If that wasn’t enough there’s a rain room. A RAIN ROOM.

What an unmitigated joy to have a day off. My girlfriend and I decided to do a couple of errandy things before heading to the AGO’s exhibit on Guillermo del Toro, “At Home with Monsters”. It was amazing. Styled after his country house/workspace, it showcased models, props, art and inspiration to his expansive work. I went in expecting Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Crimson Peak and Pacific Rim. I hadn’t realised how far beyond that his cinematography ran.

The neat thing about hosting this kind of exhibit at an art gallery was how impeccably staged it was. There was so much goddamn material that instead of little placards, much of the time pieces just had little numbers next to them. Small racks on the wall held lists with all the information of their creators, etc. It was a neat way to leave as much space as possible for the work to speak for itself. There was a great cluster of early Disney work. Concepts sketches and the like. I had no idea Disney so commonly used a combination of chalk and pastels to such stellar effect. The pieces from Sleeping Beauty were particularly impressive.

Of course, a big part of del Toro’s appeal is his beautifully macabre monster designs. The big ones were all present. From Hellboy 2‘s Angel of Death, to Pan’s Labyrinth‘s Pale Man and Pan himself. All rendered in stunning realism. It mentioned how one of del Toro’s design inspiratioons is to shift placement of the eyes. By doing this, he says, it immediately creates a sense of foreboding that tracks back to childhood. Eyes are so often how we learn to connect to others. We read expression and intent from them. Once they’re moved, it subverts our expectations and leaves us unsettled. So take the Pale Man with his palm embedded eyes or the Angel of Death’s eyes lining its wings (apparently inspired by biblical designs). Their sockets aren’t so much barren as absent. The skin is either flat or replaced by a flat plate of bone. Oh, bone. Bone was another thing I noticed in the same vein. As humans we innately expect our skeletons to be on the inside. If they’re not, something’s gone wrong big time. In many of del Toro’s designs you might see a spine pressed right to the skin or even protruding. Or forearms so skinny that the bone pokes through. Once again it’s subverting our assumptions to create unease.

I thought the figure of Pan was especially rad. I saw the movie 11 years ago, so I didn’t have a strong imprint of what it looked like in my brain. It has this sublime asymmetry and fusion of both plant and animal. Its flesh alternates between soft skin and firm bark. Long red tresses flow from its head, but where natural body hair would be it often sprouts moss instead. One of its feet is composed of jagged wood, while the other is a large hoof. It once again hosts an exposed spine, but of intertwining vines. It’s hella cool.

The exhibit also spanned his love of pop culture, Gothic literature and horror films. It was awesome to see someone who, from a young age, continually ran after their passions. Guillermo seems to hold this ardent desire to bring to life the world he found through fiction. It was cool to see, for instance, that he’d been trying to bring Hellboy to the screen for years. Blade 2 was a job taken in order to inch closer towards it. By doing a studio film (still with his own flair, by the looks of it. I’ve never seen it), his agent assured him that studios would be more likely to open their pockets for his passion projects. As the years have attested, it worked.

I know this sounds like a massive ad, but if you’re in Toronto please check the exhibit out. My girlfriend hadn’t seen much of his stuff and loved it as much as I did. There’s so much to take in. We spent about two and a half hours there, but could’ve easily done a lot more if we weren’t already pretty exhausted. If you’re a fan of his work or just want to see dark and pretty things, it runs for aaaages. You’ve got no good excuse not to give it AGO.

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After plundering my future happiness, I guess pirates were on theme.

Hey team, I made an adult decision today. This past week I’ve basically been following my cravings. With dwindling sanity, my capacity to refuse urges has been at an all-time low. Is there something delicious I could eat? In my mouth immediately. Could I go for a drink? Why not several? Do I have the chance to go home and get some sleep or stay out for one more show? Meh, who needs to rest and regenerate? YOLO and FOMO combined to create a disgusting cocktail of consumption.

Today though, with five hours between the end of Jen Kirkman’s podcast recording and my next show, I had decisions to make. I’ve had very little downtime in the past week. My body is way beyond the point of crying out for it and has instead resigned itself to blindly follow all of my brain’s baser impulses. I’ve been needing a haircut for ages. I’m back to my default Lego man locks. My beard is haggard and overgrown, to the point where it’s begun annexing my neck. The adult thing to do would be to get a haircut, then go home and relax before my late (inevitably) drunken night tonight.

What I wanted to do, however, was to go out and play Magic. A new set was released last week, so this week a local store is doing $10 draft till you drop sessions. It’s $10 to draft and the winner gets their next draft free. It often ends up with players splitting in round two and going off to play another draft for $5. I figured it might be tight, but I could get one draft in, race home and do a drive by before heading to my 7pm show. Not ideal to set me up for a long night, but more fun for sure.

I thought long and hard and decided to do the responsible adult thing. I was shaggy (it wasn’t me) inside and out, but with a quick chop I could be Mr Bombastic. I descended into the warren of pathways where my hairdresser worked and walked in the door. He was clearly very busy and told me to either come back in two hours or on Tuesday. I tried to do the responsible thing and it blew up in my face.

So I cut my losses (a.k.a my loss of a cut) and went to draft Magic instead. I DIDN’T LIE! I told you all that I made an adult decision. I may not have mentioned that after the adult decision didn’t work out, I reverted back to my hedonistic, devil may care, laissez-faire, debonair affairs. It was just up the road, so I strode up there and registered tout de suite. It was fun. My deck was hot garbage. After first picking a Deadeye Trackers, I ended up grabbing a bunch of grixis coloured pirates. I planned to get a ton of Pirate’s Cutlass and Siren’s Lookout and going HAM. Things were a little iffy and a Lurking Chupacabra came my way. There was nothing else in the pack, so I picked it mostly jokingly. I found another one in the next pack and wondered if I could grab a stack of explore creatures. I got one or two sub par ones to go along with my Tracker and Sirens. It was a mess. I had a Siren’s Ruse for pirate/explore ETB shenanigans. My two Chupacabras did good work if they could stick on the board, but I failed to draw adequate mana most of the time. It was fun, but I got totally stomped by a similar but better deck. I guess that’s what I get for making the adult decision.

Wait, did that sound like a massive consequence? I had fun. I’ve effectively learned nothing. HEDONISM ALL THE WAY.

Now let’s see how I feel at 11pm.

It’s a good thing I’m still on holiday, cause this is in no way safe for work.

I’ve never written a fanfic before. One of my friends is hosting a competitive erotic fanfiction party tomorrow night. There was the option of finding something to read online, but I thought it’d be a fun chance to delve into something new.

 

Beth felt… listless, With Jerry gone the house was quiet. Empty. Sure, Morty had been grounded after taking in a stray Klaxion war criminal, and Rick’s attempt at making braces for Summer had left her with three rows of pearly Great White teeth. “You’ll never have to worry about her dental bills again.” He said. “If she loses any she’ll just grow more.” She’d been working late nights at the horse hospital to pick up the slack Jerry left behind. Somebody had to keep this family afloat. Still, it seemed like something was missing. She felt… thirsty. Maybe a glass of wine could scratch that itch.

She opened the cupboard to see an array of reds stretched out before her. And a bottle of something… pickled? Curious, she reached for it until she noticed two glowing green eyes staring back at her. She flinched and went for a pinot instead. If she needed to know what that thing was, she was sure Rick would’ve told her. She pulled the bottle down and grabbed a glass when suddenly the thrumming of coalescing energies erupted behind her. She turned and dropped the bottle. Her father emerged from a green portal. Beth sighed. “Jesus Dad, give me some warning next time. That’s the third bottle this…” “Tell it to your therapist…” Rick interrupted “Next week I’ll take you to a dimension where angels piss the stuff. There’s no time right now. Daddy needs your help.” Her eyes widened and hope filled her heart. Her father, the brilliant scientist, needed HER help? “Of course Dad. Whatever you need.” He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the portal. She heard the whipping of wind as the whirling energies enveloped her.

She emerged in a swanky living room. A large window overlooked the… Hollywoo… Hills? Where the fuck was she? “Welcome to Hollywoo.” Her father barked. “We can check out Disneyland later. The flaming coaster is the shiiiiiit.” He strode through the living room and pushed open a set of double doors. “This is why we’re here.” She followed and stopped in her tracks. In a plush king sized bed lay… Was it a horse? A man? Some kind of.. Horseman? Whatever it was, it looked like shit. Her nose caught up with her. Vomit, blood and, well, she had a teenage boy. That smell was unmistakeable. “Daddy’s drinking buddy ain’t doing so well. I’d take care of it, but the Ball Fondlers premiere starts in ten minutes and Noob Noob’s holding my seat. Anyway, you’re a Horse Vet…” Beth cut in angrily “For fuck’s sake Dad, I’m a Horse Surgeon!” “Even better.” He responded. “You’ll figure it out.” He fired his portal gun at the wall and was gone. The thing on the bed stirred, turned to the side and vomited. In its hand it was clutching a magnum of Jack Daniels. It looked at her and spoke. “Yeah, room service? Another bottle. This one’s almost done.” It promptly passed out. Well Beth, she thought as always you’re left to clean up another man’s mess. At least, I think it’s a man. She approached the side of the bed to get a better look. She leant down, resting her hand on the sheet. It landed on something… large. Her eyebrows lifted. That’s a man alright, she thought to herself, smirking. That strange thirst began stirring in her for some reason. She reached into her pocket for her scalpel and a pair of rubber gloves, then pulled the gloves on with a snap. Ugh, here goes, Beth. Always with the fucking Hayppocratic Oath.

Beth stirred groggily. Her head felt like fire. In fact she felt sore all over. Where was she? The last thing she remembered was pouring herself a drink or two after the successful operation on that horse… thing. She sat up and opened her eyes. She was in bed. She was naked. She wasn’t alone. Then the smell hit her and she nearly passed out. What happened? She looked to her right to see that same horse man snoring loudly. Her eyes widened with shock, then hazy memories drifted back to her.

She was on all fours, a large cock plunging deep into her repeatedly. In and out like a piston, filling her totally. She hadn’t felt like this in… had she ever felt like this? Hands grasped her waist tightly, holding her fast and pulling her into each thrust. She moaned as it filled spaces that’d never felt the touch of another. A hand reached up and sharply yanked her hair. She gasped, the sensations of pain and pleasure entwining in an indistinguishable strand. “SAY MY NAME” coaxed a voice from behind her. “I’M CLOSE, SAY MY NAME.” She stammered between thrusts “I have no… fucking clue… what your name is”. She shrieked and pushed her hips back involuntarily, only for the thrusting to stop cold. His hands dropped to his side.

“What?” Snorted the voice. “I’m BoJack Horseman. Don’t act like you don’t know.” Beth sighed and replied “nope. Never heard of you. He sunk back into her, but at a disjointed pace. Something was off. “Seriously?” He sputtered, unbelieving, “BoJack? Star of perennial family favourite and 90s classic comedy Horsing Around? Secretariat. Oscar nominee?” “LESS TALKING, MORE FUCKING.” She screamed. “I don’t want to think about it. This is crossing too many lines for me already.” “Fuck you” he mumbled. Beth grew furious “fuck me? Fuck YOU. FUCK ME ALREADY.” She aggressively shoved her hips right to the hilt. They both grunted in unison. “Give it to me BoJack. Give it to me like the love your parents obviously never gave you.” BoJack’s nostrils flared. He brought his hand down to her ass in a vicious arc. It stung, the sensation drove Beth wild. She pulled back to the tip then thrust into him sharply. “Again.” She howled. “Show me you hate me as much as you hate yourself.” He slapped her again. She seethed. That one would leave a mark. She drove back into her stationary hips, pulling in and out. He growled and grabbed a fistful of her hair. He pulled her face to meet hers. “Are you gonna leave me like everybody else?” he demanded, breathing ragged and shallow. She increased her pace and they both groaned. Her eyes narrowed as she stared straight back at his. “I’m already gone.” He shoved her face to the bed and buried himself all the way inside of her. The thrusting reached a fever pitch and Beth’s back arched. BoJack brayed with pleasure. Beth moaned and shuddered, feeling filthy, horny and filled to the brim with fury. She shook as the orgasm spread throughout her body, then her knees gave out and she slid to the bed feeling nothing at all. BoJack fell to her side, unconscious, but breathing.

Back in bed, Beth cradled her head in her hands. This would be one for Dr Wong. She quietly got up, got dressed and gathered her things, pain filling her body with each step. She gently opened the door and stepped out into the living room, closing it after her. She sat down in the corner next to a stack of framed photos of David Boreanaz. The familiar thrumming of an opening portal sounded to her right as Rick stepped into the room. “Sorry I’m late, Daddy had a little bender. Did you know there’s a dimension where the cheese is alcohol? I think I just became lactose intolerant. INTOLERANT OF BOOZE-FREE CHEESE THAT IS. HAHAA PSYCHE. REMEMBER THAT FROM THE 90s? PSYCHE?” She looked up at her dad and sighed. Beth no longer felt thirsty, but booze cheese sounded good right about now. “Show me, Dad. I think I could use a drink.”

