playing hardball with a soft one

i awoke after taking an elbow to the head from the little pipsqueak who had once again conned her way into our bed at some point during the night without me noticing. she’s a tiny little thing but the bed wasn’t made for 2 and a half humans, it’s just a straight-up deuce. anyways the elbow made me feel like i had somehow found my way onto the ice during the stanley cups and i wasn’t in the mood for playoff-caliber hockey at such a witching hour so i rolled out of the rack and into some slippers. i sit here waiting for the coffee to finish percolating so i can get this show on the road for reals.
apart from sneaking into the old folks’ sack at ungodly hours the little one we call lenore has taken a shine to the great game of baseball, the first such sports-based interest she’s expressed in the year since i made her acquaintance. it all started 2 days ago when she was invited by her friend sammy(who she has a crush on) to participate in a 2-tyke demonstration of the joys of america’s favorite pastime. a bunch of other kids ended up showing too and they all played baseball and leni sort of fell in love with it. wookie, always keen to encourage any budding interests that the whippersnapper might express, took her over to big 5 yesterday and bought her a pink aluminum bat and some of those soft baseballs to go with a glove she already had for some reason and then it was off the school yard for a little pitch, hit, and catch. for only her 2nd day she was pretty damn good, was able to connect with maybe 35% of the pitches we tossed her way, able to get in front of(if not catch) ground balls hit her way, and showing a general hustle/lack of fear which is the cornerstone of any good athlete. we’ll see how it pans out(kids are fickle) but if this shine that she’s taken holds i’m looking at several years of teaching/coaching/watching in my future and i don’t know, it sounds sorta fun.
after that we went down to the food carts on division st and i’m telling you chum, this street has gotten out of control. previously considered a bit too far south for any “happening” portlander(and perhaps a bit too trashy to be considered desirable), division has become one of several ground zeros in the burgeoning portland gentrification craze that’s been sweeping the previously-liveable city for more than a decade, gobbling up affordable neighborhoods like a cash-crazed pac-man on ritalin and leaving block after block of shoddy, yuppefied development in its wake. division has gone from being a sort of desolate outlier on the portland map to become a glaring example of how money fucks everything up, packed wall-to-wall with bistros, cafes, organic groceries, “pubs”(as opposed to bars), vintage shops and what have you from se 7th to se 50th ave and making driving along this stretch at almost all hours a royal pain in the tush. and the congestion is also symbolic: every up-market SUV only serves to represent 3-4 more yuppy dingbats crowding the overpriced specialty ice cream stores and spilling out onto the sidewalk while waiting for a table in one of the slick “foodie” dumps popping up like acne along the thoroughfare and destroying the last vestiges of any thoughts you might harbor regarding a sort of gritty, low-rent existence. i don’t want to pretend it’s just portland but it IS true that our fair city was cheaper than most to begin with which makes it a double tragedy. or maybe just a single tragedy that stings a little bit more than it otherwise might.
but i’ve been down this alley before and there’s no use in riling myself up thusly in the early goings of what looks to be a beautiful sunday. wookie will be off to work soon and leni’s going to grandma’s and i’m gonna take the opportunity this presents to visit my old friends and neighbors stan and karen across town. i AM psyched about the baseball thing though, i was a pitcher and an all-star 2nd baseman when i played little league in my youth and it’s just a neat, interesting game. very zen. so far lenore isn’t biting on t-ball or softball, she wants to take it straight to the boys in double A ball next year. hopefully by then i will have figured out a nickname besides “slugger” for her, she doesn’t like that one. i also tried “clemente” because roberto clemente, along with hank aaron, is my favorite baseball player but she wasn’t having any of it and i’m avoiding the players of the “steroid-era” altogether. although i always will remember the year bonds broke the home run record, drugs or not i’ve never seen anyone so locked into the zone and it’s always fun to watch something like that. sometimes sports are pretty cool, and parenting can be pretty neat also. we’ll see what happens when you put them together.

