So because I am still in the in between place, this purgatory of should I stay or should I go, I often find myself ruminating on the merits and disadvantages of life in the City of Roses. During said ruminations I typically find yet another thing of greatness that can be found in Stumptown which includes the new IFC show Portlandia. In its honor and for all the unsung Ptown weirdos, here’s a list of things to love.
10. Saint Cupcake – There are several local cupcake bakeries in the metro area, but this is my particular fave. I l-o-v-e their Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream and could subsist on those alone for at least a week. However they also have many other varieties to satiate every palate and, of course, feature several vegan choices daily. There is a weekly menu on their website so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
9. The International Test Rose Garden in May/June – Tourists looking for a photo op and Portlanders playing disc golf or hackey sack mingle among the rows of gorgeous flowers to enjoy every drop of the sun as only one recovering from the gloom of a North Western winter/spring really can. The ever magnificent Mt. Hood sits next to the downtown skyline and provides the view that sums up Portland to me. Make sure you go to the Garden Store and try the Rose Tea, really different and pretty delicious. Makes a nice gift too.
8. The Roseland Theater is the favorite music venue of my husband and I. We have seen quite a few shows there and it has an intimate atmosphere while standing up acoustically. Be prepared old fogies, standing room only on the floor level. There is a small balcony area with seating, but you have to get there pretty early to get those coveted seats. Suck it up and get down and dirty on the floor closer to the action. Your knees may not love you for it, but your ears and soul will. My husband saw Muse there and will never be able to stop talking about it for the rest of his life, despite us seeing them again at the Theater of the Clouds and the Rose Garden.
7. Deschutes Brewery- Yeah people, I know Deschutes is a Bend brewery, but I am from Portland and their pub is the one of which I speak. Highly. The have consistently great seasonal beers in addition to their trued and trues. The Vanilla Port I had there several years ago was likely the best beer I have ever tasted and I lust for it from time to time. Why, oh why was it so short lived? They also had or have a spelt hefeweizen that rocked it out. The food is tasty – elevated pub style. You will live to regret it if you don’t get the spicy mac and cheese, it is out of this world good. Go there and eat it right now, people. You will thank me.
6. McMenamins – If you think this list is food-centric, you must understand two things about me. First, food = life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Second, I am hungry, people! So let me entice you with promises of crispy, salty, spicy lumps of golden goodness – Cajunized Tots, baby. Dunk ‘em in ranch, they are what most pub fare aspires to be. And they also have many lovely seasonal ales, but Ruby is the solid choice here. Made with raspberry puree this light and crisp is Oregon born and bred.
The thing about McMenamin’s is the atmosphere is as alluring as the food and while I am partial to the Imbrie Hall location, they all have something cool and different to offer. The Kennedy School offers lodging in original classrooms, a soaking pool and a brewery, but I am all about the Mommy Matinee in their movie theater. Mommies, and a surprising amount of daddies, can watch new-ish movies while their babies nurse, sleep or play on the big, comfy couches. Crying and tantrums totally accepted and understood. They also serve food. And beer. Ahh. The Crystal Ballroom is another favorite music venue of ours. I love the way the building shakes when the music is thumping and the crowd is rowdy fueled by a Ruby or two. If you’re looking for the spirit of Ptown it’s likely found in some McMenamins joint.
5. Excalibur Comics - When I moved to Portland from New York I emailed Brian Michael Bendis and asked for a comic book store recommendation and this little store was it. Yes, he emailed me back because that’s how he rolls even though most of his time is spent writing 94.7% of all current Marvel Comics and a few others thrown in for good measure. BTW? How I roll is to have that email from BMB in a Save Forever folder in my Gmail. Like a cucumber, I am. Now, Excalibur is a comic book store like any other old school shop, but it’s run by a woman and you gotta know that makes it rad. There is also a camaraderie and lack of(or minimal amount of, anyway) Comic Book Guy pretense and derision. Actually, not a trace of derision. The occasional trace of pretense. Or maybe that was me. And did I mention BMB has a pull list there? Because I have a pull list there. Which means we’re pretty much bff. Or will be in due time.
