Best Roadside Distraction
After over a year of secretive construction, the mystery at 1000 SE 12th Ave. is solved. The small warehouse has been home to dozens of businesses over the years, and the latest—A Roadside Attraction (233-0743), a neighborhood bar with a tiki-meets-cigar-lounge theme—finally opened on July 25. At an outdoor grill nestled in the corner of a luscious garden, owner Alf Evers prepares a small menu of meats and veggies to accompany pints from rotating guest taps. After two weeks in business, A Roadside Attraction has already snagged a local following, and why not? Behind its 8-foot rence, this kitschy, friendly bar's patio is a serene refuge from noise and traffic of the inner east side.
Best Place to Pretend You're the Next Big Thing in Literature
Tired of getting rejected every time you send your gripping, no-holds-barred memoir to publishers? Take it to the Attic Writers' Workshop (4232 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 963-8783, atticwritersworkshop.com). Attic teachers lead workshops on poetry and memoir, and a series on the essentials of writing (organization, plot and dialogue, for instance). It's a room full of lamps, books, chairs in a circle, and artsy-fartsy people willing to listen to your mediocre work and make it better. And there are some great teachers: Ariel Gore, editor of Hip Mama, teaches a memoir class; David Biespiel, the Attic's director, is a whip-smart poetry expert; and Shanna Germain, who teaches a course on finishing drafts, edits Roast magazine and contributes to Salon and McSweeney's. It's a quiet, literary oasis in a city full of literary-worthy people and places.
Best Place to Gas Up Like Batman
VOOSH! The sound of your car gliding through the open garage door of Northwest Portland's secret petroleum cave. GLOOB! The sound of a grizzled attendant filling your tank with regular. SHWEEL! The sound of you peeling out into the daylight, feeling a bit more like the Caped Crusader than when you pulled in. The Radio Cab Garage (1613 NW Kearney St.), complete with gas pumps and car wash, is housed in a nondescript building in the semi-industrial blocks of Northwest Portland. The clientele is mostly cabbies, but don't let that scare you: The station is open to the public 24 hours a day. Professional drivers can't afford to pay through the nose, so prices are moderate, especially for the neighborhood. Plus, filling up at Portland's coolest gas station takes a little bite out of soaring petrol prices. If you have to pay $3 a gallon, at least you get a little ambience with your fill.
Best Place for a Quick Peek 1
If you've ever felt like exiting a public toilet stall and crying out, "This is God's country and my people!" there's no better view to accompany that martini-fueled delusion than the floor-to-ceiling windows of the 23rd-floor restrooms at the downtown Hilton (921 SW 6th Ave., 226-1611). Adjacent to Alexander's Restaurant, the starlit, panoramic splendor of the vista is unsurpassed for Meriwether Lewis-like bouts of grandeur and despair—and on most nights it's complemented by seductive live jazz and an array of fine local wines.
Best Place for a Quick Peek 2
Romancing in the city is an awesome thing. Sometimes you need to make a move on a date, in front of the city lights, and if that view is illegal, it makes it all the more thrilling, increasing your chances to smooch. Better yet, on the corner of Southeast 2nd Avenue and Morrison Street, there are at least three climbable fire escapes on which to woo your woobie-woobie. Word of warning from the legal department: WW doesn't condone climbing fire escapes; we're just saying, if you're in the mood to re-enact the final scene in Pretty Woman, this is the place (pssst...you may need to pull a car underneath and stand on the hood to reach). One of the structures is accessible from the northeast corner of the massive Morrison Bridge. Watch where you put your hands, though: Some ladders—like the one at 109 SE Alder St.—have rusty nails installed to deter climbers.
