Corbin and George, Portland, OR. 2016

Corbin and George live in a trailer in Portland, OR. Both being from Bainbridge Island, WA they never met each other until both of their best friends got married. You can listen below to part of their story about how they met. 

Corbin and George in front of their trailer in Portland, OR

 
“Coming from Bainbridge Island I see a lot of people that Quote un Quote “have their shit together”. They have those trappings of material wealth and stability and I know enough to know that that doesn't necessarily equate to quality of life.” - Corbin L. 

George told me a little about an old job she had:

“I was hired to be a store development manager, initially, after managing one of their stores. Which meant that I was kind of the go between, between architects and contractors and the owner. So any feedback the owner had that he wanted his stores to look like I was responsible for not only informing the architect but for making sure that it happened on site. So kind of being a construction manager as well. Which is funny for a person who literally has no experience with construction, especially as a woman, to go on site, where there are a bunch of brisally dudes doing stuff. And I'm like ‘what are you doing?’ and they are like ‘doing this stuff, what do you want?’. And I'm like, 'well I'm here to tell you how to do it'. And there response was often ‘well fuck off!’. It was very intimidating.” - George H. 

Graham, Rozina and Thurman with their Dog Maxell, Portland, OR. 2016

I met with Graham, Rozina and their son Thurman in Portland, OR. We first bonded over our mutual love for Toyota RVs. They had been traveling around the States for 5 months in a 1985 Toyota Escaper, (similar to my Seabreeze, but a slightly different layout and about 2ft shorter). After finding out their son had elevated blood lead levels, caused by paint in their Minneapolis home, they decided to pack up, sell most of their belongings and go travel around the US; in some ways to re-group and figure out their next step.
Graham spoke with me about what it has been like to be on the road with their son and what they hope to find in their future.  

 
     "Anyone who knows us would say we should have shut the fuck up a long time ago. Yeah our son... He had elevated blood lead levels at a young age. And we went through a lot of different programs and dealt with stuff in our house, it's just because we have an old house. Over the 15 years that Rozina has owned it, 30+ some people have lived in it. You know, not where you bring your infant son home to necessarily... Obviously we had done work for when he was born, but we hadn't thought about the impact of lead on him. So we have been kind of just dealing with, what are potentially long term psychological or neurological effects. He has a delayed speech development that we are dealing with... So it was easier, for us currently, to travel around in the RV, then to rent or buy another house."
"So the situation we are in now is we are just cruising... I have all my musical equipment packed up. Rozina has her sewing machine packed up. And we are just trying to go through creative endeavors. Sold almost everything else we own. To sort of fund this and to just be on a sort of vacation, while we figure out sort of what to do in a more permanent way." - Graham B. 

Graham, Rozina, their son Thurman and their dog Maxell in front of their Toyota Escaper in Portland, OR. 

Graham talked about the way him and his son see what they are doing differently. 

     "Sometimes, we are trying to be cool... About just parking outside a park in a city. We are gonna sleep here, we are gonna cook food here... And he's got the screen open and he's hanging out in the street yelling at people pointing at their dog. And I'm like; 'Stealth mode! Stealth mode!' We just assume something is a way, but to him it is all the same.
     He wanted to fly a kite, not so long ago... In Long Beach, Washington, we went to the kite museum. Built a kite, he got to fly it. It was totally amazing! Totally cool.
     We have been trying to find a place for the winter to sublet... So during the colder winter days we can have some space. Set up our stuff, leave it set up and be a little more creative. Not have to worry about being wet and cold and sad and dark.
     So what if we stayed out here and built kites all winter you know? So its that kind of thing, I had never heard of that town, or thought about the coast in southern Washington, in my life. I'm not from this part of the world. We were just driving and we saw it on the atlas. World Kite Museum. Well great, lets go there!" - Graham B. 

Rozina beside her RV in Portland, OR. 

Graham in the doorway of his RV, in Portland, OR.  

On what it is like living by choice in an RV, for the sake of their son. 

