Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saturday Song Salute

It's time for a Saturday Song Salute (a day late). Yesterday after work I hurried home, took a shower, fed Snuggle McFuck Stick, grabbed my tent and bedroll, attached them to the back of my motorcycle and headed south to Lebanon, Oregon for a concert called Guitars Under the Stars. It was an outdoor concert lasting from Friday to Sunday, but I was only staying Friday night so I could see, once again, one of the greatest bands of all time: Floater. I avoided I-5 by taking the back roads through several small rural towns and provided myself with a pleasant one hour motorcycle ride to the venue. Once there, I set up my campsite next to some other friendly concert goers and proceeded to unwind via the flask of whiskey I hid inside of my bedroll.

Actually, bear with me while I plug a certain brand for a minute. Over the past few months I have gradually weaned myself off of gin and switched over to drinking whiskey and in my attempt to locate a favorite bottle, I have discovered (through trial sans error) my absolute favorite: Ghost Owl whiskey by Parliament Distillery in Washington state. If you are a whiskey drinker and you have the chance to try this brand, I seriously cannot recommend it enough. I have mine on the rocks with a few dashes of angostura bitters.

Okay, back to the concert. There really isn't too much to write about really. It was just your basic run of the mill outdoor concert with a beer garden and food vendors and two separate stages. The other bands were decent enough, but the real steel belonged to Floater, hands down. They took the main stage around 9:30 p.m. and rocked the fuck out for about two hours non-stop. While watching this dynamic trio perform I was reminded how fortunate I am to live where I do. At almost any given time throughout the year I can easily see this band live. They reside here in Oregon, so they play here often enough. I can honestly say that Floater is one of the top reasons I love living here. Actually, that would make a terrific blog post. (Note to self: create a top ten list of reasons I love living in Oregon).

This brings me to my belated Saturday Song Salute. Choosing just one of Floater's songs is damn near an impossible task, but I've done it. I tried my best to choose a song that covers what this band is about: rock & roll for the masses. I don't really know how else to describe them. It is a common occurrence to see mothers and fathers with their small children seated atop their shoulders at Floater concerts. It is also a common occurrence to see mosh pits break out during songs such as Sad Ballad of Danny Boy and Cinema. The mixture of the "family-friendly" and "hardcore metal" feel of a Floater show is what I love most about this band. They give just enough to both worlds that both worlds can come together and have a really fucking great time. Okay, enough about the band, let's move on to the song I've chosen to salute.

In this Saturday Song Salute I've chosen Ghost In The Making by Floater. Musically, this song visits all the tiers. You get a very catchy, poppy beat and a fun melodious guitar line that carries you through, but you also get several chorus change-ups that take you deeper, but never abandon the metronomic backbone of the song. Lyrically, this song hits like a hockey slap shot. Picture the goalie's thick glove reaching out and... KAPOW!!! The loud snapping sound you hear is Ghost In The Making hitting leather at a hundred miles per hour. The beauty of these lyrics is that they might mean one thing to me, but something entirely different to you. This is one of many favorite songs by a band that I love very much. As always, grab your ear buds, pour yourself a Ghost Owl whiskey and settle in for four minutes of amazing rock & roll. I think you will definitely enjoy this ride:
Ghost In The Making (lyrics):

All you tortured and strange, before we begin, just open your minds so we all can climb in.
Sell your souls for a dime. Don't try to fight.
You'll never be strong, but you'll always be mine.
Yeah you'll always be mine.
So you're cock of the walk? A heart like a balloon and it's getting bigger.
Still when there comes that knock upon your front door
When you dance across the floor you'll know one thing for sure.
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see you.
Oh they won't see you.
While you're working to earn just one slice I'll give you this kindly advice:
They'll forget your name at half price.
You're just a ghost in the making.
Now you're tortured and you're strange. It's already begun.
Why keep throwing punches when you know that I've won?
Sell your soul for a dime and don't try to fight.
You'll never be wrong, but you'll never be right.
No you'll never be right.
Talk your talk and walk your walk. I'm no common fool and I'd say you took your number
Still when there comes that knock upon your front door when you dance across the floor
You'll know one thing for sure.
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You know they won't see nothin'
You'll know they won't see you.
Oh they won't see you.
While you're working to earn just one slice
I'll give you this kindly advice:
They'll forget your name at half price.
Oh you're just a ghost in the making.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

McMenamins Passport!

For those of you who are my east coast friends, you will only get to experience this via my blog (or unless you come visit me). Allow me to introduce you to McMenamins.

Wikipedia says: "McMenamins is a chain of 65 brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs. The chain is located mostly in the Portland metropolitan area, but has many other locations in Oregon and Washington. According to the Brewers Association, McMenamins is one of the top 50 largest craft breweries in the United States."

Basically what happened was this. Back in the 80's two brothers decide to open up a brew pub and upon its success, they decided to open up another one. And then another, and another, and another... you get the picture. What's unique to this particular restaurant/brewery chain is that they like to buy up old historical properties and turn them into a new location. For example, the McMenamins closest to where I live in Salem is called the Boon's Treasury. It used to be a general store owned by Oregon's first state treasurer, John D. Boon.

Okay, so now that you get the idea of what I'm talking about, let's move on. Not too long ago a friend of mine told me all about a really cool marketing strategy McMenamins started. What they've done is combined all of their locations and created a passport that you carry to each location. When you're there all you have to do is go to certain key areas (typically the bar and/or front desk), show your passport and get stamped. That's it! As you complete each location along the way you get free prizes. For example, I just visited Hotel Oregon in McMinnville which required me going to all three bars (main, cellar, and rooftop) and to the front desk for a total of four stamps. The guy at the front desk gave me a clue: "Maybe they came for the rabbits". I had to walk around the hotel and photograph the answer to the clue, then show him the picture before getting my last stamp and prize. I received a cool Hotel Oregon t-shirt! The price of the passport was twenty bucks, so I already got my money back.

My plan is to visit every location via my motorcycle. I will turn the McMenamins Passport game into mini weekend motorcycle trips. For the furthest away locations (Seattle and Bend) I will spend the night camping out somewhere, maybe get a hike in, explore the area. I'm excited!

When the entire passport is stamped and completed you become an instant winner of their grand prize list, and let me tell you what, it's pretty badass. Here's the run down of everything you get:
  • Three individual night stays at three of McMenamins historic hotels
  • A pair of concert tickets at the Crystal Ballroom or Edgefield
  • Drinks at happy hour prices for an entire year
  • Entrance to an annual Passport Club Party
  • Exclusive passport merchandise
  • A cosmic tripster key to all things McMenamins
So there ya have it. For those of you who are reading this and live in the Pacific Northwest, stop in at any location, buy a passport and let the fun begin! For those of you who are faraway friends, well, you're shit out of luck, sorry.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

"My People"

Each day that passes feels more and more like a slice of wasted time that I cannot get back. While it's true, I can't get them back, I honestly wouldn't want them anyway. That's how I've felt lately. The brightly lit red arrow still flashes through my bedroom window keeping me up at night. My skin still bubbles when I stare at it long enough and my veins now carry question marks throughout my body. I can feel them; especially when their curled tops get caught on various entryways into major organs. Sometimes, when I sneeze, strangers turn and stare at me with quizzical looks on their faces and I suddenly wonder if the question marks have learned how to escape. Have they become airborne? Are they infectious? Will everyone around me now wander aimlessly through their day questioning everything currently happening in their lives? I certainly hope so. You people need an awakening.

I said "you people" haha. Fuck, that's fun.

"My people" are currently bombing the ever living shit out of the Gaza Strip. I use the term "my people" very loosely seeing how I am only related by a faint strand of genetic code. Besides, if I really wanted to break it down, we have to use the term Zionism here, right? Regardless, as I watch what is currently happening and try to learn the history behind it, I cannot help but think how similar the Israel/Palestine conflict is to the heated issue of abortion. I'll explain. Both of these issues are huge topics of contention in America and will violently divide a room of people within seconds, and both issues have been an ongoing battle for both sides for a long time. When I look at Israel's claims and then witness the results of their actions supporting those claims, I can't fully get behind it. I don't discount the fact that the Jewish people deserved and have created their own state. It's right there on the map and it's not going away, so let's just get past that fact. That being said, I can't ignore the history of how they got there, nor can I disregard the notion that they have literally turned Gaza into a huge prison. Not to mention the 40+ years of hostile take-over of the Palestinian land around them. If I ignore all that stuff and merely say, "Hamas is a terrorist regime and the Palestinians deserve what's coming," then I have to erase away the dirty parts that exist and pretend I never learned it. Same with abortion.

I'm pro-choice simply because a decision that personal should only be made by the parties directly involved: the woman, the man, their doctor and family. That's it. Everyone else needs to shut the fuck up and acknowledge that a situation this difficult and traumatic doesn't need to be worsened by those who are completely unaffected by the outcome, especially the old assholes in Washington D.C. who spend their days shifting around in 3,000 dollar suits, consumed by their lust for greed and power. That being said, those of us who are pro-choice cannot ignore the fact of what an abortion is. If we simply choose a side and disregard the "dirty" stuff to help ourselves feel better about our stance, then we're being disingenuous. An abortion snuffs out a tiny life ember inside of a womb, plain and simple. It interrupts and extinguishes a process that, if left on its current course, would likely become a baby human being. That's the fact that "my people" have to acknowledge and come to terms with when choosing their side on the issue. Same with the Israel/Palestine conflict, see?

I would be remiss if I didn't sew a final common thread into the analogy I just outlined: religion. I don't think I really need to explain how heavily religion plays a part in influencing peoples' minds on both of these issues. If you are a super-duper Christian and I were a gambling man, I know exactly where I would place my bet on where you stand on these topics. I don't feel compelled to rattle the thought loose from the nut in which it is contained, but I will say this: isn't it interesting that one tiny little clue is all it takes to know exactly what a vast majority of people are thinking? If religion is completely removed from the equation and I can't use it to understand your heart and mind, and you can't use it to help yourself in deciding them, then are we not left with merely facts in front of our faces? I don't know, I could be wrong. Heck, I'm willing to be wrong. In my opinion, being wrong is one of the greatest learning experiences there is in life, and trust me, I've had plenty of them.

I didn't sit down at my laptop today with the intention of writing my thoughts on two extremely divisive (and heartbreaking) subjects, but it happened and I don't really care. Maybe I have given you something interesting to read for a few minutes. Maybe I've given reason for your blood pressure to soar to dangerous levels. Maybe I've gained some new fans and lost a few friends, or maybe nobody will read this and life will go on just as it has been. I'm okay with any/all of it really. The question marks that flow through my body flow through yours too, and you know it. I don't care how well crafted your life is or how perfect you feel within your bubble, because when the sun goes down at the end of the day and you find yourself sitting there alone with just your thoughts and memories of your past experiences, you know damn well you feel it too. It might not tug at you nearly as hard as your neighbor or it might not steer you far from your path, but deep within I know you feel those curled question marks catching on your aorta as they enter and exit your heart. It's okay, we all feel it. We're in this shit together, remember? You are all "my people".