Best way to Raise Cash and Influence
He sits around in his underwear and scribbles away about anything he wants to. Condo developments, Greg Oden and the fashions of KGW-TV's news staff are just a few of the issues he's tackled. And he raises money for the needy. For one day each December, local blogger Jack Bogdanski of bojack.org makes ?a deal with his readers. For each hit to his website that day, he promises to donate a dollar to a charity. On last year's Buck-a-Hit Day, Bogdanski reached his maximum contribution of $1,000 by noon. "It was really just a shameless way for people to come and jack up my hit total," Bogdanski admits of his altruistic scheme. A tax-law professor by day at Lewis & Clark Law School, Bogdanski, 53, spends an hour or two a day spreading the word to his blog minions while somehow maintaining a family with two young daughters. Of his "vanity breeding charity," Bogdanski says he plans to keep it up. But until his hobby turns profitable, he says, only the first 1,000 visitors will get that warm-and-fuzzy feeling.
Best Thank You Note
Ordering music online isn't the most emotional experience. Fill in the blanks, pop in your Visa card number and voilà, you've got a new Tractor Operator CD—no human interaction necessary. But local online record store CD Baby (cdbaby.com, 595-3000), which cuts distributors outta the loop and sells directly from independent music makers, bucks the trend. Every customer receives a, well, special email confirming their purchase...and then some: "Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow," the missive reads. "Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy." It goes on from there, an effusive, laudatory 158-word sendoff for your little compact disc, the likes of which most heads of state don't garner when they depart this earth. "The entire town of Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package," the email breathlessly announces. We defy you not to start clapping when your disc boards the "private CD Baby jet" and you're named "Customer of the Year." It's all just so...happy—the way buying something that an independent musician poured his or her heart and soul into ought to feel. To add to the awww, sweet factor, it was actually company founder Derek Sivers himself who penned the note. "I wrote that email back in 1998 when I started CD Baby, as a way to spice up the mundane 'your order has shipped' email," he told WW. And we're not the only ones who were proud to receive it. Sivers has so far sold more than 3,403,527 CDs, from 188,776 artists, through CD Baby. That's a lot of gold-lined boxes.
Best Fan Mail
We don't get a lot of friendly letters here at the office—people rarely take the time to put pen to paper unless they're really pissed off—so we tend to save the few that do trickle in. The finest of this year's catch by far was the bizarre series of Night Cabbie fan art that that trickled in over the course of two weeks in early May after Night Cabbie II stepped down to make way for Night Cabbie III. Addressed to "Nocturnal Caballero," "Knight Rider for Hire," "Night Trawler" and "Fisherman of Fares," and mailed from an address in Bloomington, Ind., they—well, just look at them!
Best Ways To Blog It Out, Bitch
Want to know why Portland is so...well...so friggin' weird? Check out Metroblogging Portland (portland.metblogs.com), which tackles everything PDX. From day-to-day living in the Rose City to photos of the locally quirky and bizarre, Metblog's group of 11 writers generate the kind of daily content that reminds Portlanders that we are, in fact, a rare bird, indeed. As for Least Bitchy City Blog? Not much beats the optimistic Portland's Future Awesome (urbanhonking.com/portland/). It excitedly anticipates TriMet expansions ("Man, that MAX car looks like it came from the future!" gushed site creator Mike Merrill, gleeful as a little boy) and new legislation ("Now 30 Cents More Awesome" reads the title of Merrill's minimum-wage update). Merrill, 30, explains, "The site is mainly a response to the grumpy old men bloggers (see bojack.org) complaining about the city spending money. I am proud to live in such an exciting city." Merrill's sunnier-than-thou pages will make you forget Portland's often cloudy disposition.
