Farewell To My Imaginary Big Brother

When I was little, I was obsessed with The Partridge Family. As an only child, I especially wanted to have lots of brothers and sisters and to be in a band. I would have given just about anything to have had Keith Partridge be my big brother.

Vicster on her first day of school
Me on my first day of school, some time in the early 70’s, with my frizzy hair and my Partridge Family lunch box.

As I outgrew my Partridge Family obsession, it made me sad that teen idol stardom took such a heavy toll on David Cassidy. I’m not sure anything could have prepared him for that kind of hysteria, and it no doubt made for a very lonely life.

I am grateful that he managed to make some peace with Keith Partridge, for a while, and that his failing body cannot hurt him anymore. I wish his family peace as they deal with their loss.

(I still remember every word to this song.)

My Broken, Portland Punk-Loving, Heart

It’s been a rough year for my Portland Punk-loving heart. Over the weekend I learned that Fred Cole, the lead singer/guitarist for one of my all-time favorite bands, passed away from complications related to cancer. Fred, Toody, and Andrew were the fucking BEST. They loved their fans as much as we loved them. Fred always had time and a smile for you. Dead Moon disbanded several years ago, and Fred and Toody went on to form other bands, including Pierced Arrows. Andrew Loomis died last year, also from cancer (seriously, FUCK CANCER!), and with Fred’s growing list of health issues, he and Toody retired from touring and playing live shows.

I send love and light to Toody in these difficult days.

In celebration of Dead Moon, and Fred, I’ve dug up my old blog post from 2004, from when I finally got to see Dead Moon live again, after several missed attempts (I was really beginning to wonder if somehow a portal had closed and I’d never get to see them again!)

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Sunday, October 24, 2004

It’s a Dead Moon Miracle!

After more than a decade away from Portland, Oregon, I must say that there isn’t a lot left up there that I miss. Aside from friends and family, I can count those things that I miss on one hand.

First and foremost on that list is the music scene. For all of the press that Seattle got in the 90’s, I think Portland had the better scene (even though it did spawn Nu Shooz and the band we knew as Seafood Mama but became known as Quarterflash when the record labels came-a-callin’). Alas, nearly all of my favorite bands like the Dharma Bums, and the Obituaries (who broke up and later morphed into M-99) have gone, but Dead Moon is still rockin’ after all these years.

Dead Moon tours constantly (their motto–or one of their mottos–is “keeping one gig ahead of a day job”); they criss-cross the United States, they’ve toured Europe and even Australia/New Zealand. And even though they’ve come to San Francisco several times in the eleven years I’ve been in the Bay Area, I haven’t seen them play since I lived in Portland. I’ve always meant to go see them, but something always came up and I ended up not going. Even on a visit to Portland, I was going to go with a friend but she got sick so we ended up not going.

A few months ago, I saw that they were coming to San Francisco again and I marked the date on every calendar I had, AND I kept a post-it note stuck to the iMac. I was determined to see my Favorite Portland Band! As the date came closer and closer, I kept checking the tour page of their website to make sure they were still coming. During the week leading up to the show I not only checked their site, but kept daily tabs on the calendar page at Bottom of the Hill, just to cover as many bases as I could.

Yesterday was The Day. Well, OK it was The Night. Well, to be even more precise today was The Day as they went on after midnight. Knowing that Dead Moon has a large and loyal fan base, and just to be sure I’d have a ticket in, I bought mine in advance on TicketWeb.

I got to Bottom of the Hill just as the first band was winding up their set. As the first band tore down their set and the second band was setting up, the lights went out. “Uh-uh!” I thought to myself, “This can’t happen!” Then the lights came back on, much to everyone’s relief. About a minute later, they went off again. It turns out that a transformer nearby blew and the whole area was out. I finished my Sierra Nevada and wandered outside and looked up and down 17th Street. It was totally dark, and I was totally NOT HAPPY.

I went back inside repeating to myself, “I do not accept the curse! I deny the curse!” I saw Fred wandering around and went over to say hello. (An aside: One of the reasons Dead Moon has such a large and loyal world-wide fan base is because these are three of the coolest, friendliest, most approachable people on the face of the earth!) Fred greeted me with that ever-present smile and I shook my head and said, “You know, I’m trying really hard to not take this personally, but I’ve been trying to get to one of your gigs for more than ten years now and SOMETHING ALWAYS HAPPENS.” I told Fred that when I left Portland, no one told me that I’d have a curse put on me that I’d never get to see my favorite band, ever again! He laughed and said that in all the years he’s been doing this, this was a first.

