“No Middle Seat” Episode 2!

The people have spoken! You demanded more of Anthony and I talking about movies!!! Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Give the people what they want, I say!

Our second podcast focuses on the films of Clint Eastwood, specifically “Hereafter.” We also discuss the new Spider-Man film, our thoughts on the Coen brothers evolution over the years, and the new film “Black Swan.” I also talk about my unabashed love of Bill Murray, and many other fascinating things! Give it a listen! I dare you! It’s the rainy season, you know. What better time to have a cup of tea and cozy up to your laptop or iPod and listen to my podcast? The Universe wants you to. Trust me.

As an added bonus to the listeners of our last episode who were kind enough to comment and shower their praise upon us I added a little “on air” thank you at the end of the podcast. Listen to this one all the way through and leave a comment or two and I’ll do the same for YOU in our next podcast.

I’m rather enjoying this foray into podcasting. The back and forth between us and our listeners has been especially enjoyable for me. Thank you for that.

Let us know how you like the podcast!
“No Middle Seat” Ep.2 by No Middle Seat

P.S. If the link doesn’t work just hit “refresh” or go back to my home page. That should do the trick.

Belle & Sebastian = Happiness


I first heard of the band Belle & Sebastian from a John Cusack movie. I know. I can practically see the expressions of shock and awe on your face.

The movie was called “High Fidelity,” a Cusack film all the way from the year 2000. I first saw the movie in high school. Junior Year to be exact. It was the same year I had somehow convinced my mother that I was of proper age to start watching R-rated fare that I had been dying to watch for years but had been unable to watch because I was “just a kid.” The fact that I was in the throes of puberty, and all the joyous awkwardness and heartache and squeaky voiced goodness that that entails didn’t help my righteous cause of proving to my mother that I was no longer a boy, but rather a man. Specifically, a man who Needed To Watch R-Rated Movies In Order To Figure Out How The World Worked. It was that simple. If I was never allowed to watch Terminator 2 I don’t think I would have turned out to be the same man I am today. I would have been weak. Squeamish. Faint of heart. I would have never been able to Get Shit Done unless I was exposed to the wonders of R-rated cinema, I felt. That was my argument I presented my mother. I begged. I pleaded. Finally, she consented.

Woooo hoooooooo!!! I quickly raced to the local movie rental establishment and stocked up on all of the Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Willis movies my young brain could handle. After a few months of frying my brain on images of violence I finally decided to go for some “lighter fare.” I rented “Rushmore,” and quickly fell out of love with explosions and started tracking down movies with things like “character development” and “witty dialogue.”

One of the first films I rented after my cinema awakening was “High Fidelity,” which tells the tale of an unhappy record store owner named Rob Gordon (played by John Cusack) who, in an attempt to figure out The Meaning Of It All, decides to look up all of his ex-girlfriends and figure out What Went Wrong. Somewhere in between all of the existential angst his character actually manages to play some really good tunes at the record store, Championship Vinyl, that he owns and operates with his two employees Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (pre-fame Jack Black), the “musical moron twins,” as he refers to them.

During one of the scenes at the record store Dick plays Rob “the new Belle & Sebastian record,” which they both listen to quietly for awhile before Jack Black comes in an starts yelling at them for playing such “sad bastard music.” Sad bastard music or not I really liked what I heard. After the movie was done I grabbed a pen and some paper and sat close to the TV intently watching the credits to figure out who that band was that I liked so much. The song was “Seymour Stein” from the album “The Boy With The Arab Strap” by the band Belle & Sebastian.

I hopped on my bicycle and peddled over to the nearest record store and combed the isles for the band. They had one album: “If You’re Feeling Sinister.” I liked the cover a lot. I payed for it and hopped back on my bike and peddled home, locked myself in my room and listened to the album. Then I listened to it again. Then I listened to it a third time. I was in love. I quickly got my hands on every Belle & Sebastian album I could find and listened to them consistently for the remainder of my high school experience.

The band has remained a cherished staple in my musical library ever since. When the rain is coming down and all I want to do is sit on my couch curled up with blanket and a cup of tea, I listen to them. I listen to them when I’m driving and the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.

They remain one of my favorite bands and when I learned that they were finally on tour in the United States (for the first time since 2007) my heart skipped a beat. I was finally going to be able to see them live! They were playing the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco this year, I learned. I had been to the festival last year and had seen many great bands, including Beirut, Grizzly Bear, The Decemberists, and headliners The Flaming Lips. It was an incredible night and I really liked the venue. Belle & Sebastian was a natural fit for San Francisco, I felt. Plus so many of their songs took place in the historic city.

