Welcome to LA! No, you can’t park here

03/10/2009 at 11:51 pm | Posted in General Nerdery, Stories from the Road | 1 Comment

[This is a re-post of portions of an older blog from http://xanga.com/mariancall.%5D

I think a brief reintroduction is in order, since so many good people — the sort with fabulous taste in wall decor and cool sunglasses — have been dropping by my messy virtual pad lately.

I’m trying to use fewer words to say more, so Twitter is my medium of choice lately.   Brevity is the soul of twit, as @brentspiner reminds us.  Let’s see if I’ve made any progress in that department:

Hi!  I’m Marian, and I’m a lexiholic.  I was inspired and raised outside Seattle, humbled for four years at Stanford, and tempered for five years in Alaska, which is where I currently live.

In answer to your questions, yes, Alaska is, in some ways: big, cold, hot, dark, light, part of the U.S.A., beautiful, bothersome, expensive, life-threatening, picturesque, and picaresque.

No, Alaska is not: entirely civilized, entirely wilderness, all hippies, all rednecks, vampire-infested, backwards (cuz that would be Aksala, silly).  I cannot see Russia from downtown Anchorage, though I do occasionally see the Russian Mafia, if that helps.  I aim to please.

I live with my husband @Mr_Call in a forty-foot vintage converted Greyhound bus called the Millennium Tortoise.  We travel a great deal in our continuing quest to learn just how much the government hates people without an actual street address.  Should you find our bus in your neighborhood, that means you should come hear a concert somewhere nearby!  (But please do not drop by our house uninvited.  Send flowers first.)

I make music.  That is to say, I write, arrange, rehearse, perform, record, edit, release, package, and promote these little acoustic ditties I like.  Some are funny, some are sad, most are (like me) a little nerdy, a little shy, and embarrassingly enthusiastic just beneath the surface.  If you want some background music while you browse, here’s a free streaming playlist of my stuff at imeem.com.  To buy music, visit iTunes or my website for other options.

Someday I would like to meet you at a live show (because the shows are much better than the recordings, and the recordings are good).  Then I shall sing you a song and hopefully make you laugh or sigh, and help you feel +1 better than you did.  Because that’s what I do.  And all I want is to keep doing it.


I know that as a Washingtonian — as an Alaskan — as an indie musician — as a Stanford grad — as a geek — I’m sort of obligated to dislike L.A.  But I just can’t.  I really enjoy it there, and I love going back.  It’s funny, fabulous, scary, intimidating, hollow, pretentious, lascivious, riddled with scandal, and everything else it’s purported to be.  In other words, it’s endlessly entertaining.

Maybe I enjoy it because of the circles I choose to move in there.  I’ve done some celebrity spotting, never deliberately — but mostly I prefer to spend my time with writers, indie musicians, nerds, geeks, and the sorts of filmmakers or actors who love film more than they love themselves.  I guess that’s a good guiding principle everywhere: find people who love what they do, and are humbled and thrilled to be doing it, and you’ll be in good company.

We drove the Millennium Tortoise down I-5 to spend a whole month in SoCal last November.  Just a month before we had schooled the Al-Can Highway, which means we suffered eight days of potholes, frost heaves, and bison in the roads.  I can now say with confidence that the last stretch of I-5, north of L.A., is much worse than the barely-paved Yukon.  We lost dishes to the bumps in the last mountain pass.  I think it broke our computer/TV a little, because it developed selective amnesia after that painful ride.

Since I know you were curious, here are some alternate names for the Millennium Tortoise, thanks to my father, who loves to pester me by sending me anagrams.  He e-mailed me the following recently:

Millennium Tortoise =

Run on, timeliest limo!
may your timeliest limo run on in safety, brave ones!

Enormous little Mini
Mini compared to some things, I suppose.  Like, say, Texas.

Ennui limits tremolo
This has actually not been my experience.

Inuit Tremolo miles
as opposed to normal miles — you Alaskans do everything differently.

No sluttier lion mime
There is no sluttier lion mime than you, my dear

I, Mister Onion Mullet
Scented mullet.  Mmmmmmm.

and, for shorter trips around town:
I, nine mile Motorslut.

Upon arriving in the L.A. area with a somewhat busted bus (good band name!), we started the hunt for somewhere — anywhere — to park a forty-foot bus.  Normally it’s just a matter of finding a strip mall or Walmart or campground or a friend’s driveway.  Oh, I hear some of you even now laughing at our naivetë — but please keep in mind this simple rule: most of what you know now, you know because you learned it too late for the first time you needed to know it. (Can someone say that last bit better, please?)

What we now know is this: there is nowhere, but nowhere to park an R.V. in L.A.  We looked for days. No Walmart, no Target, Ralph’s chased us out, the beach is not public parking, the suburbs are metered.  There are RV parks which cost $60 per night, but they wouldn’t allow us to stay for more than X number of nights.  Plus, the whole point of bringing the bus was to stay cheap-or-free and save on hotels.  Our mistake.

So we drove around a lot more than we wanted to, getting knocks on our door and being politely or not-so-politely asked to leave this or that public space for which we’d already paid.  We’re a NiMBy.  You should’ve seen (or rather heard) the disapproval of other drivers when we took the bus on the road.  I think the Prius drivers were honking at us to shame us for our unburned hydrocarbons, and the Escalade drivers were honking because they suddenly felt inadequate and vulnerable for the first time.

(A note about fuel consumption, BTW:  I know it smells bad to drive behind us, but dude, we’ve cut our energy consumption and environmental footprint to a fraction of yours.  Plus we’re recycling and reusing, in the truest sense.  So sell your condo and live in your car before you honk at us, hybrids.  (Feel free to continue honking at Escalades, though, as this amuses me and they’re easy targets. (Also, everybody take turns nesting parentheses, because it’s good clean fun.)))

BUT parking issues notwithstanding, at every little venue, our little half-hour set completely dominated.  I have my underage guitarist and my brilliant drummer to thank for that, partially.  In every show, at every venue, we were the ones who wound up with e-mail list signups and album sales and eager handshakes from venue owners and low whistles from otherwise apathetic patrons.  Our songs made people shut up and laugh and cry.  Mission accomplished!

We made no money at any of the shows.  But by the end of the tour, my online sales of Vanilla — sales from around the world, not L.A. — had increased tenfold, and only slowed a little after the holiday.  If that makes any sense to you, you have my admiration.  But I’m happy, because means I’m a step or two closer on the road to solvency.  And I’m sure our unpaid tour was connected to a bigger online presence.

I’m eager to come back to LA and SD, because we met so many great people there.  We were even thrown a kickin’ Rock Band party by the San Diego Browncoats.  (N.B.: we will play Rock Band with almost anyone, anywhere.  And no, don’t give me the microphone.  If you do, I will use my opera voice for everything.  It’s guitar, drums, or opera; those are your choices.)

You’re fabulous, L.A.  Stay hilarious, stay unfriendly, stay dramatic, keep your bluster, keep bristling with possibility, keep smashing dreams.  Only next time — let us park our fabulous vintage luxury Alaskan bus.  Please?

Photos at http://flickr.com/mariancall.
Highlights from the Creation Con & my Got to Fly CD release in the next blog. This one’s too long already!


1 Comment »

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  1. Wow, great article.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.

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