June 26, 2008


Posted in injury, portland at 6:38 pm by berzerkeleyan

crying kid

I’m not the most prolific blogger out there. If I’m lucky, I find time to list what music I listen to from week to week. But even that meager output will be reduced further. You see, I dislocated and fractured my elbow last week after taking a nasty fall while running. I also took a few stitches above my eye for good measure. Though I have never been known for my grace, this is my first major injury.

It wasn’t a simple dislocation. If that were the case, I’d be looking at four to six weeks of minor misery. Unfortunately, I also broke a bone around the elbow joint (the radial head), and completely tore the ligaments surrounding it. Things were so bad in there that I had surgery yesterday to get everything cleaned out and reset. Recovery will, according to the Orthopedist, be “difficult” — three to four months. But considering how much worse my fall could have been (other broken bones, paralysis, death), and all the modern creature comforts at my disposal, I have no real complaints.

For example, I live in the middle of the city, a prime location for the invalid. I’m mere minutes walking distance from coffee, restaurants, the pharmacy, the hospital, even the Orthopedist. The inability to drive is therefore not a big deal. About the only thing I need a car for is grocery shopping. But Safeway now delivers! All I do is order online, and the next day there are bags of pre-packaged meals at my doorstep. There are a few minor difficulties, mostly from living alone and not having a fleshed out social network. But a broken arm today is very different than having one, say, fifteen years ago.

One final thing to note…from the start, I have been blown away by how great folks have been towards me. The skater dudes who saw my fall and immediately called 911; the EMT crew who doped me up right away and got me to the hospital within five minutes; the ER folks who stitched me up, reset the joint, put me in my first cast, and got me home; the pharmacists who have dutifully filled my Percocet prescriptions with sweet looks of pity; the baristas at the coffee shop who’ve treated me to a cookie here and there; and the random folks who haven’t been afraid to ask what happened to me, eager to know what extreme sport caused my injury, but probably more happy to hear how randomly normal the accident was. I think they’re ultimately relieved that my life’s as ordinary as theirs.

An ordinary life. But I’m grateful.

May 24, 2007

The Black Angels — Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

Posted in concerts, music, portland at 9:46 pm by berzerkeleyan

black angels button

The 60’s Revival seems to be in full effect these days. Lots of bands are now wearing their love of 60’s psychedelic rock on their collective sleeves. I don’t know if it’s a cyclical thing, the similarity of today’s political climate to back then, or both. But make no mistake, the intensity of the music and the subject matter of today’s revivalists mimics what came out during those turbulent times.

The Black Angels are probably the best example of the genre at the moment. I’d first heard them last year on Morning Becomes Eclectic, and was instantly hooked. You can hear their influences clearly: The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Velvet Underground, even some Black Sabbath. You can also sprinkle in more modern influences like Joy Division, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and what I call the Texas Indie Drone which, if you’ve heard bands like Explosions in the Sky and Lift To Experience, you know what I mean (it makes sense since they’re from Austin). It’s a heady blend of sound, one that I like very much. Their debut album has been in heavy rotation these past two weeks. So, naturally, I had to see them when they slithered through town.

I hadn’t anticipated going to see a band this much since last year’s Phoenix show. Fortunately, The Black Angels aren’t big enough yet to play at a large venue. So off to the Doug Fir I went, my favorite club in Portland. And they did not disappoint. Since they’re new, they spent the night playing almost everything from their debut album. The highlights for me were “The Prodigal Sun,” “The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven,” and their encore — an excellent cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Nice.

Live, they sounded to me like The Doors more than anything, but with a chunkier rhythm section. The band was fairly tight, and seemed to have fun confusing me by switching instruments with each other all night. They were all fun to watch, but the highlight for me (and for most of the crowd, I would imagine) was watching Stephanie Bailey pound on the drums. It was hot. I would daresay she was almost as sexy as this.

These guys are for real. If they don’t implode, and our current war continues to drag on, I anticipate great things for them. One thing’s for sure — they bring something live that can’t be captured on a CD. So if you have the opportunity to see them now, do it. Before they start playing exclusively in the arenas.

Concert rating (0 – 100): 86

April 7, 2007

The Portland Japanese Garden

Posted in portland at 5:10 pm by berzerkeleyan

Portland Japanese Garden I

I’ve been in Portland now exactly one year. So far, the move’s been a great decision. If I had to change one thing this year, though, it would have been to get out more. This city (like most, mind you) has some wonderful treasures tucked away for one to stumble upon. When I was perusing Google Earth the other day, I saw that the city has its very own Japanese Garden. Apparently, it’s one of the few authentic JGs outside of Japan. Up in the hills, it’s a seven minute drive away, and the perfect respite from all the construction going on around my apartment.

It’s got five different styles of Japanese gardens, including a couple of stone gardens. There are gardens with ponds, some with koi (natch). It’s also got a killer view of Mt. Hood. I was there two hours, and would’ve stayed longer if I could’ve. What I liked most was how green it was (duh). I’m sure it’s even more vibrantly green when it rains, so I’ll be sure to go again during a damp day.

Here are three more shots. If you want to find out more, go here.

Portland Japanes Garden II

Portland Japanese Garden IV

Portland Japanese Garden III