My Type of Double-Header

Don’t make it dirty. I know that’s hard if you’re at all fagmiliar with my shenanigans, so I don’t blame you.

Maybe I should title this Bookends? Nope. That doesn’t work either.

And really, this turns out to be a surprise triple-header, anyway – if we carried the analogy through to the end. Does that ever happen in sports? I don’t know anything about it, really. I went to a double-header baseball game last summer, but that was just for my dad…and after a couple innings, meh.

Boys in stretchy tight pants only go so far as far as my attention is concerned. It’s like, how many times do you want to consecutively have the same thought as Bill Murray in Caddyshack?

Wow. I’ve wandered rather far afield. Shocker.

What was I saying?

Oh, yes. The double-header.

A couple months ago, my local radio station got a new DJ – Iris. She does the 8-midnight. At 9 pm she does a new music feature where listeners are encouraged to give it a thumbs up or down vote and maybe you’ll win a pair of concert tix for your effort. This particular night she was giving away Barns Courtney tickets at the Wonder Ballroom.

While I was there, I decided to enter my name into the guest list drawing for the band’s appearance in the station’s Live Music Lounge, figuring my chances of being one out of ~100 winners was better than the one out of one winners for the show at the Wonder.

Remember, this is all happening against a backdrop of the country losing its mind over a Powerbottomball jackpot that built to $2.04B, so odds and chances were on my mind.

Well, a day or two later, I get an email from the station.

That’s right. I was the one of one winner!

And if the title hasn’t clicked into place yet, a couple days later I got the email telling me I was on the list for the lunchtime show in the Live Music Lounge, too!

Double-header!

Well, the on-air talent that hosts the events in the LML usually warm the crowd up with a little trivia, prizes are…concert tickets.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the first couple bands because I don’t really know them. The Barns Courtney show was enough adventure in expanding my musical palate since I couldn’t name a song of his off the top of my head. I always like them when I hear one, but it’s just not in heavy rotation. Musically, I’d put him somewhere between Cage the Elephant and The Heavy.

Unintentional entendres.

The third question offered tickets to Arcade Fire, which is a band I’d love to see…but it’s in Shittatle. But the fourth question offered an opportunity to stay home and see a great hometown band: Modest Mouse. So up went the hand, and – thanks to my knowledge of arcane news from New Mexico circa 1947 – I won.

The answer was a weather balloon incident, by the way.

Turns out, they would have also accepted alien crash-landing, but c’mon.

Then it was showtime.

These guys took the stage and I found out that they don’t fuck around.

Barns Courtney came out last wearing all off-white, down to him platform boots. Even the sunglasses, long beads and scarf he accessorized with were off-white. Only the (hopefully faux) fur betrays the color scheme – but it really brought the outfit together.

This guy definitely dressed like a rockstar. And his mouth looks like proof that somewhere Steven Tyler’s or Mick Jagger’s blood line has mixed with Carly Simon’s.

This is a small venue. Smaller than small. Barns Courtney filled the space with his persona.

Physically, the stage barely held the four of them and their drum kit and took up an entire wall of the room. In Barns Courtney, apparently if you don’t play drums you’re required to play guitar – so add three of those to the mix.

Seriously, this is at least 20% of the space –

This band is everything you want from a rock band. Literally, sex (look at them), drugs (you had to hear the interview to understand) and rock-and-roll (obvs).

Here’s a dump of the other pics I snapped during the show.

I have to say, this five-song set left me both sated and ready to finish out my work day and eager to see what they could do in a full venue. As showtime drew nearer, I debated not going to the show. I had a friend lined up to go, but they’d backed out – no doubt for a chance to get dicked down if their current track record is any indication. Indickation?

There was another friend who’d accepted an invitation I hadn’t extended who I knew was disappointed to not be going, but I just opted to go alone. I’ve been in a weird space lately anyway, so being in a crowd was likely going to overwhelm my tolerance for people without adding in the feelings and needs of someone I know.

I forced myself out of the house. First the the local watering hole for a pre-show drink. I shocked everyone there by closing out when my beer arrived, which only made me want to stay. But I’d had my motivator-slash-reward, so across the water I went, entering the venue about 815 for the 830 show.

An opening band. Who knew? I was not expecting that. I honestly didn’t think Barns Courtney was big enough to warrant an opener. So that was my Today I Learned moment.

They were a foursome of kids from Oakland. I mean kids – I swear they weren’t old enough to drink, even though I also swear I saw one of them tipping back a beer as they broke down the stage after their set. He was also doing it while carrying the pad from under his drum kit under one arm and the stool he’d been seated on, which had a water bottle balanced on it.

That right there is a dexterity that barely outlasts one’s teen years: first you’re all gangly and uncoordinated as you recover from your puberty growth spurt, then you’re running around doing impossible feats that lead to the words “Hey, watch this!” escaping your mouth and then you’re dead. Either because your last words were “Hey, watch this!” or you hit 30 and life is figuratively over.

Anyway, these kids were surprisingly good for an opener. Kinda a one-key sound, but the drummer and guitar players put on a show to offset the lead singer’s narrow range. I’m not complaining, that one-key was reminiscent of some Deathcab/Postal Service songs.

Nothing to complain about there.

But the highlight of their stage presence – and further indictment proof of their youth was the statement “Thanks to Uncle Kevin for letting us stay at his place tonight”. These kids aren’t even old enough to rent a hotel room. Haha. Ha.

Then the headliners room the stage.

