Long Distance Love
PORTLAND'S sisterhood with Brooklyn reveals new dimensions every week. From artisan foods to beard trimming to fixies (plus a shared love of Stumptown beans), the two cities enjoy a symbolic, if not geographic, affinity. This month, Portland publishing powerhouse Tin House (which maintains a satellite office in Brooklyn) adds a literary edge: a Brooklyn/Portland-themed issue featuring 30 writers from the two cities and a star-studded launch party at Holocene next month (Oct 10). Here’s the bird’s-eye view:
EAST BURNSIDE Outside my work is a silver burrito cart with a crown of thorns painted on the side. It shuts up like a transformer lunch box and when the back panels close they create a turquoise and red Guadalupe latched at the hands. I used to eat their carne asada, but it makes me sick now. We don’t get much time to eat, so I bring ramen and hide in the break room for the fresh air. It’s the only place where the windows open.
—Vanessa Veselka, “Just Before Elena”
HENRY THIELE’S On rainy nights in the late ’80s, we would swan in and request a booth .... To our twentysomething eyes the other diners looked ancient and of no consequence—the men in pressed sport coats, the women with their blue rinses and red lipstick that wandered off the contours of their lips, slowly forking in the green, white, and brown food that all grown-ups ate. Even though it was 8:30 at night, we were there for breakfast, specifically the Thiele German pancake.
—Karen Karbo, “In Search of Lost Pancake”
HOBO’S RESTAURANT We met at Hobo’s Restaurant & Lounge. It was a typical March day in Portland’s Old Town: piss drizzle, 48 degrees, generally wet but not too miserable, a cushy kind of discomfort. In this part of town the air smells like fried dough. Voodoo Doughnut is just two blocks away—churning out pounds and pounds of its inexplicably popular product 24 hours a day.
—Pauls Toutonghi, “Notes from the Underground”
THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE Lawrence and I have lost our jobs. We walk the bridge toward Brooklyn, where it’s cool to be poor. We don’t call our mothers. It’s warm for September and we strip in the sunlight. Lawrence tosses his sport coat over the rail. The wind doesn’t take it; no fluttering kitelike, symbolic and cinematic. It sinks into traffic, under tires, another piece of highway trash.
—Adam Wilson, “December Boys Got It Bad”
FORT GREENE In a schoolyard a few blocks from the corners where the Notorious B.I.G. started dealing drugs at age 12 in the 1980s, the Flea offers shabby-chic antiques and clothing, rescued trinkets, old vinyl, and food trucks that make “ethnic food” less ethnic ... But there I am, visiting the vending table of an artist who draws cityscapes in pen on Post-it notes.
—Evan Hughes, “Consider the Gentrifier”
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS There was a day in Brooklyn Heights, along the promenade, when I watched a baby, crawling in diapers, pick a cigarette butt off the ground and eat it. I wasn’t sure what to do, I lived at such a distance from others and from myself.
I walked away.
—Charles D’Ambrosio, “True Believer”