The Year of FREE Music

No, this is not a nostalgia post about my Columbia House membership.

Whilst working from home yesterday, I was planning out my weekend. The focus was getting my weekend blogging goal back on track as well as my exercise regimen – which has been off track since my vacation. Add into that the Silver Fox’s return to town. And this is still on top of wanting to maintain my regular weekend misadventures.

But it was also Flashback Friday on my local radio station. Back when I was living that #LyftLife that meant I listened to the weekly Party Out of Bounds radio show from 8-midnight while driving Friday nights.

All 80s and 90s music for four hours? Yes, please.

Now that I’m living the WFH life, I listen to the morning show until 10 Monday-Friday and maybe switch to a pandora station later in the day. But on Flashback Friday I might put in a little longer on the show because they give away tickets to upcoming live shows from 80s and 90s bands every hour.

I’ve set my limit at 5 calls per hour, if I’m able to call when they throw it out. Sometimes I’m on a Teams or Zoom call and can’t.

It’s fine. I’ve already won seats at their free in studio performances twice this year, so if I miss out, I’m still having a pretty good live music year. Some of the shows though…Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Crowded House. There’s about five shows to choose from each week at a variety of venues: The Moda Center (where the Blazers play), Edgefield (one of our larger outdoor venues), Crystal Ballroom (if you wanna experience a concert on the third floor of a hundred+ year old building, this is your place – and let’s hear it for feeling the floor move beneath your unmoving feet!), or Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka: Portland’s Living Room).

Moda Center
Inside the Moda during concert mode
Edgefield – looking back from the 4th row. More on that in a minute
Crystal Ballroom – home of the “Floating Dancefloor”.
Pioneer Courthouse Square from the air…or an office tower across the street

I’ve been to shows at all of these venues over the years, but my attendance was stagnant recently – pandemic closures notwithstanding. I’ve been to Moda many times, including Fleetwood Mac on three separate tours. I saw Everclear back in the late 90s or early aughts at the Crystal and was “recently” (aka: five-ish years ago!) invited to Echo and the Bunnymen there. Pioneer Courthouse has a couple different summer music events each year. The first is just a “Portland is awesome” type of thing…a free Lunchtime Concert Series every Thursday at noon. Back when our downtown had businesses operating in it, people would throw open their windows in the neighboring non-skyscraper buildings to lean out an watch. People on the streets would be drawn to this packed city block brick plaza. I’ve seen several shows there, too. Notably, the Indigo Girls back in the 90s and I was sad to miss their return to this venue this year. There have also been a couple of community concerts featuring our local Pink Martini to mark holiday tree lightings or punctuate a local event – like a protest concert or to honor the life of a colorful former Mayor.

This is our former Mayor, Bud Clark. I missed his memorial at Pioneer Square, but if it was half as entertaining as he was…

Which leaves us with Edgefield out of the venues listed above. It’s a 7000 “seat” outdoor venue at the edge of town, owned by the same family that owns the Crystal Ballroom, so the music gene is strong. The official name of their music program is Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn…hence the apostrophes around the word seat earlier. I’d been decades ago when it first opened. It was fun to go and cop a squat on a patch of grass with a date or maybe as a foursome with another couple.

But that was decades ago, and my lawn squatting days are behind me.

Enter my drink buddy neighbor. He’s kind of my spirit animal for having a life as a single old man. I don’t know why this eludes me so. I think it might partially be a willful ignorance on my part. It was only a few – ok, closer to ten than five – years ago that I regularly wrote under the blog theme I called the Yes Game. Now I’ve got Jessla fresh off her divorce and recently moved back to the city from the coast talking about her Year of Yes as well as my drinking buddy reminding me that life is meant for living, not waiting for the end.

Anyway, my drinking buddy has adult children with a couple of grands that keep him busy, which is a resource I don’t share. Outside of that, which is plenty for most people, he also has this great life of solo adventures that have inspired me recently to do more than just carouse my way to the grave.

He’s the one that invited me to the Loverboy/REO Speedwagon/Styx show a couple months ago. That, in turn, motivated me to not be resigned to the sidelines of life. I remembered when doing things alone was a source of empowerment for me when I was younger. As I’ve aged, I’ve avoided that source of power while eschewing the source of one of my biggest frustrations: people.

It was good to be reminded that I can do both by planning strategically. While it will take a lot to get me back to the Moda Center for a show, post-pandemic. It was the show that I lucked into last week at Edgefield that highlighted the reality I’d been missing out on.

My drinking buddy ended up triple-booked on a Friday night: a family thing, a Timbers match (he’s a season ticket holder) and a show at Edgefield that he’d been raving about for weeks. It was the last-minute realization that he had a match that Friday and the laster-minute family thing that ended up with me being gifted his tickets to the Edgefield show.

To Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt, no less.

I couldn’t possibly say no! Even though I’d already said yes to walking the Silver Fox’s pooch while he was at the same show. And yes to walking Jessla’s dogs while she was out of town for the weekend.

On top of having a lunchtime doctor appointment…this was going to be quite the Friday. So at lunchtime I put my Out of Office on and hood it over to my doctor. That runs late, so I go right from there to Jessla’s pups afternoon walk. I’m back in my chair just before 130. At 430, I set my status to offline and head up to Jessla’s for a quick pee walk and dinner for her pups. Then I hop in the car and head east to Edgefield.

Did I mention that this free seat is in the 4th row of Reserved Seating?!? But I still have to wait in line with all the picnickers before the show starts at 630, thanks to this post-9/11 mass shooter gun violence world in which we live.

Getting 7000 people through metal detectors takes a minute. Factor in Bonnie pulls a Boomer crowd and you’ve got a real shitshow of a line scenario.

The venue is up there in that stand of trees, this grass will soon be covered in cars

The Fox had been insisting my seats were good, but the seats he had in the Sponsors Section – courtesy of his nephew, owner of Wyld, a cannabis edibles manufacturer – were better. Well, they came with reserved parking and free tacos and drinks, so he was partially correct. Otherwise, we both learned that they had moved the Sponsor Se ruin sometime in the past couple of decades. Here’s a view from my not-worse-than-his seat.

He’s under that white tent…

But that reserved parking was legit. After standing in a line for 45 minutes, what was I finally greeted by when I was able to branch off the mainline to the two measly metal detectors dedicated to Reserved Seating ticket holders?

