Posted October 24, 2012
Today's Field Guide is written by guest contributor Hillary Read.
When I visited Portland last month, I went with some preconceptions of what it was not: it was not the Bay Area; it was, in the scope of the Pacific Northwest, not Seattle; it was not on the coast, despite what the name might suggest. It wasn’t particularly easy to get to (United, for one, was trying to charge $350 for a round-trip ticket that went SFO->LAX->PDX and back). It wasn’t even Portland, ME, one of my favorite spots in the Northeast, but whatever.
I wanted to go, though, to see what I had heard it was: a haven of great food and coffee and beer; comfortably sized, with a contempo-natural, earth-toned setting of tech and music and art and cleverness, with edge but not enough sharpness to cut. And if it hadn’t invented anything (grunge, lattes, bacon-topped doughnuts), it had refined plenty.
What I found, in two whole days, was that it was very much all of that. What it was – Willamette River big enough to fit cargo boats, a patchwork of steel bridges, woods everywhere, warehouses righteously reclaimed and retrofit, ours-all-ours Blazers love – it was proudly.
“Support the Swoosh,” the mandate from the megalith to the south, was in full effect. Sidewalks mingled dirt-free concrete and hardwood planks. Fountains burbled in odd places. Running trails – stampeded running trails – outlined both sides of the river, nestled between shore and twinkling condos with approving residents waving cups of coffee from their decks, feet away.
Photo credit: Sean Davis
There were brewpubs with five-page beer menus, artsy movie houses, the magical Powell’s Bookstore, Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown Coffee. Roses and those runners. Subarus. Things that worked in the rain. There was enough spit and polish to put things in their best light – but without illusion.
One run took my host and me from the now-fancy Pearl District, past several bridges, and finally over a bridge and into Ladd’s Addition, a contrarian Leave-it-to-Beaver nook of diagonal streets, marked by a corner pub with a big sign and a chip on its shoulder. We do it our way, the angles said. If you make it far enough past downtown, you’ll see.
Photo credit: Anna Maj Michelson
“Look at that,” my host said, high up on a hill and coming to the edge of the free Rose Garden. “Mt. Hood’s out for you.” And it was: galactically big, floating on sky. So big it seemed impossible that clouds could cover it. My host has only lived there for 18 months or so, but she already sounded like a native: proud of her city, jealous of guests who took in only the best parts and got out dry, and maybe a little borne-up with the idea that outsiders couldn’t have appreciated the tougher parts anyway.
Photo credit: Flickr user Aschmickle
Hillary Read is a transplanted New Englander with a love of good running trails, dark coffee, and strong beer. She has lived in San Francisco since 2005.
Posted August 15, 2012
Photo credit: Flickr user Paul_Lowry
Today's Field Guide is written by guest contributor Todd Mintz.
There's a subsection of Portland consisting of trendy, hipster, vegan, metrosexual, Pearl District-loving folks lampooned in the one episode of Portlandia that I watched (and hated). I do sometimes intersect with that slice of Portland but I absolutely don't live there.
Instead, I gravitate towards the Portland that existed back when "My Own Private Idaho" and "Body of Evidence" were filmed here (two films that bookended my arrival into this fair city).
Country Bill's Steakhouse is located out on a very non-trendy part of SE Woodstock (the hipsters have taken over Hawthorne and Division but haven't moved this far south yet). On my most recent visit there - and probably on all my visits there - the average age in the dining room was about 60.
But is that a bad thing? Heck no. Their Baby Boomer clientele knows (with apologies to Dwight Jaynes) that Country Bill's Steakhouse is the "place to meat" in Portland.
As you can see from this photo (warning - not safe for vegetarians) they offer a cut of prime rib that is absolutely mouthwatering... and this is the sort of place where you get your meat rare since everyone here is old enough to remember that undercooked beef is actually the healthiest way to serve it.
If they've happened to run out of prime rib, any of their several choice cuts of steak would be a fine alternative. Chicken is also offered here. If you're a vegan, you can go graze on the grass at nearby Reed College.
