Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I've been published!

Well, sorta. A letter I recently sent to the Portland Mercury's "I, Anonymous" column, which you can read here, concerning my recent experience on Fremont street (in my old hood, no less!) was printed this week. They edited it with what must have been a rusty nail file, just really hacked it to death. I figured they'd cut it down a bit, but I didn't think they'd mangle it like they did. I guess I've never dealt with editors, and that's probably a good thing. Read their version, then read mine a few posts down.

I do have to say, though, that I like the "repeat offender" graphic.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amy Goodman and Mission of Burma... In one day!

Well, today (yesterday really, it's after midnight) I got to see one of my heroes, Amy Goodman, at the Bagdad Theater (insert Amy Goodman in Baghdad joke here... and by the way, yes the theater's name is spelled without the "h"). She and her brother David have just written another book, called Static, and are on tour supporting it. They read some excerpts and spoke about the process of gathering the information and turning it into a book, typical stuff for a book tour. They also related a number of stories culled from their experiences as investigative journalists. David offered a particularly interesting story, of a historical nature, which goes roughly as follows:

Back in the days of slavery, there was a fellow in Eastern Maryland named (I think I'm getting this right) Edward Covey, who was a well known slave breaker. Plantation owners could send any particularly rebellious or troublemaking slaves to Mr. Covey's property, dubbed "Misery Mountain," where the slaves would be "broken." What that means, exactly, I'll leave to your imagination. One of the slaves sent to Misery Mountain was Frederick Douglas, who was very nearly broken, but managed to escape, made his way to Massachusetts via the Underground Railroad, and changed the course of history.

That's interesting. But it's not the end of the story. What's perhaps even more interesting is that this particular property was recently purchased, as a vacation retreat, by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. Now this doesn't say anything about Rumsfeld, of course, but it does seem oddly fitting, no?

Anyway, that was my afternoon. This evening, a friend and I went to see Mission of Burma at Portland's basement log cabin of rock, the Doug Fir. For those of you not familiar with Burma, they were one of the first bands to take the energy of punk rock and channel it into a more experimental and cerebral direction. Hailing from Boston, their milieu was the post-punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s. I would say they were a sort of musical bridge between the Stooges and Husker Du. They were never hugely successful, but they were a classic example of the critically acclaimed, "influential" band. Those of you who are familiar with Burma are probably thinking "Tommy, what are you a music critic? You're full of shit and I'm going to call you on it next time I see you." Yeah, well... At any rate, they were well in form. And LOUD (acoustics aside, the Fir is a relatively small room). These guys must be in their early fifties by now, and they haven't lost their edge one bit.

Kinda gives one hope, doesn't it?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ahh, life in the big city...

Be careful when you're riding your bike at night, folks. Forthwith, a letter I just submitted to the Portland Mercury's "I, Anonymous" column (which, for you out-of-towners, is pretty much just what it sounds like):

To the would-be thug teenager who pulled me off my bike on Fremont street last night:

While I will give you and your friends props for your rudimentary tactical skills in the predationary arts, I'm a little disappointed in your follow-through. I would have thought that while yelling "You got money? You got money bitch?" while holding your foster parents' house keys to my head, you might have had the wherewithal to actually steal something from me. Say, my bike (worth about a grand). Or my messenger bag ($450 waterproof/breathable shell inside; the rainy season is coming, you know). Or at least my wallet ($16 and half a book of stamps. By the way, it's not hard to find. I keep it in my back pocket, approximately midway between my right shoulderblade and my right calf). That's $1469.70! Not bad for less than a minute's work. If you extrapolate that into a yearly salary, it works out to... well, a lot of money! But in the thirty seconds or so it took for my friend's hollering to summon some passersby, you managed to get...nothing. Now I'm sure you're good kids just out for some laughs, but if you keep up this hooliganish behavior, you will wind up in prison at some point, and what will you have to show for it? Not my bike, not my waterproof/breathable shell, not even my stamps. You'll have eight inches of throbbing repeat offender lust pumping you full of all manner of nasty diseases in the prison laundry room, that's what you'll have. I, on the other hand, will have my bike, my waterproof/breathable shell, and my wallet (although I'm sure I will have burned through the stamps by this point). All $1469.70 of it. And my freedom. Your future looks pretty bleak. Savor every second of it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Three Metal Snaps: Thank You, Ann Richards, and rest in peace!

For many of us on the left, it's easy to imagine the state of Texas as a place which has made at best a scant contribution to progessive politics of late. But we should remember that this is the state that gave us Kinky Friedman, Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, Willie Nelson, and perhaps most importantly, Ann Richards, who died yesterday of esophageal cancer. Richards will be remembered for her commitment to prison reform, funding of education (she TRULY left no child behind), equality and gay rights. But she will likely be remembered most for her incredibly sharp wit. Have a look at her hilarious speech at the Texas Observer's 50th Anniversary event at the following link (click on "watch 128K stream" or "watch 256K stream"). The fun starts about a minute and a half into it.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Turn down the AWESOME...

...best fan shout I've heard in quite some time! No, it wasn't mine. Like I could've come up with something that good...

System and Station kicked off their national tour tonight at Holocene. They're not actually leaving town for a week or two. They're hanging around to play next weekend's MusicFest Northwest (My MFNW schedule is pretty crowded at this point, but I may just have to catch 'em once more before they head out into this big beautiful crazy nation of ours). But they'll soon be coming to your town, and when they do, you should pay yourself a favor and go see them. If you're lucky, they might play "Synchronicity II" as an encore. They arguably do a better job with this song than the Police themselves!

Point Juncture, WA opened tonight's show, and were amazing, as always. My only beef with these guys is that each of their songs needs to be at least a minute and a half longer.