Bridge Over San Antonio Street

This morning I pedaled past a road crew spray-painting dots to mark the installation of a bike lane on the short bridge at San Antonio Street up and over the 101 freeway.

The two-lane bridge bridge is part of the best bicycle route from East San Jose to Downtown.  Unlike most of the rest of the route, there are no bike lanes.  The combination of the lack of lanes and the sight of cars whizzing by on the freeway underneath creates a sketchy leadership vacuum for both driver and cyclist.  Cyclists sometimes ride the wrong direction or walk the bike on the sidewalk.  Drivers usually increase their speed five or ten miles an hour or more, gunning it to get over the hill.  I always get a full head of steam on the descent and blow through the stop sign at the bottom in suburban joy.   I got a flat tire  and the guy who fixed it told me that his pitbull got big thorns in his paw from the trees that grew there.

Back to the road crew: it was three guys in fluorescent vests, and their truck.  I cheered them on.

“You’re our first customer,” said one of the guys, a goateed Latino man in a mesh safari hat and wraparound mirrored shades.

“Woohoo!” I hollered.  I was in the moment.

“If we had any paint!” the guy yelled back, weirdly.

I kept pedaling and wondered what was in the van.

When I rode back home that evening the stripe hadn’t been painted and only the dots remained.  This town.  The dots were better than nothing.

Extreme Animals

The show was in the basement of 421 W. MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland on Wednesday, August 24th, 2005.  We rode bikes, it was about about twenty blocks from where I lived at 18th and Chestnut in West Oakland.  At the time the noise musician Steve Santamaria and the clothing designer Mary Meyer lived near Market on 41st Street a couple of blocks away.  I went to their place first.  We listened to records, Steve showed me some new gear.  We had some lentils.  Then we rode to the show.

There were a lot of bikes locked up on the fences and poles outside.  You could see who was there, a lot of people were.  The medical pot industry in Oakland was exploding and everybody grew or knew someone who did and so everyone had great stuff.  We smoked Swisher Sweet cigars split open, emptied out and stuffed with gooey marijuana. The basement filled with a thick cloud of sweet smoke.  Strong smells matched my rank BO because I showered weekly, never washed my hair, or my jeans.  I got rashes.

Extreme Animals was a musical identity of PaperRad who were hot then, they had been in the Whitney Museum and that’s what I wanted.  I didn’t know anything.  It was the first time they had been to the west coast.  Maybe it was the last.  It wasn’t much.  It was dark in the basement, there was a fog machine and a strobe light.  Two guys in the corner played laptops into a loud PA.  The room was less than 20 people, half full but enough to knock into someone once in a while.  The music was hyper 8-bit rave music.  It sounded like an Apple ][E on meth.  All the gear, costumes, and amps were covered in hand painted day-glo trip out patterns.  They had made a record in Czeckoslovakia.  There was obviously no money in any of it.  After 45 minutes of smoky foggy circuit bending pachinko music, the thing wrapped up.  It was early, still light out.  The light on MacArthur Boulevard was an interesting light gray with pink edges fading to orange.  The sun went down.