Portlandia, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Portland

When they first announced that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein were going to be shooting a half hour sketch comedy show in and about Portland, I really didn’t think many people would pay attention. I mean, who actually watches IFC? Apparently the answer is a lot of people. Here we are a year later and the show, in its second season, is extremely popular.

When I travel, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “Is Portland really like Portlandia?” Yes, yes it is. Portland is an odd little city; in fact, I don’t see it as much a city as I do the biggest town in America. Portland is intimately connected with other parts of the country (we seem to have something of an affair going on with Brooklyn), and yet at the same time we’re fairly isolated. People think we’re close to Seattle, but those same people have never made the schlep up the I-5 – it isn’t close. 


Pho-A-Palooza: Got Pho?

Got Pho?
Got Pho?

One of the great things about living in Portland is the absolute abundance of fantastic pho restaurants. While Portland gets a lot of attention nationally for places like Pok Pok and Nong’s Khao Man Gai (both of which are excellent), it’s Portland’s pho that can quickly and easily become a weekly ritual.

Pho is the perfect choice for the long rainy days that accompany the end of winter. Pho also works just about as well as Grandma’s chicken soup for squashing those change of season colds.

With so many pho restaurants in Portland, I thought I’d make my way through the major ones in a series of meals I could only call Pho-A-Palooza.

One of my first stops is Got Pho? on NE Sandy Blvd. It’s one block up from where NE Sandy and NE Broadway intersect, and if you weren’t looking for Got Pho? you’d easily miss it. It’s located in a tiny strip mall right across from the I-84 freeway on-ramp.


Portland Cello Project does Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power

Pantera Cello Project
Pantera Cello Project

File this under “Things that make Portland great.” The Portland Cello Project has made a name for themselves by mixing classical cello music with cello compositions of modern and pop music. They’ve toured with groups you’d never associate with cellos, including Buckethead, Alexi Murdoch, and Thao with the Get Down Stay Down.

On February 27th, the Portland Cello Project became the Pantera Cello Project for a single night to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pantera’s iconic album, Vulgar Display of Power. The Cello Project arranged the entire Vulgar Display of Power album for cellos and then played it live in its entirety to a packed house at the Wonder Ballroom.

It’s mind-blowing to think that a group of cellists could translate the power chords of Pantera to be played on cellos, but the Portland Cello Project did it amazingly. Perhaps the most difficult to translate are the solos from Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott, a task which was tackled by several different soloists throughout the night.

The evening moved between the project replicating the intensity of Pantera’s better known songs from the album, including Walk, This Love, and F’ing Hostile and finding its own voice with some of Pantera’s more melodic songs like By Demons Be Driven, and Hollow, which was simply haunting.