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Memoire Music

When the Music is Over, Death is Worth Living

The improvisational music collective called Death Worth Living is at the heart of my life in Portland. I present this memoire covering a twenty year journey in music, with fourteen years in Portland, allowing the full interweaving of stories connecting dozens of musicians and artists that touched the DWL project.

Background Noise with Danava

I was twenty years old when I moved to Portland, with no connections or prospects, a truck with electrical problems, and a few hundred bucks.

I had been living in Los Angeles for two years. For every social and professional reason, I was better off staying there, in the valley. I had friends and had built connections with school, work, and inroads to the music scene. In fact, things were just beginning to cook.

My decision to move to Portland was no more educated than realizing that I could be at the intersection of the whole indie rock scene. Bands like Pavement, Built to Spill, Sleater-Kinney: This was the music I wanted to make and to be close to.

Flash forward just one year.

Almost out of nowhere, I was asked to ad hoc some psychedelic keyboard sounds for a rock band called Pink Scare. They booked a Hawkwind tribute set on Halloween, at Disjecta. They changed their name to Danava that very night.

In the parking lot after the show, the boys asked me to keep on working with Danava, and to go on tour with them a couple of weeks later.

Willamette Week blurb Halloween 2004
Hawkwind tribute set at Disjecta 2004. Myself in the right corner.

They were booked in the same LA venues that I had aspired to play: Spaceland and The Smell. The headliner was Glass Candy, supported by Chromatics.

Johnny Jewel fronted Glass Candy and wanted to be the producer that broke Danava. Greg Meleney was drumming for them under the moniker Dusty Sparkles while laying the inroads for Danava. 

Glass Candy had been releasing indie 45-inch records from the late 90’s. Early in the 2000’s, there was this crossover happening where rockers were playing against drum machines and disco beats. It was a kind of trash glam that made touring more profitable.

In 2004, all of these bands were on their way to becoming national acts, but then they struggled to fill venues south of San Francisco.

Chromatics were Seattle-based, Lena Okazaki was the hot woman singer bassist at the time. Ruth Radelet, however, was the merch girl. Ruth became their star, but I remember a meek, quiet, gorgeous and poised companion to Adam Miller, the man behind the woman behind the man.

I watched Johnny work. He got shit done.

There is usually a headliner with a traveling support act, and the club books one local act. Johnny was suddenly demanding that every venue give Danava an opening slot. What a pain we were too, we had a full rock band set up with keyboards and everything.

Looking back at the Spaceland show (Los Angeles) I have to see it as a crazy fluke. Entrance was also squeezed onto that bill, probably by an industry promoter, as a solo act. I remember talking with him as we rolled joints backstage. He was on the tour circuit nonstop — he was fried. His solo act evolved into The Entrance Band, a national headlining psych blues act.

If you put that same bill together five years later, it would have sold out Spaceland or somewhere on Sunset strip.

I don’t remember who the venue booked locally, but I know there was a local band. Fourth acts on a night club bill are like third wheels. At Spaceland, Danava became the fifth act and the second third wheel.

The show barely drew 50 people that night.

After our set, this woman blew our bassist in the green room and invited us over to her echo lake loft for coke.

When the mirror cut with one line per guest floated down to me, I turned down and watched the hostess return to her room with one line on the glass. It was a bonus for her no doubt.

There were some guitars in the corner. I escaped to try and play a bit. This dude kept coming and going disoriented, first he had to tune the guitar, then he had to find a pick, and the cycle repeated, while I put together the meaning of the white trails running down his nose to the corner of his mouth.

I never have tried cocaine.

I was told that he had played guitar for The Dandy Warhols at some point, one of the biggest acts to come out of Portland in the 90’s.

San Diego at Casbah was a real sleeper, but the last show of the tour was in Oakland and it was a banger. It was a warehouse party. Greg’s free jazz buddy from Chicago Weasel Walter was there. Also, the first night a week earlier at Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco was sold out, and we had to play last, “headlining” the first show.