The treehouse thing is legit. You can look it up on Air BnB Portland.

And so the adventure comes full circle. I return home, but have I changed? Have I grown? I’m not just talking about my midsection here. Did I face trials and adapt to them, learning more about myself in the process? I mean, I discovered that PBR (while not the vanguard of quality) isn’t intolerable for $2 a pop. If nothing else, that’s something.

I woke up yesterday knowing that I wanted to get to Pok Pok. A vietnamese restaurant frequented by chefs, Pok Pok is the sister restaurant of Whiskey Soda Lounge, where I’d gotten those wings on my first night in town. I got in touch with my friend and asked him if he wanted to go there for a late lunch (thereby avoiding the absurd lines). We got there for 2pm and were seated immediately. I’m not a good enough writer to do the meal justice, but it was fantastic across the board. We had grilled chicken skewers, which had a tiny morsel of pork belly at the bottom of the skewer to add a little fatty flavour. There was a beautiful coconut milk based pork curry. It was so sweet and thick, with succulent chunks of pork. Then of course we ordered the wings, because if a dish is the best of its type you’ve ever tried, going for another round is hardly an imposition.

Stuffed and sanctified, we went for a walk in a nearby park. There was a great off-leash, some dude who sounded Johnny Cash-esque playing to himself and some spritely old woman walking her dog. She told us about the Air BnB she’d built. She’d taken the old frame of a tree house in her backyard and solidified everything. She’d created a cute little two person domicile that people could rent for $23 per night. She said it had her art over the walls “and I’m a good artist” and had been booked solidly since she’d opened. We walked around a bunch and talked to more dog owners/dogs. Then shuffled off for late afternoon coffee. I took my buddy to Tov, my favourite cafe in the city. It’s the transformed bus with a passionate barista doing all manner of delectable creations. My friend is lactose intolerant, so he ordered a chilled coconut milk vanilla/reduced rum latte. The barista measured each and every ingredient to ensure perfection. He went into his freezer and pulled out a block of frozen coconut milk. “This way the drink is chilled, but doesn’t dilute the flavour”. It’s the little touches, you know? I got a wine mocha because if this guy could nail such a bizarre high-wire act, he deserved all the acclaim I could give him. I took a sip, it was wonderful. I asked him how he managed to make everything work together so well. “It’s ratios, for sure. The other part is using the highest quality ingredients across the board. Fine chocolate, fine wine, fine coffee.” I couldn’t argue with success. We chatted about cafes in town and we both agreed on which places were great and which were overrated. He suggested a cafe downtown, which I might try to get to today.

I wanted to check out a Magic night at a local game store, so my friend gave me a ride. He told me that if I wasn’t busy later, he was going to a Burner meet up at a local. I figured I’d get a couple of games in then meet him there. It went exactly like that. The store was a friendly place open to all manner of games. A group next to us was playing Pathfinder, while a couple of tables played board games. There was a nice community focus. One wall had a sign that said “what would you tell someone being bullied?” Kids had given their answers, which were surprisingly mature. A noticeboard said that house rules were to be respectful, friendly, to watch your language and take care of your hygiene. I enjoyed a few games (the deck I brought has been on a hot streak. I’ve won maybe 8 of the 10 games I’ve played), then left for the burner meet up.

It was exactly what I’d wanted. Meeting and chatting with open, welcoming people. We talked about their burn experiences and travel they’d done. I got mistaken for some French UFC dude from Montreal and pulled into a group to hang out regardless. One of my friend’s camp-mates played Magic with her boyfriend, so we chatted about the game, long term relationships, etc. As always, anyone who found out I was from New Zealand and had visited wanted to talk about their experiences there. An adamant “I’m just passionate” Mexican woman ranted about what good Mexican food really was and accosted my friend into a future trip to her favourite restaurant in town. “You’ve gotta work for it” she said. “I’m not just giving you the address. You have to wear a blindfold and everything. I’m serious.” It was a great cap to my trip, my last night ending on a high note. My friend and I got late night tacos and he dropped me off at home. I told him sincerely that if he and his wife ever wanted to come to Toronto, we had a spare bed for them.

The big question, with three days left before the event. Have I learned enough about myself to write the greatest Beth/Bojack crossover erotic fanfic the world has ever seen? Stay tuned to find out.

It was, in short, a magic gathering.

I think yesterday was the kind of day I’d come to Portland for. A day spent going with the flow and enjoying where it took me.

In a weird coincidence, The Smiths played at least once in every establishment I set foot into yesterday. Which is even weirder because last night I dreamed that somebody loved me.

The last day or two had me feeling a little lonely and isolated. I wasn’t getting a whole lot of social interaction and the connections I hoped I’d find didn’t eventuate. When travelling, connecting with strangers and interacting with people outside of my usual experience keeps me going. What you see when going from place to place makes for a great backdrop, but the characters you meet provide the flavour. Tinder has proven to be a dead end. Without any matches it’s more a time sink where I get to judge a portfolio of people and marvel at what a terrible human being I am. What did work out though, was Couchsurfing. I was terrified of ending up in another meet up where people said “schwag” on repeat for 20 minutes, but I downloaded the app to try the “hangout” function. Simple but effective, it lists people who are actively seeking others to hang out with. It’ll say what they’re looking for (coffee/tea, drinks, lunch), have a link to their bio and show approximately how far they are from you. I saw that some dude within a 3km radius was looking to grab coffee. He was an aspiring audiophile and well travelled guy. I figured I lost nothing by opting in for a hangout. I sent a message and within minutes he accepted. He said it’d take him about half an hour to get ready and suggested a cafe about half an hour from where I was. What could go wrong?

Nothing, apparently. He was a nice bloke in his late 30s. He’d been constantly on the move for the past nine years or so, periodically coming back to Portland between journeys. He’d taught English in Korea, Japan, backpacked around South America and Columbia. Used to work in PR for tech companies, but got wanderlust and had to sate his thirst. We talked about cultural differences in the places he’d visited and how his language acquisition had gradually increased. I mentioned how I’d had trouble pushing myself to meet people. How I’d felt that I’d be interrupting or forcing myself on others who were just looking for their own space. He said not to worry, that if you’re not being a dick the worst they’re gonna say is “no thanks”. He said that oftentimes he’ll just chat with the bartender if they’re not that busy, which creates the opportunity for others to join in on the dialogue if they’re feeling it. He mentioned the difference smartphones have made over the years. How on one hand they’d made it harder to spontaneously connect with the people around you, as everyone was plugged in. At the same time, they were infinitely useful when travelling alone in order to find your way around a new city, figure out events to check out or make online connections for meet ups. I asked him, with all his travelling, what was the first thing he’d do when arriving in a new place? He said that he wasn’t much of an insta-traveller, that he often stayed somewhere for a few weeks to a few months. He said that establishing a routine made him feel more comfortable, he’d check out coffee shops and local bars. Once he felt settled, he’d engage more with connecting to others. We chatted about music, how we sourced new artists and how our relationship with music had formed and changed over time. We talked podcasts, TV and films. He suggested a few places for me to check out around town, some particularly choice food cart pods. After our coffee he took me around the corner to a pod (that’s what they call clusters of food carts, if that wasn’t immediately obvious) and introduced me to a delicious korean pork belly lettuce wrap. It was the size of a burrito, with a delicious spicy sauce. Food carts are so good here. The quality and prices are both unbelievable. Social batteries recharge, I ventured out to Happy Hour with a renewed vigour.

I stopped back into The Hungry Tiger and sat at the bar. Sipping on a whiskey & coke, I noticed someone looking at her phone and picking at a macaroni & cheese. I thought ‘here goes nothing’ and thought of what the Couchsurfing guy said. If the worst was gonna be “no thanks” I could always just go back to playing on my phone. “How’s the mac here?” I asked. She looked up. “It’s vegan and I’m vegan so it’s pretty good. They use better “cheese” than some other places.” That wasn’t so bad. We talked for a while. She’d been looking to move to this part of the country to do her masters in photography. She’d checked out San Fran and was leaving Portland in a few hours. The cost of living here was lower and she was strongly considering it. She asked me if I watched Game of Thrones and lit up once I said yes, so we talked the ins and outs of Westeros for an hour or so. She was 25 and not the sort that I’d usually hang out with, but that didn’t make her a bad person by any means. Frankly, it was just nice to talk about a mutual interest with someone and kill an hour. I guess the Couchsurfing dude was right.

