i have started this a few times but then got sidetracked and then by the time i get back down to it it is 4 days later and nothing is relevent anymore.
it is the friday afternoon after exam week and a nice long week stretches out infront of me before mum arrives for christmas. i decided to stick to my original plan of not coming back for christmas. a month or so into it i was missing everyone bigstyle and was going to come home for christmas, but now it just doesn't really make sense in terms of money, carbon emissions, leaving hot hot unexplored california for freezing gray scarborough, breaking up my 8 months in santa cruz into small speed by chunks and having some solid alone time to transribe charlie parker solos. i also need to prove to myself that i can spend a large amount of time away from those i love in anticipation of future plans. and it is really nice that my mum is coming out- she hasn't had a nice long holiday for too long, and has wanted to come to california for ages. we are going to to drive down LAwise and find a nice quiet beach (if there is such a thing as a quiet beach near LA) and mong out . then maybe a little trip skiing after christmas (there is such a diversity of nature here- beach, mountains, desert, lakes, forest all within 5 hours or where is it).
so my exams were fine- music of india was just easy, and jazz theory quite farcical- the teaching assistant (who, incidently, is writing a jazz 'cannabis cantata' for his Masters) who was marking the papers also invigilated us for the written part, which basically consisted of 'fill in the blanks' from the vast amount of reading we had to do, stuff like '_________ was one of 2 bass players in the 40s to sing their bass line whilst playing' which noone could really remember, so someone was like 'hey joel, why don't we do the paperas a group?' and he was like 'well...i am playing piano'. so we ended up doing the whole exam as a group- the only exam i have been able to have a fag in the middle of. and the oral part was ok too-just played some tunes and handed in some arrangements and did some analysis. I didn't have an exam for UC and the Bomb, it was all coursework, but in the last class we had a pot luck and 'nontalent' show, and one of the facilitators did an improvisation dance on the theme of nuclear weapons!!! he asked me to accompany him, so i did on clarinet, and boy it was really funny, him prancing around on the tables pretending to be a bomb and then a hiroshima victim with melting skin, and finally 'positive energy'. i tried to play the clarinet like the slide whistle from the moomins.
the most exciting thing that has happened since i last wrote is that i have joined a REAL band!!! there is this thing called craigslist.com which is like a sort of free listings services for everything for the san fransisco area- jobs, houses, romance, lost and found, ''casual encounters'', musicians wanted, ride sharing, great stuff. anarchy in action. it is where i found my new house. anyway, i was having a look at the muso section and there were a couple of adverts in need of horn players for world music/fusion projects, so i replied and got a call from this guy ian a couple of days later for a full cross examination of 'where i was at' musically. anyway they were mainly looking for a saxophonist, as opposed to a clarinettist, but i got an audition. my sax playing has gone to shit a bit recently (infact for a while now), a mixture of a temperamental instrument and a desire by me to play subtley mostly, something the clarinet is great at and the sax gets annoyed at. so this was last wednesday, and i got a lift to los aptos, about 40 minutes away, with the bass player and drummer. they are both 25, nice experimental guys who are back at community college just because education is fun...they were telling me about their lineup, bass,drums, guitar piano/trumpet, and how the piano/trumpet player was one of the founding members of the mad caddies, a shithot US ska-punk band who, funnily enough, the Dead Pets once supported for a whole tour. and that he had just got back from playing 6 months at the sydney opera house, etc etc, so we get there and set up in this freeeezing garage and they play, and wow their music is FUNKY, all about fast melody lines and breaks and soaring tunes to hiphop beats and relentless bass, and lovely interplay between the guitar and trumpet. i was pretty nervous beforehand- not wanting to appear young and trying-to-be-flash but having nothing to /SAY /but then i played and, i have to be honest, ripped it up!!!! all the hours in the practice room whilst the sun shone outside seemed to be paying back, and me and the trumpet really clicked, i picked up his melodies quite quickly and then gave him a base to move off of, and then i moved off too but not as far and then boomboomboom suddenly i am dancing and playing and everyone is smiling and it is like even when i don't know what to do, my fingers do. and then after a while i moved onto sax and that was ok too, gave a better contrast with the trumpet, and at the end of the night they were like 'yeah do you want to come back next week?' and i was like 'yeah!' and then it turns out the trumpet player hosts/has residency at a coffeehouse in monteray bay (about 1 hour from santa cruz) and would i like to come and 'sit in'?? joy.
in the practice rooms there were 2 mint condition triumph motorbikes and a box of PG tips, and then it turned out the bassists stepdad was from birmingham!!! and it also turns out he is the same english bus driver that once let me on for free when i had forgot my card !! so i thanked him properly and we had a nice chat over a cup of tea. his view of america is simple- both coasts are great places with great people, everything betweent he rockies and manhatten is 'full of completely ntus people'. he gave me a big bag of PG tips when i left by way of british solidarity; i didn't have the heart to tell him i don't really drink tea.