syriza rising

fuck austerity

gimme gimme some good time

it’s funny because i had no idea how long this song was when i decided to write about wasting time and i had to go from the youtube page to wikipedia to make sure it really was 5:38 and not just one of those instances where there’s 2-3 minutes of empty space at the end, i hate those. but to be square i should mention that sitting through the stones’ tune(as you should be doing right now, that’s what it’s there for) only qualifies as “wasting time” if you don’t like it. hopefully you DO like it and hopefully you also like this post, at least enough to feel no wistfulness about what you might have been doing instead of visiting when it’s all said and done.
like most people i suppose i’ve wasted an inordinate amount of time over the years and i’ll never get it back and that’s just something i’ll have to live with and hopefully i won’t waste too much time worrying about it. but i thought i’d address a specific type of wasting time and that would be the time wasted trying to avoid spending money by using less efficient and sometimes completely ineffective methods in the pursuit of certain goals that you’re probably gonna end up spending the money on anyways. currently i’m doing just that in my attempts to get around coughing up the cash necessary to get scans done of my art so that i can make prints. see a few years ago i bought a cheap digital camera in order to photograph all of my pieces so that i had digital images of them which could be used on websites and to send out to people who might be interested and also to get prints done so that i’d have them available when the orders start pouring in. the first pictures i took were totally half-assed and ended up being good for nothing, i didn’t try to get the lighting right and didn’t use a tripod or a timer and even shot the pics through the glass on a couple of them that had already been sealed inside their frames. the results were less than stellar, blurry and faded images which ended up in my computer’s trash bin after many lost hours trying to “fix” them using completely insufficient programs that i didn’t know how to use in the first place.
after several years, at the end of which i had zero useable images, i decided to try again. this time i was smart enough to remove all of them from their frames and shoot the photos in good sunlight and then go back and crop the resulting images and try to enhance sharpness and color and etc. i ended up with good images that i was planning to use for prints and was on the verge of having them done when i took the few minutes i could’ve spent years ago to look into how exactly one should go about making prints in the first place. had i done that i would have known what i know now which is that it doesn’t really matter how good the photos might appear because you really need to scan them to get images that will make good prints. meaning that for all of the time that i’ve put into this process i’m actually not really any closer to having what i need than i was when i started. and the really pathetic thing is that i’m STILL spending time trying to avoid the necessary investment by continuing to dick around with the ultimately useless images that i wasted so much time trying to fix. some people never learn.
i had insomnia for years and part of the problem was that i had shitty pillows. night after night i’d lie in bed fussing and adjusting in a hopeless attempt to get comfortable enough to drift off into dreamland. i literally wasted YEARS fidgeting with this problem until one day it hit me: i was spending at least a hundred dollars a week buying beer and cigarettes while at the same time avoiding the 10 dollars or so it would have cost me to purchase a pillow decent enough to help me in my quest for a good night’s rest. another thing that i in fact continue to do is waste all kinds of time and money driving all around town buying ill-fitting apparel which i’m gonna have to replace anyways instead of laying out a few extra dollars to get clothes and shoes that are actually somewhat comfortable. i’m also prone to wasting hours and hours looking for bargain food or books or records which i end up not eating, reading, or listening to when with a small amount of thought and/or planning i could actually spend almost NO time and eventually LESS money buying things that might actually improve my quality of life instead of making me frustrated and grouchy. i end up feeling hungry while listening to sub-prime tuneage and reading a book i don’t like.

there is great news in cheap-town though and that is because wookie got a new job which looks to be far less stressful and far more rewarding than where she is now. i’m very happy for her and she deserves all of the good things that i hope continue to come her way. because we all know that the biggest waste of time in most people’s lives is the jobs they are forced to take in the economic system we are currently forced to live with. i once read somewhere that in a communal economy designed to meet the actual needs of a given society the workday would be 3 hours long, which would mean 5 less wasted hours per diem. making that a reality would be the wisest use of our time that i can think of.

do you believe in ESP?

