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  • Well, February is the time to go for a taste of the real Portland. Look outside at that cold rain, and imagine it about 15 degrees colder and rainier, every single day. Sometimes Feb brings a little snow or sun breaks for 20 or 30 minutes a day, but usually not. Bring warm clothing and good waterproof boots.

    Hawthorne is their low budget Haight Street. That area, inner SE, became very hip a long time ago and also includes main drags like Division and Belmont. Very very cool but can be pretty spendy.

    The part of town I lived in was in a neighborhood called “Alberta.” If you head up the #8 bus line from downtown, it goes up NE 15th avenue, crosses Broadway, then Fremont, then Prescott, then Alberta. Further north are Killingsworth, Ainsworth and Dekum. I lived on NE 17th, two blocks north of Ainsworth, for many many years. Great part of town, tons of shows, bars, restaurants, artists. Used to be a little crime ridden back around 2001…lots of shootings, stuff like that, but most of the poor have been forced out of Alberta to light rail ghettoes along the MAX line, past 122nd, out to the 250s.

    St Johns used to be real hardcore redneck, but it’s been getting gentrified, too. Still not a safe place for a female to walk alone at night, nor is the upper end of MLK by Rosa Parks, or the deserted part of Lombard at night, or anywhere along Columbia Blvd…I loved that forgotten industrial section of town up there by the wonderful Jubitz Truck Stop, but it wasn’t very nice after dark.

    Now, if you want to see the unbelievably trashy neighborhood which gave us both Tonya Harding and the birth of professional wrestling back in the 60s, you have to journey to “Felony Flats,” which is pretty much anything south of a main drag called Foster, that runs in a diagonal from 52nd Avenue all the way out past 82nd and into the 160s.

    82nd is a many mile long main drag of whores, broken glass, meth and used car dealerships. Great place, I used to go to a barber right in the heart of it for flat tops. Tons of Russians out in outer SE, too.

    Downtown is cool, and so is NW, but those parts of town are way expensive. Plenty of clubs and restaurants though. In NW, 21st and 23rd are the main drags, but these have been pretty gentrified for a long long time. I never hung out there much. Still, Cinema 21 is a great independent movie house.

    I can answer pretty much most questions people have about the town, as I drove cab at night there for a solid decade. If Radio Cab will ever hire me back, I will again…Austin flat out sucks now, the soul is being scrubbed from this place so rapidly it’s astounding.

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