TUNDRANAUTICA

Bringing Home the Freshest Kill

Posts in the Portland Oregon category

CobainGlassedUp (1)

When I first met Kurt Cobain at a gala fundraiser for The Nation magazine in 2012, he was chatting with esteemed journalist Max Blumenthal, son of former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal, at the buffet in the ballroom’s west end.

I initially discovered that Cobain was back in action via an Alternet.org article that detailed the rocker’s re-entry into the pop culture spotlight:

Fully recovered from his 1994 suicide, Cobain told Charlie Rose that he has been working as a diversity and inclusion consultant in Portland, Oregon the last few years. He mentioned that suicide was a bit “off-brand” for him.

My eyes lit up when I saw that Cobain truly was back. I caught the In Utero composer on an episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” An excited Henry Rollins picked up the grunge hero and cradled him in his oaken arms. Smiles rippled through my unmentionables.

These days, Cobain seems imbued with a keen sense of purpose. Gone is the wild-eyed youngster with a penchant for sarcastic, drug-fueled condescension. In his place is a relatively sober, mostly clear-thinking man of action who seems hell bent on reinventing himself as a progressive scholar. A man of letters.

So…what gives? What happened to the unkempt, uncompromising punk legend whose dark missives once set pop music ablaze?

“Look,” Cobain says matter-of-factly, “punk rock isn’t about soiling yourself onstage.

“Punk rock is about effectuating abrupt, jarring change. Punk rock is speaking inconvenient truths to power. That is punk rock.”

Fair enough, but why no music since 1993? Surely the Voice of a Generation has a song or two to share. Even simple 4-track recordings will do for us Cobain completists.

“The music industry is a tragedy,” says Cobain. “What you have now are silos of corporate thought. There is no music any longer, no art. There is merely product. I refuse to play music because I refuse to be commodified. Let Katy Gaga sing songs about shopping. I’m done shopping. Commerce doesn’t work.”

“I don’t need major labels — over-produced shlock.”

————————————-

The Bleach composer grows animated when discussing his new social justice endeavors.

“I don’t abide the profanity of our disposable culture,” he says. “I hate malls, alternative rock, structural racism.”

Listening to Cobain speak in these troubled times is like listening to “Territorial Pissings” at the height of the 1990s alt-rock explosion. But now Cobain riffs as though he were a great jazz improv artist and not a surly punk rocker. He emphasizes that women’s reproductive rights are “the defining issue of our time.” He compares activist/law student Sandra Fluke to Rosa Parks.

He poses for a photograph with a nearby fan, the esteemed comedienne and Jezebel columnist Lindy West.

Life is good for Kurt Cobain.

But an undercurrent of distress remains palpable.

————————————-

We reconvene later that night at a cafe called Wistful Scones with Cobain’s entourage, which includes such noted journos as David Sirota, Oliver Willis and Eric Boehlert — sage truth-tellers, noble knights of the printed word. The topic of the moment is speech codes. Cobain and pals embrace the idea.

“What could be more liberating than silencing words that hurt?” says Cobain. “I’m passionately for speech codes or a regulatory environment that stifles inarticulate and thuggish discourse. ”

“I’m a beneficiary of white privilege,” says Cobain. “I’ve got to remain cognizant of that. I’m part of the majority culture/white male corporate American Shit Machine. I’m just another honky motherfucker who’s a barrier to women, the LGBT community and people of color. It’s terrible.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel glides by on roller blades and exchanges polite smiles with Cobain et al. We catch a glimpse of esteemed racialist Morris Dees as well.

Cobain takes a bite out of his sandwich. He informs me that Ayn Rand frequently dined at Arby’s.

————————————-

So far my exchanges with Cobain have been friendly, polite. But since I know he’s a punk who never shies from confrontation, I embolden myself and endeavor to challenge him. Since Cobain mentioned a fondness for President Barack Obama, I opt to “go there.”

