Homebwoyn Hoagies

Okay, so I've been in a bit of a writer's funk these last few weeks. I'm sure it mostly had to do with my last post getting deleted as I was polishing up the final draft...it was a wonderfully funny telling of my trip to the Star Wars exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) that included death threats made on my behalf towards a group of Girl Scouts, building a magnetic levitation vehicle, drooling over the original props and costumes from all six films (Luke's lightsaber, C3-P0 & R2D2 cold chillin'fucking Darth Vader...), creating a virtual blow-up doll, and riding a hovercraft. Alas, it was apparently not meant for your eyes. Too brilliant, I suppose.

A few nuggeteers:

-I checked out the Stark Vacuum Cleaner Museum on NE Couch, a block away from my office...I'd passed it on several dozen previous occasions on my way to pick up my weekly copy of the Portland Tribune (one of our three free city papers), but never actually thought to go inside. Well, let's just say it was as exciting and as deeply interesting as it sounds. The only item that latched onto my memory (a difficult task these days) was a tricked-out cleaner with spoilers, racing flames, and exhaust pipes...quick somebody call up Pimp My Vacuum, they need to hire this guy.

-Our local director Gus Van Sant set up shop a few weeks back at the legendary Burnside Skatepark, located down below my office building...he's filming his latest movie titled Paranoid Park. I got to hang out for a few hours (getting paid at work at the same time, of course...I was out "visiting a client.") on the set, watching them set up shots, film for two seconds, reset the scene, shoot another few frames, repeat ad naseum. It was all a bit less glamorous than I would have imagined, though Gus seemed like a nice guy. I ended up sending several of my clients his way for extras, which felt pretty good...though, apparently extras only get paid minimum wage (maybe a bit more if they get to go home early), so my kids didn't thank me too much. This was the second time I've seen Gus Van Sant out and about in Portland, the first being at the kick-off event for the Time Based Art festival in Pioneer Courthouse Square, where 30 electric guitarists performed a "choose-your-own-adventure"-like symphony.

-I spent a week traveling with a Bedouin family in Saudi Arabia...it was a sublime experience. We laughed, we cried, we talked about Gypsy catching. Keep your eyes peeled for a full account at my other blog http://www.oldhatesworking.blogspot.com


And the rain begins

So, after a beautiful and unusually long summer, Portland's rainy season has begun. To kick off the season, we've seen about 10 straight days with at least some rain. About half of those days saw a serious pissing from the gods. Last winter, my first in the Pacific Northwest, was difficult for me. I was new to Portland, didn't enjoy my living situation, didn't really know anybody, and had no idea how to pass the time away during a perpetual shower.
Well, after being in Portland a year now, I'm a bit more prepared for the 3-4 month drenching that is winter in Oregon. To get a glimpse of how my winter will be spent, here's a recap of the last week.
An education in gypsy hunting: Straight from the genius of a Khazakstani media correspondent, Oldie and I learned how to hunt, capture, and make use of gypsies (gypsy tears are known to ward off disease) from Borat. Of course, this education took place at one of Portland's 374 movie theaters. Yes, Portland has a lot of movie houses, and I expect to be at one (especially the $3.00 ones that serve beer and pizza) pretty frequently.
Beer sampling: Wino's can get away with wine-tasting in the name of sophistication, so why can't I do the same while sampling the many locally brewed beers of Portland? On Thursday, Oldie and I went to Holman's, on 28th and E Burnside, to guzzle a few pints. While walking around the neighborhood afterward, we managed to walk in and out of another watering hole, The Lounge, three times without ever making it to the bar. Apparently we were suffering from severe indecision, and every time we walked into the bar, we decided we didn't actually want to drink there. I'm not sure why we kept returning, but by the third time (within a 10 minute period), we were getting some seriously perplexed looks from confused patrons. Patronizing the many taverns, pubs, and saloons is one way to make it through the rain. I'm not an alcoholic, though, I'm a connoisseur.
Blazers basketball: Oldie, Kesia and I recently stumbled upon a sweet promotion for the Trail Blazers. To attract a larger fan base to a turned around franchise, the Blazers were offering a ticket package of 25 games for $100. The three of us jumped on the deal, committing ourselves to an up and down season of Blazers basketball. Our first game was Friday, and in overcoming a 27-point deficit, the home team won. 24 more games are in store to help us get through the winter.
Football and board games: On Saturday, I got together with a few college football fanatics. Stacey represented for Oregon State; Casey and Chrissie put it down for Texas. I could care less, but seeing them scream and burst aneurysms over their beloved teams was quite amusing. After both of their respective teams lost, we played Scattegories. A bit nerdy, I know. But, like I said, it rains a lot and you have to open yourself up to other forms of entertainment. And, to be honest, I like playing games.
Coffee, philosophy, and good food: In addition to having a lot of movie theaters, Portland also has its fair share of quaint little breakfast/brunch joints. On Sunday, Oldie, Kesia and I met a Junior's, on 12th and SE Clinton(?). Over numerous cups of coffee, we talked about the recent election results, as well as the merits of joining an armed uprising. The question we posed to each other was, "at which point would you feel comfortable taking up arms to revolt against the 'establishment'?" None of us could come to a conclusive answer, but we did thoroughly enjoy our meals. They make mean scrambles, with plenty of potato nuggets.


