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Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A streetscape captured right around Thanksgiving in Portland
Across the street from an In-N-Out somewhere in Southern California?
Nope. You can find these palm trees and tiki torches at Northrup Station in NW. I wonder how they keep those trees going through the winter. Does Columbia Sportswear make jackets in their size?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Hunkered down at the Japanese Garden
One of the benefits of my membership in Portland's not-so-exclusive unemployment club is that I can attend events like free admission day at the Japanese Garden in Washington Park. It fell on Veterans Day and, while I wasn't officially out of a job yet, I utilized a soon-to-expire sick day to spend the day doing chores.
I found out about the event on Twitter late in the afternoon and headed up as what had been a gorgeous fall day was beginning to turn. The sky was growing dark as I started hiking up the hill to the gardens' gate. I made the decision not to go back for my umbrella, thus ensuring, through some obscure statute in karmic law no doubt, that a storm would roll through at any second.
Thirty minutes later, idyllic landscapes like the one above were getting bombarded with hailstones. I sought shelter inside the pavilion next to the Flat Garden with a few dozen others. The garden was shutting down for the night but no one was willing to weather the storm and the staff was reluctant to kick us all out into the elements.
So there we all stood, awkwardly staring at cells phones while a few kids idly drew diagrams with their feet in the fallen hail. The orange autumn leaves and the rain created a view from the veranda that was equal parts intimidating and real durn purty. It was the sort of odd, random experience people remember forever but, once a baby started wailing and shattered the serenity in the air, I decided to blaze a trail back to the car. Soaked to the bone, I turned my car towards downtown as a rainbow shot up and over the tennis courts.
Monday, November 16, 2009
An ode to geese
Last Friday was my last day of employment at a company located on the Tektronix campus in Beaverton. I'll miss a lot of things about the gig- chatting with coworkers, a daily sense of accomplishment beyond folding laundry and catching up on Achewood and, of course, a regular paycheck. But, most of all, I'll miss the geese.
Every fall, several flocks of Canadian geese descend upon the campus and turn it into their daily stomping grounds. They hang around through the winter, killing time until they return north in the spring. Many employees consider them pests but I've always secretly enjoyed their bad behavior.
The geese have no fear of humans and hiss if you get too close to them. They spend the off-season chewing up the lawns, floating around in the fountain outside the campus Starbucks and they live to cover the soccer field in green doodie. Often, the geese gather together in large groups to block auto traffic during rush hour and sometimes, when the mood strikes, follow the suggestion included in a certain Beatles' song on The White Album.
You know the one.
They're the feathered Tyler Durdens of the Tektronix campus, doing what they can to interrupt up the workings of an otherwise boring business park. It'll be hard for me to forget a foggy night last winter when, in a rush to meet up with friends, a flock of geese camped out in the middle of a dark street nearly caused me to drive my car onto a lawn and into a picnic table. Or all the mornings during the spring when I had to patiently wait as they marched their goslings from the campus to a stream near the MAX stop. Trying to pass groups of geese on the campus' walkways during my lunch break without them hissing at me became a daily game I often lost.
And there was also the time two of them jumped up onto the cab of a Tektronix employees' brand new, supped-up truck and covered it in poop, perhaps to protest its lousy gas mileage and poor emissions standards.
Yes, the Tektonix geese are surly little brats with dispositions usually reserved for bored teenagers that spend most of their time camped out in front of Plaid Pantries. Wherever I wind up in the coming months, it is my sincere hope there will be geese. They keep things interesting.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Nikes at the art museum
The Portland Art Museum is currently hosting China Design Now, a special exhibition on design and architecture projects created in three of the country's major cities. Many of the ads on display are fantastic and a gigantic video exhibit on the main floor is breathtaking but there's something that strikes me as odd about Nike sneakers sitting behind glass in an art museum.
But the pandas? I have no problem with them. The pandas were cool.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Playing chess with Death? Never a good idea. Falling in love with Death? An even worse idea and many relationship advice columnists would no doubt agree. The Portland Opera's production of Philip Glass' take on Orphée, the 1950 Jean Cocteau film, opened over the weekend. It follows a Parisian poet as he struggles with a midlife crisis, career problems and an ill-fated fling with the supernatural.
There's nary a large woman in a Viking hat to be found in this one. The set is eerie, mid-century and cold. It looks like a cross between an office on Mad Men and Spock's coffin from Star Trek II. Performed in French, the production feels like it might have been secretly directed by David Lynch, especially when the characters find themselves plunged into a mirror-image underworld in act II.
Duality and mirrors play a major part in Orphée and they kept the audience on the edge of their seat when I saw it last Friday. At one point, a character repeatedly opens a door with a mirror attached to it, shining stage lights into the eyes of everyone sitting in the orchestra level. During the second act, another character forebodingly wanders the stage with another mirror. I figured, at any second, he was going to turn and hit the audience with a few more bolts.
Not to reveal any spoilers but no one went home that night with a temporary case of blindness.
Orphée continues through November 15th at the Keller. Click here for tickets and further info.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Men Who Stare at, errr, Slow-Roast Goats
Cooking can be a drag, especially when you live in an ancient house without a dishwasher like myself. When my freezer is empty of leftovers or TV dinners to toss in the microwave, I often find myself at the Village Hut in Multnomah Village. The place has an odd layout. The hut itself has a bar with enough seating room for a handful of patrons. Out back, there's a grill with a few tables and a second hut with a large dining table.
I'm a big fan of the goat stew, which often pops up on the specials menu. It's typically served with a side of tasty slaw that has a bit of a spicy kick. The owner says the cooking process for the dish can take over 15 hours.
He's always friendly and somehow manages to hold down a conversation while juggling his duties as a chef, a host, a busboy, a server and a cashier. The last time I was in there, he related an anecdote about an ongoing series of incidents involving a group of teenagers that kept breaking in to raid the hut's beer cooler. They were finally caught last summer.
Also recommended: the pulled pork. It goes great with jasmine rice.
Day of the Dead, take 2
I was downtown last Sunday when I stumbled upon a Day of the Dead procession headed along SW 4th.
I think it's great that Portland has begun adopting the holidays of other countries. Now if only someone would get around to throwing a Guy Fawkes Day celebration. As far as I know, there wasn't a single effigy lit ablaze within the urban growth boundary last night. C'mon, people. Remember, remember, the fifth of November...