Category Archives: portland

The Return of New Music Mondays.


Portland, OR band Horse Feathers’ newish release, House With No Home. A little light acoustic guitar and violin to ease us all back to the grind.


Like a sponge.


Over the course of this past week in Portland I traded in my yoga pants for jeans and put on a real bra exactly twice, and that was to walk 2 blocks to see movies (Beauty in Trouble, Czech dramedy, eh; Tell No One, French psychological thriller, oh so good!) and drink beer in the daytime dark at the Living Room Theater in the Pearl district (pictured). Between said movies, I… watched more movies on DVD, thanks to a sister with “industry” connections (Milk, Frost/Nixon, The Reader… something else good I can’t remember), downloaded a bunch of new music (new Killers, Carla Bruni and Horse Feathers, old Magnetic Fields, Miles Davis and Mates of State among others considerably more embarrassing), read a boatload of magazines, finished The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Ilosa and started Seven Types of Ambiguity, a 600 page tome I’d picked up and put back a dozen times since it came out and finally decided to tackle thanks to long lines and the conveniently located Bargain Buys stack (damn you Powell’s and your strategic merchandising)– in short, did little but play tennis, hang with the fam, and soak up a ton great film, music and reading material and it felt good. Makeup didn’t touch my face, my hair went dirtier than usual, even my ears got a break from being ravaged by cheap earrings. Isn’t this what Christmas is all about though? When else can you be a complete slob if not in the comfort of your family over the holidays in a northern, gray city after having your emotions put in a blender on puree?

Sleeves full of Aces.

Ace Hotel, Portland Oregon

While we’re talking about the Ace Hotel guys (okay, it was a couple posts ago… but who’s counting), we also visited that hipster haven while in Portland and drank coffee like rock stars. We ducked in on our last day in town to get out of the rain and kill a few morning hours and were immediately bummed that we were only then making our way over there—this place is Kool with a kapital K. “The country’s most original new hotel” according the NY Times Style Magazine, Ace offers (in their words, this time) “all the comfort of a business class hotel without the soul-killing blandness of a faceless chain or last year’s design school fads,” which rightly sums up about 95% of the hotels I’ve stayed in over the last 5 years of business travel. Each room is unique and amenities include Malin + Goetz bath products, clawfoot bathtubs and free WiFi. Keeping true to their Seattle rocker heritage (Portland was their second outpost and New York will be their third), Ace Portland has $95 “band rooms” complete with bunk-beds, a turntable and fat stack of records, and a shared bathroom down the hall. Private-bathroom rooms start at $130 and max out at $250 for a deluxe suite, which almost seems unfair.

The Ace in Portland smartly shares its historic building with a Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a local mini-chain of coffeeshop-cum-art galleries that serve up excellent single-brewed cups to like-minded customers. The plush couches and big picture windows in the lobby invited lounging and lounge we did, steaming cups of organic Ethiopian blend in hand. We weren’t guests of the hotel but no one seemed to mind. Music ranged from Jose Gonzalez (cup #1) to Animal Collective (half an almond croissant) to The Cure (cup #2), to which a cute brunette sang along while carefully tending to her large collection of spindly coffee table plants.

We could have stayed all day but alas, had quality time with the fam to get back to. We took the vintage photo booth for a spin before heading back out into the rain and the strip of photos the machine spat out were the classic, flattering, black & white kind, not the weird-looking color ones. The devil’s in the details and Ace seems to have nailed every one.

Barbers are so the new hairstylists.

barbershop sign
Originally uploaded by Paul Keleher

My boyfriend, Ben, and I were in New York on business trips in the fall. The rugged, uber-manly “I’m a creative genius” thing he’d been rocking had started to get a little unruly, even for him. He was starting to look like a mythical forest creature, the kind that lives in northern Canada and is only sighted on the walk back to the truck after drinking brown liquor and hunting moose all day. I sent him to Freemans Sporting Club, where he emerged an hour later looking less man of the weeds and more Brendan Flowers and spouting formerly-foreign phrases like “bespoke menswear.” It was the best haircut and shave I’d seen on him and only cost 40 bones, which is better than the $60-something he pays in San Francisco.

Fast forward 3 months. We’re in Portland, Oregon, visiting my family for the holidays. Same situation with the hair and face. I’d heard about a mini-chain of barbershops called Rudy’s and how each location is unique, showing work from local artists and piping music from local bands (who pop in to say hello, naturally) through the speakers. A little interweb detective work revealed 2 Portland Rudy’s, one in the Pearl District just around the corner from my mom’s apartment! Another cool style, this time for only $24, which would have been $21 had he opted out of the shampoo (“Hey man, you want a shampoo?” “Whatever. Sure.” “Dude, you gotta tell me, it’s your money”). They’re only on the west coast for now, but plan to expand east to New York soon and rock out a midtown (I was thinking the same thing– midtown?) space with their other super-cool venture, Ace Hotel. I can’t remember where I read that either but I’m sure it’s true.

Sure, you could get a decent guy’s cut in Little Italy or Chinatown for probably half what you’d pay at Rudy’s, or pay twice as much to go to a pedigreed ‘hairstylist.’ Yawn. What these funky little places really offer is an experience; a clean new look done by a guy with a story (or at least a band) in an artsy yet understated environment. The street-cred to go’s just the gravy. (Note: At press time Freemans was declared “so done… oh my god they’re so 2007 hipster central” by the writer but she still thinks they’re cool.)