I’d know that snow cap anywhere. He hadn’t responded to my bored-in-line inquiries about his whereabouts. Probably because he was driving out so he could walk right up to the Reserved Ticket Holder’s entrance. But it amused me – while I was ignoring my darker inner thoughts that he’s seen me and was ignoring me – that he was so focused on the venue that he didn’t notice me until moments after I sent this…

Remember the basement scene in Silence of the Lambs where Bill is reaching out in the dark behind an unsuspecting Clarice?

Anyway, we were both entertained by his level of surprise. A phenomenon I would repeat as I beat a hasty retreat during the encore to get back to Jessla’s pups for their evening walk and ran into the Fox’s former partner’s parents – with whom he’s still friends. The dad was wearing his Timbers jersey, showing support for his team as a season ticket holder since he’d made a different decision than my beneficiary. So we got to chat a bit until we made for our separate grassy parking spaces – turns out, they left early to get home to their dog, too. Since it’s an outdoor venue, I put down the windows and opened the moonroof to listen to the encore as I queued up to exit the lot.

I’m not the guy who runs into someone I know everywhere I go. I’m always the guy with the person who runs into someone everywhere there go. Seriously, it happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower. But in between this happening to me twice in one night, I saw an incredible show. A week later, I’m still in awe.

Mavis Staples was the opener. Let me tell you, at 83 this woman is absolutely killing it. She’s not tall enough to have ever ridden a roller coaster in her life, but onstage? Well, let’s just say that you can’t miss her – even though it was a good minute or two before I saw her head because it was behind a mic-mounted iPad.

What? I didn’t see her take the stage because I was getting a beer! The McMenamin’s brothers started out as beer makers, not concert promoters.

I watched Mavis in awe. Her band and back up were amazing on their own, but in no way making up for any diminished capacity in Mavis’ talent or skill. She might have had to sit down a couple of times during the set – 83 years old! – and the band didn’t lose a beat, but when she was ready to come back, she let ‘em know that the stage was hers again.

I will never not think of this performance when I hear a cement mixer’s engine idling while its tumble turns. That a voice that big comes out of such a small human. Epic.

If that was all there was to this show…it was still a bargain at twice the price. But wait…there’s more!

Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt!

In my concert-going career I’ve been to myriad shows. Folks touring to promote a recent album, storytellers on tour, spectacles of a show that hid lipsyncing artists, intimate venues, stadium tours, has-beens on the State Fair circuit, perennial favorites, career touring acts…and much, much more!

And it’s not like those options are mutually exclusive. It’s more of a Venn diagram.

I’d always thought of Bonnie as a storyteller on tour given my knowledge of her history touring with the likes of Lyle Lovett and John Prine. In this instance she was that storyteller on tour, touring to promote a new album and perennial favorite. I wasn’t super-excited to learn about the new album since that usually draws focus from the library I’m familiar with. For someone whose first album came out 50+ years ago, though? She is still creating amazing content.

Case in point, after talking about touring with Prine and reminiscing about them performing Angel From Montgomery together and how she can’t imagine performing it without him since his death, she tells how that history and loss inspired her to write a song with a similar story behind it. She’d heard a story about a man who showed up on a woman’s doorstep years after she lost her son in an accident…to thank her for the gift of life her son’s heart gave him.

Being an emotional sap is another good reason to go to these types of shows alone.

A few songs later, she performed Angel From Montgomery, and I think everyone was crying when she hugged her guitar to her like it was her lost, dear friend.

Starting the encore

Like I said, I beat feet at the encore, but didn’t miss anything but a 45 minute wait to exit the lot in doing so. Hearing her voice through the trees in the night air of a perfect PNW summer evening while idling in a grass field? It gave me time to think about what I take for granted: the future. Not for granted, so much, more something I look forward to with a sense of dread or contempt.

But this coming-up-on-73 year old and her 83 year old touring companion showed me that people can continue to give to the world around them well into the years of life when others have left their careers. And my Generation Jones aged drinking buddy is giving me an example on how to live life as a single-person without waiting for someone to live it with to enable it – and without caring what others think of my solo-status.

I am kind of happy about my reluctance to return to larger venues for this reason, too. Fringe benefit of going solo to smaller venues alone? I stand out as alone easier in a smaller setting. Hey, if I’m going it alone, I want credit for the finger I’m giving my failure at achieving an enduring relationship. Can’t get that in a crowd!

All of this is by way of telling you that on my fifth attempt at winning tickets in the Flashback Friday offerings yesterday, I succeeded!

Jessla would point out the time was a triple number as an indicator of this luck

You’ll notice it took 22 attempts – versus the weeks of effort that came before yesterday – but someone finally answered the phone! A few minutes later, I was the proud owner of a pair of tickets to the upcoming Shins show at Pioneer Courthouse Square and could not have been happier. Until a few minutes later when the texts started rolling in…

The year of free music rocks on, friends!

The Year of FREE Music

This Is My Life…

I’m bellied up for a lil post-Thor: Love and Thunder beer at my usual watering hole. Just, y’know, minding my own amidst the flyby conversations that happen to me here.

The perk/curse of being a regular.

I’m not complaining – this time.

But that ancillary type of conversation has its hazards.

For instance, when I walked in, the bartender asked how I was doing.

Me: Oh, y’know. Holding steady.

Him: <looks confused>

Me: <waits>

Him: <laughs awkwardly>

Me: <purses lips…here we go>

Him: What?!? You are not. <laughs again>

Me: What do you think I said?

Him: You’re not old!

Me: I said, “Holding steady”, not old and steady!

Him: <laughs raucously and minces off>

Hey, at least he didn’t question my sure-footedness.

But with that…we were off to the races. Before I even finished my first beer

Still working on #1, and yes…that’s Him in the background. 🤭

…we’d had another incident.

He has a habit of nattering incessantly verbally processing while he works. He was making a drink for someone and telling himself that something was missing. After his second verbal prompt, I jumped in to help.

Me: What are you on about?

Him: It’s missing something and I can’t. quite. <looks at me> Bitters!

Me: Glad I could help.

Him: <cackles> Nono, it wasn’t…

Me: Just. Don’t.

To be fair, there is a cluster of six bottles of assorted bitters just on the other side of my beer. I’m still taking credit for the alley-oop, though.

