Monthly Archives: January 2009

Portland, My love affair with…

I’ve lived four places for enough time to really nail down a feel for them. Tucson, Phoenix, San Jose, and Portland. And Portland is, by leaps and bounds, my favorite. But lately I’ve been trying to think about why Portland pegs out my bone-o-meter, so I decided to nail down a few pluses and minuses.

1. Doers and makers. Phoenix and San Jose are, at their core, essentially long distance suburbs of Los Angeles. As such, they share this trait. The people in those towns are talkers and owners. They talk about things they like to do. “I sure do love hiking”, “I like flying planes”, “I would love to travel”. And they also own things. “I have a boat”, “I have a big TV”, “I have an RV”. Whereas Portland is doers and makers. “I am going skiing”, “I am hiking”, “Tomorrow, we’re hang gliding”, and “I made some bacon”, “I brewed this beer”, “I made this quilt”. This is worth probably fifteen points right here. I love talking to somebody and instead of talking about how great this object is they own, they talk about how they’re building one that is even better than the last. Or how they learned so much the last batch they fucked up, or how they’re going snowmobiling RIGHT NOW.

2. Writers and thinkers. Phoenix had thinkers, it really did, but they certainly didn’t get together and talk about shit. There were writers, but they were like chupacabra. You heard they lived somewhere out in the desert, and there was always a sneaking suspicion they were there, but you never saw them. Here, you go to a bar and start talking and you find out you’re sitting next to @melissalion or some shit. And you’ll be sitting on the Max and two dudes will be talking about Kafka. I never had deep conversations on any public transit in CA or AZ. Five points. OK, ten because Melissa Lion is hot.

3. Movers and shakers. Never have I seen people with such a huge social net. Events here draw people from geographically, philosophically, and professionally diverse groups, and everyone is willing to share a table, share a story, talk. Everyone here has a level of social grace a notch above the Phoenix average, though there is certainly a level of street smarts which is being sacrificed in the equation. Five points. You gain ten for grace, lose five because you imagine that Portland has a ghetto somewhere in it.

4. Whites and… other whites. Whoa is Portland white. I mean… white white. So white sometimes I have to pinch myself because I think I might have accidentally stumbled upon a Klan meeting or something, but then I realize I’m just at a bar. I go to Mexican markets up here sometimes just to hear people speaking Spanish. Minus five points because I can’t get Pico limon and fresh, lime-and-chili-spritzed duritos at every convenience store.

5. The Portland Mercury. Not quite as good as the New Times, but then again what is. It’s got a very home-spun manner to it, and I love that the editorial staff isn’t afraid to leave their paper with a strong flavor of the writers personality. Plus five points.

6. KBOO. This station is outrageously great. When it’s not some completely stoned out of their gourd old guy who is stumbling over exactly what songs they just played, it’s some truly experimental out there music, or classic country, or (like I was listening to earlier) some fantastic deep track hip hop from the early 90s. And occasionally, a talk show that makes a lefty NPR show look like a Rush Limbaugh screed. And where else am I going to find a show that just plays “odd noise tracks” with a DJ who, instead of announcing song titles, makes up an in-situ haiku about what they’re thinking about at that moment. Plus five points, just for the classic hip hop, five more for the DJ shenanigans.

7. Drivers and dawdlers. OK, here’s my biggest beef with the city, by far. In Phoenix, people drive to get where they are going. And, they almost always HAVE to drive. Mass transit sucks a ragged asshole and you usually work 14 miles from where you live, and it involves a stint on the freeway. And the vinyl in your car is gonna burn the shit out of your legs so the less time you have to be in the car the better. And since it’s gonna be 110 degrees for nine weeks a year, so riding your bike full time isn’t a terribly viable plan unless you have invested in SPF45. Because you HAVE to drive and you are always driving a pretty good distance, you learn to drive fast, drive aggressively, and pay as little attention to other drivers as you can. The speed limit is a good minimum speed to go in case of bad traffic, and speed limit plus 10 is pretty safe. In San Jose, nobody knows their way around town except via freeway, so you always end up driving 5 extra miles even though you were going just up the street, but, everybody drives extra fast to make up for it. I don’t think a single street in this town had an average speed under fifty, and that includes residential streets and parking lots.

