By PAUL ZOLLO
“Ralph Carney’s Circle of Fifths continuously evolves in horns’ circular breathing (like Australian Aborigines’ Didgerey Doo) matching voice-text power to make the most perfect poetry music recording I’ve done.” —Allen Ginsberg
He’s a funny guy. A humble man. A famous musician, famous for playing with certain living legends and some legends late and great, famous for his happy inclination to stretch all music boundaries, to play the instruments for which he’s known and those for which he’s not, to remind us that music is fun and there are no rules, and for living in San Francisco when he could still be in New York City getting more work perhaps, but probably not enjoying life as much. His name is Ralph Carney and there’s nobody else like him.
Perhaps most famous for being Tom Waits’s trusty saxman onstage and on record for many years, connecting many of Waits’ great records with his distinctive angular hipster sax lines, and giving Tom a sturdy jazz-blues foundation on which to lean while entertaining the masses. He’s also played with many greats, including Elvis Costello, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and with bands from Tin Huey – his first – through Swollen Monkeys to the B-52s and recent records and shows with the Black Keys [for whom his nephew Patrick Carney is the drummer] to his current SF-based ensemble CarneyBallJohnson. He’s brought the distinctive Carney sound and spirit to movie soundtracks for directors such as David Lynch (who requested that he play even “creepier”), Robert Frank and Jim Jarmusch.
A saxman who started playing banjo long before his life became entwined with reeded instruments, his path has always been an eclectic one. Since he connected with his inner Ornette-Coleman-meets-Captain-Beefheart-down-a- dark-Django-Reinhardt-alleyway-with-Sun-Ra identity in the calm climes of his native Akron, Ohio, his has been the audacity of adventurism. It’s a creative kind of outsider bravado that all distinctive artists discover early on, a complete rejection of all that is considered “in” to relish instead all that’s isn’t. (When the other kids were rocking out to Led Zeppelin, for example, he became obsessed by bluegrass.) Besides banjo, he plays lap steel guitar, mandolin, bass, keyboards, bowed saw – and even balloon. He learned a long time ago that there aren’t any rules, and sax players aren’t restricted only to sax. “I can’t understand people who just play tenor sax,” he says with bemused bewilderment. “I don’t understand that. I just could never be that person.” These days he performs often with CarneyBallJohnson, records kid’s music as one half of Ralph and Ralph, plays the occasional casual, joins the Black Keys on record and stage, and takes on projects both weird and wonderful, such as his development of a folkie Eskimo chanteuse from Greenland named Nive.
When praised for his virtuosic versatility on a multitude of instruments beyond the realm and religion of sax, he laughs, and is apologetic. “That’s why people don’t understand me,” he says. “Some people don’t even approve of you playing more than one kind of sax! But they’re all just tone generators. I’ve always been into tone and color more than anything, and I’ve tried to be a virtuoso of sound, not just sax.”
BLUERAILROAD: You grew up in Akron, Ohio?
RALPH CARNEY: Oh yeah.
The age of Kennedy, Frisbees and superballs-
What happened to superballs?
They must have bounced too high. Someone must have gotten hurt. Like clackers. I remember in 1970, the edict came down: “Clackers are banned from school.”
Banjo was your first instrument?
Yeah, and it was a weird time to be doing it, because it was pre-Deliverance. I was in 8th grade. And I had an older brother Jim, he’s the guy who turned me onto music. He’s seven years older than me and he got all the Beatles records and all the folk stuff – Phil Ochs, Tom Rush, all the Gordon Lightfoot records. Also Otis Redding and The Temptations. So I got a pretty good musical education from my brother. He had some friends who had the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo record, and I wondered – what is that cool instrument on that? And it was 5-string banjo. John Hartford was on there. And on “The Andy Griffith Show,” The Dillards were on, and I loved that sound. This was 1970. Everyone else I knew who was playing music was playing Led Zeppelin.
Did you take lessons?
I remember taking a few lessons and getting books that had tablature. And I tried to play along with records that I had. I didn’t have the best banjo in the world. A Supro. It didn’t sound like the records! That was a big lesson I learned about instruments. I used to think you get a saxophone and it’s gonna sound great the minute you get it. Or a banjo. It don’t. You mean you got to work to make it sound good? Oh no!
