Dec 052012

It seems there is only so much writing a robotnik writer can do in a month in addition to working full time. Freelancing has pushed American Robotnik on the proverbial back burner. Enjoy these articles I’ve written for (and sold to) Oregon Jewish Life and The Bee this year. More to come in 2013: “Diversity in nursing,” Oregon Jewish Life, November 2012, p. 17 [pdf – article | pdf – full magazine] “Westmoreland coffee shop changes hands…and atmosphere,” The Bee, November 2012, p. 19 [pdf] “Oaks Park hosts Fresh […] Continue reading >

Jun 232012
From Food Cart to Restaurant for Three Weeks: Tábor Authentic Czech Eatery

Two days remain to experience Czech cuisine at a brick-and-mortar restaurant here in Portland, Oregon. For three weeks until June 24, Karel and Monika from the Tábor Authentic Czech Eatery food cart will have served their home specialties at Enzo’s Caffe Italiano on NE Alberta Street while Enzo vacations in Italy. Not only is this “unique and trailblazing collaboration” an excellent instance of utilizing spare business capacity, the narrative on the reverse of the menu claims it’s the first instance in town of a collaboration between food carts and restaurants.* […] Continue reading >

Jun 152012
Home in Two Places: An Interview with Olinka Broadfoot

I discovered the Prague-born artist and Portland, Oregon, resident Olinka Broadfoot about two years ago at a new gallery in SE Portland. Being an artistically-inclined nerd, I loved her circuit board series. Then two weeks ago, that now-defunct gallery’s owner Kelley Roy, who now runs ADX, told me Olinka’s new studio is in the Ford Building, where I was heading for the First Friday Open House. I missed Olinka at the studio but left behind my American Robotnik business card, and we arranged a conversation last week. We chatted in English. American […] Continue reading >

Jun 032012

In the diaries and letters they left behind, immigrants made it clear that next to their families and their family homes, they longed most for their native foods. — Susan Matt writing about 1870-1920 immigration in “Homesickness: An American History” Of the connections an immigrant has to his original home, food is the strongest of those that he can enjoy in his new country (music comes a close second). There’s a reason heritage festivals take place amid food booths. Ethnic food sites like Lubos Brieda’s Slovak Cooking bring the old country […] Continue reading >

May 252012
Celebrating Alphabet Creators and Faith Bringers

Yesterday, May 24th, was Saints Cyril and Methodius Day, an important holiday for Bulgarians and Macedonians, commemorating the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet and generally their culture.* Members of the Podkrepa Bulgarian and Macedonian Association celebrated the big holiday at the Podkrepa Hall in North Portland with a potluck and folk-dancing party. I learned about the event from the Northwest Balkan Events Google Group, where Kathy Fors, a member of both Kafana Klub and Krebsic Orkestar, posted the announcement. I showed up right at 7, and the Bulgarians made me feel […] Continue reading >

May 052012
Portland, Central Europe

Central Europe came to Portland, Oregon, last week. In the span of five days, from Friday, April 27th, to Tuesday, May Day, I experienced at least 7 Central European countries and Russia without leaving the East Side of town. Who said there’s only one America? Stop 1: Serbia, Bosnia, and Thereabouts at Mississippi Pizza The Krebsic Orkestar is a 14-piece local brass band that plays about a gig a month at various venues around town. I don’t know much more about The Krebsic Orkestar,* other than it is the brainchild […] Continue reading >

Jan 202012
The Return to a Disappearing Childhood

When you live outside your country of origin, particularly if it’s overseas like, say, America, every trip ‘back home’ turns into a special occasion. If you’re Evgenia Arbugaeva, not only may it take 18 years to go back, it may also be the last time you see your home town. Tiksi is Arbugaeva’s ‘home home’ in Siberia, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, at the true edge of nowhere. A former military and scientific base, Tiksi emptied after the Soviet Union fell apart. Arbugaeva returned after almost two […] Continue reading >

Jan 162012
The Edges of Old New Year With Chervona

In a happy coincidence, Friday the 13th was also Orthodox New Year’s Eve, and if the party Chervona threw at Dante’s is any indication, 2012 will be awesome. A few recollections from the night linger through the night’s haze. The Show Before the Show I call it Old New Year at Soup-n-Vodka Kitchen: a small pre-party with kapustnica, vodka, and cheap beer. The warm-up works so well I forget about the clock and don’t want to go anywhere. Still giggling at the detour sign a few blocks back that said "MORISON  BR  EAST  DETOUR", I […] Continue reading >

Dec 102011
Bottoms Up at Chervona's Xmas Song Video Shoot Set

I discovered the band Chervona by missing their street concert at the Polish Festival. I listened to their music online every time I postponed going to one of their bi-monthly shows around town. So I was going to be damned if I were to miss the video shoot for their Xmas song “Bottoms Up”. Advertised on Facebook with a call for talent, extras, and production help, the shoot took place last Thursday, December 8th, 2011, at Lents Commons, a Southeast Portland Coffee House. The “Russian genius painter Andrey Nedashkovskiy” created a beautiful, […] Continue reading >

Nov 222011
When the Birds Confer to Tell the Tale

Whether it’s a testimony to my cultural isolation or Penguin Press’s marketing prowess, I learned about “The Conference of the Birds”, the new book by Petr Sís (Peter Sis), on All Things Considered during last Wednesday’s evening commute. By a stroke of luck, I met Petr, a Czech émigré living in the U.S. since 1982, only five days later during his book-tour stop here in Portland, Oregon. In his presentation Monday at Powell’s City of Books, Peter gave a whirlwind tour of the book’s origins and story, of his life/career […] Continue reading >

Oct 212011
Upright Gunslinging Helles Is Smokin'

Lager Field is launching guns blazing. First up, Upright Brewing Company‘s Gunslinging Helles, which I had a chance to sample as a draft brew at the biercafé Belmont Station. When I first looked at the menu, I only had to see “Helles” to know I wanted to taste this lager style. The pint came out a beautiful gold that underlined a gorgeous, sunny Sunday, with vigorous but not overwhelming carbonation and a modest head. The first sip surprised me: at the exact same moment that I felt the satisfaction of […] Continue reading >

Oct 082011
Writing Across Cultures

Portland’s book and literary festival Wordstock is taking place this weekend. This year’s theme: “America Is a Story That Never Ends”. In the event brochure, Wordstock Executive Director Greg Netzer wrote, “America is a biography of who we are, and a dream of who we want to be. This year’s festival is devoted to such stories of American experience.” How apt for American Robotnik! I am attending both days, to hear writers, foreign-born and natural-born alike, talk about their own (and their characters’) challenges in the new country. The […] Continue reading >

Oct 062011
Fall Is Heritage Festival Season

Fall seems to be the season for heritage festivals. Over the past three weekends here in Portland, Oregon, Serbian, Polish, and Greek festivals took place. I had a chance to attend the Polish and Greek one. Today’s first of two posts looks at the festival experiences (Part Two next week will tackle heritage festivals in general). 5th Annual Serbian Fest I learned about Serbian Fest 2011 the week after it took place from Vickie Kavanagh’s preview article on Excerpt: Traditional music, entertainment, activities and food will be featured at […] Continue reading >