Cold Crusade


For a mind clogged with the debris of life, a few clear, cold days are all you could hope for. On dog walks, for instance, the wind rakes everything away, mentally speaking. The sky is either azure or, if it’s past 5 p.m., especially starry. “Every walk is a sort of crusade,” says Thoreau. And it’s true.

Also, the Christmas cactus is blooming. Just when one needs it. When one might go out and buy oneself flowers. Thanks, plant. Sorry I never watered you.


Cold Wind


A poem, today. For you—and for me.

Cold Wind, by Jim Harrison 

“I like those old movies where tires and wheels run backwards on
horse-drawn carriages pursued by indians, or Model As driven by
thugs leaning out windows with tommy guns ablaze. Of late I feel a
cold blue wind through my life and need to go backwards myself to
the outback I once knew so well where there were too many mosqui-
toes, blackflies, curious bears, flowering berry trees of sugar plum
and chokeberry, and where sodden and hot with salty sweat I’d slide
into a cold river and drift along until I floated against a warm sandbar,
thinking of driving again the gravel backroads of America at
thirty-five miles per hour in order to see the ditches and gulleys, the
birds in the fields, the mountains and rivers, the skies that hold our
10,000 generations of mothers in the clouds waiting for us to fall
back into their arms again.”

The Weekend Report


Attended: Birthday party at the Bracewell residence. A fire pit crackled. Rock bands played. Then everyone hung out in the kitchen.

Saw: Boyhood, by Richard Linklater (the guy behind the great Dazed And Confused). A meandering assemblage of moments in the life of a family—all strung together in a way that’s just very, very REAL.

Drank: Americanos with honey—a more delicious, more manageable, more healthful cocaine of sorts.

Read: This sentence by Heidi Swanson: “There’s a lot to be said about doing the work you want to be doing. And chipping away at it, regularly, as a practice, has the potential to help show you the way.” Thank god for work. Sometimes. You know?

4 Records I Bought This Week


I closed my eyes, blinked, and suddenly I’d gone a whole year without once procuring new music. No, not once had I gotten all jazzed on a new band—not once had a new song hooked like jumper cables to my soul.

Instead, I’d let my iPod piddle out the same jams over and over—and if we’re being honest, I’d skipped through half. Cuz they were just tired. Mostly, I’d let Pandora play whatever it wanted. Too lazy—let the algorithm decide. Digest it all as background music. No excitement. So sad.

What got me thinking on this was a book I’ve been reading. It’s called Waging Heavy Peace. Neil Young—of Buffalo Springfield fame; of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young fame; of plain-old Neil Young fame—wrote it. And he talks a lot about this matter.

“It’s like a cool pastime or a toy, not like a message to the soul,” sez Neil about how people consume music today.

His take? MP3 quality sucks—you may as well be listening to music under water. There’s no fucking magic! Now, I’m not sure if shit-quality is what spawned my own auditory stagnation—but Neil, baby, I want that magic back!

These new-to-me records, maybe they’ll get me there …

4 new

-Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness

-Bob Dylan and The Band, The Basement Tapes Complete, Bootleg Series Vol. 11

-Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin

-Rodriguez, Searching For Sugar Man

neil young waging heavy peace

Favorites 11.3.14


Christoph Waltz: Apropos number 4 on this list—an adept character actor that plays hyper-charistmatic good guy and bone-chilling bad guy within a hair’s breadth.

Sauna-ing post gym: Sweating in a hot, cedar-scented room is a nice way to battle gray-day doldrums, seasonal sniffles, stress, and so on. The steady onslaught of heat causes blood flow to flush through your body in a healing manner. It also relaxes the mind and soothes the respiratory system, breaking up phlegm and the like (which is why old-timey doctors always sent their TB patients to the hot-ass, dry-ass desert).

Theo Ginger Dark Chocolate: The crushed-velvet richness of dark-as-night chocolate; the crunch and spicy warmth of candied ginger. New lesson from my corner? Buy the good chocolate—it’s just worth it (esp. if you’re down for getting all feel-good-organic-fair-tradey) (which I am).

Django Unchained: Did y’all know this is streaming on Netflix right now? Def worth a second watch. Lurid, violent, funny, badass—Quentin T does these things pretty great, I reckon.

All Hallows


The year is turning toward darkness—here sits Halloween already. It’s the portent of a season when holidays barrel haphazardly at you. I’m cool with Halloween, though, cuz it’s a holiday of a different sort (I.E. it isn’t for family, it’s for me and for you).

