Trent Finlay's blog | Live Wire Radio

On our 217th episode, The Oregonian's music writer Ryan White read an essay about manliness called "The Guy I Never Was." Listen here and follow along with the transcript below.

The Guy I Never Was
by Ryan White

Last year, on one of those dying days of summer that always make me feel like every Bob Seger song except probably “Katmandu” and “Shakedown,” I stood atop a dune staring out at the Pacific Ocean.

On the horizon, kite boarders skimmed across the water. First I thought, “I could do that.” Then I thought, “I should do that.”

I imagined myself on the ocean, catching wind, grabbing air, bursting through a cool salt spray and into the bright wide open, at once untethered from, and totally connected to the Earth. Life, and all its possibilities, must seem limitless in a moment like that.

Later, my obscenely fit friends and I would haul our gear to shore, looking ruggedly awesome. Someone would start a fire by sparking a rock against his 5 o’clock shadow. Food would be grilled. Everyone would get drunk. Couples would wander off have obscenely-fit-people sex under the stars.

I guess I was imagining myself in “Point Break.” But it beat casting myself in one of those Viagra commercials about the AGE OF TAKING ACTION, which, let’s be honest, are really just about the age of a few guys who got out of the market in time to retire with boats and ranches.

Anyway, there I was on that sand dune, dreaming like a young man when the wisdom of a slightly older man came knocking. On my knee, apparently. Because was aching. Maybe it was the weather. Reality set in.

The more likely scenario was this: If I managed to get up on the board at all, a wind gust would grab the kite, yank me in the air, crash me back down to the water again, and again, just a clown in nature’s dunk tank. Probably I’d drown, only to wash up amongst the truly adventurous. Their mellows unfairly harshed, they would spark their fire. Cook their food. Drink their beer. Have their sex. But it would be a melancholy sexy time. Even dead I think I’d feel bad about that.

I went back to the rental to open a beer, search for some Advil, and sigh.

Practical Me is increasingly a problem. Practical Me is full of nagging reminders about what happened when Rugged Me called more shots.

Take camping. For two glorious years I was a platinum member of Marriott’s rewards program. I got a bottle of wine every time I checked in. Nature’s never given me anything but a sore back.

I have a friend who also doesn’t like to camp, but he bought a Jeep once, and felt like he should take IT camping. We set out with cheap gear, and no food. We hiked in, turned around, got back in the car. Stopped at store for food and beer, drove to campground, made a sad, useless fire that didn’t so much flicker as wheeze. Finally, we turned in and spent all night saying, “Did you hear that? What do you think that was?”

I’ve snowboarded -- once. Never have I been so proud to to do something not as well as the 6-year-old who shot past me just off the lift. A 6-year-old who probably made a dozen more runs that day while I hunched sipping a Mt. Dew like the oldest sap ever conned by X Games marketing. I was certain my tailbone had been driven like a nail through my spleen.

Cowboy work? Tried it. Moved cattle in Eastern Oregon. Bought an Indiana Jones hat for the occasion. Did I know how to ride a horse? Of course not. Did the horse know I didn’t know how to ride? Absolutely.

Was I asked to work an edge of the canyon on my own? Strangely, yes. Or maybe not so strangely. It was a pretty convincing hat.

I nudged the horse into gear and ambled off, giving a pull on the front of the hat and trying to spit cool. We came to a pond, whereupon upon my trusted steed took it upon herself to stop for a drink. Then just kind of hang out.

We talked. I asked her thoughts on perhaps moving. She cast a weary eye back at me, bored. I hopped down, grabbed the reigns and tried to walk her along. We got halfway up a hill when she figured that was far enough.

I climbed back aboard and gave her a kick, as I’d been instructed. Interesting thing: spurs exist for a reason. I was wearing hiking boots, the hat having eaten up most the budget.

Another weary eye my way.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a lollipop, a Jolly Rancher no less. I went to work on the problem -- until the business end of the sucker popped off and jammed in my throat.

In that moment, I had one thought: Someone’s going to tell my Mom I choked to death on a piece of candy atop a horse I couldn’t reason with.

In the ensuing panic, I managed to perform the Heimlich on myself using the only the saddlehorn and the weight of my embarrassment.

I believe they probably still tell that story around campfires in Burns.

When I got back to Portland, I left the hat in the trunk of the rental car. I wasn’t going to need it again. Just as sure as I don’t need to invest in a wetsuit.

Practical Me spent that money already. There’s the mortgage. The car needs an oil change. I’ve got a daycare habit that would embarrass a coke addict. I’ve got a lot of grown up stuff to do.

And my daughter would like me to come tea party. I don’t have to bake or wear a bonnet. But I do end up sitting next to Elmo. That’s been awkward lately.

I still try to find time for Rugged Me. I play hockey. I own a circular saw. Could I build a cabin in the Canadian wilderness? I don’t know. The last thing I built was a garden box.

If I’ve reached the age of anything, it’s the age of practical self-awareness.

The truth is, standing on that dune, the water looked cold, and there’s no rule that says you have to spend the day in the ocean to make a fire and drink. I checked.

Plus, I like those tea parties. More than bumming out the beach bums, my untimely demise would negatively impact my ability to be Dad, and I’ve been digging that gig a lot.

Rugged Me might not like it, but I’m cool with it. I’m old enough to accept that I’m no longer that guy I never was.




by Trent Finlay on May 15, 2013 - 1:58pm.

Join us for an evening of personal essays featuring Courtenay Hameister, Chelsea Cain, Christine McKinley and Stacy Bolt. 

This event takes place at Literary Arts and is free and open to the public.