Well, first their stagehand spent 40 minutes dicking around with equipment, making sure everything was just so. Their name – intentionally keeping pronouns neutral for them, dressed masculine-ish, but if I learned anything from Shakira, it’s that hips don’t lie – is Sexy Patrick. I’d been introduced to them at the afternoon show when they brought out a guitar for Barns Courtney and picked up their discarded sunglasses from the stage floor and got a load of what I hope was good natured teasing. Sexy Patrick demurred the attention, but it’s hard to know why. The nice thing is that you got some insight into the process behind putting a show on. Maybe I shouldn’t refer to it as dicking around, but I was getting a little antsy as the venue filled up with people who apparently knew there was an opening act. I had chosen my spot intentionally.

I think it’s there so people don’t accidentally get pushed down the stairs right there. Maybe it’s there to provide grumpy old men like me a place to stand alone amongst strangers – without being too amongst. Who knows?

For the second time that day, I watched Barns Courtney take the stage for a show. Well, the band took the stage. Drummer and the two guitar players proceeded onto the stage and settled in. As soon as they beat out the first couple of notes, Barns Courtney exploded onto the stage. Seriously, from behind a curtain at the back of the stage, he leapt in a seemingly blind fashion onto the stage.

“How does he do that without falling?!?” – Me

It’s not accurate to say that this was the least dangerous thing he or the band did all night, but my curiosity for how or what they could do with a full-sized stage was definitely answered over the next 60-plus minutes.

And I’ll tell you now that my camera skills are not fast enough to catch the antics. As if the quality of my photography didn’t make that obvious. I did manage to catch one of the guitar players on top of a speaker, though.

It doesn’t come through as well as when they were both on speakers at opposite ends of the stage. Or when Barns Courtney stood on the drum kit. Stood. This was a sustained position, not a hop up and get pulled back down by gravity moment. He maintained position until he was done with his musical moment and then leapt back to the stage.

In platform boots.

Pretty amazing showmanship from these fellas.

They’ve got the talent and presence to have a long career together – like the potential father of the lips bands. But who knows what the future holds? I don’t see 20-something musicians (or any Gen Z-er) having the discipline to maintain a lifelong relationship of any kind, even if it involves fame and fortune. But I’ll definitely remember these shows for a good long time.

I’d had a good enough time, and even though I’d gotten Doris Day parking – I was ready to go. I’d heard every song I thought I knew, so I started heading for the back when what felt like the final song began. I don’t know if they did an encore or not – but I had to stop in spite of my grumpy old self before I hit the doors just to appreciate how this guy whipped his audience up.

I don’t see how this larger than life persona could be brought to you by anything but exactly the right amount of cocaine – but I’m glad o got to witness it.

Twice.

Two weeks until Modest Mouse – with a potential for a short set by Noah Kahan next week in the Live Music Lounge. I’m eager to see how this year of mostly free entertainment wraps up!!

I know. Me…excited about life.

My Type of Double-Header

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

Did I put that apostrophe in the correct place? I wonder if I’ll change it – or more to the point, how many times I’ll change it – before I post this.

See? This was gonna be a quick post because I feel bad that I haven’t written in a while and here I am, letting my neurosis dither on and on for 200 words. <face palm>

Anyway, one of the things Portlanders do well – especially natives like me – is passive/aggressive behaviors. Case in point, my building has new plantings around its front entrance.

Olive trees, no less. RIP: Olive. Update: Olivier is doing well, although Myrtle is munching his leaves like she’s part goat.

How is olive trees at my front door passive/aggressive? Well, you have to pull back the curtain – or column, in this case – a bit to understand.

You see, those plantings were strictly passive/aggressive self-defense. Specifically, the plants take up a fairly private camping area for our randomly occurring houseless neighbors. The cute little bike sculptures attached to the bike rack ensure no one opts for the “close enough” next best option.

The inspo for this idea is becoming more and more popular in the urban core of the city. There’s at least a dozen that have popped up on or near the three to four blocks framing the park in front of my building.

Go another block or two away from the North Park Blocks and there’s even more. An art gallery on the corner of Broadway probably has the oldest – and most successful – crop of planters. They’ve been there for over two years and the plants are thriving on the busiest N/S street in downtown.

Go another block further across Broadway and you have businesses on the Transit Mall lining their sidewalks with planters to keep the tents away and the foot traffic customers coming.

It’s not always successful. The art gallery – what, it’s Portland…we have a lot of art shit around here, ok?!? – on the corner diagonally from me has some cheaper looking planters that have largely died off. Luckily, the weeds are thriving. The gay strip club on the other side of the block from the park lined its outdoor area with plastic fig trees in 55-gallon drums, as if they’re campaigning to prove not all gays have taste.

Then there’s the corner of my cross street –

– at least they’re keeping the big tents away? The other side of this street is an empty storefront and there’s a solid row of tents from the corner to a driveway halfway into the block.

While it’s all a pretty flower icing on a crap cake type of a situation, I’m glad that this is how our civic displeasure manifests over this situation versus anything more aggressive and less passive in nature. Oooh, foreshadowing!

But it’s not for lack of “trying”.

One of our old money family scions has loads of empty real estate holdings downtown. His first attempt to keep people from lining Broadway with tents in front of one of his empty buildings was to install bike racks.

A very Portland solution. Except it was twenty-six bike racks. Even if that building was leased at some point, there are likely not going to be enough bike commuters stationed there to create anything close to a reasonable bike-to-rack ratio.

Plus, he hadn’t checked permitting, so our local weekly rag did it for him. Willamette Week has taken down our current governor’s predecessor, at least one state senator – anyone remember the Bob Packwood skit on SNL? – our first gay – and shockingly couldn’t keep it in his pants or ID his paramours – mayor, local congresspeople and god knows who I’m forgetting; so this bike rack thing was just them passing the time between scandals or the upcoming midterm elections. Oooh, more foreshadowing!

