Archive for the ‘About Town Portland’ Category

This month I wrote a piece on one of my favorite bands, Yo La Tengo for the local paper the Portland Mercury:



(signed ticket stub from one of their Chanukah shows a while back)

For the Mercury piece I did an e-mail interview with their bass player James. Only a small portion of which was featured in the piece.


Here’s the whole thing, slightly edited.

Jack: Only through the magic of Googling that I found Stuff Like That There was a song by Betty Hutton from 1944, later covered by Bette Miller (from the movie For the Boys) and Kelly Clarkson (during her American Idol run). Did the band have any connection to the song in particular? The lyrics are pretty funny/sxualized

“I want some huggin’ and some squeezin’

and some muggin’ and some teasin’

and some stuff like that there.

I want some pettin’ and some spoonin’

and some happy honeymoonin’

and some stuff like that there.”

Was there any talk of covering that song? (why/why not?)

James: No, we never thought we’d cover it. I think we were drawn to it by the recent discovery of Sun Ra’s version. It kind of gives you pause, here’s this ferociously original composer/ performer, who always kept his arrangements of standards in the Arkestra’s book. “Take The A Train” could appear right after “Discipline 27.” 

Jack: I’m probably reading too much into that song, but it seems to be about feeling like your out of the game but getting excited by something again. Did the songs on this album feel like getting your juices flowing?

James: You probably are. Nope, everything flows.

Jack: On the album you cover a Special Pillow song, a band you played in. Were there other Special Pillow songs in the running?

James: There weren’t, but they have a ton of great songs. I was lucky that Dan Cuddy asked me to be the guitarist in the original lineup. I was a giant fan of his band Hypnolovewheel.

Jack: Are you as much of a baseball/Mets fan as Ira (i’m not sure about Georgia and Dave)?

James: I am a fan to be sure. Measuring it is like asking how religious someone is.

Jack: Is it hard being on tour overseas while the World Series is happening?

James: Yes, it’s murderous. 

Jack: Do you try and arrange daily schedules to watch the games or tape them/watch them later? (especially since it’s the Mets).

James: No, it usually fits right in with our daily lives, unless we’re in Europe, and then all is chaos.

Jack: I read this was the first time you played upright bass? Is that true?

James: It was my idea. What was I thinking? Actually, I know what I was thinking. Al Greller played upright on “Fakebook” (and Wilbo Wright played upright on the subsequent tour), so I thought I’d go 100% on the concept of this record and try it. It’s a challenge, all right. Playing it every night on tour has been rewarding, probably in the way a boxer feels after winning a heavyweight match (every night).

Jack: Any plans to use some upright bass on the next Dump record? (any plans for the next Dump record?)

James: No plans (for either). One song on a new Shrimper records compilation (Led Zeppelin’s “Down By The Seaside”), and one new original 15-minute song on an upcoming cassette compilation.

Jack: Could you tell us a little bit about the recording process? Was it similar to previous records or did you try anything different? (IE- Instruments first then vocals, all live, different for different songs). Was it challenging to decide how the upright should sound/be mic’d recorded? I can imagine it’s challenging to get an upright mic’d right for live shows.

James: It was nothing like previous records (except “Fakebook,” I guess). Almost the exact same basic setup for every track, minimal overdubs. Our live sound engineer has used a combination of mic/ direct techniques for the upright, he won’t even tell me. I’ve been playing it through a Fender Super Reverb onstage, but only for monitoring purposes.

Jack: Have you kept up on independent comic scene? What’s been some titles/writers you’ve enjoyed in the past few years?

James: I haven’t kept up too closely. I have mostly followed the careers of a handful of the same artists for a long time, and their work has just gotten stronger over time, particularly Jim Woodring and Adrian Tomine.

Jack: What have you been up to the past few days? Any good/bad site seeing? (London, Paris, Berlin)

James: Lots of walking, searching for coffee, stamps. I’m a huge fan of pharmacies and grocery stores when overseas. I like to get out and see the city whenever I can, and try to blend in somehow.

