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Providence Park before the last Timbers home game.

Providence Park before the last Timbers home game. The Timbers Army is already on their feet and cheering, as the teams warm up.

I was invited to my very first Portland Timbers game last weekend. The Timbers are a soccer club in Major League Soccer. There is a waiting list for Timbers season tickets, and most of the individual tickets are already sold out for the year. Because of this, getting invited to the game was a pretty big deal.

However, that’s not the reason I was thrilled to have a chance to attend. We all know the game is called futbol to everyone else in the world, soccer to those of us in the U.S. I bring that comparison up intentionally, because here we do something else that is common around the rest of the world, but rare in the U.S.: Portland hosts some ferociously enthusiastic soccer fans. They call themselves the Timbers Army. I had been invited, not merely to the game but to join the Army, and it was an opportunity to experience ultimate soccer fandom. The Timbers Army is kinda famous. I read about them in Sports Illustrated in 2009. Yeah, a story about the fans.

So we go, and we sit in the north section of the stadium where the Army has taken over. Thirty minutes before the start of the game, the Army section is already packed, people cheering, flags waving, and the rest of the stadium has barely begun to fill up. You can see this in the photo at the top: a clear line of delineation between regular fans and the Army.

Let me take a tiny step back from the scene for a second. My degrees from Brandeis are in cultural anthropology. Even before that, at College of the Redwoods in northern California, I had studied cultural anthropology, and over the years gained experience in conducting ethnographies. This is when you, an outsider, try so hard to understand a community that you actually join them. You do what they do, in their environment, in an attempt to gain their perspective. While I stood there in the stands at Providence Park, surrounded by roaring and chanting and drumming fans, I was constantly thinking of ethnography. The group is rich with things to study.

First of all, the chants got my attention. Listen here as they yell “When I root I root for the Timbers!”

You’ll also notice both hands go in the air, in a sort of genuflection. However, the position of the hands can be a little tricky. As a friend explained to me at one point, “You have to make sure you’re holding your beer in your right hand during this one, because you don’t want to be doing the Nazi salute.”

When I root, I root for the Timbers!

When I root, I root for the Timbers!

When the opposing team came onto the field, everyone pulled out their keys and shook them. The message: Go Home!

When the opposing team came onto the field, everyone pulled out their keys and shook them. The message: Go Home!

Down in front of the stands are the capos, like cheerleaders, who get the crowd hyped up, on their feet, and howling in unison for over 90 minutes without ceasing. Everyone around me knew every song by heart. There are particular songs sung at key points in the game, according to action on the field or minutes on the clock. Fans sing songs and cheers borrowed from futbol around the world, and the ensuing roar is nearly overwhelming. They do not. stop. yelling. Not for the entire game, and for some time after it is over and the teams leave the field. Fans immediately call out players faking injuries, rolling around on the ground. They see error in every single call by an official against a Timbers player, and justification in every single call against the opposing team. They see unwarranted aggression whenever the other team gains an advantage. They scream with approval when their own team does the same. Put it all together and the energy is outrageously fun. And loud.

There are so many rituals that I couldn’t keep track of them all. Key to so much of it are the scarves, worn by nearly every single person in the stands (I was able to borrow Tara’s and thus had my uniform). The scarves say Timbers Army on one side and No Pity on the other, and are held into the air in unison to send the appropriate message.  Some cheers require scarves to be flipped vertically, some call for spinning scarves, sometimes we only had to hold them up to display. The scarves also come in handy when a smoke bomb is released after a goal, and you need to cover your mouth and nose.

The tifo went up early in the game. On this night it was a call for domestic abuse awareness.

The tifo went up early in the game. On this night it was a call for domestic abuse awareness.

Flags and smoke in the air.

Flags and smoke in the air.

Another fun ritual after a goal is when Timber Joe saws a piece off a huge log. After cutting the slice, Timber Joe passes the wooden disc through the crowd so people can touch it. At the end of the game, players lift the discs while the crowd erupts.

