On the northern most outskirts of Portland, looming ominously at the corner of N. Interstate and Denver, is truly one of our city's most intimidating and horrific sights. My heart still pounds at its mention, and the remembrance of that fateful night when I first gazed upon its ghoulish visage still gives me the vapors.
I was out for my evening constitutional, when I stumbled into its shadow--there, towering a full 30 feet above me was the largest and most misshapen statue of Paul Bunyan mine eyes had ever seen. Why his ax alone, held firmly in his mutton-like fists and nestled in his sizable crotch, was 15 feet tall if an inch. His ear was the size of an average 10-year-old, and his monobrow the length of a banquet table. But even more ghastly than his checkered shirt (apparently sewn from one thousand Italian restaurant table cloths) and his dead, uncaring eyes, were his teeth. Clenched in an untrustworthy smile, I easily envisioned him grinding those obscenely large molars back and forth on the screaming bodies of small children--and then using their leftover bones to clean the wax from his ear.
The image so frightened me, I was forced to dash across the street and inside the nearest possible refuge--an entertainment establishment called the "Dancin' Bare." I was immediately put at ease, because this drinkery was filled with frightened men just like me. Then, to further put my frazzled nerves at ease, a beautiful woman took to the stage and began to disrobe--using her nudity and the lure of $5 steaks to eventually soothe my rattled discomposure.
But even today, my mind hearkens back to the dreadful, gnashing bicuspids of Paul Bunyan, knowing full well I shall never again choose to gaze upon this overgrown ax-wielding monstrosity.
At least until November 15th, which is "Amateur Night" at the Dancin' Bear. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Paul Bunyan Statue, corner of N. Interstate and Denver. Dancin' Bear, 8440 N. Interstate, Steaks $5
It is the Devil's want that every person be separated from their Goodness. So he must invent new and beguiling ways of appealing to the dark side in everyone: as the lyrics in a rap song, the images in an MTV video, or the brilliant words in an alternative newspaper. His latest campaign of terror is pure genius in its subtlety: The Horned One has sent up from Hell a giant, metallic testicle in the form of public art, to tempt the sensibilities of young Portlanders. To some it looks like an upside-down orange squeezer--but be clear, though. It is nothing more than Beelzebub's way of luring young men into homosexuality and young women into prostitution. See for yourself this apple in Portland's garden of Eden, and watch as unsuspecting boys and girls stroke this sac of immorality in plain sight. But don't look too close! Hide your eyes! Or you too will be led down the wayward path! J.B. RABIN
Satan's Testicle, W. Burnside and 10th across the street from Powell's
THE SUBTERRANEAN CAVERNS OF THE PARKING GARAGE AT LLOYD CENTER
Descend into the stained, reeking bowels of the parking garage at Lloyd Center, and feel loneliness and paranoia blanket you in their cold embrace, crushing your shoulders even as they clench at your heart.
Oil-blackened concrete sprawls beneath your feet, deserted parking spaces stretch endlessly, lit only by flickering florescent tubes swinging from a claustrophobic ceiling crammed with filth-dripping pipes. Your only company is the echoes--echoes from above, which waver and slowly die in the thin, staid air. The gaping interior of the abandoned Newberry's department store is preserved behind its dusty picture windows: torn carpet, forsaken furniture, and peeling paint lie comatose behind dusty glass--a museum exhibit of commercial dystrophy and long-forgotten failure. A broken escalator stands behind a chain link, barbed wire fence, while Escher-esque stairs ascend to nowhere, jutting like spidery legs from the dark shadows.
Call out, if you must--but know that your voice will only be met by silence, ricocheting futilely until it dies, never reaching beyond this desolate, industrial tomb. And know, too, that even if your tired, pale form should ever chance upon escape, your soul will have been lost, strangled and suffocated by the very definition of modern dystopia. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Enter the Lloyd Center parking garage and descend ever lower and west; prime locations are Level 1, Aisles AA-NN, and Level 1A, Aisles KK-NN. Go at night.
IZZY'S DESSERT BAR OF DOOM
On the very outskirts of town lies a dwelling where human sacrifices are still being made. If you are brave enough to drive your Subaru Outback to the edge of Clackamas, you can bare witness to the cult that is methodically killing off innocent diners. They go by the name "Izzy's." Their poison: the self-serve dessert bar.
