Seasons greeting from the Portland Orbit. Even bloggers need a Christmas break so we’re planning to be back in the new year with even more discoveries to share. Until then, enjoy the holidays and many thanks for reading!
I don’t get out much. If I didn’t have a job or a dog to walk three times a day you’d think I was agoraphobic. So when my brother-in-law Paul suggested I meet him at the Foggy Notion to see the band Muscle Beach last Saturday Night it seemed as good a reason as any to get out of the house. I’ve been interested in the goings-on at the Foggy Notion and Paul offered to pay my three dollar cover charge–an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Muscle Beach turned out to be a blast. Not only did they blast my ears off as evident by the over modulation of my field recording, but they were unpretentious in their performance approach. They threw out shards of music, sound and noise. Two guys played electronic boxes with effects, along with a drummer and a singer down on the floor in front of the band. All of the band members had a microphone they used to yelp, grunt, shriek and do a little singing. It added up to a heavy, grungy, fragmented, psychobilly, caterwaul. It sounded like Pussy Riot meeting Nirvana without the guitars. They had the kind of swagger that makes a blogger reach for way off descriptions like that. There was the classic changing into show costumes on stage. The singer stripped down to his under shorts, climbed out of his wheelchair and crawled around on the floor in front if the stage. The drummer had a big beard and wore a fox head hat–a total mountain man look. He spouted funny one liners at the show’s end. The joke I considered cracking about four part harmony wouldn’t have gone anywhere. This is a band that’s about anything but harmony.
Paul told me they were a fun band and I enjoyed seeing them trash my preconceived notions of what music is supposed to be. It was refreshing to see something completely different and unexpected. Maybe there’s more of that around Portland, but like I said, I don’t get out much.
Here’s some audio and photos from the show:
Every month I make it a point to check out the new Kenton Club show schedule poster. Each poster is a variation on a theme, a lady, a pin up girl, a stripper, I’m not sure what they’re going for but it’s trashy and kitschy and a campy way to present their activities for the month. The uncensored poster can usually be found inside the club. Look for December’s poster in both green and red for the holidays.
Every year I’m caught off guard. Right after work, on a Saturday in December when more often than not the weather seems seasonal and unChristmasy I catch glimpses of people dressed in Santa outfits. Then it dawns on me: It’s the first Saturday in December, the day of the SantaCon Pub Crawl which has these Santa look-a-likes straggling, wandering, stumbling, and marching all over North Portland. Numerous Claus clones gathered outside the Nite Hawk Cafe and Lounge. As I rode by I was caught unprepared with a dead camera phone battery so I couldn’t take a photo. I’ve always enjoyed what to me ends up being a random gathering of St. Nicks including grunge Santas, pimp hat wearing Santas–yes red velvet, Santas with beards askew and all kinds of lady Santas–innumerable variations on the theme. I quick charged my phone when I got home and hit Denver Ave in Kenton only to find the street devoid of the Claus crowd. I missed them.
Years ago I had enjoyed a Santa street party with crazed chants and Santas dragging around blasting boom boxes. At the time I had my video camera. The Santas assembled and marched up to then Mayor Sam Adam’s porch. The Mayor mixed and mingled with this Claus conglomerate. It felt historic, a little levity in the life of our embattled Mayor. It seemed important enough to pitch to one of our local news affiliates. I wasn’t smart enough to start a bidding war. No promises were made when I dropped off a DVD of the footage but I was convinced images of the Mayor almost crowd surfing in a sea of Santas had the makings of a short blurb that was can’t miss TV or even not quite breaking news. I watched the next morning’s broadcast to no avail. I told a friend about it later who said the local news was a bit too vanilla for something out of the ordinary.
The Santa Con remains my number one Portland Christmas event. It’s not the singing Christmas tree, a trip to the Grotto, the Cinnamon Bear Cruise or the tree lighting; it’s catching sight of a trashy troop of sad, bad Santas on a pub crawl through North Portland that lifts my holiday spirits every year. Thanks again!
So was it newsworthy? Decide for yourself:
For more coverage of this year’s SantaCon see:
In one of my recent blog posts I noticed a factual error. It was embarrassing. I was writing about an episode of the OPB radio show State of Wonder that I had enjoyed and in my head I was thinking the theater near the downtown Voodoo Donuts location was called the Paradise Theater. I had listened to the episode a few times and heard them mention the name. About a week later I came across some mention of the theater in the Willamette Week and it hit me. The reference must have included a picture of that iconic sign because I realized it was not the Paradise Theater but the Paris Theatre. After a quick internet search it became clear to me. I had used the wrong name. Part of me considered the Paradise Theater being a more ironic or maybe even a more appropriate name for what is now a porn theater. We’re a long way from Paris out here, but there’s no excuse to have been so far off on the name. I still haven’t figured out the mix up other than realizing I haven’t been in that section of downtown for a while. I promise to be diligent in verifying any information for future posts, you know, fact checking. The beauty of a blog is being able to do a quick edit so it’s all fixed now. No one will ever know.
Here’s a brief blurb about the theatre on the Cinema Treasures website, but no mention of why it’s called the Paris Theatre:
While traveling on the Max train on a Monday afternoon I overheard a scruffy gentleman on his cell phone leaving a message. “I just discovered I have four quarters in my pocket that belong to you. I’ll give ’em to you tomorrow,” he said. The importance of those four quarters seemed to put things in perspective and made my current financial woes seem more like “champagne problems.”