Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An Evening of Farewells...

Tonight was an unexpected emotional rollercoaster. First - a visit to the world famous Tower Records Sunset Strip to rummage through the scraps of merchandise before they shutter the doors for good per order of the bankruptcy courts. I spent many hours here in my teens and twenties buying rock & roll as well as "dance" music during my unfortunate Break Dance years, but that's another blog... Tonight I saw aisle upon aisle of empty racks and shelves. What was once chock full of must-have cassettes, vinyl and ultimately CDs was now just furniture to be listed on an "Asset" spreadsheet in a cubicle somewhere.

There was no vinyl left in the store, only CDs and I managed to scrape together a small purchase and contribute one last time to the great Tower Records (or, more precisely the liquidation company that purchased them). The crowd was light and the mood was somber. People were looking around taking it all in, with a palpable feeling of "I'll never see this place again" in the air. *sniff*

My take consisted of: Tom Waits - Real Gone, Look at All the Love We Found - Tribute to Sublime, Thin Lizzy - compilation CD and The Eels - Live at Town Hall.

A Guest Book of sorts with well-wishes from the loyal customers.

Next up in my self-afflicted Depress-Fest was a jaunt up the Strip to the House of Blues venue.

What better way to continue the "farewell" theme of the night than by catching a live set by rapper, player and uber-inseminator K-Fed? Brit had recently had his name changed to Fed-Ex and axed for his Ferrari back, so it's time to kick out the jams for one last rockshow! I am SO there. (note: I tried to smuggle in my digicam to capture this Milestone but the metal detectors and huge security guards were having none of it. Maybe it's best that way...)

The ticket ($22.50!) stated doors 9 o'clock, which means Kev will swagger out around 9:30 or 10 latest. Psych! When you're that hot, you keep the fans waiting yo. Fast forward to 11pm after 2 hours of ridiculously bad DJ music and watching shallow drunken women shout "I wanna have yer baby Kevin!!!!! woooooo!!!". I was this close to walking out when the lights went out and the PA system announced his name. "This better be good" I said to myself, then laughed at the contradiction in my short thought. K-Fed hipped and hopped his way through an awkward set of rap, breakdancing and shout-outs ("where's the love for K-Fed?" he axed us).
At one point after two "songs" he walked off stage and left us to be entertained by the back-up dancers and DJ mixin'. K-Fed: former backup dancer hisself, now able to walk out when he feels like it. After 30 MINUTES of performing, The Fed musta been tired cuz it was time to go, y'all.

It was now 11:30 and the show was over. No encore, no catch-the-sweaty-wifebeater, no nuthin'. Just a housefull of dedicated fans shuffling back out to the Sunset Strip, trying to make sense of what they had just seen and how they would explain it to their friends and family.

I waived goodnight to K-Fed as he hopped in the back of a City Cab and headed off to his friends place in the Valley where he's crashing on his futon until he figures out his next move. Farewell Tower....Farewell Kevin (until SuperBowl XLI that is...).

Monday, November 06, 2006

San Diego Bike Swap

Sunday Nov. 5th was the biannual San Diego Bike Swap Meet. I decided to avoid last year's routine of waking up before dawn and driving 2+ hours south to San Diego, instead this year choosing to take Amtrak down a day early, hang with friends and take it easy. We would ride our bikes from the hotel in the Gas Lamp district the next morning approx. 2-3 miles to the velodrome for the swap. Sleep in, have a little coffee, ride the bikes...sounded much better than 2 hours of freeway!

Return tickets would get us back home on the train Sunday after the swap ended.

I'm finding myself back at L.A.'s Union Station often these days.

Bike storage on Amtrak was free and easy to use.

All aboard...

A shot of the coast taken from my window seat

Santa Fe Station in downtown San Diego. The trip took 2:45 and was road-rage free.

We got settled in the hotel and went out to meet friends for dinner & drinks. Dinner was Mexican food at The Alamo in Old Town followed by drinks at The Liars Club, which, after margaritas and Makers Mark whiskey looked like this:

The alarm went off too early the next morning and I had to add in some Extra Strength Tylenol to breakfast. Ouch. Nothing a bike ride can't fix though, so off we were. I managed to find a few goodies at the swap, nothing super rare or much of a "find" but I snatched up what few things did catch my eye, such as:

leopard print SDG saddle for $1. New Thomson mtb stem for $50 and cool Salsa socks for $3

A subtle, tasteful jersey for the nice-price of $5

and last and maybe least - my new outfit consisting of an old purple "Save the World" jersey and a new pink jump helmet. Jersey $5, helmet $5. That's what - like $11 worth of stuff. Sweet.

We wrapped up the swap and headed to Ocean Beach for fish tacos before railing home.

see ya on the trails, I won't be hard to spot...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Trains and Secret Machines

Last night The Secret Machines played a FREE gig downtown L.A. at the Union Station train station. The catch was that it was free only if you showed up via public transportation; bus, subway, etc. and had the ticket to prove it. Leave the car in the driveway and get your ass to the train. The trusty Trek and I headed south to the Redline subway for our ticket to ride.

