Crown of Trinkets

Friday, August 31, 2001
Minmae Update! Last night was the second Minmae show at a pizza parlor in a week. It was at this quintessentially Portlandy (read: artsy/bohemian/kind of old-school architecturally/with the occasional hippie thrown in) place on gentrifying N. Mississippi Avenue. There was a "Last Thursday" art event next door with a bunch of people there for the scene and the free cheap beer instead of the art, which this guy Ross compared to "bad Basquiat". Anyway, we had a good set. A mom brought her little daughter in and was dancing with her throughout the first few songs, but looked a little squeamish when bassist Jeff started screaming. On the last song, I took my cymbal out into the audience and had everyone in the place hit the cymbal once with the brush. Then Sean (who had been playing the piano) and I went outside with the cymbal and started singing over and over again: "stands in time/time stands still" to the artsy party crowd gathered outside smoking and schmoozing. A few heads turned; traffic went past; we went back inside and finished the song and ate more pizza in this, my week of garlic lactose smell.

We went back to my place and listened to the Feelies and looked at, really a shocking piece of web-design work to be inflicted on the world by bassist Jeff and his housemate John. I like it. Then for whatever reason I started playing Raunchy Young Lepers songs. I may have to jump-start that best-of-RYL compilation; I'd forgotten just how strongly that stuff affects people.

Now I am going to eat some pears.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2001
Today's K103 Diaries! live from work!

8:53 am: One of the few songs that I actually look forward to hearing and that they play pretty much every day is Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over". Hard to believe that a little quality could possibly slip through their micron-fine corporate filter.

1:11 pm and the Eagles are playing right after Chicago or Peter Cetera or whomever it was. "One of these Nights", noxious and slick and here comes that squeaky guitar solo I've heard a million times before; I can imagine the contortions Mr. Frey's mouth is making as he squeaks his way through, rock-solid cocainy Mr. Henley beat behind him, smooth falsetto chorus rising behind him like swampy miasma, gas and vapors rising into the already-too-gaseous-and-vaporous Los Angeles sky. All so familiar, a
parasite that lives inside my head like moths in my Raisin Bran, unwanted, stagnant, laying eggs.

1:55 pm: Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes". Kind of unusual to hear this song two days in a row; it seems like they usually rotate it with "One on One" or "Maneater". Other songs like "Sara Smile" or "Out of Touch" or other great Hall and Oates hits seem to go unnoticed. I think someone at Clear Channel Communications has a thing for handclaps. I remember the live song at the end of "Rock 'n' Soul Vol. 1" (was there ever a volume 2?), "Wait for Me", with its vocal excess and weird taped-from-the-Tualatin-Library-on-poor-equipment sound, always gave me goosebumps in my bunkbed.

3:55 pm and I'm about to go home. "We're In This Love Together" is so incredibly yucky: all corn-syrup electric piano and unfunky businesslike attempts at funk-sex sound: this is the antiseptic sound of a hospital waiting room; you can almost smell the gauze. Profoundly unswinging. Smarmy.

Now I am home and listening to the Feelies' Crazy Rhythms--still an amazing record after all these years, and one that no-one has dared to sound like since. No-one can ascend those peaks of nerdy angst combined with way-uncool percussion overkill, the cleanest and most strangely layered guitars ever, the smell of sweat on a hospital bed. They were the first rock band that I ever saw in a smaller-than-stadium setting (I'd seen Sting before in Memorial Coliseum, but let's not talk about that). They were opening for Lou Reed (New York tour)and they blew him out of the water, even in post-peak Only Life mode, still a pretty fabulous record itself. They were louder than any band I've seen since except maybe Bailter Space and the Karl Hendricks Trio (who had two cruelly loud guitar amplifiers for the tiny Swarthmore Olde-Club space, how inconsiderate!). And now no-one seems to listen to the Feelies or mention them: here I am doing both, and recommending both to you as well.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Today I came home from work and ate too much ice-cream and that made me feel a little mopey and heavy and lactosified but then I listened to Three Berry Ice Cream (connection not noticed until now!) and their song "Marble Arch" made me feel instantly goofy and happy, in the mood to jump around the room and take long walks at sunset. If there were a first-aid kit for mopey evenings that song would be in it.

