Friends can be your greatest champions, except Phoebe, who speaks her mind too freely, and Joey, who's kind of stupid, and Chandler, who's a stuttering coward... Man, Friends suck. Nonetheless, bringing their pal's odd obsessions to Portland, the owners of Paxton Gate, opening tomorrow.
A natural-history-leaning curio store of epic proportions (not just the ensuing scandal every time Bill makes a movie), the original Paxton was founded in San Francisco by a landscape designer; the Portland outpost -- a rough-hewn, wood-heavy retail space given the impression of age via wrought iron windows and reclaimed display cases -- is being started up by longtime friends who knew the originator all the way back when he was tending bar. The ornately bizarre stock starts with reliquaries based on 16th c. saint-bone holders decorated with etchings from science tomes, etc., and enclosing everything from dice to coyote bones collected and cleaned by the artist after they starved to death due to a roadrunner shortage. More ephemera includes the Opium Desk Lamp (a bathysphere supported by brass bird's legs, with a poppy pod shooting out its top), vicious, ready-to-pounce rabbit skeletons, and taxidermy including cobras, mice dressed for social occasions, dogfish sharks in alcohol, and jackalopes -- apocryphal creatures invented by people too timid to make up Bigfoot.
While dead things abound, Paxton also carries carnivorous plants like the pitcher and the Venus fly trap, herbal soaps like an orange spice bar from Etta Billie, and numerous field guides and other books, which should remind you of the classic Joey episode, "The One Where The Guy Can't Read".