We are coming down fast yet gently from our Area Of The Bay day’s adventures. Shawn visited his drummer good bud Rob in Glen Albyn. Is that Welsh? Scottish? Rob was off on a secret mission, no doubt attempting to retrieve the scattered pieces of his soul, seeking Horcruxes long forgotten in his old San Francisco haunts. Paul L went on a hike in the very dry Marin hills with his brother Peter and Pete’s girlfriend Patti. It was a reconnection with the joys of heat. It was hot on the dusty trail. It felt good. Poppies were scattered among the dry grass, yellow cheery survivors among the tall dead.
Fairfax is a wonderful little town. Its unofficial self description, on bumper stickers in the tourist shop, is “Mayberry On Acid.” And it’s undeniably Mayberry on this hot Thursday afternoon. Peter and Patti know everyone on the streets, from the deeply tanned and serenely deranged 1965 original bacchanalian to the Euro botanist who knows every plant species from here to the ocean, to golden youth lying on grass in the redwood shaded little park, a perfect little park, like we all should have idylled in in youths spent instead on anxious concrete, with background noise. Yes, parents love their children everywhere, but here the children seem to get what they need.
Fairfax has it all. World class organic ice cream shoppe. World class coffee small roaster, where 70 year old trail bikers pound down espressos before their 29 mile hill ride at 7 a.m. The Good Earth store, not the restaurant chain that gave health food a bad name in the 70’s, but a store that Whole Foods could be if they cut their profit margin and all the bullshit. The best smoothies ever, anywhere. Fairfax, thou art blest. May you not grow. May you not develop. May you maintain your love affair with limits.
Paul L jammed with his brothers Matt and Pete, like they’ve done since 1974.In the evening we drove a magical back road through rolling pastureland frozen in the 1920’s, heartbreaking in its fragile grace, that moment in world history when nature and the things of man were in glorious harmony.
Yes, that moment existed. Don’t deny it, or deny that the moment has passed. Grace and balance are in short supply, and when we see it, we yearn, we sigh, we breathe deeply. The moment was long and langorous. Bison painted on a cave. Giant stones standing. The pyramids. The well. Cliff dwellers. Canyon de Shelly. Stone cottages in the Pyrenees. Turf fires from chimneys along Slieve League. Notre Dame. The wood palace and gentle curve of river to the port of old Osaka. New Orleans. The ten acre tobacco patches and farm houses of North Carolina. White walled Seville and Toledo. Ardara and Ardgroom. All misery is forgotten. Only memory, and remnants of grace, remain. The magical back road led us through Petaluma to an industrial park, wherein was housed renovated rail cars, within which was radio station KRSH, outside of which we parked and into which we loaded our guitars and selves. The Hawks played two live songs over the airwaves, like we’ve done a hundred times before, but this time with a twist: the DJ attacked us for the offense of being from L.A.
Scattered among the good folk north of San Luis Obispo are those with a now overripe and festering contempt for the culture and turf of Southern California. Thirty years ago there was a genuine rivalry between the two Californias, fueled by the Dodgers Giants feud, when baseball really mattered to people. Really mattered, not just when you found yourself on the big screen at Dodger stadium emoting for the camera, which you didn’t because there wasn’t one, but when you were alone in your bedroom under the covers with your transistor radio hanging on Vin Scully’s every word, when you lived and died with every throw of Sandy Koufax’s tortured arm. When Juan Marichal clobbered Johnny Roseboro with a bat, the culture war was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.But for Los Angeles, transformed by newcomers and its own weird alchemy brought forth by critical mass into something completely new, this feud is dead. No one cares. San Francisco? Yeah, it’s cool up there. I used to live up there. The feud? No one remembers it.
Until reminded by the oddly self-stereotyping moralizing Northern Californian, such as our DJ host, who shall remain unnamed. Let’s call him, say, Grande. At 8:01 p.m he introduced us, and asked us if we were really from L.A. Yes, we are. How can we stand it down there? asked Grande. This opening salvo was followed by multiple rounds, weapons of condescension, pity, and accusation. We tried to defend ourselves. Grande, let’s call it a truce. The war is over. Grande, we all drive cars, don’t we? Finally came naked hostility. “Thanks for stealing our water,” Grande muttered as we left the studio. We are not making this up. Yo. Grande. Peace. Peace out.The Hawks backed Matt Lacques on his super nice and sad ballad, then jumped in the Yukon for just down the road to Bill Frater’s Freight Train Boogie radio show, in an anonymous industrial park much like the previous. We grabbed our instruments as twilight enveloped the parking lot, and fresh cut alfalfa from an adjacent field wafted its soothing scent over us. Enchanting. A wall of smoke from the Humboldt fire guarded the horizon from the sunken sun.
Bill Frater is a man who sees the big picture, gracious and equipped with a major good vibe. We had a fun packed radio performance, played a bunch of songs and theorized in between about the madness of fiddlers and pedal steel players, about our pals in the L.A. country scene, and many other fleeting topics. A good time was had by all.
Southward to Marin. Tea. Darkness on the wood deck overlooking the harbor of Tiburon, big ships far off in fog serenading each other like a meeting of whales. And to bed.