Fresh Nonfiction: Five Things Everyone Should Thank Portland, Oregon For
A collection of creative nonfiction across all forms of media, Fresh Nonfiction covers the embarrassing, awkward, mundane, and meaningful. (And it all actually happened).
Five Things Everyone Should Thank Portland, Oregon For
Note: another in a series of blogs I launched and eventually abandoned, "P.O.A.B." (the only clue I'm gonna give you) was an often-pointless take on the post-English-degree days of a guy working at a computer store in Portland (i.e. me). There are a few posts with some merit - the following is one of them.
In a certain sense, this is an easy first subject on which to build a series of lists. I live in Portland, work in Portland, and I genuinely enjoy Portland. Beyond that, Portland is home to a number of lauded musicians, writers, artists, features, and events. But, being a fairly recent transplant to the Willamette Valley - I originally hale from the much drier, much sparser, and much conservative-er Eastern Oregon - I have been forced to frequently hit the town in order to familiarize myself with the City of Roses.
1. Rose Parade - The simple, striking song by Elliott Smith is a safe pick, I'll admit. But the influence that Smith eventually exerted over other artists (think Ben Folds, Sufjan Stevens, Glen Hansard, Wes Anderson, etc.) allows anyone the right to list Smith among the best songwriters of the last fifteen years before his early exit in '03. "Rose Parade" is vintage Smith, with few frills and a heavy dose of cynicism.
2. Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen - It may not be the finest of the fine beer produced by Portland-area brewers - arguments are best made at the huge Oregon Brewers Festival - but after its introduction in 1986, it has become one the most widely known and loved wheat beers in the states. I like to think it's a gateway beer, which eases reluctant drinkers into other microbrew explorations.
3. Matt Groening - The man not only gave us "The Simpsons" but also the cult-favorite "Futurama" and the irreverent "Life in Hell" comic. And Groening didn't forget his roots; many Simpsons' character names - Flanders, Lovejoy, Kearney, Quimby, Powell - are named after Portland streets.
4. Beverly Cleary - The author of The Mouse & the Motorcycle, Otis Spofford, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Henry Huggins, Ramona the Brave, and Strider, among many, many others. If at least one of these books didn't make an appearance at some point in your childhood, it's not too late to pick one up.
5. The Hands On Cafe - Though few Portlanders even know about it, the odd-hours eatery that's hidden in the middle of the Oregon College of Art & Craft has as fine a menu as any place that would charge twice the amount. For brunch, a neatly braised lamb chop with fresh tabouleh or Peruvian pork stew with poached eggs is typical fare. And at around $12 a plate, along with a complimentary offering of fruit and homemade breads, the place is rare find. So why should people thank Portland for a hole-in-the-wall cafe? If you visit Portland and can successfully find the HOC, you'll understand.