John Roderick's blog

Sasquatch Poker Skills

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

A few years ago I was invited to join a small, friendly poker game that was just starting up among a group of Seattle music people. I knew most of the players already, or knew them through friends, and although we were keeping it friendly we were playing for large enough sums that there was an unmistakable intensity to the game. I remember the first time I went “all in” risking $200 of my own money on a stupid bluff, the sweat was pouring down my face. I lost that $200, (to Chad Q who books the Showbox, lucky bastard), but we’ve been playing for a couple of years now and I’ve won a few too.

Coyotes, Bears, Jonathan Coulton and Duran Duran.

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

A friend and I were riding our Vespas over in West Seattle a couple of weeks ago when we rounded a corner and came face to face with a full-grown coyote standing in the street. His body-language and his tremendous ears gave him away from a distance: not a dog. Low-slung, grey and slinky, his tail bushy as a squirrel’s, he moved like a thief. By the time we pulled our Vespas to a stop he’d scooted up into the brush, but he peered back at us for awhile before dissolving into the shadows. Despite his wild manner he seemed perfectly unflustered on the manicured hillsides of Fauntleroy. My friend and I were jumping around with excitement, but a neighbor in his driveway gestured unperturbed (Mr. Cool West Seattle) to a sign on a nearby telephone pole, which read, “A family of coyotes is eating cats, so BEWARE!”

My Rock Story Pt. Three

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

I’ve talked a little bit about rock and roll lifers, but there are many different types and I should probably define my terms. The rock lifers of song and story, the ones we admire the most, are perpetual teenagers not good for anything else. They don’t have a “back-up plan”, they don’t ever quit playing music to “get serious”, and they don’t change their style to suit the fashion. They smell like cigarettes. Most of these rock lifers have day jobs, because playing music pays for shit, but their job is just a transparent formality. Music is their entire identity. Bear this in mind if you’re considering getting married to this type of rock lifer.

My Rock Story Pt. Two

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

Seattle in 1994 was like Dawson City in 1898, two years after the gold rush. The bloom of Grunge was past, long past, but the massive influx of young people to the city had barely slowed. Clusters of shivering kids crowded the street corners in their plaid shirts and pre-dirtied boots, wondering if maybe they should give heroin a try. College dropouts from Florida and Minneapolis grew their hair like Chris Cornell and drove their Buick Skylarks to Seattle, sending the price of Fender Jazzmasters skyrocketing. Every garage and basement from Everett to Olympia had a knot of sweaty young guys angry about being breastfed too little or too much, screaming tunelessly over humorless dropped-D grinds. The Crocodile, the Colorbox, Moe’s, Rockcandy and the Off Ramp were all slinging the Long Island Iced Teas, and the premier Grunge bands were raking in multi-platinum sales, but the city had jumped the shark.

My Rock Story Pt. One

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

For those readers unfamiliar with the work of my band, The Long Winters, I’m going to delve into the history of my little corner of the Seattle music scene in order to answer the question: “Why does this ding-dong have a music column for the Seattle Weekly”? Seattle has produced four or five complete generations of music in the time I’ve been hanging around, and although I played almost no role in any of them, I witnessed them all from the back of the bar. The life I lead now, as a singer-songwriter with a full-time band and a small but devoted legion of fans, would have been inconceivable to me when I first arrived in Seattle, even more unlikely after I’d been here a while, and I expect still hard to comprehend for some of the musicians who’ve played alongside me.

Psychology Today

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

A few years ago my sister, who is a few years younger than I, took a greater interest in psychology. She’d always been an adventuress, a mountain girl and a road warrior, but had reached a point in her life where she wanted to meet a nice man who was considerate and with whom she could fall in love. She couldn’t understand why, from the wide selection of skaters, snowboarders, surfers, hitchhikers, card sharps, crab fishermen, jugglers, smoke jumpers, pickpockets, pearl divers, flat-track racers and trance DJs she called friends, there weren’t any dependable, trustworthy guys who were capable of love.

One Story of How I Lost My Tooth.

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

I've had a very busy week, flitting from this high-society party to that glamorous music industry shindig, hobnobbing with famous and brilliant artists and musicians, and brooding introspectively in front of a crackling fire with a beautiful Russian double-agent, but unfortunately the various non-disclosure agreements I was coerced to sign prohibit me from even referring to those events in print. Instead, I intended to offer my exegesis of the book of Deuteronomy, (which bares a surprising resemblance to the later work of Don Rickles,) when I received a curious letter from my editors at the Seattle Weekly.

Land of the Lost

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

I've always enjoyed taking long walks around Seattle, especially late at night. Nosing around in secluded neighborhoods, sneaking up dark alleys, and peering over fences are not just the stuff of great blues lyrics, they're also the innocent pastime of a bored, curious and solitary type of person. Entertainment options are limited for those night owls who hate TV, and the local geography is completely fascinating at any hour. Over the years I've discovered most every shortcut, intruded upon every hidden houseboat harbor, and tiptoed around every overgrown shack with a yard full of washing machines and crab pots between Greenlake and West Seattle. In my early twenties I would pack two Grolsch beers, a pack of Old Golds, some weed, a journal and a flashlight in my trusty East German gas mask satchel and stay out all night dumpster diving and chasing cats. What a stupid hippy I sound like I must have been. These days I don't drink, smoke or chase cats, but I've kept on wandering the city like a tramp and keep discovering new things. Now that I'm living in the south end of town there's a whole new world to be explored!

Keep Your Hands Off My Chili Supply

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

A touring indie-rock band crashed at my place last night and it was a sobering reminder of some of the less wonderful and glamorous aspects of being a musician in a world of musicians. My band and I have crashed on many a generous person's floor, and scarfed the last Top Ramen of many an angry roommate over the years, so now that I have a place of my own I feel a karmic debt to the rock-n-roll universe that will be years in the repaying. Unfortunately, as is the way with all things, when it comes to my new house the last thing I want is to have a bunch of stupid bands stinking up the place. I feel like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places, "Who has been putting out their Kools on my floor? Have you people ever heard of coasters?"

The City Never Sleeps

Originally published in Seattle Weekly

I went to New York this week to see the fabulous new play Hello Failure by Seattle's own Kristen Kosmas at P.S. 122, and to take care of some business, get into some trouble, and check in on some friends. I'm reporting to you now from the exotic and glamorous Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, (which is not, apparently, the namesake of Houston rapper Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys), but which IS the latest Brooklyn neighborhood to be infested with the plague of conformist Williamsburg hipsters seeking cheap rent who are incrementally destroying New York in every direction. (No offense to the conformist Williamsburg hipsters who let me crash at their place and use their computer).

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