Portland, on the other hand, seems to take the mindset “OK, we’re in the car now. Now, it is car time, and we should enjoy it.” I pulled up behind a woman this week, and we were coming to an intersection. The cross traffic had a double green arrow, and we were turning right, so, naturally, I made to just cruise straight onto the street. She, instead… stopped. Stared at the red light. I began to gesture, very gently, for her to go. She looked at me in the rear view, then at the cross traffic. She pulls forward, slightly, then SLAMS ON HER BRAKES because she sees the red light again. I begin to wave more frantically, because our window of opportunity is waning, and she is looking at me in the rear view like I just pulled a gun on her or some shit. Just pure terror in her eyes. The green arrow is now yellow, and traffic is about to start flowing. I am now just mouthing “GO GO GO” and she stares back at me and dawning comprehension shows on her face. So she darts out and makes her right turn… just as traffic starts to flow. Leaving me stranded, waiting for twenty five cars to slowly meander their way up to ten miles under the speed limit and then ride their brakes like Jesus the Christ Himself has commanded that they never get above 30.

I’m gonna be honest here, Portland. This is negative fifteen points. This is a big one. If I were driving from the west side of town every day? This might have been a dealbreaker. Thankfully, there is a way around it, which is to ride your bike, which is a meaningful and valid alternative here. But I have a little tip for you. When you get in your car… pretend… just for the duration of the trip, like you are a regular human being with goals other than sitting in the car as long as possible. You don’t have to ACTUALLY HAVE THOSE GOALS. We’re just pretending. You just need to pretend, for as long as you’re behind the wheel, like you have something you would rather be doing than bopping around in traffic at speeds which should make an old woman honk and screech at you. Just breathe deep, take on some artificial sense of urgency, and let that carry you to… the speed limit, maybe even beyond it! or to the store, or wherever you are going.

Cuomophobia

So, I talked a little about the Sam Adams scandal, and I got a fair amount of backlash about what I said, from gays and straights alike, and I’m sure I hurt some feelings.

But a week on, things have come to light and Sam has decided against resignation, but one thing remains the same.

People trying to inoculate themselves against homophobia.

You see, when somebody says “It’s not the sex it’s the lying” about old Sam they are really saying “I HAVE NO PROBLEMS WITH HOMOSEXUALS SO DON’T EVEN BRING IT UP”. Just like when they say “I’m Jewish and I don’t agree with Israel” it’s a way of saying “NO ANTI-SEMITE HERE AWOOGAH AWOOOGAH”. This, in and of itself is kind of to be expected, but there’s a subtext there that rankles my balls.

The silent second sentence in both of those arguments is “…And because of that I have some form of authority that doesn’t require backing up my statement”.

This I have a problem with. I don’t care if you’re so gay that Gay magazine named you King Queer, Gayest Gay of the High Holy Gay Days Rainbow Parade, or if you’re so Jewish that you shit matzo balls and piss schmaltz. What I care about is if you have a cogent argument to back up your opinion. I don’t care if you’re a mother of four or a ten year old kid. If you are gonna opine on something, you are gonna need to show your work if you want to be taken seriously.

Sam Adams

I’ve heard a lot of this the past day or so about Sam Adams – “It’s not the sex that bothers me, it’s that he lied”.

To this I say – You are either incredibly naive, or you are lying to yourself.

@ZippityD put it this way – “if adams was a vegetarian, but said he was an omnivore when asked, then was found out, what would the fallout be? just curious”

This was derided as a poor example, because, of course, the real problem was that he coached a kid to lie, so we have moved the goalposts a little, but let’s apply the exact same example.

If Sam Adams were a vegetarian, and his intern were also a vegetarian. And the two of them ate vegetarian meals together, in secret. And then Sam Adams lied and said he ate meat, and told Beau or whatever the guys name was to also lie… would people be asking him to step down? Would they be calling him out at press conferences? Would there be a recall campaign?

