Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tin roof ... rusted.

We drove up and down the main drag of Grant's Pass, Oregon looking for the most interesting motel to crash at for the night. Our dreams became reality at the Wild River Inn, $38.50, velvet wall paper! And we decided to peek in their lounge, which was behind a red door under a neon sign. From the outside it was quiet as church, but as soon as we opened the door, we found every drunk in Grant's Pass screaming along with the karaoke singer. In between Love Shack, Hooked on a Feeling, and The Grundy County Auction Incident and other karaoke favorites, the bar erupted into furious dance interludes involving humping and the cotton eyed joe. We tried not to make eye contact too much and went to bed.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Road Trip

Rebecca and i are packing up the truck (along with some snow chains) and heading to California for the long weekend. Will report back if the opportunity arises.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


While I had every intention of going to the gym after work to shake off the xmas slugs, it was closed. So i wandered back to what is becoming sort of a haunt of mine with a friend after work. The Rialto is fancy/seedy, sort of like a casino. A combination of heavy pours, off track betting, billiards and pinball and cigars draws an odd mix. After work office people (I guess I am one of these), a rockabilly gaggle of waitstaff, gambling addicts, serious pool hustlers, sports bar types, downtown bums and card players all mingle around and mostly everyone is friendly. Its a huge space with lots of wood, brass, red carpet and leather upholstery. And they have pinball, and so they have me. I would expect it to be a very "guy" place but its really very mixed. And they also have a snooker table, a resident pool pro available for private lessons by appointment, and most excellent onion rings. I hear this is the place to be on Kentucky Derby day. I wonder if anyone there will sing My Old Kentucky Home with me at post time?

And music for you:

Wussy - Rigor Mortis

And then they were back...

Perfectly exhausted from the journey back, but glad to be coming home to Portland.

The Mountain Goats - Best Ever Death Metal Band

Everytime i hear this song, it reminds me exactly of the way things felt last time i was a full-time Texan, going to a low rent boarding school in Denton, Texas and plotting my escape. The alienation, my cadre of similarly alienated angry, reactionary schoolmates, the way you knew you had to get out of there lest you utterly perish. it is not so bad for some as it was for me and its okay to visit from time to time i suppose, but for a lot of reasons i tend to feel acutely thin-skinned, ashamed and jumpy when i am in Texas. and Samsonite is a brand of baggage. and the Mountain Goats write songs about feelings like no one else.

P.S.: Portland cabs are way expensive. The train stops running from the airport at 11:35pm. Flight delays stick you in the wallet, believe you me.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Greetings from Fort Worth

It is my third day in Texas and we have finished Phase Dad of christmas are starting on Phase Mom this morning. If you grew up with divorced parents then you know what I am talking about. So far the highlights of our trip include, in no particular order:

-driving around in my dad's Clarkmobile which he has for his State Farm office and has his name, phone number and email address printed all over it.
-seeing my oldest oldest friend and her new baby.
-eating lunch at The Original Mexican Eats, a restaurant that's been in Ft. Worth since the 1920's or so. One of the dishes is called The Roosevelt because FDR ate there.
-seeing my dad's name spelled out in the flowerbed in front of his office in a 40 ft. line of topiary shrubs.
-cooking with my brother.
-thinking of funny things to say about my mother's long blonde wig that she has started wearing as a "time saver" and which makes her look like an orthodox jew or a cancer patient, you pick.
-looking out at the vast, flat, brown expanse and seeing the massive red-dotted signal towers out on the horizon. Remembering how I would stare out at them and watch them flicker the same way people in other places look out at the ocean.
-seeing Charlie Wilson's War
-negotiating the spectacular crowds of christmas shoppers at all the big box stores that are EVERYWHERE.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The difference between a vacation and a trip.

Blog interrupted. We are going to Texas for a few days and will be back middle of next week. See you then.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Audio Portion

Music for You:

Some say this is the song of the year. I'm cool with that.

Lil Mama - Lip Gloss (link taken down. sorry).

