Posts Tagged ‘Long Beach’

Invite David Bazan.

This last Sunday I was fortunate enough to host Mr. Bazan (or Dave as he likes me to call him) at my house for one of his living room shows.  For those of you who don’t know – this very blog is named after one of his songs, so to have the man playing in my house was certainly a highlight.  For the past few years Bazan has been playing these intimate venues with about 40-50 people in attendance – alone or sometimes with a friend backing him.  At our show he played an electric into a tiny amp, no mic, and a simple floor lamp by his side.

Bazan played for a little over an hour, with quite a bit of dialogue in between songs where he would answer questions – a practice that he encouraged, rather than was forced upon him.  It was very refreshing to hear someone speak frankly about the struggles of being a musician – most especially in the financial sense.  Knowing my pride, I would have tried to play it up as if I was killing it, but Bazan admitted to performing these house shows because of the practicality of them being more profitable than traditional shows that require a lot more cost and effort – and that it is needed to be able to keep playing music for a living.

He played a selection of songs from Pedro, Headphones, and his solo albums.  His “$300 guitar” didn’t quite keep tune, and the playing wasn’t flawless by any means – but it was more than made up for with the power of his voice, and the overall coolness of such a rarefied show.

After the show, Bazan stuck around briefly and folks were able to grab pictures and buy some albums.  Though I hosted the event I didn’t really talk to him much, other than a couple phone calls leading up the the show – but he seemed like a very genuine and likable guy, and this night only served to enhance my love of his music.

God bless you, David Bazan – whether you want it or not.

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I recently sold a dresser to a guy through Craigslist, and upon delivering it realized that my buyer was Ron Heathman from The Super Suckers.  I’m no Super Suckers fan, but I know enough about them to appreciate how cool it was to be standing in this guy’s apartment, talking about music, furniture, coffee and life.  It made me think about how cool Craigslist is, how it brings interesting people together, how it makes great transactions possible, and how it is a picture of the possibilities and perils of a free market. And so I introduce Craigslist Chronicles, a column about interesting things that happen through Craigslist (or ebay, since ebay is basically the same concept but with fees, rules, and less awesome).  My hope is that others will contribute as well, so please start collecting your stories now.

For my maiden voyage I will tell of my stolen bike, and how I got it back.  I woke up one Saturday morning to find my 1960’s Raleigh 10-speed stolen.  It was my fault really because I didn’t lock it.  I figured it wouldn’t be worth stealing.

I initially didn’t grieve the loss too much, since I’d gotten the bike for free, but began to become more and more bothered by the loss as I considered that Jana had the matching she-bike, which was pretty damn cool.  Plus, I didn’t have a bike now, so I was going to have to go buy one.  Plus, that was my bike, and it had my cup holder, my lights, my recently purchased seat, and my son’s child seat attachment.

On Sunday morning I was struck by a thought- if I had stolen a bike, how would I go about selling it?  Put it on Craiglist, probably.  And with that thought I went on Craigslist and typed in “Raleigh bike” and boom, there was my bike, stripped, cleaned-up, and for sale for $80.  Now I ask you dear reader, what would you do if you were in this situation?

I called the number in the ad and left a message: I’m interested in the bike, please call me.  I went to church.  I asked all my friends at church what they would do, and I soon had a posse of about 20 guys who just wanted to the time and place to meet to go take the bike by force.  But what if the thief is a violent man?  Or what if he calls the cops on me?  No, I had to go through legal channels on this.  But how would I prove the bike was mine?  I had not registered it, did not know the serial number, and really didn’t have any pictures.  In the meantime, the guy with my bike had called me back and we had set up a time to meet.  His name was Nicoli, and he was from somewhere in the former Soviet Union.  He sounded like a cool guy.

I called the police and hoped to just convince him it was mine, and show him Jana’s matching bike, and just generally win him over with the Pete Deeble charm offensive.  That didn’t work, but the cop agreed to look at some photos on my computer, and we found one of Luke sitting on the bike.  The picture was really just of Luke, but you could make out one small part of the bike- the stem that supports the seat, with a small rust mark across it.  We blew it up, printed it out, and the cop agreed that if I could show him the same mark on the allegedly stolen bike, he would take necessary action.

And so we drove over to Nicoli’s place, near Anaheim and Termino, and the cop and I mapped out our sting operation.  I would approach on foot, ask for a test ride, ride over to the cop who was parked around the corner, and go from there.  The plan went off without a hitch, I showed the rust mark to the officer, and it was on.

Naturally, Nicoli claimed he had not stolen the bike, but had bought it from some other guy.  I would have taken my bike and dropped the whole thing but I wanted my cup holder, lights, child seat attachment and seat (they switched out the seat for some reason).  Nicoli swore he didn’t have those things, but said he’d buy me anything I wanted.  The cop threatened him that I would press charges if he couldn’t produce these things, and before I knew it we were on our way to the place he had bought the bike from.  I rode my newly reclaimed bike, Nicoli rode with the cop.  Soon we were at a dumpy garage near Temple and Anaheim and speaking to an old Asian man who, wouldn’t you know it, had some bikes for sale.