last night i was reading in bed and wookie was on the computer in the living room and i wanted to hear music so i opened up youtube and pretty randomly chose the sex pistols’ “emi” and as soon as it started i heard wookie say “why did you put that song on?” she sounded a little pissed off so i sheepishly answered “i don’t know”, i mean i don’t listen to the pistols very often and as far as i knew wookie doesn’t EVER listen to the sex pistols so then SHE said “i was just playing that song yesterday” which meant she wasn’t actually pissed off, just somewhat taken aback. then i started playing some sun city girls songs and that made me think of that time i saw them at dante’s and was really drunk and kept yelling for “space prophet dogon” all night long and that made me think of a great version of love’s “alone again or” that they randomly played that night(as far as i know they never did again) and the fact that kirk had recorded that whole show on his mini-disc player and how i had a copy of it and also about how when i made wookie a mixtape i put that song on there and then i began to tell wookie about me yelling “dogon! dogon!” all night and she brought up how in the live version of the love song you can hear someone in the audience say “you guys have been cooking all night” and i told her that was me and she totally freaked out. i mean like, completely. as it turns out whenever she listens to the mixtape that part of that song makes her crack up and that she actually rewinds so that she can it hear again at least once or twice and even funnier still is that she had created in her mind a pretty complete picture of the guy who said the “cooking” thing and that picture wasn’t anything like me at all. she thought it was some semi-redneck guy in overalls that had accidentally stumbled into the club and drank one too many beers and then started yelling things at the band. anyways they never played “space prophet dogon” but here it is anyways:

it’s one of my favorite ever songs and it’s named after the dogon tribe who live in mali in western africa and who have somehow possessed “precise knowledge of cosmological facts only known by the development of modern astronomy”(robert temple) since at least the early 1930’s, such as the fact that the star sirius has 2 companion stars even though sirius b is a white dwarf star and is invisible to the human eye, a fact that had only been inferred through advanced mathematical calculations. temple argues that “the Dogon’s information, if traced back to ancient Egyptian sources and myth, indicates an extraterrestrial transmission of knowledge of the stars”. maybe that’s not ESP but it sure is neat.
0ne time a few years ago i got poison ivy, the 1st time that had ever happened in my 39 years on the planet. i called my mom to tell her and describe the pretty severe discomfort it caused and she said that she had never had poison ivy either and she was almost 70 years old. but guess what? she got poison ivy the very next day. and she lives in san francisco, for christ’s sake. another time me and my brother were watching “cat people” with nastassja kinsky and for some reason i had gotten the movie mixed up with “the hunger” and was waiting for that part where bauhaus plays “bela lugosi’s dead” in that club after which is a pretty good semi-sex scene with david bowie and catherine deneuve and when i finally figured the mix-up out about halfway into the movie(and it’s not very good, either) i laughed and told my brother what i had done and he didn’t laugh, he instead told me that he had been thinking the exact same thing and had also been waiting for the bauhaus part. he didn’t mention the sex scene but he’s shy in that way.
the last time i saw my friend mike before he died we were screwing around downtown and he had to go pick something up and left me in the truck with the radio on. that pavement song(those guys again?) “we are underused” was on and i was watching mike walk away and i remember right at that moment the line “simply put i want to grow old, dying doesn’t meet my expectations” which sent a chill through me for some reason. later that night we were at the house and he was on his way out for a night on the town and for some reason the last thing i said to him was “be careful”, something i had never told him before (in fact i was usually encouraging him to do the opposite). also early the next morning i woke up and looked outside and didn’t see his truck on the street which wasn’t even that weird and that same chill went through me. he had died at some point in the night but i didn’t hear about it until later that morning. i was at work and i had to go home and find his address book and start calling all of his friends to break the news.
i hadn’t seen or heard from my friend ryan in several years and thought he had moved to salem when out of the blue he called me and he tried to get me to go downtown to the apartment he lived in. i had been drinking and managed to convince him to come visit me and we had a nice visit and made plans to play music in the near future. he died 2 weeks later. also when my dad was in the hospital after his stroke we had a little gathering at my house for my graduation. there had been no discussion of my dad not coming through, he was totally stabilized and was apparently mentally alert but incapable of talking or moving the left side of his body. my sister’s boyfriend conrad, an EMT who was actually part of the crew that initially came, sat down beside me and told me in no uncertain terms about the seriousness of what had happened. as soon as he walked away i caught a snippet of a song that was playing on the radio and even though i hadn’t been paying any attention the line “i remember how i cried when my father died” came through loud and clear. again i had that weird chill. a few days later he had a brain hemorrhage and was basically brain dead and we had to decide whether or not to keep him on life support and we had the doctor pull the plugs, he would not have wanted to live that way. and FUCK that asshole doctor who had arrogantly proclaimed the day before the hemorrhage that my dad was “out of the woods”, because obviously he wasn’t.
of course none of this sort of synchronicity proves anything per se but it does leave me basically convinced that there are things that go on behind whatever scenes we exist in that are neither random nor a coincidence. i don’t know if you’d call it ESP but there’s definitely something there, don’t you think?
anyways i’m way over on my word count and i’ve taken up enough or your time. but i bet you already knew that i was going to say that.

