This Week in the Mercury

You'll See Him if You Look


You'll See Him if You Look

You Can't Get Rid of The Babadook

Hungry Like the Wolf

Food and Drink

Hungry Like the Wolf

Fenrir Is the Little Cocktail Restaurant That (Mostly) Could


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This Week's Letters Section!

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 3:44 PM

This was the week that Mercury readers, commenters, and letter-writers finally stopped talking about Uber!

KIDDING. There is evidence, however, that beer, transgender rights, and police accountability still count among your lesser interests, though:


RE: "Hop Along, IPAs" [Lush Life, Dec 10], a salute to local breweries that don't make IPAs, a staple that has (literally) flooded the market.

IPAs, to me, are like hearing a song you really love and then hearing that same song five million more times...

Continue reading »

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This Week's Letters Section!

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Let's face it, the one thing everyone wants to talk about right now? UBER. The Mercury Letters Page included. Among the lesser interests still clamoring for attention? Rapid development, affordable housing, and whether the twain shall ever meet:


RE: "Developing Fantasies" [I, Anonymous, Dec 3], in which an anonymous author bemoans the hassles of living amid new housing developments, including affordability issues.

Warehouse full of bunk beds. Rent them [for] $100-300 a month. That would piss these landlords and contractors off at the same time as taking people off the streets, thereby further enraging them, as they now have nothing to bitch about as they shop for useless shit downtown.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Wild Red Carpet Event of Our Lives!

Posted by Elinor Jones on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Last night, Cinema 21 hosted a red carpet premiere of the new movie Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir and starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. I met Laura Dern! And other things happened.

  • OMG

I wasn’t in town during the press screening for Wild, but the Mercury still sent me out to cover this event, presumably because I have very little shame (see above) and a high tolerance for waiting around. Which was important. Because as I learned, red carpets take for fucking ever.

Read on for lots of stars and high-quality iPhone pictures!

Continue reading »

Monday, December 8, 2014

World-Building as Resistance: Walidah Imarisha and Grace Dillon Talk Revolutionary Science Fiction

Posted by Megan Burbank on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

  • AK Press

I could listen to Walidah Imarisha talk about intersections between science fiction and social justice forever. Imarisha, who co-edited the new sci-fi anthology Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements (due out from AK Press in April 2015) and teaches at Portland State, makes a simple, but convincing argument for science fiction as a tool of social justice: World-building, of any kind, is basically what people do when they identify injustice and seek to change it.

At the Independent Publishing Resource Center Friday night, Imarisha sat down with fellow professor Grace Dillon, for a Q&A moderated by Mercury pal Sarah Mirk. Imarisha and Dillon talked at length about Star Trek ("mainstream sci-fi at its best and at its worst"), the sci-fi authors they first connected with (Imarisha: Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time; Dillon: Ray Bradbury), the revolutionary potential of science fiction, and ways in which science fiction sometimes makes outer space look "a lot like our world in all the jacked-up ways," like "a wagon train to the stars"—with the colonial mindset that implies.

Imarisha also spoke up about the recent injustices in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, praising the activism of black youth in particular in protesting police brutality in recent weeks. "The leadership of black youth has been incredible," she said, noting that black youth involvement in direct action against racial profiling and police brutality is a powerful "[rejection of] respectability politics."

Science fiction, like most genre fiction, is often pushed away from the "literary" label. The result is that genre fiction is relegated to a strange corner away from so-called "serious writing." This, of course, is a false dichotomy, and you probably already know that if you've read Octavia E. Butler's science fiction or—to call up another genre—Patricia Highsmith's "suspense" novels (or any really bad "literary fiction," for that matter, which as much its own genre as romance or horror). These aren't pulpy, disposable stories, and framing them that way makes about as much sense as slapping a Fabio Harlequin romance cover on Pride and Prejudice. That doesn't stop it from happening, and sometimes it seems that writers and critics get so caught up in trying to legitimize genre fiction by explaining what it's not doing that we forget to address what it does particularly well. That's what makes the work Imarisha and Dillon are doing to shed light on how science fiction actually functions especially important.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Jerry Seinfeld, Fred Armisen, and a Green Saab Monte Carlo

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Jerry Seinfeld and Fred Armisen hung out for a day in Portland back in September for an episode of Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and now that episode is online for viewing. Seinfeld seems pretty enamored of Portland and its coffee—he and Armisen check out Coava Coffee Roasters, who make a decent cup of joe—and he also professes to be a fan of Portlandia. But the real star of the segment is a gorgeous 1965 green Saab Monte Carlo 850, a weird little car (it takes gas and oil together) that actually characterizes the general perception of Portland pretty well. This episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee seems even more aimless than usual, but it's nice to see the Portland backdrop, as well as businesses like Wolf + Bear and Paxton Gate get some screen time.