I don’t think so. So, the fact that this is sex related obviously plays a part. If it were about his eating habits, it’d be a little white lie. But since it is related to whose junk touched what, it’s a big deal, right? So it’s not the lying that bothers you. It’s the fucking. It’s called math. We delete the common terms from both sides.

I wonder what would happen if Sam Adams secretly had MS, and called a press conference to talk about it. We’d probably have an article in the paper about how sad it was that he was dealing with this painful disease. If he secretly had AIDS though? I suspect everyone would be all freaked out, and you’d likely see somebody asking him to step down so a healthy person could take office. And they’d say that it wasn’t the AIDS that bothered them, it was the lying about having it. They’re both degenerative afflictions. But one is related to fucking, and the other isn’t.

The Black Heart New Year’s Meme

I didn’t see this earlier but I think I should do it for laughs.

1. Did you have sex in 2008?

Not with other people.

2. If you can count all of your 2008 lovers on your available appendages, please list them here.

I can always count on one appendage to be a lover.
The other is a little clumsy but subs in sometimes.
My feet I can’t get up there.

3. Would you sleep with these people again? Why or why not?

Yes, because I don’t think I have much of a choice.

4. Did you sleep with any of your friends?

Have you even been paying attention?

5. What countries did you have sex in?

Multnomah and Maricopa (Or maybe it was Pima?) I was kind of on the Freeway at the time.
Oh, you said Countries not counties. The United States of America. USA! USA!

6. What sexual toys or tricks would you like to use in 2009 that you didn’t in 2008?

Is “ANY OF THEM” an OK answer?

7. What sexy date(s) from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Uhhh…

8. What was your biggest sexual achievement of the year?

I didn’t get HIV for the 29th consecutive year. Oh, wait, except for the one Brad gave me.

9. What was your biggest sexual failure?

Seriously just go back and read the other answers.

10. Did you suffer any STIs or sex-related injuries?

I was afraid I got some RSI in my wrist but it turned out I just slept on it wrong.

11. What was the sexiest thing you bought?

My Ecco shoes.

12. Whose bedroom behaviour merited celebration?

I’m gonna say… Colin Powell

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My EeePC 1000H

14. What song will always remind you of getting it on in 2008?

Viktor Vaughn – Bloody Chain

15. What do you wish you’d done more of in the bedroom?

Not worrying about money

16. What do you wish you’d done less of in the bedroom?

Working

17. Did you fall in love (or lust) in 2008? With whom/how many times?

Absolutely. Dozens of times.

18. How many one-night stands?

I don’t think you can go negative numbers on this, so zero.

19. What was your favourite sex-scene in a TV show or movie?

When George Clooney shows Frances McDormand his home made sex chair in Burn After Reading.
Bill and Sookie in True Blood was close.

20. What was the sexiest book you read?

Generation Kill. Which is my way of saying, not too many sexy books in 2008.

21. How did you celebrate V-day or Steak and Blowjob Day?

As I recall, I got blackout drunk at the house and drunk-tweeted some personal details.

22. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more sexually satisfying?

… I’m gonna say another person participating.

23. How would you describe your personal sexual style in 2008?

Ineffective?

24. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Anna Paquin in True Blood

25. Tell us about a sexy lesson you learned in 2008.

It’s not if you win or lose, it’s if you play the game.

OK, it’s 2009, everybody.

We’re all on the internet, all the time. And if we’re all gonna be there and be comfortable, we’re going to have to lay down some ground rules.

First. if you are a GIGANTIC FUCKING COMPANY, and you CRY LIKE A TODDLER WITH A SKINNED KNEE because somebody has the temerity, the unmitigated gall to NOT CROUCH DOWN AND HOOVER THE DICK OF EVERYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR COMPANY INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE CITY IT WAS FOUNDED IN, you should tighten your shit up and fuck off. You’re gonna whine because this guy doesn’t like your town? Well put your seatbelts on tight guys, because there’s this thing called a search engine and I don’t think you’re gonna like what people are saying about your company, or about your precious fucking home town. The sort of brainless, idiotic, perpetual manchild underwear blossoms that moan and kvetch because somebody happens to have an actual opinion that doesn’t 100% fall into line with theirs, to the point of threatening to stop using their services? They shouldn’t be in charge of your accounts. If you want to succeed in this harsh economy, you’re going to have to put that “I’m taking my toys and heading home” attitude into the memory box with your slap wraps and your friendship bracelets and man up.