The concert took place over the weekend of the 16th and 17th, and lucky for me my friends Pat, Adrienne, Steven, and Katie were planning on going and were nice enough to let me bum a ride. Road trips by yourself are not nearly as much fun as road trips with your friends. I know I’m not really blowing anyone’s mind with that Truth Bomb, but I felt like it had to be said.

We were set to depart at 8am sharp on Saturday morning, which is about 4 hours earlier than I’m used to being awake so I set the alarm on my dresser and the alarm on my phone so I wouldn’t oversleep. I didn’t sleep well that night for two reasons: 1) I never sleep well when I know I have to be awake early 2) I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. So I spent much of the evening watching Louis CK stand up clips on YouTube and giggling to myself. I have a pretty loud laugh I’ve been told, so my neighbors must have thought I was going insane or something. Oh well.

When my alarm finally rang I hopped out of bed in a crazed daze. I looked at the alarm and it read 7am. Awesome. I did some mental math. Awesome. I’d got 2 whole hours of sleep! This was going to be an interesting trip. I hopped in the shower, blasted myself with hot water, and then I gingerly packed a bag to last the weekend. It was going to be cold as the Dickens in San Francisco this weekend, I reminded myself, so I packed 3 extra sweaters and my bomber jacket, just in case.

The drive to the Bay was beautiful. It was foggy and wet for most of the morning, which made the Redwoods look all the more majestic as we drove south down the highway, singing along to Belle & Sebastian along the way. Everyone in my group was pretty sleep deprived, which made for great conversation as we all tried to outdo each other in a contest of Who Was More Exhausted. We all tied for first place.

We pulled into San Francisco around 4pm or so and stopped at Trader Joe’s and picked up some snacks, all the while marveling at what a magical wonderland Trader Joe’s was. “There must be something in the water that makes everyone who works here so manically cheerful,” I mused while we stared thoughtful at their vast array of hummus.

Pat and I both bought 6-packs of beer for $2.99 because we’re classy like that. Besides, I’d heard that their lager was pretty damn delicious, especially when you factor in the price. Not all cheap beer is bad, I have come to realize. Besides, I was on a bit of a budget because I was “in between jobs” for the first time in over 7 years and I had to be very meticulous about what I spent my money on if I hoped to survive the experience.

After Joe’s we split up into two groups: Team Steven and Katie met up with Steven’s brother and went back to his dad’s place, and I joined Team Pat and Adrienne and we ventured into San Francisco proper to go vintage clothes shopping and meet up with her sister, who was kind of enough to give us food and shelter for the evening.

After spending a good 20 minutes or so looking for parking we finally found a spot to park and proceeded to have a lovely time waltzing around and commenting on the vast array of humanity that is San Francisco. We meet up with Adrienne’s sister at one of the many vintage clothing outlets in the Haight-Ashbury District and went back to her place, which her and her boyfriend shared with two other guys. It was a really nice spot, complete with a backyard in which they raised chickens. I’m being completely serious. Fresh eggs. It was awesome.

We spent the night drinking beer and watching the Giants game. I used to play baseball when I was younger and have always enjoyed the sport, but I realized while watching the Giants beat the living tar out of the Phillies how much I enjoyed the game! The fact that I was actually in SF to watch them win only added to the experience. Plus Brian Wilson’s beard was a sight to behold! “That man is completely insane,” I was informed. Fantastic. I like crazy pitchers. It adds to the drama of the game, I feel.

After the game we talked for awhile and then decided to watch “Hot Tub Time Machine,” which is a hilarious film which just so happened to star John Cusack (it’s interesting how everything is connected, isn’t it?). After the film and it was declared that is was in fact “late,” so we promptly passed out.

The next morning I awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing. It was Steven letting me know he was outside and politely asking to be let in. It was quite cold out. I yelled at Pat from across the room and he groggily got up and let them in. We sat around for awhile in the comfortable silence of people who not quite awake yet. We had some coffee and a shot of vodka, which seemed like a good idea at the time. “It’s a Russian blanket,” Pat told me with a smile. “Why not?” I said, downing the shot and shuddering a bit. “You only live once, right?”

We piled into Adrienne’s car and she drove us to the shuttle bus, which took us the rest of the way to the island. Once on the island we were greeted with the glorious sight of hipsters in all shapes and sizes. “Wow! I’ve never seen so many ironic mustaches in one place before!” I declared. My group nodded in agreement. “It’s pretty impressive.”

