The good times, with the good people. A lot of bands on the roster for “This Ain’t No Picnic” in Pasadena, plenty of which my “age to coolness ratio” didn’t qualify me to have even heard of before. Even still, we caught plenty of music. LCD Soundsystem, Idles, Beach House, The Strokes, and I finally got to see Pheobe Bridgers for the first time. She’s been on heavy rotation through my speakers the past few years.
“Someday” by The Strokes
I’ve loved this song since I first heard it, over twenty years ago. Long back enough that younger generations are starting to cover it, and I’m falling in love with it all over again.
“Someday” by Julia Jacklin
Right before the pandemic hit and everything shutdown, I got tickets for Alexis and I to see The Tallest Man on Earth at the Troubadour. Two years later, and a lot of rescheduling, we got to go. It was an awesome show. The thing that stuck with me more than anything though, was feeling that we finally turned the corner. Getting to finally use those tickets 2 years later feels like evidence strong enough to hold up in a court of law that we’re moving on and getting back to life. Thank God.
Like the Wheel by The Tallest Man On Earth
My Dad flew across the country to grab a beer with me on St. Patrick’s Day. One of the many perks of him being retired now. It was a quicker trip than he’d usually make to California, but we made the most of it. We ate the tacos, hopped the bars, talked the talk, explored the neighborhoods, poured the saké, watched the movies, clinked the glasses, and got a good look at the Pacific. Think I’ve also logged enough hours listening to my father go on about the never ending, infinite complexities of College Basketball March Madness, that at this point I might actually be able to pass as one of the talking heads on ESPN.
One of the brighter burning highlights came to be when just a day or two before my Dad got here, I learned that Flogging Molly was one of his favorite bands. As luck would have it, they were playing St. Patrick’s Day at the Palladium in Hollywood. I knew if we went it’d mean staying out way too late and drinking way too much, but damn it, life needs some living. So I got us some good seats, and after seeing the pit below and feeling the relief on our backs, I might consider it to be one of the greatest purchases I’ve ever made. One of the opening bands was from Ukraine, and given current events, the people were BEYOND fired up. It was a fun show, and most importantly, Dad got to cross off seeing Flogging Molly on St. Patrick’s day.
My Dad and I talk pretty often, but I’m not exactly sure the last time just the two of us spent this much uninterrupted time together. Maybe our cross country drive when I made the move to California 15 years ago. This little adventure has been a reminder that I should strive to make this happen more often. We had a great time, and I’ve got the photos to prove it. My favorite of which is Dad using chopsticks for only his second time ever for his “raymen” noodles.
Middle Kids at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles. Ever since the first time I saw them and realized she was playing a right handed guitar, left handed, I knew I was sunk. They’ve quickly made their way into my list of favorite bands that I haven’t already been listening to for over a decade.
Edge of Town by Middle Kids
We had some fun out in Joshua Tree with friends on a long weekend in late September. It was exactly what I’ve come to expect when you get this crowd together. Good laughs, good food, good drinks, and good memories. Of course I also spent a life-threatening amount of time in the hot tub. Wouldn’t be a weekend getaway otherwise. It’s a nice thing when your agenda for the day doesn’t equate to much more than watching the setting Sun and the rising Moon.
The house we stayed at and particularly the surrounding scenery, was out of this world. With a little color correction, it could probably serve as a backdrop for an alien planet in some sci-fi film. The landscape always seems so surreal out there, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. This felt especially true because of how secluded the house was. Trying to spot any other man made structures on the horizon felt like playing “Where’s Waldo.” A welcomed change from my everyday sights.
We did venture out toward some civilization one night to see Modest Mouse play at Pappy and Harriet’s. I seemed to miss the Modest Mouse train when I was younger and don’t know much else outside their hits. Even still, it was a really fun show and didn’t hurt that it was at a pretty unique venue. The Districts were the opening band. I’d never heard them before but glad we caught them. Been listening to them on and off ever since.
Cheap Regrets by The Districts
After a few days dehydrating ourselves in the desert, we headed back to Los Angeles for one last outing before we all went our separate ways. James Blake at the Hollywood Bowl. If I’m being honest, I had absolutely no idea who this guy was. Thing is though, The Bowl is a truly magical place, and in my experience it doesn’t really matter who’s playing. So long as it’s a nice night out, you’re gonna have a great time, and we did exactly that. Also didn’t hurt that our seats were absurdly close considering the layout and capacity of the Hollywood Bowl. We’ve got a friend who’s a good guy to know, to say the least.
Our friends Jenn and Duncan even flew down from Sacramento for the night to join in. I know, sounds exhausting. Thing is, they have three kids, and I have to imagine a chance to catch up with friends and have some adult conversation for a change, is a juice well worth the squeeze. Glad they made it and even more glad I get to be in the company of friends like these.
Local Natives with good friends at one of my favorite venues in all of Los Angeles. The Greek Theatre. Seats about as close as they get, with the girls in the first row and us guys right behind them in the second row. Close enough that you have to use you arms to part the fog rolling off stage. It was our first show since before the pandemic hit for Alexis and I. Definitely worth it and definitely a night to remember.
Past Lives by Local Natives
My last monthly challenge of 2020 has always been a question mark. Intentionally left open for new ideas that revealed themselves throughout the year. Nearing the end of November though, still hadn’t really had it figured out.
Then one day my friend Jesse texted me out of the blue. He’d been thinking about me, and took a peek at Six Foot Giraffe, which turned into him catching up on my entire year. He let me know how it was really cool what I was doing and how he was excited for whatever my December challenge would be. I told him I still had no idea what it was though, and then he suggested something brilliant.