Check it out here. The episode also includes a weird bonus sketch with Michael Richards that you don't need to watch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Talking to Mallory Ortberg About Alt Lit's Gender Problem and Unhelpful Attitudes Towards Sexual Assault

Posted by Megan Burbank on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:14 AM


Mallory Ortberg mostly makes jokes. She's made a career out this. She co-edits The Toast, a site geared towards (mostly) women with a very particular sense of humor, and just came out with a new book, Texts from Jane Eyre, which you can read more about in our paper that comes out today.

But when I interviewed her last week, we talked about some serious things, too—namely, allegations of sexual assault within the alt lit community that came out in October. I ended up having to cut that discussion from the interview you'll see in print for a couple reasons: Ortberg had a lot to say, and I wanted to give that conversation its own space. I also wanted to link to the essay Ortberg wrote around the time those allegations came out.

The allegations—against Tao Lin and Stephen Tully Dierks—are only the most recent examples of alleged gender-based violence within the alt lit community, or, for that matter, of publishing's much larger, systemic problem with women, which runs the stunning, awful gamut from the limiting way books by women are marketed to the incredibly lopsided byline gender breakdown to these allegations. Admittedly, the alt lit scene is small and insular and Brooklyn/web-based, so why should we care in Portland? Well, earlier this year, similar allegations against the author Gregory Sherl came out, prompting our own Future Tense books to pull one of his books, which they'd previously published, from their catalog. Publisher Kevin Sampsell wrote in a February 4 Facebook post, "In light of recent of recent allegations of abuse, we've decided to remove Gregory Sherl's book, Monogamy Songs, from our catalog. We hope that all people involved can heal and find peace."

This is an ongoing problem, and anyone who cares about independent publishing should be paying attention.

In the case of Lin and Dierks, people did: there was widespread outrage on social media, and, in some cases, backlash against the alleged victims. Among these was a piece by the writer Elizabeth Ellen (who, for the record, also has a book out with Future Tense, but is perhaps best known as an editor at Hobart), which in essence read as an attempt to nullify another woman's claim of sexual assault. Mallory Ortberg usually tells jokes, but she felt like she had to respond to this essay, because, she says, "It was being presented as, 'Well, this has some painful, thoughtful truths that we really need to talk about.' And I thought that was a mistaken way of looking at things... these were very old, pernicious ideas about sexual assault and about redemption and about making amends sort of dressed up as a new idea."

Continue reading »

De-Gentrifying Portland

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Everyone's got an opinion on how this city is changing, but there's one demographic that perhaps gets heard the least: the children of families who have been displaced from their neighborhoods by Portland's rapid gentrification. Started over the summer, De-Gentrifying Portland is a program that's designed to give young people a way to process and present how the changes have affected them, and ultimately to empower them to join in the conversations around that change:

The project has been the result of the work of many working towards racial and economic equity in the city. Classes were designed Sharita Towne, Jackie Murphy from Self Enhancement Inc., Rachel Gilmer from PAALF, artist and educator Betty Marin, and Robin Johnson of the 2013 African American Leadership Academy. Through class, students met with community members such as former elected representative Avel Gordly and Vanport survivor Ed Washington, professionals such as PSU professor of Urban Studies Dr. Lisa Bates and local artists such as Mic Crenshaw, Erin Yanke, Jodi Darby, and more. Students participated in mapping projects, design projects and photography and video classes.

Next week there will be two screenings of films made by the program's students. One of them is in a neighborhood where some of these families now live: East Portland's The Rosewood Initiative (16126 SE Stark, Wed Dec 10, 7-9 pm), and the other is at the Sons of Haiti Lodge, which organizers point out as "the last remaining African American-owned business on Mississippi Ave." (3503 N. Mississippi, Sat Dec 13, 2-4 pm).

It remains to be seen what these filmmakers will have to say about all this other than: a lot. A September blog post on Know Your City, which is also one of the programs' organizers, written by Sharita Towne quoted Jefferson High School junior Kahedja Burley during her presentation: "You got more questions? Because I got a whole lot of answers!”

Kahedja Burley is just one of the youths with something to say about Portland gentrification.
  • Know Your City
  • Kahedja Burley is just one of the youths with something to say about Portland gentrification.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This Week's Style Events

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 12:29 PM

If you thought we were out of the woods now that Black Friday weekend is over, allow me to point out that you're not even close. Local retail and design events continue to abound, and that's a good thing. Here's your planner for the week!:

• This year, instead of just envying the crafty types who make their own holiday gifts, be one of them. Schoolhouse Electric is hosting a whole series of workshops, A Handmade Holiday, taught by the likes of WildCraft Studio School, Egg Press, and more that will guide you through everything from making shibori dyed table runners to getting through all your holiday card writing. Schoolhouse Electric, 2181 NW Nicolai, through Sat Dec 13, various times and prices, for details

• Right up until Christmas Eve, you can bring in a donation of new or gently used hats/gloves/mittens, linens, dishes/silverware/pots and new women’s personal care items to Una, and they’ll take 10 percent off the top of your purchase. All donations will go to the good folks at Bradley Angle House in the meantime. Una, 922 SE Ankeny, through Dec 24,

• Another shop tuning in to the season of generosity is Lizard Lounge, which is offering 20 percent off any one regular priced items with the donation of five non-perishable items, which they’ll be passing on to the Oregon Food Bank. Lizard Lounge, 1323 NW Irving, through Dec,

• Currently on deck for Mercantile’s frequent rotation of trunk sales is a preview of Lafayette 148 New York’s 2015 resort collection, including petites and plus sizes. Mercantile, 729 SW Alder, through Sat Dec 6

• Northwest salon Hair MW is getting in on the holiday action with a trunk show/party featuring locally produced fashion and accessories along with deals on services and their vast array of high-quality product lines. Look for Marion berry whiskey from Eastside Distilling, and goodies from Boulevard de Magenta, Stephanie D Couture, Anne Bocci, and Duchess Clothier, to name a few. Hair MW, 1015 NW Lovejoy, Thurs Dec 4, 5-9 pm

• The grand opening of Tender Loving Empire’s new SE Hawthorne location doubles as a release party for the PDXMAS local-music Christmas album, so you'll have people like Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba performing live renditions, plus a DJ set by Party Damage Records DJs. Fort George Brewery suds will flow, and a raffle drawing every half hour where you can win first-edition LPs, TLE gift certificates, and prize packs with everything from clothing to bath products to jewelry, and more. Tender Loving Empire, 3541 SE Hawthorne, Thurs Dec 4, 6:30-9:30 pm

• The brand-new North of West design-focused mercantile (opened by the makers of Nell & Mary, Make It Good, and Pigeon Toe) had its soft opening last week, but here’s the official kickoff! Enjoy cocktails, music, and getting to know one of your favorite new spots. North of West, 203 SW 9th, Thurs Dec 4, 6-9 pm

  • Make It Good via Instagram

Continue reading »

Friday, November 21, 2014

Win Tickets to Hear Tales of Sex, Lies, & Social Media at Back Fence PDX!

Posted by Megan Burbank on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM

  • Back Fence PDX

Are your weekend plans still super tentative? Do you wish you had something bookish to do tonight? Well, you're in luck, because we're giving away a pair of tickets to Back Fence PDX, for tonight or tomorrow. The lineup this weekend is hard to beat: You get to hear stories about sex, lies, and social media from the likes of Jessica Lee Williamson, Kristine Levine (who tells very funny jokes), Portlandia production designer Tyler Robinson, Bunk Bar co-proprietor Matt Brown, and maker of poems 'n' comics Robyn Bateman. Doesn't that sound great? Quick, enter our contest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

East End: More Than Likely Not Re-Opening

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Well, we can't blame gentrification for this one: Tony Mengis of East End has confirmed that he's throwing in the towel on the bar/music venue in the wake of this summer's fire, with plans to move to Amsterdam later this winter:

East End is prob done. The landlord still has no timeline for the bldg being ready and has not even heard from the city what he needs to do. After all he will have to spend on the bldg and the raise in insurance I am not even sure I would want to accept the new lease price. So East End as it applies to me is over. Amsterdam sounds less stressful for 3-5 yrs...

Mengis reports that his former partner in the business, Pat Kennedy, already left, after "the fire sent him over the edge. So no one to keep it open."

On October 17, a post on the East End blog seemed pessimistic ("We still do not have enough information to know when, or even if, we can open again... Thank you to all the bands, DJs, artists and everyone who did events and parties there. And thank you everyone who came by for a drink or 12 over the years.") but it seems you can finally officially begin the grieving process.

  • East End

Come See's Carl Wolfson Live at the Clinton Street! (You May Recognize One of His Guests... Hint Hint)

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 10:28 AM


It's been several joyous months since's official launch this spring—expanding our terrestrial radio horizons but, more importantly, marking a restoration of sorts for Portland's only local progressive radio talker, Carl Wolfson.

Wolfson, you may recall, was lamentably booted in 2012 from his old job at ClearChannel's KPOJ, along with nearly everyone else who worked there. ClearChannel, back in those dark days, had seen fit to turn KPOJ into one more sports station. For a long time, Wolfson kept his "Carl in the Morning" program alive through livestreaming podcasts—including the Mercury's regular weekly visits (Thursdays at 8:30 AM!). That was okay, because you could swear on his program without the FCC giving a shit. But it wasn't the same as being pumped live into cars and trucks and clock radios every morning.

