Best Invasive Species

City Council spectators are often either unemployable or certifiable. Irwin and Lili Mandel defy such categories. The Park Blocks retirees, who moved from New York in 1993, are just good citizens. They also happen to offer brilliant testimony – always pithy, often spiked with sarcasm. No local official escapes the Mandel tag-team. "They have come after me with a stick, and I have hugged them," says Commissioner Randy Leonard. Mayor Tom Potter once told Irwin, 80, to "shut up." "Some people call him a lame duck mayor. I think he's more of a crippled duck," says Irwin. "I don't hate him," says Lili, 76, who escaped Nazi Austria as a girl. Irwin explains their civic involvement thus: "The devil makes work for idle hands." They will celebrate their 58th anniversary in September. Their contract is renewed annually, provided they're still having fun. "It was a white bathing suit in the summer in the country and what else do you need?" says Lili of their courtship. "At that time there was no birth control. We were really hot and bothered. We figured, 'Let's get married for a little while and see if it works.'" (She is not afraid of a leopard print. "You can look good no matter where you shop," she says.) Despite their civic vigilance, they are optimistic about Portland. "People, they do listen. They don't think, 'Oh, this is some old fuddy duddy, she's had it.' Some of them have come up on the street and said, 'We've heard you. Thank you for caring,'" Lili says. "The young people here, I think they're fantastic. They really care what happens. I sound so nice – I usually sound like a bitch! I'm getting soft." (CP)

Best Champion Boxer

Downtown bento eatery Chef Naoko(1237 SW Jefferson St., 227-4136) first appeared only this February, and although many in the downtown area have yet to discover it, Portland's Japanese community is already in regular attendance. This is no accident: Naoko Tamura wrote the current word on organic cooking in Japan, Organic Japanese Cooking1996). Imagine if you were living in Thailand and Wolfgang Puck rolled into Chiang Mai to open a deli, and you've maybe got the feeling. Bento, if you didn't know, is a casual-but-handsome Japanese lunch—characteristically a box with different foods segregated into their own compartments like those poor guys who sleep in clear-glass drawers near the Tokyo train station: A little pickled item here, some meat there, dessert there, your rice over there, and nothing mixes unless you want it to. Chef Naoko uses all-local and all-organic ingredients, including the welcome and surprising addition of a subtle tomato sauce for some of her meat or tofu dishes. And if that sounds strange to you, remember that the Italians stole pasta from China and then get yourself right over it. One chopstick behind the back, one in your eye, this is the most exciting (and friendly) new lunch spot downtown. Pre-order your haute-looking special bento—or walk in for the farmer's chicken—with our fondest compliments. (MK)

Best Sweet Record Deal

Best of Portland 2007 winners Rob and Emily Weston (named "Best Porch Rockers" for their Alberta Street quasi-venue, the Porch) drive a delicious bargain: Cut an album with Rob's Great Magnet Recording Concerns and Emily will bake you a pie. "Pie makes music better," Emily says (while eating a piece of pie). The Headliners scored a pecan pie, and will receive another when their new album wraps. D3 has blueberry forthcoming, and Power of County's David Rives Curtright has requested pecan. "It's like the '70s music industry…but no more whores and cocaine in the studio. Now it's cherry pie and a glass of milk," says Rob, a dab of whipped cream stuck underneath his nose. (APK)

Best Reason to Drink

As the "Beverage Drinks" aisle at Southeast 82nd Avenue's Fubonn Supermarket(2850 SE 82nd Ave., 517-8885) has taught us, if at least a handful of people on earth have deemed something edible, odds are someone's made a juice out of it. Skip the lychee nectar and coconut milk and grab something weird: aloe-vera pulp, artichoke, pennywort, white gourd…bring a six-pack to your next party! Nothing says summer refreshment like a can of what looks to be a mass of frog eggs plucked from a stagnant pond. Recommended pairing: a package of whole duck heads from the meat department. (KH)

Best Odd Couple

It's been a rough month for liver-lovers. Since late June, an ad hoc coalition of animal-rights groups and vegan activists have staged vocal protests outside restaurants that serve foie gras, the fattened liver of a force-fed goose or duck. Their targets included Alberta Street Oyster Bar, Ten-01 and Bluehour, the first two of which were driven to remove the delicacy from their menus. But

one foie gras fanatic’s restaurant has gone undisturbed

: Naomi Pomeroy's

(5425 NE 30th Ave., 841-6968)

has yet to see a single picketer, even though recent menus have included foie gras bonbons. And that's particularly odd because a storefront right across the street houses the local office of

In Defense of Animals
(5428 NE 30th Ave., 249-9996)

, the national animal-rights advocacy organization that has filed suit against Sonoma Foie Gras, the farm that provides most of the liver served in Portland restaurants. When we asked IDA's outreach coordinator,

Matt Rossell

, about his neighbor, he said, "Naomi and I might find some common ground. For instance,

we both have a passion for animals. It’s just I like to make friends with them and she would rather kill them

, and then hug their dead bodies before eating them," as she did for an infamous 2007 photo shoot. Pomeroy's take on their relationship was more positive. "If I were on a blind date with him, maybe I would try to get him to eat foie gras," she said. "I was a vegetarian for seven years, so I get it. I can try to sympathize with the idealism he feels. But if his ideals are about animal cruelty—

you know life is fucking cruel

." That Naomi's no hater: "I bet we actually have a lot in common," she said. "We both have a huge reverence for animals—I just eat them!" (BW)

Best Use of Craigslist

On Feb. 22 we spotted this ad in the "Gigs" page of

"I'm a man looking to hire a woman in her 30s to early 40swho has good creative writing skills, a strong interest in the environment, the outdoors, and natural conscious living, and who has a sympathetic, kind heart to work with me to search and write emails to women on Match and other singles sites. I don't have a ton of money to spend on this, so I could either pay you a flat hourly rate of $10/hr for a few hours or possibly have you propose some other mutually beneficial arrangement. Please email and tell me why you think you could help me with this. Note: This is not a backward way to get a date with someone who replies to this ad. This is a legit writing gig offer. Please respond only if you are truly interested in this gig, not to give advice. Thank you." (BW)

