Review #17- My Vice

Where: 2035 SE Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., Portland Oregon

“Hey, want a seat?”
The door popped open so suddenly I almost gave myself whiplash after studying the menu taped to the inner window. It was a rainy day and I’d been walking nowhere in particular. I told Emily I was “taking a walk-“ which she knows is code for “I’m going out for a walk and also maybe to get beer or snacks, but I don’t want to admit it.” Today, I had my typing machines with me and figured I’d find a quiet outdoor bar to get some work done.

Coming down Cesar Chavez, I saw a new sign seemed to replace “Trinket” overnight next to the Joe Bike Bicycle Shop. A bold chef’s knife design with the simple words “My Vice” was tacked up on the wall of an improvised patio hanging out into the parking lot- now a normal feature of restaurants in the Age of COVID.

The inside of the cafe proper was painted a dark blue and it looked closed against the grey sky, so I leaned in just to read the menu- then Tarl, the bartender and co-owner, got my attention.

“Oh! Uh.. hey, I was just looking at the menu and, um… you know what? Sure.”
”Right on, man- go around the side to the patio and take a seat, I’ll be right with you.”

Mind the chandelier…
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The Silence Between Sips

Outside on the street, a car alarm is blaring. It’s not exactly a suburban neighborhood, but quiet enough that a random car alarm is more than background noise to a spring night.

I’m in the rocking chair I’ve adopted as mine- having trash-picked, thoroughly sprayed, cleaned, and draped it with an afghan. I’m sipping some rye whiskey while my wife alternates between her keyboard and piano, writing assignments for students. There’s some random “quiet time” music from Spotify playing, but it’s getting a little too happy and janky. I’m trying to write.

I need quiet, but with a little noise mixed in- like even the best whiskey needs a little drop of water to open up everything it has to offer.

Some jellybeans are a good addition too.
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What Doing Nothing Feels Like, and Why You Should Do It More Often

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

This might be a bit of a shorter blog post than usual. Recent shake-ups at work have left me nearly drained everyday, and I haven’t even had the energy to work on my other projects (namely, my next book and a free ebook on time management and mise en place!)
Thank you for being patient with me on those!

If you’ve been reading this blog for really any amount of time, you probably know that one of my ongoing frustrations is my relationship with productivity, anxiety, and my own self-worth. In brief, any time that I’m not directly working (or working on something) feels like wasting time on some level.

“Wasting time” is something my brain translates as “laziness” or “shiftlessness”- and when your self worth is connected to how busy you are… it’s kinda hard not to feel like a bum for needing a break. And yet, taking a break is needed not just for creativity… but for being alive.

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Review #15- The Cavern

Where:  4601 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland OR, 97215

When you notice a small corner bar on a normally bustling strip of the city open for a few weeks, but then closed on Friday nights and Saturdays, one of the first things you start to wonder is “…who’s idea was that place?”

The small, narrow corner space- sharing its block with Zach’s Hot Dog Shack, the locally-famous Por Que No?, and a nondescript Tibetan tchotchke shop- had for a short time been the “Hawthorne Public House.” I’d looked in a few times in passing, and that’s precisely what I did. I passed. A whistle-clean bar on the inside, with big TV screens… that was closed at 4pm every Friday.

Passing by, regardless of day or hour, the joint was always empty or closed, and nothing ever compelled me to walk in.

One day, the windows were papered, the sign was down, and another Portland bar vanished like a fart in a Jacuzzi.

A couple months later, my friend Pete caught up with me at the beer cart next to the cafe. He’s a writer for Willamette Weekly, and besides just casually talking to folks about where they like to go for the best ___, he’s one of my go-to sources for new places to try.

“Hey Matt, you like pork, right?”
“Uh, yeah?”
Ok, you need to go to this place. It’s like an old rocker, punk bar. You know where Por Que No is?”

“Oh, yeah that’s… oh wait, yeah! Someone finally did something with that space? I wondered what happened to it after the Public House went out.”

“… There was something there? Anyway, it’s called The Cavern. Go there sometime- one of the best places for meat in the city. Get the pork belly skewers, and spring for the mousse dip. It’s so raunchy and weird.”

If you want to be noticed, you’ve got to make a little noise- having a whiskey list and a knack for the carnivorous helps too.

Exterior shot of The Cavern Bar on SE Hawthorne Blvd

“Hey ho, let’s go”

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