Best Newsie in an Era of Bush-League Hounds
Melica Johnson is one hell of a reporter. Reared in the frozen deserts of eastern Oregon's Baker City, the KATU Salem bureau news chief is new to the network but no stranger to Oregon. Johnson, 32, cut her teeth writing at the PawPrint, Baker High's student paper, before moving on to the Argonaut, the rag at the University of Idaho. Johnson soon came to love broadcasting, and with her smart looks and dashing dispatches, she's tops. A young Johnson was drawn to reporting by her sympathy for those less fortunate (and less human)—on an eighth-grade field trip to the zoo, she challenged the zookeeper for facts concerning the treatment of the caged creatures. "I was fighting for the animals and it felt good," she says. Whether she's wrapping up the legislative session, covering third-party gubernatorial candidates or slamming Keizer for its phallic road dividers, Johnson delivers like Edward R. Murrow trapped in Veronica Lake's body.
Best Reason for a Local Designer to Shout, "Surf's Up!"
If you've spent any length of time perusing local websites, you've undoubtedly seen the work of Needmore Designs (needmoredesigns.com). Kandace and Ray Brigleb started Needmore in 2003, beginning with Stumptown Coffee's site, and have steadily grown their business with such clients as Amy Sacks Eyewear, Masu Sushi, The Burnside Review, Literary Arts and Viso Beverages. Kandace attributes their success to design choices "largely inspired by our city," as well as "innovative interactions and Flash work by group94," all of which make for standout work that truly identifies with their client's products.
Best Press by the Pound
The winner of this year's Best Press Kit goes to British post-industrial folk band Death in June for the re-release of their classic album The World That Summer. Since its arrival to the WW office, the packaging has been a significant source of humor. A coffinlike solid-marble parcel that weighs nearly four pounds, it could easily double as an urn (well, outside of a good laugh, this may be why we keep it around the office). The "art" engraved on the surface consists of a creepy skull head, an upside-down peace sign and some sort of Mayan-inspired blob. When we first saw it, we thought, "Did they make this out of my mother's kitchen table in the 'burbs?" Then we turned it over to see a tacky white "Made in India" sticker. Whew! That's a relief.
Best Farm Team For Willamette Week Interns
Those dirty hippies and punk rockers at Portland State University may not be well represented in the state Legislature, but they are in a snarky and well-designed rag called the Rearguard. More irreverent than the PSU's daily Vanguard and much more leftist than the glossy, reactionary and inconsistently published Spectator, the Rearguard gives students something both shrewd and crude to read, such as with their recent Media and Subculture issues. Though the monthly paper's relations with the school administration aren't what one would call warm, "they don't mess with us," says Rearguard writer Rebecca Hunt. Editor-in-chief Josh Gross, who is "fucking flabbergasted" over their Best Of honors, claims that "not only would [working as an alt-journo] be the only job that I would accept, it would be the only job that would have me." And since putting out a free college paper pays nothing, he's already used to the salary. (ND)
Best Transplanted Trading Post
In a place like publish-centric Portland, where everybody's some sort of "designer," it's no surprise that Adbusters is a coffee-table staple. A.J. Jones, magazine buyer and seller extraordinaire at Periodicals Paradise (1928 NE 42nd Ave., 234-6003), knows this better than most. Jones has hustled in Portland's paper business for nearly 20 years (his original shop, born at Southeast 34th Avenue and Belmont Street in 1988, has relocated to various storefronts along the years). And in that time, he has learned a thing or two about this town's preferred glossies (the list includes Interview, Mojo, Dwell and Bust). Periodicals Paradise is a media junkie's ultimate wet dream; aisles are crammed with recycled paperbacks, magazines, art and design annuals, videos, you name it. The kicker is that most of the publications run dirt-cheap at a mere buck (unless otherwise noted). The store also carries magazines dating back to the 1880s (Godey's) that sell for $20-$30, but those babies are available only if you request a title and date—no browsing allowed. While PP carries a wide range of special-interest periodicals, the novelty covers are a huge draw as well: "I had an Interview that sold for $35," Jones recounts. "It had a fantastic cover of Madonna on it and was from 1985."
