My, what a weekend.
I suppose it all really started Thursday night with the Portland Prankster Ball, only to continue through Sunday at Knuckleheads’ weekend-long blues fest. It wasn’t all fun and games, though, in what was supposed to be a weekend filled with Foster pride, free spirits, good music, and community-driven events.
As the pranksters rolled into FoPo late Thursday, the Further bus in tow, many were excited about the prospects of a full-scale music festival and the positive impact it might have on surrounding businesses. By early Friday morning, as the scene evolved (devolved may be more accurate), that sentiment had disappeared. The music, which went until 4 a.m. Friday morning, kept many nearby residents up through the night, and came as a surprise to those who anticipated a much earlier finish. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Due to the scene that unfolded Thursday night and early Friday morning, Bar Carlo, for example, had no choice but to hire a door man to keep the crowds outside in check.
What they witnessed: public urination on the sidewalk and in Laurelwood Park; people using their tables outside to drink the six-packs they purchased at Plaid Pantry, and when asked to leave, being told “no” or to “fuck off;” Yakisoba noodles from a pop-up food cart spilled all over their sidewalk; and stolen pint glasses, as they were carried into the park or back toward the Bobwhite.
So why did Bar Carlo have to hire a door man to monitor this? Good question…that surely should have been provided by Nick Storie and the Bobwhite staff, right? Well, apparently they weren’t so responsive to community feedback, which flies in the face of everything we’ve been told about the Bobwhite’s resurrection. I mean, this was about building community, yeah? Unfortunately, that proved to be a farce this weekend, as the good music, festive mood, diverse following, and occupied theater turned into more of a headache and collective cringing. To be honest, the tents, painted travel vans, pranksters, campers, and general followers who descended on the neighborhood were quite fun to have around. And the Further bus was a sight to be seen, if not a taste of history that we were fortunate to experience. However, the lack of planning and oversight of this event left many questioning Nick Storie’s true commitment to the neighborhood.
Fortunately, that wasn’t enough to taint an otherwise wonderful weekend in the neighborhood. Knuckleheads grooved their way through the weekend with blues and booze, and mostly jovial bikers. And the constant roaring of motorcycles was a nice reminder of what character our neighborhood has. Sure, the throttling bikes sometimes annoy; and on bad days they keep us awake at night. But sometimes, that rumble is a bit refreshing…and a nice reminder that FoPo is still a little rough around the edges (sorry to those of you hoping for Hawthorne).
The real (yes, I’m gonna say it) magic, though, was Fun on Foster.
The yearly street fair finally managed to impress. Perhaps it was a long time coming, and the combining of Oktoberfest at the cart pod, blues fest at Knuckleheads, and an abundance of hippies, just managed to bring the energy to a peak on the right day and at the right time.
Ok, Foster as a whole wasn’t “poppin,” but there were certainly pockets. And to see that many people out and about was great. The vendors in Laurelwood Park were treated to a nice turnout of visitors, residents, and other colorful characters who awaited the next jam band at the Bobwhite. There was also good music, with a DJ in Laurelwood Park, several bands between Meticon and Torta-landia, and a beat-boxer who added a little flair to the corner of Holgate and Foster. Oh, and free ice cream courtesy of N.W.I.P.A..
And by day’s end, as the booths came down and vendors left, there were still remnants of a good time had. People were still out in full up and down Foster, whether reveling to the sounds of old school soul and R&B at the Eagle Eye; on the sidewalk soaking in the waning warm evenings at Gemini, Da Hui, O’Malley’s, or Slingshot; or simply beholding the spectacle of technicolor, bare feet, and poor hygiene.
And when Sunday rolled around, little remained beyond a few blues bands performing at Knuckleheads and the scraps left behind from those who made Foster their home for the night.