Crown of Trinkets

Saturday, April 27, 2002
What a nice week it has been, not having to work and all; it is a shame that this blessed state can't last that long.

Thursday I went hiking with Dan and Carolina (a friend of Sean's from California who's planning on moving up here); we went hiking in the Gorge at Wahkeena Falls--and oh my god! I had forgotten just how nice it is to sit by a waterfall, not saying anything, just resting your tired legs that have hiked a couple miles, and a thousand feet basically straight up the side of the mountain, not saying anything, letting the waterfall's beautiful noise cascade past you, moss and light pouring down the mountain along with water gurgling sounds, unbelievably nice. It was good to get out of Portland for a little while, although it was nice to come back, too.

Yesterday I went estate-saling with Sarah from Bronwyn (who'd never estate-saled before). I had called Carolina to ask if she wanted to go but I think she interpreted me as saying "do you want to go sailing?" In her defense, she had just awakened, but that's kind of the wrong socioeconomic stratum! We went out to musty homes in outer Southeast and checked out the wild old books, clothing, records, etc. I bought a few things--not too much, since that'd be excessive--but I got a new tape-recorder for my car, a ream of lovely old bond paper, a Bach record, a couple sweaters (which Sarah took to the counter for me since they were in the "Ladies' Clothing 50 cents" box as opposed to the "sweaters $2" box--and I still don't understand why men's and women's clothing has to button on opposite sides...). One basement of a particularly swanky and overpriced estate sale contained what would have been a motherlode--probably close to a dozen old typewriters--but none of them seemed to work and they were all 15 or 20 dollars. Stupid! The same basement contained a massive amount of musty-looking pornography, kind of weird to move from elation to disappointment to embarrassment all in the space of a few minutes.

Tonight we play a show in the Kelly House basement for Sean Minmae's 30th birthday. It will be my 30th in a year and a half; I can deal with that.

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Saturday, April 20, 2002
Oh gosh this new receiver is one of the better $3 purchases I could have made today--the old amplified-Walkman speakers I'd been using to listen to my music just completely sucked and now I'm surrounded by actual bass frequencies, stereo separation, wow. I am now realizing just how weird some of the mixes I've done on my recent stuff were--they were all optimized for crappy Sony 2" speakers. So now get ready for audiophile direct-mastering sound on your favorite new Celesteville hits!
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Oh what a beautiful city I live in, especially on mostly sunny garage-sale Saturday. I walked around the beautiful old-ish neighborhoods of Portland's east-side, buy a receiver so I can listen to the stuff coming out of my computer in higher fidelity, find a "Mega Mouth Warper" kid's toy voice-changer at the same garage sale, pure fun. Those things are great and it is a shame that they are no longer produced. I walk around, petals fall from trees onto me like snow in some giddy old wholesome black-and-white motion picture. I look up and see pink blossoms against clear blue sky--oh, these are good times.

Last night I was feeling perfectly antisocial (and I didn't want to pay $8 to see bands at Dante's) so I walked to Movie Madness in pure-sweet-air darkness to rent This Is Spinal Tap, which I've seen several times before but which offers new delights with every viewing, and which Christie Gorman has been emailing me about quite a bit lately. So how could I resist? Some high-school-looking girls at a bus-stop ask me if I have a pen, which I do; they are trying to guide an intoxicated woman who speaks very little English to her correct bus. I'm not sure that writing instructions is the best idea but what the hell. One of the girls compliments me on my Jack Purcells; she is wearing platform Jack Purcells, which is weird since those shoes are heavy enough as is, but then fashion before form, I guess... At Movie Madness this goofball-looking kid asks the clerk, "Do you have Meet the Feebles?" Of course I've seen that movie an endless number of times and I could probably have led him to that movie with my eyes closed. The clerk says, "Peter Jackson, over there to your right," without hesitation, and you have to love that.

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Monday, April 15, 2002
More Washington antics: Saturday I went up to see the Mountain Goats with Sarah and Richel from Bronwyn and Sarah's roommates Nichole and TJ, five of us in a two-door Civic, but still way more comfortable than Sean's pickup (c.f. any of the Minmae tour diaries: 1 * 2). It was a fun time: TJ was playing ADHD-DJ the whole time, putting in a CD for one song and then taking it out and putting another one in, repeat all the way from Kalama to Olympia; it was fun.

The Mountain Goats were completely amazing amazing amazing; John's stage presence has gotten even tighter and more compelling over the years; he's able to burn his songs out into a passionate ball of flame without getting charred, like I tend to do. I could learn a lot from this man and his songwriting. I really haven't listened to the Mountain Goats enough in the last five or six years (basically since leaving college); it is time to get with it again.

