Killing time in Portland

By 5:30 the murder had begun. It was clearly going to be one of those brutal affairs, born of a bad idea and worst intentions. Looking out the windows of the Portland City Grill, my accomplice – let’s call him "Leaf" – and I sipped whiskey. Outside, the city disappeared into fog and darkness. Our victim, one November Monday, squirmed in discomfort.

It could be said that we were misguided. Sure, it’s easy to kill an hour or two. But to bring down an entire day? I felt we were up to the challenge. We had everything we needed: cash, cigarettes and motive. Abject boredom had turned Monday into an enemy. Now it had to die.

There is no better place to begin an act of temporal homicide than the Portland City Grill (111 S.W. Fifth Ave.). The happy hour menu is as good as the view from the 39th floor of the "Big Pink," where it’s located. Over a dozen menu items under $5 offer a classy take on east-meets-west fusion cuisine. However, mixed drinks are pricey, so we stuck with whiskey.

Leaf and I ate a large spread. As I tore into a perfectly medium rare and superbly basic burger, he tackled his sushi from across the table, making low noises of enjoyment. Our actions seemed to say, "Nothing to see here. Carry on." Meanwhile, we were gleefully poisoning the night.

Portland City Grill is an upscale joint. There is a dress code posted at the entrance and free toiletries in the bathroom. It is best, when sneaking up on your victim, if you do not look or smell like a dangerous character. That will come later. Splash a little "eau du lilac" on your face, spray a touch of deodorant on the pits and run a smidgen of hair spray through the locks. You’ll barely be recognizable. Besides, it’s complimentary.

Thirty-nine floors is one hell of a fall. But, that’s the point, right? If you were to defenestrate someone from a west-facing window of the "Big Pink" they would tumble for roughly three seconds before hitting the pavement, not a block from Mary’s Club (129 S.W. Broadway). This is exactly what Leaf and I had planned for Monday.

Moving from the Portland City Grill to Mary’s Club can be a particularly jarring experience. One is all piano music and women in business suits, the other is all booty rap and women in nothing at all. This was Leaf’s first experience in a strip club. While one of the best ways to kill a day is to do something entirely new, this was closer to brutality. As I attempted to teach the young man the finer points of strip club etiquette, we found ourselves embroiled in a discussion about feminist social theory. This was not good. It was as if Monday had jumped up from its perch 39 stories up, and started tap dancing.

Needing to regroup and get back to killer mode, we hustled to Ground Kontrol (511 N.W. Couch St.), a video arcade in China Town with both classic and modern games. We propped ourselves in front of "Area 51," a particularly violent shooting game. With guns in hand, the killer instinct returned. We blasted our way through several levels, seething with bloodlust. Each villain, exploding in a spray of guts on the screen, was another little minute oozing from the wounded body of Monday night. Who’s tap-dancing now?

Feeling back on top, it was time to have another drink. We walked to Hung Far Low (112 N.W. Fourth Ave.), one of the darkest bars in Portland. We ascended the long flight of stairs and entered the bar. After ordering drinks I noticed that a "lite-rock" radio station was being pumped into the bar. As we listened, DJ Delilah sloughed through a series of requests, producing a sickening series of Brian Adams and Celine Dion songs. Monday had found us and was lashing out with all its horrific might.

Departing quickly, we headed for the Magic Garden (217 N.W. Fourth Ave), regarded by many as one of the best strip clubs in the greater metropolitan region. Drunk enough to have shrugged off a good portion of our feminist restraint, we were ready to take another stab.

Turns out that the Magic Garden was just what we needed. The dancers were lovely and their sets included songs from Cat Power, Radiohead and PJ Harvey. There is nothing more effective for bludgeoning Monday night into the dust than watching a woman, dressed like a librarian, taking off her clothes to "Girl from Ipanema."

With Monday now limping for the exit, we decided to finish it off at Dante’s (1 S.W Third Ave) with Karaoke from Hell. This live Karaoke band can play over 100 rock and soul tunes, at least one of which you will know half of the lyrics to. The other half you can read from the lyric sheet that is handed to you when you step on stage.

Having lost a round of rock-paper-scissors, I signed up to sing, "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by the Clash and spent the next 45 minutes in a panic. I assume this is the emotional state one ascends to just before doing a victim in. My fellow karaoke participants were great performers and had obviously been practicing their sneers.

When my time came, I belted my way through the song. Seemingly possessed by the Blues Brothers, I jogged in place as I sang the chorus. I can’t say that the crowd was particularly enthusiastic about my performance, but upon leaving the stage, Leaf announced with glee that Monday was officially dead. I had sung it to the edge of its grave and he had pushed it in by getting the number of an attractive young lady.

With our dirty deed done, we needed an Alibi.

We flagged a get-away car in the form of a Radio Cab, neither one of us being stupid enough to want to taint our night’s achievement by getting arrested or actually killing someone by driving drunk.

We were dropped off at the tiki bar Alibi Lounge (4024 N. Interstate Ave.) somewhere around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. We ordered several drinks and sang some karaoke. Although I felt Leaf’s selection of "Dock of the Bay" might have been a bit too confessional, we managed to convince even ourselves that we had been at the Alibi the whole time, not even noticing Monday’s passing. Something about booze, kitsch, fishing nets and fake palm trees makes selective amnesia so easy. Eventually Leaf and I were ushered from the warmth of the Alibi into a very early and bitter Tuesday morning, both of us drunk as hell and guilty as sin.

Here is a tip and a warning. If you kill a day in this manner, be prepared to pay the price, because the next day will track you down and kick your ass. As it turned out, Leaf and I had to walk about two miles to find a payphone from which we could call another cab. Concealed in a cover of fog, we skulked away like remorseless fugitives.