Undeterred, our scion switched gears and leased some of his empty downtown office space to a city council candidate – that’s who I left out of WW’s hit list! – for $250/month. When they broke that story, the guy claimed he couldn’t rent it for market rate, which was probably true. Still, you don’t have to know commercial real estate to know that if you can’t rent a space with a $6800/month market value that your fallback isn’t $250/month.

I can’t believe they could put that press release out with a straight face.

Worst of all? It was a conservative candidate for city council. I’d say it simply isn’t done, but that’s kind of where the City’s dysfunction over the past 2-3 years has led us. Not that I’m opposed to more middle ground and less extremes of one side or the other.

Let’s do it.

But if you have to lie to do it, you can fuck right off. That’s both my hardline and my $.02.

And it’s not just at the city level of politics, either. Our Governor is term limited, so that job is up for grabs. It wasn’t, but now it is a literal tossup.

That’s thanks to a rural congressperson refusing to let the heir apparent just have the nomination – leaving the Democratic Party to run as an Independent against our lesbian Speaker of the House who we’d all thought was a like it or not shoe-in.

I gotta tell ya, she made me think about voting Independent this cycle, just because she’s been such a centrist Democrat her entire career – go figure, a Democrat from a timber family is centrist. The big surprise is that she wasn’t a Republican. But like I said earlier, I’m not opposed to more middle ground and frankly, at the local level, the far lefties have not gotten things done.

Anyway, that was all well and fine to consider…until the Republicants somehow managed to avoid nominating one of their usual milquetoast-perpetual-loser candidates like they normally do. Usually it’s like they are either not trying to take the top job in the state at all or they are strictly trying to please/fleece their base by running on crazy shit the red counties with more cattle than people care about, candidate be damned.

Well, not this time.

And it’s a perfect storm.

Because it’s not a normal election year. We’ve already got the opposing Democratic split vote candidates issue.

Then there’s the whole the Republicants didn’t run a non-starter candidate from their usual roster of losers. They ran a newcomer, who’s quite a firebrand. With only three years of experience holding public office – so there’s no record to run against.

And to make it all just perfectly awful…it’s another woman. Don’t be surprised if our ballot drop box is only located on Themyscira.

Go ahead and Google that. I’ll wait, non-nerds.

Yup. It’s a three-way, all-female race for the governorship between a lesbian, a septuagenarian and a fair-haired Sarah Palin.

Hold onto your goddamn hats, people, because I can’t tell you what’s about to happen in the Peoples’ Republic of Portland. In a state where the GOP can’t get a job holding doors, one might be holding the top office for the first time in 40 years come January.

If that’s the case, I’m thinking the best thing we can expect – and, surprise…it’s not getting tents off the sidewalks – is the second coming of Portland’s “Dream of the 90s” heyday following the Ds retaking the governor’s manse. Because without our last round of Republican governors in the 80s, we wouldn’t have had the collective spirit or financial incubator that created the environment that made Portland such a unique place to be.

Plus, the tents will be gone. I don’t know how, but I’d put even odds on it being chartering a plane to fly any of them with Texas or Arizona IDs back to their home state.

Whatever the solution is, won’t it be great that we have so many cool sidewalk planters?!?

Dispatch From the Peoples’ Republic of Portland

Incredible Fortunes.

You ever wake up and just briefly consider the reality of your situation could simply be that Pam Ewing is really out there somewhere, dreaming nightmare versions of people’s lives?

To refresh memories or fill in pop culture voids…Pam Ewing was Bobby Ewing’s wife on Dallas. No, the original version. Season one ended with Bobby being killed. Season two was a shit show and season three started with Pam waking up to find her husband showering after a particularly vivid dream…of the entire second season.

The audacity!

Or that maybe you are her, and one morning you come to wake up to find that the worst was all in your subconscious?

Absolutely insane. It was almost enough to wipe our collective consciousness clean of Fonzi jumping a shark on water skis. Almost.

Anywho. I swear that’s me lately. And, frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t made time to buy a lottery ticket.

This life that I deride and take for granted…well, it’s serving me constant reminders lately that while the bad stuff may not be going on in Pam Ewing’s dreams, it’s not the star of The Xtopher Show that I call my life.

Cases in point:

I think I mentioned I was going to another free concert a week or so back. I was incredulous to have notched another free pass onto my 2022 entertainment belt.

And it was incredible…despite a rocky start.

The Shins were playing two shows downtown and I had won tickets from a local radio station. I had said I wanted tickets to the Friday night show, giving them Thursday night to warm up. I got my winner’s waiver the Monday after winning my tickets and was told further info would follow. It did not. Well, by the day before the show, I finally double-checked that I’d submitted the waiver correctly and then sent an email to the station that I’d won the tickets from using the “contact us” link on their website.

Several hours later, at around 2:30, I got a BCC email from the station saying “Congrats Winners!”, leading me to believe someone was having a really long Monday at the station. It went on to tell us that our tickets would be at Will Call and the gates were at 5, show at 6…that evening.

My mental needle skipped.

Luckily, I live about 9 blocks from the venue. I worked until 4:45 and then set out on foot for the show.

Turns out, the venue is all General Admission. Still, when the guy asked if I needed both tickets – after watching me walk up alone and casually scanning my area as he went through my info – I said “Yes”.

What? I wanted them both. I was definitely going to find a way to take up two spots in GA. Plus, that was just rude, right? It’s not like I had a bogey hanging out of my nose and he asked if I wanted a Kleenex. No, this was him rubbing my nose in my solo-ness. Boo, sir.

