I was volunteering in my Israeli family farm in the Negev. I was hoping for a miracle to bring me to Tokyo. The miracle didn't happened. Instead I extended my visa ans spent more time cooking in the sun and killing myself growing vegetables in an impossible environment. That was a great experience though. (you can follow my experience on that link ; )
I stayed home for few weeks and decided to join the Tour in Berkeley. I love San Francisco and the Bay Area.
It took me just few days to book the flight and pack a small bag. A passport and a credit card is mainly what you need on the road.
I spent the night at my son's house in Paris, caught the RER B to Charles De Gaulle Airport and arrived in San Francisco 3 hours later (due to the changing of time) on the 8th of June 2016.
BERKELEY CA 8th of June 2016.
I didn't have any chance with the Couch Surfing system so I booked a bed with Air B and B. 16$ a night 3 blocks away from the Greek theater. Perfect. I am even really close to the Campus I like so much.
I share a bedroom with a student, Karen, in a 3 bedroom apartment. It is clean and quiet.
The first night I sleep well.
Early morning rise. I take a walk around the campus, drink a strong cup of coffee and walk straight to the venue;the Greek Theater. The roadies are preparing the stage already. I feel the atmosphere, so cool to be here. I spend the afternoon walking. The first show tonight starts at 6.30 p.m. with Mavis Staples on first part. I never heard of her except she was supposed to be one of Bobby's girl, some time ago.
BERKELEY CA 9th of June 2016.
I get ready (with my brand new T-shirt) and walk to the venue. I am at the doors at 5 p.m. and I am surprised to see people in line. I ask why. They don't know. It is not supposed to be GA. And it is not but some folks are nervous. Well! I put my sign out. I changed the request. It says ; " If you have a spare ticket, I would love to make use of it. Thank you.".
A Lady approaches. she has a ticket but on her phone. I have to follow her. Alright, no problem but I will have to seat next to her, her husband and her friend. No complain. We have a nice time.The weather is fine, just a little bit chilly. The Greek Theater if of course open air. The seats are made of concrete and many had brought with them some pillows and blankets.
6.30 p.m. is passed. It is now 7 p.m. when they announce Mavis. A round little woman full of energy is putting on a good show. She is entertaining the crowd for 45 minutes. I like it. It swings pretty good.
But I'm now ready for Bobby. A quick change of the stage and Stu's guitar can be heard. George is on the drums and after 2 'boom,boom', the back curtains open to let the other members of the Band walk in and Bobby. I am really far but he looks the same as in Europe. The sun is now down, a crescent moon appeared in the dark sky. It feels strange to be here. It could be anywhere. I fall back in the routine. I know exactly what will happen, still I'm exited. The public is not focusing. Around me people move of and on, bringing beers and chatting. On the floor only 3 girls are up and dancing.
The first part is slow and the sound is not perfect. It's all lacking of energy. Bobby's voice is alright though, he didn't loose his phraseology. 20 minutes break.
And right on time again Stu is on. This 'high water' starts more energetic. The second part is definitively a lot better. There is a new song for me 'I could have told you', probably from the new album I didn't even listen to yet. shame on me! I don't like the way Bob is articulating every single word. It is too much. And he can't do the high notes. He should choose another one.
I look at Stu for 'The early Roman kings' and to my surprise he has no maracas. He is back on an electric guitar. And it is a lot better.
The show is over and there is the standing ovation when suddenly Charlie and the Band starts jamming a beautiful song. Bob is just standing in the middle of the stage. I thought it was a new routine but as it is they didn't do it before or after so far. Lucky me! I heard later it is 'free bird' by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Thanks Bobby!
The crowd slowly moves out. I go say hello to Jason at the soundboard. He's happy to see me, he is a great soul! I look around for ticket stubs for Stefano. I don't find any but I spot D. in front of the stage chatting with some people. I move to him and just say "hi!" and rapidly step away. There will be no reaction on his part. My feelings are mixed as always with him. I go my way to the door when I spot Miss M. No reaction neither. I am away from their world.
I walk back to my room. I am happy! The show was great, my day had been great. I have a safe bed to sleep in. Tomorrow is another day!
REVIEW OF THE SHOW FOR BOBLINKS;
I have been here before when Bob played Oakland and some time previously when he played the same Greek theater. I am losing track of time, tour after tour and show after show. Now travelling for 2 good reasons; Bob shows and just ... travelling.
Berkeley U.C. campus where all started in the 60's. Mario Salvio and his flaming speeches, (the Free speech movement Cafe is open here today), the anti - draft resistants, the sit-ins, the stopping of the trains with human bodies... "there's music in the Cafes and revolution in the air".
And across the Bay ... Haight - Ashbury and the Hippies ," turn on, tune in, drop out", Timothy Leary and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Janis Joplin, The Dead Heads...
