Sunday, September 30, 2007

First Rain

Today i didn't do much of anything except but walk through the rain to go and get a cup of coffee, make lunches for the week, and watch the enormously chickflicky flick, Evening. Yet another Michael Cunningham project about 2 guys and a girl in a love triangle and being at the beach with charmed and tragic queers. Claire Danes is crap.

But the coffee was good. I went to Ken's Artisinal Bakery, a place in my neighborhood that got written up in a NYTimes article that several people forwarded about the Portland foodie scene.

How to Make Yourself Sore

Absolutely epic Saturday. I rolled out of bed and into warm clothes and walked down to the banks of the Willamette River. Met the patient and knowledgable guide Annie at Portland Kayak Company, and went on my very first kayak trip ever. They do a women's beginner kayak paddle on saturday mornings and it was just me and a mother and daughter duo and the trusty guide.

After a safety briefing we embarked from the marina near the Hawthorne bridge for a paddle around Ross Island. I got to see Portland from the water and check out houseboats and osprey nests and the bike paths that run up and down the river on each side. I didn't fall in and I think I want to do it again, maybe next time with Rebecca if the weather is nice when she gets here. They have classes in a swimming pool during the winter where you can learn to do "wet exits" and eskimo rolls and other neat tricks.

As if that wasn't enough adventure for one day, I decided it was high time to get a bicycle. Kara told me I have to get a cool bike and I think I went to the cool bike place, The Recyclery, this used bike shop in the SE part of town where there were all manner of very serious (but very helpful) bicycle punk dudes with handlebar mustaches and peddle-pushers. I test rode a couple of pretty cool bikes at this bike swap meet they had there, but I settled on something just a little fancier (and still spent less than i planned) on a red peugeot steel vintage bike that was all fixed up and had more of a mountain bike-style handlebar because the curvy kind intimidate me. i got them to install fenders so if i ride it in the rain it won't be all splashy.

Music for you: The Bicycles- B-B-Bicycles

Outfitted with a cool bike like a proper Portlander, i set out from SE 9th to NE 49th to visit my cousin Roger at the hospital. he had a bunch of serious intestinal surgery and now he has to have a kidney out but he is very alert and friendly and was happy to hear of my adventurous ways. he and my aunt and uncle gave me all sorts of tips about interesting places to go along the coast of oregon to see sea lions, cliffs, old logging camps, and lewisandclarky sorts of things. A nurse kept coming in and out of the room to watch the football game that the Oregon State Beavers were losing and literally and repeatedly cried out, "FOR SHAME!"

I left them at the hospital after 8 and rode through the city again, back towards home. There is a big bridge being repaired in the middle of town but it is still open to pedestrians and cyclists so i got to go over that, away from the cars. At the end of it there is a gigantic flashing sign, pictured below.

it is kind of scary to ride around in traffic at night. I'm going to try not to do that too much.

So then I went to see Once, the movie about the musicians in dublin, at a downtown theater. It was just ok for me. The man and woman from the film are going to play a concert in town next week with all the songs from the film. i'm not going but I wish them well.

and now I am at obrien's pub near my house, writing this entry just mere feet away from my surrogate wife, the Twilight Zone pinball machine.

Tonight I will sleep the sleep of the just.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Japanese T-Shirts and the Virginia Reel

Went to a queer square dancing event tonight. Several notable items: I squared danced with Shayla. It is more of a workout than you would imagine. There was a qualified square dance caller there that taught all the punks and bicycle people and lesbians how to square dance beautifully. It was quite a scene in this old union hall or church. They had a jug band. After the square dance they had a cake walk. I haven't cake walked in a real, real long time and sure enough, I was the first cake walker eliminated when the music stopped. I didn't want it as bad as that 12 yr old with the two mommies. He never gets sugar, only those little seasame candies and occasional rice dream.

so back in columbus, in the house, in the medicine cabinet, I had a photograph of a butch girl with this great look on her face wearing a t-shirt that said "I dig chicks." Before this, in my last apartment, the same photo was up and its basically been a daily image for me for about 9 years. Guess who I saw dancing at the hoedown? I recognized her from the picture and sure enough it was her, I asked, her name is amber and she's a very good square dancer. I told her that I looked at her picture every morning for 9 years and she was ok with that. RANDOM.

