Off The Grid

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As a kind of antidote to my urban wanderings in NYC, I went off the grid this weekend for one long day on the Olympic peninsula. This involved a walk in the rainforest, which involved a field exploding with forsythia, sneaking through a paper-thin slot canyon, and a pale green pool that was the very definition of stillness.

The walk had a point—we were looking for a “big rock,” a sacred spot to the local tribe. Maybe you can only see it if you really believe, though, because that rock turned out to be pretty hard to find. Only half of us actually beheld it, and me, being a believer—in life, in mystery, in things we cannot see—was one of them.

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Here’s to sacred rocks, and repelling down them with a beer in yer pocket.

NYC Mega Post

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Flew 3,000 miles east to New York City this past weekend. I needed it in a bad way, getting out of town. Hung out with old friends—land pirates, most of them. Had a shitload of fun meeting new people and seeing new things. Dollar pizza slices. Rooftop rock shows. Heat and crazy humidity. My fill of skate missions; never wanting for laughter. Always, always looking for a good place to pee, hopefully indoors, hopefully not just having to crouch on the far side of a car and street pee but willing and able and hey that’s how they do it in New York City.

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First day, we skated through Brooklyn, bombed the Williamsburg bridge into Manhattan, pushed into oncoming traffic, pushed through side street gridlock, Nassau, Broadway, Wall, et cetera, et cetera, moved faster than the cars, snuck past bumpers, constantly pushing, miles and miles and miles. The perfect way to see the city—the grime, grit, and beauty. Ended it all on the East River ferry headed back to Williamsburg, standing there tired as dogs watching the city sink into the sunset and drinking tall boys in the wind.

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Williamsburg, I liked it alright. I know Portland has its own high-grade infestation of cookie-cutter hipsters, but the Brooklyn hipsters—mom jeans for the girls and beards for the boys—they were out in numbers and kicking down a kind of “I live in New York” coolness that Portlanders just can’t pretend at cuz I mean fuck, we live in a little ol hippy town in the woods.

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As mentioned elsewhere, I have new buds from New Jersey and had to go see their towns and the rad spots that they’ve built. We drove west Newark-bound through the Holland tunnel to Shorty’s—a renegade tranny-land inside a decaying warehouse, and then on to Junk Spot in Jersey City—a slab of cement sprawl turned magical DIY skatepark. The guys behind these zones, they’re a cool crew of builders and rippers who just did shit themselves. Found a little patch of land, built a little beauty in the wasteland. In general, that’s the kind of kinetic self-made creative energy that I’m most inspired by.

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                                                         —————————-

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Aaanyway, New York City—walked a hundred miles, drank 18 cups of coffee a day, spent a crap ton of money and didn’t regret a single cent. Love all of those people and love that town—see you again soon, I hope!

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Book Dumb

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I’m ashamed to say this, but I’ve stopped reading books. I hope it’s temporary, having to do with being busy and the warm weather. But I’m worried it’s not, that this state of inertia might relate to how the internet decimated my attention span and the endless scroll, scroll, scroll. Also, maybe, how I write and read all day for work and so by the time I get to bedtime—the dominion of book reading for me—my eyes are very tired from computer screens and my brain is cold spaghetti and all I want to do is lay my head on the pillow and be told a nice story by my iPod.

In my life, I’ve always taken everything as it comes. But the idea of never again reading a novel start to finish seems impossible—dangerous even.

I’ve started on poems, though. To keep me going. They’re digestible—a little peek into a person, place, or time. Like Pluma, by Gerald Stern, which I loved this morning because it took me quickly into the tropical heat and also taught me a new word—”euchered”: cheated or robbed.

Pluma, By Gerald Stern

Once, when there were no riches, somewhere in southern
Mexico I lost my only pen in the
middle of one of my dark and flashy moments
and euchered the desk clerk of my small hotel
out of his only piece of bright equipment
in an extravagance of double-dealing,
nor can I explain the joy in that and how I
wrote for my life, though unacknowledged, and clearly
it was unimportant and I had the money and
all I had to do was look up the Spanish and
I was not for a second constrained and there was
no glory, not for a second, it had nothing to
do with the price of the room, for example, it only
made writing what it should be and the life we
led more rare than what we thought and tested
the art of giving back, and some place near me,
as if there had to be a celebration
to balance out the act of chicanery,
a dog had started to bark and lights were burning.

3 Things

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Mini Ramp ism: As mentioned elsewhere, we tore down Bracewell’s dilapidated mini ramp and built a fresh one. It took way more work and time than any of us imagined—but hey, all the best things take both work and time.

New Built To Spill Album: Thinking about this band takes me straight back to an era of corduroy pants and black studded belts, when I cared deeply about such things as indie-rock record labels. I haven’t followed BTS since Keep It Like A Secret, and in general, it’s tough to return to a band you were very emotionally tied to in the past. The music’s too mixed up with memories—you just can’t be objective about it. If I had to pick, though, Doug Martsch would prob be one of my favorite guitar players ever, and so I’m gonna give this a listen and see if it goes. I haven’t formed any opinions yet, have you?

