funnin’boutmofo: art, pinball & rogue

Still running around with my brother, sister-in-law, and cousin, trying to squeeze as much Portland as I can into their visit.

We started the day off at Voodoo Doughnut, where I picked up this little guy. I’ve eaten my share of vegan voodoos so I have a routine: I take out their little pretzel pin and eat from the bottom up so I get the oozy jelly “blood” right away.

voodoo bite

sad voodoo


He is none too happy about it. To be fair, he started out with this expression, so I think he had other stuff going on before I tore into him.


gallery shotNext we were off to some Old Town galleries. These places are great for finding newer artists, or just ones that aren’t putting the sort of price tags on their stuff that you’ll find a few blocks over in the Peal District.

ground_kontrol_pinballAnd no trip to Portland would be complete without some nerding out at Ground Kontrol. We were still on a sugar high from the doughnuts, so I couldn’t really indulge in a vegan hotdog and root beer float.

rogue_rosemary_bruschettaWhen we were ready for lunch, we stopped by Rogue Distillery & Public House, in the Pearl. I got rosemary bruschetta, just because I had never heard of it before—basil is just sort of a given, no? I thought it was on the plain side and the tomato pieces were too big to stay on my garlicky toast. But yeah, I liked the rosemary, and I’ll absolutely make my own version at home.

rogue_quinoa_black_bean_saladMy sister-in-law got the black bean & quinoa salad. So…corn & bean salsa on avocado on quinoa. I don’t know if that’s $9 cute, but she really liked it, so whatever. Win. And, um, everyone who ordered beer liked what they got, but I didn’t pay attention to the names or anything—sorry, not a beer girl!

tinymeat_vegan_walletOn to Alberta! The sky was feeling rather pregnant, so we knew our walking-around time was just about up. We ran up and down Alberta, checking out neat shops, buying artisan dog treats and such. I found this cool wallet in one of those art/toy gallery/stores. It’s by Tinymeat and it’s totally vegan. They do passport covers and zippered pouches and stuff. I’m kinda in love. I would have gotten this, but I’m still working on driving my much-loved Gama-Go wallet into the ground.

barista_coffeeAnd what would a day of walking through Portland be without a coffee stop? No photos of cool latte art here. Just give me a good strong cup o’ medium drip and I’m off.

And yes, we beat the storm by seven minutes.



Y’all remember my birthday, right? Not the super-happy-funtime cakefest it was supposed to be.

Luckily, I am my father’s daughter, and thanks to him I was raised with the concept of Birthday Week, or Birthnukah, as I’m calling it from this day forth. He felt that if you had a less-than-magical birthday, you were entitled to some makin’ up, and a week should cover it.

Genius, right? Well, I’m diving in and maybe taking a little more than a week.

It started the night of my birthday—I wanted to salvage something, to not let the day beat me. I made an appointment at Skeleton Key for my lucky 13 tattoo. Ximena, the owner, is the one who did our Vida Vegan beet tattoos, and she’s an absolute sweetheart. Her shop is full of fantastic artists, and if you’re looking for vegan ink, they’ve got it.

Saturday was a blankets and movies and card games and board games day. I’ve had a few of those now. If you just need some time to pass without you, I highly recommend it. I did finally get around to making my tiny birthday pies. It’s a prepared graham shell with three layers of awesome: a bottom layer of a Speculoos spread-based filling, chocolate pudding, and whipped coconut cream.

Sunday I was back in action. I ordered these new shoes (my third pair of Tigers in four years), and I booked a super-cheap trip to Vegas. It was 110 degrees, which is just as hot as it sounds, but whatever, I checked out for a minute and that’s what I needed. I do hate Vegas for all the reasons one would hate Vegas, but I also see its twisted value. I don’t gamble or anything, but I do love checking out what America has to offer in the way of day-drinkin’, elastic-waisted, budget-minded thrill-seekers. And I love me some eatin’ at The Wynn:

The star of The Wynn’s Terrace Point Cafe’s menu: Gardein chicken and scallion waffles, served with a spicy maple syrup. This place closes at 3:00 pm, so plan your day around it!

Cheeseless fired pizza from Monte Carlo’s Pub. Not much for vegans on this menu, but our server was great. She asked a lot of questions and saw to it we were fed.

The Wynn’s Red 8: veganized (from the vegetable menu) fried brown rice with lots of green vegetables. I could have gotten some Gardein thrown in if I’d asked.

Also from Terrace Point Cafe: meatless spaghetti bolognese…with garlic bread, which I still crave when it’s 110 outside.

Probably thanks to our summertime house guest, we’ve been going out to eat quite a bit. Veggie Grill, Homegrown Smoker, Vita Cafe, Sweet Hereafter, Portobello, yeah, the wallet’s been hemorrhaging a bit, but we figured that we spent so much on Mädchen’s vet bills over the last month we need to spend an equal amount on pleasure. Sounds crazy and dumb, right? I promise at some point I saw logic in it. I’ll eat legumes and grains for the next few months to make up for this indulgence, swear.

