â€œKeep Portland Weirdâ€ is our motto. Some say we borrowed the motto from another city, such as Austin, Texas. Portlanders would defend that we are the weirdest city by far. But what does it mean, and why are Portlanders so proud of our weirdness? Visitors come from far and wide to experience the um â€¦ uniqueness of Portland. Now there is even a hit show on IFC celebrating how kooky we can be â€“ in every square inch of our five quadrants.
What’s Keeping Portland Weird?
Walking around Portland, you might experience a variety of delightfully strange phenomena that we accept as commonplace daily experience. Thereâ€™s the man who drives around in a minivan with toys glued to the outside who plays loud songs that he sings ventriloquist-style with his hand puppet (yes, as he drives!). There is the â€œSilver Guyâ€ who mesmerizes everyone with his glass ball juggling, and keeps them wondering if heâ€™s a robot or a human. There are a variety of street performers who mime, juggle, dance or tumble to please the crowds every weekend at Portland Saturday Market.Â Â Portland Walking ToursÂ presents a variety of tours to amuse, baffle and make you wonder, including tours about ghosts who haunt downtown, and tours about Portlandâ€™s legendary Shanghai-ing. Their sister company, Run Brain Run, offers team-building exercises, such as Search Party scavenger hunts through downtown, where participants may have to demonstrate their â€œstupid human tricksâ€ (shown in the picture). Finally, Portland strongly represents (could we argue most strongly represents?) national movements such as The Cacaphony SocietyÂ with events like the Santacon, The Urban Iditarod, the Flugtag, and Superhero Pub Crawls. If you are looking for any kid of vampire ball or steampunk gala, youâ€™ll be amply satisfied with the Portland yearly event calendar.
“Put a Bird on It” – Portlandia:
Embracing the kookiness of our rainy utopia has been taken to a whole new â€“ and national! â€“ level by IFCâ€™s hit comedy Portlandia. Â The show entered its 2nd season this January.Â Created by Saturday Night Liveâ€™s Fred Armisen, and Sleater-Kinney musician Carrie Brownstein, the two morph into multiple lovably quirky characters that embody Portlandâ€™s most wonderful strangeness. A catch-phrase from the show (watch for it!), â€œput a bird on itâ€ has swept through the local pop-culture, media and art scene. If it wasnâ€™t true before that local Portland artists put birds on everything, it certainly is now!
Characters returning to Portlandiaâ€™s utopia of odd include Peter and Nance, an excessively eco-conscious couple caught up in the organic and local food movement; Bryce Shivers and Lisa Eversman, an arty, obsessive couple who find a new trend to explore; and Toni and Candice, the formerly activist, self-involved shopkeepers of the feminist bookstore, “Women and Women First.” Also returning will be Portlandâ€™s Reggae bass-playing Mayor, portrayed by Desperate Housewivesâ€™ Kyle McLachlan (the mayorâ€™s assistant on the show is played by real-life Portland Mayor Sam Adams).
New Portlandia characters introduced in season 2 will include Marcus and Madeline Harris, the â€œsanitation twinsâ€ who are obsessed with separating trash, Spyke and Iris, the militant bike messenger and his fiancÃ© who are trying to create optimum non-conformity in their approaching wedding; and a struggling band with an overly enthusiastic fan.
New guest stars will include Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know), Penny Marshall (Laverne and Shirley), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption), Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live), Amber Tamblyn (127 Hours, House) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live) as well as musicians Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), Steve Jones (guitarist, Sex Pistols), Johnny Marr (guitarist, The Smiths), Joanna Newsom (singer/songwriter), Eddie Vedder (songwriter/ vocalist/ guitarist, Pearl Jam) and Annie Clark (songwriter/guitarist/vocalist, St. Vincent).
Portlandia is directed, co-created and co-written by Jonathan Krisel (Saturday Night Live, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!), executive produced by Lorne Michaels and produced by Broadway Video. Portlandia is available on DVD through Broadway Video Enterprises, Video Services Corp and MVD Entertainment Group. Portlandia airs on IFC Fridays at 10pm ET/PT.
“The Magic Is In the Hole” – Voodoo Donut:
Another quirky treasure of Portland is Voodoo Doughnut, recommended by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. Donâ€™t miss a trip there next time you are in P-town, but be prepared for a line that winds round the block, any time of the day and even late into the night. Bring a coffee and a paper and wait it out â€“ itâ€™s completely worth it!
Traditional delicacies include the famous Bacon Maple Bar, the Voodoo Doughnut (shaped like a little chocolate-covered dude, with a pretzel stuck through the heart and filled with raspberry-jelly), Tang-covered doughnuts, and Captain Crunch-covered rounds. Voodoo Doughnut used to offer Nyquil-filled doughnuts, until they got the kibosh from the Food and Drug Administration. Custom-shaped doughnuts are a possibility as well – past creations have included The Simpsons characters (named after streets in NW Portland) and members of KISS. After each Portland Timbers soccer game, in a tradition called â€œHex the Next,â€ Voodoo Doughnut presents a huge doughnut wearing the jersey of the next gameâ€™s nemesis in the VIP room. Also, you can get legally married Voodoo Doughnutâ€™s sparkly storefront next to Portland Saturday Market.
This last year Voodoo Doughnut scored multiple victories, including the new shop, a World Record win for the worldâ€™s largest ever box of donuts, and the creation of a new â€œBacon Maple Aleâ€ Voodoo Doughnut-inspired microbrew by Rogue Brewery. Doughnut Barons Kenneth â€œCat Daddyâ€ Pogson and Tres Shannon send a call out to their fave quirky town â€“ â€œWe love Portland! This business wouldnâ€™t be the same in any other city.â€
So, those are some choice selections in the buffet of quirkiness that is offered up on a regular basis in Portland. Visitors are encouraged to dive into all the strange glory. Visit Portland Saturday Market. Eat the doughnut guy. Tip the silver dude, even if you arenâ€™t convinced heâ€™s alive. Dress up as Santa, or as a super hero, and go on a pub crawl. Go on the tour and see where the infamous Shanghai-ing took place, and where the ghosts live. Try it all! If you havenâ€™t, some say you havenâ€™t really experienced Portland.
22 SW 3rd Ave.
Voodoo Doughnut Too:
1501 NE Davis St.
Portland Saturday Market
2 SW Naito Pkwy
Portland Walking Tours
Call 503-774-4522 to make a reservation.
Photos courtesy of IFC, Voodoo Doughnut and Portland Walking Tours.