USA Trip, October 16th 2001: Journal Entry #4

Journal Entry #1 is here.

Journal Entry #2 is here.

Journal Entry #3 is here.

Today started off in grand fashion. Ivan and I had our first fight of the trip. Dave and him had their breakfast, which was complimentary bagels or something. That didn’t float my boat, so I didn’t eat it. Anyway, at about 9am we left the hostel, bound for Lombard Street. I was hungry and wanted to go to Safeway to get a blueberry muffin. Ivan started walking in the opposite direction. This pissed me off. All I wanted was something to eat; why couldn’t we go five minutes out of our way so I could eat? We both got mad and didn’t speak to each other for a while. We went to Lombard Street and took some snaps. After that we went to Fisherman’s Wharf.

This is where the story takes a devilishly diabolical turn. We were walking down the street, minding our own when some guy asks Dave for the time. Dave told him the time and this guy asked us where we were from. When we told him we were Australian he got excited and went on about how his band were doing some gigs down there in December. He asked us which city was better out of Melbourne and Sydney. He said his girlfriend has been dying to visit Australia. Dave mentioned that he was also in a band back home and they both talked shop. This guy knew what he was talking about.

He then very casually mentioned a gig that was happening tonight that was “industry only”. The lineup: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Metallica in a concert that was dubbed “Rock for Bombs”. It all checked out. He knew that the Chili Peppers had just toured Ireland with U2. He said that his band mates had skipped town yesterday so he had a few spare seats. He said that the gig was at a place called “the Zellotrobe”, which was apparently owned by Francis Ford Coppola. This should of been it for me. I know that Coppola and George Lucas started a place called Zoetrope. He asked us if we wanted to go.

Dave and I thought it was our lucky day. Ivan went along because he had to. The tickets were twenty dollars and we thought that was a bargain. To pull it off, we had to be members of the band for the night. The name of his band was Biter and they had a CD [2014 Me interjection: gather ’round kids. A CD – or Compact Disc – was a round flat recording device which was used to store data, mainly music and porn. This technology is largely obsolete and therefore ignored these days] coming out called Uneasy Listening [2014 Me interjection: to me, this is a great name for an album. Not such a big fan of the band name though. A quick Google search informs me that a Finnish band known as HIM released a compilation album called Uneasy Listening, over two volumes. Perhaps this is where fake band Biter went wrong]. Everything matched [2014 Me interjection: Huh? How exactly?].

Sure, he looked like a bum (skinny, missing teeth, awful scars on the back of his head, shabby clothes), but don’t most musicians? So he said that we had to go to this hotel that his manager was staying at to get the tickets. We went the long way round to get them – this should of been enough for me to call the scam.

It wasn’t.

When we got to the hotel he took our money and told us to wait in the lobby. As soon as he got into the elevator I had a strange feeling that we’d never see him again.

We didn’t.

We waited there for ages but he didn’t return. We’d been scammed [2014 Me interjection: the 2001 version of me was not too bright. I’m hoping I’ve become slightly wiser – if not, more cautious of people with bad intentions – over the past thirteen years]. I can’t speak for the other two, but I felt like an idiot. I just threw away twenty dollars US, which is forty in Australian currency.

Dave and I stayed inside while Ivan scoped outside for the prick. I now call San Francisco “Scam Francisco”. If I didn’t like the place before, I fucking hate it now. We alerted security in the hotel about the scam artist and they said he does this sort of shit all the time to tourists. I’d of killed that motherfucker if I’d seen him [2014 Me interjection: Probably not. Though I might of shouted at him from a safe distance].

So there were no Chili Peppers, we’d wasted twenty dollars each and the whole thing set us back about two hours. We had to scrap a trip to Berkeley because of him.

We went into the city and saw more bums. If you threw a dart in the air, guaranteed it would land in a homeless person. I got a slice of fold-up American pizza, which was a goal of mine [2014 Me interjection: my father always told me to aim low to save future disappointment]. I also bought a copy of Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction, both by Bret Easton Ellis. Another achievement.

To top it off, I got my paws on a copy of Fletch on VHS for $6.99, which converts to about fourteen Australian [2014 Me interjection: VHS reference! Yes! God, I’m old!]. Not bad at all. I bought Fletch from Tower Records, which is a huge shop [2014 Me interjection: Fletch remains one of my all-time favourite films. On the other hand, I got over Bret Easton Ellis relatively quickly]. I could browse the shelves for hours.

We went back to the hostel and rested for a little while. We then headed on a bus out to an area called Haight. I hated Haight. It was run down and scary and full of degenerates. We were told there were good bars there.

We were misinformed.