IMG_20170828_064146.jpgThis is the backside of the four hundred pound draw bridge that cut my leg open seven years ago. It got heaved out of its storage space in the Goat Palace and straddled between the Boutique and Bio Board to block audience members from wandering between the structures but mostly to cover up the direct view to the compost behind the cook shack. Every morning I would look at it and flashes of the Devil and his minions waiting inside the horse drawn wagon for the bridge to be lowered by me, wearing a wolf mask as a monstrous game show ring girl, struggling with the safety latch till it released and the winch whirled through my shin, my leg pouring out blood and staining the stage. The black Percheron’s reared but the drawn bridge anchored them. The worst of it averted, stitches to my leg being that summers sacrifice.

2017, was forest fire smoke. Apocalyptic sepia drenched skies. Daily ash coating the props tables and bleachers, our lungs and eyes. It didn’t matter which way the wind blew, massive wild fires were burning in every direction around us but never a direct threat. Unlike 2003, what we dub ‘The Year of the Dragon’ when the fire came so close we were emergency evacuated and cancelled a week of shows till we could resume. I kept trying to capture the haze on camera but it never accurately portrayed how thick it was and how slow and dumb it made us all. Nor, how it made the summer not feel like a summer at all. As a rural outdoor theatre company we exist outside at least 16 hours of any given day. As government air quality statements warned the public to stay inside and close their windows, we could only shrug and squeeze the well water out of our bandannas before wrapping them around our faces and carrying on. At least the smoke kept what was supposed to be a record breaking scorcher a lot cooler than predicted but also gave us a taste of how the ice age must have started.

At one point it had been two weeks plus without the sun, just a dreary blanket of smoke and the hope that tomorrow would be different. What kept our spirits up was that we were doing this high energy devil at the crossroads story where love triumphs in the end with complex, weird and haunting quasi-bluegrass music to near full houses. The summer had a great ensemble; so important given that we are working and living together on a isolated mountain plateau for two months, too many parties that had me questioning my sobriety but stay the course and a queerness, a quiet strange I’ll muse over in a few separate posts as I get my legs back on this, whatever this is.

IMG_20170719_214133.jpgTech week. I had bad insomnia this summer and tried out a few herbal sleep supplements. During tech, when we work late into the night, I skeptically thought I’d try one of the tranquility pills before heading out to walk the lights; when the light designer goes over each of the lighting states with the director and stage manager. As the assistant stage manager on summer shows I always offer to be a body on stage, otherwise know as a ‘light walker’ recreating the stage blocking so the director and designer can communicate what is and isn’t working before we head into tech rehearsal with the ensemble. By midnight the herbal supplement that I thought wasn’t going to work had me swaying and hallucinating under the stage lights with bats swooping down catching moths and fat, crunchy june bugs drawn to the phosphorescence. Kate watching from the bleachers eating a bowl of watermelon said I looked like I was melting and Jamie left the cook shack party to swap me out so I could go to bed. I took this picture as I drifted pass the shop on route to my cabin.

IMG_20170720_053249.jpgSunrise. The first scene was a funeral procession to a church where the drunkard Reverend inappropriately espoused fire and brimstone at the wake. This is also when audience members who were a little too churchy for our storytelling would leave and on their exit complain to the front of house manager that the show was offensive and mocking Christian values. Ce la vie. The back side of the tack shed was used as the church. The inside of the tack shed served as my quick change booth for Hell Hound and Mephistopheles. To the right, the Timber Barn rain venue that we never had to use. We had one blast of rain all summer, a torrential twenty minute down pour two hours before the show.

IMG_20170820_054826.jpgAnother sunrise, late in the summer when the mornings are cool and the sun, what there was of it, has dried the life out of the grass. I love late summers last gasp.

