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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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Big Boy Pete and The Squire

I received for my birthday yesterday an advance copy of Hitmen by my friend Big Boy Pete. I’ve written about him before and he’s an excellent musician as well as a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who taught me some of the best secrets to recording music. I have to say that upon listening to the CD I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the album.

While the liner notes are ridiculously silly because you’ve got a couple of psychedelia musicians recording an album together based on flashbacks from their 60’s acid daze. You’ll definitely hear the styles of the bands of the day, but not copying the bands, but doing it in their own style. The first thing that hit me was the first song which is a good opening track called American Dream which the lyrics where re-written to express today’s political situation. They followed it up with Trailer Trash that sounded like it was T. Rex, except that the song was written three years before T. Rex was started. I hear some references to the style of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but again they were in their beginnings when these songs were written so they aren’t a rip off on them and they’ve got keyboards in there that modernize these retro psychedelia songs.

While I don’t know anything about The Squire, I’ve known Big Boy Pete for years and he’s become a San Francisco landmark for recording many of the local punk and metal bands in the late 70’s and 80’s. He was one of the small recording studios that allowed many small bands to come to prominence in the local Bay Area music scene while he recorded his own music as well.

To give you an example, I’ve included the song Amber to give you a taste of the album. Click the link at the bottom to hear it. The CD is currently going to be publicly released shortly and I’ll let you know where and when you can get it.

I knew that day in New York that they’d won.
Our viral spiral had just begun.
‘Cos the White House was focused on catching the villains
And no-one was watching the bankers steal billions.
Now is the time for American Spring.

— American Spring

Amber

The State of Heavy Metal

My wife and I watched a TV show last night on a metal concert called Sonisphere in Knebworth England. I have to say while the show was decent we noticed a trend in the advertising during commercial breaks – erectile dysfunction, beds to reduce back pain, pills to make you feel young again and home insurance. Wow. Heavy Metal shows will soon have Depends advertising on them or maybe Metallica’s next tour will be sponsored by Preparation H or Metamucil.

Yes, the metal bands from the 80’s and 90’s are all approaching their 50’s and 60’s in age, but there are still a few in their late 30’s. Some have fared better than others. San Francisco was the epicenter to thrash metal in the 80’s and early 90’s before grunge pushed them underground. We had Metalica, Testament, Death Angel, Exodus, Laaz Rockit and that’s just off the top of my head. Apologies to my buds who I left out. Bands from out of town found San Francisco a must stop place to play. The Record Vault was where every metal band had to put in an appearance.

When out of town bands lost a member they usually turned to the San Francisco bands to find a replacement. Now we’re relegated to VH1 Classic. Classic rock was what you referred to bands who stopped recording albums and performed only reunion tours. The Rolling Stones first reunion tour was in 1975. That today is Classic Rock, not Slayer or Metallica.

I have noticed a few changes over the years in metal’s appearance and part of that has to do with the grunge movement. As the metal heads get older and their hair starts to thin, if you cut your long hair then you must grow facial hair. If you still have thinning long hair then you grow a goatee. If you shave your head then you need a ridiculous amount of facial hair [Scott Ian, Kerry King] Lemmy of Mötorhead is the only exception because he’s had the mutton chops and mustache since he was born. He eats nothing but red meat and potatoes and downs a fifth of Jack Daniels a day and his liver is still in perfect health and he doesn’t look a day older than he did in the 80’s.

If you have gray hair you either dye it [Joey Belladonna] or wear a beanie. Not the propeller head beanies, but a black one preferably with a skull and crossbones on it. Sadly there are few metal bands left in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have Metallica that’s usually off touring somewhere just like Death Angel who at least puts in a showing at the Haight Street Fair [special note, Will and Ted of Death Angel were in a band called Warfare D.C. I used to manage and the pre-Death Angel reunion group when they were the Organization I recorded their demo so I have to give them special props].

Heavy metal isn’t dead, but it isn’t growing the way it was pre-21st century. It’s mostly the same bands from the old days reforming. If you want to find new metal bands you have to look to Europe or more specifically Finland for new blood. That’s how things started  with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the 80’s so maybe by 2020 we’ll see something new pop up in the states and specifically San Francisco. We have lost a few from back in the day, but in most cases it’s not been from drugs, but cancer or some other failure of a body part. Yep, we’re getting older, but the advertisers don’t have to remind us every day.

