April 2011

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Thursday, July 31, 2008


Random Cell Phone Photo # 37

Here's a photo of all the electrical doodads lining the walls of a corridor leading to the back deck of Chez Machin on SE Hawthorne. It's my favorite place in town to sit around acting like an extra in a forgotten ABC sitcom from the mid-90s. A food critic might describe the place as a "charming but tad overpriced French bistro." I know it as the first place I both bit into a crepe and downed a bottle of Orangina.


Monday, July 28, 2008


And then I drank the watermelon beer and all was right in the world

Almost every summer I go to the Oregon Brewers Festival and almost every year I stand around thinking, "Wow, 20 minute long lines for tiny plastic mugs of beer. This is so incredibly lame. And do all these jackholes really have to go 'wooooo' every 5 seconds?"

And then I start drinking. And then I'm suddenly assimilated into the fest's mob of roaming beer snobs, all of us waiting and drinking and yelling "woooo" between attempts to come up with new sexual puns for "hoppiness," the newly arrived glaring at me in the same manner I had glared at those who had come before me.

This year the watermelon beer is what got me over that initial hump o' skepticism. Some might write off a beer with a name like "Come Hell or High Watermelon" as a cheap gimmick but I'm sure the same was once said about things like pumpkin beer and adding lime wedges to Corona, which effectively turns an otherwise crap beer into liquefied manna from heaven. So here's what a watermelon beer looks like:

It's mighty tasty and this statement is coming from someone who would rather blow one up than put any part of a watermelon in my mouth. It's too bad that the nearest place that sells the stuff is most likely in the Bay area.

The alcoholic ginger ale was also a pleasant surprise. A second trip to the festival on Saturday also made me the proud new owner of a pretzel necklace and a business card for something called "utilikits" (link).

The necklace was sold to me by a brilliant entrepreneur who rode up and down the waterfront selling them over a fence to attendees with the aid of a fishing pole. Also included: a large pretzel medallion, all for the low, low price of 3 bucks. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a photo of the necklace instead of the utilikilts card.

Until we meet again, Brewers Festival.


Thursday, July 24, 2008


Nick's reborn

Nick's Coney Island reopened back in June but this Oregonian article doesn't answer one big question: does the new owner actually keep the place open past 5 PM? Some of us keep hours that don't facilitate the consumption of hot dogs, beer and insults before the cocktail hour.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Speaking of Edgefield

My dad and I were on the fourth hole of the manor's golf course last night when I heard "With a Little Help From My Friends" off in the distance. Ringo Starr was there with the All Star Band and their show on the hotel's front lawn totally screwed up my putts. I blame "Dreamwaver" for the ball I lost in the brier on hole nine. Thanks for nothing, Gary Wright.

We stayed long enough to eavesdrop on part of the set from the rocking chairs on one of the hotel's porches. A drunk couple sitting nearby decided to slur their way through "Yellow Submarine" before staggering into the show when the guards working the gate weren't paying attention.

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Good luck with this one, Mcmenamins' artists

The McMenamins empire has never shied away from the colorful and sometimes sad histories of the buildings they renovate to house their restaurants and hotels. The Edgefield is filled with portraits of people who lived there when it was a poor farm. The upper floor of the White Eagle has a painting of Rose, the prostitute who was murdered in one of the saloon/hotel's rooms (and reportedly haunts the place). The Chapel Pub contains similar tributes to its former history as a mortuary.

But now that the family-friendly "kingdom" is set to take over the old Club Portland, I wonder how they'll handle the building's former status as a, well, gay bathhouse with a reported military-themed "play area" in the basement.

Even weirder: they're planning to keep the steam baths.



DEWmocracy Now!

Through a series of events I became the owner of three trial "candidate flavor" cans of Mountain Dew. There's a website where drinkers can vote for their favorite. The winner will go on to become a full-fledged Mountain Dew offshoot.

The cans were sent to me under the condition that I write about them on the blog. Because I'm not one to risk enduring the ire of PepsiCo and because I'm consumer whore at heart, here's a careful, mature and scientific analysis of each flavor conducted in the most professional, scientific and controlled setting possible. By "most professional, scientific and controlled setting possible" I mean in the middle of my living room during an otherwise boring Saturday afternoon with Navy Seals playing in the background.

Bill, a friend of mine living and working in DC, also got suckered into this and we decided to collaborate on a taste test via Instant Messenger. Obviously, we took all of this -->Very Seriously<---. After all, soda taste testing is SUPER IMPORTANT BUSINESS. We immediately determined that no professional evaluation of new soda flavors would be proper without working booze into the mix. He grabbed a bottle of bourbon on his end and I went in search of what I had lying around: a bottle of mescal a friend brought back from Mexico last winter and a bottle of Captain Morgan's "Tattoo" Spiced Rum.