Timber Jim cuts a slice each time the Timbers score.

Timber Joey cuts a slice each time the Timbers score.

Here, Jim hauls the wooden disc through the crowd so people can touch it.

Here, Joe hauls the wooden disc through the crowd so people can touch it.

They borrow a lot from European futbol fans, including the tifo, which is a big visual display of support from the people in the seats. It’s often done with cards, with flags, and as you see here, with an enormous banner. People have drums and trumpets (I was waiting for vuvuzelas, and surprised not to hear any). The flags are waving constantly, also seen in the photo. People brought in green and white paper streamers, and thousands of people gratefully took programs and brochures at the door, and began tearing them into pieces. I saw all around me hats upturned in laps, filled with torn paper, and pockets being jammed with paper, and it took a long time but YES, you guessed it: confetti filled the air at the first goal. In minutes, people swept up much of the paper in the stands and filled their hats again, awaiting the next goal.

Oh, yes, and there was a soccer game too. Portland is in red, against Salt Lake City in white.DSC_0440DSC_0443

Timbers lined up for defense of a penalty kick

Timbers lined up for defense of a penalty kick

Ball is in the air (a white smudge above the A in Alaska) and Timbers goalie has his eye on it.

Ball is in the air (a white smudge above the A in Alaska) and Timbers goalkeeper has his eye on it.

The game was tied in the end: an odd end for me, since I’m used to games that require a winner. The Timbers failed to make the most of an extraordinary advantage, when the Salt Lake City team was down one player (11 vs. 10) for much of the game, and down two players (11 vs. 9) for several minutes at the end. We only managed two goals (not counting the beautiful one at the beginning of the game, which didn’t count due to a penalty). It wasn’t for lack of trying, as the marquee pronounced 26 attempts in the second half of the game alone.

Twenty-six attempts vs. seven

Twenty-six attempts vs. seven

One final ritual was when wives of the players brought their children out to them for the closing ceremonies.

Ned Grabavoy and his little ones.

Ned Grabavoy and his little ones.

Nat Borchers claps while holding his boy.

Nat Borchers claps while holding his boy.

Ok, if your interest is piqued, you’ve got to see the following video from The Daily. It’s only 4 minutes and does a great job of showing the fanaticism I’m trying to describe. Well done.

My last post was about visiting family in Idaho. I had two reasons to go there, and the second one was music.

Alana Davis knocks us flat with her amazing voice.

Alana Davis knocks us flat with her amazing voice.

Marcus Eaton at the Sapphire Room at the Boise Riverside Hotel.

Marcus Eaton at the Sapphire Room at the Boise Riverside Hotel.

A few of us die-hard Marcus Eaton fans know a little about each other. So when we heard that Marcus would be in Idaho visiting family and putting on a show with newly-Idahoan Alana Davis, I got some pressure along the lines of, “You should go to Idaho, visit your dad, and catch the show while you’re there.” Thank you for pushing me guys, it was the best one yet!

I’m a fan of Alan Davis too! Years ago I found out that Ani DiFranco’s song was actually a cover of Alana Davis’ 32 Flavors, so I bought her album Blame It On Me, and became a fan on the spot. Turns out she lives in Idaho now, and was able to participate in the Idaho Songwriters Association December concert. When Alana played 32 Flavors, she brought Marcus onto the stage with her and we got to hear their guitars together. I go weak in the knees for acoustic guitar.

My brother joined Tara and me at The Sapphire Room. My brother was the manager at The Big Easy (before it became the Knitting Factory) and had seen Marcus play a dozen times, but this was mostly new music for him. The delicious surprise was that there was a lot of new music for me too! While I have seen songs like Smile, and Sunrise Lets You Down on YouTube, this was my first time hearing them live.

