I saw “Arrested Development’s” Tobias Funke on the MAX the other day. He was standing next to a young Helen Mirren. Helen looked as though she’d been in a minor industrial accident – maybe a mishap on the assembly line. Later, Steve Buscemi strolled through the car, glaring at people with those eyes of his. I see Buscemi all the time.
If you spend any time at all on public transit, you can’t avoid the doppelgangers. They add a little low-grade celebrity spice to the trip. Hey, there’s Justin Bieber as a woman! Look, that guy looks like Alec Baldwin as a homeless dude! It’s a rolling Entertainment Weekly out there. TMZ on wheels. After you’ve been riding a while, though, spotting the lookalikes just isn’t enough. After a while, it’s time to up your game and step into the big leagues.
I’ve moved on from simple solo celebrity spotting. I’m into groups now. For example, all I need is a Justine Bateman to fill out my Family Ties card. Michael J. Fox is everywhere in Portland. Tina Yothers was tough. If I really want a challenge, I work on the cast of Lost, or some buddy cop movies.
If you really get into this game, you’ll need to take a few days off so you can ride lines that you wouldn’t normally ride in the course of your workday. For example, say you wanted to fill out the cast of Entourage. You might start with the Green Line MAX, and keep an eye peeled as you roll through downtown toward PSU. But you’ll most likely need to disembark and hit the streetcar up through the Pearl. And someone with a Portlandia bent is going to want to work the low bus numbers – 4/9/14/15, Division/Powell/Hawthorne/Belmont will probably do the trick.
You get the idea. Start easy, maybe “Friends” on the Green Line, and work your way up the ladder to something really difficult, like “True Blood” solely on even-numbered bus lines. Soon, you’ll have toured Portland and made some new buddies along the way. And, on weekends, you can turn this into the only drinking game you can safely play on city streets.
One word of warning: Don’t try this while you’re driving. Relentlessly mashing the accelerator to make sure that truck driver really looks like Tony Soprano can be hazardous to your health.
And make sure to check out Dr. Jeff’s Holiday Fare project, which aims to collect and deliver transit tickets to those in need this holiday season!
Art by Heather!