Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Road Trip

I spent the day cruising out to the high Oregon desert again. Three hours out along the Columbia River, and three hours back. Two Rivers Correctional Institution in between, and a pit stop at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional facility. I saw a brush fire, many kiteboarders, and a minivan with a Hawai'i license plate. To keep me company across the miles I got another great audiobook/memoir from the library read by Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet magazine. She's such a great storyteller and writes so seductively about life and food. highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One more reason

Just when I thought I had cycled through all my distrust and disgust with Bush and didn't think i could be shocked again, I read this.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Calyx

Calyx Press has published some of the best women authors i have had the pleasure of reading. Tonight, they had a little birthday party at Powell's, celebrating 32 years putting out great authors and poets. I had a tough door-closed-at-the-office kind of day and was so happy to be in the company of creativity. The reading was all poetry and Willa Schneberg and Pam Crow were stand outs of the evening. Schneberg read a summer poem by a recently deceased poet, Sarah Lantz, that was so remarkable and fixed up what ever was ailing me. i wish I could find it someplace on line but i can't. it was about making plum jam and unexpectedly moving. 78 year old Ursula K. LeGuin was the grand dame of the event. She's most famous for her science fiction but does poetry too.

post script: How much do I love having a blog? Willa Schneberg got in touch through the comments and says that i got it wrong. The perils of not paying attention. She wrote Italian Plums. And read it so beautifully.

cuban goodness

When i was in Boston, i lived in a little Cuban neighborhood in Jamaica Plain. On the weekends, i would drop my dirties at the laundromat, where the old guy who owned the place would wash dry and fold it all for ten cents a pound. he had a half broom handle that he would carry with him all the time that he would use to stick in the wash and poke things around during the agitation cycle and he always wore a guyabera shirt. next door was a cuban take out place with fantastic media noche sandwiches. Tonight in Portland I found a little reproduction of my Boston/Cuban hook up, done up in florid pink and yellow. Tostones most delicious.

Tito Puente - Ran Kan Kan

Sunday, July 27, 2008

PDX Pop Now

There's a really great FREE music festival going on this weekend down in SE. I went by this evening and saw two great acts. Reporter was a straight ahead pop rock combo with bi-gendered vocals. The lead singer/bass player was a very good musician. Next, I saw Blind Pilot. WHhhhooaa! I have never heard of them in my entire life until tonight and they stood my hair on end.

There's this weird thing that happens to me involving the centrifugal force of rock bands. if they are from far away, I pay attention. If they are at my doorstep, i pay no mind. i have to fix that! Speaking of musicians, i met a guy last night in the the grocery story line and he had a giant wood saw and a bow for a violin, both carried in his back pack, and sorta sticking out, hence the conversation. I wondered if he gets hassled, carrying around a wood saw everywhere in his bag. We didn't discuss it. Instead, we talked about the wonders of saw playing and about his giant sandwich. it was like four times the size of a sandwich a normal person would eat, even if they were hungry.

Blind Pilot - Oviedo

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why I fled

I met an architect last night at a bar and I told her I had to leave Columbus so i could escape the oppressive architecture of Peter Eisenman. She laughed so hard she almost fell off her stool.

Friday, July 25, 2008


The first time i ever heard of Pendleton was when Jason and I were thrift shopping in Dayton and he referred to his love of "fine woolens," the most desirable of which were Pendleton. I just assumed that it was a Michigan thing since most of his magical midwestern secrets came from the great north. But then i found out Pendleton is a town in Oregon and I spent the day there yesterday. Scrubbly sage brush, worn down western hills covered in brown grass that is always brown, wheat fields, cowboys, wind farms, friendliness. Its an old west town for sure, and an imporant stop on the Oregon Trail when people figured out they were almost there and could hook up with the Columbia river.

i was investigating a case out that way and so spent all manner of time, with a very able and personally fabulous investigator from my office, driving over dirt roads, identifying the right double wide, and generally getting a sense of the barren place where a tragedy happened and a man was wrongly accused. We stopped at a fruit stand and i bought apricots and walla walla onions. I was told that the melons from the nearby town of Hermiston were a VERY BIG DEAL that the whole state just salivated for on an annual basis. Since it rains so damn much, Oregonians make an extraordinary non-stop occasion out of the summer months. (July through late Sept... sigh).

