What an excellent Spring Break!
After a late arrival Monday night, we (Anna, Marko, me) got up Tuesday and headed to the Portland Japanese Garden for their annual free day. We also had some pizza at Rocco's and went to the vast, overwhelming Powell's Books main location. We also drove up Mount Tabor -- it was excellent that we spent a large chunk of the day outdoors. That evening, Anna and I went to see Girls Rock: The Movie, a documentary about the Rock n' Roll Camp for Girls, an annual camp that "builds girls self-esteem through music creation and performance." The movie was super cute, and highly enjoyable, though there were some issues that came up as Anna and I discussed it afterwards. Here's the trailer:
After the film, we went and picked up Marko and then met some friends (hi Gessi and Phil!) at the Horse Brass, where I enjoyed the super special treat of Widmer Hefeweizen on tap. There are many things about Portland that it seems it's easy for locals to take for granted, and one of the top things on my list would be Widmer on tap. I also had some Lompoc C-Note IPA that was really good. IPAs are really hot right now, hops to the maxx. Another very appealing thing about the establishment were their sausage dishes: english sausage wrapped in a pastry roll and this really amazing thing which is a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and then deep fried. Amazing.
So then Wednesday, Anna volunteers at In Other Words, the last Feminist non-profit bookstore in the country. I hung out there with her and caught up on zines. After that, we headed downtown to grab some Voodoo Doughnuts. I had a Bavarian cream-filled (similar to my old Boston Creme standby) and a vegan doughnut -- to see what all the fuss was about. It was a cake doughnut with icing and topped with the inside of Butterfinger chocolate bars. Supersweet and both were super great. We kicked it around downtown some more, walked through Pioneer Square and went to get the car to park it downtown.
That night, we dropped by a party Gessi was having, but Anna and I had to go so we could go see Brass Menažeri and Vagabond Opera at Someday Lounge. Brass Menažeri had a woman tapan player who absolutely kicked ass. After their set, I talked to her for a few minutes, and complimented her, and she said it was interesting how women always came up to her to compliment her on her playing. I told her I'd been listening and dancing to this sort of music for ages and had never seen a woman doing it. She was great, and also a great vocalist. They brought their own dance instigator with them, and so it was great to dance ala Balkan for most of the set, which I hadn't done in ages. They were a bit more traditional, and Vagabond Opera was more postmodern, but still absolutely stunning. They had a neo-bohemian cabaret thing going on, which was so incredibly fun. Their awesome band member Lesley was a wonderful singer and musician but also coaxed some gorgeous music out of the saw, which takes some major skill. VO ended with some flame dancing -- there was some flame eating and throwing earlier on -- which ended with a bang and not a whimper. Anna said it was the best show she'd been to since she'd been in Portland, and I'd definitely agree it was quite possibly one of the best shows I've been to. Here's a video I made from my cellphone video camera -- not very good quality but it gives some of the feeling:
On Thursday, we met up with my friend Laura and her husband Jim and new baby Luca! Jim's daughter also joined us for lunch and we had a really pleasant afternoon. We met at the Tao of Tea (Anna, being a diligent student of Chinese, decided the most proper pronunciation was the dao of dea)and then we went and got us some really amazing Lebanese food at Hoda's on Belmont Street. After that, we had to get back so we could head down to Last Thursday on Alberta Street for some gallery openings. It was cool to see what sorts of art is going on out there. My favorite art was at the Bitch Magazine headquarters -- not because it was overt, but because it was sophisticatedly evocative. We went over to IOW to meet Marko for That Time of the Month: Borders, Citizenship and Language: The Attack on Immigrants and the Crisis for Humanity. It was great to listen to some local activists discussing tactics and strategies for overcoming the racism that is so ubiquitous in this country right now.
As if it couldn't get any better, more live music. This time, Chervona (MySpace) and Polka Madre at the Alberta Street Pub. The great asset to both of these bands were their clarinet players. We danced the whole time to Chervona, I enjoyed my fill of New Belgium Sunshine Wheat. Polka Madre took a while to get cranking, but then they turned out to be fun to dance to as well. They came off as really cerebral (as opposed to soulful), and had an Exploding Plastic Inevitable projection thing going on which made things somewhat intense. Polka Madre is best described as post-ska, and the kids who were dancing to Chervona were not really the kids dancing to Polka Madre -- as evidenced by dance style. Another great time.
Friday, Anna had to work, and Marko and I went to a place where he wanted to meet with someone for some funding. Turned out she wasn't there, and so after, we almost gassed up the car and drove to the beach or Mount Hood, but the weather was bad and there wasn't quite enough time. We went to the Laughing Horse Radical Bookstore Collective, helped Meghan clear out her place, and had some very good Thai food with some of the strangest waitstaff I think any of us had ever experienced. We picked up Anna at work and then hung out for a bit and got me to the airport. It sucked to have to leave. There's already a ton more things I'd like to do and see, and I was so happy and excited to meet Anna's crew out there, and talk and dance with all of them!
The plane ride home was good and bad. I had made reservations for a window seat, to be able to sleep a bit more effectively, but two women with 2 small kids asked if me and the other guy in my row would move so they could sit together. I then got an aisle seat, with these 2 little kids and a group of hormonal young teen school kids behind me. They carried on the entire flight, taking flash photos on a dark plane. I slept a bit. Changing seats had some silver lining, as my row was a hot Austrian Nike intern and an opera singer. :)
Got my Dunkin Donuts coffee on the plane (love you, JetBlue) and headed back to NJ.
Back in the grind.
See you soon, Portland.