Swifts Are a Thing

Vaux’s Swifts

I love stationary and Lark Press in northwest had this card but never understood the significance. It was one in a series of city landmarks like the bridges and the state sign when you cross over Burnside Bridge into downtown. This particular card was of a chimney and some dots around it. I didn’t get it.

For a nice evening out I suggested we visit Chapman Elementary School in northwest. In September migratory swifts pass through and use an abandoned chimney at the school to rust on their way south. The weather was going to be good and it just happened to be September when I found out about this.

We both picked up some items from the grocery store and headed to the school right after work. They start to circle the chimney just before sunset. I should have known from the parking situation things were going to be busy. When we got to the school I was shocked to see just how many people were there.

Vaux’s Swifts

There was plenty of time before sunset but the school was already packed with people. All the good spots were taken so we laid out the blanket and sat under a tree. As the sun set the birds started to gather. You could hear this weird chirp in the area. It was really neat watching the birds circle the chimney as they land inside. I don’t know how they perch in there. It was crazy watching this large groups of birds swirl around spinning tighter and tighter before the land inside. Two thousand people show up and who knows how many birds.

We spent several hours there that night just talking. It was really nice and relaxing. The sun was completely set and there was no one else in the park by the time we left. Now I understand the note card I saw so many months ago. It really is a think here to watch birds roost in a chimney in northwest Portland.


The Shape of Speed

So as most typical natives I don’t really play tourist in my own town. I love visiting art museums but the majority of those that I have been to have been while traveling. Seattle Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery, and Le Louvre.

Kristina proposed seeing the exhibit The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles at the Portland Art Museum. A special exhibition featuring 19 rare streamlined automobiles and motorcycles from the 1930 to 1942. Sunday was the last day of the show and she knows I like cars. I was so excited when she said the museum. I have wanted to go here since I moved but just never found the time to make it. I was excited to see the cars but also the art on the wall.

We meet early for brunch at a cafe she found in downtown called Bijou Cafe. We got there rather early on her advice because by 10am brunch places get pretty packed. This early we were able to walk right in and get a table.

After a quick bite to eat we walked down to the museum to check things out. Being the last day it was rather busy but that’s ok. The first floor is where all the cars were. Lots of classically designed cars with sweeping curves and big personalities. All the cars were “production” cars near as I could tell. Such a great variety of manufacturers and designs. Also some innovated design elements like early electronic systems and umbrella’s in the door. Another thing I noticed with most of the cars is they where built with travel in mind. Mostly to store all the luggage one was to have when traveling back in the 30’s and early 40’s.

Next we went to the second level to check out some of the art on the wall. Honestly we didn’t get to deep into it. We saw a couple of rooms but that was it. We sat and enjoyed a couple of paintings, discussing the finer details of the works like civilized art critics. I do think most discussions of art are opinions wrapped as knowledge. Some good stuff here but some weird stuff as well. Couldn’t find an over all theme to the collection but still a worthy group.

A great exhibit and I was happy to hear Kristina recommend it. It was thoughtful, cultural and something we both could enjoy. The food was good which doesn’t hurt either. Honestly the highlight of the day for me was seeing her face when I gave her some flowers at the end of the day.

Sunday Trip to Remember

Sunday was Veterans Day and the weather turned out to be rather nice. For me the afternoon started with a walk north towards the Lloyd Center and quickly changed to a trip out to Washington Park to visit the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial. It was just a beautiful day and I wanted to be out.

Its a nice bowl with a spiral that walks around. Really well designed.

I have a weird relationship with Veterans Day. I am not a vet, never served in the military. My dad was in Vietnam but he never talked about it and I never asked. Through a weird series of events many years ago my dad and I had off and our respective wives were working. The two of us having nothing better to do we went to DC. First stop was the Vietnam Memorial and then we went to the American History Museum.

It was such a great day just hanging out with my dad. He passed away many years ago but I have never forgotten that trip to the city. I wanted to visit the memorial to remember my father. I miss him every day.

