Flyer just came in for the show. All Portlanders reading this, pick up your tickets here. This is gonna be a big show.
My buddy Mike Vello from Boston is over visiting in Portland now (you remember a little while ago me talking about Dan Halpern, another old friend? Mikey was the drummer in The Kymera Effect with us). His favorite thing in the world, besides actually skating, is to watch skateboarding on YouTube. Here’s some of his favorites – anybody unfamiliar with just how nasty kids are getting with skating nowadays will get an idea from this:
Some Nate Keegan, some Matt Miller, and some of Boston’s finest: PJ Ladd.
Great show last night at the Mt. Tabor Theater, hosted by Gavin and Lucas of the Hives Inquiry Squad. Ever since I moved to Portland I’ve been trying to find the good hip hop going on here and my search kept turning up people like Cool Nutz, who just don’t click with me. No disrespect, just not what I’m trying to do. So much thanks to Hives for putting me on the bill at Mt. Tabor, because I heard a lot of great music going on. Gavin’s a great producer himself, and a handful of ill emcees took the mic at some point.
During my set a lot of emcees ended up coming on stage and freestyling. The dudes from Hives and another dude who I was really into named Cloudy October – check him out. Maybe my favorite of all (because I was having such a blast just listening to him that I pretty much forgot to keep the music moving) was this old Jamaican dude, who just walked onstage during my set and asked what was going on. I invited him behind the laptop to watch what I was doing, then he grabbed the mic and started rapping about saving the forests and we’ll all find a better way.
Yo, speaking of Cloudy October, he’s in the top 8 finalists for a chance to open for Snoop Dogg in Portland. I think he’s an insane emcee and definitely deserves the spotlight. So after checking out his music from the link above, if you feel the same, head over here and vote for him, make it happen. (Just click on Snoop to get to the voting page.)
When people ask me which visual artists working today I really like, a few names always come to my head right away – Jase Daniels, a handful of graffiti artists I’ve seen with enough frequency to develop a deep admiration for, and Anthony Max. He’s a great surrealist painter who often paints sleep deprived to achieve the state of actually dreaming onto the canvas. Also the guy who did the cover art for Asphalt Flowerhead. It hit me that I had to throw a few of ’em up here – I hadn’t yet. I think it’s something we can all enjoy.
Oh yeah, he’s also a tattoo artist. If you’re ever in Memphis, get that ink. (Click pictures to enlarge)
I’m awake at 7 am! Holy shit! Not much more to say than that. I’m a working man now. After months in the ghetto that is Portland where jobs are like four-leaf clovers. It’s been so long I almost forget what it feels like to get a paycheck.
Portland’s not really a ghetto. It’s nice and clean and people put cigarettes out on the bottoms of their shoes so they can properly dispose of them in the trash can. But the amount of kids in their twenties who move here with no plan (raise my hand) means every job that opens up has twenty kids on it before anyone can blink. I feel very lucky to’ve gotten out of that hunt.
On a side note, after rocking the Koushik station on Pandora for an hour, I stumbled upon this song. Now, Koushik is already a lot smoother than I usually go for, and this song by Elak makes Koushik seem like… Dr. Dre or something. But I love it anyways.
You haven’t heard a blog song this bad since I was over visiting Denmark! But you’re gonna enjoy it anyways.
For most of February I’ve been working on a totally new project, something I’ve never done at all before: a comic book. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been almost three years since This City is Alive came out, but after a long time (in which both of us released our first solo books on Crossing Chaos) I’m finally putting my head together with Jase Daniels‘ again. And it’s probably gonna be 50x as nuts as This City.
The comic form allows for that. I wanted to take a moment to jot my initial reactions to the form, my “kneejerk” reactions to it, because it really is so different. Like I said above, the comic form allows for the book we’re doing now to go so much further than we ever could have with This City is Alive, because of how highly integrated words and images are… to the point where some of my work is to dream the images Jase is going to draw, and some of Jase’s work is to tell me the story I’m going to write. This City is Alive was basically a novella smashed together with a smalll gallery of Jase’s paintings – nothing made them mix but the fact that they were on the same subject and bound by the same spine. But with the comic – it wouldn’t even be right to say it’s written by Forrest and illustrated by Jase. I really like it like that.
I’ve been making art for years, but never has the product of work felt so much like something directly dreamt. Music sometimes can but then there is the technology of it, which is at certain points in its creation very much a part of the process, and hard to ignore. With writing, it’s totally about dreaming, but then there’s the language. I love language, making fresh sentences, but there’s no question that it slows things down… that when the fundamental building block of creating a dreamscape is the paragraph, it will take a lot longer to translate the scenery in your head to the head of someone else. (I should add that in no way am I trying to say I prefer the form of comic to novel, and definitely won’t stop writing novels – in fact, very excited for the one I’m gonna be attacking after this Jase comic – but there is a lot of cumbersome work involved in a novel that I find, at the very least, less cumbersome in writing comic books. There’s less there to get in the way of the direct translation of image-ideas.)
With comics, the only person who will read my language is Jase. It doesn’t matter if I describe the setting as “a really shitty city block, bird shit all over the place and graffiti on dumpsters and shit.” So, except for the dialogue-heavy parts or the sections where writing is on top of the frame’s action (which, considering the fact that I’m a novelist, there are relatively few examples of), my only job is to dream, and observe closely what I’m dreaming, and record it. I love that! I’ve been a surrealism-junky my whole life, capturing mindwaves has always been what it’s about for me. So you can imagine how this work fits like a glove.
The other thing I’ve immediately noticed about comics is the amount of time-bending they enable you to do. I’ve always loved the emulation of cinema in text, when the perspective of a work has the freedom of quick cuts and slow-downs and speed-ups – comics gives you all of that and more. Not only does it give you the opportunity to bring the story somewhere totally new with each panel, be it one second or fifteen years after its preceeding one, but there’s so much that goes on in the interplay between panels, it’s crazy. I’ve been having so much fun with that. It feels like making a mixtape – which is funny because I’m in the finishing stages of the next Gasoline Monk mix – with how you dip into a new scene, soak for a little, and then blend your way into another scene to soak and blend out again.
It really does feel a lot like a mixtape. Novels are just different – novels are inherently slower. In fact it’s almost because novels are slower that I say, out of all the art I do – hip hop, texts, whatever – novels are the most important. You give so much of your time to them – as a writer, but even as a reader, you give a comparatively long amount of time to reading a novel, next to reading a comic or watching a film. They’re sustained meditation made beautiful in the symbols without reasonable meaning we call “text.”
Anybody who wants to learn more about comics, read Understanding Comics and Making Comics by Scott McCloud. I read these to prepare myself, and they were invaluable to me.
For any Gasoline Monk head living in Portland, OR – I got two shows coming up in the next few weeks. Mark your calenders, snag your tickets (for the Satyricon show – Mt. Tabor’s free), and meet me there.
2/24: MT. TABOR THEATER. In the Lounge, 9 p.m., no cover. Playing with the Hives Inquiry Squad – some terrific Portland emcees.
3/12: SATYRICON. 6:30 p.m. If you buy tickets in advance, they’re only $8. Tell ’em Gas Monk sent you. This is gonna be a really great show, lots of great acts at one of Portland’s dopest venues – you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Also, this show is put together by Nemesis Entertainment – check out their events calender here.