Well I took my wife and 3 kids (all >6 years old) to Portland Oregon the whole last week. It was fun but exhausting!
We got a hotel right across the street from the Stumptown Ace Hotel location. Excellent coffee the whole week. No hint of bitterness.
The guy behind the counter had the fullest giant mustache I’ve ever seen. Another barista was a fedora-wearing doppelganger of a guy I know back home.
Their behind-the-counter system was interesting. They had three folks – two on espresso machines, the middle on on the register and… pouring milk. They burned through tons of milk steamer pitches, one per drink, each portioned ahead of time. Perfectly consistent though.
I met a guy in line who asked if I was a Christian (I holding a copy of a Kathleen Norris book) and we chatted for a while. He was visiting from California and was thinking about moving up here because of the “Christian art scene”. I said, yeah, that’s what I hear, but I’m not sure what that means!
Speaking of coffee, I also went to a cupping (tasting) at newly remodeled place called Public Domain. Very nice. the shop was pretty interesting. They had pour-over funnels for making single cups from specialty batches as well as multiple espresso blends available. Black and white minimalist decor.
While I was there, a crazy looking old guy with a painted blue face and a dyed blue beard walked by and looked in. The baristas commented, “Oh yeah. He’s a down-towner. He loves us. What’s his name? I don’t know, Osama A-blue-bin. No no no. He doesn’t have a name. I think is name is Markis. He’s a real down-towner.”
Visited Powell’s multiple times. The haul:
- Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me (have wanted to read this ever since reading the review in The Rabbit Room. Her earlier memoir Dakota was surprisingly good.)
- George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie (The sequel to The Princess and the Goblin, which I recently read my daughter. I’ll probably wait to read her this one though. The plot has some political intrigue in it that is way over her head right now.)
- James Alison, Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-In. (This book, without question, wins the award for confusing titles. It’s actually a collection of theological essays. It’s turning out to be (as expected) rather hit and miss. When he’s good though, he’s dynamite.)
- Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island (Probably my favorite of the ten or so Merton books I’ve read. I’ve checked it out from the local library about 4 times. I figured it was time to add it to the shelf. Read the essay on vocation.)
- A bunch of early reading stuff for my daughter and a several books for my wife, most of which she’s already finished!
I read an interview with Glen Hansard in an edition of Fretboard magazine. In it he talked about his very beat up guitar (seen in the movie Once), and how he learned to sing and play. The part I found the most interesting was where he talked about how he came to sing loud. He practiced projecting his voice and adjusting the timbre so it would reverberate back off the walls of the buildings across the street. In this way, he would make more money busking. It’s hard to describe right now, but I feel there is an important lesson about shyness and breaking out of your shell in this.
I stopped by the Living Room Theatre one night to catch some jazz. I was curious how the band would stack up compared to the local and student ones I see in Moscow. Piano player: OK. Drummer: Very stylish clothes, but completely boring performance. Yawn. Bass player: Way above average. Cool.
Voodoo Doughnuts is the epitome of the phrase “hole in the wall”. It was in a seedy part of town next to a strip club and XXX shop. There was a line out the door (of the donut shop).
There are tons of places to eat down town, all competing for your business. You can tell where the really good places are though by how busy they are. At several friend’s recommendations, we tried to go to a Mexican restaurant called Cha Cha Cha. It was super busy so we had to go somewhere else.
In the restaurant guide and everywhere I looked I saw ads for this fancy joint called Ten 01. I visited it one night and it was only mildly busy. Maybe 20 people in there. About 20% full. They had a huge scotch list though, most of it very steeply priced. On the other hand, down the street a ways, next to our hotel, was a place of similar caliber called Clyde Common. THIS place was absolutely packed out every time I walked by it all week. I never even bothered stopping in – there were no seats. Also, I never once saw an ad for this place anywhere. Apparently word-of-mouth is always the best.