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Getting Fancy at the B/W Ball
June 5th, 2012

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the San Francisco Symphony’s Bi-Annual Fundraiser, the Black and White Ball. It’s a pretty big spectacle, closing off several blocks of major streets around City Hall, providing free food and booze to all patrons, and entertaining with live performances on several multi-occurring stages (so many that it would probably be impossible to catch every act).

Despite the weather (cold, foggy, balmy – this is SF in the summer after all) it was quite a lot of fun. I ate tons of decent-to-good food, saw live performances from The Drifters (inside City Hall), Janelle Monae (what an amazing performer, with a great sound!), and Cyndi Lauper (live on Van Ness Ave), and wore a tuxedo while I pretended I could afford to do stuff like this everyday!

Anyway, you will probably want some pictures. These were taken by my awesome gf with her much-nicer-than-mine camera (except for the picture of me with the cute gf, which was taken by her friend).

City Hall from Van Ness

The Main Steps of City Hall

This is the only picture where I even sort-of-smiled

December 12th, 2011


Any questions, just ask.

3 Years!
June 18th, 2011

Wow, has it really been 3 years in San Francisco?

I guess it has, considering how much has changed…

Some highlights of the last 3 years:

  • I’m no longer paying overpriced rent to a MIA “master tenant”
  • I have learned exactly HOW AWESOME my location is – I’m next to a Farmer’s Market, two grocery stores, plenty of great bars, tons of excellent restaurants, and am just a 4 mile (flat) bike ride to my workplace
  • I managed to do some pretty serious gardening last summer
  • I am now 30 freakin years old


To explain further, I did not just go about being a jerk to a group of well-meaning Christians. I moved in here 3 years ago – 7 years after the church had been here – fully aware of (and even somewhat amused by) their presence. They were a minor inconvenience who had a keyboard or acoustic guitar service a couple times a week, and sometimes a full band played on Friday/Saturday/Sunday. They never woke me up, they never played past 9 pm, and they never bothered us (unless someone wanted to take a nap at 7 pm on one of the few nights they were playing).

However, about a year ago, they put in a new speaker system which would put any night club to shame. They started playing almost every night – at least 5 nights a week if not more. The full band became an integral part of the service, and the house started shaking regularly. Sometimes they would play drums as early as 6:30 am, just to practice! They would play and I’d wait for them to stop around 9…then 10….sometimes playing until 12 or 1 in the morning! One night they not only played until 1 am, they also started things up again at 7 am (I believe it was a Sunday), and didn’t turn anything down until one of my roommates went down and would not leave until they lowered the volume. She was really nice about it too!

Even though I knew this, I still thought they might be reasonable people, so last December I left them a note asking them to please keep the volume down and not play too late, which they ignored. A few days later I went down to ask them to turn down the music, as our entire house was shaking (and church wasn’t even in session at this point). Then I got introduced to the Pastor, a jerk-off named Santos, who first acted like he had never seen me before (even though I’d been living upstairs for 2.5 years), and then insisted he had every right to do whatever the hell he wanted downstairs because he paid rent.

After a month of painful co-existence (in which I called the cops several times, on advice of the sf tenants union, as well as the local police), we had a meeting w. a permits officer, our property manager, and the jerk-off-known-as-a-pastor. The “mutual” understanding was that they were not to amplify music before 9 am or after 9 pm, that they would remove the top speakers (which were literally inches from our floor and 3 of our bedrooms), and that they would install sound proofing. My property manager also told us and the officer that he would look into helping the church relocate to a more suitable location as well.

For months, there was no change. In mid-March I was told the church was going to leave by April 1st. Then April 1st it became April 15th. In this time, I had found it necessary to make a nuisance of myself, insisting that I and my roommates deserved the right to “Quiet Enjoyment“, and that the “church” was willfully taking that away from us.

A real Christian might have shown some compassion and willingness to work with us – I was more than willing to let them continue their services (even though they consisted of screaming, shouting, horrible repetitive music, and an obvious misinterpretation of the concept of Christianity), provided they could at least take some consideration with how loud they were.

“How bad could it be? It’s a church?” you might ask? When I can’t watch a movie in my room after work, even with headphones on, because there is a full scale band (drums, bass, keyboards, vocals) with more amps then my punk/metal band, I consider it pretty bad. Especially when you factor in that my house is over 100 years old and certainly not equipped to take a live band )

What kind of noise are we talking about? Let me show you what happened one night with a guest speaker….

Download a link if you are curious

Granted it was only that bad every once in a while, but I think this lets you know I was not dealing w. sane respectful Christians…

It’s not like I didn’t try to reason with them – on numerous occasions I asked them to turn things down, or even off (when after 9 as per our agreement), and got nothing more then a dismissive “We’re stopping” (which was usually a blantant lie).

