Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's Funny 'Cause It's Not Funny: Urban Scouting on WCL

Yesterday I eschewed the market and tripped up the steps to the second floor of San Francisco's Ferry Building, where I'd been invited to appear on Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live.

One of the show's staff waved a release form.

"I want you to pay special attention to the bolded text. This is a live show, and if you swear on air, you are liable. If you need to swear, go out into the vestibule and swear now."

I signed and moved along to the director.

"You're the 'urban scout'?" he asked. "What is an urban scout?"

"I dunno." I told him. "Sedge's idea."

"Fine. I read a couple posts on your blog, and you need to understand: do not swear. This is live radio."

Do I swear so much? Why, I'd thought myself positively lady-like. Except for that. I called my trusted advisor, semi-lawyer Shaun.

"I'm so nervous about not swearing, I will definitely swear. And what do I talk about? This week was tame. The highlight was slaughtering Kyle in Scrabble at the British football pub."

"Don't talk about that. And do not swear," he said while texting me ideas for interesting subject matter: tapioca drinks at Wonderful Foods, deer jerky from Lao, moving to San Francisco from New England.

The other guests were funny and engaging. Perhaps intimidating if you were, say, unable to define "urban scout."

I especially liked Kitka, the Eastern European ensemble with Bulgarian guest singer named Tzvetanka who was exactly as charming as you'd hope for and not a drop less. I cursed the writers with good lines, like Barry Jenkins: "Jazz is great, but black people do a lot of things. We eat salads. We ride bicycles."

There were plenty of things I could have talked about: Marin Sun Farms' blue-shelled eggs, lamb-shaped sticks of butter Poles and Russians make for Easter, the excellent Cook Here & Now.

Instead I got nervous and went all seasonal, not local, pimping limited-edition Shamrock Shakes, available in your finer McDonald's outlets. I saw a woman in the audience wrinkle her nose in disgust when I described the taste as mint toothpaste mixed with stardust. But trust me: they're delicious.