Monday, November 8, 2010

Portland: The Weird and the Beautiful

My first day in Portland began with meeting Curious Thomas for an exchange of goods. Headphones for a Rogue beer. He brought his mom. Awkward. Fortunately his mom was hot and seemed to please the others (Drunk Don and The Lesbians Jessi and Stacy). I was with Cougar Eye Candy. It was Tiki Tuesday at Rogue Brewery. If you wear an Aloha shirt you get a free beer. Funny enough a Hawai'i ID doesn't count. Tell me how that works?

My first week was spent wandering around with Don, Laura and Brandon, all of whom I'd met in Hawai'i at some point. Laura was my old roomate who is from Portland. She decided our first stop should be Mary's, the very first strip club in the city. This place was anything but raunchy. It was as oldschool as it can get. One stage with one jukebox. The "dancer" chooses a song and does her thing. The place is tiny, stuffy, and full of slot machines. I wasn't even sure if people went there to see the strippers or not. We had a drink a left.

Next we went to a cheap ass sushi bar. We received our food by train. A motorized train, that is. Not the best or most classy style of eating, but fun nonetheless. After a couple sake bombs and sushi we went to a barcade. That's right. A bar and classic arcade. I'm not talking Dave and Busters crap. I'm talking about classic games from the 80s and 90s. What's more awesome is that we played for free the entire night. The pinball games rocked my world.

Brandon, my other tour guide, used to be a music promoter. We met while he was promoting a show in Hawai'i. No, we never hooked up, but I always thought he was a cool guy so I kept contact with him. I have him to thank for showing me that serenity can be found in the hustle of the city. The Chinese Tea Garden had artisans construct an authentic and harmonious area in Chinatown. Unfortunately, Portland's Chinatown is pathetic and nonexistent. I guess the strip clubs make up for the lack of any real culture.

Aside from the city's charms (which I will tell in specific at a later time),
nature does exist here. I went on an excursion with Donny to Washington Park. Full of Redwood trees, old pines, and various plants I'd never seen nor heard of. It was more beautiful than I expected to see within the city. The pathways led into a canopy of trees as the sun burst through the leaves, and we just strolled through the arboreal maze with ease. In a random niche of the wood there is a wooden overlook with benches; a perfect resting spot for lunch. Sandwiches and some wine did us fine.I guess there's more nature to see in the city than I thought.

Greyhound strangers and Portland Crazies

Ah, the fine stench of the Greyhound bus. I guess Portland is a big travel destination. To be honest, nothing is worth the 16 hours I agonized through on this bus. It began with the bus driver apparently just learning how to drive. This was definitely a different experience than last time. Instead of boarding the hippie wagon I entered the minority van smuggling immigrants across the border. My first and worst mistake was choosing a seat in the back. I guess this isn't grade school anymore where the back is where the cool kids go. Nope, this was where the morons (me) and irritable boweled ones sit. The only consolation prize was a cute young guy, who I had previously seen in the Sacramento station, who sat next to me.
On this hourless journey into the depths of pungent hell I soon realized why I hated and stopped riding Greyhound. Nausea is not fun for an extended amount of time. This ride made tequila-jagerbombs-heineken-wine hangover look good. Eating a Boca burger was a bad choice. I was surprised that even though I looked like shit, this kid wanted to talk to me. I basically spent the hours chatting with him through a semi-odor-concealing scarf and dozing on and off. Damn that bathroom stunk. I think someone had some bad nachos bell grande or something. Sick.
So over the next shit-some hours Thomas and I chatted. I learned he was a typical teenager. Played swords with his friends (this is not an innuendo) and drank heavily. Good thing he was cute because JESUS was he a child. Did I mention this Curious Thomas was a closet nudist? Yes, he liked to streak with his friends or get fucked up and strip down. His basic endeavor was to become a lifelong college student. Of course the pathological liar in me feeds him lies of being a professor and who knows whatever bullshit came out of my ridiculous mouth. Why on earth do I do that? Ha!

I was lucky, however, to get him as a seat buddy. I'm not sure how much I could've stood Tri-Colored Hair Mom, Bottomless Chip Bag Lady, or the alcoholic grandma behind me. It only took me until midnight to realize I was delirious with starvation and exhaustion while simultaneously nauseated. Curious Thomas shared his PB&J with me.

4 am. The smell of urine and toilet cleaner has become significantly more revolting. I gag every time the door opens. My consciousness faded in and out of interesting conversations with Curious Thom. Soon he was off of the bus and I was left with his headphones, possibly and quite purposefully left. The next day he called me to "meet up" and exchange them for a drink. Well played, good sir.

My arrival into Portland was interesting, to say the least. In the first hour I came across more weirdos than I had ever seen in Hawai'i and Florida combined. I was unable to tell the difference between the homeless, the vagabonds, and the everyday Portlander. After riding on the bus forever I reached Don's place, a couchsurfing house. Where was I to sleep in a house full of 8 people? In the gypsy room, of course, with four others.

The people living in this house were so different from each other. I was surprised to see them get along so well. First there was Don, my friend from Cleveland who I'd met in Honolulu the year before. He'd just moved there in January and was more like a brother to me than friend. He has a bit of a drinking problem, but I love him. Then there is Serafin, the flamboyant Filipino ice skater. He runs the house, is never around, and is in the closet. Not long after I'm giving him makeup and bra advice. Then there is Mostly, whose denies anyone her real name for whatever reason, but eventually you'll figure it out when she befriends you on Facebook. She's basically the bisexual, eccentric stripper. Then there is Shane, the 20 year old chef who likes to party a bit. This kid has done some drugs, but he's still a cool cat. He is always smoking pot or drinking. The other roomates are: Javier the stylish Blasian chef from SF; Jordan, the malnourished 10 year old cycling chef (who has a big heart); Jereme, the tattooed recovering addict chef (whom I find out is back on heroine later in time); and Danielle, the alien artist from another planet (who always has genuine intentions).

Imagine being in a house full of these people daily. I didn't even have to leave the house to see Portland. All of the weirdness of the city was right in front of me.

Sorry I don't happen to have a picture of this crew, you can just imagine for yourselves.