calling all sausage packers

funny, Portland 1 Comment »

For those of you who live around the country, or indeed the world, there’s a new show on the Independent Film Channel called Portlandia.  It’s presented as a sketch comedy, but it really feels more like a documentary about our fair city, albeit one with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

The m.o. for the show is to highlight some of the quirks, the oddities, and sometimes even the preciousness that Portland seems to have, and that must make people who live elsewhere scratch their heads at some of the things that go on here.

As if by magic, an ad appeared on Craigslist the other day, and was re-posted on the Facebook page for the show.  The ad is hilarious and a bit creepy, and almost uncannily Portland.

rooms & shares/Alberta Arts district:

one and a half rooms in basement under faith oriented home, with high moral values. Felons and lumberjacks welcome. possibility of limited bathroom usage. must be comfortable around the transgender community. discount on rent with help in our vegan sausage meat packing production. the half room in basement is shared with my gerbil farm. must be open to swingers night on saturday
About J Lockin: funtional male meat cutter in transgender transition. and not in recovery. Main manager of gerbil farm.
About Annabell: Organic Farmer, 24, recently divorced looking for a gentleman (with stamina!) to help in garden
About Katrina O: young dancer at downtown club, 23, enjoys tattoos and indie rock, and anal sex
[phone number deleted]

The fact that they’re swingers just makes every single part of this ad seem like a euphemism, but my favorite part is that they’re all vegan meat packers.  This thing has to be a joke.  It just has to be.  There are too many double entendres (not to mention the huge issues!) for it to have the slightest hint of the remotest possibility of the smallest germ of SPECULATION about being real.

It’s still funny, though.

urinating policeman

dreams No Comments »

I just woke from a dream, the story of which wasn’t interesting, but there were some details that were very interesting.

I was at a dinner party in a large hotel suite, and since the friend I was meeting there hadn’t arrived yet, I didn’t really know anyone.  There were a couple of people I’d seen once or twice before, at previous gatherings, but there was a lot of awkward conversation as more and more people entered the room.  I was sitting next to a young woman who was one of the people I’d met previously, and when her older sister arrived, she introduced me as William.  I shook her hand and said, “Todd; nice to meet you.”  The sister sat on my other side, and we chatted easily and got along very well, until some people on the other end of the table kept asking her things, seemingly to keep her from talking to me.  I decided to pull out my ‘Face Book’, which was an enormous coffee table book full of peoples’ pictures and updates.

I flipped through it for a few minutes, and then decided to put it down on the floor.  I turned around and leaned it vertically against the wall behind my chair, and that’s when my new friend turned to me and asked if she could take a look too.  I grabbed it and handed it to her, and she took it and turned completely away from me to read it.   I decided to go to the bathroom, and as soon as I stood up, I noticed that I was wearing a police uniform.

I wanted to be a little less conspicuous, so I unhooked my name badge and slipped it into my pocket just before entering the mens’ room.  As I pushed the door open, I noticed a disheveled guy sitting next to the door, slightly sprawled out with his back against the wall.  I turned my head to the left, and saw two guys entering the building through the side entrance.  I turned back and entered the restroom.

I felt I should pay attention to what everyone else in the room was doing.  As I was urinating, the two guys entered the mens’ room also, and went into a darkened side room for a minute.  When they came out, one of them tried to turn the light switch off (even though the room they’d just left was dark already) and he seemed to have great difficulty doing so, as if he was extremely drunk.  I thought to myself, ‘Someone ought to report him.  I should tell the guy next to me, who’s urinating also, but he’ll probably think I’m a cop since I’m wearing this stupid uniform.’

I continued to urinate, and in fact woke up as I was doing that.  Quite a strange sensation, by the way, to dream that you’re urinating and then wake up to find that you’re not urinating anymore.  Once again, I’m grateful for dopamine, so that our bodies don’t act out our dreams.

the mental game of music

blogging, cello, funny, music, pictures, recording, sad, true, Yakima 1 Comment »

I’d like to take a minute to tell you a story in the long string of heart-warming online tales that illustrates the power of the internet to connect people who have been estranged for decades.  It also illustrates the power of music, and the power of a certain kind of mental pathology, too.  You’ll see what I mean.

