Phil Stanford's column will resume Jan. 7. In the interim, the Tribune will publish some memorable past columns, such as this one from Sept. 6.
As a member of the Portland Marathon massage team and one of the two or three top massage therapists in town, Jefferson Kincaid was a logical choice to give the presidential massage when George W. Bush came to town two weeks ago.
On Aug. 21, the day before the president was due to arrive, Kincaid had an interview with a woman from the White House advance team. She told him the team wanted someone who could do some 'deep tissue work' Ñ although after talking with her for a few minutes, Kincaid realized she didn't really have much of an idea of what that meant. However, since 'depth' is relative anyway, he didn't try to explain it to her.
As it happens, Kincaid's specialty is the piriformis muscle, which is located deep within the human buttocks. As he explains it, there are three gluteal muscles on the outside of each buttock and six rotator muscles Ñ including the piriformis Ñ beneath them. If the piriformis is tensed up, as Kincaid explains it, you're going to have back pain.
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The massage took place after Gordon Smith's fund-raiser, in the presidential suite on the 22nd floor of the Hilton Portland. Kincaid had brought his massage table, and the president of the United States, in the altogether of course but covered by a sheet, lay on it.
Kincaid started by asking the president if he had any aches and pains.
'No,' said the president.
In fact, the president did seem to be in excellent shape for a man 56 years of age. He told Kincaid that he lifted weights and ran.
As Kincaid started to work on him, though, he began noticing 'stops,' as he calls them Ñ a tenseness in certain 'centers,' indicating the blockage of energy and emotion.
For as the White House could hardly have known, while Jefferson Kincaid is certainly an expert in sports massage, he is no ordinary locker-room masseur. He is a practitioner of spiritual as well as physical healing arts and has long since arrived at the point where mind and body are one.
He operates out of an office in an old house at 2325 E. Burnside St. Ñ not the fanciest part of town Ñ and if the White House staff had tried, it probably couldn't have found anyone much more different Ñ in just about every way, including his notions of what constitutes a sane foreign policy Ñ from the man on the massage table.
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'Did anyone ever work on your butt?' asked Kincaid. Once again, the president said no. But he was willing to give it a try.
However, when Kincaid started going deeper in an effort to release the stopped-up energy, the president said, 'Not this time.'
After an hour and 15 minutes, the massage was over, but Kincaid had one more thing to address: the president's posture. His shoulders hunched forward.
Kincaid showed the president a stretch for his chest Ñ something he could do lying on the floor Ñ to improve his posture. The president said he'd practice it. Although, of course, Kincaid didn't say so, it also might unblock his heart center, his fourth chakra.
'It's a doorway,' Kincaid says. 'Of course, he doesn't know it yet, but I showed him a doorway.'
What will he do when he finds out?