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Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

I don’t want to get into the election in general, but over the past few weeks the ads have really become annoying.

Since I voted and was done with this election as of 10/25.

Still, the radio ads.

TV spots.

Political mailers – in my own and the Silver Fox’s mailboxes, so I get a double-whammy.

And the text messages!

But one ad bothers me in particular: Measure 114.

It’s a gun reform measure and the fear mongering from the opposition is strong. And obviously false.

Good lord, I cannot get a break, even when I’m therapeutically bitching about these pesky things!

The worst part is that they use the word “literally” by its new definition. Y’know, the one that’s a result of Stupid Americans breaking the dictionary? That result being that we literally have no word that means “literally” now, since it’s definition has been changed to include the misused meaning, ie: figuratively.

The spot that sticks in my craw is from a sheriff who does a good job of detailing the measure’s goals –

But then careens off to the right by saying that the law will stop you from owning a firearm literally forever because of the permitting and training requirements.

And you know the <ahem> target audience will eat that hyperbole up without giving the credibility that the language gives away a second amendment thought.

Give us strength. The Right is probably gonna win on this issue and take control of the House. Then America is going to devolve over the next two years into some sort of Dukes of Hazard demigoggery scenario with you-know-who playing Boss Hogg.

All because the GOP had the foresight to gaslight the Religious Wrong into following them into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship while also underfunding public schools for generations until we’ve turned out enough idiots without the critical thinking skills to hear something and be able to say, “Nope, that sounds like bullshit”.

We’re probably all screwed. Thank gourd I watched Ted Lasso so I know how to properly express me feelings on this issue…

114

114

Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

I don’t want to get into the election in general, but over the past few weeks the ads have really become annoying.

Since I voted and was done with this election as of 10/25.

Still, the radio ads.

TV spots.

Political mailers – in my own and the Silver Fox’s mailboxes, so I get a double-whammy.

And the text messages!

But one ad bothers me in particular: Measure 114.

It’s a gun reform measure and the fear mongering from the opposition is strong. And obviously false.

Good lord, I cannot get a break, even when I’m therapeutically bitching about these pesky things!

The worst part is that they use the word “literally” by its new definition. Y’know, the one that’s a result of Stupid Americans breaking the dictionary? That result being that we literally have no word that means “literally” now, since it’s definition has been changed to include the misused meaning, ie: figuratively.

The spot that sticks in my craw is from a sheriff who does a good job of detailing the measure’s goals –

But then careens off to the right by saying that the law will stop you from owning a firearm “literally forever” because of the permitting and training requirements.

And you know the <ahem> target audience will eat that hyperbole up without giving the credibility that the language gives away a second amendment thought.

Give us strength. The Right is probably gonna win on this issue and take control of the House. Then America is going to devolve over the next two years into some sort of Dukes of Hazard demigoggery scenario with you-know-who playing Boss Hogg.

All because the GOP had the foresight to gaslight the Religious Wrong into following them into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship while also underfunding public schools for generations until we’ve turned out enough idiots without the critical thinking skills to hear something and be able to say, “Nope, that sounds like bullshit”.

We’re probably all screwed. Thank gourd I watched Ted Lasso so I know how to properly express my feelings on this issue…

114

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.

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

Lucky Me?

Not to overthink the classics, but you’ve heard the old chestnut, “You make your own luck” or the not dissimilar “Luck is what you make it”.

Ok, well…could someone please explain what they fuck I’m doing?!?

Is it bad that I’m crowdsourcing that information? Check it out, though, and weigh in…because I can’t decide if the universe is flirty with me, sending me warning signs or possibly both.

It started with this:

Yes, I have an unread email from 2019…

Ok. Sure. Let’s make a Will. For all of you conspiracy theorists out there, this could be my own fault. I’d literally said “I guess I’d better make a Will” after I opened my parents’ gift from grandpa’s estate.

Not that I’ve got anyone to bequeath my plant collection to – but that’s another blog. Let the government have it. That’ll piss off plenty of folks…just letting the state have my shit. Not my family, of course. There’s perks to being the brokest bitch in my family. Well, outside Black Sheep Bro, that is. But anyone that knows me will tell you that self-referencing “bitch” comment was not figurative and that I’m sure as Hell not rewarding that history.

So, there’s that. I wrote it off to a not-incorrect coincidence and went on with my life.

Then things leveled up a bit.

I came downstairs last Saturday afternoon – thank you, good night sleep herb – and from well inside my lobby, could see bikes whizzing by on the street outside.

Racing bikes.

Racing the wrong way on my one-way street.

The street I was parked on the night before.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

All I’m thinking is that my car got towed. Then I’m incensed because shit goes on in my neighborhood all. the. time. So I know what to expect when something is happening..

