Thursday, September 29, 2005

Welcome to the Bay Area :) we'll be needing that kidney

I just can't get over . Literally, I can't get over how much my beloved hometown has changed since the late 70's. The Bay Area is now the number one destination of people who want to live well, eat the best food apart from France and raise their kids with diversity. These transplants know how important Berkeley and Oakland's liberal/leftist legacy is in the scheme of an rapidly narrowing US political climate. They also know that the East bay has the best weather almost anywhere in the world. They'll commute and work, work, work to bring home Silicon Valley money. They've driven rents up so artists like myself are backed up against the wall.
Chris Thompson of East bay Express said it best:
But let's face it no one has fetishized middlebrow fine living -- browsing the aisles at Restoration Hardware, choosing from among a hundred types of microbrew, knowing which plantation grew your chocolate bar, for God's sake -- more than the Bohos and foodies of the Bay Area. No one hikes, eats, drinks, reads, or decorates better than us. We were country -- wine country, that is -- back when country wasn't cool.
Oddly enough, our obsession with Bobo staples such as gourmet coffee and slow food grew out of a '70s antimaterialist impulse, a desire to drop out of the rat race and enjoy simpler pleasures such as organic gardening or backpacking in Mongolia. Then a funny thing happened. So many people developed a taste for these off-the-grid pastimes that consumer capitalism made a fortune commodifying them and turning them into vast industries. That took some of the fun out of fun. Lonely Planet started off as two Australian mods following the Hippie Trail through Central Asia, and now it's a major player in the cutthroat world of travel publishing. Even now, a Starbucks is about to open in your guest bedroom. And have you tried shopping at the Berkeley Bowl lately? Nothing will spike your blood pressure faster, but there once was a time there when you didn't have to shiv someone grabbing for your heirloom tomato.

Then something else happened: sticker shock. Partly because we succeeded so fabulously at living well, the Bay Area became a global destination and housing prices shot through the roof. Suddenly, the Bobos had to work extra hard. From lawyers to sales associates to coders, the Bay Area middle class works its ass off. Especially in Silicon Valley, especially if they want that Maybeck home in the hills. The bohemian generation that so valued leisure and creativity, for whom Rolling Stone was the house organ of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, became the generation that created the balls-to-the-wall, sleep-is-for-the-weak work ethic celebrated in Wired every month. They're spending so much time coding and commuting to afford their Bobo lifestyles that they've lost the time with which to enjoy it. "There have always been people that worked deathmarch hours," says Pauline Borsook, who was present at the beginning of the foodie craze, wrote for Wired in the '90s and is the author of Cyberselfish, a critique of the Silicon Valley ethos. "It didn't become the model of how life ought to be until the '90s, when there was a celebration of all that. ... Wired tapped into some of that thinking, but they heroized it in a way no one had ever done before."

No one better exemplifies this development than ex-Merry Prankster, Whole Earth Catalogue publisher, and tech entrepreneur Stewart Brand. After hanging out with Native Americans in Oregon and dropping acid with Ken Kesey, Brand remade himself into the tech ur-guru, organizing the seminal 1984 Hacker's Conference, cofounding The Well, and consulting for industry about how to embrace the future. According to Brand, the endless hours Silicon Valley employees put in these days are actually a blessing in disguise. "I think it's probably a sign that work has become more interesting since the '70s," he says. "Writing software, coding is absolutely gripping. You get into a flow state. ... Starting businesses is absolutely exhausting and totally creative, whereas you get to be creative maybe once a month working for somebody else."
Back to SuperAmanda:
This is all making me very sad beacuse I'm killing myself to make it down here and have not been able to afford a voice lesson for ages. I've become addicted to these instant pleasures because I refuse to become an artist that never has anything fun or beautiful to enjoy after a hard day's work. plus I have massive astonishing nostalgia for the bay Area of my childhood and the real hippies and parents that made it such a great place to be a little kid. There was this guy on Telegraph who thought he was a clock and a there were always people singing in the streets. I guess I'm starting to sound like Sean Penn lauding Iraq but please bear with me...this is my childhood I'm letting go of, okay?


Blogger Justin Kreutzmann said...

well i'm glad i was born here so i wouldn't have to move here along with every one else!

8:57 PM  
Blogger saneei said...

hi please visit

4:51 AM  
Blogger Vinylsoul said...

Wow...your writing has given me a desire to travel to the Bay area! I am a Who fan and am a classically trained guitarist who dabbles in all things mod pop, and I love England. I think you have clearly become my new heroine! lol!

