Sunday, August 16, 2009

i like portland and i don't like it at all

i like it here. it's sunshiny and wide open and pretty and green, with a real folksy vibe that feels a lot like (south) austin in the 80s, before it got gentrified and all these movie stars that wanted to be musicians showed up and then sxsw happened and everything went to hell. it's very DIY and all, with amazing coffee houses and bakeries and tea houses and such on every other corner. it's hilly and there's lots of old cool architecture and there's two and three story buildings everywhere, and where there aren't well-tended gardens, there are wildflowers and blooming trees and tiger lilies jumping out at you when you least expect it. even the filthy bums remind me of dragworms.

this is the top end of new england, and so there's plenty of fresh delicious inexpensive seafood to be had, whether you make it or not. and that's the other thing - there are tons of 5 star restaurants and eateries boasting their james beard awards and such, all over the place. really amazing inventive shockingly delicious food. (yes, i have been to duck fat - twice! no, i haven't been to hugo yet. next time.)

and i love it that the picket fences aren't the least bit ironic.

right now it's somewhere in the 80s so everyone but me is feeling the heat. today as i walked down congress avenue (!!!) i thought, wow - i'm in the midst of a retired hippy commune of some sort. and that's just it. this place would be perfect if i were retired. or if i were a graduate student. it's a college town, it moves slow, and it's a walking city - so easy to get around and relatively inexpensive to live in. i would also love to live here if i were an artist and i needed to write a book or finish a screenplay or do a series of paintings or something. something that required isolation from, you know, the world.

and of course, that leads me to all the reasons why i don't like it here.

i don't want to launch into the dearth of black folk in these here parts and how disturbing it is to walk into a place and get stared at openly by seemingly intelligent rational adults who know that their behavior is the epitome of rude - but for some strange reason, they can't help themselves. i could really go on about that. but i won't. instead, i'll tell you that i'm not so sure where the black folk hang out, socialize, break bread and, well, live. it's my culture, it's who i am. i am the antithesis of everything that new england is. i'm not even anywhere near old england. (thank jesus.)

funny thing. when we see each other in the street, we speak - and we are shocked to see each other, believe me. when you are black, making that eye-to-eye connection and speaking is always like coming in from the cold, no matter where you are in the world or who you are with. and it's beautiful. so yeah, where are we, where do we live? where can i get my hair done? none of these questions have been answered so far. i'm sure you're not surprised.

the small town feel undoes me, as does the fact that most of this stuff is boarded up and gone when the tourist season is over - and then we would be left to tunnel our way out of here just to do simple things like get the mail, with snow plows and shovels and chains on the cars and whatnot. i'm a southerner. i'll have a snowball fight with you if the mood overtakes us, but i really don't do snow.

everything is too slow, too quiet, too relaxed. it's the wierdest thing: everyone - and i mean everyone - is eating and shopping and relaxing. the only people who seem to be doing any work are the baristas or the waiters or the chefs. or whoever was running that train museum. i haven't seen any outlets for growing a band or new music or anything like that, and although there are medium sized houses for a national touring act to breeze through on their way to montreal, i haven't seen any music venues to support that basic unsigned act that's just doing their thing. maybe it's me, but i haven't heard of any cool bands from portland, maine. the other portland, yes. this one, not so much.

this is a nice life. it's just not my life.

my life has a legit agent and a commercial agent that submit me regularly for work. it has a jazz quintet, a rock band that can strip down if need be, and a lot of guitar lessons and voice lessons and theory lessons. my life has a lot of twang in it these days. a lot of voiceover work. a lot of working out. a lot of underexposure and songwriting and auditioning and singing. my life has a lot of friends who are my family. my life is transitioning from theater and musical theater to film and television and commercials. my life isn't all that complicated and with any real degree of luck, my life will be bicoastal very soon . my life is a lot of fun, even if the fun is something i have to work at, sometimes. because sometimes my life is dark and strange and full of mystery. still and all, it's quite a ride.

where does any of this fit into portland maine?

No comments: