Archive for September, 2010

Decibel Weekend

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Saturday I drove. Sunday I didn’t.

After enjoying a good night’s sleep, I got a call Saturday about driving one of the Bluetech guys to the party in the park. It was a beautiful afternoon and I wanted to go to the party as well, but I had also been around people the entire previous night and would be again that night, so I had to decline.

With multi-day events like this, Saturday is often the most challenging, whether you’re working, attending, or doing a combination of the two. There’s always more going on than you can prepare for, so you need to do what you can to stay functional and remain in the zone. For me, that means being comfortable. So I didn’t change out of my tube socks and Adidas shorts, and I popped in a DVD to give myself and my passengers a break from the chugging techno we’d been hearing for the last three and a half days.

My first run that evening was shuttling Scuba from the hotel to the Baltic Room. Since he’s from London, I asked him what he thought of the US… the huge cars, ridiculous portions, celebrated gluttony, how is that perceived across the pond? Basically, I wanted to get him to admit we’re fat, and he did not disappoint.

Next I picked up Praveen and Travis from Machinedrum from the hotel and took them to Motor. They told me they were playing another set at Baltic at midnight and could I please take them there as well? Totally doable.

Then I had to head back to the hotel to get Monty Luke and his lady-friend. He was barely in the car when he said, “Batman Begins is one of my favorite movies of all time!” I gave myself a mental pat on the back for nailing it.

Before I made that run, I crossed paths with Cnyce from Soul Clap who exclaimed, “I was meant to ride in this car!” I checked my schedule to see if that was indeed true. Of course, his crew was assigned to the other driver, so I did the herp-the-derp PR thing and told him I hoped we could make it happen. “The schedule doesn’t even matter,” he replied, “It’s going to happen.” Well, a positive attitude never hurt anyone. Just look at Richard Simmons.

I rolled up at Neumos a little before midnight to park and watch Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson wrap up the D25 Showcase. The Scion tent was packing up as I arrived, so I got better parking than I could have asked for: Parallel parking (instead of back-in) right in front of the door.

“Hello, Neumos? Could you please clear a space right in front of your venue on one of the busiest nights of the year? Also, I want to be able park along the street so my back door opens up to Pike Street. And I’d like to be able to go in and watch two of the pioneers of techno perform but still be able to see my car through the door. And I want meet them when I’m done and drive them back to their hotel. By the way, you don’t know me and I don’t have any money.”

Even my balls aren’t that big. So I was feeling really lucky. Then I managed to run into Cafe Vita right before it locked its doors. The barista said they were closed but gave me coffee anyway and didn’t charge me for it. So I fueled up and watched the Family Guy movie with some passersby.

I was scheduled to pick up Scuba at the Baltic Room at 2. Actually, I was scheduled to pick up half the artists at 2. My partner in crime was covering downtown and the no-man’s land known as SoDo, so I decided I’d be in charge of rounding everyone up who was still on the hill, namely Carl and Kevin.

Kevin and his wife got in first. Neither of them said much. Kevin’s kind of a big guy, so I don’t think he was digging my cute little pink and white bench seats. Carl spent 15 minutes taking pictures outside of Pike Place Fish Fry before getting into the car. Before we even crossed Pike Street, he jumped into the front seat. He was pretty friendly in a king-of-his-world kind of way. My favorite excerpt from our conversation:

CC: Where’d you get the work on the car done?

Me: Glendale, California, mostly. Then I drove it up here after about a year.

CC: You should have had it done in Detroit. We’d have your car lookin’ tight in less time.

Me: Yeah, but then I’d be in Detroit.

I stopped to grab Scuba from Baltic, which is ON THE WAY to the hotel. Seriously. You have to pass it to get to the hotel. There was balking. I don’t take too kindly to balking. However, had I known Praveen and Travis were going to be with him, I might have tried to make two trips without stepping on anyone’s toes. The total travel time from Neumos to Baltic to Hotel Max is less than 10 minutes, but the tension in the air made it feel like 10 hours. A white girl driving two black guys, a black lady, an Indian guy, an English guy, and a hipster from Brooklyn. My car had become a crowded cultural melting pot of noise and flashing lights.

Carl wanted an explanation as to why I made a Barbie Dream Hearse instead of something else. I tried to explain the play on words, but he seemed to have trouble accepting my answer. He suggested I do another theme: Barbie Dream Nurse. I considered buying an ambulance, tricking it out with a similar theme, and driving around wearing one of those tacky vinyl nurse outfits. Then I remembered what a heinous mind-fuck it was just to make the hearse and will table that idea until further notice.