Not only does Portland have this stellar comic book shop, but is also home to Dark Horse Comics and Oni Press. And produced not only BMB, but Beverly Cleary, Chuck Palahniuk, Matt Groening, Gus Van Sant and Sleater-Kinney. Oh, and several contestants on the Biggest Loser. So totes rad.
4. 94.7 KNRK- Every city has at least one alternative radio station, but they don’t always personify the soul of a city in the way that this station does. They’re sorta grungy, definitely liberal, slightly nerdy and they totally rock. KNRK has the whole finger on the pulse thing down and they sponsor several sellout I Saw Them When shows at the Crystal Ballroom throughout the year for bands on the brink of blowing up.
Gustav is my auditory crush, his 80′s New Wave plays speak to my nostalgic soul. Plus he hosts the Widmer Brothers Perfect Playlist where anyone of the unwashed masses can email 5 songs with some sort of theme and be featured on air explaining their picks while the songs are played. Yes, I have submitted a Perfect Playlist which to my deep chagrin was not chosen. Perhaps one day I will take another run at it.
3. Children’s activities - Portland is a wonderland for children in the glorious summer and fall months and gets decidedly less awesome when the gloom of the rainy season settles into your bones. There are some pretty spectacular bright spots of sunshine in the Children’s Museum, OMSI, Playdate PDX, Out of This World Pizza and Pump It Up are in our regular rotation where we are at home. And since we are Beaverton residents, we are members of the astounding THPRD(parks and rec) which offers everything from enrichment classes to open time at their gyms and pools to playtime drop in hours in a gym filled with ride on toys, balls and other assorted toys. All of this entertainment is available at rock bottom prices and at several different locations throughout Beaverton. All of these fantastic offerings are made even more astonishingly awesome when you get to participate in them alongside the greatest group of funny, honest, real mamas and the cutest, most brilliant babies anywhere up or down the left coast.
2. Blue/Green State - Having lived in many, many states over my life thus far I have experienced a wide variety of what America has to offer. For the past 15 years I have lived in (in order of longest to shortest time lived in) New York, Oregon, Montana, California, Idaho, Washington and Arizona. Three of those are considered red states, although I lived in Bozeman, MT which is mos def liberal due to being a college town and due to the large influx of Californians and actors. Arizona was where I did my halfway house stint after rehab and my world was AA, NA and CA meetings and the folk that frequent such meetings. Idaho was a place that I was destined to leave.
So after all that blue state time, coming back to Texas was a cold glass of water in the face. It has made me appreciate my people in Portlandia with all of your tattoos, your piercings, your extreme leftist political leanings, your blase attitudes towards politics, your love of locally sourced, direct trade, vegetarian/vegan-ism. Your food carts, your micro brews, your micro roasts. Your limits on urban sprawl, your high housing prices and crazy HOA fees. Your extensive recycling programs, your bicycle accessibilty, the Max. Your strip clubs and your yoga centers. For all this and more, Portland, I heart you. I heart you, big time.
1. My husband – My grumpy, silly, big, strong man of a husband resides in Ptown. He is neither betwixt nor between, but firmly planted there. He builds sleeping environments for the cat, thrives on a diet of beef jerky, Coke and that horrible cheese that comes in a mother of a can at Costco. He will tell you horror movies aren’t scary anymore, but he will fashion some sort of jamming device for the door when he sleeps alone in the house. Which is often these days. He mocks my television habit as a waste of time. He prefers to waste his time in front of his computer. Or a video game. He cleaned the house from top to bottom before we came home last time. He teaches our son to dance. To good music. He’s my number one.
Check out the other terrific Top Ten Tuesday lists hosted by the lovely Oh Amanda, you won’t regret it!