Friday, August 7, 2009

A Cloudy August Afternoon in Portland: A Visit to Powell's City of Books, Jake's Happy Hour, and Bailey's Taproom

The Clipper touched down at Stumptown Field right on time. I heard the announcement, "Now arriving, Clipper 461 from Detroit, Milwaukee, the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Rapid City, and Boise." I stood on my toes to look over the crowd and saw Books as he stepped off the aeroplane. Books, or Libretto D'Mestiere, was here to visit us and we'd been looking forward to it. Dolly-girl named him Libretto because she said he was like a book of lyrics, but "Books" was more to his liking and was a pretty accurate description of his favorite activity, not to mention the way he earned a buck--balancing and making, and not necessarily in that order, if you get me. We shook hands, hugged, and he said, "How soon can we set the brake at Powells?" There was no getting around the fact that me and Dolly-girl weren't the only draw in Stumptown--there was The City of Books, too.

"Soon as you want to," came out of my mouth which brought a "Well, how about now?" "On it. Let's pick up Dolly-girl." We did and a few minutes later we were on the other side of the river at a place Dolly-girl calls a second home. Books and Dolly-girl disappeared inside while I kept my eye out for you-know-who. This is a part of Stumptown where the bad and the good share one thing, a love of books, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the Trouble Brothers drop their attitudes at the door. I took up a spot on the corner and did my civic duty, the sorta Neighborhood Watch a neighborhood like this one needs but doesn't get often enough. After all, some of the business may be dull*, but the sun doesn't set on shenanigans in this part of town.

* It's true, an architecture firm named Dull Olson Weekes Architects. Wouldn't you change your name if it were Dull, particularly if you were an architect?

A couple hours later, after Ambassador Franklin and General Grant shook hands with a cashier in the City of Books, Books and Dolly-girl found me at my lamppost. "Lookin' for your keys, Jack?" "You know what I'm up to Dolly-girl and one of these days you'll be the better for it, too." She liked to kid me about how serious I took serious business, especially when business was serious. I knew she was kidding, but every once-in-a-while it put a burr under my saddle, follow? Anyhow, I knew they'd by ready to put on the feedbag after all that perusing.

"Jake's?" Dolly-girl pushed the wave back and smiled. "It's ringing my bell, how about you Books?" "Never been there, willing to try." We got on shank's mare and headed over there. It wasn't far. Jake's is a serious seafood joint and a fixture around Stumptown. It was Happy Hour, which in Stumptown means regular prices on the whaddaya-drinkin' and almost free on the whaddaya-want. That was hitting our spot.

We walked in. The place was crowded even though it was only the middle of the afternoon. Jake's is a place business--and some of it shady--gets done; you could tell that from the pictures hanging on the wall. The missys were dressed in white jackets or black skirts depending, follow? They were buzzing around the place like yellow jackets on fresh grilled albacore. Our Missy brought us the whaddaya-wants, Bull Run all around, and an attitude. "Ready to roll? Remember, the plates are big." We were. We didn't.

Books was ready for a cold one, "Float me an amber down Gastineau Channel." "North to it." "The heavy one that's been to the Sub-continent and back for me." "Terminal Gravity IPA, it's yours. You, miss?" "Czech it, something local, bring me the HUB lager." "Czech? Check." Missy knew her game.

We gave the whaddaya-want the twice over. There's always a temptation to order like it's going to be some nibble in a cup like they pass out at the A&P on Saturday. Mark us tempted and tried.

Missy was back with the brew. "What'll it be for youse?" "Give us a couple orders of flattened left hook, some rings of the deep, an order of the southern murphies, and a couple seaweed wraps and dunk em'. Oh, throw in the dirty dishes, too." Missy rolled her eyes and puffed out her cheeks, doing an imitation of us by the time the big had was on the six. We settled it and nursed the pints.

Missy and a helper showed up with the food. "Must be some mistake--we ordered Happy Hour feedbags." Missy rolled her eyes. "Salmon cakes, calamari, sweet potato fries, pot stickers, and the tempura sushi. Now, I told youse the plates were big--eat up and make me proud. Do it again on the malties?" "Sure, give me a Kolsch from over the hills. Books will have a Laurelhurst, and wash it out." "Right, a Double Mountain and a pale ale. Yours?" Dolly-girl gulped and passed.

She was back in a flash with the one-more-times while we did our best to get to the bottom of the feed bags. We almost made it but ended up giving the rest of the rings of the deep to Birthday Girl and a pal-o-mine of hers at the next table. "We just hang around here, nurse a beer, and wait for people to leave--there's always oats in the bottom of the bag..." "Check. Happy day."

We rolled out the door and onto the street. Funny how when you stand up, two things happen. Feed settles and good ideas rise right to the top. "How about we finish this festa off with a trip to Baileys?" "Gads, Jack. You can't be serious. How can you possibly think about heading over there after this?" A look through the wave told me I was going to have to do some convincing on this one. "Yeah, Dolly-girl, but Books hasn't been there and they don't have places like Bailey's back where he sets his brake and who knows if we'll get back to this side of the river and, and.." Another shot through the wave and I knew I had her. "It'll be exercise. OK." We headed over. It wasn't far. The taproom was hoppin' what with it being Friday afternoon. A lot of people who started the week asleep were waking up now and giving themselves a pat on the back for making it through another one. We slid in and joined them. Missy poured us a taster of Captured by Porches Invasive Species, Lucky Lab Superdog, Fanno Creek IPA, Ninkasi Sleigh'r, and cask-conditioned Lagunitus Dogtown Pale.

Dolly-girl was right. We drank them down and waddled on back to our side of Stumptown. A grand day out!

1 comment:

Newsman said...

Salut, Jean!
Did the link to the Kolsch, which was grand, and appreciated the retro treatment of the image of Nixon.
Do not understand all the lingo, but you always spin a good yarn, and the images are enthralling.
Technical question: Is that a self-designed blog program you use? As a veteran newspaper person, who once used wax and paper to paste up pages, I am intrigued by that flush right justification.
And high praise for your ability to squeeze such high quality images into a restricted space.