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Posts Tagged 'music'

Outsidelands Travel Tips

OutsideLandsSince I’ve got a broken ankle I can’t do too much so I was checking out the prices last night after OutsideLands finished for taking a ride with the various TNC’s as an alternative to cab rides or muni. It was pretty shocking.

I drive for Sidecar and was able to drive last year and it was pretty busy. Most of the rides were short because people would park a few blocks away and walk to the concert. Most of my trips were for around $8-$10. This year it was different. A lot different.

I started checking prices around 9:30pm on Uber and Sidecar [Lyft doesn’t give estimates, but I had heard they were charging 25% Prime Time Tips on top of their ride fee]. Here’s what I found. I live a little over a mile from OutsideLands and was curious what a ride would cost me to get home from there:

Uber: $40 [estimate]

Sidecar: $6 [real price]

WTF?!?!?!

Yes, Uber has what is known as surge pricing. If Uber thinks there is going to be a high demand they will charge more to get more drivers out there. It’s actually the opposite of the supply and demand idea. When a lot of people want a product the price goes down to move more product. Uber is a service though, so when demand goes up so does the price. The biggest problem is that Uber isn’t the only game in town as much as they’d like to think.

Sidecar has a policy where driver’s can set their own prices, but new drivers are set up so that their first 25 rides will be forced to the minimum of $5 and base multiplier of 1.0. This doesn’t mean all rides will be $5, but they will be cheaper. This pricing makes regular Sidecar drivers stay competitive with the new drivers and not seriously overcharging for the service. It’s kind of an odd way of doing business, but it seems to work out better so far for the riders.

Another odd thing was that if you tried to get an Uber car at 9:30 on the Richmond side of Golden Gate Park it was surging at 5.0x, but if you walked a little bit to the Sunset side to get an Uber car it was at 2.0x. That’s over half the price. Here’s where it gets a little weird. Richmond side Uber to Russian Hill [a friend of mine asked me this question] $75. Sunset side Uber to Russian Hill $50. Yes, you could save $25 and take a longer ride just by walking the equivalent of a couple of blocks.

My advice to people looking for an alternative to the overburdened Muni to get too and from OutsideLands is that if you’re going to take Uber go to the Sunset [south] side of Golden Gate Park to request a ride, or just look for Sidecar which will save you the most money. It won’t guarantee you a $6, but it will definitely be a lot cheaper than Uber or Lyft.

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I’m Not Dead Yet…

Eric in a pondering mood.Geez, it’s been awhile hasn’t it? I’ve been kind of busy and haven’t had a chance to post anything lately, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve got a few things that I’m working on that I’m going to get started on tonight and hopefully will be able to post them soon, that is if I can keep my daughter from interrupting me every five minutes to drop something in my coffee instead of her just walking up to me and saying hello.

There’s quite a few interesting things I’ve run across lately that aren’t making a lot of attention in the news so I thought I’d share them with you. Some of them have taken some time to gather more information on so that I had all the information first and I think I’ve got that part down so I’ll be writing tonight and through the week to get some of this out of my head and into your eyes.

Oh yeah, here’s recent pic of me so you don’t have to look at me eight years ago anymore.

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A Night At The Opera

A Night At The OperaSeptember 6th was the San Francisco Opera’s opening night Gala event. It was also my birthday, but that’s another story. I was down near the Opera House as people where arriving and it was kind of interesting to watch people in their finery walking down some streets of somewhat ill repute.

There is nothing so humorous as a woman in her finest Vera Wang gown drenched in jewels stepping around a homeless person with a cup and not even dropping a dollar in for him while trying to maintain her elegant decorum. I don’t normally feel so strong a need to help the homeless, but when you have someone wearing a $5000 gown that she probably won’t wear again who for some reason can’t afford to drop $1 or $5 in a guys cup there just seems something a bit wrong to me.

Of course that’s not the only thing that seems kind of wrong about the evening to me. All the the glitterati rich and famous come out for the opening night of the Opera and I was reading all about it. A lot of the people you don’t recognize who are along with the recognizable until you read their names and note that there were lots or people who’s surnames were either the names of big companies or streets in San Francisco [because they came from very old money that they’ve been living off of for a century or so].

