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July 25th, 2007 WW Editorial Staff | Special Section Stories
 

Best of Portland 2007: City Life

     
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Works Partnership Architecture

Best Place to Drink and Not Drive

Forget bus stops. How about a pub stop? The main room of the massive BridgePort Brewpub (1313 NW Marshall St., 241-3612) has a reader board mounted on the wall, which displays the arrival time of the next trolley car. That means you can grab a tasty pint of Beertown Brown Ale straight out of the tanks and gulp it down without worrying about whether you miss the train. The GPS-powered schedule board was donated as a loaner to the brewery four years ago by the folks behind our streetcar system, and has been ticking off times almost as long as the streetcar has been running, according to Bob Negele, director of pub operations. The sprawling brewpub offers the perfect excuse to miss a few more streetcars and get lost in the scene—or in the bottom of a glass. It beats the hell out of drinking Night Train with street kids at the bus stop.

Best Nerve Center of Portland's Future

Alberta is to tacos what Mississippi Avenue is to being overrated and the Central Eastside is to being the epicenter of Portland's radiant future. Brad Malsin may have lost his 2005 bid to spearhead the Portland Development Commission's Burnside Bridgehead project, but that hasn't stopped him from developing 300,000 square feet of creative office space right down the street in the old B&O building—all before Opus, the PDC's chosen developer, has managed to lift even a shovelful of dirt. With fashion designers, architects and environmental engineers set to move in, Malsin's tenant roster is a creative class demographer's wet dream. "I want a place where young people and businesses can grow their dreams," he says. Hell, if the city can't do it, send Malsin.

Best Place To Keep It Old-School

Typewriters are like the turntables of the writing world—boxy dinosaurs of abject retro coolness. So it kind of stands to reason that most of the clientele at Ace Typewriter & Equipment Co. (7433 N Lombard St., 286-2521) is between 20 and 35 years old. "I get a lot of kids who want to write books," says Matt McCormack, son of Ace's founder Dennis. Ace's storefront is full of typewriters, some dating back to the 1890s, and there's a wall of adding machines that haven't sold for 20 years. But repairs still pay the bills, and as the only typewriter repair place on the West Coast (as far as McCormack is aware), Ace gets phone calls from as far away as Alaska from people who can't bear to upgrade to the bland and weightless writing on the screens of the 21st century.

Best New Purveyor of Architectural Porn

As Portland lures creatives by the carload, Works Partnership Architecture is delivering intrepid workspaces: luscious, modern buildings that would turn heads in design capitals Rotterdam or Barcelona. Founded in 2005, the brainchild of Carrie Schilling and Bill Neburka is creating spaces that will land PDX in design magazines. "Portland's raw materials are amazing," says Neburka, a former NYC architect who says the number of creative developers in town enable great projects. With an East Burnside office building that resembles a stack of glass boxes to a St. Johns housing project made from shipping containers and lofty office spaces tucked into the Central Eastside's historic B&O Warehouse, WPA's portfolio is sexy as hell.

Best Piano For Liberace's Ghost

If horror movies have taught us anything, it's that the ghosts of past events can cling to nearby objects. That said, the LGBTQ community at Q Center (69 SE Taylor St., 234-7837) had better watch the new upright piano outside their administrative office very carefully—at any minute, it might force those around it to break into song, take off their clothing or transcribe the piano's tell-all memoir! For 20 years that piano sat on the stage at Darcelle XV (208 NW 3rd Ave., 222-5338), and was the go-to instrument for numbers that needed a little something extra. Earlier this year, Darcelle, a.k.a. Walter Cole, donated it to Q Center, which put this emblem of Portland's queer history in the middle of the room while its new executive director, Kendall Clawson, brainstorms what to use it for. Although Darcelle has never tickled its ivories him- or herself, this was the first upright Portland's most legendary cabaret artist ever performed with. "They didn't ask me for it," says Darcelle, "but that place needed a piano." Tickle us impressed.

Best Matinee for Rosemary's Mommy

Some might consider it hell on earth, but where else can a mommy go, kids in tow, to sip a freshly brewed pint of microbrew while watching the latest Bruce Willis blockbuster? No place other than McMenamins' St. Johns Theater & Pub (8203 N Ivanhoe St. 283-8520). This eclectic building offers a cinematic refuge for mothers and their shrieking babies with Mommy Matinees every Wednesday afternoon. For only $3, mommies can head out to this North Portland haven and hear the reverberations of their lovely offspring in the historic dome that is a surviving artifact of the Portland 1905 World's Fair. We won't be there, of course.

