Special Announcement! There will be no post next Sunday, as we will be on San Juan Island! Stay tuned on August 9th for the San Juan Adventure Log!
Spence here: A little dip in the Willamette River, directly under the St. John’s Bridge in Cathedral Park… On another 90 degree-plus summer day this week, Billy and I were searching for some river action. It was after work and we both wanted a quiet picnic, but the city was bustling. Everywhere we went, people were out with their boats, coolers, floaties and dogs. I tried to embrace it–it all seemed like great fun–if you could find parking! We ended up driving to the town of St. John’s, where a lot of people from Portland have been moving in the last 10 years. Housing and rent prices seem a little more reasonable, there is a cute downtown, and St. John’s has one of the nicest riverside parks around–Cathedral Park. Accenting this amazing park is the equally amazing St John’s Bridge. When neither of us knows exactly where to go, but we know we want to go somewhere, we usually end up under that bridge. I haven’t swam there before, but I saw people jumping in and they looked refreshed afterward, so I took my chances. I slunk into the murky waters, my river shoes sucking into the mire, but as I pushed off from the shore, I smiled–finally getting my first swim of the season. The water was cool but not cold and as I emerged I felt a lot more relaxed. The heat had been taken by the river. Unfortunately, so had the bottom of one of my river shoes! The mud was too much for my old river shoes to handle, so once again, another shoe was claimed by the Willamette. At the park, there are beautiful old birch trees, which I couldn’t help but to take pictures of. Tug boats pushed by with full barges and jet skies and jet boats and one sailing yacht. Up the hill, there was a summer jazz festival going on and plenty of partiers–wow, people were real drunk! We mingled among the people for a bit, watching “kids” of all ages dancing to the echoing Motown cover songs. I appreciate the fact that people over a certain age still get drunk in public, flip their shoes off and dance in broad daylight in front of large speakers, and large crowds, like no one is watching!
I took my turn dancing in the daylight as well, later in the week at another outdoor concert. Our little family (Billy and our roommates), took a field trip to McMenamins Edgefield to see Morrissey! Formerly, the lead singer of The Smiths, Morrissey is one of my favorite songwriters. I remember first listening to The Smiths in middle school. When they broke up, I began following Morrissey’s solo career. The very first concert I ever attended was in 1992, to see Morrissey at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan. I was excited to be going with two boys I had crushes on, and I was able to get permission to drive us there (an hour away) at age 17. (I wore a blue suit coat and burgundy Doc Martens!) At the time, there was still a dispute going on between the band mates of The Smiths and Morrissey so he did not play any Smiths songs. Consequently, I had never heard any of them live and haven’t seen Morrissey since. This time, at Edgefield, perhaps the statute of limitations of their legal agreements were up because Morrissey and his backing band played several Smiths hits, along with many of my favorite Morrissey solo songs. Some song highlights, for those who know: Meat is Murder (complete with slaughterhouse documentary videos showing on a large backdrop behind Morrissey’s band), Yes, I Am Blind, Suedehead, The Queen is Dead, and Stop Me if You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before. Morrissey knows just how to make someone feel slightly uncomfortable with his famous way of insulting you while complementing you. His music has always been the perfect blend of dramatic romance with dysfunctional humor, (songs like Unhappy Birthday, Girlfriend in a Coma and Some Girls are Bigger Than Others come to mind). All the kidding aside, he really was the first musical artist I had heard who wrote lyrics that were unapologetically unique. I still strive to make music like that. One of the first songs I ever wrote, (I was inspired to learn guitar in college), was a tribute to many Smith’s songs: I’ve included the lyrics listed below for your enjoyment. Thank you Morrissey. If I ever get to see him live again, I am sure to bring him roses and get front row seats!
P.S. At the beginning of the concert, Morrissey said, “Welcome to our picnic… I am the menu!”
Lavish Boy by Spence Fisher
You see this young, lavish boy, among the toughest meat,
Along the slickest of city streets.
The beautiful scars this lad acquired
Quite frankly show his best side,
Quite frankly show his blessed hide.
What you see there in the darkened alley
Is something you wish you’d never have witnessed…
Cold, cold, black and ugly…
Bitter revenge from one so young
I think can cause an endless train of trouble.
Fruitless, thoughtless, nothing,
Black leather and silver chain,
Quite frankly have been worn thin
Quite frankly have been cashed in.
A twist of fate and he’s gone.
He’ll hitchhike every last mile.
It’s a wonder no one finds him dead,
The shining moon will light the path he’ll follow.
But really has he done well,
Quite frankly I just don’t tell…
Billy here. We woke up this morning to rain. The first rain in a while. This weekend is a nice respite to the heat that the Northwest has been feeling. The entire state of Oregon is in drought right now, half of which is severe. So today people are showing their gratitude for the rain.
It’s been an inspiring week. In brief summary, I am getting geared up to go back to school, for starters. I have started collaborating with my sister in finally putting ideas to paper about a graphic novel that has been kicking around in my head for years. My dreams have been vivid and especially cathartic this week.We went to a concert to see Morrissey. We have been going to the beaches on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. I have also been simmering a theme on the back-burner for an art show I am scheduled to have in December at the coffee shop where I work. At night I am reading my favorite authors and graphic novels (this week it has been Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin and Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeane) for study in writing my own stories. There is a lot to think about and I am staying up late turning it all over!
Everything I look at has a face in it, which seems to be a powerful metaphor. I see the face of a shrewd and kind-hearted pig in a vertebrae bone or a speaking worm in the curl of a cow’s horn. Everything, even things we don’t think of as alive, is revealing its character in a kind of mask. Is this the kind of storytelling that began myth? I don’t know, but I am going to try and tell a story out of it!
Astro-nerd interjection! New Horizons, the spacecraft that has just flown by Pluto, has uncovered an atmosphere of methane on Pluto and geological activity, including a flowing glacier made of methane, nitrogen and carbon monoxide ice!
Here on Earth it is high harvest time and we are scurrying around trying to get projects wrapped up before winter. It will be here before we know it! Harvest Festival will be suddenly weeks away. In fact, Lughnasadh (pronounced LOO-nuh-suh), a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season, is less than two weeks away. Lughnasadh marks the halfway point of Earth’s journey between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, or the beginning of fall, since technically the Solstice is midsummer and the Equinox is mid-autumn. With the Texan-like straw color of the greenery here, it almost feels like fall is coming. More on Lughnasadh next time!
We haven’t gotten out of the city much yet this summer, but soon we will be doing some fun trips outdoors: San Juan and the Enchantments, to name a few. We are packing as much in as we can before school starts. Probably after school starts we will be only posting once every two weeks. I can feel the Earth turning and thoughts of reflection are starting in. Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for San Juan updates!