The only reason I found myself in that band was Zac Delorto-Blackwell aka DB. I think I filled in this gap of a best friend role for him as Monte became engrossed with college and his fiancé Brit, to whom he remains married with children.

DB filled that role for me, as everyone in my life was new.

Rewind back one year.

Zac lived with Greg, the drummer Monty, plus Zac Nelson and Justin Stimson, in a house, deep in Southeast Portland, deeper than anyone hip lived in that city back then, when it was affordable.

Everyone but Justin was new to the city, having moved down from Chicago together, they grabbed a cheap house without scrutiny. They met Justin at a bar in the Woodstock neighborhood.

Justin is a rare indigenous Portland musician. His style resembles it. He is indie as fuck with smatterings of psychedelia and seasonal depression. He introduced me to that house.

It was mid-September 2003 when I arrived in Portland, just me and my pick-up, around the autumnal equinox. 

I had one week of perfect weather before relentless seasonal rain came on. When it did, the camper seal wasn’t holding up and my bed inside the truck got soaked.

I grabbed a YMCA membership to revive myself in the mornings and explored the city, sunrise to sunset, applying for jobs everywhere. My mother had given me a cell phone.

Mostly, I hung around the West side. I saw Carrie Brownstein downtown, then never again until I worked on a Portlandia episode. Earlier that year I saw them her band Sleater-Kinney open for The Black Keys in LA.

Compared to the LA area and Tucson where I grew up, Portland was an old city, featuring the kind of ancient looking infrastructure that I only saw in movies.

The alphabet blocks famously associated with Simpsons characters (Burnside, Quimby, Flanders, Lovejoy, and more) were my first stomping grounds. It’s where I parked my truck and discovered places and applied for jobs. That part of town went through gentrification already. It was fresh enough to me that I was satisfied, but I didn’t realize how little character it had.

One day, someone told me to check out southeast Portland, especially Hawthorne Street, so I did. I couldn’t believe that I had ignored all of East Portland. This was much more my vibe. It was hippy, artsy, and a bit edgy.

From Hawthorne, I kept exploring, eventually finding 26th & Clinton St. I was smitten.

The corner back then had a cooperatively owned record shop called Q is for Choir, an esoteric video rental store, a punk record shop, an historic theatre with a decades running Rocky Horror Picture Show night, quirky bars and restaurants, a food co-op down toward Powell, and it was surrounded by picturesque American suburban homes.

I was down to my last fifty bucks by this time and was about to make the long drive home to Tucson. In the last minute, sitting in Q is for Choir, I got a call on my flip phone. I was asked to come in for a job interview at a place on Hawthorne and was hired on the spot.

Down the street from the K&F coffee shop, posted to a cork board, I found advertised on a handwritten note a room for rent by a Bulgarian widow occupying the same family home since The Great Depression, just a block away.

She kept three units upstairs for rent for $200 per month. All of them were vacant. She let me in with no money, only promises.

A little west on Division Street, there was a coop coffee shop called The Red & Black Cafe. They bought their baked goods and coffee from other cooperatively owned local businesses, featured local music and art. I went there to use the iMac, even after I got a computer by volunteering at Free Geek because my room had no internet.

One of the first shows I went to in Portland was Dead Moon, at The Twilight on Powell. I was barely 21. It was the best. Saw them several times after that. It was actually Pearl Jam covering “It’s O.K.” that turned me on to them.

My favorite bar became the Reel ‘M Inn, a place where everyone alike got drunk for $1 per Pabst and I only remember friendly banter across all social or political topics.

Within a month of moving to town, I met Justin. We worked at a place on Division Street. It was a terrible job. The busser was the dishwasher, and the kitchen was poorly equipped to handle any serious volume. We got crap for tips while the serving staff had cocaine habits.

One night, I was laying in bed and I was terribly depressed. I got a call from Justin. He urged me to get out and come over to Red & Black. I knew it was best for me so I peeled out of bed.

He introduced me to his band The Marmits. It was a crazy performance art thing, with characters each developed by the members of the group. They played these heavy and intricately structured songs with harmonies that purposefully countered accepted norms. I felt like this was an indie rock version of The Residents.

