This is Justin and Jessica, who are married. I have better pictures of them from a few months ago, but in keeping with the idea of documenting my weeks, this photo happened soon after the end of the last photo essay. Justin was my best friend my freshman year of UCSC. At that time he was feeling very alienated, in a way that was compatible with my experience of alienation. By the next year I had gotten sucked into the indie rock scene in SC, and Justin and I drifted apart. I got to meet Jessica before she and Justin became a serious couple, and I approved of her (I felt very protective of Justin). My relationship with Justin was one of the last I had before my (relatively elitist) unbridled idealism became subject to the nagging claws of worldly realism. Justin and I have recently become good friends again now that I moved up to Olympia. He is currently the programming half of a two person software company. His software is designed to replace the cash registers of bicycle stores.
This is their dog Chai. Chai has been raised always surrounded by affectionate people and demands your attention at all times.
Thea and I went out on a long overdue dinner. There was a few weeks where we weren't friends, sort of having to do with the drama I got caught up in between her and Peter. I'm glad that I'm back to being good friends with her. She's into more of the 'spiritual' life than is my taste, but overall I find her to be one of the most pragmatic people I know. Positivity mixed with pragmatism goes a really long way.
This woman served me and Thea. She really reminded me of Hugh Holden. Even looks like him too.
After eating we went to Le Voyeur. Thea had tequila shots. I think I had a beer. I've been off hard liquor for awhile, except when I'm struggling to fall asleep. It makes me feel heavy the next morning though which I don't like.
Robbie joined us. Apparently I didn't say enough positive things about Robbie in the last photo essay, or that I was labeling him and he didn't like that. Let me just say that Robbie is one of the most gracious, mature, talented, and knowledgeable people I have ever met. He is the true superstar of Olympia at the moment.
I think this was another day. They all sort of bleed together.
I got a call from Davis Keith (an Oly local and Evergreen grad, soon to move to San Francisco) while at Le Voyeur. He had gotten my last photo essay and felt inspired to call me. It turned out he was only two doors down so he came to see me. Davis was my good friend during my short stint at a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania called Westtown. I don't think I had a value system before I went to that school, and it wasn't taught to me by the teachers, but people like Davis. There was a quiet desperation that lined all social interaction that I had in Westtown, a feverish hunger to actualize some emotional ideal in that confined space, on the weekends when you had a moment's respite from school work and required chores. I got introduced to cough medicine there along with Sonic Youth's 'Bad Moon Rising' album which generally accompanied the ingestion of the legal and easily obtainable drug. To this day 'BMR' is the only album I really give a fuck about, and I really love a lot of music and have an enormous music collection. I plan on being buried with my copy of 'Bad Moon Rising'.
Thea, Derek, and Davis. Derek is a famous cello player here in town.
This band is called 'The Nerve' and they are friends with Bethany. This was their last show ever. They are Joy Division influenced. I think the same exact group of guys was a JD cover band before they started writing their own material.
At some point the next day I met up with Dennis Driscoll. We went to Dumpster Values, a second hand clothing store, so he could buy a jacket. I've been meaning to have Warren Lee (a local music celebrity who works there) set me up with a couple of outfits from the store's collection. I basically never buy my own clothes, so my wardrobe has more or less been designed by my mother, my stepmother, and my Godmother. Fortunately these women have pretty excellent taste, but a part of me has yearned to wear clothes that are more fun and youthful, which Dumpster Values would be good at providing.
While Dennis was browsing the store's selection I went upstairs where there's this other business called the Olympia Clothing Project. It's all handmade or hand-modified clothing by local designers. Unfortunately for me, all of their clothing is for women. The girl at the desk is named Michaela. I thought she was really cute and I ended up sort of ranting at her about something. I can't remember what, maybe about pomo theory. I couldn't tell if she was actually interested or just being polite and letting me speak. I remember feeling very vulnerable at that specific moment, and when you combine that with a manic drive to communicate, to try to get an emotional or philosophical point across clearly, the result is sometimes compelling or at least amusing. Sometimes. I've often lusted after an imaginary girlfriend who would do that to me, like try to tell me everything she knows in thirty minutes. I find it to be extremely erotic. My family is loaded with super smart people (not making any claims about myself). I can only really feel comfortable when I'm spending time with people who I think are really smart, but just exchanging information on various subjects doesn't really do that much for me. I've discovered that there's this whole form of absurd theatricality that makes immense use of intellectual powers, and giving these ridiculous monologues to total strangers (and close friends) is my way of getting off, in literally a sexual way, thinking of myself as an intellectual, joining all those academics at the gates of heaven when I die.