a defining moment

for a guy that can be fickle and unforgiving when it comes to music i have a fairly good track record in terms of how well most of the stuff i’ve glommed onto over the years has held up. apart from a few misguided forays into deceptively “listenable” bands along the way i find that the records i have amassed over the years to be pretty consistently of the “strong” variety. one band that ended up NOT making the cut is husker du and although for a year or 2 i was pretty high on them as it turns out the only remaining song of theirs that i have any real affinity for is the one above. the reason this came up is because i’ve been reading this book called “our band could be your life” which has a big section on the huskers and after reading some of it i decided to go back and refresh my memory. the book’s title comes from a minutemen song (“history lesson part 2″) and it covers that band as well as black flag and minor threat and butthole surfers and sonic youth and dinosaur jr and some others and it’s not a bad read except that of all the bands covered only the minutemen REALLY hold up super well, for me anyways. i mean they were all good for 1 or 2 records but ultimately seemed to flame out, and looking in the rearview mirror it seems to me that husker du might not have even coughed up a single long player that holds any substantial weight. certainly nothing like this, anyways:

then again almost NOBODY can touch the minutemen in their prime which is when this tune was recorded so that may be an unfair bar but regardless in review i must say that the huskers were something of an empty set.
like a lot of people i like to read while i’m on the toilet(don’t act all shocked or anything) and this morning the only thing i had laying around in close proximity to both me and the bathroom was “webster’s new world dictionary” so that’s what i looked at. now definitions are funny things because at least in terms of politics the general terms of discourse have become so far removed from their actual definitions that the dictionary, if approached with the pursuit of knowledge as impetus(which should always be the case with anything), is in my humble opinion really quite revealing. today i started with the definition of “right wing”, i mean i think i’ve made it pretty clear over the course of my year in the blogging industry(?) that i consider the right wing to be, in a word, despicable. but why? i mean what exactly IS the right wing, anyways?
here comes webster to the rescue!
now i have the “second college edition” which may or may not matter but the definition does matter and here it is: “right wing: a conservative or reactionary position, especially one varying from moderate capitalism to fascism”. this of course necessitates definitions of the other terms so let’s start with “conservative”: “tending to preserve established traditions or institutions and to resist or oppose any changes in these”. which means keeping the status quo at any given time, which has included slavery, women’s rights, civil rights, etc., things that the right has always fought to preserve. next we have “reactionary” which is defined thusly(as “reaction”): “a movement back to a former or less advanced condition, stage, etc…extreme conservatism”. moving right along we move to “capitalism”: “the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution…are privately owned and operated for profit…generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth”(sound familiar?). and finally on to the ugliest of the terms(which is saying something), “fascism”: “a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism”. not very nice.
summing up, the right wing is opposed to change(and specifically to any advancement in society), supports an economic system which is run by a few private people/companies for their own profit and tends toward the concentration of wealth(at the expense of the public, i would add), and is closely related to a political system which is violent, racist, and antagonistic towards any notion of freedom or autonomy for the general population. see how fun and enlightening a few minutes on the pot with a dictionary in your hands can be? and you thought the toilet was only for pooping!
looks like another beautiful day in the neighborhood, the weather’s been perfect lately. last night wookie worked on getting leni’s room organized which is an ongoing battle that we’ve been losing for a while, now, but as always we try to somehow trudge up and along and into the light. grab your dictionary and come along, it might just be a defining moment.

