April 2011

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Another Portland Blog

Friday, March 31, 2006


Random link time

It's been a while since I last did one of these. I'm out of practice but here goes...

  • Fat Albert wants you to lay off the bottle and spend more time working on your hook shot.

  • These guys may soon be moving into your neighborhood, compliments of Multnomah County's early release program.

  • Fitter, happier, more productive...

  • Snakes On a Plane? No longer funny, says b!x.

  • Out of Portland during spring break? Then you probably missed this bit of local controversy. Jack Bog has photos of the business' entrance over here. Should be a large turnout tomorrow.

  • Looks like no one will be making fun of Carrot Top know that he's (apparently) been chugging Barry Bonds' secret formula. "KMikeyM" has the shocking, evidentially real proof here.

  • Disneyland's Haunted Mansion meets a slasher flick? Changes could be in store for the popular theme park attraction (scroll down to the headline "Here Comes the Bride").

  • A love affair between a man and a man-eating shark? Jaws retold as a chick flick.

  • Thursday, March 30, 2006


    One thing every Portlander must parody

    Oregonian columnist Steve Duin tackled Portland Monthly's near constant list-making in today's edition. While it all seems a wee bit familiar, have a look. At the end of the column he offers his own suggestions for more scrupulous future articles, should the local glossy ever run out of ideas. Among them:

  • Portland's Top 20 Payday Loan Locations

  • Rest Easy: The 8 Best Places to Find a Mattress on the Side of the Road

  • Our Fabulous Fall Forecast: 10 Eastside Streets Where the Leaves Will Still Be There in the Morning But Your Car Won't

  • Fourteen Suburban Wastelands that Not Only Want a Wal-Mart But Deserve One

  • "Meth epidemic"? Check. But no cracks about the shootings downtown?

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006


    Deadly weapons? 25 cents

    My generation was probably the last in American history to enjoy toys that could have killed us. Even as late as the mid-80s, Sears catalogs contained displays of youngsters playing with air rifles and bow and arrows. Lawn dart sets could still be found in the garages of just about every US household. Nowadays you can't even buy a plastic Star Wars blaster that isn't painted florescent orange to distinguish it from...real lazer blasters, I guess.

    That said, ninja stars are selling for a quarter apiece at the Safeway in Burlingame. Sure, they're sticky ninja stars but they still pose a potential choking hazard. That has to count for something.

    And their 21st century design is a drastic improvement over similar toys heralding back to the Reagan administration. I bought one, brought it home and just flung it at the wall about an hour ago. It hasn't budged. What a wonderful time to be a child.

    This photo is the first I've taken with my fancy-schmancy new RAZR phone. I knew that thing was gonna come in handy. Now if I could only figure out how to create and download homemade ringtones. I do a terrible Ricardo Montalban impersonation. A Kahn-era Ricardo yelling "pick up your telephone, jackass" could lead to any number of awkward moments.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006


    Everytime I try to get out...

    ...well, you know the rest.

    I promised myself I would never enter another coloring contest. That I would never again use my remarkable ability to color within the lines for the forces of evil and material gain.

    But then this came along:

    That's right, the Portland Mercury is hosting its own holiday coloring contest (click the link for a closer look). The winner scores 200 bucks. Try as I might, I just can't say "no" to something like this.

    Unlike all the other no-doubt greedy contestants, I'm willing to donate 42% of the cash prize to charity. I'd go as high as 58% but, hey, I've got a car insurance bill due next month. And have you seen the sewer bills in this town? Thanks for nothing, Big Pipe Project.

    Entries are due by next Thursday, April 6th and I intend to win. Or at least come somewhat close to winning, which means I need ideas. A box of Crayolas, staying in the lines and lying about my age won't guarantee victory like last time. In addition to coloring, I'll have to spend some time with Photoshop. I may have to Worth 1000 this thing.

    I can just see dropping hours on this project and later watching the prize go to a three year-old that spent 30 seconds scribbling all over the cover with a Magic Marker. Or maybe that's what I should do.

    Anyway, if you have any suggestions or advice, I'm all ears. Just toss it all in the comments area below.


    Lions and tigers and bears, oh...hey, where'd they go?

    I was curious to find out the street date of that article on the Safari Club so I sent the reporter at the Tribune an email. She kindly passed along some clarification and an update. I won't quote the whole thing but here are the two key details:

  • According to Glen E. Park's son, the animals were all moved to the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, not a museum in Tacoma. The arrangements were made prior to his death.

  • A few of the critters remain in the Safari Club

  • But which ones? Maybe a field trip out to Estacada is in order. Here's hoping the polar bear MCs by the front doors haven't budged.

    If you're unfamiliar with what once was, and may still be, the Portland metro area's weirdest bar, click here.

    Monday, March 27, 2006


    Portland Radio Authority, back on the air

    Well, kind of.

    The producers launched a streaming feed on the internet earlier today. Right now I'm listening to rare Neil Young tracks and audio excerpts of what sound like a long-dead philosophy professor's ruminations on the meaning of life. The DJ hasn't done a voice over yet but I'm willing to bet they're not having the best of spring breaks.

    It may not be your cup of tea but I think this sort of thing is a welcome alternative to the endless string of payday loan ads on the rest of Portland's radio dial. To read more about what PRA has been through in recent weeks, click here.


    Tony Soprano: to Thomas Kincade hell and back

    Don't read this if you're a fan of The Sopranos and haven't seen last night's episode. Spoilers to follow.

    I'm loving the sixth season of The Sopranos so far. The show has always focused on Tony's wavering morality. One minute he's a charismatic goon you can't help but like, the next he's a raging sociopath. So with him in a coma, The Sopranos has gone all metaphysical and placed its pathological patriarch in a metaphor-ridden Limbo worthy of Twin Peaks." To quote the Guinness guys, last night's episode was "BRILLIANT!"

    So what does hell look like for a middle-aged mafioso? It's eternity spent trapped at a family reunion in a house straight of a Thomas Kincade painting. Inside are all the relatives you can't stand and a few of the friends and family members you put to death. And Steve Buscemi is working the door and acting all bartender-in-The Shining-y. I wish Tony had drifted past the doorway, if only to be confronted by the apparitions of his mother and "Big Pussy," before being brought back from the brink of death by a preschool-era Meadow's angelic voice.

    I don't watch much television because of the episodic nature of the medium. Even the most beloved of hour-long dramas bore me to tears. How many times can your seriously watch Jack Bauer overcome yet another contrived plot twist? I've stuck with The Sopranos, despite the redundancies in seasons 4 and 5. I'm glad I did. Last night's episode wasn't television and it wasn't HBO either, as the ads portentously declare. It was pure art, dammit.


