Archive for June, 2008

Moped, Moped?

Photo by Rich Oskin

As gas prices are rising local Portlanders are looking for alternate means of commuting around town. Bicycles are a number one as far as this city goes (we all know that!). But have you noticed more mopeds on the road? We’re talking small motorized engines with pedals here–not scooters! I certainly have.

According to founder and co-owner Patrick Fitzgibbons, local scooter shop P-Town Scooters has been selling new Tomos mopeds by the half dozen load every week. Portland Craigslist has been popping up quite a few vintage ones as well.

In my personal opinion, it’s a great thing that more people are hopping out of their cars and riding mopeds. They are efficient little machines that get about 100 miles per gallon. The vintage mopeds can be a bit of a pain with how much you have to repair the aging parts and mechanisms but so worth it once you get it running.

Now–for full disclosure–I am a part of the local moped gang Puddle Cutters, a part of the national Moped Army. Much like the local bicycle culture, we have our own scene. What is amazing beyond the transportation issue is that Portland produces such unique subcultures such as this one.

The Puddle cutters are having our annual rally this weekend, Hold My Beer, This is Going to be Awesome. We are raffling off a brand new Tomos moped with the generosity of P-Town Scooters. Raffle is this Sunday at Plan B, 5PM. Don’t miss out on the other events, rides, and parties either!

A Couple of Minor Bones to Pick With Willamette Week

Lest you get the wrong idea, I’m a big fan of Willamette Week. I read it religiously, and think they do a bang-up job when it comes to investigative journalism, and getting the news out about the various things that happen in our fair city in any given week. That said, I’ve read some stuff lately that’s raised a minor hackle.

First, this article. Specifically, the sentence “So, yuppies who can afford a $22,000 new Prius get a tax giveaway. Meanwhile, the poor get squeezed—even though their daily commute is cleaner.” The author seems to be attempting to make the following points – one, that no tax credit should be given for those who buy hybrids (fuel savings should be incentive enough), and two, that he or she seems to believe that only yuppies can afford them, and therefore don’t deserve the tax credit. Well, if it’s true that only yuppies can afford to buy hybrids, then shouldn’t we keep the tax credit to help non-yuppies afford such a vehicle? Maybe there’s something I’m not getting here. Or maybe I’m just not understanding why a vehicle with an entry point of $22,000 (which is fairly low as far as new cars go) is so exclusive as to be available only to yuppies. Further, I think that we still need to do everything we can to promote alternatives to gas-guzzlers, and that the tax break should remain intact. Finally, of all the people I know that own hybrids, none of them would qualify as anything you could remotely call “yuppie”.

Anyway, I thought that particular angle was a bit Larson-esque – strange from such a normally progressive paper.

One other gripe was in the “Finder” – a glossy, IKEA-catalog looking thing that you can find at a number of locations city-wide. This “Willamette Week’s Guide to Portland” has some pretty good stuff in it. There’s a breakdown of the city neighborhood-by-neighborhood which is a great read, and made me proud of the town we call home. However, there was one article “Breeders and Beer” which gave me pause. The article listed a number of local joints where you could drink beer AND take your kids. The article then goes on to rate each establishment by “Supervision level”, ranging from “Toddlers need to be watched” to “Little needed”. Rogue Ales Public House on Flanders is rated as “some supervision needed”. Parents, your local pub is NOT a nursery. It’s true that the Laurelhurst has a playroom – but it’s still not a nursery. You need to watch your kids. And more than “some” supervision is needed in places like the Rogue. While it’s true your child is not likely to be abducted, it’s more than a little annoying (and dangerous for the serving staff) to see little Johnny running up and down the aisles while grown-ups are trying to unwind after work. Even at a place like the Laurelhurst, your kids are going to need more than just a little supervision.

Cops on Film

Earlier today we watched from our office windows as a parade of policeman clad in what appeared to be full SWAT gear assemble on the roof of the parking garage at 2nd & Jefferson. In the center of the roof is a helipad – that doesn’t appear to get much, if any, use any more. One by one they climbed the stairs and over the railing to the center of the helipad. A few even brought their canine cops with ’em.

It was pretty early in the morning, and none of us had enough coffee yet – so my office was fascinated with the procession. Then they all move to the center of the pad in a very orderly fashion and we see a guy with a camera and a ladder. It was photo shoot time! Maybe it was the lack of caffiene, but a bunch of cops lining up for a class picture just cracked us all up.