Because it’s Portland and this venue is a public plaza when it’s not a venue, there were food carts on the periphery of the fence. I hadn’t eaten, so I grabbed a huge sandwich for $12 and a 16 ounce beer for the same price. That amphitheater where I saw Styx can shove it’s $18 beers right up it…area.

I sat on the brick wall at the back of the venue and ate my sammie and drank my beer while the opening band did its thing. It was another Portland band (I know, The Shins are from New Mexico, but they’ve been in Portland long enough to be called locals) named Joseph. Two sisters with a third woman make up the band named for the Oregon town the sisters’ grandfather was from. I’d heard a couple of their sons on the radio before and liked them, but their 45 minute set was amazing. It’s really just guitar with the sisters’ amazing vocals and that’s it.

I was so mesmerized that I barely noticed the Guy Candy that was obviously hitting on me sat right next to me to nosh on his own sando from one of the carts.

Joseph’s set ended and the roadies started prepping the stage for The Shins. I figured I better grab another beer and stake out a place to take up two places near the stage. While I was in line, a true Portland weirdo native offered me a picture of her cat out of the blue.

My guideline when dealing with Portland’s kookier kooks is “humor them, they might be dangerous”, so I took the proffered pic. It’s now hanging over Myrtle’s food station, just to keep her on her toes. A reminder that there are other cats in the world – versus mine, who seems to believe a week isn’t complete without at least one protest poop or other non-litter box evacuation.

This was me, sipping my fresh beer in my taking-up-two-spaces space by the stage; reflecting on the Guy Candy, the Crazy Cat Lady and watching the sun set while nervously eyeballing the 20,000 crows flying around looking for a place to roost when someone tapped my shoulder.

No, it wasn’t Guy Candy guy. I’m lucky…but not that fucking lucky.

It was Sarizzle, someone I’d worked at Sur la Table with when I lived in Shittatle. I ran the market’s hero store in Kirkland (yes, it’s a real place!) and she ran the original store in the Pike Place Market. I knew she’d moved back to our mutual hometown, but we’d never managed to connect. Just two natives catching up on social media now and again. We hugged and caught up in real life a bit – while I behaved awkwardly because I was still in all my WFH glory and now turn into that person who runs into people they know wherever they go. Eventually, she said her goodbye to go back to her husband as the roadies started wrapping up and the stage hands started turning instruments.

Actually, after running into not one, but two groups I knew at the Bonnie Raitt show…maybe I am one of those people who runs into people I know figuratively everywhere I go.

Not long after Sarizzle left my to my own devices, The Shins took the stage and didn’t give it a rest for about 90 minutes. Their music has a pretty chill vibe, but the lead singer’s voice is haunting, something I figured was a product of some sort of modulator. I still think that, but was impressed that they were able to replicate it in real life.

Their set was so good that for about the first half, I was convinced at a minimum the lead vocals we lip synced. Joseph had come out to sing back up after the first few songs, so I knew it wasn’t the whole setup, but just how was it possible to recreate the lead singer’s otherworldly vocals?!? I enjoyed clicking off the hallmarks of live music that occurred in the set to disprove my suspicion that the lead was dubbed. Just crazy little tics, like singing toward Joseph at the back of the stage and losing the mic’s pickup briefly – nothing too overt.

I enjoyed watching the crowd really get pulled into some of their bigger hits and take over the heavy lifting of vocals or just get caught up in a call and response with the band.

But I’m a native Portlander and I go to shows to watch the show, not be a part of them. To that end, I stood there and tapped my foot, swayed a little and clapped after every song. That’s it. A true Portlander would never risk diminishing someone else’s experience by being overly enthusiastic. I’ve actually been to some fantastic shows where virtually all the crowd did until the end of the show was sit there and clap between songs.

Playing Portland must be an interesting experience for musicians. Well, not as weird as it was back in the day…there’s so many transplants now that the overly polite Portland crowds have been somewhat diluted. Sarizzle and her husband eventually crept closer to the stage and I saw her being true to our concert-going DNA, too. Her husband would occasionally throw an arm toward the sky or do that rhythmic hopping that people do at concerts, but she was doing pretty much the same low key sway in place as I.

The tour was basically a 21st birthday party for the band’s first breakout album, and they played it all, with a few extras sprinkled in here and there. At one point, the band riffed on Rod Stewart’s Do You Think I’m Sexy for a few lines between songs. Just, out of nowhere fun – for them as much as us. No one knew where the idle strumming was going until it careened into that pleasant little surprise.

Another fun moment happened during the encore – unlike Bonnie Raitt, I stayed for this one. No dogs to walk, no parking mess to get ahead of, so I just stayed and watched them completely blow the non-existent roof off of Pioneer Courthouse Square. The next little fun nugget was working a couple refrains of Tom Petty’s American Girl into the middle of one of their songs. I didn’t recognize the song, but I was definitely in the minority.

The following Sunday, I had to set an alarm to wake up and drive out to Hood River – by far the more scenic piece of our wine country. Little Buddy had two tickets to an event at one of their wine clubs called Reds, Whites and Blues. No, we haven’t started making blue wine in our notoriously blue state – the event featured a blues band to listen to whilst stuffing your face with BBQ and sipping on the vineyard’s reds and whites – not in that order.

Sadly, her husband, 2.0, had been tapped for a two-week trip to Germany for work and had to leave that morning, so Little Buddy had a – wait for it…free ticket. Fuck yeah, I went! I even set an alarm to make a day of it – we got a hike in before the event, which was just idyllic.

They set up the event beneath oak trees that are hundreds of years old in the middle of their vineyard and we drove up, parked by some vines and sat under those trees stuffing our faces and listening to blues in the middle of a sea of vines. Not even a barely visible Mt Hood through the smokey haze from our minimal forest fires could dampen the epicness of being immersed in such gorgeousness.

