I Did Not Get Flogged in Singapore

Singapore has a reputation for flogging dumb Americans who do not adhere to the country’s strict rules. During an 8-hour layover there last weekend, I tried my hardest not become another statistic. I made a little film about my short experience in this lovely city/country.

New Music

Grateful Dead: Saint of Circumstance

This week’s album of the week is a brand new release of a Grateful Dead of a live show recorded at Giants Stadium in 1991. Featuring Bruce Hornsby on piano, the show opens with Jonny B. favorite, “Eyes of the World” – the only time the Dead ever opened with this song in their career.

From the All Music Review:

A somewhat legendary taper’s classic, the band’s second night at New Jersey’s 80,000 capacity Giants Stadium in the summer of 1991 was a predictably unpredictable behemoth lauded more for its oddities than overall cohesion. Boasting the relatively short-lived two-man keyboard battery of Bruce Hornsby (piano, accordion) and Vince Welnick (synths), the show’s lush tonal palette was a hallmark of this era. Out of the gate, they toss fans a curveball, opening for the only time in their career with the 1973 classic “Eyes of the World.” Ten minutes into its sprightly tangle, each member seems to be bouncing along on his own misty plane, punching out a litany of orange-hued notes before Jerry Garcia casually slips in a closing verse.

I’ll be listening to this one all weekend.


Santa Cruz Island

Scott, Jonny, Jeff, and Jimmy off the coast of Santa Cruz Island – Spring 2018

Like many people, I’ve been closely following the news about the Conception dive boat fire that killed 34 people off the coast of Santa Barbara earlier this month. This unspeakable tragedy hit especially close to home because I’ve also spent a few nights sleeping on a boat in almost the same exact location.

The Conception dive boat at Santa Barbara Harbor as seen in Small Craft Advisory

Last spring, Jonny, Jeff, Scott and I went on a weekend fishing trip to the Channel Islands National Park, which includes Santa Cruz Island. Like those aboard the Conception, we spent our nights sleeping on our boat anchored off the shore of Santa Cruz Island. I don’t specifically remember seeing the Conception that weekend, but it’s visible in Small Craft Advisory, a short film I made about our trip. You can see it in the background of Santa Barbara Harbor (starting at 0:12).

Scott takes frequent overnight trips to the Channel Islands and said he’s anchored next to it several times. Scariest of all is Jeff, who has actually gone on one of the chartered scuba trips and spent the night on the Conception.

The author at Santa Cruz Island – Spring 2018

We’re planning to return to the Channel Islands in November for another overnight boat trip so we can write and record the next What Up Mang album on the boat. Out of caution, we’ve already discussed rotating night watchman duties during the trip.

Here’s the film we made if you’d like to see what it’s like out on the Channel Islands. It’s beautiful and dangerous, among other things.


Robert Hunter

Dang, more bad rock and roll news. The world lost one of its great poets this week. Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead died on Monday. This one hits especially close to home because I consider the Grateful Dead to be my third favorite band of all-time (after Ween and The Beatles).

From Rolling Stone’s remembrance:

Considered one of rock’s most ambitious and dazzling lyricists, Hunter was the literary counterpoint to the band’s musical experimentation. His lyrics — heard in everything from early Dead classics like “Dark Star” and “China Cat Sunflower” and proceeding through “Uncle John’s Band,” “Box of Rain,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and “Touch of Gray”— were as much a part of the band as Jerry Garcia’s singing and guitar.

From the same article, this anecdote about “Dark Star,” which is one of the Grateful Dead’s best songs:

Hunter would join the band at rehearsals and write lyrics. During one session, Hunter began writing lyrics to accompany an instrumental the band was working on; the result, “Dark Star,” was both a landmark for the band and also the official start of Hunter’s new role as the lyricist in residence. Hunter was even aware of the song’s significance at the time. He told Rolling Stone that a couple weeks after writing the first verse at the rehearsal, he was working on the second in the Panhandle, the narrow park at the base of Golden Gate Park, when a guy came up to him and offered him a hit of something. “I don’t remember if I took it or not, but I said, ‘I’m writing the second verse for the song called ‘Dark Star’ for the Grateful Dead — remember that,’” Hunter recalled. “I had a prescience about the whole thing at that point. Once I started believing in that band, I thought, we’re going to go the distance.”

New Music

Lookout Low by Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks dudes

This week’s album of the week is Lookout Low by Twin Peaks. This album is the pinnacle of modern Rolling Stones-style dad rock, circa 2019. It just came out today and I’ve listened to it about three or four times. The A&R man can probably rightfully say he doesn’t hear a single here, but almost every song on the record is solid as hell. The only two songs I don’t really care for are the last two and they might just need some time to grow on me. This album is really good and should be the soundtrack to your weekend.

Of course, you can find all he good bangers from this album on the Smoothspin Hot 100 Spotify playlist that I update weekly with the best new jams.


