Greetings from Portland! Oregon! Chicken Farmer would be writing this, but we have a show tonight and she needs to rest her voice.
I, on the other hand, can talk to youse now because I'm not the greatest singer in the world. There: I admit it. Also, I'm not on strike. But anyway, singing: When you get me in my car with the iPod set to my "singalong" folder and no witnesses, I can "shred," as the kids say. But if a song is shredded when there's no one there to hear, does it really shred? No. Clearly not. Because in front of people, it's a different story.
I had just about got where I could play an instrument, sing on key, and occasionally glance up and show my face to the audience without making the whole house of cards come tumbling down.
Then we got in the car and went on tour. And on I-5 North Chicken Farmer says to me one word: harmony.
Harm what now? No, see, I sing along with the radio. I'm not a barbershop quartetist. But Chicken Farmer (a.k.a. The Experienced Musician) says it will sound awesome. It will, in fact, shred, if I can harmonize with her.
And so it has been for the last few hundred miles now, in the car, singing the same chorus over and over and over again with my right index finger in my right ear, so as to hear myself over Chicken Farmer. It's hard. Life on the road is hard.
I have a newfound respect for Justin Bieber. Ha. No I don't.
Anyhow, we drove up here from pretty near where you are right now and our first stop foodwise was La Plazita Taqueria in Madison. That was a cool place. What's-Her-Face had a carnitas burrito and I had a chicken taco and a beef taco. They have foosball. Nice folks . . .
After that, we drove to Ashland, Oregon, where we played at a piercing studio and ate at Taroko. It's an Asian Fusion place. A little pricey, but the food was good and the portions of pho were HUGE. What was odd was I ordered eel maki and got salmon skin instead.
You know how when you take a big gulp of water thinking it's vodka and the shock makes you choke and sputter? Yeah, that. But the highlight so far has been Laundromat Thai, just around the corner from Johnny "Jack" Poetry's Portland pad. It's actually got a name, but gets called Laundromat because it shares a building with one and hipsters are too cool to just call things what they are. Tasty red curry, robust massuman, zesty shrimp salad and a friendly drunken noodle. But speaking of Johnny "Jack" . . .
by Johnny "Jack" Poetry
The sky, too, needs to be white, not exactly an oboe awash in Debussy but maybe a clarinet basking in a Hoagy Carmichael chromatic progression & lolling about in mid-register where the clouds are practically smoky curtains—
& a tenor ukulele strummed in a green canoe in a pond where those clouds are floating topsy-turvy amidst the patches of duckweed—
cilantro, chopped fine, is crucial—the odor of leafing thru sheet music in a used bookstore San Francisco late 90s & the musty pages & the breezes off the Pacific slightly green with kelp—
some brand of delicatessen mustard—poignant with horseradish—neglected words on any lemonade June day when it seems there are light years at least to say them while a guitar transmits watermelons bicycles Dorothy Sayers' mysteries beyond the bluish & optimistic horizon—
which is also white though with a yellow patina—the potatoes are Yukon Golds & some say chop them larger & some say smaller—when we were young we were so extraordinarily young like the strings on a baritone uke strumming Blue Moon like a Ferris wheel & the picnic table beside the lake stands empty as the long twilight starts to edge down—
tho really only fresh Ranch dressing will do—the buttermilk warmth— & plenty of ground black pepper—& the sky, too, needs to be blue as worn denim or blue as a Crayola sky blue crayon melting for hours & hours over Golden Gate Park—
& not thinking too much how it all slowly goes into indigo as the clarinet sighs down to low G & below & deeper blue as is most everything else—