Manhandling Panhandlers

I am unsure of a world where if we extend compassion toward another who needs it we are reprimanded by a section in the corporate code of conduct.

I am completely untrusting of a society that discards it’s elderly, favoring a collected isolation where all our grandpas and grandmas can die around the television  playing canasta.

I am obviously not of this earth if when we see people who are unwell, vulnerable or in need we approach with severe apprehension if we even acknowledge them at all.

I am weary of seeing so much neglect for people who are just like us, with eyes, hearts, histories and ambitions. Just like us except that we have jobs, families, educations and the wherewithal to not allow poor decisions or questionable people dictate pivotal moments that affect our futures.

“Just like us“.

Just like “them“.

Those who have nowhere to go are more like us than we’ll ever know. Those who suffer beneath the discarded ends of our luxuries know this world in ways we petulant, privileged and mercenary swarms will rarely understand.


The Taste of Music

My dad used to sing me Neil Young and Uncle Remus.

Then he showed me David Bromberg, The Rolling Stones and Tchaikovsky.

I was at my neighbor’s house when Black Dog gave my little boy body wide-eyed convulsions.

There was a Tuesday afternoon elective at my school called “Beatles and Drawing.” It was a half hour of listening to the Beatles and drawing whatever you wanted. I was 9 years old. MLC…sigh.

I was a 10 year old when my friend mentioned that his big brother bought Kill ‘Em All and it took me 2 more years of Madonna and New Wave until I finally understood what he said that day.

My first concert was George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers at Portland’s Civic Auditorium in 1986. The following year my dad took me to my first indie show, Screaming Trees with The Dwarves at Pine Street Theater. That’s how cool my dad was.

When my family broke up I moved schools and went from being raised among the culture of the city to now having to explore adolescence deep in the Eastside suburbs, my life took a serious turn. My lifelines were License To Ill, Legacy of Brutality, N.W.A. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, It Takes A Nation and in the 8th grade my friend brought over G.B.H., Jimi Hendrix, L7 and Slayer records and we played them all until the needle broke and my brain melted like soft ice cream.

I was neck-deep in a suburban white neighborhood and it was then that I realized I could either be a product of my bland environment or make a conscious decision to live and think for myself.

Anything that flaunted the system and mocked the establishment, the music that protested corruption, oppression and used passion and adrenaline to express their discontent was music I subsisted on, endlessly blaring into my Walkman. I was an only child who just lost his mother and was now living an hour-long bus ride away from the comfort of downtown. Music was the only thing I listened to because I certainly wasn’t hearing any of my teachers or relatives.

On those bus rides I understood why some people listen to bubblegum pop and others just…don’t.

I found this and this at the record store while dropping out of college. Twice.

My friend at Tower Records told me to buy Pretty Hate Machine. I bought it on title alone.

I showed my best friend the Marshall Mathers LP when it first came out and we played it continuously in his 88 Mustang GT.

A friend came to my house and she showed me Glass Animals.

I went to my friend’s house and she showed me 21 Pilots.

Though words and pictures are like my harem, it is music that leads my beautiful life from darkness into today.

West Side Story

The sub rural streets deep in the west side of Portland are so incredible I have decided to never trade them for anything else. For now.

Woodsy, early and midcentury architecture lie hidden and overrun by old growth evergreens, asphalt veins and forested hills.

These outlying grocery stores, quaint little shops and bland mini malls are filled with faces and families I’m happily unfamiliar with. My weird need for anonymity outweighs any desire for banal friendliness towards anyone whom I randomly know.

Learning new winding routes and each important thoroughfare through these narrow, pine tree streets has been both thrilling and exasperating. They’re all so unknown so they’re unpredictable and convoluted.

Deep west side now shows my best side.

I really do kinda love it all.

The Cruel Side Of Yuletide

nearly a fortnight later:

the madness! the relentless attention i must distribute to the inane masses just to get through the day! the endless repetition of conversation that i endure to remain on the safe side of sane.

the holidays bring an armada of random insanity exhibited by otherwise normal people going about their day. instead of allowing generosity and the ideal of peace and goodwill to determine their character, a gross, misplaced sense of entitlement burns swaths across the streets, cities and hemisphere. laying selfish waste towards those who must tolerate them, from civil services to dinner servers, to retail clerks to clergymen, the innocent unfortunately must feel the subtle (and sometimes not so) brunt of ill behavior brought about by the holidays. whether trying to escape from family tension or struggling on an economical tightrope, the reasons don’t justify this malfeasance. it may merely be overindulgence or the overwhelming pressure of absurd societal demands, these causes drive some people to act unbearably unbecoming while supposedly enjoying the season.

these misgivings defy the very nature of the holidays and as long as there is unwarranted stress that becomes unwelcome abuse, these particular winter days oughta be tossed into the wilderness, forever to be lost in the bottom of the coal pile. long fuel for the frigid winter instead of tons of gasoline for the silly christmas consumer machine.

Kidneys and Sex

Kidneys and sex.

Things that are perfectly legal to give away but strictly illegal to sell for a thousand, Alex.

Americans are so backassward is certain ways yet quite progressive in others that it literally pains my body when I begin to think of how beautiful yet still primitive my beloved country is. Yay, USA. Bummer, America.

