My Introduction to The Sea and Cake
She was a visual artist and this was a blind date. The kind you set up for yourself when you don’t know anybody in town yet. This was 2001. She was very attractive. Maybe too attractive.
I had taken to meeting all my blind dates at the same spot: Abbot’s Habit in Venice. It worked out well for the most part. Walkable options were bountiful. Best of all, the staff never gave me shit for showing up and meeting some random two-to-three times a week.
We were done with our coffees and we had just walked four short blocks down Abbot Kinney, towards Main. There was nothing more to see and little more to say, but she wasn’t ready to drive back to Long Beach just yet.
“Isn’t there another place over there on Main where we can just read or something?”
“Yeah there’s a decent café over there. It has a bunch of inappropriately-named dishes. Like, one’s named after Todd Bridges, one’s called the dimebag, something like that. And then they also have coffee and juice drinks you can take upstairs to the room where they have the AA meetings.”
“What’s it called?”
“It’s called Van Gogh’s Ear…”
“Van Gogh’s. Ear. Oh hell let’s just go there. We can walk from here.”
Upstairs on our second coffee. She thumbed through the Weekly as I glanced down at Main Street sporadically for lack of anything better to do.
“Ha, Mike Watt. Playing a very tiny place. Do you listen to Mike Watt? Oh, the Sea and Cake! Do you like those guys?”
“Don’t think I know ’em.”
“Their music is completely… nonintrusive. It’s perfect – seriously perfect – just to work to, paint, whatever. That album The Fawn is probably the best one.
“Yeah. The Fawn.”
Following this date I immediately purchased two Sea and Cake albums.
Some weeks later we resurfaced at a driving range near CSULB to shank some balls. That would be the last time I would see her for at least a year. I caught up with her in Chinatown once. Years later I would run into her again at the Hammer Museum.
Though I’d seen and enjoyed Sam Prekop at This Ain’t No Picnic a full year before the date outlined above, I didn’t make the connection to the band until after this fateful day. Color me hooked: I now have their full catalog, all of Sam Prekop’s solo material and a bookshelf full of Archer Prewitt’s cartoons in my living room. To this day that distinct, airy Chicago sound triggers an immediate vibe in my subconscious: Venice, early summer, too much coffee, the awkwardness of a blind date.