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a pleasant place to live, my neighborhood

“Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.” ― Walker PercyThe Moviegoer

“I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand.” –Rodney Dangerfield

“I’ve had times where one of my roommates was moving out of the house in college, and because we were the only black people in that neighborhood, the cops got called, and we had guns drawn on us. Came in the house, without knocking, guns drawn on my teammates and roommates. So I have experienced this.” —Colin Kaepernick

NW Portland is my neighborhood. More precisely, it is NW 21st. It is white, mostly. I have lived within two or three blocks of NW 21st for much of my life. Not much has changed during that time. Some businesses made money and others departed, but the structures have remained.

It is sometimes called the Alphabet District. The streets, forming a grid, are named in alphabetical order. Davis, Everett, Flanders, Glisan, Hoyt, Irving, and so on.

Matt Groening, a Portland native and the creator of The Simpsons, named some of his characters after the streets, Ned Flanders, the bully Kearney, Reverend Lovejoy, for example.

One could place NW 21st in a desert, and travelers would call it a small town with NW 21st as its main street. “Artisan” is a favorite descriptive word. Ken’s Artisan Bakery offers bread that can rival anything the French have to offer. Ken was trained in France. Across the street is the Artisan of Hair. Down the street a short distance is Dick’s Kitchen that serves “Dork Burgers” and burgers made from elk, venison, and buffalo, depending on the day. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Several ethnic restaurants line the street and further down toward NW Lovejoy one can eat haute cuisine at Caffé Mingo and Paley’s Place. Some quintessential American bar & grills line one stretch, one door next to the other and others opening onto street corners. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

The Abbey Bar & Bottle Shop has one of the largest, if not the largest, selection of beer “with many rotating taps and hundreds of bottles of the best beer from Europe and beyond.” The Pope House Bourbon Lounge specializes in whiskey. If you wish you can enter their bourbon derby and check off each bourbon you have tried. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Four coffee places can be found within a two block stretch, and that does not include Starbucks and Anna Bananas further down NW 21st. Most roast their own coffee beans. My favorite happens to be Coffee Time, a short walk from the independent movie theater Cinema 21. Coffee Time is one of the oldest in Portland, opening its doors in 1994. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

A Portland neighborhood would not be complete without its bicycle shop and tattoo parlor. Let us not forget the shoe repair store, the pizza joints, and the several hair salons and nail salons. Couch Park is a half a block away. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

City Market, which has several independent businesses under one roof, has a large cheese selection along with a meat market and a fish market.

Several large food chains, such as World Foods, New Seasons, Trader Joe’s, Zupans, Fred Meyers, have outlets within an easy fifteen minute or less walk from NW 21st(Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

The Russo Lee Gallery, across from a tattoo parlor, is one of the best art galleries in Portland.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Trees are everywhere. 

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