Im convinced that this would not happen to anyone else!

This Is My Life…

Well, Now I Feel…

Something.

Bad?

Nostalgic?

Accomplished?

Formerly accomplished?

Probably that last one. So…thanks, Facebook Memories.

Three years?!? How has it been that friggin’ long already…since I’ve had a date?

Kidding. Trying/not trying.

But I guess it’s just one more reminder that it’s been a long pandemic. If we factor those two years out, then it’s only been one year!

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to make hay out of the forced free time we all gained with the 2020 lockdowns. In April, I started NaNoWriMo – despite having two WIPs from prior NaNos still waiting for completion, then didn’t finish. Again.

I think I got derailed after a Twitter battle with a local stripper, who I’m sure knew nothing of my existence until I dared to correct him on his feed. Then I was all he could focus on, earning me featured status in his social media stories where he called me old and ugly. Not to mention a failed writer.

The young people are so woke – which seems to manifest with being disagreeable and combative. That’s regardless of the validity of their initial point. What moxy.

Sure, I’d only finished three books at that point, clearly, that’s failure in the eyes of a stripper who leaves the stage in a thong.

I actually finished all tasks associated with my job title, son. I have to imagine that a stripper’s job isn’t complete until they are clothes free. But what do I know? When I was a young man, tracing on one’s flesh was viewed differently than it is today – and I appreciate the evolution of sex work from villainized and humiliating to artistic expression and empowering.

This kid was – pardon the entendres – a dick.

Ultimately, that all stopped when he blocked me – the penultimate admission that he was wrong. The ultimate expression being actually saying it. But this is hardly the United States of Accountability, let alone Admittingyouwerewrong.

Anyway, as this was going on, I flirted with the idea of going to one of his shows and tipping him one of my books – yeah, I’ve got a few copies laying around. My overt grumpapotamus self imagined reading wasn’t high on his hobby list, see also: how he got to his current level of misery in his life.

Judgy.

The women strippers I meet driving with Lyft are all – every damned last one of them – such interesting people. Very engaging. Great stories. The male strippers I meet are all cunts. And not in that cool English slang type of way. At best, they look at me, and treat me like, I’m an ATM. Not that I go to strip clubs often…none of them have palatable beers.

I also considered going and tipping him $.02, since me giving him my figurative two cents was what set him off in the first place. Ultimately, I decided my absence was the best action for me.

Still determined to make some productive hay out of the lockdown, I pivoted to another project I’d been kicking around. When I finished my third book, it came in at a whopping 530-ish pages. I hardly consider myself a gay George R. R. Martin, so I sought out opinions from a few beta readers. They all told me it was fine.

But that length made printing costs pretty high and I think the lowest price I could charge was $19…and that was with me making less than a buck a copy. I knew there was a logical plot break that I could use as a kind of cliffhanger if I chose to split this into two books, I just hadn’t.

But with one half finished draft from April’s NaNo making me feel guilty, I decided this was the perfect time to tackle that split.

Obviously.

And I did it!

Well, “did it” so long as completing the split and edit of the first half. I knew I needed to flesh out the second half to beef it up a bit. It had originally suffered under the pressure of me knowing the page count was running high for one book. This was my chance to flesh it out.

But my first goal was to get the newly shortened second installation in my No One Of Consequence series back up online. Then I hit a formatting snag. Just a teensy one, but it proved to be overwhelming to my lockdown self and I never went back to finish it. I couldn’t imagine jumping to the third installment to get that story wrapped up, it just seemed wrong.

Four frustrating months go by. I spent a lot of that time considering the optics of dying during a pandemic with unfinished works. I thought it looked pretty good. Other artists somehow pull it off.

Margaret Mitchell.

Elvis.

No, wait…Hemingway! That’s a better comparison. I’m a drinker, not a druggie. And we’ve established the fact that 500+ page books are not my style, so…yeah. Hemingway.

That was probably my biggest self-soothe of the pandemic.

It carried me through the next three months. Right up to the next NaNoWriMo event, the big one in November. Now I can finish!

Or…start another work.

The following April?

Ok, this was pure motivation. And adrenalin.

I had just gotten my Peloton and was jazzed to pick up the autobiographical trilogy I’d fancied when I wrote Dating Into Oblivion. When I wrote that, I was nearing the end of a year long blogging theme that had resulted from a friendly intervention at my 50th birthday party.

Rude.

As a result of the collective will of my well-intentioned friends, I leaned into a blog theme I had just finished that I hashtagged fitfy. It was a play on fifty, an age I had been determined to reach with some progress toward accepting my aging self with a healthier attitude toward diet and exercise.

I’d been having trouble forgiving myself for not being able to eat and exercise like an idiot twenty-something. Naturally, my 51st birthday had involved me tapping a keg of my favorite beer at my then-favorite bar.

Anyway, knowing I had that “fitness in my fifties” notion in the back of my head, I decided to tackle dating in my fifties. It gave me something to do, at any rate. I figured the trilogy could round out with working in my fifties. It was a notion I rather fancied.

The problem was, there wasn’t much I could actually do since I’d just gotten my bike. I considered harvesting stories from my year of fitfy blog posts, as I had when I put together Dating Into Oblivion. But I considered that would have been only a portion of the project. I needed new content to complete the story.

Another partial credit NaNo for old Xtopher. PaCreNaNo? Kind of sounds like a pancreatic medical crisis.

Maybe that stripper was right.

Shudder.

Possibly, but improbable. Maybe what I needed was the motivation of writing something people might be attracted to en masse. My current accomplishments and WIP library all featured what I call gay shit – and I hate to break it to you, but The Gays aren’t known collectively as big readers.

It’s the pandemic – everybody else was pivoting, why not me? That sounds like a riff of a Cranberries album.

I picked a theme close to every Portland NIMBY’s heart: the homeless. Came up with a mystery plot. I even created a nom de plume based off of my parents middle initials and old world naming paradigms – JT Robertson.

Finally…in November of 2021, I completed a NaNoWriMo! Have I published? No. I’m mentally kicking it around, polishing it up. Completely retooling the voice. Flipping the plot 180 degrees.

Y’know…the basic writer’s nightmare.

April’s NaNo is weeks away.

Weeks.

