I’ve only watched a couple episodes of Portlandia. I saw some bit about putting a bird on everything, a mayor kayaking to work, and farm to table lunacy. I didn’t see any of that in person, but after having been to Portland, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
Let me state my reservations right up front. Any place that markets itself as weird makes me worry that they are going to be trying a little too hard. Weirdness seems to me something that you are or are not in any given situation. If you find yourself trying, it is an act. Hollywood is where one goes to act weird.
So with this healthy skepticism we got in line at Voodoo Doughnuts. The line was long and I am willing to bet that no one standing in it was a local. Add extra skepticism. We eventually got to the intentionally gaudy and kitschy interior and ordered an apple fritter, some other thing that looked to be mostly chocolate, and another that was mostly chocolate plus Nutella. You cannot go wrong adding Nutella to anything so judging by that doughnut would be unfair, but my wife ate the fritter. My wife, who spends approximately 95% of her mind share thinking about dessert, said the fritter was the best she ever had. Keep in mind this is the same woman who just last week sent an egg back to the cook because the yolk wasn’t runny enough on her sunny-side-up order.
Voodoo for the win.
The street market downtown is long and crowded, as a street market should be, and we stopped by a florist that sold a large custom bouquets out of unadorned plastic five gallon buckets for around $10. As it should be. There were booths and booths of nick knacks, snacks, and hand made whatevers that made me feel like my laptop had opened up and spilled Etsy out all over the street.Now while Etsy is not in and of itself my thing, un-pretensious flower vendor, plus live Etsy… plus harp lady, equals my endorsement.
One good thing about being hosted in a new location as opposed to independent exploration, is that you may catch things you would have otherwise skipped. Like what looks like a big-box bookstore.
Powell’s is more than a big box. (props to Dr. Chadwick)
In addition to rows and rows of new and used books, upstairs they have a rare books collection. Now while going in to a glass encased rare books selection lacks the adventure of a dusty corner shop in Providence, or the prestige of a Boston library, but what it does have is a giant book of Annie Liebowitz’s life work with David Byrne on the cover.
To top that off they had a first edition of one of my all time favorite books, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, right next to a second printing of Twelve Years a Slave.
Forget you Boston.