Half of the bands that were playing that Sunday I had never heard of so I was excited to expand my musical taste. Also, I was excited to see the band She & Him play, because I’ve spent the last two years of my life head over heels in love with Zooey Deschanel. Ha. Right. Me and half of everyone else in hipsterdom.

The day passed quickly and before I knew it Belle & Sebastian took the stage and I started screaming like the fan boy that I was directly into Steven and Katie’s ears. Sorry about that, guys. I just got a little too excited for a second there.

The first song they played was the single “Write About Love,” which was from their new album that I hadn’t heard yet, so I was experiencing it for the first time live, which is a blessed thing that I will never forget. Most of their set consisted of their older, better known tracks though, and the crowd loved it. I decided then and there that Belle & Sebastian was like the Rolling Stones for indie kids. We love seeing them live, but we really want them to play the older songs that we grew up listening to. I was especially pleased when they played “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” which is one of my favorite tracks of their “If You’re Feeling Sinister” album.

I teared up a bit during front man Stuart Murdoch’s tender rendition of “Lord Anthony,” not going to lie. Actually, in all honesty I was teared up through most of their set. Tears of joy, really. It had been a life long dream of mine to see them live and here I was, freezing my buns off in San Francisco doing just that. At that moment there was no place in the world I would have rather been than right there, huddled en masse with my fellow Belle & Sebastian fans. It was a moment that I will always remember with fondness.

The band played for over and hour and a half and when they left the stage I felt completely euphoric, as if all was right in my world. It was a precious feeling that I dwelled upon during the drive home, even though Pat and I were blasting 90s gangster rap in our effort to not stay awake on the drive home. Pat was driving and I volunteered to serve as his co-pilot, offering helpful suggestions such as “please don’t crash into that car that is ahead of us.” Everyone else slept peacefully in the back while we told stories of our childhood and pondered our own mortality.

We arrived back in Humboldt around 5:30 in the morning. I thanked Pat for getting us home in one piece, and told everyone that I loved them and thanked them for such a special road trip. I grabbed my bag and headed up to my apartment, barely managing to lock the door before I slumped into my couch and promptly passed out until noon. It was a good night.

“No Middle Seat” Ep. 1

There was once a little boy who dreamed of great things. He dreamed of superheroes and movie magic. He dreamed of one day being friends with Spider-Man. He dreamed dreams of wonder and beauty. That little boy eventually grew up and become a great man. Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today to say that I am that little boy.

*cue dramatic music*

That’s right, folks. I was not always this dashing fellow you know and love. I was once young and nerdy… Actually, now that I think about it, I’m still pretty nerdy. I’ve even got the podcast to prove it!

Being in charge of a podcast has always been a dream of mine, so when my good friend and fellow movie enthusiast Anthony suggested that the two of us begin a joint adventure into the world of podcasting, I jumped at the opportunity!

So here it is for all the world to enjoy: “No Middle Seat.” Sit back, listen and relax. Have a beer. Heck, have two beers. Have an entire keg. You deserve it.

P.S. If the Sound Cloud link doesn’t work please don’t fret your pretty head, because Anthony has the podcast on his blog as well, which you can find by copying and pasting this little ol’ link to your URL:
http://lastcinemastanding.blogspot.com/2010/10/no-middle-seat-episode-01.html

Confessions of a Dreamgoatz Groupie

I awoke at 7AM on Monday morning in a cold sweat, gripped by Fear and Panic. It was the first week back to school for HSU students, after all. I lied in bed for awhile until it dawned on me that I had graduated last semester and was thus free as a bird to do whatever I wanted to do. I promptly fell back to sleep and slept past noon. It was my first day off in 5 days and I promised myself that I would Rest and Recover.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed I flipped on my laptop and put on Dean Martin’s Italian Love Songs, which I hummed along to as I made coffee and fried up some eggs and toast. I’m a classy guy. My brother Matthew always gives me a hard time for sleeping in until noon, and then not eating anything until 1 or 2PM and having the audacity to call it “breakfast.” To which I respond: “Hey man, if it’s the first meal of the day it’s called breakfast, no matter what time it is. I win.”

I was on my third cup of coffee when I received a text from Tom Vidosh, who along with Oren Beckman and Patrick (no last name required), form the folktronic dance band Dreamgoatz, of which I am a huge fan. Tom’s text asked if I was busy that night, which I thankfully was not. He then invited me to see his band perform at The Barn in Fortuna, which was a venue that I had always wanted to check out. I said “hell yes” and that was that.

That put me in a rather jovial mood. I love the band Dreamgoatz with a passion. I feel that the music they are making is wholly unique, and the small fact that I am friends with the band only adds that little extra “something something” to my enjoyment of their music. I jokingly refer to myself as their sole “groupie,” much like Mel in “Flight of the Conchords.” And like Mel, I am completely adorable and in no way Creepy or Insane in my dedication to the band (or so I tell myself).

I spent most of the afternoon running errands, soaking up the sun like the delicate flower that I am. Living in Humboldt County has it’s advantages and disadvantages, as many people know. I try to live my life by a few simple rules, one of the first rules being: If it’s sunny out, go outside!

After my errands are over I sit outside of my apartment and flip through Hunter S. Thompson’s “Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the 80s.” Granted, I was born in ’84, so most of what he is talking about takes place before I became the handsome intellectual my friends and family know and love, but hey, the man’s a great writer. He could have been writing about the Civil War and I would have found it fascinating. Fun Fact: Before I switched to the dark path that is Journalism, I was a History Major. So now you know.

Being unsure of where exactly “The Barn in Fortuna” was located I called Tom and asked him for a ride there (for the record, I do own a care, in case you thought I was one of those hippies who walk everywhere because driving is “bad for the environment”). He graciously agreed and we met up in Eureka at the Co-Op, hugged and hopped into his car and sped off into the sunset.

We arrived at the venue around 6:30PM or so. The gig was scheduled to begin at 7PM, which of course means that the music did not begin until 9PM. Not that I’m complaining. When we arrived I didn’t see anyone I recognized right away so I hung out with Tom and let my bearded friend do most of the talking to the people that we met there. Tom, friendly fellow that he is, introduced me to everyone right away, and by 7PM I was BFFS with everyone there. Typical conversation:

Them: “Hey man, what’s your name?”

Me: “Nate.”

Them: “Are you in the band?”

Me: “Nope. I’m their groupie, some might say.”

Them: “That’s awesome.”

Me: “Thanks?”

Them: “Hahaha! That’s funny. You’re hilarious. Let’s be best friends!”

Me: “If you say so…”

Yeah. That’s pretty much how I spent my time while waiting for the show to start.

As the sun set the crowd at the venue (which was an actual barn, by the way) had increased greatly. The last of the bands scheduled to perform had arrived and everything was set up and ready to go.

The first band was a funk band who got things off to a good start. Their high energy set even involved two guys rapping at one point, which came as a surprise to me because up until that point their set had been entirely instrumental. But hey, it worked for them.

As the crowd was dancing to the funky funk tunes that was being blasted at us at an impressive volume, Tom and Oren and Patrick worked like the busy little bees they are to set up their equipment in the adjoining barn, which was a genius idea.

As soon as the funk band’s set was over, a tall man by the name of Quentin shouted at the top his lungs: “Alright guys, Dreamgoatz in the next room! It’s going to be amazing!”

By this time of the night people had been dancing and drinking for a while, so everyone was feeling pretty loose when Dreamgoatz started their set. I danced along wildly to the music, and jumping up and down with joy. Sadly, no video footage exists of my sweet dance moves (there is a God), so you’re going to have to just take my word on this.

After the Dreamgoatz finished their set I was an exhausted, sweaty mess. I made my way outside for some fresh air and a nice cold beer, which tasted amazing after dancing for the better part of an hour.

I chatted a while with Quentin, who, I quickly learned, thought I was a “pretty cool guy.”

“Oh yes?” I asked with a smile. “What makes you say that?”

“Well,” he said, pondering for a moment, “I’ve seen you at shows around town and you always struck me as a friendly fellow.”

“Awww shucks,” I tell him with a wave of my hand. “Friendly is what I’m going for, actually. I get paid to be friendly, as a matter of fact. I work as a waiter at Lost Coast Brewery.”

“Nice!”

Just then music began to seep out of the building and the two of us rushed inside to see a singer whose stage name is “Nicole Kidman,” strangely enough. I tried hard not to shout out “I loved you in Moulin Rouge!” at the top of my lungs. It wasn’t the same Nicole Kidman. For starters, this “Nicole Kidman” was a man in his twenties who had never actually seen “Moulin Rouge!,” ironically enough. His singing style reminded me of a young Daniel Johnston, with a little bit of Bright Eyes thrown in for good measure (and indie cred). His songs were about loneliness and lost love and were quite beautiful. After the show I bought two of his homemade CDs, which came with original art by the man himself. He was shy and modest when I told him that his music reminded me of Daniel Johnston in the best way possible.

