Alas, you can't win them, and when the Portland location of Seattle men's clothing stalwart Blackbird quietly closed its doors at the end of December, it chipped away at what has been a recent (and arguably overdue) surge in men's-focused boutiques. It also freed up a spot in the primo Black Box building, which perfectly straddles the downtown/West End and Pearl District shopping districts, so it's no surprise that there's already a new neighbor moving in. Click over to MOD to find out who.
Last night the PR mavens behind Pendleton's Portland Collection posted a teaser image from the next season's lookbook:
Coincidentally, I recently got my hands on a hard copy of the lookbook, a lengthy tome of over 40 new looks and a slew of new accessory designs. Aside from the fact that this collection is important—it is an example of a powerful local brand using its re-energized momentum to demonstrate its faith in local independent designers (Church + State's Rachel Turk and Nathaniel Crissman, and John Blasioli)—it gets better with each season. One notable fan of the line is newly minted first lady of Portland Nancy Hales, who keeps getting photographed in it, and has said publicly that she's making an effort to wear Portland-designed clothing, which could be a good sign that the newly configured city hall is taking an interest in the local apparel industry.
As Rachel Edidin has pointed out, few things in geek culture are more toxic than the "Fake Nerd Girl" meme—something that Portlandia is either blissfully oblivious of or blissfully unconcerned about. Their new "Nerd PSA" sketch (thanks, Gizmodo) ignores the issues surrounding the meme and instead jumps in to say, "Hey, real nerds are awkward, right?" Which, I don't know, is true in some cases? Just like some people in any self-identified group are awkward?
One thing is for sure: This is definitely a comedy sketch about how the word "nerd" has changed from defining one's place in the social hierarchy to defining the sorts of things that one consumes. Or something? Look. IT MAKES MY HEAD HURT. On principle, this sketch is lazy and (unintentionally?) sexist; in practice, I find it kind of touching and sweet. But oblivious.
Wheee! It's Portlandia, a show that never really says anything but kind of thinks it does! (Kind of like this blog post.)
In a town with this much love for vintage, it comes as little surprise that there's a photo studio that caters specifically to fans of retro-style pin-up photography, in that they have a huge studio, an enormous wealth of wardrobe, hair and makeup services, and experienced assistance to help you model for your own classic pin-up style portraits. It's called Pop Art Pinup, and I recently had the goofy-fun pleasure of sampling the experience, which you can read all about over on MOD.
Adams, turns out, didn't wait too long to figure out his next act (what, he's got bills like the rest of us!). And it's a job, depending on how he does it, that might weirdly allow him to keep a high profile in political and policy circles. Adams, it was announced today, will take over as executive director of the City Club of Portland.
Adams had already promised he wouldn't wind up working for any private actors that did business with Portland on his watch. That left nonprofits and government as likely landing spots—and a lot of tongues wagged about whether the self-styled "education mayor" might wind up at Portland State University. Which, of course, he didn't.
The job may raise eyebrows—because I bet you money you couldn't name the last executive director of the place without looking it up. And while it's a must-stop on the campaign trail for political candidates, and hosts events like the State of the City, City Club usually finds itself drawing mostly older, white, and well-paid Portlanders.
Maybe that could change under Adams—who stood at the Governor Hotel in 2011 and announced a new city equity office. Here's the quote he fed to City Club's news release:
"In my new role at City Club I can continue to encourage exceptional urban public policy in a region I love, on behalf of an organization whose tradition of unbiased, citizen-led policy research remains unique and imperative in today's hyper-partisan environment," said Adams. "I also look forward to helping City Club engage a broader, more diverse group of voices from across the community as its research, advocacy and programs evolve."
I'll be most interested, though, in how Adams might approach the group's policy research arm. Years as the city's chief executive never dulled his love for white papers and wonkiness—a bad thing, for some people. And good, sharp reports will let both Adams and City Club make a lot of noise.