One thing you learn about Fred Cole very quickly is that he always has a great road story for every occasion. He told me about the guy in Melbourne, Australia who hated rock music and got into the basement of the club they were playing and kept shutting off the power during their set and some guy in Nuremberg, Germany who thought he’d stage dive (off of a 6″ stage!) but ended up tripping over the power cord that ran the whole stage.

He also told me about how they weren’t even sure they were going to even make it from Los Angeles to San Francisco. After over 15,000 miles put on their van this tour, it was giving out Big Time. But, miraculously, the van made it…then this. About that time, Andrew came over and he hasn’t changed, either. He doesn’t remember, but I do: He’s always been one crazy joker and he did the eyeing-me-up-and-down bit (again…he had done that in Portland years and years ago) waiting for me to act befuddled or something. I just looked at him and smiled, and he broke into a grin and said, “I’m just joking!” Yes, Andrew, I knew that!

Pretty much everyone stuck around through the outage. But time was dragging on and it was looking more and more like there wouldn’t be a show. “I DENY THE CURSE!” I repeated furiously to myself. Fred took to the stage and shouted to everyone that they were told it would be another hour or so before the power would come back on and that if it did come on by 1:00 a.m. they’d be able to play (unfortunately, it looked like the second act was S.O.L.).

About ten minutes later, the power was back, and there was much rejoicing!

The second act did manage to get in and rock, though with an abbreviated (and fast-paced) set. Then Dead Moon set up…and it was as if we hadn’t even passed eleven minutes, much less eleven years! It was so familiar, right down to Andrew’s Jack Daniels candle holder on his drum kit (which is front-and-center…Dead Moon perform all at the front of the stage together, no one “sits back”). Andrew came over and lit the candle and I thought, “OH MY STARS! I’M REALLY GOING TO SEE DEAD MOON!!!”

At the risk of sounding like those dorky fans, they played every song I hoped they’d play (they started the set with my two favorites: “Poor Born” and “It’s OK”). The place was packed and rockin’ and I was dancing my fool head off! I was shakin’ things that ain’t been shook in a long, long time (and am paying for it today, lemme tell ya)! For a good hour or so, I was transported back to the much happier times I had in my 20’s in Portland (those times just before my world collapsed around my head).

By the end of the set, I was sweaty, I was exhausted, my ears were (and still are) ringing…and I was so damn happy! I went over to the side of the stage where Fred was dismantling his gear and he saw me. “You broke the jinx!” he shouted. “Yes,” I said, “the curse is lifted, hallelujah!” We shook hands and I wished him and the band a safe journey back to Portland and to hurry back to San Francisco…and that I would definitely be there when they did come back!

Strange Limbo

I am at the point in my planned relocation to North Carolina where I’m marking my remaining time in the San Francisco Bay Area in weeks, even days.

Today I sent my property manager notification of my intended departure date (we had talked previously about my plan to move, so it will not be a surprise). As I had given notice at my job nearly two months ago, with this notification I have completely let go of this life in the Bay Area.

Before I sent my notice to my property manager today, I was thinking about it and, quite unsurprisingly, felt some jitters in my gut. After all, I’m letting go of “security”. It’s kind of daunting until I realized that none of this belongs to me anymore.

As I wrote the letter I noticed that those jitters had gone away and I wondered if they would reappear as I got closer to hitting “Send”.

I sent the notice hours ago: still no jitters.

I find myself in a strange limbo where I’ve released the bar I’ve held onto for nearly a quarter of a century—the bar that is no longer mine—so that I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me.

I am not afraid.

USMNT Soccer: The Gut Response

Welp.

Owing to an own-goal and an utterly lifeless performance, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team eliminated themselves from the 2018 World Cup. Trinidad and Tobago were already eliminated and had nothing to play for, yet the United States made them look like a team headed for World Cup glory. The last time the USMNT missed the World Cup? 1986 (back when we thought it couldn’t get any worse than the NASL’s Team America. It got worse.)

