Digitize This, by Marlene Bruce



Visiting Rash in California

January 27, 2001 (Saturday)

Chinatown is a place one must see when in San Francisco1. My two photos don't begin to do it justice, but they're all I have. We walked down the main drag—Grant Avenue. The street and building decorations were elaborate, and the shop wares were crammed in among decorative interiors. Bustling with life, there were markets of all kind. There was a good bit of red paper on the ground, which may have come from the previous weekend's Chinese New Year Flower Fair (questionable, though, due to the rainy week hence), or perhaps was always present. The big New Year's celebration wasn't to come 'til the next weekend.

At the end of Chinatown is SF's Little Italy. A friend of mine had recommended Rose Pistola as the Italian restaurant to eat at, so we did (be sure to make reservations, and try to sit in the back, where it's quieter). With an upscale-casual air and excellent North Italian cuisine, we couldn't have picked a better spot. We decided to start with the Octopus antipasti (Octopus Salad with Cannellini Beans & Lemon Vinaigrette). It was so yummy, we could have had more of that alone and been completely satisfied. For the main course I had Rabbit with Polenta and Squash, also excellent. I cannot recall what Rash chose. We washed it down with a tasty D'Alba red, and Rash finished with dessert. Here's a sample menu from a while back.

We left the restaurant and took a taxi to the Audium for our evening entertainment. Performed in "The Theatre of Sound-Scupltured Space," it was an interesting experience, though not for everyone. The theater is a dome-shaped room containing 169 speakers (if you go, try to sit in a seat above a speaker), and holds a maximum of 49 people (our crowd was much smaller, though the founder/performer, Stan Shaff, remarked that it was unusually large). Once seated, the lights are turned off (little dimly illuminated arrows on the floor direct you to the exit, should you need to leave), effectively making the room pitch black. Stan then stands at his console and plays a sequence of prerecorded environmental and synthesized sounds, stopping for a brief intermission.

The facilities are dated, and IMO the performance piece could have been better developed (it seemed too random for my taste), but the possibilities in sound it evoked (and the rather nominal $10 admission), made the visit well worth it. I would recommend attending to anyone interested in sound for sound's sake. I listened with my eyes shut, and was either dozing or spacing by the end. Rash kept his eyes open and remarked that he'd begun to have visual hallucinations in response to the stimuli. Stan was answering questions as we were leaving, so we paused. I think we were fortunate to be part of a curious-minded audience.

We ended the evening by taking a brisk roundabout walk back to the hotel (it was getting cold), past a cool vehicle dealership which had Vespas and Citrons on display, and through a bit of the seedier city district. At the hotel, Rash warmed me up with some hot chocolate he'd thought to bring along. I presented the second gift, a hashioki (chopstick rest) in the shape of a cute little kitten, stomach up.

[Proceed to Day Three, Part A >]
[Days: One, Two A and B, Three A and B, Four]

1 - A good resource for SF happenings in general is SF Station.

Credits: All photos this page are mine, except the Rose Pistola business card, and Audium ticket-type and business card.