Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Side Benefit

While I was out of town, I got my brakes worked on and as an unexpected delight, my car radio came back with all the program buttons reset to classic rock stations. YES.

Journey - Faithfully

Wings - Band on the Run

Styx - Mr. Roboto

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Up the Hill

As you may know, I steal almost all the photos that I post on this blog from other blogs and various sources on line. I am not a very good personal documentarian, but I am trying to get better about it. So, on my trip to Santa Fe, I took a few photographs, shared with you here. From my hotel, I can see this statute of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I noticed today that there were a lot of people congregated around the shrine, and that they left flowers. I thought that it meant that it was some sort of special holiday, but I looked it up and I think that is just how people roll. Because the Virgin de Guadalupe is a big deal.

Today's big event was renting a mountain bike and going all over Santa Fe. I visited the farmers market, the eastern lung-busting hills, and a very interesting gallery on Canyon Road that held the world's largest collection of soviet era Polish poster art. I chit chatted with the gallery owner who amassed the collection himself and he was tickled to fill my ears. After several wrong turns, I eventually wheeled my way up to Museum Hill and visited the Museum of Folk Art. They had an exhibit all about indonesian shadow puppets. This picture was taken outside the museum. It was a really lovely day for a bike ride.
At the museum, I asked some of the locals about what I should do for lunch and I went and found a great bowl of chile verde stew that is way better that what I make at home. After that, I bounced around the plaza area and saw all sorts of silver and turquoise jewelry for sale. Somehow I found the strength not to return to Portland masquerading as a new age Santa Fe desert sage, and I didn't get any turquoise.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Santa Fe

I have been here for several days now and here is what I can report:

1. I'm here attending an National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers workshop that is focused on "Difficult Cases" and false confessions. I came because I have some Difficult Cases that might go to trial this summer. I saw some amazing attorneys give lectures about their work including Kobe Bryant's criminal defense attorney and a bunch of other heavy hitters from all over the country.

2. I keep learning more and more about the Reid Technique. It is an interrogation methodology that just about every law enforcement officer in the country uses to coax/coerce/browbeat/strongarm people into confessions. Did you know that out of the 230 plus people who have been exonerated through DNA testing, fully 25% of them CONFESSED to the crime they did not commit? One of the lecturers played a video of an innocent man being coerced into adopting his interrogators version of events and IT. WAS. CHILLING. It took the cops less than an hour to get the guy to say he did it when he did not.

3. SEND LOTION AND CHAPSTICK. It is really dry and my cotton clothing feels like sand paper and I have a weird red blotch on my face.

4. I saw a nice Max Weber portrait for sale at a fancy art gallery here and it was only $75,000.

5. There's a reasonably decent aging punk rocker bar near my hotel called the Matador which, it turns out, is owned by friends of friends from D.C..

6. I tried to go to this spa/soaking pool place that everyone raves about. No thanks. It was very quiet and people wore kimonos but clothing was optional except there were boys there. And weird college aged girls in bikinis with nervous laughter. It was not for me. I hitched a ride back to town with a woman who said she was a shaman. Okay. The people at the front desk were nice and did not charge me because I had my "I am not a hippie and I am so out of here" look on my face.

7. Tomorrow I'm going to rent a mountain bike and go hiking and stuff.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

PDX Salon

I have always been fond of the idea of a salon. Having missed the opportunity to kick off the modern age with Gertrude Stein, I haven't had the chance to attend anything like this. But earlier this week I came across a small news item for PDX Salon. I figured it could be good or just marginal, but I signed up. So check this out: along with 25 other various attendees (I met a sommelier, a civil rights attorney, a concert producer, a mom on a night out, a wine grower) I was treated to a very amazing 4 course menu with wine parings. Each ingredient of menu was painstakingly sourced to within 100 miles of Portland and listed in the program. The cooking was put on by a small catering company called Din-Din, and roughly what we had was a sorrel mousse, a really amazing salad with snow bank morels (??), clams in broth, and a cheese course that came with a grapefruit and tarragon thing. Right on. The conversation was great, i met some very lovely people, AND the night incorporated some art and music. Both at the beginning and end of the evening, Nick Jaina and Sean Flinn played mini-sets. My favorite moment was at the end when those fellas swapped sets across the dining room from each other while standing on chairs, and then at one point, accompanied each other from across the room. Anyways, this salon thing was brilliant and I hope everyone gets to do it because it is a blast. Or you should start one...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Around Ross Island

