Settling in and other things

Maine mornings on our new street

After a couple of months of decompressing (sort of), and processing, I’m starting to settle in to the magic of life in Maine. It’s an interesting adjustment, but Portland has a lot of great cultural events happening constantly, so between work and getting our new place in order, we have been keeping ourselves busy checking out what this city has to offer. Everybody knows that Portland is a “Foodie” city, and it is indeed, but I’m most interested in the art and music events that happen here. Last week we went to two shows at Space Gallery, which is a few doors down from MECA, and both were just what I was hoping for from this new (to me) music scene. First we saw Jonathan Richman, of both Modern Lovers and solo fame, and he was expectedly unusual. His stage show consists of just him on a nylon string guitar and his long-time drummer, Tommy Larkins, in a sort of concert/bizarre performance of songs, banter, dancing and philosophizing. As anyone who knows his music knows, there is a child-like bent in everything he sings. He blends a heart-on-the-sleave directness with this refreshing naivete, usually to great effect. At the start of the show, I honestly couldn’t tell if he would get it together to actually perform songs, or if he was going to just be weird all night. Fortunately, he found his stride pretty early on and rode that line for the rest of the show. At the end, he finished his final song, which ends by saying something like “and that’s it”, and left the stage. In a ritual that has always confused me, the small audience clapped and clapped and clapped, staring at the now empty stage. Finally, the fantastically weird Richman walked back out and the crowd cheered. He walked up to the microphone, and with absolutely no sarcasm, bitterness, or ill intention said something along the lines of “Folks, I know the lights stayed out when we walked off the stage, and I apologize, I should have clarified that to the light guy, but when we say ‘and that’s it’, well that’s it. When we leave we are done. thanks for coming. goodnight.” That was one of the oddest and most sincere moments I have ever witnessed at a concert. This strange man walked back out to let us know that he doesn’t do encores. thank you, but we just don’t. goodnight.

Anyway, when we were at the Jonathan Richman show, we saw a sign for an upcoming White Fence show, and having developed a pretty serious love for them in San Diego, we got tickets and went to that the next weekend. The opening band was called Mmoss. I have no idea how that is pronounced, honestly, I was a little skeptical based on the name but they pretty seriously rocked us with some old school heavy psychedelic rock and roll.

Mmoss, smash our faces off with heavy psychedelia

White fence was even more awesomerish though and the tiny crowd made me not have to touch or stand next to anyone, which I always like. White fence played concise, tight rock and roll music, with occasional psychedelic meltdowns. I’m not sure if this is intentional (they have a decidedly “lo-fi” sound on recordings), but they were much much cleaner live. They came dangerously close to being poppy at certain points and their bassist was positively bouncy, which came as a surprise from such a hip act. They were supremely good, and we left with that happy ear ringing feeling of having just watched a couple of hours of loud music in a tiny room with several equally happy patrons.

White Fence Making funnoise

Ok, with the decent music scene thing established and much more on art events to come, I think it’s time we had a little talk about Portland the city…

This place is full, no, Writhing, with completely insane people. I don’t mean that in a prudish “people here are weeeeiiiiirrrrrd” kind of way. I mean to tell all of you (all three) that this city is teeming with screaming, ranting, fighting, drunken, crawling on the ground, mumbling, drug addled, trash hording, out of control lunatics. This is not including the standard aggressive drunken Maine Rednecks. I have never been in a place like this. As a percentage of population, I would say that it appears that Portland is about 45 percent raving lunatics. Will this eventually happen to all Portlanders? I have yet to walk down the street without seeing at least one screaming match over some make-believe item, or a woman on a rascal covered in offensive bumper stickers carrying a bottle of vodka and riding down the middle of the street talking to herself. It’s not just the mental state of our street people. They are also a visually haggard bunch. This may be the biggest change in coming from San Diego, where everyone is too perfect, to Portland. The first few times I walked around downtown, I found myself thinking, “is this an entire city of ranting drifters?” This may seem like a harsh judgement of this city, and well, it is. I am in fact growing quite fond of it. It is such a beautiful, old, working, coastal town, with fantastic architecture and great narrow streets. It is everything San Diego is not: grimy, rainy, bumpy, sarcastic…. but I have to say, I have never felt so hesitant to have Amertah walking alone at night. One of the first events we went to was a block party on Congress street (the main drag in town) where she saw a drunk woman who had just been in a fight, stumble down the street and slam a little girl walking by into a store window and stumble on down the street screaming about some incoherent nonsense. Part of me likes this unpredictable raw nature of the city. Another part of me wants that little girl to surprise that drunken slob with a rusty shiv to the side. Not really, but you get the idea.

In case any of you were wondering, this is what my new job looks like. here is my office and the fabulous new studio Matt Hutton and the crew built over the summer…

Ive since spruced it up a bit, but Matt Hutton and I share this nice little office with views of the studio and elective rooms

Fabulous new shop space

So this is where I work. I also have set up a little corner of the Major’s studio to hopefully soon start working again. I have recently cleaned and organized it, but this is what it looked like until a couple of days ago…

a mess

I finally broke down and bought a used snap-on rolling tool chest and got this all straightened out the other day. totally satisfying. Now all I need to do is get myself comfortable enough in my new gig that I feel like I can make work as well. one step at a time.

Finally, I would be remiss to leave out the fact that one of the best parts of living here, aside from the crazed filthy street people, is that my parents are about an hour and a half away. We have gotten to go up a couple of times already (the drive is beautiful on a fall day), and they have been down for a little visit and tour as well. The first time we went up, we got to see some old family friends as well and we did this…

hiking Bald Mountain near Camden

and this

Which was pretty great. Unfortunately, we came home to this…

That’s right, we were greeted at our own front door by a clan, or posse, or gaggle of cops and they brought the paddy wagon. There had been some kind of domestic dispute upstairs involving the two brothers who live their with the actual tenant. The one brother is quite nice and he is still here, but his younger sibling, who apparently he is always taking in when he fucks up, is a hot mess. Needless to say, we were a little worried when we had to ask the police if it was safe to go into our apartment. Especially since he hesitated before saying yes. The kid had locked himself in and they were banging on his door and screaming. we had no idea what the situation was but it ended relatively quickly with him finally coming out and being escorted down the stairs by the friendly officers.

Anyway, Aside from that, and the occasional shady shady drug deal on our street, The new digs are growing on me. Its a three story, three apartment building and what we lost in luxuries, we gained in size. Here is a panorama of the living and dining rooms.

this is confusing...

we got some nice bookshelves and a sweet little love seat and it’s just about there. the best part though is that we have plenty of extra rooms and spaces for our obscene amount of shit. The glowing room at the end that you see is a small office space where I sit right now, Amertah has her own small bedroom studio with a wall of windows and plenty of closet space, we have a huge walk in closet off of the bedroom, and a special room that we call the garage, that is an unheated but attached storage space for our bikes, my tools, and the rest of our junk. It’s a pretty good deal really. Lets see how the heating bill is.

now, I leave you with this…

That looks like a load bearing baseball

and this

sorry, I had to... why would someone do this?

1 Comment

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One response to “Settling in and other things

  1. I wanna come visit and ride a rascal through the streets with a jar of bone suckin’ sauce with sauce all over my face talking to myself!

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