Xray's been great for that. But Xray, run with donations and volunteers and love and duct tape, is hardly the kind of deep pocketed powerhouse one usually finds playing the radio game. So you should help out. And maybe have a good time in the process.

Wolfson's putting on a slightly altered live version of his show Friday night at the Clinton Street Theater. (Think something like a Portland version of "Real Time with Bill Maher.") It's just $10 a ticket—and it'll go a long way toward keeping Wolfson's brand of talk on the airwaves.

Comedian Adam Bathe will open things. And then Wolfson will bring out the most amazing panel ever conceived to banter over state and national political issues, with a few names you might recognize: Jefferson Smith, an Xray muckety-muck and host (and, ahem, former state representative, Bus Project founder, and mayoral front-runner) and Christine Alexander, Wolfson's old co-host at KPOJ. Oh, and someone else... ME!

We'd love to see you there. Buy tickets here! And if you're not, you really ought to be listening to Wolfson every weekday, from 7 to 9 AM, on Xray.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Mayor Will Announce Downtown's 2014 Holiday Retail Campaign; Here's a Sneak Preview

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 3:44 PM

This Thursday, at 12:30 pm in Pioneer Square, Mayor Hales will officially kick off downtown's holiday retail efforts, which include a relaunch of the pop-up shops, a program that sat it out in 2013.

These days, there's a push to spruce up the vacancy rate in Old Town/Chinatown with local businesses, so it's only natural that this year's pop-ups will be located in a central hive at 11 NW 5th. They include: 1) the Draplin Design Company, offering doodads like pens and pencils, hats, posters, tees, and other "Northwest-specific items,' as well as the entire Field Notes product line. 2) North Street Bags' cycling specific line of panniers and other handy (and waterfproof) bike accessories. 3) Omiyage, an Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center-sponsored shop with "Asian inspired gifts and crafts by local artisans, designers, and authors," from wear-ables and home goods to stationary, art and books. Those'll be active Nov 13 through December 24.

Other things to expect include another round of #uglysweaterpdx, in which you'll encounter public-art otters and umbrella-wielders wearing adorable knits, and free Smart Park days: Dec 7, 14, and 21*.

  • Field Notes

If you would like this information repeated to you (along with, no doubt, additional commentary) in formal, mayoral fashion, please arrive at Pioneer Square by 12:30 this Thursday, November 13.

*Taking advantage of this requires a bit of legwork. Namely, visiting the customer service kiosk at Pioneer Place or Boys Fort between noon and 5 pm, presenting your ticket, and collecting a $5 parking voucher.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Update on the Portland Apparel Lab

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 11:14 AM

The ambitious Portland Apparel Lab project came in hot a few months ago, with a detailed vision of how it could launch Portland's small time fashion professionals into a more competitive zone. There was a well-attended presentation of the plan in September, and an invitation fto come to PAL co-founders Crispin Argento and Dawn Moothart with questions and concerns. Based on my own casually conducted, conversational research, chief among the concerns was and is cost.

Initially it sounded like PAL was going to be up and running on a short timeline, but now it appears that things are slowing down. That's probably a good thing. Argento and Moothart have emphasized the importance of creating metrics for the city's fashion industry, and having a numbers-based understanding of it as a market for services like PAL's. So while applications for the program would have been coming in now, according to Plan A, the timeline for those applications to be download-able has been changed to "in the near future." Argento explains:

Since the September event, we have met with 30-45 brands/designers and we have taken on a few clients under the PAL umbrella for business advisory, strategy and production management services. As an advisory firm, we are open for business.

There continues to be a lot of interest in the greater PAL concept, however we need to assess the market, do additional research on whether people want a platform like PAL and are ready to support this kind of organization financially. I am currently exploring options how to fund a study—in my view this needs to be the first issue [a steering committee put together by the City Cub, of which Argento and I are both members] tackles. We need to define the market. It needs to be done by a third party economic advisory firm which is expensive.

The next steps are to continue spreading the word about PAL. We are currently exploring doing a number of educational seminars about the business end of fashion.

In other words, please hold.

I love the idea of an economic study, which would have the potential to boost the sector in the same way that, say, the craft beer industry has been. And I think it's important to keep an eye on, and at least in some contexts, align with and be counted among the greater maker/manufacturing community, who recently released a survey report that begins to build a numbers-based profile of its potential.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seven Sisters

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 3:29 PM

My goodness. Add another new Portland shop to the growing list! Seven Sisters has opened in the 811 E Burnside building, carrying goods they promise will be "made of natural, timeless materials." Details on the web site are scarce at the moment (though it looks like online sales are in the cards); their Instagram is far more revealing. Think Japanese textiles, vintage and new clothing/accessories for women, small home goods, and the like. (You may have seen Seven Sisters prior to their brick 'n' mortar at the Portland Flea, too.)

