1985 - Best Pizza Thrower
Dave Hite is something of a hero among working-class eaters. Before the bespectacled young man from Spokane, best known as the dapper saxophone player for the Fabulous K-Tels, began to get serious about twirling flattened rounds of pizza dough in the air, the prospect of finding a decent pie crust in this city was downright grim. In the 15 years since he began delivering pizza in his hometown and was promoted to chef after totaling a car during a mission (life works in strange ways), Hite has developed a style that has influenced some of the best pizza in Portland today—that produced by Hot Lips Pizza, Escape From New York and Hite's current home base, A Pizza the Pie. There's nothing revolutionary about the Hite crust; it is wholly consistent (no mean feat), perfectly crisp on the bottom, and puffy and chewy on the rims. In short, just a damn good product. Hite himself can shed little light on his culinary art. "It's all in the technique," he says. "You've got to know how to make it fly, to hover perfectly in the air like a Frisbee for a minute. You've got to have a knack for it. Thereâs no question about it: Itâs a calling.â
UPDATE: Dave Hite no longer tosses the pizza, but he's still working in Portland, as a sound engineer at Ted's, the music venue formerly known as Berbati's. (When that club closed, WW's Casey Jarman called Hite "a decidedly old-school soundman.") He says he got into sound engineering in the 1980s and he's enjoying the work. Though he doesn't think he'll go back into the pizza business, he says he misses pie making: "I did it a couple of times at Christmas for my parents, but I haven't had my hands in the dough much. I miss it." These days Hite outsources his pizza-making. His choice for best pizza in Portland? "I haven't had Escape From New York in a long time, but they're probably still good. I go to Hot Lips every now and then, and I like that. I don't want to say Papa John's is the best, but at night, when thatâs all you can do, thatâs all you can do.â
1986 - Best Promoter
Violent Femmes, Hüsker Dü, Los Lobos and the Replacements are not hopelessly obscure groups, but in a town shy of alternative media such as college radio and underground press, one might not get exposed to these bands without the efforts of Monqui. Mike Quinn had booking experience from three years on the University of Oregon's cultural-affairs board, as well as a stint at the Keystone in San Francisco, when he met former Portland policeman Chris Monlux at Satyricon in 1984. The duo formed Monqui (the name derived from the first three letters of their last names) and began promoting concerts in Portland and Seattle. Pine Street Theater, the site of their offices and the majority of their shows, now is leased by them as well. When remodeling is completed, the venue, (now called simply Pine Street) will have a capacity of 1,000, with balconies and a video bar as new amenities. Quinn and Monlux are personable, accommodating and dedicated to providing Portland with quality rock-music alternatives.
UPDATE: The Pine Street (which later became La Luna) is long gone, but Monqui is still going strong, booking around 275 shows each year from Bend to B.C., including the Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn (this summer's lineup includes Neko Case, John Prine and Willie Nelson). Quinn is a co-owner of Doug Fir Lounge (which produces an additional 315 shows), and he and Monlux own Wonder Ballroom with Mark Woolley. "I don't have to put up posters in the middle of the night, do the catering shopping, load gear or make deals on thermal fax paper anymore, which is nice," Quinn says. "It's still a tough racket, but it really helps to have good venues to work in."
1987 - Best Marrying Judge
So you and your spouse-to-be "met cute," to use the Hollywood lingo. Now you want your wedding to commemorate the occasion. You need a judge who will officiate at your wedding at the zoo, or in a plane, or in Pioneer Courthouse Square, where the two of you bumped heads while inspecting your bricks. Who are you gonna call? We suggest Multnomah County District Court Judge Thomas Moultrie. But give him plenty of advance notice—Moultrie performs as many as 100 weddings a year. An extrovert who has garnered a reputation for doing "fun" weddings, the affable judge's philosophy of matrimony is simple: "If I can do it, I'd rather do it the way they want it done," he says. The dress code is up to the couple: "I sometimes wear a tux. Sometimes a robe, sometimes a tux, sometimes nothing at all. Just my English Leather." Hyperbole, perhaps, but the good judge has stripped to his bathing trunks to marry couples in the ocean (in March, no less) and donned skis to marry them on Mount Hood. It was Moultrie who married a couple at the edge of a coastal cliff, then watched with the family as the newlyweds adjusted their hang-gliding gear and flew away. All his weddings have been memorable, he says, but his most exciting wedding was the one he conducted under Multnomah Falls. "I tell you," he says, "that was kind of a soggy affair."
UPDATE: Moultrie retired from district court in 1999, but continues to serve Portland as a wedding officiant. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to assault in the fourth degree and harassment for shoving his wife, Lisa, causing her to fall and break her wrist. He was censured by the Oregon Supreme Court in July of 2006.
1988 - Best Elvis Impersonator
Wearing dirty, mismatched tube socks and tattered plaid cutoffs, John Schroder looks—and sounds—as if his head has been all shaken up as he jitters and croons on downtown Portland's sidewalks. Schroder has listened to the King for more than 20 years and has developed an enchantingly wretched Elvis impersonation act, which he performs every weekend at Saturday Market. The tall, rail-thin busker, who has wispy brown hair and thick eyeglasses, strums a "guitar" made of cardboard and yarn and shouts about 30 Elvis numbers in an off-key, raspy voice. He occasionally enhances his act by wearing a tinsel wig and collapsing, bare knees and all, to the pavement.