Best Place to Swap Conspiracy Theories about Philip K. Dick
Take it from us: The only thing lonelier than being a science fiction-obsessed nerd is being an intellectual, literary and otherwise normal science fiction-obsessed nerd, so the Portland Science Fiction Book Group—a monthly summit for like-minded SF readers to commiserate and discuss their latest insights on Ursula K. Le Guin—is like a blessing straight from Zeta Reticuli. The PSFBG takes place every second Tuesday of the month at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., 643-7117). Now, if only we could do something equally productive about our Coast to Coast AM obsession.
Best Variations on a "Best-of" Theme
We love North Portland's Saint Johns Sentinel, and not just because the monthly pub is challenging Allan Classen's NW Examiner for its long-held title of the only Portland neighborhood paper worth a damn. Besides typo-free headlines and an admirable Web presence, the NoPo paper boasts terrific theme issues. A sampling: The multicultural issue, devoted to North Portland's myriad ethnic groups; the nightmare issue, featuring 28 pages of worst-case scenarios; and the humor issue, which was actually pretty funny. The SJS even has a pretty decent "best-of" issue. Clever, informative and hyper-local—what more could you ask from a neighborhood rag? In addition, they have found a home for former Oregonian/Tribune reporter Roger Anthony. ?Now, that's something.
Best Time Machine (Disguised as a Blog)
You need not have lived through the '50s, '60s and '70s to feel nostalgic for the sleek curves of neon billboards, Mod-ish mid-century buildings and peppy June Cleaver types in pointy bras. Since 2005, those who have felt the urge to take a stroll through Portland's postwar past have had a ready portal at stumptownconfidential.com, a virtual time machine that's, well, actually a blog. Piloted by Portland's John Chilson, director of communications for a small marketing company by day and SLiP iTS drummer by night, the blog features old-timey photographs and postcards; some are sent in by visitors to the site, others Chilson himself finds at thrift stores, yard sales and beyond. Bonus: A splinter time machine/blog—oregonroadside.blogspot.com—which focuses on the whole state, not just Portland. Double bonus: You need not be a Portland native to appreciate the images. Chilson is also a transplant (from Boston, in 2003), and it was curiosity about his new surroundings that led him to create the site. Dear readers, your DeLorean awaits.
Best Guy Who Walks His Talk
"Portland has people who don't want to be driving cars, who want to be more in touch with the environment," says Portland resident Ben Parzybok, creator of the Web site walkertracker.com. At this site, fast-talking walkers can debate the finer points of pedometrey (pedometers are those little beeperlike things sold at Fred Meyer and the Sharper Image that clip to your belt and count your steps) and trade fitness tips. They also compete. Blogger Housewifeheather writes: "Tried to outstep my 8-year-old today, but he has been between 2,000 and 4,000 steps ahead of me. Each time I'd step he'd do the same. He had an eye on me and me him." As for 36-year-old Parzybok, he has his eye on a lot of other cool stuff around town, including designing the next Operation Peachblow, a city-wide scavenger hunt; editing Portland's Gumball Poetry, a literary journal that dispenses poetry through gumball machines; and making films like Levin's Bicycle, a film about an Eastern European cyclist's complex relationship with his bike, for the annual Bike Film Festival.
Best Fine Print
"Does anyone actually read the fine print?" asked Powell's Books down in the fine print of a recent online contest to win a trip to Portland. "And if so, for heaven's sakes, why? What are you expecting to discover that you don't already know? Perhaps you distrust us. Perchance you think we're going to slip something in right under the skin—something dark, something nefarious, something possibly not of this world—when you're not looking, when you're blindly trusting, when you're most vulnerable and exposed." The humorous fluff has been a running gag for 10 years. "It's our joke space," says Darin Sennett, director of webstuff (yes, that is his actual title). He adds, "There's a real, actual fine print," which, unlike the jokey version, is always lawyer-vetted." The real fine print features scary words like "liability," "death" and "three nights hotel accommodations will be provided by The Heathman Hotel." Which is why the soft, cuddly version wraps up with a spunky jab at its legally binding, lawsuit avoiding cousin: "You can and should trust us implicitly and everyone else as well, and that is precisely why one ought never to read the fine print."