best mayoral slogan: extremo the clown
After Phil Busse went all serious on us, it seemed there'd be no fun candidate in the 2004 mayor's race. But then, on March 9, Scot Campbell (better known as Extremo the Clown) plopped down $50 and stuck his red rubber nose into the 23-ring circus. Campbell was snubbed by most debate organizers (including WW), but he did show up for an endorsement interview with our slightly coulrophobic Nigel Jaquiss, who credited him with having one of the most honest campaign slogans of all time: "With your help, we can make my dreams come true."
best way to show you care enough to send the very best
Most mass-mailed, promotional Xmas cards come off like hot numbers in the Insincerity Sweepstakes; not so the endearing best wishes sent out by the Portland Winter Hawks last year (winterhawks.com). Not only did the local junior hockey franchise extend its seasonal compliments in four languages (English, French, Slovakian and Czech)--the card included a gold ornament featuring the flags of all four nations represented in the Winter Hawks' '03 roster. Suitable for hanging, the ornament was just another way for a classy local sports organization to set itself apart.
best can opening
Who wouldn't like to host a party in a splashy, fine-art-festooned publishing house? If you're NARAL, you can. Tin House Publishing (2601 NW Thurman St., 274-4393, tinhouse.com), whose eye-catching, metal-clad headquarters brings zing to outer Northwest Portland, recently lent its space to the abortion-rights organization for a special event. Out went the desks and fax machines, but the art collection--entirely Northwest in theme, with pieces from Laura Russo, Elizabeth Leach and Augen galleries--stayed. Although Tin House doesn't typically surrender its digs for other groups' shindigs, "we'd be willing to consider the idea," says head honcho Win McCormack. Book your 2008 wedding reception, pronto!
best blog jammer
Jack Bog's recent disappearance from Portland blog royalty left an empty throne in local cyberspace. But while there are a number of capable contenders for the crown (see "Blah, Blah, Blog," WW, July 7, 2004), there is only one real heir apparent: Christopher Frankonis, a.k.a. The One True b!X, the mastermind behind Portland Communique (communique.portland. or.us). PC overcomes the banality of the personal weblog with insightful original reporting and gives otherwise impenetrable news a human spin. Commenting on all the events we don't have time to attend and posting with the regularity of a Metamucil dealer, b!X is clearly Portland's new Blog Baron.
best teeth/tax analogy
"I would be the first to say that this subject inherently is about as interesting as prolonged root-canal work."
--Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, as quoted in the April 27 New York Times, on one of his pet issues: a permanent ban on taxing Internet access. (For the record, Wyden knows whereof he speaks. An aide confirmed the Portland Democrat underwent a root canal in 2002.)
best extreme make-under
It turns out that the Rose City, long viewed as Eden for beer snobs and bibliophiles, is also heaven for another target demo: dumb, fat, single people. That's not exactly how the folks at Match.com phrased it, but that's what they found out when they cracked open their database and crunched some numbers. As reported by Reuters news service last December, Match.com found that in "Portland, Oregon...more than any other place in the United States, men and women state a preference for going out with someone who carries 'a few extra pounds.'" (Miami and San Diego, by contrast, have the most fat-phobic singles). The survey also noted that Portly-landers (along with Motown denizens) were least impressed by doctoral degrees.
best dead candidate
Jim Spagg is best remembered for taking his clothes off on cable TV, a stunt that overshadows what may be a more significant accomplishment: getting more votes while dead than did 11 live candidates. Spagg, a Portland free-speech activist and shameless self-promoter, was one of the 23 mayoral wannabes on the May 18, 2004, ballot. But the 64-year-old Ohio native, born Jim Spagnola, died 10 days before the election. He nonetheless got 691 votes, finishing 12th. His main campaign-platform plank was the nonexistence of any god. So far, he hasn't issued any retraction of that statement.
best reason to live in fear
Don't let the real significance of the Brandon Mayfield story escape you. The true import is not that when a bomb went off in Madrid and the FBI analyzed a related fingerprint, it came up with a "one-hundred-percent" verified match to a guy who was actually the wrong person. The true import is not the incredible coincidence that of all the gazillion people on this earth, that wrong person happened to be an opponent of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft: Mayfield, a lawyer, has represented Muslims suspected of terrorism. The true import is not that his home was searched without notice to him or a judicially approved search warrant. The true import is not that among the "evidence" the FBI listed against Mayfield was the fact that he is a Muslim. No, the true import is that he was held without being charged, with no public notice. Thanks to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, this could happen to you, and no one would ever know.