If you look closely at the "strawberry delight," as they call it, it appears as if someone from the cult has already eaten the strawberry delight, hoarked it up into a corning ware dish, and then topped his culinary experiment with whipped cream and sprinkles. It is their hope that an unsuspecting customer will forgo the chocolate pudding from the salad bar, load their plate up with this devilish delight, and so then gum their way to an early grave. And if their evil plan fails? That's when they bring out the fruit ambrosia. J.B. RABIN
Izzy's Restaurant, 8302 SE Bush
BUS MALL IN FRONT OF THE ROSELAND
There is a mysterious and unholy place in Old Town: "The Bus Mall in front of the Roseland." Like all traps of horror and mystery, it seems innocuous during daylight. There may be a few panhandlers, a shuffling vagabond from the Greyhound station, or a white kid wearing FUBU. But after the sun sets, the orange xenon lights flicker, and the bars begin to fill. In the next couple of hours, the cops in Old Town silently slip away from the scene. They are either too wise, or too superstitious to enter that area, choosing instead to abandon it for the Evil that awaits unwitting pedestrians.
Perhaps you decide to cut through the mall on your way back from First Thursday, going to the Shanghai Tunnel for a drink. Oh, you poor, stupid Art Whore. Because now you are face to face with an overweight woman, screaming at the top of her lungs in a language that she invented. Another woman with stringy blonde hair circles back and forth in a bloody wifebeater, even though it's 50 degrees out. And a group of men hang in the shadows of the bus shelter, watching you.
What are they doing? Scalping Ryan Adams tickets? Waiting for autographs from CKY? No! They're not even waiting for a bus! They just watch you! And you try not to watch them watching you as you scurry past, listening to the stupid kids behind you talking about how there wasn't any wine left at the Motel Gallery opening.
Maybe it's just me. Or maybe it's the horror of "The Bus Mall in Front of the Roseland Theater." MANU BERELLI
The Bus Mall in Front of the Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave.
THE PHANTOM CROSSWALK
Fantastically godless and peculiar locations abound in this bizarre world. But one location that is seldom mentioned, but could be the strangest of all, is an otherworldly visual vortex that exists right here in NE Portland.
It is here, where unwary pedestrians who travel within the ghostly white stripes of The Phantom Crosswalk, become mysteriously invisible to motorists, as they speed at a rate of 20-30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit (police cruisers included).
It's as if anyone trying to cross the un-signaled four lane rectangular vortex doesn't even exist! To all the driving world, these pedestrians are naught but a melancholic mist of fog.
But what the alien intersection lacks in traffic signals, it more than makes up with danger! Caught within the invisibility force field, face to face with the weighty steel of rush hour, even the most jaded pedestrian quickly turns from confident humming tenor to screeching castrato, in the time it takes to piss one's pants.
Crossing over takes on a whole new meaningÉ at Portland's Phantom Crosswalk! JOHN DOOLEY
NE Graham & MLK Blvd.
A FAST TRIP TO HELL
The Fast Trip on MLK is a place where you can purchase the cheapest gas in Northeast Portland--if you are willing to risk your life.
It used to be accompanied by a convenience store, where you could buy Sparxx and a lone cigar from a hoodied man encased in a cocoon of bulletproof glass. There was a slot at the bottom of his till; too small for the butt of a pistol, big enough to push money over to a robber. Now, the store has closed, an empty fishbowl floating in an island of Lincoln Continentals thirsty for quick fill-ups (cash only). It's better that way--getting out of your car to purchase a stick of gum would also mean thrusting your unprotected flesh into the unknown.
The police circle the Fast Trip like sharks--but not to "protect and serve." One gets the feeling they are waiting for a patron to make one vaguely wrong move so they can bare their teeth, point and shoot. It's a one-block radius of pure post-apocalypse, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, utterly lawless. But usually, it's a few pennies cheaper than the 76 Station across the way. JULIANNE SHEPHERD
Fast Trip Gas, 5829 NE Union
CITY LIQUIDATORS' INFERNO
God have mercy on all who dare enter the hellish maze of City Liquidators, where four levels of ascending agony and punishment await thee.
LEVEL 1, LIMBO: Here lie rows upon rows of household junk; castaway appliances, unsold kitchenware, and long out-of-season holiday paraphernalia. Pity the un-Christian soul banished to this eternal land, doomed to wander the aisles for all eternity, looking for something useful... and never finding it.
LEVEL 2, LUST: Ah, accursed shopper in yearning of something you do not need. Here shalt ye be sent, amongst never-ending piles of home furnishings, unending rivers of ornamental tables and cheap paintings. Always looking, never finding, perpetually plagued by the burning pull of knick-knackery.
LEVEL 3, GLUTTONY: Oh, greedy one! Prepare to be forever suffocated by your most hideous fantasy: CHAIRS AND TABLES!!! BWA HA HA HAAAA!! You wanted too much, and now you've got it: mounds and mounds of chairs and tables, extending beyond recognition into an impossible void. Here prowls Cerberus, the gruesome three-legged highchair, salivating and growling to tear the limbs from gluttonous sinners.
