Monday, January 17, 2005

3:05AM – Pacific Time – Saturday Januay 15th

The change over in flight at Chicago was a little harrowing and I had to run from gate K13 to gate H16 to get my flight, which in O’Hare airport is quite a pull if you have a back pack on.

Karen Finneyfrock met me in baggage claim and Daemon picked us up and it was off to the hilariousness that is usally Seattle. I grabbed lunch and a drink (Jack Daniels neat w/an India Pale Ale at the Elysian Brewery Pub, went back to K-frock’s place and slept. At 8:15PM I awoke, did 60 push-ups, had a shower and a drink (Jim Beam neat). Me and K-frock headed out to the Chac (Capitol Hill Arts Center) to meet Amy Baransky and then to deluxe to get some food and drinks.

Jim Beam
Rat City Pale Ale
Jim Beam
Irish Car Bomb
Mac and Jac’s African Amber

…and we’re just about done. Seattle is 20 degrees. I’ve heard this much about Seattle’s poetry. It involves Morris Stegosuarus (who I believe now lives in Providence) and it’s all I have to say so far…

Roast stork, again?
it’s all we’ve been eating
since the abortion…

Yes – a haiku… I’m very… tired… must sleep now…

Seattle to Eugene

11:40AM Jan. 15 – Pacific Time

So now I’m on the bus to Eugene. It’s on… like socks…

I’ve begun the requisite friend-making that bus travel necessitates, because I’ll be on here for another eight hours. Riding by Greyhound is it’s own American wonder. It can be harrowing or let you in on a kind of weird American underbelly that is unavailable anywhere else on the cultural plane.

When I first started travelling outside of New York to do gigs, I went by bus a lot. This was before folks thought that paying me to come somewhere and paying my flight and hotel and stuff was a good idea, and I learned more about remote corners of America that way than I have any other way. I wrote some of my best works on buses – Naming and other Christian things on the way from New York to Dallas, Jennica… on the way from San Francisco to Chico, Bird Watching on the way from Los Angeles to San Francisco – and got to see the full moon hang low over the Mississippi at 3AM in Memphis.

There are also always the stories – the biscuits and sludge-like gravy at the bus station in Nashville, TN, the fat woman who fell asleep on me in Washington, DC, making out with a stranger on the way from Washington to New York, the woman in Monterrey who wanted to examine my teeth. There are old rusty bridges and fantastically and bitterly beautiful cotton fields, acres and acres of yellow mustard flowers and gorgeous mountains. There are art-deco stadia and rivers.

I guess only something this wonderfully complex could spawn so much beauty walking hand in hand with so much grotesque; and America is grotesque – managing to make Christianity out of capital and all – making it sometimes really difficult to differentiate the beautiful from the truly sad; but I’m in it and I have a good life and I’m about to figure out how to capture all that is true and commit it to memory (mine and everyone else’s) so that when shit falls apart, we have something worth holding on to.


1. King Oscar Motel
2. Taco Time
3. omni Military Loans
(what the hell is this? do you get money for like… a start-up militia?)
4. Fort Lewis Military Museum
(really weird – there are tanks and silos on the front lawn!)

So my first friend, Michaela, just got off the bus in some town whose name I don’t know. She’s from New Mexico but lives in Seattle now. She and her friend are going to the hot springs in this town. I had half a mind to join them. I gave her a CD and she left me a note with a pen-drawn picture. The note said “you make me want to be myself. Thank You” This makes me happy. She’s going to try to come to my show on Wednesday in Seattle. Now I have to try to make some more friends…


1. Red Lion Hotel
all you can eat every Friday at 4
2. U-Neek RV Center
3. Gospel Signs Available
(with phone number beneath)
4. Fibre Federal
your community credit union
5. Edelweiss Inn
German-American Restaurant
6. Blackjack Fireworks
World’s Largest Selection

We’re leaving Portland. We had a half hour lay over there, so I had my first meal of the day; tuna on wheat, french fries, water. The Northwest is experiencing really curious weather. It rained ice from here all the way south through Oregon last night and this morning, it is 30 degrees and there was a 50 car pile-up on the highway as a result. The city doesn’t have too many salt trucks and stuff cuz that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here, so now we’re going veeeerrrryyyy slllloooowwwlllyyy.

