Sustainable Living Roadshow Hits the Road

May 18, 2 am

OK, so the trip to Portland got a bit sidetracked today. Jonathan got caught up in working on sponsorship for the Sustainable Living Roadshow (SLR), thus pushed about all of the to-do list to the bottom of his priorities. Then Zack, SLR co-producer, left town a day early, making Jonathan the go-to guy for the first tabling event for Bill Graham Presents. That meant we had to organize the truck, get biodiesel, and hand-make a canvas sign before 3 pm. That gave us enough time to drive up to the Concord Pavilion for the Stevie Nicks concert, opening night for the Pavilion.

Had we been scheduled for the Saturday BGP event, we would’ve gotten passes for the Bjork show at the Shoreline. As it stood, we got the inaugural gig up in Concord, a visit with the always good-to-see Sam Bower from, and 1970s/80s top 40 hits. Go to a Stevie NIcks concert and you’ll realize that she had a lot of songs in rotation back then.

Staying in the Bay Area an extra day seemed like a good idea. I was glad to finally be working a large BGP show, getting to meet the techs that run things. They were mostly all business tonight, because this was their first show of the season. Lots of “big wigs” there, and lots of employees-in-training.

While waiting for Justin the tech to show up and tell us where to set up our gear, Jonathan and I snuck into the amphitheater to hear Stevie Nicks sound check her big hit “Dreams.” Jonathan made it down to the tenth row before getting sent away by a security guard who told him it was a closed set. Closed, Jonathan says, because Stevie was in hair rollers! I opted to stay at the edge of the lawn so wasn’t told to leave.

The SLR set-up with looked great. The techs loved the Wonder Van and OKd it’s entry into the venue for the next time SLR tabled. TOnight we had to park it outside the gate in the VIP lot. No complaints there. About two dozen people stopped by, the first being a man who opened his inquiry with “So it’s all about oil, huh?!”

Put on the spot, and not knowing the details of Rainforest Action Network’s campaign (we have an eco-info kiosk that distributes all kinds of information), I bumbled through it. During set break, Jonathan worked the passersby and I facilitated the table. Women stopped by much more than men did, with a few drunks thrown in for fun.

Later That Day

Wipe out in the bus graveyard getting schooled on early 20th century diesel-electric hybrids, how to work an old engine, manually at first, and why there are three fire trucks in the bus graveyard. Grizzled face, knobby fingers, thin legs in really dirty pants. Smoking Marlboro Reds to their butts, feeding a pack of feral cats, laughing when we ask him a question about a truck. Stopped at the rest stop by curious onlookers – having one guy ask if it was a bread truck – bragging about B99 to strangers and telling them that it’ll be converted to SVO (Straight Veggie Oil), with plexiglas panels so you can see it (even while driving). Hitting Shasta at 5:30 waiting for the spectacular sunset up here. Trying to find a way to crash of visit or rest in Ashland – the Bus Graveyard Keeper had a Studebaker rusting in his lot – the same car Fozzie and Kermit hit the road in. Anyway, we’re watching the sun set up near Shasta – hoping to get into Oregon not too soon after dark – eating avo and tofu on crumbly spelt bread at the doorway of the truck while the seagulls watch, hoping for another healthy piece – what are seagulls doing at Shasta? Are they the aliens that land in the clouds and then go to parties later that night to drink absinthe and discuss the new Shrek movie? So the clouds darken and turn into Moab hues for the benefit of the fact that night always precedes day, after sunset as it has been for well past our existence and will continue long after we’re gone. Even as it cools and collapses in its brief timespan.

No biodiesel in Ashland. The fuel spot had closed for the night so we are now trying to see what we can do with what we have in the tank (spare containers are empty). Eugene? Maybe four hours away. Can we make it? Should we crash before then? Will we have enough B99? May have to put dino-diesel in the tank to get there. Tired but have energy in the can (Kaboom organic energy drink) and in the iPod (crazy Romani wedding music). Last troughs of dusk fall upon us in dark blues, purples, and blacks. Blowing through Ashland like we’ve done it before – can’t wait for the dust to settle in this town so must be packing on: pulling tape off the side lights to get that trucker vibe going (the Wonder Van was recently muraled by a graff crew, so all extras where taped up) – 178 miles to Eugene over a few hills in the western dark and noisy night.