UPDATE: Schroder, who calls himself a "sound-alike, not look-alike" impersonator, has now been singing Elvis songs longer than the King himself. You can find him every week, just like we did 23 years ago, strumming his guitar at Saturday Market, belting out Elvis tunes. And he's not stopping anytime soon: Schroder says he'll keep the act up "until I'm too old to do it, I guess." At this rate, he'll be in our next Best of Portland anniversary issue.
1989 - Best Female Impersonator
It's not easy being a female impersonator. It takes more than specially designed costumes and makeup to convince an audience that a man is really a woman. It takes an attitude, a sense of style, and a total commitment to carrying off an illusion that few males would even attempt in public. In Portland, the best female impersonator is widely recognized as Elwood Johnson, 28, who can be seen most weekends at Darcelle XV, the cabaret at 208 NW 3rd Ave. in Old Town. That's where Johnson exhibits his talent for impersonating celebrities such as Eartha Kitt, Dionne Warwick and Lena Horne—as well as his own creation, the dazzling Lady Elaine Peacock. Johnson has also competed in numerous competitions for female impersonators, and last year won the coveted title of La Femme Magnifique 1988 in a regional contest held in Portland. "I love traveling and entertaining, and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do both," says Johnson, who describes his stage work as a hobby. To pay the bills, he does graphic design work and operates Peacock Deliveries, which runs flowers around to a variety of downtown businesses. Out of costume, Johnson is a soft-spoken young man who could easily be mistaken for a college student or a Meier & Frank clerk. But for the full effect, catch his special appearance at this year's La Femme Magnifique contest, at the Melody Lane Ballroom, 615 SE Alder.
UPDATE: In 1986, Johnson put on the first drag variety show at the Washington Park Amphitheater and dubbed the production Peacock and the Roses. The following year, the event changed its name to Peacock in the Park, and became the primary fundraiser for the Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fund, created by Johnson in memory of his mother, who had died that year.
"It was important to Woody to continue his mother's legacy," says Kimberlee Van Patten, a friend of Johnson's. "Audria was a big advocate for the gay community when we had few."
Johnson died in October of 1993 of complications from AIDS. Peacock in the Park and the scholarship fund continued, morphing into Peacock Productions Inc., which Van Patten founded with her partner, Maria. They continued to operate Peacock in the Park until 2004. After a few years' hiatus, Peacock Productions created Peacock After Dark, a night of performance at the Newmark Theatre aimed at celebrating Johnson's legacy and raising money for the scholarship foundation. To date, Peacock Productions has awarded over $172,000 worth of scholarships, and plans to award another $10,000 on September 25, at the 2011 Peacock After Dark.
"I'm sure he'd be thrilled," Van Patten says. "Our dream was to continue giving scholarships every year, and we've done that."
1990 - Best Tavern Owner
Vivian McCarty is exactly like Linda Hunt's character in the movie Silverado. Except not as short. If you haven't seen this 1985 western, the reference won't mean a damn thing. Suffice to say that McCarty—Viv to anyone who's been in the place more than once—is a Hollywood classic: a saloon keeper with a heart, and feisty as hell. Having tended her bar at the Yukon Tavern (5819 SE Milwaukie Ave.) since 1950, McCarty has a legendary rapport with her patrons; many of them have come to regard her as kind of a surrogate aunt, and a favorite one at that. McCarty won't reveal her age—("Do you want to get thrown out of here?")—but she will admit to catching Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey when those musicians came through town. McCarty's interest in music is not surprising, considering she's led her own all-woman big bands, appearing with them at the Multnomah back when that downtown Embassy Suites was the best hotel north of San Francisco. Her most recent gig was the Yukon, where her band, Vivian McCarty's Four Femmes, held sway until three years ago. Although the band is no longer together, McCarty's jukebox selection is superb (with a latest favorite being the Robert Cray Band). McCarty is a classic, and like all classics she improves with age.
UPDATE: McCarty kept pulling pitchers at the Yukon until two years before she died, at age 98, on July 10, 2000. Of her memorial at the Yukon, WW's Kelly Clarke wrote, "On the night of July 14, the volume of voices of those who knew her best swelled as the free beer continued to flow. Vivian's nephews Tom and Rol Worth, who organized the celebration, reminisced about their aunt's days as a no-nonsense bartendress and her stint as a singer with a circus in Hawaii in the late 1930s.... As the evening wound down and the old regulars retreated, the bass on the stereo cranked up a notch. A waitress shouted out, 'OK, it's time to party.' But she was wrong. The party was already over, carried away with McCarty and her clan's quiet charm.
