28 August 2006

I'll find a day to massacre them all …. Or Daniel attends Shakespeare in San Diego

Now this story does require some background information. The first of which needs to be the explaining of the special place in my heart that Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”. At some point during high school my parents gave me a compendium of Shakespeare’s works, it seemed fitting since even then I was something of a literary elitist (reading the better part of Hemingway’s cannon will do this to a young man). So as I decided which play to read first I skinned the contents of this very large volume and came upon ‘Titus Andronicus’. Now this to me looked like a good place to start, I had never heard of this play much less knew anyone who had ever read it. Even at a young age I realized it was impossible to know everything so one must esoterically select the works one reads in a fashion that leaves most people with little to say on the matter. The play was wonderful especially in the mind of a teenage boy, murder, death, rape and all manner of villainy afoot. This is what Shakespeare had been lacking during the ‘A midsummer nights dream’ years the sort of potent tragedy that ends with the lead feeding the villains in pie form back to their parents, now this my friends is Shakespeare for the everyman if not the NASCAR fan.

My interest in the play blossomed further with Julie Taymores’ amazing film rendition ‘Titus’. The cast could not have been better assembled with Anthony Hopkins in the title role, Jessica Lange as Tamora, and Harry Lennix as Aaron. The rest of the cast was filled out with other fine actors like Colm Feore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Angus Macfadyen and Alan Cumming. The film was beautifully executed and lovingly kept to the script. I have to say that while some of the staging was over the top it was done with great aplomb. While I do have friends who dislike the staging and costume design of the film the one thing we can all agree on is how fantastic the acting performances are in this film. This brings me to another point regarding Shakespeare; his plays require nothing but good acting to succeed. A Shakespearian play can be staged with no more than a cast of capable actors and sufficient stage space for them to move about. They do not need costumes or props, Shakespeare is written for the virtuoso performer, one who can blend stage and scene together as one. The worst thing that has ever been suffered upon modern Shakespeare performances has been the ‘clever’ director, one that feels the need to ‘embellish’ or modernize the production. Most of these end poorly because the director over reaches their grasp and falls flat on their face after missing the context of the event rather wide. Keep this point in mind; I’ll get back to it.

Now I also have fears about San Diego which is, and I speak plainly, woefully uncultured. Now it is possible that I have been spoiled by living in Toronto so long and from an early age having relatives who were more than willing to drag me around from art gallery, to museum, to film festival and eating some of the fantastic ethnic food Toronto has to offer along the way. It’s not that I’m a snob per se it’s more that I have a higher standard because I am used to much more. San Diego is not a cultured town and I suspect it has something to do with the beaches. The beach seems to suck everyone’s will and bend it to its’ own. The pace of life moves slower, it seems, the better the weather gets. San Diego has a wonderful park that masquerades as a cultural center but the truth is Balboa Park is what you walk through on your way to the zoo. There are no significant museums or art galleries in this town. This may be part of the reason for my interest in leaving the city as soon as humanly possible.

Now with all this in mind Michael, Jennifer and I went to see Titus Andronicus last Thursday at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. Now the theatre itself is open air which made me curious as the park itself is right in the flight path of the airport, but one assumes that these sorts of things are taken care of. Also the theatre is very close to the zoo and judging from the noises it is specifically close to the gorillas. The stage was set simply which gave me some hope as to the nature of the performance. I was to be greatly disappointed. Let me first begin by taking issue with the costuming. The characters were dressed to look like modern day power brokers and Saturninus was clearly dressed to look like George W Bush. Now like I have said in the past I am no great fan of his but, I feel that this sort of costuming is a neon sign stating ‘get your cultural relevance here’. It’s tacky and embarrassing and offers all of the mature direction that one would expect from the local high schools socialist players club.

