Poet’s Consciousness

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I went deep into the city of Portland today to run a few errands and get some food when I felt that deep, orange vibe only cities can hold. Like most of the west, every spare foot of space was stuffed with overzealous tourists checking off sites from their guidebooks while posing for selfies, but something stubborn survives within Portland. A cultural residue sticking to the fingers, clinging to brain cells. Tattoo hippies sit smoking cigarettes on business steps, children excitedly looking through windows, as a poet’s heart settles like fog deep within those crumbling, sad streets. The random weirdness of the Doug Fir lounge, or the crowded coffee shops near Powell’s City of Books speak of the vibrant freaks who’ve held up within their Victorian homes like clams in a shell. Money continues to poor in fueling hammers and saws ringing from every third story window awaiting the next wave of young, rich kids searching for meaning in a new place. Then he appeared. A man sitting against the corner of a building crumpled like an old pile of clothes when he rose to scream defiantly:

“A man of 36…college educated…lost and broken. Portland…Portland!

My soul disintegrates into your mortar”

He returned to his seat. I drove home.

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Beer, Hipness, and Stories

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So I’d been trying to attend one of the PBS sponsored story slams for quite some time when I learned the topic for the September 4th show was education. A story slam takes ten local storytellers, gives them a stage and five minutes to let fly with their best tales to impress some 100 people. And this show was going to be held in Portland, Oregon, which meant any combination of oddball characters might show as the city is known for its youthful, hip, artist types usually decked in black. The venue was a secret speak easy style bar located at the top of some old stairs at the side of an old brick building with a hastily assembled bar just inside the door.

Once inside, the event was an education for me in that I’ve never seen so many young, rich kids spend so much money trying to look poor. I’m guessing some of them kept their $300 shoes in their rose garden just to give them that lived in look. I don’t think I’ll ever get the knit cap thing hipster dudes are favoring these days as most of the young men wearing them insist on keeping them on even in 100+ degree weather. The hosts of  the show were mild by comparison, sticking with simple black t-shirts as they had kids at home and didn’t need to call up hip credentials once outside the venue.

When the show began, topics ranged from getting into snooty New York City prep schools to surviving a hike across a glacier without feminine products. The crowd remained enthusiastic throughout, but my favorite section came when the hosts read slips of paper from the audience telling about a time their useless skill saved the day. The topper was a woman who used her Irish dancing skills to stop a bar fight. Awesome.

To Kitsch, or Not to Kitsch

I discovered recently there exists a bathroom in Portland, Oregon that was up for best restaurant bathroom nationally.  It was a disco theme, so after driving 35 miles to have a waffle with goat cheese and an over easy egg on top, I entered to find the light switch labelled as follows: Light, No Light, Disco. Well, no question, I instantaneously hit Disco upon which “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor kicked in along with a variety of colorful spinning disco lights as the room grew dark. I was there, so I distributed a few classic Deney Terrio dance moves before snapping a pic or two (pictured below) for my memory file. Now kitsch isn’t my main hobby in life, but perhaps my most unusual one. Armed with an idea for what is kitsch-able, I will not drive out of my way to see certain items, but rely on random chance alone. These have included, Harvey, the giant Muffler Rabbit in Aloha, Oregon, the world’s largest ball of twine in Kansas, and the world’s largest spoon in East Glacier, Montana. BUT, I will go out of my way for kitsch if it is creative, unusual, or thought provoking. Therefore, I have driven to see the Elvis Museum in Portland, walked a mile to see the Black Madonna in Prague, and gone out of my way to see Coral Castle in Florida. If you need a little more imagination in your world visit roadsideamerica.com 

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3’s Going Rogue

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Is anyone else sick and tired of these undisciplined 3’s floating randomly over our wheat fields? Enough is enough I say, it’s high time Congress acted to regulate this trouble maker back into the number line where it belongs! 1 + 2 , you should be ashamed of yourselves for not properly parenting your sum.

 

Dog versus cut-out

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Ok, this morning marks time four my dog has walked by a metal cut-out shaped like a cat and charged with fury and fire in his eyes. The cut-out is placed right next to a bus pick up station which I’m sure was placed there to increase business at the local hospital for all the arms pulled out of socket by infuriated dogs. What is curious though, is that my normally intelligent dog Barley has failed to learn anything after four charges. This begs the question, are dogs poor learners or just hate cats so much that 100 false alarms are worth that one time it’s a real cat? I don’t know.

Fresh Eggs Rule

The best community development since the tiny library is the trend of city people raising chickens to sell their eggs for extra cash. These are often found in small wooden coolers in front of their homes. Today I came across the “Happy Hen” egg box (pictured) while walking my dog this morning. I happily paid the $4 for a dozen fresh eggs and I’m looking forward to a morning omelette.

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Doubtful as to nuclear preparedness

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So I get a call from an LA friend last night who wants to talk about the inevitability of nuclear war based on news stories this week concerning troubles with Syria, Russia, and North Korea. She went on to say, and I quote, “A lot of people would get blown up in a nuclear exchange and we’d probably lose cell service.” Oh Dear Lord! Not cell service! Oh the HORROR! I could handle getting our bodies flayed in under a tenth of a second, but take away our cell service, and I cannot even imagine the barbarity! Curse you Mr. Putin and your obvious den of vile demons!

It just goes to show that we have come to be so distracted by tweets and surfing bulldogs on our nightly news that we’ve completely lost our perspective on the real nightmare a nuclear war might entail. We laugh at all those news reels from the 1950’s where children frantically duck and cover in spite of the fact a school desk would offer as much protection against nuclear bombs as a wet paper bag would against an AR-15. But all that hysteria DID create a fear proportional to the level of destruction we would have faced as a nation. I’m not sure I have the answer here, but I do know consume and cower will be equally futile in the 21st century.

 

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