It is worth noting that, as far as one can tell by the most cursory of explorations, the city of Orangevale is decidedly lacking any Orange vales, or even orange trees for that matter. They don’t even have an Orange Julius, though there are a couple in nearby Citrus Heights, a town whose similarly fruit-filled name denotes that once upon a time there were in fact oranges to be found growing in the vicinity. Now there’s just that spiffy sort of crumminess unique to those new cities that were once sleepy suburban satellites to a larger metropolis, but have since been gobbled up by urban sprawl, incorporated into unbroken freeway urbanity. Approaching from the North, you enter the fray at Roseville, the frontline of this epic battle between city and country, where the former employs it’s most potent weaponry: malls, chain stores and every form of retail sameness at their disposal. But once you bypass this initial burst of bright signage and gleaming, freshly poured asphalt, you cross from city to city without so much as a sign telling you where one ended and the next began. Where there were once city limits there is now city unlimited, going and going, bisected and dissected by highways, byways, freeways and anyways. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is Orangevale and somewhere in the middle of Orangevale I was drunk and standing next to a pile of human shit.
What Orangevale lacks in oranges, it more than makes up for in venues for touring emo bands, with the curiously named Club Retro (which is actually just a church) and the more aptly named, and infinitely superior, Boardwalk, which actually has an honest to God boardwalk as it’s front entrance, and a fully-stocked bar on the interior. The Boardwalk is also famous, amongst the touring band circuit, for having one of the more interesting and reliably idiosyncratic soundmen to be found this side of the Mississippi, another trait that only adds to it’s shabby, dive-like charm. On the night in question, I was in attendance to see one of Chico’s finer exports, the young lads of Brighten whose nationwide tour was making its closest approach to their hometown, a just cause for making the arduous trek through the aforementioned mind-numbing sprawl. Pulling in the parking lot we were greeted with a smell not unlike the smell of a dairy, or as I recall from my rural upbringing, the smell of organically fertilized fields covered in turkey shit. However, upon closer inspection we determined the source of this odor to be of a far more rare vintage: a nice pile of human excrement, complete with used toilet paper. Better yet, upon our entrance to the parking lot, unaware of this unburied treasure, we had run our tire through the mound, refreshing the potency of its olfactory repulsiveness, which soon bore down upon the entirety of the back lot which served as the de facto backstage area. It was only fitting then, that in the presence of shit one should drink shit beer, and thus two twelve packs of Pabst, $5.49 at Long’s Drugs just up the road, was dispatched with the utmost of efficiency. To avoid detection by the powers that be, who of course preferred that all drinking be done inside at a far less economical price, we were forced to huddle behind the various vans and trailers employed by the bands as transportation. This placed us not on squarely within the radius of the shit smell, but also directly adjacent to a dumpster with an especially rank aspect. At least there was beer though.
The natives of Orangevale are by and large unknown to me, as it seems the majority of those in attendance at shows such as the one in question have traveled some distance to be in attendance. Despite their far flung origins, however, these showgoers – most especially the girls, which outnumber the boys by 5-1 – have a uniformity of dress and demeanor that binds them together. We used to call them “muppets” in recognition of their outlandish, borderline cartoonish tastes in hair and make-up, not to mention attire. This trend has morphed somewhat in recent years, adding an entirely uncomfortable amount of ’80s nostalgia and penchant for hastily devised and shoddily applied tattoos in very conspicuous parts of the body. Modeling these two latest trends was a crewmember of one or another of the bands, with her thick rimmed glasses and good-girl sundress, hanging loosely on her slight frame, standing in stark opposition to her fiercely coiffed hair and burly tattoos. Across her chest was written, in a bold artless font “INTEGRITY.” As she passed however, none could help but notice that the backside of her dress was hopelessly tucked into her frilly red panties, unbeknownst to none save her. Her stern countenance seemed to forbid any helpful approaches by the likes of us, so we watched silently, sucking on our beers as she went about her labors, a walking incongruity, but a cheap enough thrill for those with a nose for irony. And the show hadn’t even started yet.
Tags: asphalt, boardwalk, Brighten, Chico, CA, citrus heights, city limits, city of orangevale, emo, epic battle, freeway, freeways, front entrance, honest to god, orange julius, orange trees, oranges, sameness, signage, touring band, urban sprawl, vicinity, weaponry