Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Think I'm Gonna Be Pickin' Up Some Orangina Here In Just A Bit...

If commercials with anthropomorphic anteaters working stripper poles were to be aired here in North America, I might just start watching TV again... This here, by the way, is the original French version, not that British "after 9 pm" adaptation that's going around. Enjoy:

Carbonated sugar water never looked so good, eh?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome to Portland, Anastasia!

My friends Holly and Patrick, of Eastside Egg Co-op fame, have just adopted themselves some chilluns! Well, just one actually, name of Anastasia (not to be confused with Anastacia, who, according to Wikipedia, "hasn't had much success in her native United States"), born 32 days ago in Seattle. Congratulations, Holly and Patrick! You won't be getting much sleep in the next year or so, I hope you know... Give 'em hell, Anastasia!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Canada Must Be Destroyed!

We put up with Gordon Lightfoot. We put up with Bryan Adams. We even put up with Alanis Morissette, but... THIS???

To understand the true power of The Evil That Comes From The North, you must bear witness. Your fortitude will be tested. You will yearn to avert your eyes. You may even notice that She Who Cannot Be Named, with her thrusting hips and venomous spidery hands, has managed to pull Anastacia (who, according to Wikipedia, "hasn't had much success in her native United States") under her spell... Poor, poor Anastacia, we hardly knew ye:

Gather your courage, friends, as we take up our glinting swords and shining armor, and march northward to restore the honor of the brothers Young (C'mon, girlfriend! Aw yeah, shugga baby!)...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Best Band in Portland?

Right at the moment? Quite possibly...

I spent much of today filling in nail holes, in advance of tomorrow's painting project. Predictably enough, I grew bored of this task by late afternoon, and out of curiosity had myself a look at the Doug Fir's website to see what was going on over there on this fine evening. As it turned out, Amadan were tonight's headliners.

Hailing from Corvallis, Amadan are about the best celtic frat rock band you're going to see in Oregon. Which is all well and good, but... they're celtic frat rock. Which I just wasn't into tonight. But on a lark, I checked out the link to one of the opening bands, Portland's Tango Alpha Tango. And I gotta tell ya, after checking out a few songs on their MySpace page, I was impressed. And if you know me, you're undoubtedly well aware that that's not a word I use lightly when it comes to music. So I headed off to the Doug Fir to see these guys in the flesh...

Now I don't wanna get all wordy on ya here, so I'll just leave it at this: Tango Alpha Tango delivered. Period. With a capital P. If you live anywhere near Portland, you HAVE to see this band, before they get so big that you can't see them locally anymore. Seriously. These guys may well be the next Builders and Butchers. If you live elsewhere, well... Nevermind.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chester Yeom, 1966-2008

On my way home from the video store this evening, I stopped in at the Belmont Market to pick up some beer. While there, I inquired as to the condition of Chester Yeom, who had been shot in an armed robbery at the store on March 4th, 2007. I was surprised and saddened to learn that Chester had succumbed to an infection on August 1st.

Chester and his family operated the Milwaukie Market in Portland's Brooklyn neighborhood, as well as Plaza Teriyaki in the US Bancorp tower downtown. Chester was a close friend of the family that owns the Belmont Market, and often filled in for them on Sundays so they could attend church. Having lived in the neighborhood for a number of years, I knew Chester casually from my frequent visits to this store. As a result of the injury he sustained on that fateful day in March of last year, he was paralyzed from the neck down. Since that day, the market has been closed on Sundays in Chester's honor.

Chester was a quiet member of our community, but an important one nevertheless. He will be sorely missed, and my deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Back to Portland!

Much as I love the feel of that Michigan sand between my toes, I have to tell you I'm glad to have my feet planted back on terra firma here in Oregon. But if you'll indulge me a few photos of my last day in Michigan... Here's one of the Frasco/Daly cottage, where I was put up this past week:

My flight didn't leave until 3:47 this afternoon, but I had to head up to Traverse a bit early to meet up with my friend Char:

And Muxley, of course:

Here's a shot of Char, her better half Michael and the Muxster:

Char moved away from Portland a little over a year ago, when she and Mux decided to take up with Michael, a fellow Michigan boy (very intersting story about how those two met, by the way. I'll tell it to you sometime). Their original plan was to settle in Vermont, but finding that the locals were none too welcoming (Wheyah yah say yah from? Oh, ayuh, ayuh... Whennah yah goin' back?), they decided to park themselves in Traverse. Turns out Michael spent his summers on, where else, Crystal Lake... North shore, though, so I probably wouldn't have known him.

