The Best of Laughter and the Girls of Marquette

There are 10 major bridges in Portland’s city center and my best friend of almost 20 years jumped from one of them and died. This was nearly a decade ago and he actually chose a bridge that isn’t one of the big 10, it was instead, the Vista Avenue Viaduct. A beautiful, narrow, Gothic arch bridge a hundred feet high and nearly a hundred years old. A bridge that crosses over nothing but pavement. Smart, I suppose, water isn’t nearly as fail-safe as a two lane street and some train tracks. Not so smart or charming was the fact that hundreds of people before him had chosen that very Vista Bridge to “catch the bus”. So many, in fact, that it’s been called Suicide Bridge ever since I can remember. He leapt from it in 2001 and since then, never has a day passed where I haven’t both cursed him and shared a laugh with him.

Recently, another good friend of mine and a man whom I shall always consider one of the funniest people I’ve every known hurled himself off the second tallest bridge in town and left behind 2 exceptional young children and scores of people who adored him though probably never saw it coming. The river below is fast and cold, not unlike how the world can be, and sometimes dying takes just as much determination as it does to continue getting out of bed each day.

Suicides are sometimes planned for years, always a quiet nagging, that little escape route waiting to be played like the perfect card you never want to mention, When every day grows unbearably heavier than the day before, when all the bottled pain and swallowed frustration finally becomes a fight that can’t be won, where no solution exists other than taking the path of god. I can only hope that every person who ever took their own life finally found some of the peace they were seeking. When someone says committing suicide is selfish I want to punch them in the neck. There are few things more selfish than denigrating someone who obviously had a hell of a lot more pain and darkness in their soul than someone blithely passing judgment would even begin to understand. Each spirit varies in thresholds; some of us just break at different points than others. Tragically unfortunate for those left behind, I resoundingly agree and the weeping and guilt comes in sudden and furious bursts to remind me of that. Stupid, yes, selfish, no.

Every time you make and break a date, a meeting, a drink, a dinner or any other occasion to meet with those you admire, enjoy and love, you’re risking never being able to share laughter with them again. Make the time to spend with these special people because those experiences may be all that we take with us when we die.

Go Golden Eagles. That will be explained later.

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100 Percent Chance of Me Hauling Donkey

48 Degrees, Steady Rain With Possible Torrential Downpours and a 90% Chance of a Fool On His Motorbike Passing You On The Highway

My fingers won’t listen, soaked and frozen, they’re ignoring everything I ask of them. October’s whim becomes a wet shot in the mouth during the afternoon and the highway fills with water like a shower in a tub with a slow drain.

A motorcycle is to steering like a fish as a car is to steering like a cow. Like holding onto a dorsal fin, I crouch with the throttle held open like the mouth of a waiting beartrap, reckoned only by the forces of wind, water, metal and asphalt. Explaining the logic behind the desire to ride motorcycles in the rain would be like formulating the chemical equation of a passionate kiss or using a geometric diagram to illustrate why humans like ice cream. It’s emotional, impossible, and often insane, to define it would be betraying the beauty of impulse.

My entire world at this moment hears only the scream of pistons, combustion, and the steady rhythm of my breathing. Hands gripping bars as if there was no other purpose on earth that merited fingers and palms. Flick my head to the side and the rain streaks off the visor giving up a few seconds of crystal clear vision, elbows on knees being warmed with the heat of the engine, it’s like huddling around a campfire, squinting to watch the stars in darkness.

Shooting down the road in a downpour while sitting calm and serene in leather, passing and waiting then waiting and passing, adrenaline of this sort flows quietly like a distant storm but will eventually hammer out blood and butterflies up from the guts. It’s never really felt until everything comes to a rest. I imagine the people in their cars, warm and dry, changing their music between pop and talk radio. I imagine them not seeing a motorcycle through fogged up blind spots and rain-blanketed windshields. By no fault of their own they are perpetually on the verge of murdering me and by pure personal choice I dodge bullets everyday I raise that kickstand. Thank you cosmos for allowing me to streak through the sky without dire collisions. Also thanks for those little toothpicks in restaurants that are minty and a well-timed smile from a complete stranger.