Dennis and I went to the Post Office, and he got a party invitation a week or two too late.
Dennis played me lots of mini disc demo recordings he had made of his songs. We might end up using some of them on the new compilation.
That night we went with Bethany to The Brotherhood.
I forget the name of the guy on the left but he works at Olive Garden with Bethany. The guy on the right is Andrew who was the bass player for 'The Nerve'. Andrew is an Evergreen recording program grad who did the sound design for the production of 'A Woman in Black' currently playing at the local theater in downtown Olympia. He is leaving very soon to attend Vancouver Film School so he can train to do sound design commercially.
I forget this girl's name but she had a deck of hand made 'tarot' cards and gave Bethany a reading.
After the Brotherhood we went with Matthew to his friend Jeff's house, which is near my house. I can't believe we did so much partying. I blame it all on Bethany. She's insatiable! I pretty much didn't have an active social life until I started hanging out with her a lot, for which I owe her the world. Now that I'm starting school again, I might have to give it a little rest though.
Matthew and Jeff.
This guy is Aerick 'Duckhugger' who ran into me and Dennis having breakfast the next morning. Aerick is a truly inspired artist, sort of in the comic book vein of things. He's also just flat out eccentric and has interesting music tastes. He was handing out flyers for his upcoming radio show on KAOS (Evergreen College station) that was going to be all about cats. I caught a bit of the show at Justin and Jessica's by accident, then left to go home, and forgot to tune into the show when I got there. The part that I did catch was really funny though. Aerick is a total gem. His sweetheart Domenica is also really awesome as well. They seem perfectly natural together, though somewhat awkward around other people.
I really feel that Dennis is like the Bob Dylan of adorable indie folk.
Dennis is still paying off those expensive prescription sunglasses. He says they have become a part of his identity as an artist, that they add value to his stage presence, I think sort of in the way Roy Orbison's sunglasses did.
I was at Le Voyeur and this cute girl popped her head through the plastic. She wasn't allowed to come in the bar because she's underage.
Matthew has wonderful boyish charms, and I really enjoy hanging out with him. He is in a band called Liarbird that has only recently gone electric and now sounds like avant rock, which I love. The other main member of that band is Kanako who owns the Dumpster Values thrift store. Kanako gives me shifty eyes when I see her. Matthew says she probably thinks I'm hitting on her which I'm totally not.
Robbie's sexual charisma is off the fucking chart. When he hangs out with Beth I feel like they are some alternate form of superheroes. You know how superheroes are supposed to be nerdy and awkward when pretending to be mortals? Not these superheroes.
Okay the story behind this picture is that I was in this strip mall to make a deposit at Wells Fargo (inconveniently the only one in town). The strip mall also has a Petco and a Barnes & Noble (with a Starbucks in it). It used to have a Good Guys but that shut down recently, presumably to lack of business. I remember feeling really funny that morning. While ordering and drinking a Starbucks Frappichino (sp?) drink, I was feeling comically belligerent towards the young girls working there, asking them lots of stupid questions about their job. Basically I was just doing it because I found one of them to be attractive. Before that, I had done some business at the ATM, then smoked a cigarette and basically entertained myself with my thoughts for about 15 minutes, pacing back and forth swiftly near my car. What I was thinking about is that what I really want to do is become a star of musical theater. My whole existential crisis dealt with in one swoop. So I started to imagine what kind of play I would be in. I decided it would be me and two other guys in sailor suits. I think one of the guys is black. Basically all three actors would inhabit a variety of roles during the play and there would definitely be a jungle scene with appropriate foliage in the background. Remind you, this is a musical, sort of on the 'South Pacific' tip. Also, it would be performed at Yes Yes.