I’d love to sit around and let more of these experiences wash out of my memory and into my blog, but my drinking buddy’s buddy backed out of their plans to go to The Doobie Brothers show tonight this past Thursday. Luckily, I was sitting a barstool away when the text came in, so I’ve got to get ready for another show.

Another free show.

Second row from the floor on the stage side of the second section from the damn stage. It is going to be…epic!

Incredible Fortunes.

Management Tools

Sometimes I have to distract myself from the anger and frustration of things I cannot by focusing on something else. Looking at you, SCOTUS.

That’s not fair, this week’s decisions prove that it’s a disservice to the words “supreme” and “justice” to consider those recently appointed to the high court as anything other than Extreme Court Injustices.

I should distract myself from their work by focusing on the irony that two-thirds of the court now represent the views and interests of one-third of the country.

But instead, I distract myself with lesser frustrations and injustices. Yeah, I focus on things that make me angry and frustrated that I can at least do something about when the things I cannot do all that much about get me down.

For instance…have you ever heard of Hint water?

It’s like La Croix, if you opened it and left it out overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both. It’s just Hint has – in my opinion – jumped the ethical shark.

If you look closely at the pic, you can see it’s an Amazon ad for a 12-pack for $20.99 – for water.

That’s $1.75 a bottle. You can still pretty much buy a 12-pack of La Croix for the price of two bottles of Hint.

I was first introduced to Hint when I was working at the airport. PDX is an amazing airport, for sure. One of the amazing things they do is make their businesses within stick to street pricing – so unlike LAX, you won’t find a $16 bottle of kombucha at PDX. They further require their business partners to be minority owned/operated or have a minority business partner. But that’s not the point. The point is that they make their business partners provide annual pricing audits to prove they are within 20% of street pricing.

The business I was with used the infamous Peterson’s convenience stores as one of their comparable stores.

So, yeah…my employer at the airport used a business that is notoriously 30-40% overpriced to prove they were “within” 20% of street pricing. If you’re on the wrong side of the street, though, that math won’t hold up.

But this is where I first tried Hint, which I think we sold for around $2-3/bottle.

Mind you, we bought it for a buck a bottle from our wholesaler. None of this bothered me since my rent at the airport was a percent of sales. Gross sales. And rent was 18% of sales, which was also…gross.

Sidebar: if you’re ever curious about how PDX can afford to consistently be the best airport in America or spend a cool billion on a remodel, now you know. They get 18 cents on every dollar spent there. Port of Portland ain’t messing around.

Anyway, well after I left there, I saw an ad on social media for Hint water. Three cases for a buck a bottle. They promoted it as 30% off, which I thought was a weird spin for a manufacturer.

But they’d jumped on the direct to consumer (DTC) bandwagon and this was their hook.

I bought some. But when I went to reorder, the best deal I could get was 20% off for a certain number of cases. Less than that, if only save 15%. So I stopped buying it.

And they’re still promoting it the same way, basically. Here’s a recent email promotion from them:

Get this, now three cases are $55.99! On sale! So only $1.55/bottle instead of $1.83/bottle.

But here’s why all this bothers me – I used to buy it from my purveyor for about a buck a bottle. That means they already had their markup on that price after buying direct from Hint. I’m guessing Hint sold to wholesalers for around $.75-.80/bottle, but that’s just a guess.

I don’t need this information. It’s just evidence of the stern fucking you get on a daily basis for the privilege of waking up in America.

Spitballing for inflation, a 400% markup to sell direct to consumers seems high. Especially when you think that the 30% off promo I took advantage of at a buck a bottle meant they normally charged $1.30/bottle at that time. Now their regular price is $1.83/bottle. Assuming for the sake of making a generous argument that all expenses raised by that same margin, they’re still making $.50/bottle more selling to consumers directly than they made selling to wholesalers.

Why is that fair?!?

Shouldn’t the reward of running a manufacturing venture and selling to the public as well be…more customers?!? Why do they need to be able to have street pricing be their guide in that arrangement. Seems like the only people that benefits is them. Their wholesalers lose potential business because of it, so they’re losing out. Customers pay the same price either way, so it’s a net zero situation at best for them.

But there’s Hint, pockets so full, they can’t sit down. That makes me mad. Pick a business model and run it.

But unlike the SCOTUS rulings, where all I can do is vote every chance I get which is every other year at best, I can do something about this. I can vote against their business practices with my dollars every day.

That’s a win for this grumpy old man. And for La Croix, apparently.

Management Tools

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

Bitches Be Bitchin’

I lost two skirmishes in the Battle of the Sexes today and I didn’t even know I was engaged in the warfare.

To make it an even more epic or decisive loss, it was on the same battlefield street. Within a three block stretch.

To be honest, this could have easily been a car vs not-car kerfuffle – for which Portland is known.

That Google News headline is the result of a three to four hour closure of the city’s east-west freeway artery, courtesy of a pedestrian vs car engagement that did not go in favor of the pedestrian. Unless the pedestrian’s desired outcome was to go the way of the Dodo.

Oh, and yes…the weather icon in that pic does indicate it’s 70 degrees here today and raining. That’s Portland weather!

By contrast, my own losses seem less than minor. But my ire is still roused.

Karen 1:

I’m sure it’s disrespectful to call an anonymous woman Karen. Or, since there’s two in this story, not call her Karen Prime. You just never know what will set someone off – as this story will highlight.

I was driving up Lovejoy just a few blocks from home. As I approached an intersection where Lovejoy had the right of way and one-way 11th had a stop sign, I saw a pedestrian walking north on 11th as I was heading west. She was nowhere near the corner when I saw her and I didn’t know whether she was going to cross Lovejoy or turn and head east.