So that’s how this one came to be. I love video games, always have. The medium sits at the intersection of so many interests I’m passionate about. Storytelling, visual art, technology. Thing is, I really don’t play very often at all. I try to stay productive, and playing video games as you can imagine, isn’t exactly conducive to productivity. The way Jesse framed it though, felt like more than just an indulgence, and that was easy for me to get behind.
I played 3 games for the month, all made by independent developers. The first was called Untitled Goose Game. You play as a goose wreaking comedic havoc on a small and quaint english town. Totally ridiculous, totally fun. It was largely developed by just 3 people. The second was Kentucky Route Zero. A kinda off-beat, point-and-click, absolutely visually stunning interactive novel. The game took 10 years to make, and also developed mostly by only 3 people. I loved it. The last was Darq, a puzzle-platformer made almost entirely by a single person.
I had fun with it and truthfully Jesse was right, it was well deserved after a solid year of focus. Seeing what just a few people, or even just a single person is capable of in game development has been inspiring, but simultaneously daunting. I honestly don’t know that I’ll be able see it through, but I know I have to try. It helps knowing it’s possible if I work hard enough, and want it bad enough. Guess time will sort if those two boxes get checked off or not.
You’ve Got to Walk by the Bedquilt Ramblers. One of the many beautiful and haunting songs composed for Kentucky Route Zero that caught my ear.
I challenged myself to track everything I ate for all of March. I wanted to get a better idea of what was going in the tank. Calories, nutrients, all that. Figured it’d be an easy one. Wow was I wrong.
Plenty of apps out there help you log what you’re eating and I started using one straight away. Learned pretty quick though, if I wanted accurate measurements, I’d have to do some actual measuring. Who’d have thought? That meant weighing food and preparing every single meal from scratch. That was way beyond what I mentally signed up for, and not really something I was interested in doing. So I quit.
I logged my best guesses of what I was eating, but they were just guesses. It wasn’t working, and I didn’t want to waste the month. So after just a few days I switched gears and took on about as unrelated a challenge I could think of. Learning to play the ukulele.
Alexis got me a ukulele for Christmas a few years back, and it’s hung on my wall untouched ever since. Always wanted to learn it, so figured I’d give it go. I know how to play a guitar, so there’s familiarity there, but it’s still a different instrument. If it were the same, I’d be able to play it the day I got it. I spent around 15 minutes every day watching and playing along with tutorials. Chord shapes, strumming rhythms, and a few songs. Some days even an hour would slip by while I played.
There’s still a lot to learn, but it’s pretty cool to think that just a few weeks ago my ukulele was just wall decoration, but today it’s another outlet for happiness. This one was a lot of fun for me, and I’m so glad I did it. Sure as hell beats weighing chicken breast seven days a week.
Some ukulele playing by yours truly.
A.A. Bondy at the Zebulon in Los Angeles with Alexis. He doesn’t play often, but I see him any chance I get. He hung around after the set, which I’d never seen him do. Walked straight over to meet him. I had to. Said I’d been to every show he’s played in LA since 2010, and that I really appreciated him. He thanked me, said that he appreciates that, and shook my hand. Fun to think that after 9 years of listening to him, he’s listened back.
Oh The Vampyre by A.A. Bondy.
Drew turned 35, so we hit the Vegas strip for Halloween weekend. The bravest, or maybe the dumbest among us, were up till 7am draining glasses, spinning wheels and shooting dice. I love that town, but hell, anything more than 48 hours just might kill me. Not in our 20’s anymore, but we can still pretend.
Got to see Blink-182 play while we were there, and oddly enough, Ludacris too. Some fun ones from those coming of age years.
Damn It by Blink-182. Used to play this one on loop as a kid.
By leaps and bounds, the closest to stage I’ve ever been at the Hollywood Bowl. For perspective, there were over 17,000 people behind us. Daughter, Local Natives, and The National. Three bands I’d easily see play on their own, shared the stage to make one of the most memorable nights of my life, and I got to share with some of my best people. All thanks to this guy
Past Lives by Local Natives
My older brother would listen to Tom Petty all the time when we were growing up, because he’s got good taste in music. I listened because all younger brothers aspire to be as cool as their big brothers. Sad to see him go, thankful he was here.
Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
Ten years ago, I wrote the code and made the very first doodles for Six Foot Giraffe. It was done over two weeks on my college winter break, sitting in my old bedroom of my parents South Florida home.
Just like anyone else, I connect particular songs and albums to particular moments or periods of my time, and that specific period ten years ago connects to Continuum by John Mayer. The album was on loop as I worked through the day and night.
I’m the type that plays a song or album on repeat until I can hardly stand it anymore. The years have tested and proved Continuum to be one of my favorite albums. It was a funny feeling seeing him live a few weeks ago. I guess ten years ago, working in that bedroom and playing those songs on repeat, I wouldn’t have thought I’d hear them live, in California, next to my Fiancé, and later writing about it on Six Foot Giraffe.
Slow Dancing In A Burning Room by John Mayer.
Phantom Planet at the Regent in downtown Los Angeles. These guys were in heavy rotation for me through high school and college, and still get shuffled into the mix to this day. I must’ve run hundreds of miles listening to this song by now:
“The Happy Ending” by Phantom Planet
They played the entirety of their album The Guest, for it’s 20th anniversary, and very appropriately brought out a different guest to play each song with them. It was a great show. Alexis had a work event going on at the same time, so I went solo. Something I’ve never been uncomfortable with, but always hesitant to mention, since it seems to sound so sad to most people. Definitely a different experience, but never a sad one.
“The Guest” by Phantom Planet