Brooklyn vs Portland

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We surrender

Okay, Portland, Maine: you and your wood-roasted beans win the  hipster coffee throw-down.

You place well in the doughnut competition, too, with your potato-based Holy Donut (especially the maple-glazed ones, with or without bacon).

With the demise of the Gowanus-based Museum of Morbid Anatomy, your International Cryptozoology Museum takes the quirky museum title by default.

And your Deering Oaks Park, where the short life and unlikely journey of Maine’s Great Black Hawk concluded, is a reminder that birds have no respect for borders. While their defiance of expectations often ends badly for them, it fuels our human sense of wonder. How did a Central American hawk find its way to a pleasant but small city park in Maine, hemmed in by I-295 and busy commercial streets? We’ll never know.

Many, if not most, cities have a building that prominently displays the time and temperature. In Brooklyn, that would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower (now owned by an evil consortium of real estate developers).

In Portland, you have the Time and Temperature Building. +1 to you for having the courage of your convictions and chiseling that name onto its imposing 1920s facade.

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Your art museum seems to have a similar curatorial philosophy to the Brooklyn Museum – local, accessible, historical, rejecting rigid categories – except (and you get bonus points for this) it’s considerably birdier. (For the best sightings, birders should head to the fourth floor, where they’ll find Christopher Patch’s “Migration” and Bernard Langlais’s weathered seabirds and waders.

Brooklyn could learn a thing or two from you about French fries (fry ‘em twice in duck fat); you could learn a thing or two from us about being a little less tight-assed (forgive me, but you guys actually wait for crossing signals? and who exactly is the target of those “no cruising” traffic warnings in your downtown?).

I’ll give you the last word, Portland, the word that allows no rejoinders, that ends the conversation, that elicits a shrug of resignation, if not an admission of defeat. I think we both know what it is:

Puffins.

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