I ask about Obama’s controversial and enthusiastic embrace of drone warfare. I query Cobain about the War on Drugs, which the Obama administration has amplified in demonstrable ways. I ask about Obama’s horrific record on clemency and transparency issues, and I discuss how the Affordable Care Act is viewed in some quarters not as legislation driven by good intentions, but as a cynical mechanism to help get Barack Obama re-elected. I bring up Guantánamo Bay, and the fact that — not only has the president refused to close the prison, as promised, his administration is overseeing an expensive upgrade to the Gitmo facilities. I note how the Obama administration has attempted to diminish journalists’ ability to report on certain issues and has threatened and bullied certain reporters. I bring up secret FISA courts, the treatment of Edward Snowden, the president’s apparent use of the gay community as political pawns and a host of other troubling issues.

But you know what?

Cobain isn’t fazed.

“If you’re going to make an omelet,” he says, “you’re gonna break a few eggs. And ultimately, a lot of what you’re saying is very Republican. You sound like a Republican. These are astroturf issues. These aren’t real issues, these are red herrings, contrived by Koch Puppets and the Tea Party’s War on Women. I gently suggest you wake up.

“Progressive politics are the prized Rothschild Egg, the egg that can’t be broken. That’s where we want to be as a a society. I’m here to fight, to take on the Pepsi Colas and Pringles Potato Chips and the dull, grey misery of the American middle class. To do away with Tea Bagger, Breitbart trash.”

So…you’ve come back as fire to burn all the liars?

“Well, in so many words, yes,” Cobain says.

And finally I’ve wrested a smile from the esteemed rocker-turned-public intellectual.

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Big Rob

Tremendous photo of Rob Ford from the Internet

  • Daniel Kalder on the bizarre spectacle of kids’ MMA: “…there’s a difference between playground wars and kids’ MMA, namely that the teachers at my school did not run out and join us in our fight circle to cheer on the violence. Instead, like the responsible adults they were, they broke up the battles. But at MMA events, the parents sit in the audience celebrating the beatings. And that seems a bit odd.”
  • Jim Goadafter a colonoscopy the other day in which he received the anesthetic Propofol: “They shot me up with a creamy syringe of the sweet nectar again this morning. As the nurse pressed the plunger, she told me I’d be unconscious in 3-5 seconds. I vowed to stay awake longer than that, but I was out before the plunger hit bottom. I awoke to be informed that my colon is as slick and blemish-free as an Olympic luge track, whereupon I hugged the nurse. I never hug anyone.”

Jim Henson Memorial

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Vladimir Potanin, Russian businessman

  • Daniel Kalder: “The other day I read that some Russian oligarch or other had paid $95,000 to a restaurateur in New York for a bit of fungus. Well, a fool and his money, as they say. Alright, it wasn’t just any old bit of fungus. Apparently it was a ‘white alba truffle’ – a special fungus that is quite difficult to find. And you can eat it. Meanwhile, this bit of fungus weighed about 4lb so it was quite heavy, for a fungus. According to Nello Balan, the man who says he sold the oligarch the fungus, it was the biggest such bit of fungus in the history of fungi, or something. So there you go: Clearly this bit of fungus was worth every penny. Except, I’m still not convinced. Then again, if I were Vladimir Potanin, the oligarch who bought the fungus, I probably wouldn’t care. I looked him up and discovered that he is Russia’s fourth richest man – worth around $14.3 billion,according to Forbes. That being the case, this purchase for him is the equivalent of me buying a Snickers bar – not particularly extravagant.”
  • Neko Case interview: “At 10, I just loved FM radio: I listened to KMJK Magic FM because I was living on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, and they played the Pretenders, the Clash, 10cc, Blondie.”
  • Pink-Shaded Marketing: “Research suggests that the NFL and its corporate partners are more concerned with enhancing their public images — especially among women — and ultimately revenues, than they are with addressing breast cancer, and they seek to manipulate NFL fandom in the name of public health.”
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Calistoga Owl

 

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If you are a motorist and have the audacity to drive to downtown Portland to buy Christmas gifts or take a loved one to dinner, you will be penalized. Penalized for stimulating commerce. The city’s leadership has made that loud and clear.

