No Me Pises

You should probably wait for the laughter of your inner teenaged boy to die down before moving on…

No me pises translates from Spanish to English as something familiar.

Even if you aren’t a Proud Boy.

Or a gun nut.

And I’ll tell ya, this American is taking it back this week like The Gays took back the Proud Boys hashtag last week. Seriously, what were those bigoted idiots thinking trying to usurp pride from The Gays?

Buncha dopes.

What a wonderful time to be re-watching Ally McBeal…

Not such a wonderful time to get a late night Messenger notice from Black Sheep Bro. I mean, surrealiously I’m on the West Coast and he’s in friggin’ Texas. Why he’s sending me messages at 11 PM my time?

I don’t know.

Nor do I know what brotherly charm he was hoping to evoke with this out of nowhere crap. But it didn’t do much to improve my disposition in the Xtopher vs Black Sheep Bro arena.

But I do know that while he makes me scratch my head – and delete Snapchat – and ponder whether he’s heckling me from a path I want to venture down, several others have tried calling me down similarly unappealing paths that I think they can just travel alone. Or at least without the pleasure of my company…

Take this joker on the Twitter.

Not to bury the lede, but I reported the rat bastard.

Suck on that sweaty dick, Jimbo.

If only all instances of intolerable bullshit were handled as expeditiously as Twitter handled this.

Actually, sometimes they are handled thusly, these petty bullshit things. They just are not always the matters of import that draw attention.

Lucky for all of you, dear readers, I’m not shy about holding up the lumps from my life for your appreciation.

For instance, the situation that prompted this response from Lyft.

Good old Marcy from Lyft.

Here’s the story:

I was out driving last weekend – Friday. It was after I possibly stressed myself into being ill two days last week, which is another blog post on its own. Needless to say, I was driving to play catch up on my self-imposed weekly goals. Fortunately for me, my hypochondriac episode malady occurred just prior to the first rainy Fall weekend of the season.

Unfortunately for me, I ran into a rider who seemed conflicted about a lot of things.

The first of which was the difference between a driver and a bartender therapist.

He gets in and tells me he’s going to a friend’s house to have a few drinks and hang out. Because, as it turns out, his live-in girlfriend is giving him hell at home.

For what it’s worth, I have a cat at home who prefers I not be at home.

Seemed safe enough.

Banal, one might even think if they didn’t know the feline that is Mistress Myrtle…no matter how angelic she may pretend to be for the ‘Gram.

So this passenger manages to cram a lot into this ride that didn’t even beat the minimum fare! This particular swine was absolutely rolling in his own pearls of wisdom.

I’m not sure whether it was my lacking in a certain luster enthusiasm for the quicksand caliber topics he was therapeutically trundling into.

It was.

Men have needs.

Ugh. So absolutely rapey.

At least there’s porn. Hey…what kind of porn do you like?!?

Gay.

Oh, sweet! That actually just made me a little hard. Do you want to touch it?

This gem he drops as he’s getting out of the car.

No. No, I do not.

For so many, many reasons.

Do I want to Bobbit you? Yes, yes…perhaps I do.

Maybe it was something else that got me going. Maybe it was the overwhelming cumulative effect of his closeted and misogynistic monologue in such a short period of time. Or that I didn’t have a beer to wash the figurative taste of his words out of my being.

But some things I do know.

I got into my 50s being single by absolutely wasting my time on idiots like this clown – not you, Rib, you’re a dear. Certainly, I wanted to head right back to where I picked him up from and tell any angry looking women I met to dump their boyfriends.

Most definitely, I’m no longer flattered by fuckbois who think copping a feel is a reward worthy of my effort and pursuit. Had I been him, I’d have for sure known that my attached stiffy did not afford me the right to stiff my service provider.

Quite the opposite – I’d think I have enough shame to overtip if I made such a social blunder. Lucky me, running into someone with this joker’s uncommon knowledge.

Maybe I’ll understand his entitlement someday.

And then there was the whole…I just don’t know what to feel about-ness of his offer to be a side piece.

A fling…at my age.

An unsolicited pinch hitter for his main piece, who I’m sure was unaware that her boyfriend was out haphazardly recruiting.

Probably, knowing me and my penchant for being rulesy, it was more that first thing than anything else. I got to be single in my 50s by defining my own acceptable standards of behavior. One of those standards is being alone instead of being in a relational situation simply because it’s not being alone.

This fucker wanted it all. Most upsetting to me was probably that he and I disagreed on whether he was entitled to any.

Anyway, unlike with the Twitter guy, I didn’t even report this guy. I simply one-starred him – and any passenger I rate as three out of five stars or lower, the app will never pair me with again.

Personally, I think three or below is a pretty harsh scale, so I use my Star Hammer judiciously. Most of my rides – and I’m talking all but about five out of ~2500 rides – have been great.

That being the case, I break it down like this:

Regular great ride – four stars.

Regular great ride with a tip – five stars.

If you’re just a meh, I might three star you. The very infrequent individual that finds and inhabits the ass in “passenger” gets a one star. As you can tell, I don’t really find the relevance in that whole two star business…what’s that, the ass that tips?

When I was young, like my early 20s, there was a thing going around. This was before memes but after email. Sure, it was like in the days of AOL email addresses, but still. We would print them out and hold onto them to share with friends.

Now that I think about it, memes are really to young people what recipe cards used to be to 50s housewives – something to share with peers.

The pre-meme that I wanted to share?

Every day, I am forced to deal with someone who ends up on the ever growing list of people who can kiss my ass.

But that Marcy from Lyft? She ain’t on it, for sure. But she’s certainly on it…meaning, when I one starred this passenger, I selected “inappropriate rider behavior” and made a note about the indecentident on the ride but didn’t file anything formal with Lyft. Hell, I was pretty sure no one but me ever saw those notes.

But Marcy found my flag and followed up – just to tell me that she’d seen it and suspended the pig-fucker. On my mental scales of justice, I figured Marcy’s intervention balanced that poor girlfriend’s ledger.

So don’t tread on others might be the better tag line here. I think trampling in America would be a lot less frequent if we watched out for these unknown others, even when the tramplers themselves don’t seem to even care enough to look over their shoulders for witnesses before trampling.

Here’s my parting shot of Chrisism wisdom:

Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Hi, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher…and you can believe that I’m fucking watching. It’s not like I have much else to do in these End Times.

No Me Pises

RIP: The Middle Ground

Y’know, for too brief a fleeting moment, I had some hope.

For democracy in America.

Hell, just for regular old, garden variety people in America.

I’ll wait while you gather yourselves together and pick your jaws up off the floor at my rampant optimism.

Don’t worry. It’s gone. As I sit here at the beer garden in front of my local – the Big Legrowlski – in the middle of what used to be a street called Couch, sipping a pint of the good stuff and being buzzed by what I surmise are a pair of albino gnats…it’s gone.

Dead.

(My thumb is making this Jackie Treehorn inspired glass PG)

Sadly, even in a year as dramatic and as filled with soapy plot twists as 2020, I’m not sure it’s coming back to life. Unlike Marlena Brady, I think that my hope for the middle ground in America is staying dead.

I was embarrassed after last Tuesday’s presidential debate.

As a Democrat.

As an American.

And even as an adult.

Overall, I was glad that Biden called out Trunt‘s bully behaviors and went so far as to tell him to shut up.

Hilary certainly could not have walked away from such a statement without being disqualified as a serious candidate and having her gender weaponized against her. But watching Trump use those same childish and distracting tactics in the 2020 debate that he did throughout his 2016 campaign made me wonder if democracy in America is merely a matter of he who shouts loudest, wins.

It’s hardly been a matter of statesmanship these last years.

While the debate was embarrassing and hard to watch, I walked away thinking that even with as little substantive dialogue as the debate served up, Biden was the clear winner simply for not being the biggest imbecile on stage.

It’s a low bar, to be sure. But Stupid Americans love their low bars.

Personally, I prefer lowbrow bars…but that’s every other day in my life. Today is about setting a better bar.

Then I remembered that these same Stupid Americans would be Trump’s base and that critical thinking and analytical skills don’t really mesh well with giant pick ups, gun racks and white supremacy.

Secretly – fearfully – I still look at polling returns with a degree of dubious optimism. A 14 point lead in the polls is nothing to sneeze at.

Still.

As recently as last night, I had some active hope. Hope that was eroding but at least wasn’t at imminent risk of being abducted by a local madman, possessed by the devil, marrying an unknown sibling or ending up stranded on a desert island after going down in a small plane into shark infested waters.

But that’s closer to the surreality that is American politics in 2020 than the poise and demeanor present in American politics prior to Donald J Trump bumbling into the DC swamp. Remember, that’s coming from a Portland native, and my town has a living former mayor who was famous for this before entering politics:

So I know something about non-traditional candidates, shall we say?

Here’s where my hope flashed bright before ultimately getting its last rites.

Of course it was from a passenger – gotta love the Lyft Life! And I swear, I don’t know why people vomit this shit out in my presence…well, maybe I could come up with something if I drank about it overanalyzed it long enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love railing against the state of Portland and America with my mostly liberal townsfolk cum passengers. Making a left leaning statement in Angela in Portland is practically guaranteed to be met with an echo chamber response. If it’s not, those aligned with the erroneously named right wing know enough in this town to not wait for Biden to advise-slash-implore them to do the <ahem> right thing. But I usually start off with innocuous Joey-fare versus dousing my passengers with a cauldron of intelligent political observational conversational content.

Last week, after picking up a guy at a bar on the Columbia River – and, sadly, this is my only opportunity to pick up guys at bars these days – that answer was:

Drunk!

That ride devolved into a back seat monologue about COVID being a hoax, a guarantee that come mid-November no one would be wearing masks and the old chestnut that only 6% of reported COVID deaths were actually from COVID and not underlying conditions.

I’m giving you a fair warning that I expect a pat on the back for my actual response:

The people who died from COVID *had* underlying conditions, they weren’t actively dying from those conditions, that’s why they are called co-morbidities and not Causes of Death.

What I didn’t add as I assessed my booze filled passenger in my rear view was:

Obesity is a co-morbidity you fat, stupid fuck.

Which is where that pat on the back was earned.

Seriously, this guy was 375 pounds of Captain Oblivious.

But he tipped the tipping scales with a nice fat one, even though I’m not sure that wasn’t just inebriation versus political contrition.

My hope collapsed like a Brad Pitt built house in New Orleans last night after picking up a guy at his work last night at about 11. I started off innocuously enough with:

My mom worked at that Freddy’s for several years.

I could have gone with something like “I lived right down the road from here growing up”, but chose the work connection. Also, I’m not entirely sure I’d call the present day incarnation of me “grown up”. Maybe groan up…

How that veered into him admitting he’s a Republican, I dunno. I do know, however, that his conversational blowout included him saying, “I understand a lot of the Democratic values like healthcare and living wages”. I sincerely praised him for being able to look past the labels and appreciate the good intent behind those values, regardless of political labels.

Seriously, I was buoyed by his perspective. It didn’t hurt that he said he despised Trump. Then he admitted he hadn’t voted in 2016 because of that. When I probed – shut up, Diezel – he said he just hated Hilary.

That’s where his blowout of a conversation veered off the road and dangerously into a tree that I’d call Chappaquiddick territory. Talk about political appropriation!

I’m not gonna lie, I told him – respectfully – that was both sexist and irresponsible.

He listened, though, as I went on to say that voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. It’s not Prom Queen, our job as voting age Americans isn’t to pick the candidate we like most, it’s to pick the candidate best suited to do the job.

If you want to vote for who reflects your values, do it on the local level…maybe that’s why there are more Representatives than Senators? To make sure each citizen of every state has a chance to connect personally on a political level. The President, though? He’s our Commander in Chief, sure, but he’s also our Diplomat in Chief. He – fuck, they – are our face to the world. Expecting them to mirror your personal values is literally a 1:330 million improbability chance.

That’s not a realistic expectation to place on one person. And sadly, with the obsolescence of the old political chestnut “There’s more that unites us than divides us”, it looks like realism in politics is going or has gone the way of the Dodo.

Ask me in 28 days.

As for last night?

As my passenger exited the car over the sound of someone figuratively hammering nails into a coffin, I reminded him that there’s three ways to vote for Trump:

  1. Vote for Trump
  2. Don’t vote
  3. Vote for a third party or write-in
  • And then said, “Vote for Biden, I won’t tell…and he might die or retire. Then we get a young President Harris that would more accurately represent the majority of the non-Boomer Americans like you and I!”
  • Oh, don’t even get me started on her. I like Biden way better than her!

  • Ok, well, that position made zero sense. It was like common sense dressed up as a nun for Halloween and said it was Nun Sense.
  • But as I drove away I had two thoughts:
  • First, that that was exactly why my hope for The Middle Ground was dying. We’d just had a 15 minute conversation about doing the right versus ideological thing and that was his parting shot. He hit the bullseye on the “missed the point” target.
  • Second, I made a winning wager with myself that he wouldn’t have the drunken shame of Fat Fucker to overtip. Being stupid is bad enough. Being stupid and cheap is quite another.
  • Then again, I type that on the heels of a headline about Trump walking away from stimulus talks until after the election – talk about holding a country hostage over a narrow purview…but I guess last night’s Republican learned it from the top.
  • Can the meteor hit Earth now, please?
  • RIP: The Middle Ground

    COVIDness

    COFITness?

    How do you properly portmanteau COVID and fitness? Regardless, I should probably emphasize the “co” since what motivated me today was my obnoxiously fit friend’s – Filipina Fox – Instagram post yesterday.

    Not mad, jealous.

    She took a page out of my home workout book from back when I was obnoxiously fit. When I was living in Seattle, my condo was in the top floor of a 13 floor building.

    See also: How to not make money in Seattle real estate – buy on the 13th floor and laugh about it.

    Anyway, my home routine included running stairs. Including the basement flight, my route from 13-LL was 1/10 of a mile and I used to knock out a mile or two a few times a week when the weather was shitty.

    Usually before catching a car to a bar.

    Party-orities.

    I’d been thinking about doing some what-I-call-running of the stairs in my building during quarantine, but have been expertly procrastinating. Not (only) because I’m lazy, but I started quarantine off with some reasonable exercise – starting with a couple of long walks in the early days followed by a HIIT home workout and a two mile hike later in the week.

    Except

    After that HIIT/hike day, I found myself sore. Just a reasonable soreness on day two, prompting me to reason, “Give yourself another day to fully repair and then get back to it on day three.

    Except: part deux…

    I was more sore on the third day after my work out. Clearly, I needed another day to get my next level procrastination excuses up and running.

    Filipina Fox posted her workout story yesterday on day four of my HIIT/hike workout.

    This morning, I woke up to a shame double-whammy. First, the traitorous Facebook:

    Yeah, five years ago I could eat a 5 lb tub of licorice. At least, that’s what I tell myself these days.

    Then the Filipina Fox has to chip in helpfully with this pro-tip:

    Already knowing I was doing this, I playfully demurred hoping she would not have any of my resistance. Riding to the call, she fully enabled:

    But I still felt I could balance the reward with a little exercise. I’ve got a decade plus on Filipina Fox, so I thought that afforded me the option to adjust my workout down by a magnitude or two.

    But it was also a HIIT/stair workout, so there were six upper body supersets mixed in between each six floor stair circuit.

    Forget COVID-19, I’m making this quarantine about CoFit-20!

    Also, about pizza, beer and now licorice!

    COVIDness

    Going Out Of Business!

    Portland Edition.

    I went out on a lil urban hike yesterday morning and was confronted by the reality of a frequently occurring conversational topic of late: commercial real estate in Portland.

    The rug shop on the corner across from my place is closing. Well, is closed.

    Just as a reminder, I live in a neighborhood called The Pearl which is nestled in the Alphabet District of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. Essentially, this neighborhood runs from Burnside to Lovejoy streets from North to South and from Broadway to 8th to Park and then 9th-13th on the East to West streets.

    It’s an 8×11 street grid.

    There is/was three rug shops within that grid, so “How many rug shops do you need in that small area?” is a valid question.

    Here’s one of the survivors, which was forced to move from its original location a few years ago to make way for a 14 story, half a city block apartment building that is finally nearing completion.

    I’m not complaining. Once this is done early next year, my immediate area will wrap up its fourth major building project over the last four years. That’s two new hotels and two new apartment buildings that added about 500-700 new neighbors and countless tourists to my corner of the world.

    Until the Post Office project begins in god knows when, I’m in the clear, construction-wise.

    Interestingly, the opposite corner of my block (shown above) rented nearly a year ago and just recently opened. It’s a rowing studio, which upset the Filipina Fox greatly, since she and her husband were planning – still are – to open a row studio. But if you got clients that are too lazy to walk into class, you’re probably better off not even bothering to open.

    At least they are friendly. Homegirl gave me a nice friendly smile and wave.Still, it goes back to my earlier question, how many <insert business here> does one small part of town need?

    When it comes to gyms, I can think of too many:

    The grand daddy of the OGs, 24 Hour. It’s been here since well before the turn of the century. Another OG – LA Fitness – came in a decade and a couple blocks later.

    There’s now City Row, Yo Yo Yogi, Pearl Yoga, Firebrand, Barre 3, Bar Method, RevoCycle, BurnCycle and countless CrossFit studios within my tiny grid. Including one that moved into this site for about an hour.

    But fitness and rugs aside, this whole conversation started with a few notable business closures.

    Namely, Pearl Bakery and Henry’s Tavern with an honorable mention to Byways Cafe.

    Pearl Bakery had been in its current location for 23 years, serving up fresh baked breads and pastries as well as top notch coffee the entire time. It was a Pearl landmark.

    Henry’s, on the other hand, could arguably be said to have been here in the Pearl since before there was a Pearl to be in.

    Henry Weinhard’s started brewing beer here in 1906 and I know people just a few years younger than me whose parents worked there. It was bought by AB a few decades ago and brewing operations were consolidated elsewhere sometime after that. In the 90s, the brewery was redeveloped into a founding corner of the a Pearl called the Brewery Blocks, which enveloped the block that Powell’s sits on and also included a couple of condo and apartment buildings The Henry and The Louisa, named for Weinhard and his wife. One of the old brick buildings was remodeled and became home to Henry’s Tavern, run by the recently relegated to the annals of bad business Restaurants Unlimited. Still, RI was snatched up by Landry’s and there was hope that the namesake restaurant in the Pearl’s Brewery Blocks would be spared the axe.

    Alas.

    Still, you gotta wonder, if coffee and beer can’t make a go of it in one of Portland’s affluent destination living and shopping districts…hadn’t there got to be a bigger problem?

    Henry’s is hardly the only brewery or taproom to face this fate.

    Last year, Bridgeport shut down brewing operations in the Pearl and later closed its onsite restaurant.

    Avid started its life as Atlas before being sued over copyright infringement and forced to rebrand. It opened last year in one of the two nearby apartment building projects i mentioned.

    On Deck will close permanently at the end of the year, putting the Pearl down a sports bar.

    It was quite the summertime destination – for some, not me) with a rooftop that probably doubled its square footage. I think this business in particular struggled with a too common threat in the neighborhood these days:

    Redevelopment

    Rumors circulated for the better part of a year that this block was due to go under the wrecking ball to create a new mid-rise building. Office Depot occupied the other corner of the block and pulled out last year.

    And while I am a supporter of housing density, the panic future development rumors create is detrimental to our present.

    Indeed, my backup – and preferred – coffee house is on that block, you can just make out the red reflection of its “Open” sign in the picture above. As a matter of fact, Nossa is new to this block within the last couple of years, having moved from literally two blocks down when its former location came under the same redevelopment axe.

    Yet, here its former location is. Empty as the rumors that helped facilitate its relocation. Also, some randomly occurring Jingle Bell runners.

    But as in favor as I am of redevelopment, I think the overall benefit is mitigated by the negative impact of commercial real estate’s larger problem: greed.

    Real estate – both commercial and residential is at a premium in Portland overall and more so in the Pearl specifically since it’s such a hub. So, for every new building that goes up, there’s at least one – if not two – large restaurant or retail spaces included in the new building as anchor spaces.

    Case in point, The Rodney.

    This apartment building was finished early this year and included a large restaurant space on the ground level. This corner is on Glisan, one of the two busiest one-way through-fares in the neighborhood. Including construction, there’s been over two years to lure a business into this spot. It’s next door to 10 Barrel Brewing and Rogue Brewing’s taproom restaurants and a block from Andina, another Pearl District restaurant mainstay.

    That they can’t rent this space out is problematic. Then again, it took two years post-construction for City Row to open in the large space next to my building, so…

    A bigger problem?

    The building right across Glisan that should be complete and open early next year. Including what I assume will be at least one large restaurant space in its three corner spaces – it’s a big building.

    Between these two buildings, we’re adding around another 750+ residents to the neighborhood…it shouldn’t be that hard to draw a business that can make a go of it here. As long as it’s not named something complementary-awkward to its neighbor. All we need is an apartment building named The Slice sitting across the street from The Rodney.

    But large restaurant space is tricky. Even chain based restaurants can’t make a go of it. Back before RI went out, they snatched up Pacific Restaurants. This was back in 2007 and I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong – PR was an affiliated evolution of Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlors.

    Between the two, they put successive restaurants into this Glisan corner space for decades.

    It was home to Palomino and Trader Vic’s with at least one other incarnation from the brand’s portfolio in the mix. Then it sat empty for a couple of years before signage for a Pink Taco went up in the windows screaming about a new future.

    Then silently came down.

    More recently, the space has quietly announced a new tenant.

    And apparently the low key nature of its announcement saved enough money for remodeling to actually begin this time around.

    Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of that block, facing Hoyt, another of the Pearl’s pioneer eateries sits vacant after closing in the middle of the night a few years back. Oba! was an exciting happy hour destination and a swanky date night or celebration restaurant destination.

    Then, poof!

    Gone.

    Ironically, another Pearl nightlife mainstay is rumored to have leased the space, but those rumors are growing stale after almost 18 months.

    Jimmy Mak’s was a jazz venue in the Pearl since the days where there was only one or two industrial co-ops and maybe one condo building in the hood. Then they moved catty corner to a new location next to one of our three neighborhood rug shops.

    Then, the rumors came.

    Kush decided to move ahead of the demolition of its half-block. Jimmy Mak’s decided to close down once its owner’s cancer resurfaced. The farewell party was planned – a New Years Eve to Mark the end of the Jimmy Mak’s era.

    On New Years Day Jimmy died. It was tragically sad and a simultaneously beautiful ending to the story.

    Until…a couple of former employees decided to reopen Jimmy Mak’s in the Oba! space six months later. Another beautiful tribute to a legendary entertainment venue.

    The “Leased” sign is up…but 18 months in, we’re still waiting.

    Celebrity chef based restaurants aren’t faring any better than chain-backed ventures.

    Isabel Pearl was a restaurant opened by cookbook author Isabel Cruz back in 2008. After a decade, plans for the San Diego based cookbook author cum restauranteur to expand into the old Gilt space a few blocks away on Broadway were announced.

    Gilt was the space’s former tenant and is the restaurant made famous by the Colin the Chicken episode of Portlandia…

    If you can’t stay in business with that pedigree…alas, instead of expanding to a second location, Isabel decided to “reimagine” their original Portland location.

    A hand-drawn magic marker sign. I can see that no expense was incurred – at least they learned something from Pink Taco.

    Speaking of which, maybe that’s the restaurant that should anchor the building across from The Rodney!

    Here’s a few more spaces that recently transitioned:

    The Star brings deep dish pizza to the space formerly home for tow decades to The Paragon. Hopefully, they enjoy a similar tenure.

    Two Wrongs is a collaboration between a Portland bar/restauranteur and the marketing/brand master behind Portland Gear. They took over a former Black Rock coffee house to open a bar.

    Here’s Byways, which I mentioned earlier. Fifteen years ago, this was Shakers Cafe. Both incarnations were kitsch themed diners and have occupied this space for…gosh, 25 years collectively? They announced their closure after failing to negotiate new lease terms with the building’s owner.

    There’s that greed again.

    That the Sheepskin shop that shares the building with Byways has outlasted them is truly mind boggling. And it’s not like the building is going anywhere. There’s a co-op on one side and a similar small building housing a taco joint and a kitsch decor store called Cult on the corner.

    Taprooms aren’t the only alcohol based destinations to struggle. This space is in the building that the Silver Fox lives in. It sits on Everett – the other main through-fare in the Pearl used to House a wine bar called Remedy. They limped along for a couple of years before closing and one of the owners – who owned the commercial space – had it rezoned and remodeled into his private residence.

    An old school shared office building (pictured top) closed up last year. It had been here forever. It featured a now whitewashed wall that formerly depicted a mural of home state hero Steve Prefontaine and a fun neon sign helpfully suggesting the proper use of ones time.

    I’d like this mural restored, if they’re just gonna cover it over and then leave.

    Come to think of it, I want the neon back, too! Maybe keeping the “Working” side lit would keep homeless people from camping in the doorway.

    Given its billion dollar a year losing competitor across the park, I can see where it would be hard to compete successfully. But this is Portland. We’re supposedly hard wired to support the underdog. WeWork should not have won in this scenario.

    Affluence doesn’t always guarantee success over commercial real estate greed, either. Opposite the corner housing Pearl Bakery – which started this whole ball rolling – was a Charter School. It had been there for quite some time, bringing kids into the Pearl’s North Park Block neighborhood. That was an add that even this grumpy old man appreciated.

    The City even collaborated to renovate the old Park Block playground into this

    Bit then the school decided to move – for whatever reason. Hmm…what could it be?!?

    Greed?!?

    Perhaps.

    Maybe they just outgrew the building.Ok, ok…I know this is running long. I think I’m wrapping up. I mean wearing myself out.

    Let’s compromise and call it both.

    The corner pictured above used to be a favorite pre-turn of the century coffee haunt of mine called Torrefazione. I actually made it a hangout for my main character in No One Of Consequence.

    Anyway, Starbucks bought the small chain out and then closed them all up! Talk about cutthroat.

    The Torrefazione family responded by leasing the restaurant space in the new high rise condo that was built on the opposite corner and opened Caffe Umbria.

    Take that Charbucks. The family’s roastery May be Seattle based, but at least one of the family members lives locally and drops in to watch soccer with his toddlers on the weekends.

    It was a very Portland thing to do, protest opening a business like that…even if selling out wasn’t so Portland.

    The three pics below all represent businesses being priced out or rumored out of their homes. The Beneficial Bank looks nice, right?

    It should.

    After being forced out of its home for a couple of years once it’s space was slated for a high rise residential project, it was welcomed back with a paint job. Seems funding may have hit a snag. Who knows? Anyway, score one for the little guys.

    Snow Peak, on the other hand, is just beginning it’s rumor based adventure. There’s a new “Coming Soon” window sign up a few blocks away. It coordinates well with the rumor of a new mid rise building in its current spot.

    What I can’t figure out, though, is the how of that mid rise rumor. The Snow Peak space sits between the aforementioned and newly remodeled Rogue Brewery space on one side and an architecture firm on the other side.

    I’m kind of worried that the architect space will come down to make way – along with Snow Peak – for another high rise apartment building.

    The rub?

    It’s right across from The Rodney – so maybe that intersection isn’t out of the redevelopment woods just yet.

    Even more surprising is the answer Snow Peak represents to my “How many” question from earlier.

    Snow Peak is in the Pearl’s crowd of outdoor and cold weather clothiers.

    REI, Nau, Fjallraven (with TWO locations in the Pearl!), North Face, Patagonia and Icebreaker…and I know that I missed some!

    Ironically, for as persistent as outdoor clothing stores are in the Pearl, home stores don’t fare so well. The Tactics skateboard shop above is a new notion for a space that was a gallery and then a home store and then a home store and then nothing. Likewise, the brick warehouse across the street was a furniture store and the space across the alley was also a home store that became a CrossFit gym for an hour or so before settling into its current sweatpants and ponytail version of an empty space.

    In a further fit of irony, the CrossFit space was subdivided when it was a home store to reduce the size of the shop and thereby the overhead. It was slated to become Jimmy Mak’s new home before the cancer resurfaced. Then it became an “event space”.

    Let’s hope the Oba! space fares better. Eventually.

    Design Within Reach expanded last year to the above space, leaving its old two-story space vacant.

    It looks way more inviting now, so I’m glad. But it got me wondering.

    Maybe the evolution/solution to our commercial real estate vacancies is going to be something that Design Within Reach, Snow Peak and Nossa Familia have all already learned – along with countless college students.

    The way to control real estate expense is to move.

    It may cost more in the short term, but overall you leverage the expense downward.

    For everyone.

    It forces the market price correction that is necessary to offset the empty space and make those spaces affordable. I mean, commercial real estate brokers could just do the right thing and re-write current leases.

    But how likely is that?

    The banks didn’t do it with mortgages during the real estate crisis until Obama forced them to. Somehow, I don’t see the commercial real estate industry doing the right thing here.

    Then again, investment brokers are doing something similar right now, by cutting transaction fees all the way to $0. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

    Until then?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing out city planners get a little more involved in approving all of this ground floor commercial space.

    Or not approving it.

    I think there’s a case to be made for more ground floor live/work space.

    With the Pearl spanning 11 blocks on the North to South expanse, surely we could limit the commercial space on the ground floors to maybe 4-6 of those blocks? I mean, residence density is our goal here, not excess vacant commercial space.

    We don’t need a brewery, yoga studio, flower shop or restaurant on every block.

    I think the current situation has proven that.

    Going Out Of Business!

    Not So…Fast?

    Do you ever do something or realize something and think,

    That was exactly what I needed!

    Yeah, well I’m not sure this post will technically qualify…yet, that is exactly what’s seemed to happen the last couple of days.

    You see, by the time I eat dinner tonight, I will have subsisted on only water for the last 48 hours.

    No coffee or soda.

    No Mac & Cheese or pizza.

    No booze.

    Surely, I’ve lost my mind.

    However, I met up with Diezel on Sunday afternoon and he just looked so good. He’s playing around with facial hair again, but now it’s got the best gray pattern. It looks great. He’s been playing sportsball with the gays, so he’s looking taut and toned, in addition to the endorphin glow.

    Me? I’m sitting across the table, haven’t had a haircut in three months, opted to give my hair a day off from washing, to – which is allegedly good for it. But I still looked like Step One Of Dreadlocks.

    I haven’t been to the gym for anything but cardio since before Christmas. And, trust me…the cardio I’m doing isn’t keeping up with my erratic diet of mostly beer.

    In short: my self care was in the toilet.

    I needed a change.

    Nonetheless, Sunday night I ended up eating…I dunno what for dinner and then topping it off with ice cream. I was so full at bed time, that even though I fell asleep, I woke up two hours later and tossed and turned until it was time for work.

    At work, I felt so full that I was worried any caffeine would only give me heartburn, so I stuck with water. At lunch, still feeling full, I opted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and walk the Esplanade.

    I mean…why not?

    So, all in I walked 6.1 miles that day and drank only water…on two hours of sleep. But my vitamin D intake was off the charts.

    Not that kind, Diezel.

    But, all that fresh air and lack of sleep had me in bed by 7 without dinner. When I woke up this morning, I decided to keep it going through lunch. My cafe wasn’t open yet when I walked by on my way to work – so, no caffeine.

    Again.

    It was a beautiful day here in Portland.

    Again.

    So, why not take another spin around the Esplanade? It’s a great way to kill the better part of an hour. Plus, I’d remembered my sunglasses today, so the ghostly white limbs and bare backs of the runners wouldn’t blind me.

    Side note: the Portland Police and Medical Examiner were busy fishing a body out of the river as I walked by the midway point on today’s urban hike. No idea what happened, but I cautiously wondered if it had to do with too little caffeine…

    So there’s the answer to my earlier question about why not walk the Esplanade at lunch.

    Who knew?

    Anyway, the positive here is that I accomplished what I suspect is a pretty significant fast. Plus, I didn’t even get hangry until today around noon. That’s saying something for me.

    Additionally, toward the end of my workday, Diezel started texting me and making sounds like he might want to attend the lowest key gay pride event I can find this year…so now the pounds I shed the last couple of days get me within spitting distance of being nowhere near having a pride-ready body.

    (How messed up is that? Gays feel like they can’t show their pride unless their bodies are show-worthy…)

    So, while I want spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, I’ll probably obsess myself into baby carrots and water.

    But maybe this is just the snap my mind and body need to get back in the groove.

    Not So…Fast?

    Um…I Wrote A Book(s)

    Alright, this is late news in WordPress-Land…but as of 3/11/19, I am officially a (self) published writer.

    I had originally been planning on making a final decision on publishing or self-publishing my novel – No One Of Consequence – by this past Monday, after a conversation with a publisher last Friday. What I learned as I was researching self-publishing was that having more than one title available lent a significant credibility advantage to self-published authors. Now, I had plans for a second installment of No One Of Consequence with a self-imposed November ’19 deadline.

    But that’s a long time to wait for a credibility lift.

    So, I went back to a thought I had in January ’18 when I began my Dating Into Oblivion writing challenge. Originally, I’d thought that it would make a good NaNoWriMo compilation for last year. I’d been skunked for the prior…six? – yeah, six years on participating because I work in retail. November in retail is a bad month to take on a non-work related special project. I figured having a dozen blogs in the pipeline as a foundation would help me succeed in 2018.

    Finally.

    Of course, then I ended up not working and just wrote a damn book.

    This was actually more rewarding for me, since I’d never wanted to be a memoirist, even though that’s where my natural writer’s voice would place me. That being said, I totally wrote in the first person.

    Then my plan was to just publish No One Of Consequence with a tentative release date of April 1st – because of course I would release my novel on April Fool’s Day.

    Learning that a second work was recommended, going through the self-publishing motions with Dating Into Oblivion turned out to be a wise way to kill time before my publisher interview.

    Is that what it’s called, an interview?

    Well, with self-publishing it’s on you to provide your own editing and cover.

    Ok, I figured I could reasonably succeed at one of those, but what the hell was I gonna do for a cover?!?

    Turns out, Amazon Publishing has a cover design tool. Which is how I ended up publishing a non-fiction work with nothing on the back cover but an awkwardly cropped picture of me. No synopsis, no About the Author…just my thumbnail pic and the rest was black.

    Glad I took a dry run.

    By the time the first hard copies were delivered, I’d figured out how to fix the back cover. By accident.

    Meanwhile, while I thought I had done a good job of editing during my two read throughs – one for tense and content after laying it out and one for typos – what I missed were typos that accidentally created an actual damn word.

    Oy.

    But, at least I can re-upload a corrected copy. So there’s that.

    I also learned that if you’re going Kindle and hard copy, do the hard copy first, then do the Kindle version. For whatever reason, the hard copy process includes a spellcheck function and the Kindle version does not.

    The last thing I had to consider I’m self-publishing was pricing. I nosed around in my genre on Amazon for comparable work and was surprised to see the pricing was actually higher than I had thought. I’d been thinking $3.99 Kindle and $5.99 hard copy. Well, A) there are a lot of short works – like 60 pages – in my genre, mine was in the 150 page range; and, B) they were more in the $4.99 Kindle/$9.99 hard copy range.

    I was ok with all of that.

    Since

    Royalties.

    Ugh. This was confusing. But I’m going to try and break it down for you.

    The obvious winner: 70%!

    This was Kindle only and you can’t release it on any other e-platform.

    Runner up – and if you’re gonna write a book…don’t you want a book? 60%

    You can publish a Kindle and a hard copy, both available on Amazon.com. The shocker here is that print fees come out of your royalties. So the author’s 60% is actually .60 – print fees. Printing fees for Dating Into Oblivion were $2.74, but it’s print on demand, which is convenient. So for my $4.99 Kindle book, my take away is actually around $3. However, for my $9.99 hard copy, I’m walking with just under $3.75 per unit in royalties.

    Still

    For this little experiment, that was better than the final option: 40%

    This affords the author the ability to wholesale their book. So, my book could be available to bookstores to order and in this case, I’d make $1.66 per unit that a wholesaler ordered.

    If they found it on Amazon’s offerings. I decided to keep that option in my back pocket for No One Of Consequence. Remember, I’m not dying to be remembered as a memoirist. I just…I dunno.

    But this is all good to know as I wait for my publisher interview.

    I should say, my publisher interview, which went predictably terrible. I know it was my first conversation of this type. Strangely, it seemed like theirs, too.

    So, decision: made.

    I was going to self-publish No One Of Consequence.

    Naturally, this two weeks before my self-imposes deadline would be the obvious time to rewrite the ending.

    So I did.

    I’ve got to give it one more read through, then it’s ready to go. I’ve got the cover ready to go and 11 days before I hit the “publish” button. I’m going with the wholesale availability, just…because.

    Because: I for sure know someone or someones who knows someone or someones that influence bookstore buying decisions.

    IF YOU ARE SOMEONE, I NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!

    But since I planned this to be a three book arc, I want the ability to wholesale it. It might be once the first book starts getting into second wave/used bookstores, someone that buys gay fiction might find my book, I might drunkenly wander into a bookstore and introduce myself…

    Also, with the 60% royalty option, my payout minus print fees would have been $6.66 and I really don’t think I need to tempt that kind of fate.

    That’s my 411 and my excuse for being so quiet on WordPress for the last two weeks. Also, the bold entry I worked on over the weekend farted out of existence as I finished it, so that didn’t help.

    And while all of this has been going on, I got a jump start on the outline for the second book of No One Of Consequence. I feel good about getting it into the hands of my dozens of fans by November.

    Which is good, since I woke up the other night with a “Eureka!” idea for a book called GhosTed. It’s about a guy named…Ted, who agrees to a date with an online guy, gets stood up, then jumped and killed on his way home. Bad day for Ted.

    It’s a love story, right?

    Seriously, as I’m writing this, someone in Big Legrowlski just said

    Do you know who David Sedaris is?

    No one did.

