If this day was an egg, and I was an egg sorter, I would call it AAA, extra large. I woke up to the familiar droning lawn mower noise of Sting, our anal retentive coke dealing neighbor (he works for a local Coca-Cola distributor). I took the time to make myself a proper breakfast, then lazed around while waiting for Luke to get ready to go to the Portland Art Museum’s Italian Style exhibit. On our way over to pick up Hunter Thompson, who was joining us, we rolled down the windows and blasted this mix CD I found while cleaning through old storage at work called “Dance Music for Old People,” a thoroughly good mix of mid-80’s to mid-2000’s indie and indie-adjacent dance pop (and William Shatner, which dates the mix to the time when it was still funny to add a random Shatner track in for the lulz).
I enjoyed the exhibit a few weeks ago when I had a cousin visiting, and going through it a second time, I was impressed by how much I got out of it that first time. People go through museums at their own pace, but I have a genuine admiration for the way that the curators tell a story of regional transition through the catalog descriptions of the garments and fabrics they presented. So many people were blowing right past all of that information. It’s easy for me to say, I guess. I read very quickly. Over the years, I’ve talked a lot to HT and LS about clothes, whether flipping through GQ, critiquing RuPaul’s Drag Race, or just bitching about expensive things we want and can’t afford, and it was nice to go with them, and see him another time before he leaves.
After leaving the museum, we came back to my house. We had a little nostalgic moment, going through old photos, confronting the transition. He offered to go out for a drink, so we went across the freeway to Roscoe’s, a sturdy beer bar in Montavilla. We had a nice chat. I’ve been a little dull recently, because I feel very rudderless right now. When I talk with others, I have to either burn a bunch of energy faking interest or talk in circles about not quite knowing what to do with myself. It’s tiring and boring to think, tiring and boring to say, and definitely tiring and boring to hear. HT did have a great recommendation, though, which is an interview with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem talking about spending many years too afraid to release work out in the wild:
It was just what I needed to hear. I winced—winced a lot—to hear some of the way that I feel narrated out loud. It inspires me to know that other people have taken a long time to figure out their shit.
When HT and I said goodbye, for what might be the last time before he heads to New York, he tried to have a nice and sincere moment, but I couldn’t stick with it and made jokes. Making jokes sincerely, though. For what that’s worth.
For the rest of the evening, I stayed in, got stoned, and watched through an episode and a half of the documentary series The Story of Film.
The Story of Film has a strong editorial point of view that can sometimes be hard to swallow. Its enthusiasm for the films and directors it profiles (very occasionally there will be an interview with a screenwriter or actress, and while there is plenty of technical description one could easily forget that film crews exist) is transmitted through a deliberate, heightened narration in various shades of purple. It has a refreshingly ecumenical and global perspective—at least until it comes to commercial film. While I agree that the story of Hollywood has been told elsewhere, I think we’re long past the point where commercial cinema poses an existential threat to independent cinema. Not making The Lord of the Rings doesn’t mean that 10 Gerrys automatically get made.
That being said, it’s astonishing how much time I spend reading and watching and listening to that don’t fundamentally stimulate my imagination, and this series does. Its dense, slow, and sometimes dull, but in its best moments it makes my mind alive to the possibilities of artists following their questions and creating their voice.