Jack: Have you had any special (or not so special) guests join you on stage for this tour besides Dave Schramm?

James: In Brooklyn, we played “Walk Away Renee” and “Rollers Show” with Nick Lowe. In London, we played “Rings Around The World” with Gruff Rhys.

Jack: Any plans to visit the Portland tree featured on Fade’s album cover? (in Overlook park) while you’re in Portland?

James: No plans, but it could happen, especially if it starts serving coffee.







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A whirlwind visit.





Watch the slideshow and read the notes


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A whirlwind visit.

Wednesday: Mom is supposed to get in at midnight, but her flight is delayed. Jetblue website says flight will be in at 1:40 AM. I fall asleep. Wake up at 2. Get my mom at 2:30. Sorry Mom.

Thursday: Breakfast = Essa bagels and rainbow cakes from NY. Yaaaaaaaa! Sight seeing: Rebuilding Center, Reading Frenzy, Mississippi Records, PMOMA, Cherry Sprout, PCC, Alberta Street, First house I lived in in Portland. Drive up to the beach behind the airport (AKA Dittlers), Drinks at Salty’s, drive up Marine drive. Go to The Grotto, then to Rocky Butte. Then BBQ potluck at home.

Friday: Breakfast at Tasty and Sons. Pack for camping trip. Drive up Colombia Gorge. Go camping.

Saturday: Lake hang. Pick berries. Short Hike. Yummy dinner. Play Mafia.

Sunday: Pack up drive to the Ape Caves, then MT St Helen viewpoint (Lehan). Drive back to Portland. Dinner at Podnah’s

Monday: drive to the coast. Hike to Oswald West. Water color painting. Drive to Astoria. Drive around. Dinner at Baked Alaska. Visit Astoria Column. Drive home.

Tuesday: Breakfast at Zells, Next Adventure bargin basement, Contemporary Craft Museum, Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Powells, Forest Park, View from Pittock mansion, drive up to St. John’s Bridge, Cross the bridge, Tacos, home to pack, drinks at the Bye and Bye and then to the airport.




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A lost comedy skit I never released featuring the Safdie brothers.

Filmed in 2009. Took a year to edit and still wasn’t done.

The episode is essentially the third East Side Buffet episode after we got canceled in episode 2.

(featuring Claire Titleman, Mikey Kamppmann, Chess Hero and a live performance from The Shaky Hands at Burgerville)

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weird sketchiness. Driving home last night, saw a guy messing with a bike lock in front of Fresh Pot on Mississippi. I slowly drove by, couldn’t tell if he was unlocking or locking or trying to steal it. It was a cable lock, and he was putting something into the key hole it looked like. I slowed down and pulled over at the corner awkwardly and put my hazards on. A group of people started walking by and I pretended I was trying to get someone’s attention and honked my horn a few times, not looking in the bike’s direction. Then I waited. Turned around. I saw that the guy was not by the bike, but on the sidewalk, just checking out the scene. I stood there and then pulled over catty corner (so now across from animal traffic). I called the police, and said I knew it was kind of pointless, but it sort of looked like this guy was trying to steal a bike and he was still here. I could see him a block away, standing there. Maybe sort of wondering what I was up to. I described him as best I could to police and they said they’d send a car by. So I stayed there, with my hazards on. Watching this guy standing there. he walked down the block, further down shaver, but still he stood there. After another few minutes passed. I looked away. Then when I looked back I think I saw him get into a silver hatchback car. This was shocking. Why was he messing with a bike lock and then getting into a car? They drove off. I actually stupidly tried following them, because I had nothing better to do. But I’d lost them. I went back to the bike. I wanted to take a closer look at the lock, but was afraid the police would pull up and arrest me. Although I had a good alibi. I had given the dispatcher my name and number. So if they did try to arrest me, I could just tell them to call my number. Which actually, makes me think it would be the perfect crime. I didn’t look at the bike lock that closely and then I drove home.

