Best Place to Work Out Your Aggressions
Bad day at the office? Riled by your boss, The Man, oil profits, Kelly Monaco or columnists who dis the world's most popular sport? Sometimes you really need to cuss at the top of your lungs, so squeeze into Section 107 at PGE Park (1844 SW Morrison St., portlandtimbers.com) and enlist in the Timbers Army for an instant verbal punching bag. Take out your rage on the opposing team's goalie with the catchy, therapeutic chant of "You suck, asshole!" Don't go crazy-soccer's still a family-friendly sport, after all-and don't get upset if your barbaric yawp is drowned out by the Army's constant drumming, fanfare and bandying about of funky nicknames for 107 regulars.
Best Schoolyard Kickball for Grown-Ups
Credit is due to Portland's Zoobombers (the renegade cyclists who blast down the Washington Park hill every Sunday) for hosting the rowdiest kickball game in town. There's a huge amp bustin' out old-school rap hits (mainly Notorious B.I.G. and the Sugarhill Gang), most players hold a can of PBR throughout all phases of competition, and anyone can show up to play. No registration fees, no matching T-shirts, nothing but two team captains and a lineup-just like the old days. The merriment occurs every Monday evening (starting sometime between 6 and 7:30 pm) at Col. Summers Park (Southeast 20th Avenue and Taylor Street.
Best Diet Lunch
No, we're not talking about Mickey D's new designer line of chewy iceberg-lettuce salads. In fact, go ahead and make a Big Mac your appetizer course to accompany the toning-est, fat-burning-est entree you'll ever try: Hot Lunch at Yoga in the Pearl (925 NW Davis St., 525-9642, $10). It's a noon class that runs you through 26 poses in a room heated to approximately the same temperature as hell. Forty-five grueling minutes later, you're as relaxed as a gummy worm. Best of all, when you get home from work you can get right down to watching TV, smoking crack or spending quality time with your kids-whatever floats your boat. You've earned it.
Best Place for a Lord of Dogtown to Let It Rip
Busy moms and pops alike know the Department of Skateboarding (15 NE Hancock St., 493-9480, www.departmentofskateboarding.com) is Portland's only indoor skate park and theater specializing in skater videos. Started in '02 (by the owners of Cal's Pharmacy), the park offers young and old rippers daily sessions in the 16,000 square feet of the favored street terrain along with traditional bowls. The kid-friendly Department also offers a 25-seat theater stocked with local, rare and international skater videos. Kids improve skills at summer camp and all-night lock-ins, and grind with the occasional pro passing through Portland on the latest skater tour.
Best Place to Puck It Up with Canadians
When the National Hockey League returns from its yearlong strike, head straight for the A&L Sports Pub (5933 NE Glisan St., 234-7607). An otherwise nondescript watering hole offering foosball, pool and a half-dozen TVs, A&L gives Portland its own "Hockey Night in Canada'' flavor by picking up Canadian Broadcasting Corporation game broadcasts on the big screen, complete with the "eh"s and "aboot"s of our neighbors to the north. When it's Stanley Cup time or just the latest grudge match between Toronto's Maple Leafs and Montreal's Canadiens (think Red Sox vs. Yankees on ice with sticks, and you'll get some idea of the passion), Portland's true puckheads pack the place. "We've had a few people come in to watch replays of games from '96," one bartender said in July, "just to get their fix."
Most Benevolent Blockers
The three teams that make up the roster of the Rose City Rollers' all-women roller derby (784-1444, rose-city-rollers.com) seem like a gnarly, tough-as-nails group of 40-plus gals bent on destruction. But there's a heart in all that competitive kick-ass skating. Between their exhibition races for the East Portland Eagles' "Shine and Show" motorcycle rally to benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital and wheeled bartending at the Portland Beerfest for the People Helping Animals charity, these wheel-popping gals have proven they're more than just kneepads and elbow jabs.