"What is chic and desirable? We play a game called 'camping or homeless?'. As you drive around and you look at other peoples vehicles. And you go to a campground and there is that one, that one, and that one, and then there's us. And we realize... Labor Day has passed. Every day passed Labor Day, the divide between camping or homeless… The needle is swinging way closer to homeless. It's weird to think about, looking back on this, if I was like 17 years old, I would think, 'Oh this is Awesome! This is great. This is perfect'. But Im 38 and she's 39 and we are just like, well this is the best idea we can come up with.  And it's a great idea and I am into it, but it points us away from being capable of living in a more mainstream method of living. I don't know. I guess we will have to see how it plays out.
     In retrospect, I can't answer any of these questions. There is no one way anymore of seeing what people are doing. And to see how they affect our lives, or our commonality. There are people that are willing to talk to us because we have this one Toyota RV. So they see nothing but the fact that we have this thing, either their dad had, or they have one broken in their backyard. But if we have anything else to talk about, you hate me. You know? I am very low on the social standing in their eyes. But it's a weird thing. We could have just stayed home and been at home and been fine... And been in a house that we had just done a ton of work on. But just mentally, we had to move on. 
     It's impossible to say all of the effects of having lead poisoning. They have never taken a kid and locked him in a cage, fed him a bunch of lead, and then taken their twin brother and have them grow up independently. I don't know... I guess we want to say he is better. He has just been in the woods, he has been outside. Poking slugs. We have been on the ocean, on rivers. He's just hanging out. If anything it's mentally kind of relieving. 'Cause we did something. Instead of just being in this one place." - Graham B. 

Jacob, Portland, OR. 2016

I met up with Jacob in Portland, OR. Being a recent graduate, he had been thinking a lot about what to do next and the idea of getting older. 

Jake, in a park in Portland, OR. 

 
"I started reading about the etymology of the word 'ennui' and I feel that's really what growing up must be. 'Ennui' was a term that was coined by the French. It was right after the revolution, and there were all these young people being like, 'everything is going to be cool and different and so much has changed.' And then post revolution realizing nothing is different and not being very satisfied... And it became in vogue to have it. All these young people would have 'ennui' and it was a way to distinguish yourself from the bourgeois. And you would do a lot of sighing and being dissatisfied in general.
I feel like that's what growing up must be. There is just a lot of sighing and disillusionment... The realization that everyone promised these things, but you realize, this isn't really that different... And you Sigh. Ennui." - Jacob H. 

William, Portland, OR. 2016

"I'm 42 years old I'm probably going to be alive for a significantly longer period of time. So what am I going to do for the next 30/40 years? I don't want to do dishes or whatever. I want to do something that is genuinely interesting to me. Stability lets me do that.  I can't do that just with a backpack and a couple of philosophy books, hopping trains and stuff. I can, but I cant." - William S. 

I met with William in Portland, OR. He just moved from Olympia where he had finished his BA degree at The Evergreen State College. He told me about how his perspective has shifted over the years. He spent much of his youth hopping trains and traveling around the United States, working random jobs and living wherever he found himself.


"I guess lately I have been thinking about transitioning to being an Adult... At a very late age. Because I never really did. You know when I was younger, I left home when I was 16. I lived on the streets and hopped trains. And just did all sorts of shit. So there was no real planning for getting old. It wasn't something anybody considered. And now I am slowly starting to do that. And it's interesting because I find that the habits that I have developed around being sort of a floating anarchist weirdo, don't make it really easy to just be a work a day person. Like this job! I would rather be poor than work for these assholes. So thats becoming a real thing. But I also don't have the skills to try to get like a “college people job”. All I know how to apply for is kitchen jobs and labor and shit like that. I don't know how to paint myself up to make that shift... And that has been weirding me out lately."

Sean in the RV in Portland, OR

"One of the best things [travel] did for me, is perspective. I have lived with literally nothing. Holes in my shoes, living under a bridge eating out of the dumpsters. No money ever. So now, its like, hardships don't seem that bad. Like “oh I gotta come up with rent this month” seems just not that big of a deal. I'm also better with money. I am not running up mad credit card debt, because I know how to live with out it. I have learned how to do that. And… Also just being older and more relaxed. I still stress the fuck out, but i just have a different perspective." - William S. 

Bill, Portland, OR. 2016

Being that Bill is my father, this is a strange post for me to publish. When we sat in my RV in Portland, OR, I didn't know how to go about starting the conversation... But I suppose the RV did its job, allowing us both to put our egos aside and open up. Both of us within our own work; me in my RV project, him outside of his recording session at Flora Recording and Playback. We spoke about the challenges he faced while being home for a long period of time, where his music comes from, and his work ethic. Being his daughter, I have always had a mixed relationship with his dedication to his work and his music, but as I have gotten older and more invested in my own work and my own passion, I have realized he has taught me some of the most important lessons in my life: Follow the work. Follow what you love. Keep going.
   I suppose this post is sort of a thank you to him. A grateful salute to the music he has raised me with, and to the person he has always been when being my good ol' Dad.  

