Portland: Keeping it Weird

So what does one do after spending four hours in a bookstore? Well, one might eat a little food. Portland offers too many food options, so I keep it simple and go to the same place every time, Kornblatt’s on 23rd. Kornblatt’s is a New York style deli. The deli is not very big but there is seating for about 200 people all wedged into the space of disco dance floor.

The Kornblatt’s menu.

I ordered the “seasonal” sandwich the Brooklyn Bomber (fried latka, grilled onions, melted cheese, beef brisket, on a sweet bun). I don’t what season it needs to be to order a sandwich that has nothing seasonal in it, but you will notice that there is not a picture of this sandwich because as soon as the plate hit the table my mind went blank and I inhaled the sandwich in under ten minutes. This was not a little sandwich either, but when it was gone I felt a pang of regret. It might have been the 12,000 calories I just consumed bumping into my stomach walls, but more likely it was the realization that the sandwich was gone.

We then hiked back to the car which was parked about five blocks away, 23rd Avenue is a busy little area on the west side of downtown. It is also another example of how Portland gets it right. The entire area is surrounded by old houses that have been fixed up, painted and now create a lovely little village feel.

After lunch it is always time for a coffee and some writing. The best place for this activity is Hawthorne. On the way to Hawthorne we always stop at Music Millennium where I remember what record stores once were. The loss of music stores makes me feel like singing a few verses of American Pie (not that stupid movie, but the song my Don McLean.)

The Bagdad Theater, the only part of Bagdad that we didn’t bomb. One of the cornerstone buildings in the Hawthorne area.

The coffee and writing ritual has developed over the years, but my friend and I exchange little words and ideas and then write something. Usually it is poetry, but this year we went with ye ole prose.

The sour fruits of our labor.

Hawthorne is a great little neighborhood also. It is one of the funky areas of Portland where people my age feel older. There is also a smaller Powell’s books. Yes, I did go into the bookstore and look at more books, but for once I didn’t buy anything. I also saw a women who embodied the Hawthorne neighborhood: about six feet tall, blonde spiked hair, yellow cowboy boots, denim knee-length shorts, tight yellow tank-top, completely covered with tattoos from mid neck to top of the yellow boots.

After our writing it is time for a walk in Laurelhurst Park. This is a great little neighborhood park where there is a off-leash dog area and plenty of space for people to play frisbee or just absorb the sunshine.

Two laps around Laurelhurst Park.

Why do I end up at the Rhinelander to eat dinner? I don’t really know. Maybe it is the cheese fondue, maybe it is trying to recapture something I loved about Germany, maybe it is just what we normally do. It doesn’t really matter, because the final stop before heading back is always the Rhinelander.

Round two of eating too much.

Did I eat too much? Yes, and I had desert also.

If I ate this way every day would I die of a heart attack? Yes.

Are there 20 other great neighborhoods in Portland that I missed? Yes.

Is the downtown one of the coolest, greatest examples of urban renewal in America? Yes.

Is the waterfront awesome? Yes.

Could I spend a week there and just wander from micro-pub to micro-pub? Yes.

Will I be returning to Portland next year at the end of May? Yes.

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