Keep Portland Weird

“Keep Portland Weird” is the apt and official slogan of Portland.   My impressions of Portland was that I had trouble putting my finger on what made Portland, well, Portland.

As one waitress told us, “Every artist in the country wants to live here for cheap, make their art and serve in the food and beverage industry.”  There is a lot of interesting and unique art in Portland and there certainly is a lot of incredible places to eat.

Portland is unique, weird and proud of it.

It has a very colorful and sometimes dark history which, I think, also adds to the intrigue of this place.  My partner and I commented several times that everywhere we went, it was dark.  Restaurants were dark and poorly lit.  Bathrooms papered with weird and strange photos.  We were often served by individuals sporting tat sleeves with chained wallets to their skinny jeans.

The creepiest story I heard in Portland was on my walking tour.  They used to “crimp” sailors.  Basically naive young men would run up tabs in boarding houses, sign away their lives basically, and would have to “pay off” their debts by getting on the next boat to Shanghai to become sailors.  Crimpers wouldn’t be above knocking some men out and delivering them to the boat unconscious and wrapped in tarps.  There was big money in crimping, and 100 years ago, Portland was considered one of the most dangerous places to go out drinking.  Because you never knew where you would wake up!

The creepy story goes something like this:  Joseph “Bunko” Kelly was hired to deliver 25 men to a boat that was leaving the next day.  He was struggling to find suitable candidates, until he stumbled on two dozen men, who had broken into what they thought was the cellar of the saloon.  They were falling down drunk and passed out, so Kelly, figured he would just led them to the boat and sell them to the captain.  But it was not the cellar of the saloon they had broken into, but the basement of the mortuary.  They had been guzzling embalming fluid.  The men passed out were actually dead and the ones staggering around were close to dead themselves.  Kelly, quickly, wrapped the dead bodies up in tarp and led the still walking ones down to the boat.  He sold them all to the captain.  Records show that at the next port, the captain unloaded 25 bodies for burial.  Now if that is not a brutal way to go, I don’t know what is!

Regardless, I found the place fascinating.  It is a collage of interesting local, friendly people, fantastic food, unique art all cloaked with an almost New Orleans flair.

Here are my final photos of a place I found both intriguing and compelling.

sitting area

Always places to sit, eat, people watch and enjoy.ruby jewel


Amazing homemade ice cream!  I could not even finish half of this cone.  But it was so good!


Mexican 2

A strange little Mexican restaurant with painted red walls and the best tacos you can imagine.


mother mary

One of the many interesting pieces of art decorating the Mexican restaurant!


Cool eatery

Everywhere you go, there is a tiny place to eat and some tiny place to sit.

good eats

Look how fun this patio is.


cat picture

If this store had been open, I would have bought this piece of art.  Love the details in this cat’s sweater vest – is that Polo he is wearing??

Thank-you Portland for the weird and wonderful visit!  Stay weird!


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