My issues with the direction of the play go well beyond the costuming; in fact they extended to the entire length of the performance. The play is very bloody and violent that’s simply the nature of it. This director decided to play all of the dark scenes for laughs. Now I am open to some interpretation but playing ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ during the rape of Lavinia is beyond distasteful it is in it’s most basic nature grotesque, yet he did not stop there with his amateurish lampooning of the play he furthered it with playing ‘I Wanna Hold Your hand’ while Titus cuts off his own head in an attempt to save the lives of his two sons. There wasn’t a serious moment in the play that he didn’t not attempt to add some sort of Loony Tunes-esque comedy to, to the point were I was wondering who was going to die via an Acme anvil. I’m surprised he didn’t go further I mean once you have decided to pillage a play why not go the whole way with it. Wouldn’t it have been much funnier of Lavinia held up signs with ‘Oh No!’ or ‘Ouch!’ written on them like the Roadrunner? Surely this would appease this barbarian of a director, who can rest safely in the knowledge that were there enough of Shakespeare bones remaining to spin in the grave they surely would. Oh but wait he did do that didn’t he? He had poor Lavinia now handless and tongue less yell ‘Hello!’ in the manner of a petulant and ignored 12 year old wanting for attention. Yes your two syllable addition to Shakespeare’s great work was highly appreciated.

The less said of the act the better, I have never seen so many people miss wide of the mark of Iambic pentameter. Now I had always assumed that speaking in this way was something that one learned in High School if not sooner. Instead of doing this properly the actors seemed to think that impersonating William Shatners speech patterns was enough. Now there were two truly gifted actors who stood out as being up to the task of reverently performing Shakespeare. Owiso Odera aptly handled Aaron with a good amount of spite and malice suitable to the character even if he did have to play most of his scenes for gags. He was no Harry Lennix but I did not expect him to be and he shone over a mediocre cast. Charles Janasz also had an excellent turn as Marcus and seemed to be the only one amongst the cast who took the part seriously.

On the whole this performance was a reprehensible waste of money and time, though thankfully not talent. As a director Darko Tresnjak seemed to be of the impression that he was much more clever than his own execution seemed to be. He attempts to add comical layers which only have the effect of making him seem like he is above the bard and is mocking his own work. Clearly this man is either delusional or ill adept to handle Shakespeare.

On the whole this has given me yet another reason to want to get out of San Diego as fast as humanly possible.

24 August 2006

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much

You know it’s strange the way the internet works, you make one post about a small satirical experience at a nude beach and suddenly you get hundreds of visitors. Somewhere during the course of all of this I became a topic of conversation at Full Disklosure. Not entirely sure how that happened but it has seemed to draw a lot of light on this post. I made this post purely out of a frustration I had been feeling with Canada for quite some time, long before my move here. How anyone ever stumbled upon this tiny post at some far corner of the internet is beyond me but it is funny the sort of furor it seemed to ignite with a good number of the blog happy arm chair politicians amongst us.

Now I don’t mind the torrent of insults which were rained down upon me, I have been called much worse by far better people. Although I do love the conclusions people have jumped to based on one entry I made a few weeks ago and it is further proof of the sort of thing I was talking about. Without any further reading an assumption was made about me and my politics, which is fine but also comical. Now normally I would address these insults and slights personally but instead I will forgive these little people for what they said. I don’t blame them for having strong opinions in fact I encourage it, unfortunately theirs is sadly misdirected.

As for my politics I thought that it would be useful to explain a few things and further broaden my point about this. I have been accused of many things, and a few of them have been correct but others mostly amusing in how far they are off the mark. Some of the reviewers basically stated that I was a traitor to my own cause being Canadian and all. This concept in and of itself is funny, mostly because Canadians are always preaching their tolerance and understanding of diversity, I suppose not so much when the political view doesn’t match their own. So let’s get the basic facts out of the way so we can move forward.

1) I’m a card carrying member of the Liberal Party. I am a party man and always will be. I find the diverse range of thoughts and ideas that come together under the Liberal banner. Granted this does not mean I will toe the party line at all costs. I believe in the value of my own opinions and quite often find myself sitting on the outside of my own parties’ ideas or policy initiatives.

2) I did not support the war in Iraq. I do not support globalised military action or the military industrial complex. However, I also believe that we can not pull out now. We as a planet now owe the people of Iraq some sort of future as we have shaken up their past and present. Does this mean I think the troops should remain, yes? I believe it is criminally near sighted to suggest that now because we have lost our appetite for this war that we should pull out and leave the people of Iraq in the lurch in what was essentially a power vacuum. As the English how this worked out the first time they attempted to install their leader in Iraq. I feel that there is still a cost the first world has to pay for this war and we have yet to pay it. As for those who tell me about the cost in lives of all of this, that is true there is a real human toll in all of this. It is regrettable that people will die because of a war started on specious grounds but we owe the Iraq people more than simply abandoning them. Is there something to the idea that Bin Laden wants troops out almost as badly as the left does? Of course there is that sort of turmoil will allow the warlords and fanatical groups to fester and grow stronger, once again taking the country back from the majority of Iraqi’s.

3) I do not support Bush. I don’t know how clearly I need to explain all of this. I do not support his policies or the man himself. I do however; show him the courtesy of a democratically elected President of a free country. I see no need to insult the mans intelligence or his beliefs as it insults those who voted for him. Beyond that I find it to be petty and childish to discuss issues that do not concern his job as President. I think more people need to show this consideration as well. Now if you want to attack his policy decision by all means do so. I think the Iraq Invasion was poorly planned, ill conceived, and worst of all based upon a calculated pretext of lies. I can not speak for whether he himself was lied to in all of this, that I am uncertain of but either way he put those people in roles and selected them so ultimately the responsibility is his and his alone.

Now as for being antiCanadian that may well be true. I may be long sick of the sort of armchair academic approach that I had thrown back at me. This is the sort of passive aggressive and willfully moronic response that is sadly all too common. What happened to the level of discourse amongst people or does the internet simply bring out people in their most base form, angry snarling dogs.

Now that I am done with this I can return to mostly updating this blog for my family and friends back home who wish to know that I am still alive.

21 August 2006

Adventures in surfing ... and naked beaches

So I have been taking it easy the last little while. Michael and I have begun a relatively intensive workout regime coming up to his wedding next fall. Lets be honest no one wants to look terrible in wedding photos and those things last forever. Even his fiancée Jenn is thinking of bleaching her teeth and has been working out a lot more in preparation. The fact of the matter remains that both of them are in amazing shape in the first place. Jennifer enjoys a models figure without having to limit her diet at all and Michael’s borderline vegetarian diet due to allergies and the riggers of a kosher diet have kept him very lean. Either way though everyone wants to look their best so I don’t blame them at all. Michael and I have been working out after work at the Qualcomm gym, as it is free for him and I just follow behind him so it’s gratis for me as well.

Now I used to go to the gym fairly frequently and I loved it. I loved the increased flexibility in my joints and general improvement of my physical health. The problem is once you get out of the habit its brutal getting back to it. Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t know mind you. However, I forgot how much time had lapsed since my last series of gym visits. So upon resuming my workout schedule I decided to lift 20% lower than what I had been lifting a good 7 months ago. Turns out that number was a bit too optimistic. Now anyone who has ever tried to get back into weight lifting knows there is a certain amount of pain involved with this endeavor, but as a man you can shrug it off and chalk it up to the sort of problems one is supposed to have whilst becoming all manly and masculine. Unfortunately I really over did it, and couldn’t unbend my arms for two or so days straight. This was a tad embarrassing and what made it worse was the first time it had happened when Justin and I started working out at the gym at the YMCA back in high school. Luckily this time it wasn’t nearly as bad or as cripplingly embarrassing but it didn’t exactly make me feel good. Finding myself struggling to curl 35 pounds was a wholly emasculating experience.

Due largely to these aches and pains we had neglected surfing for the week. Well Sunday rolled around and it was getting on past 3 and it was decided as per usual that it was time to get some surfing in. We have yet to get to a beach for 4 on a weekend for reasons neither of us can figure out. Luckily we decided that we would just body surf and thus save us on lugging heavy recreational implements around with us. It was also decided that we were going to go to Blacks Beach. Now we had been before when Steve was here and the waves were amazing. The hike was a bit daunting but Michael said he had found and easier climb. One of the main problems with getting to Blacks is that there is no road access to the beach well that and there is a ten storey cliff that one needs to hike down in order to get to the beach. Now past experience had taught us that the waves were worth it. The last visit gave us some amazing left handed breaks and clear crisp water with few people on the beach. However, we did know that there was a nude beach somewhere in the general area, although not having seen it or any evidence of it we assumed it was a small cluster hidden away somewhere.