After that we went to this super portland-loves-japan party for a japanese sportswear company called uniqlo. free triangles of rice and vodka drinks and lots of good and suprisingly affordable art.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Movie Night

Went and saw Deep Water tonight. File under man vs. the sea and himself documentaries. A so called "classic tale of English daring-do" about a race around the world by solo sailing vessels beginning in 1967. I recommend it, though it is probably in very limited release. I do love a seafaring story but I can't bear to tell you what happens in case you see it because it is very suspenseful.

Portland has a kagillion little movie theaters.

Also had dinner with Paul, Joe's brother, and his super cool girlfriend Kristina. I think this weekend I'm going to rent a bicycle and ride around Forest Park.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Freedom Fighter Zone

A great day for the Federal Defender. My office's former client, Brandon Mayfield, has sued the government over the Patriot Act. You may have read about Mr. Mayfield. He was the muslim Oregon lawyer that the gov't accused of being involved with the Madrid train bombing some years ago. Turns out he was perfectly innocent but in the meantime, the gov't put him through total hell. Well today the federal court here struck down key provisions of the patriot act in his case and people in the office were pretty elated about it. (the picture in the link features Mayfield and my new, and so far as I know extraordinary, bossman). Maybe there is still such a thing as the U.S. constitution.

I also got to talk to one of the lawyers in the office about litigation of prisoner rights cases. I used to do some of that at the Ohio Public Defender and I'm hoping to get back into it. Disability issues, sentencing credit issues, and we'll have fun fun fun until daddy takes the t-bird away.

After work it was all about the pinball. Portland is awesome for pinball.

Now I'm going to watch Bionic Woman and go to bed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vaux Swifts

Tonight i went to see the vaux swifts go inside a chimney at an elementary school in my neighborhood. Hundreds of people come together at dusk in August and September to watch this natural phenomenon. From what I gathered from my work friend Maia, these vaux swifts are pre-migratory, in that they assemble in this chimney and sleep all packed up like bats for a few months and then all migrate south as one at the end of September. We snacked on nuts and dried fruit and watched thousands of little birds circle and circle the chimney in ever shortening orbits until they were all nestled in for bed.

Music for you: Tenement Halls - When the Swifts Come Home

Monday, September 24, 2007

I am a lonely dwarf hamster

Rebecca and I had a terrific action packed weekend together on her way-too-short visit to Portland. We played lots of games, went to the Japanese Garden, drove around, ate amazing things, celebrated our two years of unholy matrimony, and basically acted like the little freaks that you know we are. We didn't get to go to the pear thing by Mt. Hood because of wretched plane delays. but we had our fun, and conducted important research.

What we now know:

1. Portland is a pinball town.

2. Clyde Common sells champagne half off on sundays (which happened to coincide with our anniversary dinner).

3. US Airways will let a violent drunk man on the plane and what happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.

4. Hybrid cars are cool and drive just fine up in the hills. But flexcars are an expensive way go get around.

5. Pork belly is tasty.

6. Nickel arcades still exist here (with skeeball) and when Rebecca comes back we are totally going to rock and roll glow in the dark putt putt.

7. (and most importantly, as told to us by a woman on the light rail) there is such a thing as a dwarf hamster and if you only have one it will get lonely. It needs a friend.

And even though Rebecca hadn't left yet I had to go to work today. And when I got there I was feeling fine, no problem, and then my legal assistant (the tall and talented Jennifer) asked me about my weekend. Out of nowhere I started crying because Rebecca was going to go back away and I was overcome with sad. Jennifer held me. My new legal assistant who I really don't know at all let me cry in her arms because I was sad because I missed rebecca who hadn't even left town yet. Rebecca was just several blocks away in the microscopic apartment, surfing the internet for lesbian community events and possibly news about urban chicken coops.

which leads us to:

8. i might be PMSing.

Today I also got to go to the courthouse again where I was introduced to the district court judges, magistrates, and various court personnel with the other new attorney hires. I kept my composure. My bossman distributed a little bio saying that I went to Antioch. In Columbus, one of the judges went to Wittenberg, and knowing my beleaguered alma mater's reputation, he ordered the U.S. Marshal to have me immediately drug tested when he found out where I went to college. he was kidding, but these judges seemed ok and nobody even joked about making me pee. They passed around cookies because it was one of their birthdays. I also met the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Karin J. Immergut, who seemed alright for a prosecutor who I am sworn to zealously fight to the teeth.

Afterwards, bossman took me and the three other new attorneys for chinese. He told me he grew up in a commune/community designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Its called Usonian Homes and its in Pleasantville, NY.

