Bukowski said something along the lines of, “Never get out of bed before noon.“ As a writer, I don’t know if that was his secret or his excuse. Regardless, I woke up at one, filled my flask, grabbed a friend’s camera, gobbled a handful of fungus, and went to the 15th Annual Mississippi Street Fair.
Portland, Oregon, in the summertime, is host to an array of cover-free, fun, outdoor festivals and street fairs. At this fair in particular, a massive stretch of the busiest part of Mississippi Ave and the surrounding neighborhood streets shut down, and art vendors, live music, and people take over. Entering the madness, coming from the North Prospect Max Stop, I’m greeted by the Prost Stage and music as chill as the wind that threatened of rain.
I saw fair-goers of all ages and sizes lined up in front of the Nectar booth, waiting to spin a prize wheel and grab free canna-swag. It was the first and longest line I saw all day – so, take note America, something about this legal weed is working. Strolling through the local vendors is nice; but, to be honest, my mind and the few dollars in my pocket aren’t much into the merchandised scene.
My first drink came at The Q Center. They were celebrating in style with a LGBTQ friendly/aligned beer and wine garden. A dedicated employee with carnival-barker salesmanship lured me through their “rainbow portal.” I happily bought a $5 Montucky Cold Snack, knowing that the beer was likely donated, but all five of those dollars were going directly to The Q Center’s important cause.
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Avoiding the crowd in the street, I cut over the sidewalk, and made it to Bar Bar to catch Boone Howard. There may as well have been blood left on that stage with the way the wild man and his band killed it. If there’s something to climb up or destroy on stage, Boone’s already up there or smashed that.
I ducked down a side street with one of my favorite peeps to suck down a spliff, while sounds of soul music trickled around the corner. It was the Norman Sylvester Band playing a Mississippi Street Fair standard, teaching the crowd how to hand jive. Older folks were getting down as the kids messed around with Jenga blocks.
Mississippi Pizza offered calm, quiet relief; a cool spot away from the sun to grab a slice and a pint. Inside was air-conditioned and surprisingly low key despite all the kids, while outside was sheer madness with the masses of people frenzying about. Music started up just as I finished my food and the tiny people began dancing. While the street fair has plenty of fun for the full-sized humans, I think it’s the youngsters that won the day. Free hair coloring and face paint, sidewalk chalk and bubbles everywhere.
I did a bit of DDP Yoga in the middle of Mississippi Street with my friend Scott, who was rocking his infamous dalmatian onesie. Our good vibes caught the eye of Sara Underwood, and the playmate of the year shared a shot of Scotty-Dalmatian and I on her Snapchat.
On my way out I passed by Prost again, and Tiburones thanked us for coming out, especially in these globally trying times. Then the group’s front woman Luz Elena Mendoza intimately sang to us about “It’s better to be a leader than a liar,” leaving me with a sense of gratitude.
While our world is in turmoil, I am thankful for Portland and experiences like the Mississippi Street Fair, where everyone can come together in celebration of humans and the universal coalescence of creativity; the sunshine and daytime intoxication. Maybe music and recreation are all the medicine this world needs.
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