“You really think so?” He practically whispered to me. “Wow. Thanks!”

“Of course, man. Keep up the good work!”

I shook his hand firmly and thanked him for sharing his music with us. Then I turned to Tom, who had somehow managed to sneak up on me, and said “well, time to hit the ol’ dusty trail?”

We packed up the last of his equipment in his van and drove off into the night with the windows down, cool breeze in our hair. It was a good night.

Good luck with school, kids!

Oh Frank Fairfield, you magnificent vaudevillian bastard, how I love thee!

The musician Frank Fairfield looks like a gangster from the 1950s. His hair is greased back. His smile is knowing. He seems like a man capable of great violence, if the situation called for it. Luckily for me (and everyone else in attendance at Monday’s $3 “budget rock” night at the Jambalaya in my humble town of Arcata), ol’ Frank chose the life of a musician, rather than a life of crime.

Frank had the soul of a vaudevillian, it seemed. When I strolled into the practically deserted venue around 9:45pm there sat Frank, alone on stage, a single spotlight shown on him. His face was lowered as he strummed his guitar. He was dressed in a simple button up work shirt, with gray wool pants and a tattered old sports coat that looked like it had seen just about every weather known to man. Frank’s voice reminded me of the 1930s blues musician Robert Johnson, who, legend says, sold his soul to the devil to become a better guitar player. His voice quivered dramatically as he played, tapping his worn leather shoes in time to the music. After a few songs about life on the road, women he had loved, and great regrets, he set his guitar down, took a drink of water and stared out into the audience. It was now well after 10pm and more than 30 people had arrived since I had been there. Frank smiled and picked up his banjo, hopping into a tune that would make Steve Martin smile.

A tap on the shoulder jolted me out of my blissful trance. There stood my friend Pat, smiling at me. Beside him were Zachary, a bearded fellow who dresses like an English Lit. professor most of the time, and his long-time girlfriend Darlene, whom I tend to go to for advice in regards to my perpetual “girl problems.” They’re a  couple whom I am proud to call my friends (awwwww!).

“Did we miss much?” Pat asked, looking a bit panicked.

“You’ve only missed the greatest half hour of white man blues of your life!” I informed him with a laugh. “This guy’s fucking fantastic!”

As Frank plucked away diligently at his banjo I hopped over to the bar, ordered a tall PBR, and was back in my former spot in no time. Zachary looked at my beer choice and laughed. We both fancy ourselves to be beer enthusiasts, who usually favor the darker side of beer (the darker it is, the more I love it). I defended my choice, saying “I always buy PBR at shows, man. It’s a tradition.”

I buy PBR at shows for the same reason I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunchtime. It’s cheap, it tastes good, and it gets the job done. So there. Now I’ve defended PBR. It’s a whole lot better than Bud Light, Steel Reserve, or Natural Ice, let me tell you!

My eyes gazed back at the stage, where Frank lovingly set down his banjo and picked up his fiddle and started playing. I was pretty much in love with the guy at this point. What’s not to love? The man played 3 instruments, and he played them well!

As he played an old-time jig furiously on his fiddle a few horse hairs from his bow went flying across the stage.

“That’s how you can spot a good fiddle player, by the wake of broken bow hairs,” I whispered knowingly to Pat, who nodded solemnly.

I used to play the violin, as some may recall. I took lessons when I was a shy and sensitive high school student. I never really got good enough to brag about it, but I rather enjoyed myself. My brother Matthew was taking trumpet lessons at the time, and I felt it would be good for me to attempt to learn an instrument as well. Why not? I was too shy to actually talk to other people (read: most girls), so why shouldn’t I use the free time that I had for good, rather than for evil?

I didn’t stick with it, sadly. I enjoyed playing, but my instructor’s insistence that I “practice for at least an hour every day” didn’t sit with me very well. I retired my violin to be returned to the music shop and I walked off into the sunset, never looking back. Except when I come across a violin/fiddle player who can actually play, then I get more than a little jealous and curse myself for giving up on my musical dreams. But fret not, gentle reader, for I purchased a banjo as a graduation present to myself not too long and I’m getting pretty good, if I do say so myself!

I sipped my beer thoughtfully, gazing at the stage while Frank blazed through another fiddle number. I stood as if in some kind of trance. “This guy’s good” would be an understatement.