So I started learning a few songs. “Cripple Creek” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” And in a few months I started meeting a few people to play with. That started a collaboration thing. But I got frustrated, listening to a lot of really virtuosic banjo players like Doug Dillard. I was really adventurous and wanted to play different things. I started getting into blues at that point. I remember going from banjo – and then I got a cheap violin, trying to play fiddle – the first stuff I did was kind of bluegrassy – and I remember wanting to put a pick-up on the violin and wanting to play like Sugarcane Harris. Cause I had the Hot Rats record. Then I got into harmonica, and started listening to Little Walter. Got really into blues and kind of abandoned the bluegrass thing. I took the grass part away.
When you moved onto violin and other instruments, did you keep up the banjo playing?
Oh yeah. The violin, that was like the beginning of my multi-instrumental thing. I didn’t take any lessons on violin. I just did it by ear.
And you could play okay?
My playing was limited. [Laughs] I got a few simple fiddle tunes down, and I started playing along to blues albums. I got this cheap pick-up and a wah-wah peddle, and a really teeny little amp. And then I was into Fairport Convention. Electric violin was sort of big in that period. I started leaving banjo aside then, cause it was so specific; you sort of had to play those tunes. I remember, too, I started trying to play a dobro thing. I had a cheap guitar, and I put an aluminum pie-pan in the hole, cause I saw those resonator guitars [laughs], and it looked like one. It was all about rootsy music.
And then one thing led to another. Saxophone. And then I got into jazz.
Did you get into sax first, and then turn to jazz? Or was it a love of jazz that brought you to the sax?
[Pause] Well, you know, I think saxophone first. I remember exactly now. Alan Myers, the original drummer in Devo, he was one of the first people I played music with in Akron. Went to my high school, a year older than me. He got an alto sax. He was a drummer but he had a sax. He was the first kid I knew who was still in school but didn’t live with his parents. He moved out to a house with his brother, it was just kind of this hippie house. I just remember him walking around with hair down to his ankles with a saxophone, just playing bloo-bloo-blooo [atonal sax wailing]. He didn’t know what he was doing. So I tried it. And thought, wow, I want to play this too.
My brother had these Lee Morgan records. And I thought that was cool stuff. So at that point I started liking jazz, and that got me to want to learn how to read music. I still didn’t take lessons. I got a fingering chart, did the ol’ playing along with records. And I found more and more people to play with. We were doing this kind of fake Weather Report, Traffic. We were doing whatever. Jazzy, proggy, whatever. We were doing the best we could. I was probably 17 at this point. And that’s when I got into sax, and got totally obsessed with that.
Yeah. I rented an alto. Ross Music Store. I remember the guy said, “This is a nice clean horn.”
Was it tough to get a good sound on it at first?
Oh yeah. [Laughs] They sound kind of like a duck.
Just mastering the use of a reed in your mouth is weird at first—
Yeah. That’s weird. I have a few students. And I remember, yeah, it takes awhile. You have to build up muscles in your mouth. Just getting any sound at all is great. And then you realize it sounds terrible, and it’s a little flat and out of tune. But the desire to get a good sound will keep you doing it or it will make you give up, which is what a lot of people do: “Oh, I can’t play it, I tried.”
Unlike guitar or something, which sounds okay at first-
Yeah, or keyboard. Hey, it sounds like a string section!
Yeah. But on sax can take a long time to get a good tone.
I think it does. And I think it’s all about the horn and the mouthpiece. Again it was the same as the banjo. Though the sound of a banjo, either you have a cheap one or a nice one. But you’re right – reeds and such are so tough. It took me awhile of thinking, “This isn’t what I thought a sax sounded like, but okay.” And I stuck with it and had people to jam with. I was the only guy willing to try to play this stuff. By ear.
Had you already decided at that age – 17 – to make music your career?
Yeah. When I started to feel like I was getting a good sound, I felt that. I really wanted to play jazz. And I totally was into Coltrane. I started to get a better tone and I started to play with the band Tin Huey. 1974. They were about four years older than me and were always making fun of me – in a loving manner. [Laughs] I was playing with them. They had originals I liked, and they had a lot of covers of German bands and Velvet Underground, and I knew I could just go crazy and scream. It was pretty loud. But I enjoyed that.