I’m determined to finish something from my WIP list before adding anything else to it. I figure at this point, if my goal is to have a WIP library consisting of a prime number of works – it isn’t but I need to set boundaries of some kind – then I either need to finish one or add four!

I think seven is enough of a library. Let’s see if this Facebook Memories shaming is enough of a motivator to get NOOC2 published and back online. Lord knows that providing airplane reading material for a friend’s trip to Africa last month wasn’t it, so fingers crossed.

Sure enough, I woke up this morning, uncovered my laptop…and started organizing my tax receipts. Then I got this text

RUDE!!

So I wrote this, instead. I refuse to be so known by my best friend.

To answer my original question: seen. I feel seen.

Well, Now I Feel…

Idle Hands

What people are saying:

<crickets>

What I hear:

Tick-tock, good old Xtopher…it’s been a minute since your lazy ass posted anything.

And those bitter and twisted voices in my head ain’t wrong. I’m just not feeling it. My days, Mondays or not, aren’t manic as a certain song might have us believe. This is just more of that ennui that I know and tolerate so well. Well, on the fancy side. On the less fancy side, this is more likely plain old apathy.

Oh, the glamour!

So I thought I’d take a break from my extended existential dread-slash-slomo-breakdown and at least let anyone who cares know that I’m alive. For anyone disappointed in that disclosure, here’s what I can muster content-wise: a joke that’ll make you want to kill me. I told it to my parents today at breakfast and they lolled. Maybe it was more of a good natured groan…

A kid is visiting his grandad for dinner while his parents have a <giggity> date night. His grandad tells him to set the table, and as he does he sees that many of the plates and utensils appear to be dirty.

When he points this out to his granddad, he testily replies, “Those plates are as clean as cold water can get them!”

The boy puts his head down and finishes setting the table. However, when grandpa suggests ice cream for dessert, the boy sees the same problem. Pointing it out once again, the grandad yells, “Damnit, cold water only works so well!”

The boy drops it, idly wondering why his grandpa is so averse to using hot water on his dishes.

Soon after dessert, his parents pull up and honk. The boy shakes his grandad’s hand and runs out to the waiting car, inadvertently letting his gramp’s dog out into the yard. As he climbs in the car, he hears his grandad yell behind him, “Goddamnit, Cold Water, you get back in this house!

You. Were. Warned.

Not sure this will be the jumpstart to my creative juices any recreational or occasional readers might like. I have some stories to share. Vacation stuff. Life stuff. Grumpy old man stuff…go figure. It’s just getting out of my own way to tap these things out. Tonight’s effort is brought to you by Vitamin B

My hope really is that I can clear out some cobwebs and manage a slog through NaNoWriMo, which starts in about two weeks. Perhaps there’s a couple posts for you die hard followers between now and then. My mental back burner is going to be occupied deciding whether to continue building on my existing fiction universe, namely No One Of Consequence; tackle a companion to my non-fiction piece, Dating Into Oblivion, that would focus on worker bee life in one’s 50s versus dating; or take on a separate fiction piece I’ve been kicking around that I would publish under a pen name. I’ve had a couple of publishing folks give me their cards during rides after hearing this last idea, so I’m leaning toward that option. However, it seems like building on familiar frameworks might be an easier exit from this creative dormancy.

So…stand by?

Idle Hands

People

…and other petty nuisances.

I kid, it’s just people this time. Or…once again?

I gave up on finished my driving “shift” earlier than I anticipated tonight. Usually, when I drive on Friday or Saturday, I’ll do “doubles”, meaning I’ll go out for ten rides early in the day, take a break and then go out for another ten later to get the Party People to the places they need to be. I’d planned to drive a double today, since it’s a holiday weekend and most folks are off tomorrow. But a regular ten usually takes about three to four hours. However, today that ran to five hours and I’m just kind of done. Thankfully, they were long rides, but since I had an idea of how my day would go – drive, home to exercise, second shower, eat and then drive some more – and that went off the rails, I decided to call it at 8 o’clock and catch a beer at my local, since they are closed tomorrow.

I walked in and there were two parties waiting for tables, no surprise. There were five stools at one of the corners of the bar – two on one side and three on the other – so I walked in and casually placed my order before my butt hit the stool.

I’d chosen the stool closest to the walk-through into the bar area, which was on the three stool side. My beer lands in front of me, I grind some salt onto my napkin/coaster to keep it from sticking to my glass as take a therapeutic lil sippy-sip.

Immediately, my bladder whispers “Hey, remember me?”, so I anon to the can to decant.

I return to find one of the waiting couples has wised up and decided to eat at the bar versus waiting for a table to open up.

Geniuses. Genii? I dunno, let’s go with geniuses.

Not so smart, mind you, that they’d each taken a seat on the corner so they can look at each other without craning their necks, as the Silver Fox and I do. Also, not so considerate that they sat on the two-stool side.

Yup…they chose to sit right fucking next to me. Now, because of COVID, they pulled the stools away from mine, so partial credit, but…still! You know what’s further away than pulling your stool away from mine? Sitting at the other two damn barstools!

People…<facepalm>

To make this perfectly horrible, the woman decided on the fish tacos, which I find particularly – and poorly – fragrant. Ugh.

I would like to assert that misophonia is contagious and mine has spread from my ears to my nose. The smell of these fucking tacos makes me mad. I suggested to the owner that he raise the price to steer people toward other menu items. Surprisingly, he didn’t agree with my logic.

Now, for the short observation behind this post.

Have you ever noticed the inverse nature of the relationships people have with their horn and their turn signal?

Seriously, I swear it’s a thing – and this is coming from a native Portlander, a city frequently called out for its bad drivers.

When someone wants to switch lanes, you can count on at least one tire to be in your lane before their turn signal is even activated. They’re changing lanes before signaling their intent…almost as if no one taught them the proper order. Let alone the entire process, teaching them to check their blind spots and then signal their intent before changing lanes.

<blink>

That’s right, then it’s literally one blink. I liken that to a civilized one-finger salute.

Conversely, let’s say you’re driving along and inadvertently make an error. Not letting someone zipper in on a merge lane, stopping too fast for a pedestrian…whatever, nothing life or death is what I’m saying.

Oooh, let the horn leaning begin!

These people, these fine, upstanding folk that will retroactively inform you of their intent to change lanes will honk like it’s literally a life or death situation.