The pictures of the Opera’s opening gala in the news were all about who wore what dress and jewelry, what food was served, how ornate the decorations were yet I couldn’t for the life of me find a single mention of what was being performed that evening. It’s like a tailgate party for the rich and famous where you never bother going in to see the game.

Mark Twain has a vehement dislike for the idle rich and even wrote a society column in San Francisco once were he just threw in several French words to make the people sound rather important. Madame wore a fine pate de foi gras lovingly draped in an amuse bouche of taffeta and chiffonade haricot vert. That line always stuck in my head just because I knew enough to laugh at Twain’s description of a woman dressed in goose liver and an appetizer of chopped green beans as being rather hilarious.

I’m not sure if any of these people show up for the rest of the season, but I have to admit that the men get off easy. They just need a tux which is pretty easy to fake. All you need is a black suit that you add a bow tie and cumber bun to a tux shirt and you’re done. You could probably do that for under $100 if you already have a black suit [hint: Goodwill store].

Overall I strongly believe the arts need support and if that means that you need to have a night where the rich get to dress up and show off so the rest of us can get some benefit I guess I’ll have to be OK with that as long as the rest of us do get some benefit from it.

OK and before I forget, the evening featured a monumental work of choral grandeur and melodic richness that was Mephistopheles by Arrigo Boito.

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The Hippies Are Coming! The Hippies Are Coming!

Outside LandsThis weekend is Outside Lands which I happened to notice that when you look back on pictures and film of the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park there isn’t much difference.

There are a few other things you’ll see that you didn’t have in the 60’s like, corporate sponsors and better food. Less Wild Giraffe Banana Wine and more micro brews. Less granola, more artisan food. If the Hippie Movement were today it would probably look a lot like Outside Lands. Seriously, look at the picture. That’s from Outside Lands, not the Summer of Love.

I’m not sure if they realize it, but Outside Lands is just a modern day version of the Summer of Love, just compacted into a single weekend along with lots more people compacted into a single space. If you look at the people of Outside Lands you’ll see the following:

  1. People wearing tie dye
  2. Lots of pot
  3. People dressing not in tie dye, but just as equally outrageous
  4. Lots of pot
  5. Scantily clad & nekkid people
  6. Lots of pot
  7. The Grateful Dead Dance [you’ll know it when you see it]
  8. Lots of pot
  9. Flowers in their hair
  10. Lots of pot
  11. Mud

I wonder if Sir Paul McCartney will be having a bit of a flashback when he performs at Outside Lands this weekend. It definitely be a groovy time for all who are there to experience the happening. For those few who aren’t going to do be advised that it is going to be crowded and getting to the other side of the park is going to be difficult. If you have time you might want to find some of the close by convenience stores to help you stock up for the weekend. It’s nice to have a good supply of munchables and drinks to hold you out through the day and keep you from spending top dollar too often at the concert.

Luckily Muni will have more buses [which may or may not help] and there is rumor of free cab rides to and from the concert. If you’ve got a smart phone you might want to download the Sidecar or Lyft app. Something tells me that cabs will be in short supply, but to safe you some money if you use Sidecar and haven’t used it before download the app and use the promo code essentiallyeric to get $10 credit to help you out on your trip.

Me? I can walk out my door and hear the entire concert without paying a dime, but I’ll most likely be driving around helping people get to and from the show. Have fun, be good and don’t take the brown acid.

The Audium

The AudiumThere are truly few weird and wonderful places left in San Francisco today. Yes, I’ve talked about the relics from the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition and 1938/1940 World’s Fairs that are on display at the Musee Mechanique, but a place I had forgotten about was brought to my attention the other day — The Audium.

The original concept started in the 50’s when experimental music was in a bit of an underground heyday. Enhanced by somewhat more affordable recording technology there were lots of people who were creating music from the sounds of the world around us or Musique Concrète. These were some of the early days of electronic music as we know it today. The music as it were could be the sounds of construction, cars driving by, people talking which could put you in a place without having to go there, or it could simply be a bizarre array of sounds that you really wouldn’t know what to make of it.

