1. All the Mainers here
If you’re a born-and-raised Maine kid like me, you’ve probably found that Maine is an incredibly difficult place to ditch. You’ve most likely spent time shuffling through our state’s assortment of “things”: You’ve done the “Bar Harbor thing.” You’ve done the “working as a raft guide up at the Forks thing.” You’ve done the “living above your Mom’s garage and hanging out with the group of three random kids from high school who are still here thing.”
Now you’ve completed your stint at the “Portland thing.”
2. Mediocre street performers
The guy in the L.L. Bean barn jacket who robotically shakes a Bible at you outside of Planned Parenthood every Friday. Plus the guy who sits behind him with a sign that reads: “Shut up!” (Bless his heart.)
The breakdancers who kill it to Prince outside of MECA every First Friday, usually shirtless no matter the season. (Sexy. Don’t ever stop.)
All the “fire breathers” down at Tommy’s Park kind-of twirling batons around but mostly just sitting cross-legged on the ground comparing face tattoos.
That huge steel-drum band that congregates on a random side street, blocks your car in, and forces you to listen to steel-drum music on a random Tuesday.
3. Parking bans
A parking ban is when everyone in the entire city of Portland has to move their car out of the downtown area and into tiny-as-fuck designated parking lots scattered around, miles away from anywhere you would possibly want to be (e.g., way, way down on Commercial Street next to a dark lumberyard).
These are great because 1) gunning into the last spot at some random daycare center in the West End fuels your competitive side. And 2) the entire city basically throws up its arms and decides to completely shut down. So everyone can congregate at Geno’s, drink snakebites, and discuss the outcome of The Wire again. And 3) you have to retrieve your car by 7am the next morning. So way before sunrise, the streets fill with snowsuited-up zombies carrying shovels.
It’s a community experience.
4. Portland’s singular strip club
PT’s-way-out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-fucking-Showclub. PT, who are you and when will you bring topless females to actual downtown Portland? Why must we drive all the way out to big-box-store and one-star-hotel land? Do you know how weird it is to have your cab driver exit his vehicle and enter a strip club with you? Fix this, please.
5. ’90s Night at Bull Feeney’s
Every Thursday night in the Old Port an onslaught of bros stampede the upstairs bar at Bull Feeney’s to sing all the words to Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” and drunkenly stick up for Eddie Vedder.
6. ’80s Night at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge
Every Friday night, the same group of bros dress up like your scary high school gym teacher so they can get in for free and grind against any, absolutely any girl with a crimped side-pony and off-the-shoulder sweater who will not turn around and say, “No.”
7. Friendly, joyous, carefree people everywhere
I once backed my ’99 Mercury Sable into a Prius in the Portland Whole Foods parking lot. The guy got out of the car and we LAUGHED ABOUT IT.
8. The odd little groups of people everywhere
Those men who knit at coffeeshops. The swing dancers who give free swing dance lessons and then dance with you afterwards, even though you’re awful and wearing the wrong shoes. My book club, that gets wine-wasted once a month and took a topless group photo one time. The scooter gang! That goes on a 15-mile scooter ride every summer!
9. All the fantastic nom-noms
The pulled-pork johnnycakes off of East Ender’s brunch menu are the best thing that ever entered my body.
10. All the places to swim
Dipping in the ocean at the East End beach, even though you bring your dog there to take a dump every morning.
Going over the bridge to Willard and trying to secure a postage stamp of real estate amongst the hundreds of high school girls in the same H&M bikini.
Tubing down the Presumpscot River with a couple six-packs in tow, each in its own flotation device.
11. All the free and pretty-much free events
The First Friday Art Walk, where you can casually walk into someone’s tiny studio space, nod at a painting they did, and down two solo cups of free wine while stuffing four complimentary egg rolls into your mouth / purse.
The Alive @ Five free concert series in Monument Square, where you can sort-of acknowledge a local band, sneak under the barrier around Shay’s Bar and Grill, and nibble off of someone’s abandoned plate of fries.
Green Drinks, where you can pay five bucks to get in and drink beer in the early evening with a bunch of 9-to-5ers, sip out of the gigantic stein you brought from home, and pretend to listen to the presenter (who is impossible to hear anyway because nobody bothered to turn the microphone on).