Not everyone would spend one of their days off stomping through the city in the rain, through campgrounds, railroad crossings and service roads just to find a tiny ramen joint and a brewery not long for this world.
Those people aren’t me, and they surely don’t live in Portland.
If you grew up in the late 80s and 90s like I did (and probably before,) your parents warned you not to talk to strangers. Strangers were strangers. They could be anything or anyone. They could hurt you, or steal from you. They could follow you home.
Then we grew up, and we quickly found that strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. They can also lead you toward your next great steps in life.
By all accounts, Caldera Public House should have been my preferred local bar.
It was walking distance from my house in a historic building, had an eccentric vibe, a beautiful back patio, decent food, and hosted live Celtic music? I have even have an amusing memory about the place. Before we got married, I came home from work one day and heard Emily in the bedroom. I said “hello,” and she called out “Oh… you’re home already? Um… I’m trying on the wedding dress.”
“Ah… gotcha.” I promptly walked down to the Caldera and got a seat because, before our marriage even began, I’d been kicked out of the house and sent down to the pub for an hour.
All the same, I rarely went to Caldera Public House, and chose other bars that were closer to work or run by friends. The food at Caldera was good, but never very good. The beer list was underwhelming, and I’m rarely a “fancy cocktails” guy. Above all else, the place was just not comfortable for very long. The live bands were good, but loud. You couldn’t sit at the actual bar because there were tables in the middle of the main room, and a small reading nook in the middle of the building had the most comfortable seats, but it was frustrating to read, eat, and drink there at the same time.
When Caldera closed up even before the pandemic, I was sad but not surprised. Then, when a new sign was hung outside the door about a month ago, I wondered if someone was trying to be the neighborhood bar Caldera struggled to be.
Until about 5AM this morning, this week’s blog post was going to be about something completely different. I was going to write about taste, snobbishness, and keeping it in check.
But last night, Em and I decided to go to our first movie in a theater in over a year. It was a toss-up between Black Widow and Roadrunner, and Em decided she could see Black Widow another time. She wanted to see Roadrunner with me. We were both glad for that because in the back of the Laurelhurst Theater, over pizza, popcorn, and spilled beer, we both cried our eyes out.
I came home with mixed emotions and tried to write that blog post about snobbishness… but as of 5 am, aware of the discourse and controversies surrounding the movie, I knew I need to write this all out while it was still fresh in my mind. One of the problems with being a writer is that words vanish from your mind faster than feelings in your heart, so here we go.
One last story from my beloved doomed bastard of a hero, Uncle Tony.