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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2007



For years, Kell's Irish Restaurant and Pub has dominated St. Patrick's Day in Portland. Back in 2005 I decided I should head down there at least once. An attempt to round up a proper drinking crew was quickly thwarted by a stiff cover charge. St. Patrick's also fell on a weeknight that year, which didn't help the cause.

The last time I checked, Kell's cover charge runs upwards of $20 on St. Patrick's Day. Is that worth an opportunity to drink inside a tent in the middle of March? Probably not but I was still curious enough to head down there on Saturday with a colleague. By 4 PM, a line snaked down the block in front of the pub's main entrance. The crowd seemed to consist of spring breakers too broke to spend the week in Cancun. Maybe it was the summer-like weather or the fact that the holiday came on a Saturday but every bar on 2nd Avenue was clogged with drunks. Unwilling to drop cash to drink alongside undergrads in giant green hats shaped like beer mugs, we decided to return later in the evening, figuring that several hours of binge drinking would thin out their ranks. We stayed long enough to take a few photos...

Meet Mr. Guinness. Could he take on Sudsy, the Oregon Commentator's mascot and the only other anthromorphic beer I can think of off the top of my head? Naw. My money's on Sudsy. At least he has a face and can tell which way to throw a punch.

These guys were setting up shop in a nearby parking lot as we passed by. They practiced that one song you always hear when someone plays the bagpipes that isn't "Amazing Grace." It was the first of many times we would hear the tune over the next nine hours. I still don't know the name.

The local chapter of MADD decided to contribute to the holiday's good cheer by parking this wrecked sports car in front of Kell's party tent. Slapped on the side was a terse message warning celebrants to take it easy on the green beer if they plan on driving. I'm not convinced the message was getting through to the crowd. As we headed back to the car I spotted a frat kid climbing around on the front, urging a buddy to snap his photo.

From downtown we fled all the way out to Edgefield, where we waited two hours for a table at the Power Station Pub. The grounds were packed with an older crowd covered in shamrock paraphernalia. These guys were playing classic rock covers in front of the Little Red Shed. We ate stew, drank beer and had our ears shredded by a bagpiper who wandered into the pub, thus proving the Theory of Bagpipes. Bagpipes + indoors – decent acoustics = shredded ears.

Back on 2nd Avenue, a new round of frat brats had taken over. All the bars were still packed and, with the hour growing late, the cover charge at Kell's again worked its de-motivational mojo, despite the promise of glowing, keepsake beer mugs. We settled on Dan and Louis' Shucking Room, tucked in a corner off the main drag. Inside, a guitarist was playing traditional Irish tunes, "traditional" in this sense meaning that they were filled with crude sexual innuendos and fart jokes. The drinks were stiff and the song about what happens when you leave a live crab in a chamber pot was killer.

From there we headed over to Voodoo Doughnut for custard-filled sweets covered in shamrock candy and green frosting. The DJ at Ground Kontrol wasn't spinning any drinking songs but the elaborate Pirates of the Caribbean pinball machine with a sinkable Flying Dutchman made up for it.

We didn't manage to drink any green beer, get into any brawls or track down a bartender willing to make us Irish Car Bombs but, eh, whaddyagonnado? We ate green doughnuts, listened to songs that referred to flatulence as "passing wind" and played arcade games. The first time I ever sunk a plastic pirate ship with a pinball? 12:30 AM on 3/18/07. Yes, I consider this an accomplishment. Where's my resume?

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