Monday, July 3, 2017

Keep Portland Weird vol.4

Volume 4: Last week I made my second pilgrimage to my home away from home, Portland OR. Land of the hipster, the weird, the accepting and the best artisanal/multicultural food in the United States, I hope to live there some day and took this trip to get a little more used to the place before making the jump.

Check out Volume 1Volume 2, and Volume 3 here.

Last episode, I ate the most delicious breakfast sandwich in the world, went back to N Mississippi area for some spiritual tea, tacos and the store that sells nothing but light bulbs, and saw an art exhibit involving collage and lasagna. Also, peanut butter poutine from the same place I got it in 2013!

My last full day in Portland was truly lovely. Today I didn't have a set timeframe for anything, so I could take my time and get in a full day of pretty much whatever I wanted. Since it was Saturday, I was excited to go to famous Saturday Market by the river, which I had been to last time and had really enjoyed. There was also the World Naked Bike Ride later that day, which was also going to be momentous.

I began with a stroll west on NE Alberta (though my timing was off again as nothing was open yet except some bakeries).

On someone's front yard stoop:

They left a piece of chalk out so I left a comment :)

There are so many murals on NE Alberta.

I stopped in a bakery to get an extremely delicious Blueberry Coffee Cake muffin, the likes of which I could have eaten seven more.

I had a chat with this guy about muffins. He let me take a picture of his beautiful shirt.

Blueberry coffee cake muffin. So good.

Pine State Biscuits (a restaurant I had loved last time we visited) was very close to where I was staying, and it already had a huge line at 9:30am. I made a note to come here the next day before my flight since it opened at 7am and I had to get up on the earlier side anyway.

Another weird ATM.

I grabbed a bus across the bridge to the Saturday Market. As soon as I entered, I knew I didn't have enough cash on me. Thankfully many places took credit. This was where the dreams of perfect presents for my family were MADE. I got something amazing and perfect for everyone in my family...except my dad. He's a toughie because he already has everything in terms of weird tchotchkes. Anyway more on that later.

A crazy storefront - I think this might have been an ad agency?

Some cool posters with beloved TV shows and quotes. Above - Gilmore Girls.


Fruit with that Mexican fruit spice I've seen some people put on everything.

Really extreme phone rings.

Crazy keychains.

A guy playing an accordion.

The most amazing thing - dice that allow you to select a random episode of a series to decide what to watch. Really cool idea.

And the guy who sells them!

An old machine that this guy uses to make custom jewelry.

Disney coffee sleeves! I bought Snow White for my sister.

It came with a macaron - I believe this was strawberry ginger.

The most frickin' amazing smelling soaps in the world. I literally stood there smelling the soaps for ten minutes.

This girl uses all kinds of interesting tools to make the ceramic shapes she has.

Rings made from coins!

A homemade realistic version of the game of life.

A wee sample of fruit salad cider!

This lady loves asparagus.

More cool soaps.

Bolo ties!

The guy who makes beautiful jewelry out of chain mail.

I got the most freaking amazing caprese sandwich from a lovely man named Vincent. He graciously made me a half-order sandwich (though he told me he won't do it for anyone else) which allowed me to eat my next meal only an hour later (hashtag blessed).

Cute little empanada truck <3

My next stop was Pine Street Market, which the lovely Stella Ichsan of Nucleus Portland recommended to me. The building in itself is a wonder. The building's history (from their website):
Pine Street Market, which opened in the spring of 2016, is located in downtown Portland in the historic Carriage & Baggage Building and features nine of Portland's best chefs and purveyors, in a casual, open layout. 
Built in 1886, the Carriage & Baggage Building was originally used as a livery and horse-drawn carriage storage facility until the early 1900s. With horse stalls on the second floor and four massive tanks on the roof that provided water to wash the stalls, the building was essentially a horse and carriage parking garage. 
When the automobile replaced the horse-drawn carriage, the building was used as storage and retail for Mallory Logging and Contractors Supplies for decades. From 1969 to 1981, the building was home to the original Portland’s Old Spaghetti Factory. Since the early 80’s, the ground floor housed a string of infamous Portland nightclubs. 
Listed on the National Register of Historic places, the Carriage & Baggage building is one of the few examples of a Portland livery. The massive Doug Fir timber frame structure has been retrofitted to modern seismic requirements and has retained the original skylight at the roof.
 Amongst other things, there is a Korean/Southern BBQ fusion restaurant, an experimental offshoot of Salt & Straw called Wiz Bang Bar (crazy soft serve flavours with fresh-baked pastry toppings only), a Mexican/Spanish Tapas bar, the list goes on.

But I was only there for one thing.