What gives?

How can people who are so blithe about their responsibility to others be so egregiously offended when the same happens to them?!?

I ask here, because I assume it’s a safe space. At least a physically safe space. I know the interwebs can be a mentally abusive space.

This, by the way, comes from the guy who was menaced on the freeway today as he watched a motorcycle rider zig-zag in and out of traffic in his rear view mirror for about a half mile. Then he whipped right around me in a matter of seconds. As he passed, I saw his holstered handgun sticking out from under his jacket.

I guess when you drive like a jackass, you need some kind of backup. God bless the Second Amendment…

People

Dis-Grace

I don’t want to step on The Rolling Stones’ toes here, but…you can’t always get what you want. And, true, sometimes you only get what you need. Others, maybe you get skunked…call those times character building.

Still other times, maybe you do get what you want.

Can you – at a minimum – just shut up then? Preferably, I’d like to see us comport ourselves with a little more character in those moments than just nothing. However, given the option between “nothing” and “beating a dead horse” – I’ll graciously accept silence.

What’s all this got to do with…anything?

Here’s a case in point for ya.

This bar in SE Portland recently came under fire for cultural appropriation.

Esoteric cultural appropriation, if I can say without being branded a racist or someone hissing about my cis-male whiteness. If not, I guess I’ll have to check into the Whiteness Protection Program, but I doubt I’d make any friends there, so I’m hoping there’s room for my opinion.

Do you know why it’s esoteric? If so, then I would imagine you’re among a very few…or maybe I’m just not that hip hop savvy. Anyway, back in the early days of hip hop, there was a group called NWA.

As the aforementioned cis-male, I can only elucidate you on that acronym by saying it stands for A Particularly Hateful Racial Epithet…With Attitudes.

Got it? Ok. Enough on that.

Since they stopped recording/touring after their 4 years of being a functional group, it seems that group members have gone on to post-NWA projects like starting in long-running police procedural dramas or reviving headphones as a viable personal music delivery platform.

So, they’re doing ok. And the post-NWA careers have been longer and much likely more lucrative for these two members in particular.

Which is why I was so surprised to read about the brouhaha around a tap house called NWIPA – short for NW IPA. The critics took issue with riffing on the group’s name equating to cultural appropriation.

Ok…this seems like a great place for the Brady Bunch “Sure, Jan” gif, but I don’t want to be argumentative. I’m trying to keep things low-key passive-aggressive these days versus overtly confrontational.

The owner of the bar responded to the initial social media complaint…by apologizing and changing the name of his damn bar!

Immediately.

Let’s not even mention that when it comes to Portland beer culture being potentially guilty of cultural appropriation there’s this lil bandit

…that riffs on the movie Straight Outta Compton about the same damn group that the bar was accused of appropriating culture from. What blow back do they get?

The best part is that even after his online apology, connectors were still hounding him on social media about his offense.

People, he apologized and corrected the issue…shut. the. fuck. up.

As far as the whole Straight Outta Compton non-issue goes? All I can offer is that we’re Portlanders, and I can’t say we’re known for any consistency in our collective outrage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here being all grumpy that a bar in the SE quadrant of town had the gall to call itself NWIPA.

While all this is unfolding, of course, now-former governor of New York Andrew Cuomo was being investigated by the NY State District Attorney. She finds the allegations levied against him to be credible and both sides of the political spectrum go wild, calling for his resignation. Including our Democrat president, mind you.

So, he does.

Then in an exercise I like to call “Why the hell am I still on the Facebook?”, one of my former work colleagues posts this

Ok, I freely admit that it’s funny and clever. However, I think it’s wildly inappropriate for anyone who voted for Trump twice and/or supports the GOP to post. So, y’know…I said so.

As far as politicians being responsive to their constituency and held accountable for their actions and how they reflect on the office they hold? This guy stood up and took the accountability hit. Just like his fellow Democrat Senator Al Franken before him. Looking at the GOP side of the equation

…let’s just say most of them voted for a guy accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women, paying hush money to an adult film star during his first campaign and saying he’d date his own daughter…twice.

I think we can do without the opportunistic outrage of a Trump supporter on this issue.

He resigned…shut.the.hell.up.

Look, when you get what you want, just…show some class. Have a little grace. That’s hardly the time to take a victory lap.

I daresay we might have a little larger population in the center of the American political spectrum if we could just stop beating the horse once it dies.

That’s all.

Dis-Grace

Influencers Behaving Badly

I know, what a shocker, right? Pretty people being petty or selfish?

You can probably guess my feelings on the influencer phenomenon simply from the title. In case you need more, I actually think they have a potential function in society. Sadly, we seem to lack creative independence in this capitalist country, so when influencers worked in a few niche marketing outings, every corner of industry tried to cram itself into that niche concept.

And it was all downhill from that bastardization. Some, I don’t mind – like ginfluencers, who are generally pretty fun to be around and are simply looking more to monetize fun for all. But then there are the ones I call sinfluencers. These are the folks who have gone the completely opposite direction and are basically monetizing erections.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly certain a barker isn’t getting off the ground in the influencer industry…being pretty is a prerequisite.

Fine.

But the folks who think being hot translates to perquisite wealth…hold on, I’m looking around for an innocent bystander I can slap therapeutically. Yeah, those people are the sinfluencers.

And it’s just getting more and more democratized. Our culture has gone from the blithely sexist “Anyone can be President” to a close call with that not being the implicitly sexist case anymore to a swerving into a tree example of just how tragically fucking literal that saying was.

But who wants to wait five, six or seven decades to gain that kind of attention influence? Let alone work for it.

Let’s tilt that trope a bit and look at a similar phrase…“In America, you can be anything you want to be”.

Did anyone see the answer to that careening from Doctor, Lawyer or Fireman to porn star?

I sure as hell didn’t – and, like I said…it’s just getting easier and easier to do. In the old days, you had to run into the wrong guy or get caught up with the wrong crowd. Nowadays, you just need a vague tether to a guy named Bezos.

That’s right, anything you need to shoot decent selfie-porn is available on good old Amazon. Camera mount, ring light, maybe some sexy undies or toys.

Oh, and a trash can for your dignity.

Why am I stuck on this?

Well, a couple of reasons.