Eventually everyone had enough and the property manager and landlord began to evict them. 5 months after telling us they would, the the-asshole-known-as-santos and crew finally removed the top speakers, altho not before they signed an agreement with me giving me full rights to cut their power if they refused to turn the music off or down. I spoke w. someone on their behalf who promised they wouldn’t play the electric bass or the drums anymore (which they subsequently did, and I asked them to stop, meeting resistance).

They finally pushed me so far that I pulled the electricity on them a couple weeks later, but not before warning them twice, after 9 pm, that they needed to stop. After I did this, they hung out in the dark, screaming their heads off.

They didn’t think it was so bad to live above, and they got kicked out. A lot of people people told me to leave. I didn’t leave. I stood my ground b/c I knew I was right and they were wrong.

So here it is, three years later, and we’ve won. We took back our house.

Three years later in San Francisco and I’m fronting my own band, rocking lots of yoga, riding my bike everywhere, and living in the best room in the house.

The only bad news to the 3 year update is that I’m not playing in Wee the Band anymore as of this Monday. It’s a sad feeling, as I really loved making musick with those people, but the momentum has been lost and I need to throw in the towel for at least a few months. We’ll see if things turn around, but for now, I’m going to be focusing more on Severe Bass & the Bad Decisions, yoga, and this website thing. Cuz it’s time.

So here’s to the future of Severe in San Francisco, a city that has embraced me pretty well, and I love it back. Even though the weather gets on my nerves sometimes (I’m sorry, I like heat and sunshine, and it’s never more then 65 degrees here. But I can deal.)

Better Late Then Never
January 6th, 2011

Read it in...

On just about anything I suppose, although this title is really because it’s a few days behind the New Year to be writing a post about time moving on. But I’m going to do it anyway.

Last year, I wrote a post about how I don’t believe in resolutions, but instead believe in goals. Sadly, I failed almost every one of those goals this year. (my actual score was 2 and two-halves [two of them I feel I did about half the time or got halfway there], out of a potential total of 8). I don’t feel bad about all of it, but I was thinking about why I couldn’t reach these goals, and I came up with a few things.

What it all boils down to though is that these weren’t the right goals for me. I did many many other things – I accomplished a lot of the brainstorm I had last February about where to put my intentions. I’m not quite as far as I wanted to be, but neither the work I did on myself nor any of my projects is reflected in the goals I identified in January – no matter how well intentioned they were.

So this year I’m going to put more emphasis on intentions and outcomes. And I’ve really realized that what I do can be driven by three words:

Musick. Yoga. Friends.

I consider Family in there with Friends, but I think what this really means is that what I am doing should be with those three things considered. Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t garden next year, or that bike maintenance isn’t a priority, or that I don’t want more money (for the record, I would love more money), or my day job isn’t important. It just means that when I have time for myself, I should check in and make sure that I am doing what I can to pursue these three things.

Why they are important I think is obvious, but I’ll go into them briefly. For musick, I really need to be making sure I am putting my best effort forth to being an active and continually improving musician. That means learning more about the ways I can record my own music on my own time, writing more songs, and practicing regularly. It’s a growing year – time to find my voice.

Yoga is increasingly becoming more important to me because it teaches me not just about my body, it reminds me to keep paying attention to my body and how it is doing. It can help heal that body when it’s not at it’s best. There’s also what it can do for my mind – bikram yoga helps me keep things in perspective and generally retain my composure. It brings a lot of things into perspective, and I love the journey that it’s taking me on.

Friends, as I’ve mentioned, is overarching and really means those who are special to me, related or not. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I need to take effort – even if I feel like I’m almost always the one taking the effort. The effort in the act of initiation is greatly outweighed by connecting and reconnecting with other humans, especially those with the ability to make me think (or crack me up).

Anyway, I am working on trying to keep my posts brief (both for writing sake, but also because translating them into Severe Slang is easier), so I will sign off with the question – what’s important to you in 2011?

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want to see what goals I did and did not keep, see here.

P.P.S. Pics from the Severe Bass and the Bad Decisions gig are here!

Finding Ones Voice
November 23rd, 2010

Read it in...

This last year or so I’ve thought a lot more about the songwriting process than I have in quite a while – specifically by paying more attention to the many subtleties in the music I find myself listening to. In order to do so, I’ve been forced to evaluate the music I listen to, and am now trying to find ways to factor this into the way I create music. I haven’t quite made a breakthrough yet, but I am learning things about my musical brain and how that translates to the rest of me, which is interesting.