1991 - Best Female Wrestler
This is one woman who doesn't fake it—ever. Portland resident Terri Power takes issue with the popularly held idea that women's professional wrestling is about as realistic as...well, as a woman who says she never fakes it. As one of 50 licensed members of the Ladies' Professional Wrestling Association, Power wrestles to win. Ethical questions aside, "we get paid on who wins or loses," she says. "Seventy-five percent of the pouch if you win, 25 percent if you lose." She has worked her way through the ranks of wrestlers, and her championship bout against Lady X is scheduled in September on pay-per-view. Locally, you can watch the ladies duke it out on ESPN every Monday. She's leaving soon for Japan to compete against Japanese professionals and is looking forward to the better-educated (wrestlingwise) Japanese audiences. Detractors of the "sport" use the good-vs.-evil aspect of wrestling as evidence of its duplicity. Power asserts that it's not different than most sports. "People enjoy the hype of football. They just don't enjoy it without the personalities involved." She's a "good" wrestler (in Japan they don't make such distinctions). Power started her athletic career as a bodybuilder and placed seventh in the 1987 Women's National Bodybuilding Championships. She recently began training to climb back up the ranks in bodybuilding with a new trainer, Jan Harrell (weighs 198, lifts 385). Power has no plans to quit wrangling in the ring. "I get to be more athletic on a day-to-day basis and make money at it," she proclaims.
UPDATE: In May 2011, Power came out of a 10-year wrestling retirement to make an appearance at the Legends of Wrestling Showcase in Philadelphia. After nearly a decade away from her WWE personality, Power had some reservations about returning to the ring. "I was so nervous to come out and say hey to everybody, because if they liked my persona then [in the past], it has changed," she said. But to her delight, Power says fans came from all around the world to support her. Today, Power, who now goes by her given name, Terri Poch, owns her own studio, Body Aware: A Center for Structural Movement, where she practices Rolfing. A year and a half ago, she debuted her own practice of yoga, which she calls "yingtegration." "I'm making bodies amazing after dismantling them for so long," she says.
1992 - Best Brewer
If there were a list of the 10 most awesome jobs, Lee Medoff claims his would be No. 1: brewer of beer. For the last 2 1/2 years, Medoff has made some of Portland's incredible ales at the Fulton Brewery, the hip little psychedelic brew pub in Southwest, and people from all over town go to savor his work. "My grandfather taught me the whole process," Medoff explained. "He had a lot of tricks left over from Prohibition." Medoff doesn't quite fit the stereotype of the perpetually red-nosed German brewer. He's tall and stocky, yes, but the young brewer wears his black hair in a ponytail, sports sharp sideburns and speaks with a decidedly twentysomething surfer twang. But he can articulate the fine points of brewing with impressive eloquence. Quick to attribute his success to his grandfather, Medoff said the most important qualities in a brewer are patience and a willingness to experiment. He said his best beers are Hammerhead, a malty, highly hopped, bitter ale with 5 percent alcohol; Wit, a "white" Belgian wheat ale; and Pale Fire, another malty, highly hopped ale. Medoff's advice to young brewers? "Drink more of my beer."
UPDATE: Medoff's ponytail may be long gone along with the rest of his hair, but he's still devoted to making excellent booze. From the Fulton, which is part of the McMenamins empire, Medoff moved to Seattle in 1995 to help open two McMenamins pubs there. After a sabbatical in Europe, he returned to Portland to open McMenamins Edgefield distillery. In 2005, he left to found House Spirits with partner Christian Krogstad. At House, he helped develop the distillery's wildly successful Aviation Gin, but soon found himself wanting to move on. "My family's very entrepreneurial," he said. "I just got this itch to start my own distillery." In 2010 he sold his share of House to Krogstad and started work on Bull Run Distilling Company, a new venture devoted to making rum and whiskey in volume. While Bull Run is still awaiting federal approval to start distilling, Medoff says he eventually hopes to move 15,000 to 20,000 cases of rum (made from Hawaiian turbinado sugar) and whiskey (made from Oregon malted barley) per year. His first release, though, will be as a distributor: A rye-heavy bourbon, distilled somewhere out East (Medoff isn't telling where), sold under the Temperance Trader label, should hit shelves in early August.
1993 - Best Campaign by a Longshot Political Candidate
Quick, which recent U.S. Senate candidate included the following reflections in one of his campaign press releases? "Only in theory can I believe that my interest in sex is any less than earlier in my life. As far as I can tell, I'm as routinely horny as I ever was. My equipment doesn't function quite as reliably as it once did, but we all know that there are delightful ways to compensate for that, don't we?.... Women of just about any age can be attractive to me. I've sometimes had sexual thoughts about a female child, but rarely (thank you God).â
Well, you get a point for thinking it was Bob Packwood, but no, it was Marshall, who gave the word "longshot" new meaning in the last election. Marshall (don't wait for a full last name—Marshall is his full, legal name, as he informed WW in his first press release) was a 63-year-old Kennewick, Wash., resident running for Brock Adams' U.S. Senate seat. Starting more than a year and a half before last November's election, Marshall faithfully sent to numerous Northwest newsrooms each week an "informational release" on subjects ranging from defense to education to agriculture.
Sounds like a pretty standard campaign tactic, right? Except the content of his releases was not quite the bland, positive rhetoric we have come to expect from the average political candidate. Take his campaign platform: "In my mind, the centerpiece of my campaign is my Twenty-First Century Principles Of Understanding," Marshall explained in his first release. Here's a sample principle: "infinity extends in all directions in spacetime; within each a smaller particle we discover, and outward in space; backward in time and forward." No word in the release on how he planned to translate that principle into federal legislation.
