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.
If anyone was to ask me where I’m from, I’m immediately proud to say “New Jersey.” Several times in my life, when people first meet me and ask where I’m from, they tend to assume England for some reason. I’ve never been able to explain why except for the joke response that when I was little my parents let me watch a lot of Monty Python and that I tend to be very polite. Dropping a few F-Bombs seems to clear it up though:
“Oh, I thought you were from England or something.” “The fuck made you think that?” “Okay, THERE’S the New Jersey, I hear it now.” … Thanks, Sopranos.
Of course, I don’t live in Jersey right now. For the last six years, I’ve been happy to live in Portland, Oregon. Maybe you’ve seen it on TV or heard about it from your hipster friends. You might even have some ideas about what life here is like from the news of the last few years. Words like “war zone” and “anarchist jurisdiction” were thrown around a lot. For the rest of my life, I will remember riding in a bus around Walt Disney World in March of 2019. Sitting across from Emily and I was an elderly couple, and we started talking about what every tourist at Disney does after the heat, food, and bugs:
“So where are you visiting from?” “Portland Oregon! Yourselves?” The old man visibly bristled and scoffed- “Oh yeah, I hear that’s a greatplace to live.” “Oh it is! Beautiful nature, amazing food and beer- you should visit sometime!”
I have never seen a man deflate so fast. Pro-tip: if someone’s looking for an argument, the easiest way to win is not to play. That said, when my little sister and her partner came to visit a few weeks ago, they expressed interest in seeing my Portland. Not the hellscape creatively described on Fox News or the goofy version on Portlandia. They wanted the Portland that a local loves/hates. A few years ago, I wrote a little post for people that wanted to move out here. Consider this a more-experienced addendum, and a helpful guide for anyone who wants to visit but is afraid of running afoul of roving bands of Nazis and/or anarchists.
It is my preferred space for book work. It is my preferred space for editing and tweaking my own work. Beyond that little ring of light and cheap wood, though, the rest of the desk is chaos. It is too comfortable. One of my culinary teachers warned us that our workspace reflects our minds- if you have a messy workspace, you have a messy mind. Beyond my laptop, thar be dragons.
When it comes to this weekly blog, I feel like I have to go mobile. The wanderlust of the “nomadic entrepreneur” seizes on me, and I need to pack everything in a satchel and “find a place to write.”
Today, my “office” of the moment is My Vice. It has cocktails and a really good beef sandwich. The table is empty except for my typing machine and a late lunch. Arguably, I could save money and do this myself by cleaning my friggin’ desk up- but what’s the fun in that?
My name is Matt Strenger, and I do a lot of writing in bars.
It takes some serious cajones to open up a new restaurant in thee middle of a pandemic. Even more so doing it in a city positively lousy with ramen shops.
When I saw the new storefront open up and a couple faces returning time and time again, I figured it was time to take them for a spin. I hadn’t written about ramen on the blog yet, and it’s the perfect weather for a bowl of hot noodles.
After two visits, trying their most popular bowl and a bowl of what they specialize in, I walked away feeling like I had wasted my money. If I am spending money on ramen and “I could have had a better dinner with a pack of Top Ramen and fixings from my fridge” floats through my mind, that’s a bad sign.
Tossing out half of the second disappointing bowl, I decided that the place did not merit a review. Not a bad review, or a complaint on Yelp- that’s not my way.
I don’t give bad reviews, anywhere, ever- and I have good reasons why.
It had been a very long time since Em and I had gotten out of the city. We went back to Philadelphia in July, but the last 6 months have been especially trying (to say the least,) and the immediate future promised to be even more interesting.
Back when I lived in New Jersey, walking on the beach near my house offered more than good exercise and an enjoyable afternoon. It offered perspective- a quiet if a not-so-subtle reminder of my size and place in this world, as well as the size and place of my problems.
Even the biggest things are not so big at all, compared to the view from Cannon Beach.