Old enough to remember Pac Man?

Ground Kontrol
216 S.W. 12th
(503) 796-9364
3409 S.E. Hawthorne
(503) 235-3729

Do you have a good place that you go to skip out on school? You’re in downtown Portland, you have a few hours before your next class, you’re five minutes late to your last one and, well, it’s a nice day for a walk. Where are you going to go that’s not going to cost you a fortune, that will let you be relieved of the stresses of exams and papers and nagging professors for a while, and that will even allow you to have some (gasp!) fun?

Fun doesn’t have to be a weekend thing you know.

When Betty Farrier and Kneel Cohn opened up Ground Kontrol, a retrocede, (a place full of the games you know from your childhood) that’s exactly what they were thinking. Ground Kontrol is a safe haven for those whose jobs at the bank and the postal service, and algebra classes, become too much for them. They want to explode both of boredom and stress from their horrible authoritarians, and want to crawl back into the womb from which they came.

“Some people just come in here and are so happy to see games from their childhood – from when they were carefree,” said Betty Farrier, co-owner of Ground Kontrol.

And that’s what it looked like when I was there. I saw a few kids in retro clothes just chilling at the Donkey Kong, Frogger and Ms. Pac Man games.

The building itself is a large, brick warehouse with a stage for performances, a snack bar (how cute it is) and around thirty old-school games. My favorite was the Charlie’s Angels pinball machine (next to the Rolling Stones one).

For those looking for the ultimate in retro games, Ground Kontrol buys and sells Atari equipment. They usually have whole sets, including games and controls. Farrier says that the Atari stuff goes fast and that they do a lot of trading.

As well as games, they sell CDs and movies. Anything from rare Pixies albums to Dennis the Menace.

Which brings me to a very good point: There are no violent games in this place. It’s all pretty much happiness. With the smell of Nag Champa in the air, and the sun pouring in from the street, this is not your usual arcade.

Farrier let me know that they are putting on a show on April 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. You have to fill out a personals ad for a local newspaper to get in for $4, and then you can play unlimited games. Sounds like a deal to me.

Not that their games are expensive. One quarter will get you playing any machine in there.

On newcomers (for those of you thinking about it), Farrier said, “Some people come in here, that haven’t played much before, and they think they won’t be able to play very long on a couple of bucks, but that’ll last you at least an hour.”

Seems worth it to me. For an hour I could walk over there, get a juice, relax in the laid-back environment, play some pinball and maybe buy a rare CD, all for just a few dollars. This is potentially my favorite new hangout. It beats staying here and waiting for class, listening to Daniel the preacher and thinking about homework.