Best Place to Be Italian
We should be molto concerned about our waning ties with Italy. They, um, were one of our closest allies in the "War on Terror," after all. And they kicked major French ass in the World Cup. But now they (and the rest of Europe) loathe us. That's a shame. Thank His Holiness for the Azzurri Club of Portland (www.azzurriportland.com). This true-blue nonprofit (Gli Azzurri is the nickname of Italy's national soccer team) is working hard to keep up the Italian-American community connection regardless, sponsoring regular events, a cool-looking soccer team and, starting this fall, Italian-language classes for kids (in concert with the Portland-Bologna Sister City Association). Eventually, the club hopes to open its own Italian school. Visit the website to find out where the team plays next: We bet they're the merda.
Best Place to Sing with a Church Lady
Local musicmaker Cindy Lou Banks (formerly of No Way Home) turned a house of worship into her personal sanctuary for the price of a song—and now she wants to share its praises with others. The Brooks Hill Historic Church (11539 NW Skyline Blvd., 629-9700, brookshill.com) is not only Banks' home (she lives in the pastor's quarters) but has been the site of more than 15 weddings since it opened its doors in August 2005. Banks says in a perfect world she'd have a wedding during the day, hold an alt-country/folk concert in the evening and then tuck the band in that night, so they could be on their way the next day. "I feel like I get a postcard from heaven every time I look out that window," says the hippie-fied soul searcher. Well, maybe not heaven, but at least a piece of the gorgeous Oregon countryside.
Best Snap Judgment
Snapshots catching the eyes of printers at Blue Moon Camera and Machine (8417 N Lombard St., 978-0333, www.bluemooncamera.com) are the only ones on display in their annual customer show. That's right. No submissions accepted. Once a photo's flagged, three of the five current staff/jury members must agree that it's show-worthy. Blue Moon owner Jake Shivery hopes the shows, which saturate viewers with close to 300 5-by-6-inch photos (with BM's wide white borders), remind people "that art appears incidentally and we should be looking for it.... This is the stuff that gets lost." The fourth show, marking the fifth anniversary of the shop, will be Dec. 2, 2006, at vegan deli Proper Eats (8638 N Lombard St., 445-2007).
Best Crafters Club
So you've always wanted to be a blacksmith, but you can't fit a forge in your walk-up efficiency? Just head down to Shop People (416 SE Oak St., 490-7799), where Rebekah Dreske and Richard Ellison have created a 17,000-square-foot workspace for apartment-dwelling crafters. For $150 a month, members have access to all of the equipment necessary for woodworking, ceramics, glassworking, blacksmithing, metal fabrication and jewelrymaking. Try fitting that in your garage! Shop People also provides a gallery space where its members' creations are on display.
Best Place to Light Up
Whether you're restoring an old PDX house or just like to glow prettily, Schoolhouse Electric's (330 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 230-7113, schoolhouseelectric.com) more than 100 light fixtures from the early 1900s to midcentury will switch on that design-centric light bulb above your head. In its third year, Schoolhouse specializes in handcrafted period fixtures and shades, and all parts are made in the U.S.A. (for you freedom-fry chompers) with most of the craftsmanship taking place right here in Stumptown. Many of the shades come from original cast-iron molds dating back to the turn of the 20th century. It's time to toss that college halogen from IKEA, folks.
Best House-Guest Management
Enjoy the benefits of pals in town—while continuing to have all the (loud) sex you want. Send your visitors to Bluebird Guesthouse (3517 SE Division St., 238-4333, bluebirdguesthouse.com), a cheery, renovated 1910 bungalow abutting Southeast Division Street's delights. You won't even have to cook for the out-of-towners: Bluebird provides continental breakfast and encourages guests to enjoy full run of the house, including use of the spacious kitchen. Check out Bluebird's cool details—including original woodwork and a dumbwaiter—and spend time with the nicest innkeepers in town. Rates start out at $45 to share a loo and top out at $70 for a private bath.
Best Place to Yearn for an Ode to a Grecian Urn
The Goddess Gallery (3574 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 239-7458, goddess-gallery.com) has all the essential hippie neighborhood paraphernalia, from jewelry to books to gargoyles, but what truly shines through in this eclectic—god(dess) forbid you call this a "New Age" shop—is a phenomenal collection of "feminist art." Now, before you start rolling your eyes, Little Mr. Misogynist, among the women-focused art here you'll find an array of beautiful replicas of Venus statuary. Some of these beauties are so original-looking you might have a hard time decoding what's fake and what's real. Fact is, they weren't swiped out of some Greek museum's vault but were made just down the street by local female artists. Talk about Venus envy.
