This weekend I bused south to Portland, Oregon to help Bryan table at the Portland Zine Symposium. He, I, and Rachel took turns browsing, explaining what a Babel/salvage is and trying to not spend all our money on art and zines. Though not trying that hard. I've got a nice little shelf's worth of art, politics, comics, and poetry zines I'll be working my way through over the next few weeks.
One of the recurring things you hear as a tabler is as follows:
"Oh wow, this is really cool. I mean, really cool. I don't have any money on me, though, will you be here tomorrow?"
Still, B/S was able to spread the good word through a few trades, card hand-offs, and even a purchase here and there.
I also featured at the Portland Poetry Slam at Backspace Coffee right in down/old town Portland. It's a great reading, energetic room, and the all-ages factor gives an urgency and life to the proceedings that helps the time pass quickly. That said, I felt a bit ambivalent about my own performance; I feel I've definitely done better readings for matching the mood/emotions of the crowd and connecting with folks.
Set: filthy jerry gets paid/ sharis parking lot/ little fear of drowning/ GRIFOLS-Biomat parking lot/ northward/ charity pledge drive/ foxes of bainbridge/ story problem.
Part of the issue, I think lies with the fact that both 'gets paid' and 'sharis' actually read a bit better in my head than they do on stage. About halfway through either of them I've already collected half a page of self notes on how to tighten them/perform them better. Leads to an editing-on-the-fly sitch that probably would have been better not to, you know, start with.
Still, the crowd was generous, talked to some folks afterwards, saw old friends, and caught a bus with Rachel back to NEPO, where the bar was closed but the pizza place was open. The time not at PZS or the Slam is documented below:
One thing I find interesting when I'm in Portland is the constant overhearing of Cliche Conversations about Portland.
"Yeah, like, coming from L.A. I expected it to be way smaller, actually. But it's pretty big. . . but not that big. Like, it's a town that pretends to be a city."
Yeah, take a swig every time you hear one of those and you'll be drunk in ten minutes. But PDX actually strikes me as the opposite: it's a Big City (in general, american terms) that pretends to be a town, not the other way around. The gardens, the farmers markets, the single family homes and general lack of tall buildings outside of Downtown and the Rose Quarter give it a towny feel. But the infrastructure, the neighborhood-focused walkability, the mass transit, these are all city ammenities, but dressed down. How long that dressing down remains, who's to see. But Portland feels like a town, works like a city.
Seattle, on the other hand, has many ways in which it's a (huge) town still growing into it's practical cityhood; we're behind on transit and infrastructure, which is one of greatest indicators (in my mind) of urban living. That said, there's more of an outward-looking mindset in Seattle, where as Portland seems to be more localized, to both its benefit and detriment.
I write this on a bus, and have just entered Centralia.