When I pulled up at the hotel to drop off my various herbs and spices, who was waiting on the curb but Soul Clap, asking to be taken to Motor. They had a bunch of chicks with them too, which made me happy, ’cause chicks dig my car. I considered staying for the afterparty, but knew I wouldn’t sleep well if I didn’t get to bed before the sun rose.

Sunday was all about me enjoying some music. I caught the whole Optical 3 Showcase at the Triple Door. The main draw for me was Tycho, but the rest of it was lovely too. On top of that, I made a new friend who did the visuals for the showcase at Baltic Room on Friday. We both had all-access passes, so they stuck us in a box suite where we enjoyed relative privacy and isolation from the plebes.

When that was over, he drove me up the hill to Neumos where I saw Monolake, one of the other main draws at the festival. There was a parking space right in front with my name on it, and I was a little bummed that I couldn’t go grab the car and promote some more. (I live a short walk from the venue, but I have a zero-tolerance policy on driving after I’ve had a drink.) Then again, I was almost out of business cards and I worked really hard on Friday and Saturday and SWEET I CAN DANCE TO THIS.

All-in-all, it was an action-packed and productive weekend. I never would have guessed I could have this much fun, and I’m already excited about driving in it next year!

Addendum: Lots of people took pictures of the car, but I’m only seeing a few on the dB flickr page. If you’re a photog and managed to make it through this entire post, my hat’s off to you and please post your pictures!

Golden, er… Turquoise Handcuffs

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

This post’s title refers to the turquoise all-access wristband I received in exchange for providing transportation services to some of the Decibel Festival artists. It seems to be getting tighter and tighter as the weekend goes on. By Sunday night, I fear my hand will turn purple, detach from my body, and strangle the next person to ask me to wait a minute. (Handy music industry time conversion: 1 minute to you and me = 20 minutes to most of them.)

Okay, I’m being overly dramatic, but last night was rough. I am writing this after an excellent night’s sleep though, so I’m apt to remember the good parts rather than how I was trying to operate on four hours of sleep after a full day of normal-people work and an earlier East Side rush-hour fare.

Most of my Decibel drives were to and from Motor, which is way the hell south of everything. I seriously felt like I ran for the border five times last night. I drove Emancipator mostly and played phone tag with Beats Antique for much of the evening.

If every performance hadn’t ended at the same time, I might have also fetched Modeselektor. I caught most of their show at Neumos and could have justified staying up there to wait for them since they were on my schedule, but I had promised Emancipator I’d get them from Motor. Remember, Motor might as well be Mexico if you don’t have a car. Neumos is an easy haul, and Modeselektor seemed to have half the city up their ass that night so I know they were taken care of. All I really wanted to do was tell them I enjoyed their set, especially their goofy lip-syncing to Bjork and Antony’s “Dull Flame of Desire”. I nearly jumped through the roof watching that.

Anyway, after a night of driving artists, friends, friends-of-friends, and strangers with money, I got my cookies at the hotel when I dropped off Beats Antique. Another volunteer saw me and said, “Hey, Flying Lotus asked about you.”


He said some other stuff about how was talking to them, how they heard about the hearse, etc. but I don’t remember any of that. I just remember thinking, “Good. Because I asked about them too. A lot.”

So FlyLo, I know you had to go, but maybe when you’re back up this way, you can call a bitch instead of letting some random guy named Eddie call the shots, huh?

Thursday Night at the Decibel Festival

Friday, September 24th, 2010

I’d like to come up with a more clever title to this post, but I’m totally wiped and the weekend is only just beginning. Last night I drove Ben Frost, Grouper, and Lawrence English to their showcase at Pravda. Then I drove Lorn, who was playing at the FlyLo and Friends showcase. “FlyLo” is Flying Lotus, and apparently he has so many friends that he doesn’t need a ride to the damn venue and didn’t want to tell any of the organizers.

So FlyLo was a no-show for me, but I still made it to his set. It’s hard to hold a grudge when music is involved, and this guy made three of the best songs on my stereo right now. He even worked each of them into his set in some sort of fashion. The artist who played before him, Eskmo, was new to me and also lots of fun to watch.

Since I parked in front of Neumos, there was some light-flashing, hearse-promoting, hand-shaking, and tour-giving. I love every second of it. Even the parts where people walk up to me, not giving a damn about the custom work in the car, and launch into a full powerpoint presentation on their ideas for stuff they want to do with some other car and some barbies or something maybe sometime in the future. And how their dads thought about buying a hearse when they were in high school. (I want to link to that post, but I can’t find it.)