    Lame Portland spring break '06 haikus

    the schools are out now
    bored brats fill all portland's streets
    here come curfew cops

    big riot in seaside
    it happened one year, made great
    tv. again, please

    stuck at work all week
    are you somewhere warm? you suck
    please send cuervo, stat

    ha! suckers! weatherman says
    it will rain all week

    Friday, March 24, 2006


    Snakes on a Plane!

    Snakes on a Plane!

    Snakes on a Plane!

    Snakes on a Plane!

    Snakes on a Plane!

    What is this all about? If you're still in the dark, click here.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006


    Bungle in the jungle

    I heard something about this a few weeks ago but didn't think it was true. Rumors of the Safari Club's demise have been rumored for years. Now perhaps sadder than a closure, comes news that the original owner's widow is moving the iconic bars' menagerie of taxidermy'd beasts to a museum in Tacoma. There's no date on that Portland Tribune article but I just discovered it earlier this evening.

    She's taking the safari out of the club! Now where will all the hipsters hang out once they're priced out of Portland and forced to move east to Estacada? Sure, they could still hit the bar but, let's be honest, the real draw was the opportunity to drink gin next to bloodthirsty critters (see above).

    If the place were closer to town, you wouldn't be able to get near it on weekend nights. Without the lions, tigers and bears, the Safari Club may as well be a zoo without anything in the cages.


    Oregon City's # 1 tourist attraction

    And now, for no apparent reason, here's a few photos of the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.

    A poor man's Space Needle? Maybe but does the iconic tourist trap in Seattle have cheesy '50s murals? An observation deck that overlooks the thriving metropolis that is Oregon City? The creepiest painting of John McLoughin ever created? An adjacent path that leads to not only Dr. McLoughlin's grave but also a view of Willamette Falls? No, no, no and, that's right, no.

    A quick history lesson, compliments of Oregon City's official website:

    Oregon City is home to the only municipal elevator in the United States. It lifts people 100 feet to the mid-level of the city. There are only three other municipal elevators in the world.

    Basalt terraces divide the city into three levels. In 1915 the town built a water-powered elevator to connect the two lower parts of town in a ride that took 3 minutes. Early residents recall that if the water pressure suddenly dropped it meant somebody was riding the elevator. The Oregon City Elevator was converted to electricity in the 1920s which reduced the ride to 30 seconds. The new elevator was built in 1955.

    One of the murals in the observation deck depicts Oregon City as a bright beacon of the future with the elevator as its centerpiece. It looks like something straight out of Tomorrowland or the cover shot of an issue of Popular Science circa 1955. I neglected to take a photo, so here's one of the aforementioned creepy McLoughlin painting:

    The Father of Oregon or Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer? You decide.

    If the elevator were ever abandoned, it would make a great hideout for a Batman villain. Until that happens, it's worth a stop on a "Keep Portland Weird" day trip through the outer reaches of SE. Heading south along McLoughlin, you can hit Milwaukie's very own Statue of Liberty recreation, the Bomber, Keana's Candyland and a thrift shop filled with '80s toys adjacent to the elevator.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006


    Tonight's lesson: don't piss off Trey Parker and Matt Stone

    Otherwise they might turn your animated alter-ego into a brainwashed pedophile, set you on fire, send you off the side of a cliff, have you mauled by a cougar and a bear before turning you into an evil cyborg bent on traumatizing the world's children.


    That South Park show? Never a dull moment. No sir.

    Your move, Scientology.


    A toned-down V?

    If you haven't seen V for Vendetta and/or plan on reading the graphic novel, don't read this post. It includes massive spoilers for both versions.

    Comic book maestro Alan Moore has built a reputation for taking his name off the film adaptations of his work. Big-screen versions of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, From Hell and Constantine received poor reviews and mediocre box office returns. Still, Moore's reasons for distancing himself from these adaptations vary from creative differences to a lawsuit over the screenplay for League.

    Moore's name is also missing from V for Vendetta, released in theaters last week, but this time many critics have deemed this adaptation worthy of the source material. While the film received praise for its daring narrative, the differences between page and screen are notable.

    In the comic, the nearly nameless V is an unapologetic mad-bomber bent on turning a dystopic, fascist UK into an anarchist state. He describes his vision for the country as "The Land of Do-As-You-Please" and predicts that Britain will be in for a period of self-destructive collateral damage before his idyllic plans can finally take root. The film version skirts around V's full intentions as the character babbles on about freedom, leaving the future of the UK up to Natalie Portman's Evey and "the next generation."

    The biggest deviation is in the film's finale. In the comic, V blows up Parliament before page one. After he's taken down by Inspector Finch, not the members of a would-be coup, Evey takes his place and dons her own Guy Fawkes mask. The final pages send V's explosive funeral pyre through London's subway system to 10 Downing Street as the city is swarmed with rioters.

    In the Wachowski Brothers' (shouldn't we be calling them the Wachowski Siblings at this point?) version, the citizens of London storm the streets surrounding Parliament, each dressed in V's trademark mask and cape. As Parliament explodes, they remove their masks and swear their allegiance to his shapeless cause. As the credits rolled during a recent screening of the film at Lloyd Cinemas, I imagined the on-screen mob holding hands and singing "Kum Bah Ya" as Big Ben sat in the embers. Meanwhile, the Londonites flip out and tear the city to shreds in the source material.

    The comic also features Finch stripping naked after a bizarre LSD trip in the detention camp responsible for creating V, Chancellor Sutler being driven mad by a seemingly omnipotent computer and a bleaker conclusion.

    Is this a case of the Wachowskis sugar-coating controversial material for Bush's America? Maybe. It's amazing that they got a greenlight for this project but if you're going to portray a ruthless anarchist as a hero, you may as well go all the way. Despite their changes, the film retains the comic's key theme: that "ideas are bulletproof."

    And that Guy Fawkes masks are incredibly creepy. I'm really looking forward to seeing those things all over the place come Halloween.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006


    No time for bloggin'

    So far it's been a busy week on my end. Sorry for the lack of photos, rambling entries and repetitious posts about Portland Monthly. To make up for it, please enjoy this link to an article about freaky Polish movie posters. The one you see above is for "The Blues Brothers." I didn't know Mick Jagger was in it. Maybe his scenes were apart of the long-lost "roadshow" cut.


    Sympathy for the salt of the earth

    I sympathize with all the poor souls that earn their paychecks by working for the local wing of certain cable behemoth. The reasons why need not be explained here, nor the reasons why last weeks "I Anonymous" column in the Portland Mercury brought a smirk to my face.

    Click here to look over a random "cable guy's" lamentation and then maybe you'll think twice before you start grumbling about your television and high-speed internet provider.


    Sunday, March 19, 2006


    From today's Pop Talk column in the Oregonian...

