Four days of sunshine = explorations with camera. A bike ride along the Willamette river brought me to Portlands smallest 'beach'. Saturday was Alberta streets Art Hop. The road was closed to traffic and there were stalls selling art and crafts.
Get out of downtown, and the streets look like this. Row upon row of beautiful wooden houses set on tree lined leafy streets. All with perfect lawns or beautiful mature flower filled gardens. Yes please... Portland is very green. In both senses.
I caught some bands this week. The fantastic Glass Candy (above) at a basement dive bar for free and Northern State (top) in the Doug Fir lounge. Highly entertaining. Imagine a cuter female Beastie Boys, but less shouty and you are there.
Once a month they have a gallery open house evening. This happens on different nights in different neighbourhoods. The first thursday of the month is in the Pearl District, right where I'm staying. I didn't get to any galleries but on 13th there was a market that spanned a couple of blocks, selling art, jewellery handicrafts and clothing. Also a couple of street bands played.
First Friday is in North East. I visited about 4 different galleries. One of them was actaully a design company here called Nemo. They had an exhibition called Furry Kamasutra. Photographs of people in animal costumes in sexual positions, along with four short films showing the story behind the photo. Reminded me of Amsterdam.
On thursday afternoon the three Nike teams took the afternoon off to do some 'Team building'. The team building took place at Sarah Hollowood's farm which is located 30 miles south of Portland. Lucky for us the sun shined because it's always nicer to drink beer, I mean Team build outside.
Sarah's farm was designed by some guy who wanted to see how many different types of wood he could get into one building. It has about a million kinds. Or maybe 7. Anyway, it's an incredible place, with beautiful views out back onto grassy wooded slopes ending with a stream. The basement has a shooting range. A shooting range! A couple of rifles were casually lying there. I resisted the temptation. The basement also has a weird cupboard where you could easily imprison people, if you were Austrian.
Out front there are three Llamas and four sheep. Eric tried to coax the Llama with fresh beer but they weren't interested. The theme for food and drink was Mexican. Also one of the 'Team building' games involved a Pinata. The other involved a quiz with lots of questions I didn't know the answers to.
This week I got to see a couple of band performances here. New York hipsters MGMT and Hot Chip, British purveyors of electronic pop. The Chrystal Ballroom's floor is set on ball-bearings, so it bounces when the crowd move. I guess that at least counteracted the fact that the audience was divided by a corridoor that ran directly down the centre of the stage, seperating over 21's from those not old enough to drink yet. I'm told this is a typical Portland thing, looked kinda weird to me...
This weekend I experienced the amazing Oregon coast, and also my first non-rainy day since April 3rd, fantastic. Stunning wide sandy beaches, the roar of the Pacific and stunning views. I loved every minute of it.
So the main difference is the considerably larger size of W+K Portland. And compared to the starkness of Amsterdam's new building, the Portland office has lots of visual stimulation wherever you go.
The studio is spread out over a whole 'quad' of the 4th floor with people divided by client into small groups with a Studio Manager. Nike seems to take up a lot of people and remains very much the main client. The large entrance area doubles up as a gallery, currently showing an exhibition of 'work that deeply affected you' selected by W+K employees.
Portland is crazy about recycling. Even if their president doesn't give a rat's ass about the environment, Portlanders do. It's a very liberal, forward thinking city, (toilet signs in braille) has a good public transport system (though not as regular as Amsterdam's) is super friendly and outdoorsy.
It has a good music scene. It also has more strip clubs per capita than any other American city. Imagine Amsterdam if it was full of Americans, had massive supermarkets and really good customer service (scrap that, had customer service). Mind you, I'm looking forward to being able to buy an alcoholic drink without having to show I.D, and tipping the waiter every time...
Here I am on my two month job swap in Portland, Oregon - W+K finally agreed to send me and I intend to cram it in while I'm here.
I'm staying in Michael F's place. It's a loft conversion of an old drugs warehouse. The day before I arrived Michael's new neighbour directly opposite was arrested by police for Meth distribution. I'm glad that was taken care of before I arrived...
It's a beautiful place, like staying in a hotel penthouse suite, except no-one cleans up after me. It's roughly two and a half times the size of my apartment in Amsterdam, I'm thinking of getting a skateboard to get from one bathroom to another. The neighbourhood is full of coffee shops (the ones that sell coffee), galleries, up-market shops and restaurants. It's only three blocks from the Wieden Office.
Portland really is super friendly. I'm still getting used to being asked 'Hi, how are you today' by complete strangers, not being routinely ignored by shop assistants, and having supermarkets whose fresh produce section does not include punnets of furry strawberries.
My first day of work was Founders day, this year, community charity work followed by heavy drinking. For me that meant tree planting and clearance along the river banks of the Willamette River. It's the only day the sun has shined since my arrival.
Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon? Check.
Worlds highest thrill ride? Check.
Shark Reef? Check.
Free alcohol in dodgy gambling establishments? Check.