So , we’re pursuing this goal: to establish a toe-hold for the Trike Shop in the Bay Area . Little did we know
it would lead us to The Great Laundromat Gig!
I knew it was gonna be a good
day when , after finding the Norge Laundromat on Grand Street, we found parking right away! (That’s always a good thing
in the Bay Area.) The Norge itself was classic:
cool old machines with the cool old logos and looks—these
machines were definitely analogue not digital, tube not transistor (har har).
The ladies who ran the place were very cool as well. The place seemed like a
very neighborhood-y place—they knew the customers by name, and seemed to be
friends with many of them. So much so, that they were happily open to the idea
of a rock show in their store!
Thanks to the Clarences (Robert and Krystal) being one of
these friend/customers, it all came together.
We’d met The Clarences through our mutual connection with the International Pop
Overthrow Festival (now, how many times has that venerable organization played
this role? All you have to do is read this blog to know the answer. Thank you
We showed up, met the good folks of the establishment, and began setting up all
the doo-dads that make a music show (microphones, keyboards, speaker cabinets,
The Clarences are a keyboard duo. Their glam-rock costuming and the action figures that
decorate their gear add to the spice, but the real substance here were the
quality songs. My favorites included one of my fave pop devices: the counter-melody– Krystal’s
vocals coming in strong over Robert’s.
Not only did their music satisfy, but their
hospitality was greatly appreciated.
A fun bonus was to have Fresno ex-pates John
Paulson and Paul Ruxton (ex-Central Valley trail-blazers in the world of
New Wave with their band The Directions) come by (along with a bevy of family
members) to see the show.
Our set was solid (even if I started off with a terribly out-of-tune E string).
John tore it up as usual, Martin laid down his flawless bass grooves, and
new-to-the-group Scott Hatfield did a terrific job. (This was Scott’s second
gig with us. He’s filling Leland’s shoes for most of our out-of-town gigs these
We even had one of those heart-felt stadium-rock moments with the
laudromat folks singing along to our rendition of “3 is a Magic Number” –even having
our new friend Tasha come on up and sing along!
After the music, we headed into the heart of downtown to check out the newly famous
Occupy Oakland. It was a sobering experience. It had began to drizzle outside by
the time we got to the tent city that filled the square outside of City Hall.
There were some young activist folks, but a good deal of the people here looked
like they probably lived like this year-round. The area’s homeless were making
up a goodly portion of the crowd. Considering that this protest is a reaction
to the increasingly unbalanced proportions of wealth and opportunity in our
country, that made a lot of sense. I don’t think I felt inspired; I felt sad.
Here was a serious problem with not much hope of any immediate or easy answer.
I wonder if we as a people have the moral will to confront it and deal with it.
It seems we often try to excuse it away, blame it away…or worse yet as we see
here in Fresno, sweep it away by destroying yet another ad hoc camp.
We spoke with a few people. Walked around. Checked it out. My daughter had been here at a more euphoric moment—the
Wednesday before when, as she described it, thousands of people were dancing in
the streets. (This was earlier in the day. It wasn’t until much much later that
apparently some things got out of hand—blame who you will.)We
ended our time by driving up to Berkeley, getting soaked (it was really raining
by now), rummaging through Amoeba
Records on Telegraph, and then by having some Thai food just down the way.
The way home was fine, but I was exhausted. And why do I insist on occasionally
missing that turn-off for the 152….ach, that’ll add a few miles to you trip.
Thanks again to the Clarences. I look forward to setting up some equally cool and
creative kind of gig again soon!