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Saturday, July 21, 2007
The last go round
So I was suckered into delving into the belly of the beast last night, down to Powell's "Harry Potter Block Party." Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know…
What does a block party for a book release look like? 3,500+ people, primarily teenage girls, many dressed as characters from the series, all standing in line for three hours while being subjected to taunts from clubgoers rolling up and down West Burnside.
We were stuck in front of the main doors of Powell's for the bulk of the wait, prime territory for taunts and insincere encouragement. Most of the commentary shouted from passing motorists was pretty weak. One example? "Harry Potters sucks balls," compliments of a former fratboy blasting towards the bridge in a Nissan Pathfinder. Kudos goes out to the guy that blurted "Harry Potter promotes literacy! ALL RIGHT!" while pounding on the passenger-side door of a friend's Honda.
This isn't the first time I've done this (I know, I know...). In 2005 for the last Harry Potter brouhaha, three passing hipsters yelled the ending as we snaked towards the entrance. It happened again last night, compliments of a shaggy-haired brat on a bike who made the bold decision to ride down the line shouting out a key plot point. Much like last time, those around us simply rolled their eyes and kept chatting.
Around 12:15, a group of yuppies drove by to taunt the crowd with copies of the book. They'd just come from the Safeway by PSU and paid $15 off the cover price without standing in line for hours. Eager to head home ASAP, especially since I had to be at work this morning and I was already running on little sleep from the night before, I decided to make the 25-block round-trip. The last copy was sold as I headed towards a cashier at Safeway and what was the customer wearing when he bought it? A Powell's t-shirt. So much for supporting local businesses.
But let me tell you something. The whole "keep Portland weird" thing doesn’t fly when you're stuck out in the rain waiting for something you a have limited emotional investment in when you’re supposed to be at a desk in a little over 6 hours. I called Borders, the only other place downtown that would have still been open at that hour. They were about to close for the night and, with the exception of pre-orders, every copy they had was gone.
So I marched back to Powell's. After three hours of waiting, the people I chaperoned merrily trotted back to the car with their Dumbledore-autographed copies. Did I buy one? Sure. Who am I say to no to a literary phenomenon the likes of which will never be seen again, especially while suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation?