January 14th, 2008 5:33 pm | by JOHN MINERVINI News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Portland's Pantsless Commuters Confirm Surrealist Dream Theory


Andre Breton once said, “I insist that anyone should be treated as an idiot if they fail, for instance, to see a horse galloping across a tomato”. It was exactly the same with No Pants on MAX, which took place on Saturday, Jan. 12. I had told some friends about the event, and many of them—especially, I regret to say, those over 30—demanded to know, well, what's the point? Sorry, friends, you cannot explain the point. If you can't see the horse galloping across the tomato, you're sunk.

The event, organized by Mary Allison and Elizabeth Tadina, went exactly as planned. At 4:30 pm, with a minimum of ceremony, approximately 50 locals gathered in Holladay Park and removed their trousers. They were a many-colored, many-splendored group, whose only unifying trait seemed to be a greater-than-average incidence of waxed mustaches. Wearing underwear, they proceeded onto the MAX, and rode it until they arrived at Pioneer Square. The Portland Police Department honored the event with an armed escort, an unexpected distinction. The street cars were followed at a stately distance by three patrol cars.

Of course there were those who wanted to draw undue attention to the upper thighs of participants. Channel 2, KATU, had a pants-wearing TV reporter on the scene, and many locals took it upon themselves to take pictures, despite the fact that their belts remained firmly cinched. It will interest Oneirologists to learn that these pants-clad photographers—despite the fact that they were well within their rights—are the missing evolutionary link between apes and leeches.

But once we were on the train, all that was forgotten. I found that conversation flowed surprisingly naturally in my compartment. A woman in rainbow knee socks and olive green panties had seen Bratz the night previous, and she wondered aloud to her friend—in flats, leg warmers, and pink boy shorts—how on earth a movie based on slumber party dolls had managed to land Jon Voight in its cast. Other phrases seemed to float, disembodied, across the streetcar. “I had a friend who was Barney Rubble,” said a young man wearing Converse and Patagonia boxer-briefs, “but get this: he was black”. Two women in trench coats and polka-dot tube socks took advantage of the trip to read library books—one, Geopolitics and the Decline of Empire, the other, Chinese Cooking for Dummies. But pantslessness was not totally irrelevant to our ride on the MAX—in one case it seemed to spark an epiphany. “My God,” announced a middle-aged man in a tweed jacket and tartan socks, “it's like a donkey.”

Upon arriving at Pioneer Square, without a word, we disembarked. Some preferred to cover up, but others carried on, walking bare-legged into the sunset, or down Broadway, or into Nordstrom. As far as I know, no incident arose from the event.

And it bears mentioning that the weather was unseasonably nice—Jan. 12 was characterized by rare winter sunshine and several rainbows that appeared over Northeast. One can't help but conjecture that a pantsless Almighty looked down on Portland, gave a quizzical smile, and galloped off across a tomato.

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