eugene! how can you not love a town that always makes you think of revenge of the nerds? i'd been there before, back in 1997 when i went all around oregon and washington, ending up at yo yo a go go and seeing the gossip pre-fame (but mid-mediocrity), sleater-kinney pre-"artistic growth", and modest mouse pre-fame, as well as pre-rape. good times!
my friend joe used to live in eugene, and he drove an old volvo that looked like the batmobile, and we drove to the coast with his roommate. the whole trip, from the ride in the car to the mini hike through the woods to get down to the windy beach to the windy beach itself, was just shockingly pretty. like that luna song "california all the way" could have been playing the whole time. or maybe more something by galaxie 500. their cover of "listen the snow is falling"? fuck it, think of a song that makes you think "idyllic," insert here.
my friend molly is from eugene, then lived in new york for a long time, which is where we met maybe 8 years ago-- her group of friends were some of the first people i met after starting hockey. we'd all gone to nyu, but didn't meet there, because you don't make friends at nyu, you make bad student projects, enemies, and a financial deficit that will follow you to your grave. molly was also the person who convinced me to start watching buffy, so i both owe her my life and must destroy her for the combined months i've lost just rewatching "the zeppo" and "band candy" alone (these are buffy episodes-- i can refer to most episodes by their titles, as well as tell you who wrote them. fuck you, molly. and bless your soul.)
molly lives in an adorable li'l house not so far from the "downtown" with her manfriend, who i will call j., because it was she does when interneting, so i will follow suit. they fed me brownies made in one of those fancy new "only edge" brownie pans (check boingboing), then gave me the eugene tour, which includes, but is not limited to:
fig 1. "ants"
fig.2: "molly's amazing technicolor job door."
fig. 3: "chad"
fig. 4: "huh?"
molly with a statue of eugene's most famous author, captured forever in bronze as he reads to women and children. that author? ken kesey. let me spoil the ending of the book he's reading: "and then they all took acid and got naked. the end."
they also took me to delicious bbq, altho the atmosphere wasn't delicious, as the owner, a fat old man who will die on the toilet after a heart attack from too many battered'n'fried pickles, gruffly 86'd me because i had my dog. and when i say gruffly, i mean he was a fucking asshole. my bad, you oil drum with legs. whatever, we took the food and ate in a park, and even though we got baptized by the municipal sprinkler system, it was still a fine meal. in addition, i hate that guy.
i also made molly n'j. watch "idiocracy," and while i haven't mentioned this yet, my trip was an unofficial evangelical mission to spread the movie's gospel. when i first saw the movie, i had mixed feelings-- the movie began, like, 7 times, but at least it had a clear ending (which office space really did not). but, just like office space, the more you see the movie, the less you care. it's just fucking funny.
i made maysan and chris see it, and even though they hate everything but "law & order" and have a rating system that maxes out at 2 stars, they didn't just not hate it, but they actually liked it. teeter had shown it to so many people at mt. hood that most of the staff were quoting it without blinking ("tards can lead totally kick ass lives" is a favorite. and fuck no i'm not going to explain it, see the movie). anyway, molly and j. liked it, too, so hopefully they'll spread the word to the 10 other people that live in their town (11 if you include ye olde asshole who bleeds barbeque sauce, but natch, i don't).
that concluded my time in oregon tho. they left early the next day for work, i left soon after and locked up the enchanted cottage behind me. the end was nigh. and i'm not just talking about my trip.
oh, berkeley. i've had nothing but good times in berkeley. for years, i'd go to visit my friend paisley in the bay area, and we'd get burritos on telegraph, browse the mega hello kitty superstore in san francisco, and dodge drum cricles near campus (she grew up there AND went to school there, brave girl). when i was 18 she took me to 924 gilman, the abc no rio of the west coast, which is to say, the diy performance space that is good in theory but kind of excruciating in practice.