Will Adams take on his successor, Charlie Hales, by obsessively checking his work? Will he tweak old frenemies like County Chairman Jeff Cogen? Will he be willing to unsparingly criticize his own legacy?
And I think everyone is eager to see how things play out at the next City Club debate in 2014 when someone like Dan Saltzman or Nick Fish looks down from their lectern and sees and interlocutor who knows intimately how much bullshit, or how little, their answers might contain.
Hit the jump for the full City Club release—including glowing testimonials from groups like the Portland Business Alliance who found Adams, all in all, not as difficult a working partner as some advocates would have liked.
Some of you may recognize my name from the... eclectic end of the Mercury film section. But my rent gets paid via the graveyard shift at a downtown apartment building. You'd recognize that as one half of the two buildings a local woman got stuck between this morning. I was working when that happened.
I have no idea what she was doing up there. There are maybe two or three ways she could have gotten out on that wall, but none of them are particularly accessible, and there's not really anything you can do out there other than get stuck between two buildings.
From the pictures I've seen I don't recognize her as one of the tenants, although to be fair I only see the people who hang around apartment lobbies at 3 am (there are some).
With that out of the way, let's begin at the beginning. I got a call on the office phone at 3:40 from one of the residents alerting me that someone in the courtyard was screaming for the police. That's something of a worst case scenario, phone call-wise. I am by all accounts a coward, but it is technically my job to determine if someone is getting murdered on the property, and at time of the morning you don't think all that clearly anyway. So I grabbed the office cell phone and ran over to investigate.
Thankfully, no one was getting murdered. I did however discover a small knot of tenants and the disembodied voice of one extremely unhappy woman. By the time I got there, she was completely hidden between the two walls, although from what I could tell she was hanging on to something at the top of the inner wall, maybe 15 feet from the ground.
So what did I do? Find out after the jump.
I don't know why this kind of question annoys me so much, but since this person is not specifically inquiring about a job at the Mercury (at least I don't think so, unless he is being extraordinarily backhanded about it), it's not really my duty to advise him on such matters. More importantly, since I have been working at the Mercury since birth (it's just so funnnn!), I'm somewhat under-qualified to give him this kind of advice. However tempting, though, I would be kind of a jerk not to answer at all (so lazy!). So I'm going to ask you to answer him instead (oh, so lazy!). Here goes:
I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Thailand. I'll be going back to the States this spring and have been thinking of moving to Portland (from Minnesota). I looked at your web site today and saw a Peace Corps advertisement. It must be a sign. Is there anything anyone at the Portland Mercury can tell me to help me get off to the right start in Portland? I'm a journalism/English writing major with two years of Peace Corps experience. What is the job market like in Portland? Where's a good place to search for jobs? I want to move to Portland because it's a change of pace and it seems like a great place to live. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!!!
Tell me, what would you advise?
You are probably already familiar with Supportland (if not you can read up here—don't skip the comments, which both raise and answer questions that didn't make it into the main article). Up until now it has largely functioned as a local business-specific rewards card, but its potential has always held more. In the next few months the first phase of Portland Made will launch, a joint effort between Supportland and ADX, who aim to create what Supportland's Katrina Scotto di Carlo describes as an "ecosystem" for products manufactured in Portland, from clothing to beer to mattresses and beyond. This will take shape at first in small ways: a new edition of the Supportland card branded with the Portland Made logo, a search function on the Supportland site that allows users to find businesses that sell locally produced products, small business-building workshops and classes, and so forth. But ultimately there are goals like creating a collective online shopping site where users can shop locally made products, see which stores have them, and buy it from the location of their choosing. Even better, and something that Supportland already does with its retail clients, is the ability to create metrics, which really don't exist for micro-manufacturers. As Scotto di Carlo points out, in the political world you can't get anywhere without numbers to back you up. By generating useful numbers (read: accountable job creation), Portland Made will have the power to begin political lobbying on behalf of the wide but relatively disparate community of small manufacturers.
