This morning I got up at 6am and left my Airbnb, waiting to be picked up by Sergio, who was going to take me on a tour of the waterfalls around Portland.
Despite this being brutally early, and having missed both breakfast and coffee in favour of doing something interesting, it was really great. Sergio was a calm driver, a garrulous conversationalist and had plenty of facts about the Pacific Northwest. It was worth getting up early to see the waterfalls before the crowds came, and while the early morning sun painted the world gold.
There’s 77 waterfalls in the area around Portland, but it would take a month of backcountry hiking to visit all of them, so we just saw 5. That was probably enough. We finished up at the observation point at Crown Point, from where you can see Beacon Rock, where either Hall & Oates or Lewis and Clark (I’m not great on details of American history, sorry) navigated the Columbia River, and which the US Army Engineers wanted to blow up, because that’s what chaps in fatigues carrying explosives love doing.
Then Sergio drove me back and I had another coffee at an almost-offensively-vegan cafe, then an entire pizza, and then I tried to walk that off by carrying my enormous backpack all the way to the Portland Art Museum.
This seems to be my routine now: participate in a Blood Bowl tournament, then go to the local art gallery the next day. Detroit was much better than Portland, for me. Portland had some charmless lithographs and a lot of stuff that felt second rate to me. The modern stuff was the worst. There was a piece from the 1960s called Five Words In Orange Neon that was, yes, those five words in orange neon. I checked the date and the artist made it when he was 20, which marked him out as a late developer as that’s the kind of over-clever shite you expect from a pretentious 17 year old.
Never mind. There was, at least, one fun thing: The Bell, The Digger and The Tropical Pharmacy. This was a 20 minute film in which two artists removed the bucket/claw/whatever one calls it from the front of a digger, and replaced it with a huge iron bell, before filming it bash the crap out of a pharmacy that was closed for dodgy activity.
This was hilarious. There were various cuts to the digger trundling through corridors of the pharmacy. Then a cut to an empty room somewhere. Then the muffled sound of a bell ringing somewhere and then CRASH like the arrival of the bad guy in an 80s horror film, that enormous bell would wallop through a wall, sending ceiling tiles / air con ducts / walls flying, all the time bong-bong-bonging like mad. And repeat I spent at least 20 minutes cracking up at this, then wandered the rest of the halls wishing I had stayed there.
The only other highlights for me were a few statues of Psyche, a Mach-like piece called Bolt by a British artist (Terry Egan?) and a ludicrous stained glass window made for Le Chat Noir in Paris, where the artist painted the owner who’d commissioned this piece as a bull headed king on a throne, worshipped by fools, with various awful background details. I wonder if he got paid for that.
Then I spent half an hour in Safeway looking for dinner and being mistaken for an employee. I don’t know if the new uniform is a brown hoodie and a tshirt with a dinosaur in a space suit, but if it isn’t, why were people asking me where the cigarettes were? Dumbfounded, I got an Uber to the railway station, and the driver also asked me if I was working at Safeway and I almost said something rude. And now, on to Seattle, with hopefully a more efficient ride home than the way here. I’ve got a window seat, anyway!