Northern California

Surf’s up, dudes! I was in Northern California for over a week, based in San Jose. I went to Santa Cruz, San Fransisco, and even braved the traffic of LA.

Here are San Jose and Santa Cruz sounds.


My friend is taking flying lessons, and on one pleasure cruise we took (thanks Dave!) we flew over the Bay, then into the hills. At one point I put the headphones over the H4, and you can hear the control tower and the pilots talking.

I managed to find an hour in a ‘massage chair’, which is a big cushiony thing that uses air pressure to inflate different parts of itself and give you a massage. I fell asleep, but not before recording the soothing hiss and squishy sounds it made! (no pic sorry)


In Santa Cruz, I ran into two very talkative parrots, and you can hear how they imitate things they hear on the street. Whistles, cell phones, and even traffic signals. I think the piercing whistle they do is based of the traffic signals I could hear when they stopped talking (listen to the second track taken 20 feet away)


Passing a corner, a long haired, tanned guy in flip flops starts pulling gongs out of his beater-mobile and setting them up around a plastic recliner lawn chair. It turns out Danny and a friend make this ‘vibration space’ and have people lie down in between, on top, and underneath the gongs and singing bowls (notice the small bowl on top of the eye cover!) and have the most vibratory experience in America. It was amazing, and their claim that the two huge celestial healing gongs are tuned to the frequencies of the sun and the earth rang true – I could feel it in my bones and blood. (Sorry about the bits of distortion; I didn’t want to disturb the vibes of the spheres by adjusting the H4n, plus I had a singing bowl on my face.


The San Fransisco Giants are a big deal in California, and during a game, everyone wants the updates. One storekeeper in Santa Cruz had an old radio scraping the coverage out of the radio waves.


There are many lovely beaches and parks around Santa Cruz, and at one I decide to get some good ambient surf sounds. This is the commercialization ideal of acoustic ecology, and you’ll find it in every funeral parlour, massage room, and dentist chairs. Is this the future of sonic art? I hope not. But it still sounds awesome!!

Here are sounds from San Fransisco.


In San Fran, there was a Giants game going on, and the track below is of me walking outside the stadium. The Giants are currently ahead in the World Series, and I was glad I had my orange hunting touque on because I blended in with the throngs of orange and black fans (although no one in America knows what a touque is..).


More protestors, these were protesting Hotel Frank in San Fransisco. Why does call and response chanting always get the blood flowing?


Chinatown San Fransisco is definately a fun place to visit. I went into a toy shop (aka sonic heaven), and found this toy piano. Too big for my backpack, but it sounds great.

Another set of toys were squawking birds and chirruping bugs in boxes. The ornaments themselves were made of cheap plastic.


An erhu playing busker in San Fransisco’s Chinatown.


The trolleys in San Fransisco made this grate in the middle of the road rattle and sing. I had to wait for the crosswalk signals to record, but it’s quite cool – and there wasn’t a trolley in sight! Maybe it was the subway, or underground cabling…


On a small bridge over some San Fransisco bay water, the trucks and cars slappappapped over the perforated panels.

Here are Los Angeles sounds. I will spare you the most prevalent sound… you guessed it: 8 million people’s worth of traffic!


In LA, I was staying close to Venice Beach – a guady, surfing strip along the Pacific full of vendors, tattoo shops, pizza and corn dog joints, Botox on the Beach and medical marijuana stations (see the green sign in the picture above).


My friend’s brother had a Dodge pickup from before the dinosaur age, and it sounds like it. He agreed to start her up for me, but I guess my H4 and his dodge weren’t speaking the same language, and this is what happened. Eventually it starts, and we decided it sounds like it looks.

I chased an ice cream truck on a bicycle for a few blocks. The pervasive, annoying sound of childhood…


I decided, with the help of a local pint of beverage, to join the beautiful people of LA and wax my legs. Sonically, it’s actually a unique experience. Physically I wouldn’t recommend it.

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