The Performant: PortlanD.I.Y.

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The Performant puts a bird on it

There’re a lot of ways to while away 72 hours in Portland, Oregon, so I shrewdly place myself in the hands of a capable buddy who knows the ropes and we embark on a whirlwind bicycling tour of the five quadrants, from Sellwood to St Johns (yes, there are five quadrants, not four, go figure). We don’t really have a focus, and you could easily spend 72 hours just crawling from coffeeshop to bookstore to food cart to brewpub. While there’s plenty of all of the above on our itinerary, the theme that soon reveals itself during our pedal-powered perambulations is Portland’s obvious fervor for the DIY life, extending even to their entertainment options. Here’re a few of my favorite examples.

1) Marry-it-Yourself at the 24 Hour Church of Elvis. Although this dilapidated window display and coin-operated wedding ceremony has seen brighter days in other locations over the years, this quirky art installation will still pronounce a simple set of vows via an ancient Commodore 64 over any couple lucky enough to have a quarter on them. Apparently about to undergo a facelift of sorts, the 24 Hour Church of Elvis may be upgrading its technology, but one hopes it won’t lose its cluttered, junkyard charm or old-school video arcade aesthetic. 408 NW Couch, Portland, OR. www.24hourchurchofelvis.com

2) Eat-a-Bug-Yourself at the Peculiarium. Anyone excited about insectavorism will want to make a trek over to The Peculiarium, where in addition to a staggering selection of novelty packaged bug treats (tequila lollipops with worms, etc), they offer two very exclusive toppings for their ice cream sundaes and hot dogs: freeze-dried meal worms and scorpions. Customers who survive their culinary adventure get their photo taken and exclusive membership in the “Insectarian Club,” and even non-bug-eaters will get a kick out of the Fortean ephemera, gag gifts, and B-movie props that constitute much of the Peculiarium’s inventory and decor. 2234 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR. www.peculiarium.com

3) Homestead-It-Yourself at Portland Homestead Supply Company. This homey, welcoming, artfully-curated store leaves no possible outlet for creative homesteading energy unrepresented, with essential supplies for every kind of project from soap-making to chicken incubating, pickling to cider pressing, seed starting to grain grinding. Where else can you grab a one-pound slab of pure beeswax, a packet of kefir starter, the pasta maker of your dreams, and a 25-pound sack of worm castings and take a workshop on coffee roasting or candle-making in the same trip? Truly worth a pilgrimage, even for the most dedicated urbanite. 8012 SE 13th Avenue
, Portland, OR. www.homesteadsupplyco.com

4) Act-it-Yourself at Shakespeare Surprise Party. For times when even the redoubtable SF Theater Pub barroom shows feel over-produced, Surprise Party Theatre steps in with an even more audacious free-for-all concept, one that recruits roughly half the of its attendees onto the stage to perform, rehearsal-free. I see a rowdy adaptation of *As You Like It* in the basement confines of the Jack London Bar which lasts a good 40 minutes longer than it has a right to, but certainly doesn’t lack in sheer spunk and off-the-cuff inventiveness. A hilarious wrestling match between pre-cast Orlando (Joel Durham) and Charles (Matt Haynes), goofy improvisation by Jesse Graff as Touchstone, live music by musical duo Sound Semantics performing as Amiens, and plenty of dance breaks for all, infuse the Shakespearean comedy, to say nothing of the Jack London Bar, with lusty life. surprisepartytheatre.tumblr.com

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