Saturday, September 22, 2012


Late summer has been alot of fun this year.  I made the best batch of salsa I’ve ever made last night, with tomatoes from the garden, roasted peppers and onions, and chipotle from a can. Despite the bummer of multiple naysayers who warned about slugs and aphids, I successfully grew a few cabbages as good as any I’ve had, and tons of good broccoli.  The sole zuchini plant has been steadily giving and patient back there by the fence, like a great elder who has seen it all.  

It is impossible to get sick of zuchini if they are grilled with garlic and olive oil.  On Facebook I posted a gratuitous rant about people leaving over-sized squash--also known as land salmon--on the breakroom table.  My friend Heavy Metal Tom from Iowa had the best comment: those are good food for pigs.  Of course you can make muffins or bread from giant zuchini, but you shouldn’t make that someone else’s deal. 

Last weekend Tracy went to Anaheim on business and we folded in a trip to Disneyland that completely blew my mind.  If I’d gone in my early twenties I would have been haunted by heady academic theories about simulacra,  facsimile, cultural appropriation, and so forth.  And I would have been depressed and low energy, because I was almost always depressed back then.  In my 30’s I would have been freaked out by vacation time, money, and potential consequences of my absence on the production team.   

At 43, I’m no dummy, I know The French Quarter at Disneyland is not the real French Quarter, and that we paid good money to sit and listen to a jazz band and eat beignets shaped like Mickey Mouse after screaming our guts out on Space Mountain. Deconstructing pleasure has to be one of the more vile forms of wickedness we’ve taken as a sign of intelligence in white people who know almost nothing practical.  A rollercoaster with an ice cave and a roaring yeti?  I believe it.  What a rush!

Taken as a whole, Disneyland is a stunning act of imagination, logisistics, design, art, engineering and execution.  There is not a sightline in the whole park that leaves you laying eyes on something boring or merely functional.  If you space out in a long line while waiting for a ride on Splash Mountain, you might see a brightly colored tram come around the bend, or a troupe of stormtroopers clustered around Darth Vader, or an exploding pirate neon pirate ship with hip hop dancers in the rigging.  I can imagine the whole park laid out in 3D cad drawings, analyzed by engineers to eliminate boring views.  I woke up the next morning with wild, silly imagery ping-ponging behind my eyelids.  Three days, I think, would have been too much.  It made me proud to be a human being.  We do extravagant things so well.

It struck me that the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln show was the first major attraction on Main Street. Mr. Disney sort of co-mingled his story and his mission with a show about this great president, and a hall of heroes.  People like Jackie Robinson, Mark Twain, Sally Ride, and so on. This could be seen as wildly inflated, but after finishing Jay Winik's history book April 1865 on the plane, and learning more about Lincoln, and more about the end of the Civil War, I mingled with all the families and children of so many different races and even nationalities, feeling gratitude. Somewhere I read that "sometimes you have to get inflated to get off the ground."

I’ve never heard that Disney was a fun guy to work for, or that he sent Mickey Mouse beignets to the union meetings.  But to see thousand of people co-exist, having fun in a place of imagination, was special.  This election season is truly awful and at times it feels like this country wants to fall apart, prompted by devilish imagineers for whom everything is money.  I fell in love with Disneyland and left all that crap behind for a while.  I rode on a yellow submarine, cruised past a pod of animatronic hippos, and saw a pirate skeleton in his bed, surrounded by treasure, gazing with eternal narcisissm into a dusty hand mirror.

The late summer capper was an amazing rock and roll show.  Last month I saw Ian Hunter tear down the Aladdin, this month I saw Bob Mould wipe out The Wonder Ballroom.  It was a wednesday night and Ed Cole bugged me to come up, so I did. (The drive back was not fun, but Nic Gussett kept me awake with conversation about Eugene architecture and civil engineering, melodic post-hardcore from the UK, and questions about evil and nature/nurture as related to true crime.) Bob and his band played all of Copper Blue, a handful of new songs, and a handful of Husker Du numbers.  At this point, there are two or three more sets of great songs that he did not play.  But Copper Blue is a bona fide classic album, somehow on its own terms, in a no-man’s land between craftless “alternative rock” and corporate-sponsored grunge.  It’s got quality; it hits the target like a great Who album.

It was a smokin’ show, and I felt lucky to be there with old ex-pat friends from Eugene who have all moved to Portland.  Little snippets of shows from the past crept in and I felt grateful.  (I guess this is not unlike the feelings of those oldsters who were holding hands and swaying during “All The Young Dudes” at the Ian Hunter show.)  Husker Du at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, 1986...The Uptown in KC in ‘87...their last show in Columbia later that year, which started with Grant sick in the restroom, and ended with Bob getting hit in the chest with a Solo cup full of ice...Bob Mould in Decorah, Iowa, 1989...etc etc.  I never saw Sugar.  At that time I was in my garret.

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