Wednesday, August 8, 2007

pt. 4: ID, WA, OR pt. 1

there's not much to say about idaho, except that it was very pretty, had more bigger cities along 90 that i expected, and marked the return of those pee wee's big adventure-style twisty roads through national forest that i can only drive on with lots of daylight and something brisk and alterna on the stereo (i think it was the afghan whigs "gentlemen"? brisker than you think, and who doesn't like to take sharp turns to the words "i've got a dick for a brain"?).

and that was through the rockies, i'm guessing, which will be forever ruined for me because i associate them not with natural splendor but as the source of most beers. the next day as i was listening to npr en route to portland, i heard that the idaho woods i'd just driven through had burst into flame, which was actually a recurring theme on this trip-- a day after i'd get through a place, there would be a hailstorm of biblical proportions, a lightening-caused forest fire, a mass murder of male first-borns (not really). so you can either chalk this up to the fact i'm a harbinger of evil, or that al gore is less full of shit than we all think. either way, i left a wake of ends-of-days behind me, and i drive a prius.

i think this picture was taking in idaho, i'm not sure, and it's one of those pictures that i look at now and have no idea why i took it. the odd promise of "ten mile road" in two miles that's not only confusing but evocative of detroit? that ol'photos-while-driving death wish? shrugs.

i'd also like to take this opportunity to declare that, after much time spent listening to radio from coast to coast, our national love affair with don henley's "end of the innocence" is alive and well.

oof, washington. now, i love seattle, so i won't dismiss the entire state outright, because that would be like hating massachusetts based on one trip to worcester, aka, the sphincter of the baystate. but if you've ever driven through eastern washington, splitting off 90 (adios, 90!) and going south, you know that it's basically a slog of two lane highway with occasional breaks to take left turns (taking a left turn across two lanes of highway where the speed limit is 70...brilliant), grey skies, farmland, and misery.

and while i don't know too much about meth beyond that it ruins your face, blows up your trailer, and, according to a public service ad that was all around chelsea a few years ago, could shamefully cause you to miss gay pride day, i know that i drove through one of the many places in this great country where meth is made. one town i stopped for gas in consisted of said gas station, a combo burger place/pool hall/laundromat, and a trailer park. and that's it. and as napa is perfect for grapes and cape cod is good for cranberries, isn't a town that has only trailers and hopelessness the best soil for cultivating methamphetamine?

i was told later on the trip that home invasions are a big problem in oregon because the sticks are crawling with meth addicts. and if you've ever driven from LA to vegas, there are long stretches on 15 that seem rather methy as well. so i guess my point is that washington was creepy, as are a lot of rural areas on the west coast, and god bless the east coast, were people just get addicted to oxycontin.

mt hood/shady:
my first stop in oregon was mt. hood, which is not just pretty, but also a glacier, so it's the only place in the us where there's skiing year-round. i fucking hate skiing-- anything that cold and expensive and requires you to wake up that early in the morning isn't a sport, it's a punishment-- but i was there to see teeter, my plutonic (sic) life partner, who was working at a snowboarding camp as a youth wrangler. i went up more pee-wee roads, stayed below the speed limit in the safety corridor, per her instructions, and arrived on main street government camp in the late afternoon.

it wasn't hard to find her since government camp is two blocks long and looks like extremetown, usa. where bank or supermarket signs would normally be, there were large banners for dvs and burton. to the left is the view from her porch-- trees, local watering hole, vans-sponsored skatepark. oof.

teeter was off the clock while the kids were snowboarding, so the amount of free time she had made it seem like she was just being paid to walk around being cool, like government camp was colonial williamsburg as a 3d mountain dew commerical, and teet was the shredworld equivalent of a lady paid to wear a bonnet and churn butter.

i hung around camp for a while, sneaking buzz around, eating the local cuisine, ie, frozen bananas (like normal bananas, but EXTREME), and sitting around with teeter and complaining about shit, which is the backbone of our friendship, if not our lives, and a source of great joy when done right because nobody finds us funnier than us and we are one of us. we also bro'd down with some brahs, two of which were far from ugly, as well as teet's co-counselor, caitlin, also not ugly, and then we wrapped up the evening by selling teet's totebags at the staff sale, which was actually pretty uggs.

this just in: this used to be a paragraph were i was 100% mean to this guy teet spent the summer escorting to the bone zone, and i only went to town on this dude's near-albino style because teet said it was ok to partake in-- nay, encouraged-- verbal carnage. now she's changed her mind so i'll just say that i wrote a lot of mean shit just because i could-- i hardly know the guy!-- and because he was a good subject for the funny, and now the world will never know. except about the part where i called him the abominable snowman, because it is my duty to share that with mankind.