The only thing I’d actually planned on doing yesterday was checking out Tonic Lounge. A bar on the North East side, it hosted a weekly Monday night Magic event. Given my lack of success with events over the past week, I expected to walk in and find the place empty. Instead there were around 20 or so players by the time I arrived. Everyone was playing, sipping on pints and eating bar snacks. The music was great and they had old episodes of Robotech playing on the projector. Since most of the staff were Magic players themselves, the bar extended the Happy Hour specials all night for anyone who was there to game. I had a great chocolatey stout and ordered a $6 plate of pulled pork nachos. I couldn’t believe how good they were. The pulled pork was sweet and tangy. Super cheesy, there was a dollop of sour cream in the middle, fresh bruschetta on the left and picked carrots/jalapenos on the right. Everyone was really friendly and, while experience levels varied, nobody seemed to be outright cutthroat. It was an amazing space to enjoy the game, see some great plays and have fun hanging out. I had such a fantastic time and only regretted not being able to become a regular.

With one and a half days left here, I haven’t got a lot left to cross off my list. How much debauchery can I get up to before I leave?

Portland. The fire and the Fieri.

I’m on a reclaimed double decker bus cafe called Tov Coffee. The trimmings are purple and gold. The upstairs has been transformed into a patio, complete with wicker chairs and those large obelisk style heaters. I’m drinking “Sounds Like Trouble With The Cops”, a vanilla latte with reduced rum. It’s smooth, sweet and delicious. In fewer than 24 hours, I think I’ve achieved peak Portland.

Yesterday was an adventure, and a lengthy one at that. When I finally got to bed just after midnight, I’d racked up a grand total of 1.5 hours of sleep since 7am on Tuesday. The excitement of the trip coupled with the responsibility of having to be conscious to make my flights meant the whole day was a slog. I met a collection of characters, because what’s an adventure without a stack of NPCs?

YYZ->LAX. I’d gleefully picked an exit row for the leg room and noticed not just the empty seat next to me, but the Guy Fieri looking motherfucker on the other side of it. A big dude with an equally big smile on his face. Bright orange shirt with spiked bleached blond hair. Age of 50+ by the looks of it. He thrust out a hand and introduced himself. Asked about my travel plans and told me he was headed to a big sales expo in LA. Sold custom home audio solutions. Computer based stuff, can do the localised audio in separate rooms, kind of thing. Huge installations. Then he was going on a three day motorcycle trip with his buddies. We had six odd hours and managed to fill most of it chatting. An American originally, he’d moved to Toronto at the age of 14. Was a single dad for a while, met a lovely Christian woman and they got married. Seemed an archetypal bloke. He talked about his marriage, how constantly in awe of his wife he was. How he and his wife loved each other so much, but also realised the importance of balance. They both worked from home and appreciated time spent apart, separate hoidays, etc, so they had more things to talk about when spending time together. He talked about his daughter. How proud he was of her for going to college like he never did. How the educational system doesn’t work for everyone. She was coming out of a commerce degree with no real idea of what to do. He knew she was an entrepreneur at heart, but felt that college had taught her to serve someone else. When it came to politics, it became apparent that we were on different sides. He liked Trump and agreed with his whole concept of Fake News “It’s all propaganda, right? Fake News is when you’re not getting the news, just the bias.” He explained. “Right” I replied “but if you’re saying that all news has a bias, then technically all news is Fake News.” He thought for a minute. “Yeah, I guess it is.” We talked about poverty and he lamented how people struggled. “Poverty is a mindset. If you think poor, you’ll always be poor.” I listened, then went into a basic explanation of the concept of privilege, social inequality, trauma and how these things make the playing field anything but level. I agreed that there was a mindset to it, but that things weren’t that simple. That someone who’s always had a roof over their head, access to food, education and a safety net isn’t the same as someone who’s had to struggle and deal with just trying to pull things together. If the difference is really only a mindset, how can you expect those two people to be on the same level playing ground? The person without worries has to work, for sure, but the struggling person not only has to do the same work, but has to overcome their struggles just to meet the base level of the other. He went silent for a small while, nodding. Processing.

