19 January 2009

Vol. 2, Issue 2 | I'm (Still) With Sam.

Had a completely different rant lined up for today. Then I read the headlines. Wanted to put into words how I feel today, of all days. Realized words wouldn't do.

But a picture would.

Portlandia Prevails. As will we all.

13 January 2009

Vol 2, Issue 1 | Mehwhidge

Been receiving a slew of invitations and announcements for weddings in the past few weeks. One of them from an ex-lover, which, though everything is water under the bridge now, still hit me harder than expected. Not in any "It could've been me" kind of way, but in the way that... regardless of how any relationship ends for me, I still carry love in my heart for the other person. Sometimes it changes, and sometimes remains an untouched memento of how things began, but it's always there.

In other words, I'm not reacting to regrets. I am, at some level, envious.

I've been mulling over this topic for a couple weeks now, specifically why marriage (regardless of who's) is suddenly evoking such an emotional response in me. And I've discovered that I've still not resolved how I feel about all of this. (Case in point, this is the third or fifth draft of this entry.) Instead, I've decided to state what I do know/feel:
  • I am dating, in a very non-traditional sense, a woman whom I love, unequivocally.
  • I am happy with, excited by, and anxious about all this relationship will bring about.
  • I am, in my moments of uncertainty, distracted by traditional relationships, and the comfort of their familiarity.
And that's really it. Granted, it's not simple or easy (except when it is), but what we're doing isn't any more or less valid than anyone else's relationship. I know that my wanting to retreat into something familiar, especially when the Universe repeatedly throws it in my face, is part of adjusting to something so new, so different from where I've been. But the reward to facing my own insecurities is evolving into someone that I want to be. And I get to have someone amazing to share that with. Slowly, but surely, I am understanding this, both emotionally and logically. It is exactly what I want.

It just doesn't fit neatly into the Facebook "relationship status" drop-down menu.
Portlandia Prevails... and Evolves.

12 January 2009

Vol. 2, Issue 0 | Back to the Blogosphere

I had planned on writing a whole intro to this blog, including a history of my writing, explanations as to why, and explaining why I was even migrating my original posts from their home at LiveJournal.

And then, I realized: Fuck it.

I knew if I did that, then I'd never, ever get any of this started. And I'm tired of not getting started on projects, let alone being continually frustrated w/ my inability to complete anything I've started. But that's a rant for another day.

Anyway... the thirty-some-odd posts that have gone up in the past few days are those that exemplify my particular writing style (or lack thereof), and the content I intend to cover as I move forward.

And moving forward is the whole reason that I've bothered to do this. I've recently realized that I want... need... to chronicle my thoughts & actions in this fashion, so that I stop living in my head so damned much, and actually interact with the world around me.

And there it is. An introduction, of sorts. Which, if you've read my work already, you should be accustomed to by now.

Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 17 | I Am Jack's Acute Memory Loss

[originally written 24 January 2008, 10:10am]


A few weeks ago, I mentioned in one of my twitter posts that I had what I considered to be a walking blackout -- I lost three blocks while walking home from the grocery store. Completely gone. I've never had a blackout before, nor anything remotely similar to this. Naturally, I was freaked.

Fast forward to yesterday -- I see my doctor, describe the events leading up to the event, talk about the headaches I was having before & after the blackout, etc, etc. I'm given the diagnosis of "cluster headaches." Reading up on cluster headaches, it would appear that I'm a textbook case. Yip. Pee. And the extra fun part of this? As explanation of the blackout, I'm told that cluster headaches can cause amnesia.


Brilliant. I can't wait to see if my bloodwork holds any other surprises for me.


I'm fine. Or will be. I'm just going to be weird for a while. Well, weirder than usual.

Vol. 1, Issue 16 | A Seasonal Greeting, of Sorts...

[originally written 24 December 2007, 12:18pm]

I don't normally do this.

Christmas, I mean.

Granted, I attend a few gatherings & get-togethers during this season. But in a quick survey of my home, you won't find a tree, stocking, gift-wrapped packages or any such indication that it's even the holidays.

It's not that I dislike Christmas. It's not. I mean, I can't recount a single ruined holiday from my childhood, nor have I ever had a disastrous homecoming in my adult life. I'd describe my feelings towards Christmas as "benign apathy."

And I think I know why.

I don't use the season as rationale for getting together with friends & family.

But I think there are a lot of people in our society who do. Who need to. Because, for whatever reason, they can't seem to bridge that gap that sometimes separates us from the ones we love unless we have some external excuse to do so.

Like a holiday.

And then we add in our own neuroses, expectations, obligations, and guilt.

Yeesh... Talk about holiday cheer.

Anyway, my point... and I do have one... is this:

I've one wish – for everyone to get together with your family (however that's defined), and your friends, year-round, and do so just because. We don't need reasons. We don't need holidays. We have enough of a reason just because we love and care for one another.

That's my wish. Not just for Christmas, but for the upcoming year, and many years to come.

Yes, I know it's rather naïve in principle. I mean, it's never that simple, right?

Unless we make it that simple.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may all your years, new and old, be filled with happiness.
Portlandia wishes you a merry little Christmas.

Vol. 1, Issue 15 | Rules

[originally written 04 December 2007, 12:22pm]

My last twitterfeed (twitter.com/arashikami, if you'd like to follow) includes a comment on crushes & why I don't act on the majority of them.

I mean... Aside from being a complete chicken-shit, that is. Because I am.

However, there's been a growing list of rules in my head, as a way to rationalize being a chicken-shit. Anytime I've needed a reason to avoid acting on my impulses, presto! There's another rule.
  1. No Bond Girls. (i.e. also known as: 'no fishing off the company pier.') Granted, the majority of the Bond Girls all have significant others, so this isn't too much of an issue. And this is also supposing that any of them would even fancy me. Also? If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't fret. It's a gallery inside joke.
  2. No Neighbors. I've almost fucked up friendships I've had w/ people because of this. Good friendships. Since the building I live in is such a small community, dating w/in it seems fraught w/ problems. I love my neighbors. I'd really rather not lose that over an impulse decision.
  3. No Curators. This just seems like a bad idea.
  4. No Long-Term Relationships / Marriage. Getting involved w/ anyone looking for either of these would be wrong for me to do, since that's not what I'm looking for. I'd feel like I was leading someone on. I already feel as though I do that inadvertently now...
  5. No Ex-S.O.'s of Friends. Like w/ neighbors, dating w/in seemingly small social groups (esp. the comic book scene in this town) also seems fraught w/ problems.
  6. No Current S.O.'s of Friends. You'd think this one was a no-brainer. You'd be wrong. No, I'm not explaining further.
  7. No Artists. I've broken this one a time or two & regretted it later. I think other artists can date artists, and that's great. But I can't.
So, essentially, I can't ever act upon any crush and/or date anyone I know. Anyone I ever meet through my extensive social & professional circle? Completely out of bounds.

Hell... I feel like I'm *this* far away from being the adult equivalent of that nerdy kid in school that has a girlfriend. In Canada.

So yes, I'm acutely aware of how absolutely stupid every single one of those rules sound. Well, except the one involving other people's wives/girlfriends. That one is iron-clad. Lesson learned. (And I'm still sorry, in case you're reading.) But the rest?


Absolute bollocks.

Nothing but proof of me being a chicken-shit.

Which means...

...it's time to toss out the rules.
Portlandia is no chicken-shit.

Vol. 1, Issue 14 | Definitions, Part 4

[originally written 28 November 2007, 11:25am]

  1. a seaport in NW Oregon, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. 366,383.
  2. a seaport in SW Maine, on Casco Bay. 61,572.
  3. a town in S Texas. 12,023.

  1. wealthy or famous people who conspicuously or ostentatiously attend fashionable events.

    subculture of Portlanders distinguished by a ridiculous level of notoriety & seemingly ubiquitous attendance of oh-so-very-Portland events:
    • “Why does that guy look familiar?”
      “Him? Dunno, but I’ve seen him before too. Must be
    • [Origin: Mary-Suzanne Lamkins, 2007; portmanteau of Portland & glitterati]

Portlandia... the original Portlanderatti.

Vol. 1, Issue 13 | At the Risk of Sounding Terribly Melodramatic...

