Matt: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest was a lot of fun. What’s nice about Oregon is that you can get into the outdoors. I grew up camping, fly fishing, rafting, hiking, trekking in the outdoors. The people who I grew up with were all pretty real and honest, Oregon was a nice playground. It was a wonderful place to grow up. But don’t move there! (laughs) It rains too much and people don’t know how to drive.
Matt: I didn’t necessarily set out to move to Berlin, it sort of happened serendipitously. I went to Berlin to see a concert and planned to stay for a few days and we ended up staying for three weeks and I kept going back. I just really liked the creative pulse and the edge of the city and the history of the city as the Berlin wall came down not too long ago. I grew really attracted to the city and got to a point to where I wanted to experience living in the city full-time and at the time my work allowed me to have a location independent lifestyle.
Also, Berlin is a very open and tolerant city for gays, lesbians and transgender people so for me personally that’s very attractive and not everywhere is like that. Obviously Portland is like that but Berlin is like that on a bigger scale.
Matt: I love airplanes but I am terrified of flying. I don’t like the fact that I’m not in control being in a machine 40,000 ft in the air. My favorite airplane so far is definitely the airbus A380. It’s a double-decker plane known as the whale in the sky. It’s amazing. You don’t feel the bumps when there is turbulence. I would recommend sitting on the top floor because you get a better view. I’ve also wanted to fly on the Boeing Dreamliner 787, I’ve heard it’s amazing. In terms of airports, I haven’t been to a ton of airports, but I have to say one airport that I love and could probably live in is Amsterdam Schipol.
Matt: It’s got everything you could want, it’s got hotels, food, casinos, unfortunately it doesn’t have coffee shops yet. It’s easy to access on the train. When you arrive to the airport for a connecting flight, you can walk the international terminal and see where all the flights are going and you can see all these big planes. It’s cool to see all different types of people. One thing I like to do when I’m there is to walk the entire airport, which takes about two hours, and just see where everyone’s flying.
Portland airport is amazing. I’m not being biased, just read Conde Nast and you’ll see that they vote Portland airport highly.
The most interesting airport I’ve flown into is Ataturk airport in Istanbul. Mainly because it's a place where some many cultures converge around the world. That’s a cool thing to see.
Matt: I generally like the work ethic of the Mexicans that I have met down here. I like the craftsmanship that a lot of the trades have preserved down here. Of course there’s mass production that goes on, but if you go into some of the rural and indigenous communities, you still see the preservation of art. For example, woodwork, tapetes, ceramics. It’s amazing to see how much pride they have in their craftsmanship. In Guadalajara, you see beautiful woodworking and carpenters. I like working in Oaxaca and in the indigenous communities in particular because they they take pride in their work but are also a very humble and not egoistical. In the communities where we work I see an honesty that you definitely don’t see everywhere.
[We take a small break because Matt is getting attacked by mosquitos]
Matt: It depends. In my family home, a rug symbolizes tradition, a family heirloom, beauty. I think rugs are a good way of adding a unique element to an empty space. If you sit and look at a rug in a room, it brings to room to life and adds a story to a home or to a space.
Matt: Well I can’t really give you the whole story of why I started liking that song, but I can say that I had an experience to this song that was extremely memorable. I do idolize Chaka Khan in some way. In fact some of her songs are written by Prince, who I really like as well. This thing about Ain’t Nobody is that if you put the song on in a room full of people, 90% of them are gonna start singing to it and dancing. It gets the room pumping and it gets the car bumping when we are driving. In the gay community, people respect the Chaka Khan's and Dolly Parton's of the world because they own their identity and are very soulful.
Matt: I’m sure there are distinctions between selling products and services. The consistent theme across all that is accountability and doing what you say you’re going to do. Customer service and treating people honestly and with respect. It doesn’t matter what space I’m in.
Matt: Shit…that’s a tough one. Okay, there’s an Italian coffee place near my house on Dieffenbachstraße in Berlin. They pull an awesome espresso and it’s the best bang for your buck.
Best espresso ever is a local chain in Amsterdam called de Koffie salon. We’ve been to it a bunch of times. They consistently pull a great espresso, have great croissants, and they don’t have wi-fi, which creates a really cool atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely worked in coffee shops on my computer and don’t talk to anyone. But not having wi-fi really creates a great experience. It feels more authentic.
Matt: I actually haven’t been to a lot of clubs in Europe. But I did have an amazing experience in Amsterdam with you over New Years at a club called Dekmantel. DJ Harvey performed and rocked the f'ing house. The Netherlands really knows how to stage electronic music.
Being in Berlin, one of my favorite clubs would be Berghain. The music is on point, the environment is pretty unique, the people know how to party, and well, the experiences are always memorable. There are so many good venues in Berlin. I guess it’s less club related, but more about who you’re with and what music you’re listening too.
Matt: I would say that Czech food is amazing. My favorite dish that’s non-Persian is schnitzel. As long as they give you enough lemon. We went to a place by your old apartment in Prague called U Sadu where they have incredible schnitzel and fries.
My favorite Persian dish is something my mom makes and it’s called Zereshk Polow. It’s one of the best meals ever. It’s got dried pomegranate with rice and chicken. It also comes with Shirazi salad. Also, there’s a dish called Sabzi Khordan that’s amazing.
Matt: I visited Tehran back in 1996. I did a lot of traveling around the country, to Shiraz, Isfahan, and other parts of the country. That was amazing, but I was a bit too young to appreciate the full experience.
I went back in 2011 with just my mom. I spent almost the entire time while I was there in Tehran. Tehran is a fascinating place. It’s at the crossroads of so many civilizations. It’s influenced by Northern Africa, Indian, Central Asian, Pakistani, European, Turkish, and Arabs. I feel like all these influences meet at the grand Bazaar. They sell everything you could imagine. It’s basically a city. If you get lost there good luck finding your way out. Tehran is a huge city, with about 20 million people. It has many different neighborhoods, great restaurants, and beautiful parks. The Iranians are really big on parks and open spaces, especially at night when it cools down in the Summer. Every time I go there I’m greeted warmly by the locals and they are really intrigued by Americans and always want to learn about American culture. As a place to visit, I would recommend anyone who has an interest to go to do it now before the big rush of tourism in the future.
Matt: My favorite quote is by Einstein and it goes “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I’m a firm believer that if something doesn’t work once or twice, then try something different. I try to live by that quote but I know it’s hard sometimes to pivot your mind.