A Lunch in the Life Of

Noon Central and I pull up Yelp on my phone to determine the food options near me in Hopkins, MN. Hopkins was a town of its own at one time I’m sure, now it’s just a zip code so close to Minneapolis that if someone from out of state asks where you live, you probably just say “Minneapolis.”

The Main Street Bar & Grill is only 5 minutes away, on Main Street (amazingly), and reportedly serves the “best burgers anywhere.” It sounds worth a try.

On the way there I witness a collision between two cars, both turning left. One apparently veers into the other’s lane and they glance off one another with a plasticy crunch that startles me from looking at my driving directions while waiting for the light to change. One of the drivers, a big-haired woman, looks directly at me and mouths, “What the fuck?!”

I make it to Main Street without further incident.

Inside, the lounge is straight ahead, the restaurant is to my left. Another big-haired woman sits at the bar rolling knives, forks, and spoons into napkins that she has stacked in front of her. I ask her if I should seat myself and she says, “You go right ahead, honey.”

I move into the restaurant and sit down, positioning myself so that I can’t see any of the flatscreen televisions ringing the room. I order the Main Street burger, minus the thousand island dressing. I open my book, Gaining Daylight by Sara Loewen, and start to read.

At the table to my left a man is regaling his two companions with the stories of how he has blown out both of his knees — one of them twice — playing hockey. Meanwhile Loewen is describing in an essay how she realized she still had mustard-colored baby shit caked on her wedding ring.

A couple comes in and takes the table directly in front and to the right of me. A younger man pushing an older woman in a wheelchair. She stands up from the wheelchair and sidles around the table, bumping one of the vacant chairs at my table hard enough with her ass so as to make the water in my glass slosh over the lip. I can hear the woman breathing heavily as she drops onto her chair. From the corner of my eye I sense her face turned in my direction, but when I glance up I see she is merely staring at the TV screen above me.

The young man gets up and walks away. The woman pulls her foot up and across her leg, removes her shoe, then her sock, and proceeds to scratch and rub her foot. I try not to look, but it’s hard not to considering it is maybe four feet, if that, from me.

“That must be a good book,” the woman says. “Do you like to read?”

I look up. This time she is looking directly at me. “Yes,” I say. “I do.”

“You’re like me then,” she says.

“What do you like to read?” I ask.

“Mysteries mostly.”

“Yeah? Who is your favorite mystery writer?”

“Oh, I don’t care much for the writers,” she says. “I just like the mysteries.”

The young man returns, excited to report there are two pool tables on the other side of the restaurant. The woman puts her sock back on, then her shoe. Their food arrives. She takes a little kit out and measures her blood sugar with some electronic device.

So Fashionable

I almost missed it, but it turns out the Fall Fashion insert was in the Sunday Missoulian this week. It came out sooner than I expected, but, thanks to a tip Julia received from a customer at Betty’s today, and verification by my always vigilant mother, I was able to wrangle a copy.

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These inserts come out twice a year, Spring and Fall. What is significant is that this time last year  Julia and I debuted as the writers for it, so Sunday’s edition was our third time writing the articles (all but one, though Julia contributed to that one as well).

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I have to guffaw at the idea that I, of all people, am writing fashion articles. I have to admit though that it’s a gas; I’ve come to look forward to doing it. It’s fun to collaborate with Julia (who is the real brains behind what is going on and what we do with it), plus research and write my own stuff. It’s one of the things I love about writing, the researching and trying to make something new (to me) interesting. It’s also a challenge because, for better or worse, I don’t think our stuff gets edited. Occasionally there are some formatting typos, but for the most part they come out pretty clean.

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In particular Julia was amused that, as she put it, “‘Mr. Rhino-hide’ wrote an article about skin care. Your idea of personal skin care is what, rubbing gravel all over your face?”

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Her comments refer of course to my constant running commentary as to how I want a weathered countenance ala dudes like Jim Harrison as I get older. I keep threatening to spend the winter sleeping with my head sticking out the bedroom window, particularly on these cold, windy nights in Western Montana.