So this particular journey we decided to park at the San Diego Glider Port. This is really neat just watching people on gliders and parachutes jumping off the side of a fairly sizeable cliff. A bit crazy sure but it awakens the 12 year old boy in me who is amazed by these stupid risks. The hike down seemed shorter from the top but soon upon beginning the descent we noticed that it was much more challenging than it looked. Large portions of it had been eroded leading to 3 foot drops between steps and oddly winding uphills. The trail seemed to be fairly packed which gave me some hope that the waves would be decent.

Now let me make this clear I hold no delusions about nudist beaches. There isn’t even one sliver of hope that nude beaches would at all look like a girl’s gone wild video. I would like to consider myself a fairly rational man in this matter. I honestly didn’t expect to be surrounded by nubile frolicking women in their early 20’s. My real expectations were more akin to large amounts of gay men and a few European minded families. I also wasn’t sure if we would end up in the middle of the nude beach given the amount of families we saw ascending the stairs as we headed down. But in the back of my mind I had the feeling that we had dodged it before and were thusly due for it this time.

Well sadly my hunch proved to be correct. The second we came upon the beach we were greeted by a topless woman in her mid 20’s playing Frisbee with some friends. This I thought was a promising sign. Alas, it would prove to be the exception and not the rule. The second Mike, Jenn and I lay our towels down and got ready to soak in some rays before we headed out to catch a few waves we realized we were completely surrounded, mostly by older single men. Now I would like to think that I am a fairly open and understanding person about this whole experience and that my mind has evolved past giggling at the mention of the word penis in sixth grade sex ed. And while for the most part it has there still remains a certain sense of juvenile hilarity at the sight of so much unwanted nudity. Laughing helps you get through the initial shock of being surrounded by a good share of people you would never want to see naked on your worst day. Apparently when gravity starts to pull so dissolves the urge to keep your clothes on.

Now if this behaviour were limited to people simply enjoying the feeling of being naked in the outdoors I could probably understand it. I mean I am willing to accept that the internet, strip clubs and my relatively good taste in women does not by any stretch hold true for the rest of humanity. Sure I have seen mostly only attractive people naked so I was bound to in my time see a few unattractive and if it had to be on a public beach rather than in my bed after a night of enthusiastic drinking then so much the better. However, there were certain behaviours that take place on a nudist beach that prove to some extent it is about showing off even more so than straight beaches.

On your average clothes beach you will not find nearly as man single men. Most men come in groups and even in San Diego and places like Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach where the intention is to cruise for members of the opposite sex it seems less predatory. The lone naked man who gravity seems to have quite literally ‘by the balls’ strutting up and down the beach is a disturbing image at best. Now this sort of behaviour would be strange at a normal beach and raise parents’ suspicions, it has the same effect at a nude beach. So does jogging naked. Regardless of your sex or age jogging naked seems to be a painful experience one that I would never wish to attempt on my own. Something just felt off about the whole place.

Michael and I decided to man up about the situation and head into the water. I mean surely we have witnessed in our time many naked members of the same sex in gym showers and nothing seems out of place so we have to be mature about this. This of course means that one has to man up sufficiently enough to get in the cold water. For some reason the water was colder than usual yesterday, not that it changed our reaction. Each time, just before dipping our first toes in the ocean the usual banter takes place.

Daniel: So are we going to be men about it this time?
Michael: We haven’t every other time.
Daniel: Fair point
*commence shivering and screaming like little girls at the water temperature*

This happens each and every time we get into the ocean and there is nothing that can be done for it, it just seems to be inevitable. So we waded out into the water and inevitably into a small kelp forest. Look I am perfectly aware that there is all manner of vegetable, animal and mineral exist in the ocean. But there is something really disgusting about walking through the wet salad that is a submerged kelp forest. There is also a disconcerting feeling when after freshly stepping down you feel a slimy writhing underfoot, occasionally it swims away and other times you just slide on it. Either way not the best feeling. The waves themselves were mediocre to subpar at best and I was getting annoyed waiting to catch these tiny waves. Michael was growing tired of it to but became even wearier of it after we were joined by naked body surfers. Now let me quickly detour to explain the etiquette of surfing or body boarding. The basic nature of this is that we all wait out in the same area waiting for waves to break. We wait just behind the imagined break line and hope for a decent wave, one that we can get enough jump time on a paddle up to catch. This requires a large portion of time spent next to your fellow surfer. In body boarding the issue is a little different as multiple people can catch the same wave, many more than when one is surfing. So on a busy day you may end up body surfing next to three or four people in close proximity. Well this is where the problem of naked body surfing rears its’ ugly head. As you spend most of your time lying down on the board waiting for a wave you essentially see a lot of naked ass. I could tell Michael was getting tired of it after almost having bumped into said unprotected ass a few times. Mercifully I went wide and stayed out of range of this spectacle. After a few jokes to Michael and warnings ‘don’t look into the eye’ we were done for the day. We packed up and headed out all feeling a little dirtier for our efforts.

