Project X

beautiful, Oregon, Portland, true No Comments »

On Sunday afternoon, I participated in Project X, a sort of time capsule event created by a theater group called Hand2Mouth.  I found out about it when I went to see a play last weekend, and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since.

The event was divided up into multiple stations.  There was a main station called ‘ground control’, which was where the lion’s share of the event took place.  For brevity’s sake, I will describe it as a place where you listen to other peoples’ stories in headphones, create your own stories, create a timeline of your own life and of events in the broader scope of human history, and choose how you would like to be remembered by future generations.  There were ample opportunities to speak, write, draw, or add whatever you felt like adding to the project.  There were also opportunities to converse with other random people, and to record those conversations via satellite for posterity.

It was an amazing experience, but it’s also a fairly daunting one.  The event asks a lot of its participants, and you have to be prepared to interact in a pretty demanding way.  I wasn’t prepared for that, quite frankly.  I made it through three of the five stations, in an hour and a half.  The two remaining stations were ones that took a bit of time, so I waited numerous times to get in, but each time I found myself turned away because the stations were occupied.  At a certain point, I decided to give up.  I had been told by my friend to allow about three hours to participate, but since I’d been so busy in the previous few days, I was starting to shut down and become anxious, so I decided to give the last two stations a miss, unfortunately.  This exhibit/performance/time capsule/event will also be conducted in Seattle next weekend, at the Bumbershoot festival, and I think that will be a tremendous experience.  I have a feeling that if I had done it up there, I’d have been much more likely to participate in all of the events, but since it was here in town, I felt my real life responsibilities creeping back in.  What’s more, I felt myself falling instantly in love with one of the women in the group, so I suddenly lost the ability to speak or think in my usual eloquent way.

If you live in the Northwest and are considering seeing the show, I definitely recommend it.  Be prepared to be there for quite a while, and know in advance that some of the stations are better equipped than others to handle more than one or two people at a time.  Perhaps this will change by the time it has its run in Seattle.

I’m very glad to have been a part of this time capsule, and my metaphorical hat goes off to Hand2Mouth for creating such an amazing event.  I hope I’m around in the future to see what becomes of it.

my dinner with Andre

beautiful, pictures, true, Yakima 3 Comments »

Last week was super busy, so now I finally have a spare moment to sit, and process, and also to get you up to speed.

Wednesday night was the first play-reading group we’ve had since Tossed In tossed in the towel on leading the group. A handful of us have been persistent about keeping the group going, and after about two months, we finally managed to make it happen. We read the script for the movie My Dinner With Andre.

It was an amazing evening. A few of us were die-hard fans of the movie, and knew our favorite parts almost by heart, and a few of us had never seen or heard of the movie, so it made for a particularly interesting discussion. I really should say ‘discussions’, because we stopped many times along the way to switch to different readers, and to discuss the section that we’d just finished reading.

A couple of us had our favorite sections that we really wanted to read. I read Andre’s section about the Little Prince and about how New York is the new model for concentration camps, and Matt read Wally’s introduction, his argument near the end, and his ending monologue. We all discussed different ideas for staging this work as a play, and the various ways we could bring the various scenes to life, while still retaining the feel of a dinner. It was an amazing evening, and a passionate discussion all the way around.

Afterwards, Matt, Lindsay and I went to Squeez for a drink. I really should say ‘another drink’, because we’d already had plenty at the reading. We shared some quesadillas and continued the discussion about the play and about various other things.

Matt was too shy to want his picture taken that night. I tried to surreptitiously snap a picture of him and Lindsay while they were at the bar ordering, but the picture didn’t come out. Not that these did especially well, but the other ones are even worse, I promise you. I love the colors inside Squeez. It’s just a really cool, comfortable place to meet with your friends.

Oh, and for the record, I’m lucky enough to have found a very special copy of the script for MDWA. . .it was autographed in 1982, by both Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, AND it’s inscribed to someone here in Portland. A bunch of years ago, I went looking for the script, and finally found it at HugestBookseller. I decided to wait, however, and felt that another one would turn up, despite the fact that I had already been fruitlessly searching for it for years. No matter, I had a hunch.

The next day I went to Powell’s (even though I’d checked there countless times before) and sure enough, I was rewarded with this:

Talk about synchronicity. . .which fits in perfectly with the themes of the script, too. The autograph picture I left at higher resolution, so you can read what they wrote. I love it.

I first saw the movie when I lived in Yakima, at the age of twenty-four, and was mesmerized by it. I instantly went and tried to find out as much as I could about both of the guys, and all of the references they made to actors, directors, books, plays. . .everything. Jerzy Grotowski, The Master and Maragarita, The Little Prince, I couldn’t wait to understand what they were talking about. For the record, not a single one of my friends shared my enthusiasm for this movie. I raved about it, and even made a few people watch it, but they got bored and gave up after a few minutes. (I think this has something to do with the adage, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’)

Anyway, it’s one of my all-time favorites, and it also introduced me to the Little Prince, which to this day I re-read every year or two, and I’ve probably had to buy ten or twelve copies of it over the years, because I’ve loaned so many out and never gotten them back. That’s okay, in this instance, because the story is so beautiful that I want everyone to read it, and I hope that they get as much out of it as I have.

