A Travellerspoint blog

Our First : Open Mic Night

August 15 2012 : Chelsee's House


We are all together now. Zac, Gabby, and yours truly. Safely landed in San Francisco, and I regret not making this blog any kind of daily priority. The handwritten version is due to come out in zero minus five years. Don't hold your breath.

The three of us spent the night at Chelsee's yesterday. Chelsee is the best friend of my closest mate in Hawai'i (Thomas Rugg). I met her two years prior during Thanksgiving break when I came to San Fransisco with Thomas and instantly fell in love with his choice of female feathers. Chelsee had been in Berkley all day and she finally got home around 9:00 PM. The three of us didn't get there until after 11 PM due to finding the world's most fantastic laundry mat! It's called "BrainWash on Folsom" and has a cafe, bar, and open mic every Tuesday night. The place was painted with bright colors, dimly lit with street art scattered on the metal accents which covered the place. The sound of the washers and dryers was miniscule under the jazz music that played on the load speaker. And though very alive, and set right on Mission, Brainwash was surprisingly comfortable. Graffiti tags covered the bathroom walls, and I read them while while I peed, hoping to see the signature of someone I recognize. No such luck. I recovered.

The first person we met there was a kid named Eric Keith. He was handsome in that clean-cut kind of way. Like someone raised in mud who had a shower and vowed never to go back. He knew his way around a conversation, a man of words, and suited to be since his passion is rapping and poetry. I have to say, based on his overconfidence and my experience with people who say they are rap poets, I wasn't expecting much from him.

He kind of blew me away. He blew all of us away. With him, he carried a bright leather notebook. It was very small, red, and thin enough to fit in the pocket of most of his pants. In it was a list, rhymes numbered one to one-hundred. Just the first couple of words in each was written down. He played a beat and asked the audience to shout out a number. When they would, he'd refer to the notebook and then start slamming words, a mile a minute, on rhythm, with passion, some humor, and mostly… just with him. You could see these were pieces of his life story. He expression changed as he recalled each one. Love. Heartbreak. Rebellion. Awkwardness. Grief. For under a minute we would all relive these parts of his past with him. It's interesting to see what someone deems worthy enough to write down. I share a piece of my heart with people who are dedicated to words, to recording them, and to rereading their past a second time.

Eric was the one who asked us to stay for the open mic first, and since we were only two hours out and one hour deep in laundry, we gladly agreed. There was a homeless man who stood next to our table for 5 minutes before stumbling around and reaching into his pocket for his first words. He pulled out a white iPod, and told us he had just bought it. Whether he stole it, found it, or bought it wasn't important. Now, it was his, and that's all that really matters when it comes to those things. He extended his arm toward Zac and started asking him if he would help put some music on it. All that was preloaded was foreign, and he couldn't understand any of it. The three of us aren't nervous around people like this most of the time, but over the last couple of days, Lady Luck hadn't been on our side. Still, we were in a place of welcome. Unfortunately I only had about 30 different songs on my entire computer, but he rest were in that Verbatim Hardrive that I can never seem to find time to upload anything from. [ side note : I wonder if I brought it with me ] I asked Gabby if she new how to upload my music onto the iPod. She nodded, and I told him it would be ready in 15 minutes. While we waited he engaged in a half-jacked conversation with both of us about what he had finally bought for his traveling entertainment center. He knows more about HP and android products than me. I am officially out of touch.

The songs took only 5 minutes to load, and he gave us the rest of his cigarettes and a bag of weed to thank us. By now, the open mic was only a few minutes away so we moved and turned our chairs in anticipation. I went outside to grab Wendy, my guitar. The performers were great. Each one was so different, and all very timid in their own way. That seemed to be a reoccurring theme of the evening, which gave it a kind of softness I was pleased to witness. At 8:00 Gabrielle and I stood up to perform our FIRST EVER open mic. We sung "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men. Zac recorded the whole thing, a decision we would all regret later on. It was fun, to say the least. A little bit of adrenaline, but... it was still just a laundry mat. Nothing to be nervous over. Right before our set was a guitarist named Dave. Dave stood 6'5" and had light brown hair grown out into a 14" afro on his head. He was somewhere in his early thirties, and over enthusiastic about meeting Gabby. During the open mic I finally got a chance to work on my photo project. I asked people to write something down that no one would guess about them by looking at just a picture. Brainwash gave me some excellent responses, and as soon as I am able I will upload those pictures onto this site.

