Posted by: John Adams | June 20, 2007

A Day in the Life

Today was a good day. I have a couple of days’ break from Starbucks and I took advantage of that fact by sleeping in! Luis, Tom, and Muana were heading downtown and they asked me to come along, so I joined them on an excursion to Music Millennium (an indie record shop with a huge selection) and Powell’s City of Books. Powell’s is the largest independent bookseller in America and something of an institution here in Portland. The downtown store occupies an entire city block, with four levels packed floor-to-ceiling with new and used copies of everything you could think of. It was Muana’s first trip to Powell’s, so I showed him around and took him into the Rare Books Room, which is a slightly cooler room filled with hard-to-find and usually fragile copies of older books.

A couple of titles in there that caught my eye. One was a delicate copy of a journal kept by a late 19th-century man who trekked across the country from his native Vermont to Death Valley, California. Apparently, near the end of the last century, this guy got tired of living in New England, packed up his wagon and his family (this in the days before reliable roads), and headed west to the hottest place on the continent, where he built a house and (presumably) lived out the rest of his days. I wondered if he was a celebrity at one time, a face and a story for the papers back home.

The other book was a picture-illustrated thesis by Le Corbusier, a Swiss architect whose city-planning ideas were influential during the 1930’s. His ideas passed out of vogue rather quickly, but he was a great proponent of orderly, quiet “garden cities” nearly devoid of pedestrian activity. He wanted all living to be done in giant towers outside city centers, which would be left open for office space. People’s workspace and living spaces would be connected by a tremendous system of freeways. Many of his ideas were implemented during the post-World War II years in New York City by Robert Moses, who bulldozed great swaths of low-income housing to make room for residential “superblocks” (many of which are now fondly referred to by New Yorkers as “the ghetto”) and gargantuan superhighways.

After setting down Le Corbusier, we headed out to the Basil Hallward Art Gallery, which is currently running a series by the Fleet Street Scandal, a couple of local artists who do funky, bizarre prints of things like monsters devouring skyscrapers, imaginary movie posters, and fantasy-dream scenarios. Really cool stuff—check out the website if you have the time.

From there, we went to a large neighborhood park near our school and tossed a frisbee around for awhile. There was a swingset nearby, so I went over and began to swing, thinking all the while about that old Nickelodeon show about a boy who swung so high he crossed the bar. When he came back down, however, he had reversed the order of his skin and organs. I swung higher and higher and wondered if I could be like Inside-Out Boy.

We came home and I grabbed my laptop and started walking to the student lounge to check my e-mail, but the late-evening summer light was so beautiful that I knew I had to go out and watch the sunset. So I wandered over to the edge of the cliff the school is perched on and I looked out across toward the airport, the Columbia River, and Mount St. Helens, timing the intervals between landing planes until the sky grew rosy and the sun finally began to set behind giant cirrus clouds.

The sun sank low and I wandered back to campus, where a cricket (!) game had begun among some of the students. I joined in, and we had fun playing that until there was no light left. Lights began to come on, and the street lamps began to glow. The group conversation died out, and some of the guys went inside to watch an action flick. I could have joined them, and I almost did, but I was feeling a bit too reflective for Samuel L. Jackson, so instead I came in here and wrote about my day. And that, I suppose, carries this small narrative up to the present moment, so I guess that means that my work here is done.



  1. Hey John, good to see you back blogging 🙂 looking forward to seeing you back in action…

  2. hey john , i admire your vocabulary!It is like i am reading a great publisher! keep writing! Itz a great resource for me in finding new words and ways to communicate too:)! take care!

  3. John, you are an amazing writer. Teach me some of your skills; for I have just started a blog. Love you bro.

  4. Hey John! This was such a rad blog! I loved it!

  5. You still wanna come to PBC!?!? How YOU doin!? : )

  6. Reading that gets me excited to head back out to Portland.

  7. everytime i get on a swing i think about inside out boy. and thats no lie sucka.
    its been good hanging out with you lately.

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