Portland is weird. It's not something they try to hide, but instead embrace it with an accentuated sense of welcome. The hostel was running an open mic night, and after meeting Stefan - a Swiss guy living 20 minutes from the hostel - I was talked into checking it out. Besides, he was playing and was going to use my little guitar.
Ian, a room mate, Stefan and I headed out for dinner, opting for Thai food. I ordered the chicken, which was a very generous definition of the term. After grabbing some of Portland's famed local beers, we headed back to the hostel to hear the beginnings of the open mic night.
The first lady got up and warbled her way through some folk songs. Next.
An Allen Ginsburg clone followed her and read/ranted for about 15 minutes. It was what your expect hippie poetry to be, screaming, political, dynamic and unintentionally hilarious. Towards the tail end of his set one audience member/performer got up, yelled "you've ruined the whole night" and got up and left. He had had enough of poor man's Ginsburg's crap.
A fat guy named Bob (Bitch Tits Bob from Portland anyone?) got up and did some more poetry. Impressively he recited it all from memory. He also looked like a fat David Crosby, and I couldn't stop thinking this.
By now the beer has started to kick in. Them micro-brews are strong.
A lady gets up to read more poetry. Arms are flailing as she improvises with words from the audience. It'd be cool in Dead Poet's Society, but in real life, it's funny.
The MC would get up and sing unaccompanied before doing intros. It was actually impressive, but that's because she was cute and I had beer.
Stefan played next. He played some instrumental songs and 'Yesterday' by the Beatles. He hit the tuner button on the guitar so the amplification cut it. Still, it was his first time performing and he put my guitar playing to shame.
Next up was an awkward looking man with a bum bag reading poetry. He looked like Gil from the Simpsons.
He was followed by a guy with a massive ponytail, suit sans tie, John Lennon glasses and mandatory cigarettes. He recited works based on Nick Cave lyrics, in a Nick Cave voice. Again, unintentionally hilarious.
A girl with a ukulele got up and spoke about a character she was developing. She could sing, but the character idea seemed a bit...shit. I met her after the show and she had the word 'Seafoam' tattooed on her arm. Figure that out.
An Asian girl with a ukulele followed her, playing some good tunes. She even rocked Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice it's Alright'. It's one of my favourites of his, and perfectly used in Mad Men.
Beers are working.
A transsexual guy was up next. He had massive chequered stockings on his legs and arms, a short skirt and some oranges shoved up his shirt. He told jokes that weren't funny, sang and rapped. Odd.
A guy tried to play guitar after him but it didn't work. I saw him after looking distraught, offered him a beer and was declined.
A guy played harmonica and sang the blues.
Finally the MC did some singing and closed everything up.
After the show I met the transsexual guy and he told me about the time he lived in Canberra's tent embassy. Nice guy actually.
Ian, another guy and I went to some bars after the show. Blah blah blah, drank some Pabst Blue Ribbon and slept in this morning.
Portland is weird and kinda great.