Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Boards of Canada.

Ladadadadadadada…And in the light of what was there it’s been said they heard me bid you – “Come on!”

Due to the sporadic and scarce amount of musical talent that tours during the holiday season, I was able to spend the past weekend in the awkward graces of our metropolitan neighbour to the north. You (devoted reader) may be shaking your deeply concerned head at this news, but do not fret over some emotional freefall or repeated adventure that may have seemed to occur. For there was only a pause along the I-5 corridor in Seattle; enough time to pick-up a fellow, who will be referred to only as Alexandria. I had not seen Alexandria since I dropped him off at a Greyhound station some months ago, and now he was back in the region to spend the holidays with his immediate family. The two of us had been planning this excursion through electronic dialogue over the last week, and were able to make our open schedules coincide with another friend who had accompanied me on the morning travel. The aforementioned traveler is named Olympia and currently resides in the Washington capitol of the same name. It is there that I had spent the prior evening celebrating and, eventually, contracting a sore back associated with some dehydrated, hardwood floor sleeping. So there you (attentive reader) have it – the gathering of a holy trinity of sorts who wished to spread some patriotic cheer all over the Port of Vancouver and possibly become ex-patriots. That’s right, the trio went international with this weekend adventure.

Immediately we are flagged at the international border. Apparently Canada has some sort of tight deposition towards young Americans fleeing into her cold and expansive arms, which was displayed by the attractive brunette that had us park the Oldsmobile and retell our ploy to the officials in the security building behind her. Our lines were stated and some questions were fielded, and after some shared discussion concerning the stereotypes of those who are selected to pullover it was back on our route. There was some initial confusion on the speed of which to continue this journey (thinkmetric), but once it was agreed that Americans should pursue life at 65 mph –no matter what foreign law decrees- we were on our merry old way. There was about twenty minutes of car talk laced with imitated accents and jargon of the land until we began to take in the enormity of the surrounding mountains and the conglomeration of lights buried in its sides and protruding into its valley. We began our descent into the outskirts of the metro area as the final rays of sunlight disappeared for the day. There was an outstanding vibrancy to the international hub at this time that was noticed as we neared and, later, drove over the Granville Street Bridge into our destination: the Cambie Hostel in the Gastown District.

Once parked outside the hostel, we hopped out of the car anxious and ready to see what the party people do in this specific district. But first we had to verify arrangements for our sleepyheads of the future. “Is it cool if I leave my car parked in front of the hostile overnight?” The receptionist replies, “ What do you mean by cool?” Ah yes, this man is Canadian. He continues, “If you have plates from the ‘States you will definitely have your car window smashed.” Ok, I have an understanding of what is cool and decide to take his eventual advice of parking in the garage across the street. We unload the vehicle and load the hostile room with our belongings, and head to the connected restaurant and bar for some cheap rye whiskey and hockey. How novel this proved to be, since my attention was quickly averted to the football game on the adjacent screen. After some drinks and acclamation in the smoking room, we headed out onto the streets of the homeless and, later, an English pub on Water Street for some more whiskey and electronic music. This was a pleasant stop that followed an aerial view and cocktail in Harbour Centre’s needle, but it was evident by the sparse clientele that it would not be our last. The server was a cute, younger woman that informed us of areas in walking distance with more to offer a visitor opting for a night on the town. We were directed towards Granville Street, which was a strip of highbrow shopping and clubbing venues dotted with a limited number of watering holes appealing to Alexandria, Olympia, or myself. We scouted the extent and decided on an Irish Pub this time; a familiar place with grunge music on the jukebox, sportscentre on the tube, and rye whiskey and coke in the tumbler. Amongst the engaging discussion that developed, Olympia and I began to speak openly about the relaxed/nonexistent rules on the ganja in these parts. We had spoken of this before, but not much around Alexandria, and decided this had to be taken advantage of; after all, we do partake. The substance was not in our possession at the time, but would be in a matter of minutes. You (interested reader) see, Olympia was the one to build the courage to ask the suspicious skateboarder on the street corner. Eureka! Then it was off to the park near the hostel to settle that matter and then wander around the surroundings until the evening’s closure.