[originally written 06 August 2007, 10:52am]

i am utterly, completely, maddeningly devoid of all creative ideas. my imagination has taken an unscheduled, unapproved absence, spanning months now. i've committed to creating one painting for the upcoming rooftop show... ONE. PAINTING. JUST ONE! and i'm at a total loss. and i've been this way for what feels like forever now. FOR. EVER. granted, i've got a lengthy list to draw inspiration from... an idea here, an idea there... all jotted down, organized with notes and sketches, details concerning the origin of the inspiration, etcetera, etcetera... but it's all meaningless to me. not that they aren't brilliant ideas and concepts, because they are. i mean, i came up with them; how could they not be? but they need to be passed on to those who'll breathe life into them, and right now, that's not going to be me. i've nothing to provide in the way of infusing these ideas with any sort of anima. it's monumentally frustrating.

and yes, it's affected my demeanor towards others. for those who've asked 'what's wrong?', and i've answered 'nothing' or some other equally horseshit answer, it's because saying that it's everything invites an explanation that i'm neither capable nor inclined to provide. i don't bloody know what it is specifically, but i'm in such a state from all this unclassifiable anguish that i'm ready to crawl out of my increasingly uncomfortable skin, almost literally, even as i type this. and i'm not attempting to solicit sympathies or decry 'o poor me'. christ, you know perfectly well that i cannot abide that behaviour in myself. i'm just acknowledging my emotional state at present, as best i can, in hopes that i can somehow make sense of the whole bloody mess. i'm not really looking for advice either... i'm rarely one to take it, even when solicited, so save yourself the headache... like i said. i'm just emoting for the sake of emoting.
partially unrelated, but an epiphany i had yesterday... it's likely that my epitaph, should i be unfortunate to pass on prematurely, will read: "huh... i guess i should have said 'no'."
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 12 | re:Questions, Rhetorical

[originally written 18 April 2007, 10:28am]

Why is it that tragedy inevitably brings out the asshole in us all? Why are acts of compassion, empathy for those suffering, and real attempts to make things better always accompanied to the party by rabid, self-righteous prigs who spew forth a litany of "you brought this on yourself" admonishments? Will we ever learn?

Vol. 1, Issue 11 | Deciphering the Secret Language of Mix Tapes

[originally written 17 August 2006, 5:29pm]

...or rather, cee-dees. finding that theme, that lyric, that intended-yet-subconscious message from creator to receiver... the one that says everything that isn't being said...

because it is saccharine and cliché to say those three little words? is that it? to profess love. no, not profess. to name it. to call it by a name we've given it and use to cheapen it by exclaiming that we have it for inanimate objects and television programs and ultimately forget what it actually feels like. likened unto taoism... it is unnamable, unexplainable, unencumbered by all that is petty and small.

and yet...

i find that little smile, because
i've got you and you've got me.
i've got you... you've got me
everybody knows
i've got you... you've got me
i've got you... you've got me

prophet 6-zero-0-9-one... you can hurt me... proximity alarms?
s-h one-0-1-five-1... i can hurt you... hearts too close... collision imminent.
the serial numbers of affection... adoration... physicality... sure, intimacy creates opportunity for pain, but also pleasure, in all its forms.

you won't have to strain to look into my eyes.

i want to take you far
from the cynics in this town
and kiss you on the mouth

we'll give ourselves new names
identities erased

am i forgetting myself again? becoming a caricature of myself... i stumble across a private entry in my journal, talking about the biochemical reaction that i have in her presence. does it somehow negate my own identity? or push me to be the idealized version of myself, the one i keep in my head, to guide my thoughts and actions?

what does it mean? i'm left to ponder... my personal version of jack's lament...

i find no concrete answers in the tracks... but i do find solace.
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 10 | Evil

[originally written 06 June 2006, 3:56pm]

My day started with a text message from my sister, wishing me a Happy 6/6/6. Followed by a phone call from Isaias, wishing me a "Happy Birthday." (No. It's not my birthday. I call him 'Evil'; he calls me 'Satan.' It's a joke.) At work, people have wondered what I'm doing for my 'holiday.' Since I've been stewing on this most of the day, it seems appropriate to perhaps clear up a common misconception. Also, I wanted to get a couple things out into the aether.

First, regardless of my nickname, I'm not a subscriber to Satanism. The precepts of the Satanic Church espouse the merits of humanism and the belief in the Self, of which I do tend to agree with on points, it still co-opts the symbology of The Devil as its manifestation of Evil. And that particular symbol is linked to all forms of Christianity, in some shape or form. Herein lies my paradox: I don't believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of God; why would I believe in his opposite? Logically, I can't. Spiritually, I can't. If there's no God, then why would there be a Devil? (To be more precise, I don't believe in any one deity or doctrine. I believe in them all. But that's a different conversation.) And while I play and joke about those particular conceptions, I don't actually subscribe to them, so the God and the Devil to me are naught more than mythology. Like Thor and Loki, Zeus and Hades, etc. Making them subject to my mockery and irreverence, just like everyone and everything else.
Which brings me to today. Yes, 6/6/6 is amusing. Yes, many many people are excited about it, in the sense that they see this as yet another reason to party, drink, debauch, and otherwise act, y'know, evilly. And yes, if you're a Believer, then it's a significant date, and you're checking every suspicious-looking newborn you come across for that telltale birthmark. Hell, it's a huge "Let's Be EVIL!" extravaganza! An EVIL-Palooza! Why, there's even a "Horns Across the Hawthorne" event planned. (No. I'm not kidding.) Except...

That's not Evil, kids.

Evil does not need a reason, an excuse, or a set of guidelines set forth by various religious doctrines, to be Evil. Evil. Is. Evil. Evil will not pretend to be your friend, and then stab you in the back. No. What Evil will do is actually befriend you, learn all about you, lend you his car, bail you out of jail, etcetera, etc. And then, when it will hurt the most, when it will be the most damaging, Evil will stab you. In the gut. To your face, smiling all the while. And in front of everyone you know.

Evil is charming. Evil is sincere. Evil cares. Evil will offer hope, comfort, support... anything and everything you need in a weary, dreary world. Because it cuts deeper, into the bone, when you've everything to lose. And it isn't because Evil has anything to gain by it. Evil does this because he can. Win... Lose... neither matter.
"I'm evil." someone may say to me. I discount this prattle, yet they insist, describing fetishes, abberant thoughts, lack of compassion for faceless victims, lifestyle choices that clash with 'normal society', and so forth. I'm still not convinced.

I say, "Are you able to tell the person in your life who means the most to you, that you love more than life itself, that you suddenly feel nothing for them, and mean it? Can you use every intimate detail of their life to systematically render them asunder?" My audience giggles nervously, flashing back to a time when they wished they'd done that before someone did that to them. Their confidence waivers.

"Or perhaps spree killing. That seems popular with the kids these days. Could you kill?" My audience nods gleefully. "Indiscriminantly?" Nods. "Men..." Smiles. "Women..." Nods. "Children?" Hesitation. "Infants?" The audience pales. "Come now. They're so small. So easy to kill. It happens all the time; I've seen the statistics." The audience searches within... could they do it? "Of course the real trick is to do so with an absence of malice. Of malovelence." A quizzical look. "Not dispassionate, mind you. No. Just able to absorb the act of murder, making that a part of who you are. Relishing it." The audience is uncomfortable again.

"Even better. Making someone else Evil. Can you do that? No. Because you don't know what that entails, do you. You can't begin to grasp what it's like to use someone's own methods of rationalization to undermine their fundamental beliefs. You have never made your goal to take someone so low, make them choose to debase themselves in such a way that even if the human spirit was indominable, they'd have absolutely no tangible reason to ever rise up and come back from utter ruin. None. And it wouldn't be a stranger you'd have done it to. It'd have been someone you called friend. Because only those closest to you can cause that kind of loss. Evil isn't just atrocities. Evil is atrocities combined with hope. And Love."
One last bit: real Evil... you never see coming.
Portlandia Prevails. In spite of Evil.