And then, after one last dinner at a great peruvian tapas place, we got on the red line max train, went off to the airport, and that was it, at least for the next three weeks.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Let's Try This

Rebecca gets here in a few hours. I woke up early, planning on taking a walk to the farmers market. but before I go I thought I'd try my hand at putting Mp3s on this here website. If you didn't know, you can ctrl click or right click on the links and if it works right, you can download these for later use in itunes or whatever. or you can just click and listen. You know how i love obscure bits of pop.

Rocky Vololato - White Daisy Passing

Above, this is a Portland guy. He's going to be playing a show with Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter on halloween that I want to go to. Its just a soft and dark little song that maybe sounds sort of like bright eyes or sufjan.

Tom Jones - Thunderball

I am ever fascinated by this song. What is he saying? What is a thunderball? is it a verb? Can one be thunderballed? is that a good thing? Please advise.

Tender Forever - Hot

I don't know much about the woman who made this song but its a heavy rotation tune for me. Its especially good if you have headphones or a good stereo set up because things happen in different speakers worth hearing. I think she's coming out with a new record. i think her name is Melanie. i think she's one of those lo-fi record-it-in-bed types (which I totally love). She's on K records, which is sorta local because its up the road in Olympia, WA. This is what she looks like:

Oregon Girl - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

I have had this song around for a couple of years, and sort of like the lyrics to Judas Priest that will allegedly make you kill your family if you listen to it backwards, this song makes you move to Oregon if you play it frontwards. So be careful before clicking on it unless you want to move here.

And this next song? You might want to turn it up real loud and use it as your weekend soundtrack. That's what i'm going to do. This time of year makes me nostalgic for my college music and Pavement is such a keeper.

Pavement - Frontwards

Hats off to Kevin for reminding me about Frontwards. He referenced it on the music blog he contributes to, Mondo-NYC.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Take me down to lezzietown

Broke the seal, people. Tonight I was invited to a fundraiser for Siren. Its like a ladyfest sort of thing with the Gossip and Mirah and a bunch of local folks that I haven't seen but I bet I'll like.

So anyways, after work i took the train and the bus up to the northeastern part of Portland and went to this amazing house that is totally gorgeous and restored to the nines and gigantic and an investigator from work owns it. I met a whole lot of people who were all nice and welcome to portland. tons of snacks and wine and a big fireplace in the backyard that had all these geodes set into the brick. lovely, lovely women and their friends and even a little concert in the living room. terrific.

And when i got home at about 10, how weird/cool/macabre is this: I just checked my mailbox at this microscopic sublet I'm in and i had junk mail in there addressed to Elliott Smith, Apt. 207. Did he live in this microscopic sublet as a Portlander? is that why it smells like E minor chords? almost beats my Harvey Keitel TV guide that Alexis gave me.

And Rebecca gets here Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to that. What if I pack her into the car straight from the airport and take her out to this (from the local paper Willamette WeeK):

Like to buy regional food, see breathtaking views and eat free pears? Well, I know one family farm that is making all your dreams a reality. It's the Rasmussens, and they're throwing a two-day Pear Party event on their Hood River farm. These people are going all out: There will be live music, free food, wine tasting by Hood River Vineyards and a monster of a corn maze to lose yourself in. Be amazed by the variety of pears that this community has produced (more than 16 varieties). PAUL DIRKSEN. Rasmussen Farms, 3020 Thomsen Road, Hood River, 541-386-4622. 9 am-6 pm Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 22-23. Free. Visit for more info.

I think we should go to that, yes? Out into the country for pears and wine!

i want to get closer to that mountain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Big Night Out

Got invited to awesome vintner's wine dinner at the local Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute which featured italian wine importers and a master sommelier and lots of tasty food. and now finally I know a little something about italian wine and know i like things from Abruzzi. It was like a dinner served by college students except fois gras and peppercorn aioli instead of shitty boil in bag rice and beans in a can.

The best part of it was hanging out with my several of my new colleagues from the federal defender. A lot of the investigators and paralegals have law degrees and everyone is a big happy family and extraordinarily smart and this sort of incandescently brilliant death penalty attorney sitting to my left talked about being in the same Harvard law class and friends with Miguel Estrada, an arch-conservative genius type that the even the democrats managed to keep off the federal bench. Apparently he thought she might be conservative too but then realized that she was a civil libertarian freedom fighter but I think they were still pals. by the way, i think the main difference between arch conservatives and arch civil libertarians is their relationship with authority and money. you-should-leave-me-alone-because-of my-authority-and-money versus you-should-leave-me-alone-just-cuz. what is left over sounds alike a lot of the time.

