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Sunday, October 14, 2001
Googie Tour

I woke up relatively early this morning, Wendy's house is sparsely furnished, and has huge widows that look out on to Hollywood Blvd. Jen would have little to say about the Feng Shui of this house, meanwhile my car's Feng Shui is totally fucked right now. There is garbage all over the place, even in the center of my proverbial Pa Kua.. I guess there is more stuff in the car with Emily with me, but maybe I'm just lazyÉ

I picked Emily up a the Catholic Church that Aaron sings in on Sundays, this was the closest I've been to a catholic church in a long time. I sat outside for a while and enjoyed the LA sun waiting for Emily to find me. The church stood out in this neighborhood of abandoned strip shopping plazas and empty parking lots.. It was the only building for blocks that was more than one story tall. Emily looked pretty happy to see me.. I bet two days in LA with this guy was enough, but she's pretty nice so she just told me that she had a nice time. But when I asked her if she wanted to spend another day with him, she quickly said that she'd rather go on the tour with Wendy and I.

Well when we got back Wendy had called all of the rental car places in Hollywood and had found one that had a Grand Marquee available, room for 6, air conditioning, black, tinted windows. It was a super boat, just the kind of car you needed to drive around LA in on a Sunday afternoon automobile tour.

We met up with John and Ginny just after noon and started out tour. At first we just drove around Hollywood looking at the early theaters and Motels, and then we started to head out into LA proper stopping in front of what used to be the offices of Hanna Barbera.

The building looked like it was from a Hanna Barbera cartoon the decorative concrete block faade, the pastel colored walls, such an amazing building that they occupied for 40 years. Its abandoned now, Disney or ABC or whatever giant multinational media corporation who bought them out, moved all the offices to a modern office park somewhere near the corporate offices.

I always believed that your surroundings influence the types of work that you do.. I wonder what the animators of Hanna Barbera will be inspired to create within the surrounding of a cookie cutter office park, instead of their former place that looked like a building straight out of the Jetsons.

John English has such enthusiasm for all of the buildings that we looked at. Even the ones that are slated for demolition, he knows who built them, who resided in them for the last forty years and what the developers plan on building on the ruble. Usually the plan is to raise the neighborhood coffee shop or bowling alley and put in a Walgreen Drugstore, across the street from the Eckart Drug on the Corner and the CVS store down the block.

John works with the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee (or ModCom) to save these old buildings, and for the most part it is a battle against the city, the current owners, and the developers.. The only real way to save commercial architecture is to make the space commercially viable. Historic Preservations Societies have little interest in saving the run down drive-ins down the block, they are more concerned with getting their own homes on the historic register and preserving neighborhood property values. In many cases preservation societies would love to see the crass neon signs and chrome sided buildings replaced by more "historic looking" buildings that conform to their new zoning standards.

We visited one of John's (and ModCom's) success stories, the original Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, a few years ago the son on the original owner decide that he was going tear it down and put up a new apartment complex. John fought them step by step and eventually got the site listed on the state historic register. The owner and the developers tried repeatedly to get OK to tear the building down, and explained that the building was in disrepair and was a financial drain on the family.

Well ten years later the original Bob's Big Boy is the most profitable Big Boy restaurant in the country, and the original owner's son annually grosses twice the what he would have made from he singular sale of the property. Instead of tearing the property down he renovated it, expanded the seating capacity and re introduced car service on the weekends. He even put a historic register plaque outside, the same historic register that he and the developer's lawyers tried like hell to prevent Bob's from being listed on in the first place.

The developers have moved on to other great places soon to be replaced with a Pet Co. So you will soon be able to get your dog or cat one of 10,000 different toys to play with instead of going bowling with you neighbors or sharing a cup of coffee in your neighborhood coffee-shop.

We drove to Pasadena to see what Macy's has done to the Pasadena landmark Bullock's Department Store. The plan so far is to build a parking garage in front of what was once a landscaped curvilinear drive up faade, and apparently they plan on expanding street facing walls and building an assortment of store fronts. Leaving nothing of the architects' original vision of the place. The inside remains amazingly the same except that the 40-year-old teashop was recently closed to accommodate the furniture department. The children's barbershop is still in operation.