No new friends and the bus is almost empty now. I doubt the frat boy type who is now sitting across from me will become that next Greyhound friend. The coach is also warmer now. I’m digging that and the view is spectacular. We’re going through mountains and stuff and the view of other mountains in the distance and the bay reminds me a lot of Alaska. That’s that for now. I have the feeling I may be pulling into Eugene late with not very much time to spare before the show and that blows a little bit, but what it means is that I’d better figure out my set list before I get there.

By the way, I just got done reading Kimiko Hahn’s The Artist’s Daughter. It is a fascinating collection which focuses primarily on the psychology of love as it pertains to cannibalism and necrophilia in humans, complete with several poems about famous necrophiliacs in history and the folks who chronicled their deeds. Hahn displays an amazing ability to draw us into this car wreck of a subject. Indeed, the ironies she examines pile themselves one atop the other. One feels as though she is almost daring the reader to enter that world and feel the panicked pull of this sordid lust, in the same way she accuses the chroniclers of these deeds and by so doing accuses herself in the examination. The collection is an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of a ride. Hahn’s craft and unusual form are brave, sexy, cruel, beautiful all at once; and I got it for $5 in a raffle to benefit the tsunami victims. Pay whatever you need to, to get it.


1. Gallops Saddlery
2. Jiggles exotic dancers
3. O what fun it is to ride…
with a designated driver (picture of angry reindeer here ____)

So now I’m in Eugene at the venue – Territorial Vineyards and Wine company. The slam is held in the warehouse of a wine company. It’s kinda fly and very eclectic - casks and barrells and all sorts of winery stuff all around. Melanie picked me up at the bus station. Melanie was sent by Jesus hisself. Melanie is a 5 foot 9 inch red headed pierce-up lesbian singer/construction worker. She took me back to Marietta’s house (Marietta is the host), cooked me an omelet (Feta Cheese, bell peppers, onions, artichoke hearts – yes artichoke hearts!!), gave me a glass of Emergen-C and a straight whiskey – you know, what we all need to freshen up after 8 hours of travel. I grabbed a shower and we were ready to go, when she gave me a cigar. We walked to the venue (it is Eugene after all) and now I’m here. The open mic is beginning and I’m raring to go…

1:00PM – Sunday January 16 – Eugene to Seattle

The set went well and of course there was all that wine to sample afterward. It was a very fruity, rich Pinot Noir, which “has grown up quite nicely” according to Jordan “despite having been very playful early on”. Jordan is a very good looking, heavily tattoed, jewelry making wine expert (I love hippie towns). She allowed us to taste a number of selections including a very deceptively alcoholic Pinot Gris. After heading over to another bar, where a man I do not know at all started quizzing me in trivia at the bar (I apparently am cool now because I knew that the Nile is the world’s largest river that flows North) and because I almost got right what the world’s largest living organism is (apparently it’s a huge-ass mushroom somewhere in Indiana).

This morning, the fly-ass thick-ass coffee in a bell jar, the best Bloody Mary ever and another omelet with a cape on its back (chili, cheddar, avocado) and Marietta rocked some of the best roasted potatoes this side of a well-flipped egg.

Marietta and Melanie are stellar hosts. I’m now back on the bus to Seattle. I’ll get there about 9PM. Maybe I’ll write a poem. Maybe I’ll make new friends…

3:00 PM

1. Sheep (apparently sheep are grown in Oregon)
2. Buffalo Jerky / Jerky Pepperoni

No new friends. Fine with me. The 2 Brittney Spears white-trash look alikes across from me aren’t my idea of stimulating conversation anyway.