Remember, next time you’re handed a crappy birthday, demand your right to Birthnukah!

oh, the fashionable flashback of feathers

What, is it the 1890s again? Feathers are everywhere: dangling from ears, pinned to clothing, sewn in as trim, and stuck in as hair extensions. Yeah, it’s a pretty gross throwback.

Birds really don’t have the best of luck on this planet. At least the ones we either find to be pests (then we just poison them) or the ones we find useful for food, to fill our pillows and blankets and jackets, or to make us pretty.

A woman at my office tried to hand me a hook earring with a feather on it, saying she’d found it on the floor. I refused to touch it and she laughed. I explained, “Well, that part was in someone’s ear, and that part was in a bird.” She said she didn’t even think of that: “I guess I’ll go wash my hands.” Are people really not making the connection between feathers and the source? Do people assume they’re synthetic because, after all, it’s 2012, and didn’t the Audubon Society fight that fight years ago?

For those who do see the direct line between feather and bird, non-vegans can pretty easily rationalize that the birds are killed for food, so we might as well use every part (the leather excuse). However, at least from what I read here, this is not the case. The feather birds aren’t good eatin’ birds.

I tried searching for cruelty-free feathers and found a source that sounded very against the standard practices…but they’re still bird feathers plucked from birds. This company was just glad no birds were killed for their feathers…but they’re still bird feathers plucked from birds! The claim is that the plucking feels just like plucking a hair from your head…but why do you need to pluck bird feathers from birds?!

The next level of “cruelty-free” feathers led me to “vegan” feathers. What are they made of? It’s a keratin/synthetic hybrid. So where does keratin come from? Well, it’s a protein found in skin—know of a good vegan source of skin? Other materials used for faked feathers are silk and cheaper feathers tarted up to look like fancy feathers.

My strategy, rather than look for fakes, is to avoid the aesthetic, just not play the game and risk not looking as cute. If there were (maybe are—I just couldn’t find any) genuinely vegan feathers out there, how widespread would their use be? Would the addition of vegan feathers (I’m sure not marketed as such, except in very few cases) fan the flames of fashion, causing every tween out there to neeeeeeeeeeed that feather clip for her hair?

I don’t have any answers. This has just been bottling up in me for a while and I had to get it out. I guess if I ever really need to feel fancy, Manic Panic has these feather-free boas that don’t really look like feathers. I could rock that.

xanadu or bust

I am a child of the 70s. If nothing else, that means I wish I could wear roller skates all the time. Sadly, I left my skates behind when we moved from New York—five years ago. Enough is enough, I want new skates!

But if you thought nonleather shoes were tough to find, try skates. There’s a good handful out there, but I’m no pro. I’m not spending $400 on no wheelie shoes. The idea of spending $100 on these Riedell R3s hurts, but I fear the bullet must be bit. (Or I can hope Mom checks out my Amazon wishlist in a particularly generous mood.)

And no, these aren’t the retro boot style that beg for pom-poms on the toes, but until I start designing and manufacturing vegan skates, I gotta take what I can get. And the reviews are pretty damn good so I’ve got high hopes. I just broke out in a sweet little grin imagining myself gliding through Portland with the wind in my pigtails and KC and the Sunshine Band in my heart.


I’ve been noticing little bits and pieces online about fur. It’s popping back up in fashion, it’s being labeled eco-friendly, and it’s looked upon in a nostalgic light, part of the back-to-basics, what-would-grandma-do way. F that S.

Even back when wee Michele was eating Happy Meals, I knew fur was gross and wrong. My mother drilled that into my head. Faux wasn’t really an option then, so when someone looked like they were wearing fur, they were. So I grew up confidently sneering left and right. I can picture myself at 12 or 13, doing my girls-day-out X-mas shopping on State Street, purposely not wearing sunglasses so evil bitches could get the full force of my laser-eye stare of disapproval.

Today it’s not so easy. I saw a woman at the grocery store in a big ol’ fur (maybe). As my sneer reflex began to kick in, I pulled back, thinking, “This is Portland. It’s 2009. There’s no way that’s real.” Maybe I was wrong, but I couldn’t be sure. I changed my expression to one of concern. Just in case.

The faux furs today are so advanced that you can look and feel just as creepy without the slaughter. What bothers me about the faux furs is the aesthetic. You’re still saying there’s something desirable about animal fur. As a matter of disclosure, I do have a faux fur coat—but it’s a bright Merlot, more like wearing a shag carpet. Unless I find myself in some Jim Henson-inspired alternate universe there’s no danger of being associated with actual fur.

Anyway, the aesthetic opens the door for those working the greenwashing angle. True, vintage furs aren’t hurting any new animals. True, most faux furs are made of plastic. But also true is that it takes resources to raise animals and chemicals and energy to turn that animal skin into fashionable clothing and accessories. And much like the factory-farm opponent who knows that guy who raises his own chickens and whatnot, you’ll hear about the culling of the New Zealand possum or whatever, but how much of the fur today comes from those isolated cases?

I’m not saying I think you’re evil for wearing your grandmother’s fur coat or keeping your hands warm in the faux muff that’s so soft it feels like you’re petting your kitty all day. What do I know anyway? I was just thinking out loud.