    Anyway…Ted “wakes up” in his no-show suitor’s bed. They figure out that they have to work together in order for Ted to be able to move on. I’m friggin’ excited about this idea! I’m hoping to put some work into it between now and June and have a draft ready to shop to publishers by July 4th.

    Because I still want to try that route, just not right now. What I learned about publishing is that submission is a contortion act, the work needs three documents:

    The whole work

    The first 50 pages

    And a synopsis.

    Ok, that probably the reverse order in which they are viewed by the publisher. But, after all of that, they’re hoping you have both a marketing plan and a following. Hopefully with DIO and NOOC in the Amazon pipeline, I’ll at least have a small following to sweeten my deal with a potential publisher.

    We’ll see. But until then, look for No One Of Consequence on Amazon on 4/1, BUY IT, leave me a (kind) review and if you could, share this post or my work with your friends and network.

    Um…I Wrote A Book(s)

    I Don’t Like Anyone

    Congratulations if you’ve made it to this point in my life and I like you.

    Or even worse (for you) I call you friend.

    Because I think the “like” department is either out of stock or never reopened after the Partial Government Shutdown.

    I started thinking about this a couple weekends ago, after back to back dinner parties. But yesterday, it really crystallized for this old grumpopotamus.

    I haven’t enjoyed the company of new people at all for at least a month!

    Friday, I had an interview with MudBay. Again. Having breakfast with my parents beforehand, they even seemed caught between optimism and incredulity that this interview process was still going on. To be fair, I started with one DM in November and then got switched to a second in January after nothing happened with the first.

    It was fine by me, DM #1 didn’t leave me feeling like she liked me as a candidate. This was after she just happened to be present when I did a drop in with a Store Manager that a former colleague recommended I talk to.

    DM #2 and I seemed to really jive during our chats. So I was excited about Friday, even though the pay is pretty meh. It’s still seeming like a company that 99% aligns with what I’m looking for in a company.

    So I show up out in BFE yesterday to have what I hoped was a final interview.

    DM #1 was unexpectedly in attendance.

    FFS.

    Our conversation this time – she did more of the talking between the two of them – seemed better. DM #2 swoops in at the end to say she’ll be calling all the people they speak to in this round by Wednesday to let them know their status. I would hope that means a yea/nay on the job offer front. Regardless, it was specific. That’s way better than the way DM #1 left me hanging after our surprise first meeting.

    I’ll call you when we’re ready to move forward with interviews!

    Too chipper.

    Also, I didn’t know this was an interview, so she didn’t have my resume to walk away.

    So she didn’t have my contact info.

    Or. My. Last. Name.

    I can find you in our applicant tracker!

    Too chipper.

    By first name? You said you got hundreds of applicants. From a job that posted in June of 2018…and it’s November.

    I can search by referral source, since you were referred by an employee!

    Too chipper.

    Plus, she should have said Muddy, since that’s what they call one another.

    Well, that might narrow down the applicants with my first name. Assuming she remembered it. Or the Muddy’s name that referred me…

    So, while I can at least appreciate that this conversation was a good one, I’m still a little rankled by the Shanghai Round Robin style interview.

    Mostly, because I don’t like people anymore, it seems.

    I actually got to have a spur of the moment lunch with Little Buddy a few days later while she was in my hood doing errand-type things. She was detoxing some family stuff with some fun adult lunch time.

    I’m glad I can be that person for someone!

    But, naturally, I ruined it by telling her I didn’t like the new people that came to her dinner party.

    Why not? They are amazing people! So accomplished.

    I dunno. The woman seemed intent on being the star of the party.

    Pish. She’s fine, she just didn’t know anyone but me. You know how we can be in a group.

    Fair point. But it all seemed like showing up to a wedding in a prettier dress than the bride to me.

    I’m pretty sure we left that at a neutral assessment that I am just crazy.

    Since it snowed here this week – with an anticipated 4″ on Friday – the wine event LB, 2.0, the Silver Fox and I were all going to Saturday got canceled.

    Of course.

    Naturally, the snow never materialized…

    My walk to f&b for coffee was completely un-treacherous. The Fox joined me and we couldn’t decide if there was an unusual amount of families passing by outside or if there was just too few not families out to dilute their presence.

    We were decidedly the only two people in the cafe for the most part until he left at 1:30. There was a couple of ladies who walked in and declared they had a half hour to kill and could they just hang out.

    It had started snowing. Big, fat flakes. But, still…no! Buy a goddamned coffee and wait. Sheesh. These ladies looked to be 60-ish.

    But the type of 60-ish that are entitled and well to do. Terrible combination. In my opinion, that question cost more in dignity that a $3 cup of coffee would have cost them.

    I’m probably just mad because I know the cafe is struggling. Their rent is going up and likely to cut their barely double digit profit margin in half, making it likely they’ll close.

    All because they’re in a convenient rendezvous area. And too nice to say

    Buy a goddamn $3 cup of Joe or GTFO. Ma’am.

    At two, I said goodbye to the staff and wandered next door to wash the taste of coffee out of my mouth with a Pallet Jack. Since I was in the area.

    There was a cute and nice couple at the bar when I walked in. They chuckled at the catch up conversation the bartendress and I had but settled up, decanted and left shortly after I sat down. That left me, the bartendress (I’ve gone so long without giving her a nickname that I’m afraid she’s just going to become The Bartendress Without A Name…I guess I could call her T’Bwana, thoughts? It’s an acronym portmanteaus!) and a couple at one of the two tables by the window.

    We continued our chatter while T’Bwana did her side work and tended the occasional need of the couple.

    A third couple came in with a Plus One from New Zealand. They were fun, but not from around here, so I was over them quickly. Another regular came in and sat at the table behind me, reading.

    Then.

    It.

    Happened.

    Eight people came in. Fine. Whatever. I’ve made my peace with this illogical occurrence. Party of eight walks into a bar of mostly two-top tables.

    What.

    Ever.

    I get it, you’re entitled, too. Maybe you’re looking for the old gals next door?

    What ticked me off was that they pulled the last two tables in the main bar together for a sit down. The entire room next door – The Rug Room – is empty!

    Oh, no…wait, I forgot!

    This whole tome, there’s been a couple in The Rug Room. They came in, ordered drinks and went into The Rug Room. T’Bwana went in to check on them a while after and came back in with that “I’m So Sure” head tilt girls do.

    What?

    Is it weird that there’s 8 tables and 15 chairs in there and those two are sitting cross legged on the floor?!?

    Kum-bay-yes! What the what?!?

    Regardless, plenty of room for this octet in The Rug Room is the point. Instead, they decide to become a black hole in the middle of the main bar.

    And they pulled the last two tables together crooked so there’s no good path around them that doesn’t involve a hop on one foot.

    Naturally, I finish my beer and leave.

    Loudly.

    I might have mentioned something to T’Bwana as I was settling up.

    So, I could make an anonymous call to the Fire Marshall for ya…I know you work for tips and can’t piss these oblivious bastards off.

    T’Bwana texted me later saying they’d left shortly after me.

    Huh.

    Ok, one last example of how I don’t like anyone…and it’s my favorite story from the last couple weeks, so I hope you hung on.

    This could only happen to me.

    The Silver Fox had a dinner party. Me, him and his new neighbor. His new neighbor is having trouble making friends. Now, normally I’d give this type of invite a wide berth, cuz it’s an obvious setup, right?

    Well, The Fox has me covered

    Don’t worry, you aren’t his type, he likes younger guys, too.

    Ouch.

    But he’s right. He’s seen a guy I flung with once getting off the elevator on their floor. Me, being the Devil. No. Devil’s Advocate, mention that maybe the NY transplant gay couple on his floor are Portland-ing it up with a random third?

    They’re in Palm Springs.

    Nertz.

    His assumption is solid.

    I meet this guy from LA and – more recently – down the hall and he is just so friggin’ so.

