SantaCon '06

I promised Jeff I'd get to this today, but man do I feel like shit...in the hopes that it's just a little bug, I'm filling up on DayQuil and Gypsy Cold Care (just had to throw in "gypsy" somewhere). Worst case scenario is that it's not a common cold, but a potentially nasty case of Hepatitis A that I picked up from this year's SantaCon. The most common reaction so far when I mention that Jeff and I went to SantaCon is "Huh?" or some such neanderathal grunt. SantaCon is an experience that is not to be missed if you happen to have one in your city, and most major cities do; the event was initiated by the Cacophony Society in San Francisco back in '94 I believe, quickly spread to Portland the next year, and then basically went global. In a nutshell, hundreds of kindred souls dress up as Santa, then rampage around town drinking obscene amounts of alcohol and generally spreading holiday cheer. There are a few rules to this here Santa thing...I won't go into details, so just check out the Four Fucks of Santarchy here: https://home.comcast.net/~hhinman/Ettiquette.htm
A few other pages of interest:

The event kicked off innocently enough, with everyone gathering at the Skidmore Fountain, smack dab in the middle of Portland's Saturday Market.
Jeff and I arrived by the MAX (basically a giant steel sleigh) suited up as Santa, and were greeted by several hundred fellow Santas belting out "Hi Santa!"...whenever talking to another Santa, their name, as well as yours, is simply "Santa." This moniker was also our stock reply to all questions from non-Santas...why are you guys doing this? "Santa." Who organized this? "Santa." Why is there vomit in your beard? "Santa." So anyway, Santa Jeff and Santa Old hung out at the Fountain for a good hour waiting for all the rest of the Santas to arrive, chatting it up, handing out gifts to random passerbys (nice toys for the kids, naughty stuff for the adults), and taking photos of the more creative Santas (Apocalypse Santa, Rasta Santa, Pirate Santa, various Slut Santas, and Santa Jeff's favorite, the Urban Scout Santa, hipster moccassins included).

Well, by this time we were all getting more than a bit antsy for a stiff drink (don't worry Mom, I'm not an alcoholic, I just get the shakes when I first wake up), so the group headed off to McFadden's, an Irish pub a few blocks away. The barkeeps there were certainly not expecting us, and we soon found it impossible to order a drink or food from the lone two working the bar...the place was packed wall to wall with red-suited creeps, smoking and drinking from their private stashes (a SantaCon tradition is to empty out Windex bottles and fill them up with something hard, then walk around spraying each other in the mouths)...it felt like a Hunter S. Thompson hallucination, you wierd fucker. Luckily for us, the Santas closest to us were well-enough prepared to have lugged around a few extra beverlies, and were kind enough to cure what was ailing us. Pounding the beer down quickly, we noticed the Red Tide was on the move...pouring out into the streets we walked back towards the Skidmore Fountain under the Burnside Bridge and waited around for a MAX train. One finally arrived and we swarmed inside, filling that fucker to the gills (and leaving a full 3/4 of the Santas behind for the next round of trains)...felt like a tin of red herrings.

Finally we were released at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland's official living room, where most of the family-friendly city-sponsored events take place (and the site of the pillow fight we participated in a few months back). I'm not sure why we stopped here, except to mill about handing out candy canes and disturbing toys (Barbies with their limbs sawed off and replaced with Wookie arms, etc.) to the hundreds of families here for some tuba band playing Christmas carols.

That's when the chanting started. It felt like a war protest gone mad, with drunken Santas marching towards the riverfront yelling "HO, HO, HO...WE WON'T GO!" and "WHO DO WE WANT? HO! WHAT DO WE WANT? HO! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? HO!"...I can only imagine the type of trauma this causes for children suseptible to the whims of fantastical reality. Thankfully, the parents down here are fairly well-off and should be able to fund the therapy little Johnny is going to need in the years to come.

Our next stop was McCormick & Shmicks (the chain originated here in Portland) at the new Waterfront development...this is one of those fancy restaurants that serve shit food and attract the "movers and shakers". Well, we stormed this fucking place, finally got some beer (Santa Jeff and I strategically raced here ahead of the tide following us to beat the crowd), and then walked over to a little asian market to pick up a six-pack of Old Milwaukie and a bag of Munchies (which quickly turned into a communal Santa snack pack), skipping the generically labeled hamburgers that were sitting out at room temperature next to the cash register...we inquired about where the store owner had gotten the burgers, and he replied "burger." Great.
Now fully stocked on beer, we proceeded to get down, and so did the other Santas. We cheerfully watched a Santa walking down the docks harrassing old ladies, a Santa attempting to catch 3-eyed fish out the Willamette River, a newly married couple taking a joyride on the Urban Scout's sleigh, an improptu game of Santa Tug-O-War, and heard a sermon from the Devil (disguised as a Santa taking wippet hits). Jeff and I began to stub out bogues on each other's Santa costumes at this point for inexplicable reasons.

We all headed down to the docks when Jeff and I were somehow split up, and we boarded separate boats bound for the east side of the river...the Santas I was riding with passed around a bottle of vodka to ward off the chilly winds, and a girl said I looked like Ali G (must be my new glasses).

Disembarking, I took a much needed piss off the dock, and stumbled up the stairs to the Burnside Bridge and followed the thin red line of santas down to the world famous Skatepark of the same name...here we were greeted by Voodoo Doughnuts (their face-sized apple fritter is a personal favorite of mine), and Jeff and I, once again reunited, finished off our remaining beers. It felt a little strange to be drinking and cavorting in costume in the shadow of my office building just up the hill...

At this point, the night began to wind down as we headed to the ironic hipster/country bar, Outlaws. Mostly Santa sat around drinking, savaging the pizza buffet, and watching the sad, sad strippers. Santa Jeff had a fun schizophrenia-inducing encounter. A random female Santa began stripping down to her moose knuckles in front of him, then kindly asked him for his pizza crust. Immediately afterwards some fruity-two shoes Santa dude walked by and blew Santa Jeff a kiss and pointed at him like "Come get your ahnoos broken in the little boy's room." We had a good laugh at that one. After a few hours, we all filed out into the streets, played some dodgeball, then walked back across the bridge downtown to the shittiest nightclub in town, Bliss. The techno music was a complete buzz-killer, and rather than stick it out we headed home, weary and only slightly drunk. It was a good time, but we also learned a few important lessons for next year, namely drink beforehand, and bring plenty of food and alcohol to keep the fires burning. Oh, and get that Japanese exchange student ASAP, 'cause he'd love this shit.

Until next year...Santa Old, signing off.


Anonymous said...

You guys just made my day. -Mikey

Pork said...

Do you suppose they have Szanta in Khazakstan? Can you imagine Jingle Bells by Gorky Buchek?

Kate said...

Those pictures of you Jeff, crack my shizz up.