Those that say this is the greatest country in the world have rarely lived in other countries to have a proper frame of reference. This is a supreme country no doubt, but the greatest in the world? Only a nation that crowns its best  sports teams  “champions of the world” while solely competing within its own borders should be viewed as suspect at the very least.

Merry Christmas. The only holiday that transcends all others through media, commercialism and culture, 95% of the American population considers it to be a preeminent holiday despite that barely half of us consider it to be actually religious. Happy Winter Solstice, Scroogy McChristianson.

The Super Bowl. The Stock Market. Colonialism. My god.

Our god, bless America and all its voracious ambitions and love of self. Bless us all for merely being born here or have emigrated here, or being guests here, being fortunate enough to enjoy it’s marvels, spoils and quietly widening wage gap.

I got panhandled for a whole dollar yesterday.

If I had given the beggar a kidney or intercourse, I’d be within the bounds of the law. I proffered a cigarette instead.


We all got some serious delusions. And gumption.

Bless us all.


Peaceful Pistol

Let’s have a brief talk about Rage Against The Machine. My absolute adoration with this band goes beyond all things I consider important in terms of musical science or their talent for playing varied styles of rock, punk, funk, metal, soul and hip-hop.

I’ve little idea about how to explicate why this musical band is so fundamentally sound or how each of their songs tremendously evolve from the first intro and hook to the final pounding note. Like a thrown fist through a Molotov cocktail.

Rage rocks so much beautiful, angry violence that when their music plays, I swallow pride and relinquish all possession of physical restraint. Rage’s music makes us want to learn, enlighten and burn things down. We find brutal passion in Rage’s songs, we dig in our bowels and bring our frustration and fury to the surface like smashmouth weapons, seeking to slaughter those who turn blind…

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US 2, Canada 3

I don’t even know where to begin. A whirlwind trip to Vancouver for the Winter Games was one of the better weekends I’ve ever had. Sleeping in a rented Jeep Commadochero and bombing all over the city with a map in one hand and a camera in the other, was furious and intense, marvelous and stunning.

Red and white was the color to have, everywhere I looked I saw a maple leaf or someone singing “O Canada”, it was almost like a television advertisement on Canadian pride and patriotism. They were loving the Olympics and it was a great epidemic.

Sat through some horribly cold rain to watch the women’s snowboard parallel slalom, weathering my poor decision on wearing the wrong clothes to the mountain. Loved it all, nonetheless. We were lucky to have seats sitting right behind the athletes section so we got to watch teammates cheering their countrymen down the hill. Countrywomen, in this case. Austrians are no joke when it comes to snow sports. They brought flags and giant bells that clanged like Sunday morning, it was a raucous spectacle. Everyone was good natured but competition by country is something far deeper sense of intent, something my small-town arse has never seen.

Back through town and hitting bakeries and cafes, taverns and shops, zig zagged through downtown Vancouver and down to New Westminster and then around the water back up through the city, Hastings, Robson and Granville were pretty much the big streets I remember. BC has certain left turn lanes which threw me off and I don’t think I drove like anyone but the absolute tourist I was, not knowing which way was up. It was great fun.

Turned out that the Canadian men’s hockey team beat Slovakia to land a shot at a gold medal against the US team. We decided to stick around town one more day to watch the game in Canada, where it belonged. It was the away game of my lifetime, so far. Hockey and Crown Royal is all I know about Canada. I did see a lot of public art, great architecture and a wonderfully huge array of cultures all living in the same city, but all in all, hockey is what happens in Canada. The pinnacle of union and arguement, and the pinion that keeps it all together. Hockey rules in Canada.

There isn’t a watering hole within a gunshot that isn’t loaded with locals donning the leaf and seething for a gold medal. I’m wearing a red, white and blue Triumph motorcycle sweater and trying to keep my head down and just watch the game. The last thing I need is to let anyone know I’m pulling the US. I truly respect and admire the Canadian team and am super excited to be in BC for the games but I can’t not root for the Americans. The girl and I were the only Americans in the place and it felt secretive and exhilarating.

Our guys played well, underdogs and all, we handled our end and owned the boards for much of what I caught, (I had started drinking beer since the whiskey was doled out at 7/8 ounce per shot) but eventually the game was slipping away by the third period as they had 2 goals to the Americans’ one. And then the insanity happened: 24 seconds left in the final period, the US slaps in a goal to tie the game. I’m sitting in a Canadian bar during the gold medal hockey game with 24 seconds of me trying not to soil my pants, hiding my crazy joy from these packs of hockey fanatics thirsty for blood. But I think they knew. I was barely contained to my seat, the Sleemans was putting heat in my skin and I was fearlessly stoked. We just tied the game and it silenced the whole joint, all I could hear was the ringing in my ears because I knew across my country everyone just jumped out of their seats and screamed something though I didn’t dare do such a thing. There’s a difference between being courageous and being a boor.

Overtime proved gracious to the Canadians and they won in splendor, their star player delivering his legacy for generations, their victory was deserved and it really wrapped up the games nicely. Cheers to Brenden Morrow. The US team put up a fight that no one believed they could and that stands for something as well, and silver isn’t just the first loser. It’s also a heckuva conductor and makes smashing dinnerware. And it kills werewolves. Too bad I didn’t have any for the subsequent urinal conversation with the towering Canadian who muttered, “Good thing we won, right, buddy?”

Talk about a pee chill.