Even though I didn’t per se like Marmits, I couldn’t deny that it was creative, that he believed in his own madness, and that should be enough to earn the support of a friend. It was meant to challenge and upset the audience.

Shortly after that, he invited me over to his house. This is when I met the Danava guys. Justin shared the basement space alike at the house, crashing on a mattress on the floor in the garage for like $100 a month. He invited me over to work on some music. He was always looking for people to join his bands, and I wasn’t into that, so it didn’t go anywhere. “I just want to jam, bro!” I remember saying to him.

This has always been a thorn in my side. Songwriters will be like, “Yeah, let’s jam.” Then you show up, and suddenly your improvisation is turning into form with a verse, chorus, and bridge with a turnaround. There you think you’re jamming, but you’re being pushed into someone’s tune. It’s a lame thing to do.

Early in 2004, they all disbanded to different houses. Monte moved in with Brit to this studio apartment with a hideaway bed downtown, in fact I helped them move. Zac Nelson went to Sacramento with his woman. DB and Greg found a small house with a basement around Fremont and MLK. This became Danava headquarters, with moody lighting, a grand old Lowery organ, and a nasty old basement ideal for a metal band.

Justin bounced around for a while after this. I don’t know when, but he ended up with Jeff, his bassist, who had a house on Denver Avenue that became known as The Salad House. The name was earned as they would prepare a huge probiotic salad for every house show.

Jeff moved down from South Dakota with his friends Glass and Head. All three of these guys nudged me one way or another at some point, having substantial impact on this narrative.

Justin’s scene clashed a bit with Danava. They didn’t naturally fit on bills at clubs and so the social scene didn’t often mix either. It’s natural, but not personal.

There is a self-sustaining aspect to scenes, especially Justin’s. He had cousins that also played in bands, and had basements, and they could easily put on a party between them.

Things were going smooth in some ways, but I was fired from four jobs in a row, within the first six months in Portland.

This was unprecedented in my life. Portland, at that time, had one of the highest unemployment rates. I learned what replaceable meant.

I began studying at Portland Community College part-time while continuing to work.

The fourth job was Grand Central Bowl. This was a layoff. The place was a dive. Working there for 2.9 months was amazing, however.

This infamous woman who burned out of the scene produced a series called Rock and Bowl, bringing bands like Thrones, Get Hustle, and Pink Scare to the grimy bowling alley.

I started running into DB more often, we would have lively conversations. Then we just started hanging out.

Justin would draw you into drinking and smoking until dawn, but would be useless all day. DB would get fucked up, crash at night, wake up ready to go for a hike on a mountain and talk about literature, film, and politics along the way. He had a way of observing human behavior, a street sense that I didn’t have. Our pace in life matched where it counted and that’s how friendship are made.

My heart was and is with nerds like Thom Yorke and Steven Malkmus. These were my favorite players, until I discovered vastly more variety.

After joining Danava, my social access reached far beyond my capacity to handle it. I had to catch up on the esoteric hipster lineage of music, bands like Can, Silver Apples, Sir Lord Baltimore, old James Brown and soul records, less Beatles more Stones, Piper at the Gates of Dawn not Dark Side of the Moon. Just to keep a conversation, I needed to run the gamut. And I loved it.

Especially before widespread internet, you discovered obscure music by reading zines, and you discovered that below the surface of the artists that make it to Spin or Vice magazines, there were influences, and you could end up spending your paycheck at record stores. For example, Radiohead is understood by checking out early REM, Penderecki, and Aphex Twin, to name a few. To get Aphex Twin, listen to 1980’s hip hop and house, Brian Eno, and Kraftwerk. To get Brian Eno listen to the OM box set plus Beatles. It’s a fun ride, music, this journey just goes on forever.

One band that I’m glad I got to see is Thinking Feller’s Union Local 282 with Monte and DB at Berbati’s Pan. I had read about them in Sound Collector Magazine, a publication that helped nudge me to Portland. Thinking Fellers were awesome. At that show, my worlds collided and my stomach went into knots as Steven Malkmus and Doug Marsch were just hanging out. What a fan boy I felt like! This was the moment I waited for and I had a stomach ache.

