Spent an obscene amount of money yesterday on new car tires. That’s the exciting point of my month. I got the factory-stock Michelin tires and a full alignment job at a place in West Berkeley. The car had a horribly shimmy, the steering wheel vibrating and always pulling a bit. The whole thing took about two hours, and it now drives like new.
I think this was the first time I’d ever paid full price for an entire set of new tires with all the fixins. On my Yaris, I did get a set of four tires from this semi-shady place in West Oakland I used to go to every time I needed a tire patched. They were some oddball name of tires, and probably cost half as much. I think I traded in the car a year or so later, and the shop got arsoned for insurance money. Way back in Seattle, I had two blowouts in my old Escort, and bought one-off tires, but not a new set. And when I was a kid, I would go to Discount Tire or a gas station and buy used tires, try to find something with decent tread for five bucks each.
Actually I take that back, I did get new tires on my VW Rabbit back in 1997 or 1998. I went to a Sears auto center in West Seattle, which I’m sure is long gone. I remember this clearly because I pulled an all-nighter the night before and then left work early, in a near-hallucinatory state where nothing was real, but everything was forever burned in my brain.
So when I bought this Rabbit, the person before me had cut the springs to lower it (as if a Rabbit is not low enough), then put giant rims on it, maybe sixteen-inch and way too wide. The tires, some low-profile racing thing, were nearly bald, and getting the car above fifty on the highway was absolutely harrowing. I decided the car needed to go back to stock, and I had a bonus check hot in my pocket, so that’s what I did.
There was a junk yard in West Seattle that was nothing but VW and Audi parts. I always had lots of fun wandering around that place, looking at turbo motors cut out of Quattros. I’m sure it’s also gone, built up into condos. Anyway, I got a set of the steel thirteen-inch rims for ten bucks each, brought them to Sears, and got them to throw a set of stock-ish tires on for maybe forty bucks a tire. They mounted and balanced everything, then found out I didn’t have the right lug nuts (VW steel wheels use those tapered or flared-end ones) so I had to drive back to the junk yard. The dude at the counter reached in a bucket, pulled out about two dozen of the lugs, and said no problem, on the house. With the new tires, the car drove 100% better. I got back to Pill Hill, ate some lunch, and slept until dinner, when I got a quart of sweet and sour chicken in a plastic container from the Chinese restaurant on the roof of the giant new QFC in Cap Hill, and worked on my writing for the night.
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Been trying to get some big writing underway, running into the usual problems. I don’t like to get into this stuff, but I’ve got a book that’s probably 100,000 words, and I’m very unhappy with it, and not sure how to land it. I had a big idea to shift around things a bit, and that kept me busy for about a week, but it’s fizzled out since then.
I keep thinking about Rumored, and the struggle to finish that one. I thought I finished the first draft of that thing in maybe 1996, and struggled to get it really swinging for the next six years. The photo in this post is a failed attempt in maybe 2001 to print summaries of each section, so I could rearrange them… or something. (This didn’t work.) This was when I wrote the whole thing as one giant text file in Emacs. Now in Scrivener, I’d just drag and drop the various pieces, but back then, it was an arduous task. The problem still remains though: the definition of done. I never know when the story makes enough sense to ship it. This current book is something I thought would be done in 2014 or 2015, and every year, I wasn’t sure if I was 80% done or 20%. I’m still not sure.
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Took a long walk, maybe an hour and change, while they had the car up in the air yesterday. This was West Berkeley, and I decided to do the walk without headphones. It’s a very quiet area on the weekends, lots of pharma companies and art studios, with a few old houses that remind me of many of the off-campus houses in Bloomington, like the sixth street house where I finished up my last year in town. There’s always a nostalgia about those places, but many are vanishing, being replaced by a ten-unit condo crammed onto the same size lot.
One building that I didn’t know was a thing until it closed in 2018 is the old Fantasy Studios. This was “the house that Credence built,” a record studio where a ton of famous records were recorded. Journey’s albums Escape and Frontiers were both made there, as well as key releases from Green Day to Primus to Europe (yes, The Final Countdown was done there) and even Santana’s “Smooth” featuring Rob Thomas. It’s a fairly nondescript building, and is now mostly offices, although I guess a few floors of it still do film production.
An odd bit of reverberation here – although he didn’t record there, when Joe Satriani used to live in Berkeley back in the early 80s, he was in a pop trio band called The Squares, and they rehearsed at a building a block over from Fantasy. One time after practice, he was looking at a pile of remaindered books by a dumpster. Nolo books was in the building — they still are, actually — and in the pile of legal how-to books was one on how to start your own business. This was a period when he couldn’t get a record label to even answer his mails, so he decided screw it, paid the twelve bucks at the courthouse to register a business, and Rubina Records was born.
Anyway, it’s weird to me to think about how in 1987 or so, I was listening to a tape of his first album in my car a million miles away, and I imagined Berkeley as this mystical, mythical place that I didn’t even think was on the same plane of existence as my small Indiana town. And thirty-some years later, I’m walking around his old stomping ground, looking at the same gritty warehouse buildings he used to practice in when he was probably making less money than I used to pull in at Taco Bell back then.
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Anyway. Day off today. I should probably leave the house and find something to do.