The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Berkeley’

Shaken baby syndrome

Posted by keithosaunders on May 21, 2016

This afternoon I was playing a gig at Cheeseboard, a pizza joint in Berkeley.  In the middle of one of our songs the sound of a baby crying got my attention.  When I looked over I saw a mom gently shaking her baby back in forth in time to the music.  I’m sure she was doing it as a way of soothing him — I can remember doing the same to my children when they were infants.

But how do we know that babies like this?  Perhaps it bugs the shit out of them.  I know it would bother me if I was sad or anxious and someone randomly  began shaking me back and forth.  I’d be like, ‘what the fuck?’ 

I bet that the baby reacted well to being shook the first time –  ‘Hey I didn’t see *that* coming.  fun!’  

As the Cheesboard baby’s crying picked up in intensity I imagined a different response.  ‘What the hell are you doing, are you out of your mind?!  I’m sick of pizza, I hate this artsy, precious music, and it’s time for my damn nap.  GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!’

But no, his mom went on shaking and the baby went on crying.  Some parents have the sense to try something else while other’s stick with the tried and true.  And what do you suppose happens to these perpetually shaken babies?  What is the consequence?

They become Trump voters.



Posted in life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Off to the races

Posted by keithosaunders on February 26, 2016

Every Tuesday and Thursday I teach beginning piano for three hours at after school programs at a pair of schools in Orinda. (Orinda is located in the Bay Area — it’s in Contra Costa county and is approximately 8 miles east of Oakland.)  The kids are cute and I have a good time with them.

At the Tuesday school I have to pick the individual kids up at an after school room and walk them all the way across the school to the music room.  My first student, Devon, is a kindergartner who one day challenged me to a race. I accepted figuring it would be a good workout since I had missed my morning jog.

After Devon’s lesson I went back to the after school room to retrieve my next student who happens to be his sister.  She noticed that I had raced her brother so she insisted on racing me too.  After we came back from her lesson she told the next student to race me, and on it went until now all five students insist on racing me every week.

Devon is only five or six years old and since I believe, given optimum conditions, I can take him, I go all out.  He wins anyway, but not by much.  His sister, however, is really fast and I have no chance.  She destroys me. By the time it gets to the third student, who is a little slower, I’m too tired to go full on so she beats me by an even wider margin.  With the fourth student I’ll occasionally employ Ben Hur tactics, edging her into the wall, or yelling, ‘Look over there! but she’s spry and fends off my attacks as easily as a club owner denies giving a musician a raise.

By the time it gets to the fifth and final student I’m so beaten down that I merely pretend to race while the kid tears off into the distance at top speed.  I’ll call out for effect, “HERE I COME!  I’M GAINING ON YOU, WATCH OUT,” as I limp along wondering when piano teaching became an extreme sport.



Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Your obligatory Super Bowl post

Posted by keithosaunders on February 6, 2016

I feel guilty about my lack of enthusiasm over Sunday’s big game but for whatever reason I just can’t seem to get excited over it.  Part of the reason is that I have an early starting solo piano gig that’s going to interfere with me seeing the fourth quarter.  Fortunately I have a good line of sight from the piano to the TV but I’m a little farther away than I’d like to be which will make identifying the holding calls tough.

The game is being played in Santa Clara which is 40 miles south of where I live. This is where the 49ers moved two season ago — a corporate designer stadium monstrosity. From all counts Levi’s Stadium has a nightmare parking situation which can take hours to enter and exit.   Route 101 is a tough artery to deal with in the best of circumstances but one can only imagine how much worse it will be tomorrow.  Throw in the post 9/11 security and you couldn’t pay me enough to attend this game.  I’ve heard that there are people who flew in from out of town that aren’t able to go to the game but are going to local Santa Clara bars so that they can be close to the action.  I pity these dullards.  Stay at home and watch from your couch, for crying out loud.  Santa Clara has no ambiance!

All of the Super Bowl festivities, whatever they are, have taken place in San Francisco which has made it tough for the working stiff musician to get into town for his gigs. (I live across the bay in a town just north of Berkeley called Albany)  Tonight I’m gigging in North Beach which is a part of San Francisco that is only a 20 minute walk from the a Bart station.  Tomorrow, however, I’m working in a part of San Francisco not serviced by Bart so I’ll have to drive.  I’m hoping that everyone will already be ensconced at the TV of their choice by the time I have to leave.

And there you have it:  My Super Bowl post.  My prediction:  Carolina 28 Denver 7.

Posted in football, San Francisco, Super Bowl, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Driving us crazy.

Posted by keithosaunders on November 10, 2010

Today’s special guest poster is none other than my esteemed and lovely wife, Debra.  She is here to give you a fresh take on the state of driving, as well as being a pedestrian in the great state of California.  Enjoy!


Ok, so I understand that driving, like slang, has its regional idiosyncrasies.  Certain unspoken local driving rules like lean on your horn when the guy in front of you fails to notice the right on red sign, are perfectly reasonable and to be expected, and while I have done business and spent countless hours in San Fran over the years, when it comes to driving I am a stranger in a strange land.

