Aftermath and the afterworld – October 15/16, 2011

16 Oct

Last night was rough. Everything felt wrong from the moment I got to the stadium.

Often when I get these weird sorts of feelings, it’s safe to assume it’s just me being vaguely crazy. I don’t claim to have any sort of psychic abilities. I don’t see the future. I can’t tell you next week’s winning lottery numbers or anything like that. I sound like a lunatic when I talk about this stuff but, like many people out there who have probably made the right choice to not say anything lest they sound like a lunatic, I think I’m just slightly more sensitive to certain energies.

And last night was one of those times.

I went downtown earlier than I normally would for a Timbers match at Jeld-Wen Field. Looking back, I’ve been on edge for days. And, reading Twitter, I know I’m not the only one. The last regular season home game of an insane first season in MLS with our playoff hopes on the line had somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 people just as jittery as I.

October folks, stay with me here. I swear there’s an actual October Thought coming.

I strayed from my normal routine a bit and went to meet a fellow NaNoWriMo participant and his in-laws at the Bitter End. We talked of our love for our team, our commitment to the Timbers Army, our admiration of team owner Merritt Paulson and wondered at the fact that he’s on Twitter and will respond directly to you if you have a question or a complaint. You don’t get that from Paul Allen, that’s for sure.

About an hour before the game, I headed over to the park. Said hello to a few people on the way, settled into my regular place high in 221, overlooking the pitch and with an excellent view of the Army in all its glory. I wasn’t inside the park more than five minutes before Merritt was up on one of the capo stands leading a chant. He gets it.

But even in such familiar surroundings, I felt out of place. Maybe that isn’t entirely accurate. It just didn’t seem right. Something was off. It felt like things were moving too fast.

We sang the national anthem. There were fireworks. The massive Tifo went off without a hitch. We sang. We clapped. But then it started to unravel.

Reading later Twitter and Facebook posts, we know something went down in the TA section. Some big names got caught up in part of it and park security didn’t step in to lend a hand. An influx of 1,000 tourists with giveaway tickets from Adidas probably didn’t help. I can’t say with any certainty what happened because I wasn’t in the midst of it but people are still talking it out a day later. What I can say is that the Army was more subdued than I’ve seen it in a very long time.

The on-field action was much the same: our guys getting slammed around on the pitch by a thuggish Houston side and little help from the ref. An injury to Zizzo and a thoroughly flattened Chabala as the result of some dangerous play turned the crowd negative. I’m not sure I was breathing the entire time Chewy was laid out face-down on the pitch and even less sure I’ve ever had a happier moment than when he finally got to his feet.

And then it was over and we’d lost.

We made our way to the North End to see Perkins awarded his Supports Player of the Year belt. Said hello to Timber Jim and a few more people, folks we may or may not see until next season depending on the results of this coming week’s matches.

Stood on a street corner and ate Timbers-themed ice cream in the rain and then got in our cars and went home. Should have gone to the Bullpen or BE, but didn’t. Couldn’t.

Came home sad, but not totally deflated. We’ve got two more matches ahead of us. There’s still hope. Obi says,”Believe beyond reason.” That’s what I’m focusing on now.

And then there’s this. The part that made me cry is at about 3:35. This is one more reason to love John Spencer:

I woke up this morning hoping that none of it had happened, but it had and it’s time to put the cleats back on and get back to work.

Finally, October people, we’re on the verge of an actual October Thought.

I got up this morning in a mood that, were it a color, might be a heathered charcoal grey. In fact, it’s the same color as the shirt I was wearing yesterday. And I woke up pondering the symbolism of spending half my day in a cemetery.

Today I went to a meeting of tour guides for the Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery’s Tour of Untimely Departures.

Ha, say the October folks. Cemeteries!

So, on a really pleasant October afternoon when I was in an already dark mood, I found myself in what has recently been revealed as one of National Geographic Traveller’s top ten cemeteries to visit. Weathered grey stone, shiny black granite, the red and oranges of fallen leaves, it was like walking into the center of all things October. Surrounded by an estimated 25,000 burials, I started to feel a little bit better.

This, my friends, is where I plan to spend most of my Halloween.

Friends of Lone Fir stepped in about a decade ago to preserve and protect this crumbling pioneer cemetery in southeast Portland. Lone Fir is a treasure trove for historians, home to burials that predate Oregon’s statehood and span the breadth of Portland history: unnamed Chinese immigrants lie yards from those for whom we’ve named streets and bridges. Of note to those of you who partake in the occasional beer: the resting place of George Bottler, Henry Weinhard’s partner in his first Portland brewery. Daniel Boone’s granddaughter is there, as are any number of mayors and newspaper editors and other notables. A lot of them are on the website.

Lone Fir has long been a target of graffiti and vandalism and, as the Friends of Lone Fir noted years ago, such activity spikes around Halloween. So, what better way to combat crime than to fill the cemetery with people who are there for some other purpose? They started offering tours during trick-or-treating hours about six years ago. In that first year, they had 200 people. Two years ago, they had more than 2,000.

That’s where we come in. I spent about two hours today following along as one of the tour directors ran us through the talking points and the tour route. Most of the other folks there had been involved with the tours before. Near as I could tell, I was the only one who had not even been on previous years’ tours something that I’m wholeheartedly regretting.

I had some concerns as to whether running 2,000 people through a graveyard in costume on Halloween might be seen as disrespectful to those interred there or to their surviving relatives. But having seen the preparation and care that goes into it, those concerns are gone. I was incredibly impressed with the amount of information our guide threw at us, much of which won’t even make the tour because we just won’t have time for all of it. There’s really no way to put a century and a half worth of information into a 45-minute tour. A lot of research has been done (and is ongoing) and one of the chief concerns of the organizers is that we all have the correct information so that any portrayal of the cemetery’s residents is as accurate as possible. A far cry from when I was a tour guide elsewhere and it was “Well, if you don’t know, just make up something interesting.”

So, if you’re looking for something to do on Halloween that’s vaguely creepy and still somewhat educational, here you go. Advance tickets are available online through the Friends of Lone Fir website (linked above). Dress warmly. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t be scared.

Happy October.

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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in October 2011, Timbers


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