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July 24th, 2002 | Special Section Stories
 

best of portland -- people

     
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best campaign image
Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Ron Saxton knows how to slip in a little extra somethin' for the swing voters. Who can forget his TV ad, in which he gripped a stick of processed meat and recalled his first job, "making beef jerky"? He may have mentioned Little League and his paper route, too, but we couldn't get past the long, savory rod in his hand. Mmm...beef jerky. Campaign messages come and go, but for political symbolism we can really sink our teeth into, bring on the beef.

best televised bachelor
The blue-eyed, blond bachelor Matt Dunn looks a bit like Barbie's best man. But the truth is that this strapping, 5-foot-11 160-pounder is more of a Mystery Date. That's because, after making it through three grueling auditions and beating out hundreds of other singles in the process, Matt landed a spot on televised datefest Elimidate (where four competitors vie for the attentions of one hot babe) when it came to P-town. But what makes Matt "da man" is that this serial dater didn't go on TV just to play a game, he came to party! Looking all pimped-out in a pair of form-fitting plaid pants and sporting a giant-sized sense of humor, Matt was even able to take the joke when he ended up being the first one kicked off the date. "I like to make people laugh, even if they are laughing at me," he says.

Age: 24

Sign: Pisces

Birthday: March 13

Favorite Food: seared ahi

What he looks for in a girl: humor (of course!)

Favorite Hobbies: dancing (for girls taking notes, he has been sighted at Banana Joe's), mountain biking

Career: owns his own brush-clearing business

Hometown: Portland

best job experience for picking up chicks
Damn, Benicio's hands are sexy...WAIT! That's not Benicio del Toro--that's Tané Allen! A sharp-dressing pen salesman, Allen was passed over when he first auditioned to perform as BDT's body double in the trouble-plagued production of The Hunted. A week later, however, one of the flick's casting agents noticed him when she walked by the Pioneer Place shop where he works (he's 31 years old, but looks more like a mature 25). After that, Allen was mainly used as a stand-in so production staff could adjust the lighting before Benicio's scenes, but his hands and feet do appear on film. Although his brief stints before the camera were exciting, Allen says the coolest part of his job was getting to kick Tommy Lee Jones during an action scene rehearsal. Find motivation was no problem, notes Allen: "He's a real jerk."

best transmutation of guilt into gold
When he was a junior at Sunset High School, Chuck Currie went to a speech by homeless advocate Michael Stoops. Moved by Stoops' eloquence, the 16-year-old Currie promised to help out at Baloney Joe's shelter--but never followed through. The next year, Stoops returned to Sunset and gave the same speech. This time, however, he told the students why the homeless problem was getting worse. Pointing his finger at Currie, he said, "Because people like you don't keep your commitments." Nearly two decades later, Currie, 33, has emerged as one of Portland's most effective voices for the homeless. He has worked for a slew of agencies, including the Burnside Community Council, Outside In and Transition Projects. He takes college students on the "urban plunge," where they spend a day on the streets. He lobbies for affordable housing. He is currently working for the First United Methodist Church, where he runs the Goose Hollow Family Shelter, which serves up to 24 homeless people a night--half of them 10 years old or younger--without a nickel from the taxpayer. But hasn't he met his moral obligations a thousand times over? "Absolutely not," Currie says. "I want to do this type of work for the rest of my life."

best fake professor
Amos Latteier
likes to blind Portlanders with science. The 31-year-old artist and computer whiz has made a name for himself of late by setting up his homemade lectern and unleashing a Powerpoint presentation designed to dazzle even the most jaded art event-hopper. A recent presentation by Latteier at Conduit dance studio took on the topic of "The Face Machine" and featured information about what makes our visages so important, including real stats from a study of chickens bonding with stuffed animals. Latteier, who says he's always been a shy person, puts on a show that's part McSweeney's-style celebration of the arcane, part drivetime NPR and part Chevy Chase newscast. He's the professor you wish you'd had in school, even though he has no formal training in the fields he discusses. So why does he do it? "I'm really interested in these ideas, and I want to tell people about them," he says. Other lectures he's offered around town include "How to Be a Saint" and "Models" (which included topics such as supermodels, model United Nations and architectural models). While Prof. Latteier has no set lecture schedule, look for his name attached to artistic events around town--and bring a pad to take notes. For loyal readers of WW's Best of Portland, Latteier's name may seem familiar; in 1999, he was honored for Best Prosthetic Ass. But, as they say, that's another story.

best instigators of a teenage hip-hop revolution
At an age when most of us would be trying to figure out how to score a sixer of Citrona for Saturday night, Illaj, the 17-year-old MC for the jazzed-out hip-hop sextet Blak Scienz Tribe, is studying iambic pentameter and getting ready to lay down a new demo. Not bad for most, but just about average for these ambitious young guns, who range from 17 to 22. The Tribe's liquid sound, which orbits yin-yang exchanges between sax player Malcolm and stand-up bassist/ubiquitous prodigy Esperanza Spalding, calls to mind instant-classic groups like The Roots, Arrested Development and Digable Planets. But as Illaj, an earnest and articulate gentleman sporting the premonition of a goatee, stresses, they've fixed their eyes on the immediate future, not the immediate past. "I think there's kind of a hip-hop renaissance happening," he says. "We've been together a year, and we've had indie-rock crowds pumpin' their fists in the air, and we've had alleged gangstas up and dancing. We're at the point where a band like us can get responses from a bunch of different crowds." The Tribe's delectable fusion of rigorous lyrics and loose-limbed soul-jazz is unlikely to steer them wrong, though it's not exactly in sync with the cash'n'ass-imbalanced snake oil that passes for hip-hop radio right now. And Illaj is cool with that. "Our goal is to influence the mainstream without becoming part of the mainstream," he says. So here's a question--what's the mainstream going to do when the young'uns really do holla back?

best fare inspectors
Longtime light-railers know the routine. Just when they've gotten lost in their novel, a couple of guys in pinstriped pants and gold badges burst into a train and begin asking to see everyone's ticket or pass. It's a job that lends itself to conflict (a citation for riding without proper fare carries a $75 penalty), but a couple of Tri-Met's 16 fare inspectors go out of their way to be friendly. Jacques Craner greets people with a cheerful "Hi, folks" rather than the gruff "Fare inspector!" barked out by some of his wannabe-cop colleagues. On a recent trip, he waited patiently while a flustered rider emptied her purse, helping her find her pass in the cascading paperwork. With his trimmed gray beard and wire-rim glasses, the former bus driver looks more like a guidance counselor than an arm of the law. Richard Sirianni, another former bus driver, is equally gregarious. "What have we got here?" he says looking at a stamped ticket during a late-morning run. "A two-zoner good 'til 10:58. Looks great." The next commuter flashes a monthly pass. "Works for me," he says with a smile. Tri-Met's light-rail field-operations manager, Tim Garling, who supervises fare inspectors, says the agency is trying to get all inspectors to view their jobs more as customer-service representatives than law enforcers. They could learn a lesson from Craner and Sirianni.

best beauty queen's queen
Katie Harman, a.k.a. Miss America, once looked like all the other bangs-and-bad-makeup-wearing mall chicks who dot the Gresham landscape--until she met glamour guru Norman Yates.

"She calls me Norman-Wan-Kenobi," says the longtime Lancôme beauty consultant. Wielding the lethal combo of a good scrub brush, makeup and a strong shampoo, Yates transformed the now-polished Harman into the reigning queen of the beauty-pageant scene.

Harman wasn't the 53-year-old's first makeover. Yates has been responsible for cleaning up a hodgepodge of runners-up in "The Pageant" every year since 1993. While Yates admits he can work magic with lipstick and mascara, he doesn't think that makeup and hair alone make a contest winner.

"A lot of young ladies go in looking like 'pageant patties,' portraying a look that is not them," Yates says. "We give them a chance to have their own look...I just look, listen and start molding." Just think what he could do for Tonya Harding.

best grassroots political activist
Dave Mazza looms large in leftie Portland politics, and it's not just because he's the guy you'd most want to hide behind whenever the cops trash a protest. A prominent critic of the way the city investigates police misconduct, Mazza, a hulking former private investigator, also edits the Portland Alliance, a monthly nonprofit rabble-rousing newspaper whose 21-year-old bark is way larger than its 8,000-circulation bite. Two years ago, it was Mazza and the Alliance that obtained copies of the infamous anti-gay tapes that nearly cost Police Chief Mark Kroeker his job. Born into a family of bricklayers, the bespectacled, bushy-bearded Mazza might resemble a former Soviet apparatchik, but in person he is wise, personable and witty. He credits the paper's increase in circulation not to his columns or editing, but to the police who shot bean bags at him during the May Day 2000 rally, thus elevating the paper's visibility. "I've tried to get the other (Alliance) board members to be shot at by the police, as well," he says, "but they've been hesitant."Most Portland Winterhawks fans love the city's junior-league hockey team because its teenage players practically bleed hustle and sacrifice. And others just like top-speed collisions between muscular dudes, with the occasional bare-knuckle bout as a bonus. Nothing wrong with that, surely.

best promotional stunt by a human/ hot-dog hybrid one-man band
Few attend 'Hawks games hoping to witness a man in a hot-dog suit playing rock and roll. But when the team invited Frank Furter and the Hotdogs--an act combining Nate "Natron" Fasold, a giant hotdog suit and a dream--to entertain fans, that's exactly what the Sporting Public received.

"The Winterhawks called Alex Steininger [of local record label In Music We Trust]," recalls Fasold. "Whenever Alex gets a weird call, he calls Frank Furter. He knows he's up for anything." The team's sponsors worried--who knows why?--that the spectacle of a walking musical hot dog would distract from their paid arena advertising. So Frank scrubbed his plan to play at center ice, relocating to a concourse hot-dog stand. "For some reason, I got a lot of attention from teenage girls," says the singing sausage.

Good news for the millions of adolescent girls and other non-hot-dog humans who missed it: A forthcoming documentary, The Life and Times of Frank Furter, captured this epochal moment in sports entertainment.

best beer pioneer
Let's all raise a pint to Jim Kennedy. Don't know who he is? If you're a beer imbiber, chances are you've admired his work. The Pacific Northwest's quality beverage scene would not exist without Kennedy and what friends call his infectious passion for the finer things in life. Founder, with his wife, Bobbie, of the Admiralty Beverage Company (acquired by Columbia Distributing in 1995), Jim helped bring craft beers--as well as imports and fine wines--to these parts. He was a major supporter of breweries like Widmer and Deschutes in their early days. It's a terrible irony that the man so many describe as the most vital force in the country's thriving brewing scene has only a few weeks to live. After a serious battle with cancer, Kennedy says he doesn't expect to live out the summer. A few weeks ago, he and Bobbie threw a living wake at Portland Brewing Company. Jim didn't want to miss a last chance to party with his friends.

best reason to snooze on the job
Self-proclaimed sleep consultant David Arrow says "pillows can change peoples lives." For the straight-shooting Arrow, slumber is not just a job, but an execution of a deft and delicate science. His passion for the all things nocturnal began in the 1960s: While he was a producer of dance and musical shows, he discovered his most tireless performers were deprived of proper sleep, primarily due to injuries and constant changes of location. Suggesting simple remedies (like a fan in the bedroom, a cloth to shut out excess light, and lots of pillows to prop up body parts), Arrow found that he took to this work like a baby to a blankie. He plans to open his own clinic in the near future, but for now can be reached at 221-2030.

best shimmy shaker
Portland isn't exactly known for its winning competitors. The Blazers are a consistent disappointment, the Timbers are only mediocre, and Lindsay Richter failed to take home the million on Survivor. While some may think this triple crown has earned P-town the official title of "City of Losers," we've got one champ who redeems us of our flops. An internationally acclaimed bellydancer, Aziza is the only professional hip-shaking shimmy artist to simultaneously hold the Western U.S. titles of Bellydancer of the Universe, Bellydancer of the Year and Entertainer of the Year (a title she recently relinquished). Here in Portland, the lovely lady's hypnotic moves have become a familiar part of the city's nightlife at venues such as Dante's and Ararat. Outside of P-town, too, she's a bona fide celebrity, and one of the most sought-after performers in the world of bellydancing. Those local appearances are becoming less frequent as Aziza's worldwide popularity grows.

best feather flinger
Some world champions endure years of pain and poverty getting to the top. Hollie Lamphere (left) had to spend a few hours sitting on a metal pipe getting pelted by pillows. Last July, Lamphere, an eighth-grader at Valley Catholic in Beaverton, stunned pillow-fighters around the globe when in her first competition, the then-14-year-old was crowned women's world champion--the youngest in the storied history of the sport. No one was as surprised as she and her best friend (and training partner), Lisa Wise (right). Each year Wise's family headed south to Kenwood, Calif., for the annual pillow-fight championship. "It's a lot of fun," says Lisa's father, Rob Wise, 45, who's competed for 15 years . "It's like a big family picnic." Last year, Lisa invited Hollie.The two girls conducted some backyard training, but didn't have very high expectations. "We were saying we hoped we didn't get knocked off in the first round," Hollie recalls. Instead, Hollie faced a parade of older, bigger and more experienced fighters, and none could knock her off her perch. Her secret? "I just sat there and let them hit me," she says. "I have really good balance. Eventually they'd get tired and fall off." Hollie wasn't able to make the trip this year, but she's not ready to announce her retirement. She says she'd like to try to reclaim her title at least once more. After all, she's got the training regimen down pat.

best jolly representative of a distinctly unjolly state agency
Pre-Hallmark versions of the Santa Claus myth pair merry ol' Kris Kringle with a companion named Black Peter, a Moor in charge of kidnapping and dismembering kiddies on Bossman's "NAUGHTY" list. While this racist folkloric tidbit doesn't get much play anymore, it's a handy metaphor for Oregonians who imbibe: If alcohol itself is the rosy-cheeked benefactor, many view the Oregon Liquor Control Commission as the killjoy heavy who comes by dead of night to nix the party. But don't paint agency spokesman Ken Palke with that dark brush. Palke, an ex-newspaperman, exudes good cheer even as he fields inquiries from grumpy, prying, cynical journalists. Why, when WW's music section printed an obnoxious and probably irresponsible parody of an OLCC essay contest aimed at high-schoolers, Palke emailed to say he thought it was actually pretty funny! A toast, a toast!

best car-park sage
"You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul," says 62-year-old Bob Cooks, the wisest parking garage attendant in Portland. It's one of the maxims Cooks, a retired Army master sergeant, likes to share with the judges and docs who park their Benzes in the Civic Auditorium parking garage (Southwest 3rd Avenue and Clay Street). Cooks has seen it all: He served as a medical supplier for two decades and attributes his love of life to what he experienced in hospitals from Vietnam to Portland. It was his service, he says, that taught him it's not material goods but people who matter. "One day, the man you're standing above could be standing above you," he says. Of course, to get a morsel of his wisdom, you might just have to tear him away from his other love--reading. Stop by and have a chat between 7 am and 4 pm weekdays.

best rock star this side of hedwig
Portland native, Freak Show Rodeo frontman and streetwise fashion icon Harvey Hardcock (né Marshall) claims his ideal outfit is less than you might think. "Right now I like wearing nothing--with platform boots and a hot pink wig." A straight-shooting rocker dude ("unless he's really cute, has a lot of money and wants to spoil the fuck out of me"), Mr. Hardcock has found a brand-new outlet for his fashion passion: On Wednesdays at Satyricon (125 NW 6th Ave., 243-2380) he presents Harvey Hardcock's Freaky Lingerie Fashion Show. With the theme "Female Trouble, Crime is Glamour," the show will feature artists, models and theatrical performers--in lingerie. "It's going to look like David Lynch and John Waters mashed their heads together to create a fashion show," claims Hardcock.


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