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img_20161006_144149Sjaak’s vegan white chocolate via Food Fight Grocery admired in Upper Left Roasters.

img_20161006_120031Staring blankly at Jan’s wall calendar I realized it’s mid September and being mid September means it’s almost October and October means we’ll be on route to Portland and Portland means I’ll be eating one of these gut busting, umami rich, greasy nutrient loaded, appetite quenching Pixie Retreat RAW’r millet burgers. This past week I’ve been waking up thinking about the flax onion cracker buns and PDX coffee coffee coffee.

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I got this from Pioneers Press a while back. I don’t know if it’s still in their catalogue. I’m thinking about putting it up in our bookstore, even though there really isn’t a spare wall to hang it. In doing this, I acknowledge it’ll likely be snuck away by some one at some point during the summer. Our town, having lakes on both the northern and southern ends, framed east and west by rolling vineyards, fills up with all sorts of sneaky sun seeking scoundrels. It felt good to take the time to type it out and mull the sentiment around in my head:

‘Our foreign policy is a fetid glop of belligerent macho and corporate opportunism. Our economic policy is an open giveaway to the same smooth talking carpetbaggers who looted our lands, stripped our industrial legacy, and abandoned our kids. And nothing more than “discretionary” White House policy is left to protect us from a full on police state.

Well then, so be it.

We are walking out. We can sew our own clothes, grow our own food, teach our own kids, make our own music, and even build our own supercomputers however and whenever we feel like it.

Between us we know bike repair and cooking and programming and writing and singing and particle physics and we’re teaching it to each other.

We are building alternatives to all of your plastic crap. Every last bit.

Consider the reworked clothes and piercings and purple hair. You’ve gotten so used to seeing it all, you’ve forgotten that it ever means anything.

It does. It means Screw Your Norms And Your Assumptions. I Do As I Choose.

It was “social misfits” like us who invented modern computers, media, cuisine, and a hell of a lot more and we’ve figured out that we don’t have to play your game.

And now we’re spreading the word.

Greens fuel cars with used grease and construction workers run their tools with solar panels. Yuppie lawyers are moving into intentional communities while suburban housewives buy organic food. People are starting to get it.

So go ahead. Build your Maginot line of  shitty jobs, inflated gas prices, controlled schools and mass media. Throw America in that briar patch.

Where can we live? In strawbale houses and abandoned buildings and big group houses in neighborhoods you don’t even see.

What can we eat? Stuff we grow on rooftops, in backyards, in planters, made of milk crates lined with one dollar shower curtains and wherever else we see wasted space. Along with, of course, stuff from our food coops and your dumpsters.

What can we wear? Your castoffs, stuff we swap among us, stuff we sew and cut down and spiff up and rework a hundred different ways.

How can we spread our knowledge? With skill shares and zines and open source software and music and websites and stuff like this poster. We’re homeschooling our kids and doing teach-ins and creating copyleft educational materials and buying used textbooks for ten cent on the dollar.

What can we do for money? We get by with less, barter between us, sell what we can make, and sell our services to the folks we respect.

How can we get around? By bikes everywhere, by mass transit when we can, with biodiesel care where we must. With skateboards and scooters and plain ol’ walkin’. Long distance? Ride shares, Green Tortoise, and converted panel vans.

What do we do for fun? Music and parties and bands with our friends in them and art and feasts that we’ve made and sex, drugs, and rock and roll we’ve had all along. And no television at all.

And we will live happy and laugh last.’

-Rustin H. Wright, 2006

 

 

img_20170220_111327First off, I do my best to not support Microcosm Press. I won’t get too much into it here but you can search Microcosm lawsuit and a lot of articles should come up. I also read Alexx Wrek’s Brain Scan zine series, the later issues exploring her break up with Microcosm’s Joe Biel as a partner/business partner and I empathize with her experience. It is the biggest zine publisher and distro going. I came so close to ordering the new Morrissey and Nick Cave vegan cook books but halted when I saw who had published them. Too bad.