Best Failed Attempt to Leave Roller Derby

It was September 2007, and Erin Vielock—better known to Portland roller-derby fans as November Pain—was determined to set off in a new direction. Formerly team captain of the Guns 'n' Rollers, this 27-year-old was hanging up her skates to go to grad school. Erin recalls, "I thought it was time to grow up, time to focus on my education." Who could blame her? She had been accepted into a high-intensity two-year master's program at Lewis & Clark—for community counseling, no less—and she was ready to take things to the next level with Eddie Parker, her boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. But you know what they say: The best-laid plans of badass skaters often go awry. Within three months, she was back. "I missed being wiped," she says. "I missed butt rock, high-fiving and throwing up my horns. I missed skating so hard you vomit in your mouth." These days, she's no longer the captain of GNR, but she remains one of the highest-scoring jammers in the league, scheduling her classes to fit in two practices a week. So far Erin's return has yielded one very auspicious result: On the night of her first scrimmage after rejoining GNR, Eddie proposed. "He was down on the kitchen rug, and there were potatoes boiling on the stove," she said. "I was totally stinky from practice. I still had my ass pads on." (JKM) November Pain and the Guns 'n' Rollers take on the High Rollers at the Portland Expo Center, 2060 N Marine Drive, at 5:45 pm Saturday, Aug. 9. $16-$22,

Most Literal Firecrotch

Monday night at a titty bar is usually nothing but weirdos and halfhearted undulation. But

Devil’s Point
(5305 SE Foster Road, 774-4513),
Monday means fire dancers and a crowd so large and appreciative you’d think Colin Meloy himself were up there spinning the poi balls

. Every week, glistening dancers swing flaming pendulums, breathe fireballs and burn through fishnets at the hottest strip club this side of Styx. "We're not strippers who do it four or five days a week and are sick of it," says smokin' Germany, one of four regular performers who melt the stage every week. "We do it because it's love, not because it's our job." Flame on. (APK)

The fun begins every Monday at 9 pm.

Best Last Call

The 7-Eleven at the corner of Northeast 3rd Avenue and Weidler Street

got some notoriety in June when

The Oregonian

reported the store's long-standing policy of giving Portland police officers free sodas and Slurpees (apparently the offer dated back to former Chief Charles Moose). But the convenience store has long been a byword among drinkers of other beverages:

It keeps serving cold beer until exactly 2:30 am, a full half an hour later than just about any other quickie mart in town.

But if you're picking up that last PBR after the bars cut you off, don't even think about driving: For reasons we can't begin to fathom, the parking lot is always crawling with cops. (AWM)

Best Big-Ass Beer

"Portland's a pint town," a Supporter of Native Oregon Beer (SNOB) sniveled, scoffing at the notion of a gigantic beer. Obviously, he'd never been to Southeast dive bar

Jolly Inn
(1937 SE 11th Ave., 234-7869)

, where pint-crushing 32-ounce PBRs flow for $3.25.

“It’s not a big beer, it’s a bucket,”

sasses bartender Sarah Vale Rapp, filling a stadium-style plastic cup. "And right now it's Power Hour," she adds with a fist pump, referring to the nightly special of $2 buckets and 75-cent pints (9-10 pm). So eat your words, SNOB—at Jolly Inn, size matters. (APK)

Best Bacon and Eggs

If you want a new way to like old things, get thee to

Sel Gris
(1852 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 517-7770)


For his Ris de Veau dish


chef Daniel Mondok

(formerly of the French Laundry)

figured out how to drop an egg yolk inside a perfect little sphere of Danish pancake, and then topped it with a hint of maple and finely chopped bacon.

All this over sweet-salty-celeried sweetbreads (little piece o' the heart, yo, and tasty), apple butter cooked down from cider, and a light herb oil underneath. You wonder what he'd do to pork and beans…well, he's got some notions there, too. (MK)

Best Salve for Carolina on Your Mind

You know a place by its soda. In Maine, there's Moxie, a stoic, bitter piece of pseudomedicine that closes your throat up behind it as it goes down. In North Carolina, you get


, a deeply sugared cherry bomb, eager to please and likely to do so, polite as you like it and thank you, darlin'.

You can find it on the menu at Pine State Biscuits
(3640 SE Belmont St., 236-3346)

, amid other Southern comforts. (MK)

Best Unintentional Memorial to a Broiled Witch

Sellwood ain't exactly the Black Forest, but something looking like a gingerbread house is still luring kids in for the goods. At Keana's Candyland (5314 SE Milwaukie Ave., 235-5177), there are candy-cane pillars, plaster cherubs, Gund plushies, lush painted magic, fake pies on the ceiling and real baked goods beneath. Its an ode to sugary excess in all its occasional strangeness. You'll find Sassy Sours, Big Hunk, honey-filled pineapple drops, hair-fashion candies, Jordan almonds, French peanuts, Critter Goo, Sour Geckos, whatever. But don't worry, the ovens at Keana's Candyland aren't people-sized, and the sweetness there is entirely sincere. Baker, confectioner and in-house artist Tanea Storm (who owns Keana's with her mom and grandma), started the place "because I wanted to make something magical for my miracle baby." This is the young Keana, who according to the docs-who-be was never supposed to happen. They started as a neighborhood baking project, expanded into the current sweets store, and now have plans for a children's museum and program for at-risk youth, including motor-sensory rooms for autistic children. How gosh darn sweet of them. (MK)

Best Elective Surgery

A recent nip-and-tuck has transformed Portland's most popular 1-pound brown bag from frumpy to business chic.

In April, Stumptown Coffee designers slit their bags across the belly to make room for an informative card.