Exhibit A — Portland’s updated parking fine matrix. Note: Even if you pay your fair share of parking at one of the Smart Meter machines downtown, the city’s insectoid parking cops will still assess (at least) one of the following fines to your vehicle. Consider it an unspoken “access fee” and/or penalty for using a car in downtown Portland. “New Urbanism” at its “finest.”

This annoyance has been happening for the past two years (at least). I’ve experienced it; several friends and/or acquaintances have experienced it too.

parking

My solution? Do not go downtown and do not give money to any downtown businesses unless absolutely necessary. The city wants it that way. The city is anti-business.

Screw the city.

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From down on the Willamette River last night. More photos available here.

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final_cover2

Story by Iced Borscht/Artwork by Ricky Sprague, 2010

PORTLAND, ORE. — It was a cheery autumn day in Portland, Oregon. Quinton Dean, award-winning local jour­nal­ist, gam­boled hap­pily through Portland’s vibrant down­town. He looked at his under-employed city and nod­ded approvingly.

“Who needs a robust econ­omy — or even a func­tion­ing one — in a city so livable?”

A rid­er­less Max Train sped by. Dean stood with pride at the train’s empty-yet-sparkling clean tran­sit nook.

“Progress,” he cooed.

Smiles rip­pled through his underpants. Then some­thing went astir. A blonde hair fell from the sky.

Somehow, it seemed…odd…

Dean sniffed the gold strand with his news-seeking nostrils.

“…there’s some­thing famil­iar about this…”

Dean’s head started to ache. He grew dizzy and con­fused; he looked at a bill­board of local insur­ance débu­tante Mariko Locke to shake him from his sud­den stu­por. Who bet­ter to pull him from the void than the Empress of Indemnity, after all?

Empress of Indemnity

(more…)

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PORTLAND!

What city is more smug than ours?

If you said Seattle as recently as 3-to-4 years ago, you’d still be right.

But these days, Portland is King of the Hill as far as smugness goes. Granted, I’ve never been to, say, Brooklyn — and I’m sure it’s smug there too — but it can’t possibly be as bad as it is here. In New York, you still have a solid bedrock of tough, hard-working people who have lived through disappointment, frustration and pain and emerged with greater strength of character.

Not so here!

We are beset by condescending, privileged twerps.

Just look at the following photo, for Chrissakes, snapped secretly by a friend at the airport the other day. It’s two garden-variety Portlanders. For all I know, they might be wonderful people. Salt of the fucking earth.

[image missing]

But nearly EVERYONE in town looks just like them. Ironic clothing…ironic eye-ware…the same old tiresome song.

To be clear, I have no problem with anyone’s personal aesthetics. I frequently see Portlanders dressed up as pirates, and though I don’t think of them in positive terms, I spend no mental currency on their place in this world. Honestly, smug Portlanders — I couldn’t care less if your wardrobe personifies indie-rock cliche. When it’s all said and done, you’re just another jerk I’ll go out of my way to ignore.

Here’s the rub though: these wiry, unfruitful clods don’t simply ignore others. NO! They sneer and scoff at anyone who doesn’t fit their DIY Cool Person Template.

It has steadily gotten worse in the 10 years I’ve lived here. It’s one effed-up milieu of shit.

More than ever, the city is teeming with unoriginal, emaciated oafs who wear tight brown pants and sing loudly to themselves at the bus stop.

Such individuals.

I try hard to avoid the cliche of misanthropy. Misanthropy is an easy emotion. But the oppressiveness of the cool Portland alpha culture has reached an intolerable apex. I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked up from reading my book on the bus and some skateboarder fuckwad was glaring (or smirking) at me because my dress shirt and slacks didn’t ooze awesome-fucking-street-cred.

These days, the forecast consistently calls for a torrent of fist-showers…on the faces of Portland “creatives!”

O! I wish to pummel these creatures.

If there was but one day a year when I could rain blows upon their smug faces w/o fear of legal reproach!

O!

What happy times those would be, friend!

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