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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Just another day in Portland
I rolled out of bed on Sunday not expecting anything out of the ordinary. Within a few hours I was trapped in a vortex of ordinary-ness unparalleled. It was as if I had drifted into a travel show profile on the City of Roses. While I did what I could, there was nothing I could do to escape. I had to see it through to the end.
4:15 PM: Take this photo in Chinatown. While fumbling with the live view function, a scary, no-good-nik wanders up. "Say, that's a nice photo." Not camera, photo. He peeks over my shoulder and continues up Burnside. Guess my camera isn't worth a shakedown.
4:25 PM: Ground Kontrol is in the middle of a full-fledge hipster infestation. Ironic t-shirts and gel galore. A girl with a green mohawk attempts to film a band on stage (at this hour on a Sunday?) but her hair keeps banging into the archway in the pinball lounge. Back downstairs, Zangief rips apart Ryu in 30 seconds flat. I can never beat that commie bastard with Ryu. Blanka though? No prob. Break out the electric force field and Zangief's got nothin'. But Ryu?
4:45 PM: Wander up to Rich's Cigar Store. Flip through the latest issue of Portland Monthly. The cover story is on Oregon road trips. $300 hotel rooms in central Oregon and wineries?!! Does anyone else remember when Bend was urban cowboy country, not yuppie vacation home country?
4:50 PM: Walk past Pioneer Courthouse Square. A church field trip is waiting for the Max. One girl loudly proclaims "DOWNTOWN SMELLS LIKE STUFFED ANIMALS!" What could that possibly mean?
4:52 PM: Pause at the old Meier and Frank's. Shed a tear, spill malt liquor on the sidewalk and continue on towards Waterfront Park.
5:00 PM: A few dozen punks in leather, metal belts and black t-shirts are gathered outside the Paris Theater. Asking for trouble, I attempt to circumnavigate the crowd in Birkenstocks. One guy won't get out of my way and another falls off his skateboard after I hold up traffic. Despite his Misfits shirt, he apologizes to me. My karma bank has dropped to zero. I'd better buy a copy of Street Roots before the day is over.
5:10 PM: Waterfront Park is littered with carnival rides and trailers for Cinco de Mayo. A trailer with a really creepy clown is parked north of the US Merchant Marine Memorial. Should have taken a picture...
5:15 PM: Now I'm in Saturday market. Do I need any paintings of wolves? Anything weaved or made of clay? Any dried flowers? Nope, nope, nope and nope. If only they sold video games, beer or some other vital item I can't live without. "Elvis" is sadly nowhere in sight.
5:25 PM: Back at Powell's. I use the bathroom. I'm pretty sure it's the closest thing to a public restroom in the Pearl District.
5:30 PM: One last walk past the Street Roots guy. So much for karma.
5:35 PM: Homeward bound up Broadway. The Portland sign at the Schnitz! Sex and City wannabes with Nordstrom sacks! The promise of a brand, new Abercrombie and Fitch that I don't care about within a block of the old Abercormbie and Fitch that opened a few years ago! That really ugly PSU walkway over Broadway! 7-11! Billboards! Portland! Yeaaaaah!
7:15 PM: Ah, the Old Spaghetti Factory. I've been coming here since before I was born. A Portland institution that started a worldwide franchise and what gets all the press? MCMENAMINS! A travesty, I say. Sure, the beer and hippie art are neat but what locally-based franchise started the "let's take over an old, weird building and turn it into a magical dining experience for the whole family"?
THE OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY! Can you get a plate of pasta, bread, minestrone soup, iced tea AND spumoni ice cream all included in the price of your entree at a McMenamins? While sitting at a table in an old streetcar on fake antique furniture?
No, sir, you cannot. ALL HEIL THE OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY!
If you've never been, now is as good a time as any. Portland's location can be found at 0715 SW Bancroft St, within meatball-lobbing distance of Ross Island and the South Waterfront district.