First, I spared you any of these thoughts during Pride month – because I find this phenomenon to be particularly rampant in the gay community. Or what passes for community these days. Too many people I follow on Social Media have updated their profiles to include links to their OnlyFans or JustForFans – because, of course this is now a competitive industry – and sought to monetize their hookups and masturbatory habits. And when that doesn’t happen…

(Un)Fortunately, these ventures don’t always fail. I think that’s bad for everyone – the sinfluencers, their “fans” and even the public in general, since this changes what people consider appropriate behavior.

Behavioral changes that I’ve witnessed on Social Media range from starting an OnlyFans to raise money for “moving expenses” after a GoFundMe for the same reason fails. The GoFundMe was aiming to raise $6000…to move from one apartment to another in the same damn city!

Then there’s the more toxic behaviors that occur as an after-effect of these endeavors. These Social Media accounts tend to become less about what used to be a cute or entertaining person and more and more a billboard for their sinfluencer persona. They’ll start using their Instagram stories like a Reddit Ask Me Anything, and when someone asks them a racy question, they tell them to subscribe to their OnlyFans.

Well, that’s just frustrating on multiple levels for me, as a former retailer and as a consumer.

Didn’t expect that, did ya?

But, seriously, those are the fronts on which I’m offended. If someone is trying to sell something and a potential customer asks a question, “Buy it and find out” is not the proper answer. Someone who wants you to pay for something you might not like is merely a charlatan who is counting on you being a rube.

This has all been on my mind lately because one of the few sinfluencers that I still follow on Social Media had a pretty sad comeuppance. I like this kid. By all appearances, he’s a sweet kid – turning 30 next week, so not a kid-kid – that I automatically credit as being smarter than me since he’s Polish and speaks his native tongue, English and several other European languages. He seems to be rather accomplished outside his OnlyFans, too. He owns a photography studio in Poland and is apparently quite the photographer in addition to his work in front of the camera. He also publishes a calendar annually that he sells for…I dunno, $20 that you can pay extra to have signed. That, I find industrious. Not so industrious that I buy one, mind you – where would I put a calendar…by my landline? Hehe.

I started following him a few years back when I was writing under my Fitfy theme because he drinks beer and has abs. Plus, he’s charming.

He also fed my withering wanderlust, since he travels rather extensively. I’d put the estimate at 4-6 trips per year. Some, just around Europe, but others are overseas.

You can do that when you have a thousand and change subscribers at $9.99/month!

Well, last week he and his traveling companions came home to their Spanish vacation villa to find all of their possessions stolen.

Nice humblebrag at the end, there. I don’t think I own $50k worth of possessions in total, let alone enough that would fit into suitcases to move from Poland to Spain for a couple weeks.

The real tragedy to me is that this kid literally hasn’t become an adult. Not only has he not had to deal with adversity in life that would afford him the emotional base to handle this type of left field tragedy

He’s also been released into the world without being shown how to budget or manage money. This guy makes over $10k per month off his OnlyFans, not to mention rent income from his photography studio. Who failed him? Parents? School? Gay Kulture?

I’d be a little embarrassed to pull in over $100k a year and have to beg for money to replace stolen property. Then again, maybe that’s just me falling for his charm and assuming he can’t when the reality could be more that he doesn’t want to pay out of his own pocket to have it replaced.

What’s a 29 years and 51 weeks old guy to do in a case like this?

Obviously. And, I guess you better start plugging that calendar…although if all your photos and computers were stolen, it’s gonna be tough to pull that together in the next eight weeks.

And, finally…

Of course! You can’t even afford a new toothbrush…better leave Spain and head to Germany!

Can you tell his charm has started to fade?

Sadly, I think this is becoming an all too dominant trend. Making others accountable for your actions and problems. And they take cash in a variety of forms, just don’t offer advice or ask questions. They don’t need that kind of negativity.

Influencers Behaving Badly

Uplift

One of the running themes I try to include in my novels is helping others out. Whether it’s direct or emotional assistance, I think that’s important in a society.

Its absence from Gay Kulture is one of my biggest pet peeves about my community. I shorthand that by saying that “there’s no unity in the gay community”.

But that’s another blog.

Last night, I got to see a version of this in play in real life and it made me so happy. And I didn’t even have to leave my block!

I had wandered into the restaurant next door for dinner. I was celebrating completing back-to-back challenge weeks – which equated to two weeks of 135 rides in about 50 hours. For context, a more normal week for me is 40-50 rides in about 20 hours.

Ow, my ass.

I knew from the owner that one of original kitchen staff was returning as of last Friday. I didn’t know that one of the servers was going to be taking over Sunday and Monday bartending duties from the owner starting last night, though.

That was a nice surprise. Apparently, he’d expressed an interest in bartending during his interview and business and timing worked out.

But on top of that, when my friend made it out of the kitchen to say hi, I learned that she’d been hired as a chef and not just as part of the line like she’d been before. She was glowing with pride at that accomplishment.

I left the restaurant with a belly full of good food and drink and a heart full for the professional development this restauranteur has been able to create for two nice humans. So, tonight – to keep up my end of the whole “living in a society” deal – I had to take a moment to pull the owner aside and tell him how satisfying it is to see someone providing true opportunities for people. I think part of my ability to see that comes from the reality that during my retail career, leadership tended to punish people for being effective by not promoting them. Much easier to hire and train one person from the outside versus having two people new to their roles at the same time, right? So selfish.

Funny how I couldn’t sit in my driver’s seat any longer yesterday, but my ass handled a barstool just fine…

Uplift

Messy, Bitter-ish Old Xtopher

Well, well, well…look what I found in my drafts. Coulda sworn I published this. But maybe since Tanner Creek’s wifi hadn’t had the chance to pick on the Silver Fox in a while, it glitched this into draft status instead of publishing.

Enjoy, please.

After completing this week’s driver challenge, I took myself out for a well-earned dinner at my neighborhood watering hole. It’s literally on my block, I can walk there in the rain without getting wet – which is really something in Portland, Oregon!

Of course, since I’m a neurotic mess complex person, I had to acknowledge the pyrrhic nature of my celebratory dinner – I was alone…again…naturally.

The Silver Fox had decamped once again to the family estate south of town – well, south of several southwardly towns. My other frequent companion at this particular watering hole was at a funeral out of state. To egregiously paraphrase the prophet Yoda, “Fucked, was I”.