The result? Portland coffee obsessives now have one more way to remember that perfect cup. For each of Stumptown's 30-some single-origin roasts and house blends, the card provides the plantation of origin with a map, the elevation scale and a description of the growers, along with the varietal and flavor profile. "The card provides each pound of coffee with as much information as possible," says Stumptown's director of operations, Matt Lounsbury. He says the card also has a more ambitious goal: to raise coffee to the level of wine. Says Lounsbury:

“The owner [Duane Sorenson] drew it out because he wanted the coffee to also be about the stories—the lives of people to touch this coffee.”

And you know what else? If Stumptown ever stops selling one of its most popular pounders—like, say, Guatemala Finca El Injerto—Beantowners can track down the growers, Arturo Aguirre and son Arturo Junior, on their own. Just flash your card and say, "Duane Sorenson sent me!" (HH)

Best Cache for Compulsive Crafters

Here's a hint for the poor Joe missing his grandmother, girlfriend, sister or daughter: If she's looking for a cheap thrill and it's a Saturday afternoon, she may be prowling the sidewalks of Southeast 122nd Avenue, where, across the street from Mr. Peeps Showgirls, another bastion of pre-feminist enslavement/third-wave liberation stands.

Fabric Depot
(700 SE 122 Ave., 252-9530)

might not look like much from the outside. It's basically a big-box store without the coin-operated kiddie rides, soda machines or colorful kitsch. Inside, however, shoppers will find

a selection of fabrics so abundant and a collection of employees so helpful, they may find it impossible to resist taking on new projects

—despite the unfinished picnic blanket/wedding present, flapper dress/Halloween costume, not to mention iPhone-cozy project already at home. In few other places in Portland are shoppers as likely to run into their bartender from Northwest 23rd Avenue and the local craft deity

Amy Karol

(see "Best Resource for the Obsessively Independent, page 50) rubbing elbows with women who might consider John McCain a youngster. (BS)

Best Haircuts for the Horny

Sure, there are plenty of places in Portland where a man can get his head trimmed by a pretty girl (and Hair M adds that touch of class that only a polygamy pun can bring), but Mindy Sue Joe's Kerns neighborhood salon,

The Barber Babes
(914 NE 28th Ave., 235-8199),

offers soft-core mags in the waiting area, butt rock on a boombox and stylists who break out the schoolgirl uniforms.

“We were going to call it the Busty Barbers, but then I would’ve had to get a boob job,”

explains stylist Brittan as she shears a long-haul trucker. Ah, Sandy Boulevard. (AWM)

Best Biker Jacket
Mark Allyn

has an unconventional relationship with 115-volt Christmas lights. In the 1960s he started lighting his clothing using strings of the yuletide decorations. He even showed up to a high-school dance with an illuminated necktie. "Basically, I've been fascinated with light, and tinkering with electricity, since day one," says the 55-year-old Intel computer programmer. Allyn tirelessly refined his "home-brew lighting system" over more than 40 years,and

his latest project involves transforming his bicycle and bike attire into striking, radiant neon objects.

Allyn says the "artistic element and uniqueness" of the pieces, which use a combination of LEDs and fiber-optic technology, are his first priority—but increasing his visibility when riding at night is definitely a bonus. He's posted how-to instructions on his website


. For now, projects like his incredible lighted jacket are not for sale, mostly because the clothing isn't all that practical: His raincoat weighs almost 30 pounds, and he'd have to sell the jacket for close to $1,000 to recoup the substantial cost in time and materials. But that doesn't seem to bug Allyn too much. "I don't have television, so this is my entertainment; this is my way of relaxing," he says. "I enjoy the process of making it more than wearing it." (LK)

Best Place to Relive Your Most Graphic Sexual Encounters In Front of a Live Audience

"I slide my hand, latex-slick/ into the loose waistband of your boy jeans and stroke you off/ the clit in my fingers/ the cock in your head/ edging you to explosion." Like what you hear? That's just a taste, excerpted from an original poem by MC Sossity Chiricuzio, of the extraordinarily dirty and often downright provocative poetry you'll find at

Dirty Queer
(, every second Friday of the month)

. Hosted by feminist nonprofit In Other Words

(8 NE Killingsworth St., 232-6003)

, it's

one of just two queer-oriented XXX open mics in the country

(the other is San Francisco's Emchy). The crowd is mainly literate lesbians, but any brand of gay is welcome. Come tell everyone about that time on a gondola with your roommate and her Swedish ski instructor, or just bring popcorn and soak up the smut. There's even a podcast for those too shy to enjoy their raunch in person. (JKM)

Most Venerable Vendor of Ganja Gear

The only thing worse than living with glaucoma is being forced to smoke your meds through an empty soda bottle and a ballpoint pen. Come on, man. You're better than that. Fortunately for you, Portland's own

Pypes Palace
(4760 N Lombard St., 289-9298)

offers the latest in medicinal-marijuana delivery systems. It's a pot shop with a pedigree, a temple to all things that go up in smoke.

Since 1979, owners Don and Patty Collins have been selling everything from vaporizers to THC cookbooks to detox kits for drug screenings.

Catering to Portland's once illegal, now quasi-legal marijuana culture hasn't always been easy—for instance, there was a stretch from 1987 to 1993 when the shop was forced by meddlesome authorities to stop selling pipes and start selling Harley-Davidson paraphernalia—but the Collinses are committed to cannabis culture.

Almost 30 years ago they invented the “resin heaven”—the first rolling tray with a screen to recover resin (hashish) from cannabis during the rolling process

—and Patty was the first lady judge (and only repeat celebrity judge) at

High Times

magazine's International Cannabis Cup. These days Pypes Palace lays heavy emphasis on customer service (its new off-street entrance is handicap-accessible) and local craftsmanship. Don't miss blown-glass headie bubblers in psychedelic zebra stripes by local artist Sean Starrey or the tree frog-themed hammer pipes from Portland-based Mandi Plumb. (JKM)

Most Moving Cinema
Annie Hall

is a movie about a man who refuses to move to the West Coast, even if that decision destroys his relationship.