Marcus also treated us to a song or two from the new album, one he co-wrote with David Crosby, and a couple brand, brand new songs too! I have been *starving* for new music, and it was the medicine I needed. He played song after song, covering a Bob Marley tune with Alana, and playing a song with his dad Steve Eaton, also an accomplished musician. Marcus joked about the drawback of many harmonica players, but pointed out that “My dad can actually play the harmonica.” And he could. Steve sang one of his own songs called Asleep at the Wheel that made lots of Idaho references, making a fun song even more enjoyable.

Marcus and Alana share the stage.

Marcus and Alana share the stage.

Most of my shots were from behind the stage, since that is where our seats were.

Most of my shots were from behind the stage, since that is where our seats were.

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We had been there nearly three hours when the show ended. I introduced my brother to Marcus and Tara was finally able to say Hi (she is prohibited from attending all his 21+ shows). Those two wanted to go home and sleep, but I was soaring on adrenalin and wanted to stay. My brother gave me the number for a local cab and I handed him my keys.

After the show I was approached by Melissa, who had noticed my camera and asked if I would take photos, since their usual photographer was not there. I happily acquiesced, and the after-show shots of all the folks involved with the concert and the Idaho Songwriters Association turned out great. Turns out that Steve Eaton founded the Idaho Songwriters Association, and remains active and supportive in it. While waiting for others to come together for the photos, I was able to meet and talk with Steve. His enthusiasm for his son’s career, and his love for his son, was evident.

After photos Marcus was swarmed by fans, friends, and family (and those categories totally overlapped). It was a brilliant thing for me to see: the musician at home. Something I feel honored to have witnessed. The love and admiration was palpable. I stood to the side, waiting for my turn. I had the chance to talk with his brother, and his sister, and his mom. The whole family is warm, wonderful, generous, the way I’ve come to expect of the Idahoans I’ve known. Everyone was buying up the gorgeous concert posters his brother made, then getting autographs all over them. It was a frenzy of favors and silver ink and laughs.

Steve Eaton, Alana Davis, Marcus Eaton.

Steve Eaton, Alana Davis, Marcus Eaton.

When most of the people were gone, a few of us fans followed him to another room where he packed up his gear. Marcus’ sister begged him for the use of his phone charger. His mom came in with a friend and we all sat around a large round table and told stories and got to know each other a little. Marcus is a born storyteller, periodically having to get up and act out the tale, once even enlisting the help of the Ohio fan to play a part of “ordinary guy” to his “obnoxious L.A. native.”

When it was time to go, Marcus overheard me calling a cab. He told me to call them back and cancel, and I got a ride home with him and his sister, while his mom drove. Now THAT was the pinnacle of a great evening for me. I couldn’t sleep for another two hours, just lay awake and grinned.

Marcus Eaton at the Star Theatre in Portland November 19, 2014

Marcus Eaton at the Star Theater in Portland November 9, 2014

It’s been too long since Marcus Eaton was in Portland. When I got the news he would be coming through, deciding to attend the show was a no-brainer.

As I told a friend:  “I am sort of miffed at Marcus (not really, I’m joking) for moving to LA. He used to have this Pacific Northwest circuit, where he’d play Seattle, Spokane, Kennewick, Portland, Boise, and sometimes smaller towns in between. I could catch those shows. Seattle and Kennewick are only 3 1/2 hours’ drive, so practically around the corner.”

Marcus has been busy in LA, still doing shows in Italy, working hard with David Crosby, and has completely changed the old routine. He’s connecting to thousands more people than before. Now that our little secret is getting out, the old fans are having to relinquish our personal time with our favourite artist, so he can satisfy the new fans. It’s a bummer, but I’m also thinking: it’s about time he gets the exposure he deserves.

Enjoy the fire, a drink, a smoke, and watch people walk by on the street.

Enjoy the fire, some gyros, a drink, a smoke (Oregon just voted in favor of marijuana legalization)  and watch people walk by on the street.

Here's the rest of the view from the fire. Great atmosphere here.

Here’s the rest of the view from the fire. Great atmosphere here.