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A few aerial shots of the cliffs overlooking Blacks

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The view from space thanks to google earth and mspaint

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pictures of the hike stolen from the net

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not exactly inviting

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don't know who this dude is, like i said i stole this

18 August 2006

Friday Quotes

So Bobbys dog got bit on the balls which led to an entire series of to crude to be posted quotes. Although today I get the quote for this one;

Me - Wait how did we get from Kraft Mac & Cheese to anal beads?

We also had a conversation about why you always see people shaving accross their jaw is razor commercials. I asked the guys and none of us have ever shaved that way so I am trying to determine exactly who does this.

16 August 2006

Back on the ranch

Well I have been less than diligent about writing in my blog. Times have become exceedingly busy at work and it has become all consuming of most of my free time and energy.

We are currently in the process of moving to a remote office situation using a collocation site to house all of our servers. So we decided to add a series of wrinkles to the whole plan by deciding that we should migrate to a new domain, phone system and crm. So it hasn’t been easy.

The new phone system we are getting from my old company back in Canada, the entire thing is web enabled which is quite nice and should make life much easier than having to move to a Packet8 solution or the like. The really glorious thing about this is that it frees myself and the other coworkers up to be much more mobile about where we work. My current boss loves the idea also having a massive cost savings attached to it isn’t half bad either.

Microsoft CRM has also been really usefull, so has having a bestmate who happens to be a developer on the product. So installed and squared away mercifully. Unfortunately I did realize a snag I had not anticipated which was that I had installed Microsoft SBS on the machine. However, as the machine is not set to be my primary domain controller it shuts down every 4 hours or so as per Microsofts eula. Lovely, this should be remedied within the week.

So off the geeky matters and on to real life. The waves have been miserable the last week or so as we are enjoying some interesting ‘fall like’ weather. This is clearly a euphemism as in San Diego we don’t really have weather. The sway of temperature from winter to summer is roughly 15 degrees so not much can be made of any real changes.

The sort of flux at work has freed me up to write a lot more now when I have free time. This has resulted in an artistic output on pace with when I was writing in High School, my only wish is that it was at the same caliber, but alas it is not to be.

I have also been toying around with the idea of moving to New York City in a year. Right now it is nothing more than a passing fancy. However, I would love to live in NYC and get through that experience as well while I am young. I haven’t discussed this with my boss or anyone, although I do not imagine it being too much bother as we will have all been working remotely for quite some time by then.

In other news I am missing the cottage with the Lavers and the rest of the gang for the first time in years. I will miss the cottage greatly as it is a fantastic source of relaxation and time to connect with your friends. Not having road access seems to slow down the pace of life greatly almost to the point where it hardly passes at all. Next year though I swear that I will be in attendance. Have a blast without me boys and do my share of drinking.

10 August 2006

Bloody Canadians

OK I was listening to the CBC and reminded of why I'm not in Canada anymore. I am sick and tired of the American bashing, constant self righteous, 'we're better than you', worlds peace keepers, everything is part of the American Propaganda machine rhetoric that I dont have any time for. I am fucking sick and tired of the geopolitical arm chair politicing that goes on in canada, the looney left seems to be looking to criticise everyone but themselves for everything first. The NDP and the radical left back home annoy the shit out of me and it bothers me even more that they have standing in my party.

