THE FIVE-YEAR MISSION has come to an end.
Since 2009, Trek in the Park has been featured on NPR and CBS, spawned imitations ("Outdoor Star Trek"—not as catchy, Seattle), and has developed into one of the most popular events on Portland's summer arts calendar. Every year, crowds of hundreds camp out for hours to see free, outdoor adaptations of classic Star Trek episodes.
Trek in the Park has always been slated to wrap up after five seasons—modeled after the five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise—and they're going out on one of the best-loved Star Trek episodes of all time: 1967's "The Trouble with Tribbles," which sees the Enterprise overrun with purring alien furballs. After two well-attended Tribble-making parties, which drew loyal Trek fans to the Jack London Bar's fuzz-covered basement, Trek production company Atomic Arts estimates they've got 1,400 Tribbles on hand for the show's final episode.
Trek in the Park may be ending, but Atomic Arts will continue to produce live theater in town. They're cagey about the details, but Atomic Arts co-artistic director Adam Rosko (AKA Captain Kirk) says "We plan to break away from other franchises and build one of our own design." ALISON HALLETT
Trek in the Park, Cathedral Park Amphitheatre under the St. Johns Bridge, Sat-Sun 5 pm, through Aug 25, FREE
THIS WEEKEND, Future Tense is staging a reading at Colonel Summers Park featuring three West Coast writers: LA's Amelia Gray, Seattle's Matthew Simmons, and our own James Gendron. Outdoor readings in public places are a blast—especially when they're free and feature great local talent like Gendron.
I recently picked up Gendron's Sexual Boats (Sex Boats) on a recommendation from a friend who gushed about Gendron's absurdity, sense of humor, strange excitement, and staying power.
Gendron's poems range from relatively grounded or even personal poems to airy absurdities; from poems that are basically the setup to a pun, to poems that are just the pun. Then there are the recurring poems all titled "Sex Boat," which are almost universally not directly about sex or boats.
My favorite section of the book is a series of ten poems called "French Cinema." Each poem is one line longer than the last, and describes a hypothetical French film, veering from obvious parody to strangely poignant and feasible concepts. In typical Gendron fashion, they feature a sort of calmly madcap wordplay—tricks of language that aren't even puns, just great new turns of phrase like "sighs thick with dogsmoke."
Gendron's mental language inhabits your own, because it's so close to the raw, naked, hilarious way thoughts arrive. This book is youthful—maybe even childish—in its curiosity, fascinated and amused by its own thought process and laughing at its own profundity. It's fun, but deep fun, and it's going to be a blast to hear Gendron read from it on a sunny summer night at the park. THOMAS ROSS
Future Tense authors read at Colonel Summers Park, SE 17th & Taylor, Sat Aug 3, 7 pm, FREE