$1.25 gets you transit and a concert!

The wind from the train got my prop goin'

Arriving at the historic Union Station amid the bustle of people trying to get somewhere.....

Inside the venue I ran into friends Albert of Brave Soldier and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Steve Bohemke, both there for the show as well.

The turnout was surprisingly large, considering that asking Angelenos to go anywhere without their beloved car is like asking them to show up naked. (not that there's anything wrong with that....) I haven't seen the Secret Machines before and didn't really know their music aside from a track or two. Brothers Brandon and Ben Curtis along with drummer Josh Garza make up the band. The stage was set In the Round style, in the middle of a large room inside Union Station. The lights went down and Josh began pounding on the drums, hardly taking a break for the entire set. I was hooked from the first song. Ben's effects-heavy guitar and Brandon's singing and keyboards made amazing music. Thank god I had earplugs as I was about arms-length from Josh and his drums, leaning on the stage. The show was pretty low lit for the majority of the night which made photography difficult but I got a few to share.

my vantage point:

Josh crashes.

Ben on guitar & vocals

They ended with First Wave Intact, a pounding 9 minute jam that I was tapping my foot to long after the show ended. I would love to see them again live, and highly recommend seeing them if they stop by your town. Thanks to local staion Indie 103.1 FM for putting on such a cool show with a unique twist.

Back home for now~

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Everything In it's Right Place

Last night I was lucky enough to score tickets to the 2nd night of Radiohead's stop in L.A. They played at the outdoor Greek Theater, nestled in the hills & trees of Griffith Park - a perfect setting for a great show on a warm summer night. Myself and three friends arrived early, catching the last few songs from opening band Deerhoof. Yoko Ono goes indie/punk?

In between bands we couldn't help notice some familiar faces arriving. Catherine Keener grabbed an empty seat in front of us and asked for help locating her seat. She was by herself and looked amazing! Spidey aka Tobey Maguire walked by, looking for his seat. Followed by Woody Harrelson, Haley Joel "I see pale people" Osment, etc. Last but not least was newly mom'd Gwen Stefani with hubby and Bush supporter Gavin Rossdale. They grabbed the two aisle seats across from ours and my fascination with how they interacted began (in between songs, of course).

Radiohead opened with Airbag followed by The National Anthem. Sixteen songs later they exited the stage after playing Bones, and returned to play four more songs for the first of two encores.

Like Spinning Plates
Fake Plastic Trees
Down Is the New Up
Paranoid Android

It was now around 11pm and we were sure that the show was over due to strict sound curfews in this mostly residential hillside area. But no! Out they came for three more songs:

House of Cards
True Love Waits
Everything In It's Right Place.

25 songs total and it felt like they could have gone on for another 25. The crowd had been on it's feet for almost the entire show. I came to the show under the impression that Thom was pretty much an introvert and wouldn't be much of an entertainer. Wrong! He was funny, played to the crowd, ordered some noisy fools to "shut up" during Exit Music and generally enjoyed himself all night. An amazing, amazing show.

We shuffled through the crowd and mingled backstage, spotting Marilyn Manson in full costume & make-up chatting with friends & fans.

We closed backstage and went on to Fred 62 diner in Los Feliz for some post-show grub and concert reviewing. We spotted Bill Maher in a booth with a, er, lovely black woman whose heels may have been a tad too tall and skirt may have been a tad too short. They left and walked down the street, with most diners staring in mock-L.A. surprise. (Who'd you expect him to be with? Barbara Walters?).
After our various breakfasts and dinners, we slipped into the early morning L.A. traffic and found our respective ways home.

Bike content: It was a bitch to rise and shine today for the first day of Le Tour. Between seeing Radiohead live, and watching the Tour lineup implode I'm a bit overwhelmed :)

Monday, May 01, 2006


Rolled in at 4am this morning after a full day of desert sun, nuevo hippies and all the music you can handle at this year's Coachella Festival. I missed out on Day One, had to settle with Day Two that ended up with a gig list that looked something like this from where I stood:

Matisyahu (final 2 songs)
Paul Oakenfold
Gnarls Barkley
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
[insert aborted attempt at seeing Madonna here]
Massive Attack

I was completely satisfied as a concert-goer with each of the above acts, with the exception of Oakenfold. While I like his music, standing in an overcrowded tent with a ton of people bouncing up and down sweating on me, and then watching P.O. walk off stage during a "song", letting the music speak for itself was a little more than I could handle. Fortunately the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Massive Attack and Tool more than made up for it. Maynard from Tool was insecure this night and lurked and sang upstage near the drum kit for the entire set. Regardless, he played all the nuggets that Nana used to sing me to sleep with like Stinkfist, Sober and Intolerance.