One of my cohorts from Iron Horse received an out-of-the-blue message on Facebook yesterday, at 1:30 in the morning, from someone he didn’t know, that said, “Are you [misspelled his last name] from [our high school]?  I remember you; we wrote a song in detention.’  He named the song, and correctly wrote out the chorus.  No, I’m not going to quote it here, because then it would be searchable, but he totally nailed it.

His profile was private, there was no picture, and he had a very unusual first name, but my friend didn’t recognize him in any way.  He had eleven online friends, all of whom shared his surname.  My friend responded, “Yeah, that was me.  I kinda remember writing that in detention. . .I changed the lyrics around, and my old band used to play that song.  Do you have a picture or something to jump-start my memory?  What years were you at [our high school]?”

The guy wrote back that he moved away from Yakima in 1987, and that he’s living in California now.  He’s of a certain nationality, and “try to get sum pic’s.”  (I took the liberty of cleaning up his grammar and punctuation before, but it was all typed lower-case, with slightly awkward punctuation.)  My friend accepted his friend request, and we’ll see where the story goes from here.  The two of us can’t help but wonder what the guy’s life is like, since he’s writing to someone he met only one time, in high school detention, twenty two years ago (!), and seems to be hoping to rekindle a friendship where it left off.   I mean, sure,  my friend is a great guy, and we were a pretty good band, but this guy doesn’t even know about the band, because he left town before my friend and I even started it.  Oh, AND.  I should mention that my friend was neither a miscreant nor a ne’er-do-well (I love those two terms, and I love it when I get the opportunity to use them), he was only in detention that one day, and never saw this guy ever again.  He’s not anyone I knew, either then or now, but I haven’t been able to find my yearbooks to investigate him.

Incidentally, speaking of the band, the community access TV station still plays our videos to this day, which completely mystifies my friend and me.  These are not new videos I’m referring to, either.  They were filmed and originally aired during that same time period, from 1987 to ’89, which is when the band was in existence.   We were just a bunch of high school kids, playing some songs that we wrote ourselves, and I can’t imagine why anyone watching now would even enjoy the songs these days, let alone find a bunch of kids from twenty years ago compelling.

Be all that as at may, I admit that it’s gratifying (in a weird way) that they do still play that stuff.  We had a good time making the videos, and like I said, we were a pretty decent band, but we had no delusions about our abilities or chances for stardom, either.  We were just a bunch of kids who had a band, like a million other kids in a million other bands.

Just for fun, here’s a picture from our very first show.  In fact, it could well be of the song in question, too, because I just now remembered that I actually sang the whole second verse of it (and I didn’t sing lead very often), so it seems very likely that this picture was taken during that song.


I just love the oversize mirrored sunglasses, and you can see that I was working hard on Mullet Number One as well.  Gee, I wonder if this was the 80’s?

Meanwhile, back to the topic at hand.

In the interest of full disclosure, and the interest of fairness to this guy, I’ve spent the better part of this month reconnecting with friends from years ago, one of whom had also been twenty years ago (she reads this blog, too, by the way), and it’s been really great for everyone involved.  You probably already knew that if you’re reading this, though, since I’ve written a bit about it lately.  More than once but fewer than three times, in fact, just in case you were counting.   So I have no business knocking the guy for trying.  As human beings, we all are basically social animals (some of us more than others) who are looking for connections wherever we can find them.  But the people I’m talking with are people with whom I had actual relationships and friendships.  They’re based on more than just a one-time meeting, in detention, more than half a lifetime ago.

The title of this entry, incidentally, comes from a book that our high school’s choir director had on the bookshelf in his office, and it seemed apropos to use it here.  Iron Horse shortened it to ‘Mental Game’ and we used it as the title of our album.  I mean cassette.  Oh, how dearly I wish I had a copy of that.  I have a lot of old videos, and tapes, and pictures, and notebooks, but I’m not sure I have that cassette cover floating around anywhere.  I’ll have to do some digging.