The highlight of the Tour for me was our stop at a Tiki Lounge called the Bahooka in Rosemead. The place is overflowing with nautical stuff and there are something like 200 separate fish tanks, one between nearly every single table. The place is really dark, mostly lit by small ambient lights and the light of the fish tanks. We didn't really have time to eat anything but I had to have at least a beer there, so we sat for a while at the "fish tank" bar and watched the fish swim under our parasol filled drinks.

Wendy and I started to plan the chartering of a jet filled with all of our friends in NYC and a bus to the Bahooka for dinner and drinks and then back to NYC with the only stop on the trip having been to the Bahooka. Ready to sign up? It seemed like such a good idea only three or four hours ago?

We had to end the tour a little early b/c I had planned on eating dinner at Alex's house in Simi Valley, so the Bahooka was the last stop on the tour. I guess we will be leaving tomorrow. I kind of want to stay in LA a day or two more and just hang out with John and Ginny. But I guess I should get going soon.. I'll never get to Florida if I keep staying in places for extra days.


Sunday, October 14, 2001

Steaks with the King Of Polyester

Cordelia bought my Ruby Red Chair from me early on in the project, but it took a while for us to figure out how to ship it. The first chair I sold cost more the $40 to ship and as it turns out Cordelia is in High School, so paying that much for shipping didn't quite fit into her budget. So I came up with a compromise.

I told her that I would try and ship the chair unwrapped and see whether or not my friends at the Post Office would take it. They were pretty used to me shipping strange items, in fact I think the kind of liked asking me what the hell I was shipping today. They especially liked the time that I shipped a sweet vadalia onion.

Well, I addressed the seat of the chair to the address that Cordelia sent me, and brought it to the Post Office to find out how many Stamps I would have to put on the back of the Chair to get it from Iowa to California. They sold me $16.50 worth of stamps and placed the chair in one of those canvas package carts. I highly doubt that they would still take half of the shit that I mailed earlier this year, now, after all of the recent anthrax mail scares.

But according to Alex, the chair arrived the very next day and his mail carrier had put the font door mat over the chair as to keep the "package" safe from mail thieves. Too bad he didn't take a photograph of how it arrived. The chair is in his bedroom with another 50's style chair that he found at the Salvation Army, apparently he has started collecting old chairs. His family room has one or two other thrift stores finds with clear plastic backs and space age cone shaped bases.

Alex also collects polyester clothing and I have to say he has the finest collection of bowling shirts I have ever seen. Every shirt in his closet! I may have had some nice old shirts at one time but most of what I owned were far from collectable. He's got shirts from Japan, local body shops, even some with his own name on them.

We had Steak dinner with His mom and Dad and his best friend Vander. It was kind of funny b/c he asked me if there was anything that I didn't eat? What if I said I was a vegetarian? I guess I could have had some potatoes. You can't go on the road and depend in the kindness of strangers and custom order vegetarian entrees.. I was happy to have steak b/c I am still in the middle of a self imposed "Fish Attack".

After dinner Alex marked my height on the Door to their garage, apparently everyone who has ever visited them has had their height listed on the door. There are multiple entries for many of Alex's friends, Vander @ 10 years old, Vander @ 14, Vander @ 16. How much will my height have changed by time I visit Alex and his family again?

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Brougt to you by Mid American

Brad bought my Mid-American energy bill just to own something from my project. I had listed the bill three separate times on Ebay and only received on bid, Brads.. Of course the first two times I listed the bill I made the minimum bid $466.97 which was the total about of the bill itself.. No bidders on those two postings.. Brad paid $1 USD and the price of a first class stamp.

He was the first person to call me back when I sent out the mass e-mail to all of the high bidders in the Los Angeles area. So he got to pick the best time and place for me to visit.

Yesterday morning I received a phone call from someone that sounded like Brad, but instead it was a guy from a TV talent agency. He kept saying "John, John, John this thing that you are doing is so god damned funny, So out of the box.. I think that there are 13 episodes of you visiting your stuff, a reality TV seriesÉ. You are so far out of the box its not funny"

I tried to tell him that I was being invited into the privacy of peoples homes, and I highly doubt that people would invite me to stay at their house, if I was traveling with a network television crew complete with Kraft services outside..

But he kept telling me the reality TV is really happening right now and that 13 episodes were possible.. I guess he hasn't been reading my travelogue.. For the most part I have been staying at peoples houses and simply having a meal with them.. I asked him if he had seen "My Dinner with Andre"? Can you imagine watching 13 episode of "My Dinner with John"?

