Storm Large Puts Exclamation Point on Portland Run

I originally published this article in The Portlander on August 20, 2009. Since then, Storm Large has published a gripping memoir that is a great ride and a great read. If you did not get to see her one-woman show, go buy the book and imagine her performing it for you right there in your living room.

This is my nod to Storm. You go girl!

Storm Large in Crazy Enough

It’s Sunday at 2pm, and the Ellen Bye Studio at the Portland Armory is sold out for the last performance of Crazy Enough, the one-woman show that is Storm Large’s life story. The sign at the door warns of explicit language and adult subject matter, so you wouldn’t expect to see your mother or your grandfather there in the audience, but they are.

On the small stage: three male musicians and one very tall microphone stand, which has everyone whispering, “Is she really that tall?” The lights go out, the music comes up, and when the lights slowly return there she is: all six feet of her, wearing sneakers, loose black pants, and a fitted tank top that leaves nothing to the imagination.

There is some small talk, and then the tall confident woman on stage quickly transforms into a vulnerable young girl who is desperately trying to find some stability in a home that has none. And thus the gritty ride begins.

The audience is rapt as they watch Large try to navigate the completely unpredictable nature of her schizophrenic mother, who is there one day and institutionalized the next. Large painfully relives the moment when a doctor tells her that insanity is in her genes, and she too will be fighting the same demons some day. She soothes herself with promiscuity, alcohol and a heroin addiction.

The audience is stunned to silence, brought to laughter, and tempted to tears, watching her gripping life story unfold at their feet. She has their hearts in the palm of her hand as she takes them willingly on a journey of wanting, desperation, hope and finally love.

By the end of the performance there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Storm Large is not just another voice talent, but a formidable actress and incredibly engaging performer. She reminds the audience that, “Life isn’t safe. It isn’t always quiet. And it certainly isn’t small.” The lights dim, and she exits the stage one last time. It is clear that although her run with Portland Center Stage has ended, this show will live on if Large is willing to revive it in another venue.

Storm Large is in fact crazy enough and her life is indeed one big exclamation point.

Paris is the Antidote to Stress

Eiffel_TowerIt is more apparent to me than ever that I lead an unbelievably stressful life at home. Since arriving in Paris I have been getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night. The last time I got this much sleep at home was when I had the flu five years ago.

I am ensconced in a small charming apartment in Canal St.-Martin, the 10th arrondissement northeast of Paris. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without my generous friend giving me the keys to her home for a week. Thank you.

Although I’m terrified to speak French, because it’s been so long, I can read a lot of it and understand some, and not embarrass myself when ordering lunch. Everyone here has been more than understanding when I pop out with a Spanish word when I can’t think of the word in French or English!

It is difficult to totally disconnect from my life back in Portland for a week when I have so many responsibilities there, but I’m sure trying.

Zombies and Taxes and Tequila Oh My!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the property tax bill comes in the mail on the very same weekend that Portland hosts the annual Zombie Walk and the Great American Distillers Festival.  The only way to deal with the sticker shock of our outrageous property taxes is to go for a long run, hang out with hundreds of zombies and then go get your drink on. I was prepared to do all of the above.

I was not looking forward to running 11 miles in the rain on Saturday morning, but I knew I would be a cranky bitch if I didn’t do it. I checked the radar on Wunderground and it looked like the first hour would be dry, and then the rain would start. I can deal with that. We started right at 7am, and as predicted it started raining promptly at 8am. I needed that runner’s high to get me through property tax hell.

I honestly don’t remember what I did between the time I finished my run and the moment I left the house to head downtown to walk with zombies, so it must have been totally irrelevant, but probably included laundry and other domestic drudgery that will not be documented here for the sake of brevity.

My friend Salena had advised me that the zombies would be gathering promptly at 4pm in Pioneer Courthouse Square, and that we should get there by 3:30 to get a good seat. It was going to be hella crowded this year because they were attempting to set a Guinness World Record for number of zombies worldwide, simultaneously dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Yes, this was a worldwide event.

This is what I saw when I arrived at Pioneer Courthouse Square:

Zombie Walk Portland
Zombie Walk Portland

Imagine trying to find someone in that crowd. Thank goodness for cellphones!

The zombies were fantastic.

Random zombie
Random zombie
The Jolly Green Giant Girl
The Jolly Green Giant Girl
Two zombies fighting over lunch.
Two zombies fighting over lunch.

And then there was this guy…

Business zombie
Business zombie
Check out the contacts.
Check out the contacts.


And then we ran into Eddie. He thinks he’s Jimi Hendrix. He insisted on taking a bunch of pictures with Salena and me and then asked for money.

Eddie as Jimi Hendrix.
Eddie as Jimi Hendrix.

After the zombies dispersed Salena and I headed back to her car so she could give me a ride to the Distiller’s Festival. This was to be the final chapter of the distraction from the property tax bill.

The Distiller’s Festival had started at 11am, and it was now 5pm, so I figured I’d be walking into an event not unlike a drunken frat party at this point. I paid my $10, got my wrist band, picked up a shot glass and went inside to meet a few of my friends. I didn’t have to walk far to find them, because they were seated near the entrance taking a break, and looking like they’d already sampled half of the offerings.