I haven’t had much contact with the other side, politically. I live in a bubble of like-minded individuals. This was an interesting conversation for me. Privilege comes into it, definitely. I’m a white, educated cis male who comes from a supportive family that is financially well off. People are generally friendly towards me and don’t see me as a threat. Talking to this guy did reinforce something that I knew, but hadn’t really seen much evidence of first hand. This guy may have liked Trump, but that didn’t immediately make him into a monster. We chatted about societal progression, about ethnicity, sexuality, gender. About how society moves slowly, but it moves. About the difference in LGBT kids at school these days vs the 90s. How wonderful it is that people are feeling less like they need to hide who they are. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, who you love.” He intoned. “It matters what you do and how you treat the people around you. If you’re a good person, that’s all that matters.” Nice one, Guy. He loved hearing about my experiences moving to a new country and was impressed by my travel experiences. As the flight ended he turned to me and said “y’know Leon, I travel a lot for work. I usually get on a flight and plug in my earphones. This is the first time in about ten years that I’ve actually had a conversation on a plane. He may not have been left leaning, but he was pretty alright.

The flight got into LAX early, but my LAX->PDX flight was delayed. So more time to waste at LAX. Happy happy joy joy. I met some Aussie girls who were going to London, England for four days with no idea what to see. I told them about my trip last year and gave them some good places to check out. Honestly, I was pretty drained and the next few hours, flights and all were pretty unremarkable. I listened to the Portland Harmontown episode to pass the time and get excited.

While waiting for a bus on my way to the Air BnB I was approached by this gawky looking kid. Somewhere in the realms of 17-20. He talked. A lot. Very friendly, but after a day of transit and almost zero sleep, I wasn’t in the mood for a conversation. I politely told him as such. He kept talking. He told me he was a local artist, a musician. A rapper. Said his name was Moneyfishsticks. A self proclaimed big deal locally. He went on about how some multi Grammy award winning producer messaged him on Twitter and wanted to work with him. Make some hits. I said thanks and put on my headphones. I looked him up later.154 followers. Superstar. I can’t shame him for being friendly though.

The AIr BnB was exactly what I had hoped. A quiet place, well sized room with a single seater couch, reading desk and comfy double bed. A great shower with an anatomical skeleton shower curtain. The host was away in London but left a few pages of helpful info, local restaurants and cafes to check out and handy parks for scenic runs. I took a shower, changed and was out in under half an hour.

Pok Pok is a famed Portland institution known for it’s fabulous wings, but its sister restaurant Whiskey Soda Club is just across the road (and doesn’t have an hour and a half wait). I stopped in and ordered a plate of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, extra spicy, with a dark vietnamese beer on the side. Unbelievable. The wings were hot, sticky and so juicy. The fish sauce paired with some kind of lemon and sugar made for a wonderful convergence of sweet and savoury. The best wings I’ve had in my life, no question. I was seated next to an awful tinder date heading on a downwards spiral and fast. The gal was awful. She kept complaining about everything on the menu and how difficult it was to pronounce. She continually professed her disgust for the presence of fatty and friend foods, of offal, of spices and unknown dishes. She complained that she didn’t wanna be a basic bitch, but refused to try anything more daring than chicken and rice. Then complained that the music (some kind of asiatic jazzy fusion) was weird and too loud. Her date was having very little time for her constant griping and proud ignorance. She kept talking about local gossip, to which he replied once or twice “that’s not even true and you know it.”. If she went off to the bathroom I was tempted to ask him if he just wanted to ditch the dateand hang out instead. The server was lovely and gave me a list of great dive bars to check out, so off I went.

My Father’s Place was underlined as “ultra divey” on his list, so I went right there. Perfection. A table at the front was stacked with free to play board games. I saw tables of people playing Settlers, Splendour and Betrayak at House on the Hill. I was tempted to ask if I could join in Betrayal, but saw they had a full table. They had double happy hours, one from 5-7 and another from 10-midnight. $1.50 PBR or $3 draft microbrews. I grabbed a Cascade Brewery Blueberry Sour for $3, which was just what I was looking for. Bright and refreshing, bold and tasty. I heard some Aussie accents and went to investigate. There was another room with pinball machines (Medieval Madness, Ghostbusters, Game of Thrones, etc) and two Aussie blokes seated at a table. I said hi and they told me to pull up a chair. One of them lived in New York, the other was on a six week holiday in the US. Both from Melbourne, originally. Really friendly guys. They’d just come back from Burning Man which they said was incredible. “There’s shit going on everywhere, so much to do and look at, plus you’re biking like 15km a day around a sand city.” We shot the shit for a while until they bowed out. I chatted briefly with one of the Betrayal players. She was interested in moving to New Zealand for a career in film post production and wanted to get some advice. It got close to midnight and I remembered that I had hardly slept in the past two days. I caught a bus home and collapsed into bed.

