The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We go to the big city, see hipsters, drink bad coffee, talk about the Red and Black Cafe...

Last night the lovely and gracious Mrs. and I went out to dinner with some friends. We went into North East Portland which is the newest hip spot in town.
Apparently the young and trendy think 1970's motorbikes are really cool. I guess they go well with funny facial hair and those weird clunky shoes. Perhaps they showcase vintage Pleather jackets really well. I counted three very original looking Triumph's and several (also original) Hondas. I'm not an expert on model numbers but they were 70's sport bikes.
There were lots of scrawny looking kids with their tattooed girl friends. Crude jailhouse inspired tattoos are now also quite stylish. It is nice to see so much love on a summer night, guys love each other, girls love each other, short jumpy fellows love the big round girls, a very nicely dressed African-American in a perfect 1979 caddy talked on his cell phone while his buddy in the back seat handed something through the window to a punky looking white kid and a couple trashy looking chicks showed attitude to each other. But, hey it was Ablina district. There have always been some pretty cool older cars in this part of town, lots of old trashy restaurants which look like they would be really good.
I've never known how to deal with this part of town. Black gangsters scare me. When ever I have been lost in this part of town people have always been very nice to me. But, I would feel a lot more secure wandering around dressed in my farmer uniform than dressed up like a yuppie. If I were part of the neighborhood I would really resent the influx of trendy people, driving up the prices, and screwing up the neighborhood. So, I could see why folks there would not like me. But, again, I have no clue about race relations and so I avoid those situations.
We had dinner at a "southern" restaurant called Bernie's Southern Bistro. It was ok. Prices were not  terrible. The menu said something about food that was supposed to be like the food you would find at a southern cafeteria. Of course it was not a cafeteria. My wife had southern fried chicken, yams, and a side salad. The salad was just lettuce. The fried chicken was a deep friend breast with no bone. They did not have "wilted lettuce" on the menu.
I had the blackened catfish, a side of red beans, and collard greens with onions. It was reasonable good food. The beans were quite good. I have never found greens to have that much taste, but they had bacon, onions and vinegar and it reminded me of Grandma. It was not terribly expensive, but then it was not completely amazing either. The waiter was nice. The catfish was $16, the chicken was $15. I would say the KFC original recipe is better...
After dinner we went to the Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse. Our friends had never been there. My wife was a little hesitant as she had been there before. I had also been there in 1980-something and it was ok. The place is great when you are 22 years old I guess.
It is an old house in North Portland. 30 years ago there were not good quality coffee shops on every corner and when you are young and pretentious (vs old and pretentious) it is a great place to take your pretentious and self absorbed girlfriend. There is a mannequin in the bathtub and live jazz or classical music. I was there with some friends from University of Portland and they were small town people like myself and we were in the big city...whoop! whoop! (As mayor Bud Clarke used to exclaim back in the good old days)
Last night it was just kind of silly. I would much rather have my senses assaulted by a banjo, than a squeaky oboe, and I really wanted coffee. The waitress completely missed us. She did wait on the couple of guys from "glee" who walked in and sat together. I thought it was sweet that the long-haired boy in the flowered silk shirt ordered for his special friend. That shirt was a real Value-Village find!
Then a couple of cute girls came in. They knew the drill. First they tenderly caressed each other's hands. When that didn't attract a waitress, they got up, got their own menus and came back and sat down again. I think this "resets" the waitress and gets you served.
Finally, the waitress from the other room came in and we got her attention. I forgot the name of what I was ordering and called it a "Mexican Mocha," instead of a "Mexicana-something." She grinned and it was ok.
The coffee was fine. I got the mug with the bunny on the handle. That was nice. Wife's friend's husband ordered a lemon-something-espresso. They forgot to add the espresso and the lemon, so it was just hot milk. He sent it back and it came back without the lemon, but there was a faint coffee taste. When we were almost finished the first waitress came and asked if we needed anything. That was funny!
Perhaps you get more critical as you get old and stuffy. Perhaps I need to get off the farm more often.

This should be another post I suppose, but I probably will be busy Monday, so here is more rambling commentary on Portland life.
We drove by the Red and Black Cafe, it was packed. It has been in the news lately and I see the publicity has been a boon for business.
I bet Lar Larson went on a rant about it...Someone told people to screw up their Yipe! restaurant rating, i think.
But, things are never what they seem. To every news story there are layers that you never understand without doing the research.
The story that got me thinking of this is the media sensation about the Red and Black Cafe in Portland which kicked out a Portland Police officer.
Now, I will tell you my bias right now-
1. I don't like cops in general. I have heard Portland Cops are a little nuts. There was that possum incident quite a few years back that was kind of funny. I've met a few that were good people but in general I avoid contact with law enforcement. I have a problem with authority and some of the personality types of people who become cops. On the other hand I respect them, their job, and recognize that they are important to the community. I would never refuse them service, I just maintain a respectful distance until I decide if I think they are nice people or not.
2. I don't like pretentious anarchist morons. In fact I dislike most hipsters, hippies, progressives, people with lots of tattoos, uncomfortable looking piercings, bad posture, and funny scratch dark colored woolen clothing. I also dislike wine sippers in short pants, middle aged women who wear leather pants, (unless they have the butt cut out and are riding a Harley, then I find them quite amusing.)

But, I digress.

The story is, (click for some interesting reading about this from the commie point of vew) A Portland cop went into the Red and Black cafe and ordered a cup of coffee. The Red and Black cafe is one of those Portland hippie hangouts. It is "worker owned" and everyone wears the uniform, funny facial hair, tattoo's, Goodwill clothing, lots of Angst, if you want to understand the practical application of the term, "undeniable virtue of the oppressed," go there! Of course they hate, "the man" and cops are just terrible-even if  Sam Adams, the underage intern screwing mayer, is queer as a pink three-dollar bill, is a progressive.
So the cop is given his coffee in a to-go cup and asked to leave as he makes people there "feel unsafe."
Now this is in itself a hoot as they claim a vegan social anarchists policy. They offer a "safe space," and are "welcoming to all."  http://redandblackcafe... ).
I don't know if that applies to grumpy farmers but I'm betting you service varies depending on how you look! Obviously they don't like cops!
So I did some research whilst sitting on the can. It seemed like a proper venue for such a search.
Some people say that the restrooms are a popular place on craigslist for some m4m meetings, some say chonic is sold there. I suppose this is all quite true as it defines itself as a counter culture hang out.
The cop was one of the officers involved in the high profile shooting of a despondent local African-American and according to news reports was getting to know the folks in the area as part of Portland's community policing program.
So...I did a little thinking...
Red and Back cafe, counter culture hangout, serving bums coffee, anti-police flyers, supporter of the Portland anti-police crowd, underage Goth chicks, the faint hint of chronic on the breeze, hmmm.
I find it hard to believe that the Portland police department purposely sent on of the officers involved in the shooting into the cafe to make a statement. That is his part of the city after all, but, this whole psychological warfare thing is pretty popular in US police and military circles so who knows. I'm sure the folks at the Red and Black cafe thought so. After all, Chronic makes people a bit suspicious, I've been told.
Anyway, I think it is amusing. All sorts of people are going crazy with a "cop love-fest." Oh, the officer is a Iraq decorated war veteran! My neighbor was on the beach at Leyte and I don't refer to him as a decorated war veteran every time he shoots a starling off the wire in front of the shop, although as of late I have taken to hitting the "deck" every time I hear a .22 shot.
We drove by the cafe last night and it was hoppin' the local alternative folks, so I'm sure the guy who stood up to the cop is a hero.
I myself have capitalized on the event by writing about it here but I guess my opinion is the cops and the anarchists need each other. It gives them all something to do. But, I'm not going to call anyone a hero. The copper was making his presence known and the commies reacted, but don't make anyone of them a hero. I don't like either side!  The cop wanted to "intimidate," and the Red and Black stood up to him. If I would have done it I would have gotten tased.  And so it goes and so it has always been and always will be. Keep your head down, be unimportant, when the riot starts get the heck out of there!

Here is a photo of the bathroom vent at the coffee-house. They just gouged out the drywall. The funky paint covers a lack of attention to detail. The place is so cool that they can get by with mediocre coffee, a kind of crappy bathroom and funky-looking but no-so-competent help.


  1. Two offensive clicks already! Some kinda record? You've covered a lot of ground here; who do you suppose it is can't laugh at themselves a little? Humorless hipsters, police and anarchists are all scary. Write on, fearless editor!

  2. hey, what's going on with Blogger? Message I got repeatedly while trying to comment was 'Blogger Unavailable'. All haywire is not on the farm. In future I'll give it one shot and go home. Feel free to strike my redundant comments.

  3. A neighbor of mine says that there's no such thing as an honest cop, because half of them are criminals and belong behind bars themselves, and the other half knows it and won't do anything about it. The older I get, the more I tend to agree with him. Still, I know a FEW cops that I actually like.

    As for hippies and other "alternative" types, I still remember them throwing bricks and burning buildings in the name of "peace," so you can probably guess my overall view of them. (Yes, I know a FEW of them that Ilike also!)

  4. Anonymous,Cops and Firefighters apply for the job. While I appreciate the danger I also understand that they like the danger. This is not at all to say that you should not respect them. Also, we pay them. So I think we can have a say. I think the problem is that those who criticize cops are usually crazy anarchist sorts. There has got to be some sort of way to get away for tazing old ladies and shooting re-tards. Or getting the wrong address in a SWAT raid and busting down the door and shooting the dog of an innocent person. I think...
    Collieguy, My answer to the comments didn't show up last night so who knows what is going on. Do you ever find yourself disagreeing with both sides more often than not? I can't take a side cause I don't like either!
    Gorges, From the local cops that I know, I would say the recruitment pool does not attract the best or the brightest. I've met some older cops who are pretty good guys.


Please leave a comment even if you are bored or don't agree with me...

Please leave comments! It is really easy!

You just type your comment in the text box below the post. You can be anyone you want.
And...Would the joker who keeps clicking "offensive" please leave an explanation ?!