Lutheranism Update! I went down to visit the folks in beautiful Tualatin this Sunday. My dad had convinced me once again to play bass along with his "gospel quartet", and it's always a joy to watch my dad get into his music. He really does! One thing that particularly thrilled me was seeing the goofy "bird" motion that he did (at home only, no expressions of goofy emotions allowed among Lutherans!) when the song mentioned "flying high, like a bird in the sky". I guess you had to be there but he is a funny, funny man. At the service/concert there was plenty of creamy potato salad and a wild overabundance of sweets; a nice choir with one shrill-voiced Lutheran woman soloist who talked about how much she adores Sandi Patti; another girl who had the absolute sweetest, gentlest aura about her when she sang the songs and it was kind of entrancing; a few moments in which I struggled with the now-unfamiliar concept of "sheet music" and semi-intentionally flung photocopied music all around the thermal-heat air in the sanctuary; and a chance to take home plates and plates of sweets, and sub sandwiches (if I weren't a vegetarian). A woman in the choir passed out from heat-exhaustion and it brought back memories of hot Iowa church services, one of which saw my grandma passing out. There is something very nice about the mundane beauty of the whole affair, about the tradition, about the predictability, about the warm feeling of the seasons in a place with no air conditioning and a lot of warm Lutheran bodies, something very very nice.

Celesteville Update! I finished the CD-R for Quesadilla, entitled Lingua Ignota, and while it has some problems cohering at times, I think the songs are quite strong. Now I just need to do a comic book and the Celesteville Juggernaut will rumble on!

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Saturday, August 25, 2001
Goat-Boy Update! He showed up at my folks' place this morning and called me this afternoon, a pleasant conversation was had. He is actually not in Dallas, TX but in Dallas, OR and get this: he's got his master's and is buying a house and is going to start student-teaching in the Molalla, OR school district this fall. Wow! His voice sounded different: somehow, I don't know, more refined, less jumpy, you know, the future homeowning thing and the fatherhood thing having their effect on his voice, which reflects something inside. Very, very interesting.

Minmae Update! We played last night at It's A Beautiful Pizza and despite the bad sound it was pretty fun. Previously referenced high-school friend Rachelle showed up with her charmingly precocious daughter, her fiance and two friends, and good conversations were had over garlicky slices (which I thank Rachelle's friends for providing). I spilled beer on Dan Cohoon! ("This time I'm not spilling beer on myself...") We played in a dreamy silhouetted feedback blur. It was like taking the spiky video of the Gordons' "Adults and Children" (available on In Love With These Times, highly recommended as a source of Verlaines, Tall Dwarfs, and Gordons videos) and filing down all the edges until it had this sort of warm, smooth wood feeling. Then we stayed up until 2:30 listening to Ukrainian country records (yes!), the Gang Wizard 12" (nostalgia!) and the Celesteville Purest Blue Light CD, which brought the entire conversation to a kind of stunned halt. I think this indicates how essential it is that I release this record, and quickly!

Project Update! Not long after I got off the phone with Mr. Aspy, I got a call from Christie Gorman of Nearsighted Revolution fame, as always a fine conversationalist, and it looks like we are going to collaborate on a zine about pedestrianism. I think this is going to be pretty great.

Garage-Sale Record Update! I walked around to the Richmond neighborhood garage sales this morning and picked up a copy of Gagaku: Ancient Japanese Court Music and oh boy, what a record. Some seriously intense reed action going on, weird drones colliding with big-drum sounds: this stuff is great. You can definitely tell where Teiji Ito (the guy who wrote the score for Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon, great stuff) is coming from. A deep and pure source of beautiful inspiration.

Site Update! We are now up and running at! And you can email me at Or, for that matter, any Try it! I think that is pretty neat.

that's the news from the People's Republic of Close-In Southeast Portland,

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Friday, August 24, 2001
Celesteville played KBOO last Sunday as part of the Dada and Surrealism festival and I'll refer you to the swanky Airborne Virus page (run by Mr. Sean Brooks of Minmae) for a delightful summary of the afternoon's events. Very exciting and I'm going to release it under the title _Purest Blue Light_. 35 minutes, one song! (though I've subdivided it into 3 easily digested portions/tracks, it is still one song.)

