Tuesday, June 8 2010
location: northeast Portland, Oregon
My biological clock woke me at something close to a normal hour this morning. Gilley has Gretchen and me set up with a bed down in the basement, the natural habitat of the two housecats Eleanor and Oscar. As might be recalled from my last visit to Oregon, I am terribly allergic to Eleanor but not Oscar. If I pet her with a foot, that foot begins to itch. So I've been taking strong (though technically expired) prescription anti-allergy medication found in Gilley's medicine cabinet. I take the stimulant Zyrtec if I am feeling allergies upon waking and Singulair if I am heading down to bed (since it seems to act as a powerful depressant). I usually don't believe people when they claim to have cat allergies (it is, after all, the only socially-acceptable way to say one doesn't like someone's cat). But at least in this case with this one cat, the allergy is very real. I do, however, believe in allergies to children, or at least to the fecally-stained fingers they pull out of their diapers.
After some consultation with Gilley (who, as with yesterday, had to go to work today), Gretchen and I decided to drive down to a city park in Portland called Mount Tabor. Supposedly it sits on the weathered remains of an old volcano, and volcanos are Oregon's biggest attraction (after IPAs). Gretchen was expecting Mount Tabor to look like some sort of real volcano cinder cone, perhaps with a little steam hissing from a crater. But Mount Tabor is nothing but a hilly urban park, mostly forested with old-growth Douglas Fir. Not a single rock protrudes from the deep soils of its sides and summit. There are trails and a spiral road to the summit where hikers jog, and in several places there are bits of infrastructure for Portland's water system, presumably taking advantage of the elevation. Immediately below the west slope are a couple of city reservoirs.
From one spot there was a perfect place for sitting and staring at Mount Hood 50 miles to the east. And the mildly-domed concrete cover for a large water tank proved to be a perfect place for stretching out and soaking in a precious few minutes of sun. At such times it's possible to imagine abandoning one's human form and spending the rest of one's life as a lizard.
As we lay there on the concrete water tank in the sun, we could hear the shrieks and screams of children frolicking at a nearby plastic-equipment-bedecked playground. Perversely, though, I decided to imagine that the children were instead screaming because they'd been naughty and sent to an anal rape camp, the kind of place that hires analrapists. As always, Gretchen was right there with me, conjuring up a scene where an angry parent hollers at his son, "Knock that off this minute Jimmy, or we're sending you to the Mount Tabor Anal Rape Camp!" "No, but I don't want to go!"
Next we visited Gilley at her cluttered workplace not too far from Mount Tabor. She does lobbying work for an organization trying to save the habitat of migratory salmon, so while no one was looking, I drew a Jesus fish on the white board, but instead of the familiar Greek letters, "DARWIN," or "GEFILTE," I wrote "SALMON." While we were there, a random stoner showed up and asked if he could use a wall outlet because his cellphone battery had died.
Gretchen and I decided to see what all the fuss was about at the Red and Black Café, that anarchist vegan collective that caused a stir by refusing service to a policeman who simply wanted a cup of coffee. It wasn't far from Gilley's workplace and was actually on the same block as that vegan minimall we'd visited yesterday. We sat outside and had salads, sandwiches, and I had a bowl of chili. Aside from the chili (which any hippie could have thrown together), the food was delicious. As for the controversy, the only evidence of it was a sign out in front asking passersby to contribute their own reasons for why people might find cops threatening.
On the way back to Gilley's house, we stopped at New Seasons Market (an expensive but fabulous store, particularly when judged by its IPA selection). Gretchen needed some vegan cheese so she could convert some fancy bread she'd bought into grilled cheese sandwiches. We also got some mushrooms to sautee.
After eating those cheese sandwiches, the plan was to go to the McMenamins' Kennedy School (a few blocks from Gilley's house) to see the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. But Gilley had misread the schedule or failed to take into account that it wasn't the weekend, so we showed up well after the movie had started. So we ended up in the Kennedy School's Boiler Room, that ornate two-level bar lavishly decorated with plumbing fixtures. There we sipped mixed drinks that had been made by McMenamin's distillery operation. Talk about vertical integration! The gin in my gin and tonic was a little odd, as if they didn't quite have the recipe worked out. But I think it's great that they tried. McMenamin's is a true triumph of capitalism: sponsorship of arts, great beers, great spaces, and a strong effort to keep Portland weird, all ultimately driven by Adam Smith's invisible hand. Even as a socialist, it's good to see capitalism has its value in the face of one of its greatest debacles, the ongoing BP oil spill disaster.
Downtown Portland, viewed from Mount Tabor.
Mount Hood, viewed from Mount Tabor.
The grassy spot from which we observed Mount Hood.
The sign asking people to submit their reasons for cops being threatening outside the Red and Black Café.
Detail of that sign.
Gilley and Alan's dog Gracie liked to rest her head on my shoulder.
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