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Hooray for Birthdays!

This year, I found myself graced with the most beautiful and love-filled birthday that anyone could ever ask for. I have reached twenty one years of age, hoorah! Everyone was so kind and adoring throughout the entire weekend, which spanned Thursday to Sunday.

On the evening of my actual birthday (Friday), I celebrated a sweet victory with the Oregon Voice Dirty Dozen in a Dance-Off battle of epic proportions against Ethos Magazine:

Above: The poster Courtney and I made for the Dance-Off/Annual OV 420 Party.

Above: Deirdre goes ballet-istic on Ethos.

(Photos courtesy of Ethos/CTRL+Shift+4 Screenshot Method)

The Oregon Voice Dirty Dozen

(Photo courtesy of Ethos/CTRL+Shift+4 Screenshot Method)

Sweet Victory. (L to R) OV Editor-In-Chief Scot Braswell, myself, and Tyler Pell

Facebook smack-talk.

Oddly enough, after the Dance-Off, Noah realized that the Voice box by the library was mysteriously broken, when it had been perfectly intact earlier that day. Who would do such a thing? We’re not pointing any fingers… but Noah and I scoped it out the next morning…


(Also, check out Noah’s fresh dance-off haircut, it was the first I’ve ever given.)

After the success of the Dance-Off, I retired my weary and booze-soaked bones to bed. The birthday weekend was only just beginning, after all. Local bands On the Tundra and The Secret Whistle came out to play, as well as good friends the Daveys who drove down from PDX, though due to some police interference were only able to play an acoustic set. On the Tundra played in the backyard with a subtle glowing ambiance generated by a fire in the BBQ pit and one measly house lamp. They played SO loud and it absolutely rocked. The police said that the music could be heard all throughout the Whiteaker neighborhood (whoops…).  Needless to say, we moved it inside for Max and Sam’s acoustic set and Secret Whistle.

Tons of people showed up, and consequently all good people who heard

word of mouth or by paper invitation. Wow, people actually heard about parties before Facebook?

A from-scratch and delicious cake that Noah, Guilia and Gina brought for the potluck. Wow.

They sang me happy birthday with 21 matches in place of candles. Such ingenuity…

the fact that they barely worked was oh so charming.

Half a plate of Mara and Maxx’s extra-special chocolate-and-caramel-glazed shortbread. Note the “C” heart-shaped one for me in the middle. How thoughtful! To the right is a tin foil and rose Rogue from the lovely Brenna.

And on top of it, look how many people “remembered” that it was my birthday!!! Kudos to those who called and vocally pronounced their birthday greetings. Honorable mention goes to my friend Kenny, whom I met only once at an Animal Collective show in Brooklyn, who called me to wish me a good one. What a guy.

All around, the birthday weekend was a daring success. My friend Meg took me out for lunch today at the Cornucopia, where the waitress had the bluegrass band playing/the entire restaurant sing me a happy birthday. Apparently, when you turn 21 your birthday lasts a lot longer. She gave us free Hemp Ale, drink tokens, and a pendant that she made herself. So beautiful, the love I have felt in this community is out of control. Thanks to all who made this weekend so memorable and lovely, and I will post more pictures soon… When our photographer C gets back into town the Oregon Voice should have a nice spread from the Dance Off. So keep your eyes peeled.

Also, to read Ethos’s account of the Dance-Off, and read a slightly inaccurate but nonetheless hilarious quote from yours truly, check it out here: “Let’s Dance! Oregon Voice vs. Ethos Magazine Dance-Off”


Winter Retrospective in Snapshots

Here are some snapshots of the last few months, a little peek through my eyes (and a few from some other eyes, too) of life’s travels through Eugene, San Francisco, a friend’s 4000 acre property in Northern California, and New York City. 

(L to R) Tara and Johnny.

J-Ranch,Middletown, CA.

Words cannot describe the surrealistic beauty

that surrounds that place…Disposable 35mm.

Walter Cron-Cat, up to no good as usual. Disposable Kodak 35mm.

Early morning hours of a Brooklyny-New Years Eve,

Zack’s apartment in Bushwick, right before a long subway

ride for a 3:30am falafel at Mamouns. Holga SF120

Graced with a beautiful week, both in climate and company,

Sarah  visited Eugene after a five day train ride across

the country. Radical. Disposable Kodak 35mm.

(L to R) Stephen, Lyzi, and Jeff in San Francisco over

Spring Break. Just one of many magical afternoons.

Disposable Kodak 35mm.

Weird double-exposure from the first ever roll of Holga.

It’s Bryan, doesn’t it look like him? Holga SF120.

(L to R) Jeff, Javier, Cooper, a new friend whose name

escapes me, Me busting a move, Bryan. Before the

San Francisco screening of the Animal Collective

visual album ODDSAC. Photo cred. Stephen.

Disposable Kodak 35mm.

(L to R) Stephen, Javier, Jeff, Alex, Me, Cooper

An interesting turn of events led me to meet the boys

at Zeitgeist, a sweet bar in the Mission, where no photos

are supposed to be taken. (see no photo stencil on back

wall.) How devious and touristy! Photo cred. Guy at the Bar,

Disposable Kodak 35mm.

Thank you sunshine for coming out… once in a while.

Disposable Kodak 35mm

Through the basement cat-door at my Dad’s house.

This is Mara, she was visiting me in NYC from

Oregon over the non-denominational holiday break.

First roll of Holga SF120 ever.