Their drink menu tends towards Cosmopolitans and Manhattans. Many Portland hipsters are drinking Baby Boomer drinks nowadays, except at Country Bill's, they're made by sixty-something's who probably partied at Vortex in their twenties, instead of in the Pearl District.
Photo credit: Flickr user Aldenmorgan
And the décor? Country Bill's has the most authentic 70's décor in Portland. Walking into the dining room is like walking onto the set of a John Cassevetes film, with the only the omnipresent cigarette smoke missing. If you want to know the sort of place your parents - or even your grandparents - would eat when they were your age, this is it.
There remain a few enclaves within the People's Republic of Multnomah that, while liberal, still cling to a model of social traditionalism. If you wish to spend the evening in the company of people who have laid pipe instead of attaching all their Internet-enabled devices to it, Country Bill's is the place to go.
Todd Mintz is a Senior Account Manager for PPC Associates and has been a search marketer since 2000. He’s also lived in Portland long enough to remember when Clyde Drexler & Bud Clark were kings of the city. His Twitter is handle is @toddmintz.
Posted August 09, 2012
Photo credit: Tanner Goods
Apart from a good Scotch you don't often hear scent discussed in relation to products geared toward men. Yet as Tanner Goods' Creative Director Sam Huff notes in an interview, leather carries a heavy dose of nostalgia in its odor. Reminding us, perhaps, of our first baseball glove, a piece of high quality leather is rewarding in its connection to the past and its promise of years of service. Just as oiling a mitt allowed us to turn a raw object into a tool, caring for leather goods pays dividends in both performance and style.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Tanner Goods produces handcrafted leather goods using traditional tools and techniques of craftsmanship. Each piece is made in their Northwest studios of premium, domestically sourced material. Leather items are cut from vegetable tanned English Bridle American leather, and small accessories utilize heavyweight waxed canvas provided by a seventh generation American producer. Quality materials and craftsmanship produce not just sturdy products, but ones that will age gracefully, turning experience into patina.
For a glimpse at the process that brings these goods to life, we recommend Ryan Bush's excellent documentary short, An Exploration in Craft. His film captures the slow, deliberate process of producing leather goods and its style pays homage to the timeless quality of leather craft.
An Exploration in Craft - Featuring: Tanner Goods by Ryan Bush.
Posted August 01, 2012
Photo credit: City of Portland Archives
This week The Cupola is turning our gaze to the North. Whether you call it Rose City, Stumptown, Rip City, or simply Portland, summer is an amazing time here. To demonstrate, we’re sharing just a few of our highlights for the month of August:
1) Located just outside the city on Pendarvis Farm, the Pickathon Festival bills itself as the “original Indie-Root” festival. Running from August 3-5, the festival features 50 bands on 6 stages, including acts such as Neko Case, The Wood Brothers, and White Denim.
2) Be sure to clear your calendar on Saturday, August 18, for the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby. While it may be too late to register as a participant, watching these daredevils fling themselves down the side of a volcano in decked out cars is a sight that shouldn’t be missed.
3) The 15th Annual Alberta Street Fair is happening on Saturday, August 11. Running from 10th to 30th Ave., the fair features 250 vendors, focusing on sustainable local products, artists, crafts, and food.
4) The Northwest Film Center is presenting a film series on the panoramic parking rooftop of the Hotel deLuxe every Thursday through the end of August. It’s like a drive-in movie without the cars and with a much better view. Each film is preceded by a performance from a local band. Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Drugstore Cowboy are just two of the upcoming features.
5) Portland is home to one of our favorite designers, Elias Grey. His high-quality backpacks are perfect for carrying everything you need to enjoy your time outside this summer. Learn more about Elias and his stylish packs by visiting his designer page at Fog + Foundry.
That’s all for this edition of The Cupola. Leave a comment or send us an email to let us know your favorite event happening in Portland this summer.
