Rock And Roll Weekend

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Let the record show that I watched real humans play live music twice this weekend (!!!).

See, I’m riding out a dull phase where I’m just not that INTO music, like, as a component to life. Does that ever happen to you?

But! Watching (and listening to) a few guys sitting in a Portland living room making warm, sparkling sounds come out of keyboards and simple acoustic guitars … I don’t know—something alchemical happened. I get it again. I wanna to listen.

What happened was, Friday night, Tim Rutili of Califone fame played in the parlor of a grand old craftsman house near Mississippi Street. The home of friends. Friends of friends, really. It was a nice, human way to hear music—un-curated, you know? Chickens in the yard. Beer in a cooler in the kitchen. The sounds washed naturally over the fireplace and wound easily through the built-in columns to find me there in the corner.

The very next night, I found myself in the dark and heat of a punk house basement watching our buddies’ band Donkey Lips play (see above!). Guitar shredding. Ravaging of drums. Rampant shirtlessness. Glee.

So, two shows, two ends of the spectrum—both weird and lovely, neither registering anywhere on the big-venue boring-ometer. It’s a solid weekend, yeah? Yeah.

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Painted Hills Mega Post

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We spent last weekend in the wild-lands of East/Central Oregon, splashing in and out of swimming holes on the John Day River, scouting sun-baked fossil beds, and, in general, filling our hearts with fun.

Let’s go there for a minute.

Hot and bright by day. A chorus of cricket song at night. Not a single bar of cell-phone reception (vacay-ing in the wilderness shouldn’t be tampered with by outside-world contact anyway).

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We whipped through round, caramel-colored hills to get there, but on a dirt road a few miles outside camp, plans changed. Plumes of smoke, coloring the air blue. Wild-land fire fighters biding time inside diesel trucks. Helicopters hauling big troughs of water. Mobilization.

We turned and retreated through a blackened landscape and chased the fading light west—later to find a new, downriver campsite by chance, in the dark. Nevertheless, it was a special place.

What I took away from the trip: the image of delicate leaf tendrils pressed into ancient fossil stone, the freedom and quiet of being the only tent in sight, and the strange way it felt to get woken up at night by the haunting sound of coyote howl. I wonder what Lefty thought, curled up out there in the dirt in front of our tent?

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A panting dog, and the Painted Hills in the hot wind—exuding deep geologic mysteries.

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Reelin’ em in, tossing em back.

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Stone-cold fossil hunters.

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Parched earths of the Precambrian.

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Later grams.

Favorites 7.21.14

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Zoo-bombing on a summer’s eve: For non-Portlanders, this means bombing the hill by the Portland zoo on a skateboard. An adventure—train rides; steep, turny roads; peering in the lit windows of mansions; feet numb from rattling over pavement; salmon-pink sunset skies off in the distance. You end with, like, 1000-times more energy than you start with.

No cell service: Without service, your telephone becomes a dead object lodged in the car cup holder. Leave it there. Do non-phone related living. Enjoy how enjoyable this is.

Smoked paprika: Maybe someday I’ll tell you all about a newfangled food allergy that has me consulting with witch doctors and terrified to eat anything delicious (as part of an elimination thingy, I’m currently off Cholula and other red-pepper-related deliciousness :(   ) … But for now, I’ll just say this: Smoked paprika! On everything! Believe.

In Sunlight and in Shadow, by Mark Helprin: Long have I waited to recommend a 700-page work of contemporary fiction to you. The wait is over. Check it—a war story and a love story set in 1940s New York City; all about honor, passion, the magic of the city, and the inherent brutality that binds us humans together. Wow, right?

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My (Short) Life As A Skate Coach

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As mentioned elsewhere, I helped coach a session of Commonwealth skate camp. This was the week after the 4th of July, AKA last week, AKA the “hot week.” I was on the fence about doing it. I’m no skate coach—never claimed to be! But this was special, an all-girls camp week, and those little ladies needed me.

Young girls are mysterious. Fun and funny. Their theories on the world, what they deem to be cool, and the strange hierarchies they develop within hours of meeting each other. I hope I hyped some of them up. Made some sort of impact—even if miniscule. Probs not, but one can hope.

Anyway, I was ruggedly sore and tired by the end of the week—leathered, if you will. But it felt great to come home dead tired at the end of the night, to have been out sweating and doing in the deepness of summer, rather than peering into my computer in the midst of air conditioning.

Plus, it made me fall in love with skating all-damn day again, a love affair that can get you into trouble when you’re a freelancer with a procrastination streak but one that nevertheless shouldn’t be neglected.

Water Management

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Like little leaves atop the current, we floated down the river on Saturday. It took the entire afternoon. It was hot as eff. Sunscreen was applied liberally but in general was not enough. Many of us turned a peculiar lobster red.

I forged the river face down on an inflatable inner tube, flipping from time to time in the interest of sun-burn management. For the most part, things were peaceful and the water was glassy smooth. Once or twice, though, our floating friend barge encountered “rapids,” which, although they were class like minus 2 or whatever, still wrought pandemonium. There was no point in fighting it. When you’re on the water with nothing but your two hands for oars—well, then you go where the river takes you. In such situations, you do what you can to keep your head above water and your sun spectacles in check, and in the end, you forgive your beer for being, now, part river water. It’s all okay. It’s summer!

