Hello, Portland! It is I, Hutch Harris, lead singer of our fair town’s most beloved post-pop-punk band the Thermals and your unofficial liaison to the international world of indie rock. I have commandeered Ian Karmel’s column and will be steering it with a steady hand for the next few months, or longer, depending on how long Mr. Karmel’s success continues. I’m guessing it will continue for much longer, at the rate he is going, and for that I offer my sincerest congratulations and irritations! For as all artists know, there is nothing quite so worth congratulating, and yet quite irritating, as the success of one’s peers. It was a great philosopher (myself) who wisely said: “There is no level of achievement as enjoyable as the one your colleagues will never reach.” We love to see our friends doing well, just as long as they’re not doing any better than us. Fortunately for myself, and for us all, Ian Karmel is a truly hilarious individual, and in my incredibly un-humble opinion, deserves all the victories he is currently enjoying. I myself am currently enjoying a scrumptious Nutella-filled ponchik, of which I am very deserving. For not only have I followed Ian Karmel’s words on this back page of the Portland Mercury, but I have also followed him in mind, body, and spirit to Glendale, California, just north of every Portlander’s favorite city of all time, Los Angeles. (This column will be about the cities I visit while touring—a job that provides as much free time as it does free beer.)
Glendale is the birthplace of Hollywood luminaries such as Edward Furlong, star of Terminator 2, and Erika Eleniak, star of Under Siege—the object of many of my lurid high school fantasies after posing for Playboy in 1989. Glendale also boasts one of the largest Armenian populations in the world outside of Armenia itself.
The United States is a nation of immigrants, as well as the delicious foods they brought with them. Polish immigrants brought kielbasa to America. Jews gave us the knish. As a Jew myself, you are welcome for the knish. What, you’ve never had a knish? Please, have a knish. Look at you, you’re starving. Have a nice knish. Mexicans gave us the taco, the enchilada, and of course the burrito, which over the course of a hundred years or so evolved into the most American food item of all—the Enchirito. Armenians have given us my new favorite member of the donut family, which I discovered in Glendale, the ponchik—a beignet-like pastry with a sweet, flaky crust and a soft gooey center. It’s usually stuffed with cheese, jam, or my personal preference, Nutella. Although I’m still a huge fan of Voodoo Doughnut—despite the fact that they no longer offer over-the-counter medicine—I am thrilled to add the ponchik to my edible repertoire.
Soon I will return to Portland, the city I love more than any city I have visited in my 20-plus years of touring. I will be glad to once again breathe clean air and drive at ridiculously low speeds. But I shall miss Los Angeles, with its unceasing sun and of course, the delectable ponchik. I will be updating my location bio to paraphrase Ian Karmel’s: where his home was “LA, but my heart stay Portland,” mine will read “Portland, but my mouth stay Glendale.”