In late 2002, Sherwood Police Detective Dwight Onchi began noticing an unusual number of petty lawn thefts: wind chimes, lawn deer, birdhouses, knickknacks and, the lord of all lawn ornaments, garden gnomes. "One day," Onchi joked in The Oregonian, "we're going to come upon this whole yard full of ornaments." He didn't just get a yard. As the O's Dana Tims reported in February, he got a garden "chop shop." Onchi cracked the case with a license-plate number recorded by a Sherwood couple who witnessed a woman creeping across their lawn while carrying, apparently, a number of objects from their back yard. He traced the plate to one Kimberley Rae Baker-Bundy, 49, whose house turned out to be a veritable warren of lawn statues and other garden kitsch, many of which were being repainted, possibly for resale. Baker-Bundy turned herself in on Valentine's Day and was found guilty on seven counts of theft. Her sentence included a mental-health package with two years' formal probation, 140 hours of community service, no contact with victims, and payment of restitution. And she has to keep all receipts for her gnome purchases should there ever be a question in the future. Since Baker-Bundy's arrest, Onchi reports that all has been quiet in the gardens of Sherwood.
best media callout of portland's lesbian-friendly chic
The glossy magazines have a difficult time stereotyping us upper-left coasters. That is, until Esquire published its panting "Five-Minute Guide to Lesbians" last April. The spread detailed our city's Subaru Outback-driving old-school lesbians, who sport Martina Navratilova-styled short hair, dangling earrings and Dansko clogs. The progressive men's magazine also pinpointed Eugene's Ani DiFranco-loving, unshaven, aggressively PC Baby Dykes. What the sapphic hot list didn't include: fashion coverage of P-town's style-busting sidewalk wedding season, thanks to thousands of same-sex marriage licenses issued by Multnomah County.
best oregonian writer (2004 edition)
One would be hard-pressed to think of a more joyless gig for a writer than covering television. What fun can it be to write, weekly, about a medium that usually seems designed to extract, compact and spindle literacy from the minds of billions? Or so you'd think. But O television columnist Peter Ames Carlin treats TV--both its shows and the guignol of marketing and studio intrigue lurking behind its sparkly facade--as a canvas for some of the most vivid verbiage published in the oft-torpid daily. He's unapologetic, eloquent and earnest about what he likes ("Even a week later, it's hard to stop thinking about Adriana," he wrote, a week after the Sopranos character's whacking). And he can dismiss crap with a refreshing lack of euphemism ("Enough already," he wrote of FX's gross-out plastic surgery comedy Nip/Tuck, "I get your point.") Yet while Carlin's duty-bound viewing of ungodly amounts of TV hasn't sucked the writer out of him, it obviously...gets to him. In July, he filed daily reports from the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles--increasingly punchy dispatches that made for Carlin's most compelling stuff yet. His encounter with The Donald and a woman he referred to as "Ivana 3.0"? Priceless. His stark diagnosis of the moral void at the center of the TV industry? ("People pay a lot to be fooled into feeling things...they actually are not experiencing," "the mood of terror and desolation comes straight from the network's executive suite.") Sobering. Which, when viewed through Carlin's lens, is exactly what TV is.
best scavenging secret
Every Saturday at 6:30 am, an Oregonian van pulls up to the Southwest Taylor Street and 9th Avenue Starbucks; a half-dozen burly men hurriedly buy a paper, scan it and start dialing cell phones. Why? They believe the Sunday Oregonian is dropped off here first--giving them first crack at new ads for used cars and estate sales. Clever idea, wrong location. According to The Oregonian, the Sunday paper is first delivered on Saturday at 3 to 4 am to the Oregonian buildings at Southwest 14th Avenue and Morrison Street and at 1320 SW Broadway, and to the MAX-stop Peterson's stores at 115 SW Yamhill St. and 922 SW Morrison St.