Annie Haul

is a junk-hauling business run by two women who moved to Portland last year from Blarney, Ireland, bought a van and, for a fee, will donate your old furniture to Community Warehouse and your shirts to Goodwill. "My name is Annie, and we're fans of Woody Allen," explains Annie Murray, who runs the service with former schoolmate Patricia Doran.

“We wanted something at the beginning of the alphabet.”

Which explains why they

didn't pick "Zelig. "(AWM)

Best Apothecary

Kudzu. Blupeurum. Teledonium. Looking to cure what ails you? The Herb Shoppe (3327 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 234-7801) has a medicine for you. Naturopath and acupuncturist J.J. Pursell's cozy center for all things herbal moved to a much more spacious home on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard this spring after three years on East Burnside Street, and the stock is expanding. While she can't match the staggering variety of Limbo's herb wall or Penzey's Spices, Pursell's shop is the only place in Portland where the entire stock is guaranteed organic. About half of the herbs are harvested locally, and many are "wildcrafted"—wild plants sustainably harvested in remote areas far from pesticides and urban pollutants. "Herbs have always been my thing. My parents divorced when I was a kid, and my father moved to a farm where we were always growing herbs and flowers," Pursell said. "When I moved to Portland, I got tired of not finding a place to get organic herbs, so I started the Shoppe." Don't see what you need? Just ask. "I've been getting a lot of requests for cinchona bark from people who want to make their own tonic," she said, "but it only grows in South America, and I've been having a hard time finding it organically grown." We can wait. (BW)

Most Cowbell

Never again will Portland want for cowbell.

Shadowhouse Collectibles
(4420 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 236-5005)

recently became the proud owner of the

World’s Largest Cowbell

, and they're offering it for sale. For a measly $1,000 you can take home a piece of cowbell history. Shadowhouse owner Jon Maurer acquired the metal monster in early July from an artist named Austin Giles.

Giles used the multi-hundred-pound, 4-foot-tall bell as an instrument and tapdanced atop it while performing with his band

. (WH)

Best Roving Notary

The fun began back in 2004 when

Allen Bennett Russell

needed something notarized. The wheels of Russell's businessman's mind turned as the mobile notary he'd hired quickly added his seal and charged a hefty sum. One online loan-closing course later and Russell found his niche. He bought "a $1,500 li'l yellow Bug" and "several thousand dollars of love overtime" and rolled out the branding for his new company. Need property closed immediately? Something notarized from jail? Portland's

Li’l Yellow Bug

is "fair fees at your service." How fair?

Just $5 per notarized signature, plus mileage.

And, he says, "I'm always super-cordial." (HH)

Best Place to Nurture Your Intimidating Overeducation

At Daedalus Books just off Northwest 21st Avenue (2074 NW Flanders St., 274-7742), you sometimes get the feeling the other patrons know more than you. You know this because it's a used bookstore and this is their collective ex-bookshelf. They know about arcane Judaica, you discover, foreign places, little-read writers, obscure academia and biographies of poets by other poets. You breathe in that pulpy air, rubberneck the backstock you don't even get to look at yet, and know you're finally home. (MK)

Best Secret Venue

Forget covert Southeast MLK Boulevard venue Dunes, with its lack of signage and hipper-than-thou vibe—there's a new elusive venue in town. Opened in February and intended to be a gallery, concert hall and underground arts haven,

Exit Only
(1121 N Loring St.)

has become Portland's all-ages venue du jour, hosting acts from touring art-rockers Japanther to local faves like synth-punk trio Fist Fite and experimental jazz cats Evolutionary Jass Band. Basically a warehouse with plywood- and art-smattered walls, some thrift-store furniture and the sound of not-so-distant trains rumbling by,

Exit Only has assumed a logo of twisty road signs and clustered arrows to signify its hard-to-find industrial location below the Fremont Bridge

(across the tracks from Widmer and the MAX yellow line). Take it from curator Zach Barnes: "It's right in the heart of the city, but...

if you look at the map of Portland in the phone book, they don’t actually label the streets down here


Music calendar and directions at
Best Tiny Tattoos
Ren Sakurai

is a relative newcomer to Portland's ink-and-dagger industry. In five short years, he has developed a small but loyal following for his meticulous tattoos and light hand. What sets Ren, who hangs his needles at Blackbird Tattoo

(5501 NE 30th Ave., 493-4445),

apart from the approximately gogolplex tattoo artists in this town is his ability to work small. Very small. Hunched over your body, with his face inches from your skin,

Ren can caress Lilliputian detail from his needle.

Millimeter by millimeter, he stretches and pokes with such precision that people often wonder if he uses a magnifying glass (he doesn't). His care is obvious: "It's only permanent," he reminds you, with a wee grin. (HN)

Best Hit Club
On Air

is a warehouse turned after-hours venue that plays host to thick, sweaty crowds of the post-2 am set and large events for local nonprofits (not to mention


's Eat Mobile food event last April). It's located at 1300 N River St., a position so precariously close to the east bank of the Willamette that half the building sits on stilts over the water.

Recently, the thick-skinned building was clobbered by a barge in an early-morning hit-and-run that damaged the river-side wall and knocked out a few pilings.

The convos go like this: "What's up with that late-night spot?" "Dude. It got hit by a barge." "A barge?" "Yeah." Like, a real, live barge?" "Yeah." "Dude. That sucks." "Can we still go there and dance?" "Yeah." "Dude! Let's go!" (SM)

Best cheap date

So you find a buck on the street. Here's what should be an easy decision: Do you (A) buy a crappy coloring book at the dollar store, or (B)

Venture down into the depths of
the wine-tasting room at McMenamins Edgefield
(2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, 669-8610)
and try their $1 flight

, featuring seven


different wines, like delicious pinot noir and gris, white riesling and chardonnay? Each glass tends to be poured a little fuller than your standard taste, plus there's free live acoustic music just about every night of the week. It's a no-brainer date for all of the cheap romantics out there. (LK)

Best Bathroom Reading

Impromptu coordinations of human creativity are an endearing side effect of living in a city of like-minded weirdos.