DB and I started jamming, actually jamming. After getting some ideas on tape, he had the idea to bring me in on the Hawkwind set and generate some good noisy sounds for the tribute act.

That brings us back to Halloween 2004, at Disjecta, immediately followed by the Glass Candy tour.

As I was challenged to play more complicated music with Danava. I was self-producing on my Tascam 4-Track, quite a lot.

I started teaching myself Danava’s guitar parts. I was trying to get more involved in the band. It was not what Greg expected or wanted from me. So I was axed. He found a happy-go-lucky handsome guy with killer synthesizers that looked amazing in a white suit.

I relearned what replaceable meant.

It wasn’t just that. I was also filling in for Rosy Cross. He was their mascot, performance artist, and noise guy. He went on tour with us but left town shortly after, and they really just needed someone to at least run his parts.

When Rosy Cross came back, they went without a second keyboardist for a minute. Then they grabbed the other guy.

I was bummed. DB helped me understand, softening the blow. I was on their permanent guest list for years after that. No hard feelings.

I tried to form my own band. I had a three song demo on CD-R and I shared it with anyone that said they could play. Several people said it was too advanced. I could not believe that. Then I realized indie players got into ruts of strumming and drumming in a handful of patterns all the time. It becomes rote and unconscious. Most players cannot accommodate a range of styles in a given set.

Untitled song from untitled demo by Myself circa 2005

This is another industry lesson. Low hanging fruit isn’t always ripe.

The Present is the History of the Future

I had been working at Widmer Brewing Company. At Widmer, I met Jason Morales. We got along right away as self-identified outcasts. The dishwashers are the underdog usually across the board in life. Sometimes you have a great artist in there that doesn’t want responsibility. All of the dishwashers there were musicians, all but one.

Pretty soon, Jay and I were forming a progressive rock band with Dylan Reily. All of us had coincidentally lived in Tucson at some time.

We put together a set: a sludgy metal song, a dance number, a surf rock groove, and a jazzy number. Plus we covered “Many Mansions” by Sonny Sharrock. 

We called the band The History of The Future.

In full progressive rock fashion, I bought a heavy double decker synth stand, a Yamaha DX7, and a weird Korg analog synth with digital presets. I don’t remember the model.

The band was tied into three scenes at this point. My scene, Jay’s free jazz scene, and then through Dylan’s segment of the rock scene, this one fusing country and punk, largely composed of the players who came of age in 90’s Portland. The Juanita Family and Friends tied them all together. Lana Rebel led that band and sometimes I see her in Tucson, where she owns a record store.

History of the Future at Acme, January 2006

We became a regular act at Dunes. We opened for Big Business at their first show. This band became a national headliner.

DB recommended to Greg that we have an opening slot for Danava and Snow Foxxes, at Holocene. I think Greg was a little nervous that we would suck, however, we rehearsed heavily and he was pleasantly surprised. The consensus became that we’d run that lineup again.

I set up a show that crossed over social scenes at Acme, featuring Marmits. They got the weekly writeup, even though I produced the show. Plankton ended up doing the first iteration of what became Eternal Tapestry. Another fluke, as they became a local headliner and a touring act.

Weekly paper write ups for shows we did not manage to get a writeup for.

Our final show came before we knew it. I don’t remember if it was opening for Federation X at Dunes, or the second Big Business show at the same venue. In any case, I was blindsided when Jay said the band was over, immediately after the show. I think Dylan was too.

March 1, 2006, History of the Future opening for Federation X

We didn’t even take the time for a recording session. All we had was a dirty cassette from a sloppy show early on at The Know.

The band ended because Matty didn’t feel it anymore. This is the tragedy of the indie music scene. The band is usually hinging on players that are not in it for the long haul. If success begins to approach, someone wants to pull out, almost every time.