What should have been a straight shot train ride got derailed by an accident along the tracks. I just walked past the closed stop and onto the next one. Remember its a beautiful day and I love to walk. Eventually I made it to the park. The memorial is right there when you get off the train and if my understanding is correct this is also the bottom of Forrest Park.

The MIA from Vietnam.

Anyone can put a stone statue some place and call it a memorial. This one was much more than that. It was started by locals wanting to honor those that didn’t make it back from Vietnam. With years of fundraising the organization had the money they needed to start construction.

You walk down this path that leads to a fountain and small plague. Next the path spirals up the hillside. Along the path there are giant marble walls with all the names of the dead and the year they died. When you get to the end you see a list of MIA. Thankfully you can see that some of those names have been taken off. They didn’t make it back alive but they made it home.

I got to the top of the path and just had to take a seat for a while. All these emotions running through me. The lives lost to war, needless war. The lives of all those soldiers still fighting, doing what they think is best to protect America and our allies. And my dad. Greatest man I ever knew. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him and for that I am eternally grateful. I found some peace that afternoon.

Memorials are there for a reason and I was glad I got to the Vietnam Memorial. The weather was good, it was a holiday, and it was a Sunday. Just being there, sitting, thinking, and looking at everything around me. It was a great day. Let us never forget.


Kamasi Washington Crystal Ballroom Thursday, October 18th 2018

Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth tour 2018

So Jam_On was my first exposure to Kamasi Washington. Great jazz saxophone player with a good sense of melody and rhythm. He plays tributes to the greats that have come before him by taking what they started and changing it just a bit. He understands where jazz came from and works to make it accessible to everyone.

Never seen him before but I was super excited for the show. Heard only a few of his songs and never a full album. They are expensive as shit on vinyl so I haven’t dropped the coin to make the investment yet. The reviews that I read have all been good. One of his albums, The Epic, has been called a masterpiece and I think won several jazz albums of the year awards. Anyway the jazz community is a buzz over Kamasi and I was ready to see what it was all about.

There was an opening act and their name escapes me. It was a four piece all woman band and they where really good musicians. They knew their instruments but I just couldn’t get into the music. Definitely this soft rock and folk kinda vibe going on. Very slow and melodic. The lead singer would explain each song before they performed it. Lots of powerfully meaning in the lyrics but the music was just so slow. Only at the very end during band introductions did each member really get a chance to strut their stuff. All very talented but not my type of music.

The crowd was definitely feeling the love that night after the opening act and we couldn’t wait for Kamasi to take the stage. After a delayed start things finally got rolling. The first song is there “hit.” Well it was what I recognized from being played on Jam_On regularly. I was glad to hear it and also glad to get that out of the way.

The whole show that night was amazing. After that initial song I didn’t recognize anything else. It was all new to me and being played for the first time. I really went into this show with an open mind and I was not disappointed. Kamasi and his band put on one hell of a performance that night.

The energy and vibe was just great. Kamasi would do some interludes and tell a story or explain the songs, all very informative. Lots of his stuff had a social meaning, a sense of community, that feeling that we can do better when we just love each other. In our currently political environment it was refreshing to hear it. The crowd was absolutely picking up what he was throwing down.

He also told this story about one of his songs, the name escapes me, which I think illustrates his overall story very well. He is a new jazz great but feeds off the work of those that have come before him. He pays tribute to them by incorporating the work they have already done with his playing. It could be a different interpretation of a previous artists’ work. Somehow take that which has already been done and rework it to make it new. The legacy of the old jazz greats live on within Kamasi. He is not trying to supplant them but merely pay tribute to all those that came before him.

The show was only 1.5 hours long and I am sure he touched only a small number of the songs they perform. The performance that night was amazing. Can’t stress this enough, this was a really good show and I can’t wait to see him again when he comes to town. He is a very talented musician who has a great view of the world. He wants to share that vision with as many people as he can and I respect that.

Peace, love, music!

