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Got to see Australia’s reigning pinball champion in action in East Village last night; he let me sub in on right flipper but I was very, very rusty. He even plays a song about pinball occasionally:

It’s a fascinating subculture. Even though there’s now only one company manufacturing pinball machines – and apparently most their sales of the $4-6000 machines are for private homes, since machines with thousands of moving parts are just too expensive for bars and arcades to maintain – cities like Portland and Seattle are hotbeds for pinball fanatics. There are national and international competitions, and crews of hardcore pinballers like the “Crazy Flipper Fingers” who see themselves as a gang of pinball outlaws like the Hells Angels were to bike gangs. There’s a great article from the Willamette Weekly here which gives a great insight into how the Portland scene evolved, as well as the players and repairmen who keep it going.

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