Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trippin' through Hawthorne

"Lemme show ya around..."
Last Saturday of summer 2009. Livin' the dream, in the neighborhood. Check it out.

Officially, this little section of southeast Portland is part of several neighborhoods (Hosford-Abernethy, Buckman, Sunnyside, and Richmond). But everyone in the Portland metro area (all ~2.2 million of us) know it as "Hawthorne." I'm talking about the area that starts on Hawthorne Boulevard at the intersection of 20th (or so) running eastward to about 50th. Some might argue that the Hawthorne area extends westward all the way to the river, but that would necessarily include Ladd's Addition, where the people are different, with strange customs and beliefs.

Ever-popular Waffle Window, corner of Hawthorne and 36th
Eastward, beyond 50th, Hawthorne transforms to a 2 lane residential street, with the Seminary up on 55th terminating the vector.  At that intersection, the street takes a quick jog southward, before continuing east and letting out on 60th on the knees of Mount Tabor. Hawthorne Boulevard is named for Dr. JC Hawthorne, who in 1858 established the first nut house in the region, a year before Oregon became a state. Originally, Hawthorne Blvd. was named Asylum Boulevard. But there's a plaque up on the corner of 50th that'll tell you all that.

Bread and Ink Café on the corner of my street, 36th
The area is becoming more and more gentrified and I suppose that's inevitable. Most of the people who live here are professionals. Lots of childless couples, including not a few lesbians. Friendly people. Highly educated. Almost universally progressive, or "liberal," if you will. You should have seen the long faces around this neighborhood on November 3rd, 2004. You'd have sworn we were under foreign occupation.

A little action to keep things spicy
And I suppose we were. After all, judging by the way we live, I don't see that we denizens of "inner Southeast" have much in common at all with those ridiculous hicks that turned up at Town Hall meetings in Oklahoma or South Carolina. Even less with the would-be aristocracy of the Bush family or pseudo-Illuminati string-pullers.

My favorite breakfast joint, Cup & Saucer. Proprietor is my across-the-street neighbor, Karen
Great place to hang out, this neighborhood. In the summer, there are buskers. Some good, some bad, but all courageous as far as I'm concerned. Lots of petitioners, too. That part can be a bit tiresome. Smiling faces, with the natural appeal of youth, asking politely "Do you have time to talk about name-an-issue?" I'm getting better at brushing them off, also politely.

Cup & Saucer staff, friendly and hip
You live in a place like this, you just get to know everybody over time. I've been here since late 1999, and I suppose I'm known around the area. At least, by sight. If you ever wander down, you'll probably see me: sandal-wearing, long strides, disheveled hair, tee-shirt. On the other hand, that description doesn't really single me out in this area.

Our local landmark, the Bagdad Theater, prominently featured in the 2004 flick, What the Bleep do we Know?
Conversation is spontaneous in this neighborhood. Just today, some younger fellows were listening to a boom box on the corner of 33rd. I asked "What's that music?" None of them knew, but another passer-by said, "That's from the new Brian Eno-David Byrne album." Turns out this guy, Brad, lives north of Hawthorne on 36th. I live south of Hawthorne on 36th.

Naked City clothing store always has edgy and creative window displays.
We walked the four blocks east together, found that we agreed not only on the uselessness of recording companies who interpose themselves between artist and audience (after all this is the age of the Internet), but on the equal lack of value of health insurance companies: unnecessary middle men trying to preserve their slice of the pie. Not bad for a conversation that lasted for four blocks.

Peet's Coffee, 37th and Hawthorne... part of my weekend morning ritual is to come down here and get two large daily brews first thing
It's been great living here over the years. As soon as I got here, I knew I'd found home. I've now lived in my house in Hawthorne longer than I have ever lived at any other place of residence. I love it.

37th and Hawthorne... Gotta love this city
Anyway, that's a quick overview of the neighborhood. It's a great place. Come on down sometime and check it out. If you flag me down on my way to Fred Meyer or the credit union, I'll sit down and have a cup of coffee with ya.

(Happy birthday, Eric!)


Dora said...

Hey Dade loving reading your Blogs.......Living in the Northwest all of my childhood years and a majority of my adult years till moving here to Cali.....I enjoyed your tour of Southeast Portland.....visited Portland many times when my brother lived there for any years also up until himself moving to southern cali......will always love that town......I will hold you to that cup of coffee.....I pass through often on my way to Kelso/Longview where my youngest daugther has remained now with our grandbaby I try to find many excuses to get to the Northwest....I am working on a few potential new customers.....great reason to visit...LOL....again enjoyed your blog.....take care

Spring Thunder's Blog said...

Ahahaha - Let's HOPE drivers see you as you initiate your long strides into what can only be described as a Dade-enforced crosswalk!!

Eugene and I saw you and Shea (all growed up now!) just a coupla weeks ago as we found parking near your house.

And speaking of 2004, I remember bumping into my neighbor Charity from upstairs on 20th and Alder and the day after Measure 36 passed and bush remained in his stolen position. We hugged and cried, right there in front of C&S.

Well, have fun!

Ridwan said...

Dade I love your neighborhood. One of the best places in PDX and the Cup and Saucer is a great place.

You making me miss PDX now :)