January 18th, 2013 | by RUTH BROWN Arts & Books |

The NYT Finally Prints That Portland Karaoke Article

BarsWithKarokeIMAGE: VIVIANJOHNSON.COM

We don't usually bother mentioning every time the Grey Lady writes an article about Portland, but this one is worthy of note:

Back in August last year, we got wind that someone from the Times was in town working on an article about Portland's karaoke scene. [Edit 1/19: Dan Kois was here in March 2012.] We decided to pip them at the post (because we're mature like that) by sending future U of O Head Football Coach John Locanthi to write about some of the more interesting nights in town at which to bellow "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" at a room full of drunk wastrels.

More thanfour months later ten months after the writer's visit, the NYT piece has finally dropped (online; the piece will run in print in this Sunday's Times magazine should you wish to cut out and keep). And—unlike the time it called Kornblatt's "one of the truly great New York delis outside the five boroughs" or sang the praises of the Orignal's Voodoo Doughnut Burger—it's actually pretty good.

Unless we're just oblivious to the cultural significance of semi-regular WW staff outings to slur "Closing Time" to empty chairs at Mazatlan, author Dan Kois' proclamation of Portland karaoke as "one of the most exciting music scenes in America" seems a little spurious (perhaps not as spurious as then-mayor Sam Adams' claim that Portland's love of karaoke owes itself to the city's "connection" with Japan). Still, the piece centers on a well-written profile of Baby Ketten's John Brophy, and the Portland in the story actually sounds vaguely like the city with which you're familiar, rather than some kind of hipster Neverland that exists only in the mind of east coast food and travel writers. 

It also contains the delightful description of Chopsticks III as "the kind of awful nightspot where if your watch was broken, you could keep time by the diminishing height of the melting heap of ice dumped in the urinal in the men’s room."

 
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