He has my number and I didn't really say no.. So who knows maybe three years from now when you ask "Whatever Happened to that Guy who sold his life on Ebay" you'll hear.. "Oh he's got a late night show on cable where he's be visiting all the people who got outbid on items from his AMLFS projectÉ"

But I digress, which is why my updates take so long to get posted.. Brad has the best collection of skateboards I have ever seen, from the early clay wheeled runners, through the early dogtown decks and the like. When I got there we talked a little about a certain un-named documentary that was recently filmed in the area, and he may or may not have told me that there was a video-tape copy of that said film somewhere in the neighborhood. A copy that I may or may not have watched during my visit.

I watch films so differently now a days because Sasha is a documentary film maker, and I kind of watch things with her along side me, noticing the high paced editing that I know that she would hate, or the shaky camera stuff that shakes for no reason. But it was really interesting to watch what used to be a marginal counter culture viewed through the gaze of a pretty standard documentary formula. Its kind of like watching a behind the music documentary on the Sex Pistols and interviewing the surviving members today.

Well I promised Brad that I wouldn't tell anyone watched it, and I'm not sure if I've said I did, in fact I didn't watch anything.. Brad had a one eyed dog named appropriately Jack, I kind of wished I still had a skateboard so we could have gone skateboarding. I almost bought a board in Salt Lake City, but then decided not to add another thing into my now nearly filled car.

Now which reality TV episode would feature me hanging out watching a skateboard documentary? Out of the box?

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Rachel Frames My Dish Scrubby

In the first year that I was at the University of Iowa I was getting a little crap for making work only for the web. I kept being asked if I was every going to make anything? Make objects? So at one point I came in to workshop with packages of dish scrubbies filled with Temporama related photographs. Although most of my workshop were less than impressed, I kind of liked them, and besides the work that I really do takes place on the web, so who gives a shit if my advisors like it or not. (they did not, my transcript that semester will attest to a less than interested advisory committee)

Rachel however quite liked my little scrubbies, so much so that she paid in the neighborhood of $30 for one on Ebay, framed it in a shadow box and then invited me to visit. She is a photographer and makes here living as a portrait photographer in Los Angeles. She actually lives about two blocks away from Brad, and had I followed the directions that she gave me, I have been then there in three or four minutes.

Instead I drove halfway to the ocean and called her only after I had made three or four corrective turns further disorienting myself in this giant city of strip malls. This is where I decided that Los Angeles and Omaha had quite a bit in common, endless streets after streets in an ever expanding grid. Most western cities look alike when you are lost.

What a difference a day makesÉ Last night I had not one but two meals in what I believe could the worst restaurant of this entire trip, Jerry's Famous Deli, (a restaurant that Aaron eats in regularly). Tonight Rachel took me too her favorite noodle house in her neighborhood. It was ridiculously cheap, and was one of the best meals that I have had thus far. I was supposed to go out with Rachel and her friend Taina to their favorite bar Tom Bergin's where soon they will have their very own mugs hanging on the wall.. Three Shamrocks to go.. But I had made evening plans.. This happened to me in NYC too. I went from not having a place to stay one day to having to meet up with four or five people in one dayÉ all offering a place to stay if needed

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Five year old mailed donuts

One of the people I franticly called last night was Wendy Smith who is one of Bekah's Best friends from Hamilton.. She returned my call this morning and invited me to a play that her friends were producing. Wendy has lived in LA for what seems like forever occasionally moving away for a month or two here and there. She always seems to find a pretty good place to live and works enough to pay her rent.

It's crazy I have seen here once or twice almost every year since she moved to LA but I've never seen her in LA.. We always seem to be in NYC at the same time.. Well she invited me to crash at her place in Hollywood proper, it is pretty nice to be staying with someone I know pretty well. It not that I don't like staying with strangers, its just nice to ask favors of people you know.

Trey and I used to send random crap to Wendy through the mail, the last thing that we collectively sent was a package of home made donuts in the shape of the word DONUTS, when I arrived at her place tonight she pulled them out for me to seeÉ Still in the tin foil we sent them in.. She's had them for the last five or six yearsÉ

Emily spent the day hanging out with Aaron.. She just called to tell me where to pick her up tomorrow morningÉ I wonder if they ate another meal at Jerry's Famous Deli today? I'm pretty excited about the "Googie" tour tomorrow. Wendy and Emily are going to come along, and Wendy said that she would call the car rental places tomorrow to see if we can rent a giant air-conditioned boat to drive around in.