And finally, fuck you, Peter Shankman, for posting this as some kind of lesson to the others. “EVERYONE, BE AFRAID. LIVE IN FEAR THAT ONE DAY YOUR TRUE FEELINGS WILL BE EXPOSED TO EVERYONE.” If we’re going to move forward as a people, we can’t afford to have bleating crybabies like you calling themselves “adventurists”.

Seven Things

I got tagged to do this, so here we go.

1. I don’t wear a watch anymore. I used to really obsess about what time it was, and if I left the house without my watch on, I’d usually go back to put it on. I made a resolution to stop wearing a watch and my stress level has seriously dropped off.

2. I don’t wear underwear. I used to wear boxers, then I found boxer briefs, but at some point after college I just gave the fucking things up. Now I’m 100% commando, unless I’m going out to ride my bike in the cold, then I put on some long underwear. But that doesn’t really count.

3. A girl in my life drawing class in Junior High used to borrow my pocketknife all the time, and I never really understood why until about four years ago when I heard about “cutters”. She would ask me for it, and then I’d slip it to her under the table, and she’d apparently cut herself right there in class. I saw her bleeding once but never put it together until years later.

4. When I buy sweet/sour candy, I’ll eat it compulsively until it’s gone. I bought a box of Cherry Passion Tic-Tacs the other day at dinnertime and they were gone by the time I went to bed. I’ll eat an entire box of Runts during a movie and still have room for the Gobstoppers. This doesn’t seem to happen with chocolates.

5. I don’t like the sound it makes when you run your fingers across that weird fabric they make car headliners out of, it’s totally horrifying. When my sister was a toddler, she used to drool into and then suck on blankets and it made a noise with the same quality. If I hear it I’ll usually leave the room.

6. I played the Cello from fourth grade until high school. I was just OK, not spectacular, and I quit because I was too busy being moody to practice. I did a few recitals, mostly accompanied by Brian Terrel, a family friend. The last time I did a recital, it was going to be solo. I was going to play the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. I sat down, panicked, and played through it at 300% normal speed. I was so completely terrified I think I played the coda four times.

7. I write all wrong – fiction or nonfiction. I don’t do drafts, I rarely edit after I’ve written, I don’t outline, I don’t do notecards. I just sit down and my hands start moving and I start typing. Sometimes I’ll get eight perfect paragraphs down all in one go, sometimes I’ll get five in and realize the first three are terrible and just delete them, sometimes I’ll be six pages in and start over because it’s not coming together. When I go back and read some of the stuff I’ve written, it seems completely foreign to me and sometimes I really have to double check if it’s something I wrote or not. It’s kind of nice because sometimes I make myself laugh.

I’m tagging @zippityd, @morganpdx, @jasonkwatkins, @munkymunch, @originaloflaura, @befjam, and @mediaChick.

Manchego

Continued from Mayonnaise.

A dozen pictures, on real photo paper no less, of some two bit hood standing around on half a dozen streetcorners. So, he’s a drug dealer. I’ve maybe seen him before, I see lots of folks, but I don’t know his name, and I don’t know him well enough to pin down what crew he might have connections to, not even enough to say what drugs he might sell. But, if he’s like everybody else, it’s heroin and meth. I shuffle over to get a better look and the stupid gun pops out of my drawers and onto the bed, the plastic magazine spontaneously ejecting onto the floor. Fuck. I grab the damned thing and stick it back under the mattress. This is stupid. I can’t make any sense of it. The guy is obviously not swimming with the big fish, and people who have the sort of resources to tail me and the balls to casually fuck with me can usually find little fish all by themselves.

