Back in the U$$A, day 3: I love living in the city!

From March 10th to March 25th, Frank is visiting the good old US of A. First a 6 day trip to Portland, to visit ZXZW artist Khris Soden. After that, Frank is visiting the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. He will try and write a blogpost a day on his whereabouts.

Woke up with a little thirsty feeling around 10 o clock this morning, probably caused by all that PBR I drank last night. Slept like a baby though. Khris told me of a place on 7th and Morrison to get breakfast, so I walked over there. You could hardly see the place on the outside, and there were a lot of hobo’s hanging around it also, but the sandwiches apperantly are delicious. I got a roastbeef sandwich with a great mustard-horsh raddish sort of dressing. A total mess to eat, but once again, a great sandwich. I love eating in the city!

Today I scheduled to walk to the downtown area to visit the worlds largest bookstore, Powells. It was quite a walk, crossed the river on Hawthorne bridge and noticed the beatiful view on Mt. Saint Helens on one side, and the snowy Mt. Hood on the other side (that was the mountain top I was referring to earlier). Both of them are volcanoes by the way. Not active, but it comes to mind what would happen if they would become active, in such a densly populated area.

After crossing the river, I stumbled into the downtown area. Passed a barbershop for men, that advertised with free beer during your cut. Only in America… The downtown area has a lot of nice, late 19th century buildings and a lot of ugly taco-streetcarts. Nice contrast. I walked up to Burnside to 12th av. where Powells is located. On my way there I crossed Jackpot Records, and found a cheap ($6,-) Castanets LP and the best record ever made, ” Is this Real” by The Wipers, who came from Portland, so that’s a nice connection.

I think I already walked for about 3 miles or so, and got really sore feet, since my Vision’s are not boots that were made for walking, but skateboarding. Got to Powells and sat down for a while with a nice Icetea. So, Powells is the worlds biggest bookstore, I’ve been told. And so it seems. It is big, bigger, biggest, gigantic. Totally stuffed with books everywhere you look. They divided the 3 story store in departments, to easily find your way around. I looked around for a while and bought Cormac Mc Carthy’s ” The Road” . I’ve heard from quite a few people that it’s really worth reading. A dark post apocalyptic novel. Should be fun…

Another hilarious book I bought was “The Rock Bible”, a book about the do’s and dont’s on being in a band. Now I’ve been dicussing this matter quite a lot with my bandmates Bjorn and Roel. I mean, some things are absolutely unacceptable when playing in a band. For example, wearing a shirt of your own band during a show (except when you are Iron Maiden), playing along with the background music during the soundcheck or inbetween songs, or a drummer that wears gloves and has a splash-cymbal. That’s just not exceptable. Anyways, this book was filled with hundreds of these sort of rules, and they were all right. Finally I found what I was looking for. The book is hilariously written, and I decided that from this day on, I will end my blogpost with a rule from the book, to give you an indication of what’s in it.

I left Powells and checked a 2nd hand clothing store, where I bought a really nice Vans shirt for 13 bucks. Lucky me. I walked further up Burnside, because the district of 21st and 23rd shoud be cool. On my way there (uphill, a mile or so, my feet were beginning to kill me), I walked across Everyday Music. The biggest recordstore I’ve seen so far. I went in and browsed through the vinyl. The cool thing was, they had a compartment for every single artist they had records of, also if they just had one. And also for the really most obscure French black metal (Glorior Belli), to Belgian guitar drones (Fear Falls Burning), to Italian weird pop (My cat is an alian) to US noise (John Wiese). This increased browsing speed a lot! At the end of the 30 meter aisles, I had my hand on about 8 records, because they where so cheap. Then I realised I was spending money like water, and discarded 6 of them, only to take “Either/Or” from Portland’s Ellioth Smith ($10,-) and a vintage version of ” A love supreme” by John Coltrane ($10,- here, $25,- at Crossroads, yesterday) with me.

I walked up to 23rd, a cool neighbourhood with lots of coffeeshops, small stores etc. Walked up and down a bit. The funny thing is that some of the coffeeshops or bars advertise with a ” European like atmosphere”, but they totally lack it. Guess the same thing goes for Dutch bars that advertise with “American atmosphere” or something. Anyways, the weather was extremely well, so I sat down outside an English pub (!), got a coke, a bowl of soup and read for an hour and a half or so, and watched the people passing by. This is the life! I was reading Dimitri Verhulst’s ” Godverdomse dagen op een godverdomse bol” by the way. A really cool and “optimistic” (NOTE TO READER: the word “optimistic” is drenched in sarcasm here) book on the history of mankind. Love it!

I decided to walk up to 23rd a bit furher, and met with Khris 30 minutes later at the Santa Fe Taqueria, a Mexican place with great nachos. Had a Hefeweizen, a local whitebeer, which could easily compete with good German or Belgian white beer. Tasted really well. After a bite and a drink, we walked down to 21st, where some small art galleries are located. Nice area once again. We passed the drugstore where a pretty famous scene from the movie ” Drugstore Cowboy” was shot, and walked down Burnside again. Passed a soccer stadium (unique for the US, soccer isn’t that big over here), and took a free train (are you paying attention Netherlands? FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT!!!! MIGHT BE AN IDEA!!!!) down to the river again.

The cool thing about walking in a town with Khris is that he has cool stories and anecdotes at every single building or block. Stories about hobo’s, skinhead riots, bands, city history, etc. That makes your walk really interesting. We passed a bridge on Burnside under which the famous Burnside skatepark is located. I think the skatebrand ” Burnside” is also derrived from this place (at least, that was the first association I had with the name Burnside). Nice to see that a city made it possible to have a skatepark over there, instead of prohibiting it, like they normally do in the US. Skateboarding is NOT a crime!

We walked further to Khris’ place, my feet were really sore. I guess I walked or about 7 miles or so, today. I was planning on visiting a gym one of these days, but there’s no need to, with this excerside everyday. I took a good shower when we got home, and after an hour or so, we decided to go to Khris’ favorite dive, the Side B bar on Burnside. A cool, punkrock version of my own favorite bar, the Buitenbeentje in Tilburg. We sat down on the bar, and started drinking beer (PBR ofcoure) and Makers Mark, a really nice, soft whiskey. The bar had a jukebox with all sorts of cool records in it, from Buzzcocks to High on Fire, from Otis Reading to Judas Priest. Nice!

The bartender was wearing a “Pierced Arrows” shirt. I noticed that bandname around a few times earlier the last 2 days, and saw a picture of the band in a recordstore today. I thought I recognised somebody of Dead Moon, which, after asking, was the case. Dead Moon is also from Portland by the way. The bartender told us Pierced Arrows was playing tomorrow with his own band. Cool! Friday night was settled here and now. Khris and I had a lot more drinks at the bar, and stumbled back home around midnight, ending another good day in Rose City!

On Drummers:

– If you are on of those drummers who sets up at the front of the stage, back the hell up! You are the goalies of rock” play your position!

– All drummers wearing head set microphones should be required to take a food order.

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