I'll be keeping a close eye on this as it develops because it's pretty damn exciting, so stay tuned for more as things roll out.
A very simple and effective sticker has popped up in Old Town:
Someone spotted the poop-aganda campaign at the Joan of Arc statue in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, too.
In the feast or famine world of retail we're in the middle of famine, with the long post-holiday winter slog upon us. And while the idea makes me uncomfortable, Emily Baker of Sword + Fern is opting out this year, with plans to remain shut until the end of February or thereabouts. Says Baker, "I have some fun tricks up my sleeve, YES.
Really really excited for 2013. I am turning some super hot irons and very happy about it. Store is TEMPORARILY closed from today until late ish Feb-ish March-ish first-ish. No confirmations yet. Main reason is that i am remodeling the interior of the shop in much needed ways cosmetically—mostly for efficiency of the space and to usher in a new vibe for S+F."
Phew. Baker's shop is one of the most inspired businesses in the city for accessories, home goods, apothecary, and assorted vintage finds. Sit tight and look forward to the reopening party.
Because (and only because) some of you still want to know these things, Portlandia returns tonight (Friday, Jan 4, 10 pm) for its third season on IFC with two new back-to-back episodes. (Or in other words, twice the not-funny!) Here's a clip in which the primary joke is about people (presumably Portland people) who get bent out of shape about TV "spoilers"—and is basically a rewrite of the "Did You Read?" sketch from season one. Whoops! That was a spoiler!
Minh Tran has long been a regular contributor to the pages and pixels of the Merc. I imagine he must go out eight nights a week, specializing as he does in the exploits of pretty party people, and yet he always seems composed and well rested, and supposedly has a day job, too. Some guys just don't need to sleep I guess. He recently published his vast archives of nightlife shots taken over the past two years. There are about four million of them, which you can peruse in full here, but if you have less than 45 minutes to devote to it, you can also check out an way-abbreviated collection of some of my favorites on MOD.
The Belmont Bodega on SE 25th and Belmont always has excellent phrases stuck across its front window. I liked their wisdom on New Years' Eve.
I went to the brand-new Portland Aquarium last week expecting it to be an abysmal scam, instead finding it to be a surprisingly cute and interactive place that was marginally better than what I expected from an aquarium built in six months in a former steakhouse.
But I want to post an excerpt from a letter written by reader Guilyn Maros because it's a worthwhile assessment of the place from someone with higher expectations. The aquarium is a good little wonderland for kids, but it's not really an aquarium. "Rather unregulated fish petting zoo" is a much better description.
From Guilyn Maros:
I was SO excited for an Aquarium to open up in Portland, eagerly bought a living social family membership, and went for the first time with my toddler.
I was pretty horrified with what I saw. Even on their facebook page, they refer to themselves as a 'petting zoo'—and that is what they are: a fish petting zoo.
I was shocked that kids could touch all the animals in so many of the super tiny 'tanks'—with not only no hand washing (how is this healthy for the animals??), there is also no supervision of the numerous children touching the creatures. There was a little boy in front of me who ripped a sea anemone off the wall, and squeezed it so hard in his hand that it flew out of his grip, and slammed into the wall (not exaggerating). The seahorses in another tank were floating dead at the top of their tank. Don't get me wrong—my toddler loved his visit there. But I was horrified at the conditions for the creatures, and can't in good conscience support a business like that who is obviously more concerned about making money than it is about the well being of the creatures there.
On my visit, I asked about the wisdom of letting kids poke their hands into the tanks and was told that powerful filters keep the water clean. There's also staff in every room, but I could definitely see how on a busy day, a kid among the crowd could squeeze an anemone to death unseen.