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Portrait by Andy Anderson for MyNorth magazine

It’s good it’s in the paper, though, considering I’ve got a face meant, at best, only for print or radio. I mean, would you take that kind of advice from this guy?

"Don't forget to wear your fuckin' lip balm."

“Don’t forget to wear your fuckin’ lip balm.”

 

I landed some photos in it too. In that capture of the page with the skin care article, toward the bottom, I shot the picture in the Betty’s ad to the lower left on the facing page. Then I also did the interviews and shot all the pictures in the following scarves article as well.

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As I said, this is a fun project to work on. One of those things where it’s cool to take ideas to fruition, then have something printed on old school newsprint to show for it. It’s sad when one considers those days may be numbered, so I’m sure to enjoy it when I can.

 

Creekside Drama

The other evening a couple miles up on my (near) nightly ramble in the Rattlesnake I reached a spot creekside. It was a gorgeous fall evening, and I decided I wanted to grab a picture — it’s one of my favorite spots that, while definitely popular, doesn’t get near the traffic other sites do — before climbing a steep hill and returning to the trailhead. As I approached the bank, I thought to step out onto some flat rocks so that I could be farther out into the water for a better photographic vantage point. I took a step, heard a splashing at my feet, and lo and behold —

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This snake had a fish firmly by the tail. Up out of the water, the fish’s gills were still flexing steadily, but not quickly. My immediate reaction was to want to rescue the fish, which is strange. Yeah, I have learned a deep affinity for fish as I’ve become a more avid fisherman (how’s that for a contradiction?)(I’m certain other fishermen, and hunters for that matter, can relate), but why should its life be more important than that of the snake? So I left them alone, and sat back to watch the struggle unfold. I was transfixed, and found it oddly emotional.

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At one point a couple other hikers approached, with dogs, and I stood from my perch on a rock to try and keep the dogs away. The two hikers — young women — eyed me with looks of mild concern before ascending the hill I had intended to climb. I didn’t want the dogs to mess up what the snake was trying to accomplish.

The snake worked the fish around and positioned its jaw at the fish’s tail, clearly with the intention to swallow the entire thing. How it hoped to accomplish that I don’t know, but I trust it knew what it was doing. I could have remained until darkness watching, fascinated, but I had to return to Missoula and pick Julia up after work. I was pleased to witness it, though. Something I’d never seen before, and possibly never will again.

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The next night I returned to the spot, curious to see if there were any signs of what had happened. No dead fish, no bloated and belching snake, nothing. No one ever would have known what had happened there. Who knows what DID happen there. Maybe the snake pulled off its feast, maybe a dog — or bear, for that matter — came along and swallowed them both. I’ll never know.

I took the opportunity to take the pictures that I hadn’t the night before, though.

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I explored a couple little side trails on the way back that I hadn’t hiked before. Looking upstream I could see clearly that someone had built a cairn out in the flow, but there weren’t any obvious paths to access it. After some bushwhacking and finally some wading out into the current, I got a closer look.

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There were a couple cairns, which were cool enough, but what amazed me is that someone had taken the time and no small amount of effort to make little redirections of the stream so that it flowed over rocks, creating little pools and waterfalls along the way. It was like some guerrilla zen garden of some kind, and I loved it. Again, I could have stayed for hours. The pictures I took don’t do it justice.

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It made me happy. It proved that how we humans choose to disrupt nature doesn’t always have to be shitty, that sometimes we can actually make beauty. It was good to be reminded of that.