The mysterious profusion ofgroutfiti —puns on the word “grout” written in between the tiles of public restrooms—is a fine example of this phenomenon.

These unassuming corners of Portland hold a symphony of semantics: The water closet at the World Famous Kenton Club—the Grout Wall of Kenton—displays such gems as "I'm in a grout-patient program" and "Grout Balls of Fire." In the men's room of Powell's City of Books you'll find literary allusions like "Sometimes a Grout Notion" and "Much Ado A-grout Nothing." Such groutrageous puns are all over town, and if you haven't noticed them before, you will now. (JW)

Best Central City Swimmin’ Hole

It's so hot out your ass is sweating. Worse, you're broke. Whatever. Relief is in sight. It's wet, it's cold and it's free. It's the amazing

Keller Fountain

. Hogging the whole block between Southwest Clay and Market streets and 3rd and 4th avenues, the 38-year-old fountain and adjoining asphalt "park" combine as Portland's ugliest sculpture, lamest water park and best place to swim gratis. OK, at depths of less than 4 feet, it's more like wading. But

where else in Portland do obese families, hyper teenagers, horny couples and the homeless all gather to take a dip together in the open air?

Named for civic leader Ira Keller (1899-1978), the fountain is designed to look like two streams cascading into waterfalls, which are formed by a series of rectangular tubs perched precipitously over a long drop into a larger pool below. The 13,000 gallons that flow through the fountain each minute are constantly recirculated, but Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Sarah Bott says bathing "probably won't hurt you." On hot days the tubs become personal bathing pools to groups of children and adults, some in swimsuits, others fully clothed. The police don't seem to mind unless it's after closing time at midnight. Bott says there are just two rules:

“No soaping or nude sunbathing, please.”


Best Place to Hurt Yourself
Blue Lake Regional Park

, located way out in "the numbers" of Gresham, is just beautiful—and, boy, do we mean "just."

The park looks inviting until you discover the kibosh has been preemptively put on anything fun

: no dogs allowed, a miniscule swimming area with waist-high depth for most adults, and no boat launch except for winter-time angling vessels. With all the prohibitive signage, you feel lucky to breathe the oxygen or use the picnic tables. There is one caveat:

The park’s playground features a rope strung from a concrete platform meant for swinging into a pit below.

It hardly seems safe, as failure to let go would result in cement to the shins and a faulty drop could elicit a sprain. Still, it's the closest thing to fun Blue Lake. (AGM)

Best Crackpot Convention

We often find ourselves waiting for buses at

Northwest 4th Avenue and Couch Street

, and not a day goes by without some sort of verbal contribution from the local loiterers. One of our favorites of the bunch is "Lady Dance Dance Revolution"—a nickname of our invention, not hers. She layers multiple outfits with no regard for the weather, wears glasses held together with tape and sings along with whatever tune she's got coming through the headphones, with accompanying freeform movement. One day she pointed to my sack lunch.

“Ma’am?” She asked frantically, “you got chicken in there?”

I did not. It was 8:15 am, but that was not the point. Obviously. (SM)

Best Reason Not to Hate SOWA

When you look at the

South Waterfront

, what do you see? An architectural embodiment of everything that's wrong with Portland? A high-density Disneyland of greed and yuppie kitsch? Well, look closer: There's art in there. That's because in October 2006, choreographer and performance artist Linda K. Johnson sent an unsolicited proposal to developers Homer Williams and Mark Edlen. Why not, she asked, build art into the fabric of this new community? As a result, we now have the

SWF Artist-in-Residence Program

. Each month for a year (September 2007 to August 2008), a different local artist organizes a time-based installation or performance to explore the changing nature of Portland.

Completed projects include remapping the world with Stumptown at its center, administering a citywide acupuncture treatment and organizing t’ai chi for 1,000 participants.

As you might expect, Linda K.'s coup has not gone unnoticed: She's been contacted by interested artists and professors from places as far-flung as Paris, Tel Aviv and Duluth. (JKM)

Catch the final performances of the SWF Artist-in-Residence Program on Saturday, Aug. 2, when Ten Tiny Dances takes over the neighborhood, and Friday-Sunday, Sept. 5-7, when Sojourn Theatre premieres Built, a site-specific performance created in Chicago and Portland.

Best Lizard Lounge

Many people are under the impression that they do not need

a framed praying mantis

. If you feel you fall into this category, it might behoove you to steer clear of

Rose City Reptiles
(3609 SE Division St., 943-6478)

. There are no dog sweaters here. Owner Thuyen Pham does not stock the aisles with self-righteously organic dog food, designer cat trees or rhinestone-studded collars. Rose City Reptiles is just that—

reptiles, reptile accessories and

desiderata that might appeal to the kind of person who keeps reptiles, such as a trio of moths encased in glass, or an informational poster on arachnids. On the practical side, for home herpetologists who bemoan the shortage of close-in shops that sell feeder insects and rodents, Rose City carries a full range of crickets, pinky mice and mealworms. Bon appetit! (KH)

Best DIY Department

It goes by the name of Ooligan, and it is one of a kind. Portland State University's publishing program fosters the only student-run commercial trade press in the country:

Ooligan Press


. Instead of priming students solely for the gargantuan NYC publishing houses, Ooligan has an eye for the little guys. According to program coordinator Dennis Stovall,

“No one else really addresses the needs of small and mid-size publishers or doing it yourself successfully.”