Stephen Malkmus and the Million Dollar Bashers - Ballad of a Thin Man (Dylan Cover)

The Libertines - Time For Heroes

Pinball League

Bowling is okay I guess, but I'm a pinball person and tonight I went to Pinball League! We met at Goodfoot, a great big pool hall sort of beer place at 28th and Stark. I hadn't been over to that neighborhood before and I really liked it. Anyways, Goodfoot was a great place to be for no other reason than for the great rock n roll poster exhibit that adorns their walls. The best and most beautiful i have ever seen, and they were all for sale.
I was intimidated to be playing with these league players. Portland is, after all, the home of the notorious pinball gang, The Crazy Flipper Fingers. Word has it that once you are jumped into the gang, they give you a silver ball and whenever you get a high score you no longer put up your own initials. No, once you are in the Crazy Flipper Fingers, your pinball initials are CFF forever more. And they give you a cool nickname like Extra Ball or Super Jets or The Plunger. And you have to be really good. So I didn't know if those CFF people would be there or not, I didn't know what to expect. It turned out it was just two guys around my age who were pinball freaks but I am happy to say I held my own. We talked about the CFF and their legendary high scores like they were sports stars.

The bar had No Fear, World Cup Soccer, Lord of the Rings, and a boxing related game I can't remember the name of that was a lot like Who Dunnit. Someone had a score sheet and you got league points if you were 1st or 2nd place. I took one game, I think on the World Cup soccer game. We talked about great tables from the past like Bride of Pinbot and Funhouse and Guns n Roses.

As for actual physical activity, I am still DYING to find a volleyball league or some sort of real sports thing to do. So if anyone knows of anything (besides basketball. tex doesn't do that) let me know.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Seriously Crafty

Portland does not mess around when it comes to DIY crafts, craft events, craft stores, craft classes, and craft love. Today we hit holiday craft extravaganzas for holiday shopping. There was a line a hundred people long stretching outside the Norse Hall of hipsters and nursing mothers and little old ladies and lesbians teeming to get into the fair. So many people came that they could only let you in after someone left or else the fire marshall would have a cow. All for the love of felt sew-ons shaped like squirrels and bracelets made of bicycle inner tube. Besides that, and the hand sewn purses, necklaces made from scrabble letters, homemade soaps, and fabric pasted greeting cards, there was a lot of very finely made jewelry, art prints, and baby clothes to be found. Got the last of our shopping done. Or at least the first part of the last part of our shopping. Rebecca got a subscription to the Craft magazine and she bought me a really lovely necklace that I can wear to work without looking like Barbara Bush or Hothead Paisan.

We also bought some stuff from the gift shop there at the Norse Hall that rented their space to the crafties. Its the home of the local chapter of the Sons of Norway and being part Norwegian, i talked them up about where I could get the best lefse in town. They enthusiasically gave me the phone number for the Ladies Auxillary of the Sons of Norway so that next year I could participate in making lefse at the Norse Hall with Edna, the head Norwegian social club lefse maker. Maybe if I help they will invite me to the annual Lutefisk dinner.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Already thinking about Spring

I won a charity auction through The Portland Mercury for a trip once the weather gets nice. We are going mountain biking in Bend, Oregon. We get transportation to and from Bend, a night's stay at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School, and guided beginner mountain bike riding. Yay!

To celebrate, there will be more music for you!

The Blow - Come on Petunia

The Geraldine Fibbers - Lillybelle

Jail Roadtrip

I haven't been to New Zealand or the Scottish Highlands, but maybe the Columbia Gorge out west past Hood River is something like it. Pity i can't find a picture that shows off what i saw. Roaring cliffs surrounding a big river, waterfalls, mossy, craggy, bluffy, rugged, ancient, gorgeous. At the end of the journey was The Dalles, a jail, and two clients. And then back again hours later through the gray, misty, wild green crevice.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lost again.

Following a serious class at our fancy new gym, rebecca and I battled it out at the Pop Culture Debate Club hosted by the In Other Words feminist bookstore. When we walked in they were debating the relative merits and transgressions of America's Next Top Model vs. Project Runway. Because everyone wants Tim Gunn to be their fabulous gay uncle, Project Runway was the handsdown winner. The debate club then took on whether it was ok as feminists not to vote for Hilary in the primaries. Lively discussion ensued.

We met that Bonnie B. afterwards at Crush, this really great upscale sort of gay lounge on Morrison. We were starving and the food was suprisingly stellar. I would go back again just for the cobb salad, but we also ran into some Columbus lesbians there that we sort of know but not really. Mostly we just hung out and I developed a renewed appreciation for Rufus and Chaka Khan duets.