Anyway, the most personally newsworthy event of the evening wasn’t music-related though. While I was showing the car to some people who were waiting for Neumos to release the last of the FlyLo and Friends tickets, a photographer came by and asked to take some shots. I was thrilled, and I gave him a card afterward so he could email me the pictures. Even though 9 out of 10 photographers fail to do this and it’s nerve-racking. It takes three seconds to upload a few and click send. Please!

But what should I find in my Inbox this morning but links to a couple of pictures on Flickr. Nic Launceford, you are a gentleman and a scholar. It was a little dark and rainy and all around not picture-perfect last night, but a promise was made and fulfilled.

Aaaaand I’m spent.

It’s What’s Underneath that Matters

Monday, September 20th, 2010

TL;DR: Oooooh, shiny! Scroll down for pictures!

My underbody kit and LED strips from finally arrived in the mail last week, so I called Car Toys to make an appointment to have them installed. I dropped of the car Friday afternoon with plans to pick up my sweet-ass ride on Saturday afternoon.

As planned, I received a call on Saturday at noon. It was Robert at Car Toys telling me the underbody kit is installed, but one of the tubes housing the LEDs is broken. FFFFUUUU! And the LED strips aren’t long enough to run along the top and bottom of the bar/cupholder area like were were expecting. FFFFUUUU more!

I needed to get the car back despite the level of progress because I had a drive on Saturday night. Regardless, I didn’t want to keep my car in a strange place longer than necessary. Out of the 10+ months it was in Glendale, it was being worked on, looked at, or even thought about during maybe two of those months. Obviously, I need not repeat any part of that experience, especially with the stormy Seattle fall season around the corner and my hefty insurance bill.

So I did the two-mile stomp from First Hill to Belltown, and I arrived to find a nice surprise. Robert fixed my broken tube, so the underbody light show looked fantastic. He also repaired the iPod cable connection, which had been acting finnicky. I hadn’t spent much time troubleshooting it since I don’t have an iPod, and I play such good music in my car that no one ever requests that I plug in his/her iPod either.

Anyway, my kit is sick and all of you agree! The lights can flash at different rates or blink to the music, which is pretty cool. I also have a splitter, which would allow for more additions if I happened to come across some pink lights that I could use for accents.

I ordered another flexible strip of white LEDs for the interior, and they’re being rushed here on Wednesday so I can have them installed before the Decibel Festival this weekend. Did I mention I’m driving the Decibel Festival? YES. It will be the best collection of parties Seattle has ever seen. And as you know, it’s about parties.

How do I control all this bigger, brighter mobile fiesta? Meet the newest addition to my dashboard:

I have a remote to power the the lights on and off, as well as change their patterns. I found myself switching patterns a lot during my drive, despite their lack of effect on my passengers. Hell, I can’t even see them unless I pull up next to a car or reflective store window. So pedestrians, I am relying on the reactions displayed on your happy faces, basking in the glow of my unnecessary auto trickery.

The Seattle rain is back with a vengeance, so the outside pictures are limited to the confines of my parking garage:

And of course my new toy lent itself to another awkward show-car conversation before I even left the shop.

Cashier at Car Toys: We don’t get many people asking us to install these.

Me: That’s because they’re illegal in Washington.

Cashier at Car Toys:

Me: Thanks again!

Post-Parade Partying

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

After the parade celebrating Microsoft’s new Windows 7 phone, we hit the Fremont Brewing Company before watching the sun set over Lullaby Moon at Gasworks Park. Nobody complained when I pulled up a few feet from the kegs, and brewers happily displayed my Barrrrbie magnet. Even though I don’t drink when I drive, I enjoyed partying vicariously through the rest of the crowd.

More pictures from the parade

More coverage of the parade by Engadget, Gizmodo and some crotchety old guy.

Note: I did a quick google search using the terms “microsoft parade redmond” and found most of the relevant articles contain “funeral” somewhere in the headline. It is worth mentioning that the parade was a lot bigger than a couple of hearses, some cardboard cutouts of “dead” iPhones, and 50 people doing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance. I was part of one of seven floats made by different groups at Microsoft. Each group had to come up with a unique theme for their part of the parade. The group that hired me seems to have chosen the most controversial one, so that picture of my car’s rear end with a bunch of pallbearers trailing it got the most action. I can’t speak for the group’s motive in choosing the theme, but I will say the spirit of the event was more of a corporate congratulatory nature and less of a brash political commentary that some bloggers made it out to be.

Look! I Parked in a Compact Space!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Ever Get the Feeling You’re Being Watched?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Where’s Barbie?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Okay, even when she’s hidden, she’s still pretty easy to find. Now if only we could find Waldo before it’s too late…