This Friday I’ve got to get out of the house. I’ve been told my recent stuff is pretty bad...all this “I’m old and in the way” sort of thing. Okay. What do we do? My friend Christian plays Frisbee golf, though not necessarily on Friday nights, and I think that would entertain me for about ten minutes, watching that. If I was actually playing it, I might not last the ten minutes. What do older single guys who wish to remain single do around San Diego?
Gary Craney from Lemon Grove, age 49, says, “I play ukulele with my friends, who also play uke, guitar, fiddle, or banjo. Oh, and tambourine and harmonica. I used to be in rock bands, nothing famous, but rock is a little tiring and less interesting at my age. I still love music, though, just not getting jammed up against the wall with it anymore.”
Where does he do this?
“In my garage in Lemon Grove. We’ve never played a gig as this acoustic, folk, bluegrass, comedy deal, so, yeah, still just a garage band.”
“Yeah, well not so much me but Dan and Livia, they’re up front and have this semi-comedy banter.”
Are they funny?
“Mmm?” We’re at the Hazard Center trolley station. Craney looks at the sky over Mission Valley and adds, “Not really.” He frowns then smiles immediately. “A lot of it is like this: ‘Yo momma so fat’ stuff, you know?”
Are they black?
How old are Dan and Liv?
“About my age — late 40s, early 50s.”
So, here’re these middle-class people with banjos — “Tambourine and harmonica.”
Okay, middle-class, middle-aged white people playing to a garage full of, what? Kids and dogs? Neighbors?
“Actually, yeah, pretty much like that.”
And they’re going, “Yo momma so fat — ” what?
“Well, like, ‘Yo momma so fat that when she sit around the house she REALLY sit around the house.’”
“Well it’s how they say it, you know?”
You gotta be there.
“Right. Know what I’m sayin’?”
No. Not really, but I just always wanted to say that to somebody who asks me that, know what I’m sayin’?
“And I look safe enough to say it to.”
Yeah, basically, I admit.
Craney is wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt of palm trees and cocktails and waves. This is worn over a Wallace Beery–type shirt, Levi’s, and gray sneakers below this. He has a nicely trimmed red, gray beard, medium-long hair, but bald as an egg on top. I want to ask him if his head is cold because in spite of the sunshine, nature is reminding me that men have nipples, too.
What are some of their other comedy lines? You remember any?
“Let’s see... Oh, uh, ‘You so ugly yo momma wear cowboy boots’? No, uh, something like that. I don’t know, I don’t really listen to them anymore.”
Okay, so what else do you do on Friday nights?
“Well, I’m not married anymore, but I’ve got my two kids, Jeremy and Paula, so we watch a lot of DVDs. The Little Mermaid is big and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.”
What would you watch if you had your choice?
“I like vampire movies, certain ones.”
“Some old ones, like, They Thirst. David Bowie and that French chick.”
“I still play video games, too.”
That’s cool. That’s cool.
“Thanks a lot. What do you do?”
Never mind. What are some of the songs you guys play?
“‘City of New Orleans,’” he says.
Oh, yeah. Arlo Guthrie. What else?
“That’s pretty much it.”
That’s two songs.
“Yeah, well, we’ve pretty much got those down. Besides, we do them for 20 minutes each. Oh, wait, we do, ‘Listen to the Music,’ you know, that old Doobie Brothers song.”
Are you guys any good?
He shrugs and looks up again, “I wouldn’t say so.”
So, why do you do it?
Still, eyes on rapidly moving fleece-white clouds, he tells me, “It’s fun,” as the eastbound train arrives.