Best Appeal for WW's Opinion

It's not every day that a $100 personal bribe comes through WW's mail slot. But that's just what local folk singer Panther Bill (pantherbill.com) sent along with his album, Goodwill. Well, it wasn't really a bribe—just an honest request for off-the-record feedback, with a $100 check to sweeten the pot. Turns out, his online bio is even more interesting than his oddly generous correspondence: A survivor of Hepatitis B and C, Panther Bill—who looks an awful lot like Tim Robbins' patchouli-soaked character in High Fidelity—claims his younger days were filled with such antics as "intentionally driving a car into a ditch" and presenting "the wide-eyed officers" who arrested him with drug paraphernalia, thinking that would gain him admittance into the "Mother Ship." He has since kicked his habits, channeled his energy into New Agey acoustic music and fallen in love. Now, he and his wife, Judi, record at their Yellow Bird Studios (3515 NE 13th Ave.) and host backyard summer shows at 7 pm every Thursday and Friday. As for the feedback Bill requested? We shared our thoughts, but the uncashed check is still on our bulletin board. Yeah, it really is.

Best Peek Inside the iPods of Celebs and Local Politicos

Can you predict what's inside a celebrity's or local politician's head? Jeremy Hardy, development director for PSU's college radio station, can. Well-known personalities and local politicos alike have appeared as guest DJs on his radio show, PDX Soundtracks (3-4 pm Sundays, KPSU 1450 AM). The one-hour talk and music show is broadcast from the sub-basement of the school's campus center. And what music do they choose? "For the most part, what I was guessing they were going to bring was pretty spot-on," says Hardy. Despite the challenges of broadcasting from a station that licenses its airtime from a high school, and has to keep its content appropriate for a "high-school audience," Hardy has snagged some big interviews. Joan Jett played the Ramones and Fugazi, Molly Ringwald brought the Cure and XTC, and Jeff Daniels chose Dylan and Woodie Guthrie. Prominent figures in town, like the owners of Voodoo Doughnut and the head honchos of nonprofits like Veterans for Peace, play music they pick out. So, did you guess Commissioner Sam Adams is a Clash and David Bowie fan? Oh, right. Of course you did.

Best Place for Stephen Hawking Wannabes to Soak Up Suds

There's something beautifully tragic about visiting OMSI's Turbine Hall as an adult. The hands-on chemistry experiments, chaotic building projects and theatrical demonstrations of the laws of physics are designed to whet the intellectual appetites of children—no matter how interested you may be in water rockets and holograms, you can't really take part in the fun. Thankfully, OMSI has heeded the call of the science-starved masses and created Science Pub, a series of informal monthly lectures-cum-dinner parties—covering everything from E. coli to iPod-induced deafnessthat takes place the last Monday of every month at BridgePort Brewpub (1313 NW Marshall St., 241-3612). It's designed to put some of the fun back into an ongoing science education—especially for big kids. No water rockets at the brewery, though. Sorry.

Best Website to Satisfy Your Inner Packrat

Yes, Craigslist and a certain daily paper are sufficient resources for Saturday-morning jaunts to estate sales, yard sales and everything in between. But if you're beyond exasperated with reading posted declarations of garage sale grandeur, only to find a pile of crap on a sidewalk once you've arrived, then local website thriftmapper.com is for you. Not only does it map out the sales by geographical area, category (multi-family, rummage, free, auction, etc.) and date, it also includes detailed descriptions of what will actually be there. So, say goodbye to driving around aimlessly in the hope of possibly snagging that primitive Chinese lamp or those size 8 men's Rollerblades.

Best Rockin' Reunion For Romy and Michele

If your idea of a class reunion includes spiked red punch, a sweaty makeout session with your potbellied old flame and spewing stale cookies all over your new pleather pumps, then you must not have attended Central Catholic High School. Now those kids know how to party. For the past two years, Portland's own CCHS has celebrated Alumni Family & Friends Reunion weekend (the next one will be held on the Central Catholic campus, 2401 SE Stark St., 6 pm Saturday, Aug. 4). It's a spectacular shindig that welcomes former students from all graduation years to a class reunion of epic proportions. It comes with dinner (no cheap crackers here!) and an array of musical entertainment from more than 30 performers, including Sinatra-singing students and James Brown-jiving fathers (the church kind!). This rocking reunion draws over 10,000 alumni from as far back as '43 and takes the dull class hookup to a whole new level...of awesomeness. The event is free to past and present students and their guests, but if you haven't RSVP'd for next week's soiree, time is running out (call 230-1056 or email pwinter@centralcatholichigh.org). Like any good alumni organization, of course, they'll get into your pocketbook eventually: Donations are encouraged and accepted to benefit the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. Ahhh, good old guilt—now that's a church tradition we're ?accustomed to.

 
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