Not only was Marshall more metaphysical than most candidates, he was also more personal, as the above sex musings plainly show. And how about this: "One of the many surprises I experienced in the psychiatric ward was in seeing the profound happiness and peace that severely depressed patients can feel once they firmly decide to commit suicide; they no longer have any need to be afraid or worried about anything; all of their problems are taken care of. The staff people knew to watch for this as a danger signal. When this once happened with me at the UW hospital, a staff member was assigned to watch me around the clock, even when I slept, for about 72 hours; I suppose until I looked miserable again.â
According to his press releases, Marshall's career history included everything from military service to a position as a subcontract supervisor for Bechtel Corp. to a stint as a gardener for Love Israel's commune on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. Despite his good intentions, Marshall was unable to add a U.S. Senate term to his résumé.
UPDATE: Marshall died May 1, 2006, at the age of 78 in Seattle. According to his obituary, the political career was just one aspect of his interesting life: He graduated high school at 15 and started college the very next day. In 1945, at age 16, he enlisted in the Marines. He served for 14 months before returning to college, eventually graduating from Baylor University. In addition to his job at Bechtel Corp., he also worked at Boeing and as a church groundskeeper. He was preceded in death by his wife, Margie Seawell (Seawell was Marshall's original last name—we don't know how he lost it), but survived by the "love of his life," Becky Long-Swift. In true Marshall fashion, the man wrote his own obituary. "In my political adventures, I had the rare human experience of doing something big and important to me," he wrote. "Exactly as I believed it needed to be done…I hope you will smile with me. I've had a grand time."
1994 - Best Rage Against the Establishment
From his rooftop message of "Growth Sucks" to the severed heads that dot his front lawn at 0115 SW Arthur St., Jim Skinner refuses to conform.
Skinner is a carpenter by trade and an avant-garde artist by choice. His living room is occupied by a life-size Jesus Christ on a cross. The back of his pickup truck sports a plaster cast of Lon Mabon's face with the command, "I'm Lon Mabon, Punch Me!" The outer back wall of his house is dominated by a fully erect, 6-foot fiberglass penis.
Skinner knows gentrification is coming to his short block near the west end of the Ross Island Bridge. Skinner wants no part of it.
"It is trying to chase me out," complains Skinner of the city's rapid growth. "But I'm going to be that sore itch on the face of yuppiedom.â
Skinner, who owns his home, says he started to do political art in 1988 when he constructed a 6-foot penis and dressed it up as then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, complete with a blue suit and red tie.
Crosses and penises are Skinner's favorite art tools. In fact, he is currently hard at work trying to mass-produce crosses made of crisscrossed penises. "Who needs a gallery? I've got my own," says Skinner of his front yard and home, which are viewed by commuters who park along the street each day.
In Skinner's view of the world, his home is an oasis of sanity in a world gone mad. "If you try to inject something sane, then they label you insane," he theorizes.
UPDATE: Skinner now lives on North Sumner Street, near Interstate Avenue, in a house as fully decorated as the one on Southwest Arthur. The centerpiece of his front yard is the "Tree of Shame," a 25-foot decorated trunk adorned with the heads of Kissinger, Reagan, the two Bush presidents and others of his political enemies. "The heads are starting to rot up there," he says. "I wish the real ones would too.â
Other than moving from downtown, little has changed for Skinner. "People say Portland is a good place, but to me it's just less raped than other places—whatever," he says. "Now that I live in the suburbs, I can't piss off of I-5 like I used to be able to."
1995 - Best Poetry Slammer
The Portland Poetry Slam takes poetry recitals to another level by pitting poet against poet in a war of words. Though some writers are sickened by the thought of cheapening their art with competition, others find the slam a great opportunity to popularize poetry and bring their work to the people. For the past two years, Kevin Sampsell has earned a position on the team that represents Portland in the national slam competition. His "in your face" poetry has the power to last through round after round of brutal image-throwing and verse-breaking. When Sampsell isn't slamming, he's working at his espresso cart, caring for his 11-month-old son and publishing books such as Poetry Is Dead and Lose Your Mind With the Lights On. Here's a sample of the kind of poetry Sampsell will throw at the rest of the country in Ann Arbor, Mich., later this summer:
Bus stops at light.
Safeway strikers throw rocks
at bus windows and tires.
Thirteen scruffy hounds
and one alley cat form blockade
No more leash law!
No more leash law!!
Bus driver continues,
notching eight more marks
On his second quivering chin…
From "The Last Bus Ride"
by Kevin Sampsell
UPDATE: Sampsell retired his slamming jersey in 1996, citing the medium's stress on competition as the primary factor.
"I got burned out on it," he says.
