Sunday, May 31, 2009

This Blog is Moving!

To you few brave souls who are reading this, and would like to continue to do so, please be aware that I am moving my blog to a new host.

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feed readers to totalnerd.wordpress.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

melvins

Tye and I saw the Melvins show at Roseland Theater on Sunday night, on their 25th anniversary/Houdini tour (with Melvins 1983 opening). It was the third time I've seen them (well...the fourth if you count the time I saw them w/Primus in Ft. Lauderdale, ca. 1994, and waited outside during their set because I thought they were boring...the shame), and while it wasn't the best show I've ever seen there were some lovely moments (including "Joan of Arc" which they're just starting in the picture).

Next time I'm borrowing Audrey's new Flip camera so I can record the show and post vids like the one below, from earlier this year in Sydney Australia.

Friday, May 22, 2009

El Masry

El Masry

After last month's trip to Vancouver BC, I was complaining about the paucity of kebab places in Portland. The new Egyptian food cart on SW 3rd & Washington, El Masry, isn't just a kebab place, but they do sell a kofta kebab that's really good.


Yum:
Kofta Kabob from El Masry

The woman in the cart let me try their fresh mango juice, which is super pulpy and delicious. I'll get a cup of it next time I go, when I think I'll also try the Chicken Shawarma.

Friday, May 15, 2009

R.I.P. Timber Howie (1945-2009)

Three total dudes
Howie (right) with Ricky and Timber Jim, at the MLS2PDX rally in downtown Portland, February 28 2009


My friend Hartmut "Howie" Bless died yesterday morning. I met Howie in 2004 when I started attending Portland Timbers games, and he was always one of my favorite people to see whenever there was a game or any other Timbers Army event. I traveled with Howie to many games in Seattle and Vancouver, and he was also part of our group that went to the UK in 2006 to see Sunderland and Hartlepool.

When someone dies, it's sometimes hard to avoid clich├ęs, like "He was such a happy person," and "One could never say a bad word about him." But with Howie, these sentiments are accurate: I never met him when he didn't have a smile on his face, and it was always a pleasure to hang out with him. He was passionate about soccer, and travel, and above all he loved his Portland Timbers.

There was a Timbers game last night, and when I got the news of Howie's passing at about 3pm, my first thought was "I can't go to the game tonight, it'll be too hard." But I did go, and it was hard, but I'm so very glad I went. All of the people with whom I shared Howie's friendship were there; we raised glasses of Howie's favorite imbibe, Bushmill's Irish Whiskey, at the pub before the game, and swapped memories of our friend.

Stepping into PGE Park was also tough. I went to my usual spot at the front of section 107, and when I looked over to where Howie stood at the front of 108, his seat was full of flowers and scarves. When the Timbers won a seemingly phantom penalty call, very late into 2nd half stoppage time, I felt like it was somehow a bit of Howie's beautiful karma, spreading joy and love around for a few thousand of his friends to enjoy. Ryan Pore easily slotted home the game winner with the final touch of the game, making the final score Portland Timbers 2 - 1 Rochester Rhinos; and I felt Howie smile.

It's a beautiful morning today in Portland, with sunny, warm weather forecast for tomorrow's Timbers meet'n'greet BBQ and U23 game. I'm going to enjoy it, because I know Howie would have enjoyed it, immensely. As the man himself wrote 4 years ago: "Every morning I wake up is a great day." I can't imagine a better mantra to live by.

You will be missed, Howie my friend. You're a rare person, who always made me happy to see you, and who always seemed happy to see me. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crash

I went to Lents Park tonight to watch a friend's soccer team, and about 5 minutes after I parked my car, I saw a bicyclist get hit by a car. I was walking toward one of the soccer fields, facing Holgate Blvd, when I heard a crash. I looked up (I was texting my friend to try and locate his field) and saw a bicycle and a person flying through the air; the bicycle had to be between 10 and 15 feet off the ground. It all happened very quickly. Person and bicycle landed violently in the street, and then a car skidded to a stop next to them, obscuring my view from where I stood about 150 feet away. There were two cars and the bicyclist involved in the collision, but I could not determine what had actually happened, I was too far away. I dialed 911 and reported what I'd seen. A crowd immediately gathered and I walked around the end of the soccer field, toward the intersection of Holgate and 92nd Ave. After dialing 911 I texted what had happened to Audrey. A woman was screaming angrily at one of the cars, and had the bicycle in her hand, trying for a moment it looked like to throw it. I stopped about 30 feet away from the crash site and saw the legs of the bicyclist, he was lying face down in the street but half his body was still obscured from me. The angry woman was now howling. I thought the man was dead, and I did not want to see a dead body. An ambulance came in about 2 minutes I think, during which time I did not see the man's legs or feet move.

About five minutes later the bicyclist was sitting up with a neck brace on, talking and gesturing to the EMTs; he appeared dazed but otherwise, amazingly, not seriously injured. The howling woman was being led away by another woman, and her face was red, she was crying uncontrollably. I was very relieved that the bicyclist was not dead, and went to find my friend's game (it was on the other side of the park, but by coincidence some of the soccer players who ran out into the road after the crash were playing for another team that I have friends on).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Epic Fail


EPIC FAIL
Originally uploaded by totalnerd

March 11, 2009 - Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz holds up a Liverpool scarf to demonstrate that she is a soccer fan - I believe, "I have watched more professional soccer than anyone in this room," was what she said - in preparation for voting NAY on 1st division soccer in Portland.

Curiously, later in Commissioner Fritz' NAY speech she spoke about another of her scarves, that of a crappy little Scottish side she supported in college; she explained that the team wasn't as much fun to watch once they started winning. Curious.

