PHOTO: Matt Wong
Thanks to Paxton Gate, consider the natural-history enthusiast, Edward Gorey fan and edgy interior designer on your Christmas list checked off. The taxidermied bear cub in the front display window of North Mississippi's newest curiosity shop isn't for sale, but the spiny dried puffer fish, giant mounted insects and iron bird-claw lamps lining the moss-colored walls certainly are. Susan and Andy Brown opened the Portland version of their longtime friend Sean Quigley's popular San Francisco-based "Martha Stewart meets David Lynch" shop earlier this month. They celebrate in appropriately dark fashion this Wednesday with live music from gypsy band Vagabond Opera and free wine and eats set among the space's collection of giant mounted animal heads and medical beakers; matchstick-sized mink penis bones, glass wren eggs and tendrilly balls of resurrection ferns ("they die, they live, they keep coming back," says Susan. "So, they're perfect for Christmas...")—many at surprisingly reasonable prices. Despite their penchant for dead things, the couple shrug when asked if they consider themselves macabre people in general. "Well, I did give him this as a wedding present," Susan says, holding up a tiny mouse skull embedded in an acrylic block. "I made it in college." Andy smiles and grabs the well-worn cube. "It's my guardian mouse," he says. Of course it is.
Five Things I Want for Christmas from Paxton Gate
Working model trebuchet.
2. Taxidermied baby skunk. $420.
3. Owl pellets wrapped in gold or silver foil. $5.50 for pellets containing rodent bones, $12.50 for pellets with bird bits.
4. Knit frog or mouse dissection, with 100-percent-wool felted organs. $124.
5. Glass replica of human eyeball. $11.
SHOP: Paxton Gate is located at 4204 N Mississippi Ave., 719-4508, paxtongatepdx.com. The shop hosts an opening party 8-10 pm Wednesday, Dec. 15. Free.
WEDNESDAY DEC. 15
scribe Barry Gifford shares dark Christmas stories alongside Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine's frontman, Portland horse-racing aficionado and creator of the spoken-word CD
) and Jim Nisbet.
[COMEDY] HARI KONDABOLU
Kondabolu is laughing at your expense, white guy, and you'll be laughing right along. Also, vegan jokes and record-snob jokes—it should be a very Portland kind of show. Curious Comedy, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., curiouscomedy.org. 8 pm. $10-$12.
THURSDAY DEC. 16
One night after hosting a
-Test at Ground Kontrol, Cort and Fatboy dove into the Disney computers and fished out Jeff Bridges to bring him back to the future, several hours early, in 3-D.
Standup from Seattle's wonderfully acerbic Alysia Wood, plus Lisa Myers, Gabe Dinger, Christian Ricketts and Bri Pruett, hosted by Whitney Streed. Weird Bar, 3701 SE Division St., 236-8689. 9 pm. $5.
FRIDAY DEC. 17
Portland's best black-metal band also happens to be one of the most famous in the whole word, and tonight the band gives its epic new album,
a rare live performance.
SATURDAY DEC. 18
Some of the sketches might be annoying, but tonight's
performance is worth the price of admission for Thao Nguyen's spirited breakup songs and the chance to hear Carrie Brownstein make fun of your stupid dolphin tattoo.
[DANCE] BRAZILIAN CHRISTMAS DANCE PARTY
You'd better be good, or Samba Claus will skip your favela this year. He's one of the rumored guests appearing at the delightfully sweaty-sounding dance party. Shake off the chill with performances by the Lions of Batucada and others. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., 284-8686. 9 pm. $10-$12.