Friday October 12, 2001

Ocean, Lakes and Cities

Last night we stayed with Emily's friend Jocelyn. She lives in the back of the huge old Victorian house in Santa Barbara, there are apartments in the back including the cute little bungalow that she rents. What's left of the back yard id the most finely kept garden I have ever seen. I pitched my tent on the 12 square feet of perfectly manicured putting green grass. It was a little like Alice in Wonderland.

She told us about a locals beach which she called 1000 steps b/c of all of the steps down to the ocean. It was pretty much empty, emphasizing once again that the best was to get to know a place is from the inside. We swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time of this trip and it was much nicer than my last two swims in Oregon and Utah.

We got on the road by 12 or so and I half planned to stay in Simi Valley with Alex, the high school student who now own my ruby red chair that his friend Cordelia bought for him. As we drove south I kept waiting to hear from him, that was until I realized that the email that I sent him was really never sent.. So we drove past Simi Valley and just headed straight for LA.

It was when we arrived at Jerry's Famous Deli, that I realized that I had driven into the largest city in the country and I had no Idea where I was going to stay. I hadn't planned on being here until tomorrow and I had no idea even where any of my high bidders lived. Utter Chaos.

We were meeting a friend of Emily's sister at Jerry's Famous Deli, a place that must be famous for being overpriced and having absolutely nothing for vegetarian Emily to eat. When Aaron arrived he was on a tight schedule b/c he was singing in a play in Pasadena. Since I didn't have a place to stay yet I joined them in their drive to the play, along the way I called everyone who bought anything from me and left panicked message after message announcing my arrival and my need of a place to stay "TONIGHT"

Thank god that John and Ginny sent me their cell phone #'sÉ They were a little.. Well what would you say if someone called you at 7 pm saying that you were in town and needed a place to stay? Well they quickly said yes as long as I gave them a little time to straighten up their house. You might be asking why didn't you just crash on Aaron's floor? Well even though I had no place to stay and he was originally from Iowa, and I was with his friend's sister, he just listened as I made frantic calls to total strangersÉ

It worked out for the best b/c I got a chance to hang out with John and Ginny and we made the plan of plans for Sunday's "Googie" tour that John was going to lead for Emily and I.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Ebay is a Place

I spent he night on the Floor of the CDS. I worked until two or so and plan to have all of this posted by the time that I get back on the road. I'm starting to get sick of sleeping on floors. I just realized today that I have been on the road for nearly two months. Two months with no home, no space and a different schedule every single day.

It wasn't the floor that made me think of it. Maybe it was the extended access to the grid that made me feel it most. The reason my updates have been less than on time is because I'm still having a hard time finding the an extended period of time on someone's phone line. I thought that I could update things from the road on the little cell phone contraption that I bought before I left but it takes 20 minutes to send five or six e-mails so posting images from my travelogue would be impossible. That and the fact that I now owe Sprint PCS something like $325 for one month of service..

I thanked Joe and Nina for helping me get my site updated and left them a bottle of wine from the winery where I bathed in next year's batch of Pinot Noir. I picked up Emily at her brother's house and for the first time in 10,000 miles I sat in the passenger seat..

Oh and let me tell you what it was like to sit on that side of the car. I can't remember the last time I sat in the passenger seat of my car, even when I lived in Iowa, who else would be driving my car? I put the seat back, then I put it forward, then I got a pillow, took a three minute nap, changed the CD, checked my e-mail from my cell phone, all in the time it took us to get moving on the highway. It was the first time in a long time that I was not in control of where I was going and how I would get there. And it was the first time that would had to ask if we could stop for a bathroom break.

Emily drove me to the Ebay Headquarters in San Jose. One strip mall after another lead us to the Ebay Corporate Park. It reminded me of the suburbs of Atlanta Georga where every Restaurant and store what part of a chain. Imagine living free of your chains? You'd starve to death in San Jose.

I found the main lobby of the five building campus and approached the receptionist, She asked if I had an appointment, and I simply explained that I am an artist who sold everything that I own via Ebay and that I was on a road trip visiting all of the stuff that I sold, and than I just wanted to stop at Ebay headquarters on my way down through.

