Monday, August 26, 2013

1012 Days of Portland, Oregon: The Chapbooks of Goose Hollow

Whereas the Wood Village days became idyllic, I do not have a perspective as such to make the Goose Hollow days anything other than what they were: long days and longer nights. The Goose Hollow neighborhood is just west of downtown Portland between the Jen Weld Field and Washington Park. We came to live in the 1950s vintage apartment building called Vista St. Claire. We rented the place on a Sunday. “Is the place quiet?” Janice asked the leasing agent. “Oh yes,” he said. “This is a quiet residential street.” “That's good,” Janice said. “Anthony is very sensitive to noise,” she said. That's right, I thought, I'll crack like a fucking dry twig.

Mexico City. Tokyo. London. Do you know what they have in common? Between us, Janice and me, We have lived in each of these cities. Do you know what else they have in common? They're quieter than the corner of SW Vista St. and SW Main. I can tell you with absolute honesty, I have been in combat zones quieter. Quiet residential street?

There were other draw backs to the Vista St. Claire. Namely the idyllic location did not seem so far away from work. I had just started my gig at Portland City Grill at this time. I still worked a great deal of shifts including lunches and double shifts. It was exactly 1.5 miles to and from work. And the hill at the end of the day was misery.

So, there I was, Portland City Grill and Vista St. Claire. I don't know how you deal with situations as such, but I took to drinking. This, of course, was the best thing I could have done. I became reacquainted with The Commodore. It had been well over twelve years since I'd been there. As far as my Portland existence goes, I met some of my closest and coolest friends there. Bobby and Kenny, Kristina and Tiffany, Jason, Brian and Ollie and Andrew. The bar stool is always warm, I know this. Perhaps they feel the same about me, or perhaps there is someone else in my stead now. But at the time this all went down, this Goose Hollow existence, The Commodore, if not exactly heaven, made for a pretty close facsimile.

I was making money. Janice and I were getting established. The Commodore was home. And during the days, at my desk, I tried to write. The world outside the window, lacking only the gunfire and screams of agonizing pain, was the violent cacophony of the daily drama: two buslines, endless excavation trucks, grocery store semis, jack hammers and the endless parade of leafblowers which have become so commonplace these days many people are numb to it. I am not numb to the noise. But everyday, I did my best.

The efforts of my labors at this time were strange little pieces, chapbooks as it were. I have 13 of them at Sophia Ballou, should you want to read them. The three I'm most proud of are: The Befuddled Seahorse, In Search of Basho and 13 Miles.

13 Miles, after looking at it again some two years later is a pretty accurate description of the time. There were homeless people everywhere. The occupy movement was in vogue. I saw junkies passed out in the shop entrances with needles still attached. I worked at a fashionable restaurant, a busy, expensive one. I got to see a suicide as it happened on my way to work one day. It was such a strange time. And this particular chapbook summed it up.

"Ravel has vanished. Bartok takes its place. But not one particular Bartok mental soundtrack record, but fifty of them and they're all playing at once."

For at least nine months, April until December, I wrote these strange little things. They were sometimes all new material. They were sometimes re-purposed old stuff. I had intended to write only one, In Search of Basho, but I could not stop. In the end, I wrote 25 of them. What they all had in common was this: I wanted them to be approximately fifty pages. The first one took months. By the 20th to 25th one, I was building them in a day or two. Aside from a few short stories, this is the work I did during my Goose Hollow days. Each night, I went to work. And each night I went to The Commodore. And the grand sum of it? Good friends, and 25 chapbooks.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post. Please support me by becoming a follower of this blog or purchasing a copy of my novel Dysphoric Notions.

“Reading the Library of Congress”
Where there was once 2 there are now 3
Ring of Fire
The Lovecraft


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