I hopped back to the bar to grab another brew and my thoughts turned to my brother Matthew’s wedding. We’ve always been close, Matthew and I. “Thick as thieves” some might say. For as long as I can remember Matthew has been in my life. I mean sure, there have been times when I wished he’d never been born (such as that instance in the 90s where he slammed the car door on my thumb and then laughed at me as I burst into tears), but for the most part I rather enjoyed the little bugger’s company. And now he’s married and gone to live in Oregon. I’m happy that he found someone to be with, naturally, but I miss him at times. When the minister said “I now pronounce you man and wife” my entire childhood flashed before my eyes and it took all of my willpower not to fall on my knees and weep like a baby. We’ll always be brothers, I know, but things won’t be the same, and I’m still working on accepting that fact. The times they are a changin’ Bob Dylan once sang, and he was right. It was such a bittersweet moment.

I paid my $3 for the beer, left my usual $1 tip and headed back to be with my friends and enjoy Frank’s musical prowess.

After the show ended I headed over to the corner of the joint to buy Frank’s LP. I have a record player now (thanks Max!) and it’s been really fun slowly amassing a record collection for myself (as if I didn’t collect enough stuff already, what with the comic books, movies, and literature and all that jazz!).

I took my newly purchased record on stage and introduced myself to Frank, who turned out to be one of the shyest, must humble musicians I’ve ever met.

When I told him how much I’d loved his music he could barely look at me, his eyes fixed to his shoes while he muttered “Oh really? You liked it?…. Wow…. Thanks.” As if I were doing him a favor by liking his stuff!

“Yeah man, you were great!” I shook his hand and asked him to sign the record, which he did (in itty bitty writing, which I found to be strangely endearing).

I walked out of the joint to find my friends waiting patiently for me.

“Bought yourself some wax, eh?”

“Yeah! I’m pretty excited about it!”

I hugged Zach and Darlene goodbye and me and Pat hopped into his car and sped off to my friend Joanna’s bonfire, talking all the way about our love of blues and all things soulful and beautiful. It was a good night.

There And Back Again: In Which Our Hero Drives To Sacramento To See Conan O’Brien And Learns Valuable Life Lessons On The Way

It was 9 a.m. on Thursday morning. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. I put on my sunglasses and started my engine. Jack White instantly began screaming at me through my car stereo about his poor, broken heart.

“Alright,” I said aloud, “let’s do this thing!” I gunned the engine and sped off, leaving behind a dust cloud and the distant sound of Jack White’s guitar.

It was over 300 miles to Sacramento and I was ready! After driving from Seattle to Humboldt earlier this year, driving to Sacramento was child’s play (or so I told myself and anyone else who would listen).

The reason I was headed to Sac Town was simple: Conan O’Brien. The fact that my BFF Seth and his fiance Tara also happened to live there was icing on the cake.

The sun beat down upon my brow as I navigated south with the coolness of Steve McQueen, passing cars with ease. A master helmsman. I felt like a king, and Highway 101 was my kingdom.

One thing that I will always love about road trips of any length is that it gives you a chance to discover new music (or rediscover old favorites). Two albums in particular stand out from this road trip: “All Hail West Texas” by The Mountain Goats (which I had purchased a week before my trip but had saved to serve as road trip music) and “Easy Beat” by Dr. Dog (which I had burned during my last gig at KRFH as a DJ. Sigh…).

The first artist, The Mountain Goats, was a band that I first got into because of my love for the TV dramedy “Weeds.” The song “Cotton” plays at the end of an episode in season 2 and I was so impressed with the song that immediately after the episode ended I hoped over to my computer and Googled the show to see who sang that beautiful and tragic song. Turns out, The Mountain Goats had been around since the mid-90s, but I wasn’t discovering them until 2008 or so. Ah well. The nice thing about music is that it doesn’t really matter when you discover it, it is still just as powerful as the day it was recorded.

The album “All Hail West Texas” was, I decided after listening to it 3 times in a row while my windows were rolled down and the wind played tricks with my hair, a masterpiece. On the drive to and fro from Humboldt to Sacramento, and back again I listened to the album no less than 7 times and each time it got better. Lead singer John Darnielle has a voice that is both innocent sounding and world weary at the same time, which adds such beauty to his songs about love lost, mental breakdowns, and failed marriages. Get your hands on this album, gentle reader, you won’t be sorry.