Humiliation does not even come close to describing this. Embarrassment is a tiny dot in the rear-view mirror. I’m gutted. And I’m angry at the potential that was pissed away.

At this point (and maybe I’ll change my mind after I cool off, but don’t count on it), there needs to be a top-down housecleaning at U.S. Soccer. Which probably should have happened pre-Klinsmann, but now would be good.

Obviously, it’s too soon to speculate on what our roster will look like in 2021-2022. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey will age out. There are some great young players (Christian Pulisic damn near saved us this year). But there needs to be some deep soul-searching among U.S. Soccer leadership.

And that soul-searching needs to include how the United States Women’s National Team is treated. The team that ACTUALLY WON THE 2015 WORLD CUP still gets paid substantially less than what the men are paid. And that’s something that U.S. Soccer should also find deeply humiliating.

So yeahhhhhhNO, I’m not going to cool down from this. As I prepare for a cross-country move by cleaning out my apartment, I urge U.S. Soccer to join me by purging your house of all that no longer serves you.

P.S. I don’t have cable TV, but from my Twitter feed, it sounds like Taylor Twellman is carpet-truth-bombing U.S. Soccer on ESPN. “Belgium beat Bosnia on a COW PASTURE, but we can’t play in Trinidad, with water on the field!”

PREACH!

(Edit) See Twellman’s rant. Real talk.

Terrible Beauty 

Right now, there are fires raging through Napa and Sonoma counties, causing evacuations and destroying homes. There was also a fire in the North Berkeley hills overnight, but no report of property loss. Those of us near the bay are feeling the effects of the thick smoke in the air. It makes for a pretty sunrise, but it is a terrible beauty. 

My thoughts are with the folks in the path of these horrible fires. 

Well, Sh*T

Most of you know by now that Dos Gatos Locos and I are planning a cross-country move soon. I debated how I’d get them from one coast to the other, before deciding that we’ll all go together in the car (Charlie doesn’t handle separation from me very well, so it seems less stressful on him for us to drive together, rather than me being gone for 10 days driving the car across the country, then flying to California and flying with both of them back to the east coast.) I’ve acquired larger carriers for both of them, but I’ve held on to the smaller carrier for their vet trips. That way, the red carrier is associated with vet visits, but the blue carriers aren’t. I also bought Feliway spray for the carriers and the car, and am about to start test trips soon, to get them used to being in the car.

It happens that both boys have their annual exams around this time of the year: Charlie got a clean bill of health a couple of weekends ago. Tonight was Clancy’s turn. Where Charlie is timid and hyperventilates at vet visits, Clancy becomes possessed by demons and turns into a growling, howling, hissing asshole. They’re also due for fecal tests, but I wasn’t able to get a sample before we left. That’s okay, though, because Clancy provided a TON of samples in the carrier on the way to the vet’s office! Which he managed to stomp in. Repeatedly. I think he may have been trying to fling some at me from the back seat. (For the record, he’s never had an accident in the carrier.)

Once inside the exam room, the vet tech sent the carrier to the back for cleaning (BLESS THOSE ANGELS AT THE VET’S OFFICE, HOW I WILL MISS THEM) while she asked me the usual questions (eating/diet, any vomiting, is he peeing okay, pooping…well we had our answer there already).

While we waited for the vet I tried to clean Clancy off, which went about as well as one would expect from a cat who is pissed off and wants to remain covered in shit because THAT’LL TEACH YOU TO TOUCH ME, HUMAN. He was as nice as can be, as long as he and I watched the birds and other passers-by outside the window together. But we’ve all seen that horror film, right? We know Mr. Hyde was lurking, ready to rear his evil stinky head.

The vet came into the room and we assessed how dirty Clancy was (it was mostly in his toes at this point). “Well, we’ve certainly seen a lot worse,” the vet said. She petted Clancy before trying to examine him. He did all right until she wanted to listen to his heart and lungs. O HAI, MR. HYDE! But the doctor is a pro and she managed to complete that, look at his teeth (a bit of gingivitis, but his teeth otherwise look good) and felt his innards. And this year it only took one vet tech to hold Clancy for the vet to get him his rabies shot (last year it was me, plus two vet techs and it still took about 10 minutes before we were able to hold him still long enough for the jab).

