18 Feb

Lessons and Observations from the PNW

February 2016: I’m just finishing a wonderful trip to the Pacific Northwest.  Though I had been to Oregon in 2011 on a work trip I was making my first visits to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and Spokane with a longer layover in Bend, Oregon with friends from Hawaii and Colorado. People were amazingly generous to me during the trip and I’m grateful for how often this happened on the trip and in my life in general and how effortlessly things seem to fall in place for me.  I’m aware of this fortune and the joy it brings.  Dr. Brene Brown speaks on the data linking gratitude and joyTyler-crotch-shot-Seattle-hop-along-band-tour

I spent the first five days of the trip with a band my brother is working for as both tour manager and sound dude called Hop Along who was opener for Dr. Dog.  Hop Along was a super group of people who shared their van, their gas (auto and other) and let me be the Assistant to the Tour Manager (not Assistant Manager, mind you.) Four observations:

  1. A new favorite song – Tibetan Pop Star, by the aforementioned Hop Along.  Frank can sing big.  Yes Frank, though she’s a lady.  It’s how us “band” people talk.
  2. Shoes can mop up beer – or at least mop it into elevator shafts. [Slow clap] Yes, Joe, yes.
  3. When queried for the name of the long thing on a kangaroo? Answer: Penis. Also would have accepted: Tail.
  4. And though no one sleeps with the bassist the dude can dance. He goes by Tyler. Also seen here: Joe, Hairstylist.

gortons-my-brother-is-an-idiotAfter shows in Portland (Crystal Ballroom), Seattle (Neptune) and Vancouver (The Venue) we had an off day in Seattle.  Beecher’s cheese curds, yum, was lunch.  In a brilliant move my (younger, skinnier, gingerier) brother Steve decided to buy large rubber boots, a military-style folding shovel and one of those yellow parkas reserved for the archetype’s on the cover of an Gorton’s fish sticks. We (all me!) lugged his prize possessions over 10 miles on foot in Seattle and during the final climb up Mt. Seattle – it had to be a mountain based on what felt like pulmonary edema – I considered using the shovel to both murder and bury him. If you see him wearing this atrocious outfit picking up my niece on a rainy school day please: (a) punch him (b) splash him vigorously and (c) ask him for tartar sauce.

Steve also did 85+ push-ups during the Super Bowl on a bet and on the floor of a bar in front of complete strangers.  Thank you Carolina for being his team of choice and for being terrible on what is now a special day for me.  The final show I was a ATTM to was in Spokane at Knitting Factory and the falls in Spokane are spectacular.Spokane-Washington-Falls

The ethnic diversity of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver was surprising and the contrast of the largely non-ethnic (i.e. lotsa honkys) communities in Bend and Spokane was striking. Vancouver was a short stop but really beautiful and warrants a return trip for sure.


Mahalos to Kevin for sharing their home with my platonic bromantic friend Brian in Bend, Oregon.  Enterprise rental car gets a nod for renting me a sick BMW 328i for cheap for a few days.Tumalo-Falls-Oregon-Hike

Lessons Learned In Bend:

  1. Don’t wear denim on rainy hikes to Tumalo Falls. Doh.
  2. Don’t let Brian drive your rental car.  It went 0 to 60 mph in 2.4 suburban home tracts at 1am.  Brian was not given Bend’s honorary “Captain Considerate Award”
  3. Don’t ever rent a BMW if you own a lesser car.  I’ve never owned a car that nice and driving it was like drinking good scotch “Damn, I can never go back.” #hondacrvsadface

I did give three talks on neurochemistry and laughter in Bend (2) and Seattle (1) and the talks were lively, silly and well-received.  My final talk was on my final night at Nerd Nite Seattle at the High Diver in Fremont.  Nerd Nite is like TED Talks but with booze. It’s rad. I will be giving the same talk at Nerd Nite Honolulu on March 1st and encourage you to attend. 8pm, Anna O’Briens.


I appreciate those who opened up their homes (Dara) their hearts (no one really) and their hearts (Tinder). I’m kidding, sadly. I look forward to paying forward the generosity extended to me.  As a whirlwind tour of places and people comes to a close and I’m excited to return to an amazing and magical place and dogs who will be sooooooo happy to see me.  Authors note: the dogs were soooooo happy to see me.  My boys.


Anthony Poponi is a comic, improv artist, brain chemistry nerd and community-minded advocate and owner of Humore.us. He’s brings his love of connection and laughter to audiences as keynote, emcee, workshop host or moderator and his mission is to increase laughter and connectivity to combat the human health crises of isolation and disconnection.

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