By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
“Every day I just woke up and did what I had to do, all day. It was all right in front of me. There were no phone calls being made, no letters being sent. There was the Coffee Gallery, the drunks and blues musicians in there; and the bar on Grand Avenue, and there’d be some guys in there; and the winos on the street and street musicians. That was the whole world. I probably had as much commerce with them then as I do now with all the people I talk to all over the world on the Internet, all in one 20-block North Beach radius.
“I didn’t think I was going to get into the music business. It had never even occurred to me. I just wanted to play music. I just wanted to fuckin’ play and be left alone.”
One of the distinct pleasures of As Far as You Can Get is one of the distinct pleasures of Case’s music: its humility. Case cops no attitude as to his own journey being any more or less important or interesting than anyone else’s. They’re all fascinating; his just happens to be the one he knows best.
The only time I feel alright is when I’m playing this stuff. The rest of the time I’m a wreck.
“And I’m basically still living the same life I was living in the book,” says Case. “I’m just living the grown-up version of it. There’s a new word for the freelance life now — it’s called precarity. And what it refers to is that people who are freelance, they can’t tell if they’re working 24/7, or if they’re unemployed. What we’re up against now is an era where everybody’s time is completely dominated, and everybody’s working for free.”
It’s well past closing time at McCabe’s, and we get a polite reminder to wrap things up. Case picks up the pace and intensity.
“If you could live a comfortable life, making $10 million a year — you probably would! I mean, who wouldn’t? But how much would you give up? Well, some people can’t give that up! It’s just not possible, for lots of people. And for some, somehow, it is. But the fact that there’s such a huge segment of the culture . . . taking advantage of the precarity of everybody else. They work you. So if you go on the Internet now and look for a writer’s gig on Craigslist —”
“— Unfortunately,” I quote the concluding lines of the Craigslist writing-gigs anthem, “there is no compensation.”
“No compensation for the writer!” Case almost hollers.
“But a great opportunity for the right person!”
“Yeah,” says Case. “They call that exposure. And I say, Hey man — you can die of exposure.”?
AS FAR AS YOU CAN GET WITHOUT A PASSPORT | By PETER CASE | For Now/Everthemore Books | 51 pages | $10 paperback
Peter Case will read from As Far as You Can Get Without a Passport at Book Soup this Sat., April 21, at 7 p.m.