we didn't go in because of some drama with the guy at the door and her best friend that involved the sex/drugs/rock'n'roll trifecta. we hung out outside with some drunk kids, one of whom wore a shirt that said "hatexedge" in sharpie, and then left 15 minutes later. and then a week or so after that, paisley found out that right after we left there was a huge brawl that forced the place to close for a month, so...punk rock?
i would also like to take a moment to talk about my favorite show i ever went to at abc, which involved the locust and somebody else in the summer of 2000, i think. i went with my friend anthony, but we didn't even bother to try and see the locust because the room was a fuckin' shvitz. because abc is always freezing in the winter and a sweatbox in the summer, and there always seems to be a whole new group of kids on the collective who have been given no instruction by the old, now-disaffected regime, so they are left to reinvent the abc wheel for the 9 millionth time, and that wheel is once again lopsided and wedged in place by kids who come to shows and refuse to spend their weekend away from long island not being drunk. where was i?
anyway, anthony and i just hung out in the garden with our friend/my former boss, peter, bored out of our minds, so anthony decided to start a rumor that slayer was playing a show that night on a rooftop in greenpoint. we did this by talking to each other loudly, repeatedly, about slayer, and were we going to their show that night in greenpoint, because we heard they were playing a show that night in greenpoint, and are you coming to see slayer tonight on a rooftop in greenpoint, etc, etc. over and over.
finally, this one guy on the other side of the garden, keeping it so real with the crust punk aesthetic that you could actually see the filth, shouted, "does anyone know anything about this slayer show tonight in greenpoint?"
to which some girl replied, "whatever. that was yesterday."
and here's a picture of mount shasta, which i passed between oregon and berkeley. california really does get more and more hellish the further south you get, cuz doesn't this look like heaven? or at least not-orange county?
and how sad is it that before i even thought, wow, that's beautiful, or, dang, snow, i thought, doesn't pavement sing about this? ("unfair"...how i hate myself).
anyway, paisley is now in LA, but my friends cristie and elanor are in berkeley-- cristie just for the summer to learn spanish before she returns to her english lit phd program back east, el indefinitely as she's looking for an agricultural policy-style job, and lord knows it gets farmy in davis and around santa cruz. we all went to high school together, and whenever i'm convinced that i am fat, friendless, and doomed to die so alone that i won't even be there, i remember that i have managed to keep my 4 best friends from high school. so i can't be a total pariah. just maybe part-pariah. part-riah. whatever.
i stayed with cristie and slept in her li'l sister's room since she was out of town (her sister is at berkeley getting a phd-- they are a smart, tall family, and, fun fact, they always have a container of naked cooked spaghetti in their fridge back in boston, don't ask me why). cristie's advice is so famously wise and insightful that there was a period in college where all 5 of us wore bracelets that i'd made that said "what would cristie do?", so when i started ranting about my sister's wedding, she let me vent and then steered me towards the path of righteousness and light. sadly, i insist on staying on the path of grumbling and antagonism, but i appreciate her effort.
and really, i love my sister, but i hate the way we (ie, women) view weddings in this country. because if a wedding is supposed to be the best day of your life, then that means the pinnacle of your existence is the saturday you wore white like a fucking sacrifice to the volcano god, made your closest girlfriends wear matching dresses (and unless your name is berry gordy and your friends are the supremes, why would you do that to people you actually like?), and got your parents, who love you and raised you and wiped your tiny shitty child-ass even though that's disgusting but their love for you blinded them from the fact they were handling another human's feces, you got those very parents to help you burn through the equivalent of most of your college tuition or the down payment on a house in a single day. so, like i said, i love my sister. but if she tries to get me into a matching dress i will literally shit all over it. and my mother's blind love will turn to blind rage.
this is not what cristie would do.
eventually we went to el's for dinner and had some extremely delicious pesto and veggies, all of which were from a food co-op of some sort, which is what you get when you go to a meal prepared by people that work in agricultural policy whatever (both elanor and her bf, kumar, are in the field, no pun intended). they also had a friend named sally visiting from boston who's originally from indiana, and she's the one who told me my sister's future home is in klan country. IT ALL COMES FULL CIRCLE.
