* Keep your rotor hummin'. Residents of Southeast Portland were rudely awakened at the crack of dawn last month by a low-flying helicopter hovering over Reed College. The sinister chopper--whose color was not reported, although it was probably black--remained aloft for several hours, terrorizing residents and scaring dogs. What gives? Has Portland's kookiest campus become a launching pad for rotor-heads? Are the feds again chasing those ridiculous allegations about drug use? Turns out the college had commissioned some pre-dawn aerial photos for publicity purposes, and an "overzealous pilot" flew in too low, according to spokeswoman Nadine Fiedler. "We were not happy about it," Fiedler told WW. Meanwhile, calm has been restored to Eastmoreland skies, but some neighbors are still fuming. "It was the rudest thing anyone has ever done to me," huffs resident Terri Malaska. Sounds like she's never been to Renn Fayre....
* A local arts group added its own condom-nation to the critical panning afforded Portland Art Museum's 2003 Oregon Biennial. A local cadre of self-described "guerrilla artists" known as Dirty Laundry America strung a line of condoms in front of the museum July 4 in the latest in a series of unorthodox installations the group has mounted across the country. "It was a way to get [Biennial curator] Bruce Guenther's attention," says group founder Laudir. In a naughtier version of Charm Bracelet's YOU project, the launderers ask visitors to their website (www.dirtylaundryamerica.com) to mail them indiscreet Polaroids and steamy love letters, which the artists then transfer onto prophylactics. The aim is "to make people think with both of their heads." After photographing the endeavor, which elicited odd glances from passersby, the group took down the clothesline and left. They will re-use the condoms in future installations.
* Long before realtors started slapping the lucrative phrase "Alberta Arts District" on every house between Tillamook and Lombard, the cafe Chez What? (which is what those in the business call "funky") served as a beacon for the revitalization of Northeast Alberta street. Now, though, it seems the much-loved 9-year-old restaurant and its busy, newer alco-annex, the Whatever Lounge, may be on their last legs. Owner Holly Morgan dispatched an email early this week saying unspecified "unfortunate circumstances" had put her biz against the wall. "Unless a miracle occurs this week, we're looking at July 13 as our last day of operation," Morgan writes. Morgan's dispatch says she's trying desperately to cobble together a solution; failing that, she plans a big g'bye bash this weekend.
* Oregon's craft brewers are foaming-mad at lawmakers who seem set to raise taxes on beer but willing to bail out the hard-liquor industry. Case in point: House Bill 3130, which has passed the Legislature and awaits Gov. Ted Kulongoski's signature. The bill would give producers of malternative beverages--such as Smirnoff Ice and Mike's Hard Lemonade--a year's grace period from an OLCC finding earlier this year that such beverages constitute distilled spirits rather than malt beverages and thus should be sold in liquor stores rather than grocery stores, a move which would have curtailed distribution and jacked up prices. Now the question is whether Kulogonski will honor his brew-collar roots or kowtow to big booze.