We drove that Bonnie B. home from Crush up to St. Johns which is a big neighborhood situated north of Portland proper. And for like the fifth time, we got horribly turned around up there and wound up at Jantzen Beach, the last exit before crossing into Washington (which is incidentally the site of a recent large drug bust case I am embroiled in). St. John is a black hole of mysterious roads that go the opposite way from what you thought. So says I. And poor Rebecca. She does most of the driving and listens to me when I say "turn that way!" which is invariably the wrong direction. And at one point in our winding odyssey we had our headlights turned off, and three guys ran into the street at screaming for us to turn them back on. Helpful Portlanders.

Music For You:

Edwin Starr - 25 Miles

James Brown - Funky Christmas

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Retroactive guideline change! Smiles Everyone, Smiles!

After years of pleas and persuasion, the US Sentencing Commission has finally done something (though not nearly enough, that requires an act of Congress) to offset the collosal, racially discriminatory disparity between drug sentences for powder and crack cocaine. There's a fairly comprehensive article about it. here. Even better, the sentences are going to be changed retroactively. A whole bunch of people are going to be eligible for release because their new sentence is shorter than what they have already served. And there's a whole lot of other people, who might not get right out, but will get considerably lower sentences when the judge takes a second look with recently broadened sentencing power.

So guess what I get to do for the next couple of weeks? I am on a three lawyer team at my office that will handle the motions for resentencing for eligible defendants. There aren't a ton of crack cases in Oregon, unlike DC or Chicago or Detroit where there's going to be a great number of these folks. But its still going to be SUPER BUSY.

Meanwhile in Iowa

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Word of Advice

When you go on your visit to the county jail, even if it is your first visit and you have not been there before, do not do the following. When you are done with your client visit and are wrapping things up, and you are ready to be let out of the attorney interview room, do not push the red button below the red sign that says EMERGENCY. Do not push it. Because if you push it, county sheriffs will come running through the halls, with maglites and pepper sprays flapping about their persons. And they will ask you if you are ok. And they will wonder when they started admitting morons to the bar. Keep your fingers off the button.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hide the Egg Nog

Today there's apparently going to be a drunken rampage of people in Santa costumes careening through downtown Portland. I am going to my office holiday party instead.

Pop Quiz

Quick: lets say there's a bus that caters to an immigrant community, like one of those east coast chinatown-to-chinatown buses or a bus that caters to mexican immigrants. the cops know about the bus and one day decide to do a trumped up stop for a busted tail-light. Conveniently (planned), immigration enforcement agents are waiting in the wings and get on the bus and go one by one, asking for all the passengers' papers. Several passengers cannot produce ID and they are eventually charged criminally with illegal entry to the United States.

Question: Is there a defense arising from the way the defendants were intercepted?


Friday, December 7, 2007

Public Defender Art

Last night Rebecca and I went out on the town and did a bit of xmas shopping at Reading Frenzy, the totally great zine and other things store on W. Burnside. I found this great silkscreened poster (pictured) by Josh McPhee that I am about to hang in my office. I feel useful and effective today. Repeat three times.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Don't Fall Down

The Raveonettes - Aly, Walk with Me

Work is Bumping

7:30 is real early for a staff meeting, though I understand it because that's a time when no one is in court and everyone can get together. I volunteered to handle a case in Medford, Oregon where there is currently an opening at my office (anyone public defenders out there who want to go fed and live in Medford, Oregon?). I have never been to Medford before but I understand it is all about pears. The cases are coming off the top of the deck pretty quick now.

Tonight I'm heading to this: A wine and cheese thing at McGinn's Wine Shop on Russell St. This evening's featured bottles will be from Roots Vineyards & Winery in Oregon’s North Willamette Valley. Pinot time again. Wish you were here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So Much to Tell for a Tuesday

Six super great things:

1) I had sort of a check-in meeting with Steve Wax (visionary boss) this afternoon. I am officially busy at work now and we talked about my case load, which is fine but increasing. Everythings a-ok for now in newjobworld. Challenging and meaningful. I am really lucky.

2) I passed the ethics part of the bar exam, the MPRE, which i didn't really study for much and hadn't taken in 10 years. It's a famously passable test, but still, its nice to have that done.

3) Rebecca and I are in the middle of a trial week at a new gym called Empower! which is all about indirect light, fancy equipment, personal attention and house plants. Today was the group weight training class and tomorrow we are going to squeeze in a little yoga before Tyra.

4) Powell's Books hosted a great reading tonight promoting the new book It's So You, an new anthology put together by Michelle Tea and includes Six Feet Under Producer Jill Soloway, transgender icon Kate Bornstein, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, poet Diane di Prima, NPR regular Sandra Tsing Loh, novelist Beth Lisick, Calvin Klein model Jenny Shimizu. Several of the contributors did readings tonight: Dexter Flowers, Mary Christmas, illustrator zine awesome person Nicole Georges, and Debbie Rasmussen, the editor of Bitch Magazine (which you should totally subscribe to).

