Photos from flickr.
IFC has a new show called Portlandia, and I have been discussing it with all of my out-of-state relatives, who almost all have lived here in Portland for a year or more at a time, my 2 sisters and my aunt. I've seen it, and it's pretty funny. The first skit with Fred Armiston and Carrie Brownstein when they are at a restaurant ordering chicken is my favorite I think. It goes a little too far after all. However, at the beginning they get the conversational tone just perfect. The quiet monotone--nothing ruffles me--kind of thing. But those type of people are soft targets, and easy to parody. Here are some funnier things that I've seen happen or have had happen to me in my 25 years in Portland.
1. A man playing violin in the park grabbed his violin case and took off running Groucho Marx style after my aunt tried to put money in his violin case.
2. A man waiting at the bus stop had a plastic Safeway bag on top of his head and tied under his chin stuffed with other white bags, giving his head a dinosaur-like appearance. His manner of dress and demeanor were that of an otherwise together individual.
3. The night before the last Harry Potter book came out, Powell's Books downtown had a huge party with firedancers, refreshments, and people with movie-quality costumes. My son and I went, and saw that some people had brought sleeping bags to spend the night in order to buy the book the moment the store opened. While the party went on, a number of homeless with their grocery carts and sleeping bags waited for the party to end. One homeless woman bedded down on a park bench before the festivities were over. Some people drove by and yelled out of their car: "Yaaaaay! LORD OF THE RINGS!" Maybe you had to be there.
4. I was waiting for the bus once where the 85 and 88 buses go by. There was a blind woman ahead of me and another man waiting as well. The 85 came by, which I was waiting for, opened its doors and the blind woman said, "I'm waiting for the 88." The bus closed its doors and drove away. I looked at the man in disbelief and said "what happened!?" He said "she didn't want the 85 so he left." I said, "I can't believe that." His eyes flashed angrily as he said, "Well, it HAPPENED!" Then he turned on his heel and strode away.
5. I've gotten lots of free mochas because people order them and then don't claim them. In some of the smaller coffee shops, they then say, "anybody want this coffee?" They do that if they make a mistake too.
6. When I first moved here, my first job was with a place called Doctor's Transcription Service, now out of business. I worked with an older woman, Vera, who had long gray hair and was very, very hippyish, for lack of a better word. One day (in 1987, I had no idea back then) I brought in some leftover veal that my mother-in-law had ordered at a restaurant the night before but didn't want. I told this woman what I had for lunch and she gave me a long detailed description of how veal is made and I've never eaten veal again. She never raised her voice, but she got her point across. Later, after I had left DTS, this same woman sued the company because other coworkers complained that she smelled of cat spray (which she did).
7. When I was married and my children were young, my husband and I had a date night over on Hawthorne Street which is a trendy place, but used to be much more offbeat than it is now. Anyway, our marriage stunk from the get-go, and we almost never spoke. So we went to the movies at the Baghdad Theater, then were going to get a beer. There are a lot of cute shops there and I wanted to window shop, but he was in a hurry. So as I looked into the shop windows and he hurried on ahead, this woman with long gray hair and a long khaki skirt came up to me and said "Do you know him?" gesturing in the direction of my husband. "Yes," I said. "Be nice to him. HE'S HUNGRY," she said. I told her I would, and hurried to catch up to my husband. Jeez, was I ever that young?
8. An absolute Greek God of a young man with curly black hair and big blue eyes was sitting outside of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer in a jacket and his underpants with a sign that read: "Will Work for Pants." His legs were beautifully muscled and hairy. I gave him money, telling him I hoped he got some pants, but I was lying.
9. Quick one: While walking through my old SE Portland neighborhood, a woman ran out her front door and up to me with some urgency. She put a photo in front of my face and said: "Have you seen this cat?" The cat situation in Portland is out of control. My answer: "I may have."
There are other things like that, but I guess you had to be there.
I haven't seen the Portlandia video with Kyle MacLachlan, but am looking forward to it. Portland has a very dark side to it too, but that would be a different show, I'm sure.
This guy was mayor when I first moved here. Seriously.