Random bits of data pertinent to our second week in Portland:
1. I learned of the imminent demise of both "new music" series at Club Tropical (Cryptonight on Thursdays, and Ear Orchard on Mondays). The reason? Carlos, Club Tropical's owner, is selling the restaurant. Hard to say whether these series (these serieses?), which collectively make up a good portion of the lifeblood of interesting music in LA, will resurrect somewhere else. Probably -- the LA scene has always been something of a moveable feast. But given that CT has been the IJG's "home base" for the last few years, I have to add this particular development to the list of reasons I'm glad I got out of Los Angeles when I did. Sooner or later, the band was going to wither and die due to a lack of light.
2. Continuing with the botanical theme: Thandie and I spent at least three mornings this week raking leaves. Holy crap, it's Autumn! We never really enjoyed that season in "the Southland." Here, we've got lots of trees, and thus lots of colorful dried foliage lying around. Raked up a bunch of it and had a blast demonstrating to the kid the art of "leaf pile jumping."
3. And more: gonna have to learn how to take care of a full-on yard (I was about to say "a garden," but technically there are numerous gardens scattered throughout the property). That's right, urban Durkin is gonna have to develop a green thumb, right quick. I must say that I'm actually anticipating this, much to my surprise. I still identify primarily as a city-dweller (which is why I'm thankful that downtown Portland is a mere ten minutes away). But I have always enjoyed yard work -- at least the somewhat simple tasks I had to do as a kid (mow the lawn, rake the leaves, clip the hedge) -- because, strangely enough, I did some of my best thinking while engaged in it. When I was a kid, yard work ran a close second to walking in terms of providing a, ahem, fertile context for conceptual creativity.
One last twist on this point: now there is the added benefit of really feeling the resonance of the famous ending to Voltaire's Candide, where, after a series of unbelievably unpleasant run-ins with the worst of human nature, the hapless hero decides literally to focus on cultivating his own garden (the language is Voltaire's). I can feel the value of that now -- living in this increasingly horrific world, with its litany of problems -- I suspect that from this point forward, my own contributions, whatever they may be, will need to radiate outward from a carefully nurtured backyard.
4. What with the move and all, I had originally been planning a brief sabbatical from the group. Let me clarify: work on the new recording, and whatever new compositions might develop, would of course continue, but I wanted to step away from the drudge work of booking and promoting for the rest of the year. I sort of felt like I needed this for my own sanity. But with our upcoming trip east (for IAJE in January 07), there's just no way I can let down my guard. This will surely be our most complicated trip yet -- putting it together is sort of like the hardest game of chess I have ever played.
Of course, I remain optimistic that IAJE could pay off. But I also have to admit at this point that the show I am most excited about is our double bill with Darcy James Argue's Secret Society -- one of a handful of other big bands out there playing original music. Check out Darcy's blog if you haven't already -- he's a motherfucker composer, he writes (prose) well, too, and in general he's fighting the good fight.