Surely you remember Alien Boy, the documentary about one of the Portland Police Bureau's darkest hours, when James Chasse Jr. was brutally beaten (16 broken ribs, 26 total broken bones, 1 punctured lung) and died in police custody in 2006. Matt Davis was on the Mercury news team at the time, and covered the event and its aftermath closely, going on to join the filmmaking team. At long last, Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse is finished, and will premiere at this year's PIFF festival in February. Dates and times are still TBA. In the meantime, revisit the teaser:
Regardless to my connection to Davis as a colleague and friend, I am really looking forward to this one, and I imagine anyone who lived here during that time, anyone with concerns about the state of police/citizen relations and the mental health care system in this country (that's gotta be everyone at this point, yes?) will be too.
Most of the big, local-focused shopping fairs have come and gone, so if you're still struggling to finish your last-minute shopping (or looking for some special dranks for the big day(s)), here's one of your very last chances, for real this time.
Producers Portland is a small clutch of micro producers trafficking in wine, booze, coffee, and textiles. All under one roof, the group includes Marigold Coffee, Nell & Mary, Stone Barn Brandyworks, Make It Good, Alchemy Wine Productions, and Precision Craft. On Friday they'll open their doors at 3315 SE 19th from 4-10 pm, perfectly timed to propel your after-work momentum into getting that gift shit done.
Backspace—Old Town's beloved gallery/coffee shop/music venue/community center—is facing a January 1 eviction deadline, owner Eric Robison says, after his landlords told him he had two weeks to pay up on his overdue rent or make way for an unidentified new tenant.
Robison's only way out? He's asking the people who hold Backspace dear to help him come up with close to $10,000—enough to catch up on the lapsed rent payment he's been carrying over every month for the past year and also clear thousands in late fees. Otherwise, the venue's December 31 bash, headlined by Lost Lander, will also be a goodbye party.
"We're scrambling the troops," Robison says. "Let's keep this going."
Already, after an impromptu event last night, Portland Poetry Slam, which regularly holds down the place on Sundays, raised something like $900. Robison's working up an IndieGogo campaign (UPDATED WITH THE LINK), helped along by gifts from bands including the Thermals and Starfucker. And the next two Sundays, on the 23rd and 30th, will be given over to fundraising concerts, with lineups still to be determined.
"I don't know who he can get to take this large space, but I guess he finally found someone. He won't tell me who it is," Robison says of one of his landlords, Old Town developer David Gold. "I can't totally blame him. I am late. But he didn't need to add another $3,000 in late fees."
Robison, who made a splash 10 years ago when he opened the venue in an Old Town more feral than the one we have now, also says he was told, if he found the money, that his lease was "good for another year." He's not holding his breath for an extension after that, he says, after going back and forth with his landlords over several rent and fee increases since 2007.
A few weeks back, I attended the PDX Strippies, an annual performance and awards show celebrating the people—not just dancers, but the cooks, DJs and cocktail servers, too—who make Portland's strip club industry tick. As is reflected in the clubs, the majority of the performers who danced in between award announcements were women. However, just before the bestowment of a prize for male dancing, a certain Jon Dutch took the stage.
It's probably been too long since I last saw male stripping in Portland, and Dutch's set was hilarious. He started dressed in a panda suit, then stripped that off to reveal a Duffman costume, was at one point dancing to the theme of Team America: World Police, and had shaved a faux six-pack into the hair on his torso. As funny as he was, he was also clearly experienced and agile on the pole. I couldn't tell if he was an actual stripper or not, so I made some inquiries that eventually resulted in no fewer than six long emails filled with the fascinating details of a Portland performer who, it turns out, has been published in the Mercury three times in his underwear, is the ride marshall for the World Naked Bike Ride, has a day job as a circus performer and acrobat, and also cross-trains high level pole dancers in preparation for competitions.
Click the cut for a lengthy Q&A in which I ask important journalistic questions like, "What the fuck is up with tall bikes?"