anyway, staff sale. while some people were selling their original goods (like teet's bags, see red seagull fantasia to the right, feel jealous that i own one), most were just pros selling off the excess schwag their sponsors had given them. and if the kids are really that stoked on buying second hand, over-priced shit from the pros they admire, why not sell it to them, except that it's kind of exploiting their youthful idiocy and emitting of an ick vibe overall.

someone tried to reason with me that these pros are probably low enough on the totem to need the money, but if you knew how much these kids paid for 9 days of snows'n'pros, you'd see how that excuse would be harder to swallow. but whatever, teet sold some bags, and her next door vendor sold some handmade kerchiefs that were cute, and an other dude sold his own brand of bottled water, called p.

below are the bottles of p, the official t-shirt that says, "i drink p," and the "p pants," with a cluster of company logos right where it counts. please keep in mind that, in order to capture the image of said pants, i had to ask the nice gentleman if he'd mind if i photographed his crotch. he was more than happy to oblige.

and maybe i am being unfair in condemning the staff sale, or at least being too much of a pinko, because it's no secret that being in large groups of supercool people makes me heartstoppingly uncomfortable, as if everyone can tell that i listened to an old bonnie raitt song in my car that morning, or that i consider a fun evening to be freeform crocheting and watching sports night dvds for the 9 millionth time, or that the only cold weather sport i can handle is hockey, and that's just as a spectator since i skate like a knee-less grandma with a load in my pants. that said, i don't quite care if the supercool people do know all of that shit and want to send me back to comi-con where i belong, because fuck, i love comi-con! it's just the aura they give off, this exhausting mixture of vanity, judgment, and boredom. so it's like high school, essentially. BUT EXTREME.

but whatever, i got to hang out with teet s'more, and then i drove back down the mountain to sandy, or, which quickly became shady, or, since the best western smelled like b.o., was filled with drunk teenagers, and shared a parking lot with a jiffy lube and a kfc. oh! and when i parked my car, it turns out that the kids in the car next to me were totally doing it! fucking in a car parked directly outside of a hotel...EXTREME! ly stupid.

started the next day by finally changing my oil, so that jiffy lube wasn't such an eyesore, after all, and then i did some solo thrifting while waiting for teet to get off work. say what you will about goodwill (and you will)-- overpriced, snobby, no bathrooms, etc-- but anywhere you can get a vintage gunne sax dress for $4 (so that i can resell it to some hipster for $60) is fine by me. so yes, i am officially a staff sale hypocrite, but if that dress came in manatee size, i'd be wearing it right now, so that's got to mean something. ooh! plus hipsters are not impressionable kids, but technically adults who would have no reason to want to buy something overpriced based on my starpower, as i am not a star and am totally powerless. i knew i was in the right.

we also went to a smaller thrift store in town, the kind i usually love where it's $2 a bag, nothing is sorted, and the smell is strangely familiar but also intensely discomforting, but alas, i think a pack of kids from her camp had picked it clean. seriously-- because it was raining that day, the kids went on a field trip to the bigger goodwill nearby, and we knew they were there because the camp's buses were outside, and we knew they were the camp's buses because one of them has a horn and a tail to be the busicorn, and the other has a large mustache so it's the bustache. we drove even further to go to a vans outlet so the girls could exchange some shoes they'd gotten for free from camp, but of course, that was camper central, too. so they had to head back, and i had to get to portland, so we agreed to meet up in the city the next day. and off i headed to portland to see my friend simon, at least in theory.

simon and i went to college together, and between being funny, not-an-asshole, and from oklahoma, he gets away with a lot. like, when i met him he had an unfortunate facial piercing and rode a longboard, but i forgave him, because he was so nice and from oklahoma, and really, if you're from oklahoma and don't want to be armed and dress like an extra from brokeback mountain, it's sometimes hard to get sure footing on another stylistic path. then he shaved his head and got the oklahoma state logo tattooed on his arm, and even though his inner bicep seemingly displays a dreamcatcher (which it is not), simon still gets a pass. so when he said i could stay at his house but wouldn't write back or pick up his phone to finalize plans, i still couldn't get mad.