Vol. 1, Issue 9 | Definitions, Part 3

[originally written 04 June 2006, 4:58pm]

an·he·do·ni·a (n.): The absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it; anhe·donic (adj.)
mas·och·ist (n.): One who derives of pleasure from subjecting themselves to unpleasant or trying experiences.
So... when you hear me refer to myself as an "anhedonic masochist", you'll have proper context. Or you could just read Valis by PK Dick. That's a masochistic act in-and-of itself.
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 8 | Cracked

[originally written 02 June 2006, 2:38pm]

It occurs to me that Life, in regards to Love, can be metaphorically represented as the World’s Longest Egg-in-Spoon Race:
"Hallo. Here's your spoon."
"Thank you."
"And here's your Heart. Careful now... it's fragile and it breaks easily and you only get the one."
"Right then. Umm... where's the racecourse then?"
"Over there, to the left."
"What, the winding and narrow road that heads off into the horizon, seemingly into infinity?"
"But it's pockmarked with holes, cracks, and various pitfalls..."
"And it's teeming with people. All of whom are too absorbed with their own Hearts to notice that there's anyone else around them."
"Quite right you are. Oh, and I should mention, there are a few folks who will intentionally try to break your Heart. They're dash good at it too."
"But that's hardly fair!"
"Fair? Umm... lessee... nope, nothing against it in the rules. Unsportsmanly to be sure, but still fair."
"But how am I supposed to make it through all that with my Heart intact?"
"Well, there's the 'hard-boiled' method, where you boil it in a solution of cynicism, skepticism and apathy, seasoned with contempt, for thirty minutes. Damn thing won't so much as dent then. Of course, there's not much challenge then either."
"And that's fair to do?"
"Oh yes. And quite popular amongst the kids these days, though that seems to indicate a larger systemic problem, if you ask me."
"Sounds too extreme. What else can I do?"
"Well... you could pair up with someone."
"What does that entail?"
"About what you'd expect... you watch their back, they watch yours. Kind of pleasant at the beginning, what with the companionship and all. But it's slow going, and that seems to trip people up. They're all in such a hurry these days. Plus you're now paying attention to two Hearts, yours and theirs."
"Two Hearts? That seems awfully complex."
"It is. It has its benefits to be sure. However, you could end up breaking their Heart. Or vice versa. Happens all the time. Usually unintentional, but it seems more painful of an act than if a stranger does it."
"That sounds dreadful. People actually pair up like this?"
"Oldest trick in the book, really."
"I suppose it has merit... though that whole 'hard-boiled' thing doesn't sound so bad now either."
"Eh… to each their own. Now, you'd best get underway. You've got a long road ahead."
"Wait. One last question: What do I get when I reach the finish line? What do I win?"

"Win? ...I'm afraid it's not that kind of game, mate."

Vol. 1, Issue 7 | ...My Sentiments, Exactly.

[originally written 25 May 2006, 2:27pm]

The linked column, from Wired News columnist Tom Long, sums up, almost verbatim, what I've been saying (off and on) since 2001.

"What If They Gave a War...?"

And I'll bet dollars to donuts that you'll forget the content of said column within a day, thus proving the point being made. Not that I think you're all dullards or incapable of caring about such things. Quite the opposite. What I think is that you and I are no more or less succeptible to the "Situation: Hopeless"-apathy that those capable of making necessary changes appear to be afflicted with. We create microenvironments, where we're making the best of a bad situation and letting the rest of the world fend for itself. We're not uncaring, uncompassionate people, but we really don't believe that we can effect lasting change, and so we sit in our bunkers, riding out the storm till it's our turn for the Big Sleep.

I'm afraid, for all my sound & fury, that I've no assignment for you. I'm as guilty of said behavior as the rest of society, and my hypocrasy does have it's boundries. Instead I leave you to your own rebellious, revolutionary and anarchistic devices. Be creative. Answer the question posed in the article, and show everyone exactly where the Hell you are.

(Thanks to Melissa A. AKA the Idea Maven for directing me to the article in the first place. She rocks the Casbah.)
One last thing: When I first read the title of the article, I immediately heard the full quote in my head. I'm sure you're familiar with it. If not...

"What if they gave a war, and no one came?

It's a lovely thought, often used as an anti-war sentiment. Carl Sandburg's direct quote was "Sometime they'll give a war, and no one will come." Recently, I came across the "What if..." version in its entirety, attributed to Bertolt Brecht, a German dramatist. It read:

"What if they gave a war, and no one came?
Why then, the war would come to them."

Food for thought.
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 6 | Definitions, Part 2

[originally written 22 March 2006, 12:42pm]

Been hearing the word ‘collaborate’ frequently this year, in the context of artists of all types working together on fascinating projects. While I understand the word as used contextually, I looked up the definition, as I’m wont to do...

1 • To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
2 • To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.

This is fucking brilliant.

I find a sweet synergy in juxtaposing the definitions. The phrase ‘Intellectual Treason’ ricochets inside my skull, causing new thoughts, ideas, plots and conspiracies...

Treason is defined as “A betrayal of trust or confidence.” When artists collaborate, whom are they betraying? Other artists? Or maybe their own comfortable artistic conventions? Possibly the artistic community at large? And how would one betray such a community that lives to defy convention? By collaborating to make non-art? Within the artistic zeitgeist, is non-art still art when committed by artists?

What of the rest of society? As the saying goes, Art imitates Life/Life imitates Art. When artists collaborate, are they betraying the society in which they are a part of? Is the art they create together revealing our society’s secrets to outsiders? To ourselves? If so, isn’t it the responsibility of those collaborating artist to do just that?

This isn’t a post full of rhetorical questions, nor do I intend to answer them myself. Instead I want your input, your thoughts, your questions. Talk to me. I want to know. I want to collaborate with you... with all of you, right here, right now. And I’ll even still respect you afterwards.

Talk. Now.

Vol. 1, Issue 5 | And Now, A Warning

[originally written 15 March 2006, 11:26am]

The days of Portland's passive-aggressive stance on passive-aggressiveness are done. I will, with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, aggressively confront your passive-aggressive ways, fellow citizens. No more mollycoddling.

Oh, and just so that we're clear: Being Aggressive does not necessarily equate itself with Being Violent. It does lend itself well to Being Direct.

And yes, I am acutely aware that posting about confronting passive-aggressive behaviour in a blog is a form of passive-aggressiveness. Now that's irony.
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 4 | Definitions, Part 1

[originally written 14 March 2006, 3:54pm]

The following definitions are from Dictionary.com:

sacred cow: A person or thing immune to criticism or questioning.

cow tipping: A somewhat mean-spirited activity whereby one knocks over a sleeping cow (which sleeps standing up) by pushing on its side.

For this year (and presumably the rest of my life), I have decided to combine the terms, thus creating a clear definition for a practice (that some people are already participating in) I highly recommend to everyone:
sacred cow tipping

The practice of criticizing or questioning (i.e. tipping over, figuratively) a person(s) or thing(s) widely believed to be immune to such criticism or questioning. This practice works best when 1) a level of respect for the ‘sacred cow’ in question is still exhibited, especially during the actual ‘tipping’; and 2) the tipper is prepared to also become the tippee, since that is inevitable. This can also be referred to as ‘Developing a Sense of Humor.’

Why the caveats? you may ask. Because I don’t believe that you must be mean-spirited or hateful in order to effectively question the unquestionable. Doesn’t mean you have to be nice either, but you must have an understanding of what it is that you wish to criticize, else you’re just all sound and fury signifying nothing. And we’ve plenty of that already. Earlier this year, I said I’m not interested in espousing hate anymore, hence the column title change, and I still mean it.

As for the other caveat... the one about the inevitability of having your own sacred cows tipped... that particular rhubarb has been an object lesson for me as of late. You’ve listened to me spout off about the V for Vendetta film adaptation, and how I intend to walk out during the viewing, regardless. It’s taken the juxtaposition of my active participation in sacred cow tipping and having one of my few sacred cow’s knocked on it’s side for me to realize how quickly & easily you will end up on the receiving end. I recognize that I can and should have a sense of humor about this, and I am allowing for the possibility that someone else can read the same story and get an entirely different meaning from it than I had, and that my way isn’t always the right way.

This is the lesson of sacred cow tipping, boys and girls. In the grand scheme of things, we take some things too seriously. Lighten up. Laugh at yourself. Help others learn to do the same. Remember, there is no Them. Just Us. So go tip them cows.

Oh, and mind the manure.
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 3 | Getting Emotional

[originally written 02 March 2006, 11:55am]

I am finding myself emotionally all over the place this morning.

”What is this I'm feeling? Is it pain? Panic? Hunger? Am I hungry? Who's hungry?”

This is, I’m afraid, not the most opportune time for any type of deconstruction of self. Not on a day/night where I devote all my energies to being The Curator. But to deny or suppress these emotions will leave me in a worse state than I’m in now. And, honestly? I know I’m just at the beginning stages, so I should be fine...
First off, I had a negative body image moment this morning, which is odd as I’ve not ventured there in quite a while. At some level, I’m know that we all go through this, and for a year or so now, it’s not really been an issue for me. Anything that I don’t like about my physical shape is within my power to change, ergo I exercise as I see fit or choose healthier food. What still sneaks up on me are things I can’t do anything about, like being taller or having an entirely different skeletal structure. Which is what hit me this morning. That first look in the mirror, wishing that I was perhaps a few inches taller, and built more like these gangly boymen that populate the city. Eventually I shrug it off, since it’s nothing more than idle fantasy, and I can do nothing to change my genetic heritage. But it’s still depressing.