May 19, 2007

Overcast Eugene dreamstate landing Shabbas morning with prayers ringing around the tree-lined rest stop. Breakfast break before warming up the Wonder Van and landing to Shambala for sustainable alternative fuels. SeQuential gets it all right with their niche bio-convenience store, complete with solar array (off the grid), living rooftop gardens, and organic cafe. Matt fills us up with B99 and tells me he’s heading to Asheville, NC for a few weeks to consider moving there. Starts picking my brain and I start missing the Blue Ridge Mountains in Springtime. Can’t help him that much because Asheville was just waking up to sustainable ways when I left the area back in 1997. Guess we woke up together, but wished Matt well just the same and told him to give a nod to the Blue Ridge for me. Jonathan grabbed four biodiesel stickers from the info area in the store and stuck them all over the Wonder Van, hoping to have complete 360 degree coverage for maximum propaganda on the road. Seems to be working because he constantly honks and waves to well-wishers who drive by us on the freeway with thumbs up. Looks like the morning cover may burn off and the rains of last night have blown over, giving us greens and browns to soak up through the Wonder Van’s glass parts.

May 20, 2007

Galactivating with the kneading metaphor – shaved long-haired cat Precious – no allergy meds I think but not thinking straight after the dozen or so tiny teas I drank, one of which may have been laced with THC droplets. Evening was a blur much more so than yesterday. I took small shots from two natural wine bottles between dozing in Disjecta’s chill space. Raised my cap for random takes of late-afternoon sun out the windows- no need for ear plugs due to the drone of the speakers from the far side of the room. What where they saying?

This morning I awoke on a comfy couch in a dingy living room – my bladder alarm ringing right on time. Up the stairs to pee and no line this early so no hassles other than having to wash my hands in the tub (and brush my teeth in the kitchen). Felt a little guilty not helping with the chores or something while looking at the pile of dishes, but didn’t think Nick’s roomies cared.

Tonight, I’m about 15 minutes out of downtown Portland at Wysteria’s clean and humble house. Only two roomies and Precious, my love and curse, purring away on my clothes that I should bag once removing. To love cats and be allergic – cruel world!

Jonathan soaking in the tub as I write, maybe he’s tuned out to the present, fantasizing all the cuteness walking around us so far. Maybe realizing that he was 24 15 years ago. So we discussed earlier when I mentioned needing recovery time after late nights and he mentioned aches that needed soaking and/or massaging.

Sneeze #1 and Precious looks up at me apathetically making me think she doesn’t want to move from my warm side. Giving me that “quit moving” look and then curling into a cute, purring ball. Am I already imagining the itching? Is it metaitching? Must see if I have Claritin in my bag. Hope so.

Farewell brief lover on the couch. Purr a song for me.

May 21, 2007

Long night’s sleep at Wysteria’s house, on a comfy futon with shaved Precious curled up in the nook of my knees for a few morning hours. Woke up at 8:45 and read as Jonathan slept more. I slept more and we got up at 10:30, heading to a cafe soon after to discuss Village Building Convergence and SLR between bites of biscuits and cups of caffeine. Also discussed meetings, collective disorders, and Saturday’s Wanderlust Circus.

Poked our heads into a street art shop, Powell’s, and then headed to the huge Powell’s where Jonathan slept more and I bought books that I’d looked for for months. Saw a painted SCRAP van, and then saw a woman getting into it as we walked back from a vintage toy store (Jonathan bought a Fat Albert coloring book). A photo shoot and info swap ensued and then we ate bananas and talked puppets. The Wonder Bread factory is near SCRAP so we hope to photo-shoot before they turn it into condos (Jonathan’s van is from the Portland Wonder Bread factory).

Sun comes out again on another Portland dusk and we find the line short at the supper counter. This is our third dinner at VLC and tonight is a great quinoa dish with salad and spicy curry soup. Jonathan doesn’t have to go on for his puppet bit until 9:30 so I work the info-kiosk and end up organizing the buttons and stickers so that they’re easier to find and sell. Jonathan does the Greenman and I tech for him. While plugging the XLR into the snake, I see a whip that Nick’s circus left on Saturday. An hour later, after breaking down the for sale stuff, I practice the whip and get some good cracks.

We visit Nick and Naia, dropping off the whip. Jonathan and Nick fall deeply into an amazing conversation about buying warehouse space for the arts. I swear that they have one brain in four hemispheres! Back to Wysteria’s after that, to our comfy room in a quiet block with a hot wood stove for morning thawing.

May 22, 2007

The clouds remain until midday when sun finally breaks out and stays for the first time since we arrived. During breakfast we bring up and look at all-natural, unshaved, dreaded hippie porn. Then its off to the puppet theater for cobbing. After a baked potato lunch and sunshine, I learn all the steps of cobbing: muddy straw to stuff behind the laufs, using feet to make cob (straw, sand, and mud), the cob toss, and then cobbing a niche for a while. Felt great to be part of that!