Not one, not two, but three additions to our weekly roundup of notable shopping events:
1) Palace is having their first annual December shopping event this Sunday, with DJ MSG, Sweedeedee pies, bubbly, and special guests Red Clouds Collective, OLO Fragrance, and Wolf Honey. Plus, past season merch (Karen Walker, Baggu, Cheap Monday, Butter London, Malin + Goetz, Osborn, Tretorn, Fjallraven...) marked down by up to 60%. Sunday, 11 am-7 pm
Click over to MOD for #s 2 and 3!
As we told you and told you again, the historic/still relevant Hollywood Theatre is raising money on Kickstarter to replace its decrepit circa-1970s marquee with a recreation of the original 1926 design.
Today they announced that they've exceeded their $55k goal (the total was over $60k as of this writing), which means we'll be seeing a spruced up theater on one of our main boulevards in the near future. However, feel free to keep donating. A secondary goal of $75k will keep them in light bulbs for a while, not to mention give 'em a little cushion against those old-building construction surprises.
Of the three TV shows that are shot here in Portland, Leverage has been here the longest (since 2008)... but according to TV Guide, it might be on it's way out.
Executive producer and director Dean Devlin penned a letter to the TNT drama's longtime fans about the unknown future of the series. In the letter, Devlin explains that he and series creator John Rogers shot the upcoming Season 5 finale as the series finale of the show should it not be picked for a sixth season.
Read the Leverage love letter from Devlin to the fans right here.
About a month ago we called your attention to the Hollywood Theatre's launch of a Kickstarter campaign (something we do very sparingly) to replace its marquee, which is leaking, causing other damage to the building, and just generally falling apart. The proposed replacement is based on the original, which opened with the theater in 1926—an occasion so momentous they named the surrounding neighborhood after it.
You may have also noticed that it's suddenly in the shadow of a five-story building that's practically being built on top of it, so the new marquee will help the landmark maintain its visibility. It's worth keeping buildings like this in repair because people simply don't make 'em like they used to, with sumptuous detailing like the Hollywood's (gorgeous, dramatic) having been replaced by a bunch of clean, straight lines (boring, less expensive). But in addition to its significance in local history and architecture, the theater has made great strides in the last decade or so to remain a cultural destination by virtue of the programming itself. They've gone the extra mile to create innovative programs, from the Grindhouse Festival to Filmusik, B Movie Bingo, and Hecklevision (sometimes in collaboration with the Mercury).
The campaign's got 11 days to go and they're less than $10,000 from their $55,000 goal (money needed outside grants and donations already secured—marquees ain't cheap, apparently), so if this is the first you've heard of it, consider making some of the Hollywood's old ghosts feel like good times are here again.
An embed of the Kickstarter video is after the cut.
Last night was the first in a series of lectures hosted by the City Club called The Why Behind the Weird, which is meant to address "Portland's economic landscape, specifically in relation to the city's population of educated young people." Crispin Argento of PINO is a relatively new face in the local fashion industry, but he has thrown himself into the task of improving Portland's viability as a hub for fashion design. Dude has a ton of energy and what they call "get up and go," and is persistently bending the ears of the right people in Portland's fashion and economic spheres, so it's no wonder he wound up on last night's panel of speakers.
MOD writer Tobias Robboy has a good recap of the discussion and reiterates some of the reasons I am always haranguing you about local fashion. It's not just because I like shoes and pretty colors.
If our fashion scene is ever going to have major influence on the industry as a whole, it needs to become more lucrative and visible on an international level. Most fashion companies outside our Pacific NW bubble will churn out shitty T-shirts mass-produced in China, but use organic cotton and call it "green." In Portland we have a large pool of talented designers who are coming up with serious solutions to the environmental and ethical problems posed by the industry, and absorbing the costs to see them through. These are the people who deserve financial gain and global recognition, not the assholes behind The Gap and H&M.
This video gets to the heart of everything that's right and wrong with Portland. SO! It's time for you to make a choice. Watch this video and decide: Do you condemn Portland... or will you allow it?
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