Monthly Archives: August 2009

Friends: we are working hard to serve you this summer with an elaborate schedule of visits and plans. Please excuse us while we run around like the proverbial headless poultry. Such as when Johanna lets go of the kite.


Dear Queenie,

I don’t know you. I don’t know what you did. I don’t know who you owe.

I have no grudge. I’m not judging you. Whatever mess you’re in, I hope you get it all sorted out soon.

I admit, I am a little curious about you. But believe that I never wanted to be up in your business.

Whether it was a ruse to throw them off your trail or just a slip of the pen, when you gave them my number as your own, you put me in a world of hurt.

All those calls from California call centers looking for you, Queenie—what could they possibly want? They are ringing me ON THE HOUR for you. What did you do that was so bad? Why don’t they believe me when I say I’m not you? FOR CHRISSAKE, WHY DO THEY KEEP SAYING THEY’RE SORRY AND THEY’LL MAKE A NOTE OF IT—AND THEN CALLING RIGHT BACK?

I’m begging you, Queenie: make it stop. I’m completely out of minutes.

Not you,

On my trip I learned that my friend Travis has come to dominate the Greater Portland market for Saab repair, having bought a shop the size of an aircraft hangar and hired a crew of techs to work a dozen lifts seven days a week. Travis is a gruff and uncompromising guy, so it’s a surprise to see how amazingly well he takes care of his customers.

During my visit to the shop there was Sabbath on the stereo and iffy smells coming from a back office. A variety of hazily-defined businesses operate out of the place. But every Saab in town goes there—and raves about it. Maybe it’s the free eggs.

A terminally ill customer with a month to live gave Travis her pristine Saab 9-3 this summer, asking only that he help find a pickup truck for her sister when he got around to it. He loaned me this very car to use during my trip (unsolicited, quite a nice gesture). I cruised the river routes and loopy bridges around Portland during breaks from Sarah’s family reunion, head bobbing to some old tapes from my brother in law and assorted Mp3s.

Sounds from a Saab:

Talking Heads – The Great Curve (Live 1980)

Cheap Trick – Southern Girls (Live at Budokan)

P.O.S. – Drumroll

Beastie Boys – Shadrach (Live)

One highlight of a pretty slow trip was catching a blistering performance by Cougar, featuring ex-Des Moiniacs Steve and Barry. If Sarah’s German cousin Bernhardt hadn’t fallen asleep at the club (really? at that volume?), I’d have stayed for more of The Blind Shake from Minneapolis:

Jo’s been way sick with stomach flu since we got back Sunday (barfing on the way to the airport—sorry Hertz!). We’ve been watching online videos while she convalesces (“I want YouTubes, Daddy”), including Harry Nilsson’s “The Point” and some lost Dr. Seuss cartoons with some very dated musical interludes.