The Society Page

Klans vs. Brigades

As much as I relish dunking on religion, and as proud as I am to be a mouthy little atheist, I still have a soft spot for Roman Catholicism. I recognize the Church has often been a stagnating force in the cause of human progress, but my view is prejudiced by the many awesome Catholics I know and love.

On a Friday afternoon in August, I had my monthly luncheon with my Uncle Phil, the octogenarian Catholic priest, and this time it was my pick, so we went to the Great Lost Bear. Despite Phil being a priest and me a sulfur-scented atheist, we share an appreciation for Asian films and a mutual mania for the Latin language (qui bono). When we drove beneath the interstate overpass on Forest Ave., Phil told me how back in the 1920s, before I-295 was even imaginable, this area was an open field where the KKK would muster to flex their pathetic paranoia. During those demonstrations, Portland’s Catholics stayed home and kept the doors locked, he said. It’s kind of nauseating that the KKK is still even relevant, that any ears still listen to their bullshit. We can thank our obscenely porcine president for the hate group’s recent resurgence. Progress, my ass! Thankfully, the glorious food (and glorious waitresses) at The Great Lost Bear took my mind off such doleful digressions.

On another Friday last month I went to Flask Lounge for their Vacation Dance Party. The DJ played New Wave and classic surf music, and many of the attendees wore Hawaiian shirts. Fun side note: growing up, I was the fat kid who always wore Hawaiian shirts! On this night, though, I was attired in my usual fatigues, which are bare of any botanical highlights. I gladly got lost in the promise of seductive otherness, the mesmeric matrix of light and sound sending my mind on flights both absurd and profound!

The following Friday I was back at Flask when the evening was  hijacked by Providence, Rhode Island’s premier anarchist marching band, What Cheer? Brigade. They were actually playing SPACE Gallery that night, but as is their wont, and their right, they took to the streets and then invaded tiny Flask a couple blocks away. The 19-piece band forced the surprised dancers in the club to smoosh themselves along the edge of the bar. It was fun to see the scene kidnapped by a loud crowd of out-of-towners. The Brigade played three or four spirited interpretations of marching-band standards, then marched out the door to conquer other parts of town. Antifa should adopt the marching band strategy of drowning out and disarming the opposition!  

On Wednesdays this summer, one of my favorite local trios, Micromassé, has had a regular happy hour gig on the patio of Portland House of Music and Events, giving me yet another excuse to hang out there. Pete Dugas goes shoeless to better manipulate the pedals while playing jazz-funk organ, Chris Sweet lives up to his surname on drums, and Max Cantlin applies his plucky seduction to the guitar strings. Having somehow managed to miss all their early-evening gigs there this season, I was determined to catch the trio twice on Sunday the 18th.

The first stop was supposed to be Rising Tide Brewing, in East Bayside, but on my way there I got sidetracked by a rally to raise awareness about gun violence. America is being held hostage by a few well-armed, and well-financed, extremist groups who aren’t letting little things like their extreme ignorance get in the way of their thirst for power. I fancy myself an insane conspiracy theorist, and as such I embrace the hypothesis that mass shootings play into the hands of those who want to keep the masses petrified into docility. Anyway, I only caught Micromassé’s second set at the brewery, but I was glad to get even that much. The band set up outside, and though people were enthusiastically playing corn hole, nobody danced.

A few hours later I resumed my apology tour by seeing the band play on the roof of Bayside Bowl. They wove a magical soundscape to match the cloud-scattered skyscape at twilight, and a few dancers crowned the night with them.

Portland sees eateries pop up and get mowed down at a pretty steady rate, but this past month brought a heavy dose of losses. R.I.P. to Scattoloni Bakery, Silly’s, Local Sprouts and Brian Boru. The good times you birthed are a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. As the air cools it awakens my mania for thrift-store flannel shirts and gives me an excuse to eat like I’m going into hibernation. Fall is a good time to appreciate the little things, because transparent appearances hide pellucid confusions, especially for Trumpster chumps. #GETWITHTHEPLAN!!!