Will make sure my "extra" kidney is in good shape - will you be my travel guide? : )

11:47 AM  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

Why thank you for the kindness!!
My power lunches swapping Who dvds in Marin and those sake drinking matches in El Cerrito have me pretty distracted these days but I'll be posting a traveler's guide to the coolest rock history sites in the SF/Bay Area soon so stay tuned :)

3:56 PM  
Blogger Vinylsoul said...

superamanda - what is your fave WHO dvd to date? Hands down for me the newly remastered THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT has been a joy to watch - but I so wish someone had filmed the Valentine's Day show at Leeds in 70. Do you enjoy live boots? I have one from the Toronto one (another amazing Rock city with some very cool WHO history - such as Keith's last gig at Maple Leaf televised concert for 82 tour) I saw in 2002 and would be willing to send you a dub, if you like! Keep swapping - and I hope the sake treats you well! : ) THANKS!

One other question: fave Pete solo album?

11:14 PM  
Blogger SuperAmanda said...

I love it all :) It would be hard to choose, but the 73 to 75 shows are like something from a dream. They played so well it was unreal.
My favorite solo album is either Empty Glass, Who Came First or Chinese Eyes...I can't explain nor decide. :)

Though Timmy on tribe puts it best:
" Kids Are Alright on LSD-25 my freshman year of college sent me back to my childhood of being surrounded by all the rock of the day, listening over and over to My Generation (even though it was my parents' generation), Tommy, LZ2, Magical Mystery Tour, Quadrophenia, Electric Ladyland...

The movie on acid had me communing with Keith's spirit and made me take up drums. I already was greatly influenced by Pete on guitar, especially that ol' Pinball Wizard in the right hand.

All I have to do is hear the pulse of the Who and it is like channelling some deep-voodoo. Later, when I was writing papers on Native American ritual and Haiti, or Congo Square in New Orleans for anthropology and religion or ethnomusicology classes, that hypnotic pulse would reemerge into my consciousness and open a "cross cultural link" or a "direct" experience of other cultures. I've been applying that to all my musical experience ever since.

The Who were (and, hell, even today Rog & Petey can belt it out) the most raw of all rock & roll."

11:40 PM  
Blogger Vinylsoul said...

Hello again superamanda!

Yes, the pulse so vital to WHO music has been a part of my own spiritual quests as well. I mean, how can one hear LOVE REIGN O'ER ME without being connected to "something bigger". I have loved recreating Pete's playing live over the years, with my HIWATT and other assorted Pete effects.

Have to say that CHINESE EYES is my fave album of Pete's. It spoke to me when I first heard it when I was 17, and it still speaks to me on a much deeper level now that I am 39. But I must tell you, WHITE CITY has been in my consciousness lately, and I have been getting into it! (I dismissed it when it first came out). Must be that Pete was turning 40 when he completed the album, as I am turning 40 this year. Craziness. Man I miss Moonie and the Ox!

Amazing to meet someone online with such a different background and yet have such a shared history. I mean, QUADROPHENIA was my album of adolescence. If I ever have a son, I know what I am getting him when he turns 16!

Blessings to you kindred spirit!

Fave Who Song?.....Pure and Easy

2:38 PM  
Blogger Anne-Marie said...

What a thoughtful post. I have a great friend who lives with her family in the East Bay area, and have visited there often. There is nothing more beautiful than the North California coast, and I have sat on the beaches many times enjoying a good Napa wine and great burritos from Three Amigos at Half Moon Bay. However, as wonderful as the food and wines are in the region, I could never make a move there because the housing market is beyond ridiculous (and I am from Toronto, which is the Canadian equivalent of ridiculous housing behind Vancouver!) and because the driving culture makes me cringe. I suppose it would be wonderful to actually live in San Francisco or Berkeley, but the reality for most people there is that they are one to two hours away from work because housing is more affordable in those outlying areas. The end result is that the long commute removes quality of life in such a beautiful part of the world. I have great affection for the Bay Area and have spent great moments there (including the Who at Mountainview in 2004), but it's no wonder to me you lament the Bay Area of your childhood.


11:58 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

Hi Amanda, I'm really interested in what you have to say here.

And by all means, you MUST have voice lessons if you have a teacher who's good for you.

I've been visiting the Bay Area since 1986 when my sister moved there. She's a Marin person now but started out in the City (North Beach) in a flat. For many reasons, I have gravitated toward Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. My five-year plan has me relocating there in 2008.

Now I know that the housing market and rents too are ridiculous. But I keep telling myself that it will somehow change in time for ME to live there!

I can be good about budgeting, and I don't need much, but sometimes it does seem that I will be priced out of living in northern California.

I have a couple of years to research before making the move. There are other pieces of the puzzle which will have to fall together as well to make it work.


Thanks for writing about it. I will keep reading!

7:23 PM  

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