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One-Sentence Journal, Week Thirty-Five

  1. 09/15/2014:  After waiting nearly an hour to pay my property tax, I learned my cashier’s check — purchased for an amount quoted over the phone — was $5.05 short, I had no cash on me, and the adjacent ATM was down due to remodel construction . . . yet I was saved by a kind elderly woman who overheard my plight and paid the extra, asking in return that I simply pay it forward to someone else in the future.
  2. 09/16/2014:  I attended the Pete Fromm reading at Shakespeare and Co., one of my favorite writers, and I was happy to not be disappointed; it was an inspiring evening, particularly in how I kick the whole thing around in my head in the aftermath.
  3. 09/17/2014:  Even in her simple introduction to The Best American Travel Writing: 2013, which she edited, I find Elizabeth Gilbert’s “chatty” style of writing (The Last American Man; Eat, Pray, Love) to be teeth-gnashingly annoying.
  4. 09/18/2014:  I’ve decided Julia and I need to figure out a way to get a syndicated fashion column published somewhere, because as we turn in another batch of articles for the Missoulian‘s upcoming Fall Fashion insert, I realize it’s a blast and we’re pretty decent at it, even with such a short turnaround time.
  5. 09/19/2014:  A quote from songwriter/musician Steve Earle, with whom I have a love/hate relationship, from an interview in American Songwriter magazine that I would do well to remember: “I’m an artist from the ground up, from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed.”
  6. 09/20/2014:  Another round of photographs on behalf of Betty’s Divine, a process which, while improving, is still for me largely an exercise in one finger on the shutter and two crossed behind my back in hopes the pictures turn out.
  7. 09/21/2014:  Instead of band practice on a gorgeous sunny day I opted for a long hike, which did everything it needed to to flush my brain of detritus.

Missoula Rabble

This is a book I picked up last week that I’d never even heard about before. It’s called Missoula Rabble, and it’s a compact little photo book by a woman named Ashley McKee, whom I’ve never met. We seem to know many of the same people, though, so it’s likely our paths have crossed before. The book just came out on the 5th, I believe, and she has since pulled up stakes and moved to Austin.

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This from Ashley’s Facebook page devoted to the book:

Hello all! I have received many messages asking where one can buy Missoula Rabble since I moved away (I made it safely to Austin!) so I am posting a link to my website where you can order the book from me. If you are in Missoula you can buy it at Fact and Fiction Books, Shakespeare and Co., The Book Exchange, Butterfly Herbs, Rockin’ Rudy’s, and The UC Bookstore.

Missoula Rabble is a collection of portraits of Missoula folks — familiar faces, local “celebs,” even some of our homeless residents. With each portrait is a short story, anecdote, or quote from the person. It’s really cool. If you want a look at a certain side of Missoula, I highly recommend buying it.

Personally, I think it looks awesome and is a fantastic idea. I’m biased though. As I mentioned before, I’ve never met Ashley. However, a few years ago, when I was first getting interested in becoming a “real” photographer myself, I had pretty much the exact same idea. Every year one of our local bakeries has a call to artists to pitch ideas to them. If they like your idea, you have an opening on the First Friday of whatever month you’re awarded, then your work stays up in their common area for the entire month. I pitched this idea — portraits of local people, with an accompanying biography — but they shot it down. It was just a concept at the time and I didn’t have any photos that would be IN the show, just some that were kinda what I had in mind. They certainly weren’t as good as the work Ashley has in her book, otherwise it probably would have worked. Who knows.

I was bitter at the time that they didn’t like my idea. Eventually wisdom prevailed (as did my weakness for their baked goods) and I got over myself. I never pursued the idea either. I didn’t really take up photography with any seriousness for another year or two, but lately I’d been toying with the idea again because I love portraits so much. Seeing the project come to fruition now in Ashley’s work, though, gives me kind of a thrill of pride. Not because I had anything at all to do with Missoula Rabble, I’m just happy to see something I thought would be cool actually pulled off, and BE very cool.

So kudos to Ashley. I hope she does well in Austin.