Cyndi Lauper, Finally On My Turf

Finally, Cyndi Lauper and the gang made it out to see me. Rather, after years of seeing my dad play drums with Cyndi, Cyndi did it big up in Oregon. The show was at Spirit Mountain Casino, and it wasn’t the best of venues. Our palettes were not wet enough to dance properly, as there were strict beverage consumption rules in place that forbid us from bringing drinks inside. It’s been interesting to watch the band play over the years and observe how they grow and change together, experiment with new arrangements and cover old favorites I would never expect. Last summer, it was Joni Mitchell. This time around, it was White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. Whew! So radical.

My dates to the show were my dear friends Stephen, Lyzi, and CJ, and let me tell ya, the crew could not have been better. We danced and shmoozed and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. CJ posted some insight on the show too which you can read by clicking here: “Observations Upon Meeting Cyndi Lauper”

Here’s some low-fi iPhone photos courtesy of my Dad:

From left to right: Sammy Merendino (my dad), Cyndi Lauper, me, Lyzi Diamond, Stephen Person, CJ Ciaramella

The first time me and my dad have ever been together in the state of Oregon. We are so happy, woohoo!

Abraham Drinkin’

Still Jammin’ to Finn Riggins

It is safe to say that the last weekend in February may have been the best weekend of the year thus far. It kept me occupied with two triumphant birthday celebrations (or three, if you count my mom’s, which I could not attend due to the strenuous distance between us), an Oregon Voice party/dance practice, and a fully rockin’ in studio performance by Boy Eats Drum Machine and Finn Riggins, who played a show later that evening at the Muse Lounge with Eugene locals On The Tundra. The show drew a small but zealous crowd, Boy Eats Drum Machine warmed them up with funky and erratic turntablism. By the time Finn Riggins hit the stage, everyone was gettin’ down, unable to resist the groove of the serious Idaho rock and roll. On The Tundra closed the show, and though I’d never heard them before I was thoroughly impressed and wandered away somewhere nice in my head while they were playing.

After the show we began our journey on foot back to the Whiteaker. We were unable to discuss anything but the glorious full moon which not only made me feel a little crazy (or maybe that was the Ninkasi) but fully demanded the attention of anyone who could see it. As we wandered up to my house, Eric, Lisa, Cam, and Jon arrived in the van. From that point on, it was a blurred blast of a good time, which may or may not have included a mouth-trumpet jam-sesh, sprinting to 7-11 moments before last call for beerz, incapacitating laughter, and the warm appreciation of good company.

The next day, Finn Riggins and BEDM departed on their long cross-country tour around the U.S., and it was a little sad to say goodbye. It wasn’t really goodbye, of course, but I must admit that Finn Riggins’ first album A Soldier, A Saint, An Ocean Explorer has been permanently stuck in my headphones since Sunday. (Their new album Vs. Wilderness is just as excellent). Working at KWVA, I am constantly exposed to a wide variety of amazing music, a LOT of crap, some middle-of-the-road indie bands, and some really bad album art. BUT, over the last six months I have seen a good amount of Finn Riggins in the Northwest, and have been constantly impressed and moved by their music, which is filled with shnazzy guitar riffs, upbeat, poppy keyboard parts and solid, interesting percussion arrangements. Their album art is also the opposite of really bad, its actually super neat. Aside from all that, all three bandmates are passionate and kind people, which takes precedent over all things.

So what I’m slowly getting at is, for all those avid Cognitive Coffee readers, if you are in the area when Finn Riggins comes to town, check it OUT! Get your dancin’ shoes on, and say hello afterwards, cause they rock! (They also eat bacon, which is favorable). I’ve attached a video of them playing in studio at KWVA, which is shot from a really up close and personal perspective, so it’s a little awkward. The studio used to be a bathroom, go figure! So anyways, if you like what you hear, and you like my Finn Riggins propaganda, you can check out their tour dates at Since I gander that more of my East Coast friends will be reading this (this includes you, Dad, you should DEFINITELY check this out), I’ve chosen some notable dates for you to be aware of:

4/16 BALTIMORE, MD @ THE GOOD SON — w/ tba
4/21 BOSTON, MA @ MIDDLE EAST (upstairs) — w/ Backyard Tire Fire + Appomattox
4/28 NEW YORK, NY @ CAKE SHOP — w/ tba
4/29 BROOKLYN, NY @ CAMEO GALLERY — w/ Patrick Bower & The World Without Magic
5/3 CLEVELAND, OH @ PAT’S IN THE FLATS — w/ Talons’ + Safari

Oregon Voice Article Sparks Friendship

The newest issue of the Oregon Voice came out just a few weeks ago, and I am proud to say that this issue is our best of the year. However, today I received an awesome message and friend request which was in direct response to a review I wrote of The Tao of Wu, RZA’s newest piece of literature.

You can read the article, along with the entire issue by clicking here:

Oregon Voice Volume XXI Issue II: The Film Issue

and you can peep the new friend I made in the name of Wu here:

(Click to enlarge)

“We Are Not Afraid! (RYB)” Video Installation Opens at Laverne Krause Gallery

Hey folks! Today marks the final day of the 13 Conversations video art installation at the Laverne Krause Gallery. Over the last week, I have played with some footage that I took during the production and installation of the piece, which was created alongside Stephen Person, Paul Pederson, and Jack B. Friel. The piece is entitled “We Are Not Afraid! (RYB)” and was one of many installations created by the ART410/510 class at the University of Oregon, here in good ol’ Eugene. The video below is a mini-documentary of our production, particularly the struggles of opening day, and some footage of the piece itself. In later days, I will post a copy of the full main projection for your viewing pleasure.

I must admit that working with these folks and installing this piece has left me with a strong sense of pride and accomplishment, and I am thrilled to have worked with such creative and stimulated minds. I’d also like to send my deepest appreciations to Richard Herskowitz for first lighting my fire for experimental film, and Kartz Ucci for her instruction and dedication to her students.

Hope you like it!