After the show was done, Dave swindled his way into our van. By now, he had bought two rounds of beers and succeeded in locking lips with Gabby. I wouldn't let that man within ten feet of my mouth, but she and I have always had conflicting taste in the opposite sex. Besides, it was nice that one of us gets to utilize traveling and being single during this trip. It's good humor for the other two anyhow. We brought Dave with us to Chelsee's house on Andover Street. We made fettuccine and falafel while jamming far too loudly in her living room. She seemed to be enjoying the company though. The only strange thing, was the shit coming out of Dave's mouth. I use the S-word intentionally.

"Your friend and I are in love," he said to me, referring to Gabby. She immediately looked at him and calmly shook her head, "You're wrong."
"She's a belly dancer," he said to Chelsee. Gabby snuffed and said, "No, I spin fire."
"Do you know why Garlic is only chemical good for relationships..." This one confused me. First of all, garlic is not a chemical substance. Secondly, I sincerely doubt this guy is going to spit up an explanation of how it is related to pheromones.
"...because if both people are eating garlic, it doesn't matter that you smell."
What the fuck? In retrospect, I should have given this more thought at the time, but I was convinced he was fucking with us. These types of conversations continued with Dave all night long between covers of video game themes and tom petty riffs.

When 1 AM circled around, Gabby was giving me the "let's get the fro out the door" look. I asked Dave if he preferred any cab company over another. He said no and continued playing guitar at a volume unsuited for the hour. Granted, once he stopped talking and started playing, he transformed from a nomadic creep into a musical genius. I've met someone else this year who is just as gifted, and even more socially inept. I'm beginning to see a pattern in how many gifts we are truly given. Like there is careful ratio between talent and social graces. The cab arrived and suddenly, the ring I took off my finger to cook falafel was missing. It had a giant saphire in it and I wasn't about to let him go home until I found it. An embarrassing minute later, Chelsee found it in the kitchen, and we saw Dave off in the lime green cab, which we chose due to low-emissions.

Hands down, best laundry day I have ever had.

Posted by Further 16:56 Archived in USA Tagged san francisco day laundry brainwash Comments (0)

Departure: Delayed

Looks like I'm going to have to wait another week until I go home, but my spirits are higher than ever

92 °F

Last week I had this feeling in my gut that was becoming worrisome. I felt, deep down, that I wasn't going to be home this week. For one reason or another, it wasn't the right time. So, I took my old job back for 5 days and continued trying to sell my car, with every intention of being home by tomorrow morning. While that would be nice, sitting here in my apartment, I know I am not ready to leave. There are some people I still need to see. There is some sun I still need to soak in. And hey, I'll be damned if I leave Hawai'i without spending a day with my favorite bit of ocean. So, I was glad to hear the news when my flight was delayed.

In the last week I've gotten back into touch with a man on Oahu named Patricio Mora. Pato for short. Pato is an old friend who happens to buy and sell used cars on the side of his regular part-time job at the Inernational House of Depression, whoops, Pancakes. Without any promise of a profit, or even a hint of real reward, he has spent the last 2 days, every day, helping me get rid of this car. He got the entire exterior signed to be fixed for 900.00. This might not sound like a deal, but if you saw my car in person, you would understand. There is over 2300.00 worth of need-fixes that I've been ignoring, probably from nothing but sheer embarrassment, for the last 3 years of my life. Pato also landed me a safety check from the "Rolling Stones" guy. He is a crooked safety inspector who gives out permits to anyone with 25.00. Despite his nickname, and the fact that he may be the only white man residing on Sand Island, he flies under the radar pretty well. Also, did I mention that I haven't updated the registration on my car in... well... ever? I got it done for half the price it would have been if I did things the legitimate way. I know what you're thinking, that I've stretched my moral fiber, that I'm cutting corners when other people are running the entire way. I have no response to this. By this time next week, I'll have a cosmetically beautiful and mechanically sound Yaris, with safety and registration up to date. I can sell the car for 2000.00 more than before, and actually will go home with more money in my pocket, plus the money from a week of waiting tables in the mean time. Just let me be happy!!!! Gahhhhh!

