💖 Rolling into the weird with Carlos the Rollerblader
Plus, an artistic opportunity you can’t say ‘no’ to.
And you know what that means: We’re getting weird today.
Each week, we’re highlighting and celebrating elements of Portland’s wonderful weirdness in collaboration with the amazing folks at Weird Portland United (WPU).
If you haven’t read them yet — you can find our February Weird Wednesdays here, where we interviewed The Unipiper, local artist Cedar Lee, and The Portland Sleestak. And if you missed our interview with magician Spencer Sprocket, peep at that here and last week’s with designer Sundari Franklin can be read here.
Today, we are donning our helmets, elbow and knee pads, listening to an awesome roller skating soundtrack, feeling the pure ecstasy of gliding along a sidewalk in the sunshine, with a beautiful local weirdo looking to make this joy and love accessible for every single Portlander. We interviewed artist, Free Advice Hotline expert, Magic Mondays celebrator, and creator of Disco’s Skate Shop, Carlos the Rollerblader, another recipient of WPU’s 2020 Keep Portland Alive grant awards!
What follows is our interview, edited for length and clarity.
💕 Rolling through the weird with Carlos the Rollerblader
Carlos has found zen in skating around Portland, and they are on a mission to bring that love into the lives of Portlanders with Disco’s Skate Shop. (📸: Courtesy of Carlos the Rollerblader)
Mind telling me a little bit about yourself and the work you do that adds to Portland’s weirdness?
Well, being Black, visibly queer, and outspoken adds a fair amount of weirdness to things, though I'm not always certain that it's adding to Portland's version of weird. Though, my subversion to the world at large, and therefore Portland, is likely the biggest contributor to the weirdness of the city. My work involves creating space for people like me (generally Queer Trans People of Color) to find relief from the corners of the world that exhaust us on an hourly basis. I've done so via laughter in stand-up comedy, through listening/commiseration in the Free Advice Hotline, with midday celebrations in the Magic Mondays rooftop happy hours, and soon Disco's Skate Shop will do so via roller sports.
How long have you been practicing your weirdness here in Portland, and what got you interested?
I've been in Portland since 2013, but Carlos the Rollerblader, as a moniker, happened with the Free Advice Hotline, post-Trump-inauguration, which also happened about the time of starting my local stand-up stint, in 2017. The Hotline was a genuine effort to reach out to others in an informal, earnest fashion in a time where we were really becoming more and more sheltered from one another due to political division. The work I do now is not as heavy-handed or emotionally involved but still heart-focused, aiming to provide space for the marginalized and stressed out to find a present mind.
What does contributing to the wonderful weirdness of Portland mean to you?
It means being present — not only for myself but for the bystander or stranger or person nearby who might just need the visual reminder that people like me exist. Appearing to others does require, and also sometimes inspire, strength. In the moments where I feel like I lack it, I also consider what a win it is for those who wouldn't like me in the world to stay inside feeling weak. Some people can fake it ‘til they make it but that attitude will run you dry in the long run — my "weirdness" is antithetical to that, as it is my honest self, requiring great care and diligence to maintain. Contributing to the outside world is a practice of contributing to my inside world and thus can be a good reminder that life, your way, is totally possible.
Where can folks find you online, and do you have any upcoming events, news, things you want to shout out?
I'll be opening the city's, and perhaps Oregon's, sole inline skate store, Disco's Skate Shop, where we'll also host select strollers (for the strollerblader crowd) and quad skates as well. There will be an online shop accompaniment to the brick-and-mortar shop, which will open sometime mid/late 2021. Shout out to everybody Black.
For the rest of our interview with Carlos and more photos, follow this link. To support Disco’s Skate Shop, go here to help bring this amazingness to Portland.
Thank you to our Bridgeliner Unabridged members; your support helps make Bridgeliner, and original features like this, possible.
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🙋 One more thing …
Thank you for reading all the way to the end.
One last piece of weirdness before you go!
(📸: Courtesy of Weird Portland United)
Weird Portland United and Portland Street Art Alliance are looking for amazing local artists to create a new public art mural: “Welcome to Weird Portland.”
The mural will celebrate and honor Portland’s weird and unique spirit. You can apply here, and note that the deadline is April 15.
Know a local artist who would be perfect for this project? Forward this email and information onto them so they can get involved!
This is a really beautiful way to celebrate the wonderful strangeness of our city, and the incredible characters who live here, and who you’ve read about here in Bridgeliner.
So don’t wait, apply for this opportunity to create some gorgeous Portland weirdness of your own.
Thanks for hanging out with us, we’ll see you here tomorrow.
-Cassie at Bridgeliner
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