Friday, August 18, 2006

Portland Oregon and severed ears. If that ain't love then tell me what... is.

As mentioned previously, I was in Portland this past weekend. Sadly, all I really knew about the city before this hastily-arranged trip was that it's exceedingly liberal and serves as the respective homes of Sleater-Kinney, Powell's Books and a really shoddy basketball team. Oh, and that according to Tom Scharpling, it's overrun by "street trash" (ah, if only some FOT were here to give me the Best Show archive where he talks about this). However, in my brief time there I found it to be a pretty friendly, intriguing place. Plus the weather was perfect compared to the East Coast heatwave the week before. Anytime I briefly transplant myself to such overtly bohemian surroundings it puts in sharp focus what a tedious, overpriced yuppietown Bethesda is and what a rank vibe I get from DC in general. While I'm sure that listening to pot-fueled conspiracy theorists, being perpetually rained on, dodging cyclists, playing games of "Homeless or Hippie?" and searching for non-vegan restaraunts would get tiresome in its own way after a while, it served as a nice break at least for a few days. Of course, this weekend was primarily all about the Sleater-Kinney love, but I did get to visit a few neat-o places while staying with a very gracious friend of a friend.

While walking around in one of the more hipster-y areas of SE Portland we visited a craft store that may have given me a decorating idea (possibly my first ever!) for my next apt that has equal potential for awesomeness or tacky disaster: weird, Mexican Day-of-the-Dead calaveras (skulls) figurines and boxes, like this (although not quite as, uhm... graphic):

This particular store had a bunch of these set in odd, hotel/diner/stage scenes that I felt transcended obvious, Tim Burton-level gothicness to convey a more genuinely (or at least comparitively) odd sensibility. Unfortunately, in one of my occasional, arbitrary acts of huffiness I was put off by the 9/11 conspiracy book they had prominently on display and ended up not buying any. So if any of you know where I can find stuff like this either online or near DC let me know. I promise it won't lead to me putting up cheesy religious and/or Elvis shrines hither and dither.

On Sunday my host also showed me the most awesomest video store in the area, Movie Madness. Besides carrying out-of-print stuff like, say, Fassbinder's complete "Berlin Alexanderplatz" and Tom Waits' "Big Time," they're well-stocked in oddities like Christian scare films, 50's exploitation flicks, rock n roll bootlegs and Andy Warhol films. Plus, the horror section has subcategories like "Ferocious fetuses" and "NOT Growing Old Gracefully."

Their other big draw is their collection of movie memorabilia, which ranges from period costumes from films like "All About Eve," "Young Frankenstein" and "West Side Story" (less impressive is the occasional recent entry like Jodie Foster's sweatpants from "Panic Room") to various props, highlights of which (for me) include the broken glasses from Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train," one of the mugwumps from Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch," and the severed ear Kyle MacLachlan finds in "Blue Velvet." This gives me an idea to set up a travelling, film snob's version of Planet Hollywood. "Schwarzeneger's 'Terminator' jacket? Sorry, we don't have that, my good man, but have a look at one of Harriet Anderson's damp linens from 'Cries and Whispers.' We're also working on getting Gene Hackman's raincoat from 'The Conversation.' Wait, where are you going?"

And then there's Powell's. Ah, Powell's. Nicknamed "city of books." Indeed it is, as it occupies almost an entire city block. I got a whole bunch of stuff there for under $40 and their website linked above will give you an idea of what a great place it is for book lovers. Why I didn't even get past the Michael Crichton and Danielle Steele sections! Just imagine if I had moved up to Stephen King!

So, in conclusion, Portland gets the "Thumbs Up." Yes, that's really my conclusion. Well, I'm sorry you feel that way but I think that adequately conveys my assessment. No, I guess "Thumbs Up" isn't very clever but... hey! I don't even have a sister. Like that was even a clever insult. What? Oooh... now that was a good one. That one hurt actually. Yes, you're right, I should've thought of a better ending for this post. Dianetics? Why no, I haven't read it. It'll help me relieve stress you say? Please, do go on...


Anonymous said...

I live in Ptld., glad you enjoyed it, sorry you missed out on a lot of cool stuff. The visitor information was at Pioneer Courthouse Square under the water and near the echo brick. The one brick in the square that you can stand on and when you speak you can hear your own echo :) it's neat. take care . . .

Chris said...

Thanks! I'd definitely like to come back some time.