Bachelor Party!!!

No pics. Maybe there’s one, but I don’t have it. Anyway, I was responsible for putting together a bachelor party to happen last Saturday, for my buddy Sean. We opened it up at the Jolly Roger for various booze, fried things, and jello shots, followed by a nice afternoon tubing down the Clack…can’t imagine why we had the river to ourselves…? And then we went out for steaks. Details omitted to honor the guilty and protect the innocent.

But mostly, at least it wasn’t this.

Naughty filthy Ikea

Not really, but metroblogging has the dirt on Portland’s Ikea installation. Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to getting an Ikea for quite awhile now, and now that the date is almost here, I’m starting to look at my closets and corners just a bit differently.

Long ago I linked to Defective Yeti’s genius Ikea Walkthrough (at The Morning News). Here it is again for the local Portlanders.

A bunch of folks seem upset about the new big box store. Well, it’s an unfortunate reality. At least Ikea has some sense of corporate responsibility. It rates strongly for environmental concerns, employee and women’s rights, and they are trying to integrate with our transportation ideals.

As Portlanders we need to continue supporting our local businesses. I proudly have never spent a dime in a Wal-Mart, though I’ve sucked conditioned air in a couple (sadly, I believe that I have spent some cash at some of their other-brand locations. It’s so hard to keep track of who owns who). We have such a great environment, with so many local businesses and craftspeople offering unique goods, it is one thing that keeps Portland strong and unique.

But, the big box store has a place. But remember to swing by your local hardware store before hitting Home Depot (Do it Best is awesome…the folks are helpful way above and beyond any reasonable expectation. Beaumont location, for my experience, but I hear good things about the others). Nothing pisses me off more than somebody proudly proclaiming the money they saved by going to a local store, getting assistance, trying things out, and then going to a discount place for the purchase. Well, there’re a lot of more serious issues than that, but try not to do it! That’s what the small businesses are all about, and you need to fulfill your part of the social contract as well.

Now, there’s the argument about location. Where the heck do you want the Ikea to go? Probably to hell, I suppose. But out there by the airport seems perfect. There’s the Cascade Station, which looks like it was intended to be a bit like the development area near St. Johns. Nice public transportation, lots of land, and such. Perfect for a place that’s going to get a lot of traffic. Out of the way, accessible in several ways, lots of land, and an airport for a neighbor.

So, when you go to Ikea, get some good stuff. But remember the places like Storables (somewhere near NW 14th and Couch) that also sell nifty little plastic cubes.

Searching for the soul of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a pretty sweet city. It’s gorgeous. There’s a beautiful beach, tons of restaurants, shops, and things to do. A few good breweries. Nice views, hikes nearby. It was selected as one of Outside’s most desirable places to live (Portland too!). But after a few days here, I’ve found myself wondering: where is the soul of this city? And I haven’t found it.

Time on the beach is great, the sand is pleasant with the sound of the surf and the seagulls, a heavy sun radiating powerfully, beautiful people building sand structures to watch them erode with the tides. Several lighthouses are visible from any given shore. But I don’t feel the soul there.

Downtown is small, but pleasant. There are several coffee shops. Three bookstores. Restaurants galore. A venue for shows. Surf shops, gift shops, clothing stores, water pipe outlets. But I don’t feel the soul there. Starbucks and Peet’s. Borders. Even the local store feels like it wishes it were a Borders. No local artist showcase that I could find. No outlet for local expression. And Logo, the used book and music store. Almost there, but still it is unwilling to carry the torch. Unwilling to offend.

Walking the streets, I felt a strange familiarity. Santa Cruz felt to me a bit like Las Vegas, a softer expression, the opposite in so many ways, but the same. A stand of naive liberalism lacking a grounding in reality where Vegas stands for nothing but is deeply entrenched in all too vivid reality.

The experience has been sanitized. Overdeveloped, too expensive, a facade of beauty but is there anything underneath? Keep it safe, keep it clean. Do the right thing. Recycling is the law.

But I know it’s out there. Local talent. Individuals. Stifled and forgotten, but not gone. A scene, something that is the character and the culture. Or is that it? Is the culture this soccer-mom turned surf and skate shuttle world? If you know, if you can help me find it, please show me the way.


Mississippi is sporting a shiny new Mexican restaurant, with Oaxacan regional cuisine. Actually, I think it’s up where the street is actually Albina, just south of N Alberta. Trebol has a decent little patio, it’s painted a nice shade of green, and overall looks tastefully done. Though, I actually never set foot inside the actual restaurant.

We sat outside, it was a gorgeous day. We drank margaritas and mojitos. They were pretty tasty, and somewhat reasonably priced, though the well tequila is pancho. They brought us some homemade tortillas with salsa. These were quite tasty, and I appreciated the spice of the verde. We asked the waiter for recommendations throughout the meal, and invariably they were the most expensive item of its kind on the menu.

For an appetizer, we ordered the clams. They were not particularly inspiring. Acceptable, but a bit bland, and the clams themselves varied broadly in size and quality.

For dinner, we didn’t follow recommendations because we didn’t feel like $17+ plates for a casual dinner. So, Dave and Ryan got the beef tacos, and I got the beef tamales. They seemed to enjoy their tacos, but were not particularly excited about them. My tamales were very mediocre, they were more like porridge in a banana leaf. The beef and the red sauce were both very good, but the tamale itself was so watery as to drown out the flavor.

We also got a flight of tequila. The waiter recommended Corzo. Again, a top coster. The flight turned out to be three 2/3oz shots, so 2oz total. It was served with some sort of tomato-lime juice for pallet clearing. The Corzo was quite yummy though. As a group we preferred the reposado for its smoothness. The anejo was nice, actually, all three were good.

The service was fine, maybe a bit inconsistent. They brought us the extra stuff we asked for (more tortillas, bread). It took us forever to get out of there, and the waiter had the affect of an owner on a day with bad numbers, trying to play up but not masking too well. I don’t know if he is or not.

As a new addition to the high-end Mexican food market, Trebol has a lot of space to cover if they’d like to compete with D.F., Autentica, and Taqueria Nueve (and the hybrid joint over in St. Johns). Their location is good, the patio is nice, but the food is a stretch for the price. I’d like to emphasize that I really liked the sauces. Good luck, I’ll try again sometime.

If somebody is more familiar with the Oaxacan style, please chime in…or if you’ve had a better experience in general.