It’s 8:00 AM and I’m hanging out in the lobby of The Ace Hotel trying to look cool like all the other kids. Of course, when I finally find the time on my trip to look hip and disaffected, there are no kids in the lobby. The comfy couches surrounding the lobby’s massive metal and wood table are populated by middle-aged people sipping Stumptown coffee, checking email, and flipping through the pages of The Oregonian. I guess the hotel’s younger clientele are still snug in their beds, letting their livers metabolize the Portland microbrews they noisily imbibed below my bedroom window last night.

The morning sky outside the plate glass windows looks grey and heavy. Portland hasn’t disappointed in the precipitation department. During my first day here I thought I was trapped in an early Gus Van Sant movie. They even filmed parts of Drugstore Cowboy in  my hotel. (I’m convinced I’ve got Matt Dillon’s old room.) But last night was dry and cold and I wandered the streets of Portland until I found Voodoo Donuts over on SW 3rd Street. Let me tell you, they bake some tasty doughnuts over there. I bought two Portland Cremes for myself and a “Voodoo Dozen” as a tip for the Ace staff. (I’ll bet they’ve never been tipped in empty carbohydrates and glucose before.) I was thinking about ordering a “Dirty Snowball” doughnut for myself but my brain free associated to something disgusting I once saw on Urban Dictionary so I took a pass.

I sip some Cafe Americano to wash down the second Portland Creme I saved as an early morning sugar bomb. The morning jolt of caffeine I purchased at Stumptown’s very good. Then again, coffee’s a religion in this town. Even the bad coffee’s good. I even tried an $8 cup of vacuum brewed coffee over at Barista on NW 13th. Two parts Japanese tea ceremony and one part freebasing ritual, the very knowledgeable barista took me through the entire vacuum brew experience and gave me one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. But I’ll admit to being a tad intimidated by the ferocity of the barista’s caffeinated passion. I had the sneaking suspicion that if I put sugar or cream in my brew she’d leap across the counter and decapitate me with a samurai sword. Don’t get me wrong, all the workers were nice, friendly people – but SERIOUS about their coffee.

I rub my temples. I was out drinking Irish whisky with a very cool tattoo artist yesterday afternoon. I don’t have a hangover but I’m feeling a bit sluggish. I’ll get a second cup of java to facilitate my morning resurrection at my next destination – a coffee shop across the Willamette.  I’m continuing  my training in the Jedi coffee arts by learning the barista ropes at an excellent independent shop. I just hope I don’t piss off the fast moving veterans with my ineptitude. I’ve learned to pull shots but my frothing milk skills are weak. For the first time in a long time I’ve felt that “new guy in the weeds” feeling I had as a baby waiter. That’s good. I need a kick in the ass!

Okay. I’ve got to run. The kids are waking up and I’m running out of space on the couch. I leave for Jersey tommorow so I want to soak up as much of Portland as I can. Later.

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