I Got Punked.

I should have realized that it was posted on April 1st, but I didn’t take notice when I read an article on Metallica breaking up. I got punked. Metallica is one of the biggest metal bands and for them to break up would be huge. Sure, they don’t please everyone anymore. I still like the earlier albums, but then again, I used to roadie for them back in their club days.

No one has confirmed it was an April Fool’s joke, but I’m pretty certain at this point it is. I haven’t had any contact with any of the guys in years so I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s a joke. The actual story from ultimate-guitar.com stated the following:

Despite the recent talks of a new album and 3D movie, Metallica’s James Hetfield has officially announced that Metallica, the world’s biggest heavy metal band, has called it quits.

In an official statement from Hetfield on behalf of the entire group, Hetfield revealed the factors that contributed to this surprising decision: “We’ve been doing this for 30 years. At a certain point, we all realized we wanted to explore new territories musically. The project with Lou Reed [”Lulu”] seemed to awaken a desire to move onto new musical horizons. It’s come to that time; we can’t be Metallica anymore. But fear not, you’ll be hearing new music from each of us in the future.”

Plans for said musical projects from each band member remain speculative; however, each member of Metallica has announced tentative plans for what’s in store for them musically in the coming months.

Hetfield, admittedly inspired by his onstage reunion with former Metallica guitarist, Dave Mustaine, has expressed desire to start a new group with the Megadeth frontman. Commenting on this, Dave Mustaine says, “I’ll have to think about it.” No word yet on who would fill in the bass and drum slots. Hetfield has admitted to having a strong respect for keyboardist **** from Children of Bodom, which could be a possibility.

Lars Ulrich, when asked what he plans to do, expressed desires to work alongside Marylin Manson. “I’ve been drawn more to the artistic side of heavy metal – with a guy like Manson, I think I’ll be satisfied artistically. We’ve gotten together a few times and thrown some ideas around.”

Bassist Robert Trujillo has issued some rather undiplomatic statements, calling Lars a “tool” and Hetfield a “control freak.” Trujillo plans on returning to his previous band, Suicidal Tendencies.

This news comes as a surprise to fans eager to hear the follow up to their 2008 return-to-form album, “Death Magnetic.” Although the ill-fated album with the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed seemed to foreshadow a mid-life crisis for the metal giants.

However, Lou Reed still remains in the Metallica circle; it is rumored that Metallica lead guitarist, Kirk Hammet, will team up with Reed for a concept album that explores the dynamic range of his favorite electric guitar effect- the wah pedal. “The wah pedal is pure expression, much like Lou Reed’s voice. Everything on the album – percussion, vocals, guitars, bass – will go through a wah pedal.”

We at UG are certainly surprised to hear of this news. Metallica will always be remembered as one of the most influential metal bands of all time. This is quite the way to begin the month of April…

Now I didn’t even know they made an album with Lou Reed and after checking it out on iTunes, I have to say that would have been an better April Fool’s joke. It just proved that Lou Reed is completely tone deaf. Death Magnetic was recorded too loud to the point that the whole album is distorted. I’m not really pissed about being punked by the announcement, only feeling dumb that I didn’t catch that it was posted on April 1st.

The Election!

Yesterday was election day and now due to ranked choice voting [RCV] we still have no idea who the new Mayor is. Ed Lee taking 31% has started to hint at a victory, but he doesn’t realize that RCV favors the far left more than the conservative democrats in this city. If you look at the list the bottom is pulled and the second and third choice are added to the ballot. Most of the bottom rung candidates are what San Francisco likes to call, Progressives.

In some cases I think anarchists might even be better. There are eight write in candidates and I haven’t heard of even one of their names. My biggest shock was that Terry Joan Baum actually got more votes in the first round than Mr. Reset San Francisco Phil Ting. I guess we like things just the way they are. As the far left is weeded out we’ll eventually start to see the far left moving a little more to the right and my prediction is that Supervisor John Avalos’ name will start to pop up.

I believe this to be especially true when the second and third choice votes for Cesar Ascarrunz are divided up. I was surprised to see that Cesar was running again after all the years he’s consistently run and lost. He has pulled a bit of the latin vote in SF over the years and the fact that our number two in the first round has a last name of Avalos and is a latino will probably help him out. Avalos came in second in the first round with only 18% of the votes. This was surprising to me even though I offered my endorsement to him since I did not receive one piece of political junk mail from him which makes him very green so I’ll assume that several of Terry Joan Baum’s second and third choice voters will go to him.