 

Speaking about his last 6 months off the road and on "vacation":
   "I was looking forward to it. I thought it was going to be a break. But I realized that it wasn’t in any way, shape or form a break. It took me awhile to figure out that what I was looking for was space. I think I was expecting it to just be there because I decided I was gonna come home and not get on an airplane. I thought I was gonna suddenly have more space. Like I had imagined I would go for walks. I was thinking of all these things that I hadn't done... I have never read Moby Dick... I haven't memorized every song that Sonny Rollins wrote. I was imagining doing all these things. And I got home. and it didn't happen that way. Because life was going on.
    There were things with my family that I had to deal with. And at first, I was resisting it, really strong. It was really really difficult... Because I had wanted to have some of my own space. But it just kept coming at me in waves, just knocking me down. I could hardly stand up. And then I sort of came to terms with that... And the idea of just surrendering to it. Just let it come. Rather than pushing against something that you cant stop. Give it to me, I will take it." 

Bill outside of the RV on the street in Portland, OR. 

Speaking about how life effects his music:  
   "I think my music is independent from all this other stuff. Sometimes it feels like I am just trying to find the time and the strength to just [make music]. The music just goes on its own. And I guess what's frustrating is there is so much stuff that gets in the way of just doing it. But that is what's so amazing about [music]. Because I go into it and it takes over... And I am just in it. I think thats why I have done it for as long as I can remember. And I think it just keeps getting stronger and stronger. And then sometimes I get distracted, and I'm tired and it is a horrible feeling. Where it feels like I am losing touch with it or something.
   It is easy to blame that on something else, like maybe I am just lazy or something. But sometimes at the moment, when I think I am too tired, and I do go grab my guitar, it will give me energy and I have to remember to do that... Rather than just giving into thinking I have to rest... or email... or some other bullshit."

The story about how he told his mom about wanting to play guitar:
   "I was really into cars and engines. My friend and I... we sort of made our own little hot rod club. We were really into hot rods, and we would walk around the neighborhood looking at cool cars. And I remember this guy who lived around the corner had a corvette. We went up to him and asked him “Can we wash your car for you? We have a hot rod club." I mean, it was just the two of us. I think he let us wash his car. It was a 1962 corvette... But then, wanting to play guitar kind of took over. And I remember the exact moment when I saw my mom. She was taking the trash out in the alley behind our house. I said 'mom', or 'mommy' or whatever, 'I decided I don't want to be a race car driver, I want to play the guitar.' And she was so happy. I don't know if there was ever a moment like that with my father, but he was always into me playing music. 

His fathers influence on him:
   "I saw my dads report cards from when he was in school, in my grandfathers desk in Minnesota. All of it was A’s. Every single grade was an A... Totally A's... Nothing but A's. I mean everything he did was super neat and with incredible detail. Everything that I have done has felt nothing close to what he was. He sort of set an example of what someone could do if they were actually serious about what they did. But I haven't even come close to what he was doing... He just really worked hard. From when he was a little kid, he just did that. His father, my grandfather, came from Sweden on the boat. He worked on the railroad and then he worked in the grocery store. They were just hard working. They lived a way that you can't even do anymore I guess. Where you could have a job making a living and have a house." - Bill F. 

Hank, Portland, OR. 2016

Hank Roberts talked with me in what he called my "flying magical machine" in Portland, OR. We were outside of Flora Recording and Playback where he also was recording with my father Bill Frisell. 

Hank outside of the recording studio in Portland, OR. 

Hank has known me for most of my life, so I asked him about what he would say to his younger self, or to someone my age. As he drummed on the RV table, he told me a little bit about how to keep going, keep creating and keep being. 

   "If I could go back 30 years, I would have a lot less angst. I think that the sense of myself and my personality would be much broader. As a musician and as a father. I think I would have little broader sensibility...
   I wouldn't worry if I wasn't a great musician. I wouldn't worry about the need to be great... As much as I would focus more on what I like to do and what really made me happy… I would be more in search of that. Rather than dealing with this sort of work ethic thing. And trying to build myself up by being, in quotation marks, "successful", as apposed to finding a way for my self esteem to be higher! 
   I wasn't really focused on the money so much. But it was something I worried about a lot I think… because it was difficult for me to get, and difficult to deal with. So I think, again, just going to that place of doing what you love to do and continuing to build on that. And keeping your radar up, for what really stimulates you and pushes your buttons, is a healthier way to be." - Hank R. 

