Portlanders are a breed of their own – and I mean that in the most endearing way. During every city outing, we come across someone with a cat perched on their shoulder, bare-chested in 30-degree weather, riding a unicycle on their morning commute or rocking a mean handlebar mustache. More than any other city I’ve lived in/visited, people in Portland seem happy to let their freak flag fly.
That’s why it’s no surprise there’s a television show centered on Portland’s weirdness: Portlandia, which plays on IFC and stars Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen. I can’t tell if non-Portlanders would think it’s funny since so much seems like an inside joke (mocking Portland’s extreme localism, bike culture, hipster population, etc.), but I think it’s pretty darn comical. Jeff and I caught a free showing Friday at the McMenamins’ Mission Theater, which was packed to the brim with fans.
Saturday morn, Jeff surprised me with a fabulous suggestion: Let’s FINALLY visit Voodoo Doughnut. The place is a Portland institution, open 24/7 with a constant out-the-door line of eager locals and tourists. It regularly tops lists of best doughnut shops in the country and top things to see in Portland, and its mascot is a voodoo doll doughnut filled with raspberry jam and a pretzel stick protruding from its heart. Awesome. The shop’s lines always scared us away, but this icy morning, luck was on our side and we marched right in. One bacon maple doughnut, one voodoo doll doughnut, and one “no name” (chocolate, peanut butter and Rice Krispies) doughnut later, we checked that must-see attraction off our list.
…and as we ate our tasty treats on Voodoo’s outdoor picnic table with a “Keep Portland Weird” sign in the background, who drove by? The creepy monkey puppet man in his decked-out van. It’s not the first time we’ve spied this character. He rides around downtown in some oddly-decorated van (it reminds me of a grave or mud or something), windows rolled down, monkey puppet on his arm, music blaring. It makes NO sense. We hopped in our Jeep and managed to catch up with him so I could snap a pic (with Jeff rolling down my window and yelling, “All right, man!”).
Seriously, do other cities have characters like this?