Dennis Hererra sent out an email yesterday that almost read like a concession speech. As I mentioned in my last post that initially I liked Dennis until the smear campaign started. Again, I don’t like smear campaigns because they don’t focus on the candidate, but more on what the other candidates are doing wrong. John Avalos took the high road. Ed Lee has acted like a rockstar without a band. He took a Ted Nugent attitude and just assumed because he was the mayor he would get the spot. Senator Leland Yee who was all over the place talking about how wonderful he was until he found it better to stop talking about himself and start focusing on how Ed Lee was a traitor to the cause came in the first round with very disappointing 8.93%. I guess I won’t be seeing him at the Tennesse Grill anytime soon.

I do not like ranked choice voting because of the fact that it is now the day after the election and we still have people counting votes in overtime. We still don’t know who the mayor is as well as the sheriff or district attorney. We may not know for up to a week as people work overtime to count and recount the ballots and then when it is announced we’ll have people crying foul! which could carry this on for over a month. If we had the standard voting method with a run off it would take a couple of days for the decision. Granted, there would be time in between, but then people would be able to get on with their lives. San Francisco needs a fix and we need it fast. So now I unofficially ask you to vote in a run off. Ed Lee or John Avalos. Who would you choose. Any other comments will be deleted.

Exile In The Sunset: Now available on CD!

I just received my proof copy today of my new album and it looks great. Since I’ve approved it you can now purchase the album on iTunes or on CD now.

If you click on the final artwork picture to the left it will take you to the page where you can purchase a CD version. If you’re in San Francisco and can attend one of the meet ups I will personally autograph it for you.

There are two special tracks on the CD that I did to pay tribute to two people who have influenced me. Track 11 is called Satching with the Alien and is a tribute to my old guitar teacher you may have heard of before, Joe Satriani. The other is track 12, The Power and the Glory which is a tribute to Yngwie Malmsteen since he showed me how I could combine my classical music training with hard rock guitar.

This was a fun album to record and I think I’m getting better at playing all the instruments myself. There is more cohesiveness on this album than my last from three years ago and I like the fact that everything has clicked into place. While it might be another three years before my next album those of you who don’t know me know that I also compose and perform classical music. If you go to iTunes and drop my name into the search engine you’ll find a few more of my older albums there that have a bit of a Danny Elfman nod to them. Not Oingo Boingo Danny Elfman, but more Beetlejuice Danny Elfman.

In case you’re a bit on the lazy side and don’t want to scroll down on the side bar I’ve included the media player in here so you can try before you buy as I like to say. You can hear all the tracks and with a click or two you can purchase the ones you like from iTunes, but for the full CD be sure to click on the picture to take you to the page. I’d like to thank my old friend Derrold who gave me the idea for the title. While the title sounds nice it’s really a reference to the Sunset District of San Francisco which can on some days be almost as inhospitable as Antarctica, but I will always love it here.

*Sunset District People*

*Sunset District Incorporated*

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Exile In The Sunset

Well I finally finished everything up and I’m hoping by Monday that my new album will be available in iTunes. In the mean time you can listen to the album down below. There should be actual CD’s available within a month. If you like Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen you’ll probably like this album. If you don’t, well you may not, but that doesn’t matter to me.

I recorded the album myself in my home studio that I wrote an article about on my music website saundhaus that talks about how when I first graduated from college with my new degree in audio recording it would have cost me over $500,000 to have what I have today. Over time prices go down and now I think my entire studio cost me less than $5000.

I played all the instruments on this myself and created the artwork for the album and now I’m doing all the marketing myself. I don’t have time to put a band together and play live anymore, but I still have a need to make music. My hope is that at the very least people will like my music and purchase it. I’m kind of a nobody so there’s not going to be having a record release party at Amoeba Music, but I might try and get them to stock a few CD’s at least. When the CD is finished it will be available through my saundhaus website, amazon.com and supposedly Target as well.I have yet to find my previous CD at Target, but I still check every time I go. Enough of that though. It’s time to stop talking and start rocking. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you follow me on Twitter you’ll get a code as soon as the CD is out to get a 30% discount off the CD.

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