The Audium would fall into a bit of the later category. The room is circular and looks a bit like a space ship on the inside. From the ceiling are 136 hanging speakers as well as built into the walls at it’s current location at 1616 Bush Street. The Audium is best experienced rather than described. With all of those speakers individual sounds can be moved around the room in a way that 5.1 Dolby Surround or even 7.1 Dolby Surround can’t replicate. After you enter and take a seat the low level lighting is lowered to complete darkness. The room isn’t really warm or cold, but everything is set up so that the main focus of the evening is on your ears and the story that the sound will play for them.

Each work is performed live by Stan Shaff every Friday and Saturday night who mixes the taped audio in a different way each time. You could probably make the analogy that Stan is like a 3D sound DJ. Call it genius or insanity, but after you’ve experienced it once you’ll have a completely different idea of what sound it. Tickets for each performance are $20 [cash only] and a limited number of tickets are available pre-show through the City Box Office. Children under 12 are not allowed as, well, it’ll probably be a bit weird for them and they’ll start asking questions which kind of defeats the purpose.

The Audium is a place that everyone should go to at least once in their life if they intend to spend any time in San Francisco. It’s just a little bit of weirdness that helps create the character of our City.

The Case Of The Unknown Guitarist…

I was never much of a conspiracy theorist, but sometimes something happens that you just have to say, WTF?!?. The latest started one day when I was cleaning out my cabinet in my recording studio and came across some CD’s that didn’t have any labels on them. This was unfortunately normal for me several years ago and I started to pop them in and try and identify them. I came across a song I had forgotten about from back around 2001 that started with a strange call I received and that’s where this story begins.

I need to give you a little bit of background so you can understand the head space I was in then. While I had been in a band that played around the city and I was always hanging out in the local clubs that was in the 80’s and early 90’s. After I got married, while I was still a musician I wasn’t playing live or in a band. Hell, my band broke up in 1985 before the local scene really started to get big actually.

I still had lots of friends in the industry that I’d be in touch with and occasionally I’d get a call to help them out with a recording they were doing. I wasn’t really on the pulse of what was going on anymore.  I actually didn’t know that several of the bands that I liked from the 80’s were still together and releasing albums until recently.

This is where it starts to get interesting. I got a call one weekend from a friend of a friend. He told me that he was recording a band at the Record Plant and their guitarist got in a car accident and they were burning studio time. I hadn’t really played with a band in almost 15 years at this point aside from some small side gigs in a studio and I was told that this was pretty much all it was. I was suggested because they needed someone who played like guitarist X. I have to use an X here because I don’t really have enough to go on so I can’t name the guitarist, but I figured it was some sort of cover band or a band covering one of X’s songs and I was pretty much known for being able to play like this guitarist because, well he was kind of my idol in the 80’s. I said, let me grab my guitar and find some extra strings and I’ll be right over. Don’t worry we’ve got everything you need just come right now.

I didn’t think much at the time, but I drove over there and was handed a guitar that I noodled around with for a few minutes. Mind you this was a guitar very similar to the guitarist’s I was supposed to be emulating so I figure wow, they weren’t kidding. It was actually the same brand guitar I played. I started to adjust the tone on the amp to get it to where I thought it needed to be and I was told, don’t touch it, we’ve got his tone dialed in.

OK they had everything figured out, no problem, I just chalked it up to being professional. The bass player and drummer where there, but they had pretty much recorded most of what they needed except they needed more guitar. I jammed on the song a couple of times with the band and then we went straight to recording. It was only a couple of takes and then I went back and re-recorded the rhythm parts. They liked what I did and told me that it was perfect and no one would know that their guitarist missed the session. Cool. I was supposed to get paid $250 for the job and they ended up giving me $500 and asking me not to tell anyone I covered for their guitarist.

I actually knew so little about the band that I didn’t know the name of the guitarist, let alone the band and just figured I was getting paid to play guitar and I headed home with my money. Time spent about three hours total.

It was fun being in a big studio one more time in my life and playing the CD they sent me on this day reminded me of that time. So much so that I decided to post it to some friends in a sort of, remember back when sort of thing. It was when I got a call from a friend I hadn’t talked to in years that the story got interesting.