I’m not a mind reader, after all. But I am one of those people who rolls their eyes at the Portland transplants that try to blend in as native Portlanders by stopping to yield their wrong-of-way to people half a block away. Usually by stopping in the intersection to wait so that no one can use it until they are done bring magnanimous.

Yet, when I looked in the rear-view to see which trajectory she’d been on, there she was giving me a dramatic and exasperated palms up. Oh, for fuck sake. What was her expectation, that I do a brake stand for her just in case? Karen, your mom might have told you doors would open for you but that didn’t mean you’d stop traffic. Although, she did manage to create a seemingly entitled bitch.

I debated going around the block to engage, but then remembered the old…Oscar Wilde? No, it was a Mark Twain quote and went on my unsuspecting way.

Karen 2:

Meanwhile, I had to park two blocks later – delivering brunch to someone who failed to grasp the core concept of brunch – and it happened again. Except Karen 2’s BS butthurt was 180 degrees from Karen 1’s.

I know this because we don’t just run over homeless pedestrians here in Portland, we’ve killed our share of cyclists, too. We had a very vocal cyclist population that rightfully and vocally spent a decade pointing out how often drivers bothered to decorate their vehicles and nearby pavement with them. Once they were heard and managed to get the city to enact meaningful change to traffic laws and management, they went off the entitlement rails and started doing shit like the cyclist version of a California stop. Or the cyclist version of yielding their wrong of way – which is actually never conceding the right of way isn’t theirs for the taking in any situation – vehicular or pedestrian, their stance is “fuck you, I’m a cyclist”.

Anyway, as I was pulling away from the curb – one space back from an intersection where I again had the right of way – I saw a cyclist Karen slowing at the stop sign. At, not approaching. It’s an important designation since cyclists are famous for this move, one that usually precedes a sudden acceleration through the stop sign when they decide there’s no immediate threat.

Thinking the odds are she could have easily missed me pulling out of my parking spot, I gave her the whole “no, you go” gesture.

Again, not a mind reader. This was made clear by the exasperated eyeroll cyclist Karen awarded my thoughtfulness. Fuck me for trying, right? My gall was clearly lacking any form of mitigation.

Having found my peace with the universe after my prior Karen encounter, I simply admired my nails over the steering wheel until she composed herself enough to clear the intersection.

But as I resumed my day, I realized I was 0-2 in this three block stretch, I figured maybe I’d better use my time on activities that didn’t involve other humans and came home to my murderous feline.

Completely forgetting the three bags of recycling I’d brought down and put in my car to drop off after my brunch time efforts. So now guess what I get to do?

Maybe I’ll see if my dinner time car-karma is any better and do some deliveries “on the way home” from dropping them off. I’d say wish me luck, but c’mon…what could possibly go wrong? Haha.

Bitches Be Bitchin’

The Password is: CULTURE

Celebrity Host: Yogurt.

Me: <blinks>

CH: Kombucha.

Me: <blink, blink>

CH: Live performances.

Me: THINGS I SEE FOR FREE!

CH: Oh! Wait, what? No. I’m sorry, we were looking for “culture”!

Me: Same, yo…but not on my budget! Someone else gonna need to pick up that tab.

CH: No parting gifts for you. Can someone get my agent on the phone!

Ok, my skinflintiness is situational. I’m choosing to be amused by the pattern. I’m also choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to see live performances again.

It had been too long before the pandemic started. Tack on two pandemic years to that too long and you’ve got a real risk of Xtopher returning to some devolved Appalachian form of human.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my problematic drinking made me luckier than most during the pandemic. Geez, that sounds like a line from a winning entry for a free stay at Betty Ford…

Tis true, though. My former old standby, the Big Legrowlski, hosted music during the pandemic.

Daily.

It was quite…the salvation.

No, I wasn’t there daily, thank you.

But a couple times a week. I’d go and sit in their three-sided tents outside and watch people perform through the 10 foot windows, doors open and speakers on the sidewalk.

Plus, fire pit. It was the mental health booster I needed during the lockdown. Sorry for anyone who thought “alcohol” was the correct answer there. Close second, but…no. And that’s despite the fact that many of these mental health boosts happened in 40 degree weather, oftentimes with rain running in under the tent wall and right under my feet.

So when I was working from home and heard one of the DJs from my local radio station – Kink.fm – say he was giving away tickets to a Saturday morning performance at the inaugural re-opening of their live music lounge…I was on that phone! Despite the fact that refreshments were being sponsored by Coors Light.

And I won!

And that’s why I was out of bed before noon a few Saturdays back.

Tom Odell, that is, not free Coors Light. (Sorry, dad!)

Seriously, having a chance to see live music for the first time in over two years…we’ll, I thought Indigo Girls playing at the Pioneer Courthouse Square would get me fixed up. But that show isn’t until June. And I’d have to buy my tickets. I still might. Or I’ll just go hangout on the sidewalk, since the venue is literally a brick plaza on a city block.

Proof Portlanders use umbrellas?

Legitimately seeing live music for free, though? Highly recommend. And as if free wasn’t an awesome enough incentive? The free libations included some Topo Chico hard seltzer options, so I had some. Partook of the two free drink maximum, did I.

Booze Bracelet!

Then there’s the reality that this venue holds less than 100 people. I tried to count seats, and I don’t think it has 70. It had 7 rows of seats. I chose to stand close to the bar in the back, since I was alone.

Free, boozy, intimate…well, I doubt I’ve ever experienced those three adjectives simultaneously before.

Plus, Tom Odell has a seriously distinctive and evocative singing voice. The first note off the piano made the hair on my eyes stand up and when he opened his mouth, tears started welling up on my forearms.

