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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.

      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.

      The Rogue Vegan Strikes Again

      2 Apr

      All ya’ll remember the vegan defacer, right? The city painted over her or his original work a couple weeks ago, but today the word “vegan” has reappeared in the same spot, complete with a versioned naming convention!:

      I can’t wait to see if this cycle will continue indefinitely until such time as we see bible-verse sounding phrases like “Vegan:126″ scrawled on walls all over dear old Portland.

      Related posts: Today in Animal Rights

      Red Lines of Portland

      12 Mar

      I’ve been in Portland long enough that I can safely say I’ve figured out where the red lines are. If you live here, you know what I mean. If you don’t live here, chances are your town has its own borders that nice girls and boys are not supposed to cross.

      People say things like, “Harold drives a Ford and lives out by Clackamas Town Center, if you know what I mean.” I have to restrain my sarcasto-reflex to stop myself from responding with, “No, actually, I don’t know what you mean. Unless you’re trying to say that Harold is poor and kind of trashy so that you’ll look better by comparison? But surely that’s not what you’re saying, because gee, that doesn’t reflect well on you.”

      This quadrant-ism is so freakishly prevalent that when trying to pick a happy hour location with a coworker yesterday, she laid out her requirements like so: “I won’t go over the hill on the weekends, and I won’t go past 82nd.” This was her way of saying that she is wealthy and hip enough to live downtown, and urbane enough to avoid the suburbs like the plague.

      In case any of you are thinking of moving here, I have drawn a map to help you quickly get up to speed on where all the “right” kinds of people live:


      As you can see, the city is neatly divided into four parts for convenient segregation of the haves from the have-nots. All political correctness aside, here is how it was explained to me when I moved here: Southwest is downtown (tall buildings, people with smartphones.) Northwest is yuppietown (coffee shops, people with smartphones and skinny jeans). Northeast is the ethnic ghetto, and Southeast is the white ghetto.

      If you can swing it, it’s best to live on the west side, but if you absolutely must live on the east side, the rules are as follows: Live above Holgate (preferably above Foster) and west of Powell. Live below 60th, but preferably below 39th. If you live on the West side, your best bet is the alphabet district if you’re inclined to hipsterism (delineated by the hipster glasses, above) or the Pearl if you’re inclined to use a hair straightener. You should probably work downtown in a tall building (see drawing of briefcase), but if you can’t manage that, you can serve $10 drinks at a Northwest bar until you’re30. After 30, people will start wondering if you should move to the East side.

      The problem is this: Limiting yourself geographically is also limiting experientially. The same people who refuse to leave the 20-block radius around their condos are the same people you’ll find extolling the virtues of world travel and blathering on about how their trust-fund funded trip to Europe changed their lives by broadening their horizons. As someone who has lived in both Marin County and Oregon’s Illinois Valley, I can tell you that you don’t have to leave the country to have your mind blown by cultural differences.

      So what’s the give? Once they’re back in the States these worldly folks are suddenly no longer interested in traversing outside their comfort zones, or meeting people with different backgrounds than their own? Why have the same people who bore me with 12,000 pictures of the natives in Nepal, complete with narrative about the mind-expanding qualities of learning about different cultures, decided that they will only socialize with their own kind when they’re on their home turf?

      And – if you live here, what are the neighborhood stereotypes you know of? Longtimers: Have they changed?

      Naked Nerds: With your clothes off, no one can tell you read Gaiman

      2 Mar

      What’s better than looking at scantily clad ladies? An excuse to look at scantily clad ladies! With nerd burlesque, you get to allay your naked-lady guilt by pretending to be interested in them because they like comic books. Just like you, you sweaty, doughy pale thing, you! Epic Win’s marketing gimmick has worked like a charm, and now losers like me know about Batman Burlesque, the latest in a string of ploys to get nerds to come watch strippers.

      Just look! They dress up like characters from Batman, then take their clothes off! How original!

      Nerd burlesque represents a glorious confluence of sophisticated horribleness. It’s meta-bad:

      First, you have the gentrification of stripping that is burlesque. Burlesque is retro and involves elaborate costumery. It’s for hipsters and other college-educated white folk who like to congratulate themselves on their politically correct love for “the female enigma.” Which is a nice way of saying they like looking at boobies, just so long as they don’t have to feel dirty while doing it. And the bonus is their girlfriends get to feel good about the woman-empoweringness of it all. Although how naked performing is somehow better when it’s stylized escapes me. Sure, they’re artistes, but so are strippers. You don’t see them renting space in art houses and touting their Ivy league educations.

      Add the nerd factor and you get another thing I hate: The co-opting of nerd culture by the mainstream. I liked nerdhood better when it was still an uncool subculture. Combining hot girls and nerd culture is just repackaging nerdiness as capitalism for fanboys, enabling ticket sales, and giving nerd rags a way to up the hit count.

      Related Posts: Naked Women Gots Brains!, Give Me G-Strings or Give Me Death, Indie Yuppies

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