Kathryn Kucera’s Exploring Portland+Music

A year fits into just three little boxes…

My friends, here we are in the fabled last week of my first year of college. With nearly all of my finals under my belt, I am sitting in my room, watching my roommate pack up everything on her side of the room, while all of my stuff is img_0019.JPGstrewn about my half. To think that I will have to condense all the physical evidence of the milestones of this year into three measly cardboard boxes to return to in the fall is a task both daunting and cathartic.

Since I’d really like to never have to think about finals week again, I’ll just tell you that they went alright and I am anticipating mostly good, and a couple satisfactory, grades. I’m just so glad to have my sanity back!

CB1CB2CB3CB4CB5Last weekend was kind of the last hoorah for me and my friends, all together at LC and in Portland before we had to plunge into the murky depths of finals, packing up, and shipping out. It began on Thursday, the last day of classes, with Critical Blast. Critical Blast is an annual event at LC to celebrate the last day of classes, the coming of summer, the year in review- bands play, kids BBQ, tie-dye, get rid of junk and clothing accumulated throughout the year, pick up other peoples’ swapped junk and clothing, and do a lot of hugging and reminiscing and skipping and dancing and enjoying life. Many of my friends performed and the event went late into the night, moving into the Co-Op after it got cold and dark.

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The next day, Friday, was May 1 and my boyfriend, Dylan (who is currently a sophomore) and several of his friends were all  signing leases on the houses they will be living in over the summer and next fall. While some upper classmen choose to stay in the apartments on campus, many who have grown comfortable in Portland choose to move off campus into the city to pursue the opportunity to assimilate more into Portland culture. Dylan and his four roommates/friends found an adorable house in the Hawthorne area of southeast PDX. That night, after grabbing some burritos at Cha Cha Cha’s on Hawthorne Blvd, my friends Natalie and Lauren and I walked over to the house for a housewarming party (for which I had baked some delicious banana bread). Many of our friends came over for the shindig, as well as some juniors and seniors who live in the area, and we danced the night away.  The house is in such a great location- right off of the main strip of Hawthorne which has lots of cool little shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a generally hip young vibe. Let’s just say the clerks at Fred Meyer are much more likely to look like they walked out of a Wes Anderson film here. Many of my friends ride their bikes between here and campus, but it’s also really easy to catch the 14 Trimet bus downtown after taking the RAZ shuttle from campus, and vice versa.

On Friday afternoon I will head to the airport, though not to fly home this time. I’ve decided to spend the summer with my sister at her home in Pittsburgh, PA. I got a paid internship with a historical society there that is working on archiving photos of Pittsburgh’s history of the steel industry. I’ll also be working some kind of serving job or barista job to make some money to be spent on books, bus passes and other such necessities in the fall. One thing I am looking forward to in the Pitt, besides spending time with my lovely sis, brother in law, and niece, is a trip my sister planned to go on a ghost tour in Virginia! CreeepyAWESOME. On a more serious note, it will be strange not going home- three months is a long time and, being the California girl I am, summer just doesn’t seem like summer without spending days at the beach, getting salty and sandy and toasted in the sun, hiking the golden hills, visiting Big Sur, bonfires, camping… yet I am embracing this time as a new adventure, an urban summer is something I have never truly experienced. I will miss my friends at home, but I have devised that this is all part of my diabolical plan to get them the heck up here to Portland for a visit next semester! I will be returning to Portland in mid-August, a couple weeks before school starts again to reunite with all my friends staying here over the summer and hopefully to make a trip out to the Oregon coast! While it isn’t the golden paradise back home, the Pacific ocean is the Pacific ocean, and, in my experience, it is life-giving tonic for the soul.

I have so enjoyed sharing my experiences with you all as I have grown, changed, been challenged and inspired, discovered and established myself here in the Lewis & Clark and Portland communities. I do not know yet if I will be writing next year, but please know that anytime over the summer and even beyond you are welcome to email me with your questions, concerns, favorite Dan Savage quotes, the excitement of bubble bath rediscovery, or if you happen to know of anything cool to do in Pittsburgh…

2657_175229050436_743660436_6432579_4029659_n_2.jpgLove always, Kathryn kkucera@lclark.edu


5 May 2009

I killed the NYTimes crossword today.

