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  Field Notes From
ZipUSA: 97210

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ZipUSA: 97210 On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Kevin Krajick

ZipUSA: 97210 On Assignment

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From Photographer

Maria Stenzel

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Ruby Krajick (top) and Maria Stenzel


ZipUSA: 97210

Field Notes From Author
Kevin Krajick

Best Worst Quirkiest
    There's a huge variety of indigenous Oregon food, and Portlanders have a great appreciation for it. So did I. There is wonderful wine, seafood of all kinds, wild mushrooms, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, including asparagus. One evening photographer Maria Stenzel and I went out to dinner at a little sidewalk café. While she took pictures, I sat outside eating, admiring the beautiful light inside the restaurant, and enjoying the people on the other side of the window as they ate and smiled back at us. I was being served oysters on the half shell and wine and thinking, Holy cow! I can't believe I get paid for being here.

    A few restaurants pretend they're from somewhere else, like the make-believe New York deli on 23rd Avenue. I'm a New Yorker, so they can't fool me. Part of the act is that the waiters are extremely rude, like the stereotypical New York waiter is supposed to be. They yell at the customers. Then the manager makes them come back and apologize. It was like a bad stage show. But New York waiters are actually very polite. And our pastrami is a whole lot better.

    Chapman Elementary School has a huge brick chimney that is the world's largest migratory gallery for Vaux's swifts. A lot of them live in Forest Park during warm months, but just before the fall migration about 40,000 of them roost inside the chimney.
    At the same time each night, around dusk, they swirl down like a tornado, and hundreds of people sit on the school lawn to watch. It's like gathering for Fourth of July fireworks. Sometimes hawks come and pick the swifts out in midair—nature red in tooth and claw, right before your eyes. In past years the pupils were afraid that turning on the heating system would hurt the birds, so they voted to keep it off and just wear sweaters to school until the swifts were gone. With help from the local Audubon club, the school has since installed a new heating system that bypasses the roosting chimney altogether, so now the birds have it all to themselves.

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