We could have replaced him, but we didn’t. There was a clear path for us being an opening act for bigger acts, a support band locally and on tour. That is how some bands find their niche.

I remember DB at the show with Federation X. He helped me produce the poster. The other band on the bill was I Am the Arm, led by Boyd Anderson. It was the beginning of shared friendship.

Danava continued growing and Greg became the sole permanent member within several years. He was always the sole songwriter. Rosy was the first to leave, then Monty, then the other keyboardist, and finally Zac.

As of this writing, Danava is actively producing another album.

School and Rooms

Although I loved 26th and Clinton, my landlord forbade guests, and she was a crotchety old senile woman with hearing loss. She was great, but I was young and hard-headed, so I found another room pretty quickly, early 2004.

It was around 55th and Powell, on Lafayette Street. I could fit my little studio comfortably: drum machine, two guitars, bass, keyboard, and microphones. I recorded demos to tape and mastered CD-R copies using stereo track editors like Sound Forge.

All but top right corner are from Lafayette Street room. The other is 26th Ave.

Life on Lafayette was good for a while. The household somehow found balance with a mix of different but eccentric people. I first learned gardening at this house. 

I did salvia divinorum in the yard — might have jumped dimensions unwittingly.

Roommates changed over. Things got sour. I bounced from there spring 2005.

The next place came on SE 11th at the corner of Sherman. It was a dump. The cast of characters in there was like a joke.

The first day, I was taking over a punk rocker’s room. He nearly knocked my head off when I pulled his stuff out of the room the day I got there. If you need evidence of my Asperger’s there it is: I had no idea putting my hands on his stuff would bother him.  

This nu-metalhead character lived off the kitchen. He was replaced with a seeming normal dude, but in AA who soon relapsed and moved out to avoid our partying. There was a goth character who worked in a lab that took five showers a day. He moved out and this adorable shopping mall kind of gal moved in. She must have liked coke because she very quickly coupled up with the Bostonian man with absolutely no sense of fashion but loved cocaine. Soon, his old buddy, a washed up soap opera actor (coke addict) moved to town. He stayed on the couch a while and then found his own place.

Across the street lived a guy who loved Rumi and Moly. He had a polyamorous friend that would disrupt my long dry spell from sex. She was a tattoo goth type with opiate pill addiction, and to my amazement had seven clitoral piercings. I badly needed anything.

The floors were junk. The stairs were off level. The basement was molding. But the anything goes mentality matched mine.

There was a band called Mr. Seed that previously lived there and left a bunch of gear behind, never claiming it so long as I was there. I used that shit and set up my studio.

Rent was $225 a month. The location was excellent. On a bike, I could get to almost every music venue and worthwhile bar in ten minutes or less.

This was already post-Danava, and toward the end of History of the Future. DB was tired of living with his band leader, so when the AA guy moved out, he moved in.

After we were roommates, it got out of hand, in a fun way. We got fucked up at the bar to come home and jam at midnight. We used the house as an after party venue from shows.

There was a lot of ecstasy going around. We would watch these people get the shakes and red faced and grope each other. I am almost positive that we were given that shit in a chocolate one time that was supposed to be shrooms. That night we ate those and drank whiskey. When I got home I was ecstatic, throwing things around and dancing like a madman.

One day, DB ran into Boyd Anderson, bassist from I Am the Arm, a band that shared a bill with History of the Future and was getting good shows at the time. He was in the neighborhood. Boyd was more like us. He liked the weirdest range of music, films, ideas, and wasn’t into the superficialities of the scene. He smoked hella weed.

We organized a jam, the three of us plus a drummer named Chuck, and Daniel from Hustler White on keys. It was fun. We talked about doing it again. The idea was only to be a jam band, a rotating local lineup, to be called Keep Portland Weird.

In 2005, I joined KBOO Community Radio as a volunteer engineer. I had a trade certificate from Sound Master in North Hollywood, so they fast tracked me through orientation right into operation.

The Fourth of July weekend traditionally had a long live simulcast event on KBOO from Blues Fest. We had a new digital system plus the original analog back up transmitter. I remember sitting there monitoring the signal holding bottled water on an old IBM touchpad to act as a heat sink.

