Bus 75: Hidden PortlandPHOTOGRAPHS: GEOFFREY HILLER/ TEXT: TOM VANDEL
Directions to hidden Portland: Board the #75 bus and get off and on often. Do not take a guidebook. Do not follow the crowd. Take your time. Discover for yourself what’s hidden along the line. Bus 75: Hidden Portland explores the great unknown of Portland via the #75 TriMet bus. This long, winding eastside bus line is a vein of life stretching close to 20 miles with 131 stops.
U-Haul Rental, Johnson Creek Blvd
Traditions and culture carried on
Flea Market, North Portland
For centuries, people have gathered near the Willamette River to buy, sell and trade items. That continues today. The goods may have changed but the traders are roughly the same, as seen weekly at the Portland Flea Market.
Native American Pow Wow at NAYA, Columbia Blvd
The Native American Youth and Family Center on NE Columbia Blvd. stands on the same land where a Chinook village called Neerchokikoo once stood. To celebrate their culture, they host an annual Neerchokikoo Honoring powwow where all generations gather for music, food, art, drumming and dancing.
Nepalese festival at the Family Martial Arts Center, Hollywood District
In Hollywood, the Family Martial Arts Center is a place where kids learn more than taekwondo. They learn about respect first. Downstairs in the Nekusing Memorial Theater special programs like a Nepalese festival help keep their heritage alive.
St. Johns Beer Porch, North Portland
On perches and porches along the line, people gather and pass the time.
Like sitting around the fire, as they do at St. Johns Beer Porch and Food
“We’ve become a destination in the last year,” Jackie the Beer Porch
manager says. He sports a closely shaved dome, thick beard and even
thicker Scottish brogue. “This area has really changed. Lombard used to
be nothing. When we first started there was just our bus and one food
Passengers, Bus #75
But not everyone connects. Most bus riders look outward – but seldom
into the face of a fellow passenger. Alienation and melancholy hang in
the air and you almost despair for mankind. Then, someone crackles and
explodes, “Hey, how are you? It’s good to see you again.”
Heart Beat Slient Disco, Laurelhurst Park
Near the pond in Laurelhurst Park, people listen to music a DJ transmits via wireless headphones, courtesy of Heartbeat Silent Disco. The signal carries deep, not far – just a 1,500-meter radius. Some of the entranced dance, while others sit on blankets sipping on the scene. Kids blow bubbles turning the air into champagne.
Halal Butcher, North Portland
Business on the line
When automation takes over and humans are banned from driving, tires will still be sold – perhaps at Double J on MLK. This family-owned, no-BS tire dealer is a local favorite. Much of the work is done in the parking lot as vehicles (and buses) whiz by.
Double J Tires, MLK Blvd
“It’s a hell of a lot safer now,” says Scott, manager of Double J. “The neighborhood has improved a lot since they changed the name from Union to MLK. Back when my family first opened it was pretty sketchy.” Why did they start the business there if it was so unsafe? “It’s on a busy street. People drive by all day – they need tires.” As if, duh.
Old-world cutting edge
Anvil Barbershop, Milwaukie
At Anvil in Milwaukie, Ryan and Marcus carry on the tradition of an old-style men’s barbershop. After a cut and shave, customers hang out and talk. No kids, no women. There’s a faint whiff of butch wax in the air.
Ace Typewriter, St Johns
It was once remarkable and innovative to write by punching keys on a machine instead of using a quill pen. Ace Typewriter on Lombard is located in that era. They restore pre-1970 typewriters. “Business is still good,” Matthew laughs. “Less competition. There’s only a few of us doing this. But many writers are going back to typewriters now instead of computers. You can refer back to what you’ve written and keep going – helps prevent writer’s block.”
Thu’s Fashion, Hollywood District
Hidden just off Sandy on NE 42nd is Thu Fashion. “People should dress up more,” says Thu, leaning forward in gold, gator-leather sandals. “When you look good you are more confident. More energy! We need a more colorful Portland – like a runway on the street!”