Some mediocre photos:

Oakenfold mixes

Sunset crowd

Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley

Karen and Nick of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Daddy G of Massive Attack

3D on screen

a Massive Attack on the crowd

a Coachellarized self-portrait

Monday, April 10, 2006

Captain Underpants vs. The Sea Otter

Roadtrip outta H'wood...time for this blog to see some dirt!

This past weekend saw me and "the guys" heading north to Monterey and the Laguna Seca racetrack for the 2006 Sea Otter Classic bike races. The estimated attendance was around 50,000 people, including everyone from Pro cyclists such as Levi Leipheimer and Gunn-Rita Dahle, to families camping out for a weekend full of fun bike events. NorCal was already oozing mud out of it's pores, and with more rain in the forecast it looked like we'd be spending lots of time poaching shelter from the nearest EZ Up (Thanks Dirt Rag!).

I bowed out of racing the singlespeed mtb class this year, mostly out of sheer generosity to let someone else bask in the glory of the podium fanfare. Either that or I was about as far from being physically fit to race as humanly possible. Instead I opted to support my fellow singlespeeders - guys and girls, and do my best to be there for them physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Friday we arrived and pre-rode the 19 mile Cross Country course. It had been raining and continued to do so as we attempted to plow through mud bog after mud bog, each time with less caution and more speed. "Fuggit!". Squish.

Saturday was Expo Day for us and the weather was amazing. Blue skies and sunshine made for an excellent day of hunting down free beer and swag. Free socks and a cold one to boot? Yes sir yes sir, two bags full. However too much alcohol and sunshine makes you do stupid things like this:

Alas I had ended up racing singlespeed afterall (far left in black). The consequences of my actions included grass stains, a bloody shin and general disorientation. My buddy Mark (right / orange) conquered the field and enjoyed the spoils of a sweet, sweet victory.

Upon arising Sunday morning, I peeked out of the curtains of our penthouse suite in Salinas and was welcomed by gray clouds and mist. Drat! Race Day and the sun has left us. I finished my spinach crepes, slipped out of my complimentary terry robe and rang the Bellman to have our bikes washed and prepared for departure. I packed my camera gear, flossed and brushed, and got in a quick seven minute meditation to make sure I was in a "good place" for my duties as Race Support Guy.

Ron was up first thing for the Sport SS class. His race started at 8:45am so we had to be there about 4 hours early to make sure his saddle was pointing exactly straight. That can really throw a race. Mark signed up for the Expert SS two-lapper (38 miles) because he hates himself.

Racers stage:


The SS Girlz. Little do they know what lies in store for them...


Muddy racin' action


Here's where I come in. Apparently I didn't feel that cheering on the sidelines and taking pictures was interactive enough. Apparently I had a desire to dig deeper, really search for a way to be there for my friends as they struggled through mile after painful mile of mud, sand and throwin' elbows. Apparently I'm an exhibitionist.

Phase 1 of Operation Muddy Undies:

Nothing like a set of creamy white man-thighs to make someone want to sprint for the finish and put an end to the horrible visual violation. You can thank me later, hon. :)

Just doing my part...

...and one more for the Trifecta

A mom spectator was watching with her little daughter and was overheard saying "you're going to have to look away for a minute honey." A male racer rode by me, glanced down at my orange Crocs and deadpanned "Nice shoes". Hopefully I brought a little sunshine to everyone's dreary day. Like a ray of golden goodness from the heavens, my ass was there to warm hearts and sooth tired souls. Amen.

And the moral of the story? Chicks dig freaks.


Sunday, March 26, 2006


Earlier today was the much-anticipated annual Fargo St. hill climb. Fargo St. is reportedly the steepest residential street in the state of California at a 33% grade. Yes that's steeper than anything in San Francisco. And it's right here in our back yard. The L.A. Wheelmen loosley organize the event with no official entry or fees taken. A signature releasing liability gets you a nice piece of masking tape with a number on it for your t-shirt or King of the Mountains jersey. Making it to the top without dabbing or crashing and tumbling backwards to your death gets you a nice embroidered patch.

So I hopped on the road bike and rode down to Fargo St. where I met up with a few friends, most on singlespeeds and one with gearing low enough to allow for a sit 'n spin pace up Fargo without stopping. Or so it seemed...

Arriving at Fargo St. gives you a little *gulp* in your throat when you look up.

Don't look back!

Fargo residents come out to support the riders (and drink some killer homemade margaritas. Fargoritas?)

Yours truly, given it my damnedest. Did I make it???

The patch says 'Yes'!

Tall Bike on the course! Will he make it???

Sadly, no.

But this one did. Amazing.

And finally - my friend Doug, who is over 60 years young, set the day's record with 50 ascents on his hardtail singlespeed mountain bike with street tires. Most were happy to go home with one successful climb under their belt, Doug went for 49 more over the course of the day, finishing after most had already gone home, showered and had lunch. (Doug left, Mark right)

I then had to mount the road bike and pedal the 15 miles home with whatever was left in my legs, which wasn't much. But I had my patch ;)

more photos here