Thursday, September 18, 2008

A city's a city.

Every now and again I field the time honored question, "Hey Garrett, whatcha think of Portland." This question is significant because it's rather rhetorical in natural. I like chopping wood. I like working on cars. I like taking nature pisses. I can't partake in any of these activities, at least legally, within city limits. Garrett and cities go together like sand in the Vaseline.

Portland is alright I suppose, but at the end of the day, it's just a city. Think about it. A city is a an area with a higher concentration of people then, oh let's say, a town. That's it. What's so great about that? I've been to some pretty notable cities in my day such as Paris, New York, Honolulu and London. Although the faces change, and the weather might be different, they all feel crowded and angry. Unless you're in Baghdad, Compton or Detroit, they're all seem the same.

I believe the measure of any city should be marked not by its various contributions, or perhaps detriments, to society but instead solely by (a) the presence of significant landmarks and (b) the time it would take to procure crack cocaine from the city hall and (c) are drugs/prostitution legal. Now hear me out. We've got all these random population censuses measure inhabitants in the city limits, different races and population in the metro region. You've got one that measures last year while another measures 1999. The data is skewed and almost arbitrary like. What we need is something with more real world relevance. We need something that nails down the pulse of a town. Instead of the boring Wikipedia entries about population density and chiefs exports (the irony is I happen to love these trivial facts), city biographies would read only as such;

Seattle, USA - Space needle, 24 minutes, no
Paris, FR - The Eiffel Tower, 18 minutes, maybe - must check "le con'stitution"
Portland, USA - Widmer Brewing Company building? (I'm grasping at straws here), 45 minutes (15 of which were spent begging for change), no

If you've talked to native Portlanders, they'd try to convince you that Portland is Paris 2.0. "Oh we've got the arts here and a lovely gay community. In addition, Washington Park is just splendid come October. Would you like to come up to my condo for some Merlot and cheese?" Ok, so I've never had this exchange personally but conversations like this are being held everyday within city limits. At the end of the day, Portland may have good beer but it doesn't have a sexual position named after it's chief architectural structure.

Just imagine the pre-planning conversation that would take place. "Honey, it says here that Amsterdam is a "4-minute/yes" city, I want to go there!"

Portland has its share of homeless, or perhaps dressing "homeless"part is cool amongst the trendy hipster 20-somethings which wouldn't surprise me in the least. Regardless, each area (pushing a shopping card with a bum wheel limits mobility) tends to have its resident homeless guy/gal/tranny. There's the mopey guy in front of Fred Myer, the really drunk guy pan handling in front of the bus stop, the perpetually "stranded traveler" pleading his case outside of Trader Joe's, it's all the same. The point is simple. You get to know each person's angle and/or shtick and, believe it or not, it becomes part of your routine. "I wonder where "stranded traveler guy" was today, I wonder if he made enough money to be "stranded traveler guy" somewhere else?" is something I might say to Colette.

Aside from the guy at the park pumping his fists to a looped tape of, and I shit you not, Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight, most of the homeless are non-confrontational. Save for the vociferous douche bag in the photos below.

When you're unemployed, you practically invent shit to do. Pug and I went for a small stroll around the neighborhood. For me it was an opportunity to shed some more material possessions via the Goodwill, for Pug, she could only think about pressing out a couple of tootsie rolls on some freshly cut sod. Did I need to build an afternoon around one mundane chore? Probably not but "it's only after we've lost everything are we free to do anything." So on the way to the Goodwill, and in addition to becoming "one step closer to hitting rock bottom," I notice a man sitting crossed legged on the grass outside of a neighboring apartment complex vacillating over a half empty bottle of wine. Ordinarily this wouldn't be news worthy but this event is out of the ordinary because I recognize the fellow from an incident we had a couple weeks back were he told me to "fuck off punk" when I apparently took too long to absorb the full spectacle that this homeless man is. It's really hard not so stare, so much so I didn't even try to conceal my daze, when you see a man without a shirt, piss ass drunk, pushing a shopping cart, at eight in the morning. Nevertheless, I determine that I am sticking around for this special event and perch myself against a tree while the property manager tries to coax the drunk off the grass.

"Seriously, you need to leave or I'm calling the cops," he says as the drunk oscillates over his half drunken swill. The homeless man, who I will call Jeff for simplicities sake, says nothing save for the occasional unintelligible grunt and shallow self-steadying breathes . His glassy red eyes are a testament to the night, and possibly rough morning, he'd endured only hours previous. "Fuck it. I'm calling the cops," says the manager.

The guy in the wife beater calls the Portland Police, truly known as the Po-Po. About this time Jeff falls over, and the maintenance lady goes about her business watering the plants and the homeless guy.
"Babies don't sleep this well" - Notice the exact same posture of Jeff 16 minutes later! This included a "shower" session!

The fuzz shows up and was actually very polite to Jeff but we can only assume this is because he had eye-witnesses err... I mean onlookers present. If there is one thing I have learned from YouTube it's always have your camera on and ready when the boys in blue show up because you never know when someone is going to exercise their questionable version of "reasonable force."

Smokey tried his best to talk Jeff to his feet but his efforts weren't enough to rouse his severely truncated equilibrium. When this didn't work he scrapped the wordplay and busted out some strong arm tactics he learned in cop school. When this failed to yield results, he called for backup. I heard the crack of the fellas arm from my vantage about 10 feet away, it wasn't a good crack. Suffice to say, Jeff wasn't happy. Grimacing in pain he rolled one and a half turns down the lightly pitched sod and rested face down on the sidewalk until Donnie Brasco showed up 10 minutes later. Smokey and Donnie physically picked up Jeff, cuffed the some-bitch, and took him downtown. On his way out, I asked Danno how often they get calls like this. He said he'd already had 20 today, which is pretty much average.

Had I been privy to the fact I had bought tickets to a double-header, I would have packed a snack. On the way home that evening, we saw four cop cars (yes four, 2 of the 3 visible are parked the wrong way down a one-way), the had one guy in hand cuffs and the other was sitting on side walk. Apparently the perps had run up a 40 dollar bill at Mazatlan Mexican eatery and pulled a dine-and-dash. From what Colette and I gathered from the window of the apartment, the waiter is man in white with arms on hips that chased these guys six blocks. No one could come up with the 40 dollars so Mazatlan is in charge of holding both dudes wallets and cell phones for collateral until they get the money. Pretty official sounding eh?

Is it just me or does the little Asian cop have a little SS-esque saunter to him?

Another day in the big city.

1 comment:

Pa! said...

I heard a rumor that city life has turned you into a metrosexual and a cat (oops I mean a companion animal) is on your wish list.