After my 3rd listen to the aforementioned record I decided a little silence was in order, so I shut off my stereo and listened to the cool, gentle hum of my faithful 2006 Ford Focus and let my mind wander. My brother Matthew’s upcoming marriage (June 5th) played heavily on my mind. It was such a strange, bittersweet feeling. Call me old fashioned, but I had always assumed that as the oldest that I would be the first person to get married. It’s kinda funny. “Kids grow up so fast,” my grandma always says. I never knew how right she was until this moment, it seemed. I pulled over to the side of the road and had a good cry. The month of May has been a very emotional time for me. I’m saying goodbye to a lot of things: My life as a college student. My life as a DJ. My brother. I know he’s not dying or anything, but he is moving up to Oregon and it makes me more than a little melancholy that he is growing up. He’ll always be my little brother though, no matter what happens.

Sigh….

Okay, back to my slightly pretentious music reviews! Oh boy!

After my tear-stained pit stop, I looked around for the nearest gas station and bought myself a cup of coffee and some Cheez Its and was back on the road in no time, feeling rejuvenated and ready to go! I was less than an hour away from Ukiah, where I had planned to have some lunch. I was craving a tuna sandwich like you would not believe! I don’t know what it is about road trips but whenever I’m driving from more than 2 hours I always have an intense craving for tuna salad. I have no idea why this is. It’s just one of those things, I guess.

Anywho, the second album I fell in love with was “Easy Beat” by Dr. Dog, which was the most Beatles-inspired album that I had heard in qutie sometime and it made me smile. The lyrics and melody brought to mind the Beatles and the Kinks, circa 1967-68, but with some modern flourishes that had me grinning like a school girl with a crush. I turned up the volume as high as I could and gunned the engine, passing a VW bug with relish, waving for no apparent reason other than the fact that I was feeling friendly. The family inside waved back. I smiled. They smiled. It was a nice moment.

After that the gentle lull of the highway took over and I drove the next hour as if in a trance, until I saw I sign for a diner in Ukiah that I had always wanted to try. I pulled out my GPS and checked my location. Turns out I had missed the exit for I-5 about 4 miles back. Damn. Oh well, I said to myself, live and learn. I pressed a few butons and let the GPS recalibrate while I strolled inside, found myself a nice seat at the bar, and politely asked the overly friendly teenager behind the counter for some coffee and a tuna sandwich.

“Sooooo….. You from around here?” The girl asked while she poured my coffee, pondering whether or not she recognized me from somewhere.

“Nope,” says I with a grin, “I’m actually heading to Sacramento tonight to see Conan! My best friend lives in Sac and we’re both pretty excited to see him live!”

“Oh really?” she said, with wonder in her voice. “That sounds so fun! I always liked Conan! I never liked…. What’s the other guy’s name again?”

“Leno.”

“Oh right. Leno…. I never liked him.”

I gazed deeply into my coffee, as if considering my own existence. “Yeah, me neither. I’m Team Coco all the way!”

She smiled, and then hoped back into the kitchen, reappearing with my sandwich. “Ta da!”

I laughed and thanked her and then dug in, finishing the sandwich as quickly one does when one is hungry and craving one specific thing above all else. I paid the bill and left, putting my sunglasses back on as I walked into the bright outdoors.

Only a few more hours to Sacramento, I told myself, popping a Eddie Izzard stand-up album into my CD player and cackling like a mad man to Izzard’s jokes. The man is hilarious! If you haven’t listened to him, you’re missing out (man, I’m just pushing you around, aren’t I? Haha!).

The next few hours flew by and before I knew it the 5 most reassuring words a Tom Tom GPS can say flooded my ears like music: “You have reached your destination.”

Seth and Tara were both outside, eagerly awaiting my arrival. I honked the horn and drove into the parking spaces of their apartment complex, jumping out of my car as fast as I could and grabbing Seth in a bear hug.

“Oh man, I’ve missed you, buddy!” I said with a goofy grin.

“I’ve missed you too!” Seth said.

All 3 of us stood there, smiling like children. It was great.

We grabbed my travel possessions and headed upstairs to their apartment, talking a mile a minute. After a while Tara decided that she was sick and tired of being sober and made all 3 of us delicious gin and tonics. We sipped them happily.

“We’ve really gotten into gin and tonics” Seth informed me.

I nodded somberly.

