From The Desk Of The Orange Peels: The Peninsula

OrangePeelsLogoAs any fan of the Food Network knows, a few scrapes from an orange peel adds zest to a dish. San Francisco Bay Area indie-popsters the Orange Peels, according to master chef Allen Clapp, reinvented themselves by inviting more cooks into the kitchen. The result, Sun Moon (Minty Fresh), is a fully collaborative and very tasty effort. Last summer, Peels bassist (and Clapp’s wife) Jill Pries asked the other two band members—guitarist John Moremen and drummer Gabriel Coan—to drop by their Sunnyvale, Calif., home/studio. “It didn’t mean I was happy about it,” says Clapp, grown used to demoing the band’s material before presenting it to the others. “I told her I didn’t have any songs ready.” Clapp will also be guest editing all week. Read our new Orange Peels feature.


Looking west toward the Pacific Ocean one summer morning from the top of Black Mountain, Cupertino, Calif. Photo by Allen Clapp.

Clapp: I do not live in San Francisco. It’s OK, I don’t need to. I love that place, as much as I love Oakland and Berkeley, where I graduated with a B.A. in English. I actually think the whole Bay Area is a pretty spectacular place to be.

But when I look at my life thus far, I’ve spent 99 percent of it on this spit of land between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The people around here call this the Peninsula. Geographically, that’s the correct term—a piece of land that is bordered on three sides by water, but is connected to mainland.

San Francisco is the tip of that Peninsula, but nobody ever describes it as such. San Francisco is “the city,” and everything south of it, until you hit San Jose, is the Peninsula. San Jose, Santa Clara and its surrounding parts are called the South Bay, and everything across the Bay from the Peninsula, from Berkeley down to San Jose is called the East Bay.

So why the Peninsula? I gotta be honest: the weather here is the best in the world. In fact, Redwood City, where I spent 10 years of my life, has a sign over its downtown entrance proclaiming “Climate Best By Government Test.” If you went directly west from Redwood City up into the Santa Cruz Mountains, you’d probably find yourself at some point trespassing on Neil Young’s property (he’s been to Hollywood, he’s been to Redwood). We used to see him every once in a while at Mel’s Bowl before it closed down.

So now we live in Sunnyvale. Down here, it used to be fruit orchards before World War II, and there are still remnants of cherry plantations in our neighborhood. When the post-war housing boom began, the orchards gave way to suburbs.

It’s not totally clear whether we’re in the South Bay or still on the Peninsula, but I’d argue that we’re still Peninsulans. We get all the benefits of Peninsula life here: the fog that filters over the mountains and covers us up like a big fluffy quilt every night; the cool evening breezes to contrast the Silicon Valley summer days, the proximity to the Bay and the Pacific, and the easy access to international cuisine that is frankly mind boggling. Am I closer to Apple and Google headquarters than the Fillmore? Yes. Does it keep me awake at night? Not one bit. Viva la Peninsula!

Video after the jump.