It turns out that somewhere around this time he was one of a few people called to see if they knew anyone who could play like this guitarist. It turns out the guitarist had fallen on hard times and had well, gone missing during the recording and they needed someone to cover for him. I honestly didn’t even know this guitarist was still recording and thought he was just another guy who’d show up for a guest gig here and there and that was it. Now this was only one song I played and like I said it was an in/out kind of thing so who knows how far this could have gone. There could have been several guitarists called in and they just picked from what they liked the best. I found the album that the song could have been released on and I have to say that it does sound like me to a certain extent. Well, me sounding like him. The worst part is that it was 12 years ago so I can’t say for sure. I notice things that are different between the two, but the singer [who I never met] sounds exactly the same. That’s one of the problems when you’re doing a cover tune is that people try to sound exactly like the original. I did have a bit of a habit of overplaying a bit and there were signs that what I played were there, but that was also based on a few changes the band I was playing with had added to the song. On top of that the song was originally recorded in the 70’s so even bands from the 70’s update their sound a bit over the years.

It all comes down to the question of was it me being asked to cover the part of one of my idol guitarists who couldn’t make the session or was it a band doing a cover of said guitarist? I can’t say for sure. I definitely can sound like him because he was a big influence on me, but the whole idea of me being him on his record is just too hard to imagine. Probably the worst part is that if it was me, I’ll never get recognized for it because no one would ever be able to admit it was me.

How To Enjoy Warm Weather in San Francisco

Summer in the cityNow that daylight savings is in effect and we’ve got more sunlight along with warmer weather coming in I thought I’d share some tips that I’ve developed over the years for how to enjoy the warm weather on the cheap. There are benefits to this that I’ll get into later, but expect to see some old school references to how to do this. There are few things you’ll need which can be adjusted to your needs.

1. Driveway
2. Lawn chairs/chaise lounges
3. Cooler [filled with beer]
4. Radio/music device

Those are the basics. Feel free to add to the list, but don’t subtract. Start by pulling the car out of the driveway and setting up two chaise lounges [old school] or lawn chairs. Place  cooler of beer [budweiser or if you’re a hipster PBR] between them and turn on the music. Don’t forget to invite a friend or neighbor for the other lounge/chair. Long 70’s mustaches not necessary unless you’re going for a retro vibe.

That’s how we used to do it. Sort of like in the picture only with a better fashion sense. While I’m not positive I do believe that it came about from Dad’s getting up in the mornings on the weekend and mowing the lawn and doing all the front of the house gardening and then after cleaning up it would be around noon and they’d pull out the chaise lounge to admire their work.

There wasn’t really much other times you would sit out in front of your house so that makes the most sense to me. If it was a particularly warm day you’d hose down the driveway and sit there in the steam that the breeze would cool down making it a rather enjoyable outing. The Western side of the city doesn’t get a lot of sunny days so you enjoy them more when you do get them and for people here anything above the mid 60’s temperature wise has them passing out with heat stroke so you have to do what you can to cool the place down aside from waiting until around 4pm in the afternoon when the wind kicks up.

If you don’t have a real driveway [a personal parklet?] you can still find a way to make it work. There are lots of areas with smaller half sized driveways or pretty much no driveway in front of the garage that you can find some way to squeeze in a couple of chairs, cooler and radio.

There’s another benefit to this in that you get to walk people walking down your street. Most of them are probably your neighbors. This was the way I met most of my neighbors and if they start talking to you and you offer them a beer you’ve just created a connection that both of you might have a use for in the future. You’ll suddenly find that your next door neighbor likes to tinker with cars and that maybe you can help them fix their plumbing problem. I got rid of my gophers thanks to a neighbor which I gave him some orchid bulbs from my yard in exchange [side note: anyone need some cymbidium orchid bulbs? I’ve got tons of them. Will trade for chocolate.]

Doing this lets you take life slowly for a little while and all it costs you is the beer. Maybe you’ll break out the little grill on a hot day and cook up some burgers with your neighbors [which is a good reason to have a freezer in your garage.] It lets you have company without having to clean the house. Gives you a chance to meet your neighbors and if you live on an East/West facing street you might get invited across the street when the sun goes away on your side or invited over before you get the sun in the afternoon. Think about it, we need more of this.