Late July afternoon in Keep Portland Weird, Oregon and the long shadows of summer cut sharp angles on the hard-baked rooftops. Snapping pictures in the pre-soundcheck hour, the wandering hour, I hunted and gathered while the rest of the band dispersed throughout the city, seeking sugar ("Voodoo Doughnut: The Magic is in the Hole!!"), strong espresso, or a wi-fi signal that wouldn't quit. I crawled back into Dante's dim dungeon after the sun-streaked streets to find a friend with a propped-open laptop on a tall cocktail table, another shimmying up a catwalk to hang a projection screen. My eyes were adjusting to the dank interior when a blue-lit face looked up from its station and asked if I'd heard the news: Frank McCourt died.
The instant froze and as if on cue, the music started up. It was Warren Zevon "Werewolves of London." I stared at the empty stage, the piano riff plugging on, while all around the seedy bar, projected on five screens, a burlesque dancer did bumps and grinds, failing to entertain the washed-out afternoon drinkers, their heads bent down, hapless fingers peeling back aluminum can tops one after the other. I opened my notebook to mark the moment and could only listen to Warren Zevon's lone howl over the speakers and watch the grains of dust drifting through the air, swirling and dancing, moving sideways, upward, every which way, it seemed, but down.