This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Tales of Portland Public Transit


Posted by on

In Portland, public transportation is a culture unto itself. I suppose that’s true of all major cities, but it’s especially valid here, in a city considered to have one of the best transit systems in the country. Combine the ease of getting around with the other things that make Portland so Portlandian, and that makes every ride on the bus, MAX or Slothcar—sorry, streetcar—an illuminating adventure for the armchair sociologist.

Luckily, someone thought to start cataloging those experiences. At TriMet Diaries, frequent participants in the culture of Portland public transportation are welcomed to contribute stories, observations and important life lessons learned while traveling across town. We asked site editor David Strom for some of his favorite essays and anecdotes. These are the abridged versions; click the links for the full entries.

The Bus Was Smokin’ by Samantha

After running an errand at my credit union, I got on my usual 9:45 bus at a different stop. I got to avoid waiting with the white trash lady who likes to smoke right next to me under the shelter.

However, when I sat down, it only took a few blocks of travel for me to notice the distinct smell of burning…something. I honestly thought it was burning toast from one of the various cafes we were passing by. Then the white trash lady notices the smell too and says, “Hey, dude, you’re on fire.”

Actually, it was just the dude’s pant leg. But still, that is definitely a new experience in public transportation for me.

My Nemesis Revealed
by Bill Reagan

The guy sports a van dyke, which should tell you everything you need to know. If you’re not familiar, the van dyke is part soul patch, part handlebar mustache – think three musketeers, or the painted beard on the V-for-Vendetta mask. He’s a good looking twenty-something, well-dressed, and it’s easy to picture him in his natural habitat, drinking canned beer at this month’s trendy dive bar, quietly besting every earnestly mutton-chopped man with his black-belt-level hipster facial adornment.

We’ve both ridden the #35 for years, though not always together. My schedule is static, his seems flexible, so it’s only a few shared rides a month, but I always notice him when he gets on, wanting to take his picture and send it to He’s always aloof, not talking to his fellow riders, and considering I’ve seen most of my fellow 35-ers at King Burrito and other neighborhood cheap-eats spots, but never him, I imagined him traveling to Farm or Rontoms for dinner so that he could eat with his own kind. Fine by me.

Last week, I had a two-seater to myself when he got on and sat down beside me. … He started getting out a book, which I imagined would be David Foster Wallace or perhaps Catcher in the Rye, but it turned out to be a children’s chapter book. … He was audibly struggling to read the large-type text, sounding it out slowly, clearly focused on the words more than the sentences. As he read, his finger inched along the page to accompany the labored soundtrack of syllables, and I began hurriedly deconstructing the damning picture of him that I had assembled using years’ worth of insignificant and inaccurate so-called clues.

He wasn’t aloof, but shy, and avoiding conversation meant avoiding the struggle to communicate. He probably didn’t eat at King Burrito because the massive billboard of a menu over the cash register – all words, no pictures – was a flagrant taunt of his capabilities.
When my stop arrived, I wished my seat-mate a good day, and hoped it was the first time he had ever noticed me. I hate to think he had spent the last few years dismissing me as a judgmental bastard who stupidly assesses people based on superficial information. And if he had, I hoped he would never know how right he had been.

Public Transit Doppelganger Bingo by Dr. Jeff Guardalabene

If you spend any time at all on public transit, you can’t avoid the doppelgangers. They add a little low-grade celebrity spice to the trip. Hey, there’s Justin Bieber as a woman! Look, that guy looks like Alec Baldwin as a homeless dude! It’s a rolling Entertainment Weekly out there. TMZ on wheels. After you’ve been riding a while, though, spotting the lookalikes just isn’t enough. After a while, it’s time to up your game and step into the big leagues.

I’ve moved on from simple solo celebrity spotting. I’m into groups now. For example, all I need is a Justine Bateman to fill out my Family Ties card. Michael J. Fox is everywhere in Portland. Tina Yothers was tough. If I really want a challenge, I work on the cast of Lost, or some buddy cop movies.

If you really get into this game, you’ll need to take a few days off so you can ride lines that you wouldn’t normally ride in the course of your workday. For example, say you wanted to fill out the cast of Entourage. You might start with the Green Line MAX, and keep an eye peeled as you roll through downtown toward PSU. But you’ll most likely need to disembark and hit the streetcar up through the Pearl. And someone with a Portlandia bent is going to want to work the low bus numbers – 4/9/14/15, Division/Powell/Hawthorne/Belmont will probably do the trick.

You get the idea. Start easy, maybe “Friends” on the Green Line, and work your way up the ladder to something really difficult, like “True Blood” solely on even-numbered bus lines. Soon, you’ll have toured Portland and made some new buddies along the way. And, on weekends, you can turn this into the only drinking game you can safely play on city streets.

Fun Game on the Streetcar
by Heather

I live in a city with a half million other people. With such a high a concentration of people in a small space, you will likely run into all kinds of folks. And as a veteran of city living, I’ve become adept at identifying stinky people. It’s a skill you learn quickly. “Oh, he looks ripe. Hold breath. Okay, danger averted.”

However, sometimes people are “stealth stinkers.” It’s not obvious from how they look that a person has created a cloud of odoriferousness for everyone to enjoy. And riding public transportation, this can become a problem.

But it can also be a fun game! Sometimes on the streetcar, I play a game of “Guess the Stinker!” when it’s not completely obvious. Sometimes I guess correctly, as evidenced by the sweet wind of fresh air as the offender departs.

I can’t say that I win anything by guessing the stinker correctly. But I like to start my days with a sense of accomplishment.

Public Service Announcement for Randall by Bill Reagan

Dear Randall,

Just wanted to send you a quick note to say, dude, what’s up with the way you’ve been behaving? Getting caught visiting that little psycho girl while Angela was out of town, then claiming you just wanted to make it clear to her that you have a new girlfriend? Telling Angela you were sick and had to go home at 8:00, then going over to that little psycho girl’s house at 10:00 because you “felt better”? C’mon, Randy, you aren’t fooling any of us with your bullshit.

The trouble is, you might not be as sly as you think. Believe me, Angela sees through your bullshit. Don’t laugh it off, clever man – Angela has a shotgun at home, and she made it clear she’s got no problem with shooting that little psycho you’ve been sneaking around with, especially since that little psycho wrote something on Angela’s Facebook wall. (Awkward!) Add the gun to the medical documentation that proves Angela’s mental capacity is “borderline retarded” (her words) and she might be right about having a viable courtroom defense.

I’m writing because I’m concerned for you, Randall. I know you don’t know me, but Angela is clearly pissed about all this, considering how loudly she told the person on the phone and the entire population of the 5:45pm #6 yesterday. I’m not passing judgment – I’ll leave that to Angela, as she seems primed for it – but from what I’ve heard, it’s time you step up and be the man you said you were when you first started dating Angela. You remember, right? Back when you had a job, paid attention to her, and didn’t constantly spew all that bullshit that you do now. That’s all Angela wants. (And rest of us concur.)

Best wishes,


(Photo by Chris Phan)


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…