Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Portland

Other than the show that Attrition played on our tour 2 years ago, I'd only visited Portland during the rainy season prior to this trip, and my opinion of the city has done a 180 in the last 9 days. In the past I've always gotten the impression that Portland is pretty dead. I've never seen a lot of people out and about, nor did I feel the kind of energy that I look for in an urban setting. Granted, New York is a pretty unreasonable standard against which to hold anywhere else except maybe Tokyo, but Boston, Philly, and DC all feel more alive than Portland in the winter. However, in the summer Portland is a totally different story. People are everywhere: walking around, shopping, looking hip, riding bikes, discussing sustainable home gardening and green capitalism, and being white. Sardonicism aside, I like the vibe, I like the vegan food, I like the people I've met, and there are a lot of attractive young people just waiting for me to move here and sit inside reading instead of being social and meeting them. I've been taking considerably less thorough notes here than I did while on the road, and I have neither the memory nor the desire to attempt a meticulous play-by-play of my time in Portland. My noteworthy activities have included the following (in no particular order):

-Seeing Ruiner at a house show. I haven't been to a house show in a long time, and despite the fact that Portland has a reputation for having a lame hardcore scene, it was actually pretty fun. It's also nice to see people you know in different contexts, because when you are out of your comfort zone people that you only sort of know become really good friends. Also we got to hear the saga of Rob Sullivan and Justice's falling out, which took at least 15 minutes but was nonetheless engaging. We were expecting a shorter answer but it turned out to be quite an interesting tale. I love Baltimore drama... at a distance.

-Seeing On, Have Heart, and Verse at Satyricon. All the bands were raving about how much better that show was than any previous Portland show, so apparently the Ruiner show was no fluke. One of the opening bands, Life and Limb, had a really great set; their local fan base was enthusiastically participatory, their singer prefaced each song with a (verbose and unfocused but well-intentioned) rant about a political subject, and, unlike many of their colleagues in the world of political hardcore, they were technically solid and played a tight set. They sounded sort of like The Suicide File + Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent-era Refused, with a new-school melodic vibe. I don't actually like The Suicide File that much, and less so bands that try to sound like them, but Life and Limb was at least good at what they did, if not exactly my bag.
On's set was overall pretty solid, and punctuated by two songs which I thought were really good and a cover that I believe was Quicksand. I hope their next record is more along the lines of the two exceptional songs. Have Heart and Verse were pretty typical, with the addition of a lot of kids spin-kicking in a fashion I haven't seen at a non-metalcore show on the East Coast since around 2004. I wish Have Heart still played songs from What Counts; I think they were at their best when they were shamelessly ripping off Chain of Strength, because, as is indicated by the name of this blog, they are easily my favorite youth crew band.
After the show I had a nice time catching up with some more tour friends and then wandered around downtown Portland with On looking for vegan food, ultimately settling for VooDoo Doughnuts.

-Seeing Wanted. It sucked.

-Playing video games at a bar called Ground Control which, for those of you who have been to Brooklyn, is what Barcade wishes it could be, and then playing more video games a different day at 5 cent arcade called The Avalon. With his ski-ball tickets Ian landed a sweet inflatable baseball bat with which he promised to hit random passers-by on our ride home. He reneged on this promise, as he did on his promise to approach a stranger walking into the video store and recite the scene from Titanic in which Leo insists, while removing his boots and jacket, that if Kate "goes in" (referring to jumping off the back of the boat), he'll have to go in after her. YOU ARE ALL TALK IAN SHIVER!

Real talk: jklolz I love u bro!