Woodburn, OR is the most depressing po-dunk, down on it’s luck, dilapidated looking town I’ve ever seen. This shit make Detroit and Newark look like Times Square. I want to slit my wrists. There is an interesting Urban Planning convention, that places the bus station in most towns on the other side of the tracks. In most towns and cities, there seems to be a very specific attempt to hide that city’s squalor from outside, so that for those of us who can afford to travel lavishly (driving or on the way from an airport), we don’t get to see the poverty, the folks of color, Skid Row that sort of thing. It is what makes bus travel such an adventure because then you get to see how people really have to live in America. This sort of Urban Planning is symptomatic of the general attitude towards life here. No-one wants to be confronted with the harsh stuff as long as thngs are alright in their own lives. Everyone can tell you where the bad neighborhoods are, but people seem even reluctant to discuss them when they talk about their towns; unless plans are underway to “clean-up” that part of town (read: gentrify). In fact, the last time I came by bus through Eugene and Portland, the neighborhoods surrounding the bus stations were desolate, warehouse type spaces, inhabited by the itinerant and the barely surviving businesses. This time (in Portland in particular), it is swank. There are fancy restaurants and sheik art galleries and while all these things are wonderful, few cities seem to have a real urban plan for how they might improve the lives of the citizens they have to move, the folks whose businesses they buy out and we generally condone it all, when we buy in. I’m not sure either how we fight back; if there are referenda for this kind of planning or if most of this is just taken out of our hands by political wrangling with big business in local government back rooms. Anyhoo, we’re going to be in Portland for a good hour, and I’m going to need some grub. You have no idea what the food is like in Greyhound bus stations. You wish you could run up on a McDonald’s, so I’ll be exploring the new gentrification, seeing if a beer might sidle up to me for a spell.


Back on the bus and leaving Portland. I had an entire hour and ten minutes lay over. I asked a security guard where he thought I could get a beer. He hemmed and hawed and eventually said he knew of a place but I should be carfeul about having something to drink because the driver might not let me back on the bus if he smelled alcohol. Can you imagine the place we’ve got to? This is a free country?! I shouldn’t drink before I get on a bus for a trip I’ve already paid for?

So whatever!... I bundle up and head out. No one can reconnoitre a beer in a strange city better than I can. For a minute though, I thought I’d been foiled. Portland is as dead as a (well I had a really great analogy in mind, but it’s wrong AND it’s politically incorrect…)… so it’s just dead. Eventually though, as I crossed a corner I spied out of the corner of my eye, two blocks away, the ‘E’ and the ‘N’ of a flourescent “OPEN” sign, and I headed off in the direction. I came upon Taco Del Mar and as I looked through the window wistfully, I saw another neon martini glass sign and I knew I had arrived at the oasis in this alcohol desert. The chicken burrito was really really good (way better than I was hoping for) and significantly better than anything I would have eaten in the bus station. I also had a local Oregonian IPA and I feel refreshed. So now I’m back and there’s just 4 hours of travel left; word!


Olympia, WA – almost there; kinda. Just an hour and a half to go. I wrote me a poem but it’s really scary. I don’t know if I can share it with concerned readers. Every likelihood is that someone will try to commit me if that piece is read by the general public. Having no phone on this trip has been a strange revelation. I’ve been forced to sunsist with my thoughts and mone alone; in a way that hasn’t happened since… since before I had a cell-phone.

1. Aladdin Inn?
what could this possibly mean?

The invention of the cell phone has changed everything about the perception of human interaction; who you are based on your availability, and how you relate to the world. On this trip though, I’ve been forced to observe. I tend to be very observant anyway, but I’ve been forced to be quiet and look out the window… a lot. Without the laptop (and the Kimiko Hahn collection) I might have just gone mad. I have also managed to get quite a bit of sleep which is always a good thing in my world. There is much I would not have seen if I had my phone with me. I’d have pestered someone to keep me company during the voyage, but as it is I had the opportunity to see stuff, contemplate the wonders of… Fibre Federal for instance.

Tacoma next. Still no new friends. Unless something extaordinary happens, it’ll all be left for another day.


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