But I had earned this. And my ass yearned for a perch with a bar in front of it instead of a steering wheel.

And goddamnit if what to my googley eyes should appear but an infant baby with two daddies queer.

It was fucking a-door-able.

Me: Barkeep, another!

Proof positive here that there’s always more than one cure for what ails oneself. Some more nurturing than palliative.

I experienced a range of emotions. From the expected aaawwww-ness of an infant doing infanty things to a wholesome appreciation of a gaddy couple out for a dinner together. To envy and jealousy at that same notion.

I mean, really…why not me? But then again, no.

Happily, I can report that I was misty eyed over the sweetness of the visage before me. Although, I wouldn’t have objected to anyone who thinks they know me “well-enough” who’d have bet on my potential beer-vaporizing darker emotions wresting control of the situation.

It was interesting that in the moment, I wasn’t overwhelmed with “what might have beens” over my persistent singledom. I was rather struck by how I missed my buddies. The usual neighborhood characters who live nearby – ok, all in the same building that I don’t live in – that I call friend who color in and enhance my happiness. I wasn’t lamenting the absence of that elusive something I never attained; I missed the presence of the folks I have attracted and managed to remain in the same orbit as.

Like I said at the top: I’m quite complex. That complexity only sometimes manifests in messy emotions. And this wasn’t one of them.

And then I had another beer. The end.

Messy, Bitter-ish Old Xtopher

Just Go Back To Sleep

You *woke*, bro?

Over the past week or infinity, I’ve crossed paths with several *woke* people or groups. People, actually, whose values and politics align with my own.

Strangely, it has not gone well for me. Witness:

Facebook: Minimum Wage

I’m not going to lie, I’m still scared to look at my Facebook notifications for fear of seeing what a woke mob of Portlanders has left there for me. As a matter of fact, since this happened, I’ve likely opened my Facebook app less than a half-dozen times.

My crime? Standing up for a local restaurant chain called McMenamin’s. They had posted an ad for cooks.

The gall.

Actually, that was the lead comment by a woke Portlander who saw the ad on Craigslist and decided to post it on the DamnPortlanders Facebook page. A page that I’m quitting, if it hasn’t already expelled me.

Let me tell you about McMenamin’s crime before I go into details on my own. They posted this Craigslist ad for cooks: minimum wage (which is currently $13 and change, but moves to $14/hr on July 1st and $14.75 next July 1st) plus tips, medical/dental, 401k, PTO…not bad, in my opinion. Most of my service industry friends have no insurance since they are usually consigned to part-time positions. And 401k? Forget about it.

This woke Portlander was offended that a company would offer a minimum wage job in today’s job market, particularly in Portland.

My crime? I simply pointed out that Portland’s minimum wage is nearly double the federal minimum wage and that maybe there were other levers to pull to ensure Portland remains a livable city for our service industry workers – particularly since it’s such a big part of our culture. I may have also mentioned that attacking our own liberal policies made us look a bit schizophrenic.

Remember our unofficial town motto: Portland, where young people go to retire.

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting gratitude from my comment. I just wanted to throw a little voice of (t)reason into the dialogue. I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting…attitude.

I’m not even kidding. Given where the comment melee ended up, it actually started in a benign – if only by comparison – place. The OP claimed she worked on the minimum wage campaign five years ago and that it was out of date already. Without citing context, of course. She said that $15 should be the minimum.

I reminded her that $14.75 and $15 are pretty damn close, wondering if she was really upset about what amounted to $10/week. I also pointed out that she shouldn’t be upset by employers offering the minimum allowable wage – they were meeting the state’s baseline requirement of employers.

Her counteroffer was that the minimum should be $22/hr, $26 if you work downtown.

Ok, merely moments before, she’d declared that $15 should be the minimum. Now she’s saying $22 should be the minimum – do you feel like I was necessary in this debate? She seemed to be negotiating against herself just fine.

The split minimum wage is nothing new to Oregon. We created a three tiered minimum wage when we voted on it back in 2015.

There’s also a Rural tier that’s not pictured. The interesting thing from this last round of increases is the unexpected fallout: job loss. We’re famously one of the few states where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas – we’re job creators like that. However, after the minimum wage hike, rural communities were allowed to eliminate those jobs and customers pump themselves there.

Basically, in small towns where there are fewer jobs, we managed to make things worse under the auspices of making them better. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all for a livable minimum wage. I’m also all for friggin’ oil and gas companies not getting away with crap like that.

I’m also the guy who pulls up to a gas station in Vancouver, Washington – and now Hood River and beyond – and sits in his car waiting for no one to come pump my gas. Basically, I’m a big dummy.

Anyhoo.

Asked the OP if she really thought the guy that takes my order at my favorite food cart downtown should be making $52k a year, because that’s what full-time work at $26/hr nets out to annually. I also asked if she thought a food cart could sustain that salary level, since I very much doubted that the owners of the cart made that much.

It got crazy from there.

Crazier.

One guy did a lovely math story problem for me involving rent on a one-bedroom at a crazy $1800/month rent, plus medical insurance, utilities, etc minus working full-time at $15/hr. Yes, the result was a negative number.

Also yes, he thinks a minimum wage earner is going to be dumb enough to live in the Pearl. Or alone. He seemed offended by my reply – a story about people having roommates.

Then someone jumped in suggesting a $30/hr minimum wage. Because, of course Portland should be 4x the federal minimum.

Who the fuck are these dumbasses?

I made another attempt at pointing out how taxing companies and the wealthy appropriately versus letting them hide profits and grow wealth through loopholes would help us provide healthcare for all. Oddly, that’s kind of a wash for employers in my mind, since they would have to pay taxes but wouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying for the administration of a healthcare plan. It’s a double win for employees, too. They wouldn’t have to pay a portion of their employer’s healthcare offering, plus the obstacle preventing employers from offering full-time jobs versus part-time jobs would be eliminated. Well, one of the obstacles, I know that some employers still need part-time workers to allow for scheduling flexibility.

Honestly, after that immersion into literal liberal retardation, I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t just opt out of the DamnPortlanders group, but go as far as deleting my Facebook profile altogether

Regardless, this is a great example of people not thinking for themselves – or maybe not having the critical thinking skills to extrapolate an action plan that is actually actionable…and solves more problems than it creates.