Vegetable starts: There’s a romance to growing your own food. Sadly, maybe—it should be normal, not novel. But fuck—everyone can’t live in cabins and chop wood all day. Anyhow, way back in February, I sprinkled some tomato and cucumber seeds in empty tin cans and sat em in a sunny window. Stems pierced the soil, broad leaves unfurled. A few months later, I just plopped the little plants in the ground. See ya in August, guys!

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4 Years, Today

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According to the Humane Society, Lefty turned 4 today. As you know, he’s my number one. Here are a few things you might not know.

I grew up with dogs but didn’t really want one. Lance, my former mister, convinced me to meet the 8-week-old mutt, and I mean anyone faced with a fuzzball of this caliber does not drive home puppy-less. Lance wanted the dog, yeah, but all these years later, look whose dog it is!!

His name has nothing to do with dexterity. We named him after Lefty of Pancho And Lefty fame, who, I’ve been reminded, was a snitch. The name was also kinda inspired by that Lefty’s Prayer drink at the Bye And Bye—a dark elixir of beat juice and tequila that sent me spinning a few months before we got Lefty.

The dog is spoiled but he’s not pampered. He doesn’t get hair cuts. I don’t really buy him toys. And he doesn’t go to the vet—he’s a farm dog and when shit comes up we sort it out at home. He’s a fucking wild animal!

Lefty IS spoiled, though, ’cause he gets to spend almost every waking minute with me. Codependent? Yeah. But dogs are the best company on earth—I like him better than most humans—and I’ve never understood why you’d get a dog and just leave him at home. They’re born to be your wingman, to walk behind you on the trail, to chase you at the skatepark, to lay at your feet while you work, to bark at that stranger in the dark, to guard the house at night while you sleep.

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New Jerseys

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As you may know, I used to travel all the time. Europe, B.C., Vermont, India—every week, somewhere new. That’s not me anymore—different job/different life. But! I love when people travel to me.

This past week, some guys from New Jersey came through town, and I let them stay in my basement. I’d never met these people—friends of friends, you see, but they pulled up in a killer old Buick and we were all immediately buds.

Like any consummate host, I showed ’em all the spots. We skated, hiked, wandered. We ate. We drank. We made a backyard fire. They did all the dishes and gave Lefty more attention than he’s ever known. They also, while I was at work on 4//20, made this funny little feature film on location in my yard.

As a rule, I love East Coasters. Salt of the earth, funny, hard boiled. I also love the rite of the traveler—how you can meet new people and feel like you already know them, bond over a couple days or a car ride, be instantly old friends. If you’ve never left your town or your life, if you’ve never stayed on someone’s couch or let them stay on yours, well then that’s one of the best things you’re missing.

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Lefty’s new squad. Thick as thieves. 

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Showed ’em some Oregon magic.

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Hung around the fire pit while a sliver of the moon hung in the Western sky. 

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They really know their way to a girl’s heart.

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Favorites 4.23.15

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Guys And Power Tools: A cliche, yeah, but still hot.

Sip: The pricey juice carts you can find around town. I’m too lazy to juice myself—but unfortunately I’m addicted to that life-affirming shit, and so I’ll gladly part with my hard-earned loot to have someone else serve it to me.

Bryce Street: A mythical lane (sometimes I can find it, sometimes I can’t) that takes you like a wormhole from inner Northeast where all the bars are to further-out NE where my house is without bother of stoplight or traffic. When you’re tired and/or tipsy, there’s nothing better—hope I stumble upon it this weekend.

Steady Rollin': Dusty tune straight outta SF. My bud Cairo got me hooked on this one—makes you want to get behind the wheel and go.

Just You & Me & The Dead Milkmen

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The Dead Milkmen played last night at the Wonder Ballroom—and I went to see ’em. Why wouldn’t I?!

It’s weird, because I was just thinking about them. Are the Dead Milkmen on your mind a lot? Not me. Kinda rare, in all honesty.

So, the fact that I’d been simmering on them, and then the fact that suddenly they were touring through town, and then the fact that suddenly a friend called me all last min to say he had an extra ticket—well, it seems pretty fated, yeah?

ANYWAY, I was tired as a dog but you can’t not be happy at a Dead Milkmen show. Love their tunes. Love their energy. Love how fucking funny they are on stage. Love, love, love their lyrics—best lyrics of any band ever, maybe???!!!! Just rad old guys playing rad old music for a crowd of nerds and weirdos just like me.

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Twice A Year

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On Tuesday we had a storm. Thunder was involved—and a rainbow. Everything you could ask for from a storm, really.

I grew up on thunder. There is a wildness about it that’s to love. Around here, it thunders, like, twice a year, though.

Tuesday: I didn’t even know it was gonna be THAT kind of storm. It caught me by surprise on an evening dog walk that almost didn’t  happen. We were feeling lazy but decided to go anyway.

My first step on the sidewalk, the thunder cracked, a few blocks from my house, a rainbow unfolded, and still further on, sun beams pierced the downpour—turning the rain into a kinda shower of light.

I guess what I’m saying here is thank god for dogs and the way their sad droopy eyes coerce you into walking outside when you were inclined to stay in. Outside is, of course, where all the good stuff happens.

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