Jenny, Portland, OR. 2016

I caught up with Jenny Scheinman, while she was recording with my father, Bill Frisell, at Flora Recording and Playback in Portland, OR. She had lost her uncle Victor Scheinman about a week before and this is what she told me about him and her experience after losing him. 

 
"Victor Scheinman, was called the father of the modern robot. He was a famous engineer... He invented one of the first arms that moved and could work in factories and stuff.  He was a consultant for Stanford and did a lot of amazing stuff in that world. But he was also, totally and equally fascinated with really small mechanical things. Like lawn mowers and printers, copiers and thermostats. He was always sticking them together; like what do you get when you cross a thermostat with a lawn mower.
"So he died on Tuesday, and I was on stage when he died... in Knoxville, TN. But I got off stage, and I heard a message from my mother saying that Victor had died. He died in the car with my dad and they had just spent about 3 days together... They had driven from San Francisco to Petrolia, leisurely... Which is a rare thing, for either my dad or my uncle to do anything leisurely." 

Jenny in the RV outside of Flore Recording and Playback in Portland, OR. 

The night of her uncles death, Jenny was staying at her friends house in Knoxville. That night she found herself sleep walking, something she had not done in years. In her dream she was working on a puzzle, which was made up of two rings that were made up of light and different sizes. She worked all night trying to make the smaller ring fit into the larger ring. 

"But I had made a prayer before I went to sleep. I wanted to be visited by Victor, like 'Come please!'. I heard this sometimes happens, it has never happened to me, but come on, be a ghost and come to Knoxville and visit me! At least that's what it sort of felt like. At least it was sort of my puzzling out of his relationship with my dad. You know the older brother and the younger brother, these two sized rings. And also this mechanical puzzle, was sort of him. And the cyclic nature of life and new generations coming along, and my kids, also an older and a younger sibling. And it was a really beautiful dream, that when I awoke in the morning was still in my head. It felt like a continuing feeling of curiosity that he kind of left me with." - Jenny S. 

Georgia and Alexandra, Olympia, WA. 2016

I spent some time talking with Georgia and her daughter Alexandra in their kitchen nook in Olympia, WA. 

    "When I was younger and traveled around a lot things were very impermanent, I was always trying to figure out when to let things go, and when to hold on to them. I always felt that I could intuit, now this story is over... Now I can let it go. But now I don't try and control things like that anymore.
    I think being that way is too controlling. Maybe I am not the one who knows when to let go and when to hold on. I think intuition is a tricky thing, I think if you are really able to tap into your wisdom, then intuition can be a beam of truth, but it's challenging to distinguish... Is this an intuition from wisdom or is it a feeling that is coming from sentiment. So I think just as often it was just me trying to control a situation, or out of fear, or out of a selfish 'Oh I'm done here!' There were experiences that I had where I felt I had hurt people that I really cared about, and made me really question whether I really knew as much as I thought I did.
    Alexandra changed me a lot. In that, you’re not done with a child, kind of. At the time, I had started this practice and got married which I never thought I would do. And had a child. And had a job, you know, all these things I never thought I would do. And at first it was a great big adventure, in its own right. And then it was hard. Especially because it was a way I had not necessarily been, or wasn't naturally like. I think that is just a quality of getting older, if you want those things, you have to start to slow down. Having her, it is such a special relationship, a mother and a child, my sense of self is a very different experience... Because you're constantly focused on the other. Being married definitely helped me do that in a way, but with another adult you can always externalize, you can always put things on the other person, blame them for your problems. You can do it if you want! But it's not going to go that well for you.. but you can. But with a child, its a lot trickier. With her I was like, oh man, I am responsible for this being, and she has done nothing to me. She just needs me.” - Georgia H. 

Georgia with her daughter Alexandra in their backyard in Olympia, WA.

Alexandra on her back porch. 

 

Alexandra told me about a dream she had when she was 5 and living in the yellow house back in New York. She had lived there for most of her life until moving to Olympia, WA. 

