First there was the Extreme Guitar Orchestra:
Then, the parade:
All TBAs should have a procession. Brilliant. My favorite part of the parade was how unannounced it was—it just consumed the city traffic in its path, enveloping unsuspecting drivers first with a hipster marching band, then with dancing people in circus outfits, then with a pack of civilians walking their bikes, then with a 50ish marching band playing Louie Louie and other hits, followed by another group of slightly older civilians walking Scottie dogs and singing along. At the end of all this was a mass of blocked bike commuters now walking their bikes and Subaru drivers looking totally mystified. With no police escort and no traffic blocks volunteers stepped into green lights and held up traffic—but the whole time there was only one honk in protest. So Portland. The parade grew by consuming the unsuspecting commuters—and they became a part of the celebration for that brief moment. My favorite scene is this: the #15 bus somehow managed to wedge itself n between the two marching bands, which seemed entirely fitting since the #15 is my favorite Portland bus route, and there it stayed crawling slowly along for five blocks until it could turn.
As the parade reached the Hawthorne Bridge the cops finally arrived to block traffic. In the few minutes I was standing there six different parties stopped me to ask what was going on. I asked several, “did you know about PICA before this?” and all answered no. “Will you go to any TBA events now?” I asked, and one woman emphatically smiled “yes!!” Another women said “oh darn, I thought it was political, I wanted to get in on it.”
“Well,” I said, “you could get in on some time based art!” to which she responded with a smile, “maybe I will!”
Then I hustled down to the waterfront for Float. It was getting dark, and I was downriver from the bridge, so I could hardly see the floating sculpture. “It looks like a water skater,” remarked a man with his wife and teenager. And indeed it did. A space water skater. I could see the mini fleet of colorful kayaks, but the silver float itself was difficult to discern against the water. “Do you think he’s gonna make it?” a 40ish woman asks, with some concern. And then we waited, and waited, and waited. Two men, apparently close to the artist or at least familiar with TBA began to get bored. “Have him set his hair on fire or something,” one remarked. “He did, it wasn’t enough!” the other cried. Finally, faintly, we could hear some indistinguishable words. A PNCA student remarked, “it’s what everyone’s been talking about…I guess I just expected it to be bigger, more fanfare.” At one point a small cruise ship approached dead-on at high speed, and there were gasps from the audience and what looked like some frantic interception paddling from the kayakers. Then the ship stopped, and slowly circled, like an interested dog. A full, orange moon rose over Mt. Tabor.
I proceeded to the bridge to hear what was emitting from the float. Twenty or so kayaks with headlamps tended to float, while faint poetry was spoken through four giant megaphones protruding from the top of the space capsule-like structure. “Shanghai’d loves lost at sea” I heard, then, “yo ho, hold me close.” This generated giggles from the crowd. Honestly, it was just too dark, and the bridge was too far away, for me to see or hear anything properly. I wanted to be one of the people in a kayak. “He’s reciting Walt Whitman” someone in the crowd remarked, though I couldn’t be sure.
Freelance writer, enthusiast