September 06, 2007

Living The East Bay Dream

Few T shirts, especially cheaply produced home-made punk rock ones, survive intact for twenty years. For some reason, though, I have this Crimpshrine shirt from back then that has really hung in there. I don't think about it too much, but it is in the regular T shirt rotation, which means it pops up every three to six weeks or so, by my calculations, depending on how often I do laundry.


Anyhow, I went to this Mexican restaurant the other night, and Billie Joe and Mike from Green Day happened to be at the please-wait-to-be-seated spot right ahead of me. I bump into Tre Cool every so often at the grocery store, but I hadn't seen these two in quite some time and we had a brief, pleasant conversation about this and that, as one does. Bill said he liked my book, which was nice of him. Good egg.

It was only afterwards that I realized I was wearing the twenty-year-old Crimpshrine shirt all through the conversation. I mean, of course it was through the whole conversation. I didn't, like, take it off in the middle of it or anything. This isn't that type of anecdote.

The point is I was accidentally wearing the shirt at the time and for some reason that struck me as really hilarious and I started laughing at least loudly and weirdly enough that the Mexican restaurant hostess gave me the look that says "I wonder if this man is an escaped mental patient." Plus ca change, and everything...

Later that evening, halfway through dinner, this guy comes up to me and says, "that's an interesting T shirt." "Oh?" I replied, trying to be at least a bit noncommittal till it became clear what he wanted. Well, he didn't want anything, but he did turn out to be: Jeff Ott's dad!

When I told her about it, Erika said, drily, "you are really living the East Bay dream," meaning that there is probably some kid out in Michigan or somewhere who really does imagine that that's what it's like to live in Berkeley. Every time you go down to the Mexican restaurant, there's two thirds of Green Day and Dr. Frank and Jeff Ott's dad, all hanging around wearing their Gilman era T shirts.

The other thing that occurs to me is that a ways back, there had been some talk of trying to get Bill to blurb King Dork, though it was just one of those things that never ended up happening in the end. It didn't occur to me to ask for one officially at the time and I don't know when I'll bump into him again. Maybe never. And perhaps it's too late now anyway. However, in the spirit of working with what ya got, how about this:

"Hey I liked your book" -- (author's recollection of personal conversation while standing in line wearing Crimpshrine T shirt at Mexican restaurant with) Billie Joe of Green Day
Editors? Would that fly? Posted by Dr. Frank at September 6, 2007 08:36 PM

That's a good story, Frank. That apocryphal-kid-from-Michigan's head would've exploded, though, if you'd been wearing a "Jump Salty" t-shirt, and Billie Joe had been sporting one for "Love is Dead."

Does Billie Joe even wear t-shirts these days?

Posted by: Paul M at September 6, 2007 09:37 PM

I really, seriously (used to) assume that's how Berkeley was. My life depended on it being that way, in fact. What a great story.

Oh and...

>>>Does Billie Joe even wear t-shirts these days?

Not if camera is nearby.

Posted by: Matt R. at September 7, 2007 04:19 AM

I've been assuming that's how it's like to live there since I was about 9 years old! I don't plan to stop now!


Posted by: Julia at September 7, 2007 07:55 AM

It's a small world after-all, Berkley/Oakland edition. Gets my vote to replace that abomination in Anaheim....

Posted by: Z at September 7, 2007 06:19 PM

I don't know... It kind of is like that... I grew up in Indianapolis, moved to Reno, went to San Francisco last year and met Dr. Frank at a book store. I'm holdin on to the dream. :)

Posted by: WIGGLE at September 7, 2007 10:33 PM

(Drooling on keyboard)

Posted by: KC at September 8, 2007 01:10 AM

i once had somebody ask me if he could have any of my old mtx t-shirts. true story. seriously. this was only a couple/few years back. we were (are?) both record reviewers at mrr. i would have gladly given him my big black bug tour '89 shirt, but i felt weird even acknowledging that he had actually asked me for it. i just wanted to pretend that the conversation had never taken place. for what it's worth, this was long before kd came out.

Posted by: kaos at September 8, 2007 06:38 AM

I'm heading up north next week, and I pretty much had that same scene in my head. Please don't tell me it happens any differently.

Posted by: Megan at September 8, 2007 08:33 PM

I enjoyed this post hugely! Frank that IS how it is in Berkley Frank, please refrain from crushing us non Berkley livin types hopes and dreams. Re: The T-shirt, it must be a regional thing I have a bootleg Street fighter 2 t shirt I bought in San Francisco (on pier 39) on holiday in 1993 that is still in A1 condition, although I stopped wearing it 5 or 6 years ago when it got too "special". I find once a t shirt gets past 10 years I am far too in love and protective of it to actually wear the damn thing anymore and have to store it away. Sad really...

I have to ask one thing though though, does BJ dress in a black suit with platform shoes and eyeliner when he goes to dinner these days?

Posted by: Danny at September 9, 2007 02:05 AM

Now, that was good blogging.

Posted by: josh at September 9, 2007 01:50 PM

Interesting post. I am not much of a 24/7 music t shirt person anymore, but I still have three MTX shirts (the MTX "island" one, the shapes ringer, and "Nein Danke") and one Hi Fives t shirt in A1 condition from back in the day.

Posted by: David at September 10, 2007 02:35 PM

that was a lovely story indeed! I just made a comparison to Gilman street the other day when I was talking to a hipster about the Fireside Bowl, he failed to know either. pfftt.

Posted by: the Allyson at September 11, 2007 11:25 PM

Who are you people, who are you talking about and why are we, in the middle of a war with Islam extremists, even burdened with asking you these questions?

Posted by: paul a'barge at September 16, 2007 02:45 PM

Before there was Berkeley, there was Michigan. That kid from Michigan bumps into Ted Nugent and Bob Seger pretty regularly--especially if he sails or hunts, which we'uns do a lot. Laughable to you, sure, but way out here beyond the edge of the known universe, East Bay refers to either Bad Axe or Elk Rapids.

Posted by: comatus at September 16, 2007 04:39 PM

Between colleges, I lived the life of an activist in Berkeley for a year (1969-70). Small world: my years-ago babysitter from 3000 miles away was then a librarian at UCB. Haven't been back to Berkeley. Those musician names meant nothing to me. (referred by Instapundit). In reading in a previous post about the inanity of Berkeley activists such as opposing Trader Joe's w housing above the store, yes that does ring a bell.Self-righteous idiots have long been a part of Berkeley. I recall some FOURTY-YEAR OLDS back in 1970 saying that the Bay Area of 1970 would in later years be compared to Renaissance Italy. Perhaps in smelling urine on the street, yes.

Posted by: ExBerserklee at September 16, 2007 04:51 PM

Actually, I can think of a reference in the posting that rang a bell. In recently looking up Weird Al Yankovic's songs, I ran across his "Canadian Idiot",which was a takeoff on Green Day's "American Idiot." I listened to "American Idiot" several times, read the lyrics several times. My judgment on the music of "American Idiot": garage rock. My judgment on the lyrics of "American Idiot: INCOHERENT. Judging at least from the "Idiot" songs, Weird Al Yankovic is a better lyricist than Green Day. Perhaps "AI" was a poor example of Green Day's lyrics, but I do not have sufficient interest in that kind of music to further investigate the matter.

Posted by: ExBerserklee at September 16, 2007 05:08 PM

I have to assume the restaurant was "Juan's Place". The only decent mexican restaurant in Berkeley.

Posted by: refugeefromberkeley at September 16, 2007 06:22 PM

"Who are you people, who are you talking about and why are we, in the middle of a war with Islam extremists, even burdened with asking you these questions?"

Hey Dr. Frank, did you ask BJ if he still believes the war on terror is merely a "war on fear"? I was trying to wrap my head around that till I came across a clinical description of sociopathy and by golly if that didn't explain everything.

Posted by: JB at September 16, 2007 10:45 PM

Hey Buddy,

Big fan since I was a youngin. Come to Milwaukee, you got a place to stay with free beer. No bullshit. Drop me a line. For real. Please do, it would mean a lot.
- Colin

Posted by: Colin at October 2, 2007 02:54 AM

[insert: or as far east as Florida]

...I mean that is what it's like to live in Berkeley right?

Posted by: Nancy Mae at October 19, 2007 03:34 AM

I lived with Jeff Ott and never met his dad... Jeff Ott broke that banjo I let you borrow he started 15 on it and had a plastic fork inside it =???
... man the world is small... why go out? I am scared. I found my Monsula shirt last week too - told Paul Curran who ran into the other Paul on BART... man small world, as I said, I am scared.

Posted by: the many faves of paige at October 24, 2007 12:05 PM

Man I used to have that shirt but a very unfriendly barbed wire fence took it away.
Is the old "Gun Crazy" shirt 20 years old? Cause you signed mine way back in the day and my wife had it framed many years later, so i could you know show it off. Man that thing stinks!

Posted by: MSO at November 6, 2007 03:31 PM

that things gotta be a blend..

Posted by: brownbread at December 10, 2007 08:21 PM

Yeah, 20 years is amazing for a t-shirt. I was talking to Joel at the last Pansy Division show I saw, and I happened to be wearing my "Songs About Girls xTM" t-shirt. He was like, "I was wondering if any of those shirts were still around." Yeah, they're still around, and I rock mine regularly, but it's already frayed after just ten (or so) years, so in 20 years...I don't even want to think about that.

Posted by: Jeff at January 15, 2008 06:07 AM

There was something magical about the fabric of that shirt. I had it for a good 10 years wearing it almost daily until my nipple finally wore through about 10 years ago. I'm jealous that yours is still going strong...

Posted by: Eric at February 2, 2008 11:25 PM

Man I used to have that shirt but a very unfriendly barbed wire fence took it away.

Posted by: 環保袋 at April 9, 2008 07:53 AM

...I mean that is what it's like to live in Berkeley right?

Posted by: 公司註冊 at April 9, 2008 07:55 AM

i like it

Posted by: maple mesos at April 26, 2009 06:37 AM