  • Seven Sisters via Instagram

They've only been open for two days. Go give them a snoop and a high five.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Just in Time for Winter Sports: Evo

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Mmmm, does Portland really need another huge outdoor apparel store? Judging from the size of the new Evo store—11,000 sf—that's finally open after months of construction (in the historic former Salvation Army HQ), the answer appears to be a resounding "hell yes." This is Evo's second location, after the original in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. At 200 SE MLK it's in close proximity to local institutions like Next Adventure and Andy and Bax, and just a short hop across the bridge from even more options like the US Outdoor Store.

Evo has a particular emphasis on board sports, and represents a huge number (150+) of brands, as well as housing a ski, snowboard, and bike service shop in the basement. They're into community engagement too, so look forward to things like monthly art shows, music, and movies, as well as the perhaps-less-fun-sounding yet nonetheless key occasional "Avalanche Safety clinics."

To begin with, Evo is hosting a grand opening this Saturday, Nov 15 (7 pm-midnight), for you to suss them out over food, drinks, live music, a silent auction, and dancing. It's also a benefit for The Chill Foundation, which uses board sports to teach "life lessons about patience, persistence, responsibility, courage, respect, and pride" to under-served youth. Thus the break from normal retail tradition: you need a ($5) ticket to attend.

  • Evo

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This Week's Style Events

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM

The latest and greatest and updated-est!

• All this month, bring in a used coat (or more) to Lizard Lounge, which is collecting them for Transition Projects, and get 20 percent off of a new one. Win, win, done, and done. Lizard Lounge, 1323 NW Irving

Marine Layer has its own Airbnb loft, because why not? People come to the city to shop (tax-free!) after all. They’re inviting all to come check it out at a “Staycation” party, which involves—you guessed it—adult beverages. Marine Layer, 828 NW 23rd, Wed Nov 5, 6-8 pm

• As seen most recently at FashioNXT, Wendy Ohlendorf’s Boulevard de Magenta clothing is inventive and rather futuristic, which complements the aesthetic found at John Fluevog, too. So it makes sense that they’re teaming up for a trunk show/holiday mixer, featuring a “surprise” local winery, to boot (ahem). John Fluevog, 1224 SW Stark, Thurs Nov 6, 6-9 pm

Michelle Lesniak has returned to reality TV with Project Runway All Stars. Show some support for her and come out to the weekly viewings she’s hosting, where she’ll award raffle prizes and share off-screen anecdotes! Back Stage Bar, 3702 SE Hawthorne, Thurs Nov 6 (and each Thurs thereafter on Lifetime), doors at 8 pm

• The name MadeHere PDX pretty much says it all. The new 3,000 square-feet retail space “epitomizes the strong values Portland holds in regard to supporting and buying local... MadeHere PDX features an unparalleled selection of products ranging from edible delights to bikes, surfboards, fine art, furniture, and beyond.” MadeHere PDX, 40 NW 10th, grand opening Thurs Nov 6, 6-9 pm

  • MadeHere PDX

Continue reading »

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dispatches from the Nothing Beat: Charles D'Ambrosio on Alt-Weeklies and the Pacific Northwest

Posted by Megan Burbank on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM


Charles D'Ambrosio's readings never disappoint. This is an incredibly rare thing for a writer, and just one reason it's very sad that D'Ambrosio has left Portland for the Midwest, where he's been hired by the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Not so fast, though—D'Ambrosio still has a new book out from Portland's/New York's Tin House Books, an essay collection called Loitering, and it didn't get its Portland release party until last night, when a big writerly crowd showed up to Disjecta for a reading and Q&A hosted by Tin House.

In the past, D'Ambrosio has been called "a writer's writer" (we've even done it). But as Michael Schaub pointed out in the fall Agenda, he's also a not-writer's writer. If you get fidgety during readings, Charles D'Ambrosio is your dude. He fidgets too. He prefaces his readings with lengthy, very funny explanations of their origins. If you're looking for some mystique-loaded discussion of how writing just magically happens and you're a conduit for the muse—well, you've come to see the wrong writer.

Instead, D'Ambrosio is disarming and forthright. "I feel really exposed reading nonfiction," he said before reading, explaining that unlike fiction, he can't claim to have made it up. Instead, he writes honestly about his schizophrenic brother and discovering the personal essay while reading in the rain at the loneliest bus stop in Seattle, and cites gloomy Pacific Northwest weather when asked where he prefers to write (there's no reason to go outside).