And I have my friends Wally and Andre to thank for it.

longest dream ever

dreams, Yakima No Comments »

Last night I got home from a gig and just completely crashed. I slept for eight consecutive hours, and during that time, I had the longest dream I’ve ever had in my entire life. I don’t remember it linearly enough to tell it all, but I do remember most of it. It was comprised of many scenes; each was very long, with a different cast of characters (many of whom I know in real life – there are too many of them to explain, so I’ll just mention them as they appear, and you’ll have to just roll with that, I guess), and all of the scenes were all linked somehow.

Scene 1:

A couple of my neighbors (Skip & Susan), my mom and stepdad, and my work friend Val and her three-year-old son are all outside talking in the around-the-corner part of the yard of the house next door. Everyone is talking; Mom and Stepdad are sitting on the grass next to each other, Skip is sitting on the steps kinda near them, Val is standing on the sidewalk talking to Skip, her son is walking from person to person like three-year-olds do, and Susan and I are standing in the street, a bit apart from the group, talking to each other but still paying attention to everyone else’s discussion. Val’s son walks over and stands right next to Skip’s shoulder, which makes him very uncomfortable. He asks Val’s son to back up a little bit. The kid laughs in a high-pitched and obnoxious way, and continues to stand next to Skip. Val doesn’t say anything to her son, but continues to tell a story to Skip and my family. Skip is becoming visibly agitated, and quickly rolls and lights a cigarette. The kid is still laughing and standing next to him, so Skip finally reaches around and gently pushes the kid away from him, telling him to please step back. Val steps behind Skip, grabs the back of his collar, pulls it tight and starts to berate him for ‘throwing her son around.’ My mom steps over and starts to yell at Val about how she should have ‘handled her son.’ She pushes Val, who makes a show of very dramatically tripping down the stairs and falling into the street next to Susan and me. She starts to cry and yell at my mom, but once she realizes that we all know that she’s not really hurt, she stops.

Scene II:

I am on a chartered bus, with a group of fellow actors, filmmakers, film crew and various supernumeraries, all traveling to a film shoot that is taking place in a large Victorian house out in the remote hills near Livermore, California. The group consists of myself, a few people from the play reading group, Jen B and Jason R, an older guy who has long black hair and wears a black top hat, and quite a few other people. The bus is full. We arrive at the house in the early evening and set up our gear. There are broken black clouds in the sky, creating a threatening feeling, which some of us comment on as we walk from the bus into the house. The actors (I’m one of them) walk into a large room to talk and rehearse. Sarah C comes in from the other room (she is one of the production assistants) to tell us that they’re just about ready to start filming.

Scene III:

The filming has begun, in the main part of the Victorian house, and it’s going well. Sarah C is standing near the door, holding a clipboard and watching us. There are two cameras, each of which is on an opposite side of the room. There is lighting gear and all sorts of cabling everywhere. They are filming from down low, so the floor can be cluttered, because it’s not in the shots. Suddenly, a group of anarchists (I don’t know what else to call them) bursts in to the room where. There are about ten or twelve young men and women, mostly men, in their early twenties, and they are dressed in a mixture of styles, somewhere between paramilitary and punk rock. They appear to be hyped up on drugs. They have all sorts of knives and guns, which they make no attempt to hide. Two of the guys grab Sarah and one of them holds a knife to her throat. A few of the actors are pulled aside also. Some of them are pushed to the ground and threatened, and others are taken into the next room. Sarah somehow gets free and turns around to try and calmly talk with the group’s leader. A wiry, wild-eyed young guy, wearing camouflage pants and a bandana, grabs me by the arm and pulls a very large fork out of his pocket. He holds it menacingly next to my right eye. He is watching his friends wreak havoc on our group and steal our gear and belongings. His hand is shaking with adrenaline. I am very frightened, and I tell him quietly, ‘Please don’t. . .do anything.’ He laughs and moves the fork even closer. Finally the anarchists seem to think that they’ve done enough, or that they’ve gotten what they came for, and they start to leave. They load a bunch of the film gear and and a bunch of other stuff (like small but expensive pieces of furniture from the house, and some of our personal stuff, like cell phones, wallets and digital cameras, and even clothes) into their battered old SUV and leave. The house is a disaster. Just about anything that they didn’t take they either knocked over or destroyed completely. We are all a bit dazed, but relieved, and Sarah is taking stock of the situation, making notes on her clipboard about the extent of the damage. Several of us stumble outside to get some air.

Scene IV:

It’s the middle of the afternoon the next day, and I’m riding on DogBus. No one else from the film is on there with me. Each of us went our own way after the incident. I was taking the bus to Yakima with a smattering of random people, including a heavyset Native American man in his fifties and AlcoholicUnionGuy from my old job. There is an open area without any seats near the back of the bus, where the Indian guy and I are sitting on the floor, making little jokes and counting quarters from an enormous pile of them that is there, inexplicably. I keep having to start again because I always put them back into the same pile, instead of setting them aside into new piles. The bus reaches its destination on C******t and 55th (around the corner from my childhood home). I almost ask if someone can drive me to 60th and L*****n (my family’s current home), but I decide not to ask, because I don’t trust or want to spend any more time with the people from the bus. I tell myself that I’ll get myself there, and that ‘I’ll walk if need be.’