i drove into portland thinking i'd walk around, but i forgot that i was a, exhausted, and b, in a car, and portland ain't a huge bike city for nothing. i thought boston had the world's worst city planning, although when your roads are based on cowpaths, shit's bound to be less than efficient. i don't know what portland's excuse is, but driving around was tough, and parking was tougher. i thought i'd go into powells, so i used their garage, which is maybe the scariest place to park your car in the nation, scarier than sf, or the trader joe's in los feliz, or north tonawanda, ny (where the parking isn't as scary as the prospect of parking followed by getting out of your car, but we've gone over that). you drive up what feels like a 70 degree slope, then you take a blind turn (before which they ask you to honk, and you know it's bad when the one thing between you and a head on collision is your horn), then squeeze into the spot the man has assigned you.

i did this, illegally left buzz in the car, went into the store, got overwhelmed by the crowds, found out they didn't have the book i wanted, and left. it took five minutes, cost me $1.25, and resulted in me having to go right down dead man's curve again. where the fuck was simon?

teet told me a good hotel to stay at, so i hung out at a coffee shop across the street from it to internet and drink necessity coffee (and really, there is not other kind for me cuz i kind of hate coffee, so if you see me drinking it, it's because i have to drive down pee-wee roads at night or because it's my last ditch attempt to seem like a social human being). then they closed...and i sat in my car. i talked to my sister, now out of cleveland, thank god, and to my parents, who, god bless them, couldn't even hide their boredom, and then, just when i was getting ready to check-in to yet another hotel that would force me to hide my dog in a courrier bag, simon called! why did i ever doubt him! he's from oklahoma!

and while this isn't his house, it is his neighbor's house, and the whole block kind of looks like this (minus photogenic purple flowers), and after my night in the best western armpit and parking lot of carnal desire, it was a sight to see. and i hadn't seen simon in a while, so i caught him up on all my bullshit, and vice versa, and then he took me to food and then to watch him dj, which wasn't entirely awful cuz we did get to talk a bit, but c'mon.

i'll never understand girls who like dating guys just 'cause they're in bands, or the coatrack girlfriends teeter and i used to mock who were content being at a show and standing at the back holding their man's outerwear while he cut it up up front, or especially girls who want to date djs, because just standing there is so, so incredibly fucking lame. don't you just want to shake those girls and say, hey! asshole does not hold the keys to the kingdom, you could be on that stage your damnself! you go be enjoying that rock band instead of paying money to double as a piece of furniture! you could drag your record collection to clubs and put records on turntables and mysteriously get paid for it, you don't need a cock in order to apply! so while simon gets a pass on dj'ing, not just because he's from oklahoma, but because he's trying to support himself as a freelancer (much respek), and while we did have windows of chat, sitting to the side next to a man dj'ing did make me feel kinda dirty. i took a longer shower than normal that night, i'll just say that.

also, i'd like to note that simon's roommate, who was very nice and had an incredibly cute pug, has some of the best interior design style i've ever seen. as i look around my office right now, i see papers, three open drinks all being consumed at once (who wouldn't like a water/fresca/diet dr pepper combo?), various balls of yarn, cardboard boxes, dirt...not the stuff of domino magazine. but this girl's desk had just a laptop and some adorable antique something something, not even a post-it note out of place. their apartment was like a model home set up by anthropologie. and while this picture doesn't quite capture it as flash always kills the party, you're going to have to trust me. sister's got class.

anyway, we started the next day with coffee at a shoppe where simon knew almost everyone, and where the kid behind the counter couldn't understand why i found it funny that they sold scones with marionberries. like, does the scone have li'l chunks of crack and whores in it? does no one remember dc's most famous mayor? and where the fuck did marionberries come from, cuz those aren't an east coast treat. anyway, we met up with teeter and caitlin for delicious breakfast. simon spoke in the uninhibited, humorous manner that i love him for (hi! oklahoma!), i laughed, teeter probably wondered who's this guy talking about a girl he had sex with once who screamed "i'm the happiest pony in the field!" when she came, and in the end, the place made really great mushroom gravy.

so we went to a couple fancy shopperies in downtown portland and had famous voodoo donuts before the girls went back to camp and i went to eugene. and yes, there's a lot of stuff i didn't get to see, but like missoula, portland is a place i will undoubtedly return to one day (as i'd already been there before, but one day in 1997 doesn't really count). i mean, simon's house is a dream, and there was no not-delicious food. like mt hood, however, portland did seem to be made up almost entirely of cool kids, but i guess that's where simon comes in in the first place. he will never be too cool-- he was always be from oklahoma. i will always enjoy sports night. but even i need supercool people to sell those gunne sax dresses to.

next: pt. 5: OR, CA, the end, thank god, this is only getting less funny as my memory gets worse and worse.

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