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July 25th, 2012 WW Staff | Featured Stories
 

Best of Portland 2012: Best Sights

bop_sights_3838Rev. C.E. Linville - IMAGE: Ronit Fahl
Best Automotive Artist

When Rev. C.E. Linville noticed people praying outside his 1987 Toyota Tercell, he assumed they were worshipping false idols.

Turns out, they were actually praying for his very soul, which was sentenced, apparently, to eternal damnation, as the Tercell driven by the 60-year-old retired mail carrier is covered with assholes.

Photos of dog anuses line the Tercell, with a statuesque canine posterior jutting from the hood of the car like a hot-rod scoop. The onlookers sought to save Chuck, as his friends call him, from a fiery eternity. He thanked his saviors, offered his own blessing (he is, after all, a minister), and went about his business—until the cops stopped him, responding to a call from the same folks who sought to save him.

The “Ass Car” is one of four art autos outside the Portland Cacophony Society co-founder’s green-and-purple-striped home in a pristine Sellwood neighborhood, where his front yard is a museum of oddball art including statues, zombie ephemera and a vintage metal detector.

One car, a 1973 Torino, is covered in rusted figurines and features a gun barrel sticking out of the grill. In the street is another soul sucker: a yellow-and-blue Chevy Kingswood Impala wagon sporting flames on the side and a psychotic, red-eyed Jesus issuing a warning to tailgaters in the back. The interior is filled with baby dolls in horrifying positions made more horrifying by a PA blaring such phrases as, “Hey kids, your mom told me to pick you up.” On the side is an homage: the logo “Reverend Bill’s Vacation Bible Camp” and a photo of Bill himself…Chuck’s deceased Labrador, which was also ordained and helped Chuck perform weddings.

Oh yeah, this man does weddings. In 10 minutes or less. In his yard. Often holding a shotgun. Get three weddings, and the fourth is free.

Naturally, all this crazy draws attention to Chuck, whose investigation by the U.S. Postal Service at SantaCon’s inception was made famous by Chuck Palahniuk. He’s been pulled over and accused of road rage and smoking crack with children. Real-estate agents claim his home hurts potential sales in the neighborhood.

But one quick exchange with the Rev, and all you can really call him is a sweet, Zen-calm, gentle dude who just happens to be one of the weirdest motherfuckers you’ve ever met.

“People will say, ‘The devil lives in that car,’ or, ‘The devil lives in that house.’ The mailman tells people I’m harmless. I say, ‘Don’t tell them that,’” he says, chortling beneath his Stan Lee glasses. “I have a lot more fun getting harassed.” AP KRYZA.


Best Corporate Alternative to the 24-Hour Church of Elvis

You have been inevitably disappointed by the bohemian mom-and-King operation that dispenses fortunes from a rickety ATM in Chinatown. From whence cometh your wee-hour entertainment? From a right-wing, upstate windowpane company, naturally! Drag your weary frame to the perpetually beer-sticky sidewalks outside the south entrance of Jeld-Wen Field. There, tucked between the Timbers stadium and Providence Sports Care Center, is a glass-enclosed showroom for Jeld-Wen’s doors and windows. It’s only sporadically open for business (mostly during game days, under the working assumption that, after enough Widmers, what Section 107 really wants is a nice bay-window set). But a plasma television plays a never-ending, all-hours loop of advertisements for AuraLast wood and other niceties. It is something so completely useless and irrelevant to late-night perambulations that it becomes mesmerizing. Somewhere, in the square daylight world, people purchase these things! Eventually, that domestic person will be you. There: You just had your fortune told. AARON MESH.


Best Outsider Art

Interactive art at Mad Dog Garage.
IMAGE: Clara Ridabock
When you put your hand on the glass, the gears start to move. Slowly, a team of trudging wooden men turn a wheel that independently spins an upwardly spiraling precession from dog food to luxury yachts to the insidiously smug face of Rush Limbaugh, looking for all the world like Charles Foster Kane. The political metaphor doesn’t take much parsing: the work trickles up, but the money stays at the top. “Any doorbell would do what this does,” says sculptor David Butts about the heat-activated sensor that operates the device, “but it wouldn’t be as elegant.”