Best Way to Cash in on 50-cent Words
While old-school activities like dodgeball and four-square enjoy a renaissance, Scrabble is one old-timey pastime that never went away-which should spell relief to those nerds picked last on at the playground. (And a note to the schoolyard bullies: They may be fun, but four-letter words might not get you that many points.) The always raucous Portland Scrabble Club meets at the Rose and Raindrop (532 SE Grand Ave., 238-6996) every Thursday night at 6:30 pm. The first session is free (isn't that how addictions get started?), and further sessions are just $2. Check the website (home.att.net/~rfontes/clubs.html) for times and locations for Sunday games in the Scrabble wasteland of Lake Oswego.
Best Place to Smoke for Free and Shoot Pool
Founded 40 years ago, Sam's Hollywood Billiards (1845 NE 41st Ave., 282-8266) is an old-fashioned pool hall, and it's a great one, with a dozen tables, cool staff, a good bar and a menu with real food. But brace yourself for the secondhand smoke-hey, it's a pool hall, right? The bad news: Sam died 16 years ago. The good news: His daughter, Valerie Gulacy, still runs the place.
Best Way to Get Your Game Face On (for Free)
Forget about listening to those screamers on the Mariners broadcasts. Instead, tune into 1550 KKAD when the Portland Beavers play and take a listen to the smooth pipes of Rich Burk. The 40-year-old broadcaster, who describes himself as a slow-footed, line-drive-hitting ex-college first baseman, spends two hours prepping for every hour he's on the air. And listeners benefit as Burk smoothly guides them through baseball's frequent dead spots by weaving stories about the sport's past and present. Like the minor-leaguers he's talking about, Burk aims to get to the bigs (he says he's been a finalist to announce for three major-league teams). But for now, we get to enjoy a guy who, after announcing 1,000 games, says he still wonders how each nine innings will unfold.
Best Way to Get Gals to Play with Your Putter
Want to boast about your short game without her thinking you need an enlargement? Ready for her to explore your ruff? Give her Portland author Kay Morse's book, Feng Swing-A Golf-Friend's Guide Around the Course ($18, www.fengswing.com). This 77-page tome offers a how-to approach to golf as a way for gal pals to gather, gab and play with their putters. And according to Morse, "Golf mirrors our lives and reflects the internal gifts we offer to the external world." Whatever, as long as she doesn't get in the way of our tee-off time.
Best Phil Buster
Many know that Phil Busse, news editor of the Portland Mercury, has "issues." The guy wrote an article for Salon.com that the website pulled after editors learned he plagiarized from pieces in The Oregonian and Eugene's Register-Guard. Earlier this year, he wrote about the food and service at a restaurant that hadn't yet opened. And some wondered about his effort to turn the Chicago-owned weekly into a propaganda vehicle for his ruttish mayoral campaign last year. While many idly speculate how this guy keeps his job (one theory: he's secretly the fortysomething illegitimate child of one of the Merc's several millionaire sugar daddies), no one disputes that the guy has a problem with the truth. But credit a soccer fanzine to really nail the Busse phenomenon. This summer, Busse wrote an error-laden feature on the Timbers Army, the zealous followers of the Portland Timbers soccer team (see "Best Place to Work Out Your Aggressions," above); among other gaffes, he got the fan club's name wrong, called the pro Timbers an amateur team, and flubbed numerous and basic details about the world's most popular sport. In a recent issue of Ax to the Head, the Timbers Army's gonzo zine, is a story called "Fill Clumsy on Sports." An anonymous parodist perfectly echoed the Philster's characteristically surreal prose style: "If you've never seen soccer-or fubar, as it's known in the rest of the world-it is confusing and exciting, but mostly confusing. The game is made up of two innings, each 900 minutes long.... And if you win all six innings, you get the bull's ears and tail! ... Most people who watch soccer are war criminals. At halftime, a nuclear bomb is detonated in the middle of a group of orphans by Tumbling Tim, the legendary mascot."