If You Can Read This, Wave Your Hand
Twice I’ve come to Portland and found the Gay Pride Parade in full march.
My two sons shared the coincidence and still think it was planned. It wasn’t.
A good planner always includes community events, but no plan for the parade.
We remember it fondly, the kids and I.
The costumes, the bands, the pick-up truck float where a huge topless woman filled up a futon in the bed and waved to the crowd. She waved at us.
What do you do if you’re That boomer dad? Block the children’s view and run, or treat it like any other parade?
Correct answer? Treat it like any other parade. Wave back.
That’s the big picture, as I explained. You embrace the strands in the Keep Portland Weird tapestry but you can’t pick one parade over another and feel good about it.
If the goal is celebrating differences, the more different the better, right? That’s where it gets weird.
A bigger picture question looks at the context of weirdness, or where Portland fits on the weird scale.
Start with The City of Brotherly Love.
Mummers in Philadelphia lead the Weird Hall of Fame with 10,000 feathered up dudes playing banjos and marching down Broad Street like a Nuremberg rally, going on and on and on in full beauty.
New York’s got more than enough. Is St. Patrick’s Day parade weird enough? Or a New Years Rocking Eve on Times Square?
If you take your national and local strains of weirdness, double them up and twist them together, it’s still not as weird as New Orleans on a slow night. They have the perfect package.
True weirdness needs an event and a place like Bourbon Street. Portland won an NBA title and filled up a mile of Broadway with sports fan weirdness. That might be medium weird in the French Quarter.
Think of World Cup celebrations. Those are the weirdest individual events with dazed soccer hooligans wandering around after their riot shift.
Still nothing close to Bourbon St.
The weirdness accelerator in New Orleans is called Napoleonic Law, which forces all tourists to walk around drinking liquor from long-neck WWII hand grenades. The shuffling drunk crowd and barricaded side streets brings out the true weirdness.
- A young guy, maybe twenty-five, walks to a barricade and sets his violin case on the pavement. He gets arranged and pulls his bow across his strings and it is on.
A draped table beside the fiddle player holds a baby’s bassinet. Inside it a baby’s silver painted face belonging to the guy under the table starts yelling, the baby’s puppet body dancing to Cajun fiddle music.
- A man jumps out to the middle of the street and points.
“Hey man, I know where you got your shoes. Twenty dollars says I know right where you got your shoes. Twenty. We on? I saw you nod. Okay, you got your shoes on the ground right here in New Orleans, Louisiana. Don’t walk away from me, man. Give me my money. Hey.”
- A policeman holds his hand up.
“Excuse me, sir, ma’am, I’m going to have to cite you. I see you carrying drinks. It looks like you’re from out of town. Napoleonic Law says you’d better down those drinks and party harder. Take these hats from the Party Police for a ten dollar donation and you’ll be on your way. Wait a minute, give me my money. Get back here.”
- A homeless man walks up.
“I see you’ve got a full drink, you can see I don’t. Would you like to make an alcohol donation to my cup?”
- A nervous man appears.
“Saw you walking last night, brother, know what I mean? See that two nights, one after the other, I know what. I know what’s up. Cocaine?”
Jacked up lyrics and screaming guitars poured out of every bar window on Bourbon like five blocks of frat party overdrive.
Battered hurricane weirdness on a whole ‘nother level get yoiu. Local advice was don’t try to make sense of it, just remember what it feels like and take it home.
Feels good like a _______ should.