    Web - Tony gets it, Portland-style

    I would say "spoiler alert," but if you haven't heard by now that last Sunday's mega-hyped season debut of "The Sopranos" ended with Tony Soprano getting plugged in his girthsome gut -- well, enjoy life there in your Cone of Silence. For the rest of us, tonight's "Sopranos" episode has us wondering what will happen to the big galoot. For an alternate version of Tony meeting a violent fate, check out a Portland blogger's ultra low-rent vision. Go to "Welcome to Blog" (the address is actually http://laurabush.info/ though it's not affiliated with the first lady -- duh). Scroll down, past the hilarious spoof of a certain glossy mag, to the March 10 entry: "The Death of Tony Soprano." OK, "The Godfather" it isn't, as Mr. Welcome to Blog himself admits. But give 'im a break -- it's local!

    In case anyone saw the clip in today's Oregonian and comes looking for the video, here's a direct link. Just hit the play button in the window below. Prepare to be...completely underwhelmed. This short was put together in 20 minutes flat and had a budget of exactly 0 dollars. Scorsese it ain't.

    A larger version of the video can be found over here.

    Thanks for the shout-out, Pop Talk.


    Oh, joy!

    A quote from the wrong cartoon but who cares? Rumor has it that 26 new episodes of Futurama are in the works. Read all about it here but don't hold your breath. At least not yet anyway.

    Friday, March 17, 2006


    St. Patrick's Day on the other side of the world, another round of photos from Tokyo and why I hate Nick at Nite

    A few months ago I had to turn down an invite to spend Spring Break running around Japan. While taking odd photos in distant locales is my favorite activity in the world, April brings with it bills for car insurance and the Multnomah County tax. If I were willing to run up massive credit card debt I could be sleeping off a hangover in Tokyo right now, where the current time is 6:27 tomorrow morning.

    All this begs the question: do the Japanese celebrate St. Patrick's Day? From what I've heard, they do indeed. My colleagues were set to arrive overseas at 5 PM Friday, Tokyo time. From there, jetlag be dammed, a friend was planning to take them on a tour of the city's pubs and past no less than five million potential photo opps.

    Oh well, at least I can live vicariously through another Flickr gallery's worth of leftover Tokyo pics taken during a trip in late 2004. This one marks the last gallery in an ongoing series that has run on Welcome to Blog for over a year now. This final set contains oh-so-kooky shots of:

  • The "Penis People" plush dolls that serve as mascots for the Tokyo Tower.

  • An odd painting of Disney's seven dwarfs hanging around with a lederhosen-clad gorilla.

  • A 9+ story karaoke parlor.

  • What Bill Clinton's autobiography looks like translated into Japanese.

  • A group of commuters practicing CPR in the middle of Tokyo Station.

  • A cigarette lighter shaped like Adolf Hitler's head.

  • And more!

  • I had to rise early on Thursday to get out to the airport and, of course, I woke up in the middle of night after a Japanese-themed nightmare. Traveling jitters for someone else's vacation? I guess so. Here's a rundown, in case you're curious.

    The nightmare began in my grandparent's kitchen. Their entire house was now located in a Tokyo suburb. It was night and through a sliding glass door I could see an illuminated pond filled with koi fish. A group of cops was sitting around their kitchen table. The room was all film noir-ish and filled with smoke. A videotape was sitting on a kitchen counter. In walks a Shield-era Glenn Close looking all tough.

    HER: "We need to keep this tape for evidence. It's going down to the station."

    ME: (In this nightmare I'm also a cop) "Don't you get it? This tape kills people. There's a corpse in the bedroom upstairs."

    HER: "A videotape that kills people? I'm sending you in for a psyche evaluation. You're off the team."

    ME: "It's the same damn tape from that movie The Ring. Didn't you see it?"

    The other cops are still sitting around the table smoking in silence. Desperate to prevent the tape's curse from spreading, I grabbed it off the counter. Close tries to tear it out of my hands and starts punching me in the head. As the other cops continue smoking, a white ring and the ghost girl from the film appears on my grandparents' tiny kitchen television.

    I woke up before spectral havoc no doubt better than anything in The Ring Two could ensue. Unable to get back to sleep, I turned on the TV. A Halloween episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bell Air" was on and a few minutes later it cut to a commercial. The first ad that came on? A bizarre toothbrush commercial that begins with a CGI shot of six white circles on a black screen.

    Needless to say I didn't get much shut-eye that night. Thanks, Nick at Nite.

    Thursday, March 16, 2006


    The other side of the Doug Fir Lounge

    Some love it. Others think it's another symbol of everything sick, sad and wrong with Portland's metamorphosis from a low-key, comfortable burg to a bulging metropolis. With its Twin Peaks meets Nip/Tuck decor, the Doug Fir Lounge is perhaps an apt metaphor for this city at the dawn of the 21st century. Since it opened in fall of 2004, the bar/hotel/arts complex has been the subject of praise for its creative design and booking and scorned for its expensive menu, the snooty crowds its draws and the competitive tactics it uses to draw high-buzz bands.

    My opinion of the place leans more thumbs-down than thumbs-up. A few months after it opened, I suggested that a friend rent two rooms at the Doug Fir's Jupiter Hotel for a bachelor party. The plan had been to hit several bars on Burnside, including the Doug Fir. The rooms would be available for those too drunk to drive home. Our group, which had spent the afternoon and evening playing with firearms in Estacada, was underdressed, in the wrong mindset and entirely out of place among the Doug Fir's smoke-free yupster crowd. One confrontation with the staff later, we fled to Union Jack's and the groom swore off the place forever.

    Then last Tuesday morning I found myself on SE Sandy with a few hours to kill and in need of breakfast. I decided to give the Doug Fir a second try. During daylight hours and without a Saturday night crowd clogging the place, I'd be able to get a good look at its log-cabin-in-space decor and score some hashbrowns in the process.

    A waitress led me past a row of large, empty booths and placed me at a tiny table within a foot of another surrounded by a group of middle-aged hippies. So far, so bad. I looked over the menu and, as expected, the items were several dollars more than the ones you'd find at your average pancake house. I settled on the "Logger's Breakfast."

    At that early hour there was barely anyone in the place. A few hoodie'd hipsters at a corner table cured their hangovers with endless refills of Stumptown Coffee. An older couple was chatting about Symantec with an unemployed tech guru. At the bar, a bald man in an expensive suit was staring at a laptop. Country and western standards trickled in through overhead speakers.

    Cramped in next to the hippies, I tried to make enough room to read the Portland Tribune. Had I been placed at one of the vacant booths, this wouldn't have been a problem. The lights over them were extinguished, suggesting they were definitely off limits for the breakfast crowd. Curious...

    The meal itself wasn't bad. Standard breakfast fare, somehow less greasy than you might find at an IHOP. The bottomless cup of Stumptown was appreciated but set me back 2 bucks.

    I finished up as the hippies, who may very well have been staff members at nearby KBOO, started talking about Bollywood films. Before leaving, I took a look around. The Doug Fir looks great but feels cramped even when its empty. It's no wonder that it fills up quick on weekend nights. While it's a victim of its tiny location, the designers worked wonders. With a gilded moose head, sleek bar and eerie nature murals, the Doug Fir truly does look like a log cabin in space. If it weren't for the size and type of crowd it draws, it would be a great place to snag a nightcap.

    If the "playing with firearms in Estacada" bit wasn't a tip off, the Doug Fir is hardly up my alley. I prefer booze-spots where gelling your hair isn't a prerequisite. Still, I'd go back there for breakfast again...if the staff were only willing to open up those booths. I mean, c'mon people, they were going to waste and I needed the extra room.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006


    Gratuitous doughnut photos

    Please enjoy these unremarkable photos of Voodoo Doughnuts.

    A "Butter Fingering" doughnut. This one should be self-explanatory.

    I can't tell if this is supposed to be a neopagan doughnut or a satanic doughnut. Who knows if the symbol was intended to be viewed inverted. I'll have to get back to you with an answer after I consult The Da Vinci Code.

    The..."I Don't Know What That's Supposed to Be" Doughnut. It was filled with cream and that thing on the top that looks like bacon is actually maple frosting. One of the fryers gave me a thumbs up after his creation was added to my to-go box. This was one-a-kind and I think the staff had a bet going as to how long it would take before someone selected it. I was hoping the doughnut would grant me wishes in exchange for not eating it. No such luck.

    When you think "sacrilicious doughnuts" and "doughnuts with ice cream cones on top" think Empire.

    No, wait, that's "auto glass." Think Voodoo Doughnut instead.

    I wish I was getting paid for this.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006


    50 Things Every Portlander MUST Do - the final draft

    Last week while killing time at Rich's Cigar Store something caught my eye. Something that practically jumped off a magazine rack and began tugging on a pants leg. It wouldn't leave me alone. "PLEASE, MISTER! MAKE FUN OF ME ON THE INTERNET! I BEG YOU" it seemed to scream.

    I tried to ignore this calling. "Can't someone else do it," I thought. Maybe Jack Bog, Furious Nads, Metroblogging Portland, Oregon Media Insiders or the Portland Freelancer would tackle it. MP mentioned this certain something last week but didn't delve into a full-blown lampoon.

    On Wednesday, I decided to accept the task and create a parody of Portland Monthly's list of "50 Things Every Portlander Must Do." Try as I did, I gave up after hitting number 25. It was an undertaking too great for any one blogger, or at least any one blogger with a full-time job and an unhealthy addiction to "Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory," to undertake.

    I sent out a distress signal and the readers of Welcome to Blog rushed in to pick up the slack. 10 of you wrote in with dozens of suggestions, stunning numbers for this wee little blog hovering on the edges of the Blogosphere.

    I promised to and will send a final version of the list to the editors of Portland Monthly. Maybe, just maybe, they'll include parts of it in their letters page in an upcoming issue. Or maybe they'll become so incensed over it they'll use their evil powers to drudge up a mob of well-dressed orcs that will hunt me down while wielding mahogany pitch forks ($750, Pottery Barn, various locations) and custom-made torches ($800 - $2000, Souri's Gifts and Home Furnishings 748 NW 11th Ave.).

    Or, more likely, their spam filter will delete it.

    So here's the final version of the list. Some of the entries have been tweaked for grammar and to make them less funny. If your favorite one didn't make the cut or, if you don't approve of my edits or their placement, feel free to give me an earful in the comments area below.

    50 Things Every Portlander MUST Do (Whether They Want to or Not)

    50. Get harassed by a street kid for cigarettes, even if you aren't a smoker.

    49. Nearly get hit by a car (if you ride a bike) or nearly hit a bike (if you drive a car).

    48. Hear the Shane Company's "he's dull but he's brilliant" jingle once, get it stuck in the head for the rest of your natural life (submitted by Anonymous).

    Rick Emerson?

    47. Wonder aloud about who Rick Emerson is, what he does exactly and why everyone you know loves him.

    46. Ignore the Rose Festival.

    45. Tip-toe over spit and trash on the downtown streets of the country's "Most Walkable City" (submitted by KW).

    44. Wait 20 minutes to get your gas pumped because the pimply kid running the gas station is on his cell phone with his girlfriend (submitted by Kenny).

    43. Visit the Pittock Mansion. Completely lose interest after five minutes (submitted by Jeff (but without that snarky second sentence)).

    42. Call in to work and tell them you can't make it in because a quarter of an inch of snow has fallen (submitted by AD).

    41. Give people dirty looks when they throw recyclables in the trash. Feel overwhelming guilt when you do it (submitted by Anna).

    40. Complain about the weather but become offended when non-Portlanders complain about the weather (submitted by KW).

    39. Memorize every Portland/Oregon connection to the movie industry and the music scene, no matter how tangential, and interject them at every opportunity (submitted by Nate).

    38. Laugh exactly once at a joke in any given issue of the Portland Mercury. Groan at all the others (submitted by Anonymous).

    37. Declare that "you only shop at Trader Joe's" (submitted by M-Nikk).

    36. Buy a cookie at a coffee shop, notice that the taste is slightly off, discover that it's actually a vegan cookie, briefly consider going vegan, have a burger for dinner.

    35. Choose one local channel's news broadcast and stick with it until you leave town or die.

    34. Suggest Papa Hayden's on 23rd for dessert, though you've never actually been there yourself (submitted by K. Martin).

    The late, great "Pyscho Safeway."

    33. Continue to lament the loss of the old "Pyscho Safeway" on SW Jefferson Street (submitted by Kenny).

    32. Attempt to find the Towne Lounge (submitted by AD).

    31. Hate Wal-Mart but shop at Target (submitted by Anna).

    30. (Read aloud while doing your best Stephen Colbert impression) Forget which City Council member is "the gay one."

    29. Pretend to like the Decembrists.

    28. Complain about Californians while overlooking your own status as a recent expat from San Jose (submitted by KW).

    27. (If you're a Reed student) Make fun of everyone not affiliated with Reed. (For everyone else) Roll your eyes every time you meet a "Reedie" (submitted by Me-Nikk).

    26. Pass by Norm's Garden and realize that you probably won't be getting authentic Chinese food there (submitted by Kenny).

    25. Get shot at while downtown (submitted by AD).

    24. Go to Saturday Market. Realize there's nothing worth buying. Tell yoiurself you still care if its knocked out of its current home by a condo development (submitted by Anna).

    23. Know at least one person who doesn't own a TV or a car and is "PROUD OF IT!!!" (submitted by KW).

    22. Decide to go to "First Thursday" but never make it out of The Low Brow (submitted by Me-Nikk).

    21. Get stuck in traffic on US 26 (submitted by Kenny).

    20. Debate which local columnist "phones it in" more often: Jonathan Nicholas or Phil Stanford (submitted by Anonymous).

    19. Shed a tear over the "yuppification" of the Bridgeport Brewpub.

    18. Drive everywhere despite the Critical Mass sticker on the bumper of your '98 Pathfinder.

    17. Have a bus pass you by on MLK because it's full....or they just thought you were a crack dealer (submitted by AD).

    16. Hide under a blanket every time you hear the words "meth" and "problem" together in a sentence (submitted by KW).

    15. Pretend to care about whatever arcane aspect of the perpetual PGE imbroglio or the Physicians' Hospital closure Willamette Week is covering in its most recent issue (submitted by Anonymous).

    14. Take someone from out of town to Multnomah Falls, spend two minutes looking at the falls, wonder why you drove all the way out there, consider hiking up to the bridge but putter around the gift shop instead, come close to dropping two quarters and a penny in the smasher machine, realize that you have no use for crushed coins with an Multnomah Falls imprint and drive back to town wishing you had taken them to the zoo or someplace that sells booze.

    13. Turn on KNRK, hear a song by Coldplay, realize that "things [aren't] different here" and turn off the radio in disgust.

    12. Count tissue paper piles in Forest Park (submitted by AD).

    11. Consider yourself really "global-minded," sophisticated and cultured because you've just eaten in an "ethnic" restaurant (submitted by KW).

    10. Forget about the Blazers entirely or bitterly criticize their perpetual run-ins with the law. Then bemoan the possibility of the franchise leaving town after Paul Allen considers putting it up for sale.

    9. Get into a fight with a downtown parking meter (submitted by Kenny).

    8. One word: allergies (submitted by Jack Bog).

    7. Live in perpetual denial of the fact that Pabst Blue Ribbon tastes like puddle water.

    6 Endlessly moan and groan about any combination of the following: the OHSU tram project, the bus mall revamp, the schools, various casino proposals, the repercussions of Measure 37 but not bother to pay attention to who's running for governor or the open seats on City Council.

    5. Tell friends and family living elsewhere about how wonderful Portland is- about how you're a few hours from the mountain, that you're minutes away from hiking trails, that you can commute everywhere on a bike, etc. Live here the rest of your life without ever once going hiking, skiing or biking.

    Local band The Gossip (yes, originally from Arkansas by way of Olympia. I know, I know).

    4. Pretend to like Portland's "arts" and music scene. Stutter and stammer when someone asks you for the name of your favorite local artist or band (submitted by KW).

    3. Call yourself a graphic designer or an artist (submitted by Me Nikk). Get turned down for 55 jobs in a single month (submitted by AD).

    2. Agree with the notion behind those "Keep Portland Weird" bumperstickers but wind up stealing music off the internet instead of supporting Music Millenium.

    And # 1 on the countdown is....

    1. Cringe at Portland Monthly and its Oaks Park fashion shoots, full-color, glossy jewelry ads and reviews of hoity-toity Pearl District hotspots. Realize that the contents of its average issue are completely irrelevant to any Portlander making under 6-figures. Find yourself flipping through the latest issue at the supermarket anyway (submitted by Anna but with lots of obnoxious additions by myself).

    Monday, March 13, 2006


    Final edit - attempt # 1

    I just spent over an hour editing the Portland Monthly parody list and writing a brilliant, breathtaking intro for it.

    My Mac froze up on me moments before I hit "publish" in Blogger. Of course, this was one of the rare times I neglected to hit "save as draft" while writing.

    Anyone who professes undying devotion to this brand of computer deserves a kick in the teeth. If "think different" is your personal mantra, you deserve two kicks in the teeth.

    $#@#!@! you, Steve Jobs. I'm going to bed.

    Friday, March 10, 2006


    The Death of Tony Soprano

    I won't lie. Since I started this blog I've dreamed of getting Boing Boing'd or creating something "viral" that spreads across the internet like a fungus. Of course, I'm not willing to let limited resources or a complete lack of talent stop me. The closest I've come is a story and a non-embedded link on Ain't It Cool News last summer. I thought "The Push Page" would take off but it only landed on a few scattered blogs. Blast!

    So here's my latest attempt, "The Death of Tony Soprano," a short film a friend and I slapped together in eastern Oregon's Alvord Desert a few years ago. Click here or on the link above to view it.

    The "film" is a little over a minute long, filled with poorly-timed music queues and You Tube over-enlarged its original aspect ratio. Quite frankly, it doesn't deserve to be viewed by anyone but, since the sixth season of The Sopranos begins on Sunday, I figured I'd give this one a go.

    May it be viewed by many thousands of people who will all say, "Wow, that sucked."

    Hey, it could happen.

    SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: So I'm sitting here listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage on KGON. Host, E-Street Band Member and Sopranos actor Steve Van Zandt is supposedly broadcasting live tonight from the back room at the Bada Bing (in real life it's a club called Satin Dolls).

    I don't know if the show is a "force of nature" as Van San just claimed on the air but tonight's season opener ended with a pretty ballsy cliffhanger. I won't completely give it away here but it does have something in common with the video above.

    If you would like to hear the Sopranos-themed episode of Underground Garage, it's archived over here on the show's site.


    A growing list of things every Portlander MUST do

    A few days ago I started a parody of Portland Monthly's list of 50 things every Portlander "must do." I only made it as far as 25 but readers have been picking up the slack. So far, they've sent in 80+ suggestions to round out the list.

    So I just wanted to say thanks to everybody who participated. On Monday I'll make a master list and send it off to the editors at PM...who probably won't see it. I'm sure they're much too busy sipping local wines as they lounge around their palatial lofts in Botox chambers, scepter in hand, to bother reading what "the little people" think.

    To quote Triumph, "I keed, I keeed." Everyone knows that the editors at Portland Monthly prefer Botox Jacuzzis.

    Still, don't let all this discourage you from sending in ideas if inspiration strikes over the weekend. Just type them into the comments area below.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006


    Why is it snowing in March?

    At 1 this morning I was in the middle of a "Splinter Cell" binge when I looked up and noticed that the tree outside was paler than usual. Upon further investigation I discovered this scene outside my front door:

    My sworn meteorological enemy had paid the City of Roses an unexpected visit. While I was busy vicariously stealing encrypted files from a fictional terrorist's Manhattan penthouse, it was snowing outside. In March. Which just doesn't happen around these parts.

    Knowing that this batch of the white stuff proved no threat to my livelihood since it would be gone by morning, I headed outside and built this snowman in the middle of the street.

    I couldn't find any rocks so he had to settle for a leaf nose and a wig made out of barkdust. The original plan had been to build a row of snowman and have them block off the street Les Miserables-style. I might have even gone so far as to build them a blockade. Unfortunately, that sort of prank would have taken at least 30 minutes and it was already past my bedtime.

    I figured a battalion of traffic revolutionaries would all melt by dawn. Sure enough, when I headed to work this little fella was long gone, either done in by a neighbor's Pathfinder or daylight's cruel indifference.

    The snow is all gone now but various weathermen around town are predicting another few inches of accumulation below 500 feet tonight. We shall see.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006


    A REAL list of 50 things every Portlander MUST do

    For its March issue, Portland Monthly released a list of fifty things every Portlander "must do." Well, maybe every Portlander that lives in a Pearl District condo and is capable of paying their share of the Multnomah County tax nine times over.

    While some of the items on the list are reasonable- sit in section 107 during a Timbers' game, for example- others are more geared towards the jet set. One entry suggests that all area residents just have to pay several hundred bucks to drive a race car around PIR or run the risk of being labeled unPortland-y and possibly even unSmurfy. Another "must do" is buying season tickets for the University of Portland's womens soccer team. To that I say: "Wha...?"

    But what would a real list of must do's look like? The sort of activities that anyone who lives and works here simply can't avoid? The sort of stuff that every Portlander will wind up doing whether they want to or not?

    Well, I'm willing to take a crack at just such a list. Feel free to disagree and/or add your own suggestions in the comments area below. I may wind up sending this thing to the editors at PM.

  • 1. Get harassed by a street kid for cigarettes, even if you aren't a smoker.

  • 2. Nearly get hit by a car (if you ride a bike) or nearly hit a bike (if you drive a car).

  • 3. Wonder aloud about who Rick Emerson is, what he does exactly and why everyone you know loves him.

  • 4. Get lost in a neighborhood in SE and struggle to get back to a major intersection while driving down streets too tiny to be bike lanes with cars parked on both sides. Get into a confrontation with a car heading in the opposite direction, spend five minutes flashing lights at one another in a pathetic attempt to coax them into going first, awkwardly back up and in front of someone's driveway, let the other car pass, pull out, confront another car. Repeat until you finally start sobbing, abandoned your vehicle and walk the rest of the way.

  • 5. Ignore the Rose Festival.

  • 6. Drink Pabst at least once a week because everyone in this town, especially bar owners, stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that the true king of watered-down corporate suds is Miller Hi-Life. C'mon, people. Enough already. Sure, it was fun for a while but Pabst tastes like water from a puddle. Quit kidding yourselves. Hi-Life is a much more worthy of the "Official Poseur Beer of Portland" title.

  • 7. Realize that you don't know a single person that has ever gone to the Oregon Symphony.

  • 8. Complain about the tram.

  • 9. Complain about the bus mall revamp.

  • 10. Complain about any given civic project.

  • 11. Complain about the schools.

  • 12. Compain about the way local taxes are being spent but not bother to pay attention to who's running for the open seats on city council.

  • 13. While wandering around downtown, get offered "crystal" by an extremely thin guy with a three day old beard.

  • 14. Acknowledge that Music Millenium is pretty nifty but that they charge $3 too much for every single CD on their shelves.

  • 15. Take someone from out of town to Multnomah Falls, spend two minutes looking at the falls, wonder why you drove all the way out there for this, consider hiking up to the bridge but putter around the gift shop instead, come close to dropping two quarters and a penny in the smasher machine, realize that you have no use for crushed coins with a Multnomah Falls imprint and drive back to town wishing you had taken them to the zoo or someplace that sells booze.

  • 16. Agree with the notion behind those "Keep Portland Weird" bumperstickers but wind up at Carl's Jr. instead of supporting a corner bento shop.

  • 17. Turn on KNRK, hear a Dave Matthew's song or that infernal "South Side" track by Moby, realize that "things [aren't] different here" and turn off the radio in disgust.

  • 18. Pay too much for a haircut.

  • 19. Pretend to like the Decembrists.

  • 20. (For the bridge and tunnel crowd) Drive all the way down to Powell's City of Books, pay for parking, realize they don't have what you want, head to Barnes and Noble, pay too much, wish you had bought it off Amazon instead of leaving the house.

  • 21. Go to a show at the Crystal Ballroom and become frustrated over the terrible floor plan. Find yourself muttering things like: "Why is the stage tucked in the corner?" and "Why is it so damn small?" and "Why is the room awkwardly split into two areas instead of keeping over 21'ers in the balcony?" and "Etc?"

  • 22. Come to the sudden realization that you will never, ever be cool enough for this city, regardless of how much Pabst you drink, how many local bands you listen to or how worn-out your Cheap Trick t-shirt is.

  • 23. Buy a cookie at a coffee shop, notice that the taste is slightly off, discover that it's actually a vegan cookie, briefly consider going vegan, eat a burger for dinner.

  • 24. Tell friends and family living elsewhere about how wonderful Portland is- about how you're a few hours from the mountain and the coast, that you're minutes away from hiking trails, that you can commute everywhere on a bike, etc. Live here the rest of your life without ever once going hiking, skiing or biking.

  • 25. Be underemployed.

  • OK, I could only come up with 25. Little help?

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006


    But who cleaned up all the feathers?

    Last Friday night at the stroke of seven, a few hundred people invaded Pioneer Square to pummel one another with pillows.

    Please enjoy this video of the flash mob in full effect, compliments of "Uniski" and You Tube. And here's a link to a Flickr gallery.

    Or, if pillow fighting isn't your thing, there's always this SNL video of Natalie Portman rapping and breaking bottles over her head. Last weekend's Jamba Juice skit was also pretty good.


    In Memoriam: Jenny the Dog, 1990 - 2006

    Last week my parents were given the difficult task of putting our family dog to sleep. Jenny, a springer-spaniel mix, came into our lives when I was in eighth grade. She and a few other dogs had been rescued from a medical research lab by the Oregon Humane Society. My mother saw a report on the news and we headed out there the following weekend.

    I remember spotting her in a kennel and thinking, "She seems sweet and low key. I won't have to walk her, meaning I'll have more time to devote to 'Sim City.'" Back home we had a cat named Toughie and Jenny's behavior towards felines was to be the litmus test for adoption. The staff trotted her out to the shelter's resident dog-tester, an old grey feline. Jenny gave the cat a few indifferent sniffs and a few hours later she was roaming around our house.

    Of course, this sweet, low-key pooch proved to be anything but. Chasing Toughie around the living room became an almost hourly pastime. In those early days she had a habit of not running away, but instead running laps around the house if left in the backyard unattended. She also had an appetite for "human food" that could never be quenched.

    Small, devious and amazingly acrobatic, this is a dog that once managed to jump onto a kitchen table, sneak across a counter and snatch two defrosting chickens out of a sink. She was two years old when we brought her home so there's a good chance she may have once studied under the Hamburgler. All we found were two styrofoam containers in the middle of the living room when we returned a few hours later. As Jenny slumbered happily on the couch, my father made a panicky call to a local vet. He advised to feed her an entire loaf of bread to ease the digestion of the bones. But with two whole chickens floating around in her belly, how could this 35-pound canine possibly have room for anything else?

    Jenny was up to the task and downed the bread in no time flat. Minutes later she was bouncing around the backyard as if she hadn't just set a possible world record for chicken consumption by a medium-sized dog. Years later she consumed two boxes of chocolate and removed each piece from their plastic wrapping. The vet's advice? Feed Jenny hydrogen peroxide until she regurgitated the potentially fatal dose of candy in the backyard. It took an entire bottle before her unrelenting gut gave up its stolen treasure trove. A theory around the house, still unproven, was that her stomach contained a secret portal to another dimension, thus her remarkable ability to consume her body weight in just about anything.

    The only thing her solid-steel gut couldn't handle was red licorice. One time while my parents were out of town, Jenny somehow managed to knock an entire five pound tub of Red Vines off the top of the fridge. When I returned home from my summer job at the mall, I found her asleep on my parent's bed and five piles of bright red doggie puke all over the living room. It took hours to clean up.

    If there was food to be found she could and would find it. Nothing edible was safe from her "super sniffer" and, even at the ripe old age of 15 (107 in reputed dog years), she somehow managed to snatch a Starbucks brownie off one of my sister's desk shelves. My parent's cat, Harry, may have been involved in the plot. With her bones aching from arthritis and no longer able to get on the counter, Jenny had evidentally trained him to knock candy out of a dish in the kitchen and onto the floor. This may have gone on for weeks before my mother finally began discovering wrappers in random places around the house.

    Jenny was a dog that once managed to climb a trees while in pursuit of a squirrel, bounced back from a debilitating stroke, defended the family homestead from would-be invaders from the postal service and, perhaps as a result of negative peer influences from various housecats over the years, stubbornly insisted on cleaning herself with her tongue.

    As ridiculous as these stories sound, none of them are exaggerated. We'd like to think she was a one of a kind mutt and that there will never be another one like her. Despite Jenny's appetites, if there was a pet cloning station at Washington Square ala "The Sixth Day," there would probably be a Jenny 2.0 at my parent's house right now.

    R.I.P., you crafty pooch.

    Monday, March 06, 2006


    PRA no more?

    For over three years Portland Radio Authority has broadcasted from a secret location somewhere within the metro area. Against the odds it has managed to fly under the radar of the powers that be. Last week the pirate radio station was shut down by an agent from the Federal Communications Commission. The snitches responsible? Possibly the Oregonian and one of its contributors.

    On February 27th the Portland daily ran an article about PRA in its "Arts and Entertainment" supplement. In addition to giving a general rundown on the station's programming, its policies and audience, the story also included where it was broadcasting on local FM dials.

    On Wednesday afternoon, PRA mysteriously stopped broadcasting over the air and its online feed went dead. An explanation and a subsequent response from the station's manager later that evening on the Portland Independent Media Center let the cat out of the bag: PRA's signal had been shut down after a visit from the FCC.

    In the response the manager mentions that he agreed to meet with the Oregonian for an interview under the condition that it not publish the station's home on FM and other details that might lead to an FCC investigation. While the reporter agreed to these terms, the O's article actually included this information.

    So now the big question: did someone from the FCC see the article and come calling? On Friday the Oregonian ran a follow-up by the same contributor detailing what happened after Wednesday's visit.

    All things considered, this is a pretty callous move on the part of the contributor and the Oregonian's editors. The original article wasn't an in-depth news investigation, it was a "puff piece" in its arts section, not exactly the proper forum for an expose. Perhaps the revelations were a mistake or a result of bad communication between the writer and an editor. Regardless, the article and the indifferent follow-up reek of bad form.

    There's a good chance that this carelessness has ended PRA's days of broadcasting in Portland. Regardless of the legal issues, PRA had a devoted cult of listeners, myself included, that enjoyed its eclectic programming. Over the air, PRA's signal didn't interfere with other local stations and, from what I understand, its organizers did what they could to avoid stepping on toes. In a city with too few broadcast outlets for wannabe DJs and local music, it was a welcome alternative to Clear Channel's banal offerings.

    So now the role of providing community radio falls further on the shoulders of KPSU's limited AM broadcast range and KBOO, which devotes most of its airtime to programming geared towards an older crowd. Here's hoping the PRA can rally back from this series of unfortunate events and return from the grave, at least on the internet.

    UPDATE: Here's Willamette Week's take on the subject.

    Friday, March 03, 2006


    An all new Flickr photo set: What Soldiers Eat

    For years I've wanted to get my hands on a military MRE (Meal-Ready-to-Eat). These are the meals our brave fighting men supposedly eat while they're out in the field. Prior to 9/11, they could be found in just about every military surplus store from here to Medford.

    When I finally went looking for one it was after the US' invasion of Afghanistan. A guy working behind the counter at Andy and Bax explained that the companies that manufacture military-style MREs were shipping them all overseas and that they could no longer get any in stock. Bax had plenty of self-cooking camping meals for sale but their glossy cover art of hikers gazing at sunsets didn't suit my fancy. Regardless of the packaging, the contents were no doubt similar. Still, I wanted the real-deal- the same stuff Marines in Iraq are eating as I type these words. Authentic Rambo Chow.

    A former roommate of mine enlisted in the armed forces a few years ago. He returned to the West Coast for winter break in 2004 and brought with him a gift: an actual MRE, beef stroganoff flavor.

    While I was working as a media intern last winter, I tried to coax an editor into letting me review its contents for a food column. The idea was quickly shot down for obvious reasons. So the MRE sat on top of my refrigerator for over a year until I re-discovered it behind a box of ramen noodles. Bored one night, I decide to crack it open.

    What did I find inside? How was it? Did the MRE make me want to spread democracy across the planet? To inadvertently bring a nation to the brink of civil war? Click here or on the photo above to find out the answers to these and other questions in a brand new Welcome to Blog photo set: "What Soldiers Eat."

    Thursday, March 02, 2006


    Guess who's coming to dinner?

    A few weeks ago, I came home and found this little fella in my sink.

    I'm probably wrong but I do believe that's a centipede. While I've been living in this state most of my life, this may be very well be the first time I've encountered one. I have no idea how he got there but, after this photo was taken, he was given a one way ticket down my sink's drain. This photo makes him look much larger than he was in real life. Truth be told, the critter was only half-an-inch long, if that.

    And that's what I love about my current place of residence. All the joys of living in Galapagos but just minutes from downtown Portland.


    Margie Boule: the sequel

    Just when I thought it was time to roll up the welcome mat, Margie Boule runs a follow-up to last week's column.

    If you're just joining the bizarre story already in progress, last month a Nissan was abandoned in a row of bushes on a hill overlooking my house. It sat there for weeks, vandals smashed the windows and the police refused to do anything about it. I made repeated calls to PPD's non-emergency line, all of which were ignored despite the threat of the vehicle rolling down the hill and into my living room. Margie Boule somehow found the post I'd written about the situation and wrote a column about it that appeared in last Thursday's Oregonian. By Thursday evening, an officer was on site and had the vehicle out of there within minutes.

    Today's column recounts how PPD finally dealt with the situation and the advice her readers sent in. One suggested that I push it into a street, thus forcing the city to deal with it. Another reader said I should toss a Molotov cocktail through the window and call the fire department.

    As Max Power might put it, "that's the end of that chapter." Unless this all somehow results in a book deal or a particularly surreal movie-of-the-week. If the later happens, Tim Roth (or a shaved donkey) could play the part of me.

    Thanks again, Margie Boule.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006


    In their darkest hour...

    ...the Blazers pull out a win against the Lakers. I caught only the last few minutes of tonight's game, just enough to watch Kobe flip out after fouling Steve Blake and Darius Miles seal the win with a dunk.

    Sitting in the stands were tipsy fans dancing to "Rock N' Roll Part 2" and a guy in fake dreads and facepaint waving a sign that read "Don't give up fans, support the team." Or something like that. For a moment there it felt like 2000 all over again.

    Or was it all just a cruel dream brought on by the three-week old leftoever spaghetti I had for dinner tonight? I could very well be asleep right now and dreaming this whole thing...

    UPDATE: It wasn't a dream. Bojack confirmed the win with a post-game anaylsis written after an evening spent in the Rose Garden's VIP section. Whaddayaknow, Phil Jackson *does* look like Colonel Sanders.



    It's not every night that a friend takes you to a Russian bakery-cum-restaurant-cum-nightclub. The sort of place with patrons that look like the Eastern European-equivalent of minor characters from The Sorpanos, the ones that nobody can recall the names of or their connection to Tony. The sort of place where a guy in a track suit checks your ID at the door and you wander inside to find a virtual legion of expats, also in track suits, tossing dollar bills at a belly dancer. The sort of place where if you say the wrong thing or bump into the wrong person your nose could go from waxing to waning in two seconds flat.

    But that's Ararat, a spot that's been around for a while on MLK and one you've probably known about for a while. Before you proceed, you should probably get a look at this quote found on Bar Fly, allegedly written by one of the place's bouncers:

    "i am work the door for the ararat and i will crush anyone who is not of russian race . i am vitaly and i will crush ! when saturday night is late and american man with brown coat show up to steal away russian lady , i will be prepare . i have my eyes on you brown coat man.

    -Vitaly Kruschev"

    From what I'm told (we got there late), at the stroke of 12 the place transforms from a restaurant into a nightclub with the arrival of a belly dancer. After her performance, the DJ in residence breaks out an collection of post-Soviet dance hits and every inch of the glowing dance floor fills. Guys bumping and grinding with their gal pals, drunks dancing on the stage, middle-aged women with beehive hairdos waiting in wings and angry-looking men with gold chains weaving through the crowd, looking like bad guys from an early '90s action movie.

    While I can't prove it, Ararat only seems to sell one brand of beer: Baltika, which is brewed "just for you" in St. Petersberg and comes in eleven varieties, numbered from 0 to 10. The bartender handed over three bottles of #6, a porter. Not available: Baltika #2, "the party mix" that comes in cherry, coffee, lemon and orange flavors. According to the website, it's been taken off the market.

    We were there for a few hours and the DJ only spun one song produced west of Ukraine: Haddaway's "What Is Love?"

    What is love
    Oh baby, don't hurt me
    Don't hurt me no more
    Oh, baby don't hurt me
    Don't hurt me no more

    As indicated above, Ararat doesn't take kindly to strangers mucking up the works. At any point I figured a needle would scratch across a record and all eyes would point at our table- that one of us would have to save the rest of us by dancing on the bar to "Tequila (the Caucasus Remix '95)" ala Pee Wee Herman. That didn't happen. The regulars took little notice of us but went frickin' nuts for that song.

    A quick note about the bar itself: it had a gilded "Ararat" with running LED lights around each letter. They also apparently do a mean pork shish kebab during dinner hours.

    Sitting at one table, amidst the madness, was a tiny, old man in a pair of enormous glasses. He looked exactly like Junior and even had the same glasses and hat. At no point did I see him get up out of his chair. As we left he was still there, hunched over with a Hugh Hefner smirk on his face.

    On the way out, the bouncer stopped us and demanded to see our IDs again. Out of nowhere, an older woman appeared. Topping out at, maybe, five feet, she scolded him. "You be nice to these people," she growled.

    Actually, don't. The last thing Ararat needs is more "tourists" coming to gawk and write about its wonders on their blogs.


    So I was wrong...

    Last night I predicted that PPD would arrest more people during this year's Mardi Gras festivities than last year's. I was completely off the mark. In fact, it was so quiet downtown that several officers were sent home early. Here's the stats, compliments of Fox 12 and the Oregonian:

  • 38 juveniles were detained.

  • 19 motorists were nabbed for DUIs.

  • 4 people were arrested.

  • "2 girls who were exposing themselves were taken into protective custody after they started to draw a crowd."

  • My prediction was completely wrong but here's what I observed during a quick buzz through downtown on the way to and from the Popeye's on MLK.

  • The cops were out in full force. Outside the central precinct, a line of officers were milling about. Nearby two Tri-Met buses were waiting with their emergency lights running. From what I've heard, PPD rolls out buses as makeshift paddy-wagons anytime there potential for a riot, protest, etc. They were everywhere. On foot, bike, car and motorcycle (didn't spot any on horseback though).

  • Coming off the Burnside Bridge into downtown I spotted no less than four separate pairs of red and blue lights. One officer was responding to an incident involving a hipster that had evidentially passed out on a sidewalk. Three others were handing out speeding tickets. Looks like the folks over at Metrobloging Portland were right. During its ongoing restoration, the bridge is going to be a full-scale speed trap.

  • So it looks like the one-two punch of rain and a heavy police presence kept things under control last night. I don't know what I was thinking. This is yet another reason why I'm not a gambling man.




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