I biked over the closing night just to help strike the broadcast booth and watch fireworks. I took a little mushrooms just before heading. When we finished loading the vehicle, I biked home.

Along the way, I went to Tennessee Red’s on 11th. The bartender had the craziest destiny delivering drink special of all time. It was a double shot, featuring half Amaretto and 151, for three bucks. 

I ran into some familiar faces at the bar, was feeling great, probably had two of those with beer. 

I don’t recall the time between laughing with friends and being discovered by Boyd in the street alone. He just happened to see me as I was puking. I recall that, and that’s all.

When I woke up in my bed, hung over, having forgotten my night, my roommates were demanding that I move out because they didn’t feel safe. Apparently, I had thrown shit around and made quite a ruckus, entirely blacked out.

Tension had mounted for a while. DB fueled my hatred for them, because he was a bigger shit talker. Not that he was two-faced, but I can’t compartmentalize like that, so I’ll talk shit at them. They never went to our shows, or any show, they never checked out a new film, or read books, they just did coke, ecstasy, went to the same bars every night and talked about the same bullshit over bar games.

It was for sure the best thing to leave that house. However, it was abrupt. I could have fought it, but I would rather bounce than live where I’m not wanted.

Bounce I did, into a super weird house. This house was right off Mississippi Avenue, at the time of its gentrification. I found it on Craigslist, it was $300 monthly for a bedroom, and I could move in immediately.

The house was occupied by a couple whose names I won’t repeat. They were hippies with a band. They played at Red & Black Café and pushed CD’s. The patriarch was aggressive, intimidating, even though he projected himself through an image of enlightenment. I think he was some kind of gangster in the psychedelic drug trade. I believe he warped his wife’s mind. This guy could be an MK Ultra case maybe. It was bad vibes, but I was in a hurry and didn’t see that. I was on a budget. I was attracted to it because they were also building a music studio. It took time to see how weird it was.

Jeff, from the Salad House, came over one time after work. 

Myself or Justin got him a job at Widmer. There was a bit that I worked with Justin — I for sure got Justin the job. Jay had moved on by then, in fact, lost his job due to the actions of the same guy that quit the band because the dude got too wasted in Seattle to drive home. 

Jeff quickly advanced over me from Dishwasher because he was super focused, sober, on a health kick and losing weight. His energy was top notch and understood the importance of hard work. I was still a punk.

When Jeff saw the place, he was polite about it. Later in the week, he said, “The energy is fucked over there, you have to get out.”

He was leaving Portland and suggested I take his room. The rent hit my target of $300 a month. It was settled right in time for the end of summer, ahead of the fall quarter of my final year at PCC.

I was sitting on the back porch with Glass reminiscing on summer’s end. He had the idea of heading up to our favorite place to camp: Buck Lake. This was an obscure spot that mostly trippers, artists, and camping enthusiasts knew about. It remains a tough hike to get into, but pretty well known.

It was mid-September, and school was starting within a week. I had already enrolled and was facing one final stretch of full-time study to earn my degree. I quit Widmer to focus.

I was selling mushrooms on the side and I had a fat dose saved. There was a single four gram mushroom, if I recall.

I believe I took four grams and Glass took a similar amount, in stages. I lost the bag, until we peaked and it was the perfect time to finish the dose. One turn of the flashlight revealed them on the ground to my left, behind me.

Visualizations got more intense and vivid in this session than any other time in my life. The most memorable event was Justin’s face floating down from space and then covering my face like a mask. I told him and it made him uncomfortable, and me too.

I wanted to do a Keep Portland Weird housewarming show, but too much time had passed. I had Chuck and Boyd from the original crew willing to do it, but DB on tour I believe. Then Chuck dropped out.

I was frustrated, complaining in the kitchen when Glass pointed out the obvious: Jay Morales. Jay was there for the party.