Posted July 06, 2012
Photo credit: @lemolobaggage
Elias Gray is the man behind Lemolo Baggage. After hunting for the ideal backpack and coming home empty-handed, Elias opted to take things into his own hands and design his own customized backpack. In 2006 he started making bags in his Portland apartment, putting to use the sewing skills he learned from his mother and grandfather.
Lemolo Baggage began as a custom made operation. Since attracting a following the business has expanded to a line of readymade backpacks. Elias continues to make every piece by hand in his Portland Studio, including handstamping the brass nameplate for each bag.
The products are inspired by Lemolo's Portland origin, a city that seamlessly integrates nature with the urban landscape: wooded hiking trails and open fields of wild grass meld with military surplus and antique stores. The backpacks are at home in both environments. They complement the woodsman and the urban cyclist alike. Their clean style and weatherproof construction allow for year-round use.
Whether you're in the rainy Northwest or the arid desert, Lemolo Baggage's backpacks offer the ideal mix of style and functionality for your everyday carry. Learn more about each product at Lemolo's Fog + Foundry designer page.
Posted July 03, 2012
Photo credit: Paul Hertneky
This week The Cupola has a decidedly festive feel as we focus our attention on the 4th of July. Here are a few stories we’ve uncovered for you this week:
1) Did you know that the “true” Independence Day is the 2nd of July? That’s the actual day the Continental Congress voted for Independence. The 4th of July is simply when the document went to the printer.
2) Although fireworks may have originated in China, America adopted them early on. In fact, fireworks were shot off at the very first 4th of July celebration in 1777.
3) Here are some of our picks for the best places to watch fireworks:
• In Seattle, Washington, the big party takes place at Gas Works Park by Lake Union. While fireworks may be the main feature, there’s also live music, good grub, a beer garden, and much more throughout the day.
• Portland, Oregon, is spoiled for choices for 4th of July fun. Just east of the city you’ll find the Corbett Fun Festival featuring downhome fun, including pie eating contests, an egg toss, and of course, a spectacular fireworks display.
• In San Francisco, California, Pier 39 is where the action is. Even better, for the first time ever, visitors are invited to Angel Island to watch the fireworks from the Bay.
4) Since 1985, Diamond Sparkler has been making sparklers in Youngstown, Ohio. They are the sole remaining operating sparkler manufacturer in the United States, and during peak season they produce approximately 800,000 a day!
5) Fireworks may be the longest running 4th of July tradition in America, but it’s not the only one. This Wednesday marks Nathan’s 97th annual July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest. How many can you eat?
That’s it for this edition of The Cupola. Leave a comment or send us an email to let us know if you have any tips on how to enjoy the day, or if you just want to share a 4th of July memory.
Posted June 14, 2012
If he’s a New Dad or a Dad-To-Be, becoming a Father is quite an adjustment. Make the transition easier with our guide to the best American-crafted gear for New Dads:
1) No self-respecting guy wants everyone to know that he’s carrying a diaper bag. That’s what makes this bag from Dad Gear of Denver, Colorado, so great. It’s an undercover diaper bag styled like a messenger bag, but with everything you need for a day out with baby.
2) This frame from Green House Framing of Portland, Oregon, is a handsome way to display a family picture. It’s made of wood salvaged from the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, for a distinctly masculine feel.
3) Every new Dad wants to make sure he documents as many "firsts" as possible. This camera strap from Tanner Goods of Portland, Oregon, ensures that his camera is always at hand. Made from Horween Chromexcel leather and sailing cord, it attaches without metal hardware in order to protect your camera.
4) These cufflinks are a unique way for Dad to take his little one wherever he goes. Artist Jackie Kaufman of Rock My World Inc. from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, uses lost wax casting of fingerprint impressions to create a custom, one-of-a-kind pair from sterling silver.
5) It goes without saying that Dad will have many late night sessions with baby. This simple, yet clever stand by Tinkering Monkey of Oakland, California, means that Dad can free his arms for steady rocking and still catch up on the game (or more likely, watch Sprout).