At Mad Dog Garage (maddoggarage.com), in the space of an old radiator garage on Northwest 15th Avenue and Everett Street, Butts has been displaying a different “interactive kinetic sculpture” in a street-side window each month since the start of the year. He’ll continue at least till year’s end. So far the window has housed an Easter clock in which a wooden boulder moves aside and Jesus pops out from a hole, a Valentine with a beating heart and a wooden flower that blooms and buds on the turnings of gears. “I’ve been doing this for years and years,” says Butts, an architect who has also designed a number of public schools. “I really need to build stuff.”

David Butts’ Easter clock.

He hand-grinds his little wooden gears using a type of gear-cutter that was in use over a hundred years ago, and arranges them in steampunk complexity. Elsewhere, Butts has built a gargantuan (and somewhat frightening) lever-operated wooden giant for the children’s museum in Pittsburgh, and a butt-operated typewriter for Portland’s annual Red Dress party. Of the window, Butts says, “It’s really for the regulars. A lot of people walk by, and a lot of them are people who wouldn’t normally go to a gallery.” Indeed, outside the garage the next time I pass by, a puffy-coated man in a baseball cap sticks his hand on the sensor, then backs up as if electrocuted when the sculpture starts to spin. “That shit’s crazy,” says the man. “Crazy.” MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


Best Shanty Town Under a Bridge, Non-Human Category

Cat condos.
IMAGE: Jarod Opperman

Nobody wants to live under a bridge. It just sort of happens, be it by personal mistakes, mental illness or just plain old bad luck. The problem isn’t limited to humans. Cats can be homeless, too. Or “feral,” as we call them. While groups like the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon have worked hard to successfully reduce the number of feral cats in Portland through spaying and neutering, it is hard to do much else to help cats who’ve fallen on hard times. But someone has tried to make life for these wild tabbies a little easier: Along the Springwater Corridor Trail are four makeshift cat houses almost literally under the Ross Island Bridge—three blue plastic storage containers turned domiciles, and one that looks like a large repurposed bird house, all with pillows and padding inside. Heavy rocks hold the structures in place while the ivy crawling up the tower provides shade. On one house is a Sharpie-scrawled note: “Cat condo please respect.” JOHN LOCANTHI.


Best Natural Flower Garden

Some of the best patches of Portland flora are the random, less-manicured areas that make unsightly places a little easier to look at. On the corner of Northeast Oregon Street and North Interstate Avenue—nestled in between the Steel Bridge, the Rose Garden, an I-5 overpass, a U-Park lot and a ridiculously huge banner of LaMarcus Aldridge—lives a blossoming cluster of flowers brimming with oranges, pinks, purples and reds. Walk to the center of it and the freeway ruckus silences, Aldridge’s ginormous eyes vanish, and your mind floats away to a field of wild poppies, calendulas and bachelor’s buttons (yes, it’s a kind of flower). The daydream may only last a second, as a honking horn will probably scare the piss out of you and snap you back to the reality of crowded roads and bike paths. But that fleeting great-wide-open feeling gives fresh life to the typical hustle and bustle of the city. EMILEE BOOHER.


Best Barometer of the Real Estate Market

The Bitar Mansion in its former glory.
Image courtesy of the Dan Volkmer Team
When the Bitar Mansion (3316 SE Ankeny St.) sold in November 2006 for $1.825 million, it was the highest-priced home ever sold in Southeast Portland, but at that time, a screaming bargain relative to the market value the Multnomah County assessor placed on it that year—$3.99 million.

Boy, did times change.

The purchaser of the house, a former home-builder named Peter Fournier, hit hard times and made enemies in the neighborhood. The house slid into foreclosure, and what was once a one-of-a kind showplace and the unofficial Lebanese consulate in Portland was an abandoned wreck with waist-high grass and homeless folks sleeping in the driveway.

Then on Dec. 29, 2011, a new buyer swooped in and bought the 10,000-square-foot, 17-room house that sits on the equivalent of seven standard residential lots for $870,000. (An attorney for the new buyers, who hid their identities by using a limited liability company, declined to comment or make her clients available for an interview.)

Since then, the new owner has begun a painstaking and pricey-looking renovation, including cleaning and replacing hundreds of terra cotta roofing tiles, that’s putting smiles on neighbors’ faces and returning the Bitar Mansion to its original grandeur.

Just as the 2006 transaction signaled a market top, the rapidly shrinking number of homes for sale in Portland may mean the December sale of the Laurelhurst landmark was the market bottom. NIGEL JAQUISS.


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