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John’s Place, part 4

November 14, 2011


1. My Usual Route

A foundation of any kind seems to set in a geographical routine for a time.  School’s an example.  In my first two of university, I hardly got to know Portland because my routine was set around campus, going to class, getting to know the people in my immediate vicinity, etc.  It was sort of a stupid waste of time (I commonly think of some time 2006 to some time 2007 as the most useless year of my life thus far).  But I was just getting the feel.  By 2008, I starting to stretch out.

Most jobs, if they last long enough, set a geographical routine.  Between 2006 and 2011, I only had one job outside of downtown Portland (canvassing, see below).  When working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car on SW 4th and Pine, I hardly had to lift a finger since I was living on campus.  Life was very oriented around downtown.  It was for the fact that I drove around that I learned some ins and outs of Portland in that span.

There was some irony that when I finally got a job on campus, I was finally living several miles away.  But I had my first bike in Portland by then, so I cultivated a route.  It got very old after awhile, so I tried some different ones.  The second most popular one took a little longer, but I found it was for the most part more soothing.

When I worked at Mississippi Studios, I was couch surfing / homeless.  This made the idea of geographical routine somewhat different, but I think it still adhered.  After all, I spent considerably more time in North Portland, specifically around Mississippi Avenue… Lots of non-work hours  puttering around in the Miss production office.

There’s a real gravity, and if it’s a good job, then there’s something warm about that.  After all, if the gravity has to be there, then it’s good to be pulled towards or orbit around what’s desired.

With the painting jig I was dancing October 28th to November 12th, the geographical routine was right around 7th and 14th.  Artie’s Hardware was on 14th; Westside Market was right across the street.  Walking a few blocks up 7th to 14th for either of those two places was my most common walks.  I got to know it well.

Another common practice I fell into was almost any morning I had change, I bought a banana for 30 cents from the fruit vendor on 7th and 12th.  They were several cents cheaper than the bananas in the Westside Market, and they were pretty good.  I bought a few oranges also when I felt like I was getting sick. I even shared one with Piepo one afternoon out on the street in the sun.

I used the Chase several times once I found out there was an actual bank on the second floor.  I scowled at the MacDonald’s.  Even though I got off the L train on the 6th Street stop, I would typically walk underground to 7th, walk the platform of the 1,2,3 all the way to 12th before I emerged.  I only once walked south of Waverly.  I went north occasionally – Home Depot and another Benjamin Moore seller were up on 23rd.

The jig is over now and I probably won’t be walking that stretch with any regularity any time soon.  It wasn’t particularly beautiful in itself, but I wasn’t displeased at having to spend a lot of time running up and down the drag on some errand or other.  My purpose for being there made it all worthwhile!  Here’s to where ever it is next.


It wouldn’t have been complete without some of this.


2. My Motley Trio

It took me while to really learn how to get on the level with co-workers.  My first ever job was as a canvasser for Sierra Club / OSPIRG.  The ultra-left politics that I perceived in my co-workers pissed me off.  It took awhile for me to warm up to them, and I was just growing fond when I got the boot (fittingly, it was because I wasn’t good at hustling people in the name of the environment).

So it was up until summer of 2009.  I was working at Portland State and the first several months were fairly awkward. But after that summer, as I was becoming a man taking my projects to their limits and whatnot, I was catching fire.  I purportedly had a “Ferris Bueller” thing going on, with the freedom and the charm and that.

There was still awkwardness with some, but a lot of the time it depended on the person.  Sometimes it’s while dealing with people I’ve somehow slipped into a subservient role to – not necessarily a boss, but just a Big personality (which I usually don’t like, it’s usually not earned).  Perhaps it’s astrology.  Whatever the reason, it’s not gone.

With this particular project, there was very little.  Brent was sweet, friendly, sincere and very competent.  Piepo was all of those things, but he was also very shy.  English wasn’t his first language.  Still, we developed a rapport.  One evening when I finished up and told him I was heading out, he said, “I like working with you.  You have a good attitude.  I really enjoy what I do.  For me, it’s like a game.”  He said it’s hard to find people who have a similar disposition (not in those words).  I told him the three of us should get a drink some evening.  He’d invited me to grab a bite with him one afternoon a few days before and I declined saying I had to go.  I didn’t have to go, so when I did, it was with a regret that hasn’t gone away.

