Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

One-oh-four

Posted by ilbebe on March 27, 2012

The road to Sacramento is either routine and banal or very weird. Three true accounts of journeys to the capital, presented in chronological order:

One. It was October 2000, and I was interested in the possibility of getting a ride to the Bay Area for the weekend by using the dorm ride board. My interest here was a mixture of the potential for adventure and a desire to avoid paying for Greyhound-slash-desire to avoid taking Greyhound in general. After my first year at HSU, I’d already taken the Greyhound back and forth from Arcata to Oakland a dozen times, and though that was probably not quite enough to consider myself a seasoned Greyhound traveler, one ride is more than enough for most people to prompt the thought There has to be another way.

The only ride posted for the day I wanted to travel was going to Sacramento, so I eagerly used the then-still-new power of the internet to come up with a ridiculously involved way of getting home to Brentwood from Sacramento so that I could take advantage of the ride offered. The full itinerary involved an Amtrak train to Martinez, a local bus into Pleasant Hill, and finally a ride into Brentwood courtesy of my friend Lily. I called the number on the index card, spoke to a girl named Erin, and agreed to meet her in front of the commons building Friday at nine AM. A train was leaving Sacramento for Martinez at four, the bus between Martinez and Pleasant Hill ran until eight-thirty, and Lily was supposed to be getting off of work in Pleasant Hill at ten, so it seemed like everything would run smoothly. I was looking forward to seeing Lily at her work, Blondie’s Pizza, because it usually involved a free slice, and I was also excited about the possibility of making a new friend on the drive down.

Jesus Christ I was green in those days. Erin, who preferred to be called by her DJ name, ‘E-love’, and I were joined on our drive by another dude named Don, who was a perfectly nice guy, and really, I have say Erin was pretty cool too. What made the drive perhaps the worst five hours in a car in my life was E-love and Don’s mutual appreciation for an insidiously brain-dead genre of electronic dance music known as Happy Hardcore. Happy Hardcore, like many genres of modern electronic music, has but a few simple rules, yet these rules must be very closely adhered to. In fact, any song that gets too creative and perhaps pushes the boundaries of the genre too far risks creating a new genre. This is a very strong element of why I don’t much care for genre names, though it does not even come close to capturing my disdain for Happy Hardcore.

I find most electronic dance music rather repetitive, because, by nature and design, IT IS. Which is fine, for a while, but fuck, I really don’t see how you can listen to music that is exactly the same tempo for hours on end, no matter what drugs are involved. It just bores me into a really pernicious irritation that is known to bring out the worst in me. I suppose what I’m saying here is that prolonged exposure to some strains of electronic music has the potential to provoke psychotic or sociopathic behavior in me. So please, can we start disclosing this info before we offer people five-hour rides to Sacaramento?

I thought I was gonna lose my mind. I started getting a headache as we cut through Lake County on CA State Highway 20  about three hours into the trip. We weren’t making the best of time; E-Love and Don had stopped just south of Garberville to go down to the banks of a creek and smoke weed, and strangely enough, this had led to a few more stops than I felt were really necessary to resupply on snacks and Red Bull. However, I welcomed these breaks as a brief respite from the relentless assault of Happy Hardcore I was being subjected to in the car. E-love had ecstatically described how she had recently been sent a shoebox with a 24-volume set of European Happy Hardcore club mixes from “her DJ friend in Berlin”.

“It’s over, shit, what’s 24 times ninety? Shit. Anyway, it’s like HELLA music.”

She wasn’t kidding around. There were 2,160 minutes on those tapes, or to put it another way, thirty-six HOURS of fucking Happy Hardcore. It took me about a half-hour to decide that I didn’t like this shit– how could anyone stand a day and a half of it? Furthermore, was that much music actually necessary? There seemed to be five or six interchangeable grooves that inevitably led to a brief breakdown where a female vocalist declaimed how happy she was to be dancing. I felt a twenty-minute mix could accurately and completely survey the genre. WHAT SORT OF SADIST INTENDS TO LISTEN TO THIS FOR A FIVE-HOUR CAR RIDE AND DOESN’T CONSIDER THAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT NOT BE OKAY WITH THAT?

But then, also, you’ll recall that Don was entirely simpatico, rendering any dissenting view on the music I may have offered rather toothless. “Well, Landon, I understand that you’d rather listen to Modest Mouse, but, you know, two-to-one…” This conversation didn’t happen because by the time we joined up with I-5 in Williams, CA, I had essentially lost the ability to speak.

The headache was gone because my brain was gone. It had already taken five-and-a-half hours to cover a stretch of the drive that normally took three-and-a-half. HOW MUCH RED BULL DO YOU CRAVEN BEASTS REALLY NEED? WHAT HAS ECSTASY DONE TO YOUR MINDS??

Then E-Love decided to make up for lost time.

We made the last hundred miles into Sacramento in about an hour. Do the math. It was mid-afternoon on a Friday, and traffic was far from light. I almost completely lost it.

But then we got to the train station at the northern edge of downtown Sac at 3:30, a half-hour to spare for me to catch my train to Martinez.  Don hopped out to give me a high-five and then hopped back in; he was going a few blocks further into town to catch a ride from a different friend and continue on up to South Lake Tahoe.  I explained to E-love that I appreciated the ride, but would be taking the more conventional Greyhound out of Oakland for my return voyage north. She nodded and flashed a peace sign, and then they both wished me luck getting back safely and drove off.  I took in the sights inside the historic Sacramento train station, and forty-five minutes later, I was on an air-conditioned Capitol Corridor Express bound for Davis.

Look forward to future installments of Strange Tales Of Traveling To Sacramento, including The Day My Car Broke Down On An Interstate Bridge And Then A Few Hours Later I Almost Got Asked To Leave An Olive Garden and The Time I Had To Sneak Onto A Greyhound Bus Even Though I Actually Had A Ticket And Sat Next To A Drug Dealer From New Jersey Named Lenny.

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