His departure from slam did not mark his departure from the Portland literary scene, however. After leaving poetry, he spent some time working in short stories, before publishing his memoir, A Common Pornography, last year. (WW excerpted the book for a cover story prior to publication on Jan. 10, 2010.) Currently, Sampsell heads up the small press section at Powell's Books, where he has worked since 1997. He dips into event coordinating, putting together some of Powell's events and readings. Additionally, Sampsell owns his own small press, Future Tense Books. He's still exploring different literary mediums, and is currently working on a novel, which he says is nearing completion.
1996 - Best Everything
Let's see… Teamster, check. College professor, check. Zen master, check. Wait a second, is there anything Lorin Buckwalter hasn't been? Well, come to think of it, no. Currently a systems analyst for a local trucking company, Buckwalter is sort of the ultimate combination plate. A super-heavyweight tae kwon do master (she has fought on U.S. world championship teams), she has also dabbed in the less-physical arts, singing in a professional classical choir and writing poetry. As if that weren't enough, the big-boned blonde—who stands 6-foot-6 in her sensible shoes—does renditions of Marilyn Monroe and Barbra Streisand. Yes, Lorin is a gender-bender, all right. A preoperative transsexual, she wants to be the woman on the outside that she has always been on the inside. Despite her mind-boggling background (she could stage a diversity fair single-handedly), Buckwalter is the definition of modesty. Here's hoping her thoughtful charm and tasteful wardrobe will keep her family (girlfriend and two teenage kids) prospering in a world all too often locked into rigid categories.
UPDATE: Fifteen years and one sex reassignment surgery later, Lorin Buckwalter is now Lori, and living in Vancouver. She's had her ups and downs since 1996, serving as a civil-rights advocate and running into prejudice along the way. Buckwalter worked as a cultural competency coordinator for Multnomah County and as an analyst for Kaiser Permanente, helping physicians treat transsexual patients and developing transsexual health policy. In 2004 she sued Cascade Athletic Club for canceling her membership after management learned she was a trans woman. "Ultimately I didn't do it to be heroic, I did it to live a real life to be who I was," Buckwalter said of her work.
1997 - Best Case of Mistaken Identity
Portland cop John Minnis was caught off guard recently when he received a heads-up from the FBI. Minnis, who doubles as a Republican state rep, was warned he has been targeted by a radical pro-life group out of Georgia that "is collecting dossiers on abortionists in anticipation that one day we may be able to hold them on trial for crimes against humanity." Minnis, far from being an abortionist, is a pro-lifer who has tried to outlaw abortion in Oregon. Nevertheless, Minnis is listed on the website—called the Nuremberg Files—because he was photographed a few years ago arresting an Operation Rescue protester at one of the group's local clinic assaults. The photo apparently caused the Nuremberg miscreants to make the intuitive leap that Minnis was "a law enforcement bloodhound for abortionists and their lackeys." Also listed on the site are Portland Mayor Vera Katz, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, former state Rep. Gail Shibley and more than a dozen Portland-area residents. The site, christiangallery.com/atrocity, contains detailed personal information on many of the people listed, including home addresses, license plate numbers, vehicle descriptions and, in some cases, photos of the people, their homes and cars.
UPDATE: Despite the best legal efforts of Planned Parenthood to shut down the Nuremberg Files after the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, the site remains active. (Creator Neal Horsley was arrested in 2010 for making "terroristic threats" against Elton John.) Minnis left the Oregon House of Representatives in 1999, and won a seat in the Oregon Senate in 2000. His wife, Karen, was elected to his former seat in the House and served as Speaker from 2003-2006. Minnis was appointed director of the Oregon State Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in 2004 but resigned in 2009 in the wake of a sex scandal; a subordinate charged that, on at least two occasions, he got her drunk during work trips and put her to bed, after which she woke up in some state of undress. Minnis denied going beyond consensual kissing, but told investigators, "My wife's gonna freakin' shoot me."
1998 - Best Tape Ball
When Sean Healy stuck two unused portions of duct tape together in the spring of 1995, no one saw any reason why they should not be eternally bonded. Now, three years and four crates of tape later (that's 160 rolls), Healy's pet project has the power to maim. With a circumference of 6 feet and a weight somewhere near 100 pounds, the duct-tape ball residing at 4th Dimension Studios (the studios are private, but you can call for an appointment to view the ball) is the largest known in the metro area—if not the world.
UPDATE: A rolling stone gathers no moss—and neither does a giant ball of duct tape. Healy hasn't seen his ball in a year, but it still resides at his old workplace, Fourth Dimension Studios in Southeast Portland. After our article was published, Healy and his co-workers tried to get the ball recognized as the largest of its kind in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. However, Guinness required that they prove it was made completely of duct tape, a feat they could not achieve. "We tried all sorts of ways, but we couldn't figure out a way to get to the center of it. It was too gooey," Healy said. Since 1998, the ball has doubled in size, Healy speculates. Some 5,000 rolls of duct tape have gone into its making. When it got too heavy to roll, Healy moved the ball onto a cart and rolled it around the studio.
