Portland is Crazy, Ep. 1

One day, I was wandering as usual, and came upon a large park. There are many parks in Portland, Oregon. I walked down a central path, slowly, people watching as I went, finally sitting down on an empty park bench. I watched across the park, about 30 feet away, as a group of homeless men were chatting with a women who was home-undefined: as in, by the way she was speaking with the men, she could have either known them well, just been very friendly, homeless herself, or perhaps a social worker – She was however, far less apparently intoxicated than there other two.

There is a lot of a obvious homelessness and street-oriented poverty in Portland, in all parts of the city, and as my gaze drifted I became aware of more conversations, on more benches, and more of Portland’s homeless walking about the park. At that moment the man on the bench next to me began to rant about how ridiculous it is that parents don’t watch their children, as he pointed at a young child, perhaps 3 years old, playing with a sapling tree at the edge of the park, by herself, near the road.

“I saw a kid the other day on a bus who just ran right off at the stop and the mother didn’t even know! She was just texting on her phone the whole time! Luckily people grabbed hold of the kid before he ran into traffic! The driver closed the bus doors and called the police to come pick up the neglecting mother and bring the child to social services… and for a while she didn’t even know anything had happened…. still on her damn phone!” he said loudly at me as I shook my head, half in agreement, half in confusion.

“Sorry,” he said, “I clearly get over passionate about this. People just aren’t aware of their own lives…”

And he proceeded to talk to me for the next 45 minutes about conspiracy theories, including how your social security number is actually a routing number to a bank account and that when you get one at birth you are sold to ‘USA, Corp., for a price on which your life is indebted. In other words, that you are sold to the government as a slave to the system. Then he told me about the Nazis.

At this point I started to think that he too, was one of the home-undefined individuals of which I was unable to determine if he were crazy, half-crazy, homeless, a professor (as he told me he was), and investor (as he also told me he was), or even, a Nazi – there was an uncomfortable vibe as he spoke about how big their numbers were only about 15 years ago in the city. Then again, immediately after his slightly dreamy-eyed historical recalling of their rise to power in Portland’s underground, he commented how well the police handled the many riots that followed and the ultimate breaking up of the Nazi Party in Portland only a few years ago. He was strange if not at least a little delusional, but friendly, and I was having a decent enough time listening to this storyteller.

At that point a large man smoking a short cigarette sat down between us after shaking the storyteller’s hand. As the large man commented about getting high and evading the police in a broken, stuttered, and highly psychotic tone, the storyteller leaned back, looked at me from behind the half-oblivious large man and shook his head with wide eyes, spinning his finger next to his head – the universal sign of ‘crazy.’ I let out a small uncomfortable sigh.

After a minute or two the storyteller asked the large man to leave, noting that he and I had been having a meeting we needed to get back to. The large man mumbled, sat up, and walked away just as fast as he had sat down, calmly saying hello to a passing young women. “You’re very pretty,” the large man said as he walked out of audible range, toward the girl. Her now increased pace would surely be more than the large man could match. Now, both the storyteller and I sighed.

“Chris is a convicted rapist,” said the storyteller revealing the large man’s unfortunate name. “He should be behind bars, but Portland’s laws are screwed up, and he got out with almost no time.”

“How do you know this?” I asked.

“Oh, I also used to work for the State as a law sponsor.”

“And, what is a law sponsor?”

“You know, I, uh…. I sponsor laws. Like, I…. rewrite them; I make them better; I fill loop-holes. During that time, I met Chris, and learned about his case. He’s a sick guy.” The storyteller shook his head disapprovingly.

Just then his phone rang. “John Fox calling…” the phone spoke from his pocket.

“Oh! I need to take this! It’s John Fox, he owns Fox towers!”

“Sure, no problem, it was nice to meet you.” I said, glade for a reason to move on after an hour of crazy time. Shaking his hand, which I immediately regretted, having seen him wipe the tobacco spit from his mouth moments earlier, I got up and left.

With one, choice hand in my pocket, I walked out of the park toward a Starbucks in search of a sink and soap. When I had thuroughly washed my hand I returned to the street to hear the sound of a bagpipe echoing through the buildings. I set off in their direction, shaking my head and smiling.

‘Oh, Portland,’ I thought. ‘If this were a sitcom,’ I started to daydream: ‘The catch phrase at the end of the show would be ‘Oh, Portland.’ It would be a dark comedy about absolutely crazy shit happening in the many neighborhoods of the city. This would make a great first episode.’


2 Responses to “Portland is Crazy, Ep. 1”
  1. Randy :Pisane says:

    Make sure you visit the Church of Elvis
    Uncle Randy

  2. Ann Ives says:

    well, that was an adventure………especially ending with bagpipes!!!!!!!

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