An Open Letter to the Portland Trail Blazers

Last Wednesday during the hearing at Portland City Hall, which culminated in a 3-2 vote in favor of renovating PGE Park for an MLS Timbers soccer team and building a new baseball stadium for the Beavers in the Rose Quarter, one J.E. Isaac, a senior executive with the Portland Trail Blazers, testified to the effect that the Blazers were against the deal. His rationale was that the Beavers stadium, which is to be built where the Memorial Coliseum now stands, will hurt the "24/7 Entertainment District" the Blazers have planned for the Rose Quarter. This is the response I have sent to them:

Subject: It was a dirty trick.

To Whom it May Concern:

I am a Portland Timbers season ticket holder, and I am a Portland Trail Blazers season ticket holder, and I was very saddened and angered to see J.E. Isaac sitting in front of the Portland City Council last Wednesday, attempting to undermine the deal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland. I think you ought to keep in mind that your fanbase has a large overlap with the Timbers' fanbase. I think you ought to keep in mind the current state of your team, vis-a-vis public opinion, compared to where it was a mere 2 or 3 years ago. And I think you ought to be less selfish and think about the needs of the City, rather than just the needs of your owner's greedy fat pockets.

Paul Allen owns the Blazers, the only first division team in Portland. Paul Allen also owns part of the MLS seattle sounders (*spit*). I find it incredibly insulting that you tried this transparent ploy to smother competition for Allen's precious bottom line. If the vote on Wednesday hadn't gone in favor of bringing MLS to Portland (and it won narrowly 3-2, as I'm sure you're aware, despite your desperate machinations), I would have immediately gotten a refund on next year's ticket, which I've been forced to purchase already in order to secure my playoff tickets for this season (which is an entirely different complaint, again a factor of your despicable greed). As it stands I am none too pleased with you all, and I'm far from alone in these sentiments (I suggest you listen to your precious do-boy John Canzano's show these days, even that mindless soccer-hater can smell the rat in the room). Get with the program and stop trying to hurt Portland and Portland's sports fans in an effort to enrich your own seattle-based (*spit*) teams.

To Paul Allen, J.E. Isaac, and anyone else in on this sleazy trick: You should be ashamed of yourselves. The Timbers, Trail Blazers, and a Rose Quarter-based Beavers baseball team, can all coexist in this town, to the mutual benefit of all parties. But if you try to undermine our Portland Timbers again, you ought to know we have a loyal, tireless, and fiercely protective fan base called the Timbers Army, and we will not stand for any more of your dirty tricks. This aggression will not stand!

Sincerely,
Lucas Grzybowski
SE Portland

Friday, March 06, 2009

Vote YES on MLS 2 PDX

In advance of next week's vote on the plan to refurbish PGE Park for an MLS Timbers expansion team, here is a copy of the letter I just sent to the Portland City Commissioners and Mayor Sam Adams. It's no literary triumph, but I feel it hits the salient points I wanted to hit:

Dear Nick Fish,

My name is Lucas Grzybowski. I have been a Portland resident since 2001, and a sports fan my entire life. Among my earliest memories are the family watching the World Series, and Super Bowl parties with family and friends. My Dad and I used to attend many single-A baseball games in South Florida where I grew up; later, when we got a major league team in Miami, we went to many of those. After Dad died in 1994, a friend of his managed to sneak onto the field before a Marlins game and sprinkle some of his ashes on the grass. Whenever I see a game at Dolphins Stadium now, I think of my Dad, and how special a spot sports held in our relationship.

When my girlfriend and I discovered the Timbers in 2004...well, without overstating things, it changed our lives. We have become avid - I daresay rabid - soccer fans, and have traveled to three different countries to see games of various sorts (including the 2006 World Cup in Germany). A good many of our friends in town are people we have met through going to Timbers games. In short, we are Timbers fanatics. In my lifelong experience as a sports fan, the Timbers have a unique relationship with the fans and city. Being a member of the Timbers Army is like being a part of an extended family. We break bread together, we share one another's lives, we travel together, and naturally we attend games together.

I am writing to urge you to vote in support of the initiative to bring Major League Soccer to our city. Portland is already known around the country and the world as a very passionate soccer town. Our team plays in the second division of soccer, in a country not exactly known for it's fervent soccer support. Yet when I wore my Timbers Army scarf in Germany during the World Cup, or in Columbus last month at the US vs Mexico match, people repeatedly approached me to say they recognized the scarf, that they had seen the Timbers on television, etc. and really loved what they saw of the atmosphere, fans, etc. Portland is a soccer town, and deserves to be in the highest level of soccer in this country.

I am no economist, I do not claim to know the various baroque details of the deal being worked out - but if the city is in fact safe from financial damage as I have been led to believe, and if Merritt Paulson has actually put his family's money up as the guarantor of the bonds - then I can see no reason why we should not move forward with this. MLS is a league on the rise, it is stable and growing. Having a team in the highest division will offer manifold benefits to this town, and not just to the soccer fans; it will bring even more national and international attention and prestige to Portland.

I believe sports are an important facet to any healthy, diverse city; as much as any bookstore, symphony, public transit system, business community or bird watching club. Portland is a town that loves its sports (dozens of consecutive Blazers' sellouts at the Rose Garden can attest to this, not to mention the fever pitch you can see whenever the Ducks and Beavers play one another in football), but we only have one 'major league' team in town. Please help to bring another major league to Portland.

Please do the right thing. Please do not stick your heads in the sand in these troubling economic times. Rather I urge you to thumb your nose at the naysayers and those who would rather climb into a shell and do nothing; and take a proactive step toward further enriching the personality and health of our fantastic city. I urge you to vote in support of bringing an MLS franchise to Portland.

Thank you,
Lucas Grzybowski
SE Portland