Did I tell you we took the train to Seattle to see Stevie Wonder in early December? It was a really fun trip. Brian used Fetch to buy the show tickets, the train tickets and to reserve the room at
I wish I could remember where we got dinner – nice pizza, nice guys there, and we had a Missouri beer we liked (it surprised us, but not our waiter who was from there). Ah wait, I found it – I use yelp like some people use bookmarks. We walked from the Ace to Rocco’s for dinner and then walked to Key Arena to see Stevie Wonder. Not very many good pictures from the show, but holy cow – he played for four hours.
We walked back to the hotel around 1? And sat at the bar for a drink before bed, but managed to get up to meet Tim for breakfast at a little bakery nearby which he liked (it was pretty good! I was super tired!). He headed off for work, and we wandered around. We considered getting more piroshkies at Piroshky Bakery which is where we ate lunch the day before (have you eaten here? If you are in Seattle often and don’t, what’s wrong with you? Do it. So nice to grab some and walk through the city) but twice in two days felt excessive. It was a nice rainy day so we mostly just wandered until our train ride home.
I had to travel to Las Vegas for business and I had a blast. I should warn you up front that this post is going to be crazy image-heavy, and a few of them a pretty blurry but make me happy so I’m posting them anyway. Looks like WordPress is unhappy about the size of some fo the photos, so I am going to post this and add to it later when I have more time.I took off as always from PDX and had a clear lovely day and a window seat to admire all of my favorite mountains. My company put us up in the Palazzo, which I really really liked. Brian flew in and stayed the weekend so we could wander. The Palazzo is apparently the second largest building in terms of floor space in the Northern hemisphere. Explains why I was lost the first night.
We went with some friends in a stretch Hummer to see the sights on Friday night. It involved a surprising amount of drinking, and we closed down a bar at 4? 4:30? a.m.
After sleeping a bunch, we went to Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR for too much food. Brian hacked his menu as we were waiting by the hostess stand, ha! I was going to get a tshirt, but the only ones they had for women were 1) Pink and 2) Said BurGR across the butt. Nope, no thanks. Food was good, although we ended up eating at his pub that night and I much preferred the pub.
We had breakfast at the Peppermill Lounge, a diner from the 70s. Made a friend over breakfast, if we had been staying another day, I think we would have hung out all day.
By the time we made it to Bouchon on Sunday, I was so done. We found this quiet hall in the Venetian, and I have never been more pleased with peace and quiet. Bouchon was very, very good. I had a corpse reviver (a drink from the 20s), the trout (mmmmm) and some wild mushrooms. Could have eaten every meal here!
Last weekend, Brian and I celebrated our anniversary at the Salishan. The Salishan is starting to become a tradition, I think. When we walked into our room, Brian had a dozen red roses and a bottle of our favorite wine of all time waiting for me. I changed into my new dress and we sat by the fire, drank the wine and talked. I finally was able to give him the Midleton whiskey I carried all over Europe. I think he was more impressed by all Gretchen and I had to go through to get it to him than by the whiskey itself (well, no, he tried it this week and I think he’s more impressed by the whiskey now).
We ate dinner at the Salishan steakhouse (what a beautiful view) and then went to the lounge to see a band – Beth Willis, who turns out to be from Portland. Funny, I’ve seen her there three times now and didn’t realize that. On our way back to the room, she complimented me on my dress! Fun. I was pretty tipsy then though. Something about following a good amount of wine with whiskey. Hm, who would have thought?
This weekend is Brian’s birthday, so we started it off by going to Sweet Hereafter with Laurie. Sweet Hereafter is the new place opened by one of the guys from Bye and Bye. We got there just in time to be able to sit for dinner, it was completely packed. Good!
Last night we went to Mississippi Studios to see Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter (seems to be a themed weekend). We had been playing 2 player Ms PacMan across the street and left so we wouldn’t miss the opening band – man, what a mistake. I am still trying to think of a band I thought was worse in all the years I’ve been going to shows, there has to be one, right? Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter were awesome though – I would go to any show they do (but skip the opening band after last night).
Tonight is Brian’s birthday proper so we will do some more celebrating.
Next weekend is the Portland Marathon and my cousin Nicole is running it. Looking forward to cheering her on!
Had a lot of fun last night. Headed out with my friend Cindy and we went to the Satyricon to see a show. The Satyricon is being torn down and a homeless shelter will be built in its place and Cindy wanted to see a show there before they close this weekend.
With school and work, it’s been busy enough that by the time I got everything straightened out, it was last night or Saturday night. So we went out last night. We didn’t know the bands, but I’m always up for everything.