I go back to the sink and notice my toothbrush bounced from the bowl and ended up behind the toilet. I pull it up and stare for a minute at the curly hairs and fuzz stuck to the end. Fuck this, I’ll get a new one later. I turn on the shower and listen to the water heater groan into life, shuddering out a few sprays of ice cold water, then a trickle of brown, and finally glorious, steamy water. I dial it down to just below scalding and step in. I can feel it pulling the beer right through my pores, and stare down at the drain to watch it spiral away.

***

I’m back on the street, and it’s sunny as hell. This is the wrong side of 10am, regardless of how good that shower was. Plus I still have a coating on half my teeth. I’m making my way down to the corners to see if I can get some more ideas on Mr. Picture Guy. Still no clue who he is, if I don’t recognize him, he couldn’t be responsible for too much weight. If Leo doesn’t recognize him, he probably doesn’t even deal, which will leave me straight up a creek.

“Mother fucker.”

The yell doesn’t really startle me, around this place, you hear a lot of shouted expletives, but there’s a certain part of your brain which knows when a yell is directed at you.

“Hey, Leo”

“Mother fucker. You gotta lotta nerve.”

“You gotta lotta nerve mother fucking me first thing in the morning.”

“Haha, don’t trip, don’t trip. it’s all good. Y’all know I’m just playin’ with a nigga.”

Leo is tall, gangly, white. He learned how to speak street through synthesizing drug dealers from after school specials and the skit tracks on rap albums. He would come off as a regular wigger, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s missing most of his teeth. Everything he says has extra lip flap in it, and there’s an odd lisp and nasal resonance. He’s got no septum, it’s sort of distracting. He likes to say it’s from all the gak, but the rumor is he got sold a bag of dish detergent when he was a kid. Even though it didn’t do anything, and it burned like hell, he just kept snorting it until his mom took him to the hospital. He’d stuff pennies in his ass if he heard it would get you high.

“You know this guy?”

I shove a profile shot under his nose and he holds his hands up and starts to back away. I grab his belt and pull him close.

“Leo… Do you know this guy?”

“Shit, I don’t know nothing from nothing.”

There’s a phlegmy whistle when he inhales. I can tell he’s lying, because when he really doesn’t know somebody, he pretends he does, to try to get money from me. Sometimes it works. When he says he doesn’t know somebody, it means he’s afraid of them. That’s weird, this guy isn’t even on my radar. Why would Leo know him?

“You don’t know nothing, huh?”

I stick another picture in his face.

“Yeah, man, that guys like. I don’t know him. Never seen him.”

I flick a finger at his jacket, and he pulls back like I’m gonna punch him. Leo is many things, but skittish isn’t on the list.

“I come down here looking for info from you twice a month for the past three years and you have NEVER known nothing. Even when you actually don’t know anything, you run your mouth, so you come clean now, who is the guy in the pictures?”

“Nigga I told you. There’s nothing, he’s nothing. Nobody is nothing. I gotta bounce, dog. Holla.”

He turns away and starts to walk. I kick him in the back of the knee and he drops to the ground. I’m on him as he starts to scramble back up, the stupid little chinese 25 in the crook of his neck.

“Listen you little shit. I’m gonna go find your mom and tell her where your apartment is unless you get straight with me right fucking now.”

“Fine, shit, B, just fucking, shit, just… just let me up off the ground, just… is that a gun, you pull a gun on me over this?”

“Yes, I’d pull a gun on you, trying to lie to me and then walk away. Get the fuck up. You try to run again I’ll give you one in the ass to think about.”

There’s no way I could hit him in the ass with this thing unless he sat down on the gun, but he doesn’t know that. I shove him into one of the doorways to a burned out row house. I peek around the corner and we seem to be alone, just bird shit and trash.

He looks at one of the pictures, sighs. Starts to fidget. He lights a cigarette and I unconsciously finger my empty pocket again while he takes a drag.

“OK, B, OK. So. That guy moves a lot of weight. Like a lot.”

“Why have I never seen him before? He’s not a corner guy, and he sure as shit don’t look like he does home delivery.”

“No, like. Not like, moves weight. He moves weight. Like… in a car. From one place to another.”