That’s all I can remember, but there was much more. I really wish I could remember how everything linked together, because it really did flow from strange scene to strange scene. If you stuck with this story all the way to the end, I applaud you.



blogging, music, Oregon No Comments »

The trip to Cannon Beach was nice, and relaxing.

Drove JBJ over there with me, since his wife and kids were in Astoria already.  We had a blast, talking and listening to the CD compilation he had just finished making.  We got almost to Seaside, and he called his wife to let her know where he was.  She said, “Turn around; we’re going to Cannon Beach.”  So we did.  We all met at Cranky Sue’s Furiously Good Food To Improve Your Mood. With a name like that, how could it not be good?  Turned out to be VERY good, in fact.

Afterwards, we went our separate ways, and I met Stepdad at the beach house that we had rented.  I unloaded my car and the two of us walked down to the beach to meet up with Mom, Brother, SisterInLaw, Niece and Nephew.   Brother and Niece and I attempted to fly Brother’s kite, but it’s one of those little stunt kites that tends to nose-dive often, and on one of its nose-dives, the nylon ripped at the tip from the force of the crash.  He put it on sabbatical for a while, until he can figure out how to fix it.  I’m not gonna lie; those kites make me nervous.

I didn’t get any really good pictures this trip.  The weather was cold and foggy, and there were even thunderstorms on Sunday.  It was a good trip, it’s just that for some reason I’m having a hard time thinking of what to share about it.  We made a bonfire, walked the beach, walked to town, drank a lot of coffee, made some really good food, lost my keys and spent an hour tearing apart the house looking for them, walked the beach some more, took lots of pictures of Haystack Rock in the fog. . .I even took a page from Andrea’s book and shot a couple of quick videos, but they’re too big to upload, so I need to figure out how to compress them a bit.  Again, I apologize; I don’t know why I’m having a tough time writing about the trip, but I am.  It was nice, and relaxing, and that’s what’s important.

I had to get back to Portland at a reasonable hour on Sunday to meet a couple of friends and see the play Mimesophobia.  It was a dense and brilliant mystery, both in the way the story was told, and in the way that the play was staged.  The theater was very long and narrow, with seating for about twenty people.  There were video screens on either wall, and every few feet there was a small speaker.  It was as if we were watching a film.  The actors could whisper into their little wireless microphones and we could hear them perfectly.  There were a couple of characters who would shut off their microphones and speak to each other normally.  It was a murder mystery, only it was told via film clips (which were described to us by two ‘film-maker’ characters, who were writing a film based on the murder, Charlie Rose interviews with a person who was closely intertwined in the story, messages that were left on answering machines, people portraying the actual participants in the various events. . .it was a lot of information to take in, but it was absolutely brilliant.

Last night, J and I watched the movie Private Eyes, which I had seen many times before, but not since I was a little kid.  I was hesitant to rent it, because I had a feeling that it wouldn’t stand up very well over time, but my brother had seen it recently, and he enjoyed it, so we decided to take our chances.  I like my comedy a good bit darker these days, but it was still fun and entertaining.

This week is about to get crazy.  I found out yesterday that IrishBand has a late gig tonight, tomorrow night is the play-reading group, in which we’re reading the script for My Dinner With Andre.  Thursday night is a small Breanna gig, Friday night is a big Breanna gig, Saturday is IrishBandSinger’s birthday party at a 3 Leg Torso show, Sunday is a daytime ‘play’ consisting of a lot of personal narratives that we listen to in headphones.  It sounds a bit like This American Life, only the audience is involved somehow, by adding their own stories, and interacting at various times.  Can’t wait.

Today I drove a work friend to the hospital for some asthma-related breathing problems she’s been having.   She went in yesterday, apparently, and she felt the same thing coming on today, so she asked me to take her in.  Back at work, I’ve been involved in some very heavy, emotional, interesting and surprising conversations, that I think should remain private, other than to say that a small part of one of them involved pedophiles and what happens to them when they find themselves in prison.  Definitely not the type of conversations you expect to have when you wake up in the morning.  I have a feeling that’s what’s making me feel so pensive and odd today.

Speaking of which, I need to get back, actually.  I’m home writing this on my lunch break, and now it’s time to leave you.

real life

blogging No Comments »

I know, I know.  I haven’t written much lately.  I apologize for that, but I’ve been super busy, what with everything that’s been happening lately.  It’s been Work-Dinner-Movie-LateGig one night, then Work-PlayPerformance-AfterParty the next.  Yesterday was SleepIn-Laundry-Crash day.  Today was SleepIn-PlayPerformance-GoToSushi-HangOut-WatchMovie day.

Too tired to write anything interesting, but at least my real life is interesting.

Also, I’m in the process of trying to trade my G4 PowerMac for a Mac laptop of some sort.  Keep your fingers crossed; I really need a newer laptop.