On the East Coast, the pure and clean "folkies" and ... Bob Dylan."the times they are a -changing".The times of all the "possibles", all dreams coming true, a new world, a new consciousness!
And then ? "Things have changed" , slowly, painstakingly. The feminists won more freedom, the Blacks are called Afro - Americans, the Indians are called Native - Americans. They won a little more respect but still...
What strucked me the most in Berkeley is the homeless persons sleeping in the park close to my AirBandB room. Lucy didn't open the 'doors of perception' but the 'gates to Hell' for some. They got lost in their Artificial Paradise!
The veterans are abandoned when the army recruits the wretched of the wretched and drops them when they are no good for service anymore.
The students are sage around me. No revolution in the air!
" The times they are a -changing " , again. Time to study, time to work. Working to pay the rent, the bank loan. " No time to think!"
Revolution? The word is a 'four letter word".
So...no Revolution on the Campus. They just wonder if they will vote Trump or Clinton. Or no vote at all.
The coffee at PEET's is good. It is 2.20$ for a latte. The change is one euro for one dollar. It is correct. I found second hand clothes and second hand books/Lps at every corner of Telegraph Avenue. I found 3 or 4 recycling trash cans at every home and every shop. Recycling is the key word. Recycling but not anti-consuming. It gives a good consciousness to put the paper cups in the paper trash, and aluminium cans in the aluminium trash!
The Greek Theater is out door,by the Campus. The down floor is loaded with chairs, then a semi-circle of concrete uncomfortable benches, then the steep slop of the lawn.
At 5 p.m. people are queuing and I ask why? General Admission? Not at all. Fans queue for the pleasure of queuing. They queue for one hour and then. .. go straight to the bar. Oh my! Except for the lawn all the tickets have a section, a row, a number. Except for some 'freaks' (like me) no one will 'shit'.
The public is largely over 30, 40?, 50? 60? The ones who don't mind the Sinatra songs, not even the " fallen angels". Some don't even know what they are here for. For a drink and bite at the bar?
The sound will be great, the view fine.
The show tonight should start at 6.30 p.m. with Mavis Staples (once a Dylan's Girl?). She takes the stage at 7 p.m. for 45 minutes of warm up.
She speaks (never Bob), she entertains the crowd. Neither good, nor bad. I could do without.
8.00 p.m. Right on time. Stu is strumming his guitar.
"Boom, boom" says little Georgie 's drums. The back curtains open. Tony, Charlie, Donnie and ...Bobby. We are safe, HE is here, flesh and blood! White shirt and white hat, dark pants and jacket and the ever lasting Cowboy boots.
"Things have changed". A little bit weak. Something is wrong with the sound and the tempo?
"She belongs to me". She was an Artist and she died. Rest in Peace sweet Suze!
"Beyond here lies nothing". It was my favorite so far. But this one is lacking of energy.
The ship is sailing away. The number of sailors shrinking as time is passing by. I saw few Bobcats sailing on THAT boat!
"Wat'll do". Good question Mister. Same here.
"Pay in blood". His angry mood is waking up the Band and my soporific consciousness. I could put the blame on the jet lag but that would not be fare or even true.
"Melancholy mood". It puts a smile on my face on the accented ME LAN CHO LY. Where this CHOLY is coming from?
"Duquesne whistle". And I remember ALL the lyrics. Tchoo!Tchoo!
"I'm a fool to want you". This one brings me back memories. The time of a Love Affair that had turned sour. It is weird how the same song could bring different feelings at different times! The lyrics are the same, the melody is the same. No more tears. I am a laughing fool tonight!
"Tangled up in blue". It could have been more convincing. Even the harmonica is weak.
And off they go for 20 minutes. And on the public goes to the bar.
I don’t know why they are thirsty. The temperature is cool and I can’t say they sweated from dancing around! Except for 3 girls up front, the public is static.
"Boom,boom" says Little Georgie 's drums.
"High water". They all had a shot of caffeine for it starts dynamic at last.
"Why try to change me now". Got the message Bobby!
"Early Romans kings". I keep my eyes on Stu. Oh!oh! No maracas. Stu is unpunished. Yippy! He's on electric guitar! Sounds lot better.
"I could have told you". A premiere for me. And Bob is focusing on every single line. A bit too much? I hear laughing in my back.
Bobby my dear! This is not a competition for "the voice". You have nothing to prove. You would have lost anyway.
"Spirit on the water". Nice swing. I still love it.
"Scarlet town". Definitively the highlight of the show. I never focus on that one so much. Bravo maestro!
"All or nothing at all". A sweet melody which could be replaced by "love minus zero/no limit". Bobby! You hear me?
"Long and wasted years". It brings me on my feet at the end as it used to be a final. No rush to the stage here. kidding?
"Autumn leaves". Keep it for the fall Tour sweet Bobby. As the flowers are blooming and the little birds are chirping, what about "Make you feel my love"?