Being sick kind of sucks and I still am. It's that icky lingering sort of snot-happy sickness that you think is just about over, but then you find yourself honking and horking and fllmmmfffing the whole night. Fortunately, my sleep was not impaired, so I got to have this dream that I was living high-school over again, only this time I had decided to be "cool", which basically meant that my grades were bad; I was stuck in Ann Moore's senior IB English class, where I was frantically writing a story about funeral experiences in different religions (I chose "Lutheran" and "atheist"), and she was handing back papers that I got B's and D's on. Come on, Jake, you've been out of school how long now? It's time for a different oneiric metaphor.

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Saturday, April 06, 2002
Picture if you will: A stinky basement, Northeast Portland style, a strobe light flashing, dozens of people wearing eyeliner, and cottony tufts of the innards of a decapitated stuffed bunny lying on the ground. The Necro-Sluts are playing their ultra-goth music (sample lyrics: "Time for everybody to lose their minds!" "Simultaneous orgasm!" "Succubus! Succubus! Succubus!") and Rob from Creepy Crawly Claw is out of his mind, thrashing around on the ground, inciting a mosh pit, running into people outside of the "mosh pit", gosh. Women are wearing lingerie and doing the goth dance and it would be trite here to make fun of goth people, which I am not going to do, because everyone has the right to rock in the fashion of their choice, and as pastichey as the Necro-Sluts came across this evening, they _did_ rock, and women were doing the spider-dance in lingerie, and a stuffed bunny was torn apart, its innards used as dance material (okay, by yours truly), little cottony fluffballs floating downward in strobe light, Necro-Slut music bashing its way through the cottony tuft adrift, we are at a goth party and it is okay.

And speaking of Creepy Crawly Claw, they admitted that it was their worst set ever but they are still A-OK. It is always an interesting test of a person/band's character to see how they deal with adversity, and they did well even though their microphone didn't work for most of the set. I'm looking forward to playing with them in Olympia, maybe some other shows. Exciting!

After CCC played, this ridiculous "orc-metal" outfit called Clan of the Bleeding Eye played. They dressed up in studded-leather bondage-orc costumes, painted themselves green, and hacked through the grindcore sound. Foam battleaxes were present and were being used, both by and against members of the audience. God it was ridiculous, but I will admit that I was entertained. There are worse things when you are sick and you want to take your mind off your achey sore throat than to listen to a throat-bleeeaaruuurrrgghhh metal band beating each other with foam battleaxes, exclaiming "kill the humans". I can pretty much guarantee I would not have acquired that memory had I stayed home, or had I gone to one of several competing shows this evening.

Finally: Institute Benjamenta! Institute Benjamenta! Institute Benjamenta! The Brothers Quay's version of the novel _Jakob von Gunten_ (recently described on these pages, what a singular little novel it is) is gorgeous, ravishingly gorgeous, and troubling, totally worth your time and your attention (let us say that rip-roaring plot action is not the Quays' biggest concern). Institute Benjamenta!

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Thursday, April 04, 2002
Oh happiness! The good people at Fantagraphics have finally, after years of agonizing delays, started up the Krazy Kat reprint series again. This stuff is so good! I am a total Krazy Kat nut, still; I remember once upon a time that my main objective in finding a significant other was that she would appreciate the genius of Krazy Kat, and emit undignified belly-laughs aside me while reading Krazy Kat. Actually, that still soudns pretty damn romantic. And George Herriman's 1925-26 stuff (the years covered by the new reprint) is completely great, Herriman at his prime. Get these before they're out of print again! Worship!!!!!!!!!

Also appreciated today: I finally had to junk my old printer (an Epson Color Stylus 860, clunky and prone to malfunctioning, although I admit I did not treat it as well as I should have) in favor of a new Canon S300 which clicks alluringly and spits out quality output rapidly.

Brian Miller sent me the CD's of the new Gang Wizard stuff--the stuff we recorded on the Minmae spring tour--and it is shocking, spellbindingly rocking. It is scary to think that this stuff just fell out of us and off our noses like sweat. We (Deathbomb Arc and Tape Mountain) are planning on releasing the CD of the live show, entitled Double Live at LongHaul InfoShop. It will grow ingrown hairs on your chest. Wow.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2002
1) The night air in Portland on a warm evening in March is fragrant and dusk is lovely. I buy a can of tennis balls at Fred Meyer, notice that the Tao of Tea is hiring, rent a copy of Swordsman II, crazy crazy Tsui Hark wire-fu madness, insane color and eternally badass Brigitte Lin; the night air in Portland on a warm in evening in March is fragrant and midnight is lovely too.

