Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween in Portland

“Halloween is tough in Portland.” This according to Terry, who runs the Everett Street Guesthouse where I stayed in the funky neighbourhood of Laurelhurst. What she meant is that Portlandians are generally so tattooed, pierced, bearded, and eccentricly clothed, that, as Wolfman Althusser might say, it is always already Halloween in Portland. When October 31 rolls around, how do you step it up?

I know what she means. Last Saturday night, the Saturday before Halloween and, therefore, a big night for Halloween parties, I was sitting in a Slowburger on Glisan watching baseball and drinking yet another fine craft beer, when six zombies walked into the restaurant with full makeup and copious fake blood—the full meal deal. Nobody paid them the least notice. The undead didn’t really look that different from anybody else you’d see in a Portland Slowburger any old day of the year.

A fair bit of the city’s year-round weirdness involves cycling. For instance, Portland is the home of Zoobomb, a weekly downhill circus of a ride in the western hills. Unusual bikes, especially mini-bikes, and wacky costumes are de rigeur for this event. It’s weirdness on wheels, cyclists' Halloween once a week. 

I didn’t go to a Zoobomb, but I did see some traces of its spirit on the streets of the city: a mountain unicyclist on the Springwater Trail (though, sadly, not the bagpiping Vader above); a leopard-skin covered bike frame; and some curious uses of bike locks. The Zoobomb mentality obviously seeps into every day life in Portland.

So, perhaps it's not that Halloween is tough in Portland. Rather, Halloween has become obsolete there. In a kind of evolutionary adaption, a bit of Halloween circulates in the city's life-blood, its very bike lanes, every day of the year.  

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