Char and Michael have opened a furniture shop in downtown Traverse called Mend. And as there's only so much furniture to be sold in those parts, they're doing a good amount of freelance graphic design work as well. They've settled in and bought themselves some property, so it would seem that they're making a go of it. Much as I'd love to have the three of 'em (four actually, as they've added another dog, Powell, into the mix) back in P-town, I wish them the best of luck in my old stomping grounds of northern Michigan. For my part, it never hurts to know a couple more folks in TC!

My last act before heading to the airport was to pick up a slab of Chocolate Pecan fudge at Doug Murdick's:

Did I mention being a bit put off that they don't have this stuff at Commuinty Drug in Frankfort anymore? Yeah, I think I might've...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back in Michigan: Day Six

I headed out on Wednesday to have a look at Creation Herbal Farm, from whom I recently placed an online order for some essentail oils, for a cola making project. I only realized that they're in Benzie County after their server crashed and I had to follow up on the order by phone. Anna Carter-Sangemino and Mike Hulbert began farming in North Carolina in the late 1970s, and nowadays are distilling essential oils from the herbs they grow organically on the outskirts of Frankfort. Here are a few shots of their operation:

I've also collected a ton of photos of Crystal Lake in the last couple days. Here's one of the cottage I spent my summers in growing up:

Some sailboats on the CSA beach (that aforementioned cottage, by the way, is right across the street from these boats):

A hot lifeguard chick on the doghouse (I probably shouldn't say that, she can't be even half my age):

Funky public art outside the Trick Dog Gallery in Elberta:

Here are a couple shots of the dress rehearsal for this year's operetta, The Music Man (most places they call it a musical, but we call it an operetta; I've never quite understood why that is):

And last but not... well, actually, last and least, the barnacle on the hull of the Crystal Lake Yacht Club, Mr. Stuart Soule:

Stuie's an old family friend, smart ass extraordinaire, and all around ne'er-do-well. He's the only person I know who's lived in Antarctica (he was stationed there in his Coast Guard days), and I'm pretty sure the climate must have caused him permanent brain damage...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back in Michigan: Day Four

Somebody's gotta be feeding the seagulls in Frankfort, because they're not shy in the least about approaching people... Last night my mom and I took off for a 24 hour jaunt to Saginaw, after fueling up at Frankfort's seafood-centric Coho Cafe:

An hour into our trip we stopped for ice cream, as per tradition, at the Frosty Cup in Cadillac:

Mom had to be in Saginaw to work an election. While she was putting in a grueling 15 hour day collecting ballot stubs at Plainfield Elementary School, I headed over to Midland, 20 miles away. Here's a shot of the murals on the side of the Midland County Courthouse:

These murals were applied by Detroit artist Paul Honore in the early part of the last century, using a then state of the art pigmented magnesite stucco. Unfortunately, the material didn't stand up very well to the intense freeze/thaw cycles of Michigan's wildly variable climate, and over the decades crumbled off. I spent a summer in college interning for the architectual conservation firm that restored the murals using historic photographs. We used a porous stucco developed in Holland that will, theoretically, stay up there. After I took this photo, I walked around the corner to Espresso Milano, which was opened by the same guys responsible for Saginaw's Red Eye Coffeehouse (now the Red Eye Caffé). Turns out they're still using the menu boards I made for them way back in the early years of the Clinton administration:

Back in Saginaw, I of course had to make a stop at the Red Eye:

The Red Eye was the first of the three shops where I've plied the barista trade. I was, in fact, their first official over the table employee. I also designed the logo on their awning (it used to be on t-shirts and mugs as well). This was back in my art student days, right around the time I was working on those murals. At the Red Eye, I caught up with Arlene, one of the current owners, and long-time barista (and a regular customer back in the days when I worked there), Scotty. I also met up with an old friend, Trisha Baker, who posed for this flattering portrait next door at Steamers Pub:

I'd also made it over to the Scottish Inn for a quick pint on the night we got into town. Unfortunately, Cheyenne wasn't tending bar that night. I didn't get a shot of the place, but I did manage to poach this photo from their MySpace page:

The Scottish Inn has plaid carpet on the walls, old school black naugahide booths, and all manner of memorabilia scottish. And they still have Frank Sinatra on the jukebox. For those of you who've never been, I give it a strong recommendation if you should ever find yourself in the 'Naw.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back in Michigan: Day Three

That's Mom up there. Yesterday she got an award from the Congregational Summer Assembly for a lifetime of dedication and service (the CSA is an association of people who have summer homes on Crystal Lake; think Dirty Dancing, but with waspy congregationalists instead of borscht belt jews), which was the main impetus for my trip. Afterwards, I headed back into town and got this shot of Frankfort's resident mega-yacht, the Mitch Mate III:

Yes, as a matter of fact, that is an amphibious car parked on the upper deck. The Mitch Mate has been docked in Frankfort Harbor, in one incarnation or another, by the Mitchell family for as long as I or anyone else can remember. And nobody's ever seen it move.

Moving on back to Crystal Lake, here's a shot of the CSA beach and tennis courts from Crystal Knoll:

And to the left of that parking lot is the Crystal View Cafe:

From there I headed a bit west to the Point Betsie Lighthouse, which turned 150 years old today.

One good thing about Michigan is Bell's Oberon ale (which everyone still calls by its original name, "Solsun"). This stuff is a little hard to find back in Oregon...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Back in Michigan: Day One

Yep, that's right. Back in Michigan, for a week. I hopped the red-eye on Friday evening and ended up in Traverse City this morning. My mom picked me up at the airport, and we decided to swing through downtown TC for some coffee, which we found at a place called Morsels, which presumably takes its name from the house specialty, little two-bite cookies with clever names:

They carry the insanely hyped Intelligentsia coffee from Chicago, which I was glad to finally get to taste. No Stumptown, but damn good stuff nonetheless.

From TC we headed to Crystal Lake, near Frankfort. I grew up spending summers at my grandparents' cottage (which, sadly, is no longer in the family) on Crystal, and it's been about ten years since I've been around. I spent a couple hours strolling through Frankfort, seeing some old landmarks, along with a few new ones. Here we have the historic Garden Theater:

This is the Cool Spot, my old childhood ice cream connection:

Frankfort is full of these crazy four-wheeled bike things nowadays, just like Seaside:

Some charter fishing boats in the harbor:

This is the Lake Michigan beach at the end of town (you should know, my friends, that that there is some of the finest sand on the planet), along with the breakwater pier leading out to the Frankfort light house (note the difference in the water on either side):

And here we see the Lake Michigan bluffs, which further north become Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore:

Of course, you can never go home again, as they say, and Frankfort offered up a couple of minor disappointments: First, Community Drug no longer carries Doug Murdick's fudge. This sent me into a blind rage and they nearly had to call the sheriff to drag me out of there. As if that weren't bad enough, neither the Car Frary Restaurant nor the Frankfort Golf Course exist anymore (nor does Baker's bar, but that's another story; on the upside, the golf course property was purchased by a group of wealthy cottage folk to protect it from being condoed to death).

My dad drove up from Saginaw and we all went out for dinner this evening with my aunt and uncle at the Cherry Hut in Beulah:

The Cherry Hut, which has garnered attention from none other than Jane and Michael Stern, of Road Food fame, specializes in everything cherry related, as you might have guessed from the name: pie, jam, salsa, cherry themed sundries such as keychains and dish towels, a truly awesome cherry-ade, you name it. The Hut's non-cherry offerings are generally pretty unremarkable, but hey, if you go to the Cherry Hut for a hot turkey sandwich, you pretty much deserve the gelatinous gravy smothered wonder bread monstrosity that eventually winds up in front of you. This is why they don't call it the Turkey Hut...

After dinner I headed out around sundown to get some final shots in the fading light. Having failed to get a satisfactory sunset shot, I came across a developing bonfire party on the dunes:

Then I hoofed it over to Crystal Lake, about a mile away, to capture the "blue hour" image up top, as well as this shot of some moored sailboats:

Most of my week in Michigan is still ahead of me, so stay tuned for more of my zany Wolverine State escapades...