Off to Mississippi Street to meet Nick and Naia and look at a warehouse space they may rent. They hope to find a space and create a Circus Center. Mississippi was a funky street with no chains, odd buildings, businesses run out of trailers, and a cobbed building with eco-landscaping. Found stencils, looked at the space, lunched at the brew pub, and caught an art show in a space that’s being converted to condos (the condo rush is on everywhere I guess.)

Back at Disjecta (closing down after VBC b/c it’s being converted to something) to table. A larger crowd has assembled tonight to hear Brad Lancaster give a slide presentation. I started selling stickers and Jonathan sold a few shirts so our nut was about $50 (only made $17 last night). Did some flirting and shit-talking but the night ended young and we broke down about half of the stuff and packed it in the van.

Portland conspires to keep us here. Great bands are coming through. We keep getting invited to events, concerts, parties, gatherings. At Disjecta tonight, a beautiful woman thanked us for letting her daughter eat at a table with us. “She loved the circus.” She seemed sad that we weren’t from Portland and asked me to stay. My heart broke at her genuine sadness. “I feel loved here,” I told her as she shyly walked away.

Jonathan and I both need to get back to San Francisco. If it wasn’t major, I’d stay longer up here. But our lives call us back to the Bay….

May 23, 2007

Last day in Portland so trying to cram as much as we can into it. This morning has been Jonathan on the phone and e-mail. My phone and my minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes got eaten up on this trip.

Was going to head to the puppet theater for a bit more cob work but time ran out. We had an oatmeal breakfast and are now heading to Nicks for one last visit and warehouse rental collaboration. He wants us to look over his business plan/proposal before he sends it to the warehouse owner. Hop they get the space. Just found out that Klutch’s gallery space is right on Mississippi Street. Heading there today for a visit.

May 24, 2007

Left Portland on time. Break down of remaining set up went smoothly and Jonathan said his goodbyes quickly. Left at 12:15 am and clocked 3.5 hours of driving before sleeping at a rest stop above Myrtle Creek. Right outside of Portland, maybe an hour on the road, we heard a bang outside the back left part of the van. I asked Jonathan if we should pull over and check, but he shrugged and kept driving.

We didn’t check on the source of that bang when we rested. Jonathan did say that the van drove odd after the incident. We slept well, waking up at 8:30 am with enough rest to hump over Grants Pass to an Ashland business brunch. “We have a flat tire,” Jonathan told me as he returned from the toilets.

I prepared a bit of food while Jonathan got started on the tire. Straight off, Jonathan realized that he didn’t have a breaker bar (a pipe that breaks the lugs loose from the rim). When I brought apples and almond butter to him, he was taking a disabled parking sign off its base to use as a breaker. “The DOT guy said we could use it if we brought it back.” The sign proved to be a useful, somewhat surreal, breaker bar. I got to hold the sign and twist off the lugs. We cracked seven of the eight with ease, but got stuck one stripped lug. Couldn’t break it.

The DOT guy came over to check on us and said that we could sledge it off. Jonathan asked around and couldn’t find a hammer. He tried a small hammer and vice-wrench method while shrugging off my suggestion to hammer in a smaller-sized part of the lug wrench. As I was dropping some change on 411 to find a tire place in Myrtle Creek, Jon got the lug loose with my method.

But it didn’t come off the whole way. The bolt and lug kept spinning at a certain point, causing us to call the tire place that I found and seek paid assistance. He referred us to a mobile welder who could burn the lug off with a torch. The welder called back, told us it was his day off, and sent another guy out to do the job. A 20 minute lug melt and tire replacement cost Jonathan $75.

By now my desire to get back to San Francisco and have a nice night’s sleep before nursing Laura through her laser surgery began to fade. I joked that the van did want to leave Oregon, its home state, and that Oregon was again conspiring to keep us in Portland. We ended up in Myrtle Creek where Jonathan price-checked two places for a tire replacement. He opted for the first place and got good service and the same tire brand. I read and caught naps in the bunk while Jonathan chatted up the tire guy and bought a breaker bar at a hardware store. It was basically a cut pipe.

2:30 ticks by and we’re back on South I-5. Food options sucked in Myrtle Creek, a logging town with little in the way of healthy eats. We’ll suck it up until we get to Ashland. We’ll have to refuel with B99 while there, and will stop by the health food store to grab the good eats. Jonathan will meet with a friend to discuss filming the SLR exploits next year. Cable channels are already calling for content.

While at the rest stop this morning, several curious folks kept our situation positive: at least it wasn’t raining (another nice day) and you weren’t on the side of I-5. Jonathan learned his lesson about not pulling over to check odd bangs. I learned that sometimes my concerned nature can have merit.

Remain positive, be prepared…