She asked me what company I was with. Um. No company, no appointment, no security clearance. I just assumed that they had a public relations guy that they would send out when wack-jobs like me came to visit. I can't be the first member of the Ebay "community" to drop in unannounced.

Well they tracked down Charlie, who has worked with Ebay for the last five years and he was very nice, he had heard of my project and slipped into the back room for a minute only to return with T-shirts, Hats, Golf Shirts, Pens, Water Bottles and assorted Ebay schlock. We had a five-minute conversation and he walked me to my car.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Would they send out the Ebay founder, or have a pizza party on the spot? I wasn't disappointed but it was kind of let down too. Shouldn't Ebay headquarter be in a circa 1950's office park with patterned brick walkways? Shouldn't the staff be wearing Jestsons Style bright primary color uniforms? Shouldn't the receptionist have asked me how much I wanted to meet with someone and pitted me against the other people waiting in the reception area?

They were nice. And when I visit you, I'll give you one of these nifty Ebay pens. Emily suggested that I sell the stuff on Ebay. I'm done selling shit on Ebay.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Workday in Berkeley

The Center for Digital Storytelling, Berkley saved my life. Emily introduced me to Joe and Nina yesterday and I told them about my ongoing project. I also told them that my travelogue was shamefully behind. They invited me to spend the evening working in their Digital Storytelling Lab where DSL was on Tap.. MMMM DSL.. And they made me a Key so I could work all day today.

So I spent all day today working on the Temporama site. I think that I am going to sleep on the floor tonight so I can get up early and get some more work done. I've already stayed in Berkley for longer than I planned. Emily has decided to join me on the road until next Friday when Lincoln can pick her up in Albuquerque. I think that it should work out fine. She has friends in Santa Barbara and LA so I won't have to ask high bidder to put both of us up.

I took a brief break for a beer with Erin and her friend Laleh, who is a filmmaker who recently moved to Berkley from NYC in an effort to take a break from the film industry. Although only 24, she produced a feature length documentary for A&E called 900 Women, which looked a women in the Louisiana Prison System. She spent the last year traveling in an RV to women's prisons nationwide. I can see why she wanted to take a break and wait tables for a little while.

She used to work at Franks in Brooklyn which is my absolute favorite bar in all of NYC.. So I gave her my Fig Newton's T-shirt. It was never tagged at my inventory party but I felt a little guilty not having sold it so I've kept it in my trunk until the right person came along. It fits her better than it fit me.


Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Returned Returns

I spent the night at Emily's brother's house just outside of Berkley. Emily and Lincoln have been dating for the last two years and when I tried to return his Dekalb jacket that didn't fit him he told me that I should give it to Emily who is considerably smaller. Emily was in Berkley b/c her sister in-law canceled her plane ticket from Iowa to San Francisco, So Emily helped her drive across the country last week.

Emily was supposed to take the bus home yesterday but now she might join me on the road for a few stops. We made a reservation at betties (recommended) and Erin waited on us at the counter. Betties serves breakfast all day and uses only the freshest ingredients, Each day they have a "Hot Fish" special, and I continued my self inflicted "Fish Attack" buy ordering the fresh rainbow trout. At the end of the meal Erin suggested that we try a slice of their home-made pie.

It was here that I shared with her and the rest of the staff at betties the Iowa Pie Shake secret. I asked her is she would be willing to take the offered slice of pie and put it in the blender with vanilla ice-cream, she had to ask permission from the management, who was the chief milk shake maker.. After some coaxing he created Betties first Iowa Pie Shake and shared the extra with the waitstaff and kitchen, all glowingly approved.

Sasha is not happy about my release of the formerly classified Iowa Pie Shake recipeÉ I think that she might report me to the owners of the inventors of the Iowa Pie Shake.. The Hamburg Inn #2.

Monday, October 8, 2001

Bowling Belt Buckle Bowling

Erin bought my Bowling Belt Buckle for her boyfriend Danny in March or so. She still hasn't found the right belt for it to go with so it is still sitting with its tag on in the place that she put is when it arrive four months ago. She is the first person that I have visited that fits the profile of the kind of people I thought might participate in my project.