We talked for another hour or two and then decided that we had better head on over to mid-town so that way we would be plenty early to see our beloved Conan. The spot the 2 of them decided on for dinner was a place called Buckhorn Grill in mid-town Sac, which turned out to be quite the classy place! The place was known for their tri-tip, so Seth told me, so the tri-tip I ordered and it was amazing! We opted to sit outside at the place’s outdoor seating area, since it was a cool 75 degrees. We sat in the sun, drank beer and laughed about Twitter and Facebook (we’re in our 20s, what else is there to talk about?!? Lol!). It was one of those moments that I felt completely happy and satisfied with my life. I love those moments.

After dinner we decided to venture over the bar next door, and had a conversation that revolved around how cool and grown up we all felt at that moment. Then Seth glanced out into the street and got all excited.

“I think I just saw Conan’s limo! I saw a puff of red hair and a police escort! I think it was him!”

“Oh yeah?” I said. “Well, you’re probably right! Unless Sacramento has some ‘other’ famous redhead that I don’t know about.”

“That’s so cool!”

We decided that the Conan sighting was a sign from the Universe to head over to where the concert was taking place. When we arrived we were about a half an hour early, so we grabbed our seats and waited giddily for the concert to begin, with Seth and me tweeting to pass the time.

“I’m honored to be in the same building as Mr. Conan O’ Brien,” I wrote. “Show begins in 30 minutes! I’m as excited as a midget on crack!” Seth read this, laughed and retweeted it. Being a nerd is such a enjoyable thing.

Before we knew it the lights dimmed and Conan’s band (minus Max, who is on tour with Bruce) rushed the stage. The crowd jumped to its feet, applauding and smiling at each! Seth and I high-fived.

“Please welcome Mr. Conan O’Brien” the announcer said and I screamed at the top of my lungs!

The next two and a half hour was filled with music (Conan’s a really amazing guitar player!), dancing (Conan has very, very long legs), and stand-up. A few thinly veiled jabs at Leno and Arnold had the audience eating out of the palm of his freckled hand. He even appeared onstage in a fully leather suit that he bought from Eddie Murphy. It was great! Icing on the cake: he played “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes at one point.

“I don’t usually play this song on stage, just in rehearsal” he informed us. “But you guys have been such an amazing audience that I feel that you deserve a little extra something something.”

As the show ended we walked outside, as if in a trance.

“Wow. That changed my life.” I said. Seth and Tara both nodded enthusiastically.

On the way back to their car I spotted a frozen yogurt place and suggested that we end the night off with some sugar, “for our throats. We’ve just spent the last 2 hours yelling.”

We all decided that this was a good idea and stopped in for a bite.

It was a good night. Thanks for the memories, Conan.

Dear Batcave Listeners: A Love Letter

Dear Batcave Nation,

Parting is such sweet sorrow. I’ve been emotional all day, due in large part to the existential crisis that is my impending College Graduation, but also due to the knowledge that a very special part of my life is coming to an end: my life as a college DJ.

After tonight’s show, “The Batcave” becomes another Chapter In The Legend Of Nate, a chapter that has been very near and dear to my heart. I’ve been hosting “The Batcave” on KRFH for the last 3 years or so and I am being completely honest when I say that it has been one of the most encouraging and delightful college experiences of my life. I love you guys so much! I relish all the silly Facebook conversations and text messages that I have received while “On Air.” You guys have made my experience as a DJ such a joyful, amazing thing, and I am forever in your debt. After all, if it wasn’t for your support over the years I would have just been a man in a studio giggling over his stupid jokes all by him lonesome, but with your help you made my show one of the most listened to shows at the station (not to brag or anything, hahaha!).

Bam! Pow!

I made a little list of people who have listened to my show over the last few years (“Batcave V.I.P.”s, I call you) off the top of my head. Let me know if I’m forgetting anyone and I’ll add their name to this bad boy!

All my love and affection for my loyal listeners: Hannah, Seth, Tara, the Amandas (all 5 of them), Scott, the Ochart clan, Brian, Tom, Max, Darlene, Shannon, Sonia, Sofia, my loving family, Alex, Ross, Michelle, Amy, Tiffanie, Beno, Nels, Ben, Becca, Christa, Sean, Anthony, Zach, Darlene, Steven, Meagan, Grant, Deanna, Icarus, Debbie, Lizzi, and many more!

People who I’ve shared my booth with over the last few years and have made my show all the better with their bantering skillz: Max, Ben, Ross, Amanda, Seth, Evan, Brad, Matthew, Beno, Tom, and Nels.

I’m going to miss being your DJ…. You guys have turned me onto so many great bands over the years, I don’t know how to begin to repay you, other than saying “thanks” from the bottom of my heart. I’ll never forget this.

All my lovin’,

Nate