The last month of school has been such a roller coaster in virtually every respect. I feel like a small child trying to hold on to a wily kite on a high wind as all my energy, thoughts, and plans are propelled toward the summer and next term. Yet, here I am- still in the midst of final projects and tying up loose ends of this semester. MUST. STAY. FOCUSED.

Many wonderful things have happened in the meantime. I shall try to be concise in my recollection of them:

1. Sunburn

Sunburn-the annual music fest put on by LC’s radio station- was a grand success. This year, the kids at KLC worked harder than ever, partnering with LCMC (Lewis & Clark Music Coalition, another student group on campus that organizes shows) to raise more funds and thus bring more bands and more publicity to the show. I couldn’t believe the company I was in all day, rushing water bottles back and forth and muling bands’ equipment from place to place. The highlights for me were Stag Bitten, a female-fronted punk threesome from Portland. They were such nice, down-to-earth people, and had incredible energy when they performed. I also loved Experimental Dental School, a girl-on-drums-boy-on-guitar duo from Portland whose sound is in the vein of Deerhoof. They have an entire album for free to download on their website, so check them out. Another band to keep an eye on was The Whines, a three-piece 90’s-ish bad-A pillar of rock’n'roll angst. Finally, it was an honor to be able to watch, let alone get up close and personal, with Pierced Arrows, a band comprised of three members- two of which used to make up the majority of the legendary punk rock Portland native, Dead Moon. It was an exhausting but extremely memorable day. You will all have to make it next year for Sunburn ‘10!

2. Classes

I have registered for my Fall term classes and I am so excited for it to come now! On the agenda: French 201, Culture and Power in the Middle East, American Novel Now, Gender and Sexuality in the US, and Yoga! I have also officially declared my major in Sociology/Anthropology in light of the fact that I am planning to be the SAAB representative for the So/An department next year! This means that I will sit on a board of 12 (?) other students who review proposals by other students for research grants. SAAB presents students with an amazing opportunity as undergrads to go out on the field and put the things they’ve been learning about  to practice- without the limitation of lack of funding. It’s really exciting to be able to hear about some of the amazing things LC students are doing, and to be able to support that.

3. Campus Life

Yesterday, my future room mate (my dear friend Hanna, who takes many of the amazing photographs I post on here) and I went to the circus that was the housing lottery. We have decided to reside in Forest Hall, in Upper Alder 204 with a lovely view of the forest on south campus! I am overjoyed because nearly the entire floor is occupied by friends of ours- except for a few rooms that are reserved for freshman. Perhaps we shall be neighbors?

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Over the weekend, my friends Lauren and Hayley played a show (as their band Cindergarden) with Portland’s Wampire in KLC. Good times were had by all. Also, we turned it into a costume party, the theme being “domesticated animals”. I was an ostrich. This past weekend was also Admitted Students weekend and I’m sure I saw many of you about campus. Summer is fast approaching… I am filled with anticipation.

Bonne chance to all, and thanks to those of you who have emailed me. I am happy to answer your questions about the school as best as I can. If you feel so inclined, shoot me an email about nationally celebrated holidays unrecognized by the federal government, your experience on campus if you visited over the weekend, or anything else that suits your fancy. kkucera@lclark.edu

20 April 2009

What is this “tan” you speak of?

Dearest friends,

I’m back! And I’ve had to hit the ground running. I was so glad to go home to California over spring break and recuperate, swimming and making meals with my two best friends, laughing a lot, and crafting with my mom, all the while in divine 70 degree California weather away from the cold rainy grayness I left behind in PDX. Taking the train along the coast was an experience, indeed, and I feel that if I were to make the trip again I would be able to come more prepared. For example, you don’t know until you’re actually on the train that you will be stuck in a car with an entire high school marching band on their way to Disneyland and a group of forty middle schoolers on a science trip for the next 27 hours. Anyway, not that I’m back I must say it’s amazing that a) there are only about three more weeks of the school year left and b) that I have more work now than probably throughout the entire semester. Even though I won’t have finals in all of my classes, my life is pretty much entirely consumed with two huge research projects in my Qualitative Research Methods course, and Exploration and Discovery course. I am trying to maintain my breathing and not have a mental breakdown. We had a couple of absolutely gorgeous sunny days this week which made it nearly impossible to focus, as everyone forewent holing up in the library annotating our research to bask in the sun and picnic on South Campus, skirts, shorts, and lots of pasty Oregon flesh abounding. A little vitamin D is probably good for balancing my stress level anyhow… right?