The man denied knowing anything about the bike, then claimed to have gotten it from Salvation Army, then claimed to have bought it from a kid down the street.  Meanwhile I was able to locate my things in his garage.  While the cop had been rather slow to show much interest in my bike up until this point, the prospect of busting a petty crime ring seemed to get him buzzing a little bit, and soon another cop car was on the scene and they were running serial numbers on some of the other bikes for sale.  Soon, I had all of my bike parts except my cup holder.  Neither Nicoli nor the old man seemed to know anything about it, so I told them I’d drop the whole thing if they gave me $20.  Nicoli told the old man that he “owed him big time” and pulled out a $20.  So I had my bike, all my parts, and $20.

I rode my bike home, and the cop dropped by later to deliver some of the parts I couldn’t carry on my bike.  Apparently they weren’t able to make a bust, because none of the bikes were registered.  Nicoli called me and apologized, and told me that if I ever need any bike parts, give him a call.  I told my friend Josh about the incident, and he told me that he knew Nicoli and had gone riding with him before.  Nicoli told me that he bought the bike off the old man for $40.  My guess is that the old man bought the bike off a kid on the street for $20- there’s no possible way he got it from Salvation Army, and I really doubt he personally stole it from my porch.  I think a kid was walking by, saw an unlocked bike, and figured it would be a free ride and maybe a little cash, and he was right.  So think about that: in two days the bike changed hands three times and in the process went from stolen to $80.  That’s a lot of criminal activity for a very minor reward.  For me, it was the ultimate vindication for all the times I’ve had something stolen and thought ‘I’d give anything to find the guy who stole this.’  For one sunny afternoon, I got to see almost everyone involved in the taking of my bike, and I actually got it back.  It was awesome.

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Normally when I say those two words it is when discussing some governmental policy that has consequences unintended from the original idea.  For a broad example take an idea like welfare – intended to help people who are in dire straits and need a life line – but which many times appears to cause people to come to rely on that help, and to thus never pull themselves out of the hole that required the welfare in the first place.

fishplatformWell I am happy to share this report about a circumstance that appears to have a positive, and completely accidental, consequence.  Yesterday The Press Telegram reported on the condition of oil rig leggings left in the ocean floor.  According to the article, state law mandates that oil companies completely remove the remnants of an oil rig platform which is costly ($250 million) and requires large amounts of explosives to remove.  So what is the good part of this?  Well it appears that the legs of the platforms many times become de facto reefs for fish, and that a thriving sea life has formed around the pillars:

Although originally foreign to the marine environment, since their installation, the oil platforms have been co-opted by species of fish who have made the rigs their habitat, even preferring it in some cases to a natural reef, according to Chris Lowe, a CSULB marine biology professor.

“It’s basically like a high-rise building for fish, and each level actually provides another level of sea-floor habitat,” he said.

One of the reasons for the boon in fish is a moratorium on fishing near the oil rigs, which makes it about as near a preserve as you can get.  So not only do the fish have a habitat that is fairly well protected, but there is also the matter of the $250 million.  An option the article points out (and that is practiced by the Gulf states) is to strike a deal where the companies are allowed to leave the pilings and a portion of the money that would have been used to remove them are diverted to an alternate fund, usually in an environmental focus.

I like this idea.  The money is already accounted for by the oil company in their original valuation of the project, so they aren’t losing extra cash (in fact if a deal is struck it sounds as if they save money), an artificial reef is maintained, and the state gets a lump o’ cash… which if you haven’t heard, California NEEDS!

This article here paints a more nuanced picture of the idea.  Environmentalists believe that this keeps fish from properly habituating in natural reefs that are available.  The article states that pending legislation for this idea fell through in 2006 because of these concerns.  Don’t know if a debate has resurfaced in legislature or not… but it does seem that the debate is odd on the environmentalists part because as the Telegram article points out, when you dynamite the posts to remove them you kill everything living there.

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The TED Conference is up and running today in Long Beach.  Here is a schedule so you can see what discussions and programs are going on.  Can I reiterate how badly I wish I could be there?

Below are photos of the Kohler Livinghome, part of an exhibit on sustainable living at the conference.  Apparently it is going to be sticking around outside the Terrace Theater for a while so non-TED Long Beachian’s can see it.

The Kohler Livinghome

The Kohler Livinghome


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MARK REMINDS: Don’t forget to see Elijah play tonight.

I have been holding back a shameful advertisement of myself, but being that these are my “Weekly Wanderings” I feel confident that I can thus place myself in the ranks with opening a FedEx envelope (or am I far less satisfying?).  Next Thursday, 18 December, at 8pm, I will be playing a small show at an It’s A Grind Coffee House in Long Beach.  Typically my band (Elijah Wade) features my friends Justin and fellow CAI writer Sgt. Grumbles, but this will be a solo show.  If you’re in the area please feel free to stop by between 8 and 9:30 or so for some folk music and coffee.


As Sgt. Grumbles mentioned in another post, he and I are fans of Daniel Rossen (who plays both in Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles).  I’ve enjoyed Grizzly Bear for some time, but on 27 February this past year Grizzly Bear appeared on KCRW’s morning program, Morning Becomes Eclectic.  On the show that day they shared a new song entitled “While You Wait For the Others,” a song written primarily by Rossen.  I had it stuck in my head this morning so I post it in hopes that  maybe you will enjoy it as much as I do (if not more):

Stereogum has an MP3 of the recording available here if you’d like to download it.

I hate to take away the first slot on the blog from Mark’s great post so early in the day, so make sure if you haven’t to read it below, it’s an interesting discussion.

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