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Hawthorne Bridge Walk and Brunch

18 Jul

My roommate and I were driving across one of Portland’s many bridges one day after our yuppie workout class, zooming past strolling pedestrians and spandex-clad bike commuters, discussing our plans for the day.

“You know,” one of us said. “I’ve lived in Portland for quite a while now, and I have never walked across a single bridge.”

“Weirdly,” said the other. “Neither have I.”

It’s not that either of us is ecologically irresponsible, choosing a car when our feet would do just fine. It’s just one of those things that, if you don’t live or work very close to the waterfront, you have very little reason to ever do.

Clearly, this needed to be rectified. You see, Portland is famous for its bridges. Neatly bisected by the Willamette River, to get from one side of the city to the other you have to cross one of ten bridges. Eleven if you count the one that’s just for trains. That’s a lot of bridges for a relatively small city – and is the reason why one of Portland’s aliases is Bridge City.

Our genius plan was to organize a group of ruffians interested in bridge-walking, and traverse one bridge per month until we’ve conquered every last one of ‘em – foul weather, bad traffic and hipster infestations be damned.

Our first conquest was the Hawthorne Bridge:

A rare sunny day in April on the Hawthorne Bridge.

You drive on this metal grate suspended over turgid grey waters. Crazy!

According to Wikipedia, the Hawthorne Bridge is the country’s oldest vertical-lift bridge. Who knew? Not I. The most interesting facet of this bridge was that the part the cars drive on is a metal grate, so that when you look down and through, you can see the water below. Quite the vertigo-induction.

Once we completed our perilous journey, and since it was Easter Sunday for we secular godless types, we naturally brunched at the only restaurant worth going to at the West base of the Hawthorne Bridge, Veritable Quandary. With a name like that, how could you NOT?

Is this salad a veritable quandary? We’ll never know.

Furthermore, Veritable Quandary bills itself as a restaurant that “offers a truly authentic Portland experience.” I don’t know what to make of that claim, but I will say that 1) the food was good, 2) the place was packed and 3) the service was poor – three identifiers of Portland restaurants if ever there were any.

The Stumptown was burnt but they made us a fresh pot without too much complaint, so everyone went home happy, full, and having conquered our first Portland bridge.

What about you, readers? What iconic or touristy thing have you never gotten around to doing in your home-base city? Or, if you live in Portland, what bridge should we do next?

Portland: Not as shitty as TV would have you believe*

13 Dec

I spend a lot of time hating on Portland, and for good reason. There are several forms of distasteful and pervasive elitism here, including but not limited to geographic elitism (more than half the city is subject to public services discrimination), nerdly elitism, and general vehicular asshattery. Also, it’s cloudy all the time, public transit sucks, and we have three times as many miles of unpaved road than Nashville, Boise, Seattle, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Boston, Austin and San Francisco—combined. Also?
In the city with the reputation for having the largest concentration of lesbians on the West Coast, they closed the only lesbian bar.

However, in the spirit of fairness to this not-so-fair city, there’s a lot of cool stuff here, too. For example:

  • Awesome radio! I love good radio. Even radio static. Especially I am a fan of when two or more stations get mixed up so music and talking and static fade in and out, creating a creepy and old-timey and oddly comforting cacophony that would do well at the beginning or end of a certain genre of techno song. Anyway, Portland has some great radio stations:
    • A new one I discovered recently is KZME, found at 107.1 on your Portland FM dial. So far it is tons of really amazingly good (and local!) music.
    • Good ol’ classic, KBOO. They have a feminist talk show! And a queer one! And a show called “Fight the Empire”! And super-early morning mellow commuter tunes!
  • Unexpected Art:
  • Community-y things: 
    • Multnomah County Libraries: Second only to New York City in the volume of rad books and what-have-yous that are checked out. Pretty significant when you consider that it’s No. 29 in population, but No. 2 in readers. Yay books!
    • City Repair Project is here.Their whole mission is pretty much all about painting trippy stuff on the streets, hippie-style. I have every intention to avail myself of their services come paintin’ weather. Which is approximately one week a year, in mid-August.
    • Friends of Trees: These people will come to your house and plant trees for you. We got two trees last spring. I like to water them, because I like trees.
  • Event-y things:
    • Science Pub! My roomie told me about this thing where scientists talk about cool science-y things while audience members enjoy pub grub and boozey things. Yay science! Yay cocktails!
    • Arts for All! Even po’ folks here are allowed to watch cool dance-y things and play-y things and music-y things. Imagine that.
    • Music for All! See above.
    • The meetup groups here are not sketchy like they are in other cities that shall not be named.
  • Snobbery I agree with: I am not the only person who lives here that hates:
  • And, last but not least: Our neighbors bring us cookies! Then we keep their plate for way too long, because we are all too antisocial to go over and bring it back to them. We suck. 

If you live here: What do you love/hate about Peeland? What did you think of it before you moved here? After? If you don’t live here: What do you love/hate about your hometown/the town where you currently reside? And what is your perception of Portland from lands afar (I know at least one of you thought it was near Chicago…).

    *Or rather, shitty in entirely different ways than TV would have you believe.

      No. 1 Most Innovative Use for a Mason Jar

      19 May

      If you’re anything like me, you spill your java all over the place during your morning commute. Travel mugs are always leaking from the seam, regular mugs have no lids and so must be held, leaving only one hand free for tricky maneuvering around other cranky commuters, and often end up rolling around in the footwell of the passenger seat, after thoroughly soaking either a lap, laptop bag or upholstery.

      So, when a recent housewarming gift of a set of Mason jars coincided with the misplacing of my $2.95 teal plastic portable coffee mug, it was time to perform experiments. COFFEE EXPERIMENTS:

      The Mason jar is the world’s most perfect coffee-transportation mechanism, so long as you don’t need to sip while driving. Fill with cafe du jour, cap and throw it wherever, and you’ll arrive at your destination with nary a drip nor stain. You can even put it in your laptop bag. Not that I’m advocating that. Ahem.

      You may be thinking, “Mason jars are a slightly odd housewarming gift. Aren’t chip-and-dips the customary gift?” Well, my friend, let me tell you about Mason jars. Specifically, let me tell you about how much I love the Bye and Bye’s eponymous pink beverage, served in a GIANT Mason jar. Consisting of peach-infused vodka, peach-infused bourbon, cranberry juice and lemon, it’s a one-way ticket to blammo-ville. Can’t go wrong with a bar that serves Brussels sprouts as pub grub, too.

      The set came from a guest aware of my love for the booze delivery mechanism known as the Mason jar, and accompanied a bottle of whiskey, 1/4 of which was promptly spilled on the new house’s hardwood floors. C’est la vie!

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