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Thursday, December 5, 2013

THE LONELY GARBER - An Away Day Guide to: Portland Timbers

"Curved is the new straight"
Welcome to "The Lonely Garber" - a highly factual-ish travel guide for the adventurous football supporter to some of Major League Soccer's most fabled destinations. Also: Columbus. Join us now as we continue our way across this girthy continent...

JELD-WEN FIELD - Portland, Oregon

Long before being the hippest town in America was popular, Portland, Oregon was "America's Hippest Town". Located in Southern Bigfoot Country, USA, the once wholly un-ironic village of Portland was settled in that very cool year of 1959, during the great American teak furniture boom. The town foundation is historically attributed to "unintentionally" stylish artisan furniture maker/faux lumberjack - Jebediah Timber or "Timber Jeb" as he was known on the street. There was only one street.

Modern day Portland, now named "Portland" after TV show "Portlandia", retained its hipster-vibe throughout the 60's but a population boom saw an increase in pedestrians - and that's just so pedestrian. As the coolnessosity levels dwindled, so did local industry leaving once proud sawmills as empty ironic sawmills. However, the late 1990's and 2000's brought in a new generation of Pacific Northwesterners turned off by Seattle's insistence on broadcasting "Frasier" on local TV 24/7.

The new Portlanders brought with them a new style and re-introduced plaid to the region along with new inventions called whiskey, thick-rimmed reading glasses and the slim-leg trouser. The now thriving city has once-again claimed its rightful place as "America's Hippest Town" and is home to nearly a million people who "lived there before you heard of it".

Portland City Council
Baseball had become such a pedestrian and passé sport that the local municipal government had no choice but to convert the former PGE Park to host that most cosmopolitan of sports - football. Or, as locals refer to it wholly ironically - "soccer".
Not only is Jeld-Wen Field now a "soccer-specific stadium" it is also North America's first bespoke tailored, artisan, handcrafted ground. While most famous for its long curved "Timbers Army End", it wouldn't be cool not to mention the ample olde-tyme bicycle parking outside of Gate 2, the underground speakeasy club under the west stand as well as the local vendors who will wax and twirl your moustache in your seat.
It's a pretty nice place - if you're into that kind of thing.
Despite how mainstream it has become to attend a Timbers' match, attendance is still very strong in Portland. While tickets can be hard to come by we do not recommend buying them from stalls at local flea markets where they are often created on sepia-toned paper using a precious 19th Century printing press. Instead, the away supporter should attempt to get their name (real name - not an obsure character from a 70's TV series) onto the waiting list for when tickets unexpectedly become "so last year" or if attendance is effected by a band you've never heard of before being in town.
There are four price levels for Timbers tickets: Mainstream, Whatever, Meh, and Slight Head-nod.
Vintage but not valid 
"The Timbers Army" are easily one of the most audible and recognizable supporters' groups in North America. The group was founded through an online, grassroots viral Tumblr website when it became obvious that "being loud was the new quiet". Despite not having any affiliation with the actual U.S. Army, they have been known to invade an Apple Store en masse the second a new product release is announced.
While a reasonably friendly, if not overly aloof bunch, do not dare approach them if you are wearing clothes bought in a mainstream mall or while they are pretending to read Jack Kerouac during halftime. You will however be heartily welcomed into their section if you can get your hands on an Icelandic 3rd Division kit to wear to the match.
Locally-sourced organic bacon, locally-distilled organic whiskey, craft microbrews, artisan donuts, ironic Swanson TV dinners and anything with an unctuous flavour-profile is on the eclectic menu at a Timbers fixture. You want a hot dog? Go to Seattle you mouth-breathing, Republican philistine.
WARNING: All foods must be put on Instagram before consumption.
"Mmm, you can really taste the irony" 
If you want to get to Jeld-Wen Field from your boutique hotel that you found out about on Pinterest, do as the locals do and rent a 1920's bicycle from a nearby pop-up shop. You can also find your way to the stadium via underground urban exploration of abandoned factories, creepy art-deco hospitals and the remnants of the Walmart that was only open for 13 minutes back in 1997.
If all else fails, don't worry - being lost is the new map. Simply follow the gathering green plaid-adorned faux-lumberjacks, start-up a conversation about Sigur Ros or Kurosawa films and you will find the stadium with ease.

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