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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 Gay Pride

16 Jun

Happy gay pride weekend, Portlanders!

Portland weather shows a little gay pride.

I’m back on the left coast and will be venturing out to take lots of pictures of the festivities to post here for your viewing pleasure, so stay tuned.

While you wait, what are your plans for pride this year? Portland or otherwise!

101: Progress report

19 Dec

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled sarcasm to bring you a progress report on my list of doom! Here are some things I have accomplished so far:

38. Organize one meetup per month

On Saturday I organized not one but TWO meetups. Quite the action-packed day for a misanthropic hermit such as myself. Meetup No. 1 involved me running into an old friend (this always seems to happen at meetups, who knew?) and meetup No. 2 involved regimented jello shots, rad chicks from the internet and Portland’s favorite pastime. So. Much. Fun.

80. Visit some of my blog readers in person

I met Ms. Writersays in NY last time I was there (we went to disco improv! she kept me from getting run over! a lot!) and I met a couple of cool blogular ladies at aforementioned meetup Saturday. YAY!

39. Learn to do proper makeup

Thanks to the power of YouTube, I’m fairly solid on this now, so long as I continue to have internet access. Apparently having appropriate brushes with which to apply makeup is key. I achieved a most excellent “smokey golden-y sparkly eyeball look” over the weekend of which I was most proud. However, today the eyeliner has still not worn off completely (despite a lot of remover and face wash) and I am significantly less enchanted with my newfound girly powers.

Works in progress:

92. Stay up all night, then watch the sunrise

I am less enthusiastic about sleep debt than I once was, and I keep psychotically early hours, so this one’s a challenge even when there’s a good reason to stay up all night. Further research pending. Disco naps may be involved.

37. Yarn bomb something

Here’s a picture of my first yarn-bombing knitting project (it may look like a scarf, but don’t let it fool you – it’s actually a stop-sign-pole cozy):

What happens to the rainbow stop-sign-pole cozy: Does it meet its destiny, or will it spend its days on a neck, forever ruing its cosmic missed connection? Tune in next time to find out!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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.

      Things You Find in Unexpected Places

      10 Dec

      Here is a lonely shoe I found while walking from the gym to my friend’s apartment, complete with creepy filter:

      Where is the other shoe? How did foot and shoe become separated? Perhaps we’ll never know. (Although I have a strong suspicion alcohol and foot pain were involved – those heels look pretty teetery.)

      Here’s a Mystery Berry:

      It’s so spiky! It looks nefarious and irresistible. Naturally, I brought it home so that while I slept, it could disperse its evil spores and hatch little berrylings as part of its plan for galactic domination.

      Here we have a fine Bathroom Graffiti Specimen:

      It reads: “Ladies, you made me feel more like a lady tonight than I’ve felt for soo long. You are beautiful, I am too and love yourself, try to forget insecurities and mistakes! Love, Elaine 06/21/10″

      Elaine’s self-esteem pep talk was, of course, located in the ladies’ room at a vegan strip club. Portland is rife with them. Anyway, I suspect the men’s room graffiti leaned more toward the Sharpie-penis genre of wall art, but again, we’ll never know.

      Found anything interesting lately?

      Five things I saw in New York this week

      6 Oct

      1. Man dressed as Elvis, with shiny red cape, trying to hail a bus. Not a cab, mind you. A bus. Luck, as it turns out, was not on his side.
      2. Old man in bow tie, smiling at me benevolently.
      3. Girl in gold-sequined scrunchie. Take that, Carrie Bradshaw.
      4. At least 20 men completely uninterested in the contents of my pants holding doors open for me.
      5. Three – count ‘em, THREE – hipsters. In  a week of seeing hundreds if not thousands of people, only three were pretentious trust-fund babies feigning poverty and artistic proclivities. I like it here.

      Special bonus thing I saw that I actually took a picture of:

      Isn’t it pretty? There’s a whole sidewalk full of them leading up to a big ol’ library. I haven’t worked up the courage to go into the library yet because the last time I tried going into a library in New York they kicked me right out. I must look homeless or something.

