Portland Through the Eyes of a Tourist

by Steve, July 22nd, 2007

I don’t know why, but it’s been a Portland tourist weekend. Today we took the MAX down to PGE Park to catch a Beavers game. In the second inning, here comes a foul ball right toward me. I had just told my kids how funny it is to see grown men fighting over foul balls. Now here comes one right at me. I put my beer down. I stand up. Sweet Jesus, it’s coming right at me. Kinda low. But right at me. The wife, she’s down talking to somebody, which is good, I think, because she’s always concerned about errant pucks and balls at sporting events. So I’m thinking all this and here comes this ball. I should mention that when I’ve played ball, it’s always been infield. I have a real hard time judging fly balls and getting under them. Yeah. So here it comes, kinda low, and whack! Right in the groin, mere millimeters from the family jewels. The crowd goes “Oooh!” I say “I’m all right!” ButI didn’t come up with the ball (a kid in the row ahead of us got it, which is cool).

Then the guy two rows ahead points out that my beer spilled. D’oh! There goes $6.50 worth of cheap American beer spilling down the bleachers. I’d only had a couple sips.

Yesterday. I took the kids on a tour of Portland’s quasi-transportation toys, the Aerial Tram via the Portland Streetcar. The Aerial Tram connects two disparate parts of the Oregon Health & Science University. It’s got a vertical rise of 500 feet and takes about five minutes to ride. It’s kind of a joke, really. It was built with a big chunk of Portland tax money, came in grossly over-budget, and its promises of privacy to neighbors in the Lair Hill Neighborhood were shamelessly broken. The view is best from the top anyway, so save your four bucks and drive to the top and have a look. The streetcar, which operates at an average speed just slower than an 80-year-old granny out for a constitutional, is also a joke. It’s not a transportation system, it’s a tool to spur condo development (like those bastards need any more subsidies from Joe Sixpack). I’ll change my tune it they ever run it to the East side like they keep talking about, but honestly. Not so good. Thanks to Vera Katz and her erstwhile protege and would-be Mayor Sam “the Tram” Adams for all the shiny toys.

But the kids had fun, and that’s all that matters. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Portland Aerial Tram

3 Responses to “Portland Through the Eyes of a Tourist”

  1. Comment from Craig:

    I notice no rants about the highly subsidized PGE park. Talk about a toy. Both the Tram and Streetcar have high ridership lead to more investment in the innercity, and add options for those that choose or can’t drive. Other then allowing guys like you to yell and scream at kids in pajama’s what exactly is the benifit of the huge subsidized ball park?

  2. Comment from Himself:

    It was just a rant, Craig. The tram and streetcar giveaways are fresher in my mind. And they’re going to continue costing us millions of tax-payer dollars to operate. (I opposed the PGE Park subsidy at the time, for what it’s worth. Anyway, do you know what the annual operational subsidy for PGE Park is? How about for the streetcar and tram?)

    The central business core and the condo bunkers surrounding it are not what most people would consider inner city. Infrastructure subsidies for million dollar condos are not “investment in the innercity (sic)”.

    As for non-driving options, we have a highly acclaimed bus system that is more flexible, cheaper to expand, cheaper to operate and makes better time across town.

    If we were serious about streetcars as transportation, we would start by replacing heavily used bus lines coming into the city center from residential neighborhoods in North, Northeast and Southeast. Do this, and you’ll have my support. Keep it limited to a snail’s-pace loop between upper-crust condo bunkers, and I’ll keep complaining.

    Now listen, I still haven’t published a comments policy, but I shouldn’t have to tell anybody a couple basics are to be civil and factual.

    Guys like me screaming and yelling? I’ll admit I holler at hockey games. But baseball? Meh. More like polite applause.

    Kids in pajamas? You mean the ball players? Because my kids were both (for once) not wearing any articles of pajamas in public. And I don’t think I yelled at them, even when my beer spilled. D’oh!

  3. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    I bitch about public transportation a whole lot, but I sure wouldn’t do without it. Even though it’s stinky.