Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Lights

On rainy mornings humming - birds flutter outside my window, sometimes hovering in front the glass, red-capped and curious with darting eyes. They dart around the porch, examining the unplugged Christmas lights as if they were blossoms. Perhaps they see them as flower pods and come back every day to see if they’ve opened. I imagine turning on the lights and the birds sipping the colored light from them, then bursting off like Roman candles in the gray, damp air.

Shawl Damage - 3 - Favorite Portland Night Out '07

It began as a mean day, the winter already eating at our nerves, but by 11. pm we found ourselves warm, beer happy, and watching Karaoke at Chopsticks III. The sign for the place rises from the parking with the unbelievable subtitle – How Can Be Lounge. No question mark.

It How Can Be like this – orange walls the color of an old basket ball, Christmas lights draped over handdrawn placards explaining Chinese dishes, and a buffet also lit with holiday lights gleaming and reflecting oh-so-gently in the sneeze guard.

The woman at the door wears her sheriff’s dept. uniform so casually that only her badge and gun belt mark her as a real officer. She has a round, pretty face and big square teeth the exact shape of her shiny manicured nails. Her hair is crisp, dyed blonde, teased, and sprayed to resemble bleached bird plumage. She looks like a cheerful suburban mom but has a physical confidence that says she can handle her riot stick or her gun.

Two cute, indie white kids are doing Salt and Pepper on the floor while the black ladies playing video lottery look up from their jewel bright screens and smile bemusedly, then return to their video business. The white kids are oblivious and that’s for the best.

For the last act of the night Chelsey and Josh do "Leather and Lace." Karaoke does count in the Stevie Nicks good luck formula I decided, because of chelsea's bright voice and brighter eyes in the dim lounge, and because everyone at the table is quietly singing alone with an embarrassed sincerity.

“My city, Your mountain, stay with me stay…”

By midnight, the How Has Been, out goes the lounge sign, and rain hits the parking lot in cold hissing sheets.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Downtown Saints

The emissaries of Jesus are out today in downtown. Portland is gray, windy, but warm, with yellow cyclones of leaves spinning their way down the streets. A woman approaches me with tight curled and frosted hair and make -up so thick she seems to have had Botox- her facial muscles barely seeming to move beneath her foundation. She wears acid washed jeans, without irony, a letter jacket and carries a shiny Nike sports bag. She also wears a heavy rosewood cross on a leather strap around her neck. She walks carefully, as if trying to float rather than step and her head does not move as she floats along the train walkway. Her wide white smile seems to pull her in its wake.

She does pause occasionally at some soggy sullen teen or heavy woman with shopping bags at her feet – Jesus Loves you – says the smiling woman, the words on her lips never once interfere with the view of her white teeth - the heavy woman smiles, the teen sulks.

Of course she comes to me – Jesus loves you and he takes you just as you are! Isn’t that awesome?

I ask – How am I?

-A sinner- she says happily, her face a perfect and unnerving mixture of blank and compassionate – shinning empty love.

On the train home, a sour smelling man in army fatigues plays a kind of Christian musical chairs by sitting next to various passengers and chanting loudly, in raw rhythm to Jesus for succor in his time of need – passengers switch seats all around him at each burst of his weird hymn.

Before we cross the river, where he bridge is steaming with cold, our pungent preacher and our beaming missionary woman depart the train, hurriedly, like spirits that cannot cross running water.

Les Chiens/Chiennes - Sans Visage

I recently watched "Eyes Without A Face," that beautiful, fucked up modern gothic, with all its sad horror etched in silver. Anyway, I finished the film and turned to Dodie Bellamy’s essay “Dogs Without a Face” in her collection "Academonia." With a voice that is deceptively personal she weaves Franju’s film, Disney’s "Cinderella," and shades of make–up into a deft piece of analysis that contains horror, beauty, and even a tender nostalgia. For this posting I decided to put the title of Dodie's
essay into my hack French and discovered that given the nature of the piece, I had to put "Dog" in both its masculine
and feminine form.

As many people know Dodie is a great teacher and her private workshops and academic classes have shaped a great deal of writing in the Bay Area. For anyone who is writing and teaching, "Academonia" is wonderful and a more than a bit frightening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shawl Damage - 1

So I've had a very bad cold for the last two days - fever, aches, head-spins -the whole phlegmy works.I keep falling into fitful sleep, where I dream my life is a Stevie Nicks video. I'm getting coffee, or on the bus, or eating soup, and there she is stamping her platforms and shaking her tassels and she just won't stop! Let this be a warning, do not mix whiskey and Theraflu!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Shawl Damage - 2

It's my sincere belief that we should take every good omen we can find as well as make up some for good luck dry spells.
Here's an easy one: If you hear Stevie Nicks at random it means good luck. However, there's a sliding kind of scale to this fortuity. Stevie Nicks in Fleetwood Mac=great luck, especially Riannon, 'cause that's about a witch - Stevie Nick 80's solo = pretty damn good. Sorry kids, after that the benevolence decreases with each record. still, the the odds are good.

P.S. this omen does not work if you are watching VHS 1 and the Dixie Chicks do not count.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Lights

The night of the storm I dreamed it was raining tiny light bulbs. They broke with soft pops and spilled light all over the street and yard.