Stovall, the project's overseer since its inception seven years ago, said he's been most pleased with the "extraordinary level of collaboration between the students and between them and the faculty, all of whom are working publishing professionals." The PSU students, who turn out around two books a year, publish novels by local authors and nonfiction like

The Portland Red Guide: Sites & Stories of Our Radical Past

, whose sleek design and user-friendly layout proves that the kids are all right. (WH)

Best Skyscraper

Tired of your plain white ceiling? Wouldn't you like to lie in your bed and stare up into a vivid blue sky? Look no further than the work of local artist and cartoonist

J. David Cook

Inspired by the work of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte,

Cook paints vibrant skyscapes, landscapes and wall murals on the inside of Portland homes

. His passion to "bring the world inside" began as a wedding gift when he painted a skyscape onto large wall panels for a friend. Usually taking three to five days, Cook says he favors painting skyscapes on ceilings and has recently started to do children's rooms. Channeling the likes of Alistair Cooke, he explains that his hobby has "impassioned, not inflamed him," even though it hasn't exactly blossomed into a lucrative business. (AD)

Best Rides ‘08

Gas prices be damned, people still find original forms of transportation to haul their ass around P-town.

Delivery van, Southeast Stark Street: Sylvia's Italian Restaurant may've have gone to the big dinner theater in the sky (the Northeast Sandy Boulevard eatery closed in the summer of '05), but you can still spot the old-time banquet and catering van at various locales throughout the city. The cherry-red 1985 Chevy van was purchased by another Northeaster, Loretta Froman, a while after Sylvia's closed. Froman says she saw it on the street one day and wondered if it was for sale. "I went to Sylvia's for years and was thrilled at the opportunity to buy the van when I had the chance," says Froman, who cherishes the other items from the restaurant she's been able to snag, including menus, matches, one of the catering jackets and even Sylvia's business license. Froman bought the van, which came with only 83,000 miles on the odometer, for just $800 directly from the Posedel family. So why hasn't the antique collector painted over this tribute to manicotti and meatballs? "I could've got any van, but with this one I got a piece of history."

Volkswagen van, Northwest Overton Street:The windowbox full of garden paraphernalia makes this otherwise drab-looking gas-guzzler the ultimate in "green" transportation. So what if it doesn't get a kajillion miles to the gallon? This refurbished terrarium choked with dead plants and sporting old-timey office chairs just screams "BIO ME!"

Double-decker tandem tree-trike bike, Northwest Everett Street:It seems only fitting we'd run into Gustav Sculptor's (yep, that's his real name, and yes, he is a sculptor by trade) double-decker tandem tree-trike bike on the first day of summer. Sculptor's oak-tree-tall contraption stopped traffic in the Pearl District as he rode his way back to his Burnside Street lab (he's also an inventor). Perhaps it's because he had a beautiful woman and a pooch along for the ride. Or the fact that you could almost see up his camo utili-kilt as he pedaled high in the sky. Or maybe it's because it's the weirdest thing we've ever encountered in the Pearl District since Homer Williams started scooting his Segway around the 'hood. To see more of Sculptor's work, check out (BB)

Best Carbon Crusader

First, it was an apple to thank the teacher at the end of school. Then, it was a dozen apples. Next came a pineapple. Last spring it was a cake. And this year, a song. Not to mention a series of student videos expressing appreciation for

Portland State University’s Dr. Carl C. Wamser

. All this would come as no surprise if the 63-year-old taught underwater basketweaving and gave all A's. But

Wamser’s a professor of chemistry, specializing in the organic variety—in other words, the killer course about carbon that dashes the grad-school hopes of thousands of aspiring health professionals every year

. So, what gives? Why do his classes produce so much student love? It helps that he's insanely organized. More important, he makes an incredibly complex, daunting subject manageable. And, as students note, he always returns his tests in alphabetical order before the next class begins. This is practically unheard of in college.

Dr. Wamser’s also got some outrageous solar-energy research going: artificial photosynthesis, using analogs of chlorophyll to create plastic film that can serve as a photovoltaic cell.

"You start with 300 students each year," says the man himself, who graduated summa cum laude from Brown University in 1966 and got his Ph.D. in chemistry from Cal Tech in 1970, "and

you never know what they’re going to do. It’s a privilege to be able to touch the future.”

So, what will his students have in store for him next spring? (RM)

Best Portland School Board Member

During the 2007-2008 school year,

Antoinette “Toni” Myers

was often

the most direct and most transparent member of Portland Public Schools’ Board of Education.

She was also the youngest—by nearly 30 years. As the non-voting student representative on the board, Myers, an 18-year-old 2008 graduate of Grant High School, didn't face the political pressures to stay "on message," guard her thinking on a controversial topic or censor her words. That's why, during heated discussions in November about heightened segregation along lines of race and class in some of Portland's schools, Myers could freely say that some students were feeling left behind by the school policies exacerbating that trend. None of the other seven members could. It's also why, when the topic turned to Benson High School—once a jewel in Portland's crown, offering advanced career and technical classes—Myers was blunt: High-school students in Portland wanted to protect the special programs at Benson, like its dentistry and drafting classes, even as School Board members focused their attention elsewhere. A recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship (a totally free ride to college and graduate school from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Myers will be attending Scripps College in the fall. (BS)

Best Carrion Chewer

Julio the great horned owl is that saddest thing, an owl who has forgotten how to be an owl, and

Ruby the turkey vulture

tragically doesn't know the first thing about vulturing. They like us people too much, and it's all our fault.

The Audubon Society Wildlife Center in Forest Park
(5151 NW Cornell Road, 292-9453)

repairs and restores animals to the wild, but in rare cases, when they can't go back, they stay. So, you want to nuzzle a vulture who isn't eyeing your gullet? Well, do you? Snuggle up, then. She's waiting. (MK)

Best Attendance

Much of 18-year-old

Bobbi Cronn’s

success can be traced to a single red jumper–the outfit she wore to kindergarten on the day in the 1995-1996 school year when she decided to never miss a minute of class. Moments earlier, Cronn's mother had convinced the little girl that skipping school for a feigned illness was "illegal."

