Heading to Portland? Chuck Palahniuks Got Some Ideas

“Keep portland weird.” So goes the Oregon city’s unofficial motto, and Chuck Palahniuk is certainly doing his part. The author of books like Choke, Snuff, and, most famously, Fight Club, Palahniuk specializes in antiheroes who are into some wonderfully crazy shit. This June, Portland-based comic book publisher Dark Horse is releasing its 10 issues of Fight Club 2 as a complete graphic novel. The idea to do a sequel as a comic came about at a writers’ workshop dinner where comics superstars Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, and Brian Michael Bendis urged Palahniuk to try something different. “It was just a big ambush to pressure me into writing a comic,” Palahniuk says. He accepted, and the story is dark and delightful—much like Palahniuk’s recommendations for what to do in the city that gave it life.

Locals Only

“Portland used to have these old themed restaurants—big grand old supper club kind of places. For the most part they’ve disappeared, but one of the very few left is Wilfs (1). It’s in the train station. Nobody really thinks to go and have dinner at the train station, but there’s a jazz club and a classic red-velvet-filled dining room. They still do steak Diane and all these flaming things that they prepare tableside, so it’s like walking into Mad Men.”

Favorite Bar

“I like the Hawthorne Hophouse (2) up at Southeast Hawthorne and 41st Avenue. They have outdoor tables, and they let me take my dog there. I go almost once a week all summer, because they will serve my dog from the children’s menu.”


Kidd’s Toy Museum (3)—it pretty much has no sign. It’s just a plain door on Southeast Grand Avenue. A man who had made his fortune in auto parts, who had had very few toys as a child, turned a warehouse into this huge collection of amazing antique kids’ toys. My favorite gadget is something you must discreetly request to see. It’s German-made, of handblown glass: a beautiful figure of a nude woman astride a toilet.”

Our Spot

“I still always go to Wild Abandon (4) on Southeast Belmont. My husband and I got together when they first opened. It was a friend of his who opened it. So we’ve gone there for more than 20 years.”


“St. Johns is a cool neighborhood now, but I’ve always liked the St. Johns Twin Cinema (5). It opened in 1925 and typifies theaters of that era. They originally called it the Venetian. It has the ornate shabbiness of century-old plush everything.”


“I really like the Hawthorne district, especially the stuff at the Gold Door (6). It’s an eclectic imports store. I’m a regular.”


“There’s a strange little street that nobody knows about, right in the middle of everything. It’s called Trinity Place (7), and it’s lined with ancient apartment buildings. I lived there at a time of my life when it was just great to live in these falling-down, beautiful buildings and still be in the center of the city.”


“I love fringe culture things, and fringe culture things always disappear in an instant, but one that’s still there is this enormous, sprawling mausoleum in the Sellwood district called Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial (8), which is over 100 years old. It’s like being inside an Escher print—you just see down endless galleries, up and down stairways, and you have no idea how to get to those distant, different levels. Plus, it has windows that look out over a swamp—acres and acres of rotting wetland—with an old amusement park in the distance called Oaks Park. You’re looking at this vista that is very Edgar Allan Poe.”

Illustrations by Michael Marsicano

Read more: http://www.wired.com/2016/05/what-to-do-in-portland/