I preface this by the fact that my most adored cook book also happens to be published by Microcosm. Many years ago I found Please Don’t Feed the Bears on the bottom shelf at Herbivore. I didn’t notice the iconic bike gear heart emblem on the back and it wasn’t until the lawsuit against Pioneers Press that Joe Biel’s shady history even came on my radar. When I first got the book I showed it to my brother just to say ‘Look at this guy’s impeccable music taste!’ He asked to borrow it and ages passed till I more or less stole it back from him. I pulled it off his shelf, flipped it over and groaned. I clammed up ever recommending it or mentioning it during Vegan MoFo. I didn’t want to draw attention to supporting that publisher. Today I’m going to separate the book from the dealer and appreciate it for what it is: My favorite vegan cook book.

 

img_20170220_111344A send up to French Canadian thrash band Voivod and guitarist Denis D’Amour – RIP Piggy. One flip through and you’ll recognize the homage to the Hippycore Krew’s Soy Not Oi! Bjorn compiles recipes from friends, suggests an album for each recipe, intersperses drawings, quotes, stories; there’s even a Carcass interview. It’s like Soy Not Oi but for metal head horror fans, which in my opinion, makes it far superior to the iconic vegan punk zine.

img_20170220_111259He supports rad-ical organizations and says he donates his author proceeds to benefit people living with AIDS. He also claims the zine as anti-copyright and says do what you will with it. I could scan the whole cook book and put it up here. If I had that much time and patience I would cause I love it all. Instead I picked a hand full of pages dictated by drawings rather than recipes and knowing me, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

img_20170220_110832GROO the WANDERER!!! As kids, my brother was a huge Groo fan. He had the comics and a big poster on our bedroom wall. We loved Conan but also Sergio Aragones epic parody comic.

img_20170220_110857Necrofago – Sao Paulo, Brazilian death metal pairing for one recipe. Ildjarn – Norwegian ambient black metal for the next.

img_20170220_111220 Quote from Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and a sketch of Danish singer Kim Bendix Petersen aka King Diamond aka the soundtrack (and reading material) to my early 2000 free wheeling van living northern Rocky Mountain snowboard touring days.

img_20170220_110913For Maud, who I know has this tattoo somewhere on her body.

img_20170220_111118Lori Bravo (!) lead vocalist of Nuclear Death and one of my favorite female death metal vocalist next to thrash singer Sabina Classen of Holy Moses.

img_20170220_111238There are sloths, badgers, otters and skunks, numerous awesome animal drawings throughout but my biases claim this Wolf being tossed a fully loaded sandwich as the winner. The recipes are simple and laid back. I like that. I do enjoy an ingredient and labor intensive recipe every now and then but on the day to day I’d rather have the extra time and money to put towards other things, like donating to the same organizations he does.

img_20170221_121655Earlier in the week my sister’s pit bull Ronin, came over to hang out for the day. I baked him the Dog Biscuits Deluxe. I used my bear shaped cookie cutter. I swapped out blue corn meal cause my yellow smelled off and I tossed it, coconut oil instead of margarine and arrowroot flour as the egg re-placer. Ronin liked them and gingerly accepted each cookie.

I did a pretty basic search to see if I could acquire the three original zines that built this book and found out: A) I couldn’t find any of the zines for purchase or trade but I’m not all that savvy (as in lazy) when it comes to digging around the internet B) Kittee Berns has all three and posted about them back in 2011 because Kittee always knows what’s up! C) He goes by the names Asbjorn Intonsus, Brad Misanthropic and Brad Dumville D) He said he made a lot of cuts and adds for the book that, he thought, made it better than the zines.

