Pop Philosophy

Pac Bell Park; "Rooms for Listening"; Political song contest deadline

Put me in, coachLast week, there were 40,000-odd people screaming bloody murder across the street from our offices. It wasn't an arts protest or a rent riot or even a concert -- it was the first round of baseball playoffs. To most indie music fans, this means nothing; in fact, to them liking sports is tantamount to saying Hitler's mustache looks pretty cute.

The main problem I have with sports is the length of the games. (The omnipresence of the color teal doesn't help either.) Traveling to and from -- as well as watching -- one baseball game is a five-hour commitment, and I'm not very good with commitments. Plus, there are so many better things to be doing than watching high school graduates flail around in polyester pants. Like listening to high school dropouts flail around in polyester shirts.

So, when the new Giants stadium opened this year, I decided to boycott the games. It wasn't that hard considering the elitist feel the new ballpark gave off. People didn't go to Giants games anymore; they just bragged about going. It was like some ridiculous modern version of Studio 54, only anyone with enough money got in.

That all changed a couple of weeks ago.

I was eating my lunch outside of the SF Weekly offices, when I thought, "It's right over there, it's a beautiful sunny day -- maybe I should finally check it out."

So I sauntered over. And shiver me timbers if I didn't have to take it all back, everything bad I'd ever said about baseball and sports and God and country. First of all, there was a section of the right field fence that allowed you to peer through the wall and watch the game for free. For free! Then, around the back of the stadium, they'd left a gate open on purpose so anyone who wanted to could walk in and look around.

Inside that stadium, I felt like a kid again, partially because there were about 25 other kids there but also because whoever had designed the park wanted me to feel that way. There's a giant glove in the left center bleachers, a giant glove that a ball could land in. Sure, it was built to look old and tattered, but I could just imagine a kid looking at it and thinking, "Has anyone ever hit one there?" In fact the whole park seems like it was built by 6-year-olds. Even the hideous, giant Coke bottle has chutes and ladders inside it, which makes it rather utilitarian (isn't that -- gasp! -- socialism?). There's brick everywhere and a sign counting the number of homers hit into the bay and green, green grass. I could go on, but you'd probably say something snide like "It's just a game, dude." Indeed it is. But I left there feeling so happy, that kind of happy you have in seventh grade when you laugh so long you forget what you're laughing about, the kind where you have no reason to be giddy and you're sure that tomorrow you'll be miserable for a similar lack of reason but you don't care.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the Giants' quick playoff exit, the stadium now looks different, a little forlorn. It has a vague feel of embarrassment and failure, like an acquaintance who threw up at your dinner party. "Sorry," it mumbles, "next time ...."

Pretty in pink Probably the most quoted phrase about music writing is that it is analogous to "dancing about architecture." Writing about electronic music is even more ridiculous, as one is tempted to spell out sounds like "blorp" and "bwoing." That being so, the authors of the program for the California College of Arts and Crafts' "Rooms for Listening" series can be forgiven for sounding a tad theoretical.

"Rooms for Listening" is an attempt to connect electronica, sound and interactive art, and architecture. To this end, French-born Oakland native Thom Faulders has designed the Mute Room. The entire space's floor has been covered in thick, pink "memory foam," so that listeners can lie down and fully enjoy the sonic emissions in a colorful environ similar to certain female reproductive parts.

In the past month, the room has played host to performances by Powerbook sample artists, soundscape composers, and electro-dance pioneers. For the exhibition's final week, there will be a Friday, Oct. 13, performance by Japanese found sound-wave artist Toshiya Tsunoda and local resident Brandon LaBelle, who will attempt to amplify the relationship of language to the tongue; and a Saturday, Oct. 14, show with German abstract dub specialist Pole. Admission to all events is free; call 551-9210.

What rhymes with Prop. L?Just a reminder that the deadline for our political songwriting contest nears. You have until Oct. 20 to send in your lyrics for the presidential, supervisorial, and/or propositional races (extra points if you actually record the songs and send in a CD). The winners' songs will be printed on Nov. 1; prizes will be awarded. (See "Live Free or Get High," Pop Philosophy, Oct. 4, for further details.)

 
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