“So he’s a courier. For who?”

“He’s more like THE courier. He’s working for folks above my pay grade. I just know not to fuck with him and that when people start asking, you start not knowing nothing or you end up dead.”

He’s leaving shit out, I can tell.

“And?”

“And nothing, he works for motherfuckers up on high and nobody talks to him unless he talks first. He knows when to bring weight in like the fucking junk fairy or some shit. You get big enough, he shows up and starts to talk volume with you. He don’t take credit, he don’t front, he don’t bring bad product, he don’t get fucked with by no police.”

“Who buys from him?”

“Who don’t buy from him? Everybody who can be selling his shit is selling his shit. Those who fuck up and fall off, they don’t get supplied anymore and they go out of business.”

“What’s his name?”

“I heard it was Ricky but I don’t know the motherfucker to say hello.”

“Yeah, well – you didn’t know nothing about him five minutes ago, but now you’ve got his fucking biography, so why don’t you think hard about what his name was.”

“Straight up, straight up. Ricky, that’s all I know. On the real.”

A pile of bird shit and trash starts to move, and a hand wipes across a face that just appeared.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP”

The junkie rolls back over and goes back to sleep. I’ve kept Leo long enough, and he’s got nothing else for me. I gesture him toward the door and stick the gun back in my pocket. Courier named Ricky, moves weight, everybody likes him, has some deal with the cops. More than I had before.

“Hey, Leo.”

“Bitch, what the fuck?”

“When’s the last time you saw Ricky around?”

“I don’t know, a week? Week and a half?”

“Is that normal?”

“Fuck no, they’re down to the fucking baking soda and baby formula right now. Nobody is getting proper high.”

“And you didn’t think that was pertinent to this discussion?”

“Nigga you need to speak fucking english.”

Leo walks out into the sunlight and the pile of bird shit and trash cuts a wet fart and begins to snore. I stuff the pictures back into the envelope. A missing person, or more accurately, some missing product and a missing person. Which favor to call in… which favor to call in.

2008 – A year without caffeine

OK, I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t drink any caffeine last year. I had a diet coke at the movies once, I drank a diet cherry coke zero at some point, I had a cup of coffee, and I drank some tea a few times. But compared to my 2007 schedule of two liters of Mountain Dew per day, I was pretty good. But… I’m kind of tired of that. I miss coffee, especially when it’s cold, and say what you like about herbal tea, it’s not the same.

So, today, I bought a mocha. And not just that, I had a mexican Coke at Bunk Sandwiches for lunch. And with all these headaches, I’ve had a bottle of caffeine enriched Excedrin on my desk to kill the demon pains in my skull.

So I guess the short version is I’m awake at 2am wishing I hadn’t finished all my Google Reader stuff so fast.

A list of good band names…

A while ago, I was reading about GG Allin, and one of the articles included a listing of the bands he had been in. I will say this, GG Allin was the undisputed king of “being in bands with awesome names”. The Murder Junkies? The Jabbers? The Texas Nazis? Bulge? The AIDS Brigade? The guy had a fucking gift for either naming bands, or for finding people who had awesome band names to hang around with. This reminded me of when I was into paintball and Chris Ingle and I would sit there, endlessly creating “team names” for our never-to-be-formed professional paintball team (what I wouldn’t give to find that notebook again – filled to bursting with my bleary teenage idiocy). Here’s a short list of good band names I have come up with.

  • Voltaire and The Enemies of Reason
  • Makino and the Trampled By Horses (inspired by the Wikipedia on Blonde Redhead)
  • Tubby Grumbleneck
  • Hatemilk (this could be a Vegan/PETA punk outfit)
  • Delusional Juice Freak (I think I decided this was a Japanese Synth band)
  • Senator from Krypton
  • The Wrath of Menthol Ass (though this was just me whining about putting gold bond on my junk)
  • Teen-Age Dope Slaves (from this – I decided this was an Atari Teenage Riot cover band)
  • Dongs on Sticks
  • Twiddling the Electric Penis Machine (like an updated Pansy Division)