One of the earliest publishers of his essays was our sister paper, the Stranger, and D'Ambrosio was quick to claim at last night's reading that he wouldn't have started writing essays if not for the existence of alt-weeklies, which for him were critical in "the granting of space or just the offer of an open hand," that he used to explore "the nothing beat"—which is exactly what it sounds like. The title essay in D'Ambrosio's collection is one such dispatch from the nothing beat, which finds D'Ambrosio cradling notecards outside a crime scene as the rain smudges his notes, and the story becomes more about the artifice of television news reporting than about the crime he's ostensibly covering.

But then, D'Ambrosio doesn't identify as a reporter. Nor does he consider his highly personal work to be confessional—"they're facts, not confessions," he says. Instead, he is interested in something that seems to fall between hard news reporting and narrative nonfiction, something he describes as "seeking faith with doubt"—not in any religious sense, but in setting aside the idea of a story for what really shows up (think of the shift in "Loitering"), of using doubt as a vehicle for discoveries that are genuine rather than predetermined. It's a kind of curiosity that excellent reporting and personal essays seem to share.

After Days of Worry, Right 2 Dream Too Co-Founder Surfaces, Says He's "Okay"

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Right 2 Dream Too co-founder Ibrahim Mubarak—whose whereabouts became the subject of a massive social media push this weekend, after he was last heard from Wednesday—has surfaced and is "okay," according to City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Word came during what would have been Right 2 Dream Too's regular meeting with city hall. Fritz said more information would be forthcoming. A friend of Mubarak's confirmed he'd been in contact, saying Mubarak called his wife, Lisa Fay, this morning and told her he'd be coming home—but that he didn't know anything else.

Fay recently posted this on his public Facebook page:

Ibrahim just called me to say he is okay. Don't have details but would be home tonight. He apologizes for creating such a concern. And wants everyone to know how grateful he is to hear about all the love and support for the both of us their is in the community.

Earlier today, Mubarak's worried friends and family, including Fay, had been planning a candlelight vigil in Mubarak's honor at 6 tonight at Pioneer Courthouse Square. They said Mubarak last spoke with Fay on Wednesday, five days ago, when he said he was coming home after spending time with a friend. Mubarak, Fay told a friend, never showed up. He'd just gotten back to town after a trip to San Francisco.

Police told me this morning that they didn't know anything but would check to see if anyone had filed a report. Sources in city hall, however, were closely watching all the back and forth and looking for information.


Worry grew to fear as the days ticked by and Mubarak missed other appointments, including a sitdown last Thursday with a journalist who reached out to the Mercury after we posted on Saturday. Over the weekend, Mubarak missed the opening of a local Homeless Bill of Rights campaign office and Right 2 Dream Too's weekly Sunday meeting.

"Those are things he wouldn't miss," said Keith Fons, one of the organizers of the vigil and a longtime friend of Mubarak's.

On Saturday, sources told the Mercury they were holding out hope Mubarak had merely gone somewhere to decompress (or worse) and would resurface. But the longer he went without getting in touch, the more concerned everyone grew, leading to the call to arms on Facebook over the weekend.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Friends of Right 2 Dream Too Co-Founder Worry He's Gone Missing

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Word has gone out among housing justice advocates and others on social media yesterday asking for leads if someone's recently seen Right 2 Dream Too co-founder Ibrahim Mubarak—who apparently hasn't been seen by anyone since Tuesday or Wednesday.

A Facebook update posted yesterday afternoon goes so far as to describe Mubarak as "missing." And it was sent, I'm told, with the blessing of those closest to Mubarak. Several other people have been discussing hs whereabouts and other issues on public postings on Mubarak's Facebook page.

While many close to Mubarak are holding out hope he's merely gone off the grid to decompress a bit, his friends and loved ones also say they're legitimately concerned something might be wrong.


Mubarak, after helping Right 2 Dream Too win relocation money and city legitimacy—if not yet another place to live besides the rest area's three-year-old home at NW 4th and Burnside—has still been in regular contact with Commissioner Amanda Fritz's and Mayor Charlie Hales' offices (along with a larger team of advocates) to give advice on housing issues and public safety clashes with people living on the streets.

Earlier this year, Mubarak announced he would appeal a trespassing verdict after he tried defending some campers beneath the Burnside Bridge who'd been contacted by police and private security guards.

A call to Mubarak's phone this morning went through to his voicemail—meaning his phone's still on. But no message could be left, because his mailbox was full. I've also asked police if they're investigating or have any information, and I'll update if I hear back.

For now, it should be restated, Mubarak's family and associates are still holding out hope he'll resurface after some time away. That said, they're worried enough to sanction a call to arms. We'll see what develops.