Eddie Money and Ric Okasek

This week was a horrible week for rock and roll. First, Daniel Johnston died on September 11, then Eddie Money on September 13, and finally Ric Ocasek on September 15. Death really does come in threes.

I can’t say I was ever a huge Eddie Money fan, but the he had an undeniable string of hits from the late-70s through the 80s. At least three of his songs are absolute classics:

“Two Tickets to Paradise” (1978)

“Baby Hold On” (1978)

“Take Me Home Tonight” (1986)

He also has a handful of other instantly recognizable classic rock radio staples, including “Give Me Some Water”, “I Wanna Go Back”, “Walk on Water”, and “Shakin.” Eddie Money died at age 70 of esophageal cancer.

Ric Ocasek holds a special place in my heart for two reasons. One is that my dad told me that the night I was born, he came home from the hospital (this was before they let the dad’s spend the night) and went over to one of his friend’s apartments and listened a new album by a band called the Cars. For better or worse, this was the music of the day when I was born. (Somewhat related to this – Later in life, I can recall the first songs that both of my children heard after they were born. When we took our daughter, Lola, home from the hospital the first MP3 that randomly came on shuffle in the car was “Santa Fe” by Beirut. When my son, Wilce, was born two years later, it was “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk.) The second reason Ric Ocasek holds a special place in my heart is that he produced Weezer’s “Blue Album” which was part of the soundtrack of my early teens. Ric Okasec was 75 and died of natural causes while recovering from surgery.

“My Best Friend’s Girl” (1978)

“Just What I Needed” (1978)

“Good Times Roll” (1978)

San Francisco

Mission District Lobster Boil

Boil master Jonny B. doing it New Hampshire style

Ashley and Jeff hosted an old fashioned New England style lobster boil Sunday in their backyard in the Mission District to celebrate the impending arrival of their first child. Celebrity backyard chef, Jonny B. worked the tanks and served up 40 Maine lobsters to the hungry crowd. I ate two myself.


It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers

Guess what season it is — fucking fall. There’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.

Shopping for miniature pumpkins at Trader Joe’s this weekend reminded me that it’s decorative gourd season, motherfuckers.

San Francisco

Friday the 13th at Ocean Beach

Today was a wild day for nature in San Francisco. For starters, it was Friday the 13th and there was a full harvest moon. It was also one of the hottest days of the year. The weather service issued a heat advisory and temps reached the mid-90s in downtown San Francisco (which only happens on super rare occasions). To top it off, there wasn’t an ounce of fog in sight. All of these signs pointed to the obvious fact that it would be a great day to go to Ocean Beach for the sunset.

Our crew crossing the Great Highway to Ocean Beach in the Sunset District
Wilce climbing the Ocean Beach sand dunes
Atypical sunset crowds at Ocean Beach enjoying the temperate weather
The kids, plugging holes till you see straight through to the mind’s eye
For the first time in my life I witnessed a green flash tonight at the end of the sunset. Just before the corona diped below the horizon I could see a diamond shaped flash of green light. It actually glows more than it flashes and only lasts about a second or less. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to pull out my camera until it was almost too late. You can barely see it on the horizon in the photo above, but it’s there! It was spectacular in real life. Wilce and I experienced it together while wading at the shoreline.
Young Wilce at Ocean Beach just after sunset
When we made it home tonight, we set up the telescope in the backyard and gazed at the harvest moon. There’s an iPhone attachment for the telescope and as you can see, I’m still working on mastering that. In person though, the moon looked crisp, clear, and breathtaking.

Automat @ Daily Driver

Automat is a San Francisco pop-up restaurant hosted by Chef Matt Kirk. One of their specialties is making artisan versions of fast-food staples (think spicy chicken sandwiches, crispy tacos, etc).

From the Automat website:

Automat is contemporary California cuisine. We look for the extraordinary within the ordinary. Eclectic and recognizable, we offer modern nostalgia through seasonal ingredients. Chef/Owner, Matt Kirk, is a 14 year restaurant veteran formerly of Lazy Bear, Radius, and Spruce in San Francisco. A Bay Area native, Matt is inspired by local ingredients, the eclectic nature of California cuisine and classic American staples.

Matt happens to be a good friend and we frequent his pop-up events on the regular. Tonight, they set up shop at a hot new spot called Daily Driver in the Dog Patch which specializes in organic wood-fired bagels. I had a few beers, a Daily Driver pretzel, and a crispy chicken sandwich. It was great.

Our crew rolling hard in the Dogpatch
Fried chicken and beer? Hmmm…Ok
The scene inside Daily Driver
It’s a beautiful cafe
This is Matt
Matt’s footwear
Sam and Molly
Young Wilce
Crispy fried chicken sandwich with cabbage and seaweed green goddess
Toast with tomatoes and nasturtiums
Molly, Frank, Shelly, Sam
Semifreddo on strawberry buckwheat shortbread