P-Town, Bridgetown, Little Beirut, Stumptown, Rip City, The City
of Roses, Beervana or Beertown, what is this all about? Let’s
see… it starts with the letter P, has a lot of bridges, protested
the visits of the first President Bush so much that his staff
compared it to Beirut, grew so fast that the cleared trees left
stumps everywhere, had a play-by-play announcer named Bill Schonely
who used odd phrases, has a lot of roses and a ton of micro breweries…
must be Portland, Oregon.
with all of these informal handles, how did the official name
come about? How about a flip of a coin?
It’s true, back in the 1840s Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine
wanted to name the new town after their old homes back
east. How to break the deadlock?
Believe it or not, Portland was named in a best two out of three
coin toss. The Portland Penny used to decide the matter
is on display at the Oregon Historical Society. Wonder what would
be on display if they’d used rock, paper, scissors method?
|We decided to
mount our trusty cycles for a tour of Rip City. The Willamette River
runs right through Downtown and bike trails skirt both banks. Eleven
(that’s one more, isn’t it) bridges connect the two sides of Bridgetown
and supply great viewpoints for The City of Rose’s landmarks.
displayed based on traditional
Chinese landscape paintings. The design is from Suzhou, China
during the Ming Dynasty.
usual, it didn’t take long for our thoughts to turn to food.
When in P-town, a growling belly leads to a stop at Voodoo
Doughnuts where The Magic Is In The Hole. Maybe
should say Hole in the Wall, because this place defines the phrase.
Oddly, there were several hundred thousand dollars worth of Mercedes,
Volvo and Porsches parked right in front of this tiny dive. The
line for fried dough ran halfway down the block and consisted of
everything from tie-dyed T-shirts to business suits. Looks like
health food fans come in all shapes and sizes. The locals in the
queue explained that this kind of crowd is business as usual at
the Voodoo. What was drawing this strange blend of characters? We
stepped into the closet sized shop to find out.
décor is early punk rock teen bedroom with the music
turned up loud. Real punk, serious angst filled I’ll-cut-you
punk — no Greenday here — we’re talking Lou Reed, The Sex
Pistols, Iggy Pop and The Ramones. Needless to say, it’s all
take out, there’s no place to stand, much less sit.
the famous Voodoo Doll with a pretzel stick through
his heart, bleeding raspberry-blood filling and the equally illustrious
Maple Bar with not one, but two strips of bacon on top. Our little
chocolate frosted supernatural pin cushion was a-dough-rable and
tasty to boot but the homely little confection of maple icing
and hog won the day flavor-wise — despite our initial revulsion.
Turns out it’s like when the pancake syrup gets on the bacon.
our deep fried sugar and dough appetizers settled we decided
to take in the Saturday Market down by the riverside. Since
1974 Stumptowners have been gathering downtown to consider
the offerings from
local artists, musicians, chefs, bakers and candlestick makers.
This weekly event has become America’s largest open air arts and
browsing the booths we eerily felt that we were being browsed
back by dozens of faces looking out from their perches at
Toyu Ceramics and Life Masks. Beverly Toyu makes the most
lifelike art possible. They are perfect replicas, molded
in plaster from a living face then fired in clay from the molds.
The expressions are completely captivating and the detail, down
to the hairs of the eyebrows,
on, Doña Lola’s stand caught our eye. A pause for a
bite of Salvadorian fare wouldn’t suck. We were immediately
drawn to the pupusas, an item on the menu that neither of
us had seen before. Pupusas are El Salvador’s version of the
tortilla, made from corn masa and thicker than what we
are used to, similar to a gordita. Originated by the Pipil tribes,
they are stuffed with meat, cheese or bean filling and pan fried
to perfection. Muy bueno. Now to find something to wash it down…
with the Beertown title, a beer garden is right in the center
of the Market. Weird and intriguing musical combos entertain under
the tent while the assemblage samples offerings from some of Beervana’s
twenty-eight breweries. Ah, Saturday in the park.
All in all,
we found Saturday Market the optimal place to embrace Little Beirut’s
unofficial motto “Keep Portland Weird.”
Weird is good.