”It is inevitable to be drawn back into human drama.”

Those of you who actually struggle with negative body image on a regular basis, I empathize with you. I find an instance of it mood altering… a lifetime of it would be paralyzing to me.
Now that I think about it, the body image moment was the second thing. I was already dealing with fluctuations in my self-confidence before that.

”Never trust my instincts.”

I don’t, for a variety of reasons. The main one being that I’m well practiced in the art of overthinking any given situation, especially ones that involve another person. I try to create every possible scenario which could occur as a response to one of my actions. I like being prepared. Problem is that when I’m in that state, I can appear more... aloof, stand-offish, because I’m not done analyzing the situation. Of course, when an opportunity presents itself, and I don’t act for said reasons, then I spend an unhealthy amount of time kicking myself for not giving into impulse once and a while. Fortunately, I do learn from these types of experiences, and I’m not a subscriber to the theory that opportunity only knocking once.

”Everybody's coming back to take stock of their lives.
You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.”

I have had some conversations with a couple different people as of late, of the ‘getting to know you’ variety. Good conversations, long conversations. The kind I like. Which have sparked parts of my intellect, my imagination, my creativity, etc. (This is my long-winded way of saying that my emotional upheaval today isn’t all negative; rather it’s swinging both directions, making it equally confounding.) But there is a curiosity. While I enjoy listening to where people have come from, relishing both the differences and parallels in experiences, I’ve discovered that I don’t really require knowing where someone has come from. It’s interesting for some context, to be sure. But as someone who frequently practices patterns of reinvention, it isn’t fundamental for me to know where someone is from in order for me to know who they are, and where they are going. Sometimes, we as humans, like to have a clean slate, surrounded by people who don’t have any predisposed notions or expectations of us. I get that. I moved to Portland from my hometown for that very reason. And that was near 15 years ago now. In many ways, I’ve become the person I’ve told people I am as I meet them since I’ve been here. Which is why, despite my curmudgeonly demeanor, I try to be accepting of not just who people are but who they really want to be.

Diane Court: Are you shaking?
Lloyd Dobler: No.
Diane Court: You're shaking.
Lloyd Dobler: I don't think so.
Diane Court: You're cold.
Lloyd Dobler: I don't think I am.
Diane Court: Then why are you shaking?
Lloyd Dobler: I don't know. I think I'm happy.

Sweet Fancy Moses. I was just using movie quotes that I find relevant to my current thoughts, but when I ran across this one, I remember having this type of physical reaction, and thinking to myself that I wasn’t cold, but couldn’t figure out why I was shaking. That’s just... well, it’s just. Huh.

I'm not married, I don't have any kids,
and I'd blow your head off if someone paid me enough.

It’s funny... the real reason I started this post was because I came into work, read my email, and was instantly pissed. I mean a good, nostril-flaring rage. It’s been rather tense around here for weeks, and some well-intentioned busybody attempted to undo a couple weeks of my work. But in the course of getting this all down on paper (so to speak), I seem to have mellowed back out considerably. On all emotional levels. Huh. I’ll be damned.
One last reminder to all you PDX folks: First Thursday’s tonight, so if you’re so inclined, come on down & hang out. I’ll be my usual charming self by then, I’m sure.
Portlandia Prevails.

Vol. 1, Issue 2 | Fetishes

[originally written 20 February 2006, 4:49pm]

Last night, I went to the Deacon X Fetish Night at Berbati’s, courtesy of MarySuzanne & David. MSL: Thankyouverymuch & I hope David’s feeling better.

There was a requisite gothic band, complete with mostly pre-recorded synth tracks accompanying the singer/guitarist and a drummer/keyboardist. Followed by rather ornately dressed fire dancers. Then there were the girls on hooks. You could see on their backs the scars from previous piercing, clearly marking them as, at least, seasoned amateurs. Two of them, attached at opposite ends of the support bar, dancing, jumping, bobbing, thrashing and essentially being held aloft by the skin of their backs.

A moment of honesty: While I’m familiar with this practice, have seen images on the ‘Net and in film, I’ve never seen it done live before. Rationally, logically, I was able to process what I was seeing. However, some part of my psyche wasn’t quite ready for this. Whether it was the blood, the stretched skin, or what, I don’t know. I do know that near the end of this particular performance, I did feel a bit light-headed. Meh... it could’ve also been that I’d not eaten since breakfast.

Anyway, the last act I stayed for (I left about 1am, as it was a ‘school night’) was a spanking. A young woman, dressed mostly in strategically-placed, black PVC wrap, was bound to a bench. Another woman, in a corset & skirt, spent the next fifteen minutes or so teasing and spanking her with a leather paddle. (An aside: Those of you who are fans of the O.C. -- if you’ve ever wondered what Marissa would look like in the aforementioned situation, boy howdy, do I have mental images for you.)

Overall, it was... more sedate than I expected, I think. I mean... I’m glad I went, I’m glad I had the opportunity to go, as this was my first... waitaminute... Nope. Nevermind. I can’t back that up. Instead, I’ll say that it’s been awhile since I’ve attended a fetish night, so any comparison to anything I’ve seen previously would be questionable. However, the subject of fetishes, particularly the BDSM variety, have been on my mind a lot lately... Case in point, I was asked what my curiosity about some BDSM practices is, and why.


The What is more nebulous a topic, to me, than the Why. I’m unfamiliar with most of the terminology or techniques, so the What is, at present, kind of an all-encompassing What. As I learn and experiment, I will be able to narrow down the What. The Why covers several different layers of my being.

Watching the spanking, I found myself envying both participants; the dom for her thorough enjoyment in teasing and controlling the sub, and the sub in what I can only imagine was the ecstasy that comes from being bound and unable to control what was happening. While both of these states excite me, I can easily identify with the position of the dom, as I enjoy the administration and control of someone else’s pleasure. The role of sub is much more foreign to me, as I’m something of a control freak. So I recognize the need to experience both sides... learning to become both dom and sub.

Then there’s the sexual aspect, of course. I’d be dishonest stating otherwise. In my limited observations, I’ve found that something about the act itself is arousing to me. (Which reminds me... I need to get a copy of The Secretary.) I have no clue as to why, but I’m intrigued. But combining this with sex isn’t my end-all, be-all reason. Not to say that I’m not interested in the combination. Far from it. But it’s not the primary focus.

Finally, there’s the pain/pleasure fascination. A sort of kinkier version of Fight Club for me, in that whole “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been paddled, caned or flogged?”, to paraphrase Tyler Durden. That’s what I want to know. I want to know what my thresholds of physical pain are, how far I can push them, and at what point do I simultaneously experience pleasure along with the pain. I want to find out whether or not I would benefit more by remaining focused on the pain, or by allowing my conscious self to disassociate from the experience & focusing more on the existential. That is, if I’d even be able to transcend. That particular question came up while rewatching I (Heart) Huckabees over the weekend, from the discussion about attaining a state of pure being... where one is just able to exist, free of the misery of human drama. (Yes, I’m paraphrasing again.)

Just to clarify, I am less interested in adopting a lifestyle than I am engaging in alternate ways to alter my perceptions about, well, everything really. I do accept that I will need to venture into areas I know little to nothing about, and require the assistance of those with the experience to guide me. The goal will be to adapt & adopt what I learn into the fabric of my identity.

Vol. 1, Issue 1 | A Public Service Announcement, for the Fuckheads

[originally written 10 February 2006, 4:09pm]

Just read a series of posts that made me simply cringe at the thought that I share an atmosphere with these people. While I am capable of recognizing, respecting & comprehending the valid arguments hidden within layer upon layer of rhetoric & propaganda, I'm still left with the question of WTF?

Intent means a lot to me. Causing me harm is substantially less hurtful/debilitating/offensive to me than knowing that you intended to cause me harm. I joke a lot about the phrase "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" and am often the first to lose my shit on people whose 'good' intentions encroach on my lifestyle (usually as it's interpreted as them telling me how I should/shouldn't live, etc). But when I see that someone's intent is to provide an opportunity where none or few existed, and said someone then becomes an object lesson in "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished," I simply want to throw my hands in the air, destroy the Universe & hit the 'Reset' button on the whole bloody mess. Yes, I've participated in the debate on how Opportunity can be another level Oppression, so I get it. I really do. Here's my counter argument to it. Ready? Cause if you blink, you'll miss it. Here it is:

Lighten. The Fuck. Up.