i should also note that if i ever get caught in an apocalypse, i'd want elanor on my team, not just because she's been my friend since i was 12, but because she is a fucking wizard when it comes to food. she's the kind of person that doesn't just know how to make delicious pesto, but probably has a recipe for every part of the basil plant down to the roots, which might taste good as a jam or something, and that would be no problem for elanor since she does her own canning, that is when she's not baking a pie from scratch or experimenting with her apple crisp recipe (with apples she probably picked herself, although one time i provided apples from my own tree in nh, and i was honored that she was the one to make them into a culinary delight).
oh, and i'd want cristie there, too, because she'd probably know how to get potable water, distract us by teaching us 3 part harmony to joni mitchell songs, and keep us from cannibalism (again, cannibalism = not what cristie would do).
oh, and elanor's boyfriend loves the As as well as bobble head dolls. tada, evidence.
natch, the next day we met up for more delicious food (there on the left is el, then cristie, then purty flowers because berkeley is truly eden). even though el didn't prepare it herself, she chose the cafe, which is the next best thing. she also took me to the cheese board, which is a bakery/pizza place/cheese emporium, and it's also pretty much the place i went to be buried.
i had this curry/cheese/potato english muffin of the gods there that, on those days when i am sitting in my hot LA apartment doing nothing but sweating, wondering when the super's going to fix the fucking washing machine, and hoping that griffith park doesn't catch fire again, i am extremely tempted to drive 6 hours to go and experience all over again. el might be able to fed ex me one, but she's probably too busy helping organic farmers, making something amazing out of banana peels, or generally saving the world. cristie is back east already wasting her good advice on undergrads, plus the food there probably sucks.
and i tried to take more arty flower pictures, but it was morning/foggy, so my flash went off, and flash flower pictures look creepy to me, like flower porn or something. so behold, an underaged rose. wood paneled basement not pictured.
oh, and i almost forgot-- before cristie and i passed out, we watched idiocracy and another heart and mind were won.
but a heart was also broken as i dropped cristie off at class post-english muffin of the gods, gritted my teeth, and began the last leg home.
i started my trip my trip by visiting my cousin sara, so it seemed only right to end it that way. we ate goat cheese salads and chocolate rolls i brought from the cheese board (now referred to as "the cheese lord"), generally had a lovely time...and i thought, i can do this. i can go back to LA. because i might be returning to a hot, moth-filled apartment that has no corresponding parking space but does have a back yard full of dog shit, to a city that spontaneously combusts and is populated by people rendered so inconsiderate by their car culture that they openly stare at others at ralphs and would sooner walk right into you on the hiking trail then deviate from their arbitrarily set path, in a state that, despite looking like an apostrophe, does not know how the possessive works (see: ralphs)....
but i can do this.
because even if LA is not ideal, and even if i have very few people in the direct vicinity with whom to share my suffering, i do have people. they might be further north, or east, but they are there for me with homemade hummus and a bowl of water for buzz, or by adding my favorite gza song to their dj set or allowing me access to their best secret thrift, or by finding me funny and being funny and generally being there.
and by being amazing! by juggling an infant and a toddler, or preparing for rock stardom, or by virtually being a one-woman arts section for the local alt weekly, or by making a living writing, or by saving the world, or by trying to save my sanity. did i mention that sara had just completed a relay swim across lake tahoe? that's amazing! plus she's yay close to completing her phd. how rad are these people? and they talk to me on purpose! shit!
and since i've been back, i've talked more to the other people in my building, gotten more aggro with my neighbor about our parking space arrangement, left my house to do things besides hike and buy food at trader joe's...i mean, tonight i saw david lynch at the astro burger. that's got to be a good sign.
so that was my trip. and a lot of tangential bullshit. until next summer, i guess.
why do i suddenly crave chicken selects?