May 16, 2013 7:00pm-8:30pm
Literary Arts Community Center
925 Southwest Washington Street
Portland, OR 97205 USA

by Trent Finlay on May 6, 2013 - 3:08pm.

Ever wonder how to get Girl Scouts cookies during the off season? Here are some ideas from our latest podcast:


by Trent Finlay on April 8, 2013 - 6:37pm.

Food For Thought Festival Special Event

Presented by Jewish Federation of Greater Portland to benefit the Oregon Food Bank
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Time: 8pm
Location: Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum 1219 SW Park at Madison (inside the Portland Art Museum)
Price: $12

Please join Live Wire at the Whitsell Auditorium for a show dedicated to film. Our guests include Portland screenwriter Mike Rich (Finding Forrester, The Rookie, Secretariat); Amy Ephron, Columbia Pictures alumna and director of the short film Chloe@3AM; Yael Kohen, author of We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy and composer Mark Orton (The Good Girl, Sweet Land, Buck) who will show how music can make or break a scene. (This is a live show only and will not be taped for broadcast.) Please be sure to bring a donation of non-perishable food for the Oregon Food Bank. Tickets to this and all Food For Thought Festival events are available at

by Trent Finlay on April 1, 2013 - 2:34pm.

Sylvie Simmons - is a storied music journalist with a career that has spanned four decades and an infinite number of subcultures. Her work has appeared in The GuardianThe TimesRolling Stone, HarpBlenderSan Francisco Chronicle, and MOJO. Her latest book I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen chronicles the life of, well, you can guess.

Stacy Bolt - our last bio for Stacy Bolt reads: "A writer, blogger, essayist and humorist. Stacy has been published in Portland Monthly and Imbibe Magazine and she keeps an archive of her essays on her blog These Things Happen.

Michael Kiwanuka - is warm, soulful voice took the world by storm when he opened for Adele in 2011. Watch him play a song from his latest recordHome Again on Letterman here.








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by Trent Finlay on March 14, 2013 - 1:23pm.

Live Wire Radio, a weekly radio variety show that records in front of a live audience at the Alberta Rose Theater and airs on OPB and on stations around the country, is seeking a Non-Profit Director of Development.

Live Wire's mission is to harness the intimacy of the theater experience and the power of the public airwaves to enliven, inspire, and engage audiences—connecting communities through live music and performance, unpredictable conversation, and original comedy. Live Wire! delivers old school variety with a modern twist to you, wherever you may roam.



The .6 FTE Director of Development will spearhead development efforts in areas of Corporate giving, Corporate Sponsorship and Individual Giving to help Live Wire! Radio continue to grow.   

The Development Director will be supported by the Executive Producer, a PT operations staff member, a PT grant writer (contracted), and a PT e-mail marketing and social media specialist (contracted).



  • Develop and execute Live Wire! Radio’s annual fundraising plan.
  • Secure financial support from individuals, corporations and special events.
  • Develop and maintain ongoing relationships with major donors.
  • Create and execute a strategy for a large sustained base of annual individual donors.
  • Oversee planning, organization and implementation of special events.
  • Develop and track proposals and reports for all foundation and corporate fundraising. Grant writer will manage most of the writing.
  • Act as Account Manager for all current and developing sponsors.



  • BA (required)
  • 5-plus years experience in development
  • Knowledge of Live Wire and enthusiasm for our mission and vision
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Proven experience in and understanding of the world of non-profits, preferably arts non-profits



.6 FTE - Starting pay at 28,500 with ability to increase within first year.


Submit your resume to:

by Trent Finlay on February 26, 2013 - 3:06pm.

Our latest encore podcast features Where'd You Go Burnadette author Maria Semple, True Believers author and host of Studio 360 Kurt Andersen and music by Pedro the Lion's David Bazan. You can listen to the full episode or clips right here:


by Trent Finlay on February 4, 2013 - 5:50pm.

Tickets for our next live taping on February 16th at the Alberta Rose Theatre are now on sale. The show features:

Susan Cain
Susan Cain has been an attorney, a negotiations consultant, and was made a fellow of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership. Her experiences in negotiation (what Jack did on 30 Rock) and conflict management (what no one did on 30 Rock) prompted her to write her latest book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Brian Lindstrom
Brian Lindstrom is an award winning filmmaker and documentarian whose work has appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting and at film festivals around the country. His 2007 film Finding Normal addressed issues of drug addiction and treatment. His latest film, Alien Boy, delves into the 2006 death of James Chasse in Portland Police custody and the issues surrounding it.

Pamela Druckerman
Pamela is an essayist and author who wrote the 2012 parenting-book sensation Bringing Up Bébé, which claimed that the French have some pretty good ideas when it comes to raising children. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Marie Claire. She currently lives in France, possibly because all the well-behaved children are there.

Ian Karmel
We can tell you that Ian Karmel is funny, but wouldn’t it be more impressive if the entire city of Portland had deemed him the funniest person in all the city? Because that’s what happened in 2011. Ian’s appeared in comedy clubs around the country and will appear at the SF Sketchfest, headlining with Venture Brothers creator James Urbaniak. Deal with it.

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
Sallie Ford has a folksy sound that keeps up with the times. When she’s not belting out heartbreaking original ballads about danger and roadtrips and adventure she’s doing the best God’s Away on Business cover this side of… some river that’s very far away. Her newest album is Untamed Beast.

by Trent Finlay on February 4, 2013 - 5:17pm.

We are saddened by the loss of Obo Addy and are comforted that his music will live on forever.

Please enjoy his performances and interview from Live Wire in December 2010 below.

RIP, Sir.




by Trent Finlay on September 19, 2012 - 7:35pm.