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I started Grad school a month ago (6 weeks) to get a Masters in education and a teaching certificate to teach elementary school.


I haven’t had time to do much else. And yet when I had all the time in the world I didn’t devote enough of it to creative projects or to promoting the projects I did make, because I’m not that great a self-promoter. (I still want to try to get my last album reviewed by some local press-it came out last May).

Friends are doing creative things I’m not.

>>>>I had two comments on this blog that were pending. Both looked like spam, but I approved them anyway.


Over a month ago I started a blog post about recommending a band to the music Critic Everett True who then blogged about them. I never finished the post.



Friends from college visited town showing their movies. I’m sad I missed watching one.  http://cstpdx.com/show/directing-dissent

This one reminded me, that I used to make stuff:



college friend Carter played town and stayed over



I’ve been watching Carter play music for 10 years. Crazy.



high school friend Ava came and stayed for 5 days. I was too stressed and busy to hang out. I’ve known Ava since I was 14. Freshmen Science class at LaGuardia


I want to blog about each hike/ outside trip I’ve done, but I’m 100s behind.

rating system (Hike/beauty (H) = 1-5) (Difficulty (D) 1-5) (General Joy (GJ) that day= 1-5)

Today was Burnt Lake on Mt Hood With Matt. H-7 D-2 GJ = 4

Last weekend was Twin lakes on Hood with Dempsey, Heald, Leif and Hancock (H=7)(D-3 with pack, 1 without) (GJ= 3.5)

Some Elk Rock island (6-7)

Hunchback Ridge (with Andy, Amanda, Stephen, Ann and friend) (7)

Grassy Nole with Mazama group (7)

Coyote Wall (Stephen, Amanda, Tracie)

Elk Mountain coastal range

Silver Star with Mazamas

Mt St Helens – Steve, Suzie, Hoover

Cross Country Ski trips

at least 6 this winter: Trillium with Brian, Jeff

Overnight near Rainier? (Cooper spur??) with Jeff, Amanda, Dave, + 2

Overnight on Hood with Dave, Jeff, Amanda, Jesse, Brian, Allie

White River with Steve, Suzie, Dana, Stefon

White River Aly bday, Heather, Marty, Vinh, big crew)


Enough of that.

Other stuff?

Lots and lots and lots.

I wish I was spending more time working with someone writing Stand up comedy. I wish I spent more time painting. (any time)

I wish the fridge wasn’t leaking

I wish the basement didn’t smell weird

I wish I could clean my room more often

Floss More

Eat better

meditate more (at all)

I want to be invited to play shows, but I don’t have time to play them

I want to play good live shows and have fun

I want to have fun practicing

I want to play music


I scrapped up my ankle sliding into home base during a kickball game last week. the guy threw the ball at me, but I was safe.


My dad comes for a visit in two weeks.

I have a big hike planned in the Wallowas.


I felt emotional and great listening to Herman Dune Peel session. Man they sounded good. featuring Dufus and Scout Niblett. what a great session.

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I’ve wanted to try to keep a record of all the hikes and various trips I’ve done around Portland. I figure it’ll come in handy when friends visit and I’m thinking of something to do. And if the internet still exists in 40 years, I can look at it when I’m old.

Eagle Creek is one of my favorite hiking spots near Portland. It’s beautiful and not very hard.

It’s basically a one way hike. You could hike in 15 miles or more and loop around, but I’ve never done that. I’ve gone there 4-5 times. Hiked to punch bowl falls a few times and one time hiked in 6 miles with Marci, just past tunnel falls and camped out. The water falls and views can really take my breath away.This past weekend was a day hike to high bridge with Pinata co-founder Mike Dempsey. Other folks I’ve hiked this with I think include: Marci, Dave, Jeremy, Molly and kids from Garfield House + others?

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I was going to write a review of this show, but I didn’t so just some pics.









Friends from college opened the show, John Gnorski and Jeff Brodsky AKA Wet Wool. They were pretty awesome.








AU played.

Then Nurses.








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