Tuesday, January 8, 2008

2008: In which the Lion will Lie Down With the Lamb

I’m sitting in a bar in Portland. My friend Collin is telling me that bourbon only incites the soul and endangers the state. We are on our third drink of the evening. I have to agree with him, however there remains an alternative consideration. The state itself will grind on and we need some line of defense against the brain. The brain is not to be trusted. It must be beaten back periodically. Bourbon remains the first and best method for this. Irrigate brain with whiskey. Garbage in, garbage out. The lion will lie down with the lamb.

Portland is a strange city. It’s struggling to find its identity. I’ve always thought of it as somehow perennially adolescent. The Pacific Northwest is the youngest geographical region on Earth. It has been freshly sheered. Nothing in the West is old and the population of Portland reflects this more and more with every passing day. Young people pour in from across the country. It is rare to meet a native Portlander younger than their fifties. All the young are imports from the plains of the Midwest, the desiccated scrubland of the Southwest, and the occasional Californian. None of the Californians can drive. They run you off the road in droves. The bus drivers here have gradually been brutalized by having to fight off California drivers. Where just five years ago they would go out of their way to stop for you, and wish you a nice day, now they plow past with an abandon that is fostered by a desperate need for self-preservation. If they make the effort to stop, the Californians will destroy them. Steinbeck thought that California was a new Eden. Then the Californians ruined it. Still, good fruit.

The New Year slid by in chaos. I found myself stumbling around a more dilapidated part of South East Portland at one in the morning; having rung in the New Year with some friends and a pervasive reckless mirth wanting more. I have an appetite for destruction, but common sense dictates that I can only scrape at that plate. Still more was in the asking and more was to be found. What more entailed was a discothèque that could be best described as the waiting room for hell. Explosive club music pulsed in our ears, while the place as a whole sagged. The clientele consisted largely of completely fucked-out looking young transients and utterly ruined middle aged couples inappropriately fondling each other. This was the only location at which the two groups could ever meet. It is sort of a grim crossroads, where you go when you have become utterly hopeless. Again, the lion will lie down with the lamb – but only if the circumstances are right.

We found seating next door to a room that oxymoronically branded itself, in festive lettering: “the vice room” - a distinction that hardly differentiated it from the proceedings throughout the rest of the establishment and proceeded to try to get a feel for the place. We were only there for a laugh after all, and we needed to make the most of it. A friend of mine tried to pick up one of the transients, only to be rebuffed with all of the might that an anorexic in full bondage gear can muster. You learn something new about your friends ever day. It was then that we noticed the rather public fellatio going on in the booth beside us. One of the middle-aged couples had decided to take the claim of the bar to be “full service” at face value. Neither party involved seemed altogether that interested in the blowjob, but all the same, its mere existence seemed a good enough reason to leave. No way to get ahead in life?

And then out were on the street again, inhaling air that was without the taint of carcinogen and stale sweat. I nabbed the last bus home and stumbled into bed. I woke up to discover that someone, against my knowledge, had slipped an icon of John the Baptist into my pocket. 2008 then, was off to an auspicious start.

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