Friday, October 30, 2020

Hood River DMV


I needed to get a Real ID so I tried to make an appointment two months ago at the Portland DMV. They were booked solid for six months.  

The Hood River DMV had an opening only 60 days into the future so I grabbed it.  Plus I got to walk by the river on a beautiful day. 


Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Elk Is Gone -- Long Live The Elk!


This foregone spot was once the home of elk statues.  

First was the original, then came the modern. Briefly, this is how it went with the downtown Portland elk statues.

The modern elk. 
After protesters damaged the original elk, the city took it down and put it in storage for preservation. Then an artist created the above version.

Sometime in September White Supremists took a page from the fraternity pranks playbook and removed the modern elk to an undisclosed location. 

The city then scoured the area where it had stood.

We're all getting ready for the election, the aftermath, and a long winter. I can't say that the elk is a symbol or harbinger of anything except the ebb and flow of the protest movement here. My feeling is that the creativity and energy of the elk-producing people far outweigh the destructive impulses of the haters.

I would not be sad if a string of elk-inspired sculptures periodically appeared at this spot.

Elk Stoke!


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Rejected Holiday Greeting Card


As academics and serious amateurs already know, I enjoy designing my own holiday cards. The designs can run from the saccharine sweet to the bizarre. Some years I push the envelope, others I forget there was an envelope, and if there was, who are YOU to tell ME about office supplies anyway!

You get the picture.

Today I offer a rare, behind the scenes, look at the card production process. Each card design must pass a rigorous review (by me). Only if all criteria are met will the card go into holiday production with a print run of about 30. With numbers like those I can ill afford to produce an ordinary card!

This little ditty scored high on the kinetic energy graph but fell short in the “holiday cheer” quadrant.

Testing will continue.


Monday, October 26, 2020

"Everything Is True, Nothing Is Permitted"

Recently I learned that a family member had saved a copy of my undergraduate honors thesis about William Burroughs – the Beat writer famous for Naked Lunch (1959).

Both then and now I was immensely happy that we shared this bond about Burroughs, and both enjoyed deeply dark, sardonic satire.

I read the first few pages of the work and cringed a bit for obvious reasons. More often I felt proud that I had cut a direction that was important to me and followed my interests. In many ways I’m still the same guy who likes the punk aesthetic, be it music, art, or literature. Subtlety is something I must cultivate but these other cacophonous notes resonate like Mozart on a church organ when I experience them.   

From the introduction:

When I first started thinking about doing a project on William Burroughs my thoughts were he was a writer who didn’t feed the public pabulum – he fed them shit. I had never encountered a writer who tackled all the taboo subjects of society with such a flaming irreverence. It was out of rock’n’roll admiration for the man who could scream the word “FUCK” with the written word that first drew me to him as a reader. Initially I saw William Burroughs as a radical spokesman of free living and I wanted to explore his vision. I now find this sort of thinking na├»ve: Burroughs’ message is much more complicated than being some hedonistic sodomite’s looking to rationalize his chemical habits. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Halloween Genius


My neighbor takes elections and Halloween seriously. Halloween more so, based on his intricate yard decorations.

I learned he makes all his own manikins, many animated with motors and electronics. Yard lighting, fake graveyards, cobwebs, his own excellent costumes – a true promoter of the Halloween arts.

In a world with more justice, he would be recognized for his innovation and dedication. We must acknowledge his Halloween stoke!

Monday, October 19, 2020

I Voted


Album review: Grease Cuck “Coronavirus Blues”


From the album: "Deranged, morbid, pure bread, pregnant, faggot"

Take early Black Flag, the Minutemen, add some Frankenstein parts from the Subhumans, Crucifucks and Feederz, and you’ve got Grease Cuck – the band that isn’t afraid to take itself seriously, or not – you decide, if you want to. Or not.

Grease Cuck’s first album, “Coronavirus Blues” is a timely statement to the degraded times we are living in. The songs have a refreshing variance between hurdy gurdy, thrashcore, guitar noodling croon, or full-on, blow out the pipes rage-a-saurus.

But the great thing about the Cuck is to expect the unexpected. Although there is a thematic emphasis on rage and disappointment, humor and a good-timey vibe infuse many of the songs. The title song “Coronavirus Blues” presents a bloviating worship of melancholy noodling on psychic overdrive, but is followed by “Beans” – where one can almost smell the flatulence, or the saucy humor, in this ribald ode to the humble legume.

Repetitive, undulating, hypnotizing. Riding with Grease Cuck is a surprising and awesome experience, elevating the noise and crank of all who suffer. “Covid Cream” and “Smoke Until I Fucking Die (Acoustic)” showcase the band’s talent for empathetic mockery of all who are oppressed.

If you want to be safe, Grease Cuck isn’t for you. But for those of us who are inclined to stomp on the accelerator for a wild ride, play it loud, play it proud.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Toshiro Mifune And The Teenage Mind

A still from "Rashomon"

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a film snob. This was back before the internet so one had to put effort into learning about things that weren’t in the mass media of the day. Or just forgo the learning, see strange movies, and let the thoughts fly where they may.

University showings of films, revival houses, and eventually VHS cassettes gave me just enough exposure to be obnoxious.

When I got my license in 1981 the Uptown Theatre in Minneapolis caught my attention as the definition of cool for foreign, art, and cult films. They would have nightly double features and The Rocky Horror Picture Show screened every weekend.

Often, I would have no knowledge of the film I was about to see, just the desire to see something new, strange, weird. A work not sanitized or glossy, that had not passed through countless marketing feedback sessions. A film oddly stylized and, above all, authentic in an ineffable manner.

In this spirit I saw “Throne of Blood” and the “Seven Samurai” staring Toshiro Mifune. I didn’t immediately become a fan of Akira Kurosawa films, but accepted the premise that Mifune was everything a Japanese hero was supposed to be. Mifune’s absolute control of body and expression made a deep impression. Awesome swordplay was pretty cool, too.

Today I like to pretend I have some concept of Bushido, the code of honor that regulated the conduct of samurai, from watching Mifune’s movies. I accept I have no clue about Bushido but it feels good to hold my face rigid while I make hard decisions.

I realize saying this is equivalent to someone born outside the US claiming she/he knows American culture from an idolization of John Wayne. Sobeit. I celebrate my ignorance. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

My Father's Office

My father’s office in his home, with its shelves of books and documents lining the walls, is a scrapbook of images from his life. For decades he had a picture of me when I was 10 walking on a frozen Minnesota landscape.

I always admire this picture for the snow bears marks of sleds and skis, things that animated my mind at that age. Also, what the land looks like under snow and in the high contrast of a sunny winter day is indelibly etched in my mind – a specific acknowledgement of the timelessness of winter.

The second photograph is a picture of my daughter which rests near the one of me. My father likes the juxtaposition of the different generations in a similar pose.

I have an office in my home as well. I don’t like putting up pictures as I appreciate the serenity of blank space. I do have a burning desire to curate the images of my life which is why I slavishly post to this blog. This is my scrapbook.

I spent plenty of mental calories thinking we are not alike, but perhaps I deceive myself.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

White Castle Still Exists


Even when I was a kid in Minnesota, White Castle burgers never made a significant impact on my culinary landscape. Small square burgers with some cooked onions tasted fine and were cheap, and that was my basic assessment. 

Recently I learned that the restaurant is still in existence and, from outside appearances, is doing fine. 

I'm trying to find a bit of curiosity to go further with this analysis, but ultimately cannot.

If you enjoy the food then Stoke! I'm eating Asian noodles.