I wish I could report that the Office is a thriving Interstate corridor business that rewards it’s dedicated clientele with satisfying multi-sensory experiences. This isn’t the case. The Office never quite got off the ground. I’m not sure it ever opened for business. Something was off from the start.
Some offices aren’t a good fit, but you don’t figure that out until you’re knee deep in the job. This Office started off with the all too clever and old school name where it sounded like a guy could tell his wife, “Honey, I’m at the Office” when he was actually at a strip club. Would she buy it? Not hardly when he arrived home stinking of gin with his tie askew and lipstick on his collar. If the Office actually opened it seemed like a short time before it closed for business. I watched the progress and lack of progress for this establishment because of the Interstate Ave location. When passing, I never missed a chance to look the place over and wonder about it.
Before it was known as the Office the building was home to a bar called U & I, again a clever name. If you’re trying to get people to stop at your business located on a busy street a catchy name seems necessary. U & I was a bar that also had shows. I thought their brilliant move was to have a jam band play an afterparty when The Other Ones, made up of members of the Grateful Dead, performed in town. This didn’t seem to be enough of a business model to keep the place afloat. In came the paint crew who inspired me when I saw them leave behind a snazzy paint job with maroon trim. There’s no other way to make improvements to the boxy exterior. I was curious to see what business would take the place of the bar.
It wasn’t exactly clear that the Office was a strip club until information was posted on the marquee. I can’t figure out if a strip club replacing a bar is a step up, a lateral move or some kind of devolution. I suppose it wouldn’t matter one way or the other to those who patronize this kind of establishment. Please pardon my conflicted condescension. Portland is full of strip clubs so one more is like icing on the cake that a stripper jumps out of, that is if they still do that these days. I have nothing against strip clubs. I retain a certain pride towards the one in my neighborhood. In the end and the beginning, the marquee never changed. Everyday seemed like an advertisement for Sinfire Sunday. I can get a vicarious thrill imagining being in the midst of DJ Dick Hennessy slabbing down platters for the Summer Strip Off all summer long. Naming an event “Sinfire Sunday” seems like a miraculous means of drumming up Sunday business. Yet again it was strange that I never saw evidence of the place being open. No one entered and dancers never gathered outside in skimpy outfits taking smoke breaks.
The place stayed dormant until it was attacked. It never recovered from being splashed with graffiti. Some time later the place was spruced and repainted but it didn’t reopen. The Office Too would have been a good name for such a resurrection. It would have offered us the opportunity to witness the triumphant return of DJ Dick Hennessy lofting a crate of 12” records above his head on his way to the DJ booth. How long it stayed clean I can’t say. I never thought to take a picture. It’s not the most photogenic building but it did have an air of class and even pride when it wasn’t awash with spray paint. Once again after it was cleaned up it became a canvas for more graffiti. As I took pictures it hit me: Rough day at the office. It seems to me that somebody had it out for the place. Maybe they didn’t like what they may have considered ugliness going on inside so they sought to add their own ugliness to the outside. Pure speculation on my part, but it leads me to hope for a better day when life, in any form, can return to the Office or whatever name it’s given in it’s next incarnation.
At press time I witnessed a man with a paint roller painting the outside of the building. I would have stopped to take pictures if I hadn’t been running late for work. That afternoon, the result of the labor was a spotty attempt to cover up graffiti. I have seen evidence of interior work being done to the inside of the Office. Keep reading the Portland Orbit for updates.