Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Evidently Fourth Dimension

The Flaneur summons several recent scenarios in search as ever of the proximate zeitgeist.

Easter Sunday was last day of March, sunny and brisk. I set out walking for a new venue in my old neighborhood. For the better past of two decades, I lived on Woolsey street above Telegraph. This was the real Berktown bordertown area where historic marches were opposed and stopped or scattered by the militaristic Oakland police in the anti-War sixties. And where for generations before that a kind of interzone,a liquor-abundant supply depot one mile down the line from UC Berkeley's ever-thirsty students.
Alone among the enterprises to persist in its nuisance is the White Horse bar and the White Horse liquor store, historically tied but perhaps no longer connected as businesses today. Since before World War II, the homosexual demimonde has found the White Horse bar a friendly and accommodating place.

Nearby, representing yet another generational swerve is the recent-opened Stranded record shop --specializing in vinyl LPs. The name is short for Stranded in Oakland I believe. Wondering as I have been about such a fate myself these days, it fit my mood.
Today Stranded is hosting a free performance by the intriguing Bonnie Prince Billie and a singing partner. Songs originally recorded by the timeless Everly Brothers predominated. Prince Billie, formerly Will Oldham and formerly of the Palace Brothers is a shining exemplar, not to say hero, of the new Americana movement in popular music. He has a fine voice and plays guitar well; he effortlessly enlists one in the honesty of his schtick.
As I walked up it seemed that the four or five people ahead of me had already been stopped due to the packed state of  the record shop, a single oblong room. Despite my landing quite wide of the demographic both inside and outside I was nevertheless more or less determined that my two mile walk be not in vain. People milled outside to catch what they could lof the show, but there would be no usable audio reaching these tired ears out there with traffic going by. Luckily the guy-who-works-there took pity on this unlikely cat and allowed me to squeeze into a corner spot. We chatted and he warmed to me a bit. It turned out that a colleague from Negativland (semi-defunct) was working the sound for this.
A cool little stage was erected down the far end with dance-hall girl velvet curtains. At last the musicians emerged and took the stage with only acoustic guitars and microphones. So despite the airless heat during the 90 minutes I was there, the sound was all pleasure and no  pain.

(more later)