*written in collaboration, as always.
On a recent Friday afternoon, around 4:30, Jason Rhodes of Palate was deep in conversation with someone over the back fence at Palate. (Palate = only the most exquisite coffee bar in Bend, Oregon; lovingly owned and operated by Jason Rhodes and his rad partner, Jodi Groteboer.). I waited some breaths while Jason finished up his exchange. We were to have a casual chat and photo session for what would be the (eternal) Beginner’s Guide to Bend’s first installment of What’s In the Bag?, wherein we ask local stand-outs, well, what’s in their bags.
As we like to do, the hour prior Laura and I had been using Palate as our cozy, caffeine-flush space-away-from-our-home-offices office. You know, how most Millennials do these days. We were all business and at the tail end of wrapping up the creative content for this company, owned by local sweetheart and Paleo pioneer, Debbie Fred. (FYI, Debbie is probably someone we’ll probably write about in a probable future BGTB blog post. Which reminds me: heads up! We’re currently plotting out our editorial calendar, sooo… if you’d like to be considered for guest blogging on the BGTB, get in contact sooner rather than later. Either that or just keep your ear to the wind, as we’ll be rolling out upcoming themes and a general call for submissions here soon.).
OK, like I said, we were all business, which is why stepping through the back door and into Palate’s backyard was all the more like passing through a tesseract. Not that the interior of Palate is anything but aesthetically refreshing—we have commented that the room itself is comprised of magic—it’s curated with tufts of curious things (a plastic cowboy figurine, nearly edible slivers of geode, patches of lichen the color of limeade), and it seems to expand as you take your seat —but out back? Now THAT’S a fucking SPACE, and one where anything can happen and where the rules of physics and/or metaphysics may or may not apply. Have you ever read Gary Zukav? If not, you should.
River rock lies on the ground in various states of subduction. A stage (about which Laura inquired: What’s this, the Stage of Life? And to which Jason replied, without hesitation: Exactly.) erected from repurposed lumber rises, slightly and to the left. A freshly hewn stump juts up behind the bar that will eventually open itself to A Broken Angel, the vegan food cart in residence on the other side of Palate’s back fence (more on THAT in another post). Despite the chill, Jason is at ease in a t-shirt, having just taken down a tree (for space and for use, of course). Bella, a sweet, lumpy love of a golden lab, sticks close, sniffs often.
After exchanging a handshake and a hello (that was it for preliminaries and pleasantries,just my style) the next half hour was a rich and somehow weightlessly speeding exchange of ideas and memory and experience and vision. Thirty minutes of art and death and Oregon real estate, of community and civic responsibility and, yup, politics. It was as invigorating and as easy as passing a hand through a waterfall. To say that tapping into the subdural veins beneath the public veins inside the community is neat, is an understatement.
When the three of us finally got to emptying Jason’s bag, we were friends. And maybe what I mean by that is not that we were familiar, but that we knew something elemental and human and real about one another. Some things we can only hope (aim?) for in every conversation.
But before we get to the bag (because we love to make you wait, and because haven’t we already opened “the bag” through meaningful, undefined, and heartfelt exchange?), back to the SPACE, and what this space means for those of us in Bend who are seeking community and connection beyond the lights. Looking at the bones around us, at the materials foraged with an artist’s sensibility, you could see that the backyard at Palate would shape and shift and fashion itself to accommodate the moment. Friday, that moment was an inspired and inspiring interaction. And in that space, in this summer and beyond, I bet we can look forward to moments and afternoons and perhaps a few evenings of vegan feasting, acoustic performance, and—who knows?—a slammin’ poetry show or two.
Jason envisions Palate beyond it’s realm of meticulously pulled Stumptown shots and Coava pour overs. He sees the coffee bar’s shapeshifting backyard as cultural loci, a place for many elements to meet and come into play. And that’s us, the citizens of Bend and the humanimals just passing through. We are the many elements. As Jason said, “I don’t want to be reinforced by what I already believe.”
Indeed, I want to be changed.
Without further ado, here’s what’s in Jason Rhode’s bag right now:
- Small yellow legal pad
- Paper calendar
- Black Hole Blues, by Janna Levin
- Catching the Light, by Arthur Zajonc
- Art journal
- Toyota key
- Water bottle
- Kid art (a la early Cy Twombly)
- $.35 (dime, quarter)
And what was in his bag 5 years ago:
- Baby diapers
- Chewy toy
- iPod (with same playlist as today)
And what’s going to be in his bag in the distant and pixelated future:
- 2017/18/19 paper calendar
- New notepad with projects
- New books
- Water bottle
- iPhone 23
- NO cigarettes
Also, I’m reading Howard Norman’s memoir, I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place, and so this: There is another world but it is in this one. ~ Paul Eluard