It turned out to be a psychobilly band from Germany, Mad Sin and a band from Oakland, Phenomenauts, and some other bands that we were way too late too see. What a great show, and the best people watching I’ve had in *forever*. It was really fun, and it’s been sooooo long since I’ve gone to a show that had that kind of energy. Dunno what happened that I’ve been going to so many mellow bands the last few years.
Felt super good to see a psychobilly band. The lead singer is a HUGE German guy, tattoos everywhere and not particularly impressed that he couldn’t have beer in the music side of the place (it was an all ages show so you had to go to the bar side to drink, where you couldn’t see the stage, just hear it). He finally gave up and jumped off the stage and stormed by Cindy and I to go get a drink. The band played a song or two while he was gone. Cindy and I decided to go see what the singer was up to, and when we turned around, he was just behind us getting his picture taken with a cute girl from the crowd. Really awesome and so incongruous with how he was raging on the stage (man, that guy has personality and pipes to spare).
Really enjoyed the Phenomenauts too – will have to pick up their albums. Reminded me of the Cocktails from Chicago. I wanted to go peer under the guy’s robot head after the show but somehow managed to restrain myself. The guys from the band were in the crowd to watch the Mad Sin show, which I thought was cool. The Phenomenauts put on a really tight good show – I’d see them again in a heartbeat, although they did one thing that makes me want to research them a bit more to make sure they aren’t associated with something I think is crap. Haven’t seen anything on their site or wikipedia that makes me think they are associated, so I’m assuming they were just messing with the crowd.
The crowd was a good group of punks and pompadours. Cindy said that was the biggest collection of pompadours she has seen, ever. Reminded me of Brian’s crew in Milwaukee – the whole show brought fond memories of seeing similar shows in Milwaukee. Will definitely have to find the next place to see this sort of thing again and not fall into the rut of seeing the same type of show over and over. Also really cool to see three sets of that kind of thing use a stand-up bass (which had a white headstock and was lit by Christmas lights. At one point, he played a solo and then held the whole thing over his head. These were all really big guys).
I hung out in a cemetery and watched the nearly full moon rise. No, seriously, I did.
Brian and I got to Lone Fir (on SE Stark, between 20th and 26th) almost perfectly in time to watch Buddhist masters from Hui Lin Temple perform a cleaning ceremony for Block 14. It was very beautiful to watch on a summer evening, and I wish I had pictures, but I inevitably lean towards being respectful rather than getting the picture I want.
Lone Fir is a pretty old cemetery in the middle of Portland. Some of our more notable citizens are buried there: Couch, MacLeay, Dr. Hawthorne, poets, city-builders. Some of our more notorious citizens have also been buried there – a madam whose “suitors” gathered money after her death to bury her and build a monument to her, a beloved bar-owner who decided that the annual Tom-And-Jerry bowl should be placed on his grave after he died (and apparently his friends would come and borrow it during the holidays, carefully replacing it on his grave afterwards), robbers, ax-murderers.
But Block 14 is where people who immigrated from China were buried. The tradition was that you would be buried there, but eventually, you would be dug up and sent back to your homeland, where your town or village would find a spot for you and re-bury you there.
Portland at one point had the second-largest Chinatown in the United States; it also had a shameful history of racism. When you look at the county records for Lone Fir, there are many details about the other parts of the cemetery but for Block 14, nearly each person buried in a plot was listed as “Chinaman” or a ditto mark. In the 1940s, the city decided to build a county building there and told the Portland Chinese-American community that the buried folks had to be moved. And supposedly they all were and the city built a municipal building on their former graves.
Except it turns out they weren’t all moved. So really what the city did (not intentionally) was literally build a building on their graves.
And then there’s the other part – Dr. Hawthorne, a well-renown early mental-health doctor, paid for many of his patients (who often were too poor or had no family who would recognize them) to be buried in Lone Fir. A good number of them are buried around Dr. Hawthorne’s grave, but it turns out that probably a number of them are still under the driveway that the city built in Block 14.
So last night, in addition to the cleansing ceremony for Block 14, there was some fundraising for the memorial being built on Block 14 (the city building has been torn down). Friends of Lone Fir sell a CD called Dearly Departed (which Brian and I have owned for a while) and some of the musicians were there and played. The songs on here are about people buried in the graveyard. You can read their stories here (a zip file of a PDF, hosted by Friends of Lone Fir).
The commissioner of Parks in Portland also dedicated three Heritage Trees (specifically the Lone Fir for which the cemetary is named).
At 9, they showed a movie I’ve been trying to catch for a while. It was made by a woman named Ivy Lin, and it is about the Chinese immigrants who were buried in Block 14. In 1949, Communist China closed its doors. The people whose bones had been shipped back to Hong Kong (where they’d stay until a spot in their town or village was found) were no longer allowed to be shipped back to their villages. The movie, called Come Together Home, follows her as she tries to find out what happened to them.