This is out of the blue, though. Literally. I’d walked home from my around-the-corner bar the prior evening around 930 pm. Usually, when something of this magnitude is happening, I have – at worst – last ditch reminders…like they’re setting up booths and tents and johnnies-on-the-spot in the park the night before.

Nothing.

And this is the last ditch visual reminders. Before that, there’s No Parking signs posted on the trees lining the streets for weeks ahead of time. Plus flyers taped to the building doors so you can’t miss them.

This? This is gotten a flyer about a half dozen trips to the recycler ago. Ok, fine…it was a good month and a half back.

So, what was it?

They’re riding the wrong way on this street, too.

The Portland Criterion.

I don’t remember this happening in the six years I’ve lived in this building. Apparently, though, it used to happen all the time. Local legend has it that ol’ uniball (Lance Armstrong) used to ride it before he started winning Tours de France.

If you believe that kind of scuttlebutt.

Anyway, it’s a nine block course – if my mental mapping math is correct. A three block straightaway, up a block, back a block, up a block, over a block and down two to the start.

But did I mention that my car got towed?!?

(Un)Luckily, I’d run into the chattiest mailman ever on my way out. He was telling me that the parking situation was a real shitshow. He’d had to park a half dozen blocks away instead of right in front, as is his norm.

“Oh, all the bridge and tunnel folk?”, I asked, knowing full well he is one.

“Yeah! Well, that and all the cars they had to move off the route!” My ears perked up.

“Say what now?”

“Oh, yeah. They call it a ‘Courtesy Tow’, but it’s not doing me any courtesies!”

Ok, maybe my luck is on an upward swing. All I had to do was scour the neighborhood clicking my alarm remote until my lights flash.

Knowing my neighborhood, some crazy would flash me before my Angela did.

My car was right around the corner.

Luck: fully functioning.

I did whatever I’d needed to do that afternoon and then realized there was the neighborhood dysfunction to deal if I went home, and decided to kill some time.

Hello, app of Lost Boys.

It’s an indictment of my decaying subculture that a man my age, in my wavering physical condition can get laid with only a modest amount of effort on these loathsome asocial media apps. But there I was, finding a safe harbor to park my lil tug in to ride out the Criterion storm in my home port.

Fun!

I’m still offended.

It’s like I’m the gay equivalent of Groucho Marx.

Autocorrect changed “gay” to “fat” in the prior paragraph. Oy.

Nevertheless, I am heading home from my afternoon delight and my drinking buddy neighbor from the Silver Fox’s building asks if I wanna meet at the neighborhood joint for dinner.

Dinner. Tomato. Potato. VODKA.

This is also promising because somehow I conflated this with the Criterion being complete.

Good.

“WHOA!!!”

The car in the lane to my right’s bumper literally peeled off the car and flew right at me.

Interesting life choice for a car. Upon closer inspection, though, the car looked like it should have the theme from Sanford & Son emanating from it. Checking my bitchiness in an attitude of that-bumper-missed-me gratitude, I checked myself and admitted that this car was likely someone’s residence.

Oh, yeah, the bumper missed me. Mostly thanks to me not being where I was heading toward being once I saw it depart its logical location.

I pull past this “How is this street legal” moving violation and glance in the window.

Let me tell you, I’d just gotten laid in the first time in too long and my sunny disposition had nothing on this driver.

“So, great, she’s under the influence, too.”

I swear, this shit could only happen to me. A bumper leaves home a few feet ahead of me in a once-in-lifetime occurrence? Yeah, just me.

Nevertheless, I make it home without further whatthefuckness. Until I have to park, and then I realize the Criterion is not finished.

Go figure, my original towed-to parking spot on my “Street Closed” street is taken. Turning around, I pull across the intersection and part in a Loading Zone with 7 am – 7 pm restrictions Monday-Saturday.

It’s 650 pm on Saturday night.

“Fucking ticket me”, I say as I walk away.

Minutes later, when recounting the afternoon’s events to my buddy, I recall that this is exactly what had happened last time I gambled on that. But that was a pandemic ago…so who’s winning now!!?

The next morning, my tire was flat.

Here’s why there will never be a musical about my life: days like last Saturday. You couldn’t write a song about that day. There’s no rhythm to it. My fortunes that day were nothing if not psychotic.

By comparison, a couple Saturdays prior, I’d had breakfast with my parents, they’d cavalierly tossed out a check I with more zeroes than my dating history and they’d bought. Then I went home and watched movies and snoozed the rest of the day.

That’s plenty of Saturday for me.

Criterion Saturday? Do not need.

In other random “luck” housekeeping…

Yesterday – Payroll Monday, as I like to call it – turned out to be just Monday. No payroll. Too much other shit going on, so I decided to punt and process payroll today.

Payroll Monday? Nah, surprise, bitch…just MONDAY.

On the other hand, I got it done in 2.5 hours. This is something that appeared to be taking 16+ hours when I came on board, so there’s that.

