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Portland Confidential
Wednesday, November 11, 2023, Part 1 of 2
© 2023 James LaFond
JUN/12/24
I live on South East 105th street.
Writing of it is barred according to the recent Yeti/Land-O-Lakes Butter Babe Treaty.
The house is small with a TV on in every room, a typical American situation. Writing history in a noisy environment, as well as journalism like this, is easy. Disturbing news and a need to wander among the functionaries and casualties of one of Uncle Satan’s social engineering pilot cities, enervated the lame creep to take a tour.
The leg blew up doing yard work and attempting to walk without a cane. I should have been working on Costin’s book review. So out came the crutches in the soft murky rain. The Land Lady dropped me off on Holgate at 103rd at a covered stop.
Bus service is amazingly good here. Additionally, at the native elders dinner, to which I was invited, free mass transit day passes are handed out. The sides of busses advertise a Trimet bus operator salary that will reach 75k after three years.
8:30
The #17 from Holgate to Downtown pulls up. In Baltimore, there are three huge bus terminals and the busses themselves mostly cross Downtown. In Portland, as with Denver, the busses all roll out from a central hub and back.
The driver is a tall, strapping man, wide shouldered and 50, who directs me how to use the ticket and then informs me that he goes to within 2 blocks of Union Station, which is next to the local bus terminal, just like in Denver.
He does not roll until I am seated. In Baltimore, on a bus, I would have gimped for myself as the bus rolled. The driver waits at stops for passengers to walk up—never would that happen in Harm City. A tall light skinned man of infinite status, dressed in very fine western attire from snakeskin boots to cowboy hat, who I recall from earlier in the year, steps onto the bus, says good morning to the driver, and then to me. Again, I am too rude by half, too much of a loner.
The bus drives slowly down over the bench of stone, over Interstate-5, cut through that very rock. It then glides across Foster, my old home base, and then heads downhill to Chavez Boulevard. The wet misty morning sees under 20 passengers board, including a young, disabled scooter person. Housing in the southeast ranges from nice middle class houses, to small prefabricated ones like this and even trailers. I would say, at a glance, that 60% of Southeast Portland, is renting, not buying. The rentals are the same hideous boxes going up across the west. The older rentals have the charm of a sleazy motel. The new stuff has no soul.
8:50
The bottom of the hill achieved, more vacancies and signs of blight appear, homeless critters everywhere, dispersing from great to small camps under civic pressure. The river that bisects Portland, which I cannot spell or pronounce, is crossed on a bridge, taking us from the Southeast, on the Mount Hood side of the river, into the southwest, where the rich and the hip live.
A stack of five interstate ramps amaze this pedestrian. Graffiti graces the ugliest structures raised by Satan’s Command. In these five hobo years I have come to appreciate graffiti as a revolt against the modern world. It appears always close to the rich. I counted 5, and there might be more, identical, Soviet Style high rise apartment towers, made of white concrete. Graffiti artists need to cross train with cliff climbers and do something about the totally vapid character of these morally vacant towers of debt housing. Something evil should be grand and gaudy, not bland and ghostly.
9:00
The low land in the Southwest is criss-crossed with rails and I begin to feel at home, knowing the train station is near. The light rail is very quiet and stylish in a subdued European sense, these trains of 5 cars speaking in a female voice having more art than all of the high rise buildings. This ugliness begins to grow less oppressive as the murky gloom cast by the terrible towers darken the streets. Homeless camp mostly in fives every second block along the sidewalks. A few old buildings of brick, some with stone bay windows, once made a pretense that success could bring beauty.
9:13
The glass towers and Soviet structures return as the bus, now empty, passes the last stop and the driver lets me off right at Union Station. The homeless wretchedness is deepest here, on what I think was Flanders Street. I am so happy to get to the train station to schedule a break for freedom.
To the left is the Medical Examiner’s office, attached to the city health department. This place is guarded by 4 private cops. Two other private cops speak to the ones across the street from Union Station, a pleasing brick structure with a measure of soul. I am crutching along and note that the two private cops are a pair out of legend. The leader, in body armor, wearing black tactical pants, is six feet, 160 pounds of brunette beauty. In her vest is her command device which she was speaking into as her meat shield followed her like a loyal beast. The meat shield was an African woman of 5 feet 8 inches and about 400 pounds, easily 3 feet wide at hips and shoulders.
They were on Amtrak property and off it, giving instructions. What were they? Who was she? I stopped and stared, hanging on the crutches admiring her form, clearly seeing that the vest was bumped out by at least a set of double Ds.
She stopped and looked at me, kind of wonder struck.
I checked her from booted feet to long brown hair and her eyes grew wider and her mouth made an “Oh” of disbelief, that a wizened gimp would regard her with so much unconcealed gusto. She smiled, remembered she had forgotten something, recalled it, and marched away towards the bus station, her ebony hulk loyally following.
To be continued.
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