CRAZY/COOL: A sheepish explanation of our current climate

I have two things to say today that are only vaguely music related, sorry you guys.

Firstly, I want to account for my absence.  These webby things, these blogosphere entries, they are unreliable, because a blog is a lot of work despite the fact that it just looks like words on a page, easy peasy, right. But too often they go away because a well-intentioned writer will get fatigued six months in and be like, TOO MUCH, GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK, BLOG!!  Well, anyway, A Thing happened for which I had to ingest pills for medical reasons and not for fun reasons and let me tell you, they shattered my brain into a pile of useless rubble for a week or so. I couldn’t write, and anyone who tried to have a conversation with me during that time will tell you I said some weird things to them and was unable to form coherent narratives and was irritable and unfocused and oh just HIGH AS A KITE at the workplace (yes, my work knows, my boss is a good guy who understands life and makes dad jokes and says “boom shaka laka” after something good happens, his response was to begin throwing frozen York peppermint patties at my desk, so it was a very productive conversation is what I’m saying and also I got peppermint patties out of it, so I win), and grinding my teeth and manic as hell (I’m UP!! I’m DOWN!! I’m ALL OVER THE ROOM, YOU GUYS!! LET’S DANCE PUT ON SOME ROBYN!!!) and just sixty flavors of fucked up and anyway, none of this was good for anyone, so I went back to the scientists and I was like, Scientists! Fix it! and they fixed it and I feel better and I can write again or so I think. I’m trying anyway.  Look, I just wanted to say I haven’t abandoned you, Portland Musicians, Venues, Promoters, Lurkers and Ancillary Characters of Various Function - the scientists, they’re just messing with my brain. It feels like being trapped in a cage when you can usually sit down and churn out 2,000 words (sure, most of them are curse words embedded in grammatically questionable sentences, but they’re something) in an hour and then suddenly you sit down to write and it’s like you’ve never heard of this “writing,” what is it, exactly? Yikes.

Anyway, the real guides should be back this weekend. Sorry for being absent.

Ok, but anyway, before the weekend I wanted to check in about this little media war with a paper that shall not be named because they’ve gotten far too much publicity for it already and it’s time to put it all to rest.  Anyway, I wrote some stuff, then a lady posted a thing in my comments, then I wrote another thing and then magically a thing was printed on their front page that wasn’t really in response to me but had uncanny timing and then another blog wrote a thing in response to their thing and then there was a facebook thing in response to that and then a bunch of us started commenting and HOLY SHIT MY EYES ARE BLEEDING PLEASE STOP PLEASE STOP.

There are just a few things I want to point out about all of this.

There are some people out there calling the arts community vitriolic, intolerant and mean-spirited for “attacking” that horrific piece of writing.  Do not listen to them. What we are doing is using our voice, not attacking. Women know that others will try to call you a bitch to exert power over you and try to equate you using your voice and opinions to being a bad person so that they feel less threatened by you.  It’s an attempt to shut you down.  The same thing is going on with this community and the people who feel threatened by us. Be a loud vitriolic bitch, guys, never let anyone shut you down. The comments you guys made on that fb post were hilarious, and just because the Alpha Betas have control of the Fraternal Council doesn’t mean the Lambda Lambda Lambda’s can’t throw a bitchin’ rock show with the man on the mic that we call Lamar and an electric violin that wins over the hearts and minds of the student body of Adams College.  BUT I DIGRESS.  

Everything I ever needed to know about comeuppances I learned from 80's movies, the era of the triumphant underdog.  

An editor for this particular paper reached out to me, and I’ll not use his or her name here, because our conversation was off the record. But my conversation with this person pointed some stuff out to me:

Youth does not automatically translate into cultural savvy; though this paper has young people on staff, they are young people who are woefully uninvolved in on-the-ground culture here in Portland. We’re dealing with a group of people who are very very young, and extremely green and I think that to a certain extent, they are falling victim to that thing we all did in our early 20s, whereby we thought we knew everything and were a bunch of fucking dicks about it so we didn't listen to anyone and just figured we were always right until life came and kicked us in the ass and we had to deal with the great awakening. After I moved to Seattle from North Carolina, I had to host a young woman from NC who had to stay in Seattle as sort of a satellite employee for the company I was working for at the time. Though I had given her keys to my apartment, maps of the neighborhood and some suggestions on places to check out, she refused to go explore the city, opting instead to spend days inside watching tv to the extent that there were days she would just eat white rice because it was the only food that was in the house and she didn’t want to go to the grocery store that was IN THE BUILDING ON THE GROUND FLOOR and didn’t want to go try any new restaurants.  For months.  She just preferred it that way. So while we have this perspective of like, oh, I make art and consume art and want to be a part of a community, I have to remind myself that not everybody is that way.  And I think that culturally, that this sort of sequesterment (not at all a word, but it should be) is what this paper has going on on the editorial level.   

Secondly, talking to this paper and its employees reminds me a lot of what it’s like to have a dismissive parent; you spend all your life trying to make this parent happy, and you can never be good enough. This parent misses all of your school plays, soccer matches and birthday parties; maybe you get a card from this parent once a year for Christmas or something, but in general, it’s pretty clear that this parent is super into his or her new family and wants nothing to do with you.  You grow up and come to logical terms with it, but emotionally it will sting forever.  Your therapist spends months trying to educate you on the damages of unattached parenting style and the Dismissive-Avoidant personality type. And yet, you still put yourself out there, calling when you get a promotion at your job or have your first kid, only to be rebuffed - brutally - again and again. Everyone in your life is like, why do you even bother?! But for some reason you just keep ramming your head against that wall, thinking BUT THIS TIME, THIS TIME I WILL SHOW THIS PARENT THAT I’M WORTHY OF LOVE, DAMMIT!!! Never happens.  Until one day, you wake up.  You wake up and say, you know what, I don’t need this parent to love me, I am good enough on my own.  Maybe your chronic back pain starts to clear up, you find a new boyfriend and suddenly life begins to take on a new hue. Maybe you write a song about it or take a yoga class and the whole thing starts to make sense.  Maybe you do one of those stupid backpacking trips in Australia that make you "see the light." Whatever. Anyway, I think we’re all ready to get to this point, right? It’s time. It’s time to move on and know that if we want our needs fulfilled, we must fulfill them ourselves.  

So as we look to 2016, I’d like to give a shout out to the folks that show the love, again and again: The Bollard, Preacher’s Fire, Dispatch, Post Mortem Blog, WTF, and anyone I’m forgetting, sorry about that, I still have some shards of shattered glass rattling around in my feeble, chemical-addled brain. Because, Portland, you are cool. Which is 100% a thing that exists. ZING.