Interactive English: Reception

Reading and Listening

Paranoid Park

on October 2, 2012

As you already know, we will be reading Blake Nelson’s Paranoid Park together this semester. The story takes place in Portland, Oregon and revolves around an illegal skatepark there. Watch a couple of minutes of this video to get a feeling for what Portland is like. Then watch about one minute of this video of a skatepark there. Choose ONE of the following questions and answer it in the comments:

1. If you have been to Portland, what can you tell us about it?

2. After watching the video, what do you think about the city, people and culture of Portland?

3. Do you skateboard or can you tell us anything about skateboarding or its culture?

4. What impression did you have of the skatepark and the skateboarders?

Also, as you read pages 1-9 of Paranoid Park, keep track of the characters and map and answer the following questions (make sure all information is in your journal):

1. On the first page it says, “Dear ____ , “. What do you think this means?

2. Why do you think he is at his uncle’s house?

3. Why are he and Jared friends?

4. Do the trains still use the tracks by Paranoid Park?

5. How does the narrator feel about Paranoid Park?

6. How does he feel about Jennifer?

7. How does he feel about Jared?

8. What do you think will happen in the next 20 pages?


16 responses to “Paranoid Park

  1. Wataru Okubo says:

    Question 2: After watching the video, what do you think about the city, people and culture of Portland? (and a little bit about Q4)
    In the first video, Portland seems a really nice city to visit. It looks like it has everything! It has beautiful buildings, broad boulevards, a stadium, a museum, shops, cafes and restaurants, and within an hour and a half you can enjoy great nature such as river, beach and mountain. And I noticed a Japanese garden and the stone garden reminded me of one I saw in Kyoto! Then I saw a winery so the weather must be nice. But, I think we should be aware that it shows only a bright side of the city because I feel Paranoid Park deals more with underground culture. Also, there is no such thing as a perfect city! People there seem to enjoy and appreciate the nature. And I saw the promotion for sustainability, so I guess they pay attention to environmental movements and the infrastructure is also arranged for it and that might be why there’re so many bikes. The culture I think is highly influenced by the history of the city, I mean the port. I couldn’t find an example in the video but many bridges might be the remnant of it. But these are all just maybes.
    Frankly, I wasn’t attracted to the second video. I admit that skateboarding stuff is cool and I can imagine how thrilling to actually do it, but, to me, it doesn’t outweigh the fear of breaking a bone. One of my high school friends, who had just started skateboarding, complained about the environments in Japan, so it must be an important issue for skaters if there is a park nearby. And I imagine to young generation in Portland, skateboarding is like soccer in South America, cricket in India or xiangqi(a board game, I heard they play it on the street all the time) in China. (something like Nike would love to make a CM out of)

    I happened to find that Paranoid Park was made into a movie, which of course I won’t watch until I finish reading it first. But just knowing that gave me an idea about prediction. The director is Gus Van Sant and in all his movies I watched, Van Sant portrays a young man’s struggle to adjust himself to the world he thinks he doesn’t fit in. So I guess Paranoid Park would also go along this line.
    Meanwhile, we’re back to school and I’m struggling to wake myself up to adjust to the school life again…
    See you next class!

    • tufsmatt says:

      You’re right about the video – it only shows the bright side of Portland and this book deals with more of its dark side. I have the DVD of the Van Sant movie so I’ll loan it to you after we finish the book! Unfortunately, the book is much better than the film 😦

  2. Takumi Nakanishi says:


    I’ll write about my answer to Q2.

    Wow! Great! I’d like to vist Portland someday!
    I’m just joking.
    I’m not interested in Portland at all.
    To be more exact, I haven’t been interested in anything except for a few things recently.

    I’m tired of my life.

  3. Ayumi Sugaya says:

    I chose the second question. Portland seemed so attractive in this video although I didn’t know anything about there before watching it.
    I’ll talk about the city, firtst. There were many tall buildings ,but at the same time I could enjoy beautiful landscapes of majestic nature near the city. I could also see a Japanese-style garden, and it made me surprise. My impressions about Portland are urban, calm, and picturesque, so I can’t imagine that there are some places like Paranoid Park.
    I couldn’t get much information about people and culture of Portland, but I think people of Portland maybe put importance on food culture and sports. Cafe, bar, restaurant, and market seemed popular.I could also see images of cycle racing and basketball.
    See you on Tuesday.

    • tufsmatt says:

      Yes, people in Portland love food and especially coffee. The people are very “outdoorsy” and are pretty active in sports. What the video doesn’t show are the large homeless population or the many street kids…
      See you tomorrow!

  4. Kei Inamura says:


    Here’s my answer to the 2nd question.
    At first I was surprised to see how Portland was urban, because I had though Oregon was kind of rural province.
    However, though Portland is urban, I could see many nature things like the mountains and the sea and it was attractive to me.

    I couldnt get much information of people and culture, but i just wondered if there is any road bike competition or it is comfortable to go around the city in bikes as some road cyclists showed up a few second in the video. As I ride road bikes I wanted to cycle Portland and go sightseeing.


    • tufsmatt says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard that Portland is a “bike-friendly” city so many people ride to work and school. It rains a lot though so if you don’t mind getting wet, it’s a great place to tour on a bicycle!

  5. Shogo Inoue says:

    I’ll answer question 4
    I don’t skateboard myself but from the short video it looked pretty cool. My friend does skateboarding and I borrowed it myself once, but it was too difficult for me to ride on. Those trick they do are something that everyone can’t do and is something that they should keep on doing. Skateboarding is one of the young people’s culture and something that different generation has hard time understanding.

    • tufsmatt says:

      When I was a kid, my cousin crashed her skateboard and knocked out her 2 front teeth. Because of this, my parents never let my sister or I have skateboards… only roller skates (which were NOT cool)

  6. Satomi Togari says:

    I felt very anxious while watching the video of the
    skateboarders because they kept bumping into each other,
    slamming themselves into the walls, or sending their skateboards flying into
    the crowd. Nevertheless, the thrill of unpredictable accidents must be
    part of the fun for the skateboarders!(and perhaps the audience?)
    It certainly does reminds me of rollercoasters and the thought of being
    on a skateboard myself gives me the chills. (NOT a likely option anyways ;I wouldn’t last 5 seconds!)
    The graffiti on the walls is pretty decent, so the skatepark in the video probably resembles Skatecity rather than Paranoid Park;it’s not my kind of place all the same!!
    I couldn’t help noticing the Gumby (green cartoon character) and the guy dressed up
    as a nun(?)….appropriate enough as Halloween is just around the corner!

    • tufsmatt says:

      I agree that the skate park doesn’t seem so dirty or dangerous (except for the skateboarders running into each other). But the atmosphere might change at night!

  7. Masato Kurosawa says:

    I am answering question 4.

    The skateboarders in the video looks like idiots. Not only to enjoy skateboarding, they are also seemed to enjoy cosplaying. I don’t know how easy or hard to ride on a skateboard, but it seems a lot fun for me. If I get a opportunity, I’ll try it. However I’ll never try cosplaying. Never!


  8. saya says:

    I chose the second question.
    After wathcing this video, I doubted if it was really the picture of one city.
    The video contained a lot of seneries and cultures.
    While there are many people and traffic in the urban area, you can see beautiful nature such as mountains and waterfall if you drive for several minutes.
    And I thought Portland is also a city of sports. I could see many people jogging down the street, and people lining the street to watch a basketball game.
    Coffee and wine in the video looked so nice, too!
    I would to go there right now if I had enough money…


    • tufsmatt says:

      Portland is sort of famous in America for being the “perfect” city… it has all the good things of a big city (entertainment, shopping, restaurants, many different cultures, etc…) but also all the good things about nature (close to the mountains and ocean, lots of parks and trees, a clean river, etc)

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