Friday, October 31, 2014

A Very Liberators Halloween

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 9:45 AM

If you haven't seen Portland's reigning sketch comedy masters The Liberators in action—THEN I DON'T EVEN WITH YOU. They are riotously funny, super smart, and weird, which is just your speed, am I right? They've got a show coming up at IFCC on November 8, and you can buy tickets for that here. AND they've recently come out with a new sketch comedy video that is PERFECT for Halloween. It's called "Baked Lays"—and trust me... you will never see a more horrifying, hilarious movie about... BAKED LAYS.

Baked Lays - watch more funny videos

Also, three-quarters of The Liberators are starring in the triumphant return of the very funny holiday stage adaptation of the story of that famous red-nosed reindeer, Rudolph: On Stage (also co-starring your fave community theater veteran, ME!). Get your tickets for that sure-to-sell-out-show HERE.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Portlander Mike Merrill: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM

You might remember Portlander Mike Merrill from when he "Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share," or from when he had his shareholders vote on the life decisions of a 17-year-old for three months, or from when he took over the Mercury and used it for his own nefarious purposes (that particular issue can be found here). But soon enough, you might know him for something else entirely: As that guy whose life got TURNED INTO A MOVIE.

Deadline might have the scoop—

EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight has acquired "Meet The Man Who Sold His Fate To Investors At $1 A Share," a Wired Magazine article by Joshua Davis that will be crafted into a starring and directing vehicle for Jason Bateman to play a man who found a novel commodity for a public offering: himself. It created a host of problems for the actual guy, Mike Merrill, when shareholders demanded control over life decisions like whether or not to have a vasectomy, or even whether he should move in with his longtime girlfriend (and minority shareholder). (Via.)

—but it's the Mercury that has the EXCLUSIVE first interview with Merrill!

MERCURY: Hey, congrats on having your life TURNED INTO A MOVIE. Any reactions you'd like to get on the official Blogtown record?
MIKE MERRILL: I am incredibly flattered to be portrayed by Jason Bateman and I hope he wants to hang out and follow me around to learn about my life.

How surreal is this?
All the way. Completely. I mean, I recognize it’s good story material, but it’s not like I’m the inventor of Pringles or anything.

Will you write a review of this movie for the Mercury when it comes out?
Yes, that is exactly the sort of thing I would want me to do. Wonderful idea!

I'm not joking.
I am totally doing a review! That’s such good idea.

So there you have it: Confirmation that, yes, it's surreal to have your life become a movie, and confirmation that yes, if and when the movie gets made, Merrill himself will review it for the Mercury. In the meantime, congrats to Merrill, who—if the capricious and cruel gods of Hollywood gaze kindly upon this endeavor—shall one day realize the dream that all of us hold dear: Having Jason Bateman play us in a major motion picture.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Altar: Mag-Big's New Identity

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Mag-Big has had a rather meteoric rise to prominence in the city as both a retailer and clothing line, thanks in large part to founder Cassie Ridgway's stick-to-yer-guns attitude toward supporting and growing a class of small apparel businesses she's dubbed "designer manufacturers."

But now, it's time for something new. Mag-Big as we know it is slated to close its doors December 27 for a remodel, and will re-open in the first or second week of January as Altar, with a grand opening celebration slated for January 15. Says Ridgway, "It will specialize in the mystical Northwest heritage with an emphasis on occult inspirations" (!). Click over to MOD for more on the project.

An old Mag-Big photo that hints at shades of its occultish future?
  • Mag-Big
  • An old Mag-Big photo that hints at shades of its occultish future?

Monday, October 27, 2014

The 2014 World Beard & Moustache Championships from the Wings

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM

On Saturday, I had the strange honor of being a judge at the 2014 World Beard & Moustache Championships—which, as the Oregonian fretted, was a bit of a shit show—but in the most genial way.

I wasn't even sure, before I arrived, if it would be a stage and lights deal, or more like a cat show, where people mill around poking at vendors and whatnot while multiple stages of judging take place. It was a stage 'n' lights job after all, with Byron Beck taking on emcee duties, sometimes under duress. There were several thousand people in attendance, nearly filling the seats at the Keller Auditorium. Being on a stage that size has never felt so blasé. The proceedings were casual, somewhat bawdy, and yes, a little clunky. My fellow judge Pennie Lane and I had decided we'd switch off duties over the course of the long day (about five hours), taking turns judging and presenting medals to the winners of each category. Yes, there were technical snags (my name remained on the projection screen as a judge throughout, even as Pennie voted in my place for hours), and from my vantage in the wings it became increasingly difficult to find/herd/organize 300 contestants (many of whom were increasingly drunk as the afternoon went on).