We had a particularly difficult time weaving our way through tree farms of poplars that were being grown, I'm told, to create furniture veneers. Poplars get big but they grow fast. i think the most spectacular part of being out in what the Oregonians call the "high desert" were all the amazing birds. Road runners, cooper's hawks, eagles, redtails, very interesting swallows and woodpecker looking birds. In a way it reminded me of Texas with fewer cars and more appreciation of geologic and topographic place. i bet it is one cold bitch in Pendleton in the winter time. there's nothing but a barbed wire fence between Pendleton and the arctic.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Few better ways that i know to try and shake a funk than to spend time on a river. Better yet, go out on that river with a pack of over 50's lesbians. We paddled for about five hours around Ridgefield, Washington and I did burn my nose but other than that it was super. The group i was with goes out just about every weekend, and a few weeks ago they paddled from Eugene to Portland over several days. Fierce sisters.

Vampire Weekend - The Kids Don't Stand a Chance

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Behold Boise

There's an Oregon penitentiary where I have some clients over near the Idaho border. So I flew into Boise this week, where I have never been or had a reason to go. A couple of things: The Boise airport contains a fabulous time capsule of pinball machines from the 1990's, my favorite pinball era. They had Rocky and Bullwinkle, Funhouse, Terminator 2, and a bunch of other machines, all in impeccable condition. So before I even rented my car I had to linger around of course, but then I finally headed out my lodgings. The local fed defender sent an email around a few weeks ago extolling the virtues of the town's hip new hotel, The Modern, where i ended up staying. Its one of those old L shaped two story travel lodge kinds of places that's been totally redone into an eames era monument, complete with flat screens, big tiled showers, and lots of wood and metal light fixtures. When i checked in, there was a Basque rock band, Amuma Says No, playing in the courtyard.
Come to find out, Boise has a huge Basque community. Apparently a bunch of them immigrated there in the 1800's as sheepherders and now its one of the largest concentrations of Basques in the states. I had dinner at a Basque restaurant and it was similar to spanish food, with more of a fried peasant angle. The chorizo was dang good.

The next morning it was off across the Oregon border to Snake River Correctional Institution. It was like a prison on the surface of the moon. No excitement to report. Although on the way out i saw a bunch of bumper stickers on cars complaining about wolves. one of them referred to grey wolves as terrorists.
i guess if you are a sheepherder you take it personally when a wolf munches upon your flock.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Return of the Rabbit

The rabbit packed everything up and left to go back to Ohio today. Perhaps she will start a dueling blog about her Youngstown adventure.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday night out in Portland

1. A vaudvillesque bar room musical called Curse of the Goddamned Ship about a besotted and forsaken band of sailors and prostitutes aboard the Chubby Uncle who Neptune sentences to perform songs about the constellations to the delight of Portland weirdos. Presented by the Stars and Garters Theatre Company from San Fran, I think most middling musicals would be better if performed in small bars. AND they brought a traveling snake oil salesman with them.

2. Leaving the sea shanty burlesque and walking to our car past a venue that was stacked with police officers, and flashing cruisers, all staring down all comers. The Insane Clown Posse was in town and I had no idea that they brought out the cops like that. the fans were icky, but they seemed pretty chill. Word has it that every time there's any sort of show in Portland that borders on hip hop, the police go into full alert and triple team the club. Its to the point that every time I see a massive police presence downtown I say to myself, "hip hop show" and gauge how big the act is by the number of police vehicles and horses. So disconcerting.

