week thirty-six: the strange and untidy

This week I found out that the food cart pod near my office is being dismantled at the end of the summer to make way for a condo development.  This is happening to several cart pods throughout the city.  I know it’s kind of petty to be saddened by the loss of these empty lots turned lunch and dinner meccas. The unchecked gentrification of this city has had a much bigger and more meaningful impact on many communities that have been completely pushed out of parts of the city. The demise of the food carts is just one more symptom of a process that prioritizes profits over everything else. I lose my favorite Korean lunch bowl, the owners lose their livelihoods and the neighborhood loses a little of what made it great. Magnify that process to include the displacement of entire portions of the city’s population and it all starts to look awfully sad.

The inner southeast industrial area and the Old town/Chinatown area are high on the list of neighborhoods already in the process of being taken over by condos, boutiques and hipster bars. There’s still plenty of roughness there though. Knowing what’s on the horizon, the rough patches become a sharp reminder that shiny and new shouldn’t be built at anyone’s expense. And just from an aesthetic viewpoint, the dirty and messy and weird (truly weird, not ironic hipster weird) has its place and possesses its own beauty.

Here are some of the places I wandered by this week.  Places I’m sure I’ll soon miss.

IMG_4595SE Madison & 9th

IMG_4658For as long as I’ve lived here, I’ve looked at the curtains in the windows of this building that sits at the base of the Burnside Bridge and thought of all the fucked up, dramatic but beautiful scenes that must play out in those spaces. I wonder how long this building will be what it’s been before it’s turned into something boring.

IMG_4612The “Ordinary Violence, Prisons” section of the brilliant Mother Foucault’s Bookshop. I can’t believe I’d never been in before. This place is old school in all the best ways, staffed by a man who looked like Samuel Beckett’s brother and doing well enough after only a few years in business to be in the process of expanding. A little spot of joy in a growing sea of bland pretension.

IMG_4636Apparently, I was so desperate to not lose the Portland I once knew, I actually walked along the waterfront during Rose Festival which I’ve never done before. I suspiciously eyed the quiet, rusty carnival rides then boarded the Canadian Navy’s HCMS Oriole. It didn’t take long for me to remember that I loathe Rose Festival and that boats without Dramamine make me very sick. Still, it’s kind of lovely that this is the ship Canada sent. Downstream, behind a long fence, was a giant gray ship lined with American sailors standing at attention, waiting to be set loose.

IMG_4645IMG_4643Two shots from the exhibit of collections at The Faux Museum in old town. On the right of the first pic is a collection of toys found in pianos. The second pic is from a collection of notes found in libraries. This museum is all the friendly, awesome, weird and fun that I first found so endearing about this city. I wholeheartedly support them and, if you live in Portland, you should too.

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