Anyway, my new obscure discovery is the wonder that is old-timey Ukrainian-Canadian country-polka music. The music found on "Ed and Sally and the Country-4 Sing Ukrainian Country Songs For You", or "Mae Chwaluk Sings More Ukrainian Songs; Mike Antonyshen Plays a Solo Cymbaly; With Joe Berehulka On Fiddle and Son Walter On Guitar" are sparse and gentle and sweet, spacious like the Manitoban plains and cozy like the old world. They play the fiddle in some pretty non-standard tunings that aren't quite what you'd expect (although sometimes it veers straight into Ukrainian-language Hank-Williamsisms, which of course I don't mind at all), and then there's an accordian intrusion, and then there's the hammered loveliness that is the cymbaly--kind of like a hammered dulcimer or a santoor--big and ringing and bell-like over the chopped polka rhythms. I was listening to Ed and Sally last Saturday and my brother gave me this twisted-mouthed sour look, mentioned the word "kitsch" and walked into his room. But Jordan, this stuff genuinely does make me happy. I could listen to it over and over again and it would just make me happier and happier. Oh sweet Lord, here's an organ-led romper with some crazy percussion action and some lovely just-sour-enough fiddle: the "Country 4 Polka", I can't help but dance around the living room! This is why I go to garage sales: to find stuff like this. I'll bet I will never ever find any other Ukrainian-country records (unless I go on a thrifting tour of Winnipeg), but if you, the reader, should find any Ukrainian-country records in your thrifting/garage-saling/swap-meeting travels, think of me and send me a tape. I will be your friend forever. Not that I'm not already!

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Saturday, August 04, 2001
I went to my 10-year high-school reunion this weekend and it was surprisingly not horrible. My brother and I had made a bet as to whether the Goat-Boy would be there. I bet yes, and I lost. Of course, he is in Dallas, TX now, or so says the "memory book"... it's probably just as well.

For the reunion I made a little flyer entitled "Addenda" that I carried in my back pocket (I made sure to wear the same soft well-worn corduroy pants both nights in honor of Erik Satie and his seven matching velvet-corduroy suits--I bought a copy of _Satie Remembered_ today and it is inspiring). And I must say the flyer idea was a work of genius, thank you very much, since it allowed me to escape endless small-talk, answering the questions "what do you do, where are you, so what did you ever amount to?" It was nice to not have to dwell on my job, which, let's face it, does not define who I am. It was nice not to have to explain the "so are you married" question: I wrote "no", although my untidy handwriting led some people to think I wrote "ho" instead... "so you're with a ho?" "no, that's an 'n'." It also put a link to this site, so hi to anyone who is reading it.

I was really expecting to see more pictures of babies but most people avoided that common trap. Actually, not too many of my close friends from high school have procreated yet, which I can't say I'm sad about. Just the Goat-Boy, really, oh, and Rachelle. God bless the nerds I hung out with and their non-childbearing ways.

The whole reunion thing was kind of stilted and awkward but I found great pleasure in doing the stupid little things I enjoy: handing out flyers, proclaiming that I am a "rockstar", delving into nostalgia, making ridiculous analogies that don't really apply to anything. Social interaction: take it or leave it (although I will never say no to a nice conversation with my good friends from high school, well, Hanna or Brian at least, some others as well), but handing out flyers is always a joy. You get to be lost in your own little world while still communicating with the outside world, sort of like handling nuclear fuel with those weird gloves that reach through the wall, oh forget it, I'm not making sense anymore.

In preparation for the evening's festivities, today I got up at 7:30 (after going to the first night of the reunion last night and staying up late), got my eyes checked up in Northwest Portland, selected and ordered a pair of eyeglasses with dilated pupils, walked downtown with dilated pupils, bought the aforementioned Satie book at Powell's with dilated pupils, and then, as my eyes were returning to a less leaden-feeling light-admitting state, decided to walk back across the river and home, something like 4 or 5 miles total, I'm sure, leaving me a little tuckered out for tonight, casting a kind of exhausted sweaty feeling over the evening's proceedings. A little tired, a little melancholy, sort of like walking across the Burnside Bridge or something, but, like walking across the Burnside Bridge, pretty rewarding, especially walking west at dusk when there is a breeze coming off the river.

Now I am listening to Dinosaur Jr's _You're Living All Over Me_ and it all seems so right. I kind of wish I would have known about this album in high school; its lethargic pathetic nature would have fit in well with my lethargic pathetic king-of-nerds high-school self. But then I would probably be even more prone to playing wanky guitar soloes than I am now.

off to sleep now, oh beautiful sleep, oh sleep you dreamy dream, you giver of dreams, you sweaty thing in my attic bedroom with the window open and unsufficient, oh sleep, the smell and sound of the cool morning bypassed as nearer I grow to thee, oh sleep, I will never wake up.

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