The Mountain Dew test flavors included "High Voltage," "Revolution" and "Supernova." We decided to test them in the order of how likely they'd be to kill us, based on the names alone. No one could live through an encounter with a supernova and revolutions have killed a lot more people than electricity. So we went with "High Voltage" first.

No good came of this. Here's my report of our findings:

Test flavor # 1: Mountain Dew High Voltage

Color: light blue, not unlike Windex

Bouquet: Like a Pixie Stick with a twinge of Windex left forgotten in an abandoned green house for two decades.

Taste: Weak. Was this the best that the flavor scientists working in a bunker a thousand stories below PepsiCo's corporate headquarters could throw at us? This flavor my tongue feel like it was being punched by apathetic kittens. After two more sips I wasn't feeling very "xtreme," which I'm pretty sure is how Mountain Dew is supposed to make me feel. Neither Bill or I were in the mood to BMX bike down the side of a dam or jump out of an airplane with a lion (the lion being the only one with a parachute). On a 1 to 10 scale, Bill gave this flavor a 4. I went with a 2. How could something with this much caffeine make me so damn sleepy?

Taste with mescal: Like fermented baby powder. Not that I've ever had the pleasure.

Taste with spiced rum: Very, very bad. Like burning.

Taste with bourbon: "Tolerable," according to Bill.

Test flavor # 2: Mountain Dew Revolution

Color: Similar to that of Windex. Yes, just like the last one.

Bouquet: Like the smell of sweat dripping off the brows of thousands of angry revolutionaries, the hearts pounding to the same beat of a bloody coup d'état. Er, wait, scratch that. It smelled more like a package of Sweet Tarts left out in the rain.

Taste: If revolutions were soda flavors Mountain Dew's Revolution would taste more like the Bay of Pigs than the American Revolution. While maybe not quite as unsuccessful as the Bay of Pigs, it certainly wasn't on the level of the Bolsheviks. I decided it was the soda equivalent of that student revolt in Les Miserables. While not at all successful, at least Mountain Dew's Revolution has some heart. And if Andrew Lloyd Webber gets bored and eccentric in his later years he may just write a musical about it. Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry, caffeine addicted sugar addicts? Bill compared the flavor to the sexual revolution but later decided it was only worthy of the acoustic version of the Beatles' "Revolution." I gave it a 6, Bill went with a 5. After further discussion, we determined that America's founding fathers and their wooden teeth couldn't have handled the soft drinks of the 21st century.

Taste with mescal: Much like I would imagine the ectoplasm of Karl Marx's ghost. Now I know what Bill Murray's character in Ghostbusters felt like after getting attacked by Slimer. Then again, he probably didn't swallow any of the green ghost's goop.

Taste with spiced rum:
Actually, not bad. I think Che Guevara's zombie would like it.

Taste with bourbon: So says Bill "viva la Mountain Dew Revolution (with bourbon)."

Test flavor # 3: Mountain Dew Supernova

Color: Like super-cheap convenience store wine.

Taste: Like super-cheap convenience store wine after being filtered through a Slurpee machine. Bill: "I must say, I don't care for... that thing it does. Which I'm not sure what that is." Me: "COUGH! COUGH! GAG! PUKE!" At the very least, it lived up to its name. Somewhere, as I'm typing these words, a bartender is mixing this flavor with Brut to make a "Champagne Supernova" in the hopes of making a mint of off people who don't throw up in their mouths a little bit at the mere thought of Oasis so they can...throw up in their mouths a little bit. Bill gave this one a 2. I gave it a 4, for at least doing what Mountain Dew should: make its drinkers feel like they've just popped a fighter pilot "go pill."

€Taste with mescal: Let's just say I felt the need to apologize to my sink before dumping combo mescal/Supernova down it. If a gigantic "xtreme" slug/sewer overflow monster pops out of the Willamette riding a skateboard in the near future I just might the person to blame for its creation.

Taste with spiced rum: Like expired napalm.

Taste with bourbon: "Just weird and bad."

For a final test, we tossed all three flavors together and mixed them with our respective liquors. Mine concoction caused me to lose the senses of touch and smell for about 10 minutes. Bill's response: "I CAN'T SEE!"

There you have it, PepsiCo. Make what you will of our incredibly serious and totally scientific conclusions.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008


Goodbye, toilets of tomorrow

A key quote from today's NYT piece on the closure of Seattle's public toilets:

"I'm not going to lie: I used to smoke crack in there," said one homeless woman, Veronyka Cordner, nodding toward the toilet behind Pike Place Market. "But I won't even go inside that thing now. It's disgusting."

