22 April 2009

SE 82nd And Washington, Tuesday, 8 PM

2040.The sign of the Chinese Village restaurant, SE 82nd and Washington, doesn't get any respect in any classic neon inventories of the Portland area. But that doesn't mean it's just as charming:

If you'll remember the timeless quality of that sunset on Tuesday evening, I'm sure you'lll agree. It seemed to go on forever. If you don't agree with me ... well, why you got to be so mean?

The sign top along 82nd by many of the signs reads 82nd Avenue of Roses:

It's a bid to raise the profile of 82nd Avenue which, by many accounts, might pass as distressed. It doesn't bother me much. You see a different level of life on 82nd Avenue and it looks a little threadbare in places, but, judging by the ruin latterly practiced in Portland under the rubric of "urban renewal", maybe it's better off the way it is.

There are lovely places alone 82nd; there are shabby places along 82nd. Sure it would be nice ever everything were lovely and dear and pleasing, but life isn't that way: there are sweet spots and ugly spots. Why are we afraid that the world around us reflect the life that we live?

Sure there are things about 82nd Avenue that need attention; the prostitution traffic along that arterial comes to mind. But for every shabby car lot there's a rehabilitated restaurant; for every tired-looking Safeway store there's a pleasant view of Mount Tabor.

But then, I've always looked up at life from lower levels. Maybe that's why it does't faze me too much.

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John D said...

Chinese Village is a very special place. It was my first Portland Chinese take-out, and their generous happy hour got me through a few dreary winters of living in and working in and hardly ever leaving Montavilla.
I even got my first case of food poisoning there. Free happy hour buffet was free for a reason...

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

I remember eating there a long time ago and me and my wife found the food (I'd of hesitated to call it "cuisine") was depressing. Tasty enough to not be a total waste of time, but not worth the price.

But that was years ago. Charmed by the old neon I mentioned to my wife that we should try it again sometimes and she seemed to agree.

Our current favorite Chinese dive is Rainbow Dragon at SE 130th and Stark. It's an old seafood restaurant and bar where the proprietors just moved in and started selling Chinese food, how long ago I don't know, but they never changed the decor or the sign out front. The big fibreglas game fish over the kitchen passthrough is still there, and the ships-wheel chandeliers are still up. The dining room seems to slope down toward the parking lot.

But the food ... ahh. I've never had a complaint from that place. When I ask for extra-spicy General Tso Chicken, they don't fool aroud. The fried noodles are without peer, and if you want value, go over there during lunch hour. The lunch specials are reasonably-priced and in gluttonous proportion.

Dale said...

I like everything about this post -- calling out an underappreciated neon sign on an underappreciated, overly-notorious Portland avenue.

Coming, as I did, from a small and monotonously perpendicular grid town in a state starting with O, 82nd was a godsend of what I considered Orderliness upon arriving in sunny Oregon over 20 years ago. It made sense. It was grounded and real and comfortable and predictable, even if unsightly in spots -- almost like family. At one end lay The Mall (Clackamas Town Center); at the other end lay the airport. Inbetween could be found everything I needed.

And that's still true today!

While issuing snark about 82nd is very Portland, to truly hate/fear 82nd is to hate/fear Portland. You might as well be one of those Oregonians who can't stand the rain!

Exactly as you say, it's beautiful and terrible, just like life itself. May it never change.


Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Thank you, Dale. I had no idea that my observation would find such resonance – that's very gratifying.

I wanted to add something to your comment, but I really can't. It's very apt and poetic in its way.

Let's just say that you "get" it.