1999 - Best Retro Recall
Remember life as a kid in the '80s? Back then, video games weren't all violent fight scenes and turbo action. You won the right to enter your initials by helping a frog cross a busy highway unscathed, gobbling up ghosts or firing at alien invaders. Thanks to Portland's newest arcade, Ground Kontrol (610 SW 12th Ave.), the salad days are back. Owners Kneel Cohn and Betty Farrier collected more than 30 '80s pinball and video games—Tetris, Star Trek, Dig Dug, Space Invaders and Centipede among them—and corralled them in a revamped downtown space. Besides 25-cent games galore, the store buys and sells new and used CDs, Atari units and cartridges. Visit the window nook, where a couch, Atari unit and TV setup assuage your joystick jones.
UPDATE: Cohn and Farrier sold Ground Kontrol in 2003 to a group of loyal customers who in 2004 moved to the arcade's current home, at 511 NW Couch St., and started serving beer. Ground Kontrol now claims 125 pinball and video games and, after a Tron-inspired remodel early this year, glowing bar tables.
2000 - Best Reason to Visit Milwaukie Avenue
If you can miss out on mysterious, hot-dog-shaped "food" spinning on greasy metal racks at 7-Eleven next time you're on a snack run in Sellwood, ditch the chain-store scene entirely and drive (or walk) a few blocks to the independently owned Milwaukie Market (4401 SE Milwaukie Ave., 235-0512). Owner Chester Yeom is far friendlier than the sulky cashiers at those other convenience stores, and he has an impressive Polaroid picture collection of his loyal, regular customers mounted above the checkout counter. It started with one instant shot of a customer about to move away; soon all the regs wanted a place on Yeom's wall of fame. Some of the photos depict smiling patrons alongside the kindly owner, while others document the relationship histories of those who come here for beer and snacks on a daily basis. Saying cheese isn't the only way to get involved, though; customers can also contribute old out-of-state license plates to the growing collection on another wall.
UPDATE: Yeom and his wife, Tiffany, sold Milwaukie Market in 2002 to run Plaza Teriyaki & Barbecue in US Bancorp Tower. On March 4, 2007, Yeom was shot in the neck during a robbery of Belmont 34 Grocery, where he was filling in at the cash register so the owner, a friend, could go to church. Yeom was paralyzed from the neck down, and died 14 months later. His killer, Jimmy Kashi, was sentenced to 41 years in prison. According to a KATU news report on Aug. 7, 2008, "So many people showed up for Chester Yeom's funeral that some had to stand outside, and the funeral home director said he had never seen so many flowers delivered.â
2001 - Best Junior-Sized Gianola
Tired of middle-aged news anchors spewing out lame bloopers?
Have no fear, wonder boy/anchor Austin Reed is here. Well, nearly here. At the tender age of 13, Reed has already managed to work for nearly every news station in Portland. It's no surprise. For many years Reed played "pretend" news anchor in his basement pseudo-TV studio and even recorded video of his "broadcasts" with the help of his encouraging parents.
This hard play has paid off. Reed began his official pre-pubescent news career as an anchor for the Junior Rose Parade in 1998. Since then he has reported on weather and cultural events, reviewed movies and games, and even interviewed Mayor Vera Katz and NBA pro Brian Grant.
A determined newsman, Austin says he does it because he's "outgoing, likes to express [himself], and most of all loves to talk."
Even so, this seasoned journalist is facing his own difficult career choice: He would also like one day to play in the NBA. Until then, watch for him and his dad, Chris Reed, on a cable-access show in the near future.
UPDATE: Don't bother looking for Austin Reed in the NBA. "Too short," he says of his unfulfilled hoop dreams. "I guess I chose the newsman path."
Reed's cable-access show in Portland ran for "a few years." When he was 17, he worked for Fox News. Later, he moved to New York City to appear in commercials and sitcoms.
"I decided I wanted to get back into the news business," Reed says, so he took a job as a reporter in New Mexico. He's since returned to Oregon, and is now the morning news anchor and executive producer of a morning show for Medford's KOBI TV 5.
"I'm totally living my dream, it's amazing," Reed says. "I couldn't be happier."
2002 - Best Fashion Show Masquerading As Sports Spectation
Green face-paint. Intensely questionable green-and-white Cat-in-the-Hat lids. Green-tipped triple mohawks. Kilts, denim, shaven skulls, Fred Perry shirts. Language that skirts the bounds of bourgeois taste. What is this, some local DIY designer's spring runway walk, thrown together in a suitably "guerrilla" warehouse space? No, it's Section 107 of PGE Park (Southwest 18th Avenue and Morrison Street) during Portland Timbers soccer games. While the minor-league pro futbol club attracts its share of soccer moms and nuke-families, the fans who congregate behind the north goal are a concertedly colorful lot. It is a convenient perch from which to question the ancestry, professional abilities and sexual proclivities of the opposing team's goalkeeper and advocate medieval punishment for the referee. And, maybe most of all, the section is a carnival of eccentric threads, as skinheads mingle with punx and urban professionals turn into masked, flag-waving tribalists for two hours. All with the help of Sweet Mother Beer, of course.
UPDATE: The Timbers' major-league debut has not diminished the fashion sense of the Timbers Army at all. See our cover for proof.
2003 - Best Goal to Achieve a Golden Glow
That's an easy one.
A rainy day in Texas. The 2002 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship game. Sudden-death overtime: Santa Clara 1, the University of Portland Pilots (in the hunt for their first national title) 1.