The three of us would often go up to Artie’s Hardware and sometimes to other places.  It felt weird to be walking around with them because I didn’t really know them.  But we were together for our common purpose, which sometimes is as good a reason as any.  Piepo and I went up to Home Depot several times and I was so delighted by how he didn’t put things back where he found them. I also rented a car and drove out to Hicksville and/or Long Island with Piepo.  He told me about Puerto Rico.

The three of us spent time outside of work one time.  It was the evening of Monday November 7th.  We went to a dinner party in Prospect Heights.  There were several other people there, all of whom were connected through this house that Brent and Piepo built down in Puerto Rico.  Since I was the odd man out in this way, I’m now set on spending a month there at some point in the future.  It’s not a pipe dream: Brent said I was welcome to as long as I claimed a free month far enough out.

That evening was close to our time together coming to a close.  The painting project would soon be over, Brent was soon returning to Mexico, Piepo to Puerto Rico.  It’s a small world, but the routine (geographical and otherwise) and the trio we’d formed were coming to a close.  On the subway ride back, I said I didn’t want the work to end – I wanted the fun to go on forever.

We all hugged it out as we parted ways that night.  The ultimate ending wasn’t as graceful.  I missed a final dinner – Stupidly.  And I missed a final farewell with Piepo, sadly.  But like Patti Smith says: “Paths that cross will cross again.


The Last Picture Show

October 7, 2011



I’ve been putting off writing a post or two about Twin Peaks for a few weeks now.  One of the topics I’m spinning on is how the show’s portrayal of a small town will stick with me and make me nostalgic of Portland.  (also, how the show’s setting of the Pacific Northwest make me nostalgic for… the Pacific Northwest)

The town in The Last Picture Show definitely has a smaller feel than the town of Twin Peaks.  In Twin Peaks world, Twin Peaks has a population of 51,201.  The show only represents relatively few town residents, but there’s occasionally a sense that at least a couple hundred more folks are around.  (for size comparison: Springfield, Oregon supposedly has a population of 59,000)

The town writer Larry McMurtry grew up in was Archer City, Texas.  As of 2010, the population of that city is 1,834.  Twas perhaps smaller in the mid-fifties, when McMurtry was coming of age; maybe bigger in 1971, when the film was released.  The Last Picture Show is a representation of Archer City, renamed “Thalia” in his book, and “Anarene” in Peter Bogdanovich’s film (thanks Wikipedia!!).  There are considerably less characters here than in Twin Peaks (which has quite a few for a television show; too many sometimes), which is fitting because it’s considerably smaller than Twin Peaks the town.

There’s really not a lot in common between the two.  One thing I felt they did share though was the atmosphere of the residents just coming and going or just leaving altogether for good.  And in that way, both remind me of Portland.

I suppose I don’t know if it’s totally justified.  No later than 2009, I was considering Portland “a small town.”  By 2011, I was convinced by some conviction that it was a podunk town (Wikipedia is telling me “podunk” means “middle of nowhere”; couldn’t any place be described that way with a big enough map?).  But that’s just feeling based off personal experience.  Portland’s got like 700,000 people in it, along with some skyscrapers, major institutions, an international airport, a supposed culture supposedly all to itself.

Whether I’m living in a fantasy or not, that connection is somehow made in my head and its there to stay.  Sonny and Duane are both enjoying the end of a nice tutelage from Anarene High School, and now they wonder whether to go far somewhere else or suck eggs in the same place.

Duane sort of gets away working a job elsewhere, but his heart’s still drawn to Anarene for Jacy – a girl that’s wild, beautiful, manipulative, not to be trusted, lost, directionless, misguided, sad, worried, melodramatic, and human after all.  He sure knows how to pick ’em.  Maybe that’s just a foil though; love’s just a metaphor for an umbilical cord.  He eventually enlists and goes to Korea, but his attitude hasn’t shifted to much more than a sadder resignation.

Speaking of which, Sonny sits around sucking eggs, getting laid, watching friends drop like flies, and Never-You-Minding.  Duane is something of a seeker in his scraping and scrapping for Whatever, while Sonny never even leaves the crib.  This is probably where my antennae are going up.

I saw the movie on Wednesday, October 5th with John and his friend Dakota.  We all loved it.  I made a half-assed attempt to tell Dakota how it reminded me of Portland — but not in a homesick way, just a peaceful nostalgic way — and felt rather unjustified because (I think) most think of Portland as a decent-sized city, not a podunk town.

