March 2, 2018
I’m still in Portland! I have decided, actually, to just go ahead and stay here for another 10 days. Basically, I live here now. Ha! That is okay with me. I have found the floating houses – there are several neighborhoods of them here on the island, or, well, beside the island if you get my drift – and I WANT ONE. I have rarely wanted something so badly as I want to live in one of these floating houses and commute downtown in a kayak. Alas, I suspect it is not to be unless the gods of the lottery smile on me or, I don’t know, PEOPLE START BUYING PRINTS HINT HINT. I am never going to get rich and famous at this rate. Hee.
Speaking of prints! I went to the Portland Darkroom on Wednesday night for their open darkroom hours and it was GLORIOUS. Their darkroom is seriously well equipped and it’s in an old industrial building full of studios, so the whole thing is just a bit ramshackle and smells like oil paint and wood and chemistry. And joy. I don’t know, the minute I walk into the door of a building like that my heart lifts and my soul feels better and the constant low level thrum of anxiety drops almost to nothing. My happy place! Their darkroom has equipment I have never seen before, like a spinny revolving orgasmatron type door into it that I adore because I feel like I’m in SPACE when I step into it. They have a big machine that is half in the darkroom and half out and you feed the exposed print into it and LO it comes out the other side all finished, like the machine puts it through all the chemistry. I was gobsmacked. And they have a print dryer and a hanging wicker swing and, get this, they are so analog that they have a RECORD PLAYER. Yes. I’m going back this coming Wednesday. There is a whole lot to like about big cities, particularly this one, if you are a camera buff. I dropped off my film and then picked it up – I didn’t have to mail it! And it was all correctly exposed like somebody actually paid attention and knew what they were doing. It’s amazing to just be around all these photography people. I even bought a huge crazy Yashica telephoto lens from the 70s for my Praktica manual analog camera and it’s fabulous, I feel like an extremely inept spy.
I have been seeing a bit more of the city since the weather has been marginally better. Last Tuesday I went out drinking with my friend A and a bunch of her friends at this cool bar. It is great in there, full of crazy beatnik art and a huge Chinese gate and a red pool table and a big patio. The menu leaves a bit to be desired if you are vegetarian but I had mac n’ cheese and a cucumber salad and they were both delicious. I had a great time until I went to leave and found that my truck was stuck in the mud, so I had to go back in the bar and ask everyone to come push it out. Southeast Portland mud hazards! We got it out though and I got home – that’s because at night there is less traffic. Seriously the traffic in this city is fucking horrible. I have never seen anything like it. I think what happens is people move here and they find their neighborhoods and then they just walk everywhere and never try to drive. Smart move, because you can forget about getting anywhere by car. Yesterday it took me an hour to go 6 miles on I-5. Now, granted, that freeway does seem to be the worst of the worst but unfortunately, it is the only way to get to Hayden Island. Bah. When I am the benevolent dictator of the galaxy I will insist that everyone immediately install monorails and overhead cable car trams. Portland might be the city of bridges but clearly there are not enough of them. Also I have yet to find the right place from which to photograph them.
Yesterday I went to the Portland Art Museum and they have an amazing Native American collection. They also had the most depressing special exhibition I have ever seen, photographs, mostly of refugees, by Faisal Sheikh. They are beautiful. They are technically brilliant and amazingly well done and at the end I couldn’t look at any more and I sort of wanted to jump off a bridge. There is such a thing as too much unrelieved darkness. Yes, it’s important to see and acknowledge how awful it all is, mans inhumanity to man and, even more specifically, man’s inhumanity to women; the ravages of war, rape, loss, starvation, disease – yeah. Fun times! Sorry. I just, I don’t know how to put this, but even in the midst of all this there is a way to lighten up a little. Ai Weiwei managed it in his refugee camp photos – I mean, even in refugee camps people laugh occasionally, they play football, they hang up laundry. They are just people being, well, people. They are not forever looking noble and suffering. These photos were too High Art Human Suffering intense and eventually I couldn’t take any more. And then I couldn’t really look at anything else because I felt too guilty and frivolous. There is a room at the end of the exhibition that is sort of like What Can You Do? but it was (rather oddly, I thought) kind of geared towards kids and too bright and full of fun colors for me, too jarring after all the darkness and somber black and white.
OH WELL. In other artsy news my friend Ruby is having an opening tonight and I am going to that with my friend Adrian and then we are going out to dinner, whooo! Have I mentioned how much I like Portland? I like Portland A LOT and the longer I stay here the more I like it. OK, the weather is a bit grim, but the light and the clouds are fabulous and as soon as the sun comes out people come out too like shell shocked happy mushrooms. West Coast light is just completely different than East Coast and I can’t get enough of it. It always looks like there is just about to be a thunderstorm here and that is my favorite light. Also, there are geese everywhere here on Hayden Island and they are unfazed by humans and not aggressive, so I just wander around them and take pictures and they do not mind. Yay, geese! Yay, Portland!