Twelve years later in June, Cronn became the only 2008 graduate of Franklin High School and possibly the whole Portland Public Schools system to complete her K-12 education with zero absences

, according to Cronn's guidance counselor at Franklin. By comparison, the average Portland Public School student misses nine days a year. Never sick enough to stay home, Cronn also persuaded her parents to schedule family vacations so she wouldn't miss a class. Pressed to offer a bad habit, Cronn's little sister Casey says her older sib is cursed with a compulsion to match her outfits to her earrings and her polished nails. "That's not a bad habit, though!" says Cronn, who will study at Linfield College in the fall. (BS)

Best Flippant Photographers

Animated flip books – those old-timey, handheld series of photos or drawings that vary ever so slightly from page to page – have been working our thumbs since the late 1800s. But it took a 26-year-old queer dude from Texas,


Jason Miers, to figure out how to make it brand new for this century. Miers, a former med student who now lives in Portland, created the technology that allows him to make fliptography books lickety-split, whether it be at bar mitzvahs or gay bars. Miers' happy-time machine records seven seconds of video of a moving object–say, a cute guy stripping his shirt off–which is then captured by a computer and spit out as a book. It's really cool. Although he's sold the rights to the process as well as the software and equipment he developed, Miers is still very much involved in the book-making biz. Want to flip out at your next business meeting? Check out (BB)

Best Resource for the Obsessively Independent

Even in Portland, where a thriving DIY culture breeds crafters faster than Martha Stewart can say "It's a good thing," far too many people in P-town fail to understand the compulsion that moves an otherwise sane person to spend $30 and 12 hours hand-making a single pair of underwear. Not

36-year-old Amy Karol, the Portland craft diva behind the improbably named “Angry Chicken” blog

. For nearly 3 1/2 years, Karol has cataloged

projects ranging from mundane to the insane,
everything from home-baked rye bread to—yes!—homemade deodorant

. "I thrive on the stick-it-to-the-Man feeling I get when I don't have to buy basic necessities that most people assume you have to buy," Karol writes at "I find it thrilling." Lucky for her

50,000 unique visitors a week

, Karol is generous; every project on her blog comes with easy-to-understand instructions or tips on how to re-create what she's done. She also has a book,

Bend-the-Rules Sewing

, and a second one on the way. (BS)

Best Hubcap Hoarder

Hubcaps, wheel covers, center caps. Most people don't know what they've got on their rides until they're gone. But

Kim Gallagher

does. As the sole employee of PDX's

Hubcap World
(8827 SE Division St., 777-1038)


this cheerily no-nonsense mother of two is the city’s unofficial queen of hubcaps

. For 14 years (seven as the store's owner) she's presided over a wood-paneled space out past Southeast 82nd Avenue packed to the rafters with hubcaps. From '56 Oldsmobile chromes embedded with mint-green centers to Geo rounds—

more than 1,000 hubcaps hung on a tight maze of peg boards

organized by a Dewey Decimal-like system Gallagher devised to match up with the car specs in her 74th Edition Wheel Book. And she's got hundreds more models, from $5 resale rims to $150 collector's caps, stored in a two-story pole barn next to her house in Oregon City. "Runnin' into curbs with the right front wheel. That's how they lose 'em," she laughs. "But they think somebody stole 'em." Regardless of the cause, Gallagher can find a replacement. We watched her identify and locate an aftermarket aluminum center cap for a Toyota pickup in 25 seconds flat. "It's not something you learn overnight," she shrugs and then answers a phone call from another confused customer. "Uh huh, yeah…are they shiny or brushed?" she asks, her eyes scanning the caps on the walls. "Six and a quarter inches? Is there any gold on 'em? Do they have an 'H' on 'em? Yep, I can order those..." (KC)

Best Reviews From the Rim

Some Portlanders may admire

Channing Frye

for his outside shot, but for others,

the 6-foot-11 Trail Blazer center just gives good blog

( From rehashing basketball games to sharing video footage of his LASIK eye surgery, Frye is Portland's sports answer to Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's

The best part? C-Money’s movie reviews.

Sure, the 25-year-old action-movie fan is no A.O. Scott, but in an age where every movement of a celebrity, sports or otherwise, seems managed, vetted and approved, the baller's honest blurts of cinema judgment are as tasty as extra-buttered popcorn. "[


] was poop…it just didn't keep me interested," he confessed after watching the new Angelina Jolie vehicle July 10.

“My bulldogs can write a better movie with their slobber,” No. 44 declared in February after sitting through
Alien vs. Predator—Requiem



? "I went in there expecting to be disappointed and came out like a little girl with a brand new My Little Pony!" he gushes. Often, Frye's posts are open-ended, soliciting advice from his avid commenters on everything from where he should celebrate his birthday to opinons on Shaq's rap skills. He's got a standing order out for readers to submit "K.P.W." (Keep Portland Weird) moments. And that's really what sets Frye apart from the rest of the ball hogs: He keeps it weird on and off the court. Being able to equate an NBA paycheck casher with a regular dude who wears turquoise jumpsuits, and owns a pair of bulldogs named Milton and Lily that earns Frye top billing in our hearts. (KC)

Best Spectacularly Failed Mayoral Platform
Bob Forthan

, a vehicle-emissions tester with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and founder of the Committee to Build Dome Homes, wowed us with his

single-minded determination to build underground bunkers

. In response to an arts group questionnaire, he promised no new funding, but offered this consolation: "I want to dig 35 feet down, and about a mile in length throughout the city, and have fallout shelters and housing which will need lots of art-type stuff when finished." Finally, an honest candidate. Honorable mention goes to

Kyle Burris

, a young hipster-hater who was arrested during the campaign for threatening to blow up the Portland IKEA. (CP)

Best Sign of the Times
(That we wouldn’t touch with a 100 foot pole)

(The above was found stuck on a Portland Mercury box at Southwest 4th Avenue and Oak Street at 9 am Thursday, June 5.)