Our rag-tag bunch gathered at the Marina Place docks yesterday morning to board kayaks and circumnavigate Ross Island. Six friends and no one went over the side and no one ran into a dragon boat or a yacht. We saw all sorts of nature including freshly hatched goslings, ospreys building a nest, a bald eagle and a dead deer. I was reminded of how much I like being on rivers and now I want to go take whitewater classes again.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Secret Interrogation Memos to be Released

"After a tense internal debate, the Obama administration this afternoon will make public a number of detailed memos describing the harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency against al Qaeda suspects in secret overseas prisons," the New York Times reports.

"The interrogation methods were among the Bush administration's most closely guarded secrets, and today's release will be the most comprehensive public accounting to date of the interrogation program that some senior Obama administration officials have said used illegal torture."

Another document expected to be released this afternoon is a Justice Department memo written August 1, 2002. The memo, written by John C. Yoo and signed by Jay S. Bybee, two Justice Department officials at the time, is a legal authorization for a laundry list of proposed C.I.A. interrogation techniques.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Bagging

So when I got off work tonight, I walked towards Pioneer Square. And the closer I got, the sound of the unruly crowd grew louder and louder. What could this be, I thought. It is Portland, after all. Do they wish to free Tibet? Equalize marriage? Provide health care for all? Oh no no no. SO WRONG.

Pioneer Square was packed with a very, very large bunch of conservatives protesting their taxation with representation. I have only been part way paying attention to the news media these days, but apparently there is an anti-tax sentiment afoot which is hostile to the Obama recession measures. The most delightful Portlandy thing about it was watching the bearded guys in Patagonia raincoats engage and argue with the placard bearing protester guys in LL Bean raincoats. From what I could gather, the anti-tax protesters were the Ron Paul people. The rabbit has referred to them generally as "libertarian pinheads" and I think she was just about right.

The most poignant moment for me is when I could hear the megaphones and growl of the anti-tax tea bag crowd flipping out while one of the sleek new Trimet trains glided past on a new track that is running past Pioneer Square, paid for with taxes. The protest took place in a large brick public square which was an expensive public improvement constructed by the city. The protesters faced the Old Pioneer Courthouse, which houses the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Not to say all government is good government. Heavens knows I have taken to the street with a placard and a shout in my day. It's just that I really don't see what the big deal is, especially since Congress just enacted a little tax cut.

At any rate, it appears Portland is far from an ideologically homogeneous place and there are Ron Paul people here who get really fired up about The Man.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Too Much Rock Monday

I am overstimulated. Though my flight got in rather late last night I feel that failing to go see some music tonight would be wrong x 4 because there are at least four very good shows. An embarrassment of riches to have to choose. 1. The Ting Tings at Doug Fir OR 2. The Drones at Someday Lounge OR 3. Karl Blau and something called Tune-Yards or Lucky Dragons at Holocene OR 4. The Heartless Bastards at Berbati's Pan. WTF? I am leaning towards The Drones because I have never seen them before and talking my way into the Ting Tings, though I'm sure it could be done, might take more energy than I can muster because it is sold out to the rafters. CHOICES! I have been in a down n' dirty rock n' roll mood as of late so the Drones' Austrailian punk situation will probably be just right.

Minotaur - The Drones

Winter in April

This picture bears a close resemblance to what my Easter morning looked like. I was up in Minturn, Colorado staying on the banks of Eagle River with friends and it really snowed a lot. We took fine advantage of this by going snowtubing. On my Colorado adventure I also ate the most delicious quail, saw opening day of the Colorado Rockies, and got my face rocked off my skull by White Denim, my favorite band of the moment. Of note, I was hanging out with a lawyer friend who is doing some very important civil rights work these days and she introduced me to one of the attorneys who just won the Ward Churchill case. Huge freaking deal.

