Let’s write about Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Chico California is what I keep saying to myself. I would love to split them up into different chapters and fill a personal quota but when the towns and days begin to blur into one indefinable place in a pocket of 72 hours (most of them spent awake) it’s easier to spill everything out like a verbal Jackson Pollack.
Santa Cruz is the sleepy city behind the mask of The Lost Boys’ Santa Clara, why the filmmakers chose to sweep the name of their city of choice under the rug is a mystery, possibly this reason is vampire related; or more accurately, it’s possible that the entire thing is a set up by some kind of mummy king in order to completely wreck the reputation of Santa Cruz’s goodly vampires. Only time will tell.
Other than learning the (more than likely inaccurate) fact that surfing originated somewhere near where we were standing and watching sea lions sun bath, Santa Cruz only offered more of the feeling that every city is slowly molding itself into a perfect replica of every other city. The ocean was beautiful; I can see how men could run away to the waves forever.
My first view of San Francisco was of junkies copping on a trash filled, piss soaked street, a soft morning breeze flitted through the city as I walked directionless in search of coffee. * San Francisco is the first city that feels like it’s own entity, there are still the chain stores and corporate dining experiences on every corner but the local homeless and junkies keep the city alive with a chipper air of authenticity. Aside from the dazzling array of street sleepers the architecture that they call home is absolutely stunning, if I had more days to explore one city so far I would immediately choose San Francisco, if only to see a duck hanging in a store front window, maybe wearing a hat if the store owner has a sense of humor. Please don’t steal my dead duck with a hat storefront idea. Taking six people out for food in a city with such a vast selection of dining was nearly impossible; I almost pushed Jason the tour manager into the bay when he suggested that we visit Joe’s Crab Shack. In the end we ended up enjoying a lovely view and semi over priced food at the Fog Harbor Fish House. Other than Jason, the tour manager constantly under the threat of death, my traveling partners for the afternoon were Beth, my buddy in merch, Miles, the tour videographer, Jeff from Seven Lions, and Josie from Candyland.
It’s a true shame that I won’t get to spend more time walking around new cities with Josie, her exuberant youth bleeds out to everyone in her proximity and our quiet conversations on California sidewalks have been comforting in a way that I can’t describe without giving away far too many details of my life (although, what else am I doing here?). A true friend if ever there was one. If you get a chance to see Josie DJ in your city get on the floor and trap dance forever.
My first taste of clam chowder was out of a sourdough bread bowl (something that San Francisco claims to have invented. I’m beginning to see a through line of ostentatious claims running roughshod across California) while looking out across the harbor at the fog rolling across Alcatraz. Finally drinking an Anchor Steam from a pint glass rather than their cheeky bottles was a relief, I have no idea if it paired well with chowder or the devastatingly flakey crab cakes but everything that had been storming in my head and my heart dissipated as I watched ferries carry tourists to the rock while the fog sat fixed over the water, both of us ignorant that it would envelop me soon. In the inky darkness after the show I stole away by cab to a beach across the water from the Golden Gate Bridge with Beth and Dutch, as we peered through the gloom that had settled upon us the marvel of suspension engineering and art deco architecture stared out at the city and did not blink.
Hours later I woke up in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express in Chico California, every high must have a come down and my new location was the heavy handed underlining of the phrase. A gray drizzle followed our caravan North and settled over our heads for the day, poker games were played amongst the crew, quarters were lost and plans were made. That evening I made a point to grab the tour’s production assistant (an unenviable job if ever there were one) Aimee, and visit The Banshee, a local college pub that had a wide assortment of comfort food, Sierra Nevada brews, and an excellent playlist coaxing me into a boozy haze. Having a reserved evening on tour is nearly impossible, and it was absolutely lovely to have a lengthy one on one conversation with a new friend over dinner and drinks. Our new waitress (it was her third day. “Was this another lie from California” I thought to myself, reticent to believe a word coming from this state of illusion) pointed me toward the Turkey Gobbler, a sandwich comprised of a full Thanksgiving dinner and massive steak fries, well done Chico. Once the lighting tech, Pete, showed up to The Banshee bearing shots of Jameson the evening became a bit of a blur. It’s been some time since I’ve been drunk in a college town, hailing cabs and weaving in between corduroy trousers and members only jackets, and it’s been longer since I felt that I was just out with friends; talking shit about work, complaining about that one guy in the office, and how Stepping Stone by Paul Revere and the Raiders and Straight out of Compton are the two perfect encapsulations of what a “fuck you” song should be.
Bleary eyed and stuck with a headache from another era I existed one more day in Chico before mercy blessed me and allowed me to wake up somewhere in Oregon, where moss dresses the mountains and fog hangs like a spider web on tree tops.
*Something called a “depth charge” was later found and devoured at the disappointingly non-Morrissey themed, Moz.