The following morning came and passed; we arose from our slumbers around the noon hour and paraded downstairs for some breakfast and coffee over pigskin. Our spirits were high after the rest and nourishment, and ready to wander down to the harbour for an outlook over False Creek. The previously described mountains were encompassing us as we peered out onto the development that covered its sloped sides. We remained in a voyeur state until the moment passed, and then we embarked on a mission, devised the prior night, to the Amsterdam Café. This was another one of those novel Canadian ideas, which was nonetheless very surreal and suspiciously comfortable. With clouded perception we left the unique establishment for the narrow alleys and stubby pins that is synonymous with bowling. Ah yes, another novel idea that is, once again, nothing more than a subtle alteration of an idea to the south giving it uniqueness to the north – or vice a versa. Nevertheless, the activity was a great deal of fun along with being an enjoyable manner to pass time without venturing for another tavern. A venue the trio has spent a great deal of time together in over our time shared in Stumptown. Following the lighthearted shenanigans, we headed across the strip for some Japanese cuisine to fill our appetites and to the café for further inebriation (some novelties are just too satisfying not to second).

We would spend the evening’s hours in a similar fashion to any of those we had while in each other’s company back in Stumptown. Wandering from bar to bar in search of a gratifying time and story to reflect upon for the next adventure. You (by now, exhausted reader) see, this is what the twenty-something males of America do – in foreign locale, or not. We share spirits and raise spirits. We tell each other about times in our lives they have already missed and those that they soon will. We reveal our pasts to one another and divulge each other with ideas for our future. Intentions whose outcomes each of us may have predicted for one another from our time spent together. Outcomes we hope to once again share.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A Gambol on Portland.

The past week has been a reunion of sorts. It was a reconnection with a familiar and inviting friend from the past that began with a purposefully ignored phone call about a month ago. I was at a neighborhood café with a friend and a new housemate when I felt the vibrating associated with an incoming phone call within the pocket of my blue jeans (I am not one to seek the outside attention that comes with any ring tone). I got hold of my cell phone and noticed a long distance call from an unrecognized area code. As usual I chose not to place myself in an uncompromising situation that can arise from answering an unknown number, so I press ignore and wait to discover whether or not there is enough importance in this failed attempt at contact to leave me a voicemail.

The first half of the visit consisted of sharing some of each other’s last seven years and attempting to recall our brief encounters at each other’s college towns. Neither of us seemed to remember hosting such a visit, but I do remember a beer pyramid on a porch and the high praise given to some band by the name Lawrence Arms by some local Carbondale punks. There was also time spent with my old friend’s travel companion, who is a recent graduate in the arts that plans to move here in the New Year. All this time seemed cordial and pleasant. It was fast and impressionable with stops at a number of watering holes (Mash Tun, The Know, The Nest, and Clinton Street Pub) and restaurants (Beulahland, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and Vita). The two travelers also spent a couple of hours each day trolling through the eastside neighborhoods for the one who is relocating. Giving me an opportunity to work on my final class project about gentrification in the same Alberta District that I showed the two upon their arrival, which I seized by resting my head for a couple of hours. The first half ended with a continuation of their long travels with a side trip north on I-5 through Seattle and Vancouver.

The first half of the second half was relocation, Zack and Doug. The two spent a few Marriott nights to the North and returned here for the next couple of nights. Agreeing that this place is a good fit for both of them and that there is also now a recent graduate in beauty school that plans to move here in the New Year. I am pleased to hear this and will continue to wonder if it will happen in the future. The old friend and her travel companion returned with news of meeting up with a college friend that lives nearby. The college friend is in a local hardcore band and suggests that we go to the Hungry Tiger, which is near the mailbox of some friend he wishes to drop off a picture for. The suggestion sounded good so I spent the beginning of the evening listening about some Carbondale punks, drinking whisky, playing pool, and briefly speaking with some folks by the name of House Party Revolution. After the Tiger, we went to the Fir and had some late night food with the fake logs and pretentious vibe. The Cholula is stolen off the table in response to this atmosphere and staff demeanor.

The second half of the second half was education and the Blood Brothers. We slowly awoke the next day and met up with their nearby hardcore friend and went to Junior’s where we spoke about the prior night over some coffee and plates of food. After the meal, the old college friends exchanged farewells and spoke about being in the same city again. The three remaining friends spent the afternoon printing and turning in my final project for my lone graduate course, and touring the West Hills and Mount Tabor. After the errand running and cooler air there was time to rest to the volume of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on the living room couches and eat a Lebanese meal at Riyadhs. But then it would be onto the Matador, Scooters and to view a band by the name of the Blood Brothers. The drinking establishments provided some of the stiffest whisky and cokes; just the kind of jumpstart to this sort of rock show that you would desire. There was a tour of the venue/workplace for the relocating friends along with some uncommon interaction with coworkers. The buttons are stolen off the merchandise table in response to this atmosphere and my lack of concern with the staff.