2) I think Ned gave or sold me his copy of Love's _Forever Changes_ several years ago, possibly more than several years ago, but I'd never actually sat down and listened to it before today: and I was wrong; it is swoony. I probably wouldn't have been so fond of it in my more strident years (refer to the Love Manifesto for more details, but today, when I was cleaning turmeric stains and dried chopped onions off pans and Tupperware, and its florid lyrical/instrumental excess and gleeful hippied-out pop sound worked well with the smell of Ajax bubbles and the gradual wrinkling of my fingertips and the procession from disorder/filth to shiny order and cleanliness.

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Monday, April 01, 2002
My life is full to the brim with activity!

Last night (SATURDAY) Sean and I played another house party (oh boy, another house party report!) But this one was kind of exciting in that Minmae was a two-piece--just me and Sean--and that was cool. Not that Jeff is unwelcome but it was fun just to play raw basement-style duo-rock. And then Celesteville played later in the night as a three-piece. I didn't want to play as a three-piece but this guy had grabbed a bass and insisted on playing along with us. We launched into the first song, "Your Leather Jacket", and this foob started playing along. Needless to say, this was kind of surprising, but I didn't want to play the asshole party-pooper role so I just let him play along. But then it looked like he was going to play on "Asterism", which requires a delicate touch and a sensitive interplay between guitarist and drummer (well, sort of, I usually just end up screaming, but let's ignore that for the time being), so I made hints, "oh, we're going to play this next song as a two-piece", he didn't get the hint, then I actually went so far as to turn down his bass--talk about dropping strong hints! He just looked at me and said "don't be an asshole, dude" or something like that. Anyway, we played that song, the tension was thick, but it was kind of exciting tension, not good tension, but aggravation can make one full of energy, and this song was full of aggravation and energy, and of course I ended up on the floor as always. Someday I would like to grow up and be in control of my music; last night I wasn't so in control and it was a little frightening.

Today (EASTER SUNDAY) I started out the day by eating delicious curried-brown-rice brunch with the folks at good old Zells Cafe; always a joy to go there and suck down a gallon or so of coffee and eat their solid/progressive-ish breakfast fare. We walked back to my place, my parents naming trees all the way, "oh, there's a nice magnolia," "is that an elm?" Latin names were exchanged. My parents are pretty okay. Against my mom's initial apprehensions, we took a walk through Lone Pine Cemetery, which is always pretty amazing; the oldest gravestones are from the mid-1800's, but there's plenty of history there, pioneers who came from all over, and lots of great typography on the tombstones to boot. A joy; good thing no tombstones were rolled away (Easter-style) today or else we might have gotten hurt!

Then I hung out with my old college classmate Cathy Federici in Powell's for a while, bought a copy of Moominland Midwinter (yes, I am obsessed with Tove Jansson these days), came home, drank more coffee, talked, played Scrabble in front of the fireplace with my Olympia manual-typewriter case serving as a Scrabble pedestal, oh so nice, very nice. What a hoot that Cathy is, let me tell you.

This evening (such activity! I warned you!) I went over to the always hard-to-figure-out Ash St. Saloon, where this guy Steve's band The Mouse That Roared was playing a one-off show with the untouchable rhythm section of Sean Brooks and Sarah Wilmer (aka Sean the aforementioned and Sarah from Bronwyn); it was really good! Then Mandroid, this kind of butt-rocky hyper-loud band from Baltimore, went on. They were actually pretty good for what they were (heavy huge-amp sludge, let's relive 1974 and PCP-style) but it was kind of a weird scene to hear that in the hard-to-figure-out Ash St. Saloon after hearing delicate The Mouse That Roared; I couldn't quite put things together.

After the Mandroid set, I had been hoping to see an impromptu Bronwyn set, but it was not to be, so Sarah and Sean and some other folks went out to the open-air patio to do an a-capella bit; it ended up with them and three or so other people chanting "this is the sky, it is not a roof" over and over again. I was kind of filled with joy at this sort of nature-pride spontaneity--ordinarily I am very big on that, but it felt weird at midnight in someplace that was technically part of a smoky bar, which I don't like, and the juxtaposition of spontaneous nature-love and bar-smoke oppressive feeling was unsettling, and then of course I had to start thinking about the pronunciation of the word "roof", that is, should it have the vowel sound in "foot" (my normal dialect) or the vowel sound in "rude" (the dialect of my co-chanters) and my conclusion:

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be linguists.

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