DID YOU READ

Tales of Portland Public Transit

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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 LookAtThatFuckingHipster.com. 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,

Bill

(Photo by Chris Phan)

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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