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  • Fugitives and Refugees
  • Written by Chuck Palahniuk
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A Walk in Portland, Oregon

Written by Chuck PalahniukAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Chuck Palahniuk

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List Price: $11.99

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On Sale: December 18, 2007
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-42075-6
Published by : Crown Crown Trade Group
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
EVENTS EVENTS
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travel (62) portland (37) non-fiction (34) essays (20) oregon (20)
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Want to know where Chuck Palahniuk’s tonsils currently reside?

Been looking for a naked mannequin to hide in your kitchen cabinets?

Curious about Chuck’s debut in an MTV music video?

What goes on at the Scum Center?

How do you get to the Apocalypse Café?

In the closest thing he may ever write to an autobiography, Chuck Palahniuk provides answers to all these questions and more as he takes you through the streets, sewers, and local haunts of Portland, Oregon. According to Katherine Dunn, author of the cult classic Geek Love, Portland is the home of America’s “fugitives and refugees.” Get to know these folks, the “most cracked of the crackpots,” as Palahniuk calls them, and come along with him on an adventure through the parts of Portland you might not otherwise believe actually exist. No other travel guide will give you this kind of access to “a little history, a little legend, and a lot of friendly, sincere, fascinating people who maybe should’ve kept their mouths shut.”

Here are strange personal museums, weird annual events, and ghost stories. Tour the tunnels under downtown Portland. Visit swingers’ sex clubs, gay and straight. See Frances Gabe’s famous 1940s Self-Cleaning House. Look into strange local customs like the I-Tit-a-Rod Race and the Santa Rampage. Learn how to talk like a local in a quick vocabulary lesson. Get to know, I mean really get to know, the animals at the Portland zoo.

Oh, the list goes on and on.

Excerpt

(a postcard from 1981)

Acid and LSD are the same thing. I'm only telling you this because I didn't know it.

This year, I'm nineteen years old and living in a rented room on the second floor at 2221 NW Flanders Street. The Hampton Court Apartments. My friends and I, we buy our jeans at the Squire Shop on SW Broadway and Alder Street. We wear high-waisted, buckle-back carpenter pants with a loop midway down the thigh, so you can hook a hammer there. The Squire Shop has the white-denim painter pants and the striped engineer jeans. We listen to the Flying Lizards and Pink Floyd.

In high school I'd watched a spooky movie called Focus on Acid. Acid could make you mistake the gas flame on a stove for a lovely blue carnation. You'd have flashbacks years later and wreck your car.

Still, when some friends suggested eating a tab of LSD and watching the Pink Floyd laser light show at the OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) planetarium, I said sure. Let's go.

LSD was lysergic acid diethylamide. A simple alkaloid. Just another chemical. It was science.

This was December, when OMSI used to be in the West Hills, high above the city near the zoo. We sat in the cold parking lot at dusk and each ate a little paper stamp impregnated with LSD, and my friends told me what to expect. First, we'd laugh a lot. We'd smile so long and hard our face muscles would ache for days. Then, we'd grind our teeth. This was important to know so you didn't wear down your molars. My friends talked about how each light and color would bleed a little comet trail. The paint would seem to run down the walls. First, we'd watch the laser light show, then we'd wander through the West Hills mansions and trip on the Christmas lights.

In the OMSI planetarium the seats are in circles around the projector in the center of the round room. My friends sit on one side of me. A woman I don't know sits on my other side. Pink Floyd blares out of speakers and red laser squiggles around the dark, domed ceiling, and I'm laughing so hard I can't stop. They play "Dark Side of the Moon," and my jaws start to ache. They play "The Wall," and the friend on my left side says, "Put something in your mouth." He says, "You're going to wreck your teeth."

He's right, my back teeth feel hot and there's that burned-metal taste you get having a cavity drilled. I'm grinding my teeth that hard.

This is December, so we're wearing denim jackets with fake sheepskin lining. Stocking caps and thick, knitted mufflers. With my muffler stuffed in my mouth, I go back to chewing.

The next thing I know, I'm choking. My throat is full of something soft and dry. I'm gagging, and my mouth is stuffed with something chewy and matted. Some kind of fibers. Or hairs.

In the dark, the laser squiggling and Pink Floyd blasting, my muffler doesn't feel right. It's too soft, and I'm spitting and picking bits of animal fur out of my mouth. If it's mink or rabbit, I don't know, but this is fur.

The woman who sat down next to me, she was wearing a fur coat and dropped it into her seat. She dropped it so one sleeve fell across my lap. That's what I've put in my mouth, and here in the dark, I've chewed, gnawed, gobbled up everything between the elbow and the cuff.

Now my friends are trying to pass me some cleaning solvent poured on a bandanna. To huff. It stinks like dirty socks, and people sitting around us are starting to gripe about the smell.

At any minute the lasers and the music will stop. The lights will come up, and people will get to their feet. They'll slip into their hats and gloves. And the stranger beside me will find a drooly mess where her coat sleeve used to be. Me, I'll be sitting here with wet fur all around my mouth. Strands of fur still stuck between my teeth. Coughing up a mink hairball.

My friends are elbowing me, still trying to pass me the stinking bandanna soaked in solvent. Carbon tetrachloride, another simple chemical. And the fur coat woman on my other side says, "Christ, what is that smell?"

As the last song ends, before the lights come on, I stand. I tell my friends, we're going. Now. I'm shoving them out into the aisle. As the lights come up, I'm climbing over them, telling them, "Run. Don't ask questions, just get outside."

Of course, they think this is a game. So we're running. Outside the fire exit doors, the acres of parking lot are dark, and it's started to snow.

With the snow falling in fat clumps around us, we're running. Through Washington Park at night. Past the zoo and the Christmas lights on the big mansions, each spot of color smearing. Trailing. We're running through the rose garden, the downtown stretched out below. And my friends are laughing. Their fingers and faces stinking of chemical solvent, they run through the falling snow, not thinking this is anything but fun.
Chuck Palahniuk

About Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk - Fugitives and Refugees

Photo © Shawn Grant

Chuck Palahniuk’s ten previous novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by David Fincher; Survivor; Invisible Monsters; Choke, which was made into a film by director Clark Gregg; Lullaby; Diary; Haunted; Rant; Snuff; and Pygmy. He is also the author of Fugitives and Refugees, a nonfiction profile of Portland, Oregon, published as part of the Crown Journeys series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Events>

Chuck Palahniuk - Fugitives and Refugees

Photo © Shawn Grant

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  • Fugitives and Refugees by Chuck Palahniuk
  • July 08, 2003
  • Travel - Essays & Travelogues
  • Crown
  • $16.95
  • 9781400047833

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