So there was a lot of great italian wine and chat and I think i did okay because i got invited to go swimming at one of their houses on friday and to a Race for the Cure party on sunday. yay!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big League Chew

Today was another very illuminating day at the new job. They are so smart about everything, including organizing sit down meetings with the various people in charge of various things to make sure i know what everyone does and what resources are available. For instance, there is a full time investigator/videographer so that we can make little documentaries about our clients for sentencing purposes. There is a huge pool of law students who pump out legal memoranda for various issues, there is an attorney in charge of keeping an extensive in house brief-bank up and running. it just goes on and on.

I had the best matzo ball soup ever for lunch at Mother's. And then i walked around some more after work.

I had heard that Portland had a lot lot of bums and pandhandlers and gutterpunk kids and I have noticed that I lot of people are asking me for money. I don't mind it so much though it has long been my policy not to give money to panhandlers but to instead help in other ways by starting A PEOPLES REVOLUTION NOW. ok not really. but i was sitting in front of Virgo and Pisces and i just started watching all the panhandlers go by and how all the folks were dealing with them. Its part of the rhytym of the neighborhood, it seems to me, and how it is treated, how it is mellow. Today I also saw a guy dressed up like Mary Engalls from little house on the prairie at the whole foods. He politely asked for various samples from the deli (I think it was his dinner) and the staff was super nice about it. even when he engaged them about the radioactive toxins in certain dishes versus others and told the one counterperson she "couldn't get anything right today" when she dropped something. He said all this very politely, asked for one more sample (this time the chopped chicken livers) and moved on.

I am going to see my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Bob tomorrow, though not under the greatest of circumstances. Their son Roger (my cousin) in having some major 4 hour intestinal surgery at a portland hospital and I am going to go visit there after work. I do not know him all that well at all since those relatives live on the oregon coast and i haven't been out this way so much. but I have heard about Roger's illnesses for years and he has really suffered. so hopefully tomorrow will be a good thing and he will feel better.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Day One

After a very moving send off from the columbus friends involving an avalanche of baked goods and love, I landed in Portland last night sometime just before midnight. Finished a really good novel on the plane about a woman who stumbles into a radical lesbian collective in the 60's, does a lot of drugs, goes underground, gets institutionalized and finds redemption through skydiving. Very funny and smart. Terminal Velocity by Blanche McCrary Boyd

My dear and fabulous friend Shayla met me at baggage claim and helped wrestle my abundant baggage into her car. in no time we were at 17th and Couch NW, unloading into my tiny furnished sublet. its in a great building, walkable to groceries and Powells books and most importantly work.

The apartment really is microscopic. bathroom door that doesn't open all the way because the tub's so close, one small futon, one table with two chairs, a coffee table, a book shelf, a small closet and room for little else. The kitchen is off to the side with the worlds smallest dishwasher, refrigerator, and stove. and an intriguing microwave that purports to also make toast. I unloaded the suits so they wouldn't wrinkle any more and hit the hay.

this morning i woke up early, pulled my self together and walked to work. i had coffee at Half and Half. super hipsters having grave conversations behind the counter about the temp on the espresso maker being up too high and thereby rendering the coffee "less floral." a little too much attitude for me but the coffee was alright.

Started the job shortly thereafter at the Federal Public Defender for the District of Oregon. I began the oregon legal career with a wonderful orientation meeting with my inspiring new bossman Steve Wax. He very patiently explained the history of indigent defense, the core values of the office, and then took me to meet the chief judge of the Federal District Court for Oregon, Hon. Ancer Haggerty.
I asked him about this weird poster on the floor of his office on foam core of "bible man" which looked like bobafet and is apparently some sort of christian comic book character. Turns out it was an exhbit in an old patent case. Judge Haggerty was a big deal on the U of Oregon football team back in the day.

I spent the rest of monday trying to stay alert on very little sleep and filling out forms. After five i walked over to the Ace Hotel and had my first portland rock star sighting. Pat Graham's photos were displayed at the Ace.
Rebecca Gates was at the reception. She was in the Spinanes and is easily one of the hottest women in indie rock in my homopinion. her image here: The guy from modest mouse played a free set but shayla and i are so punk rock that we went next door and ate at the hotel restaurant which was damn, damn good.

After that it was a swing by powells to get a new novel, a call to my sweetie back in columbus, and now I'm writing this and so to bed.

Maybe someday i'll get a camera and take pictures.