Clancy got his clean bill of health and we were on our way home. Now you know what happened on the way home, don’t you? YOU SURE DOODOO!

I’m just grateful it stayed contained to the inside of the carrier. Also, I CAN’T WAIT TO DRIVE THREE THOUSAND MILES WITH ONE CAT WHO SHITS THE CARRIER AND ONE WHO HAS ANXIETY ATTACKS. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO OUR GO-XANAX-ME FUND, KTHX.

When we got home Clancy and I went straight to the bathroom so I could clean him and the carrier. Charlie insisted on hanging out with us, but immediately regretted that choice, once Clancy got out of the carrier and smeared poop everywhere. Charlie leaped up on the toilet lid hoping to escape the biological war that had broken out, but still sorta wanting to be involved. Clancy was (quite understandably) very angry with me as I wetted paper towels down to clean him off. (I thought for about .00005 seconds about giving him a full bath in the tub, but decided I prefer keeping the flesh on my arms, torso, and face, so we went the wipe-down route.) Much hissing, swatting, growling, and howling ensued and then Charlie started growling at Clancy because Clancy was growling at me. I explained to Charlie that Clancy couldn’t help pooping and I understood that he’s upset with me right now and he should just love his brother. Both of them calmed back down and I sent them out of the room while I disinfected the surfaces and scrubbed out the carrier.

All is calm now. I’ve got Clancy as clean as I can get him (he’ll take care of the rest on his own), the carrier and bathroom are wiped down. Charlie has had his asthma inhaler and both cats have had their dinner. (Clancy seems to be the only one of us whose appetite wasn’t affected by all of the drama.) Usually, as I’m preparing their meals, Charlie and Clancy entertain themselves by performing Gato Lucha Libre in the kitchen. While I got their dishes out, Charlie started to head-tackle Clancy but immediately pulled back, with a look on his face that said “I WON’T WRASSLE YOU BECAUSE YOU SMELL LIKE VET’S OFFICE AND POO!” He also considered asking me to feed him away from his brother, but decided to eat in his regular spot after all.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fire up the essential oil diffuser and have a cup of lavender chamomile tea while I order another three dozen containers of Nature’s Miracle wipes, about 500 potty pads, and every li’l tree car freshener Amazon has in stock for that cross-country drive.

re: #TakeAKnee

So I see World Leader Pretend decided that going off on Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry was more important than helping Americans in Puerto Rico, who are facing an unimaginable humanitarian crisis.

World Leader Pretend has even called for a boycott of the NFL if the players #TakeAKnee or sit during the national anthem.

I won’t take advice or direction from a draft dodger who has to be reminded to place his hand over his heart during the national anthem. I have plenty of reasons of my own to have stopped supporting the National Football League.

I stopped supporting the NFL over a decade ago, but NOT because of players who exercise their constitutional right to stand or sit or sing or pray or do whatever the hell they want to during the national anthem. I quit watching the NFL because I do not condone celebrating rapists, wife/girlfriend beaters, animal abusers, or the league office covering up the fact that the sport is very very bad for brains. I stopped supporting the NFL because, when I took a good long, uncomfortable look at it, I found I was disgusted that the league owners enjoy running the league like a giant plantation.

While I won’t watch the NFL, I will #TakeAKnee with Colin Kaepernick until Black and Brown people can leave their homes and go about their lives without fear of facing a police officer who appoints him/herself as judge/jury/executioner for those whose only “crime” was existing as a person of color in public. I will #TakeAKnee until we start moving our society toward racial justice and equal opportunity for ALL Americans, regardless of their skin color, gender identity or sexual orientation. I will #TakeAKnee because my Black and Brown friends are weary from fighting this battle, every single day of their lives, and I refuse to stand by and watch them continue to fight this alone.

Postscript: Well, after several days, World Leader Pretend finally had something to say about the devastation in Puerto Rico. No surprise that he pretty much insulted them and kicked them while they’re down, for that’s the Way Of The Bully.

How nice that he managed to work in that food, (clean) water, and medical supplies/help are somewhere on the list of priorities…after dragging Puerto Rico for owing Wall Street and banks. Good grief!

If you want to help the people of Puerto Rico in their recovery, Jezebel has a roundup of places where you can donate.