-Going to Sassy's, which is a strip club, and the first one I've ever been to. One of my friends with whom I'm staying here works there, so Ian and I went to meet her after work last Wednesday and popped in for 15 minutes before she got off; I've been back to meet her after work a couple more times since. This has sparked a series of discussions concerning the patriarchal implications of strip clubs, none of which have been particularly conclusive. As far as I understand, feminist responses to strip clubs range from vehement condemnation to enthusiastic support, and even among the feminist women whom I know personally and whose opinions I generally respect there seems to be no agreement. I tend to think that if I were to reach a conclusion it would be fairly neutral if not slightly positive, but the bottom line is that I don't feel uncomfortable being there, so though I have no intention of becoming a regular, going by myself, spending lots of money, or EVER getting lap dance from anyone (because the very idea of it makes me feel awkward), I have no problem with going with a couple of friends 30 minutes before my friend gets off work, shooting a couple of games of pool, drinking a Shirley Temple, and watching girls dance naked to Dashboard Confessional, Pat Benetar, and Journey. If you have any thoughts on this matter, please feel free to make them known.

-Picking raspberries, losing the initial volley of a raspberry war, and then taking the fight to the ground, which resulted in a successful rear naked choke/raspberry smash on the bare stomach.

-Learning how to make Jam.

-Playing pool on a free table at a bar called The Mash Tun for almost 4 hours and ending up dead even. Phil, who insisted that he has only played pool a handful of times in his life, convinced me to give him 4:1 odds on $5 games, but the odds evolved as we played, ending up at 1:1 on $10 with me spotting him 2 balls (odds which I think he gave me because he knew it had started off in his favor and he wanted to give me a chance to win back my money). The final score was 11 games to 7, and we may have agreed on 2:3 with me spotting him 1 ball for any future games. I'm NOT a gambling addict, shut up.

-Discussing, at length, a reconciliation of a radical interpretation of the Christian faith, held by my friend Benny, with anarcho-primitivism, a political conviction which he holds and defends more admirably than most. He contends that a lot of the writings in the New Testaments are attempts to repair the patriarchal and homophobic tendencies in the Old Testament and the seemingly inconsistent ones which appear to support and uphold patriarchy and hetero-normativity are in place simply to pay lip service to the laws of the Roman Empire in an attempt to avoid religious persecution. He had a lot of other very interesting points in defense of his personal faith, which is Christian only in the loosest sense.

7 comments:

Tamara Waite-Santibanez said...

Dang. The strip clubs/pornography debate is one can of worms I sure like to open, but have never really decided-even for myself-what the answer is. When you get back we can talk about it for hours while we gyrate to NIN.

d.l. lobos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
d.l. lobos said...

without coming off confrontational or in general like an asshole, i do have to say i find it mildly absurd that someone who says that they identify with the struggle against civilization and domestication would also identify with the greatest civilizing and domesticating force to ever exist. i'd love to be able to talk to this person about his views on the new testament, as i can see the point he is trying to make there, but i have to say that the basis of all western faiths has never been one of liberation, and i find a lot of contradiction in identifying with such a legacy...

Jack said...

d.l. lobos - I specifically suggested to him that you two would have a lot to talk about, but he's unlikely to see your comment since I don't think he reads this. I could ask him if he's interested in your email address or something along those lines. Also, did you get my message about visiting?

d.l. lobos said...

jack,

i'd love to exchange emails, the one is use for this (deloslobos@wildmail.com) is fine.

i did not get your message, although i heard you were in cleveland. from march - late june i was in santa cruz and berkeley, then i went to portland for a week, then around the 4th of july until yesterday i was in ohio, and am now in buffalo. sorry if your time in cleveland was unfruitful! hopefully i'll run into you out east sometime in the next couple months...

Jack said...

now that i think about it i ended up not sending it because i heard you were traveling. at first i thought we might be in some of the same places at the same times, but then i realized we wouldn't. anyway, i'll pass the email address along.

jen said...

re: strip clubs, as i believe you said, i don't know that there is one particular right answer or that it'll ever be settled/solved as one monolithic topic since the people who participate in/interact with [even peripherally] that culture are such a diverse group. i think too often in this discussion, people demarcate the group 'strippers' and speak of them in one of a few stereotypical ways and it really just does not do anything to further critical thought about it. etc etc, these are all things you probably know already, but yeah. i'd like to hear more about the discussions you had if you ever feel like writing a more detailed entry on the subject or something.