Cool, Hip Travel Guide to Portland, OregonMarch 31, 2010 by MC | Filed under Stuff.
Portland — the very name makes my bottom coo with delight. I can rhapsodize for hours about our city’s efficient and eco-friendly mass transit system; its raw quilt of indie rock splendor; the hours of fun one can have “people watching.” Plus, Portland has a thriving culinary scene. Let’s start there.
Gustatory dreams await the discriminating eater in Portland. Specifically, I recommend Ethereal Meats, the Rebirthing Bistro, Wistful Scones and the Vegan Hose. Plus, Portland (or “PDX” for short) has something really dynamic to offer — “food carts.” “Food carts,” unique to PDX, are mobile culinary units that serve up tasty curbside dishes. Enjoy some farm-fresh fro-yo en route to the ecotage summit.
For those who crave nubility with their nourishment, I recommend Portland’s vegan strip club, Casa Diablo. This “greasy poon” (pun intended) has received rave reviews from feminist bloggers. Experience it for yourself — gnaw on some tofu riblets while watching a great jigglefest.
The bottom line? Portland is filled — from rectum to pie-hole — with hip anarchist bistros and lesbian taco bars. Whet your political palate and Other Peoples’ Privates at Love Chow, where the amatory menu explodes with political grist, high-energy biscuits and reactionary stew. Then head over to Leafy Affirmations to try the Resistance Red Bell Peppers and Fight-the-Power Farmer’s Cheese.
Diversity and Tolerance
Portland is the nation’s whitest city. But don’t shy away because of this, folks. A stroll down PDX’s newly christened César E. Chávez Boulevard is like a walk through a bustling Mexican mercado. The multicultural “CCB” (as locals affectionately call it) is dotted with such shops and vendors as Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, and Jiffy Lube. And one can browse for hours in Fred Meyer‘s vast produce section and Mexican food aisle.
Our city’s delicious galaxy of grub and vittles may add some excess blubber to your figure. But don’t worry, Fat Fancy has got your rotund backside covered. This downtown boutique caters to Portland’s hefty hipsters; its Web site exclaims “Riots, not diets!” Shops like Fat Fancy play an important role in Portland’s social ecology by preventing emaciated waifs from monopolizing the body-type demographic.
Portlanders love Obamacare, but we love local insurance even more. Driving through town, you’ll notice the stunning visage of State Farm agent Mariko Locke on various billboards. And a couple of years ago, NFL fans were treated to frequent State Farm commercials starring comely local agent Diane Nichols.
Media and Publishing
Our local paper of record, the Oregonian, has Pulitzer Prizes bubbling from all orifices. This delightful rag is filled with big-time talent, including hard-edged yet altruistic columnist Steve Duin and hard-edged yet altruistic columnist John Canzano. The O’s gang of gritty newshounds work hard and play hard, even as the newspaper industry crumbles. Witness this light-hearted Facebook group, which honors editing virtuoso Quinton Smith. The immensely talented and hard-nosed Smith exited the paper in 2008 under grueling circumstances. Chin up, Q!
The Oregonian‘s chief competitor, the occasionally published Portland Tribune, is another powder keg of journalistic integrity. It is run by a quirky industrialist with a heart of gold.
Hip PDX readers favor the Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury, two warring alt-weekly publications. (“Alt-weeklies” are tabloid-style newspapers filled with humorous prose, live music listings and wonderfully turgid political views.)
Insider’s Tip: Portland was once home to Feral House Publishing, the brainchild of defiantly transgressive thespian Adam Parfrey. Feral House’s catalogue of books is full of brutal truths, unmuffled screams and dangerous information! Unyielding…unrelenting…uncompromising.
The Portland music scene is internationally renowned. Legendary grunge music composer Kurt Cobain met his eventual wife Courtney Love here. Their marriage became one of the most talked-about in recent memory, as rumors persist that Cobain’s 1994 suicide was actually a hit job commissioned by Love.
Personally, I don’t buy this hogwash. I’ve met Eldon Hoke, the alleged assassin-for-hire, and though somewhat intimidating in his executioner’s hood and leather briefs, he struck me as cordial. Too cordial to slay the beloved face of Generation X. Perhaps we’ll never know the truth, though, as Hoke’s life came to an abrupt end in Riverside, California, where he died in a train-related misadventure in 1997.
“If my face was burned off by acid, would you still see me as a sex symbol?”
Quality of Life
Portland appeals to all kinds of people — 20 somethings, 30 somethings and indie rockers. Most excellently, Portland is not weighed down by the questionable aesthetics of blue collar suburbia and/or strip malls. As Willamette Week scribe Ethan Smith alludes to in this wonderful piece of gonzo journalism, Portland pushes its “white trash” to the margins of city life, where they often die:
Every summer, some drunken redneck drowns in the Sandy River, and local hand-wringers blame it on a lack of lifeguards. The poor bastards who drown—rest their sloppy, Larry the Cable Guy-loving souls—don’t need lifeguards. They need high-school diplomas, shirts with sleeves, and the sense not to pound a case of Natural Ice and toss themselves off 30-foot cliffs into unscouted depths.
