rss feed | youtube | links | the burning log
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
A fitter, happier, more productive Fun Center
A Portland Tribune cover story on Friday focused on 18 - 34 year olds and their complete lack of interest in the Rose Festival. An excerpt:
A good deal of their focus, he said, is on the amusement center at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park now known as Pepsi Waterfront Village because of its status as an accessible, centerpiece event that runs the duration of the festival.
The story quotes organizers and their desire to add "vibrancy," "localness" and "relevance" to the Fun Center in order to boost revenue and draw in artsy-farsy types (or, as the buzz phrase around Portland puts it, "young creatives"). The obvious choice would be to add a music stage with an emphasis on up-and-coming local and indie bands but that's been attempted in the past and has drawn "the wrong element" to the Waterfront. Sheesh, how would a few thousands hipsters attending a Decembrists show be any worse than the crowds and that turn out in droves every year?
Aside from music out of the mainstream, what else do 18 - 34 year old Portlanders enjoy? I myself fall somewhere into the middle of the bracket. I visited the Fun Center again this year but I'm the sort of person that enjoys kitschy carnival rides, skee ball, elephant ears and misguided corporate parade floats (the floats were parked outside over the weekend. If only you could have seen the Qwest one dedicated to the "music and people of New Orleans" with nary a reference to Hurricane Katrina).
Supposedly, young creatives enjoy kitsch and the Fun Center has that covered. During my trip down there it was all over the place. Check out the mural on the side of the "Spaceship 3000":
Murals lifted from old Ralph Bakshi movies count as "kitsch," right? There was also a stage set up where actors in pirate costumes were firing a cannon repeatedly for no apparent reason. Who doesn't enjoy explosions? There was also an Animal Planet walkthrough kiosk filled with...
...animatronic animals and...
...this robotic fellow and his simian pal. The kiosk also had an interactive gorilla robot but I neglected to get a photo. Long story short, I felt like I got my money's worth. For $20 I ate junk food, spun around on two carnie rides, witnessed a series of loud explosions, won a stuffed dog and played with a robot monkey. Still, somehow I get the feeling that I'm not the best representative for my demographic. So in an effort to help out the organizers of future Fun Centers, I have a list of more cliched suggestions that might help pull in the "young creatives":
For the more "take it to the streets" types interested in vicarious retribution, there could be a bounce house filled with balloons shaped like riot cops. Or, even better, a Whack-a-Cop stand with miniature protest signs instead of mallets. The top prize in a player bops enough plastic PPD officers on the head? A "Is it 2008?" bumpersticker, a barrel full of Ben and Jerry's and an immediate end to the war in Iraq.
For young millionaires already living in the Pearl District and young Republicans, organizers could throw in a Dick Cheney shooting gallery (*groan*) or some sort of Ron Saxton-themed ring toss. There might also be a way to work Karen Minnis theme into the goldfish game but I'm out of ideas. Top prize for all these? No state taxes for a year, a measure 43 claim and dibs on an acre in the Siskiyou National Forest. If they throw enough money around they might also land a free casino in the Columbia Gorge.
If the mood strikes, feel free to offer up your own suggestions in the feedback area below. What would you like to see down there next year?