LEVEL 4, AVARICIOUSNESS & PRODIGY: Ah, yes... we've no idea what those words mean, but oh, intriguing is this level's sign marked "Employees Only." Oh, endless is its mystique, and yes, dirty was the look bestowed on us by the suspicion-filled cashier as we neared its creaky steps. Though our soul wasn't strong enough to brave the depths of Level Four that fateful day, we have no doubt of its creepy horrificness. After all, inside Level 4 is the employee break room; which is never a pretty sight. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS III
City Liquidators, 823 SE 3rd
THE PORTLAND MERCURY CONFERENCE ROOM OF HORRORS
As a sufferer of extreme claustrophobia, seasonal depression, attention deficit, and general anxiety disorder, about 25 seconds in the Mercury conference room sends me into a full blown sweating, stuttering, black-out panic attack. The tiny room is lit in such a morose, eye-straining way as to mimic the experience of solitary confinement, or more accurately, being buried alive.
Every minute amongst the heaving walls of this suffocating windowless closet seem like a hundred hours, and if a fellow employee is inconsiderate enough to make one of their long-winded jokes during a meeting, the sound echoes endlessly in my brain like a taped reading of Anna Karenina played on too slow a speed. Making it even more unbearable, every forced gathering I've attended in this eighth circle of hell is over-crowded and humid with human breath, giving me the feeling that if the fire alarm were to ring, I would surely be trampled to death in an attempt to escape. KATIE SHIMER
Portland Mercury Offices, 605 NE 21st
VIDEO BOOTH #3 AT MR. PEEPS
If there were a sanctuary for the perverse, where even the perverted fear to tread, Mr. Peeps would be it. And if there were an altar on which to pray to the Gods of Sickened Souls, that altar would be video booth #3.
The booth seems approachable at first. If no lecher is watching, it seems down-right natural to discreetly pay the six smackers (for an hour in the "Preview Mode"), swing open the door, and sit yourself right down for some UNHOLY DONKEY FUCKING. Or you can pick out a sorority girl video--if that's your thing, sicko.
It seems clean enough at first glance. No animal appendages. No used condoms sticking to the ceiling. But as your eyes become accustomed to the flicker of the video screen and the contrasting darkness, they begin to play tricks on you. What are those darker stains on the floor? Why do the controls seem so sticky? Why do I think I hear someone breathing heavily right outside the door?
As your mind races and images of 122nd gang rape enter your terrified brain, you instinctively go for the door--and it sticks. You're trapped. And you know for damn sure that those are in fact FUCKING CLAW MARKS ON THE DOOR JAM.
That's when you batter down the door, nod goodnight to the attendant, and run like your life depends on it for your car (which you wished you parked closer to the entry, instead of "discreetly" on the street). MANU BERELLI
Mr. Peeps, 709 S.E. 122nd
THE SCREAMING GRAIN SILOS
The monolithic gray structures that sit between the desolation of Interstate Blvd and the east bank of the murky Willamette are home to more than land use controversies. Late at night, as you pedal past, you can hear an unholy racket echoing within their chambers. Hundreds of birds come home to this vast, concrete perch, where they set about their midnight squabbles, planning their swarms and chaos for the new day.
So forceful and jarring is their shrieking and cawing, that it seems they must be large, and of great number. Perhaps the flying monkey soldiers, snatched out of a child's Wizard Of Oz nightmare, have staged a coup. They've stormed the grain silos as bunkers, or Official Guerilla Headquarters, to scheme and hack out logistics. (They've already established a vocal outpost at the Rose Quarter Transit Station.) But as you pass by, nervous from the dark, don't dare stop to investigate. MARJORIE SKINNER
West of Interstate, just north of the Broadway Bridge, and South of N Russell
THE PAPER-LESS PUBLIC BATHROOM
I had a quandary: Poop in my pants or sit on the anonymously pee-splattered toilet seat. I'd been jogging at the time, running along Fremont, when my need-to-poo hit like a thunder clap. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be in my own home; with the comfort of my toilet seat, my own toilet paper and without the grisly man at the sink basin washing himself like a feral cat.
But the man, grumbling to himself, was the least of my worries. Even the shadowy lighting didn't unnerve me. An instant death--someone slashing my throat; at least there was certainty in that.
But who knew what micro-organisms were swimming in the pee pools? If I sat down, what fungus would sprout like a forest on my thighs the next day? From the outside, the bathroom, a squat little bungalow, did not look intimidating. But sometimes the scariest things come in the smallest packages--like a viral infection!
