Shabazz Napier jukes left. The Portland Trail Blazers guard glides to the basket, pulling up for a graceful jumper. He pours steaming hot coffee onto the face of the fool who tried to guard him.
Bizarre local TV ads starring a hometown basketball hero aren't a new phenomenon, or unique to Portland. But Rip City may be home to the most self-aware commercials ever—postmodern meta-commentaries on advertising, with jingles that sound like They Might Be Giants noodling after three dabs.
C.J. McCollum just joined the party, with a Papa Murphy's ad that features him giving a desultory voice-over about home-baked pizza that would fit in a Charlie Kaufman movie.
But the most notorious of these spots? That prize still goes to the Napier ad for Stumptown Coffee, which has been viewed 50,000 times on social media in less than three months. The ad director and jingle composer is Tim Wenzel, who worked six years as a Stumptown barista before turning "in-house creative" for the java company in 2016. He also stars in the ad as the palooka getting his ankles broken on the court.
Wenzel is already a familiar figure in Portland music circles: He's the guitarist for White Glove, a keyboard-heavy, change-resenting garage-rock trio. (The band is best known for its anti-gentrification anthems: "Division Street," a tongue-in-cheek screed against condos, yuppies and brunch, and "Fred and Carrie," a not particularly tongue-in-cheek broadside against yuppies, Carrie Brownstein, and Fred Armisen.)
"Sellout or not, whatever," Wenzel says. "Stumptown lets me do what I want to do. I've been told that some of the ridiculous songs I write will stick in people's heads. It actually works now. Put to it to some use."