First Thursday is a tradition in Portland, a gallery walk on the first Thursday of the month where folks meander from art gallery to art gallery, looking at the artworks, sipping wine, munching cheese, and discussing the finer points of art appreciation. At least, that’s what I’d always thought it was.

Last night I had the opportunity to be in the Pearl District for First Thursday, and got a chance to see the reality. While there were plenty of people who were clearly patrons of the arts, it was also clear to me that First Thursday is mostly a pub crawl with delusions of sophistication.

Not that there weren’t entertaining moments. A young man wandered in and starting playing a didgeridoo. If the sound of a didgeridoo being played live and in person isn’t surreal enough for you, ask the performer to wander slowly around the room pointing it at people as he plays. I must admit that I’ve rarely seen anyone with a better mastery of circular breathing.

I’m not going to make any judgments and say that we had a homeless guy in the crowd, but this guy sat in the corner of the lobby all night long, periodically going back to the buffet table for more sandwiches and chips and getting a refill of wine. His conversation with the wine server was classic:


“Ah, would you like some more wine?”


“I see. And what were you drinking, the pinot grigio?”


“I’m sorry, what did you say you were drinking?”


“Ah. Something red. Well. Here’s some more ‘red’.”

I also saw several examples of young hipsters in their native habitat. I was shocked to discover that I was quite familiar with the current hip and happening hairstyle. In fact, I realized that I often sport that very trendy ‘do myself. Of course, in my case, I generally call it ‘bedhead’ and reach for the mousse to try and eradicate it.

And what’s with young, apparently healthy males carrying around toy dogs? I’m sorry, I can’t take a man seriously that owns a chihuahua or a toy poodle. You better at least have a pug with a bad attitude if you don’t want your masculinity seriously questioned.

Sadly, most folks just ducked in, scoped out the snakki treats, grabbed some wine, and left. However, even I have to admit that the Pearl District was alive last night. There were a ton of people out and about, sitting on sidewalks, talking and laughing, and generally enjoying the particularly fine evening. There was an almost carnival atmosphere in the Pearl. I think I’d like to come back sometime, and bring the wife. Maybe I’ll even muss up my hair for the evening.