I didn't even worry about what I would do once I finished pooping. With no toilet paper to wipe off the seat--not a single scrap in the whole claustrophobic building--my mind was racing for solutions and time was running out. Using the bottom of my shoe only smeared the pee around more.
Fear, I understand from my college psych classes, is only a manifestation of the unknown. But, trust me, it is impossible to rationalize pee from an unknown source--the pee I felt on the backs of my legs as I sat on the toilet.
Nothing grew on the bottom of my legs the next day, not even the slightest rash. But even so, to this day, the thought bumps around in my head: Is something incubating down there between my thighs? Something nasty and mean from the public bathroom at Irving Park? PHIL BUSSE
Irvington, NE Fremont and 7th
FOREVER 21: THE MALL'S ANSWER TO DORIAN GRAY
You can almost hear the screams of the little children, smell their flesh, their sweat on the clothes, the hangers, the window dressings. Each poly-cotton miniskirt and single-knit rayon tube top carries a weight about it, heavy with the genetic imprint of every tortured baby who dared stitch it together. Residue--that's what it is. The residue of a child's soul, mercilessly ripped away and reshaped into the cutest, most adorable, low-priced trends. Drawstring Capri pants--how cute. Just ignore the swath of skin, caught in the zipper from the baby who made it.
It's this residue--amplified by fattening fluorescent lighting and sickly, mad-eyed shoppers--that makes the Lloyd Center Mall's Forever 21 store feel like the Vortex of the universe, a chaos of consumerism hemmed in by the disorienting grid of sleeveless mesh T-shirts. Clothes strewn everywhere; teens whose freakish blue eyeshadow gazes, zombie-like, on monogrammed velour hoodies; and their mothers, hoping a reconstructed patch of lace will, indeed, render them Forever 21.
Mary Queen of Scots bathed in the blood of virgins to stay eternally young. At the Lloyd Center, we bathe in the sweat of foreign laborers, Americans immortal. Like Mary's virgins, we discard the clothes when we're through, brief flirtations with adorable dresses, grown tired of the pattern and hungering for the next. They are brainsÉ and we want more. JULIANNE SHEPHERD
Forever 21, Lloyd Center Mall
LADD'S ADDITION: THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE OF PORTLAND
An isolated neighborhood that errs from the grid, Ladd's Addition's tree-shaded lanes cross to form a cryptic design. Dennis, a soothsayer of eclectic wisdom who presided over the adjacent district's movie house, once gave me warning, as he hissed out a stream of tobacco smoke: "Never drive through there." His eyes crinkled in beady concern as he watched me get in the car. "Don't do it," he pressed. "The Addition forms a witches' hex when viewed from above."
His contention confirmed the sense of unease I'd experienced when wandering within Ladd's corridors and alleyways. Bicyclists refuse to signal there, roses never seem to perish, and inordinately proportioned housecats lurk on the edge of every window, creeping low across every lawn. They watch as bungling strangers become ridiculously disoriented and lost within the streets that jut off in every possible direction.
Hauntings are common in this patch of aging homes, clustered around an eerie, island garden patch. Men have lost their minds in this garden, claiming to be gods. And with my own eyes I've seen women, hysterical, leaping off their expensive porches into the thorns below. Heed Dennis; draw back. MARJORIE SKINNER
Ladd's Addition, SE Portland: South of Hawthorne, West of 20th, North of Division, and East of 12th
THE DEVIL'S COP SHOP
The ghastliest architectural face in Portland is grimly huddled at Southwest Second and Oak. However, this ink-black, pigeon-frosted, cement fortress is much more than your normal abandoned police station.
For decades, the cop shop at "Two and Oak" was known to shield one of the most corrupt police forces in the country. But that was years ago, and the graves of those dirty patrolmen are all but history.
The decrepit building may be a dark reminder of historical madness, but inside, while claims to its ownership rot away in court, a villainous, high-density population of disease sneezing rats have ripped up the floors and staked a claim. Portland's ravenous rat population enjoys stealth access via gaping plumbing pipes and Shanghai Tunnels, clawing out thousands of miles of intestinal subway, making the ex-cop shop (aka Rodent Penitentiary) an infectious Grand Central Station.
The very thought of entering and inhaling feted fecal compost, aerosolized by scampering barefoot vermin--heaving and humping in rapturous filth, is enough to rupture one's carotid artery from the inside, creating a huge blood filled neck membrane that explodes like a shotgunned goiter. Try to think of something else--while you still can. JOHN DOOLEY
Southwest Second Avenue and Oak