perfect sound forever

this record came out during my last year of school and i played the fuck out of it and also the next single(“summer babe”) for a year or 2 before their 1st LP came out(“slanted and enchanted”) and put the kibosh on my pavement fixation for good. looking back i think i was over-critical of “slanted” because by the time it came out the band was obviously primed for big things and i prefer my things to be little and sometimes i prefer that they’re not even things. anyways after “slanted” pavement hit the big stage and remained there until they weren’t a band anymore. in the process they sort of invented a thing called “indie-rock”, i mean maybe the term existed before but i hadn’t ever heard of such a thing and the pre-pavement bands sort of fell into other categories anyway. there was stuff that you might call “independent music” back then but all that meant was that the bands were put out by small labels and developed within a kind of separate culture that did not rely on major labels or corporate support and was an extremely healthy development. post-pavement a whole new aesthetic came to the fore which was basically to write pop songs and then sort of purposely fuck them up with noise or low-fi quackery and then put some clever and semi-obtuse words of introspection over the top and call it “product”. people started to wear a different uniform but it was still just a uniform and the music which didn’t even start out that great just got worse the longer it went on and pretty much every single indie band signed with a major which meant they weren’t really an “indie” band anymore anyway. but for that first year or so pavement was the shit.
after college i moved across the bay to san francisco and got a job at the peet’s coffee in laurel village and drank way too much and began having panic attacks and insomnia. i was probably just depressed but even though i had always been somewhat depressed the post-college where’d-my-girlfriend-go-now-i’m-all-alone-and-don’t-know-what-the-fuck-i’m-doing blues were new to me and brought both the anxiety AND the alcoholism
to new, unforseen heights. i lived with 2 older women and one of them was a complete asshole and basically treated me and my friends like shit until one day when i yelled at her and she cried and then didn’t do it anymore and then moved out anyways. ah, rose, where art thou now?
around that time a club opened in oakland called the heinz club and it was maybe the best club there ever was, right up there with EJ’s in portland(RIP). they were putting on shows by bands i never thought i’d be able to see, bands like slovenly and mx-80 and caroliner and sun city girls and thinking fellers local 282 and all sorts of weird, great shit. the woman who booked the bands and ran the show was named lexa and i really fell for her pretty hard, me and my girlfriend in eugene oregon had decided on an open relationship(actually it was a unilateral decision on her part) so i was good to go as long as i didn’t go too far and as far as i went i wanted to go with lexa. she was a very smart and very tough art-punk who lived in a cool victorian flat in the west oakland ghetto which was owned by an absentee slumlord and was really really cheap. i’m usually not super smooth with the ladies but i did pretty good with lexa and was pretty quickly able to endear myself to her by introducing her to some good bands(pre-fame pavement was one of them) and by somehow achieving a sort of drunken-autopilot zen whenever i was around her over at the heinz. soon enough i was spending a lot of time at her place drinking 40s and making out. years later i ran into her at a thinking fellers show at the great american music hall in SF and she said “so, you still drinking beer for breakfast?” so i guess my drinking bugged her a little(same old fucking story) but at the time there were no bad vibes at all. she was neat.
but people are made to be stupid and i’m a people and one night i was at her place and we took a bath together and then got out and went to the bedroom and then her phone rang and while she was on the phone i somehow came to the conclusion that telling her that i had a girlfriend right at that moment was in some way necessary and so that’s what i did and then i drove home drunk over the bay bridge and although we continued to sort of date it was never the same and we never had sex. i didn’t see her for about 20 years until one day i was at the neighbors’ place and karen, who worked in the art department at psu, mentioned a woman named lexa from oakland who was doing her MFA in social practice and it somehow didn’t sink in too quick even though there probably aren’t a lot of lexas from oakland but it did eventually. we got in touch and went out for dinner and then another time to ice cream and she was married but i got lovesick anyways, it was kind of sweet and kind of pathetic and i guess love is like that most of the time, sweet and pathetic. no wonder people keep trying it.
the sun is up and out and it’s gonna be another nice day. wookie has to go to work and it’s almost 8 so i’m gonna bring her coffee in bed because she really likes it and i really like her. we’re trying to keep the sweet and avoid the pathetic but we’re only people so it’s sort of a mixed bag, and it’s perfect.