The concrete is no good for the wooden noise.ah!ah!
Here they come again....of course.
Sweet Donnie on violin.
"Blowin' in the wind". 54 years ago, it was a message, a promise?
I just come back from the Middle East.
" how many times must the drones drop the bombs
Before they are forever banned?"
Berkeley the pacifist is no more. The crowd is nostalgic, point!
On my feet now ready for the standing ovation.
Surprise! Charlie is getting nuts on his guitar. The whole Band rebels.
Finally the Revolution?
It pays for ; 4 hours busing to Paris, a short night in Paris, 1 hour RER B on strike in Paris, 3 hours delaid flight in CDG, 12 hours flight on United Airlines, 4 movies, 2 meals, 2 snacks, 1 run to the toilets, snoozing from time to time, 1 hour BART to Berkeley ...I am a
Stu, George, Tony, Charlie, Donnie, Jason, Chris, Barron, Big Bob...the ones working in the dark.
Most of all
Bravo Bobby Dylan!
BERKELEY 10th of June.I have an early morning rise. I want to write a review on the show last night for Boblinks, the Bill Pagel website. I find a beautiful open air Cafe on the Campus and I spend few hours just writing and relaxing. When my battery is down I move to another Cafe with plugins.
I walk to the Greek theater around 4 p.m. With some chance I'll be able to have a glance of Bob walking to the sound check. I have to wait only 30 minutes when his bus pulls in the parking lot, followed by the musicians bus.
They step out one by one ; Charlie, Tony, Stu(with his guitar), George and sweet Donnie.
Barron is vigilant, so Bob is somewhere for sure.
And without warning he steps out his bus and walks slowly, talking with one of the crew people.
I see only his back. He's skinny in his white pants, his head covered by a hood. The freaks around me don't pay attention to that little man wobbling away. I say nothing until Bob disappeared from the view, they had their telephone out ready to shoot a photo. I will never allow it.
I eat some Chinese noodles at the apartment, get ready for the show. Tonight it will start at 8 p.m.
I need a ticket but I am not worried. I am at the gate with my sign when I see Miss.M. walking by, going to the Box Office. No word will be exchanged. Later a nice man will hand me a ticket. I am in. I am early enough to walk around and find myself a good spot. I will be standing all night long.
4 persons I know have front row center seats. The ticket is more than 200$. We have known each other for 4 years but those Yuppies are not my friends for sure. It is still painful to think in turn of rich and poor. I know now that being a Bob Dylan Fan doesn't involve being a great humanist. The devotion to Bob Dylan music and Art had turned to a Cult of Personality for some of the Fans. The most devoted , the most intolerant. I am not part of the Sect.
I focus on the 'normal' Fans around me. When Mavis is on we start dancing and singing. Marvelous atmosphere tonight. I feel free like a bird. I want to enjoy the present time.
The show is the same as last night but NEVER the same. I appreciate every single song as new. I am in my own world, MY Bob Dylan world. Today I ate only a cup of coffee and a bowl of noodles. But the material world had never been my priority. Comfort Vs. Freedom, I have chosen Freedom.And I pay the price for it ; I am all by myself within 8.5 thousands people.
No 'Free Bird' tonight.
Bob's bus is parked right in the street, ready to speed to the airport. His private jet must be waiting for him. Maybe tonight he will be sleeping home at the Xanadu.
Good night Bobby.
My next stop is another story. I participate for few years now to some volunteering programs. One is WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms), another one is HelpX. The idea is to volunteer to help individuals or communities to work on some projects. The volunteer works 5 to 8 hours a day in exchange for accommodation and food. I just did 4 months of volunteering in Israel and I will now join a family in Danville Ca(East Bay). It is a way to wait for the next Bob Dylan show I will make without spending money. Plus I don't mind to work and exchange with people of all horizons.
DANVILLE CA June 11thI take the BART early morning and meet Susan at the Walnut Creek station. She drives me to her home. She is married to a man from India and they have 2 boys. They just bought a house that need some renovation, particularly the front porch and the back yard. Another volunteer from Switzerland arrived yesterday.
They have a nice swimming pool and Jacuzzi.
I work with Santos around the swimming pool and all by myself in the back yard.
It is a standard American middle class family. Absolutely nothing to do with my family in Israel. I feel neither comfortable, neither uncomfortable. I am just passing by. I am 'distracted' by the american way of life, specifically because so many Americans don't even realize how much they possess. It is hard for me to explain my life on the farm in Israel. It is like this other world doesn't exist for this American family.
We go one night to an Ashram, to listen to a Guru woman preaching about Peace and Love. The Ashram is packed. It is another Church full of Yuppies trying to find a good consciousness. Or at least this is my feeling!
My Israeli Family is talking about Peace also, but of course in Israel, Peace has another meaning. It is truly a hope for no more army fights and killings.