Matthew and I were having this conversation this week. Canadians are ignorant as a whole. We are not some great peace keeping nation that we like to pride ourselves on being and finally this reality is dropping. I think most Canadians are desperately in denial about our place in the world. we are not the world's protectorate, we are not a bastian of free rights (for this to happen we'd actually have to do something, which we don't seem inclined to do at all), we are not a super power. What we are increasingly becoming is a low rent France without the history. We bitch and snipe about the rest of the world yet forget the problems we have ourselves.

Look I'm a Liberal and will be until I die but this has to stop. I was opposed to the war but it's happened and we have to move forward we have to help the Iraqi's get ahead and if anyone thinks that pulling up stakes is going to help well then they're simply wrong, you stay until the job is finished. Show me one person who didn't think Saddam needed to be gotten rid of, just one. What we argue about is the terms of how it was done. Either way its done, and we cannot keep talking about it. Why are we so intent to dwell on the past, how many times have you heard Canadians discuss or joke about how 'we' burned the white house in 1812? first reminder it was the Brits not 'us' at all and the war was a draw with no decisive victory on either side.

Canada is a great country with honest good people and a real future, I just wish we could as a nation get over our penis envy with America and move forward it does us no good.

03 August 2006

Strange Search Results

So I have found that you can get to my blog via some truly bizarre search routes on Google. I also found them so funny I thought I would share a few of them.

The New York Dolls
Hate Jose Mourinho
Who the hell can afford Ralph Lauren (this ones my personal favourite)
Geopolitics in Switzerland (I don't even remotely understand this one)
Michael Rooney Torrey Pines
Cristiano Ronaldo faux hawk
Reason for Zidanes red card
pictures for toti the italian football player(this leads me to believe people don't know how to search at all)
Pictures of Toronto Portugese Soccer fans on the streets 2006(yep thats how to turn a run on sentence into search criteria)
Come on you boys in green song

The odd thing is that there is no chance you would ever find me if you looked for me here. I mean you could sift through google pages for days after sreaching for Daniel Gallagher and never find me. In some ways I really like that because it gives me the freedom to write with impunity. Though my family reads this space they don't do it often so I am fairly free to write what I want. Although it would be sort of interesting for someone I knew years ago on say the red board at nin.com to be able to find me if they were so inclined, but alas those were the old days.

Currently I have been listening to a lot of Bowie. This song is really well secured in my head at the moment.

02 August 2006

Crash Different

Did a little surfing yesterday after work with Michael. The waves at Torrey Pines were 6 - 10 feet. This is insane for this time of year and the location. We both left battered and bruised but we enjoyed our time. I was sent on a few spin cycles after getting crushed by some 8 foot waves. Still it was fantastic.

I have to return my Mac at some point. This over priced paper weight seems to crash without the slightest hesitation and take 10 tries to fully boot without crashing. This isnt a virus I can assure you, it's terrible hardware.

01 August 2006

street scene

So this weekend is street scene and I am quite excited now that a few key additions and subtractions have been made to the line up for Saturday. I have no interest in going Friday. Now my main problem is that the shins and the new york dolls are playing at the same time. Fuck it i'll see the dolls. I mean why can't one of them play at the same time as tool. I have no time for their prog rock wankery, watered down less talented version of Rush anyways. Oh good I can see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and skip Tool. So here is the stages and lineups for Saturday, I've bolded the ones I'm going to see.

Zarabanda Stage

Tool 10:30 - 12:00
My Chemical Romance 9:00 - 10:00
New York Dolls 7:30 - 8:30
Subways 6:00 - 7:00

Tapes N' Tapes 4:30 - 5:30
Margot and the nuclear so and sos 3:30 - 4:10

Fulano Stage

MEW 8:15 - 9:30
Ska Cubano 6:30 - 7:45
West Indian Girl 5:00 - 6:00
Dirty on Purpose 4:00 - 4:40

Time Warner

Yeah Yeah Yeahs 10:30 - 11:45
Bloc Party 9:00 - 10:00

The Shins 7:30 - 8:30
Editors 6:00 - 7:00
The Futureheads 4:30 - 5:30

Captain Morgan Stage (i'm done with the formatting)

Snoop Dogg
Sean Paul
Bedouin Soundclash

G Love and special sauce
donovan frankenrietter

Also I will be seeing John Foggerty at embarcadero. Embarcadero is in a cove out on the bay its a really wild venue this