In my opinion, the gem of the whole place was a very, very special ramen bar. Marukin Ramen is one of Tokyo’s most distinct and popular mid-sized specialty ramen chains, open since 1994. Marukin has nine locations in Japan and brings one of its first stateside locations to Pine Street Market, that being the second in Portland, as well as the second outside Japan.

I met two lovely Japanese people, the woman visiting from Arizona and the man living in Portland. They told me they were both originally from Japan, and I asked if they'd ever been to a Marukin in Japan. They replied, “why would we? This one is so much closer.” I liked that answer. The man told me that when I moved to Portland, he would help me move. He is a pastor, and assured me he would bring lots of friends to help, too. That was nice :)

I got in the not-so-long line at Wiz Bang Bar to get a sample of their soft serve (I had learned from two days prior at the other location - they are not stingy on the samples!), which was totally worth it. Elderflower lemon soft serve ice cream. SO good. I also got a 50 cent chocolate pastry because I needed to break a bill for the bus the next day and it was small enough that I would still be hungry soonish. Yep, that was the name of the game on my trip.

From the market I decided I had enough time to go back to NW 23rd Avenue to see more of the shops around there. I bussed to the top of the street so I could mosey around and walk downhill as I went. I was on the hunt for a present for my father (though at this point I figured I would find him something at one of the cool vintage shops in SE Belmont before I visited Nucleus). I checked out a cool new-age sort of shop that carried the glass jellyfish I got for Erika for her birthday. Ideas!

I went into a store that was literally just choc-ful of stuff. Some new, some old, all kinda weird.

A most delicious pomegranate/peach iced tea with popping mango bobba. Delish.

A men's clothing store had Pin Bot in it!!!

Enamel pins.

On my way back to the bus to get to Nucleus in SE Belmont, I grabbed some Okonomiyaki Tater Tots at a ramen shop. It was really cute in there!

Probably a bit stinky for the bus, but I didn't care. So tasty.

I ate them on the bus to Nucleus, and found I had time to find my dad a good present in a vintage store...that kind of looked like his basement. It was nice. I guess if you have a good idea of what you want, the guys who work there can find it for you. Otherwise it's a mess.

I found this wonderful little wooden puzzle box that even the shopkeeper didn't know how to open. I haven't had a chance to give it to my dad yet but it's quite maddening. I actually had a dream that I opened it last night. Still no luck.

From there I walked across the street to my last design-related stop of the trip: Nucleus Portland. Stella Ichsan runs a gallery, shop, and bar out of a lovely space with a great backdrop mural by Brendan Monroe.

Apparently we were in the height of Pokemon Go fever when he painted the mural...

And they have sooooo many enamel pins for sale. I couldn't help myself about bought TWO. Stella runs weekly Drink & Draws out of the space, which is really cool because it's such a good way for creatives to hang out and network in a cool low-pressure setting. Plus, you can learn a lot about someone through the things they draw.

The lovely work on display by Maxwell McMaster.

The cute couple.

From there I continued on my bus adventure to Fernhill Park in NE to see the amazing World Naked Bike Ride. I had been hearing various opinions of the event all week during my time in Portland, ranging from “what a strange thing to do” to “have they no shame?!” to “I'll get my camera” along with all the generally positive commentary, but there seemed to be a general lack of understanding from the people who didn't want to participate. So much more than an excuse to get naked for the sake of being weird, the event is actually a deliciously wacky form of protest for real issues.

Bare As You Dare: Portland's World Naked Bike Ride from Ian McCluskey on Vimeo.

Basically, reason #1 is to rid ourselves of the horrible dependency on oil, and to create a space of acceptance of each other. The idea of this huge safe space for people to be as naked and free as they want is something I just can't resist.


A Maracatu! Like my drumming band in Toronto :)

Still clothed.

Not pictured: a man riding naked on a horse (yes the horse was also naked), a bunch of Mario Kart characters complete with three balloons each, and a man riding a bicycyle pulling a full tiki bar with a dj booth in it.

I didn't participate this year beyond taking lots of pictures and meeting lots of cool people, but the energy was magnetic enough to make me want to participate fully in years to come.

Bonus: the lost and found pile after the event was said and done:

Someone thought they'd be able to plug in a vibrator? Amazing!

After all the excitement, I walked home to pack for my flight home the next day. On the way, I grabbed a slice of pizza at a cool late-night pizza joint on NE Alberta. This was delicious.

Some guys chatting while one of them changes the marquee for the movie theater,

Aww cute sleepy pizza!

It was arugula, pecorino, some other deliciousness, crust.

The shop also had some great city culture magazines that I took home to learn more about the culture scene in Portland. And that pretty much concludes my trip in Portland! I ate at a rate of about three times my normal consumption, got the BEST gifts for my family (I am usually so crappy at that), and met so many wonderful people. I have made a pledge to myself that next time I travel to Portland, I'm staying.

Check out Volume 1Volume 2, and Volume 3 here.

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