 

One-Sentence Journal, Week Thirty-Four

  1. 09/08/2014:  I’m looking forward to weather a little rougher, a little less beautiful, for purely selfish reasons pertaining to having fewer people out crowding my favorite hiking places.
  2. 09/09/2014:  I traded two hours in the woods for two hours in a movie theater with the obnoxious mutant offspring to see some obnoxious teenage mutant ninja turtles, and it was time well spent.
  3. 09/10/2014:  Finally got a cool, blustery afternoon which led to about an 80% reduction in trail traffic, which meant wildlife wasn’t in hiding, which meant I saw a black bear about twenty feet off the trail grubbing on some berries.
  4. 09/11/2014:  There’s nothing like that first cool night under heavy covers; in this case, my beloved Pendleton blanket that Julia gifted me on our first Christmas together.
  5. 09/12/2014:  Most of today was spent on an interview/photoshoot just outside of Missoula in a beautiful spot in the hills north of town, which evolved into drinking wine and talking adventure with interesting friends.
  6. 09/13/2014:  A beautiful fall day in which I prowled up and down Higgins Avenue in downtown Missoula, the sidewalks crowded with market goers, people garbed in various styles of “Go Griz!” wear (there was even a from-out-of-town cheerleading team moving in a knot, all dressed in matching gray track pants and bright red team t-shirts), as I — rumpled and sweaty — visited boutique after boutique, urging their proprietors to tie and model scarves for the pleasure of  my camera.
  7. 09/14/2014:  In the first light of morning I rescued a bird stuck in the tree just outside my window; somehow it had managed to get a string wrapped around it’s claw and the branch, and could only flap its wings crazily while inverted, struggling to escape.

 

A Quarter Century of Rock ‘N’ Roll Songs

Given my head is ringing from another extremely loud edition of American Falcon practice, I thought I’d take a stab at this music-related meme my friend Richard brought to my attention via a post on his blog. My friend Charles also posted one, which you can check out on his blog as well. I like this kind of thing, seeing what other people choose.

The meme is this: What 25 songs would you pick to describe your personal history with rock ‘n’ roll?

This is a tough one for me (as I’m sure it is for any hardcore music fan). What I decided to do is pick a meaningful song for every year going back the last 25 (including this year, which makes it 26). This decision omits most of my most formative songs, since I’m a child of the 70s and 80s, but I thought it would be more interesting this way. In compiling the list, I encountered songs that have hit me hard in the years since that I wasn’t aware of at the time, so in those cases I chose the songs that I remember had meaning to me in that particular year, as it was happening, if that makes sense. For example, Sleep’s Holy Mountain record came out in 1993, and I love that album . . . but Enigma, a band (and song) I can’t even remember when I heard last, gets the nod in my list because I listened to it then and it was a big deal. Suffice to say the exercise of putting this list together was quite a trip down memory lane. Anyway, enough of that. Dig this:

  1. Ramones — Don’t Bust My Chops (1989)
  2. Jane’s Addiction — Ain’t No Right (1990)
  3. R.E.M. — Losing My Religion (1991)
  4. Trevor Jones — The Kiss (Last of the Mohicans soundtrack)(1992)
  5. Enigma — Return to Innocence (1993)
  6. Sarah McLachlan — Possession (1994)
  7. Garbage — Only Happy When It Rains (1995)
  8. Tonic — If You Could Only See (1996)
  9. Ramones — We’re Outta Here (the entire album)(1997)
  10. Rob Zombie — Dragula (1998)
  11. Supersuckers — The Evil Powers of Rock n’ Roll (1999)
  12. Fu Manchu — Over the Edge (2000)
  13. Spirit Caravan — The Departure (Of Quetzalcoatl) (2001)
  14. Lazerwolfs — Elemental (2002)
  15. The White Stripes — Seven Nation Army (2003)
  16. Drive-By Truckers — Where the Devil Don’t Stay (2004)
  17. Witchcraft — Mr. Haze (2005)
  18. The Black Keys — Your Touch (2006)
  19. Ryan Bingham — Southside of Heaven (2007)
  20. The Mother Truckers — Dynamite (2008)
  21. Band of Skulls — Light of the Morning (2009)
  22. Katy Perry — California Gurls (2010)
  23. The Black Keys — Lonely Boy (2011)
  24. Heartless Bastards — The Arrow Killed the Beast (2012)
  25. Kadavar — Come Back Life (2013)
  26. Nikki Lane — Right Time (2014)