In between all the hectic tying up of the semester’s countless loose ends, we LC kids still manage to make the most of our young lives here in PDX. This past weekend was filled with music music music. Sometimes, when life is gray, one needs to bring a little color in unexpected places- such as your face. One night, inspired by the sounds of Ziggy Stardust and a wonderfully ambiguous late 80’s era song called “We Care a Lot”, we decided it would be fun to paint each other’s faces like creatures from space. Here are some pictures of that: 2657_175212575436_743660436_6432242_5637530_n.jpg2657_175212605436_743660436_6432248_2326805_n.jpg2657_175212650436_743660436_6432255_1333414_n.jpg
The next night, we ventured out near Reed College to a house show in South East PDX to see my friends’ band, ‘bird announced land’, play with another great Portland act called ‘Church’. bird announced land, fronted by Yvonne l_413e4b33d21295c18d8e2884ebedfa66.jpgwho offers sweet vocals comparable to those of Jolie Holland, showcases the digs of some of LC’s most talented musicians. Church offers beautiful three-part male harmonies, driving duel drums and a plethora of crazyweird keyboards/gadgets. The crowd at the show was really supportive and we had a great time- although we missed the bus that night and ended up having to take a taxi back across the bridge to LC. Be sure to check out both these bands’ music! l_216a6b414a5e4df8ad8d0284867da814.jpgAwesome people and awesome tunes. http://www.myspace.com/birdannouncedland and http://www.myspace.com/songforcecrystal

sunburncolorflierlow-1.jpgComing soon to an LC campus near you! This Saturday, KLC (LC’s radio station if you haven’t already learned from my previous posts) is hosting its annual music festival, Sunburn. Twenty-three bands from far, wide, and right here in PDX will be coming to blow the minds of LC, PSU, and Reed students, and anyone in the community willing to pay $5 to get in. I am on the festival crew, and will have VIP access to all the bands, so hopefully I will be able to bring you not only news of how awesome the festival was, but perhaps also some funny backstage anecdotes. Stay tuned for that. Also, if any of you are visiting this coming Friday, be sure to stick around campus to see my friends’ band, Cindergarten, play with Portland’s own Wampire in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel at 8pm. It’s gonna be rockin’.

Keep the rock alive, kids, and shoot me an email about your Emergen-C ingestion methods preference, why you suppose it’s so hard to remember how to correctly cite references no matter how many papers you write, or if you happened to see me during your campus tour! kkucera@lclark.edu

8 April 2009

hallelujah, she’s a rollin on home

Spring is coyly clutching Portland its lovely pink fingers, gradually pulling it into a full bloom embrace. And I am falling in love. Flowers, and- oh! – the smells! This is not to say, however, that I am sad to be leaving campus for spring break. Hallelujah! It is, in fact, that time, my friends and not a moment too soon. Midterms, papers, and stir-craziness galore results in an ungodly need to break free and blow off some steam, to regroup before facing the stress of the tail end of the semester when we return.

dscn0169-1.jpgdscn0175-1.jpgdscn0206-1.jpgOn Wednesday, inspired by Thoreau’s transcendental experiences described in “Walking”, which we just read this week for my Exploration and Discovery class,  I decided to channel all of my mid-midterm stress/energy into a trek through Tryon Creek State Park. Marvelous!