Besides, it will prevent me from eating all of the groceries in my mother's fridge at home, and I'll still get to pick up Zac at the same time. I am so close to this trip I can taste it, feel the wind out of the window, and hear the soundtrack playing off in the distance.

My final task is to move out of this apartment today, where I will begin what hopefully is only 6-7 nights of couch surfing at my friend's houses here in Honolulu. These are the moments you discover who your friends are. They are the people letting you sleep on their couch even though they enjoy privacy, the people who give you rides every where even though they don't have time to sit in traffic, the ones that inconvenience themselves just to lend you a hand. Their generousity does not go unnoticed, and my gratitude for them grows every day.

Posted by Further 19:56 Archived in USA Comments (0)

It's all coming together now

just a few things left to do on the island, but this is the current update on the status of our trip

sunny 86 °F

When Zac came to Honolulu I had no idea what to expect. Spain only left us room to learn the equivalent of a long conversation, but I had no idea that in the few short weeks that he was here I would have SO much fun with a giant man-boy who hadn't met his inner hippie before in his surf-dorking life. Now, don't get me wrong, I am mildly offended when people call ME a hippie. Mostly because it is usually eluding to some kind of hygiene problem and giving attention to my often-missing shoes, in a less than desirable tone of disapproval.
But no, in Zac's case, what I mean to explain is that I watched him adapt so naturally into a way of living that took me years to ease into, and with much reluctance. He was constantly picking up guitars, ukeleles, ganjos* or any other instrument that was lying around, then joining right in with anyone drunk enough to play a tune. He wore Hawaiian blessings around his neck and hung them along our camp for Pele. I watched him jump nude into the ocean and all of the streams with us during the day. At night, we would lay on the sand while he described being overwhelmed with the mountains, the skyline, the sunset, the powerful effect that a place like Kalalau had on him. I watched him eat nothing but organic "bunny food", and heard not a single complaint. He sang, danced, played frisbee, smoked weed, overslept, missed a couple showers, rolled tobacco with his left hand, and showed a genuine Aloha spirit to everyone we encountered. THAT, my friends, IS A TRUE HIPPIE of this age. And I was delighted to see it.

That being said, I still didn't think we would have more than these last weeks in Hawai'i. Not because I'm not purely awesome, which I am, but because he had a plan to see America in his own way, and I am not here to interfere with that. As the weeks rolled on, it became clear that this is not only someone I am great friends with, but this is a person who is following the same broken compass. I've never been one who prefers to do things alone, but when I find a companion willing to risk the same things I am, who has the same work ethic, the same irresponsible confidence, ANYTHING is possible. This I know from experience. These are the reasons I decided to jump on board . . . if he was willing. When he gave me the green light, all I had to do was wait for him to leave so I could start putting the pieces into place.

He left a little over two weeks ago. In that time I have cleared away my "leave of absence" with school, sold my surfboard, sold my tent, sold my spare phone, sold all of my art, and am currently in the middle of the painful endeavor of selling my car. Trouble is, its hard to sell an unregistered car with rough cosmetic damage to people who have eyes. Wish me luck!

  • for those interested, a "Ganjo" is a Banjo that has been strung just like your standard, 6 string acoustic guitar. A guy names Brendin, a native of the Kalalau valley had brought this hymstrument with him into the jungle. When we met Brendin "where the river meets the sea" (literally, these were his directions to his home) we were pleasantly serenaded all evening long by said Ganjo.

Posted by Further 15:14 Archived in USA Tagged travel hope ganjo Comments (0)

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