Thursday, August 25, 2011

Confessions of a Junkie

Well, I caved. I just couldn't hold out any longer. It wasn't a full cave though, just a toe-in-the-water cave. I got out the pumpkin spice candle. I know! It's still August! More than a week 'til friggin' Labor Day! In my defense, it was not a fresh one, but, rather, the scant remnants of last year's candle. I think I killed it with one burn so it was a merciful act more than anything.

Here's the thing, I saw a red leaf on the ground this week. The leaves, (one by one) they are a changin'. Not only that, but football is back. My pops goes to Starbucks every morning; I got him on Pumpkin Spice Latte Watch (still not back). Today I got an email from BB&B advertising their fall-scented Yankee Candles.

I just can't take it anymore. I'm ready already. Of course, Mother Nature has responded with the hottest weekend of the summer, but I care not. I am hardly announcing or celebrating the arrival of fall (not even my imaginary one), but merely getting my autumnal ducks in a row. I'm getting the fall boxes out of the attic and making sure all is accounted for, so to speak. But know know this, my friends...Come September 5th, I go balls to the wall for Fall. Mark it, Dude.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Reasons I Love Portland

Brew Festivus!

I think they have Captain Morgan everywhere, but still...

The Boys at Brewfest!

--Architectural and geographical dynamism. I love a city that is visually compelling. I like old buildings, whether they've been renovated or left alone. I like waterfronts and bridges, of which Portland certainly has plenty. I love tree-lined streets. I also need some sort of backdrop. It doesn't have to be anything big, just not flat. When I lived in Sherman Oaks, I could look out my kitchen window and see "The Hill," with it's many houses looking down on us. It was not even a mountain, but it did the trick just fine. I need something in the distance. Portland is a double whammy in this department. The city extends up and into foothills in the immediate and the imposing giant, Mount Hood watches from afar.

--Walkability, compactness. On Saturday, we were on our feet all day at Brew Fest, walked all the way to the Timbers game on the other side, then ended up at an Irish pub back across town. We parked the car when we got into town, picked it up when we left, and didn't touch it in between. And we didn't even use the convenient streetcar or Max Lightrail system. I also love viable mass transit that's not a bus. Nothing beats the New York subways, but the spirit of the subway is alive in all train/metro systems.

--Along those same lines, I love Portland for it's small town intimacy intertwined with big city invigoration. Take the Timbers soccer game for example. The open, street-level concourse, the friendly, small scale of the forest green enclosed concourses and the field itself all lent themselves to a feeling of being at a minor league baseball game or a big high school football game. Yet the size and passion of the crowd would rival that of any NFL team in the land. Another example...On Friday, we went to an upscale brewpub where we had four fantastic local micro brews and an "artisan**" pizza (city), but the total bill was a mere twenty bucks (small town). One last example...Portland is home to Powell's City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the country and one of my absolute musts for every visit. It's three or four stories and takes up an entire city block (big city). Just outside one of the entrances, in a column sculpted to appear as a stack of books, however, are interred the remains of two of Powell's most loyal and passionate customers (small town--albeit a slightly creepy one).

--The beer. They take great pride in their beer in P-town. Home to one of my favorite breweries, Widmer Brothers, Oregon is also the national leader by far when it comes to percentage of local craft brew consumption. Approximately 11 percent of the beer consumed in Oregon is made in Oregon, a significant number when compared to the national average of 3.4 percent (source: New York Times). As a beer lover, I know what I like, but half the fun is being surprised by the beer you'd never heard of. Portland is Beer Mecca. And their wines are pretty damn good too!

--The coffee. The best coffee I've had in America comes from Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I brought the bigger suitcase just so I could load up.

--I love that I have my Portland staples that I never get tired of, but also the feeling like there is still so much more to explore. Forest Park! The Grotto! The brewpub movies! Fine dining! The Kennedy School! Ringside Steakhouse! When are we going back?

--The weather, as I imagine it anyway. To be fair, I have only been during the summer, when it was sunny and hot and the days were long. However, who loves grey, rainy days more than me? I think I would relish the precipitation. I could stand for average October temps to be a tad lower than their 63, but by November and December, we're talking 52 and 45. Now that's just perfect sweater weather, my friends. With only 3.8 snowy days per year, it's the perfect novelty without any of the hassle. I admit my experience is completely superficial, but for now at least, mark me down as liking if not loving the weather.

--Last but not least, I love Portland because it's got my two buddies Zach and Bill Brasky!

**Can someone please explain to me what the fuck "artisan" really means in terms of bread and pizza? Please.