Enter the boot of Christine Sinclair, UP sophomore striker and Canadian national team member.
âOh, that goal,â Sinclair says now.
"A Santa Clara player had the ball' and tried a square pass all the way across the field. Our left back, Kristen Moore, just read it so well: She took off...barely intercepted it and then made this unbelievable run. Then she served me a cross, just the perfect cross," Sinclair recalls. "I tried to get a foot on it, tried to force their goalie to make a save. Anything. And she made the first one, but the ball came back to me. It was the perfect bounce. You could play that same situation a hundred times and it would never take that bounce again. And so I got the ball back and scored. That was it. The season was over."
UPDATE: The 2002 championship-saver was not Sinclair's only memorable goal. Since graduating from University of Portland in 2005 (where she scored a total of 110—39 in her senior year alone, an all-time Division 1 record), she played three seasons for the Vancouver (B.C.) Whitecaps Women (10 goals) and two for California's FC Gold Pride (18 goals). The 28-year-old forward currently plays for the Western New York Flash and was the captain of the Canadian team in the 2011 Women's World Cup. Her most recent feat came this June: Against doctor's advice, Sinclair returned to the field in the opener of the FIFA World Cup after having her nose broken by a defender's elbow, and scored an 82nd-minute free kick in a 2-1 loss to Germany.
2004 - Best Burlesque Queen
A self-taught dancer, Lucy Fur started as a stripper while attending college in Portland and quickly began creating her own burlesque routines for cabarets around town. Her love of the early-'60s go-go era, along with "that cheesiness factor" of performers like Ann-Margret and Nancy Sinatra, inspires sets in which she takes on a multitude of erotic guises. They include a baton-twirling Rose Festival majorette, a rain-loving minx in see-through slicker and flower pasties, and a silver-skinned robot girl with blinking pasties in a crowd of dancing toy robots, to name a few. This 27-year-old (a busty 34-24-34 with a curvy-yet-fit look) aims for a feeling of spontaneity in her pieces. "It's good when you're sort of buzzing, 'cause you don't know what's happening next," Miss Fur says. "It gives you a shot of adrenaline that's visible to the audience." Miss Fur dances weekly gigs at Dante's Sinferno Cabaret and Mary's Club (where she performs her more explicit routines); a complete schedule is available at lucyfurpresents.com.
UPDATE: Lucy Fur's drive to bring lighthearted suggestiveness to the masses has not slowed since she moved to California in 2006. In addition to her sold-out shows in LA, she now performs at comic-book conventions across the country, making nerds faint as Poison Ivy or a gender-bent Link from Zelda.
2005 - Most Inspired Public Endorsement of Intoxication
"Drink 'til you want me." That five-word phrase catapulted 34-year-old Portlander Phillip Ross from mild-mannered PSU student to a blogger's wet dream. Ross' online T-shirt shop started off as a way to pay off college debt (he's made enough to cover a full term and then some), but has since taken on a life of its own. Ross started small, but when he shilled the shirts at local wine festivals, people went "nuts." "They never buy them for themselves. They always buy them for someone who they know will wear them," he says. "[Customers] are always totally thrashing whoever they're buying it for."
UPDATE: Ross has moved on from the T-shirt business. In 2007, the former reference librarian launched Metrofiets, a manufacturer of hand-built cargo bicycles, with partner Jamie Nichols. The bikes have proven immensely popular for their easy ride and massive cargo box, especially among the bike-based-business crowd. Metrofiets' custom-build jobs include a mobile coffee shop; a rolling bike service station; and a mobile bar, complete with two kegs and a solar-powered stereo. Want a beer bike of your own? Metrofiets will rent you one for $150 per night.
2006 - Best Horse of a Different Color
By now we've all seen the results of Scott Wayne Indiana's Portland Horse Project (horseproject.net): little plastic horses tied with steel cable to the historic horse rings that dot the curbs along our sidewalks. The project is approaching its first anniversary with astounding success. Not only are the horses now everywhere you look, but herds of pigs have been popping up as well (and, last we heard, Urkel dolls on Southeast Belmont Street). Maybe Indiana was inspired by the large horse outside Dazzle at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Irving Street. Owner Faviana Priola found the unnamed stallion in 1990 at an antique market underneath London Bridge and liked him so much she shipped him home from the U.K. Indiana's comment on the Dazzle Horse? "I think they should tie him to the nearest horse ring, so he doesn't run away, but maybe he's well trained." Shouldn't be a problem—Priola brings the horse in to sleep every night.
UPDATE: Scott Wayne Indiana moved to New York in 2008 to attend the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, where he graduated with an MFA from the Interactive Telecommunications Program this spring, but the Horse Project has continued going strong in his absence. Indiana started a Facebook page for Portlanders to share horse photos in June (search "portland horse project"), and says, "I know first hand of several people who still install horses regularly." He says he's working in New York as an interactive designer for the foreseeable future. His latest project, Playground Society (playgroundsociety.com) sends participants "Play Missions" ("ask a few strangers for directions to the castle") by text message to encourage them to bring more play into their lives. The Dazzle Horse still makes daily appearances on Northwest 23rd Avenue.