Day one done. I might be in love with this city already.

It sounds like Portland really de-livers.

In a strange turn of events, I’m raring to go out tonight (on a Sunday, no less) but nothing seems to be on. It’s Labour Day weekend and the rest of the city seems to either be elsewhere, or at the CNE. The CNE’s a hard sell. It’s overpriced and gimmicky and worst of all, I have no nostalgic ties to it. If I grew up going every year, for sure it’d be a blast. Instead it’s just a big, shitty, big city fair. My last few nights have been quietly spent watching TV at home and I’m ready for something a bit more exciting. Surely Toronto, Canada’s New York, has a host of events being hosted?

On the other hand, I’ve been keeping things pulled back because I know that this week is gonna be a big one. Why? I’m going to Portland! The land of craft beer, food trucks, happy hours and geek culture. For the last little while I’ve been pouring over local tip sheets, event guides, Reddit FAQs and recommendations from people who’ve visited. I spent this afternoon tooling through a custom Google Map divided into sections like Happy Hour Bars, Theme Bars, Daytime Activities, Nighttime Activities, Coffee, Cheap Restaurants, Fancy Food and Fancy Drinks. I gave each section colour coded icons for easy distinction. I’ve been getting excited piecing this together, knowing that wherever I am I won’t have to chance shitty coffee, for instance.

When I travel I don’t often plan. It means I’m laissez-faire, which is great. It also means that I potentially miss out on cool shit because of laziness. I’ve got a week of holiday and like Aerosmith in his hit song for the critical 1998 bomb Armageddon, I don’t want to miss a thing. Aside from sorting out general things to see, do and consume, I’ve also made a tiny itinerary of fun events I could check out:

Wednesday:

My plane arrives at 6pm, which means I could possibly be out somewhere to eat by 8pm. Seems like a good night to check out local comedy or a dive bar and meet locals. Maybe go straight for Ground Kontrol, the barcade I’ve been dying to see.

Thursday:

I’m strongly tempted to go along to Guardian Games, the massive Magic/DnD store that also doubles as a bar. Someone’s hosting a free cube draft, which could be a way of meeting people and making friends. If I find people to hang with early on in the trip it could completely turn around the rest of my week. It’s fun to travel on your own, but I’m a pretty social creature.

Alternatively, there’s something called First Thursdays going on in the art district. A bunch of art galleries open their doors for free showcases/free wine and snacks. There’s a whole mapped route to wander along. Getting plastered and examining the artist’s gaze with beer goggles? Once again, could be a fun social experience. Moreover, it’s a experience that’s less available back here in Toronto.

Friday:

Dance Yourself Clean, the touring indie music party, happens to be in Portland when I am. I’ve gone a couple of times here and it’s usually a bunch of my core jams. A fun, low key party that feels like hipster top 40, almost. I can shake my buns with a cool craft beer in hand.

Saturday:

I’ve never seen a Pink Floyd tribute band, but there’s one performing. Is that an experience I need to have in my life? Ask me after a few beers.

I just found out that Rose City Comic Con is on while I’m there. I could check out the after party at some nerd bar that’s not too far from where I’m staying.

Sunday:

There’s a Bloody Mary festival. A bunch of bars competing with artisan bloody marys. A convenient way to get day drunk and jolly. Unlimited samples and free nibbles for $35.

Pertubator, an awesome darkwave producer I like is in town. Since I’m missing him in Toronto, I could check him out while on holiday.

There’s also a strange, vaudeville variety show called Oddville on that night. Seems like a cure for curiosity.

Monday:

A bar has a weekly Magic the Gathering night. Casual gaming, plus drink specials all night long if you show your deck at the bar. Once again, seems like a great way to make friends.

It’s All Gonna Be Okay is a weekly standup showcase. It’s point of difference isn’t that it’s specifically clean comedy, but friendly comedy. Non-meanness. I have zero issue with dirty jokes, but I’m a big fan of “restrictions breed creativity”. I wanna see how people construct bits if friendliness is the boundary they’re playing in.

Tuesday:

Will my liver be tired by this point? No doubt. Will I drink anyway? No doubt. Hopefully by now I will have made a friend or two and have someone to hang out with. I’m keeping this one as a free space for my last night in town. Wildcard, bitches!

 

Then on Wednesday I drag my bloated, shambling form onto a plane and come home. After finding a decadent lunch spot to remember Portland by. Hmm. Do I really need to go out tonight?