She used to work for CNET an Internet portal that covers technology issues and provides software downloads and the like. She no longer works there on her own accord. CNET like many of the Dot Com's out there has more and more pressure to produce profits and has recently resorted to large distracting advertising as well as a blurring of the lines between editorial content and advertising.

"Boy this next Microsoft Window is the best Windows ever,,,, Better than the last one for sure, and as for Word 2002, the image editing features are better than any other word processor ever, ItÕs the biggest piece of software ever made, has so much to offer, and only requires the fastest processor on the market. And with new "Spell Check Grammar Associate Editor Writer Assistant" you don't even have to typeÉ all you do is press the business letter button and it writes it for youÉ."

Oh sorry just a little jab at the leading manufacturer of bloatware and the people that it tries to buyÉ

After talking to Erin a little while and subjecting her to my litany of high bidder questions, I asked her how old she was and when her birthday was. And I'm pleased to inform you that she too was a tax write off for an entire year even though she was only alive for two or three hours. We were both born on December 31.

We met up with her boyfriend Danny and their friend John at a local pizza place. By the time we were finished no one but Erin and I were up for the planned bowling outing, the Second bowling adventure of the is trip. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska and traveled a lot as a kid. She is the daughter of an Airforce Dad who just so happened used to work for the Strategic Air Command. Every Airforce Base in the world has a bowling ally and Erin found comfort and camaraderie at the various lanes that she rolled balls in.

She no longer has her own ball but she still bowls in the hundreds even with an ally ball. We played two games bet $1 a pin on the second game. As soon as we shook on the bet I rolled three strikes in a row. I'm sure that she thought that I had been conning her with the our fist game totals.. But she soon watched me roll gutter after spare after gutter.. Finishing only slightly higher than the first warm up game.

Erin works at a diner call Betties Oceanview in Berkley. I think that Emily and I will go there for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, October 7, 2001

Peace Rally, San Francisco

Sara's boyfriend Howard works at a collectively run bakery near Golden Gate park called Tasajara (I think) I stopped there to get something to eat as I arrived in San Francisco, I hadn't had anything to eat but coffee since the catfish the night before in Portland.. You should not go 14 hrs without eating. He gave me a couple of loaves of bread for the road, or most likely for the next people that I would be visiting.

Sara was the high bidder on my Mark Gonzalez T-shirt. ItÕs a pink shirt with an image of a guy in a wheelchair with a thought bubble of him walking and the text "Poetry is for Pussies" scrawled on the back. I gave Trey one of these shirts years ago and he used to where it to pick up basketball games in his old Harlem neighborhood. There is something about he Juxtaposition of the drawing and the text and the light pink color of the shirt. The shirt is printed on the back, so people only see it when you are leaving, far from a conversation sparker.

She lives in the mission district of San Francisco, which is about the only place in SF that artists can afford to live and even then last year the dot com boom almost forced them out too. The mission district is mostly Hispanic and filled with some of the best Mexican food I have ever had. Sara is a graphic designer and works out of her home, it was good to see how everything was set up, I half envision myself working from home someday where ever that may eventually be.

We started bombing Afghanistan today.

I was just about to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge when an NPR White House corespondent broke into the broadcast live from Washington. It has always hard for me to listen to President Bush (I no longer call him King George) but I listened intently to everything he said, and in many ways I was supportive of his actions. As left as I am, I think that the events of September 11 have changed the way that I look at the world. I keep finding myself defending "The President" even though up until last month I considered him the un-elected leader of the nation. (I agree with Scott Simon)

I felt like I was driving on a target. Every time I talk to Sasha she tells me to avoid potential targets, "Don't Go in the Space Needle, or Why don't you just skip LA" but in reality the places and people that I am visiting are far from targets.

San Francisco has a very active protest community and was one of the first cities to experience any large-scale peace demonstrations. On this first day of the strikes on Afghanistan about 5000 people took to the streets and marched right by Sara's house. We walked out and joined them as they marched through the streets chanting that we are "all one people in one world" And demanding the end to the "Bombing in Afghanistan." It was a little weird for me b/c I think that many of their reactions would be different if they lived in lower Manhattan and were still forbidden from returning to their now condemned homes.

As I've moved west the reality of what happened in NYC is more and more distant. I've talked to so many people about where they were when they first heard and what they did that day. Even on the 11th there seemed to be a disconnect when I arrived in Boston.

I'm not sure if you even heard about the Peace demonstrations in SF, I haven't heard anything on any of the news outlets, even though 5000 people spontaneously met in the streets of San Francisco. I wonder how long the "War on Terrorism" will last?


Sunday, October 7, 2001

Mt Shasta and Bad Feng Shui

I drove for about six hours again last night. I thought maybe I would drive two or three hours and then pitch a tent, but as I drove I just wanted to get to the California border and then when I made California I just wanted to get to Mt Shasta.. Which I made at about 2 in the morning. I stopped at the first rest area in Shasta and found forty odd cars and trucks with folks sleeping, so instead of looking for a campground I just got out my sleeping bag and pillow and made a makeshift bed in my the back seat of my little white Honda.

It seemed like a great idea at the time, because the dotted white lines of the road before the rest area seemed nearly continuous as I drove with all of my windows open and my music as loud as I could play it. Before I stopped to sleep I was driving over the rumble strips on the shoulder as a way to remind me that I was driving.

I woke up wondering if my spine would ever twist out of the coil that four hours in the backseat of a Honda does to your back. As I opened the trunk to stow my sleeping gear I noticed a clear scented slime that seemed to coat everything in my trunk. It was then that I realized that I really do need to apply Feng Shui principles to my daily life.

For some reason before I left Portland Jason gave me a half used bottle of environmentally friendly laundry detergent. Which was now coating most of my art supplies, a few blank tapes, three or four Zip disks and most of my dirty laundry. Jen told me that I needed to evaluate everything that I allowed to come back into my possession, what was I thinking when I accepted a half a bottle of detergent?

Saturday, October 6, 2001

Jason Lives in Portland


Jason used to live in Iowa City, and now lives in Portland. It was really strange to not have him around when I spent the week after Sept 11 in Iowa. Jason bought a series of teeth photographs from me somewhere in the middle of AMLFS. In the beginning of the project I sold so many things to Iowa City proper, mostly to people I know and mostly for a dollar or so.

But by the middle of the sale everyone I knew had bought some little thing, including Jason who also bought a pair of socks. These photographs were different though, there was a bidding war and the final auction total was nowhere near the $1 that I was asking. Jason wasn't bidding on the prints to help me out, he was bidding on them b/c he really wanted them.

He had seen them hanging so nicely on my walls, he even put them in his little Honda when he moved here from Iowa, although when he couldn't seem to find where he put them. He lives in an interesting part of Portland, a mostly Black and Latino middleclass neighborhood. This is the first city since Chicago that seemed to have very definitive racially based neighborhoods, or maybe this is the only such neighborhood that I have stayed in?

Jason made me a 6 pm cup of coffee, a frequent occurrence on this trip. We headed out to get something to eat before I headed south to northern California. I forget the name of the restaurant (I guess I would fail miserably as a restaurant reviewer for the times.) But I didn't forget what I ordered.

I have recently subjected myself to the Saori Hoshi "Fish Attack". Which translates to: I eat any and all fish dishes on restaurant menus that are with in 250 miles of the ocean. Even when the fish on the menu is farm raised catfish, I had to have it, that and the deep fried hush-puppies. Jason also introduced me to his new cheap beer love, "Dollar Oly's"

Olympia beer is the northwest's answer to the Foxhead's Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Blue Ribbon in PBR comes from the international beer festival of 1893, yep that's right PBR was chosen as the worlds best beer in 1893 and they have rested on their laurels ever since, but a dollar beer is a dollar beer and Olympia will never win a beer festival, and I just heard that PBR just brewed its last batch.. I guess the Foxhead will have to get some "Oly"

Saturday, October 6, 2001

2001 Pinot.. No Better Year


It seems that every town I go to has something art related going on. When I arrived in NYC last month it was on the first day of the Gallery Season so there where openings everywhere. Well the Photo-Americas conference started on Thursday and Margaret's friend Swanny was there reviewing portfolios.

I spent last night on the fold out bed in Swanny's 5 star hotel Suite, the second night in two months on the road that I have stayed in a hotel and the Second time that I didn't have to pay for it. We all woke up early and wandered around Portland for a while. I know I've said I like Portland before but let me say it again. The best thing about this place is are the little retro trailers that rest the corner spaces of the various downtown parking lots, there are falafel trailers, flower carts, airstream coffee-shops. I always wanted to get a retro trailer and open a coffee/thrift/used record/pirate radio/restaurant/art gallery on one or two of the corner parking spaces.

Yesterday I tried to get meter change from one of the coffee trailers and all she had were dimes. I took them but I didn't put them in the meter because Jen Mijangos told me that I should save a single denomination of coins for 27 days and that it would be good for my Feng Shui. I was going to explain to the woman in the cart that spending dimes is bad for my "Chi" but I thought better of it and just put the $2 in dimes in my pocket.

But why did he call this entry 2001 Pinot Noir? Well back to today, and to Swanny and to the 2001 Pinot. Swanny's best friend moved to Oregon in the late seventies to start a new winery. "Wine from Oregon?" You would have asked back then, but nowadays the Oregon coast is well known for its wine and Swanny's friend is one of the reasons that Oregon wine is so respected and well known.

We drove about an hour or so south of Portland, I 'm not the best at taking directions so the drive took much longer than it should have but. We drive down to eat with the staff who where working on "The Crush", the labor-intensive process of picking and crushing the grapes for next years vintage. Besides the initial Pressing of the grapes the each Day Laborer have to uncover the fermenting batches and push the floating skins into the wine, this is what make red wine red.

I started to help with the mixing when I asked if they actually crushed the grapes with their feet. I was told that they would, but the fermenting vats contained a ton and a half of grapes so if you tried to mix them with your feet that you'd actually be going for a swim.

A SwimÉSwimmingÉ.

The Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, The Great Salt Lake, the Pacific Ocean, The El Concho Pool in Los Vegas, Oh what a list of place that I have swum, the 2001 Oregon Pinot Noir.

I'd tell you which winery it was but last year a winery had a Crush festival where they invited people to help crush the 1999 vintage with their feet. A Health department official saw the event on the evening news, and the next thing you know, the winery had to put "not fit for human consumption" on every bottle of their 1999 vintage.

Every good French wine is crushed at least in part by human feet, fermenting wine is so acidic a CO2 rich that only the yeast can survive. So I'm sure that my little swim will add only hints of flavor to an already superior crop of grapes from 2001. Ask for Oregon Pinot at your favorite chi, chi, wine bar.


Friday, October 5, 2001

Eric Mast's Thumb

I arrived in Portland this afternoon and walked into Ozone records, which is down from Powells Books, one of the main reasons to visit Portland Oregon in the first place. Eric runs a record label called Audio Dregs. I decided to stop in Portland for a lot of reasons.

I always loved Portland, of all the west coast cities Portland seemed the most east coast. The buildings are brick and people live a little closer to town here. The streets are narrow two. This is no Salt Lake City with a perfectly uniform grid of 10 lane through fares all organized in relation to the main city temple. 100 south, 300 north, 500 west, of What? Oh just GodÉ If your Mormon. That right every address in town is organized in relation to the house of the Mormon God. Portland?

No I didn't see any temple here, and most of the streets had names instead of numbers. Eric has lived here since college and seems to know just about everyone worth knowing. He help my friend Kris find much of the music that he used in the "Flying Circus"

"So what did he buy John?"

I do get a bit carried away especially when I get started talking about streets in Utah. Eric didn't buy anything! But this trip has also become visiting the people's whose stuff I sold as well as the people I sold them two. Eric use to play with a band called the Spa City Rockers, and the last time I saw him he gave one of the last of the t-shirts that they had printed up. It was one of my favorite shirts, it was a top of the drawer shirt, the reason I did laundry and one of the first things to be worn when clean.

I sold the shirt to someone who gave it to a friend as a gift, a few weeks later I received a hand written note complaining about the condition of my favorite shirt. The letter read "Your shirt smelled musty, so I threw it in the garbage" Well I guess I should have had the T-shirt professionally dry-cleaned and hermetically sealed in an anti static bag.

Eric didn't have any more T-shirts left but he did give me a copy of his latest Zine, Thumb, copies of which I also sold during AMLFS. Eric is one of those people who never waits until he's told its OK to do something. I could never see him in graduate school waiting for some bureaucracy to tell him that he is ready to be what he already is. He makes music, runs a record label, collaborates with artists around the country and could give two shits about contemporary art theory, not that he doesn't know it back to front.

I think that everyone should stop waiting until they get the OK to do what they want. The OK never comes. Do it now and if you do it well the OK is self-evident