Brian K. Friesen stands at the front of the crowded room, a microphone in one hand and a small orange notebook in the other. “The Attic” of the Buffalo Gap Saloon and Eatery is packed full of people to celebrate him and the release of his new book, At the Waterline. Of this fact, he is earnestly aware.
“I just want to say a few words about gratitude and thanks,” he begins. A spiralled stack of At the Waterline copies rests on the table next to him. Its publication is a testament to his craft, heart, and, as Brian notes, the community he immerses himself in.
This is the scene at the At the Waterlinerelease party. The air is joyous, communal, and honestly, a little bit wet. Before settling into the warm atmosphere at Buffalo Gap, a scavenger hunt sent teams all over Portland in search of local wares present in At the Waterline. Through the wind, hail, rain, and occasional sunshine, intrepid folk sought the same kinds of comfort and scenery present in Friesen’s book, which takes place just north of Portland in a ramshackle marina filled with characters as diverse as the items the teams were hunting for.
“How many ducks did you get,” a scavenger hunt judge asks a team in regard to their visit to local Portland craft shop Crafty Wonderland. “Did any of you manage to climb a tree?”
Teams were tasked with taking photos and getting all sorts of At the Waterline–related things from Portland mainstays like Ancestry Brewing, the Willamette Sailing Club, Portland Kayak Company, Pacific Pie Company, The Meadow, Daily Cafe, the Outdoor Program, Crafty Wonderland, and Nossa Familia Coffee, all of which also generously sponsored the event.
At the Waterline is, at its heart, deeply passionate about community. In that way it aligns with the Ooligan Press philosophy. The Press, like the scavenger hunt, is all about turning the literary lens inward, highlighting Oregon authors—like Brian, who lives in Tualatin—and showing the wider literary world what makes Oregon so vibrant.
The crowd at Buffalo Gap reflects this as well. Scavenger hunt teams ranged from Ooligan Press members (some of whom worked on the book), to friends of the author, to those who just want to support local literature. To ignore the communal nature of Ooligan Press is to belittle the multitude of outside contributors that make the dream of book publishing a reality.
As everyone enjoys plates of nachos or cold beer, Brian stands at the bar, scanning the scene. “It feels pretty damn good. Having everyone here, it’s great.”
Oh, and the winning scavenger hunt team? The Hot Ruddered Bums, of course. What’s more perfect than that?