Why didn't I include links to the posts so you'd know what I was referring to? Prolly because as I write this, I'm discovering that my indignation has less to do with the actual subject and more to do with the prevailing Us vs. Them mentality that is getting, as near as I can tell, increasingly worse. As I've said in the past, this needs to stop. Completely. There is no effing 'Them'... there never was. I say this suffering from my own kinds of daily paranoia, but at the core I do realize this. There really is no Them. It's just Us. And we are 'doing it' to ourselves. As oversimplified as that may sound... no, fuck that. It IS that simple. You are doing the bad shit to Yourself. Your neighbor is doing it to himself or herself. Etcetera. And, to get all existential for a moment, you are your neighbor, your neighbor is you, thus the We're Doing It To Ourselves theory.

Fuck. Brain got ahead of my fingers... hang on... Ah. Lightening up. Got it.

Part of the solution is accepting this realization that no one is out to get you (except in the generalized way that the Universe is out to get all of us. Read that somewhere... but don't remember where...), and then having a sense of humor about everything. Especially about anything that you are taking very seriously. Because if you don't, then you'll find yourself setting building on fire in protest, because someone thought what you take ever so seriously was funny. Know why they thought that?

Because it is.

Vol. 0, Issue 20 | Swinging the Bat

[originally posted 06 February 2006, 2:41pm]

• originally written at Backspace, 5:55pm, Sunday, 2/5/06 •

On something of a caffeine buzz. Too much coffee, not enough food. And I’m about to have more. Which may reflect in my writing. Still... Need to clear my head of these thoughts nonetheless.

Bear in mind that I rarely do things without a certain amount of premeditation regardless of how spontaneous some of my actions may seem. And with that premeditation comes motive. I have no idea what I meant by this. It's true, but it doesn't have anything to do with anything.

...sorry. Moment of distraction. Some guy just walked in, acting rather odd. Bad mojo. Real bad. Fuck. This is what I hate about being in public. There is always the X-factor. The kinda trouble you can sense, but can’t outwardly see, usually because it isn’t triggered. Yet. And you sure as Hell don’t wanna be around when it does.

Meh... I’m stalling. Onward.

Monogamy. I’ve spent my adult life as a serial monogamist. Never really dated. Not in any way that didn’t result in a long-term relationship. Only a couple one night stands. Relatively tame overall with a few high points. This has been followed by a two-year stint of being utterly single. None of this a complaint or regret. Merely stating the facts. And from all of that, I’ve learned this: I’m not a monogamist.

More precisely, I’ve no interest in continuing monogamous relationships. Not that I’m saying that I’m a raging hedonist, interested in naught but bacchanal orgies. Factually, I’ve been predominately celibate, save one instance, for the two years I’ve been functionally single. Which has allowed time for much meditation on the subject. And I’ve concluded that I’m more of a polygamist. Of sorts. ...I have no real idea of how to articulate my point, especially since I have relational issues that require addressing in a different forum.

(A brief aside: The music has just switched to a techno cover of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Sung by a man with a deep guttural tone and German accent. Heh.)

Where was I? Oh, right.

This is where I get phenomenally tongue-tied. The rest of these thoughts are still so much flotsam in the sea of my mind... unformed... lacking definition. As such, I’m hesitant in relaying some of this as it sounds (to me, anyway) subtly misogynistic at best. But the point of this is to get these thoughts out of my system so that I can view them externally.

I am attracted to a fair amount of women. Many of them, I’ll be honest, based solely on physical appearance. I have a physical ‘type’ that will turn my head, every time, without fail. (Case in point, such an example is standing very close to my table at present, smiling coyly.) Fortunately, I’ve learned that looks without a personality I can connect with are meaningless. Which makes it difficult, if not damn near impossible, for me to engage in the meat-market bar scene one-nighter mentality. This is true, which doesn't match up with statements I make later. This is what I mean about unaddressed issues & failure to articulate. (More on that momentarily.) As such, there have been women I’m attracted to based more on personality than whether or not they match a particular type.

A brief observation: I don’t believe that anyone I’ve ever dated/been married to has ever matched either of these criteria. Hurm. I’ve a theory, but that’ll also need to wait a moment.

(Another aside: Music has switched to an electronic piece incorporating the Carmina Burana. Aces.)

Where was I going with this? Let’s see… I have been fostering new relationships with women whom I find attractive for diverse reasons. All of them platonic, also for diverse reasons. But the one that surfaces in each situation has more to do with my personal track record and what I’ve learned from it: sex complicates matters. Which is not a complication I particularly want in any of these relationships. In some cases, yes, it would be welcome. But not at the cost of whatever connection I happen to have with whomever.

See, that just doesn’t sound right, does it? Like I said: unformed and lacking definition. Let me try this. I’ll go back to the things I said I’d discuss later, like not really being able to be a one-night stand type of guy, or never dating anyone whom meets my aforementioned criteria. They’re interconnected, those two. The latter is much more obvious to me: I’ve never dated anyone I could be a friend of because I never wanted, at some subconscious level, the relationship to last. This isn't accurate. Not wholly. That’s a revelation I had a couple months back that hit hard. Sure, it’s been easy to place blame on the people I’ve been involved with, and I still recognize what behavior of theirs was reprehensible. But I took a clearer look and found that I created scenarios and situations causing the other to react negatively towards me. Because I didn’t really respect them, or maybe didn’t even like them as people. This isn't accurate either. Were it accurate, then the notion that I can't indulge in one night stands makes no sense. And I can't honestly say that I didn't befriend or respect any of my exes, otherwise, even with the subconscious attempts at sabotage, I'd have never found a reason to be with that person for any length of time. No... there's something else here. I just haven't put my finger on it yet. Judas Priest, that’s fucked up. I mean that’s really fucked up. I knew that when I thought it, but to see that written down... I mean, what the Hell was wrong with me? Oh right. I was stupid. And now? Now I don’t want to be stupid, nor can I afford to be stupid.

I know, I know. I’m rambling, and all over the map, and completely off my original focus. I’m getting there. Really, I am.

Women I like... women I’m attracted to... I’m uncomfortable even flirting with, which makes me come across a bit stiff. Which would explain why I've been using alcohol more often in social situations. That's a disturbing trend. Because I’m attracted, and I value whatever it is that we have to offer each other that I’d rather maintain a platonic-yet-emotional or intellectual bond instead of complicating matters by attempting to become physical.

Y’know what... A friend wrote a similar sentiment recently, in a much more succinct manner that I cannot for the life of me seem to mirror. How irritating. Wait. I know why.

I’m not keeping this simple. I’m talking around the subject out of concern of how it may sound yet I purportedly don’t really give a rat’s ass about how I appear to others. Apparently I do give a rat’s ass about how I appear to you people. Fair enough.

This is what it boils down to. I love having relationships (regardless of how you define that) with different women. I don’t expect any one woman to be able to be all that I need or want, nor do I realistically expect any woman to find me to be the end-all, be-all in her life. I rather enjoy the single life, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also enjoy the intellectual, emotional and/or physical connections with a woman from time to time. A while ago, I talked about a dream I had, and the message I took away from that dream was to appreciate whatever happens in the here and now more often, because it’s fleeting. This isn't what this boils down to. I don't know what it boils down to, but I feel closer to it now. Need to think some more...

Edit: 2/6/06 – It’s likely that none of this makes any sense. My stream of conscious writing is occasionally suspect, brought on by who knows what. As I revisit this, I’ll edit it as I clarify my thoughts. Also, should anyone actually comment here, that’ll also help me get a clearer picture. That’s my hope anyway.

Edit: 2/6/06, 5:42p - Done some revisions, some annotations. I need to sort this out.

Epilogue: 2/6/06, 6:00p -

That was quite possibly the most self-important, nonsensical waste of time that I've ever indulged in. Ever. It doesn't even make any sense, at all. None of it.

Let me be succinct. I am deliberately single. I prefer the company of friends to that of a significant other. I will occasionally be rather affectionate towards my single female friends. If I overstep my bounds: Tell me since I'm dumb like a moose. If it's cool: Tell me since I'm dumb like a moose.

None of you need to hear the rest of my bullshit. I appreciate your tolerance, but I'm embarrassed. And I'm leaving up the post to remind me to stop doing stupid things like that.

Vol. 0, Issue 19 | "...that you but slumbered here whilst these visions did appear."

[originally written 20 January 2006, 12:47pm]

Last night, I dreamt that I was with a woman of recent acquaintance. Talking. Sharing. Emoting. Attaining a kind of connection... the kind you find in those romantic films that really reach you, emotionally... the kind that you can never accurately describe to anyone who’s never been in love... that kind of connection, where there was the perfect balance of understanding and acceptance for anything not understood. Where anyone on the outside looking in could see it in our actions, our body language, our stolen glances.

