a...and, I'm not even going to ask permissions! Cause biking is so much better in Portland, than Seattle...
Dear Mom: What if the wheeled conflict in Portland were to roll over the edge?
Monday, July 28, 2008
(Portland, Day 12)
We are really enjoying our new city. Portland has so many exciting entertainment options, as well as recreation opportunities. Just a few minutes' drive from downtown and we're out in the country, visiting wine country or buying organic produce. We can go river rafting or just hike and see some of the many picturesque waterfalls. Lots of people ride their bikes to work here: The city has a great admixture of funky and business cultures, artsy but bullish as well. It's like this great experiment where cultures respect and don't try to lecture one another. I hope you and Dad will visit soon.
(Portland, Day 17) Dear Mom,
I went shopping for a futon in the Hawthorne District yesterday. While I was parking I nearly clipped a bicyclist (he came out of nowhere!) but I apologized and he was not hurt. We are really looking forward to your visit! Love to Dad.
(Portland, Day 26) Dear Mom,
I was heading down to Sellwood when an altercation between a group of bike riders and a driver of a minivan escalated from a shouting match into fisticuffs. The driver yelled at the riders when a couple of them ran a red light, and the riders yelled at the driver that he had driven way past the limit line at the stoplight. A crowd gathered and a couple of punches were thrown. Police arrived quickly, and everyone seemed to be apologizing to one another. I really love Portland! People can have disagreements, but they still respect one another. Hi to Dad.
(Portland, Day 42) Dear Mom,
You probably saw in the news some of the footage of the latest fracas, this time in Northeast. Just to set the record straight (as usual, the media blew it all out of proportion), only a few of the participants in the so-called "melee" took chain saws to the bikes, and it was a smaller number of bicyclists who firebombed the car dealership. The number of injured was also inflated. Most of the ill feelings were patched up with handshakes and a couple of microbrewskis. I received a small cut over my eyebrow (nothing, really) and am now torn between riding my bike more often or driving the SUV into a bike shop window. I hate to pick sides!
(Portland, Day 67) Dear Mom,
The streets are a little quieter now that the militia has shown up. Since the local Reserves are stretched a bit thin, we had to deal with Canadian Royal Mounties, and they're very polite when not busting up protests. I joined the Rider Resistance (don't tell Dad), and we have been taunting traffic across the Willamette (quite successfully, if I do say so myself). The loss of the Sellwood Bridge was a shame, though. We hadn't foreseen just how creaky it was when we set the charges. Oh, well. Live and learn. Not helping matters is the news that a local auto club has been promoting "combat driver" discounts for its members.
P.S. Don't believe the numbers being reported about casualties. It's all hype, meant to destroy our morale. That being said, please postpone your visit here, at the very least until the Security Corridor Commission has relaxed the requirements concerning travel documents.
(Portland, Day 143) Dear Mom,
Talks have broken down between the Riders and the Drivers. Our provisional government is barely operating. Much of the city is smoldering, and with all but two of the bridges down we are (once again) at an impasse. We had hoped to handle this more diplomatically, but they have the heavier machines. We Riders are kind of like Sir Francis Drake's smaller fighter ships running circles around the Spanish Armada. Except they have assault weapons. Also, bad feelings were engendered when the Drivers built a "Brown Zone" on Belmont, just to mock us. We in turn have brought all commerce to a standstill (except Powell's -- oh, to read again!).
We heard that President Bush has decided to respond to the situation here by declaring global warming a fraud. Hugs to Dad.
(Portland, Day 212) Dear Mom,
This will probably be my last letter from what's left of the city of Portland. We destroyed the last of the auto dealerships on 82nd and that's stoked the fires considerably. Though the slaughter on Division Street brought us some sympathetic coverage (mostly from Europe) we're losing members right and left (who would have thought that the city fathers of Bend would provide sanctuary?). Later today I'm going for a ride up to Vancouver. If they let me through the checkpoint, I just might go on to Seattle. Rumor has it they're sympathetic to our struggle. Of course, I will endeavor to be courteous to the drivers up there. After all, politeness counts!
Much love to all!
Frank Armstrong lives in Southwest Portland.