A fair amount of the movie is about the history of Lone Fir, so what a perfect place to finally get to see it. It was a fun night – there was a beautiful breeze blowing among the hundreds-of-years-old trees, and we were facing Block 14. Really, really cool.
So that’s how I spent my night in a cemetery, perfectly happy.
Having a fun weekend so far, despite an annoying head cold. I won tickets to see Al James from Dolorean at Mississippi Studios. We had planned to walk, but it was 95 and I was feeling miserable, so Brian was kind enough to drive. Meridian opened, and we really liked them. Can’t find any info yet out there, it’s a new project for the lead singer of Jackstraw but we want to see them again. Al James was fantastic as always. Each time I see him or Dolorean, I like them even more. I need to get their new album – the two I have on my phone are played frequently.
Yesterday I set a goal for us of walking across town to get dinner. We decided to check out Savoy Tavern in the Clinton neighborhood and set off. It’s about 3.5 miles from our house. It was too hot on the way there and I overheated (something I need to be better about not doing, I’ve had heat exhaustion a few times). The restaurant was great – we were there just in time for happy hour, and Tom Waits was playing when we walked into the bar.
Had to laugh though, of all the places in Portland I could have picked, I picked one with a Wisconsin theme. Needless to say, we ordered the fried cheese curds (as far as I know, the only ones in Portland). They were good, but not as good as the ones you get in a good dive bar setting in Madison. We’d get them again though for the novelty. Apparently Savoy Tavern’s Old Fashioned is pretty fantastic, and they serve Wisconsin cheddar instead of Tillamook (blasphemy!). Really liked the vibe there and definitely will head back to try a cocktail next time (and maybe sit outside if I haven’t walked there). Fun stuff.
We didn’t linger over dinner long enough so it was still pretty warm when we started walking back. Despite the big meal at Savoy Tavern, we decided to go for dessert at Pied Cow in hopes of the temperature cooling down. We sat out on the patio where I got an ill-fated gingerbread cake and Brian got the largest banana split I’ve ever seen. It was great to sit in the shade (I didn’t know they had a patio) and feel a nice breeze.
By the time we headed out from there, it had cooled off, but I was beginning a reaction to something in the gingerbread cake. My fingers swelled to the point that they looked like sausages! Thankfully, my breathing wasn’t affected so I was able to finish the walk home. Freaky though and I wish I knew what it was that caused the reaction. I make gingerbread cookies without any problems, but I wonder if they use a spice I don’t normally have and that’s what did it. Disappointing, the cake was really good!
Today is going to be pretty mellow, I’m still catching up on laundry from all the visitors we had so I’m going to work on that and study for the SCJA exam.
I am having trouble remembering if I saw a band or not because of all the small local places I go to and hear music so I’m going to keep myself up to date here (and a good number of the shows I went to last year are on here).
So in recent times, I saw Okkervil River at the Crystal Ballroom. It was just okay. It was fun to wander that night – it was a beautiful spring night and we took the bus downtown so that we could both drink. We started out at Clyde Common for a cocktail and dinner and wandered a few other places before ending up at the Crystal Ballroom. It was nice to check it out because I’ve wanted to see the inside for a long time. I’m really happy the McMennamins’ have preserved it and are using it as a music venue – but I wonder if they could do something about the sound, which sucked. I’m glad I got to find that out for a show I saw for free (won tickets). Despite being a big Okkervil River fan, and Brian is a bigger one than I am, neither of us could really hear what he was singing. All the music, as well as the vocals, sounded super odd and muffled. But a fun night, nonetheless.
Same problem with seeing Cyndi Lauper, but I guess I knew that going into it. She was playing at a casino after all. It was surprising to me though, how difficult it was to get a beer or a drink at the casino. Additionally, giving the number of shows this place advertises, I was also surprised at how temporary the area we saw Cyndi Lauper felt. Folding chairs with numbers masking-taped to their backs. But I saw her, and I am glad I did. I’ve liked her since I was, oh, thirteen or so, and one of my most heavy metal friends (Phil) has seen her three times and can’t say enough good things about her shows.
So there. Mostly up to date. I’m hoping to score tickets to the upcoming Norfolk and Western show, and I need to check and see if She and Him have relented and have decided to play in Portland. And summer means more wandering for me. Super excited about the number of places I have recently discovered I can easily walk to, which are going to make summer concerts even more exciting.
2. Rufus Wainwright’s version of Hallelujah. I like Leonard Cohen’s versions better generally, but something in this version stabbed me at some point and doesn’t let go of me. Also, thinking about how Rufus talks about Leonard Cohen also makes me choke up too.
Alright. Back to radio silence – one more week of school and then hopefully I’ll be chatty again.