...Hmm? Who was she? Judas Priest! Trust me when I say that it doesn’t really matter... except, maybe, to me. ‘She’ is representative of an archetype and therefore ‘her’ identity is coincidental. ‘She’ could’ve easily been replaced by any celebrity du jour or any character from a television show that I’d fallen asleep to while watching.

Besides, I never know who’s reading this these days... Where was I? Right.

At some point, I’m aware that we’re in a ‘first date’ situation, and that it has lasted for nearly 24 hours. We are laying on the grass, watching the sky, our heads together with our bodies pointing in opposite directions. Still talking. Euphoric in that realization that this…THIS ...is what we have been looking for… individually... collectively as humans... this, the essence of sonnets... and that it is mutually reciprocal. I remember nothing specific from any of the conversations, just the general feeling that they were the best I’ve ever had. In reality, I have had moments such as this, felt that connected at some level, and thus I’m able to recognize the rarity & beauty of the situation.

A moment of silence. She reaches over to touch my face, kissing me gently. She then rises and walks into her house, pausing to turn back and smile at me before entering. I walk slowly to the window, somehow already aware of what I will see.

She stands in the living room, in full bridal splendor, with a groom & wedding party & guests. I watch the proceedings for as long as I can before turning away, taking that long walk home. Before waking, my last thought is how beautiful (albeit more traditional than I’d have expected) she looked.

The heavy-handed metaphors and allegories aside, I’m still sorting this all out in my head. Twice now, just thinking about this today has me in a state. I’m wiping tears out of my eyes trying to type this. I’ve been utterly manic today, presumably to combat the overwhelming depressive swing I can feel lurking behind my eyes. Remember... I laugh not because it’s funny, but to keep from screaming.

I don’t know if I’m putting this out there, hoping that someone... anyone... has an answer, or if I’m just doing it just to get it out of my head, or a little bit of both. That last one seems most likely. Dunno... But it’s out there now. Meh... nevermind.

To paraphrase my friend Melissa: “Who needs therapy when you have the Internet?”

Vol. 0, Issue 18 | Asked and Answered

[originally written 04 January 2006, 1:17pm]

Via email, a good friend of mine & I caught up with each other, as one tends to do around this time of year. Among the topics of discussion were our lack of journaling over the past year. I mostly dodged the topic, as I never seem to have the time to answer the question as honestly as I'd like. However, her next question got me going, and I was in old form again before I knew it. And all she did was ask:

"How are you?"

I’m... I don’t know. I’m relatively fit. I’m gainfully employed. I’ve an enviable living space. I meet new & (potentially) exciting people every month. I don’t feel like running out into traffic or taking a swan dive off the Fremont Bridge or any such nonsense. I’m not depressed. I’m not manic. It’s just...

I’m not happy. I don’t even feel complacent or content either. I’ve been both of those. Happy and I don’t visit very often, and only in brief encounters, but I still recognize Happy when it comes around. Content I do very well. But this... Whatever this is... This isn’t contentment. This is some sort of cog-in-the-wheel feeling that I recognize (project?) in others that I observe. Which, you’d think, would foster a kinship between me and mine. Sadly, no. The nature of this particular malaise is such that the Self becomes more insulated from the rest of the world. Buzzwords of ‘self-centered’, ‘self-absorbed’, ‘selfish’, etc, etc, are bandied about, as a casual observance of those afflicted. Which, while somewhat true, is not entirely accurate. What’s the cause? I end up wondering. Because I can clearly tell that this is the effects, the symptoms, and not the disease.

It has something to do with the Information Society that we’ve become. Rather, a reaction to the information overload that inundates us hourly. We, as a whole, hit a saturation point some time ago, but are addicted to the feed nonetheless. We can’t handle anymore, yet we can’t see to go without our fix either. There are information programs that discuss how much information we as a society are assaulted with, for Pete’s sake! What about that isn’t a telling sign? Hell, I’m writing this, and I find my own attention waning, wanting the next thing, the fresher piece of intel. Judas. Fucking. Priest.

And is it really surprising then, that many of us have turned inward, trying instinctively to protect the Self? We focus all of our attention into our immediate surroundings, the handful of things which we can influence & control directly. Because that becomes all that matters, all that we can care about. But we are never without the World-at-Large, with our radios and televisions and Internet-connections beaming information into our homes, our supposed sanctuaries. Like the story about the miners in West Virginia. Sure the miners’ deaths are tragic. But tragedies happen all the time. The difference is that now we know about them, and that crushes us. And our inability to do anything about them makes us feel more and more ineffectual as people, so we do little tiny things instead... Things that we can do something about. And in the process, we become obsessed with what we can do, so that it is the only thing we can discuss. Another defense against additional information reaching us.

Think about it. How many conversations have you had recently where none of the people involved were really listening to the others? I’m not talking about people who have always been inherently self-absorbed. (They, I think, are ahead of the game this round.) I mean the people you’ve known for awhile, whose behavior has become similar to what I’m describing over a period of time. I’ve seen it in myself. I’ve seen it in my friends. Friends that I’d never (and don’t now) categorize as ‘selfish’ or ‘self-absorbed’. It’s just become the necessary adaptation to dealing with too much information.

It’s not as though it’s all useful information either. It’s just a steady stream into our heads, leaving us no time nor space in our heads to process or utilize most of it effectually. Instead, it distracts us, shortens our attention spans, fosters that feeling of forgetfulness (of which I’m particularly afflicted), and makes it all the easier for those in power to remain in power as we wander around perpetually distracted in the New Ignorance. And that thought, whenever I manage to hold onto it, is the one that reminds me to be angry. To be vigilant. To adapt in a different way than curling up into myself. But, unfortunately, I can never hold on to it for long. And I return to my cog-like, status quo existence.

Or maybe everyone else is right: maybe I just need a girlfriend. Meh...

There’s my answer. Or rant. Same thing these days anyway.

11 January 2009

Vol. 0, Issue 17 | Feigning Amokness

[originally written 08 June 2005, 1:20pm]

the act of giving a false appearance

having the qualities of one in a jumbled or confused state

Tyler Durden: Oh I get it, it's very clever.
Narrator: Thank you.
Tyler Durden: How's that working out for you?
Narrator: What?
Tyler Durden: Being clever.

Feigning Amokness. That's me. That's me being Clever...

...And Clever, Ladies and Gentlemen, gets Fuck All done.

Vol. 0, Issue 16 | No Better

[originally written 13 April 2005, 12:04pm]

For those who live here, you're aware that we have many, many wandering homeless folk in the city. Some of whom are, to put it delicately, in need of a mental health practitioner. By in large, it's this percentage of the homeless that approaches me. Not for a handout, but for actual conversation. As though they can actually detect that some part of my psyche allows me to comprehend what they want to impart.

Case in point...

I'm awaiting the train last night. I see an older man, bearded, looking much like Robin Williams in The Fisher King, wandering through the crowd of other people waiting for the train. He stops in front of me, smiling, head cocked to the side. Looking at me... into me. He doesn't want anything from me. But he does want to tell me something...

"No good. No good they say. Say I'm no good. No good!" Still smiling, but pained. He steps closer. "Don't harm no one. Don't harm no one. But I'm no good. No good! No good! Why? Why'm I no good? Don't hurt nobody. No good? Why no good. Who are you? Who are you to say? You say I'm no good, but who are you?"

"No better." I respond, thinking yet not thinking. His face, crinkled from age, wear & pain, relaxes. Eyes widen. His smile become a gape. And then he's beaming at me.

"Yes... yes, yes. No better. Yes." Laughing, he extends his hand, clenched. We touch fists, and then both board the train. He sits quietly through the entire ride, peaceful. Blissful of finding an answer he didn't expect. And I? I contemplated my reminder from the universe that I'm no better than the rest, whether they be kings or peasants.

No better.

Vol. 0, Issue 15 | 1st Thurs - November 2004

[originally written 04 November 2004, 11:11pm]


It's getting past my bedtime, and the effects of that quad-shot mocha I had around 6pm is wearing off. However, I am compelled by a couple different reasons to post my monthly art rantings before I lose my nerve to do so. Further explanation may or may not be forthcoming.