For more gift ideas for his first Father’s Day, visit our New Dad Pinterest board.
Posted June 12, 2012
You may not believe it, but Dad has great style. It’s true. Just take a look through some old photos, and you’ll see what we’re talking about. He knows that the key to great style is all about details, quality, and confidence. Below are our picks for some of the finest American-made products around to help bring out some of Dad’s personal style:
1) A tie for Father’s Day may seem cliché, but Forage brings something fresh to the equation. Handcrafted in Brooklyn, New York, each necktie is available in limited quantities and has an inspirational saying hand sewn into it.
2) Put to rest any jokes about “Dad Jeans” with a pair of denim from Taylor Stitch. Handmade in San Francisco, California, these are clean, simple, and classic; in other words, they’re true “Man Jeans.”
3) This blue seersucker gingham shirt from Read’s Clothing Project is a classic look that supports a great cause. Not only is it made in the USA, the company donates a book to a child in need for each shirt sold.
4) Like Dad, this belt from Wood & Faulk only gets better with age. Crafted by hand in Portland, Oregon, from heavy vegetable-tanned hide, each belt is cut to size upon ordering.
5) Distinctly American, with roots back to 1863, The Frye Company has been making some of the best-looking, hardest-working shoes around. This Brogue Boot is proudly made in the USA and complements a variety of personal styles.
View our Dapper Dad Pinterest board for more inspiration to ensure Dad’s well turned out for any occasion.
Posted June 10, 2012
Adventure awaits! Whether Dad’s idea of relaxing outdoors involves hiking deep into the wilderness or simply pulling off at a roadside campground, it’s important to make sure he is properly equipped. Following are our picks for some of the best outdoor products made in America today:
1) Since 1964, Beckel Canvas of Portland, Oregon, has been making tents from the best water- and mildew-resistant canvas available. They look great, and they’re rugged enough for nearly any weather conditions.
2) A true American classic, the Mackinaw Cruiser from Filson of Seattle, Washington, was designed to protect timber cruisers in the woods. One of the thickest, heaviest, and best-looking coats around, this is a true barrier against whatever nature has in store.
3) Built by hand in Duluth, Minnesota, the original Duluth Pack was patented in 1882 and has been the go to bag for generations of wilderness wanderers. Incredibly durable, each bag is guaranteed for life.
4) Built around a Francis Barker survival compass, this handsome wooden compass is a collaboration between designer Joey Roth of Los Angeles, California, and Shwood from Portland, Oregon. Hurry though; the run is limited to 200 pieces.
5) Made from high carbon US steel and Appalachian hickory, the Hudson Bay Axe by Best Made Company is drop forged in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, by 4th generation axe makers.
Visit our Outdoor Dads Pinterest board for more ideas to unleash Dad’s inner Mountain Man.
Posted June 08, 2012
One of my favorite experiences in San Francisco is encountering old buildings that have somehow survived the twin destructive forces of earthquakes and urban planning. Navigating a narrow alley or cresting a fog shrouded hill and stumbling upon a squat, two story brick and mortar building can be a genuine thrill. Apart from Jackson Square, our city's surviving architectural legacy is brief.
Perhaps that longing is the reason I feel such a kinship with Portland and Seattle - cities of the same vintage as San Francisco whose pioneer landscapes were not undone by earthquake and fire. Well, not completely
undone. Brick still dominates their downtown neighborhoods, allowing for current tenants to restore or reclaim the past for contemporary use.
And to complete these renovation projects with some authentic style consider Schoolhouse Electric
as a resource. Founder Brian Flaherty got his start in real estate, selling historic properties. What he found lacking, though, was owners' attention to detail in their choice of lighting, or what he calls the "jewelry" of the project.
His research led him to a company in New York still holding on to the cast iron molds once used to produce glass light fixtures. Restoring those molds for new production and aligning himself with a collection of craftsmen making high quality, authentic pieces established the foundation of Schoolhouse Electric's business today.