Glass played in Mr. Frederick with Justin on drums, but he knew he was the wrong guy for this moment. He was also a History of the Future fan and knew Jay could rock a set. So we did it. This was what I considered to be the first iteration of Death Worth Living. The personnel became Ali Ippolito, Anthony T. Schatz, Jason Morales, Boyd Anderson, and myself.

By now, I had upgraded my studio with from the four-track to a Pro Tools 5.1 rig. We got a clean recording with isolated instruments. The band found two strong pockets, good enough to isolate and put on MySpace. And back then, that was enough to start a band.

“Voices of the Wilderness” is the first DWL recording

Things were off to a great start for me at the salad house.

I was also eager to use this rig to realize my dream of producing music. The obvious choice to start was to record Mr. Frederick. I offered to produce them.

One day, in the midst of a session, Justin and I got into an ego battle. Ali was there as part of the session. As Justin and I got heated and argued senselessly, Ali looking on concerned, Glass got up off the drums, walked right up to us, whipped out his hog onto the desk and looked us right in the eye. The move cracked all tensions like hot water on ice. We all laughed hysterically. After a few seconds, he tucked away his surprisingly large shaft and walked out of the room for a smoke, Zen as fuck.

The tension was broken for the minute, but Justin and I clashed the following weeks and months, and we didn’t finish his album.

I studied outside of the house and partied at home. Everything seemed ideal, way better than dorm life, and I was now within walking distance of school.

That year, I started to put credits into professional music training: piano, group voice, theory, and jazz history. This was in addition to a wide range of subjects: physics, anthropology, film, and philosophy. It was a wonderful year of hard study. Living the student and artist lifestyle truly was awesome the way that I did it. The facilities and quality of instruction at Portland Community College was easily on par with small universities, only I got to live the musician meanwhile.

Glass, however, was crashing on our couch, depressed, going through a breakup, watching Lost on DVD for days on end, with Evelyn Weston, the new roommate-girlfriend of our roommate Head. She was also depressed and in a funk.

I couldn’t believe them. Both of them could easily find work but were choosing this pathetic outlook. I was bugged, until they outshined me. Their strategy proved itself over time, as I watched them both elevate their lives after finishing the DVD collection.

Glass’ holdout against all other employers worked and he went to work at Stumptown Coffee. Things turned around dramatically for him. He met a new friend and collaborator named Josh and together they formed a new band. That band remains today an active national touring headliner whose music has been featured in television and film.

Evelyn ran into someone at Ace Hotel, where she worked under the table for a pittance. This someone was selling photo booths. She suddenly became the regional manager of photo booth sales for a company with a monopoly in Portland. With her connections, those booths became ubiquitous, inside every cool night club.

Test Image from Evelyn’s Phone Booth

Life at salad house deteriorated. I was far more disciplined than they were, in cleaning, sleeping, and making purposeful spaces in the house. If you don’t accept in advance who you are going to live with, then resentment will definitely grow.

Meanwhile, I was seeing DB less and less. His band was growing fast. Kemado Records signed them, got them into a new van, upgraded their instruments, and put them on tour.

DB is the authentic guy in a sea of fakeness called hipsterdom. I didn’t really have friends from Danava’s scene because they are by and large lame, exclusive people. All the Danava guys knew that, and they all had their own private circle of friends outside that. 

Even Ida No, Portland’s desire, walked right up to me once after a Danava show at Ground Kontrol like she had been thinking about it, talking about UFO’s and woo-woo spiritual stuff that I was always down to get into. It was like she couldn’t talk with most people and she felt free. At my best, this is my primary social contribution.

Valentine, another hot local rock star from The Get Hustle ended up in my group voice class. She was a real cool person when I got to know her, but intimidating on stage and socially.

I have pretty much lost touch with everyone I’ve talked about. There is a little communication, but we drift and we change.

In the art scene, its about finding out who you really jibe with, otherwise it’s a lot of posing and having no meaningful relationships.

At the end of 2006, I believed everything was in its right place, until a vision would enter my mind that I could not ignore. The Salad House was not a cornerstone, but a stepping stone, and the real corner was going to turn at the start of 2007.

Continue to Part 2.

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