Amboy I

As Old kindly pointed out below, I am currently shacked up in rural Washington, alone with my dog, a few random deer, the sound of coyotes taunting me at night, and, from what I suspect, bigfoot lurking in the forest behind the house. My parents, who retired here from Cali 3-4 years ago, are visiting my sister in Colorado, so I generously offered to housesit and watch the dog while they are gone.
To get an idea of how rural Amboy is, you'll have to realize that lawnmower racing is a recognized sport among the locals; as are tree-cutting contests and hunting (sadly, gypsy hunting hasn't yet caught on here). What's more, if you don't drive a ginormous pickup truck in these parts, you're immediately labeled an "outlander," and therefor must be from Portland. Aww, country life!
As foreign as it may seem, life is quite comfortable up here, and things are rarely dull. Sure, hanging out on your porch with a lazy, overwheight dog may seem boring, but you must look below the surface of such commonplace activities. First of all, this dog, Wimpy, is a decendent of the Meravingians, who, legend has it, are of the direct familial line of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdelen. Wimpy is a character among characters. By day, a porch-warming, sleeping machine (save for an occassional "auto hump" or "gravel angel"); by night, a rip-roaring, howling, coyote chasing, nasty dog-giving, beast of a dog. His king of the hill status probably stems from the power he's garnered as grandmaster of the local grange, but his fierce barking and ability to climb walls helps.
While Wimpy has reign of "the hill," he is not the only character in town (not sure you can actually call it a town). There is Len, often called the Mayor of Amboy, who owns the local market. He's been known to take younger women into his meat locker and show them his goods. Eww. Another name known around town is Hippy Joe. While his nickname and ZZ Top beard may suggest he's a byproduct of the San Francisco '60s, he's far from your stereotypical hippy. He lives at and maintains Nick's bar, making sure the local drunks and bikers stay in line. I actually don't know much about him, but his massive beard and mystical presence, as well as his infamy around town, makes him quite a character.

Another character quickly rising up the ranks is Mike. Yes, my dad. With an impressive beard of his own (only rivaled by hippy Joe), a finely weathered pair of overalls, and a mouth like a drunken sailor, you can see him hobbling around town most mornings. His preferred hangout spot is Tim's coffee shop a.k.a Amboy Espresso. With Pork usually by his side, he also can be found with other locals, Gary and Susan Blackhawk. He has become quite the social animal, usually making his rounds at local establishments and harrassing patrons and proprietors alike. If there is a model of how to grow old, you need look no further than him. While he isn't a model of healthy living or proper social etiquette, I can find no better example of a person growing old with grace and content. I look forward to my drives from Portland to hang and contemplate the state of "things" with him. Our Ali G impressions, attempts to build stuff, and tweaking of Wimpy make for quality hangs. In fact, I quite like my time with my mom and Mike in the country.
While time certainly slows down, we get by with laughs and try to create our own adventures (bigfoot and UFO hunting, for example). Since Amboy is only an hour from Portland, and I am here frequently, I'll try to add occassional installments of "life in the country" to the blog.

A Day of Oldham

Had an interesting day...definitely the first time I've ever watched a film, then attended one of the actor's music concerts in the same theater. The location was the Mission Theater, part of the McMenamin's empire. The movie was Old Joy and the actor/musician was Will Oldham aka Palace Music aka Palace Brothers aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy aka a shit ton of other monikers.