And on the other hand, when I wasn’t doing that I was trying to play jazz with different bands. With Alan Myers. At that point I thought, “Oh. Okay. I can do this.”
Still on alto at this point?
Yeah, alto. Then I got a cheap tenor. The first saxophone I bought – with money my parents gave me – was an old Conn soprano. Cause I was so into Weather Report. And I heard Rahsaan Roland Kirk play “Never Can Say Goodbye.” [Laughs] I heard the soprano, and I thought, “What is that – some weird Turkish thing?” It was before Kenny G. [Laughter] I really wanted to play soprano and the guy at the music store said, “You can’t start on soprano, that’s crazy. They’re for professionals only.” [Laughs] But I convinced my parents I really had to have it. So I cut a lot of grass.
Is soprano harder to play than alto?
Yeah. I was playing it and thought it was in the key of A. I thought, oh, so this is an A soprano. I didn’t realize the mouthpiece wasn’t in all the way. [Laughs] You know, this is what happens when you’re not going through the school band system. You’re on your own.
Another thing I should add here is that before I got into music I was really into drawing cartoons. And when I got into music, I kind of abandoned it. But I got back into it drawing with my daughter when she was little. I kind of gave up the art thing for music, and I put the same energy into it. It’s like people who decide they’re gonna be an actor. You’ve got to be crazy to do that, you know? [Laughs] Yeah, I am! I want to get that sound.
It’s interesting how many good musicians are also talented visual artists.
Yeah, I’ve been realizing that.
Yeah. And Tony Bennett.
Even Sinatra painted. And Joni Mitchell. Gershwin was a good photographer.
Yeah, right. Do you play music?
I do. Guitar mostly, but also piano, mandolin. A little accordion. But I find playing a horn – a clarinet or a sax – anything with a reed – very difficult. I’ve tried. And most string players I know don’t play horns, and vice versa.
On the other hand, since I started on banjo, in the last ten years I’ve really gotten into string instruments again. I got a lap steel, mandolin. I play saws. Guitar, bass. I don’t play them on gigs, just in my home studio, or messing around. I play keyboards, too. I couldn’t do a piano gig, but just to mess around. And I really need to do that, because horns take so much out of you. I can’t understand people who just play tenor sax. I don’t understand that. I just could never be that person.
Back in the day, when you were playing with Tin Huey, was it just sax or did you play other instruments?
I was doing simple keyboard parts in the band, too. Little one-finger parts.
What kind of keyboard?
I remember this Farfisa professional piano. [Laughs] And it wasn’t your classic ’60s Farfisa. It was our mid-‘70s crazy thing. It had a real interesting harpsichord sound.
It’s interesting that you liked Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Wayne Shorter in Weather Report. Yet you didn’t follow their lead and go straight into jazz—
Yeah, it wasn’t like I was playing in polka bands, though I dig that stuff now. In my formative years, I was playing mostly fusion and Ornette Coleman. And then on the other side of the coin, especially now, I’m really into 1820s, 1830s music. Playing tuba, bass sax. That’s one of the ways I make my living now around here. We do a lot of Django Reinhardt tunes. And I’m really into Coleman Hawkins. As I get older I’m into more melodic stuff. I’m not so much into as much angry music – like Archie Shepp. I mean, I love that stuff. Albert Ayler, Roscoe Mitchell. I just don’t spend as much time listening to it. [In imitation stoner voice] I’ve just mellowed out, man.
With Tin Huey, when you recorded with them – was that mostly their original stuff?
Yeah. I started playing with them right out of high school. We mostly just rehearsed. Four years later we got a lot of attention, cause there was all this attention on Ohio. Because of Devo. And Rachel Sweet and Jane Eyre. We kind of got noticed at that time, too. I started to try writing songs at that time. I wrote one about puppets. [Laughs] I was into jazz, but I was also into The Residents and Captain Beefheart. I’s got a lot of stuff dat I like!
How did Tin Huey get their record deal?
The great Jerry Wexler of Warner Brothers came out to Ohio and heard us, and said [in a scratchy voice], “You guys are great. You’re the next Rolling Stones.” I guess because we did a cover of “Tumbling Dice.” Which was Chris Butler’s influence. He got us more into R&B, and out of our straight eighth-note German thing. And it was timing. Even though it turned into a tragedy – we got signed and then dropped within a year – it was a real dream come true.
