Poetry Madness

From the Authors


Original Essays

Powell's Q&A

Tech Q&A

Kids' Q&A



Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Burgers, Fishing, and Ball

I've been in Portland since August. I live in John's Landing, near Stanich's restaurant. In case there's someone out there who isn't familiar with Stanich's "Milo" burger, allow me to digress. They put the bottom of a bun in a wax paper-lined plastic basket. On top of this they add shredded lettuce, a pickle relish sauce, some tomatoes, onions, then bacon, then ham. (As the expression goes, I'm as serious as a heart attack.) What goes on top of the ham? A fried egg. I told my father and he laughed for twenty minutes. "I've never heard of such a thing," he said. Yes, they put a fried egg on top of ham which is on top of slices of bacon. Then the patty! Then cheese. Once they get the bun situated they stab it with one of those frilly toothpicks. This isn't an epicurean flourish; without the toothpick the whole thing would riot. When the waitress set it in front of me I took a picture with my cell phone and then I cried. It came with a side of French fries. The fries were brown and limp, like someone had cut up Meriwether Lewis's shoelaces. They were miserable, but it hardly mattered. There's a frame around the Mona Lisa, but no one talks about it either.

One of the first things I did when I got to town was head up to the Deschutes River to have a go at the steelhead. It's easy to screw up a day of writing, but harder to screw up fishing. I was up there with another member of the Lewis & Clark faculty. We both brought papers to grade. I felt like Wordsworth above Tintern Abbey. The scene reminded me of a pot-luck dinner in Iowa City, when a friend argued that Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It was the best book of the last thirty years. Understand, my friend has a genetic defect that makes him a sucker for any story that revolves around a good brother and a less good brother. I don't remember if our conversation reached any sort of resolution. A few years later my friend discovered Saul Bellow and he hasn't mentioned Maclean since. But back to the Deschutes. I didn't see anyone catch anything, but that in no way ruined the experience. Fishing is all about the expectation of something happening, which is why it is a melancholic activity. It's like baseball in this way.

This is the wrong week to talk baseball, but January in Portland feels like April back in New England, so forgive me. You see many more Red Sox hats than Yankee hats in Portland. And, though it hurts to see him go, reading Johnny Damon's autobiography took a bit of the sting away. Besides, his replacement has the best name in baseball: Coco Crisp. Now if the Sox can fill the gap at shortstop...

What, you think you don't like baseball? Read this and tell me that.

If anyone is still reading, I have two last points: I wrote a book. So did she, and him, and her, and this guy, and her (no relation to them).

Until tomorrow.

P.S. My forehead is not as large as it appears in the photo. However, it is formidable.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. A River Runs Through It and Other...
    Used Trade Paper $7.00
  2. Herzog
    Used Trade Paper $8.50
  3. Idiot: Beating "The Curse" and... Used Trade Paper $6.95
  4. You Know Me Al (Prairie State Books) New Trade Paper $24.95

  5. Madeleine Is Sleeping (Harvest Book)
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  6. In the Province of Saints New Hardcover $33.25
  7. O My Darling New Hardcover $20.50

  8. The Commandrine and Other Poems Used Trade Paper $4.21

Justin Tussing is the author of The Best People in the World: A Novel

3 Responses to "Burgers, Fishing, and Ball"

    Shannon January 30th, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    I just wanted to say that you have a very forgiving attitude about Johnny Damon. Most Sox fans I know aren't nearly as nice about his going to the Yankees. Oh, and the burger sounds like an instant heart attack so it's nice to know that it didn't kill you.

    Trout January 30th, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    i'm sad to see damon go, especially to the yankees -- this means i have no choice but to root against him, which sucks. i'm glad steinbrenner made him cut his hair and shave the beard; it'll be like i'm watching a different player.

    no matter, the red sox are better off with coco crisp in center field. damon is aging, he's on his way down. crisp is 26 years old, a future all-star. quoting peter gammons's column today on espn.com:

    "If one takes the 2006 projections in the Bill James guide, Crisp's OPS will be .790 with 13 homers; Damon's .786 with 12 homers."

    and this only speaks to 2006. by 2009, when the yankees are shelling out $13 million (or whatever) for a washed-up benchwarmer and crisp is in his prime, the sox are going to look very good. (yes, the yankees will go out and spend $20 million for the cf of the moment, but such is life.)

    it's never the wrong week to talk baseball.

    Danielle Trussoni February 5th, 2006 at 8:08 am

    I don't fish or eat burgers but I can't wait to read your book! Also, I've seen your forehead and it IS as big as the photo! You have a very nice forehead.


Post a comment:

Get Your Gravatar

  1. Please note:
  2. All comments require moderation by Powells.com staff.
  3. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear.
PowellsBooks.Blog uses Gravatar to allow you to personalize the icon that appears beside your name when you post. If you don't have one already, get your Gravatar today!
  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.