March 21-27, 2007

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Silicon Alleys - Gary Singh

Silicon Alleys

Lars Frederiksen and My Refrigerator

By Gary Singh

WHILE progressing through life, everyone develops a personal attachment to something, whether it's a favorite car, letters from your first girlfriend or something else that you just can't get rid of. For me, it was my first refrigerator.

This anecdote directly involves Campbell's most favorite son, Lars Frederiksen. By now, everyone knows that Frederiksen jams out some great tunes for a world-renowned punk band called Rancid, and because of their track "Roots Radicals," the entire planet Earth now knows about VTA bus route No. 60.

But how is Gary Singh's refrigerator related to all this? I'll tell you. At the very beginning of 1991, Lars was in a band called the Knowhere Men, and they played a gig in my back yard at 351 N. Tenth St. in San Jose. Actually, it wasn't really in the yard itself—it was in a garage separated from the house that we converted into a space where bands could play when we hosted parties—stage and all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to ride on the coattails of his success—you see, the tale is much more profound than that. At that house we had a majestic maroon refrigerator—the same one that I grew up with in my parents' house. When I moved to Tenth Street, I dragged the refrigerator with me and it subsequently became a bulletin board for a zillion stickers: punk bands, grunge bands, defunct radio stations and a few San Jose Earthquakes stickers from the old days. It was like an umbilical cord: I was finally out of home, but I still kept the fridge with me. It was dear to my always-aching heart.

Of the several stickers on that fridge, we had many cartoon ones of the Portland-based punk band Poison Idea, including their longhaired drummer, Slayer Hippy. After the Knowhere Men's set at that party, Lars observed that Slayer Hippy quite closely resembled the Knowhere Men's guitar player, Brendan Hallett, so he walked up and hand-wrote "Brendan" on the sticker. Lars' chicken-scratch stayed on that sticker throughout the entire course of the fridge's life. After its reign at the Tenth Street house, the fridge wound up at my flat on Sixth Street. The stickers continued to build up and, like a Timex, the fridge just kept on ticking. Yeah!

To make a long story short, the fridge eventually died a natural death at a later house on Seventh Street after it sat in our back yard for three years, primarily because I just couldn't get rid of it. In the end, we paid 18 bucks to have it hauled away to the dump.

I loved that fridge, and if I had known that Lars would later become famous, I would have saved the thing and sold it on eBay. Some 12-year-old punker would have begged his parents to buy it, and the fridge would have eventually made its way to the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame. I can easily see it behind a glass case 30 years from now.

Since there were so many memories associated with that icebox, tears came to my eyes as we stood there in the front yard and watched the folks hoist it onto the back of a flatbed. Geez. All those stickers and all those splendid memories. Gone. It was finally over. The end of an era. All good things must pass. Only the good die young. Choose your cliché, that's what I felt like as we watched them take my fridge away. The only topper would have been my roommates and I, arms around each other's shoulders, singing that line from "Me and Bobby McGee": "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"—the fridge being the last thing I lost, of course. When Lars finally writes a song about all this, then I will splurge and buy a Rancid CD.

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