You really half to pace yourself at these events, because if you don’t you will be passed out within 30 minutes. The trick is to not take a full shot at every booth! I think I probably tasted eight tequilas, five vodkas, one absinthe, a few liquors and a whiskey or two, and I did just fine.

The second trick to surviving these events is to plan to walk to dinner afterwards. My friends, who just moved here from New York, suggested Mediterranean food, Blue Olive to be exact. The restaurant just happens to be owned by a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in a couple of years, and I wasn’t even aware that he had moved his restaurant from the Beaumont area to NW 21st.

Homayoon, owner of Blue Olive.
Homayoon, owner of Blue Olive.

Blue Olive was the perfect choice for a post Distillers Fest nosh. We ordered a cold mezza to start that included baba ghanouj, humus, tzatziki, and olives. And of course the wonderful housemade Moroccan style bread. We then ordered a Greek platter to share: lamb kabobs, lamb chops, spanakopita, mousaka, dolmathes, falafel and the most amazing Basmati rice. My friends said it was better than anything they’d ever had in New York, and they are picky customers.

The only leftovers we had were two lamb bones, which we took for our dogs.

We rolled ourselves out of Blue Olive at about 10pm and started to walk back to my car, which was about 15 blocks away. We made a quick stop at the Backspace Cafe, which was hosting a poetry slam. The current contestant was just finishing his amazing delivery, and was about to get scored by the judges. At least two gave him a perfect 10.

We finally made it back to my car, a little soaked from the rain, but happy nonetheless. I dropped my friends back at their place in the Pearl District and headed back home to face the reality of my property tax bill. But for 12 glorious hours I had successfully managed to forget all about it.

Oh the Spammers I Get on this Site

I’m sure many of you wonder why I make you have to work for a comment on this site, and why you have to provide an email address. I can tell you I am not collecting email addresses so I can spam you. Quite the opposite. I use the email addresses to either whitelist you (allow) or blacklist you (block spammers).

The first time you leave a comment here you have to enter an email address and I have to approve the comment. The second time you leave a comment you get approved automatically. Why? Spam!

The spambots are rampant and ridiculous. Let me share a few “comments” that have landed on this page. I will not share the links that are associated with these people, because I don’t want you to give them any traffic or get any viruses by clicking thru.

Some sample comments on my blog entitled “The 10 Commandments of Travel,” with my own comments in bold.

I opine that to receive the credit loans from banks you ought to present a firm motivation. However, once I’ve received a small business loan, because I wanted to buy a building. I’m not sure what this has to do with buying a building, but good luck.

phrase up this submit is doctor of arts shiznit. This one did make me laugh.

ok how is this supposedto mean? For how you are what says?

And on the topic of “How to Win an Emmy: Add it to your Bucket List!”

Scads of substantial, tough to obtain data here. Checked this blog article by accident on Yahoo. You’re truly making me reexamine my feeling about this stuff and rarely does that happen to me… LOL. Thanks! Accident my ass, but I’m glad you’re reexamining your feelings about the Emmys.

Hi. I go through a few of one’s other posts and wished to understand in the event you would be interested in exchanging blogroll links? Can haz cheezburger.

Classic exposition, I have also mentioned it in my blog article. But it is a pity that almost no frienddiscussed it with me. I am very happy to see your article. You have no click thrus because I’m not posting your bogus comments. So there! Ha!

That was intriguing . I like your finesse that you put into your post . Please do move forward with more similar to this. Why thanks. I’m so grateful for your opinion. Now go spam someone else.

So now you know why I require an email address to leave a comment. Once I know you’re not a spammer you are whitelisted and can comment without my approval. If you don’t want to comment you can just click on the little heart at the bottom of each blog and show some love. :^)

Cheers and Jeers for July 8, 2010

Cheers: to Showtime for being nominated for a Technical Emmy for their Interactive Sports technology, and Dexter Interactive. I have been technical lead on their Showtime Boxing app for the past 18 months. Woot! You can see a demo of the application here: Showtime Boxing.

Cheers: to all of the Portland food carts downtown for providing me with ample lunchtime choices. My favorite by far is Rick’s Wild Seafood.

Cheers: to summer for finally showing up in Portland.

Cheers: to my friend Veanne who has kept her brilliant sense of humor throughout her battle with breast cancer.

Jeers: to the breast cancer and chemo that is making my friend Veanne feel like crap!

Cheers: to my friend Al in St. Petersburg, Florida for hosting me for a fun weekend in Florida. The Salvador Dali museum was the highlight of my trip.

Jeers: to the people two rows behind me on my red eye flight to Tampa who decided it was a good idea to watch a movie on their laptop without wearing headphones.

Jeers: to Hurricane Alex who made it rain the entire time I was in Florida!

Cheers: to Beth for taking me to see The Wailers at the KINK Live Performance Lounge on Tuesday.

Jeers: to BP for being so greedy.

Cheers: to Eleanor Reese Morse, who, together with her late husband A. Reynolds Morse, founded the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mrs. Morse passed away the day before I toured the museum. Fantastic collection of Dali art. I took home a print of my favorite piece Nature Morte Vivanteb (Still Life–Fast Moving).

Cheers: to all of the people who will be walking the Survivor Lap at Relay for Life in Lake Oswego this weekend.

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