Labor Day Weekend Indy Race in Portland

For 3 yeas IndyCar raced in downtown Baltimore over Labor Day weekend. I always wanted to go because it was so close and a holiday weekend and a true street course but we always went to Rehoboth Beach as a family so I never got the opportunity.

Arriving via Max on race day.

Baltimore lost the race and then Watkins Glen did the same thing and now it was Portland’s turn to host this race over Labor Day weekend. I was so excited when I found they would be coming to Portland International Raceway. Now that I live here it is super easy to attend and I have no chance of going to the beach house this year. The cherry on top is I can get there by the Max yellow line.

Being the long weekend and my first Indy race I wanted to do it right. I got a premium grandstand seat at turn 2 and a paddock pass for the entire weekend. All in all it was a great weekend but I think next time I will skip a premium ticket and the premium price and just go with something more generic.

A pretty good vantage point for the tight section of the track.

I unfortunately couldn’t make it out on Friday. I didn’t want to take time off of work and everything was over by 5:30pm any way. Saturday I was going to stay all day at the track. I packed everything I would need in my CamelBak and set out for the train station. A fifteen minute walk and then a 30 minute train ride I was at the front gate of PIR.

For quals I didn’t really care where I sat and actually decided not to see my seat until race day. I didn’t go into the infield on Saturday at all and instead decided to walk around the track exploring. By the time I left that night I had walked around the entire track.

When you first arrive to the track you walk down a hill and come in at the Pro Mazda and USF2000 paddock. It was great getting close to these cars but a little disorientating when I first stumbled across the paddock. I just wasn’t sure I was suppose to be there. Few signs, no barriers and no one directing people. Just go till they tell you to stop I figured.

Lets the festivities begin.

The front straight was a typical vendor area. Lots of pop up tents and weird shit being peddled. I was actually shocked at the the lack of facilities at this track. It really is just a track. Even the main grandstand was a temporary structure. Only one three story building and it was small and not at a good location.

The track is also really narrow with limited run off areas. I was shocked at just how narrow the turns are. Kudos to the drives all weekend for keeping things mostly under control. If you made even a tiny mistake you would be off track, especially at turn one. See lap one of the Indy race on Sunday for proof.

A good spot I found was the back straight along the top of the hill. Here there was no one around and I actually found some shade. The high on Saturday was in the low 70’s but escaping the radiant heat from the sun was good for a while. Here I caught some of the qualifying for the support races. The back straight is a long sweeping straight with a slight bend to the right right after a tight section of turns. Good opportunity to see the cars go by pretty fast. You really can hear the revs and shifting which is cool.

Go fast day was finally hear. The race didn’t start till around noon so plenty of time to get to the track, bum around and get my seat. Sunday was also my first trip into the paddock. By the time I got there the cars where already starting to exit their garage and get to the grid. This was great because I got to see some of the cars up close and personal which was cool. Also saw some of the driver introductions. Lots of grandstanding but still cool.

My seat turned out to be a pretty good one. The entire section was pretty well elevated so I could have saved some money for a lower seat. And in fact the other side of the track had the added benefit of seeing the cars come down the straight and out the pit. That view was blocked from our premium seats.

Quite unexpectedly there was a wreck just after turn three on lap one. All I could really see was the plume of dust that erupted as the cars went off the track onto the dry grass. One guy managed to go over top another which was pretty impressive. This lead to a long delay with the pace car while they cleaned up the mess.

After this there where only a few minor hiccups in the race but for the most part it was pretty clean. A good afternoon of racing. I honestly don’t follow the series so the drivers I don’t know. It was close to the end of the season and the drivers championship was still up for grabs. Apparently the turn one incident caused problems for the leader. He got back on track in last place but managed to work his way up through the field.

After an entire race weekend spent at PIR I was rather disappointed with the track. CotA has really ruined me when it comes to a race track. That track knows how to put on a race. From the entertainment before, during and after the race to the food, facilities, and vendors. Everything about that track is just so well done.

Not that I wouldn’t go back to see Indy next Labor Day weekend. I think the next time around I just wont spend as much money on my ticket and simply enjoy an afternoon at the track.