LOL! Too funny, Ethan! But true! ZING! You’re a comedy porcupine with those sharp quills!
Local writer Zach Dundas also gives props to our city’s livability. He appreciates that PDX values the contrivances of pansexual dilettantes and kitschy eateries above parking spots and working-class moms. Chirps Dundas:
Portland’s hinterlands do, indeed, include Chili’s and Burger Kings, soccer-mom culs-de-sac and McMansions. At very definite places, however, that all ends.
Dundas is right — working families are pushed to the edge of PDX to make room for the alpha culture of alt-weekly writers and Sleater-Kinney fans. Still, PDX families have plenty of reasons to enjoy our urbane, traffic-soaked hamlet.
My family of six lives in a two-bedroom apartment that’s only 3 inches from the nearest light-rail station. Our morning commute is a simple matter of tying the kids to my $3,000 mountain bike, pedaling 10.8 miles, showering at 24-Hour Fitness, getting dressed again, taking a 15-minute Max train ride to Hillsboro and catching my bus after a 45-minute wait.
This sounds tough, I know, but that’s how we roll in PDX. A few weeks ago, I strapped a 275-pound bag of organic flour to my bike — along with the kiddos — and received a standing ovation from market shoppers as I pedaled away. It was a great feeling. I was sustainable…I was unstoppable.
Sex, Lies and Gentrification
Our burg has seen its share of scandals, such as the Breedlovian odyssey of our glad-handing mayor Sam Adams. But folks, pardon me while I deliver some straight talk. I think I speak for 95% of Portland when I say “hats off to Mayor Adams.” Amid the salacity of scandal, a man who bikes to work and favors paper over plastic conquered the din of homophobia and remained in power. True, our city did not lend the same compassion to an African American man in similarly troubled times, but PDX won’t make that mistake again. That’s because we Portlanders, to our immense credit, are self-loathing gentrifiers who feel remorse whenever we displace the blight of ethnic neighborhoods with microbreweries and and yoga parlors.
Portland is known for its fierce queer advocacy. Local journalist J.L. Stockman has written extensively about Portland’s burgeoning bear scene. Read as Stockman reflects on an epiphany he and colleague Dave had while viewing some male erotica one afternoon:
Alas — Dave and I had found our cause. We would be the Willamette Valley Protectors of the Bears. These fat hairy homos could count on us if the shit ever went down!
As a whole, Portland’s dating scene is second-to-none. Plus, it’s particularly friendly to liberal singles. Local lifestyle columnist Officer Partridge, writing in the sex-positive magazine Exotic, expounds happily on the success he’s had meeting progressive-minded Portland women:
I love the liberal girls. I love their organic little bodies. They come in dozens of flavors, like ice cream. Anarchists in sewn-together stretch jeans and patches; Plain Jane U of O sociology majors; drug-addled rainbow bunnies; and all manner of unshaven “activists” in between. But just below the surface of so many grass-tokin’ neo-hippie feminists, a submissive wonder-slut is festering like a raging subcutaneous pimple.
You may notice that our streets are clogged arteries and the air contains some foul pollutants. Moreover, our neighborhoods are high-density discomfort zones. No worries — this is by design. In 50 or 60 years, it will all make sense.
Portland’s omnibenevolent city planners understand that congestion and jam-packed, infrequent buses prompt people to use more pragmatic commuting methods. Therefore, our city planners encourage human-powered transportation e.g. wind surfing, rickshawing, handcycling, scootering, powerbocking, and caster boarding. A nice bonus is that Portland’s short city blocks and “gotcha!” crosswalks are a walker’s paradise. Only a handful of pedestrians and suicidal bicyclists die each week.
Speaking of cyclists, if you like them, all you need to do is throw a rock and you’ll hit one! (Just having a little fun with the rock reference; PDX is geologically unique and has an honest-to-goodness volcano right within its city limits.) Cyclists occupy the center of Portland’s rich cultural tapestry. With their spindly appendages and canary-yellow adventure suits, they are a site to behold. Sometimes they even ride nude. And while it’s true that cyclists rule Portland with a green fist, the city has a promising system of checks and balances in development.
There are numerous faith-based organizations and outreach programs in the community. The Partridge Family Temple is just one. Sadly, the city’s 24-Hour Church of Elvis, a postmodern tribute to pop culture debris, is now closed. I visited the Church once, and speaking candidly, I found it unpleasant. When I rang the doorbell, a deranged, Muppet-faced creature accosted me and demanded that I purchase some soiled T-shirts. Eventually, I got to tour the museum’s main wing, though, where I observed worthless trinkets and the stench of failure. In retrospect, the Church’s high-art concepts were transcendent. Keep Portland Weird, bro!
PDX has it all — farm-to-table foodgasms; pragmatic liberalism and sardonic scenesters. Furthermore, PDX has a culture that nurtures and coddles non-entities to the height of micro-celebrity. Rock the fuck on, dude.
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