But!  Maybe it doesn’t matter how big the city is.  “Just remember, beautiful,” Jacy’s mom says to her, “Everything gets old if you do it often enough.”  Likewise, I guess: spend enough time anywhere and it will feel like the middle of nowhere.  Say… just today I was walking down Broadway on the Isle of Manhattan – where it touches Madison Square Park – and I ran into Lauren from Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR.  I hugged her and said, “It is a small town, after all.”



I ought to add, for my own posterity, a scene I’m stuck on.  Jacy gets a thoughtful, materialistic gift from dumbo Duane (a new watch; “six months savings” I think he says), gives him a feel of the fruit (to make him feel slightly better maybe about running off), runs off to a pool party where she exposes herself with apparent discomfort.  To fit in, she plays it cool.  But her gift is ruined in the pool.  There is a moment of tender empathy for her current actions and for Duane’s sweetness – you see it in her eyes (up top).  But she continues with the philandering, and isn’t quite the same for the rest of the film.


September 29, 2011

Moving out again.


September 24, 2011


The summer is over.  The equinox was a few days ago, but Autumn already set in.  The weather took its turn immediately after the music festival ended.  Life and weather seemed to simmer starting September 12th.

I slept here and there – on Ian’s couch and floor, in Alison’s closet, at Charles’s new place in Tigard one time, and elsewhere.  I had a bad time with Ann Marie, then a good time.  I ate a lot of shit, sadly.  I biked all over; I’m pretty sure I didn’t drive once.  I moved some shit from hither to dither.

Ian and I got a good portion of a screenplay out into the world.  He has big plans for it.  No telling what will happen, but I have hope.  I’m sure he and I will toss it back and forth still, and we’ll both stretch it and tighten it at the same time.  Like the Great Cunt of Paradox.

I watched the whole of Twin Peaks.  More on that later.  I’m currently struggling to find a time for Fire Walk With Me.  I need to watch it with Ian before I go or nothing is true.  But it’s hard to find breathing room these last few days.

I did my best to collect what money was owed to me.  It went well statistically, but the two people I predicted to be impossible indeed were.  Between them, I lost a total of $94 and the sweatshirt I took to New York in January (which was a Christmas gift acquired with the five-finger discount).  Once again, I’m shown that people don’t disappoint.  I’m not as bummed about the losses themselves as I am that they’re to these two fucking losers.  My loans’ll be extremely discriminatory going forward.  I should send my resume to the fucking IMF.



I worked the following shows:

Monday September 12th, 2011 — Tim Easton & Jonny Corndawg

I got called in for security at the door.  It was very slow; maybe 25 paid.  Kyle and I talked about Twin Peaks, the odd narrative structure of real life, and Losing-To-Win.

All our conversations seem to never have a chance to end, maybe because we’re at work and duty calls before we can conclude and draw up an awkward silence.  Then again, our talks typically philosophical, so a conclusion would be misplaced anyways.  And ultimately, always being left begging for more is what gives my life meaning.

Wednesday September 14th, 2011 —   AM & Shawn Lee

I ran production and worked the box office.  The show was slow, the music was okay.  They were nice guys.  Can’t remember any note-worthy moments.

Friday September 16th, 2011 —  The Growlers

This was security again.  A free show, with the venue covered in Sailor Jerry’s swag.  There was some stupid mix up: at first I was working the guest list at the box office (similar to PDX-RX; similarly awful), when suddenly Sailor Jerry’s pulled in their own door guy.  He was an idiot who wasn’t going by the list and who kept leaving to take pictures.  I wondered how that would have worked if I hadn’t been there.

The Growlers played fine and seemed fucked up.  Michael and Stevie (the new security guard covering Caitlin) had to keep kicking out these two hot girls trying to sell them drugs.  I’m sure they succeeded in the end.  The world’s still turning.

Also in the end, another pair of girls asked me if they could take a big Sailor Jerry’s sign (they were very into it; one had a S.J. tattoo).  I told them to ask a rep and one of them said, “Ugh!  I figured the hot one would let us!”   Thanks!  (I stood my ground, but the sign disappeared when I was off elsewhere)

Monday September 19th, 2011 — Colour Revolt

Again on production and box office.  I don’t remember much of this.  It rocked hard, the music was pretty alright.  A large portion of Typhoon was on the guest list.

Wednesday September 21st —  Ohioan

Again on production and box office.  This was the least professional show I ever worked.  Karl Blau cancelled because he had a baby, so Michael Hurley replaced.  Everything ran late.  Manxes went on a little late, even though I beckoned them nicely to start promptly.  Raffa De Alaska Y Sus Campas sounded great but played for an hour and a fucking half.  Michael had to basically shout at Tony on sound to get him to cut them off.

Ryan from Ohioan, who was the show’s curator, did little to help direct much or assist my efforts to run the ship.  I was stuck at the box, having a difficult time keeping things smooth and on schedule (a failure).  Charles came and I was so done with it all that I settled with everyone quickly and left before Michael Hurley (I regret this, but I’d seen him before).

Friday September 23rd — Denver

I was working just the box office on this.  I’d just finished about 13 episodes of Twin Peaks in 24 hours, so I was feeling high.  The show was fine.  Everyone was attractive.  It was very sound financially.  Unsurprisingly, Luz Elena Mendoza played the best.  Some old guy came up to me to tell me how much he didn’t like it.  I almost told him, “You’ll be dead soon, and this pleases me.”  Kyle and I talked a bit; he told me he’d miss me quite a bit and that I ought to be flighty in New York.



And so:

I feel this piece of shit is going to have a much more sprinkled presence.  Thus far, it’s been fairly consistently linear accounts of the summer.  Moving forward, I imagine that it will be more random thoughts, childhood stories, reviews, pictures, and maybe the occasional milepost under the category of “Present.”

Part of the reason for this is the difficulty finding the time, the computer, and the internet to continually update.  I do enjoy the writing and the memory exercises, but I typically haven’t enjoyed missing the sunshine.  I have little notion of a long term living situation in New York, so I can’t guarantee consistency to myself (or anybody else, but who cares about them).  But… who knows.

On The Peanut Butter And Jelly

September 7, 2011

In the summer of 2009, I was intertwined with Miranda.  One evening at her place on Hoyt Street, she told me about her philosophy of the peanut butter and jelly.  In a nutshell, it was:

“More Filling Than Bread.”

This seems like too much, and yet her sandwiches were always something that kept me coming back.  Amongst one or two other things (no, not that).  …At least until there was nothing to come back to.  What must be mentioned is that I don’t know if she ever really fulfilled the mission.  There was a lot of peanut butter and jelly.  But it never surpassed the volume of bread.  It was a goal, strived-for, but not achieved.

Similar with Ian, as we’ll now see broken down to the very rudiments of his unique methodology (forgive me, I consider some of the following to be sub-par photography):

It must be noted that from the very beginning, a shit-load – a METRIC SHIT-LOAD – of peanut butter is laid upon the bready foundation.

The knife in this man’s hand is not so much an instrument of spreading suppression towards the goop – rather it’s more a mechanism to sculpt, as Michelangelo’s chisel was for grooving David’s junk.

Note the crevices and the grooves.  I’m not saying it makes me believe in God, but.  For anyone who’s ever seen the Grand Canyon… I hope they know that this is both more beautiful, in the great traditional aesthetic sense – which has filled men with wonder since before the Ancient Greeks groped for meaning – and, more delicious.  Onward to the miracle mile:

Note that the jelly doesn’t quite reach the edges.  I’ve always wondered about this peculiarity.  But I have seen Ian indulge in Hostess products before.  I think this might be a channeling of sorts.  He’s appropriating a time-tested, corporately-owned technique – that of having an outside layer to break through (chocolate)  in order to get to the tasty inside (cream filling).  This is similar to the jelly doughnut, but I don’t like to think of it in such a way.  A pastry outside isn’t as good an analogy for a peanut butter & bread combo as chocolate.  And I’m not a big fan of jelly doughnuts (I prefer pastries filled with creme).  Hostess snacks aren’t great either, but…  As an artist, I think Ian has successfully surveyed and calculated the corporate landscape, singled out the Hostess method, and utilized it for this particular foible of an independent project.  One that has brought me more joy than Hostess could ever, ever dream.

The perfection.

When I was young and not-vegan, my friend Nick would make amazing tuna fish sandwiches.  I didn’t know how, until I finally just watched (empiricism in action!!).  The innards was a mix of about 60% tuna, 40% mayonnaise.  Then he’d lather the bread with a layer of butter not quite the amount of peanut butter seen above, but in the ballpark.  I didn’t know if I could continue eating his sandwiches knowing they were so disgustingly, richly, ventricle-clogging, unhealthily decadent.  But I did.  And I discovered – both then and again here in 2011 – that when other people are cooking for me, from friends to restaurant chefs, I welcome a bit of willful ignorance to the sickly glut of culinary damnation to feed me and my consummate enjoy.

Said the vegan.


July 2, 2011

Moving out.