Something that speaks to me very directly is the “voice” of an artist. In most cases I’m probably thinking about bands with a single main songwriter/singer who also has great musicians at their disposal to help take the music somewhere else (Peter Steele of Type O Negative, Glenn Danzig, Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet, Adam Turla of Murder By Death), although there are other examples of bands that work together more collaboratively (Tool, Black Sabbath), and there’s also a few examples of singer/songwriter teams (Ween comes to mind first). And of course, Mike Patton, who can fit into every category depending on what he’s doing.

These artists (especially Ween) can also be adept at adopting a “voice” for an album (or any amount of time, whether its 3 songs in a row or 15 seconds). There is a difference between this and a “concept album” however, which maybe I’ll go into greater detail about in another post. The point is that they are adopting a sound, but (if they are doing it right) can really make that sound like it belongs to them, putting a very personal spin on it. This kind of music can also be very accessible without needing to dumb down the sound for mass audiences. However, what seems to really make the difference is the amount of personality and craftmenship that goes into these albums (or songs, or whatever). Famous (or semi-famous) bands can change their sound to become more accessible, which may or may not help their popularity, but when a musician finds a way to put their “voice” into something specific but still authentic, that’s when I get really excited.

Before I know how to apply this knowledge to what I do, I’m first stuck with finding my voice. That’s one of those things that’s so obvious it catches me off guard. I’m a professionally trained musician who’s been doing this for years I think, How is it possible that I don’t have a voice? (I admit, I can have a pretty high opinion of myself sometimes). The truth is, that you have to do this all the time with great attention to what you are doing, and I just don’t compose music that often, and certainly not with much intention these days. The reason is I’m usually too busy playing in bands to write or practice my own stuff – and that’s made me lazy. I don’t know what my voice is…I sort of know some things that I usually do, and I certainly have a playing style that is relatively my own. But I don’t know what my voice is.

What this means is that now that I’ve been exposed to the concept of “having a voice” and now I have to work backwards to “finding my voice”, and I’m not sure where it is exactly. It seems to be all over the place. In my head, my voice is too crazy and complicated. But when I look at my solo musician repertoire I’m often finding it’s almost too simple and predictable. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t play a song if I don’t think it’s cool and fun to play -unless I’m in someone else’s band – but I’ve been forced to keep things simple and straight forward as a solo bassist, and I don’t think I need to keep thinking of myself as a solo bassist anymore.

So then what? Not sure exactly. I have been paying more attention to the voice of other musicians that I respect and would like to emulate (in terms of quality and musickal prolificness), and trying to see how they do what it is they do in an attempt to figure out things I can steal and make my own. And hopefully, within all of that, some of my personality will shine through, I’ll figure out the tricks I like the most, and I’ll start talking with my voice. It probably will take me a while to recognize it as my own, but I’m pretty sure that’s part of the journey.

What it really breaks down to, is I need to write more, really write, not just grab ideas and say “that’s cool” and never revisit a theme again. You know, be a REAL artist.

I think that’s the new theme of this blog/site/whatever. The journey to becoming a real artist. I could debate with myself over what that means, but for now I feel like I’ll know I’m getting there if I’m doing it right.

Disclaimer: I’m not actually on any sort of deadline to get anywhere, and I generally move sort of slow and cautious towards my goals until I am ready to persue them, so I won’t be quitting my job to move to a farming co-op. Certainly not this year. *wink*

P.S. This also of course applies to blog-writing. I’m realizing there’s also an art to writing and maintaining a blog, and that I need to keep practicing it to develop a rhythm that works for me. Of course, double-coding things into Severe Slang takes extra time too (But is oh so necessary </sarcasm> )

Last stop on the turning 30 train….
March 14th, 2010

Yes, March 13th marks another year gone by for yours truly here. In case you weren’t aware, I was born on a Friday the 13th, at 13:13 Military Time. 13 was my father’s lucky number, so he was ecstatic. I have to say I really appreciate having such a close connection to such an excellent number. It also helped seal the deal when I going think13 back in December of 2007, just a month after moving out here.

But today is not about 13 (exactly), today is about 29! The last stop before the big three – oh, I am looking forward to rocking this year hard. With the (eventuall) launch of this website, and the SEVERE BASS band being on the verge of being formed, this is promising to be quite the important year for “taking that next step”.

I sort of thought that 2009 was going to be the year myself and all my friends took over the world – I’m pretty sure that 2009 was just some bullshit we all needed to get through to actualize our dreams. And what better time then?

How ya doing 29? I think we’re ready to party now.

Adam the King Snake
March 8th, 2010

Note that the snake is actually caught underneath the guitar strings, thus needing to work himself out of the soundhole the long way.

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