3. ZOOBOMBERS! sunday night around 11pm is time for the Zoobombers to come careening down the 800 ft. hill out in front of my apartment on long skateboards, kiddie bikes, and other strange bicycles. They are a loose affiliation of bicycle freaks with low regard for their personal safety and nothing makes me happier than when i find myself waiting through the green light late on a sunday when they come barreling down the sw slope. They are called the Zoobombers because they all jam their bikes onto the trimax light rail and get off at the stop where the Portland Zoo is at the tippy top of Washington Park.
There's an ad hoc monument out in front of Rocco's pizza off Burnside to commemorate the madness. And I guess its unofficially sanctioned by the city, hence the picture of the new mayor sporting a Zoobomber bike. Now that's politicking! Portland is nicer to renegade stunt bicyclers than it is to the hip hop crowd. I'm just sayin.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Way Up High

We dragged ass out of bed this morning at 4:30 am to go hook up with a balloon ride over the Oregon countryside. it was a perfectly clear morning and just gorgeous for such an experience. Our dear friends Jenpaul and Peter treated us to the ride as a wedding present and we were just waiting for good weather to do it up. The balloon operators were a British couple who were tremendously even keeled and experienced. We clipped the top of some douglas firs at one point when we were about 300 ft in the air. "Mind your hands," said the stolid englishman as we rammed into the tree top, filing the basket with pine cones. But way up high, we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker and Mt. Adams. We saw a bald eagle, deer, and various other birds. The high frequency of the burner got every dog in the county barking at us. We eventually came to rest on some farm land near a hazelnut orchard. The landowner buzzed over on his ATV and flipped out about trespassing and tried to make the balloon operator pay him money. So we fired up the burner and took off for another open field. Afterwards, there was a champagne brunch back at the airfield where we started off and the operators told us stories of the first balloon rides in France in the 1780's.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Gits

Have you heard The Gits? They were a really great Seattle band in the 90's, by way of my poor Antioch College. A documentary has just been released about them that I went and saw at the Clinton Street Theater tonight. Its all about the band, the grunge scene back in the day, and The Gits lead singer Mia Zapata, who was brutally murdered one night on her way home from a bar. Her death was unsolved for about 10 years and finally solved recently through DNA evidence. In the meantime, a bunch of bands got together to raise money for a private investigator, founded Home Alive- a non-profit that teaches women self-defense, and this documentary was made. Go see it if it comes to your town. totally inspiring and sad but in an inspiring way.

The Gits - Absynthe (live)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Boom City

We found fireworks heaven. On the Tulalip reservation, there's a ramshackle collection of plywood shacks across the street from the tribal casino called Boom City. Its decked out with brightly painted handmade signs. You aren't allowed to have a booth unless you are a tribal member. If you were blind, you could probably find your way there from anywhere in the county by following the sound and smell of hundreds of fireworks being set off in a crowded parking lot, all day long. constantly. It was overstimulating, to say the least.
We found a booth run by a carnival barker sort of guy who called himself The Fireworks Monger. I thought i was really going all out when i bought dozens of roman candles and some huge flame launcher looking things that were bigger than baseball bats. But all our neighbors at the sound, hundreds of people really, had gone to Boom City too and spent vast amounts of money on the really fancy fireworks that just went on and on and on all night. We made a fire down by the water to watch. Nobody blew a hand off, even though the people next door to us were launching off their porch and lighting the fuses with a giant blowtorch. The people on the other side of us caught the hillside on fire and it came close to getting out of control. We were outmatched but safe enough with our little roman candle collection. The most exciting it got was when the rabbit held a candle in each hand and pointed them off into the water.

Friday, July 4, 2008

To the Sound!

The rabbit and I are headed up north of Seattle this weekend to a house on the water near Tulalip. There is an indian reservation nearby where we are going to be getting some serious fireworks to shoot across the water. maybe do some fishing? perhaps best of all, we are taking the train and won't have to fight our way up I-5 on a holiday weekend.
Do you think i might get to see a whale? I've never seen a whale before.

Elliott Smith - Independence Day

Aimee Mann - Fourth of July

Allen Ginsberg - America

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I negotiated a discount rate through my work on using the zipcar. It makes the prospect of going car-less doable and probably cheaper than having my own car. It works like this: you fill out an online application, a couple of days later you get a zip card in the mail. say you need a car to go buy groceries or go to the beach or something. You type in your address online and a map pops up with all the different cars that are parked in garages or on the street around town. You tell zip car which car you want and when. When the hour arrives you take your little card and wave it over a device on the windshield. The locks pop open. The keys to the zipcar are clipped to the bottom of the steering column. And away you go. I did this on monday afternoon to go to The Dalles to visit clients. The only catch is that you have to get the car back on time. Did i mention that all this includes gas and insurance? And its only costing me $8 per hour.