Here’s Natalie making awesome stuff. I stayed on their couch when I first moved here. I still really like their place. Sometimes I come over, and then they leave, and I writhe for a while in agony on the couch, or whatever it is I do, and then four or five hours later they come back home, and there I still am. I slept on their couch last night. Then in the morning I walked 40 blocks or so to work. It was lovely. There was this total Dark is Rising cloud — it filled up half the sky, and was steadily threatening to envelop the sun. It was great, though, because the other half of the sky, the not-doomcloud half, was completely clear and blue. And so it was like a partial eclipse of the stratosphere.
No one at work noticed that I was wearing the same clothes. Probably because I took off my tie. Not sure even why I wore a tie on Thursday (no one else does). I just felt like it. And I have some cool ties. No one commented on it, anyway.
Last evening was First Thursday, which means that every gallery, and some orthodontists and car salesmen, had openings. Jacob and I (and K and B, whose new album is reviewed in the latest New Yorker) took it in. The portland art center had two great exhibits — one of some Basil Wolverton drawings, and one called Alter Egos: Avatars and their Creators. I’d read about this second exhibit a few years ago (probably in the bbc article I just linked to), and since then have really wanted to see it. I came for Basil, but I stayed for Robbie Cooper! The images are large diptychs, with one half showing quite wonderful photographic portraits, and the other half a screen shot of the person’s main avatar from their favorite MMOG. That BBC article features a slideshow. But those slides don’t at all do it justice. In real life, the portraits are about three feet by three feet. The image that kicks off the slideshow is so great (and badass). I love how a guy in that situation can, by the power of immersive roleplaying games, overcome some of his limitations and interact with others in ways that he normally wouldn’t ever be able to.
But the very best thing I saw all evening was the Mac ‘N Cheese box cover collection. The collection nearly completely covered the walls of my favorite bookstore, Reading Frenzy. Dishwasher Pete was there, reading from his new book, a collection of writings from his zine about washing dishes in all 50 states. It’s his mac cover collection. He’s been collecting them for 20 years. It floored me when I walked in and saw it. I didn’t know that anything was going on there for first thursday. I just headed there after work to look at zines (and to buy Miranda July’s new book, which they didn’t have. so I had to walk half a block and buy it at Powell’s — read, in the latest New Yorker, about July talking about living in Portland and making her first film. This summer fiction issue looks great! It needs to arrive now.). There are no Kraft covers. But they are all that same size, and they’re all flat and laminated. There’s at least 50 or 60 different brands, with four or five different covers for each brand. Each brand hangs in ascending order, with the older designs up top, falling to newer ones below. I know it sounds silly, but these mac covers are graphically beautiful. And it’s so great to see so many of them. There are so many amusing congruencies between the boxes. So many tried themes and angles. It makes me want to get into graphic design.
Also, Reading Frenzy, and the adjoining Independent Publishing Resource Center had a mac and cheese bake off to accompany the reading and collection. I ate some good mac.
I’m going there tomorrow to take some photos of the walls. I’m also going to the rose parade. It’s the 70th anniversary. Portland is the City of Roses. So this is a big deal.