watch out, here comes the love

now it would have been really funny if instead of going into music chet baker had gotten into baking, maybe attended some sort of culinary institute and after graduating opened a little shop selling breads and pastries and whatnot and called “chet’s bakery” or “chet the baker” or maybe just “bread and stuff”. they should make people do for a living what their name might suggest, like say if soupy sales was a salesman(or a soup-maker for that matter) or karen carpenter built houses or priest holmes was a minister or maybe if doctor who was a physician(whose name was hard to remember). there’s this bit from seinfeld where he says something like “Did you ever notice a lot of butlers are named Jeeves? I think when you name a baby Jeeves; you’ve pretty much mapped out his future. Not much chance he’s gonna be a hitman. ‘Terribly sorry, sir, but I’m going to have to whack you.'” in chet baker’s case the life of a baker might’ve enabled him to avoid a lifetime of drug abuse, i mean most junkies are not going to get up at the crack of dawn to make baguettes and croissants.
a lot of jazz-bos had drug problems, some of the greats like coltrane and charlie parker and billie holiday and art blakey and miles davis and art pepper and gerry mulligan and stan getz and bud powell and sonny rollins and dexter gordon and a lot of others too. why that is has been the subject of debate and theories proffered have been accessibility(because drugs are often readily available to the travelling musician), creativity(players thinking their performance is enhanced by using drugs), pain relief, difficult circumstances being on the road all of the time, and simply aping the behaviors of the jazz greats that came before them. and i might add my own theory which is borne out of experience and asserts that when you’re on tour you simply have to spend an awful lot of time just sitting around doing jackshit in strange clubs in strange cities while you’re waiting for showtime to roll around. in my case i would basically drink beer constantly whether i was waiting to play or actually playing or resting or eating or hanging out with the local folk or trying to chat up a cute girl. the point is you have to fill in all of that headspace w/SOMETHING and if it’s something you have a taste for and which also relaxes you chances are you’re going to over-indulge. a lot of musicians end up dying in this way and the question of whether or not they would have been better players without drugs is basically impossible to answer so i won’t try.
anyways today is valentine’s day and for the 2nd straight year i have a valentine so good for me, i went the better part of a decade spending the 14th of february alone and bitter and bemoaning my fate to the heavens up above. well maybe i’m exaggerating a little bit(can you believe it?) but you know what i mean. and while i’m thinking of love there’s this for your listening pleasure:

there’s a lot of good love songs in the world, i guess that’s because so many musicians wrote about it. i mean the beatles wrote almost nothing BUT love songs. on the other end of the spectrum are the cheeseballs and asswipes who write such cornball stuff that “love” doesn’t even really enter the equation because regardless of what their songs are attempting to capture, whatever these dorks have to say is of so little consequence that they should not be given credence for so-called love songs and speaking of “credence” i wonder why it’s spelled “creedence” when it’s put in front of “clearwater revival”. now that’s a pretty good band but they didn’t write a whole lot of love songs and if you want to know why you’ll have to ask john fogerty the next time you see him, which in my case would be the first time.
wookie had a bad and exhausting week because the place where she works is using the fact that one of the nice managers leaving to sort of “streamline” the enterprise and take any fun and/or meaning out of it and everyone involved. it’s a for-profit healthcare facility and i’ve spoken before about the evils of the profit motive but when that’s the driving force of allegedly “caring” for folks(in wookie’s case seniors) then the results are doubly disastrous and the impetus behind them is despicable.
but i can see that my attempt at light-heartedness on this day of love and affection is beginning to falter so instead of getting “heavy” on your ass at this point i’m simply going to wish you a happy valentine’s day
and don’t eat too many of those candy hearts no matter WHAT they might say(the hearts, i mean).


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