Note: 3 rainy nights later, a part of some old train tracks which were never removed from parts of NW 15th Avenue caught my front tire in its rut and as I attempted to scoot out of it, wet metal and rubber met and swiftly put me on my back along with a bunch of busted bike parts. Then 5 days later I was backing up a moving van into a driveway and accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and ran over my bike that sat parked in the street.

Mortality has never been as focal and tangible as it feels right now.

463 Words About Drinkin’

That ain’t no 25 year old liver tucked in them particular guts, and though a slight baby face might survive in some circles, the spine and stamina of this man’s mellowing age have been severely tested by those fresher and more vital than him.

My god, the sheer velocity of how a youth can drink and continue to forge into the wee morning is a staggering display of blind power. It’s the identical arsenal of alcoholic ambition that once led me and my friends into asphalt astral travels and slight brushes with the law. By age 16 and most likely around 8 pm, the front of my clothes would be definitely moist with beer and bourbon. My rear jeans pocket kept a gnarled, half crushed box of red Marlboros or a small apparatus of lamp parts and receipts for record albums bought at Django or 2nd Ave. Records the day before. We had great fun, unstoppable forces of rebellion thinking we’re too cool for anything because we knew it all. (We knew less than jack.) But we still caroused and aroused the neighborhood and I even had an ignorant little chip on my shoulder that was kept in place by the foot of my conscience. I always imagined it to be a tiny Mrs. Barham, our school office lady, in a little angel outfit.

The wild experiments of chemical-testing young, pink livers and burgeoning adolescent brains with voluminous tipping of sour mash whiskey seems like one of the dumbest things one can do to their bodies.

Nowadays, when a hangover strikes, it drops like a heavy storm with a head-stomping of solid lead from The Monster of Mixing Booze and Beer and/or The Beast of Drinking Past Dawn. These nefarious creatures are most certainly conjured up from the reckless debauchery that seemed like such good ideas but just turned the previous evening into a slapstick blur. No other chemical can begin as an alcohol-driven, jet propulsion melee of dancing, laughing and wonderful foolishness and then inevitably, like a Swiss watch, ends like bombs from an airplane, the sodden bodies drop after hours of saturation, crashing to the carpet or linoleuem or onto any random piece of furninture. I don’t recall ever having a hangover until after I turned 30 and then I had them every day. Just kidding. But seriously. It was every other.

I’ve no business in attempting to drink up and keep up with someone 15 years my junior, it just ain’t worth the pain and dry-heaving humiliation. People say age doesn’t matter, “it’s how old you feel,” and I say that I feel as old as Stonehenge when I go out and play with twenty-somethings. They all suck, their stupid metabolism and fresh kidneys make them energetic booze repositories. Or is it “depositories”? Regardless, they all suck.

Sold!

Been a month in the making. Been nearly a year of staging and waiting and biting nails till selling and watching TV telling me the economy is waning and listening to realtors say the market is abating and I’m now quietly laying, leasing in the city in the jewel in the cradle, smiling and loving instead of frustrating and hating. Ah, life is always destroying and creating and I’m elated to be staying in a town so alive and anticipating the next great passion I’ll find while living in a building instead of homeowning this time.

Ready For Change

I love people who were born before 1935 because they can talk about the weather until the seasons change and it’s okay because they’re OLD. That’s what older folks do. Talk about weather and how things used to be. It’s awesome.

Why does an Obama sticker on a bumper automatically make the driver of that car slow and indecisive? Get outta my way! I’m ready for Change. Ready for you to change lanes, slowpoke.

I love the hippies in my town. They have questionable hygeine and certainly don’t spend excessive amounts of money and time on apparel or grooming but they sure dole out cabbage for designer bicycle bags and namebrand, gourmet gluten-free-trade groceries. One wonders why soap is the reviled symbol of consumer America. Peace.

My Bikey Is Broken

Crashed my motorcycle in the rain tonight. While riding to work, managed to get the front tire caught in a rut of an old train track that protruded from the pavement and as I goosed it to pull out of it, the metal rail proved too slick and it threw my bike down like a silly little toy. I’m fine aside from a sore shoulder but the bike was a casualty and now I’m bummed because I had planned on a road trip to visit an old friend that now may have to be rescheduled.

The charm of a 19th century trolley track that the city figured would be quaint and charming to have remain a part of the modern road became something hidden and dangerous. And now my stuff is broken. Wah.