Well, it’s official. As of Friday I have managed to survive an entire year in the man-eating landscapes of Oregon. I’ve taken up a few new sports, broken a few old bones, taught and learned a thing or two, and have pretty much had a kick-ass run from 2003 to 2004.
After a great weekend darting across the country to catch up with friends old and new, it’s time to chill on this Sunday evening with a bit of Speyside Lochruan Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, imported from Scotland to America by my sister, and imported from Minnesota to Oregon by my parents. The stuff is quite tasty, aged twelve years. Damn. When this scotch went into storage I was finishing up elementary school. That there is some long-range planning, I tell ya.
Mangled limbs and all, I made it to Hood River in record time on Friday, and let me tell ya, tis a beautiful drive from Bend to Hood. You’ll be driving across the sagebrush flats of Central Oregon, and then all of a sudden the ground will drop out from under your car and you’ll be launched off the black cliffs of a bottomless pit. It happens at the Crooked River, and then again at Mill Creek. Everything is all flat for miles and suddenly BAM, you’re flying over a rend in the flesh of the earth.
The western skyline is impressive as well. On a clear day you can see Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Black Butte, Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood all stretched across the horizon. I watch these peaks drift by and think what it would be like to have giant hands and swing from one to the next, flying through the mountain air like a wild huge chimpanzee making his way across the Cascade Range.
Near Mount Hood I picked up a hitchhiker who needed a ride to Hood River. He assured me his name was Daniel and he would not stab me in the back. He was from Pennsylvania and was out visiting friends in Portland, but like everyone else he found himself lured into the mountains by their beautiful siren songs. We talked about music and the outdoors, and both of us seemed perfectly happy to live life without our ears stuffed with beeswax.
In Hood River I met up with a good friend and her fiance and their crazed rock climbing friends from Washington, and we shot off for Portland to the sounds of Sound Tribe Sector 9. After navigating the rat’s nest of roadways near downtown Portland we found the Tonic Lounge, and stumbled into the bar to reap the sweet bounty of a round of PBR tallboys. Of the entire Cowboy Curtis crew I met up with Neal first, and damn near had to roll up his jaw from the floor. Jake was surprised as well, though Nate had seen my online order for their cd and had a hunch that I would be dropping by. Ethan didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t know who Ethan was either, but we love him just the same cuz he just graduated from college and he plays bass and he understands what it’s all about and thus he roolz.
It felt really good to see the crew again and catch up life and everything, as these guys are one of my favorite bands from back home. I used to play with Nate in jazz band, and I first met Neal at the Big Wu Family Reunion where he was wearing some very wet (and very white) swimming trunks. This was Cowboy Curtis’ first time touring outside of Minnesota, and their new CD is like #19 or something on a Seattle radio station, and they’re boggled that we’re not allowed to pump our own gas in Oregon, and they took the time to drive out and see the Goonies house in Astoria (and the Coast, though that’s not as important)… and as great as it was for me to see some familiar faces, I’m sure they felt the same way.
Not to mention that their show fucking rocked. They played a lot of stuff from their new album, as well as some super fresh cuts, and I could feel that point, half way through their first song, where they totally clicked together. The mix was really good, the vocals were spot on, Nate can kick anyone’s ass inside out on drums, and they seemed totally comfortable in their new environ. I would have liked to see the megaphone, and more broken bass strings, and more strip teases to the keyboard demo song, and more hot college chicks dancing on stage for the encore, but regardless, it was a hot representation from the Midwest. Welcome to Oregon, my friends.
After the show they were selling buttons, stickers and handmade shirts, which were actually t-shirts, sweaters and jackets picked up at Goodwill and then hand-painted with Cowboy Curtis’ logo. I had to get the vintage running jacket, but decided to leave the red “Ski Vermont” sweater for another raving fan. I swung back to see what my Hood River buddies were up to, and they were melting straws in a candle and pasting them on the wall. Then they were tossing matchbooks into the candle. Then they were tossing napkins into the candle. Then the candle shattered and they put out the fire with PBR and gin. Then they got a new candle, and shortly thereafter the owner came by and took away their candle privileges.
So we went to play Galaga and then bid goodbye and left the bar and went to Wendy’s and I let the drunks shout at the box and even after that the bank teller was nice enough to give us a free Frosty for backing up the car and resetting her timer, which given her concern it must have been some sort of crude roadside bomb or something. We ate our Wendy’s in the Les Schwab parking lot in Portland and drove back to the Safeway parking lot in Hood River and I spent the night sleeping in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
And thus concludes the celebration of my one year anniversary.