i have finally located some bakery dumpsters thanks to advice from mark the guy who did the dance, and have been feasting on fresh baguettes, apple turnovers and avacados-mmm. free food just tastes so much better than paid-for food. the bread also goes very well with the soups i have been making. i have also had a few nice encounters along the way- met some full on crimethinc kids (except they weren't straightedge) who gave me homemade zines and told me about visiting new orleans just after katrina (the anarchists were the first people to go in and offer help), really nice, then another time had a great jam with some hobos who tried to sell me all sorts of bike odds and ends. i could have been talking to Dean's father old Mr Moriarty. 2 of them were completley unimpressed that i was english, but the third was like 'how old are you' '20'....'you've done well my son'... as though we are all trying to escape
but this frugal but fun diet was getting me ready for the joy of Thanksgiving at Rich and Ernie's a couple of thursdays ago which, as simon explained to me, has its roots in european settlers being shown how to hunt and use local vegetation to survive, and the settlers then systematically killing all the natives (to this day in my opinion) and having a big party. but these days it is all about the family sitting round a table and being happy, more so than christmas as it has not been commercialised in the same way (though there have been lots of plastic sweetcorns and courgettes lying around). so i travelled to San Francisco to give thanks with the wonderfully hospitable rich and ernie. there were about 10 people from here and there, including Rich's 90 year old mum, an marvellous old guy called Bob who had seen billie holiday and elle fitzgerald live and who was a bit like the sum total of all the arthur miller books i had read (after the war he travelled the country as a pressure cooker salesman), a ponytailed venezuelan ex-pat who summed up chavez as 'doing the right things, but in the wrong way'. incidently, i have looked on a map and my original plan of going overland to venezuela next summer is pretty much impossible distance wise, think the emphasis might shift to just getting to somewhere tropical enough for jungle.
the food was magic; i was ready. it included a huge bowl of cranberry sauce with lots of whole cranberrys in, and i was given a whole leg from the 23lb turkey to munch on, then a big mince pie (!) and lots of nice wine. the next day the sun shone i was shown the sights of san fran, went to the top of a hill and looked out over the whole city- golden gate bridge in the foreground, alcatraz off to the left, the airport obscured by all the people taking photos of themselves infront of me. we listened to the only democratic (ie not republican) talk show in the car on the day 230 iraqis were killed in baghdad. the presenters pumped up the emotions and bushbashing, hateful adjectives being thrown around all over the place, certainly not the unbias media we are used to in the UK, but perhaps necessary to counter all the right wing madnessa round. everyone was getting het up with the definition of 'civil war' and whether or not iraq is in one. who cares about definitions when thbottom line is iraq teeters in the edge implosion? but then at the same time, despite everyone saying that iraq has fucked up the bush presidency, bush is still in power, unquestioned, oil is still flowing out of iraq by the millions of barrels and the US economy has a new market to rape and pillage, and there are more terrorists to fight and scare people with, so i guess in reality bush has achieved everything he wnats
oh and you can googleearth my house (or anywhere else- it is class) by typing 1401 bay street, santa cruz, california into the search box, and then it is the house directly to the left of the arrow, covered by the trees.
oooh i went busking aswell last saturday! had been meaning to do it for ages but that day just sort of felt right. got there about 8pm, had a little spliff beforehand to get the juices flowing. i stayed there for just under 2 hours, the last half hour max played with me, and had a sign saying 'we are iPOD for the masses', which people seemed to enjoy. made just under 10 dollars, which was my target for 1 hour, but i was quite pleased with how it went generally. i started off playing very within myself and meditative and it took me a while to start really ripping- everyone says the best way to busk is to play well known tunes (with a twist) and i was just fannyign around improvising on nothing, and occasionally playing scarborough fayre or similar, but i think when i memorise a few tunes i will make more. a few people complimented me, and noone dissed me, and two people asked me to play in bands for them!!! so that was cool, don't knwo whether anythign will come of it. but generally it was great to know that i can busk and make enough to get by when travelling(10 dollars could feed and tobacco me for the day), i have never successfully busked before, me and olivier tried a bit in london last summer but just kept getting moved on.
my notsonew house is still buzzing, despite a chronic rat infestation, a broken water pipe that has made our bill ROCKET and no heating or insulation (except for eone crappy heater nowhere near my room). you can see a picture of my new flatmates on my myspace www.myspace.com/benoverthere and you can also follow a link to my music myspace site where (as soon as i work out how to upload it) you can listen to a recording a did with the magnificent james grunwell over summer. i am pretty chuffed with it, you might have to listen to it a couple of times to get the full effect, and play it loud, it is sort of a bit mogwaish i guess, hard to put finger on. put comments on as to what yo uthink!! i got an 8 track from father 'ebay' christmas, so hopefully i will be putting some more tunes on soon. it is allowing me to play clarinet over Mbira, and clarinet over clarinet etc etc, so some itneresting tings are being produced alredy.
but the greatest thing of the last few weeks has been the 8 pies i made last sunday. i suddenly got a huge and overwhelming craving for a chicken pie whilst in safeway, but i looked at them and they were overpriced and full off deeply unethical meat, so i resolved to make my own. the end result was cool- the pastry was a little dense (but nice) and the filling was top notch- steak, carrot, mushroom, pea and onion with extra worcesteshire sauce. i gave a couple to max and edmund and have eaten one every day since then, with a variety of different types of potato. pies are the lifeforce.
hmmm i have to go and have a house meeting now, sounds ominous (i cleaned the kitchen earlier though and did everyone else's washing up so my halo is perfectly intact).