Wait. Something’s not right in that paragraph…here, don’t think too much about that. Look at these pics, instead.

Ok, his voice and fingers do all the heavy lifting. He doesn’t have to rely on visual distractions like dancing and pyrotechnics to give a killer experience. But it does make for a dozen pics that look almost exactly the same.

But just look how small the venue is!

Pre-show audience games

Best part – besides standing in a room with a few dozen strangers having an aurally stimulating experience? When I turned on the car, guess who was playing on the radio?

Right outside the station, no less. Quite a meta-moment, if you ask me.

This is all top of mind for me right meow since I just got home from a show with Little Buddy. I was her +1 for Freestyle Love Supreme this afternoon. Yay for married season ticket holders with busy spouses!

That’s right, I am spoiled and got to see a second live performance in less than a month for free! I wasn’t super into seeing the show, but I was super into a social fix with Little Buddy. It’s always too long between visits, but since she moved out to the Columbia River Gorge, it’s even further between visits.

Don’t get me wrong, she invites. I think I’ve taken her up on it twice, although one of those might have been prior to the full-time residency. But it’s home to some of the best wine in Oregon – and that’s saying things! – so it is somewhat problematic for this light weight…since it’s an hour away.

So on the second-nicest day of the year so far in Portland, I donned my dress-Chucks and went to the theater.

Hey, it was over 70 today…I almost wore shorts!

For a show I wasn’t jazzed to see – call it a variant of something every younger sibling knows too well, since this was co-created by Lin Manuel Miranda and (through some scheduling miracle) playing at the same time that Hamilton was in town – this was pretty damned entertaining.

The premise is that it’s all pretty much improvised based off of audience feedback, hence the “freestyle”. There’s also a lot of hip-hop vibe going on with that improv. There’s a beatbox guy, a couple MC folks, not in the Master of Ceremony vein, rather the MC rappers tack onto their stage names.

And then a bunch of middle-aged or better white women from the suburbs yelling out suggestions.

FWIW, my word was gonna be orgasm – but some of these Karens brought proof they’d had sex with them. Since I have a modicum of decency, I didn’t ejaculate yell out my contribution.

I think part of the fun for me was judging what people did yell out.

Two people yelled out answers that one of the MCs had used as an example. Friggin’ brainiacs, those two.

Several others yelled out variations of things like “singing” or “dancing” and I was all, “Really? We’re here to watch some hip-hop improv and your subject matter suggestions are ‘singing and dancing’?!?”

Mouths shut, husband’s wallets open, ladies. That’s all the contribution to the arts you need to worry about.

Makes me regret not yelling “Orgasm!” when they were taking suggestions on the “Something you can’t live without” theme. Seriously, someone yelled “Banana”…to be fair, I think it was the sibling of the STD that yelled out “Monkey” when the MCs were looking for verbs as a cue. But who can’t live without a banana?!?

Despite my audience members doing their best to prove they are barely more tolerable only being seen versus heard, I’m in the mood for more super spreader events live entertainment.

Given my aforementioned pandemic “live entertainment loophole”, I can only imagine how exciting these past few weekends were for others. I can overlook them not fully knowing how to audience appropriately.

And, damnit…now I’m in the mood! I may need to pick up a rush ticket or two over the coming month. Who knows, I might even troll Craigslist for an Indigo Girls ticket.

The Password is: CULTURE

The Homeless Guy With Game

You gotta admire a down and out guy with moxie.

I was running into my building to feed Myrtle last night. In doing so, I passed one of the fire exits to my building. These are recessed doorways, making them a perfect opportunity for someone wanting to duck out of weather, shoot up or take a nap – hell, maybe all three, depending on the day.

I saw the bike-turned-upside-down gate and a pair of feet stretched out under it before I passed by, so I knew it was occupied. Turns out, there were two occupants of the tiny makeshift shelter. He looked like he was feeling no pain. The other occupant was sitting cross-legged with a jacket draped over her head, like Cousin It went as a coatrack for Halloween.

“You’re pretty fun to hang out with. Do you want a boyfriend?”

I mean, way to just casually toss that out there. A directness I can appreciate.

“No”, I hear in a tentative voice from under the coat,” I mean…I already have one.”

Ouch.

And what had they been doing – and for how long – that this guy knew he wanted to lock her down but didn’t know she was already taken?!?

I acknowledged he at least shot his shot as I fobbed into my front door. My trip home was a quick one, literally ran in to feed my cat, hit the can and then I was off again.

Passing back by the door, I saw the girl was still wearing her coat wrong and the guy’s head had lolled back and to the side a bit. He was apparently not done making his case.

“…I also speak Japanese and Farsi, but I can’t write in Japanese…”

Geez. How far down on your assets list are those tidbits? I’m assuming his “physical” attributes – those most exaggerated bragged about by dudes – were either previously known or had topped the list. Then again, based on where this conversation was taking place, we knew he skipped right over where he lived and what kind of car he drives.

Oh, Portland…

The Homeless Guy With Game

Still Mad: An Update

In case you were wondering, Mother Nature is still pissed at us. Feel free to see what caused me to make that obvious statement originally before reading on – or not. All will be clear soon enough.

I woke the other morning – yes, I was up before noon! – to find these pics of my beloved Park Blocks/front yard from a local news anchor on my Twitter feed.

Another of our North Park Block’s hundred-plus year old trees had fallen overnight. As you can see, it more tipped over after its roots basically failed to hold it in the ground. I mean, we’ve had a lot of rain the past couple of weeks…but not that fucking much rain.

Minimal upside, I suppose, could be that the building it fell onto is slated for demolition to make way for a hotel that will take up the park-facing half of the city block that it sits on. As soon as the other building on that half of the block is removed from the Historic Register.