My feels on Microcosm are not hot but this book rules. If you love metal and easy vegan recipes find it used (I did at Bound in San Fransisco last spring but decided not to spend the rest of my change on a second copy) and pick it up.

img_20160709_180857Lunch or dinner bell on the porch rings, a cowboy classic forged two foot triangle. Everyone breaks; rehearsal, music, carp & props shop, wardrobe, LX, office, guests. Line up, wash your hands, grab a plate/bowl/mug. Camp cook style circle the island, serve yourself. The vegan option tucked off to the side at the end of the line or else everyone else will help themselves to it before the vegan gets there. That is to say, I am pretty consistently the only vegan on the farm. Sometimes there’s a  handful of vegetarians; who say they also eat eggs or they eat fish and my inside voice goes ‘wtf?’ but I barely voice my opinion on it.

The theatre company I’ve worked for, for a long time is an isolated 80 acre farm way up a mountain outside a small community. Some people live locally and commute but the majority of us travel from all over the country for a one to two month contract in the summer, winter; sometimes spring/fall. There was once a time I was here more than I was at home. Part of the contact is a provision for housing (a cabin or tent spot on the farm) and meals. The two cooks prepare lunch and dinner, do their best to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs.

img_20160709_172110Lucky for me they’re two very close friends of mine. Cooking vegan comes second nature to Kate who spent time in the late 90’s working with Food Not Bombs Montreal. Jason enjoys the challenge flavoring tofu, bbqing portobellos and mastering the vegan pancake which he never seemed satisfied with until I told him about aquafaba; this past summer he proclaimed bean juice made his best vegan pancakes. I agree. I’m also gluten free. I’m not hard to please but not easy to feed.

Left to my own devises I’m the laziest cook – over night oats, chopped raw veggies and cold tofu splashed with apple cider vinegar and Braggs. I don’t think I’ve ever made dressing – shaking a jar? Too much work! I spend more time on pour over coffee than I do dinner. I have tons of cook books. I love following vegan food blogs, reading and sharing recipes, talking about food with other vegans. I use to cook a lot and I dig a project, especially baking but increasingly these days I only have time for quick simple fuel. These two, however, are pros. They think about flavors and meal planning all day long. They’re meticulous and fussy and critical of their own work. They’re artists the way they work in the kitchen.

img_20160705_182638 After all these years this is the only meal I have ever managed to photograph. I took it to send to Darby to say ‘Damn, you’d like this!’ I always mean to keep a log of their meals but I’ll have eaten half of it by the time I remember. This is sweet chili tofu & mushrooms with roasted cauliflower, green onions and kale salad buried beneath. It’s one of the best bowls I’ve eaten in the mudroom. Every Sunday is taco night and I constantly tell Jason if he did it every night I’d be happy. I skip the taco and just fill a bowl with his cumin spiced beans, roasted lime sweet potato cubes, fresh salsa & guacamole and Kate’s pickled red onions. It’s so good. It’s my absolutely favorite kind of meal.

img_20161228_130107Buddy checking out the gluten free vegan strawberry coconut cake Jason is eating, that he made for my birthday. Me: looking like I haven’t showered or slept in a few days. Accurate.

The mudroom is off the kitchen. Most of the company eats in the main room or outside on picnic tables. Over the years I’ve grown tired of sitting with everyone else eating animals and commenting on how much they enjoy being carnivores. I don’t believe they’re intentionally pointing it out to me, though some have made a joke about what I’m ‘missing’ and again I don’t voice my opinion. If they want it, I’ll oblige but I’ve fallen into the trap of saying what I really think and casting a gloom over the gathering. I choose the path of gentle guidance. With the internet and growing awareness of animal cruelty people can find any number of resource if they’re curious and I’m more than happy to suggest documentaries, websites or books. In fact I might get a little over enthusiastic when asked. I just try my best to lead by example and show that vegans thrive. In the mudroom, I sit with a small crew of my favorite people. They respect my veganism, even though none of them, the cooks included, choose this lifestyle they’ll often will say the vegan option I’m eating is better than the non vegan option.

img_20161217_115555Plus, dogs were banned from the main room during meal times (wtf?) but we mischief-makers in the mudroom said: Fuck that rule, dogs are welcome!