So I was chuckling away and then thought of David Nielsen, who works for my mom's tiny publishing company, which was originally my grandmother's company. David is a true jack of all trades, and that includes an uncanny talent for drama. He tells the most amazing stories about his somewhat dysfunctional life. I have been aching to get him on the stage, ideally to do a one man play about his life. So I called David and left him a message reminding him of my desire for him to get into theater. He called me back the next day reciting this wild musical number that I don't know was original or not. Really amazing. He hung up and then called back and we talked for an hour.
Bethany and I went to Tera's house. I didn't know the other people there.
Reed and Tera. Reed has a personality that I associate as from about sixty or seventy years ago, sort of quiet and dark, but not 'negative'. The same era could be said of Tera, she being the ever buoyant woman, sort of staring the evils of the world in the eye with an unflinching and basically unfounded faith in human goodness.
The visit to Tera's house was important because there had been bad blood between Bethany and Tera over Bethany getting fired from the coffee shop Tera works at.
Apparently it was time to play the Cranium board game.
I met these guys at Le Voyeur while waiting for Bethany to meet me (we were supposed to go to dinner). These dudes (one went to the bathroom) were from Portland. The guy in green had a car and posted an ad on Craigslist that he was going to Seattle and wondering if anyone wanted to chip in on gas and join him. So the other two joined him. They made a bar stop in Olympia before going back to Portland.
When Bethany arrived I was heavily engrossed in conversation with these guys, so we ended up eating at Le Voyeur.
After several hours of conversation and beer with these guys I think it was Bethany who suggested they come to my place. I was tired, but agreeable to this plan. After about 45 minutes back home with them I started to nod off on the couch and they politely took that as their cue to leave. I have tried to tell Bethany that it's just good manners to leave a party when the host is falling asleep.
Strangely, Dennis Driscoll ended up stopping by too. He doesn't even live within 45 minutes of Olympia.
Bethany had the guys look at my last photo essay.
Peter had me over at his place for dinner one night to give me cooking tips.
In addition to being extremely smart, I think Jessica is very beautiful. She says if she wore glasses with round frames she would look like an owl. A very beautiful owl.
Justin plays guitar a little bit. When he plays electric with Peter drumming I believe it is their primary bonding experience. Peter's apartment is underneath Justin's house and Justin and Jessica are his landlords. At this moment Justin was playing an original song of his in Peter's office.
Jessica makes an interesting lyric suggestion to Justin.
Peter took me to this event at the Eagle's hall. It was a benefit concert for Sudan or something. We spent most of the time upstairs in the 'beer garden'. Peter never drinks beer, so he got drunk on two glasses and became sort of crazed. He had me walk with him downtown to try to recruit more people to go to the benefit, which you see in action here. Peter tends to get really excited about community events, regardless of what they have on offer in the way of quality entertainment.
This is Lucas, Bethany's 'other', staying at Bethany's over from Portland. Lucas had a very dark, sort of femme-gothy vibe, and didn't say a word. Peter's been around him a bit and backs up my initial observations.
I went to Bethany's 31st birthday one night (and forgot to bring my camera not that it matters), and when I returned four hours later there was this 'art' hanging between and around my trees and in my yard. I thought it was the work of my housemate Judith, which delighted me, but it turned out it wasn't her.
This was my favorite art piece from the mysterious additions to the yard.
I was delighted to receive non-corporate mail. This item was zines I had ordered from Emily Heller, their author.
This package contained two copies of the New Thrill Parade record. I had recorded a record for the previous incarnation of this band, that never got put out. I'm really glad they're kicking ass now.
Robbie playing a mean piano at Yes Yes after a show I missed.
Derek (with recently shaved head) joined in. Derek said he shaved his head when he couldn't sleep.
Derek gave an impromptu lesson to a curious youth.
This is Brandon who has the job I want at the Recording department at Evergreen.
Evergreen has literally every imaginable modular synthesizer. This is the brand new model by Donald Buchla and it cost $20k. Buchla is an old man now and it's his last design. I attended the debut of this model at last year's AES convention in San Francisco and really liked what I heard.
This is an old Buchla, perhaps from the late 60's. Sarah, a girl I know who was in the recording program at Evergreen, likes this model because the bass on it 'is so immodest'.
Evergreen has nice bathrooms.
With my car in the shop, Peter took me to the Eastside Food Co-op. He bagged my groceries for me.
Dennis was really nervous before his big show at Yes Yes.