I showed up early (because, Duh, it’s Marcus!), so I had to wait around. Marcus had the audacity to leave after sound check, and get a bite to eat I presume. Imagine, thinking about food at a time like this. One of the employees pointed me through a door to the outdoor patio and Zaalook mediterranean cuisine. There was a fire pit beside the sidewalk and that’s where I soaked up a little of the city while I sipped my drink and waited.

He showed up with 2 minutes to spare. There he was! No glasses, short hair, but the man I was looking for. I practically leapt across the theatre for a hug and a hi and then watched him hit the stage.

Playlist for Mark (you know who you are!):

  • Sunrise Lets You Down
  • What’s the Difference
  • The Calm Beneath
  • Close Your Eyes/ mashup with Bille Jean
  • Fiona

Marcus had expressed some worry that the sound would work out, since there had been problems earlier during the sound check. I don’t know what the problems had been, but we were bombarded with bass at the beginning of the show. Luckily the sound guy pulled it off somewhat over time. Sadly, a residual effect of this was when I managed to get a super-great close up and undisturbed video of The Calm Beneath, I played it back home and found it absolutely worthless due to the sound quality.

On the beautiful stage of the Star Theater

On the beautiful stage of the Star Theater

Marcus claps into the microphone while he builds a loop.

Marcus claps into the microphone while he builds a loop.

I allowed myself to be annoying and snapped about 7 shots with a flash, but it didn't improve the photos and mostly just gave Marcus glowing red eyes.

I allowed myself to be annoying and snapped some shots with a flash, but it didn’t improve the photos and mostly just gave Marcus glowing red eyes.

I have told this tale before, trying to describe how much I love his music. As soon as the guitar began to sing, my heart was melting. It sounds like a serious health condition, but jellied innards are a sign of big-time fan worship. And it’s a good thing. I was trying to soak up the melodies, the atmosphere, the idea that I was finally seeing him live again. The crowd really went bananas when he played Bille Jean. I’ve heard him do this before, but it doesn’t fail to please. And five songs later, it was over too soon. The audience tried cheering as payment for one more song, but we were ineffective. Melted heart broken.

It was fun to notice that at least half the audience was there FOR Marcus…which I am not used to seeing when he opens for another act. It has almost been a badge of honor to be the only fan who shows up for ME, and not for the main event. But the tides are turning and ME is coming into his own time.

Yes, he was touring with his longtime friend and even longer time guitar hero, Tim Reynolds. I had seen Marcus Eaton and Kevin Rogers open for TR3 before, several years ago. While we waited for TR3, one audience member told me, “If you like Marcus, just wait till you hear Tim Reynolds. Your life will never be the same.” She had no idea who she was talking to, ha ha! She should not have been so confident that our worlds had not already been rocked by a guitar magician. I chatted with no less than seven other people that night, who all swore they had only come for Marcus Eaton. One couple had never even heard of Tim Reynolds. Ha!

So yeah, Star Theater‘s big act for the night was TR3 with Tim, the bassist Mick Vaughn, and drummer Dan Martier.  They were really entertaining and the music was much more rock and roll than what Marcus gave us. And all those guitars you saw stacked up in the photo at the top? Tim played them all! It was a great show from beginning to end.

Tim Reynolds wows the audience

Tim Reynolds wows the audience

The boys even brought Marcus onto the stage so we could suck the last bit of ME music out of the night.

I could never get Mick Vaughn into focus. That man is one high-powered bundle of energy.

I could never get Mick Vaughn into focus. That man is one high-powered bundle of energy.

I had not seen Marcus emerge during the TR3 set, and didn’t know till nearly the end of the concert that he was in the back with the merch, available for chatting. As soon as I learned this, I went back to chat a little, but kept it brief cuz I didn’t want to abandon my date. We were able to exchange a couple of personal tidbits to catch up on each other’s lives. He empathized with getting my braces off – yay!! A friend snapped this photo during our few minutes together.

Awww, reunited.

Awww, reunited.

After the show, I stood beside him and got in a few more questions in between fans gushing and buying CDs. Marcus said he loves L.A., loves his neighborhood, loves the music, the beach. It’s hard to stay mad at him for living there when it makes him so happy. The answer to the most sought-after question of the evening: The new album is still not ready, no new songs were introduced, no insider info. He’s got most of it done, he told me. Aside from the beautiful song Better Way, we will just have to be patient. “Soon!” promises Marcus.

Mickey joins a group of paperboys to talk about the headlines and about Walt's dream of going to California to make it big.

Mickey joins a group of paperboys to sing about the headlines and about Walt’s dream of going to California to make it big.

One person was at pains to point out to me that these are not actual celebrities, but people in costume. I am not one easily discouraged out of my delight in magical make-believe. Trust me, I have been asked to act more like a grown-up for a couple of decades, and no one has succeeded yet. Leave your logic at the door! This was a week packed with the who’s who of our favourite characters on the screen, and you can’t tell me otherwise.

Only succuming to the joy of fantasy role-playing allows the kind of happiness seen here.

Only succumbing to the joy of fantasy role-playing allows the kind of happiness seen here. Too adorable.

Storm Troopers in Tomorrowland. Selfie in progress, there in the background.

Storm Troopers in Tomorrowland. Selfie in progress, there in the background.

We caught the Aladdin show, and saw Jasimine, Jafar, and Aladdin himself there on an elephant in the audience.

We caught the Aladdin show, and saw Jasmine, Jafar (seen on stage), and Aladdin himself there on an elephant in the audience. Genie stole the show, however.

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

Pooh gets some love.

Pooh gets some love.

All of these characters were mobbed the instant they were spotted. I mean, all of them. A storm trooper passed me, and I asked if I could take a photo, but he waved and kept going because if he stopped, there would have been an instant crowd. Instead I followed him to a gathering point, where multiple storm troopers were getting ready to put on a show. (ha ha, isn’t that a hilarious thought)

People mobbed them for photos and autographs. Yes, we were so excited to get autographs from Disney (or Disney-bought) characters. We were willing to stand in line for it. But we had our limits. Princesses Anna and Elsa, from Frozen, were there, but the wait was from two to three hours for an autograph and photo. Though Tara wanted to meet them almost more than anyone else, she was not willing to squander precious park time standing in line that long.

Miss T's fave stop was probably Pixie Hollow. She confessed to me later, "I was expecting a person playing Tink, but she was the real Tinkerbell! She was perfect!"

Miss T’s fave stop was probably Pixie Hollow. She confessed to me later, “I was expecting a person playing Tink, but she was the real Tinkerbell! She was perfect!”

C3PO was on duty at Star Tours and kept us entertained while waiting in line.

C3PO was on duty at Star Tours and kept us entertained while waiting in line.

This is one of those trouble-makers that was messing with Mack when he fell asleep driving.

This is one of those trouble-makers that was messing with Mack when he fell asleep driving.

R2D2 was also entertaining us at Star Tours, doing maintenance and beeping.

R2D2 was also entertaining us at Star Tours, doing maintenance and beeping.

And who is to say these celebrities did not win their fame in the exact same way as most of the ones we idolize? What makes a person famous: the fact that we’ve heard of them or seen them so often that they are familiar. How is that any different from Donald Duck or Mater?

We asked for an autograph from our amazing skipper on the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. Taylor was so much fun she became a celebrity on the spot.

My very favourite character to meet was Mater, but he drove by so fast I couldn't get a sharp image at night.

My very favourite character to meet was Mater, but he drove by so fast I couldn’t get a sharp image at night.

My second favourite was this big blue monster. I was literally squealing "Hi Sully!"

My second favourite was this big blue monster. I was literally squealing “Hi Sully!”

Princess Merida

Princess Merida

Lightning McQueen

Lightning McQueen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russell

Russell

Donald Duck

Donald Duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara met Mickey in his studio, after walking through his amazing house

Tara met Mickey in his studio, after walking through his amazing house

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