We floated in on a buzzing cloud at the tail end of a mammoth road trip to Berkeley with the sole purpose of encountering Fat Dog and his World Famous Subway Guitar Shop. It couldn't have been a nicer day or a better way to drop into the Fat Dog alternate universe. We first spotted his illustrious cloud-painted building in its pleasant neighborhood, a gentle yet noticable beacon of friendliness in accepting white-bread liberal-land. The parking was easy enough, and in what seemed to be random order, we pulled up directly behind the Fat Dog mobile, a cloud-painted vintage hunk of iron. Strolling into the old shop jarred the senses - we were greeted by a friendly giant in a cloud-painted t-shirt that said 'Berkeley' in a rainbow across the chest. The room dripped with frankensteined guitars and assorted other string instruments, additionally adorned by funky amplifiers and posters akimbo. Blues infusing the airspace, it felt like we had stepped into an obsessive collector's living room a half-dollar ago.
Fat Dog's vibe is kind and welcoming. He's a jolly soul who likes clouds and rainbows, Howlin' Wolf and Buddy Guy, and of course, guitars.
He collects them, builds them, modifies and repairs them.
Several times in the hour or so we were there he eagerly urged patrons to take down his creations and play.
Delighted pride danced in his icy blue eyes as the room filled with captivated shoppers who were there for the experience as much as the string instruments.
In conversation, he reminds me of my dear younger brother who has always tapped into peace and love and dropped waaaay too much acid at one time in his life. Fat Dog's excitement is unbounded and the discourse seemingly unfiltered.
His streaming consciousness alluvially revealed his love for Chester (Howlin' Wolf) and fascination with musical days of yore. We learned he has a ranch outside of Berkeley where he's fashioned a juke joint recording studio with 'pre-1963 everything'. Peering into a window of space invisible to our average eyes, there was talk of something about 30's and 40's cars lining the path to the joint where players would go to drink and party before engaging in a hearty jam session, a seemingly romantic reflection on a fond memory that ended with, " and they never come back..."
Here's his website: Fat Dog's World Famous Subway Guitars
Fat Dog's strange world goes on and on and on.
Oh, and you can buy a bike, too! Tuning into the present, Fat Dog thinks saving the planet is a pretty good idea.