5). After the reading we were totally starving and Rebecca way wanted noodles. We tried to go to a couple places, it was late, we went to Pok Pok on Division. We got a table. We ate like the queens of thailand. A lot of super awesome food involving cucumber, meat, oyster sauce, carrots, glass noodles, whiskey and poultry. I think this place is just about impossible to get into on a weekend night so thank god for tuesdays. Its like an overgrown food shack that has overtaken the basement of a house. Most of the cooking is done outside in the open air. Super duper. As I write this I am very very full.

6) There's music for you!

Dory Previn - The Lady with the Braid

The Breeders - Wicked Little Town (Hedwig Cover)

Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

Incidentally, there was this really annoying David Brooks editorial in the NYT recently where he was lamenting that rock music no longer has african american influence and that indie rock in particular is the whitest music in the world and he quoted Sacha Frere-Jones to prove his point and though I would not put The Decemberists or Belle and Sebastian in the Funkadelic column, I immediately thought of a million bands and musical trends in indie rock which totally contradict his premise. off the top of my head: Lily Allen, Bloc Party, TV on the Radio, The Black Kids, and that was before I realized that there is this other burgeoning sound coming up through the indie rock depths right now of bands borrowing from African music like Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend above. So, in addition to being wrong about everything, David Brooks is also wrong about indie rock.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A couple of other things

Having moved from the very near the home of the temperance shrine, the Anti-Saloon League Museum , it was quite a change to see the main center of downtown Portland, Pioneer Square, colonized for the weekend by the Holiday Alefest. The promoters set up giant tents (to keep the rain at bay) and many many serious brewers and beer freaks turned out for the tasting. We purchased a little one oz. tasting mug and tried a smoked porter, a bock, a barley wine, a russian stout a scotch ale and other things. I'm not a beer fiend so much (if it was a wine tasting, well that's another matter). There were long lines for the serious mavens because that night they unveiled several very small special show-off batches that the breweries brought over for the occasion. Some of the beers cost $4 for just a little taste. we didn't have any of those, mostly because we didn't want to get crushed in the onslaught of lumberjack-looking guys who were wild about getting to the special kegs. Overwhelmed by the crowds pretty quickly, we left with our sobriety in tact.

On sunday, I went to a meeting of local Antioch people to talk about the state of things with the college, staying open but by a thread. Went to Hot Lips Pizza for the meeting, which was great. The meeting was a little hard though because we couldn't hear so well. A soccer team of 7 and 8 year old boys was having their wrap up pizza party. They were loud, but very cute. At one point the little boys formed a long conga line and did a singing dance around the restaurant. The Antiochians tried to stay focused on their important committee work, of course.

New territory

There is a difference between representing criminal defendants in Ohio and in Oregon, and I'm still unraveling it all the subtlties, but here are some big distincitons:

1. Ohio was all about crack. Oregon is all about meth.

2. Oregon has several federal prisons, whereas Ohio only had one and that wasn't in my district. So now I am getting more cases that are federal because they arose on federal property: the prisons.

3. Lots more spanish speaking clients in Oregon. So much so that the office has a full time interpreter.

4. Ohio prosecutors fully expected you to file preliminary motions, like motions to suppress on 4th amd grounds. Oregon prosecutors treat motion practice as some sort of wild-eyed, hardheaded, unreasonable tactic that terminates negotiations.

5. Oregon has Native American reservations and many Native clients. Nothing going on like that in Ohio. I'm working on educating myself about Native issues and various tribes so i won't be completely ignorant.

6. In Oregon the federal court seems a lot bigger that what was going on in Columbus. Many more judges and magistrates. Which is good if it means they can take the time to give habeas cases thorough review.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Trial Lawyer Party!

Last night we went to the annual gala dinner for the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. The featured speaker was Judy Clarke, who is one of our most distinguished federal public defenders, having represented a menagerie of headline clients such as Olympic bomber Eric Rudolf, baby drowner Susan Smith, and Unibomber Ted Kozyciski. NEAT! And there was also a charity auction and Rebecca bid on and won a duck hunting trip. She has never been duck hunting, no matter, though it is difficult to find someone willing to share a blind with you if you have never fired a gun before. Who will that lucky person be?