      It’s notable that New York City has the highest volume of library books in circulation in the US. Know what city is second? That’s right, it’s Portland. Being in these two cities is a very nice change from some other places I’ve lived (names redacted to protect the guilty) where the denizens voted to de-fund their libraries, essentially locking all the lovely tomes behind doors that never opened again. /shudder. I lived a half-block away from my town’s library growing up, and spent a lot of time in the stacks and snooping through card catalogs. I love me a good library. Also, book-smellin’.

      Yay, books! What was your favorite book when you were a kiddo? Mine was The Little Moon Theater. I still would really like to own one red sock and one yellow sock, so I could mix and match them like the misfit in that book.

      Pics from the ‘hood

      16 May

      Cruising around the neighborhood last week turned up all kinds of items of note. Here are a couple of freebies, a la the November Toilet:

       

      It amazes me how generous people are with their large appliances. Until I haul them home to discover they don’t work and there’s a fee associated with disposing of them. Pfft.

      And here’s the requisite old used condom, a la the Courthouse Rubber of ’07:

      Scientific condom-carbon dating proves this to be a much older specimen, perhaps offering more clues to the origins of the species. Further examination by teams of condo-thropologists needed.

      And, the pièce de résistance: some kind of fag-related graffiti:

      I’ll transcribe it for you, as it’s hard to read: “GO FAGS.” The message, although scrawled in emphatic caps lock, is unclear. Do they mean, “Go home fags”? Because that is precisely what I was doing when I saw this! Perhaps it’s a message akin to “Go Blazers!”, in which case, hey thanks! Although I didn’t realize faggotry was a competitive sport. Perhaps it’s meant to be read from bottom to top, as in “FAGS GO”? Which makes me wonder: Fags go where? Where are all the fags going, and why did no one tell me??

      Poop with purchase

      24 Nov

      Yesterday, while scrabbling over a small mountain of displaced concrete, hands stuffed into ski gloves, stuffed into pockets, walking toward the mini mart on a mission for gummi worms, a gruff man whose gaze I was trying to avoid stepped into my path.

      “Hey, want a toilet?” he asked, pointing toward a cracked porcelain heap lying crumpled in a muddy, grassless yard.

      The desire for gummi worms,
      like The Force, is strong in this one.

      “No thanks,” I replied, attempting to navigate around him.

      “What about this kitchen sink?” he tried. “It’s high-quality.” He made a sweeping, Vanna White gesture in the direction of another pile of porcelain, complete with a rainbow of mineral stains: brown iron puddles, streaks of bright green copper, and what’s that poking up from the drain? A tuft of someone’s … hair?

      “It’s free!” he beamed.

      This overall-wearing salesman was clearly not to be dissuaded with a simple no.

      “Maybe I’ll pick it up on my way back,” I lied, and maneuvered successfully around him.

      I secured the gummy worms, stuffed half of them in my face, and carefully plotted a new route home that would take me far from Free Toilet Guy. On my way back, much to my dismay, what did I see but this:

      What, if any, lesson is to be learned from this? The only thing I can think of is:

      All ye who need toilets, kitchen sinks, and possibly on a good day, bathtubs, get thee to my neighborhood posthaste, as there is no dearth of crappers free for the taking.

      Girls can be cheerleaders

      7 Nov

      In only 30 seconds, this local Portland commercial for Mattress World manages to rewind gender stereotypes by approximately 50 years, scar children’s psyches, and not say anything helpful about its products’ features. They run more than one version of this exact message here during Trail Blazer games – other versions start with the little girl proclaiming her only dream in life is to be a cheerleader and then move on to the little boy with his many basketball-related dreams:

      Not only are the gender roles here patently unnecessary and painful to watch, I fail to see how this campaign could sell mattresses. I imagine the crack marketing team at Mattress World sat down and said, “We need to come up with something that the locals will like. Locals like sports, right? Hmm, well there is only one professional sports team in the entire state. So the Trail Blazers are a pretty safe bet! Now, how to relate basketball to mattresses? Umm, well, they have cheerleaders, and players, right? Boys are the stars, and girls are the sideline decorations. But, we don’t want to be too sexy, we are a family mattress company. Let’s use kids, everyone likes kids. Go!”

      They probably learned this form of marketing from reading kids’ books from the ’50s: “Girls can be nurses, boys can be doctors! Girls can be secretaries, boys can be businessmen! Girls can be mommies, boys can be rock stars!” Then they watched a few rip-and-replace local car commercials, where car companies come up with a bunch of generic characteristics they ascribe to a region, then voice them over pictures of their vehicles pasted over static images of local landmarks, and call that a regional targeted ad. It’s insulting. What’s worse is that they, and the vast majority of viewers, probably don’t see anything wrong with this approach.

      Top Six Vehicles Driven by Assholes

      3 Jun

      About five years ago, I was completely unable to tell the difference between different types of vehicles. A Mercedes and a Ford looked exactly the same to me. I could divine the difference between “truck” and “car,” and might’ve gone so far as to describe a vehicle as a “minivan,” or a “convertible.” But outside of those utilitarian delineations, I hadn’t the faintest what piloting a particular automobile “meant” about the person behind the wheel.

      Thanks to my arduous commute, my state of ignorant bliss is, alas, no more. So, in order to provide you all with the benefits of my Significant Life Experience, I give you, without further ado, my Top Six List o’ Vehicles Driven by Assholes:

      Mercedes Benz

      A Mercedes is the ultimate entitled asshole mobile. Firstly, no one can figure out how to pluralize either “Mercedes” or “Benz,” giving it that unpronounceable je’ne sais quoi beloved to elitist pigdoggies everywhere. Secondly, the totems to materialism that serve as hood ornaments exist for no other reason than to serve as reminders to normal people that we are like tiny, tiny ants just waiting to be squashed by the Mercedes’ superior horsepower. Or whatever it is they have that’s worth a sticker price of about $56,000 (which, according to my Very Scientific Calculations, could keep me in portobello mushroom paninis for about 15 years). The only exception to the rule is if it is a very, very old Mercedes. If it’s rusted out, you can trust the driver. If it’s been converted to biodiesel complete with prominently located bumper sticker, well that’s a gray area.

      BMW

      The BMW is the jealous, bitter, aspirational younger yuppie sibling of the Mercedes. Again, the name causes problems in that no one knows what BMW stands for, except for some spurious sources that claim it stands for “Brute’s Murder Weapon.*” The Beamer deviates from the Mercedes in that it doesn’t matter how old the Beamer is, the driver will never be absolved of asshole status while barreling down the freeway in a car rumored to be built with the blood of Jews. (For realsies! Other cars too!)

      Audi

      The people who drive Audis are the same people who sign their e-mails with “Cheers,” or worse, “Ciao.”They’re going for European mystique and/or sophistication, but all they get are repair bills so high they end up selling their Beamers to pay for them.

      Saabs and Volvos

      I want to like these cars. I really do. Saab buys ad space on public radio, and Volvo reminds me of hippies. I like public radio and hippies, therefore I should like Saab and Volvo, right? Wrong. These car brands are marketing to the wrong demographic, as people who drive them are without fail unable to use their turn signals or let populist cars change lanes.

      And, last but not least, the humble Volkswagen:


      You’d think VW would get a bye on accounta being responsible for a cute co-opted slogan like “fahrvergnugen” and making those adorable bugs and Scooby Doo vans. But you’d be wrong! Sure, patchouli-scented old-school VW owners do not pass the asshole test. But did you know that VW was invented by Hitler? Fo’ sho’! Also, VW owns Audi, and makes Certifiable Asshole Cars like the Jetta. Unless you live in your VeeDub with your crime-fighting dog and mod posse, you fail.

      While the vast majority of my fellow commuters are just normal regular humans trying to get from Point A to Point B in normal regular human cars, taken as a collective, they’re something far more sinister. The commute, after all, is more than just a commute — it’s a microcosmic representation of society, with all the preening, power struggles, and Machiavellian machinations inherent therein, all baldly displayed right there on the pavement.

      *I make no claims to truthfulness, honesty or accuracy. I have performed absolutely no research for this article, and am not an expert on cars, assholes or Hitler. These are not the facts you’re looking for. Or more accurately, these are not the facts for which you’re looking.
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