Did you tour?
We went on the Marvin Gardens tour. Don’t know why they called it that. We basically got screwed by Warner Brothers. We got a pretty nice advance, we were kids, we didn’t know. The record we made, they didn’t know what to do with it. We thought we’d get to do shows opening for people. But we couldn’t get anything happening. We did like a two-week tour. We’d come to New York and play the Mudd Club and Hurrah and places like that. When our record came out in 1979, we opened for a band called The Good Rats. They were like a Jersey bar kind of band. It was kind of a Spinal Tap moment – we knew we were screwed when we were put third on the bill, below a Steve Martin impersonator.
Everyone was really depressed. They paid us to come out and do another record, and that turned into a kind of miserable time. Some of us moved out of Ohio. I moved to upstate New York with my first wife. Which is when I met Hal Willner.
In 1977 I had gone to this Creative Music Studio up in Woodstock. It was sort of like a mini- Berklee school of music. I was 21 and I was lost. Tin Huey, I don’t think I knew if it was the right for me. And I went there and got really good feedback from Anthony Braxton: “You’re good, man, you’ve got the sound.” When you’re a kid that age and you meet someone like that who you’re totally into, that was it for me. I thought, nope, this is what I do. I’m meant to do this. Even when it was hard, when we got dropped from the label, ended up in New York upstate, I knew it was the thing to do. It definitely had some ups and downs, that’s for sure.
So my first wife and I moved up to upstate New York, which was really scary after living in Akron my whole life. And some of the guys in Tin Huey helped me move – and they liked it there, up in the woods – so some of them moved there, too. And we had kind of a more mainstream version of Tin Huey. I kind of didn’t really want to play with them anymore but I ended up doing it a little bit.
And that’s when I met the guys in The Swollen Monkeys. We’d play up there, and we’d go down to New York. And that’s where Hal Willner heard us. He said, “This is amazing.” We talked and talked and sometime later that year he ended up funding a recording session. And we did a record for a French guy. And Hal would call me for things. Still does.
Did he already work on Saturday Night Live?
This was just before that. He had worked at Warner Brothers and got fired like a lot of people. Why we got dropped. The big downsizing of 1979. I guess vinyl was too expensive or something. But then he got on Saturday Night Live, and said he wanted to get us on the show, but that never happened.
And Hal hooked you up with other people?
At first he used the my band, the Swollen Monkeys, their horn section. We were on his Monk tribute album. He was creative with his pairing of people. Like, let’s have Herb Alpert and Ringo on this one.
So it wasn’t like I got a lot of work from him, but he did hook me up with Tom Waits. When Tom was living in New York. [Tom] was doing music for this movie Streetwise. And that’s how I met him, and we seemed to hit it off.
Were you a fan of his?
No. I didn’t love it. I remember thinking – who is this beatnik guy? But what I did like is that he seemed to use a lot of really cool tenor players. Real guys. But it wasn’t like I had any of his records. And then literally, two weeks before I got the call to work with him, a friend said, “Man you got to check out this album Swordfishtrombones.” And I did, and I thought, yeah, yeah, Tom Waits trying to be Beefheart. Marimba and trombone. I didn’t give it a big listen. I thought, whatever. I liked Beefheart better. And then I got this call from Hal: “Hey, Tom Waits is living here now and he wants you to do a session.” [In a high voice] “Okay, sure!” [Laughs]
What was your first session with Waits like? Did you play live or overdub parts?
This was pretty live. He had specific themes. This one was called “Take Care Of All Of My Children.” It’s on Orphans. You know, with that Salvation Army band kind of thing. We might have done a couple little cues. But it was just an afternoon session at a studio in Soho, New York. I used a couple guys I knew. Cause Hal told him I played in a street-band. At the time I was also playing in a band that played in the street in New York. [Laughs] Kind of Dixieland and swingish stuff. So I hired some of those guys. And one guy was late and I was like, “Sorrrrry!” And [Tom] said [in Waits grumble], “Okay, let’s start without him, I guess, I don’t know. Got any other trumpet players?” [Laughs]
You played tenor on that?
You know what, I think I played alto on that. And clarinet.
Was there any chart or anything written out?
I don’t think there was a chart.
Was Waits an easy guy to work with in the studio? His records with you have a very spontaneous, live feel. What’s he like during sessions?
[Pause] Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what he was going for. Sometimes he gets frustrated and doesn’t know what he wants. He’s not like, “Well, here’s the chart.” Songwriters are this way a lot, it’s something I’m learning. He’ll sing a part to you a lot. And he would also point to an instrument he wanted. There was a period when he wanted me to play more than one instrument at a time a lot. Like Rahsaan. We did that on that “Down In The Hole” song. Compared to Rahsaan, I’m doing nothing. Like tenor and alto together. A lot of time he’d have me try that. And I’d say, “Tom, I can’t really do that…” You don’t want to get into explaining like why, that it’s the wrong key or hard for me to do. “I’ll try it anyway.”
Had you played two horns at once like that before?
I’d messed around with it. Probably In fact, I was doing it when he said, “Hey, what are you doing? I like that. Do that.” I was probably trying to impress him at a rehearsal.
When you play two horns at once, do you have a drone going on one?
The kind of thing I was doing was a really simple rhythmic thing, where I basically had the same thing going on each horn. Just a very slight variation.
Isn’t it hard to get a good tone on both with two horns in your mouth?
Yeah, it is. I found a part on that song, “Down In The Hole,” a pattern that worked really good. It was in the right key. I don’t know. I did it. Occasionally at gigs I do it, I pick up two horns and the crowd is like, “Waaaah!” It’s not that big of a deal, people!
But it’s rare to ever see it.
Yeah. Rahsaan’s gone.
Did you play other instruments besides horn with him?
Yeah, I did. In Big Time, you can see. I played some marimba stuff, one note violin stuff. I had this brass baritone horn. Mostly horn. Bass clarinet. But no flute, okay? He wasn’t into flute. Maybe he is now.
Bass clarinet has a great sound.
Yeah. Definitely. In fact, I just played with the Black Keys. Along with Marc Ribot. Which is cool, cause the Black Keys never had any outside players.
You met Ribot when playing with Waits?
Yeah, during the Raindogs tour, the first one I did.
Both of you have a similar style in which you play unexpected notes – he does it on guitar and you on horn – that creates a special flavor.
Yeah. Thank you. I love playing with Marc. When he comes to town, he usually has me sit in with him. I used to be in his band Ruthless Cosmopolitans. And I ended up when I got here – California – to do tours with him.
Did you and he ever discuss, theoretically, your approach to soloing and your choice of notes? Because you create such a distinctive sound – a combination of tonal and atonal –you play notes that are outside but they work. I’ve wondered how you do it.
No, never. [Laughs.] I heard it first from him, but I’ve also heard Bill Clinton say it: Wrong and strong. [Laughs] It’s true. I think I’ve learned that from Ornette and Sun Ra. Duke Ellington, too. I read a bio of him, and his clarinet player Barney Bigard said, “If there’s a weird note, you know that he meant it to be.” But it’s all about conviction, you know. And I’ve been convicted many times. [Laughter] But I think Ribot and I added a lot to Tom’s music at that time. We were coming from a totally different place.
There’s a Tom Waits character that he plays onstage, and even in movies and in interviews. Is he that character in real life?
That’s a tough one. That’s the big question. Sometimes I felt like I’d see Tom just being the guy. But I think he kind of keeps a mask on. I’m not sure why. It’s kind of like he’s a solo act. I’m used to bands. Which are like communes. But when you’re a guy like Tom, I don’t think he wants to let his guard down. I don’t know whether it’s protecting himself or what. Sometimes he’s really funny. And sometimes I wish he could just be himself –
So he’s not the kind of guy you could have a conversation with?
Yeah, I think you could. If you got in there. I’ve been there where we’ve been like friends. But then there’s that feeling that this is business, and you can’t be friends with sidemen or get too close. That’s just my impression.
You worked with Elvis Costello. How did you hook up with him?
I met him while on tour in London with Waits in ’85. They said Elvis Costello was coming backstage and I was like, “Oh shit!” And he kind of followed us around, and he was nice to me. I got to know him. I didn’t play on any records with him – I think I was too weird for him – but I did play a couple shows, and those cuts are the live tracks on a special edition of King Of America. Some of Elvis Presley’s guys are on it, too, like James Burton. I thought it was good. He’s a nice guy.