Dan Deacon - Of Mountains

White Denim - World as a Waiting Room

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The sun came out

Something about living in Portland for 18 months has taken a toll. Where once my complexion was pale at best, it is now translucent and bat-boy like. I am not the only one. The sun came out for a few days and the temperature reached into the 80s. Portland freaked out. The parks, riverfronts, decks, yards and porches were suddenly mobbed with pasty white vitamin D deprived Pacific Northwesterners. But the sun went away again and will not likely be available again until sometime mid-June.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What design anarchy looks like

Big Ideas! So there's this guy who is like an anti-architect in that he doesn't want to solve problems, he wants to create more problems. Or at least raise the issue that there is a problem. This is what he says. Michael Rakowitz. Inspired by the design of Bedouin encampments in Jordan, he got the idea to make structures for urban homeless people out of plastic bags and tape. He calls them ParaSITES and they are fixed onto the hot air exhaust of buildings. The structure is double-walled so the hot air isn't blowing directly onto the person inside like a hair dryer. He consulted with some homeless guys in modifying the designs and one of the things they didn't like about the prototype was that it was made of black plastic and they couldn't see out. So he changed the materials to create increased visibility. He made a bunch of them to the specifications of his clientele and the paraSITES fold up into a bag.

I went to a lecture that he presented tonight and it was super interesting and subversive. Another project involved creating reproductions of the objects looted from the National Museum of Iraq. That piece is called The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist. The name is a direct translation from the ancient Babylonian street, Aj-ibur-shapu, that ran through the Ishtar Gate in Babylon, now Bagdad. The work is an installation/homage to the former director of the museum. The scale models of the looted works are reproduced using arab newspapers and commercial packaging. In describing this work, he offered a sardonic description of Donald Rumsfeld as "Satan's favorite poet," referencing how the Pentagon reacted to the destruction of the museum in 2003.

The final piece he discussed was The Return. Based on his family's jewish/iraqi merchant heritage and their former store in New York, he opened a temporary shop in Brooklyn. It was established to dually send things to Iraq for free and to import Iraqi dates, which are supposedly the best in the world. He told the story of the tremendous obstacles and expense of trying to import anything from Iraq. He was finally was able to bring over a few boxes of dates, which were reported as delicious. I am not doing the story justice here, but if you try the link, there's a little movie about it that is very cool.

White Denim

I am pretty sure I'm going to see this band this weekend and I am pretty happy about it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Soft and Sweet

Though I have passed by it many times on my walk to work, I had yet to enter The Old Church over on Clay St. until tonight. And I saw a very lovely concert there. The building itself is unlike anything I've ever seen and something called Carpenter Gothic. It looks like a medium sized gothic church but instead of being made of stone or brick, it is all wooden. On the inside, there's a huge organ, and nary a crucifix in sight.

Gladly instead, I got to see two great acts. First off, Ah Holly Fam'ly played and I am not sure how to describe them. Very soft and intense and old tymey-tymesy. It's like the indie rockers decided to completely give up being loud and staccato and resolved to make the most lush and pretty music they could manage. The newspaper calls it "avant folk." Okay. Laura Gibson came on second, backed by the Portland Cello Project, her band, and a choir of 14 people made up of local musicians including Sarah Dougher and Nick Jaina. It was very dramatic when the show started and the choir entered in a candlelight procession. The occasion for the evening was the release of Gibson's new record Beast of Seasons. Her music sure is pretty. She sometimes sounds like she is about to cry when she's singing and puts together very quiet and textured arrangements around that vibe. Tonight's performance was one of those it-will-only-happen-this-once sorts of things and I am very grateful that my friends told me about it. And I'm glad she held it in that cool church. Oh, and she even included a pot luck in the fellowship hall before the show.

Laura Gibson - Spirited

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What I'm interested in right now

Esther Pearl Watson. And I'm arriving a little late to the party. But I bought a print of hers this week through tiny showcase and now I can't get enough of her paintings. I guess she's most famous for her zine. But I'm super interested in the paintings because they are about growing up in north Texas with an eccentric inventor parent who is trying to make a flying saucer.

Beta Band - Space Beatle

The Meat Purveyors - Car Crash