Our cover story this week is about what we termed Barmageddon—the rapid-fire closings of many of Portland's classic drinking institutions in 2014. Read that story here. What follows are bar stories from some of the bars that are closing—or already closed.
The Matador, 1999: Pet Night!
"I had Pet Night, where everybody could bring their pet. Naturally there were dogs, cats, birds. People brought fish. [One customer] brought a horse. I said, 'If that horse kicks anybody to death, I might as well lock my doors.' Everybody had to move the horse every time they had to go to the bathroom; the horse was hanging out watching people shooting pool. My bartender Ike brought a bunch of goldfish, and people were doing goldfish shots. The dogs were fighting. Luckily, the horse didn't shit in the bar until he was already on his way out. There was a cop right there. The cop was out front and the horse was coming out of the Matador, and they walked the horse into a trailer around the corner." —Angelo Marchi
Boxxes, 2008: Whipped Cream and Other Delights
"Back in 2008 or so, I took my very George Costanza-esque dad to Boxxes for his first-ever drag show to watch my friend Jinkx Monsoon perform. The best part was when Jinkx was performing a number from Sweeney Todd and sat in my dad's lap, and covered my dad's face in whipped cream. My dad—to my surprise—loved it and laughed the entire time. He'd never been in a gay bar before, and after that, he was a huge fan of both Boxxes and Jinkx." —Allie Ross
Magic Garden, 2010: Pig Fight!
Chef Eric Bechard was arrested outside Magic Garden in 2010 after a fistfight over the provenance of a heritage pig used in a cooking competition. From the police report: "Ms. Uriba [sic] said Berchard [sic] quickly showed up at the Magic Gardens [sic] and began conveying his disgust with why the competition had brought a pig from Ohio, and had not bought a pig locally to support the local market. Ms. Uriba said Berchard communicated he was a local chef and owner of a restaurant, and stated he was representing local Oregon chefs. Ms. Uriba said as she stood in front of Magic Gardens, Berchard became so enraged over why Oregon shefs [sic] are so much better than chefs from outside states, Mr. Berchard pushed Ms. Uriba in the chest, causing her to take several steps backwards."
Langano Lounge, 2014: Last Night
"As soon as I said, 'Hey, bar's closed,' everybody ripped everything off the wall. It blew my mind. [Bartender] Jud [Nichelson] was so bummed. He was like, 'I want the sign.' But he went outside and it was gone. He was so sad. Jud got home later on that evening, and the Langano Lounge sign was left on his front porch." —Jason "Plucky" Anchondo
East End, 2011: Mala Noche
Walt Curtis, unofficial poet laureate of Portland and author of Mala Noche, stayed in a studio in the basement of East End until 2011, its door leading out to the bathroom line: "Walt Curtis was an unofficial part of our lease. He was a friend of our landlord's from way back. The bathroom line was pretty long sometimes, which meant he had a lot of time to mess with people. Sometimes he'd invite people back to his studio, and they'd drink and have a good time. Sometimes he'd scare the shit out of them. But finally, he pulled out a shotgun. And that was finally it." —Tony Mengis
"I had my father's old shotgun, which was not even working—I had it by the door, and these two young gentlemen came in. They picked it up and playfully started pointing it. There was this insane drag queen, I could see his eyes looking at the situation—I realized he was going to call the cops. Sure enough, my lovely landlord, Lewis, says, 'You have a gun in the room? The cops are gonna shoot you.' And so I got my 30-day notice." —Walt Curtis