    Precious.

    I’m calling him Jimbo.

    A) because he’s from New Orleans, originally.

    B) he would hate that nickname. And,

    C) if you pronounce the “J” with a Spanish accent, you get “himbo” or a male bimbo, and he was!

    He monopolized the conversation with unamusing anecdotes about how precious he is.

    He has two houses in New Orleans.

    He wants to buy a house in France when he retires. But not alone! Why not? I’m sitting here with you and my best friend, and I’m feeling pretty alone!

    His BMW is hard to park in this little garage.

    He can’t believe that condos in this building are selling for a half mil more than his house in the Hollywood Hills. Thank god he rented that instead of selling!

    Why?

    Topping it off, he has a friend visiting from Seattle soon.

    Ok, that’s all your problem in meeting friends. No one compares to you. You’re fresh off the boat from the west coast city with the most superficial people, importing people from the west coast city that has yet to learn how to deal with its near instantaneous wealth and living in the chill city trapped between them.

    Yeah. That’s your problem.

    Shortly after we finished dinner – asparagus risotto and what must have been 24 ounce steaks! – he was talking about a shoe dilemma. He’d just mentioned he was a clothes horse.

    The Fox gamely interrupted with a question about Marie Kondo. I loved that.

    Of course, since Jimbo’s name isn’t Marie Kondo, he didn’t have time for the question and went back to his shoes. Apparently, they’re his faves but he needs to have them resoled and worked on.

    I haven’t tried the guy you recommended, but I just can’t find a good shoe guy up here.

    Welp, at least you’ve clearly overwhelmed yourself by turning over every stone.

    He went on to share his decision on his ultra first world problem…

    I have to go to LA in a few weeks for work. I’ll just take them to my old shoe guy. But I’m gonna tell him he has to get them done in a day.

    Because, obviously.

    One couldn’t trust this gifted shoe tradesman to be able to mail a shoebox. No, Jimbo needs his shoes now. This guy is so lucky to have a customer like Jimbo. I’ll bet he threw a party when she left town,

    The Fox gave his dog, George, a doggie downer before the guests arrived. It had kicked the hell in.

    Hard.

    George was stoned out of his doggie brain.

    And nuzzling my crotch while I scratched his butt.

    The Fox got up to get dessert. I was so full, but…dessert!

    You know what, G? I’m so full! But I’m still eating my dessert! Yeas I am. Yes I am! I’m just gonna fart to make some room and blame you! Yes I am!

    A few minutes later, I pick up a decidedly not doggie scented fart coming from Jimbo’s end of the couch.

    Oh, FFS. Really? You’re a precious homosexual…could you please act like it?!?

    I debated telling him I was just joking about farting and blaming the dog. I may lack a certain – or any couth, but I have manners.

    I can hold a fart – usually – until I get home.

    Then he did it again.

    Oh, this. This!

    I really don’t like most people. But the ones I don’t like most are really amusing. For sure, not in the previous way that they think they are amusing, either. And the people I do like enjoy the shit that happens to me just as much as I do!

    Because, it really would only happen to me…

    I Don’t Like Anyone

    What A Way To Go!

    My stomach might explode.

    If it does (it won’t) I just want it on record that too much of a good thing does not apply to food!

    I made the ribolitta recipe that I came across this morning for dinner.

    It was delish! Not bad for a vegetarian dish. I’m pretty sure this recipe could be converted to a full on vegan dish by removing the cheese and choosing a vegan bread.

    But, why?!?

    This dish has a mirepoix base – diced onion, 2 celery stalks and 3 carrots – sautéed in 3 tbsp of olive oil with 8 crushed cloves of garlic. Of course, I used more garlic…just a hint!

    While the mirepoix softens, drain a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes – saving the liquid for later. Once the veggies reach your preferred softness, drop in the tomato solids and sauté them with the mirepoix for a couple of minutes. This caramelizes the natural sugars in the tomatoes.

    As those sugars are heating up and getting tasty, drain a 14 oz can of cannelini beans. After a few minutes, drop the cannelini beans in and add the liquid from the tomatoes. Spice it up with some red pepper flakes. The recipe calls for 3/4 tsp, but I say go nuts. You know your preferences. Then add four cups of water and bring to a simmer.

    You should also have a small hunk of parmesan cheese to grate over the top when serving. Cut the rind off that and just drop it in when you add the water.

    You’ll never see it again…but you’ll taste it in every spoonful!

    While that’s coming to temp, cut the leaves off of 2 bunches of dinosaur kale. You’re going to rip these into 2″ hunks and drop them into the soup in two batches. What I did was remove the spines from one bunch while my soup simmered, then added them in, letting them wilt while I prepared the second batch. I ripped those into 2″ segments and added them in once I finished them.

    As that second batch was wilting, I got ready for my last steps. I cut a loaf of rustic bread in half and then ripped it into chunks while my oven preheated to 425.

    When I finished ripping the bread up, I added about one-third of it to the soup and stirred it in. Then I ate a slice of bread while the oven finished pre-heating.

    Once the bread had softened in the soup – about 5 minutes – and the oven was ready, I put the rest of the chunked bread on top of the soup and gave it a good drizzle of olive oil. Then I put it in the oven for 15 minutes with the lid off so the bread on top could really crust up. I checked it at 10 minutes and decided to leave it another 5.

    While I waited on that, I was grating that parm and buttering half of the rest of my bread, about a quarter loaf. I figured that I’d save the other quarter for left overs.

    You can see what this looked like when it came out of the oven up above. Here’s what it looked like plated and topped with cheese.

    I had two bowls. That filled me to bursting.

    Like I mentioned earlier, I read this in an email from Bon Appetit this morning. If you don’t subscribe…I recommend it.

    Highly!

    I took the magazine for about five years, maybe longer. Now that my subscription has lapsed, though, I still get emails such as the one this morning.

    If you aren’t keen on paying for magazine subscriptions, keep an eye on the promotions Sur la Table runs. They usually do a B.A. give away twice a year. Well, it’s a “gift” with a $50-ish purchase. They might not do it any longer, though. Or maybe you’re just impatient. If so, a subscription is only $15…and well worth it, IMO.

    Plus, you get a free tote. Hehe.

    Can you believe I don’t get paid for that? I’m just making it easy for you! Honestly, it’s one of the funnest magazines I’ve read. I’d just flip through it for inspiration.

    This was my first time making this dish. The only thing I did ahead was dice everything for my mirepoix. All of the other prep stuff I was able to complete between steps. Plus, there was time to wash the tools I used as I went, too.

    I started this at 3 o’clock today and had sat down to some Twin Peaks at 4:20 with a beer and a piping hot bowl of soup.

    Not pictured: a clean kitchen behind me!

    I know the flavors in this dish will just get better as it sits, but you know me and leftovers! I’ve probably got three more servings like the one pictured above. Since it’s Italian, I bet I can muster up the enthusiasm to heat this up again and throw some cheese on it…although I’m not sure how the bread on top will work with refrigeration and reheating.

    Still, if you have friends – or even one of those family thingies – just invite them over and kill the whole pot on one fell swoop.

    Then it’s a party!

    If you want the original article, with shopping list, here it is!

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lay on the couch and digest…with another episode of Twin Peaks, of course!

    What A Way To Go!

    Feed Yourself

    That’s a quote from the Silver Fox on our way back from coffee this morning.

    I was serving him some OCD verbal vomit about my life, work, writing. He’d accidentally triggered me about 20 minutes earlier when we were grocery shopping. I had read a recipe for ribolitta while waking up this morning and when given the options, he’d decided what I should do.

    I really want to try this recipe…but maybe I should make the Black Bean Goodness that I didn’t make last night.”

