Welcome to Turdlania

A guide to Isaac Brock's Portland.

Isaac Brock has what you might call a "conflicted relationship" with Portland. In an interview with Polish television in June, Modest Mouse's head rodent described his adopted hometown as "a collection of human turds" that's rapidly hardening him into a Republican, and that he'd totally leave if he could only think of someplace better. Some took it as an insult, others as hard truth. In fact, the ambivalent self-loathing in those remarks revealed more about Brock than Portland—namely, that the dude is more of a dyed-in-the-flannel Portlander than he'd probably care to admit.

On Aug. 23, Modest Mouse headlines MusicfestNW, playing for the hometown turds for the first time since the March release of Strangers to Ourselves, the band's first album in eight years. Where else can you find Brock in town? Here are some landmarks. 

La Luna
(formerly at Southeast 9th Avenue and Pine Street)

Like, oh, every important indie-rock band of the '90s, Modest Mouse played its first Portland show in the building that now houses popular izakaya Biwa. The band soon graduated to the Crystal Ballroom, and has remained at that level ever since. But Brock did play an intimate solo gig at shoebox-sized Valentines in 2012, along with Corin Tucker and Britt Daniel, as a benefit for musician Joel Burrows before his death.

Bunk Bar (1028 SE Water Ave.)

If you want to manufacture a run-in with Brock, he's most often spotted smoking cigarettes outside the club whenever some particularly cool show is going on. Other bars he's been rumored to frequent: the Triple Nickel on Belmont and Bonfire Lounge on Southeast Stark, where he took a Rolling Stone writer in 2004 and drunkenly begged the owner for a job, then got kicked out.

Falcon Art Community (5415 N Albina Ave.)

In 2010, in a peak "oh, Portland" moment, then-Mayor Sam Adams hung a giant oil painting of Isaac Brock in City Hall. The portrait, depicting Brock as some kind of Bavarian boar whisperer, was created by artist Alexander Rokoff at the behest of real-estate developer Brian Wannamaker. With Charlie Hales now mayor, you'd be lucky to find an autographed press photo of Nu Shooz in the building, so the Brock painting now exists as part of the permanent collection in the basement of Wannamaker's art-studio complex. Hang outside long enough, and chances are you'll be able to follow a tenant inside and see it in person, in all its lederhosen-laden glory.

MAX Red Line (Portland International Airport to Pioneer Courthouse Square)

For reasons that have recently become obvious, Modest Mouse has no songs that explicitly reference Portland, but the video for the Strangers to Ourselves ballad “Coyotes” pays homage to the same Canis latrans that inspired Sleater-Kinney’s “Light Rail Coyote." Unlike the real critter, which got wrangled off before the train even left Cascade Station, the furry star boards an empty MAX train in the early morning and rides it all the way downtown. The most exciting moment is when the little guy spots a bird outside the window, but it’s still the best video the band has ever done because goddamn is it a cute coyote.

Ice Cream Party (Goose Hollow)

Described in a BuzzFeed profile as "Modest Mouse's Batcave," Brock bought the former check-printing factory near Providence Park in 2012, converting it into the studio where the band recorded Strangers to Ourselves. According to Rolling Stone, the building also became "a 24-hour clubhouse for the Portland rock scene." "There was a lot of drinking and weed-smoking and shit," Brock said. "Half of us stay up until 7 am."

Crystal Hotel (303 SW 12th Ave.)

Of the hotel's 51 rock-themed rooms, the Modest Mouse suite has the least-inviting name—"Paper Thin Walls," taken from a song on 2000's The Moon & Antarctica. But it does have a trippy, "peeling" headboard above the bed and a private bathroom (most are shared) whose walls are adorned with the lyrics, "It's been agreed the whole world stinks," which, considering Brock thinks of Portland as a giant toilet of humanity, is appropriate.

Modest Mouse plays at 8:30 pm on Sunday, Aug. 23.

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