From Frank Chu to the Tamale Lady to Ted Shred, San Francisco has an eclectic collection of locally famous characters. I happened to meet yet another of these pseudo-celebrities on Saturday. He calls himself Ukelele Ray and his claim to fame is his company called Box-a-Lele Co. Box-A-Lele Co makes ukeleles out of lunchboxes and Ray has been covered everywhere from BoingBoing.net to (according to him) Good Morning America. I didn’t take any pics but his MySpace link up there should be more than you need to get the idea. That, and my story…
I was in the back of Lucky 13 with a bunch of friends on Saturday night around 10. Another couple of guys were sitting at the table next to us, and at the table in the back corner we noticed a dude who looks like he hasn’t recovered from the 1980s pop metal explosion—black leather tanktop, luscious long black hair, and a personality that lead me to believe he was either on speed or really really excited to be alive. He was sitting by himself with a couple of odd looking ukeleles.
Someone from our table got up to throw something in the trash next to this guy and the next thing we knew Ukelele Ray was standing at our table telling us about all of the national media attention he’s gotten recently and about his ability to do 1000 voices. Naturally, we weren’t going to get out of this without a song, so Ukelele Ray unleashed “Folsom Prison Blues” on his Simpsons lunchbox ukelele and then showed us the giant economy pack of condoms he keeps inside of it (just in case he runs into Lita Ford?).
One of my friends really likes to egg people on when she’s drunk and couldn’t resist the temptation to grill Ukelele Ray. We learned all about his history (he has relatives in Hawaii and he likes to say thing slike “brah” and act like he’s not a haole) and were treated (?) to a few more songs. But it was when he busted out his Jerry Lewis impression that the guys at the table next to us got up looking disgusted and went inside—and I lost my shit laughing. He tried to get us all to sing along to another song to no avail, then left us to make sense of what the hell we’d just experienced. We were half convinced he was a figment of our collective imagination. Ah, San Francisco, only you can produce such amazing people.