I don’t have the energy to float the river all the time—the giant float is more of a once-in-a-summer deal for me. It involves shuttling cars and and inflatable-orientated air pumps and dry bags for your keys and the like. But that one time I do motivate, it’s always worth it—a deeply lazy, deeply summer moment that I immediately stick in my cap of fine, pure moments from the year.

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Sorry About Your Beer

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Oh hi. I’ve been busy this week coaching Commonwealth Summer Skate Camp, breaking in my bottle of sunscreen, sweating my way through my ankle sock collection, and wearing myself out so well that I’m asleep almost before the light falls.

Now, it’s deep summer, as you know, and I thought I’d tell you that I’ve had a kind of epiphany about beer recently after reading this article about insidious ingredients in stuff like Coors Light and Pabst. We’re talking high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified corn and—get this—fish bladder. Among other things. In the cold beer. That’s in my fridge. Right now. Waiting for me. On this hot evening. After I’ve sweated all day……..

I’m scandalized! I think we’ve all been pretending beer is something it isn’t—something pristine and genuine and crisp; something full of good taste and good will. But I don’t think we’d love it as deeply if we thought much about what goes into it (at least these big-name brands). We may realize that the aforementioned beers are just okay, maybe even worse than okay (fucking gross, even!) and that in fact we don’t need them at all on a hot evening like this one. Just a thought. I dunno. Happy summer!

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Coors/Molson statement on GMOs: “Our suppliers cannot guarantee that the corn (maize) products that we also use in brewing are GMO free. A wide variety of foods and beverages in North America contain these same corn (maize) ingredients.”

The Huffington Post description of the fish bladder called isinglass that Guinness uses as a clarifying agent: “A form of collagen culled from a dried swim bladder, an internal fish organ that helps regulate buoyancy in water.”

Nice!

Stuff To Do When It’s 98

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Go to the fruit stand on Hawthorne, where everyone will be in a panic trying to “save the raspberries.” The heat will billow in shimmering waves over the tender fruits of summer, causing them melt into piles of mush right before your eyes. The guy behind the counter will force two cantaloupes for the price of one upon you and several extra peaches, screaming, “Take them before they rot!”

Wait as long as you can—say, 3:30 or 4 (remember how the hottest arm-pit of day is always like 5 in the afternoon?), and then go to the Sandy River with intentions to swim. Swim.

Eat potato chips.

More swim.

Walk back to your car in the cool shade of trees, where the air is damp and smells like sap, and the forest feels very much like a jungle.

Take Stolichnaya out of the freezer, and make the cold cocktail described here with intentions to drink it. Drink it.

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What To Do With Vodka

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The weather got its act together sometime yesterday afternoon. Auspiciously—because tomorrow is July.

Like we need any reason beyond bright yellow sunshine to buy vodka, but here’s why I need a bottle of Monopolowa, STAT: I made rose-petal simple syrup. What I did was I walked into my backyard and clipped some hot-pink rose flowers that were wildly in bloom. “Foraging” is what the kids are calling it these days. I tore the petals and placed them in a pot with equal parts water and sugar (a cup of each, I reckon)—simmering them for a few, letting them sit for a few, and straining.

My big plan now is: Combine with vodka and soda water, and drink. The end. Wanna come over and have one with me?

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Favorites 6.26.14

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Carrot as hot dog: This is it. I’m finally there. I don’t care if I consume another veggie dog or burger ever again (a girl can only eat so much vital wheat gluten and reconstituted soy product). But! I just learned a secret of the vegans: brush a carrot with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, and roast it into almost oblivion. Eat it in a bun with such things as slaw, hot sauce, and horseradish. Don’t laugh—it’s heaven.

Sam Cooke: His voice! It kills me. Esp. the song “Touch The Hem Of His Garment.” It’s about Jesus, but that’s okay.

Listening to your iPod’s songs alphabetically instead of on shuffle: You’d like to think “shuffle” means “totally random,” but I think we all know by now that there’s some sort of algorithm at play here. My Pod’s obsession with Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue” put me off the man in black for an entire year. If you wanna hear your library’s real deep cuts, click on Songs, head to any given letter, and hit play. It won’t disappoint.

Sleeping pet faces: A slumbering pet brings a sense of peace into the room. Also? There’s something heart-wrenchingly cute about how vulnerable they are.

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Coastal Rabbit Hole

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This weekend I fell down a kind of rabbit hole of summer with a small group of friends, as we basked in white-crested waves and sunlight and the very brightest star-scape over a black expanse of water.

We travelled westward on Friday after work and found a shangrila campsite overlooking the strand—just in time to stagger up a hillside of deep sand and watch the sun disappear. Up in our little hollow—hidden, as we were, from the rest of the beach goers—life ground to a kind of halt. Our fire crackled. Our hot dogs roasted. The real dogs curled up all tired in the sand.

I think one of the very best things about camping is that you remember about the stars. They’re always a surprise for some reason. You’re done cooking, and you’re all staring at the fire talking and sipping, when someone looks up. “Look at the sky!” Sure enough, the pale ceiling of dusk has been replaced by a ba-jillion tiny points of light. It’s just the kind of little miracle thing that city peoples like ourselves don’t get to see on a daily basis.

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Hidden out.

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Lincoln City for Go Skate Day—scary/fun.

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Back seat car buds.

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