Best Place to View Ross Island Upside Down
Portlanders love their yoga. But why do it in a sweaty, windowless room when you can do it and still enjoy commanding views of the Willamette River from Ross Island to the Sellwood Bridge? Amrita Yoga Sanctuary (4515 SW Corbett Ave., 552-9642, amritasanctuary.com), tucked away in a Lair Hill studio, delivers exactly that experience. Opened humbly by Anusara guru Sarahjoy Marsh in 2000, the studio now has multiple teachers and classes all week. Marsh says the studio's approach is to bring people together. "We teach yoga," she says. "[But] we create community." And the view? Well, you'll want something to distract you from the soreness you'll feel after bending all those different ways. Be sure to arrive early to get a prime window mat!
Best Cycling Recycler
Until last October, the basement of an infamous party house in the Reed College neighborhood, known since at least the late '60s as "The Fridge," contained a mound of bikes sloping to the ceiling, dating back to the early '90s founding of bikesmith gang CHUNK 666. After a few days of work, the pile is now organized into wheels (around a hundred) and frames (three or four dozen) mined from dumpsters and second-hand shops. Reorganizing the pile made it easier to extract working parts and sparked a period of productivity for the young housemates, who build unusually dimensioned bikes under the name CHUNK 667.
Best Place to Call on a Higher Power
The spanking new Hotel deLuxe (729 SW 15th Ave., 219-2094) has a "make it so" button on its room phones that has the highest aspirations. One of the button's offerings beyond temporal needs, like a toothbrush or a black cocktail dress, is a "spiritual menu." The menu allows guests to request a book of faith. And not only the Bible, either. Among the books at the ready are the Koran, Bhagavad-Gita, the Torah and books on Scientology. Hotel spokeswoman Dina Nishioka says the top requests so far in the menu's first weeks are for Tao-te-Ching (used in Taoism) and the Four Noble Truths (Buddhism). "A lot of people do it for fun," Nishioka says. "The majority of our customers don't have interest in Gideon Bibles. We don't think of this as a particularly religious place, which is why we put the other ones in there."
Best Place to Detox
No, it's not a spa in the Pearl. If you really want to purge yourself of toxins, grab all those mysterious bottles and rusted cans in the garage and under the sink and haul them over to one of Metro's two solid-waste transfer stations (6161 NW 61st Ave. and 2001 Washington St., Oregon City). Don't want to drive? All summer, Metro sends hazmat-suited technicians to parking lots and school yards all over the city for hazardous waste collection events to help you dispose of inscrutable chemicals. They'll take anything from lye and acetone to rat poison and decomposing paint, and—get this—they do it for free. Metro's next collection event will be Aug. 11 and 12 (Riverdale High School, 9727 SW Terwilliger Blvd.). For a complete list of dates and locations, call Metro's Recycling Information hotline at 234-3000.
Best Rooftop to Lie Naked On
Want to feel like you're in Saint Tropez without all that messy jet lag? Then get your ass down to Aequis Spa (419 SW 11th Ave., Penthouse Suite, 223-7847). This is the only place in Portland where you can strip down, step into a private cabana and indulge in an outdoor, rooftop massage just like they do in gay Paris or Fiji. Not only do the four cabanas located on the east deck of a former bank building look out over one the best views of the city, but they're also big enough for two, providing one of the most idyllic experiences this spa—and the law—allows. Aequis owner Megan Klein says they expect to offer the outdoor option through the first week of October (weather permitting). She also recommends booking one of the cabanas for a massage ($125-$170) at night. "It's just so romantic," Klein says. But this "experience" don't come cheap: Couple's massages can cost around $250-$350. Guess that plane trip to France doesn't seem so expensive after all.
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