Old Joy appealed to me for a couple of reasons...not only am I a huge fan of road movies, but I especially like ones that deal with the issues of failing friendships, aging, social awkwardness, and the stagnation of life/energy caused by increased "responsibility." There isn't much of a plot, but that's not really the point here. The music (courtesy of Yo La Tengo) perfectly accompanies the urban city & primeval rainforest settings. A favorite scene of mine is an extended visit to the Bagby Hotsprings (located near Estacada, Oregon along the western slopes of the Cascades), where Will Oldham's character utters this gem..."Sorrow is simply worn-out joy." Or something to that effect. Much of the first half of the film is shot on location in Portland, which tickled my more vainglorious side...it's nice to see that the hometown's appealing enough for the fickleness of filmdom, you know? A couple minor gripes...there were quite a few geographic inconsistencies during the Portland segment and the trip out to the mountains...too much warping around, driving "east" and passing landmarks 50 miles to the west of town, crossing west over the Burnside Bridge and ending up in front of the Baghdad theater on the east side of the Willamette. Easily avoidable and somewhat ruined the effect of "accurately" representing the city on celluloid. And for the love of god, it's illegal to pump our own gas in Oregon, so don't put your actors in jeopardy of getting molested by Johnny Law by doing just that.

The concert following the film (actually it was a few hours later in the day, easily passed at Powell's Books down the street) was quite satisfying. Human Bell opened for Bonnie "Prince" Billy...big ups to Baltimore (I spent a few years there in my youth) where both groups currently hail from. I have to admit that the band that played with Oldham seemed a bit extraneous...the sole reason I went to see this man was for the man himself. He has a voice that is tender yet razor-edged...a rusty blade caressing soft soft skin. Such intensity and depth of emotion, yet threatening to crumble into nothingness at each breath. And his lyrics are so fucking sad, it's unbelievable. Well, for the most part...he does seem to have branched out and perked up a bit since the era of his discography I've been exposed to (very limited, but present all the same thanks to my buddy Reid). Will Oldham is hard to watch in person...he constantly fidgets, picking up scraps of paper, putting his hands in his pockets, tapping bandmates on the shoulders, wiping his forehead with a hanky, cuffing his pantlegs, adjusting his microphone, standing on one leg like a seagull then crossing his legs and shivering like a preschooler holding his peepee in...his body was pure chaos, but his voice always seemed to be aimed directly and solidly at the microphone, a disconcerting juxtaposition of sensory inputs that never failed to keep my attention. It wasn't until a co-singer by the name of Donna came on very late in the show that he mellowed out and focused both his body and his voice onto the task at hand. Anyway, enough blahblahber, I'm fucking tired...it was a great show. He's actually played three nights in a row, all completely sold-out. I was fortuitous enough to purchase the very last ticket, a last-minute cancellation that looked like it had gone through the wash 36 times then given to a Saint Bernard for safekeeping. I'm surprised I got in the door with the scrappy rag...and happy I did just that. Thanks for a good time, Will.


...get your shit together and start writing again. I know a week alone in Amboy has gotta be heaven for you, but I'm sure Pork wouldn't approve of all the porn you've been recording on their TIVO.

You should write about that time we got shot at by Cellski on his motorcycle.

Or maybe about our first experience with Uzbekistani giants.

It's up to you; just pull it together, mayne.


Random Nuggets

-I was fortunate enough to witness the Portland-based (100 years and running) Franz bakery demonstrate their hipness by creating and presenting the world's longest hotdog and bun combo. Peep game:

-'Stach for Cash, a fundraiser/contest for best mustache in categories such as sexiest (an oxymoron), bushiest, and creepiest, was a huge disappointment. Jeff, Kes, and I didn't really give it a chance, but just had to leave immediately after walking in and seeing everyone sporting fake mustaches. Come on...

-Back in April, I was reading through the music section in The Mercury, one of our great free weekly papers, and saw this upcoming show...The Passion of the Christ with the Sounds of Slayer. The local club, Sabala's, decided that the best way to celebrate the birth of Our Lord was to project Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, turn the sound off, and blast the angelic Sunday worship sounds of Satan's own Slayer. That is so wrong, but so rad.

-Aside from the Daytime World Naked Bike Ride (which drew several thousand participants this year), the number one gayest event I haven't yet attended is Voodoo Doughnut's COCKFEST 2006. At this "contest" (I don't see how this is anything but a lose-lose situation), men get together and erectify their penis', then see who can stack the most doughnuts on their stick. No. But then again I do so cherish their apple fritters & soul-saving 22-hour business day, and well...the cock-n-balls is a masterful stroke (hah) of genius: