Best B-Boy Businessman*
Huy Pham (center). IMAGE: Darryl James
It’s just after noon on a Wednesday, and Huy Pham is late. Again.
Pham, the driving force behind Portland’s b-boy breakdancing scene, was supposed to show up at his brother, Hieu’s, Pearl District dance studio, Hippoh Project, some 30-odd minutes ago. But for the moment, it’s just Hieu and a handful of other dancers from Huy’s Moon Patrol Crew, spinning and sweating to the quietest breakbeats ever heard by human ears.
“Break it down, break it down,” the singer whispers.
“Man, that guy’s always late,” Hieu says.
Huy is a busy man. He still dances—he’s been doing it for 14 years now, and says he tries to dedicate at least three hours a week to training and practice. But Huy has much larger goals in mind: He’s working to build an online media hub for all things b-boy, from photos and video to chat forums and a blog network. No site that comprehensive exists, and if Huy can create it, he hopes it will become a must-visit destination for fans as well as b-boys and the network of streetwear companies hungry to sponsor them.
To beta-test the project, Huy last month organized Foundation, the first multidisciplinary b-boy showcase in the Northwest, and one of the first in the world. He invited both traditional b-boys and, for the first time, some of the choreographed hip-hop and “urban” dancers who live on the outskirts of the hardcore b-boy world.
The show went off without a hitch, for the most part. A few of the choreographed groups bowed out at the last minute. “I think they got shook,” Huy says, but both groups of dancers got along and the event, he says, “had some of the best energy I’ve ever felt.”
A video of the show’s dozens of b-boy battles has been viewed more than 11,000 times on YouTube, demonstrating that there is indeed an audience out there for streetdance media.
Now, Huy says the prototype of his website is only a few months away. For now, it’s just a pipe dream, but he’s busy trying to make it happen.
Huy walks in the studio, finally ready to dance. He throws down a bag, sits on the cold floor and begins changing shoes, from one dirty-white pair of plimsolls to another.
“Break it down,” the singer repeats. And he does. RON KNOX.
Manyongai-Jones (left) and Jeremiah. IMAGES: Tony Wecker
Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge may be the most famous Trail Blazers on the court. But the most famous Trail Blazers fans are Rolia Manyongai-Jones and Bruce Jeremiah—otherwise known as “The Dancing Lady” and “Blazer Bruce.”
Doubtless you’ve seen them on the Rose Garden’s JumboTron. They’re the season-ticket-holders dancing wildly in the stands to whom Blazers cameramen turn when the players are on a run and crowd excitement is building.
In her other life, Manyongai-Jones, 58, is a retired elementary-school teacher who leads an African dance troupe for children in Portland. She was born in Liberia in a small village of 200 people. Jeremiah, 70, rents RVs. He grew up in Beaverton.
Inside the arena, they’re integral parts of the Blazers experience—as reliable as the sound of Gary Glitter’s stadium anthem “Rock and Roll Part 2.” But they each have their unique moves.
“I have my own dancing style, just like she does,” says Jeremiah, who wears a Greg Oden jersey to every game. He describes his dancing as Chubby Checker-style twisting, which is, apparently, a big hit with children. “Some of my biggest fans are 8 and 10,” Jeremiah says.
Manyongai-Jones doesn’t wear team jerseys. Her dancing style is “soulful” with “a combination of African movement,” she says. “When I’m doing it, the spirit moves me,” she adds. “I feel like I’m sending good energy to the team.” BETH SLOVIC.
Best Literalization of a Political Metaphor
You hear it all the time: Politics is war—a knock-down-drag-out for scrappers willing to throw a knee when the ref’s distracted. The Oregon GOP is taking this kind of talk seriously: First, Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial artist Matt Lindland in 2008, then this year UFC middleweight championship contender Chael Sonnen, secured GOP nominations for seats in the Oregon House. Lindland lost in Salem, and Sonnen bowed out of his West Linn bid either because of a pending real-estate investigation or because of politically suicidal prefight trash talk on Twitter. But still: When we dream, do we not dream of champions? MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Best Hoop Dreamer*
Skye Mazur. Image courtesy of Skye Mazur.
Skye Mazur spends a lot of time hula hooping, and she wants you to, too. “Everyone can do it,” says Mazur, who started trick hooping while at State University of New York at New Paltz. “People always come up to me when I go out to say, ‘That’s awesome,’ and I say, ‘Do you want to learn?’” Mazur taught herself how to hoop, and now teaches anyone who asks. Mazur says all those twirls and tricks have a way of opening body and mind. “It’s an incredible workout, if you know how to do it right,” she explains. “This is not the same plastic hula hoop you used as a kid—this is pipe, you can move it.” (Mazur makes her hoops out of PVC pipe.) “You’re working your body, but you’re also in a different zone. It’s beautiful.” CAITLIN MCCARTHY. Email email@example.com for lessons.
Best City Bike
Most of us will never even see our dream bikes. We’ll never ride that five-person quint, perfect weightless racing cycle, or the alien-powered BMX from E.T. But after years of contemplating his fantasy bike, frame-builder Tony Pereira brought his dream to life to win the 2009 Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge. Charged with the task of building the “ultimate transportation bike, ” Pereira integrated as many components as possible into the frame, including a handmade taillight, front rack, generator hub, upright handlebars and integrated U-lock mount. Unfortunately, his “ultimate Portland bike” now lives in New Jersey, but it brought in enough money for Pereira to build his other dream: a workshop for Pereira Cycles (pereiracycles.com). CAITLIN GIDDINGS.
Best Big Buck Hunters
The requisite skills for the video game Big Buck Hunter are simple: quick hands, sharp eyes, raging bloodthirst and sniperlike precision. Clearly, it takes a special kind of person to shoot the life out of galloping gazelles and cantering elk. And according to the online scoreboards for Big Buck Hunter national tournaments (the games at bars are connected to a nationwide network), it’s clear Portland’s best Big Buck Hunters migrate to Tanker (4825 SE Hawthorne Blvd., tankerpdx.com) to shoot ’em up. While the Jolly Roger and Slammer attract equally tough competitors, the nautically themed watering hole has the most avid followers of the game. If you want to learn how to nail a trophy animal like a champ, head to Tanker for some high-caliber virtual bloodshed. And don’t forget to get that critter bonus! WHITNEY HAWKE.
Best New Sport
The future of Portland athletics may be a local 62-year-old man. Parker Pettus sent us an email in June telling us he is desperately trying to keep the sport he loves alive: That sport is rollerdisk. After Pettus’ rollerdisking (a.k.a. roller Frisbee) team in Boston disbanded, he moved to Portland, where he’s determined to start a new team. “At this time there is no roller Frisbee team at all and I do not want to see the sporting love of my life fade away,” he wrote. “I really do believe in this sport. I’m the last rollerdisk player and after 20 years of playing the game I don’t want to see the game become extinct.” You can watch a video of Pettus demonstrating the sport, which looks sort of like the offspring of roller derby and Xanadu, at wweek.com/bop2010. It looks a bit silly, but that’s only because Pettus is partnerless: “Playing roller Frisbee by yourself is kinda like playing tennis with yourself,” he wrote. Help a guy out, would ya? SARAH DAVIDSON.