Costume-wise, I tend to do the bare minimum to not be deemed a hack or unfun. I also generally attend a party where I lean against a wall admiring all the magnificent costumes people arrive wearing. Edgar Allen Poe and his spectral mistress, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, the bunny from Donnie Darko, Bob Ross, et cetera, et cetera. At a certain point, I always seem to discover myself tipsy, this coinciding with a realization that I’ve lost all my friends. Suddenly all the masks are jeering at me, all the face paint nightmarish. At this point, I leave—without telling anyone good bye, just quietly wandering home to sleep the sleep of the dead and not wake up again until November.

Anyway, I’ve never stayed home and handed out candy to the little people roving from door to door with pumpkin-shaped buckets held before them. Is this any fun?


Bob Ross in all his glory, some pioneers heading westward ho, and NWfrickinA.


See? I don’t try very hard.


Sometimes all you need is a couple rolls of duct tape to dress up. But then what happens when you have to pee? I don’t remember how Billy solved this dilemma. 



Normally I do spectacular things on Saturday nights.

But this Saturday night I spent on the top of a ladder in the darkness and storm wrestling with pieces of corrugated roof that were torn away by the raging wind. I employed a power drill in the spectral light of a flashlight with dying batteries. I sliced my finger pulling wet screws out of my back pocket. I teetered dangerously atop the tippy-top rung (“this is not a step”) and legit almost fell three and a half times.

All the while the gusting air perpetuated savagery in the huge evergreen above my head, adding to the sense of urgency—the immediate need to fix the patio roof, I.E. prevent the downpour from pooling right there at my backdoor and (as anyone would) inviting itself inside.

Anyway, a huge storm came through this weekend, like a vanguard of winter, and as I met its wrath on a Saturday night while most people I knew had run off eating and drinking and such, I suddenly knew that, for real, I am grown up—like a grown up grown up.

But the next day I slept in, ate peanut butter from a jar, and skated all afternoon in the newborn sun. Okay?


New This Week


I don’t really buy nice things for myself because I’m hustling to pay for my mortgage and my lifestyle, but now that I think about it—my lifestyle is a nice thing that I buy for myself. I’m lucky. Life is good. Etc. Etc.

However, I did just acquire this new table/bench set, custom built for my tiny kitchen nook by a talented pal named Brock. Do you know him? A wizard of woodworking; a master of maths, saws, and impact drivers.

So, this table, it’s more than nice—it’s magnificent. Made from Douglas Fir, or doug fir to the layman. So warm in color, you think it might be warm to touch. I plan to keep it forever and have it always piled high with stuff—like open dog-eared magazines near cream-filled morning coffees, like glasses of wine, like games of dice, like notepads filled with lists, like cutting boards of bread and cheese, like pumpkins being carved with a cookie sheet to save the seeds.


Saturday Night Stuff


On Saturday night, I rode my bike all over town, but mainly to a foot stompin’ show near Belmont Street—a benefit for My Voice Music put on by The Lonesome Billies, my fave Portland old-country band.

Last year, I attended the same event, with the same people, on the same bike. This is a big deal, because it’s late October—and normally you can’t ride your bike drunkly around town in late October on account of the damn, damn rain. However, both this year and last, soaring down dark, empty streets with leaves flying away in our wake happened, so perhaps it’s all predestined.

Along this ride, we breaked for a stiff drink on Burnside Street, forged a crowd waiting to get into a “Burning Man after party,” and were nearly scooted off the road by a left-turning semi truck. It was all good—all part of the journey.

Upon our arrival, pro-skater Leo Romero’s band Travesura played—who I’ve been following since I stumbled upon their show last winter—and much dancing immediately ensued. The place was filled with pals. Strings of white lights winked overhead. Arms hung over the necks of neighbors, and everyone sung along. It was a pure good time (for a good cause) that should def not be missed by the likes of you next year, okay?


October street gang.


Favorites 10.16.14


Planning a faraway trip: Yes, yes, live in the now … but what about the excitement/discovery of planning—planning a wild foreign adventure, to be specific? (Pic by Bernhard Lang).

Toasted pumpkin-seed oil: I’m pretty meh on pumpkins (most Thanksgiving food, really). But toasted pumpkin seed oil! Nutty, pungent—it’s a cappella of flavor. Pour this forest-green elixir on fresh bread and sprinkle some salt. Please. Thanks.

Beginner violin practice in the house across the alley: When you have your window open for maybe the last time of the year, and instead of sirens or birdsong, what you hear on the thin fall air is a 4th grader stumbling through violin scales—this is profoundly comforting.

Friday Night Lights:  Not about football. (A little about football). About the human condition. About brotherhood. About adolescent upheaval. About dignity. Also, the filming’s gritty, and the music’s great. (Disclaimer: I’m talking the TV show—not the movie—which I haven’t seen but DEF will so don’t spoil).