Tomorrow, I will be heading down the west coast on the Coastal Starlight Express, the Amtrak train with service from Portland to San Luis Obispo. I am going to be spending most of my break at home snuggling with my mom, going to the beach with my besties, and eating lots and lots of food from Trader Joe’s and local burrito joints. The voyage home is half the adventure for me, though, because the cost of the land-bound tour of the beautiful west coast is that it will take a complete TWENTY-FOUR HOURS for me to get from PDX to SLO. I’ll report on the experience, and whether it is one I would like to repeat. Either way, I am looking forward to the bragging rights. On the way back up the coast, I am planning to stop in northern California for a couple of days to visit my friend, Katie, who goes to CSU Chico. Then, once back in PDX, I am going to be SO happy to be reunited with my LC friends who will also have returned from their respective spring break adventures. (For example, several of my friends who are on the KLC board are currently representing KLC at SXSW; others are spending time at a grandparent’s cabin in the San Juan Islands in WA; others are venturing to the redwoods, Vancouver, and the Bay) I am hoping to make it back in time to go to a punk show at a house in northeast PDX that sounds like it will have an AMAZING line-up, including Portland’s own Tragedy.

2603_141437190436_743660436_6267625_4731152_n.jpgToday my class was cancelled and it was beautiful and balmy outside. My friends Hanna, Hayley and I ventured downtown because I had scheduled to interview the owners of Food Fight! Vegan Grocery as part of the research for my ethnographic project for Qualitative Methods of Research. We turned the task into a day on the town, pit-stopping at Stumptown, Portland’s famed independent coffee company, for espresso and croissants.n567882041_1469669_688926.jpg Then we used the buses to cross the bridge into southeast and strolled about the cute Victorian homes in the neighborhood near Food Fight! to snap photos of the birth of spring. It was a lovely day spent with friends, and the folks at Food Fight! were so down to earth and funny. Of course, we took advantage of the impressive snackage they offer and picked up some chips and root beer for the voyage back to campus.2603_141437175436_743660436_6267623_4679319_n.jpg

2603_141437185436_743660436_6267624_2670892_n.jpgI know you are all starting to receive your letters from the college, and I want to wish you guys the best of luck! Remember to listen to your gut when making your final decisions and please visit us! Or just feel free to write me any ol’ time about how funny the “see food” joke is, how nearly sexual the experience of achieving beautiful three-part harmonies with your dear friends can be, or how my taking the train home for break is one more uncanny thing to add to list of similarities between Hogwarts and LC! kkucera@lclark.edu

20 March 2009

I just love a good documentary.

Something rather incredible happened tonight.  I had my radio show, as usual on Wednesday nights from 6-7 at klcradio.net. This week is the Gender Studies Symposium, and on the way into the station, I walked past a room in which all the featured speakers were having dinner. I happened to zero in on Andrea Gibson, a spoken word artist I have seen perform a few times and love. While doing my show, I decided to honor her presence on our campus by playing one of her pieces. My friend and co-host, Logan, decided to go upstairs and see if she could catch Andrea just to tell her for the both of us how much we love her poems and to thank her for coming to the symposium. Meanwhile, I played some Mirah, some Tender Forever, and the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs single, waiting for Logan to return with the scoop for the talk section of our show. When Logan returned, however, she did not return alone. No no no- she had brought Andrea and her crew of other slam poets- dubbed Salt Line- with her! There in the KLC studio, the bad@$$ gals delivered an impromptu in-studio performance, followed by a performance of an original song by fellow student Kelsey Morris. The Salt Line ladies are on tour and are performing at Reed tomorrow night. They were so down-to-earth and really encouraging. BEST RADIO SHOW EVER! I called my sister to tune in, and she so sweetly informed me afterward that she could tell how excited I was based on my exponential frequency of my use of the word “awesome” throughout the show…

The rest of the week holds some interesting prospects: I am planning to attend a few of the Gender Studies Symposium events including a panel titled “Targets of Police Violence: Women and Transgendered Individual” and a workshop facilitated by one of my classmates called “Consent is Sexy! Creating a Culture of Consent in Your Community.” The event I am most excited for, though, is a performance by Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu on Friday night! I will be sure to take pictures to post next week.

Speaking of performances and taking pictures for next week,  I will be playing a show tomorrow night with my band, The Internet, at the Co-op with three other on-campus bands. I’ve been sick for the past week, so hopefully I don’t destroy my voice or the reputation of my band. Shows like these happen pretty frequently amongst the very active music-loving community of LC and they are almost always a lot of fun. As I said- hopefully someone will help me document it for next week’s post!

Stay well, folks. And email me any old time about how you gender-identify, the genius of putting nutella on banana bread,  or the uncensored fun that radio that streams on the internet allows. kkucera@lclark.edu

11 March 2009