Additionally, I arranged to have the local tire joint – who I have unpleasant history with – look at Angela’s tire today. I was betting it would be $100. The Silver Fox was telling me they did it for free whether you bought tires there or not. I just didn’t want to risk putting a can of Fix-a-Flat into the equation and then getting in the freeway to the Costco for the free repair I was entitled to after my tire purchase there.

Right?

Yes, ok!

So, here I am…still living haphazardly but thinking critically!

I’d called ahead and was told a patch was $20. Fine. Get it done.

I drop it off three minutes before they open this morning and hoof it home – cajoling Jessla into a coffee along the way…barely missing my “late” start time of 945.

At 1030, the call me – but I’m on a Teams call and can’t talk. Voicemail. When I get a chance to listen, it’s some guy you know is hot but totally selfish in bed and barely functional in life telling me they couldn’t find a problem.

I hold the phone away from my face and wonder aloud if they were looking at the wrong tire. I watched my onboard count down four pounds of lost pressure on my nine blocks up, eight blocks over trip to drop Angela off. So I call back and tell them to take another swing at it.

It took a few hours, but eventually I got a callback that said they were able to find the screw and patch the hole.

Huzzah.

At 415 I feed Myrtle her 15 minute overdue dinner. Well, half of it because I can tell she’s gonna eat like she’s never had a meal. I figure, I can manage that and feed her the rest after she’s had time to digest a bit.

We’re talking 1.5 ounces of wet food here…and she still threw it up before 430.

I tell my coworker over Teams that I’m fucking off to clean up cat puke and then go get my car. I know I’ll come in tomorrow to an arms length of cat rearing tips – none of which will be “Don’t adopt a cat three other people returned”, but still well-intentioned.

I hike up to the tire place and am told it’s complimentary. Just remember them when I need new tires.

Goddamnit, the Silver Fox was right!

For free…unlike the person they paid to tell me the wrong answer.

Mind you, writing this out, I know it’s all nonsense. I got towed, I got laid, I got a flat.

Whatever, right? Free range bumpers notwithstanding.

But here’s what I didn’t tell ya: I’m between waking up on Saturday and getting laid on Saturday? A lot more happened.

I wouldn’t have been leaving my house at all that day if I hadn’t woken up to this random text message “from my bank”.

“Here’s the one-time verification code you requested”…only, I hadn’t? But, also…I had.

Days before. It was an aborted attempt to link my main account to my car loan – since my car loan had revamped their app (for the better) but had t imported any sensitive data. Basically, I had to set it all up again – because what benefits them, fucks me. Natch.

Sadly, that all ended in tears for the poor bastard I made help me after three failed attempts to link my main account to their new and improved shit.

But did I get three verification codes or just two? Was this random text something their new-but-still-having-a-stroke system buried out after a few days of rest or a legit scam?

I call the bank. It’s noon on Saturday.

By 1215, I’m being told that my account has been closed – for my protection.

“So, basically, you’re telling me I have 45 minutes to get out of bed, shower, shampoo and shine and make it over to my branch to re-open an account before they close at 1 or I can be penniless til Monday?”

“We’re super sorry (inferred, they didn’t say that) but our grocery store branches are open until 3! You can try this one in Portland’s version of Alabama.”

I Google “my fucking credit union’s branches in grocery stores” and counter that asinine attempt of theirs at help with, “How about I just go to this store a mile from my house?”

So I do all of this and end up leaving the branch with a new account and new debit card. It’s 245. I’m dreading all the new debit card ordeals ahead of me.

DoorDash.

GoPuff.

Assorted bill pays I have set up to my debit card.

This is gonna be Billy Hell.

But they’ve assured me that my direct deposit is flagged to transfer. Me, being an adult, resist telling them that that is literally my job so I’m not worried or asking what they do with my money that has them giddy that the flow will be uninterrupted.

Fine. Maybe I’m a little bit of that conspiracy theorist I maligned earlier. But only for my own entertainment!

On my way out, I ask if my pending bank to bank transfers will flow through, since I suspect they are still incomplete. My “transfer to” bank shows the deposits are funded, my “transfer from” bank closed my account without bothering to ask.

“I don’t see anything pending, so everything is good!”

So chipper.

“You’re telling me you could see transfers initiated outside the credit union?”

“Yup. Everything looks good.”

It wasn’t.

I woke up today to an email saying my $3000 transfer (the max allowed) had been rejected because of insufficient funds.

“Or a closed account and idiot banker” I mumble to my phone. Whatever. It only cost me time – since my investment account doesn’t charge for returned transfers and my credit union seemed to at least know not to trifle with that after my Saturday ordeal.

And that’s why I wanted to fuck someone after leaving the bank on Saturday…I knew my own fucking was coming. At least it was gentle?

I swear, if I find out Pam Ewing dreamed this whole thing…well, that might actually explain a few things.

Lucky Me?

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

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…

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