You’ve played with Jonathan Richman too, another great songwriter.
Yeah, he’s a friend. He lives here in San Francisco. He’s a regular guy. A regular weirdo, like me… [Laughs]
And you’ve played with Allen Ginsberg, who actually wrote a poem about your music.
I know! That was a really cool week, let me tell you. That was a Hal Willner thing, too. Allen was really nice to everybody, he was a real sweetheart.
Was that recorded live with him?
No, there were overdubs. For some of it, we played while he was reciting. He had been doing a lot of performances where he recited and sang while playing harmonium, but this was a chance to get away from that. And then just two months before he died, we did this radio show in San Francisco. My daughter was just a baby then. I have a picture of her on his lap. He did some poems and kids were yelling, “Get off the stage, old man!” And he was pretty cranky. We didn’t know he was dying.
To continue skipping about throughout your career – you played on the soundtrack of the David Lynch film, Wild At Heart. How did that come about?
An old friend from Akron is a sound designer – does a lot of Pixar movies – and somehow a band I was working with called Rubber City got hired to play some cues for that film. And it wasn’t much money – like 50 bucks [laughs] but when they said it was for David Lynch and he’d be there, I said sure! And he was at the session. He was really nice. He said [softly], “Yeah, that’s good. Can you make it a little creepier?” [Laughter] I got the soundtrack record at a little flea market for 50 cents.
Yeah, it’s weird. Throughout my career I‘ve had things like that just come out of the blue. And then there’s years where it’s like, hey, when’s that gonna happen again? I’m not really great at marketing myself. I’m trying to get better at that.
When you’re listening to music, what do you like to listen to?
I have an old hi-fi from the ’50s. Sometimes I listen to African music, sometimes classic rock in the car with my daughter. I tend to go to old stuff. Music from the 20s, 30s, 50s. I was really into Hawaiian music for a while. I like early World Music. Weird international 78s. I like YouTube, there’s so much great music on there. There’s the Yardbirds, and there’s some dance band from 1928! And all that cool conspiracy stuff [laughs].
Why and when did you move to San Francisco?
- I’m from Ohio and I did my New York experience. And the summer of ’88 was so hot in New York and I was sick of it. I had the Waits gig and I thought it was pretty secure. I did one kid’s music thing that Hal got me. With my friend Ralph. It’s called Ralph and Ralph. We did an HBO children’s show and I made some pretty good money, so I decided to get out of New York. And so I moved back to Akron in late ’88. And it was a terrible mistake, because Tom didn’t do any work then, and there was no work in Akron. And I thought if any jobs came up in New York I could just hop on a plane and be there. But no way, man. You got to be there. So I totally felt like I blew it. It was bad. There was no work.
So what happened was I was waiting on a royalty statement. And we had some friends from Brooklyn who moved to Oakland and they were telling us how nice it was. And I really didn’t want to go back to New York. I love New York but there’s a lot about it I just couldn’t take. It’s too much. For me.
So we came out here. Moved to Oakland. Brought our cats. And it was hard but it didn’t feel bad. I immediately started playing with people. My marriage fell apart. But I have a good second marriage, beautiful kids, and a house and all. We live now in the city, a neighborhood called Vernal Heights.
After moving to the Bay Area, did you know you wanted to stay?
Well, there were some times early on I thought of going back. But then Tom [Waits] moved up here, too. And in 1991 we did the Night On Earth soundtrack, and then Bone Machine and Black Rider. Not that those were a lot of work. Not like the old days. In the ’80s it was like, “Come in for two weeks, we’ll record, then we’re going on tour.” It was more like “Can you come up for the day?” And we might do one show. So it wasn’t exactly a way to make a living.
I met a lot of people here, and started doing the Dixieland stuff and improv stuff. And I really got to do the gamut of music. And I play casuals. And I like those. I don’t want to do too many. Like weddings and stuff. But if the band is cool, then you have a good time. You make a little money and you’re in Napa.
So as a musician, there’s enough work for you in the Bay Area?
It’s always up and down. Guys I know who live in New York. They’re my age and they’re like, “Ehhh, there’s no work anymore…” If you’re a kid, it’s different. But when you’ve been through times that seemed like boom times, it’s tough to go through. I do miss New York. I still have friends there. But I like San Francisco. I like it a lot. Life is good.