san fran circa ’67; the tradition lives on
the sunshine of summer rose early over palo alto this past sunday morning; by nine a.m. a small section of el camino real was buzzing with revelers in the golden goodness, leisurely setting about the business they tend to on their days off. just outside the wide-open window of my second-story motel room i heard a young girl around my daughter’s age playfully let loose a high-pitched wail with machine-gun rapidity after dipping a toe or two in the pool. i contemplated a morning swim, then remembered my trunks were folded and tucked away in the bottom drawer of my dresser, hundreds of miles away, where they’ve been for a long while. if springtime in seattle continues to forge record-breaking, mind-boggling trails, those trunks won’t see the light of day ’til late september.
devin catches forty winks during a 2-hour delay at seatac
of course, fair weather is no stranger to cali, but i was certain that this day’s favor of the sun god was less an attribute of geographical positioning than a just reward for a saturday night well spent. indeed, any diety endowed with a conscience would have to grant the goers of chi theta chi’s quarterly house party nothing less than the sky of paradise after making such merriment. stanford university sat atop the pinnacle of mt. olympus on saturday night, and dionysus himself got his ass drunk under the table.
chi theta chi, or xox as it’s known around campus, is a co-op. i thought maybe my lack of collegiate experience was to blame for me not knowing what the hell a co-op is, but as it turns out, even a vast majority of stanford students are confused about the group’s status. one thing everybody knows about xox: they’ve got co-ed communal showers there. ’nuff said.
as it was explained to me by a young scandanavian fella over a hot meal prepared for us by the house’s wholly competent head chef (don’t trip – the head chef is barefoot in soccer shorts, sippin’ import beer between trips to the kitchen to check on the risotto, and she doubles as navigator for our ride back to the airport), chi theta chi used to be a fraternity known as theta chi. new pledges began to wane sometime in the late sixties, and the brotherhood opened its doors to female enrollees (sausage houses would do well to take note here). in the heat of san fran’s summer of love, with the university’s administration refusing to recognize a co-ed fraternity fratority serenity, the collective ceded from the cardinal proper and formed a cooperative. a bunch of folks with money purchased a house on campus, and that’s where the members of xox have been supping, smoking and showering together for nearly four decades (HAHAHAHA — i’m laughin’ at you frat boys right now!)
bay area scraper on fire!
booking for the show was confirmed months ago; contract signed and deposit paid. that’s a big deal for me son – it’s not unusual to get confirmation days or hours before a show with a promise in place of a promissory note. already i was impressed, yet a little uneasy about doing a show at a frat house; the check was from chi theta chi, our contact was a dude, i was just assuming… then a week before the show, our contact information changed – now we were checkin’ in with a female. hmmmm, curious. a show at a sorority house? if this meant dealing with requests for top 40 covers or tolerating two and-a-half hours of cranking anything then i wasn’t sure which was worse. sexist, i know; i’ve been conditioned.
lo and behold! our chauffeurs awaited us near baggage claim at SFO – one male and one female. small talk through the terminal’s lengthy corridors; good flight, warm weather, he’s the DJ, i’m the rapper, etc. etc. but not two minutes into the commute i asked ’em straight up: “so, is the show at a fraternity or a sorority house?” “both,” they replied, appropriately in unison. awwww – this was gonna be a blast.
bay area limo on fire, literally!
i only lasted a semester at NKU, but something tells me had i made it all the way to graduation i would have never seen co-ed communal showers on campus. i felt like a simpleton for making such a big deal out of it, but dammit if my insecurities weren’t dashed when a quintet of mixed-gender stanford students came rushing into the bathroom as i was movin’ my bowels talkin’ about “this is it! this is shower so-and-so was tellin’ me about…” it really is a big deal.
“OMG – is that THE co-ed communal shower you were totally telling me about?”
traffic on the 101 was thick, car sickness was gettin’ the best of me and i needed something to eat. i made a promise to myself back in november to hit up In-N-Out on my next visit to california, and i do not break promises i make to myself. the burger was delectable, as if jesus christ himself had seasoned the beef, but would inevitably be the reason i found myself in the fabled co-ed xox bathroom.
In-N-Out Burger: you’ll never eat dick’s again (no homophobia)
our hosts were remarkably honest people, and it was never more evident than the moment we pulled into the parking lot of the motel 6. “this was the cheapest place we could find,” he tells me, and my level expectation for the rest of the evening drops to an 8 out of 10. the room was spacious, though, and i am never disappointed in a spot with a king-size bed. at this point i’m even thinkin’ if the show bombs i’ll be happy to get back here and spend 12 hours under this crayola-clad comforter; flight’s at noon, wake-up call at 9:30. before parting ways, the young homies tell us the house-mates would like to make us dinner – they’d be back around 7 to get us.
the atmosphere around the table kinda reminded me of my first show at seattle university, the only other time i’ve ever shared a home-cooked meal with promoters. the end result of that experience awarded me a handful of new friends and staunch comrade in the baha’i faith, and my level of expectation for the rest of the evening was back to a nine-point-five.
the way to a man’s heart…
discovering the show would be outdoors was neither a plus nor a minus for me; the weather was lookin’ good, the sound system was thumpin’, sizeable stage on a four-foot riser, and these fools had actually set up lighting – not even the swarm of mosquitoes was buggin’ me at the moment.
better than expected.
stanford do-gooders TGIFunk took the stage around 10:30, aptly warmin’ it up with covers of kool & the gang, GFR and tower of power. it became abundantly clear with every passing minute that this crowd came to have a (funky) good time, and the mass of people seemed to be multiplying across the lawn like an inebriated cancer. by the time we took the stage at a quarter-to-midnight, damn near a third of stanford’s student body was there to witness (note: i’m not very good at teh maths).
trouble is; g’dang diggy; push; gol’dust; black patch war; connect for, and so on. after more than an hour’s worth of songs from past, present and future, i made that compulsory announcement of the last song, and for the first time ever i invited a few folkers to join me on stage. it’s strange that i would even extend the offer after seeing talib, rakim and ghostface ruin great performances by callin’ up the dimes, but i was caught up in the moment. and to be fair (and to be an idiot) i held to the traditions of xox by not discriminating between genders; now here i stood in a forest of fried fanboys wantin’ to bro-me-down on some “dude you fuckin’ rocked it” type shit – and i’ve still got one jam left!
with more than 50 bouncing bodies on a mobile stage, it’s a true miracle no one was seriously injured during our finale. then again, miracles should come as no surprise when you party amongst the gods.
big shouts out the entire student body for being so filthy. big up’s to stanford’s music dept for comin’ thru with the big guns (and lights!). big bubbles and love suds to xox for all the hospitality, and for throwin’ one of the best damn parties i’ve been to in ten years. extra thanks to sarah, shiva and schmooby for makin’ us feel at home – let’s do it again.
devin and lil’ erik get at the xbox 360 in the greenroom.
peace to you and yours,