For instance, while driving around I have noticed that pedestrians have the right of way.  Indeed they have the moral high ground, stepping leisurely in front of cars and aiming a scarily perfected dirty look my way should I violate these cardinal rights.  Lamely pointing to my NY plates, hoping that would explain my audacity, is useless.   Traffic signals, crosswalks, and lights be damned, the driver must stop as the ped strolls across.   A friend told me that if you kill a pedestrian you can be charged with manslaughter.  Good enough for me.  I ease up on the gas (which will inevitably get me a special greeting from east coast drivers when in NY) and try to fit in.

Once after dropping Keith off on a corner and carefully turning the corner I congratulated myself on my newfound courtesy behind the wheel.  Imagine my dismay when I later learned that upon hearing a mild hurumph from a nearby pedestrian, Keith turned to the gentleman, shook his head and said “Boy, drivers in this city, huh!”  This was all the affronted pedestrian needed to launch into a sympatico tirade in which they both lamented the complete lack of regard for pedestrians and all their superiority.  Keith has claimed this his most successful Bay Area bonding experience so far.

So…you can imagine my excitement when the tables turned and I had occasion to don the mantle of pedestrianism.  I was in Berkeley of all places, with Lucy. [our daughter]  What luck!  At last I could lord my earth-friendly, self-propelled personage above those gas guzzling heathens.  “Watch this Lucy, its our turn,” I said, as I approached the curb, at the crosswalk.   Mind you, there are rules, you know, and I waited for the traffic to grind to a halt. 

Whizz whizz…I stepped maybe a foot off the curb.  Vroom, whizz.  What the…!?!?!  Both of us clucked, hurumphed, and looked in the eyes of the drivers.  Eventually, a break in the cars opened and we dashed across.  The cars were a half a block away, barreling down, and stopping was the furthest thing from their minds.

Clearly I am missing something.  The worst part is the looks and scolding that go with the infractions.  I miss the good ol’ middle finger and nasally epithet of New York drivers.  Quick, emotional, and easy to return in kind.  In fact, it would be an act of friendship when you see me in New York to forgo the wave and flip me a bird in greeting and we can exchange a few mild epithets as well.  Come on, make my day!

Deb and Lucy in Berkeley, temporarily safe from the traffic.

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Drivers vs pedestrians: Either way I lose.

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2010

Those of you following my escapades in my new west coast locale  know that I have a somewhat complicated relationship with the Bay Area drivers.  To put it bluntly, I hate them.  But here’s something different:  I also hate the pedestrians.  

In New York City, which I have come to realize is one of the great driving towns, the pedestrians and the drivers have a pact.  In fact, we have two pacts —  that’s how hip we are.  First, the peddie-pact:  My ability to cross the street is directly proportional to the distance of your approaching vehicle from my body.  It’s really quite simple.  The farther away you are from the car, the better the chance of a successful crossing.   

Now let’s hear from the driver:  My inclination to stop ends with your indecision.  In other words, if you cross the street we will stop, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to waste time waiting for you to make up your mind.  Just do it!

Here on the left coast  the pedestrians clearly have the upper hand and they are not shy about letting you know it.  They boldly step into the street without so much as establishing eye contact with the driver.  They don’t even look at you, which annoys me to no end.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but on the one hand you have a two ton vehicle, and on the other hand you have yourself.  Even allowing for the fact that you are an American I would guess that the weight advantage goes to the driver.  AT LEAST LOOK AT ME! 

 On top of that, if you dare to say anything to a pedestrian he/she will become tetchy and defensive.  A few weeks ago I was stopped at a red light about to turn right.  (Yeah, right on red.  Suck on that, New York!)  Just as I was inching up to turn two guys stepped into the cross walk.  One of them glared at me and shouted, “Hey!”  So I put my hands up in the universal sign of ‘what’s the matter?’  He shouted back, “Don’t give me any attitude!  Don’t start with me…” 

What the fuck?!   I didn’t say anything!  In New York they would have just walked around me, or I would have made my turn to get out of their way —  no muss, no fuss.  Here it’s a federal case if you don’t drive like a 75-year-old Iowan paster.  (I don’t want to hear about it from the Iowans….I’M IN NO MOOD)

Now let’s examine my down-the-street neighbor, who darted in front of my car just to tell me I was driving too fast.  (I wasn’t)  He proceeded to lecture me on the dangers of speeding on a local street.  ‘I get it, oh righteous, smug one.  Can I leave now, or do you want to go over weights and measures too?’  I think he was hoping that I would have run him over so as to prove his point.  And I thought folks were supposed to be laid back here.

While I’m on a roll [even though this has nothing to do with driving or walking]  let’s give a shout-out to our next door neighbor who called the cops on my 16-year-old son for playing his electric guitar too loud.  At 3PM!  The cops were actually apologetic about having to ask him to lower the volume.  The guy could have come over and talked to us, but instead chose the Bay Area method.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve only been here a brief time so I’m giving the cool people a chance to make themselves known to me.  So far the locals have made an unfortunate first impression, but I’ll give them this:  They’re not the ones that are going to have to modify their behaviour.  Besides, you all can see it coming — it’s only a matter of time before I get my first moving violation.

The ball is in my court.  I’ve got to relax, take a deep breath, put some Michael McDonald on the car-stereo, and drive like an Iowan.

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »