The Beast of the Ball

Last night I DJed at a private Sacramento high school for their winter semi-formal dance. I thought it would be my chance to be a cool kid at prom, spinnin’ records with a pretty dress and headphones on, instead of the shy girl chatting it up with my English teacher chaperone and not dancing.

But kids are mean! I felt more pressure last night than I did when I was actually in high school. I got dirty, condescending looks and comments from dozens of teens (and one teacher!) because we didn’t have their Top 40 requests. I literally heard “boo”s when throwing on certain songs. I even watched one guy point me out to his friends and then yell, “You suck!”

I was going to say that the main difference last night was that I was finally okay being the uncool kid at prom, but the truth is I was proud to be an offbeat at that age. I gracefully accepted that social standing long ago.

The difference is that now when I’m the uncool kid at prom, I get paid $100.

Eat that, jock!


January 16, 2010. Tags: , , . autobio, music. 3 comments.

A Slice of the Sacramento Scene

As a lifetime Sacramento region resident involved in the music scene, I’ve seen a trend of local bands denouncing their town. So many great bands abandon the River City, thinking they can do better in San Francisco or Portland, only to get lost in the over-populated scene sea.

But our flagship rock band Cake never gave up on Sacramento. They proudly call it their hometown, even though frontman John McCrea now lives in Oakland. They make references to the city in songs. They even maintain their studio in Sacramento, and recently retrofitted it to be totally solar-powered.

But most importantly, they show their loyalty to Sacramento by offering these cozy secret shows every year or two. The first time I saw them was Christmas Eve 2001 or so, for free at the old Capitol Garage. Last Tuesday I got to see them again at the Blue Lamp, their second show there in the last month. They played old favorites and tested out new material for the upcoming album – all of which, I’m happy to report, is dope.

So be proud to be from Sacramento! The scene may be smaller than the Bay Area’s, but I say it’s sweeter.

December 27, 2009. Tags: , , , , . music. 2 comments.

The Ta-da! Moment


Every interview I’ve read or conducted about a teacher mentions their “A-ha! moment.” Apparently it’s this magical epiphany when a student finally understands the concepts a teacher has been driving at all along. It’s proof that their work is not for naught.

Well, I’ve never delivered an A-ha! moment, but I have executed many — what I will call — Ta-da! moments.  This came to mind tonight as I concluded my screenprinting class at the UC Davis Craft Center. The Ta-da! is the epiphany when a student realizes he is capable of amazing things.

Ta-da! You can silkscreen any image you want onto a T-shirt and wear it right out of the classroom, without going to a professional printer!

Ta-da! Your hand-scrawled poetry has been printed 6,000 times in a magazine and is being distributed all over the country!

Ta-da! You can record a song in your bedroom at night and hear it played on the radio the next day!

I remember my first Ta-da moment delivered: In high school I booked my friends’ band, Red Sauce, to play a concert in our auditorium. When I brought to lunch a copy of Alive & Kicking that listed their name in the events calendar, the guitarist ran through the quad yelling unintelligibly and flailing the paper around. That’s when I decided I must find more ways to say, “Ta-da!”

November 5, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , . autobio. 2 comments.