This is Olympia's famous singer-songwriter Lois and her 'partner' Eric. Eric works in a school for the gifted and the guy in the middle works there with him. They had brought along two of their students to the show.
This is Melanie 'Tender Forever'. She is from Bordeaux, France, which apparently has a music scene that really likes the scene in Olympia. She is currently cutting a record with Calvin Johnson for K Records. She is really good, sort of really creating a 'personal' form of electronic music. She absolutely deserves to be the next K Records superstar.
Dennis did a really admirable job for his performance. His banter to the audience was especially entertaining. At the end of his musical portion, he read a rhyming fairytale he had written, replete with different voices for all the characters. It was really special.
This is Jeff Hanson. He is on the local Kill Rock Stars label. He's sort of a falsetto Elliot Smith.
This looks like a really interesting workshop.
This is Slim Moon (who runs KRS), his wife Portia, and the girl on their left rents a room in their house. Slim was surprisingly accessible. I thought I had seen him a couple weeks ago and that guy was kind of a dick, so maybe it was a different person. I have recently become disaffected with Calvin Johnson (K Record's leader) so I was sort of warming up to Slim at the show.
This was the last band that played that night. They are called 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?' They were from Vancouver, BC. As a rock band with four horns, I thought they might be a ska outfit, but they turned out to be much more in the New Orleans side of things. They had a huge joyous sound! I bought two of their EP's after the show.
This girl was named Loewyn. She was a photographer with some of her work showing at Yes Yes. I thought she was pretty and told her so later that night.
Dennis and I went to the Rib Eye late that night. It is a 24 hour diner, I think the only one in the Olympia area. I had never been there. I ordered this chili burger, but it turned out that the two buns were stacked on top of each other so you had to eat it with fork and knife. That place has a reputation for being very greasy, and it lived up to its reputation.
Sometime this last weekend it occurred to me that Dennis is probably my best friend right now. I think that I am consistent in my behavior, in the sense that I am consistent in my seeming display of randomness. Dennis on the other hand is consistently consistent, and I bounce off him very well. I am not used to having close friends, so it is exciting in a way similar to having a new girlfriend. Someone to hang out with a lot and enjoy subtleties with. When I'm in the presence of strangers I feel I often need to be more extroverted than is necessary, just to maximize the social potential of the encounter. I don't mind people thinking I'm weird, but it's nice to be friends with people who don't think I'm weird. I would say Dennis is eccentric enough that I feel natural around him.
As we left I got a glimpse of this newly seated couple. I thought the girl must have been rather cold with the clothes she was wearing, but overall I thought they made for a very interesting looking couple.
Dennis kept finding things on the ground while I was with him. In one single find, he found these three items and brought them with him. He later found a leather tool belt. The previous night he found a rifle bullet and got in a panic as to what to do with it. I told him to give it to a cop. He ended up giving it to a bartender at Le Voyeur.
Jameson and Natalie. It was Peter's 35th birthday this night and Jameson's 21st. I thought I was young in my circle of friends, but apparently people are significantly younger than me. Olympia is extremely unique as a town in that regard, the young and somewhat old coming together without hesitation. Come to think of it, I know middle aged people who are in the same social circles as I am here. I've always been friends with my parents' friends so it's not weird to me, just unusual for me outside of my family.
Peter's friend Steve from Seattle.
I think I remember Peter saying he's going to go totally straight edge now that he's 35, but I don't think that included a ban on sexual activity. I hope not.
I attended a 'secret cafe' that was a benefit for the Yes Yes gallery that is having trouble making ends meet. I gave them quite a bit of money. I hope they pull through because they are totally unique in this town. Where else could all manner of touring bands play in a large space, surrounded by good local art? If Yes Yes folds, it will be a huge blow to the community.
This is Ryan and Woody. Ryan was fresh back from nine months in China, and Woody had recently landed here from a life spent in Iowa. Ryan was extremely stoic and was preaching the virtues of the East Coast. He had grown up in Dallas and then when he was 19 moved to New York City, where he lived for three years before going to China with no plans and only $200 in his pocket. He was going on and on about East Coast being more honest than West Coast. I sort of found myself defending the West Coast. I agreed with a lot of his points but in the end I just sort of found him annoying so I think he lost the argument. Woody was really nice. I've never been to Iowa.
© Nicholas Taplin 2005