As I'd mentioned, I started off the evening with coffee. Backspace is a coffeehouse/internet cafe/gallery hybrid in the Old Town area (Backspace), serving my caffine addiction 'til the wee hours of the morning. My friend Aimee (also know as J. Germany's better half) tagged along this evening, much to my chagrin later. After purchasing our beverages, we checked out the four different artists showing at BS: paintings by Giuseppe Lipari & Eric Robison, and photographs by Joshua Dommermuth & Eden Swartz. All and sundry were quite good. My favorites included: Lipari's painting of a woman standing outside, a rifle in her hand, and a darkening sky above (can't remember the title for the life of me); Dommermuth's "Brynn" (I think), which had both a haunting and classic feel to the composition; Dommermuth's series of portraits were very warm, very human. Swartz's photos were the oddest and most endearing. The composition consisted of candid/posed shots of a young woman (perhaps Swartz herself?) in a mouse costume. Why? Who knows. But they held a charm I can't quite put into words.

Since the Backspace website doesn't have photos of the current show up, I may scan and post the artcard tomorrow. We'll see.

Coffees in hand, we toddled off to the Everett Station Lofts, where we met up with Teressa, Daniel, Sara and Indio.


This month, the Fairy features illustrator Juli Adams, whose pieces seem to be fractured fairytales themselves. My first thought walking into the gallery was "What twisted children's books are these from?" ...Waitaminute. That was my second thought. My first thought was "[Insert Deity]! That's a BIG cat!" I digress. Each of the pieces are beautifully rendered, full of color and detail, and look as though they are waiting earnestly for someone to write the stories to accompany each piece.

I'm also happy to report that Miss Adams is web-saavy, and even those of you who can't make it to Stumptown for a viewing can check out all of her pieces at her website: JuliAdams.com Personally, I want a whole book containing every one of these pieces.


I'd like to briefly compliment gallery curator Jessica Small on her ability to pick amazing artists for her shows. This is the gallery that hosted Harvest Henderson's work in September (more on Harvest later in the program), and comic artists Drew Johnson & Matthew Clark in August.

Added to this growing list is Barbara Jean Whitbeck, with her series of paintings entitled "Double Lucky." Again, I really get to share my experience with you, as Barbara has her body of work available for viewing on her website: BarbaraJeanArt.com

Barbara's work is very vibrant, full of iconic imagery and evokes a feeling of playfulness. It certainly adds a warmth to an otherwise chilly November day. This playful nature comes through in pieces like "She Rides", "Ladies Three" and "Girls Are Monkeys Too." All but the last can be seen on her site. I employ my standard high compliment to Barbara's work: I'd rob a convenience store to buy her art.

Inadvertently, I found myself in pleasant conversation with Barbara. While I was looking at the art, a very striking woman made a remark about the anime image on my shirt. A few minutes of conversation later, I realized that I was talking with the artist. (I've mentioned how my brain just shuts right off when talking with amazing women, right? Right.) Anyway, Barbara took the time to talk to me about her work, pointing out a painting that had the same subject matter but a different style. She plans to complete additional paintings in this style. She also mentioned that there would be a closing event at the end of the month, and that she'd be bringing a few additional pieces with her.

I have since marked the date on my calendar.


As promised, I present the new show by Harvest Henderson: Pepper A series of mixed media prints, such as a photo of koi swimming in a blue sky over a meadow, printed on a fragment of a Texas roadmap. Decidedly different than her "Gasoline" show at Pause, but nonetheless artistic and inventive. This particular show caught the attention of Aimee, who is a graphic artist/designer in her own right. I am just impressed when I can see different facets of other artist's skill and craft. I predicted that I'd look forward to seeing more of Harvest's work, and I was right.

Of course, I may be a trifle biased now. Maybe. Remember the painting "Kestrel" that I went on and on about? One-third of it is sitting right behind me as I speak. About five feet away. The other two-thirds will follow as I continue to pay for it. Last week, via email, Harvest and I came to an arrangement which satisfies her need for the painting to go to someone that loves it (and frees up space she needs for new art), and allows me to purchase my very first piece of art.

Look at me. I'm officially a patron of the arts. Talk about motivation. Buying art really makes me want to sell art. Mainly so that I can buy more art. I sense a vicious cycle coming on...

And that is that, campers. Good thing too, since I'm about out of juice. I may have a sibling article tomorrow; Kimmie "Angry Fairy" Hutchins is in a group show opening tomorrow night for SE Portland's still-fledgling First Friday. For now, good night.

Vol. 0, Issue 14 | Post-Election Night 2004

[originally written 03 November 2004, 6:06pm]


I can't trust you people with anything anymore, can I.

Vol. 0, Issue 13 | 1st Thurs - October 2004

[originally written 30 October 2004, 2:24pm]

My recollection being rather fuzzy this far removed from the first part of the month, this entry will be rather truncated in comparison to my other FtCRG posts.

First Thursday: 07 October 2004

Don't think I've ever written about this gallery before. Usually, the curator has exhibits by artists that are too... artistic for my tastes. Not bad art, just not my cuppa tea. The installation pieces by sculptor/artist David Herbold didn't fall into that category. Hanging on the walls were painting/sculptural pieces, fusing canvas and clay. A sense of longing, of loneliness, emanating from almost every piece. Then there was the hard-to-miss "Searching II": a sequential sculpture series of a man in a small boat, in obvious despair, watching fish swim by, all suspended from the ceiling. Very raw.

Angry Fairy
Another installation piece, one where the format was more interesting to me than the subject matter, but still worth the mention. Entitled "Dirty Laundry," photographer Michael Rubenstein takes us behind the scenes of the sex industry. I've been there kids, and Mr. Rubenstein's photographs are still a tad too glamourous to really be "behind-the-scenes." But, as I said, it was the installation format that interested me more than the subject matter. The photos were hung from laundry lines on old clothespins, and the combination of photos & lines made for a rather forced path for the viewer to follow. Sure, you could just duck under any of the photos and look at the images willy-nilly, but to walk the path that had been mapped out seemed more interesting.

Freedom Box
The honorable mention of the evening goes to Poliat, an artist who works in felt. Yes, I said Felt. Inlaid Felt Art. Laser-cut and fitted together like a puzzle. Just the sheer novelty and precision of the pieces warranted an entry.

Looking at the postcard flyer for this last artist, I'm still at a loss to adequately describe the artist known as Rockin' Jelly Bean. Dressed in a vintage tuxedo w/ a ruffled shirt, and wearing a luchadora mask, Mr. Jelly Bean (or RJB) mingled with the crowd. Kind of a performance art piece himself. His art is very PoMo, with influences ranging from Rat Fink, Barbarella, Mexican masked wrestlers, R. Crumb, and the like. All over the map and very well executed. Still not so sure about the artist, but I did like the art.

The only other thing that happened worth mentioning is that I ran into Harvest Henderson again. Not surprising since she lives there. We made small talk for a moment before she said, "Oh. You're the blogger guy." I just smiled and nodded, while desperately attempting to remember what I had written, to determine how much of it was incriminating/embarassing. I vaguely recalled writing something about her being stunning, and then made a mental note to kick myself later. She said she'd almost sold the painting that I liked, "Kestrel" to a guy from Kansas, but he backed out at the last minute. So she said if anyone lends me the $600 to let her know.

As it happens, I've just made a deal with her to buy the painting. Which will make this the very first piece of artwork I've ever purchased. She has another show starting this upcoming Thursday at Pepper Gallery. With any luck, my entry for next First Thursday isn't as late as this one.

Vol. 0, Issue 12 | re:Volution

[originally written 03 Sept 2004, 11:13am]

As much as I bitch about the state of the nation, and the world at large, there are reasons why I'm not openly inciting armed revolution. And it's not because of any legal or moral or whathaveyou reasons. The reason is, I'm only Chaos. I'm not Order. As I have been told by someone who's counsel I trust, it is irresponsible to initiate and follow-through with a revolution if you don't have anything to replace the old and corrupt system that you're overthrowing. If you do, then you run the risk of killing or causing the suffering of those whom would truly benefit from such a revolution. I only have the drive and initiative and know-how for the first part. The Chaos. I am not the Order.

That's why I need you. All of you. Somewhere, amongst your collective consciousness, are the answers that I seek. The ideas, notions, theories and know-how to recreate our society into something we can again be proud to be a part of. It won't be perfect, but less corrupt would be a huge improvement.

Get your plans together, and your forces in place. You can remake the future. You can create the world that you want. When your ready, I'll destroy the one we have to make room. Promise. Just give me the word.

Another round of Molotov Cocktails, on me.

08 January 2009

Vol. 0, Issue 11 | Touched

[originally written 18 August 2004, 11:41am]

So... is it wrong that the latest Dell laptop TV commercial, with the two mismatched college roommates (i.e. one goth grrl, one blonde all-American girl) is like one of my fantasies come to life? Is it just me? It is, isn't it. Oh [Insert Deity], I'm a bad, bad man...

...And while I'm on that particular tangent, does anyone else watch "X-Play" on G4/TechTV? Does anyone else watch it solely for Morgan Webb? Anyone? Just me again? Figures...

Last week sometime, my friend Mandi posted some random silliness about "Cuddle Club," which was her & the SoFla Crew's take on actual "Cuddle Parties" in NYC. She sent me a link, as some sort of explanation. I mocked. I laughed. Yet... There's something to the theory about human touch and our emotional development. Given the field that I work in, I have learned about the connection between holding & hugging babies and their emotional & mental development. Maybe that need to be held doesn't stop after infancy, after childhood.

Personally, I know that Lack of Physical Contact = Odd Emotional Responses to Unusual Stimulae. I get choked up at commercials. I literally cry when I hear a particular song. Any and every time I hear it. I become weirdly introspective because of some scene in a movie or television show.

...My thoughts turn to the video for Badly Drawn Boy's "Year of the Rat." I cannot help but weep during that video. And it starts when BDB stops to hug the Bully. He hits. He screams. He pushes. He pulls. He bites. But in the end, all he can do is surrender. And when he does, the anger, the futility, the rage, it's all gone. ...Fuck. I'm getting teary thinking about it...

But maybe it's that simple. Or not. I don't know. Do you? Does anyone?

I know some people, and some in the media, have made light of candidate John Edwards' rather public hugging displays. But maybe he's got something figured out that we haven't caught onto yet.

We are really enamored with our Personal Space. So much so, that some of us don't even let the ones we love inside that space. Even in a crowd, we deperately try not to touch anyone. So much in an accidental touch can be misconstrued. The words "unwanted physical contact" or "bad touch" are bandied about to the point where we don't want to unintentionally offend or hurt someone with our touch.

So, maybe it's time to INTEND to touch others.

No, I'm not saying go out and fondle people on the bus, or grope people in a crowded elevator. That kind of intent isn't a solution. It feeds the paranoia, the already existing anxiety around physical contact.

Hug someone because they NEED it. Not because you WANT to.

Touching can heal, as well as hurt.

Then again, what the Fuck do I know? I'm still going through mild anxiety attacks trying to decide whether or not to shake someone's hand or hug them, as a greeting. Granted, I hug my close friends, but I never know what to do with people I'm still getting to know, or when it's appropriate to switch from one to the other.

Judas Priest... this is longer than expected. I just wanted to be silly, and instead I ramble on and on. Big surprise.

I think too much.

But, since it's out there, what do you think?

Vol. 0, Issue 10 | 1st Thurs - August 2004

[introduction drafted in Hung Far Low's Restaurant & Lounge, 05 Aug 2004]

The Pre-Game Show...

It occurs to me that if I continue to part from my normal 1st Thursday patterns, then said "normal" patterns will cease to be.

It also occurs to me that this is a Good Thing.

Today, I'm hungry and feel the urge to drink before hitting the galleries. I'm a cheap date. Should only take a couple shots to close the deal. My original Beer & Pizza plan has gone awry, so my new dinner venue is the infamous Hung Far Low's. My choices end up as Crab Puffs, Pan-Fried Noodles, and Tequila. Mmm... Tequila... *drools*

Since I'm in quasi-costume today (I'm dressed as gonzo-journalist Spider Jerusalem from the comic book "Transmetropolitan"... my apologies to Big Ethel), I'm thinking the liquor will encourage me to really play the part. Heh...

Coincidentally, my attire seems appropriate given one of the shows is two artists working in the comic book field. I'm sure they'll be less than amused.

Unwittingly fulfilling the roles of my Filthy Assistants are friends Teressa and Ilima. Unwitting since I didn't really tell them what I was up to. So, they'll be looking AT art, while I'm looking to BE art. Performance art, on the move. Powered by TEQUILA! Which, since I've started drinking on an empty stomach is already kicking my ass... RE: Cheap Date = Kaebel. Whee!

Speaking of which, how can I, with any justice, describe the amusement I get drinking in an establishment where Buddhist and Shinto icons keep watch over a fully stocked bar. I don't think I... OOO! FOOD!


Oh. My. [Insert Deity]. Am I full or what? Right then. On to the ART!


After playing phone tag with both Ilima and Teressa, we agree to meet at Pepper Gallery to start with. Tonight, Danyel is featuring an experimental film by artist Barry Winfield, entitled "The Puzzle." An unusual piece, the underlying theme being our interconnectivity to others and a cautionary reminder that we should be looking out for one another. Lots of symbollic imagery: filmed in B&W, the lead actors were female & male/white & black (respectively), the titular puzzle being reflective, like a mirror, etc. Not exactly a piece that allows itself to be summarized in written form, and especially not by me. But I did like it, and the message. Idealistic as it may have been. But then, that's what we need isn't it? People with idealistic visions that also truly believe that we are capable of achieving them as a whole. I know I need such people in the world. They counterbalance those who see the world as so much shit, and add to it through apathy and indifference.

Ilima and her friend/art model Steven met me just as the film was about to start, so we got to watch that together. Teressa was running late, so I stuck around while they checked out the rest of the galleries. By the time they'd returned, T was still a no-show, and Ilima had to run off to network at another gallery interested in her work. I made conversation with Danyel and Barry for awhile before moving on to my next stop.


I knew that before I continued on, I had to stop at Pause for the comic art show. Comic geeks will recognize the names I bandy about. Non-geeks... I apologize. Skip ahead if you want.

Drew Johnson and Matthew Clark were the artists on display. Drew is currently working on DC's "Wonder Woman" title, and Matthew does "The Adventures of Superman." Both work with writer Greg Rucka (also on hand); Greg writes both titles, as well as a Batman title.

Now, while I enjoy superheroes, and have grown up on a steady diet of comics, I am not the avid reader that I used to be. Mostly because I suffer from the same nostalgia sickness that many other older comic fans do, and therefore I bitch and moan when people fuck with my childhood heroes. However, I also play the Devil's Advocate here, in that I preach that Change is the only constant in the Universe, and to impede change or to dwell in the past is to go against the nature of existance. Which means that after I'm done bitching and moaning, I have to adapt.

That said, I must state that change, while inevitable, doesn't necessarily mean that it will be something I like. Which is kinda how I feel about Rucka's writing. He's a capable, prolific writer. He likes to play around with real world concepts within the realm of comic book unreality. But I don't like it. There is an arrogance in his writing that just puts me off. I've met him once before, and he seems to be like his writing. I don't dislike him, but I just don't like how he writes my heroes.

Sorry. I know that's off-topic. Sort of. Just needed to get that bias out in the open.

Most of the work presented are inked pages from both Drew and Matthew's career. Which I find unfortunate. Pencillers and Inkers are usually two different artists. A good Inker can occasionally save (or at least hide) a poor Penciller. Conversely, a bad Inker can completely bury quality pencils. Most of the time, you end up somewhere in the middle. Based on the few pencils-only pieces, I can see that both pencillers are highly stylized yet quite good. Personally, I like Drew's work better. I don't think either of them is better than the other, I just happen to like styles that Drew's pencils are similar to. The one thing I can say about both of them is that I'm not fond of there inkers. At best, they seem average. It's a personal bias, being a penciller myself.

While at Pause, I run into Rachel, an acquiantance, and we catch up for a bit. She introduces me to Jessie, the curator of Pause. Afterwards, Teressa finally catches up to me, so we head out. My plan is to come back and talk to the artists before the galleries close. Normally, not a problem. Tonight though, I might not make it. It's already quarter to eight, and because of my chatting with people, I discover that I'm not making it around like I usually do. WTF? When did I become the social butterfly?


The next gallery over, I find my friend Chris Herring (the one who invited me to the Flying Dream show). He's friends of the artist, Dan Cohen (of Burning Bush Studio). Unfortunately for all of you reading this, Dan's site doesn't have any photos of his Dieterle show. Unfortunate because his shit was amazing! What I keyed into immediately was his blending of world mythology, the ancient and the modern: The Eye of Ra, Thoth, DNA strands, processing chips, silicon wafers, skin, Kabbalah, electrical wiring and yoga stances. I Ching symbology, fractal patterns, kitsunes, snakes and microprocessors. Way cool stuff. Pieces went beyond paint-on-canvas, becoming more sculptural, layered. There was meaning in the form of the piece, rather than just in the content.

If I can find a link to Dieterle's website (if they have one...), I'll be sure to share it.

...More to come...