"When I was young, I used to sometimes come into my moms room and she had this dresser in the corner of the room, and my dad... He had this job where he would wake up at like 3 or 4 in the morning and go to work... And that night, I was sleeping in my moms bed, and I am not really sure if I was awake or not... And a lion came out from the back of the dresser and started roaring at me. And my mom and dad woke up and said 'stand back'. So I stayed back. And then the lion walked out of the room, and my dad walked out of the room. I never saw the lion or my dad for the rest of the night." - Alexandra  

And on getting older. 

"I am technically ten. But they only call you ten, once your tenth year is over. Once you get older, you don't want to become older. But when you are so young, you are eager to become a grown up. It just seems like you have so much choice, and you can do a lot of things when you are older. Like start a family, and kind of decide what you want to do with your life, when you are 18 and a grown up person. But at the same time its hard, because you have to make your own money, you have to find your own job."- Alexandra 

Ballentine, Olympia, WA. 2016

Ballentine grew up in Las Vegas, NV. She now works as an activist in Olympia, WA.

 
"I think my first [march], was the 2003 protest against the Iraq war on the strip. And seeing how that went, and feeling kind of powerless about it... It was the largest sign carrying protest in world history, and it didn't do shit to stop that war."

"I think every time anything happens, in the immediate it can be tragic, but in the long term, it serves to inspire and motivate people. If for nothing else, when I started doing this, I felt not only alone in my personal life but I felt alone in activism. I didn't see a whole lot of other people doing it. And now, when you look out, its happening all the time. I guess my point is that there are more people doing shit now then there were in 2000. I can run into a protest that I didn't even know anything about, and in the old days it was sort of like, one a year." - Ballentine P.

Ballentine, in her room in Olympia, WA

Ballentine in her back yard in Olympia, WA

 
"When it comes to love and loss, I recently decided that I would avoid, as best as possible, falling in love again. Because I am easily overwhelmed, and I feel that it's too dangerous to put all my eggs in one basket anymore. I very much want love, but I don't want any of that to happen again. I have been in love before, and whats really sad... When I have fallen in love... And it has ended... It wasn't ever their choice." -Ballentine P. 

Dave, Auburn, WA. 2016

Dave lives in Auburn, WA where he works as a lead receiver in an auto body supply warehouse. "I get to take stuff off trucks and take them off the shelves, fix inventory problems, and sometimes tell the boss where to go. Sometimes he's angry about that. Sometimes, he says I'm right." 

   “I grew up in an abusive family. Which I have disowned, and have not seen in 30 years plus... and don't care. You know, the first one to knock on my door will be invited to leave... Because of that, I pretty much had to be on my own and figure my own life out, since I wasn't gonna do what my family was about... Not follow in their footsteps. If they go right, I go left, if they go up, I go down. Anything they are doing, I am assuming they are wrong to start with. And I can fix that assumption later if I am incorrect. 
   At one point, and not surprising considering what I grew up in, I considered suicide when I was younger... And the light bulb was realizing, these people aren't worth it. And ever since then, I basically have been self driven, rather than other driven. I wont go with the crowd to just go with a crowd... I'm just not into doing what the crowd is doing. I am singular." - Dave T. 
"I'm not particularly afraid of anything in my past that I have done... Stupid shit that I have done, I have learned from. You know, everybody has done stupid shit... And it is not important as long as you have learned from it. So basically, I do not hide my past, I do not care. People are stupid, including me, and you learn from experience more than anything." - Dave T. 

Kat and Melville, Olympia, WA. 2016

Kat and Melville live in Olympia, WA in their tiny home which was built by Zil Vardos and is named "The Music Box".

   "I don't believe anybody should have to spend their existence working it away. Especially when you get a shock when your young, saying 'Hey! Yeah, your days are numbered!'. You are reminded by having your mortality brought right to your face. And you realize, yeah, some things aren't that important. Really. If you get the bills you are paying down, and get your responsibilities down. And keep them down
   Seriously. It doesn't matter what I am doing. I would rather just be sitting here with her. Even if we aren't talking. Just watching the stupid cat take a bath. I would rather do that, than working in the office making a ton of money. It's worth more to just be sitting in my house looking at my trees... It's just worth more.
   So all of that, the feeling of possibility with her from the beginning. The talking about this escapist mentality that she and I have always had, wanting to feel like we are on vacation together. That all lead to this life." - Melville P.