place. I love graveyards and it makes a visit all the more interesting when you trip over a small, modest grave marker for someone like Fay Wray or Jane Mansfield or John Ford. Then there are the monuments to eternal greatness like Douglas Fairbanks mausoleum or Cecil B De Mille’s twin sarcophaguses. In any case, it was nice to be in a quiet green space. The oddest marker was the one for Johnny Ramone. We couldn’t decide if his monument was an actual grave marker, or a prop for a movie, or some kind of ironic, cruel, post-mortem joke played on the ultimate New York punk rocker by some of his rich Angelino pals. In any case he looked very out place sitting there across from Douglas Fairbanks, just a stones throw away from Tyrone Power.
The gig tonight was at The Wiltern: a very large venue which we haven’t played in about twenty years (back when we were hip with the LA in-crowd). I think that, back in the day, it was a proper sit down theater. It has since been renovated and turned into one of those extremely cavernous theater-clubs. I suppose it wouldn’t be so cavernous if it were filled with a screaming audience, but tonight it felt awful cavernous. We had a tough time with the sound on stage and fought through a low end swamp for the entire performance. We had a few people who told us that it sounded great out front, so, for the health of our psyche, we’ll believe them….
Rumour has it that Michael Jackson is dead….I heard it on TV.