Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Portland’ Category

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.) But wait, there’s more!

the flâneuse & random images around portland

“The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world ‘picturesque.'” — Susan Sontag, On Photography

“I love walking in London,” said Mrs. Dalloway. —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway 

As the images of flâneurs on this page and the language about them suggest, the flâneur is male, well dressed, a man with money who can while the hours wandering the streets. He is by himself; he may eat his lunch alone.

Does that mean a woman—une flâneuse—does not, can not, exist? Do women go for a good walk alone? Do they have sufficient income to permit the time to wander? Don’t they stay at home and watch after the kids?

Lauren Elkin, the cultural critic, has written a book Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London that was recently designated by the New York Times as a Notable Book for 2017. For her the flâneuse is a “determined, resourceful individual keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city and the liberating possibilities of a good walk.” (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

She does not recognize gender as a defining characteristic of a flâneur. It is an “individual” who takes a good walk. The dictionary defines a “flâneuse” as “a woman who is or who behaves like a flaneur.”

But wait, there’s more!

around downtown portland during a late november afternoon

Going away from home for a long time makes the homecoming sweet if the home is worth coming home to.

I relish the return. I was away from home for three months, I was missing my kitchen and the gadgets there and the meals I like to make, I was thinking of my favorite places to eat in Portland that I had not visited for some months, I was looking forward to conversations with family and friends in words heard and spoken and not written. The return is always sweet.

I must relearn how to live in the apartment. I must stop myself from speaking French to a server or a bus driver. I need to go shopping for food and resupply the pantry and that is always fun. The yoga classes must start and I must begin again the routine at the gym.

And, too, I want to wander the streets of Portland and remember. I was out and about the other day in the late November afternoon, capturing random moments that happened to draw my attention.

Portland, a foodie town, boasts hundreds of food carts. SW 9th and Alder might be considered the hub, the granddaddy of locations. Around one city block and extending along another it is the largest of the food cart pods. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!

up we go–portland aerial tram

The other day I rode the Portland Aerial Tram. Even though it has been a feature of the city skyline since January 29, 2008, it was the first time I had taken the ride to the Oregon Health & Science University in the hills above Portland.

According to the publicity for the Tram, the cabins “travel 3,300 linear feet from South Waterfront to Marquam Hill. Traveling at 22 miles per hour, the Tram cabins rise 500 feet during the four-minute trip. Each of the two cabins have a capacity of 79 people, including the operator. The Tram operates load-n-go. If you miss one, expect another in just a few minutes.”

I started at the bottom at the Willamette River where all the machinery was built to take me up and up away. For hikers it is a part of the 4T trail, which I was doing that day. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!