Portland Brewery Tour – Day 2 (Part 2)

After the pie debacle and with the sun waning, we walked to the nearest bus stop, intending to round the day out with a trip to Fabric Depot on 122nd Street. A woman who looked like a red-headed Virginia Madsen (who incidentally, I believe is a seriously underrated actress. How the HELL is she related to Michael Madsen?)

Wtf?

…and her small daughter were there waiting and as we stood there, a guy rode woozily up on a bike and started the most bizarre conversation with her.

He asked her if she was alright, then tried to get her to listen to the music on his headphones (I’m sure she loved having someone else’s greeby earbuds in her face), then tried multiple times to get handshakes and/or fist-bumps, all the while repeating, “I’m being for real.” Oy vey. It totally reminded me of that weird E3 encounter I had with the two dudes who kept offering to “smoke me out”.

Anyway, he left without doing anything more so we weren’t forced to ignore our natural disinclination for fighting and physical activity of all kinds in order to help her. We got to Fabric Depot after a bus ride full of interesting characters—a woman with a chihuahua wearing a heart sweater (the dog, not the woman), a hobo version of Hunter S. Thompson wearing rose-colored aviator glasses and a woman carrying a big bag of garbage (I am totally not joking).

From the outside, Fabric Depot looked fantastic and it was, admittedly, pretty big.

Aaah....fabric.

Still, I was ultimately disappointed because everything was basically retail with so-called “sale” prices on it and half the place was “Wholesale only”. I did score some nice trims in the clearance room and a handful of affordable buttons, but the remnant selection was pathetic for a store of that volume, and they had almost no discount buttons. The women who worked there were weird too. I wonder why so often, the women who work in fabric stores are so surly? Does the part of the brain that makes people friendly and courteous get coated by inhaled lint?

Post-fabric frenzy, we got back on the train and rode it to the hotel where we took advantage of the free cocktail hour they hold every day at 5 in the lobby sitting room. There was no place to sit so I sipped a weak cider and bourbon and Nick threw down an IPA. I’d hoped someone might move after a bit but everyone’s butts were glued to the velvet settees and no one was budging. We decided since we’d had no lunch we’d shoot the moon and have Italian food for dinner so we walked a few blocks to a place called Piazza Italia.

It was casual and warm—well, the atmosphere was, not the service. We were greeted by a grumpy Italian man who told us to wait so we stood in the miniscule entry, dodging wait staff until he went outside and came back in. He seemed by looking at the reservation listings, to think he could squeeze us in since he motioned us to a small table near the deli counter under a flat screen TV set to an Italian variety show.

The place was festooned with Italian signs and Italian bicycling jerseys and Italian tschotchkes of all kinds. The staff kinda walked around shouting to one another in Italian (do they really do that on a daily basis, or was it a kitschy act put on for our benefit??). Our waiter was a sly-looking young man who when I asked what they had to drink aside from wine said, “We have a-grape juice.” Hardy har. I should have known once we didn’t order wine, that we wouldn’t see his smirking face again. Someone else brought our entrees (which were quite tasty, btw) while he stood at the bar chatting nonstop with other waiters so we had to entertain ourselves. Thank god for Italian TV, am I right?

We watched performances by Italian celebrities we’d never heard of and tried our best to tune out the couple at the table next to us who could have walked right off the set of Portlandia. I seriously wanted to punch the V-neck-sweater-wearing dude half of the couple right in the face. Oh wait, I almost forgot! The Italian TV show also featured an unexpected appearance by Mick Hucknall from Simply Red who as he ages is looking more and more like Carrot Top’s grandmother, poor bastard.

He stood on stage and gamely attempted to sing the three hits he had more than 20 years ago, wearing dark sunglasses for no good reason—unless maybe it was to hide from the fact that he hasn’t had a hit in 20 years.

We had to ask a different waitress for the check and she was visibly bugged, whereupon some other woman of indeterminate job description came up and asked if we wanted dessert or coffee. We said no, so she left and the smarmiest waiter in the world came back and asked again if we wanted dessert or coffee. Nick gave him his card and he took it and came back, leaving the check indifferently on the table. I tried to get Nick to leave him a 10% tip but Nick’s convinced that last time we indicated our displeasure at bad service with a small tip, his debit card was used for fraudulent charges. Don’t you just love rewarding bad behavior?

Probably the most interesting part of the visit to Piazza Italia was the restroom which boasted two extra chairs set in perfect coffee klatch position, right next to the toilet. Evacuation in Italy must be a very social event.

In case waiting for the toilet gets tiresome?

Anyway, we ended things by heading to Bailey’s Tap Room, which Nick had noticed the night before. It was less atmospheric, but had some interesting bottled choices. I tried a Uinta beer called Sea Legs that had an almost wine-y taste to it, and Nick had a couple of other choices while I tried to draw the patrons on a small sketch book I bought at Powell’s. It wasn’t easy to concentrate, what with this idiotic couple sitting next to me. I’m fairly sure they were on a date since the girl was so giggly and drunk and the guy had this earnest, listening expression on his face that said he was thinking, “Is she drunk enough to have sex with me yet?”

Now we’re back in the room and all next door is quiet. That means either the loud talkers have checked out, or they’re planning on getting in at 3 am and driving me totally batshit. Better get some shuteye. Tomorrow – distillery tour!

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