Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I don't complain until May

But here we are in May, and the Portland weather can't manage to get above 60 and it rained every day this week. And most of last week. And it is supposed to rain next week. And be cold. No warm spring breezes. Lots of hail. The story goes that you can't count on the weather to be decent until Rose Parade, and then even then, not really reliably until the Fourth of July. The good news is that it doesn't start raining again until the beginning of October.

Black Rain, Black Rain - A.A. Bondy

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When foodie passion attacks

If it were April Fool's day, I would be rolling on the floor, but here we are in May. This weekend, Portland hosted a prestigious annual food event, the Cochon 555. I did not get to go, though every year I sort of want to. It is for charity, but it is spendy. It goes like this: 5 pigs, 5 chefs, 5 winemakers. There's a contest to see who made the best dinner. Everyone gets to taste. All the money goes to a hunger relief charity.

But the whole party got way out of hand and turned into a melee because a non-participating local chef went berserk. While ranting about "the need to support local farmers" and use local ingredients, he started head butting people. In a very Portland fashion, he was escorted out and directed to cool off in the strip club Magic Gardens, a few blocks away. But he was still so very very angry! You see, the Prince of Porc award had been given to Jason Barwikowski of Olympic Provisions and his pig was from IOWA! INJUSTICE! FLASH RIOT! With three of the five pigs originating from Oregon, the angry young chef was inconsolable- how could any pig other than a local Oregon pig have won the contest. It is an abomination!

And so, while still screaming about locally sourced food, he found the 555 event organizer at the Magic Gardens, broke his leg and gave him a concussion. As he attacked the organizer, he was reported to have yelled, "Food doesn't come from San Francisco, food comes from Portland!"

I am not making this up. Everyone can make fun of Portland foodie ways for as long as they want starting NOW.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reaching the Beach

I was more than a little nervous about getting on a bicycle and riding it 55 miles over the coastal range. I am quite glad that someone agreed to do it with me so that I could not back out. I did some training to get ready and held tight to the wild and crazy idea that I just might pull it off. Oh wow, was that an incredibly fun day and I would do it again right this very minute if somebody let me.

The whole excursion involved over 3000 cyclists and was put on by the American Lung Association. The route started in Portland (for those wanting to cycle 100 miles) and ended in Pacific City, Oregon. I hitched up my padded bicycle shorts and headed out at about 9:15am or so from Amity, Oregon and rode west through Sheridan (past the prison) Grand Ronde (past the indian reservation) up through the Siuslaw National Forest, and down the most exhilarating curving hills ever at 35 miles per hr? Not sure. I was going FAST. I wasn't worried since I had a helmet on. No problem. It was a gorgeous day and between the mountains and the farmland and forests and the ocean, the views and terrain were amazing.

After about 30 miles, my legs started to hurt like a bastard. Not muscle hurt so much as lactic acid crampy hurting. It went away about 30 minutes after I finished the ride. The old timers said it was because I did not have enough electrolytes and that I can "power through it." I'll work on that.

My favorite parts of the ride involved trying to keep up with the Lazy Tarantulas, pedaling past little waterfalls, and my friend yelling at cars in traffic to ask how fast we were going, according to their speedometers. OH YEAH and seeing the guy in the green spandex body suit who did the whole 100 mile ride on a unicycle.

The whole ride was to benefit the lung association, and it sure did feel nice to breathe all that clean air on my way down the road. My two inspirations for the ride were quitting smoking last year and going to my cousin's funeral after she died from a very fast moving lung cancer called mesothelioma. Bad business. She was just 22. The lung association is all over that problem, along with general air quality efforts. They are awesome. If you are so inclined, kick a few bucks towards my fundraising (it's not too late!) by making a tax deductible donation to the American Lung Association here.

Friday, May 14, 2010


There is the most darling little community space over on Williams called Waypost. It's not really a bar, and not really a coffee house, and not really a living room, but a lot like all three. I've been to a couple of readings there, and then last night I attended a history lecture of sorts called Northwest Passage. It was put on by the Dill Pickle Club, which is a quirky people's history buff's group. First, Calvin Johnson told us about the history of the Portland punk scene as he experienced it and how much he loved Clockwork Joe's. Next, Vanessa Renwick showed a film and recording from her House of Sound installation about an old record store that was torn down some years ago that was a bastion of groovy R&B excellence. And then it was late and I had to go and I missed the last speaker. Oh, and one of the guys who owns Voo Doo Doughnuts was right next to me and he is quite a unique person. He piped up a lot during the lecture and offered to fight someone who told him to stuff it. But he seems like his heart is in the right place and he's very Portland. Definitely one of the top 10 town kooks. I love town kooks. Maybe I can be one when I grow up.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Hi blog friend. I know I neglect you. Lots of interesting things have been happening but the thing I most long to tell you about was from a few weeks ago during my Week of Rock. I saw Eux Autres, Micachu and the Shapes, XX and some other bands all in one week. But the highlight was Charlotte Gainsbourg. Every French person in Portland was in attendance, along with the guy from the Shins and his model skinny girlfriend and Exene Cervenka who was standing right next to us. To look at, Charlotte Gainsbourg channeled Patti Smith. As a performer, she was more in the mode of Chan Marshall. Shy and quiet and moving through the song list in a workman like fashion. Kind of labored and awkward but very earnest, which made it nice. As if you criticized the understated way she occasionally tapped the snare in in front of her mic, a man in a beret would wheel around on you and berate your horrible American need to have Hannah Montana dance before you like a trained monkey. Spit. Anyways, it was really good to be there, not so much for the performance, but for every other out-of-place or quirky thing about it.

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Trick Pony

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iowa on a Saturday

This past weekend I was hurtled through the air and transported to Minnesota/Iowa for a family wedding. My dad's side is from this area and so off into the heartland I descended. Here is what I can report.

-The people were a little bit friendlier in the midwest, not that Portland is unfriendly. But maybe my practice of shaking hands and grinning a lot when I meet people owes its origin to this region.

-People eat a lot of summer sausage in this part of the country. Way more than you would expect.

-The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Highway is very very pretty in early May. That's the Little House on the Prairie lady.

-They light a lot of candles at Lutheran weddings and the proceedings are brief.

-In a twist of genetic destiny, it seems that all the athletic ability went to my Uncle Lyle and not to my dad. All of my cousins on that side went to college on athletic scholarships and all their kids are doing the same thing. These are great big hulking norwegian people. My second cousin Drew Clark is a linesman for the Iowa State Hawkeyes and very polite. His GPA was 4.12 and he benches 315 lbs. Look out world.

-Iowa isn't necessarily politically conservative. The motor hotel we stayed at had a framed picture of Obama and the hotel manager above the front desk, taken when Obama stayed there on the campaign trail. Much to my surprise, my dad still agreed to check in.

-In further service to my history mystery, I learned that my norwegian great grandparents were named Albert and Agnes Pederson and lived on a farm in northern Minnesota which is still in the family. Neat.

Monday in Ohio

Columbus. Not entirely un-gay.