2007 - Best Sister Act
Portland's Two Tarts (call 910-6694 for orders) know that size matters. Well, small sizes, especially when it comes to perfect, tiny cookies. The Tarts in question are sisters Cecelia Korn and Elizabeth Beekley, a pair of crumb pushers who credit their sweets chops to growing up baking in the claustrophobic confines of an 11-child family in California. Their appropriately downsized cookie operation, which flaunts rows of silver-dollar-sized wares at the Portland Saturday Market as well as the Wednesday Park Blocks and Thursday Ecotrust outposts, is new to the market this season, but is steadily gaining a super-sized legion of fans.
That's because even though these two may bill themselves as tarts, holy angels couldn't bake better nibbles. Their Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies are spiked with spicy candied ginger. Cinnamony hazelnut linzers burst with marionberry jam. And the peanut butter creams...sweet Jesus, just eat one. Not that you can stop at one. Rarely more than an inch and a half in diameter, only 50 freakin' cents each, and with 10 to 12 miniature flavors available each day, the temptation to eat yourself into a heavenly, wee cookie coma is dangerously high. Although they currently sell their dynamite cookies (they're baking around 400 to 600 dozen a week nowadays) to Busy Corner and PastaWorks, Beekley let WW know that the pair is currently looking for a retail storefront to turn into Two Tarts HQ this fall.
And how does one become a cookie queen? Well, Beekley—who also owns PDX's Square Deal Wine Company with her husband, Dan—trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, but admits that she's still behind her sister, who, "being six years older, has the advantage of six additional years of being a tart."
UPDATE: Korn moved to Australia in 2008 ("We continue to leave messages with the world's worst songs on each other's voice mail," Beekley says), but Beekley soldiered on, opening a retail bakery and cafe on Northwest Kearney Street with new partner Anna Phelps the same year. Between the bakery, four farmers market stands and wholesale accounts all over the city, Beekley says Two Tarts now turns out about 36,000 cookies (which now cost 80 cents) every week during the height of market season.
2008 - Best Failed Attempt to Leave Roller Derby
It was September 2007, and Erin Vielock—better known to Portland roller-derby fans as November Pain—was determined to set off in a new direction. Formerly team captain of the Guns 'n' Rollers, this 27-year-old was hanging up her skates to go to grad school. Erin recalls, "I thought it was time to grow up, time to focus on my education." Who could blame her? She had been accepted into a high-intensity two-year master's program at Lewis & Clark—for community counseling, no less—and she was ready to take things to the next level with Eddie Parker, her boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. But you know what they say: The best-laid plans of badass skaters often go awry. Within three months, she was back. "I missed being wiped," she says. "I missed butt rock, high-fiving and throwing up my horns. I missed skating so hard you vomit in your mouth." These days, she's no longer the captain of GNR, but she remains one of the highest-scoring jammers in the league, scheduling her classes to fit in two practices a week. So far Erin's return has yielded one very auspicious result: On the night of her first scrimmage after rejoining GNR, Eddie proposed. "He was down on the kitchen rug, and there were potatoes boiling on the stove," she said. "I was totally stinky from practice. I still had my ass pads on."
UPDATE: Vielock—now Parker, post-wedding—finally quit playing in 2009, but continued on as coach for GNR through 2010. She completed her degree a year ago, and now works as a mental health counselor in Tigard.
2009 - Best Labor of Love
When John Chandler bought a dilapidated shop-house at 3039 SE Stark St. on March 7, 2007, he got a little more than he bargained for. Along with four 40-cubic-yard Dumpsters of junk and dead cats, rats and mice, Chandler and his wife, Heather, found sterling silver, what appears to be a Nazi dagger, and walrus-tusk scrimshaw. "The guy who owned the building for decades before us was a hoarder," Chandler says. "It's been a renovation of discovery." The Chandlers also got an 1891 building that leaned 20 inches to the southeast and had the first 20 feet of a 70-foot elm growing out of the basement. (The tree had to be cut down, but Chandler saved slabs of it to make tables and benches.)
Over the past three years, Chandler, 38, an Intel construction contractor, has poured all of his spare time and a considerable amount of money into the building, which formerly housed a brew-and-smokes emporium named Sindee's Market. To correct the Pisa-like lean, Chandler dug out a new foundation; adding a new iron fence around the building triggered a city requirement that he install a new sidewalk. This being Portland, Chandler is most excited about the building's green features and energy efficiency. "We spray-foamed the entire building [for insulation]," Chandler says. "My gas bill was only $5 last month."
The Chandlers live on the second floor. Next month, they hope to start test-roasting coffee for their new company, Oblique Coffee Roasters. "It's what gets me out of bed in the morning," Chandler says of the new venture. "You've got to follow your dream."
UPDATE: The Chandlers finally opened Oblique Coffee Roasters in early 2010. A table in the seating area is hewn from the tree that was growing into the basement. The shop appeared in the first season of Portlandia. In 2010 Hanna Neuschwander wrote in WW, "Six weeks after opening, the Chandlers are hitting their stride. The small-batch-roasted beans have been good from the get-go."