best missing semicolon
Recording albums, winning Grammys, acting in The Cider House Rules, raising children with Andre 3000, calling Tyrone...Erykah Badu is certainly a well-rounded artist and a busy lady. But who knew her hobbies were even more varied, or that she was still so young? According to a Feb. 9 TV listing in The Oregonian, one of Jay Leno's guests on The Tonight Show was "child reptile expert Erykah Badu."
best outsider's p.o.v.
Living in this wonderful Rose City vacuum, it can be easy to forget there's another world out there. What's really interesting is how that outside world views the goings-on of our fair community. Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed offered a hilarious point of view on both same-sex marriage and the Portland Trail Blazers in his Feb. 1 Opus. Depicting a homophobic character railing against gay marriages, while reading a newspaper with the headline "Blazers All in Jail," Opus offered better insight into local issues than certain newspapers. Wonder what Opus would have to say about former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt? Naw, let's not go there. (On second thought, let's--see Bests 55 to 57, at right.)
best pr harvest
More accustomed to carte blanche at any upscale restaurant in town, the Portland Trail Blazers team members, coaches and staff have reversed roles once a year since 1995, strapping on aprons to dish out a Thanksgiving-style meal to Portland's burgeoning homeless population. Through partnerships with local nonprofits and businesses, last fall's Community Builders Harvest Dinner served 4,000 critically in-need citizens, including elementary-school kids living at or below poverty level. As the Blazers' director of community relations, Traci Rose, describes the diners' response, "You see the look on their faces when Coach Cheeks is serving up their mashed potatoes. It's really touching. It's really amazing." And for a team that desperately needs to reconnect with its fans, it's really welcome.
best employment of alanis morissette lyrics
On May 11, The Oregonian published a column by former state labor commissioner Jack Roberts recounting his reaction to hearing the news of Neil Goldschmidt's sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl. "I couldn't help reflecting on the lyrics from Alanis Morissette's 2002 album Under Rug Swept," Roberts wrote. The Lane County Republican proceeded to intersperse snippets of Morrisette's painful prose in a condemnation of Goldschmidt:
How long can a girl be tortured by you?
How long before my dignity is reclaimed?
And how long can a girl be haunted by you?
Soon I'll grow up and I won't even flinch at your name
Roberts expected his criticism would elicit a response, and it did. But, he confesses, "most of the people who commented were more surprised that I listened to Alanis Morissette than by anything I wrote about Goldschmidt."
most scandalous panties
On Friday, May 7, when the O "broke" the story of Goldschmidt's repeated statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, readers around the world lambasted the publication for callously referring to the criminal contact as an "affair." Surprisingly, nobody noticed the article was wrapped around a Meier & Frank ad on page A14 for Olga's "Secret Hugs Panties."
best tasteless product
Nobody knows how to capitalize from a scandal quite like Jon Farmer. Over the past couple of years, Farmer has taken the city's greatest moments of shame and used them as inspiration for condiments (see Tonya Hot Sauce, Jail Blazer Jam, et al.). Never one to pay heed to concepts like "subtlety" and "good taste," Farmer is back at it with his most indelicate product yet. Taking inspiration from the Goldschmidt brouhaha, he has crafted a beverage of epic tastelessness: Neil's Statutory Grape. Farmer originally intended for the product to be a 14-year-old aged wine but says he "was going to have to jump through too many hoops with the OLCC" and decided to produce a sparkling grape cider instead. The bottle is adorned with typically Farmer-esque sayings--for example, "It's a SAIF bet you'll like it," in reference to the ex-guv's suspiciously lucrative consulting work with the state's workers'-comp company. Despite the cries of indecency, Farmer is unperturbed. "It's a kind of humor you know I love," he says.