That's the very same toilet I somehow wrote an entire article about here.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Better left in Astoria

Speaking as a member of one of film's geekiest and lamest cults and as someone who actually attended this, I'm sad to say this is probably the closest thing we'll ever see to a sequel to The Goonies.

Yeah, a Jeep Cherokee promotion so ignored that I didn't even hear about it until a year after it launched. Thanks for nothing, Warner Brothers. You too, Chrysler.



Come, smell Uncle John's Patchouli-soaked band

I drank a chocolate hemp milkshake on Sunday.

It tasted like caulk. It left seed bits in my teeth.

And it did not get me high.

This is the sort of thing you find yourself doing if you attend the Oregon Country Fair. I went last summer with a colleague expecting to find a few thousand glassy-eyed stoners lounging around a tent city blowing smoke rings into the air. Instead, we found something better and more interesting: an elaborate arts and cultural fair offering some of the best people watching imaginable. A second trip to this year's fair over the weekend wasn't nearly as good as the first but what drug, literal, figurative or absorbed via a contact cloud while standing next to three pot-smoking teenagers while waiting for a tofu bowl could be?

It was also very hot in Verona this year. A weekend of near 100-degree temperatures turned the fair grounds into a drained oasis by the time we got there. The main stage, so plush and filled with lounging people on beach blankets was all but abandoned by late Sunday afternoon. Fair volunteers had to patrol the paths with watering cans to keep the place from turning into a dust bowl. Topless girls wandered through clouds of dirt through neglected corners of the fair grounds wearing goggles and bandannas over their faces, looking like extras from one of Hunter S. Thompson's acid-torched epithets for the '60s. It all looked so very weird.

While the heat put the damper on some of the musical performances, it only encouraged people to take their clothes off. Depending on your tastes, this wasn't necessarily a good thing. As for myself, I could have done without the overweight, Aboriginal, didgeridoos, mostly-naked, hippie parade. This also goes for the guy in the loin cloth who jumped in front of my sister's boyfriend to demand his ticket after sputtering "I don't bite but I will if you'd like."

But that's why I go to something like this: for the cultural shock. Fairly tame, PG-13-level culture shock but culture shock nonetheless. People tell me that things really get wild after hours every year after the staff close things down and run amuck. Oh, well. I'll probably never get a chance to see all that but after five hours in Verona I've once again filled my annual quota for vegan food, body odor and exposed flesh covered in florescent-paint depictions of benevolent celestial bodies. Thank you for that, gentle hippies.

Also: I put together a Flickr gallery of photos from this year's fair. It can be found over here.


Monday, July 14, 2008


Needs more foie gras

Making a statement like that isn't going to win me any brownie points. Nonetheless, I was really looking forward to finding out what a foie gras ice cream tastes like after hearing a long-winded rumor that Le Pigeon was going to set up a cart to sell the stuff at the Pearl District's Bastille Day celebration last Saturday.

Why? Because I'm a terrible person with no soul and a crooked spine, obviously, and, well, wouldn't you be curious to try some too? The rumor proved false and I should have known better to think that anyone could get away with such a public display of wanton culinary recklessness in this town. At one time, at least, the east Burnside eatery had foie gras eclairs on their menu.

I made do with a much more boring and much less controversial ham and cheese crepe and a bottle of Orangina. French people were there or least wannabe French people. They spoke French. A lady who sold me a crosseant said "merci" as she handed me my change.

I don't know if actual French people living in actual France celebrate their independence by jumping into public water fountains, waiting 20 minutes in the hot sun for crepes, letting their kids fence, watching waiters run around in circles and listening to a hipster work his way through a cover of "Ziggy Stardust" on stage because he once played a few clubs in Paris but that's how these things are done in the Pearl District.

And I have no complaints. Except for the lack of foie gras ice cream. And the limited space set aside for food carts. And the fact that one of the organizers kicked a mime out of the waiters race. And that the mime didn't sneak back in at the halfway point to keep things interesting. The two waiters right up at the starting line were exceptionally skilled at speed walking with trays and they blasted away the competition.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


To Kill a Mocking-Melon

In my younger and more vulnerable years a few friends and I blew-up a watermelon. This was back before 9/11 when things like cherry bombs could be acquired during a day trip to a certain place in Washington. On a long-ago Fourth of July, we carved a hole in the side and shoved an m80 down its gooey, melon throat. I can't remember who's idea it was to toss the melon in a basketball hoop before lighting the fuse but the decision was both brilliant and stupid. I can still remember having my face grazed by flying bits of blazing melon. The remaining chunks still stuck in the hoop dripped down onto the court and left a stain. There may still be a mark on the blacktop of a certain Portland middle school. I never went back to check.

Low and behold, the opportunity to blow up another watermelon presented itself this holiday weekend. But, with nary a proper explosive in sight, a group of friends and I had to improvise. A Roman Candle wasn't going to cut it. We settled on a "one-shot" double mortar and added some sparklers to, well, make the watermelon look TOTALLY AWESOME.

Or at least like a half-assed prop from a '50s sci-fi movie.

This melon bomb was doomed to fail and we knew it but we proceeded anyway. After dark, we carried it to an empty lot beside the beach house we were staying in. A reunion of what we thought might have been retired newscasters was staying in a house nearby. They had spent the evening on a deck loudly talking with announcer-type voices and laughing the sort of stilted laughs you hear at the end of the 11 o'clock news. When we went to light the fuse, one of them stuck his head out a window and shouted "GOOD LORD" in a voice worthy of Walter Cronkite in his prime.

Oh, dear reader, if only you could have seen what happened next. The mortar blasted out of the melon, flew across the lot in a flash of red fire and landed a few feet away from me. The news guy ducked back inside and we didn't hear a peep out of him or his cronies for the rest of the weekend.

Ahhh, the thrill of danger and the agony of defeat and a near trip to the emergency room at the Tillamook County General Hospital. Not only had the poorly-secured mortar not done its job, the melon was left mostly unscathed. The explosion only managed to cause a crack down the middle.

Final score by the end of the holiday: watermelon: 1, us and newscasters: 0.

Regardless of the way the news guy acted, maybe these things are better left to reporters (and chemistry teachers). When it comes to quirky fireworks displays, there's some things bloggers just can't pull off, I guess. At least one corner of the brave new world of journalism remains theirs and theirs alone.



Stumptown absinthe

Hide all your ear-slicing knives. Locally-produced absinthe is now a reality, thanks to Integrity Spirits, a micro-distillery in Southeast Portland. Bottles of Trillium Absinthe Superieure don't come cheap ($60, a wee bit too much for would-be Henri de Toulouse-Lautrecs living on a budget), the producers say their version is sweeter and goes down smoother than the more traditional stuff found overseas. Integrity is the second distillery in the country to start cranking out absinthe. More information can be found in a story from today's edition of the Oregonian.

I thought I'd start craving absinthe once it became widely available around Portland but, after a trip to the Highland Stillhouse, I think this itch has been effectively scratched. Much like Krispie Kremes and Miller Hi-Life, once a hard-to-get food/alcohol product becomes readily available in Portland I lose interest. I'm sure the same thing will happen whenever In-N-Out decides to open a franchise up here. Until then, me want cheap, good burgers!


Monday, July 07, 2008


Burlingame: more interesting on foot

The NBC Nightly News ran a segment tonight on how the rest of the country should take a tip from Portland and become bike-friendly to help off-set rising gas prices and other woes. This left me all covered in guilt when I reached for my car keys in order to make a run down to my neighborhood Market of Choice for a few odds and ends. How could I possibly *drive* down there in a city so gosh darn bike friendly? I don't own a bike so I decide to hoof it and, yeah, my SW Portland neighborhood is more interesting while traveling without the aid of a fossil-fuel powered automo-contraption. Things I encountered on the way to the grocery store and back:

  • Two girls in search of a lost chihuahua. More on this later.

  • A very large SUV with a very large fog (?) horn attached to the hood.

  • A very bored dog tied to a garage door by an orange electric cord.

  • A free TV.

  • A mailbox with a flying saucer sculpture on the side.

  • On the way back, what did I find hanging around outside of a Subway, effectively exposing the myth surrounding this nearly forgotten fast food ad campaign? The lost chihuahua, of course. With a gallon of milk in one hand and a large bottle of Orangina in the other, I wasn't sure what to do about this. I could have dropped my groceries and chased down the dog but, before I could do anything, it decided to go running off down the bike path alongside heavy traffic on SW Terwilliger, stopping every few feet to bark at me. Assuming that darting after him would only encourage the pooch to freak out and get squished, I kept walking. He kept running and barking but, collectively, we were making steady progress towards a calm side street away from cars moving 35+ MPH.

    Around this time, the girls started yelling "Freckles! Freckles!" (I'm pretty sure it was Freckles) from around the corner. My cynical Spidey senses immediately assumed that this was not going to end well but instead of darting into traffic, the siren calls of his owners led the pooch back to safety. He was greeted with open arms and the relief of one very stressed-out mother.

    And so the day was saved by me. Or dumb luck. Or that bike lane. Or Freckle's delayed common sense. Or his owners. Or perhaps even Orangina. Or, maybe, some combination of all of these.

    Thanks, Portland. Your pedestrian and bike friendly streets help turn the most mundane of chores into an adventure on the level of one of the lesser Babysitter Twins installments.

    * Note: Freckles is only roughly 67% as adorable as the chihuahua pictured above.

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    Expanding waistlines

    Like American stomachs, American blogs naturally increase in width with time. Or such is my understanding. This blog is fast approaching its fifth anniversary so I guess it's time to cut another notch in the belt. Up until now, Another Portland Blog's midsection was a trim 350 pixels. I've decided to bulk it up to a more Rubenesque 450 pixels, allowing for larger photos and to give these scrawny paragraphs a little more breathing room.

    Come, feel the HTML flab.


    Photos from the holiday weekend

    Every year for a nearly a decade I've spent the Fourth of July at Cannon Beach catching thrown candy at the town's annual parade and recklessly disobeying local fireworks ordinances. This year CBPD rolled-up right after three of us spent a good twenty minutes rigging a grand finale. In hindsight, lighting that fuse definitely wouldn't have been worth a $200+ fine and having all of our fireworks confiscated. Instead of breaking out a lighter, we scattered like cockroaches. The two cops waiting nearby quickly lost interest and we even managed to circle back around and retrieve our explosives later that night.

    Us: one. Police and local wildlife: zero (sorry, seagulls. Tbbbbbbbt, coppers!). Until we meet again in '09, adieu.

    Please enjoy these photos:

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    Friday, July 04, 2008


    And now photos of obnoxious fireworks

    Spotted on the shelves at Blackjack's in Vancouver earlier this week:

    Can you figure out which one contains flash powder that's at least three years old?


    Wednesday, July 02, 2008


    Where have all the incredibly dangerous fireworks gone?

    There was a time when a person living in the Pacific Northwest could purchase high-grade fireworks. By "high grade" I mean "incredibly dangerous" and by "fireworks" I mean "something capable of punching a hole in the door of a bank vault." A treasure trove could be found by asking the right questions at fireworks stands scattered up and down a certain place in Washington that will remain nameless. I was woken up on the morning of Independence Day 2001 by a college roommate who had decided lighting an M-80 outside my bedroom window was a fantastic way to announce his return from a field trip up north.

    His Camry was loaded with the sort of stuff that would have likely earned him a one-way ticket to Gitmo a year later. He'd purchased dozens of M-80s, a few M-160s and at least one M-250, which supposedly packed the same punch as a quarter stick of dynamite. A week or so later, we lit it off in a rural area outside of Eugene's city limits. The resulting boom shook the earth under our feet and created a two-story mushroom cloud of dust. It was awesome. After you've seen something like that, legal fireworks become an outright snooze-fest.

    But this roommate had also somehow coaxed someone into selling him something even crazier: a cardboard cylinder loaded with mortar-shells, each packed with an m-80. This thing was half Roman Candle, half deadly weapon. A halfhearted, possibly intended as a joke disclaimer stamped on the side advised the user "not to point this device at police or military vehicles." None of us were willing to dare setting it off anywhere near civilization. I missed out on this one. It was set off in the middle of the Alvord Desert sometime later that summer, at least 10-miles from the nearest homestead.

    Ahhhh, memories.

    A good portion of my roommate's fireworks cache was later seized by the Eugene police department when the neighbors finally got sick of our household's evening ritual of firing bottle rockets out of hollowed-out bamboo chutes. These rockets would often sail over passing traffic, the apartment building behind us and/or the convenience store across the street. What can I say, it was a different era. Those were more innocent times. Stupider times. Times when running around a backyard with homemade bazookas wouldn't immediately result in getting your name on a no-fly list.

    A few years ago, I went back to that same place in Washington and couldn't find anyone willing to sell me so much as an M-80. There was a time when the windows of my parents' house would be rattled every night between June 25th and July 5th by cherry bombs and other fireworks going off in the park across the street. That hasn't happened for years now they tell me. Meanwhile, I've been living in a neighborhood littered with undergrads and not once this summer have my ears been graced by the sweet, sweet boom of exploding flash powder.

    Where have all the incredibly dangerous fireworks that injured dozens of Americans every year gone? Those sure were the days. *sniff*


    Tuesday, July 01, 2008


    This haze is creeping me out

    A thin haze has been hanging in the air around Portland these past few days. According to reports, it can all be blamed on smoke drifting up from wildfires in California. This place is starting to look as hazy as the Hollywood Hills but it sure makes for some eerily beautiful sunsets.





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