Some clever collagist swiped a June 4 Willamette Week rack card. Rather than use it for note or toilet paper (shit happens) the colorful 16-by-20-inch slip of paper originally inserted into the front of a WW box touting intern Whitney Hawke's story on the Rose Festival's Waterfront Village was reimagined as an antiwar, pro-sex poster and re-stuffed—into a Mercbox. The ransom-note-style artist must've been inspired by the corn dog art. Perhaps that's why he affixed a photo of a strap-on dildo and used the terms "queer," "skull sex" and "we pay cash" to such poetic effect. (BB)

Best Globetrotting, School-Building Coffee Company

Putting a label on the "best" coffee company in Portland is like determining who's the most heroic superhero in the Hall of Justice. Our city is unsurpassed when it comes to socially conscious, environmentally friendly, goddamn tasty coffee roasters. So, why'd we single out

Portland Roasting

? As much as the company is passionate about making great coffee, it's been equally

focused on creating small-scale humanitarian projects to improve living conditions in its farmers’ communities

. Its "Farm Friendly Direct" program goes beyond buying directly from farmers—it's getting its growers blogging, providing computers, Internet access and instructors in Costa Rica; planting shade trees in El Salvador; installing clean water pumps in Ethiopia; and building schools in Papua New Guinea. And even though Portland Roasting's won tons of awards locally, nationally and internationally, there's a good chance you've never tried its coffee. It has no retail storefront in town and sells mostly wholesale to local green-friendly outfits, like PSU, Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel and about 350 other businesses as far away as Japan. "We're definitely not your stereotypical small coffee company," says managing partner Mark Stell. "Our focus is people first, coffee second. And it's becoming this simple business model that's really paying off." (LK)

Best Fleet-Fingered Fans

While many people and businesses campaigned long and hard to win this year's Best of Portland Readers Poll, the prize for dedication and ingenuity goes to

the followers of KUFO DJs Cort Webber and Fatboy Roberts

. Several metalheads in outer Southeast spent hours methodically deleting the "cookie" that prevented one computer from taking the poll more than once and filing more than 900 fraudulent votes for the night-shift duo in the category of "Best Radio Host Who Isn't Batshit Crazy." One tireless fan repeated the process 451 times—and would have gotten away with it, were


's webmaster less scrupulous in tracking IP addresses. Cort and Fatboy, you may be only the second-most popular DJs among our readers, but your listeners are by far the hardest working. We salute you. (BW)

Best Spine Saviors

When a ski accident left 18-year-old Barlow High School senior Kip Johnson with a paralyzing spinal cord injury, the outlook was nothing short of grim. After Johnson spent one month in the ICU and underwent months of rehabilitation, his insurance coverage ran out. Then his family found

Adapt Advanced
(9923 SW Arctic Drive, 352-0177)


a high-end, intensive and specialized training facility in Beaverton designed for people with severe neurological injuries

. "We work on the fundamentals of movement, breaking down what the body needs instinctually to move," says Nat Willis, the group's director of operations. "Before programs like this, if you broke your neck, you were in the chair, and that's your life," says Lisa Johnson, Kip's mother. "[But] people with spinal cord injuries can actually improve their condition." (LK)

Best Renaissance Man

Completely strapped for time but in dire need of a rifle and a car repair? Well, breathe easy; Tony Ramirez will take care of you. Ramirez, the kind owner and sole employee of

Tony’s Auto Repair & Firearms
(2105 NW Vaughn St., 227-2284)


can fix an axle, sell you a hunting rifle and even repair your watch

—he specializes in 1930s clocks—at his one-stop shop by Highway 30 in the shadow of the Fremont Bridge. Ramirez has worked at the shop since 1983, but brought both his interests under one roof when he took ownership of the store in 1987. "A lot of my friends tease me about it," he said, bashfully. Most of Ramirez's gun dealings are mere transfers (he claims to have one of the cheapest transfer fees in town), so he spends more time fixing Fords than slinging bazookas. But still, any guy who makes a living working on guns and cars could give Chuck Norris a run for his money. (WH)

Best Thing A Congressman Has Done Lately

Thousands of Iraqis who aided the U.S. military as translators risked death for themselves and their families, only to be abandoned by our government. George Packer described the translators-cum-refugees' miserable fate last year in a

New Yorker

article aptly titled "Betrayed." In the Vietnam War, the U.S. left behind many thousands of local allies. Still, President Gerald Ford allowed some 130,000 Vietnamese to emigrate here after the fall of Saigon; "to do less would have added moral shame to humiliation," Ford said. These days, shame is all around. In 2006, the U.S. accepted 535 asylum applications from Iraqis, according to the United Nations. Sweden accepted 8,950.

No member of Congress has done more to press America’s moral responsibility to over 4 million Iraqi refugees than East Portland’s own U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer

, though he's better known for his frosty demeanor, bicycle advocacy and bow ties.

In 2007, Blumenauer introduced a bill providing for resettlement of Iraqi refugees; parts of the bill passed in December, as part of this year’s Pentagon budget.

The law now allows up to 5,000 immigrant visas a year to Iraqis who worked with the U.S. (some with help from the Salem-based

Checkpoint One Foundation

, founded by Oregon National Guard Lt. Jason Faler). That isn't much, next to the devastation of the U.S. invasion and occupation. But we still think it's the best thing a congressman has done lately. (CP)

Best Alternative to Sudoku and Crosswords

Admit it:

You’re old.

You eat dinner at 4:30 pm, your kids are all married or in jail, and words like "whippersnapper" and "dagnabbit" occur in your speech with unnerving frequency. Don't fight it. Old is the new young. But now you've got to figure out how to spend all that free time. You could either keep sitting there, picking at that weird wart-lookin' thing on your neck—seriously, stop it—or you could get out and learn something, maybe even get involved with the community. That's why there's OASIS Senior Education Center on the fifth floor of the Macy's building at 621 SW 5th Ave.

At the center’s civically minded seminars

—several cuts above the standard mind-numbing pap—

you can learn about edgy topics like the commoditization of ethnicity or the politics of Pakistan since the death of Benazir Bhutto.

What's more, it's got some big-name corporate sponsors and a grant from the NEA, so the classes are extra-cheap. Check out class lists or volunteer at (JKM)