Do you think they smiled or did they have their serious faces on?
Do you take class pictures at your job?

Where does the good go?

So I’ve been staying at a friend’s place whilst I find a) a job and b) a place to call my own (our own… I’m willing to share with the boyo, I suppose…)

It’s a nice little neighborhood that’s generally quiet, or so I have to assume.

How do I put this?

So I lived in the city of Long Beach in California right on Ocean Blvd. (so chosen for being right at the end of the route of the pride parade) Since we were right on a major street in downtown LB, it never surprised me when the drunks passed by at 3 in the morning, or the random screamer came by letting all the world know exactly what was on his or her mind… nor if there were fights right below the window. It was, of course, the LBC (just ask Snoop!).

That sort of thing here where I’m staying, however, seems out of place. Not so much because it happens on the street here in this seemingly quiet little area, but because it’s all coming from certain someones in this very building. So, while the rest of the street is nice and quiet… there have been things going on here… in this building, putting it out of sorts with the rest of the street… not to mention scaring the hell out of us!

I was reminded of a post that dieselboy posted about incidents on the MAX. There’s all sorts of shenanigans coming from certain someones in this building and it’s pretty obvious that things could go wrong at any minute… and yet none of the neighbors call the police, ask if my friend is ok in her unit, or say one damn thing to the authorities/landlord/anyone. Are they just waiting for things to go too far? What needs to happen before someone gets involved? Could it be that people are so used to their peace and quiet that, unless their peace is specifically interrupted, they don’t want to interfere in case it shatters their own little bubble?

I guess… I guess this was the sort of thing I expected living in the LBC, but never expected here in Portland. Well, at least not in this neighborhood.

Plan B – Meetup TONIGHT!

Don’t forget to come down to Plan B (SE 8th & Main) tonight around 5:30ish to ??? and chat with your fellow Portlanders. We’ll get a chance to meet some of our new folks – and maybe even some of our friends at Our PDX Network (welcome to the Portland blogosphere – we’re loving it!) will come out and say hello and catch us up on their new endeavor.

The sun is shining, the patio is beckoning, and so are the bacon wrapped kosher dogs and ‘The Lemmy’ (vodka, lemonade, and raspberry liqueur.)

See you tonight!

Phonebooks down, FoodDay to go

A little while back I posted about the phone books that appear on our doorsteps several times a year. At the time we couldn’t find any way to stop their delivery – but now going to will end that extra pile of wasted paper coming to your home. Hooray!

Now we just need to get the Oregonian to stop tossing FoodDay on our doorsteps each week whether we’re subscribers or not. I thought maybe by leaving them in a pile for a month they’d just stop – but instead, my front walk just looks a bit whiskey-tango.

Or maybe when I get my new recycling roll-cart I can just leave one of the old yellow bins out there and they’ll drop straight in for me! (And stop with the plastic wrap in the dry months!!)

North American Organic Brewer’s Festival – This Weekend

One of the many things that makes Portland great is fondness for beer, and the many festivals we have to celebrate it. In a single year, we’ve got the Holiday Ale Fest, the Spring Brewer’s Fest, the International Beer Fest, and the biggie – the Oregon Brewer’s Festival. Add to this the mighty Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel and a number of smaller fests and, well, it’s enough to make a beer lover proud to call it home.

Now in its fourth year, the North American Organic Brewfest is returning to Overlook Park in North Portland this weekend. The weather is going to be sunny, and there is easy MAX access, so there’s no reason for you to not come out and enjoy some fantastic beer. The list of brewers is impressive, and is presented by Roots Organic Brewing, one of my favorite local brewers. Me? I’m looking forward to sampling the locals, plus trying the Pinkus UR Pils from Germany, and the Sarah Buckwheat Ale from Belgium.

So what’s the difference between organic beer and regular beer, you ask? Well, according to the O Mama Report, “the ingredients must be grown without toxic and persistant pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and in soil that has been free from such chemicals for at least 3 years. No genetically modified (GMO) ingredients can be used in the brewing process. Studies show that organic farming reduces erosion and ground-water pollution and that it significantly reduces the impact on wildlife.”

Good beer, fantastic sunny day, a good cause. What’s not to love?