Last time around, we eliminated a few pump jockey jobs. This time around we’d be eliminating small business if these woke jokers had their way.

But they don’t seem primed to compromise. A behavior that makes me think they might just be happy being unhappy.

Twitter: Feminism

I recently shared a post that I came across on the AppleNews feed on my Twitter page. It was an opinion piece by a former member of Congress.

My “offensive” comment underlined in red…

Overall, pretty innocuous re-post. In it, the author lays out a case that I was surprised to find out wasn’t common sense. Then I remembered 70 million Americans who would bristle at the accusation that they possess common sense and were willing to vote to prove it.

Enter the overwoke feminists.

The first comment came in: Can we try that again without the misogyny?

She jumped on this pretty fast for a blind Tweeter…

Ok, A) “bitch” is nearly as versatile a word as “fuck”, so if you know me…feel free to assume my intentions. If you don’t, methinks thou art projecting too much. Maybe try seeking first to understand instead of leading with an attack.

You can see the “Tweet Unavailable” above my comment, indicating she blocked me.

And, B) of all the people who need a feminist to have their back…Marjorie Taylor Greene hardly seems high on that list. As a matter of fact, I bet she’d decline any defense of her character and respect-worthiness from a feminist.

But this former follower of mine – a female using a gay pride flag emoji in her Twitter handle – wasn’t going to let anything like non-consensual support stop her. I encouraged her to check her assumptions and maybe try assuming best intentions versus worse, but she wasn’t having that. She even tagged in a friend of hers to join in the attack. I felt like the wounded gazelle to their simultaneous hunter lionesses and scavenger hyenas. As noted above, this woman is blind, but I’d be surprised if perhaps she was only blind to the opinions of others.

Once again: the problem with liberals is that when we have a chance to do something for the greater good, we distract ourselves with infighting versus collaboration. The result is an epic display of ineffectiveness.

The Street: Racial Justice

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, there was a vigil-protest here in Portland. Because that’s what you get in a woke city whose unofficial forecast is “Cloudy, with a chance of protests”.

Commemorating nothing, I’d gone out to Kelly’s Olympian for a couple pints of the good stuff after clocking my 10 rides for the day. As I left – crossing 5th & Washington on the diagonal – I heard bucket drums behind me and turned to look once I’d cleared the intersection.

Sure enough, there was a wall of people dressed in black bloc just coming across 4th and up Washington toward me. A little excited to be catching a front row seat at one of my city’s marches in support of social justice, I pulled out my phone to capture a video.

Me: getting in trouble for basically standing.

What I hadn’t seen was the marchers’ advance team. Usually a few folks on bikes or motorcycles that ride ahead of the march to stop traffic prior to the marchers’ arrival. Because: safety first! I hadn’t noticed these two because they were on rented e-scooters – which I generally pay as much attention to as a mosquito.

They took issue with me taking a video. More accurately, they deferred authority to a vague “them” figure instead of being adults and just asking me not to film.

That’s not very Darnella Frazier of them.

I’m not someone who can physically defend myself, so I’m not sure why I mouth off as frequently as I do. I am good with words, though…so, maybe I do know why I pop off like I do.

I also bristle easily at intimidation. And these goombahs menacing me without owning it kind of demanded fucking with. I actually posted the video – along with my frustration – to my Instagram. It was there that one of the local protest pages filled me in on a possible rationale for the protesters request to not be filmed: videos could potentially be subpoenaed as evidence or to help identify marchers.

Ok. Sure…it’s a stretch, in my opinion. But I can respect a reasonable request with some context versus a vague threat from a disembodied “them”.

I actually thanked the local page that provided the insight, because I hate not knowing the “why” behind something I’m expected to do. Hate it. As a matter of fact, my complain-asking these types of questions and listening to the rationale behind things like ACAB, Defund/Disband the Police, Trans Rights, TERFs, and countless other movements that initially repelled me due to a too liberal use of hyperbole for my taste has helped me understand the actual meaning behind each group’s messaging.

I guess I have a thirst for knowledge. It’s like a sickness…

My question though: Why can’t the advance team use a specific reason like I was given after the fact while making their request versus just barfing out a “Hey, we don’t care, but they might…” and expecting me to fall in line?

Seems like police level bully behavior to me. “Because I said” is such a winning argument with me.

Instagram: Body Insecurities

There’s a fellow blogger and indie gay writer that I follow(ed) on Instagram as well. He lives in the UK and shared many of my frustrations with The Gays – apparently, we’re a global pandemic with our carelessly selfish behaviors.

But he’s also one of those gays that has self-diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I should have known that many red flags would only lead to bullshit shenanigans.

Last month, he posted a close up of his lower face with only the caption “It’s time to shave”. He sports stubble off and on, so I thought he’d been referring to his body’s follicular pigmentation betrayal.

I.

Was.

Wrong.

Ok, so I assumed incorrectly. I suppose that gives him carte blanche to return the favor by incorrectly assuming my own intentions. Where I thought I’d been on his wavelength and sent a cute comment, he’d been referring to gawd knows what else and chose instead to assume I’d been trying to offend him. By the time I came to awoke the next morning, I was blocked and he had apparently deleted the post. As you can see, I originally liked his “post deleted” comment because I thought he’d been responding playfully…then I scrolled to the final message.

It’s not like we were ever going to have an acquaintanceship outside of social media, but I’m still sad about his decisions. But that’s the trouble too often these days – and I refuse to use the term too liberally, so I’ll just let you get there on your own. Perhaps, though, if he didn’t allow himself to react rashly after listening to his more self-sabotaging demons, he wouldn’t be self-diagnosing with anxiety.

What do I know, though? I’ve just been dealing with a bunch of the same crap he whines about regularly for a couple decades longer. Of course, I’m the enemy.

The truly sad news is that I’ve likely forgotten some recent examples. But overall, it seems people are – and I don’t know why this surprises me – just sleepwalking their way through wokeness.

My take? Being woke may as well be broke if you aren’t willing to think critically about the conversations you participate in. If all you’re doing is regurgitating talking points or assuming worst intentions without listening to the other person, you’re not going to help anyone.

More likely, as in my case, you’re likely just going to alienate likeminded folk.

Just Go Back To Sleep