I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

miscellany, and Greek misogyny

blogging, funny, music, Oregon, Portland No Comments »

When I wrote last, I had a feeling that this week might get away from me, but I had no idea just how much that would happen.  Most of alll, it was time spent reconnecting with friends who I’ve not seen in years.  The total for this month is now up to twenty two.  TWENTY TWO.  . .and it’s due in a large part to Facebook.

This week, I had two rehearsals, four gigs, two trips to the beach, and as soon as I finished Gig #2 the other night, at ten-thirty at night, I got a text message saying, “Did you get my text yesterday?”

“I don’t think so.  Which one?”

“About me being in the hospital?”

“OH MY GOSH.  No, I didn’t!  What happened?  Are you okay?”  [I tried to call her, but she couldn’t answer.]

The rest of the story is that she got really sick on Wednesday with what she thought was food poisoning from bad cream in her coffee, but she kept getting worse throughout the day, so she went to the hospital Wednesday night, to find out that she had frickin’ appendicitis, so she got her appendix sucked out through her navel on Thursday.  RockShowGirl and I raced over to see her Thursday afternoon, just as her mom was arriving to take her home for a few days.  She’s there now, sans appendix, recuperating with her new friend Percoset.

I drove RockShowGirl to her condo downtown and then came home back to clean up my place, in order that FriscoFriends could stay here tonight.  They arrived five minutes after IrishBand had finished Gig #3 on Thursday night, and we talked at the venue for a while, before driving back to my place and retiring to the front steps with glasses of wine.  We all slept in late yesterday, and I tiptoed out to the living room to retrieve my keys, so that I could walk to the grocery store and be back before they awoke.  I whispered, “Is either of you awake?”  The fakers both instantly opened their eyes and stretched their arms.   I laughed and said I’d be right back with coffee and ingredients for breakfast.  We had scrambled eggs with mozzarella cheese, with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden (I got slimed by a slug who was attached to one of the tomatoes, and it took hours to get all of that sticky, yellowish, gooey crap off of my hand!), French press coffee, and toast with homemade raspberry jam courtesy of Mom ‘n’ Stepdad.

At about half past noon, we happily piled into our respective cars and caravanned to Seaside, where we met up with their family, who I’ve also known for years.  It was a great time.  They told me to bring my bike, since everybody else had theirs as well.  That turned out to be the best idea of all.  We rode up and down the Promenade, and all around the town, and I found the house we used to stay in when I was a kid that belonged to our family friends.  It’s also located right along the Promenade, and it was nice to see that unlike the rest of Seaside, it was unchanged, save for the fact that it is now a vacation rental home.  We rode to the ice cream shop for cones, and down along the riverfront marina and walkways as well.  In a great show of our Second Childhood, three of us raced to the top floor of a parking garage, and back down to street level, skidding on the sidewalk and having the time of our lives.

Then it was time for dinner, and a walk down to the beach, which included a small fire, s’mores, and a radio-controlled car and plane.  First time I’ve ever flown a model plane, by the way, and it’s much more difficult than it appears.  Then we walked back to the fire and sat around talking until dusk, when I had to pack up my car and drive home, after hugs all around.

Today I’m devoting to cleaning up my kitchen from all the cooking, and getting the living room back to normal now that life is back to normal.  By ‘normal’, I mean a gig tonight, meeting two more friends in the next couple of days, and then three gigs in a row next week, followed by at least one more beach trip (but it’s more likely to be two) before things start to settle down in the following week.  At the end of that week, I’ve been invited to play in Whitefish, Montana with a nationally known songwriter who just so happens to live here in Portland.  He also just so happens to be the significant other of someone with whom I played for almost three years, so I’ve had the opportunity to play with him many times before in that context, but it will be really great to play with him in this new context.  He’s an amazing banjo player and guitarist.

By way of an ending to all of this miscellany, I’m going to tell you that I’m listening to “El Choclo” by Astor Piazzolla, and I like to share examples of these obscure songs when I can find them.  I scrounged up a video to this one, which has a bunch of misogynistic hilarious pictures that accompany this beautiful and romantic tango music.  If you can read the captions, please feel free to comment and translate them, because it’s all Greek to me.

welcome to the future

funny, pictures, true No Comments »


If you know who made this, please let me know so I can give them credit for being the geniuses that they are.  This is priceless.