Sunday Parkways

Now that summer is here, it’s time to start getting out and walking these fine Portland streets. I hopped on the Yellow Line to go check out the big Sunday Parkways shindig up in North Portland. I gotta say, it was awesome. The idea is to remind everyone just how walkable and bikeable Portland is by largely shutting down a section of it to vehicular traffic, and allow people to walk and cycle around without cars.

In order to fuel myself for the walk, I enjoyed some extra hot and spicy peanut wings at the Interstate location of Fire on the Mountain. Once my insides were properly spiced and greased, it was time to hustle. I walked a fairly large swath of NoPo streets, just enjoying seeing so many people out and about. At first I had on earbuds, listening to my Sirius Stiletto (an awesome little gadget). I took them off for a moment and noticed something odd. The sound of no traffic. It was quite strange, walking down North Portland streets and not hearing the familiar “whoosh…whoosh…” of passing cars. I decided to keep the earbuds off.

It really was a great time. People (and their canine companions) of all types were out on their bikes and feet. It’s something I’d really like Portland to do more often. Maybe in SE next time?

Les San Culottes Stole The Show

So I’m a little late on this, then I had a computer crash issue and yadda yadda yadda – but it’s been in my head since leaving the Doug Fir on Monday night and I have to get it out!

My husband and I headed over there to see The Detroit Cobras – a fantastic garage soul band. They were one of the first bands he introduced to me when we first started dating an I’ve been a big fan ever since.

I’d never heard of the opening act, Les Sans Culottes, but they sounded interesting so we had a few drinks on the patio then headed downstairs to check them out. According to their website they’ve been together since 2001, but have primarily played in the NYC and LA areas, so they didn’t really have a fan base here. The crowd did the typical Portland thing and stood back, watching arms folded. The stage was full – seven members of the band – but they filled it even more with their stage presence. Most of the songs were sung in French – including versions of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and “My Sharona” – and when they spoke they used French accents – despite being from Brooklyn – and by the time they finished playing, the floor was full and booties were shakin’!

When The Detroit Cobras took the stage, the first words out of lead singer, Rachel Nagy’s mouth were, “Let’s get this over with so we can drink.” My heart sank. The last time I’d seen them they were less than stellar – but I’d seen them many times before and they were great. Their new album is really good, so I was hoping that last time was just a bad night. Now I wasn’t so sure. The sounded good – but just very well rehearsed with little enthusiasm. They could have been playing in the studio instead of in front of several hundred eager fans. As the night progressed, they did liven up – and it turned out to be a really good night. But Les Sans Culottes absolutely stole the show. Even when the Detroit Cobras were playing, the bass player and one of the female singers from Les Sans Culottes rushed to the front of the crowd and just started dancing their asses off – and looked like they were having more fun than the Cobras.

Please – Les Sans Culottes – come back to Portland again soon!

This town is not a dry one, that’s for sure…

Hi… I’m new here.

No I mean…really! I just moved here on Sunday… the boyo’s family needed him home and so did his best friend, so I transplanted… for love! (kinda makes you cry, doesn’t it?)

So here I sit at 15th and Broadway in NE looking for work, WiFi and some inspiration.
Ok… that’s something I’d never see in Long Beach… a man with a record (yay for vinyl!) just rode by on a unicycle. First because I don’t know many people who still buy vinyl (myself excluded) and I know only ONE person who can ride a unicycle. I think I’m gonna like it here! – Or – My God! This house is freakin’ sweet!
You know, whichever way you remember it…

One thing I’ve noticed is that pub life, or rather bar life… is much more prevalent here than in LA. Of course, that might be because, unless you live in an area where you can walk to a bar, you’re driving… which… well, is not conducive to drinking. So far I’ve been to a couple of bars for meet-ups and happy hours as well and I’ve found those times to be much like my times in London. I like it in that it’s very relaxed and friendly like.

I’ve also found that the sport watching events are not limited to the major ones here. Monday, for instance, I walked into a bar (no joke!) to find people glued to the set for… golf! Yes, it was the US open, but seriously, short of football, basketball or baseball, I’ve not seen this since … well, a darts tournament that happened to be on the TV at the same time I was at this pub in London.
It’s good to have options.

Could it be that people actually drink more here? Is it the beer? Do most places in the city have such a close proximity to a bar?

Over all, I’m glad to be someplace where I can walk to a bar so far… which was exactly why I picked the last city I lived in, ‘cause those places are few and far between in LA. There’s just something very… laid back in such an atmosphere, in my opinion, and I dig it.

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