August 4th, 2004 Byron Beck | Special Section Stories
 

PORTLANDIA

best OF PORTLAND

     
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best portland anthem: Portland, Oregon

best portland anthem

The Replacements sang about getting drunk in Portland. Elliott Smith detailed a mild dislike for PDX parades. But it was not until Loretta Lynn and Jack White teamed up for "Portland, Oregon" that this authentically weird city has had an appropriately bizarre anthem. In this honky-tonk booze-'n'-sex-fest duet, White and Lynn get hammered on sloe gin fizzes and end up in bed. Sure, it happens that sometimes you wake up next to a stranger, but penning an ode about waking up with a random lady born when Roosevelt was President? Damn, now that's freaky.

best fright/fight night

Portland Organic Wrestling boss Vinnie Cleanhands can't keep his monsters in the ring. Now, on the last Saturday of each month, POW scaries have spun off to host Wrestlevania--part monster movie, part talk show, part MST 3000 and part fight club. "Spectacula Dracula" and his sidekick "Fritz, the Hunchback Referee" interview characters from the night's worse-than-B-movie, who then get so amped up by the end of the screening that monster-sized fights ensue. Expect heckling, beer throwing and group drinking on cue--say, when a girl screams. (Sabala's at Mount Tabor, 4811 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 238-1646, sabalasmttabor.com.)

best way to get high

Tired of traffic? Area planesmith and CEO Richard VanGrunsven can help. For three decades, Van's Aircraft Inc. (14401 NE Keil Road, Aurora, vansaircraft.com) has been responsible for more home-built, life-sized air carriers (a.k.a. kit planes) than any other manufacturer worldwide. VanGrunsven's renowned RV series combines lightweight aluminum monocoque (a dirty sounding-French word meaning "single shell") that refers to the skin being the structure of the vehicle, with internal support ribbing just like the big boys. These aren't for hobbyists, but for real-live certified private pilots who have a lot of time and even more cash on hand. Expect to spend one to five years building your plane--and at least $30,000.

best avian-focused act of performance art

Flocking to Northwest Portland's Chapman Elementary School every fall has become a tradition for many nature-loving urban dwellers. But the Vaux's swifts, who hang out in Portland nightly for several weeks before migrating to South America, aren't always the best part of the show. Last year, while waiting for the swarming swifts to arrive, neighborhood spectators were surprised by an Academy Award-caliber performance by two drag queens. The actresses impersonated Melanie Daniels, the character played by Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds, by dressing in blond wigs and sporting stuffed birds pinned to their business suits. A young boy, who was part of the act, ran through the crowd yelling "Help me! Help me!," and then friends began chanting "Run, Tippi, run!" Just as one of the actresses stumbled, her wig caught by an overhanging branch, the real birds arrived and began their circling dive into the elementary school chimney. The actresses, who asked not to be identified, say they might stage the bird-crazed act again on a weekend evening this fall--although, as with the arrival of the birds themselves, no dates have confirmed.

best place to pretend you're in the rat pack

Frank and Dino would approve. The Mallory Hotel's kitschy Driftwood Room is where Oregon Coast gift shop decor meets the Strip, and retirees and hipsters mingle freely (729 SW 15th Ave., 223-6311). The dark paneling, green cushioned banquettes and driftwood-adorned walls (seriously) secure this lounge as Portland's coziest 1958 time capsule. The cordial staff keep you in popcorn while you down $4.50 martinis and will even bring you dinner (if you ask nicely, baby). Yes, in a time when "old school" is getting old, the Driftwood is the real thing for guys and dolls on a first--or 50th--date.

best conquered fear

It exists--honestly. Nestled between genuphobia (fear of knees) and germanophobia (fear of Germans), you'll find gephydrophobia: the fear of bridges. It's an annoying fear to have to deal with, especially in a city with 11 major spans, but lifelong Portlander Pat M. grappled with it for 20 years. Living on the west side, Pat would have to cross the Willamette to visit her daughter's home. Whenever she crossed a bridge on these trips (with someone else driving, of course), she would crawl out of the seat and onto the floor of the car. Walking or driving herself across a bridge was an impossibility. With her real-estate business faltering because of her bridge-induced westside quarantine, Pat contacted Pacific University psychology professor Johan Rosqvist to try to overcome the phobia. After about a year of treatment, which involved visiting the Burnside Bridge several times with Rosqvist, progressively going farther out and confronting her panic head-on, Pat has reclaimed the Broadway and Burnside bridges and has even moved to Northeast Portland to force herself to cross bridges every day to reach her job. "I need to relearn the entire east side now," she says.

best offbeat beat

Aficionados agree that downtown Portland has become predictable as a metronome, with most clubs playing only commercial music--that's 124-128 beats per minute. But for the fleet of feet, the Apollo's Lute collective (apolloslute.com) has been playing psychedelic and Goa trance (up to 150 beats per minute) at its multiday tribal gatherings for the past six years. Ryan Carter, who co-founded the crew with Kevin Coe, says that "dancing for hours and hours, people go into a state of trance where you can look at yourself and really see who you are." Events are timed to coincide with important dates in the pagan calendar (equinoxes, solstices, full moons, etc.) With emphasis on tunes over booze, these "experiences of tribal unification" as Carter says, "can be a powerful catalyst for change."

best place to hear voices

Local legend has it that if you stand in the stone circle at the peak of Southwest Portland's Council Crest Park and look across the river to the eastside, you can magically hear people talking miles away atop Southeast Portland's Mount Tabor. Free local calls, you say? Nope. What you're hearing is the strange spacey echo of your own voice off the low stone walls. A pretty neat little bit of architectural acoustics, yes. But no paranormal activity here. Myth: busted.

best way to drink in a "museum"

Those in the know are keeping mum, but signs are good that Portland will be on the short list to host the Beer Hall of Fame when proposal requests are sent out this week. A Maryland-based outfit called Leisure Technician--proud promoter of the United States Beer Drinking Team, Beer Radio and Beer TV--is sifting through a pile of serious bids from cities eager to draw teeming, swaying throngs of suds lovers. Leisure Tech's Joe Gardenghi envisions a "themed destination" (NOT a museum, he insists) with restaurants, educational kiosks, country-specific beer gardens, homebrewing and beer-appreciation courses--even an in-house brewery. Let's hope Homer Simpson put in a good word for us.


Inside "Best of Portland 2004"

INTRO | PEOPLE | PDX LIFE | PRESS & POWER | PIRATES | PETS | PLACES | PDX SEX | PORTLANDIA | PALATES | POSTINGS | POSTSCRIPT | READERS POLL

 
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