I have zero perspective on how organized or not-organized these events are as a rule, and considering the size of the staff, they did a pretty bang-up job. The O kind of slayed Beck on his emcee duties, but he was being thrown a lot of direction behind the scenes to variously slow down and speed up the proceedings, including the occasional request that he "tell some jokes" and otherwise fill time while the next round of contestants were being lined up. Lists kept changing as contestants went astray (this went particularly amok during the "Musketeer" round), and I couldn't make out most of what he said—while apparently clear from the audience, his mic garbled his words from the stage, to the point that many of the men around whose necks I hung medals hadn't even caught the fact that they'd won until that moment. Still, in Beck's defense, it was a long, unscripted gig in front of a rowdy audience. I didn't envy him.

There were a few lecherous incidents and a temper tantrum or two backstage, but overall the vibe, however chaotic, was positive, even heartwarming. Some of them may have been a bit bleary-eyed when they said it, but a number of contestants, particularly ones who'd traveled for it, sincerely (if misplacedly) thanked me for the event, However silly it looked from the outside, there was earnestness and pride in the eyes of many of these guys—just maybe not the one who sputtered that he just wanted "some more fuckin' liquor!"

Also there were some very interesting facial hair arrangements, of course, including my personal favorite, a carefully segmented whip of a beard that hung all the way down to its owner's boot spurs:

  • Byron Beck via Instagram

If nothing else, the event was well documented. More images here, here, and here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SIXSEVEN, Shop North of West, and Other Retail Booms

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I'm still recovering from the excitement of West End Select Shop's opening, and I literally had a dream about how awesome the new, expanded Palace is going to be (it's slated for a grand-reveal shindig on Nov 1). It just keeps happening, though. In between the moves and expansions of Frances May (which is moving into the bigger space that was formerly a rug store next door, at the corner of 10th & Washington), Adorn (which just opened a SE Division location/expansion), and Stand Up Comedy (which is moving to Morgan's Alley), more new shops are on their way.

There's SIXSEVEN, a collaboration between Liza Rietz and BOET's Emily Bixler. They'll be taking over the Stand Up Comedy space at 811 E Burnside #111 while that shop moves downtown, and will sell items from both lines as well as the newly launched SIXSEVEN house line of clothing (I spotted one of those dresses on Nancy Hales when she gave the opening remarks at FashioNXT). And maybe ninja slippers. They'll open doors for the first time for a party on Nov 14 from 5-9 pm.

ALSO: Another shop called North of West is staking claim at 203 SW 9th, from the owners of Nell & Mary, Make It Good, and Pigeon Toe, due to open next month. The website links to a list of stockists so you can get a feel for the mix of wearable and usable design-driven merch. There'll be much more to come, too, which'll give us something to explore and talk about before the whole city's design calendar becomes a hopscotch of holiday pop-up shops.

The future North of West
  • North of West via Instagram
  • The future North of West

Monday, October 20, 2014

All Jane No Dick Closing Showcase: The Loopiest Sets They've Ever Done

Posted by Megan Burbank on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 3:14 PM

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU: Aparna Nancherla shares the saddest ever Okcupid message.
  • Pat Moran
  • IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU: Aparna Nancherla shares the saddest ever Okcupid message.

By the end of a festival like All Jane No Dick, many of the stand-ups have already performed their laughter-proven material, making the final performance a weird playground for trying out new bits on a captive audience, or, as Phoebe Robinson put it, "This is the loopiest set I've ever done."

Thank goodness for that. Last night's final showcase at Curious Comedy delivered some of the funniest jokes I've seen all week. Everything Aparna Nancherla said was brilliant and funny and a little dark—her set covered existential despair as embodied by Okcupid messages, snack sandwiches (eating a snack, a sandwich, and another snack) consumed while "working from home," and Christopher Columbus ("You have to hand it to the guy, because he probably would've taken it anyway and then murdered you").

Longtime Portland comedian (and the oldest stand-up at All Jane No Dick, with the cutest pair o' Keens) Susan Rice told tales of working the casino comedy circuit, and the geriatric men who want to take her out to dinner after the show, but first need to know "if [she] can drive at night."

I didn't find Phoebe Robinson's set earlier this week to be as funny as some of her older material (she was on Broad City, you guys—that sets the bar pretty high), but her set last night was punched up with goofy, accurate riffing on smug liberals who think that racism is over, and how to survive a bear attack when you're out camping (and don't want to be!).

In our preview for All Jane No Dick, Courtney Ferguson called Sara Schaefer "friend material." And she did not lead us astray! I really want to be friends with Sara Schaefer, just so I can hear her recount the most embarrassing tales from middle school, like a funny, self-aware adult Angela Chase, in a way that makes you laugh uncontrollably, instead of, you know, bursting into tears.

Oh, fuck it. All of these ladies are friend material, and they're just a handful of comics in what was a lineup thrilling enough to launch a one-man protest. I can't wait for next year. In the meantime, Pat Moran took many photos of the closing showcase and Instant Comedy, the festival's improv closer, and you can see them all here.

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