Yeah, that part is kinda fucked up.

I walked past the site this morning after checking Angela into the “spa” for her repairs. It doesn’t look better by light of day.

The clean up isn’t done, obviously, but I’m surprised the building wasn’t more damaged. I guess that’s a testament to the masonry workers of the…19th century?

I guess the actual bright side here is that no one was hurt. This being Portland, home to the third largest homeless population in the country – behind NYC and SF, if you can believe that…we should not be on a population based list with cities of their size – we have urban campers on virtually every block in the close-in downtown area. Not every side of every block, but you’d be hard pressed to find a block without tents on at least one side. Not to mention RVs parked along the city streets for weeks at a time before being forced to move to another street.

That being the case, I’m glad these poor souls living just to the left of where the tree landed on the building weren’t harmed in the incident. But you can be damn sure they had the living daylights scared out of them.

Mother Nature is mad. At us…and with good reason. But I see no reason that the least among us should pay the ultimate or any physical price for the damage the wealthiest and more conspicuously consuming among us create.

That poor tree, though. I’m so sad for the ongoing damage our Park Blocks are sustaining. Everyone go buy an electric car!

Still Mad: An Update

My Brush With Royalty

Rock royalty.

Portland rock royalty.

There I was last night, driving around and minding my own business in Milwaukie, a close-in Portland suburb. Mostly, this manifested as trying to figure out whether I should shut my app off so I can stop incoming rides briefly to set it to “home” mode. It was around 5 PM on a rainy Friday afternoon, so the ride bonuses in Portland were crazy.

For instance, I made almost $50 on my first three rides in the first hour on the road. You can see how those ride bonuses dropped on that last pick up outside the city core.

Yes, get me back to town, please.

Plus, that $2.50 bonus was a round trip ride to the liquor store for a guy who met me at the end of his driveway – which I love – only to mime “Do you have an extra mask?” from where he stood as I pulled up. Then, once he’s gotten one, climbs in grumbling about how “It’s not like these do anything, anyway” before careening into “The old man was killing him”, referring to Biden – neither of which I love right out of the gate in a ride. I managed to steer him into a conversational area he was better qualified to have an opinion on: sports.

Stupid American.

I’m sure that explains why I was debating getting back toward the city. That’s when this ride came in.

Now, Zia is not a common name. I’ve known one in my entire life, a former employee here in town. I pulled the picture up to see if it was her, and, well…wrong race.

However, I thought this rider skewed age and race wise toward being the only other Zia I could think of, who I certainly didn’t know, but whose early musical career I was well aware of, the Dandy Warhols.

The Dandys are a local band with one song most people will know – Bohemian Like You – and who I’ve been lucky enough to come across a couple times back when I stumbled into music venues around town in the 90s. Zia stood out among the band because she usually could be counted on to pull her shirt up at some point during a show.

That leaves an impression, even on a late-20s gay boy.

I mentally start discarding conversational riffs based off that song – “I’ve got a great car”, “Do you like vegan food”, “Did I see some guy sleeping on the couch? Is he always there? Why’s he looking kind of ‘meh’?”

Stupid stuff. – that I’d never actually say!

More likely, I’d try to get a heads up on her current band’s upcoming gigs. She’s got several projects going on these days and one of them – Brush Prairies, I think – has been doing shows at small venues, like the Dandys used to.

Also, I could pin her down on which member owned a wine bar here in my neighborhood and where it was actually located. Rumor vaguely has it that it’s over on/around Pettygrove & 14th but the place over there I’ve seen isn’t that impressive. But it’s open hours certainly suggest it operates on a rock and roll vibe, aka: it’s open or not on a whim. More specific rumor has it that it’s a place called Le Happy.

Cute, right? It’s at Lovejoy & 16th, so about half as much closer than the other place, but…

Permanently closed?!?

Even if this wasn’t that bar, it’s sad. Such a cute lil joint. I hope the building doesn’t get torn down in Portland’s growth/building boom.

Anyway, in real time, I was pulling up her name on Google to get a current pic.

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!

It was her!

OMGOMGOMG.

Be cool.

I pull into this driveway that’s on the backstreet of a side street behind a school in Milwaukie. The remoteness says “privacy” while the overgrown disrepair of a once well-tended yard says “recluse”.

“Damn, Zia, I know having four band projects going has to be a lot…but get it together!”

Then a college-aged kid walks out.

“Well, that’s not Zia…”

He’s got a cute mix of nerd and emo looks going, so I also tell myself to keep my eyes on the road. 🤦🏽

We’ve got a long ride ahead of us into Portland – thank you, Lyft app! – so I start off with some small talk about what’s up.

Turns out, he took a bus into town to hang out with his friend – a female friend, not a girlfriend 😈 – but he went to the wrong house. I comment that this girl has the right kind of problems…too many houses, and he clarifies that he went to her dad’s house (ok, so it’s a “depression vibe” in the yard, not “recluse”, got it) instead of her mom’s so mom was getting him a ride to the right place.

Cool mom.

AND IT WAS ZIA MCCABE!!!

Anyway, that was as close as my brush with rock royalty came. Well, that and maybe she was shuffling things around on the porch when I pulled up. And that I low-key know where she lives, but I’m not creepy, so that knowledge is just a little “I know stuff other people don’t” thrill.

But I still need to catch a random show of hers one of these days. Oh, and she’s a realtor, too, so that’s bad news for my realtor neighbor who lives in the building I want to eventually buy in…because I am Le Happy to be that kind of creepy.

Hey, it’s not like she wouldn’t get something out of that transaction, and The Gays are nothing if not transactional.

My Brush With Royalty