August 21, 2009
Portland— Powell’s Rules, Alberta Area, Tin Shed
We got here last night after a seven hour drive from Whidbey in endless traffic. It’s not a good sign when people from Los Angeles are complaining about your traffic in Washington. Getting through Seattle took forever. We went to a sake bar called Zilla Sake and then to Tin Shed, both places in a part of Portland called Alberta where our friend Steph lives. Tin Shed has this cool menu and I had great salmon, not expensive, the fish so lightly cooked with spinach, just as I like it, the place so casual and perfect. Portland is a yummy place, with great restaurants and casually dressed people who are kick back, lovely gardens and Japanese maples. Steph loves this area and knew it was going to be gentrified, but it is also a very mixed area although it seems there is an effort to keep it mixed. Where I walked was mostly African American and looked like the African American part of Altadena, the same very cool Craftsman houses of different colors, the same great gardens and people on porches and kids playing hopscotch and hula hoop. Portland is not self conscious, but is absolutely hip; is not needing huge Pamela Anderson breasts, but is absolutely sexy, is big enough without plastic surgery and has more bookstores than any city I’ve been to. Our son loves it here, he’s been living here for two years and it all works for him, the women without pointy heels and pointy breasts and a need for a man with huge wallet and huge car. I guess the deal here is that a man who works at Starbucks can still get laid. Not that our son works at Starbucks, but that is the word on the street. In L.A. women are picky, picky. Here the ladies are generous.
We’re having fun hanging out here visiting him. Mark loves the weather, the bookstores, the houses, the streets, the people. He says, why not? I say, absolutely, let’s keep visiting the son every year. I know what he’s hinting at, but I pretend to be confused, because let’s face it, I moved 3000 miles from the East Coast to live in Los Angeles, and we are a Los Angeles press now, but we’ll keep visiting. We love our son Nick and Portland is a great city to visit.
It’s less expensive to live here than Los Angeles too, and that’s a good thing. The unemployment rate here is only 11.6 %, which is down a bit from 12.2 in June, but one year ago it was 5.3. California is at 11.9, and Michigan at 15% is the nation’s leader or is that sinker, in unemployment…
The last time we were here we went to the Tin Shed also, and we met up with friends who were getting a divorce or had just gotten one, I can’t remember. But I wrote this poem, because that trip to the Grand Canyon that I recently blogged about had just happened, and the Grand Canyon and the food at the Tin Shed and the divorce and Eliot’s insane treatment of his wife which I was reading about all got mixed up in my head. Eliot locked her away till she died. Sometimes you think you’re married to the right person and sometimes that starts to unravel. But you don’t have to kill them or lock them up. It’s not easy to tell when you can fix things and when you just made the wrong choice.
Portland is a small town with music, energy, a great art scene, architecture, books, lively people. If you step right outside the city, you’ll find the state adrift with Republicans, sort of like if you step outside of Austin, then you have to admit, you’re still in Texas, you can’t get away, there’s a lot of Texas. I don’t think we’ll move here, but I know we will keep coming back. Powell’s is the largest new and used independent bookstore in the U.S. and claims to be the largest in the world. If you find one larger, let me know. So far, I have not. Powell’s rules.