Why Places Like 182nd Avenue Are Just as ‘Portland’ as Anywhere Else in the City

Want to get a TV fixed, a Russian salami, and a king-sized beer? Look for the metro area’s forgotten corners.

By Zach Dundas June 13, 2016 Published in the July 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Amy Martin

recently got my television fixed, a move that, I guess, makes a sort of generational statement. But anyway, you should try it sometime.

The Samsung would no longer turn on, a serious crimp to the modern streaming-media-all-the-time lifestyle around our place. (Actually, my household has been Netflix-free for years, after some parental experiences a few years ago that I would liken, with no disrespect, to the Battle of Gettysburg, which prompted my wife and me to issue the startling bulletin to our then-preschooler that Netflix had “gone out of business.”) The Internet informed me that failing to turn on is a common problem with the brand, which apparently doesn’t have the best taste in capacitors. I also learned that I could crack that sucker open and fix it myself for about $6. Something I would never, ever do.

So began the quest for a television repair human, one of those societal staples of my youth—like daily newspapers and moderate Republicans—now rendered rare by progress (and the relative affordability that can make electronics seem disposable at the first sign of trouble). People just aren’t fixing TVs anymore. But eventually, after many phone calls, I found my guy at around SE 182nd and Division, in Gresham.

That stretch of Division can blur into strip club, weed shop, strip club, weed shop—but the TV repair place was through a side door off a parking lot shared with a Russian market. Inside, it looked like every entertainment device in modern history had exploded. The fellas (all fellas) took charge of the Samsung; I explored the grocery, a gleaming emporium of excellent cured meats, Belarussian cookies, and king-size Baltika beers. And soon, I had a working home entertainment device.

In this issue of Portland Monthly, we celebrate “The Best of the City.” And, no apologies, that coverage is mostly about pretty things and places, experiences crafted and urbane, about all the ways we’ve got it made. But a city must be many things. The intersection where I got my TV fixed—automotive, treeless, devoid of “curation,” in Gresham—doesn’t fit any recognized category of Portlandian charm. But it and places like it are as much a part of our evolving metropolis as any inner-east-side indie row or commanding West Hills vista. We need our off-the-radar pockets of cultural collision and unmarketable urban oddity. We need antidotes to and refuges from gentrified polish. Portland likes to self-regard as a handcrafted cabinet of small, just-so wonders; we need places that make us bigger and less predictable.

And, for as great a city as this is, we do still need to get some stuff fixed.    

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