    He decided on the ribolitta so after coffee, we went across Lovejoy to the Safeway for the incredibly simple ingredients. We both realized quickly that he would not benefit from his decision since the recipe has kale and he doesn’t.

    Still, he stuck with me.

    He stopped a few times at counters that interested him along the way. I left him behind because that’s what happens to me when he takes me to the Costco. It’s a lot easier to catch up-slash-find someone in a Safeway.

    Just.

    Saying.

    Anyway, while I’m checking out, giving Sacha some gas points – if he’s still using the same rewards account we used when we were together – The Fox asked if we need lottery tickets.

    I picked some up yesterday, so we’re fine.

    Actually, we’d gone to buy them together and he bought them. But the point was, we had ’em.

    “You know some trucker in New Jersey won Powerball?”

    That was a ticket from a few weeks back. Or months? So we’re ok.

    The Fox doesn’t like to play Powerball for less than $100 million. Any less than that and it’s just throwing money away, I suppose. Hehe.

    I’d read the story of the trucker. Thinking of it now got me simmering. Halfway home, out it came. All over the Silver Fox.

    The same thing had happened last Thursday night. But I just let it simmer in my head until Friday. That afternoon, I realized I was feeling completely weighed down by the pressure.

    Thursday, I had wanted to go to the gym. Didn’t.

    I was feeling like writing was a slog.

    Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

    Friday, I woke up with the same…congestion. Mental funkiness. Then I checked email.

    I got a “Thanks, but…” from a position I was kind of excited about with Le Creuset. I’d had three interviews. It was a strange process. They seemed to go top backward instead of bottom up, like normal. Usually, for a Store Manager job, I’d expect to interview with the District Manager I’d report to, then if I was a go forward candidate I’d be passed up the chain for a corporate round robin interview.

    With LC, I started with a director level, then a regional, then the DM and got spun out of the process there before the final round.

    Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

    I debated responding, but worried I’d come off as petty. That idea got tabled, and that decision became part of the mental funk.

    By mid-afternoon, I didn’t think I could rally. Texts from The Fox about a party that was still FIVE HOURS away had me shrinking into the couch, further and further, until I just told him I didn’t think I could do it.

    How am I becoming an introvert at this point in my life?!?

    Yesterday morning, though, I’d woken up feeling good! It excited me. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel neutral, either. Or even worse. I suggested to The Fox that we venture out for a Bing Mi before dropping in to the Big Legrowlski to say goodbye to one of the bartenders.

    He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

    The Fox was hip to the suggestion. Who wouldn’t be?

    Mmm. So much, fuck yeah in these crepe sandwiches! We took our food from the food carts to the BL and had a beer – ok, I had two, Mr Reasonable had one – and ate while we chatted Joey up.

    We were the only two customers in the joint. On my second beer (an 11.2% ABV called Notorious) I wondered aloud what was wrong with people.

    It’s 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Why aren’t people out having beer?!?

    Anyway, had they been, I’m sure I would have complained about that, too. By the time we left at 2:00, I was recharged. I went home and tapped out my final January Challenge blog and felt accomplished afterward.

    I was jazzed.

    It’s a wonder what harmlessly flirting with a straight bartender can do for the spirits.

    We had gone from Big Legrowlski to Penzey’s Spices on the way home. It’s a whole two blocks out of our way, but they had a gift with purchase coupon for a chili spice I wanted.

    In my post-writing high, I was contemplating making some Black Bean Goodness and adding in some of my new chili seasoning.

    Filipina Fox to the rescue! She was at BL having a beer and wanted a sounding board to download the work she was doing for her start up fitness business.

    I actually whined a little. Believe it or not, I didn’t want another beer. I was reluctant to drink any more and then do any knife work in the kitchen.

    But I went and talked anyway. I’m pretty sure that everyone was low key surprised that I walked in and then out 30 minutes later without consuming anything…

    Here’s the real surprise, after all that restraint, I still didn’t cook last night. I felt full.

    Satisfied.

    Fully satisfied.

    I watched a movie and smoked half a joint that I’d been gifted a while back. When I pinched it out, I amused the absolute hell out of myself wondering if I should just pinch it out or also blow though it like I learned to do with cigars.

    Joint…

    Cigar…

    Cigars seemed pretty durable comparatively. I decided not to risk it.

    I’d hate to end up with a prolapsed joint.

    Imagining that or a shower of ground weed flitting through my kitchen is what absolutely gave me the giggles. I put the joint away.

    Probably just in time.

    Now I’m a little peckish…

    I’d been watching Veep on Amazon. I knew I shouldn’t be cooking, though. And that I didn’t have any snacky food. Looking at the clock I saw it was 9:45. Everything was closed.

    Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

    GoPuff to the rescue!

    Twenty minutes later…

    I realized I’m no good at ordering frozen pizza online. I thought I’d chosen a full sized za, but got a snack size. Not to worry, they threw in a lunch-sized bag of Fritos.

    I can make this work…

    I slept like a damn champ last night! Flash forward a couple hours and four espresso shots later and this well rested and over-caffeinated grumpopotamus was peppering The Fox with indecisiveness. He’d already enabled ribolitta even though I’d not made my Black Bean Goodness – can we agree that I’m short handing that as BBG going forward? – and now I was just dumping on him.

    I need to find a friggin’ job!

    Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

    The thing is, I’m choosing companies I want to work for, but by the time they tell me that they chose someone else, I don’t wanna work for them anymore.

    Should I write? I need to finish my novel and just find a publisher. It would be best if someone would option my book. Takes care of the job thing, that does.

    The Fox, walking next to me with the patience of Job, is just letting me wear myself out.

    But I just want to write another novel now. I don’t want to edit, I don’t care if I get published…I just wanna keep writing!

    “You need to feed yourself”, he chimes in when I finally take a breath. I hold up the bag of groceries I’m carrying suggestively.

    “Your spirit”, he clarifies. I point him toward the post office so I can check my box.

    We part, with me insisting he check out a three year old SNL clip that I found last night. Then I come home, unload my groceries and debate whether to just begin cooking immediately.

    All because that trucker won our money!

    Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

    Feed Yourself

    Tappa-Kegga-Day

    That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

    Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

    Today is a day of rest.

    Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

    Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

    My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

    My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

    I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

    Nope. Cannot do.

    (I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

    So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

    Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

    Or, not-problem.

    The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

    Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

    Birthday weekend shenanigans…

    I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

    Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

    My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

    He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

    Jerk.

    Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

    Resolutions for the new year?

    Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

    1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

    2) Not cut my hair.

    I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

    Why not?

    Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

    So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

    Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

    Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

    For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

    When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

    Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

    I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

    All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

    We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

    But not inside.

    I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

    Are you surprised?!?

    I’m debating how to answer:

    – Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

    – Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

    Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

    Decisions, decisions.

    The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

    Surprise!

    My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

    Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

    Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

    Nah…that would be weird.

    Not unwelcome…just weird.

    What I should have said is:

    Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

    Or,

    Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

    But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

    The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

    It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

    You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

    “Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

    Sneaky.

    Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

    I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

    The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

    I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

    My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

    But here ya go…

    Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

    A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

    That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

    I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

    Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

    Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

    Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

    My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

    On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

    Hats off, sis!

    My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

    Tastes a little apricot-y.

    My favorite moment of the night!

    I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

    They were surprised by my statement.

    Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

    They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

    “It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

    This is why we’re friends.

    Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

    Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

    Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

    Other times I’m not there.

    Still others, she doesn’t see me.

    I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

    We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

    There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

    The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

    I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

    There’s worse ways to wake up.

    We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

    Birthday breakfast.

    Birthday lunch.

    And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

    I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

    My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

    Yesterday was one of those days.

    That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

    Touching.

    Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

    Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

    I remembered!

    It started out about like this blog…

    Then got sweet…

    I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

    Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

    Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

    And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

    And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

    So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

    Thanks for reading, every one of you!

    Tappa-Kegga-Day