More death

This is Precious. She was my dog. Now she is dead.

My parents finally decided to put Precious down on Friday because of numerous health problems that, I am convinced, had actually turned her into a zombie dog. I'll spare you the gory details, but she was literally falling apart. She had numerous infections and open sores that were just not healing and, at 15 years old, not really worth fixing. I know that's a little callous. I'm ok with that. My Dad got really emotional about it, which is a little surprising considering the love/hate relationship he built with her. As she aged and went deaf, I think she lost any sense of "the rules," that or she just flauted them knowing she had nothing to lose. She really wasn't living much of a life for the last year. And so we say, "It's for the best." But really, all we know for sure is that it was for our best.

Precious came into my life 10 years ago. My sister inherited her from her horse trainer at the time. Unfortunately, we all inherited the name "Precious" too. It took Dad and I a few years before we were comfortable saying that in public. On walks she was referred to as "you," "dog," and "girl." She was a well-bred dog - fuckin' papers and everything. I think she might have showed briefly. Horse trainers like to train other things and in her younger years, Precious had an impressive arsenal of tricks to display for guests. The one where she went on hind legs and after you point a finger-gun at her and say "BANG BANG!" she flopped over dead... that was a crowd favorite.

I always considered her to be part cat, because she was never an overly affectionate dog. She wouldn't want to sit in your lap or beg for attention. No, she was a whore for the treats and scraps. If you had food, she was your best friend. If not, maybe she'd let you rub her belly for a while. A bit of a diva, really. That's part of the reason her loss hasn't hit me that hard. She was never really my dog in the Old Yeller sense of the word. She was just Precious. And I will miss her.

Thank you for reading.



The fine art of good karaoke is practiced seven nights a week at the Alibi, but last night I was witness to a slew of songsters like I've never seen. I suppose that's what happens when you start waving money in people's faces. Every Wednesday this month, some ellusive judges are picking people to compete in a final competition for the monetary sum of $1,000. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot to you. But then I would remind you that this is for getting on a microphone and singing two, maybe three songs by artists whom you probably mimic on your own time (say, in the shower or car) free fuckin' gratis.

I'm not one to brag, but I put on a fair show on the mic. I'm no Freddy Mercury, but I can carry a tune. Likewise, I'm no dance machine, but I acknowledge good karaoke doesn't constrain itself to a mic stand. Stil, I have never seen the room more packed with people - 80 percent of which were formidable contenders. The crowd has two harmful effects from the get go: Cigarette smoke lingers in the Alibi like fog over a Scottish meadow and the chatter of people over already high decible levels of singing both strain the voice something fierce. Luckly, I got my songs in before 10:30 because by 1 am, I couldn't have sang "Footloose" if Kevin Bacon had given me his blessing. What I did sing was "It's now or never" by Elvis and "Man of Constant Sorrow" by The Soggy Bottom Boys. Good songs to be sure, but they don't move the crowd the way I'd like.

All the while I was cheered on by my friend Stacey, from whom I stole the excellent title to this post. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have had in my corner and her being there was wonderful on levels and for reasons I don't want to get into just now.

Someone I wish wasn't there was this large black man who is just too damn good for karakoe. There comes a point where you should just be in a band or work as a studio musician singing theme songs for cartoons. He gets up there and sings "Kiss" by Prince - and he fucking nails it. NOBODY can sing Prince except Prince. Sigh. I'd seen him at a few other karaoke places around town and hated him for basically nullifying any chance I had at the finals. Stacey and I took off shortly after 1, not waiting to hear who made it. But there's good odds I'll be there next week, if y'all want to come represent!

Thank you for reading.


The Departed

I have a dead woman's furniture in my house.

It's not something I'm particularly weirded out by, as the furniture does not somehow warp into Tim Burton set props once its owner leaves this world, but it is bizarre to consider. The furniture I have was either gifted to me by friends, relatives or street corners. These are the scraps of an estate - and one which I don't think Vanessa even had strong ties to. I told Vanessa if light bulbs start to mysteriously not work or my firstborn only has one arm, we're getting rid of the shit.

As it turns out, I knew who this woman was as she would come to Vivace from time to time. She was a Suicide Girl, as was obivous to anyone who saw her. She carried a vinyl bag with large spikes on it, and often met men there who were obviously not friends getting together for coffee. Nonetheless, she seemed nice enough and I have no cause to complain. But now she is dead from a heroin overdose. And don't think of making any suicide/Suicide Girl joke. I can't believe you'd even say that. You people make me sick. It's like nothing is sacred anymore...

Sadly, this isn't the only death in my life as another Vivace customer recently passed away. His name was Kurt and he would come in mornings and order a morning latte in a mug. That was it. He was very soft spoken and kind. He worked at Pioneer Music, and excellent fine instrument store downtown. One of my fellow baristas really took to him and they would play guitar together from time to time. I can't claim any strong ties to the man, but he was a good person and I'm sure many people will miss him.

Death isn't something I'm equipt to deal with. I don't know if anybody is. There still hasn't been a close death in my life, so that'll really shake me down. My gradpa died when I was six, but I couldn't begin to process that. My parents actually had me see a counselor because I didn't cry. I remember my Dad taking me on a walk to break the news and he cried saying it. Seeing your Dad cry at that young age is a strange thing. He is still flawless and my unfailing support and protection. But there he is crying. All I could do was say, "It's ok, Dad." and the like, trying to console him, because this thing happening right in front of me was more real and more pressing than the news that someone I didn't see daily would never be seen again. I'm almost afraid that I'll have the same reaction for all deaths - just to pause, consider and change the files in my head about that person from the "alive" category to "deceased." I tell people I'm dead on the inside, but I don't want to prove myself right.

Thank you for reading.


It's official

Well that was easy. Get a load of this business.


Blogs in the 'Hood

I just made a weekly check-in to a blog I stumbled upon some time ago about the Sellwood neighborhood, only to find it has now moved to OregonLive. Turns out, the site (which is the online presence of The Oregonian, among other things) has a whole section of blogs devoted to various areas around Portland. And you know what's missing... MY neighborhood! SO, I am now officially starting my campaign to be Northwest Portland's blogger. My first post subject: Wacky Willy's.

This emporium of... stuff is closing after many years of operation just a block from my house. It's a sad state of affairs, to be sure. The store reminds me of the song "Portobello Road" from the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. "Anything and everything a chap can unload, is sold by the barrel at Portobello Road." For the record, I've since been to the real Portobello Road in London and can vouch that the song speaks true. Wacky Willy's is the greatest of junk stores, where you have no idea what will ever be there or how it came to be there. There is a standing trashcan full of the early "brick" style cell phones. Around Christmas, they had a huge shipment of Teddy Ruxpin dolls and tapes. But what's most amusing are the signs the employees make for various doodads. There's no way to explain with words, so I'm going to go snag some pictures to post later.

In the meantime, everyone send OregonLive emails about how wonderful my blog is and that they should pay me millions of dollars to write about NWPDX!


As it turns out, Wacky Williy's already has secured a new home and it remains mere blocks from my house. Yey! Sadly for them, the street visibility is much poorer, but I've a feeling that the kind of people who go there will seek it out. Still, as I promised, here are pictures.

Thank you for reading.