I would like to apologize for another rather lengthy hiatus from my blogging duties here. The combination of a short vacation to Portland, Oregon, the sunny (but pleasantly not oppressively hot) Southern California weather, and being stuck in jury duty for 3 days before dismissal (being married to a Public Defender has its privileges) led me to take a lax attitude towards updating the site or even surfing the web in general.
This was my second trip to Portland in the last decade (third visit there in my life, counting when my family visited my aunt and uncle when I was five years old), and I have to say, it’s my kind of town. Granted, we were blessed with beautiful weather that fluxuated between the mid-70s and low-80s the entire time, which I realize is a stark contrast to the eight plus months of rainfall the Pacific Northwest city is known for (my last visit was during the month of December, so I definitely have experienced that), but I imagine the city’s walkability and reliable public transportation certainly would provide respite during more inclement days.
While some residents (especially those that write for the weeklys) have some of that “I live in a great city superiority complex” thing going on that drove me a bit batty when I lived in San Francisco, that’s forgivable for a place where record and book stores still thrive, good food and drink (especially DRINKS) are not only appreciated but affordable, a large contingencies of movie theatres serve beer and/or quality meals, and where despite being a bastion of left of Nader liberals (of which I tend to fall on the political spectrum) there’s no sales tax!
I thought I’d share some of the entertainment highlights and purchases of my trip with you.
My wife and I caught two films at two separate movie theatres while vacationing. The first was Werner Herzog’s captivating documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, one of the only 3-D films of the modern era where the extra dimension was actually necessary, providing texture and scope, at the Living Room Theatres. The theatres seats are comprised solely of barcalounger/couch style material with a table between each seat. We had a later lunch that afternoon so we didn’t order a meal, however, spying on other attendees’ food showed a wide assortment of fine cuisine, in addition to a full bar drink menu and Espresso bar (I had an Americano). We did order some popcorn, which was brought to our seats in an actual ceramic bowl. Ooo la la, indeed. The price was $12 for each ticket, which is a little pricier than normal, but still cheaper than the Arclight on a weekend night.
The next movie we saw was at the Laurelhurst, a theatre I visited the last time I was in Portland. It’s a small, independently operated, neighborhood theatre that used to be one large theatre that was cut into about six screens decades ago. In addition to normal concession items, they also make fresh pizzas and have a tap with a selection of a half dozen beers. The programming is pretty much second run independent fare, and admission for a 4:00 screening was only three dollars! Two of the best films of the year so far were playing when we went (those would be Meek’s Cutoff and 13 Assassins), but my wife and I caught the one repertory screening they had of the Michael Cimino directed, Clint Eastwood/Jeff Bridges starring cult classic, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. The print was not in the best condition and the projector bulb was wearing out, making everything darker than it should be, but for the price of admission and the chance to consume a beer during a theatrical screening, I won’t complain too much.
BooksThe world famous Powell’s Books takes over a block of space, and is a bibliophile’s paradise. In addition to the main store, there are several smaller stores throughout the City, and for those that want to give business to a smaller entity than Amazon, you can order stuff from their website and have it shipped to anywhere. During the two or three hours I shopped there I actually spent so much time in the Crime Fiction and Film related rooms that I barely scratched the surface of the actual Literature room. Oh well, next time.
Here’s my haul:
For those who cannot see all the titles too well, here’s the list of what I purchased:
Norwegian Wood-Haruki Murakami
The Score-Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)…which I already read in two days, finishing on the flight home
Fatale-Jean Patrick Manchette…which I finished yesterday during breaks at jury duty
Lady Killer-Ed McBain…the first McBain/Precinct 87 book I’ve ever purchased, anyone recommend a good starting point for this series?
The Deep Blue Good-By and the Dreadful Lemon Sky-John D. MacDonald…looking forward to entering the world of Travis McGee after hearing so much about the series
Shock Value-John Waters
Melville on Melville…one of those interview series with famous film directors, this one with Army of Shadows/Le Samoraui auteur Jean-Pierre Melville
The Locked Room-Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
A Swell Looking Babe-Jim Thompson
Child of God-Cormac McCarthy
Swag-Elmore Leonard…I read Stick earlier this year, and didn’t realize that there was another book chronicling the character Ernest Stickley until reading the back cover
Button, Button and Other Stories-Richard Matheson…now I can finally see if I was right in assuming that the recent Richard Kelly film adaption of the cover story (The Box) starting going off the rails once Matheson’s story concluded and new strains were added
I also picked up those two swanky t-shirts, and my wife found several books of interest for her that are not included in that photo.
Risking the possibility that we would have to check luggage (which we actually did not…I packed lightly), my wife and I purchased the following LPs at Jackpot Records, a local independent record chain. We had our first and only celebrity sighting there, Carrie Brownstein of the band Sleater-Kinney and the Portland centric sketch comedy show Portlandia, was shooting something in front of the store, possibly a segment for a future Portlandia episode?
Otis Redding-Tell the Truth
Alice Cooper-Welcome to my Nightmare…for $ 2
Donald Byrd-The Cat Walk
Led Zepplin-II…fun fact: though I am a pretty large music fan, this is the first Led Zeppelin album I’ve owned in any format, and I only paid a buck for it!
The Fugs-It Crawled Into My Hands, Honestly
Miles Davis-Filles De Kilimanjaro
Honestly, considering we ate out pretty much the entire trip (save for a picnic at the Rose Garden), there are too many fine establishments to mention them all in this post. But one I would really recommend to any Portland residents or visitors is a place called Evoe. It is connected to a small Italian grocery store, and there’s only two tables and counter space. The chef, Kevin Gibson, used to work at an upscale restaurant, but feeling disillusioned with the scene opened this smaller place of his own. Everything is made of fresh organic ingredients, and if you sit at the counter, right in front of your eyes. We had a small lunch comprised of a selection of pickled items as an appetizer, a salad with thinly cut slices of artichoke as the base, and a wonderful dish of fresh peas on top of toast with a béarnaise-esque sauce. And all for about twenty dollars!