mr. grant’s rant: tai-chi-on-speed dancing

I am reminded of the famous scene in The Magic Christian…if you want it here it is come and get it… but feel it an inappropriate memory to share with Mr. Grant Jr, who is relishing the moment as only a twelve-year-old can while trying not to wet his pants from laughing so hard….”



It’s nearly midnight and I’m whittling away the last few hours before Smokebox Seven is uploaded. Like a bad case of indigestion, poof it’s gone, uploaded into the ether gas of web-land. And good riddance I tell you. Who designed this February thing anyway? 28 days? We all could have used at least five more days and another paycheck …

Not that it’s not a fine piece of work mind you, we’ve got a little bit of it all in here this month. Drop down into The Root Cellar and behind the canned pole beans and salt pork you’ll find an interview with Doug Pomeroy, the music restoration engineer of Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads. (Shut up already all you cro-mags that thought all we did here at the box was download porn, pop off and listen to Bon Scott era AC/DC tunes.) That’s just the start of it. Thin Lizzy rolled through town, and damned if Smokebox editor Marc Covert didn’t stroll on down to Mulletville to check out the action with his trusty 35 year old Minolta SLR in tow.

Speaking of the music department, at the Aladdin Theater on Valentine’s Day I was itching to get my fingers around Ryan Adams throat, aiming to throttle the guitar slinging bastard for breaking up one of the most promising bands to drop a shot of bourbon for a long while. Instead he sat me down and taught me a thing or two about listening to music with my heart instead of my long-banged head. An epiphany of sorts or a simple rite of passage? Who’s to say?

Yeah, there are other goodies in the box for your enjoyment – Tales of the Avant-Garde will make you wonder just what the hell Troy Dockins does in his spare time. I don’t but you will. Bill Carney’s scathing Fat City is a recommended read before jumping into Covert’s look at Fast Food Nation, a book that should be required reading for anyone who thinks that fast food is really cheap. The ethical bankruptcy between these covers will make you think long and hard before droppng coin at your local corporate burger joint. The price we pay is steep for a fucking Chicken McNugget.

Perhaps our most interesting new development is a feature in the work for months now — a virtual art gallery. The Gallery Of Smoke opens its doors this month. It will run three-month art exhibits from contributing pollution-fueled artists. Our first show features Portland artist Jeff Rood, who is also responsible for the cover of Smokebox Seven.

All in a month’s work even if we did it in 28 days. Funny thing is, the future looks wilder with the next couple of months bringing the likes of Jeff Tweedy & Scott McCaughy, Steve Earle, The Soft Boys (!) and Young Fresh Fellows (!!) through town. If nothing else, absolutely mark March 30 and 31st off of your calendars as the month ends with a veritable slugfest of indie heavyweights in a two-night stand at the Crystal Ballroom. Described as the official release functions of the underground concept album Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernickel, the Crystal Ballroom’s Jenna Sather passed along this:

“The unique project is the brainchild of talented scene impresario Chris Slusarenko, veteran of such bands as Sprinkler, Svelt and the Cavemannish Boys. Slusarenko has spent the last couple years brewing the idea of how to bring together musicians in a collaborative and collective manner… What would happen if music were to tell a grand story?”

Trying to sort out just what the grand story is with limited information and a late start proved insurmountable. I’m thinking James and the Giant Peach on a fistful of peyote pods, but I’m probably way off base. But this I know for sure…Portland and Seattle get two nights apiece of unbelievable music by bands including Quasi, Minus 5 (featuring Peter Buck and Scott McCaughy), Lou Barlow (Sebadoah) and Ann Magnuson & Dave Rick (Bongwater). The whole affair is capped off with the return of rock’s reigning titans –GUIDED BY VOICES, who just incidentally will be releasing their latest album Isolation Drills only three days after the show. I’m starting a rigorous vitamin and exercise regimen right away. This could definitely spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

All of this mayhem will be extensively examined in Smokebox Eight. But as my fearless Editor, Marc “Fuckin Phil” Covert put it so succinctly as we were groaning under this month’s deadlines – “Don’t worry about it. That’s a whole month away. We’ve got all the time in the world.”


My sporting mettle was tested yet again when I ventured to the Rose Garden to view a Winterhawks game on Saturday, February 24th against long-time nemesis, the Kamloops Blazers. Hockey is perhaps the greatest of spectator sports once you figure it out, but as a spectacle it pales in comparison to the selfless-debasement embodied by the evenings contestants for the 20th Annual Dash For Cash.  Let me see if I can set this up for you – You take 10,000 silver dollars and toss them haphazardly on the ice sheet, blow a whistle and let 30 people try to scoop as much of it up in 1 minute as they can. Imagine if you can the suspense involved as Bill from Big O Tires eyeballs the same pile of coins (probably about $15) that Martin from the Gresham Elk’s Club has scoped out. There could be bloodshed here.

Off they race, big and small, slip-sliding over the ice and hurling themselves on their stomachs at piles of the glittering frozen coins. I am reminded of the famous scene in The Magic Christian…”if you want it here it is come and get it…” but feel it an inappropriate memory to share with Mr. Grant Jr, who is relishing the moment as only a twelve-year-old can while trying not to wet his pants from laughing so hard. The crowd roars with glee as the contestants flop about like grounded Pike in a Wisconsin ice-fishing derby.

I often wonder if there is anything people won’t do for money, and if lying on a sheet of ice shoveling cold silver coins down the front of your shirt and pants while 14,000 people howl with laughter won’t stop you, it’s doubtful much will. The top winner made just over $300 bucks. I guess some semblance of dignity is nothing compared to that motherlode of cash!


And while we’re on the subject of last month’s sub-spectacles of human nature, let me share something else: Reggae concerts are a fucking blast when you’re stone-cold sober. Yes campers, it’s true!

I had the chance to check out the Wailers at the Crystal Ballroom on February 16. My twelve-year-old son is a huge reggae fan, having absorbed everything Jamaican he can get his mitts on (legally) in the last year or so. It wasn’t likely that I was going to be able to weasel out of the proceedings. I hadn’t spent a show in the underage section since I was…well…underage. I think if the beer swilling “grown-ups” on the other side knew what was going on North of the partitions, they’d jam the exits to the beer gardens in droves to get in on the action.

Now I’m no angel when it comes to this sort of stuff, but I feel it’s my civic duty to point something out. 35-year-old tam sporting white folks make lousy rastafarians. 16-year-old Korn fans with dreads fare only marginally better, I know, I know, we’ve all seen Peter Tosh burning through a fatty Hobbit-pipe full of paralysis bud that must have weighed an ounce and a half, but people, let me tell you something – YOU’RE NOT PETER TOSH.  Much love to the Pasta Man in the Purdue jacket, flip up spectacles and pumpkin colored tam (a startling fashion statement to be sure…): Mon, I think that eleventh bowl was the one that sent you over the edge. I could sorta tell by the 6.78 minutes of wild tai-chi-on-speed dancing, where even while bouncing off animate and inanimate forms you didn’t miss a single sunshine dance arm motion. Things were a little sketchier during the 18.7 minutes of stressful (for all nearby observers) rigor mortis as you attached your vans to the bouncing floor swaying to and fro, with eyes locked on a spot somewhere above Family Man’s nappy head. The look on your face said “projectile vomiting”, but to your credit, you held your tofu scramble. While my son’s second hand buzz (from you blowing clouds right into his face) finally wore off two days ago, my guess is that you’re still looking for the piece of pizza you dropped in Moon Girl’s hemp pouch by mistake. Her shoe couldn’t have tasted nearly as good as you made it seem.

God, the music was great though, the Wailers were tight as a drum. They gave the adoring full-house crowd what they came to see. Lots of classic Bob Marley tunes. My son was in wherever Jamaicans call the Promised Land. I was okay if I focused my eyes on the stage. But when diverted to the human circus surrounding me it was hard not to get grossed-out by the places folks were pulling their carrot-sized spliffs from. I mean, inside your sweaty fucking shoes? After twenty minutes of tai-chi-on-speed dancing? And you wonder why you can’t keep it lit?  HELLO! Jesus, whatever happened to film canisters and socks? What’s more, the front of your parachute pants is a great place to keep your hands, but your stash pipe? When I was still so inclined STD’s and Athletes Foot were not among legitimate concerns for the casual dope smoker. I must confess, I’ve got a lot more compassion for today’s partying youth. Folks today really do have to be careful in ways we could have never imagined.


Originally published:
Issue Seven
March 2001


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