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VOL 47/04 11.18.2020

NEWS: Shop 'til you drop. P. 9 MEDIA: Static at XRAY.FM. P. 10 EAT: República rejects the

"street food" label. P. 22

WILLAMETTE WEEK PORTLAND’S NEWSWEEKLY

DINING dashed PORTLAND'S RESTAURANTS WERE HANGING ON BY A THREAD. WHAT WILL THEY DO IN A HOLIDAY FREEZE? PAGE 11


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Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com


FINDINGS CHRISTINE DONG

NANBAN, PAGE 14

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM READING THIS WEEK’S PAPER VOL. 47, ISSUE 4 Portland-area intensive care beds are 85% full. 7

Naomi Pomeroy may never open another restaurant. 15

Oregon created a perverse incentive for Washington shoppers to crowd Cascade Station on Black Friday. 9

During the spring COVID-19 lockdown, there was a run on crowlers.

An auditor found XRAY.FM faced “significant legal risk” from how it paid its station managers. 10 From March to April, the state’s hospitality industry lost 30 years’ worth of economic growth. 11 One of the most popular dishes at pop-up Oma’s Takeaway was a tribute to KFC’s Famous Bowl. 12 When your restaurant empire crumbles, you walk around the house in pajamas for a couple of months. 13 While developing the takeout menu for Nanban, the owner put the dishes through an “angry

VIRTUAL PORTLAND MAINSTAGE Saturday, December 5, 2020 7:00 p.m. PST | $15

16

Now is the perfect time to play chess by mail. 20 A new restaurant is selling “paste,” a Mexican version of a Cornish pasty. 22

TICKETS AT: literary-arts.org

A Portland beverage company is making collard green kombucha and pickle juice gose. 23 The French translation for “bike water bottle” is apparently controversial. 26 You might be able to book a private theater at the Living Room for as little as $30. 28

driver test.” 14

ON THE COVER:

OUR MOST TRAFFICKED STORY ONLINE THIS WEEK:

The Pisha-Dufflys of Oma’s Takeaway, photo by Christine Dong.

The governor imposed a “freeze” on Oregon, restricting bars and restaurants to takeout service.

MASTHEAD EDITOR & PUBLISHER

Mark Zusman

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DIALOGUE Last week, WW told the story of Larry Muzzy, one of the first teenagers sent to prison under Oregon’s Measure 11. In 1997, when he was 17, Muzzy was sentenced to 90 months in prison for first-degree robbery. A year earlier, Muzzy had turned himself in to Gresham police for standing alongside a friend who pulled a knife on a man and took his wallet. Measure 11, passed in 1994, removed the discretion of judges when sentencing defendants 15 and up convicted of crimes like robbery. Lawmakers have for years worked to soften it. Muzzy, now a 40-year-old father of two, has struggled to start a career due to the felony he was convicted of as a teenager, and is considering applying for clemency from Gov. Kate Brown. Here’s what our readers had to say:

Tommyspoon via wweek.com: “Are there no second chances for ordinary people? Justice is not justice without mercy. Sixty-four percent [the percentage of Oregon voters who voted for Measure 11] of a group of people can still be wrong.”

Seems2Me via wweek.com: “Sad to say the only unique thing about this story is how people went to bat for this young man. The rest of it, the police overcharging, the judge apologizing because there’s no allowance for judicial discretion, the months of terror, and waste on the taxpayers’ dime, the lives destroyed. Measure 11 ruins lives.”

Tristan LeFever via Facebook: “The will of the voters in 1994 is not likely aligned with the will of the voters today. I say let’s bring it up for a vote again.”

David Collins via Facebook: “Measure 11 has affected so many of us in this state, myself included. I am beyond grateful to have been focused enough to bounce back, but the impact that law has had on my life dogged me for years after all my time was served. It’s time to change.” Helen Kennedy via Facebook: “I hope someone in a position to offer him a good job reads this.” Ashley Maginnis via Facebook: “The people who vote for these ‘tough on crime’ laws just don’t understand the human impact they have. The saddest part is that so many of these laws don’t reduce crime. They only increase consequence and suffering. Who does that help?”

Dr. Know

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

Frank Franklin via wweek.com: “Maybe when one person wrongs another person, perhaps we don’t need thousands of people who played no role whatsoever in the crime sitting around, frantically shoving their 2 cents of monotonous ramblings and self-proclaimed ‘expert advice’ on criminal law and punishment. How about we let the accused and the victim do their thing in court, while we mind our own business, and then when it’s all over the judge (who actually is qualified to have any kind of say in the matter since none of us really do) will be able to issue a sentence commensurate with the crime in his/her opinion and not be burdened by the tantrums of voters who demand a million-year sentence for jaywalkers because they had their lunch money taken in high school.” LETTERS TO THE EDITOR must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210. Email: mzusman@wweek.com

BY MART Y SMITH @martysmithxxx

I’m increasingly noticing traffic backed up onto I-5 north from long trains blocking egress from the Water Avenue exit. If it’s illegal for our protesters to block a highway, why are these trains allowed to do it? —Waiting Allow me to answer your question on behalf of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company: Because fuck you, that’s why. You think I’m being flip, and I’m sure that it won’t be long before some BNSF flack comes along to remonstrate with me in wounded tones, but hear me out. If you’d asked me this question in 2008—a more innocent time—I likely would have lulled you gently to sleep with Section 741 of the Oregon Administrative Rules, which in those days (foreshadowing!) forbade trains to block grade crossings for more than 10 minutes. Unfortunately, in 2004 the Oregon Deparrtment of Transportation had the temerity to actually levy civil penalties on BNSF for violating this rule. The railroad sued, and in 2009 won a judgment from the Oregon Court of Appeals: Attempts by the states to regulate railroads in this way are preempted by federal law. Don’t blame then-Judge Ellen Rosenblum (now 4

Casey via wweek.com: “Regardless of the specific issue, it’s pretty disappointing to read about a legislator angling to circumvent the will of the citizens, especially after an election in which we were hectored over and over about the importance of voting. If you think the law should be overturned, make the case to the people, don’t do an end around in the Legislature. If voting really matters and is important, prove it.”

Oregon’s attorney general) for this—and not just because she’s married to WW’s longtime publisher. The federal law is pretty clear; scads of other states’ similar laws have been struck down in the same way. But don’t despair! Next time you’re stuck at a crossing for an hour, just call the local Federal Railroad Administration office at 800-724-5998—they’ll be happy to forward your complaint to state authorities. You know, the same state authorities who have no power to regulate the railroads. Which of the fingers on my right hand does this most remind you of? In fairness to BNSF, they didn’t create this situation. They’re merely taking advantage of a circumstance that operates in their favor, like the hero of an ineptly scripted porno whose stepsister somehow gets her head stuck in the dryer. It’s also worth mentioning that all railroads enjoy these privileges. I’ve singled out BNSF because, as it happens, they’re the ones who sued us, successfully, for the right to ignore Oregon’s puny “laws.” If you really want to solve this problem, though, it’s easy—all you have to do is convince Congress to act. (And if that’s not a “fuck you,” I don’t know what is.) QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.


Pink Martini Cabaret with China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale Wayne Horvitz’ The Royal We

FEB 18-27, 2021 PORTLAND, OR

Marcus Shelby Quartet “Black Music and Freedom” featuring Tiffany Austin, Darrell Grant and Carlton Jackson Cyrus Nabipoor

Harold Lopez Nussa “Live from Havana”

Saeeda Wright, Alonzo Chadwick & Arietta Ward

Judith Hill

PDX Jazz All-Star Pandemic Big Band

Brian Jackson “The Gil Scott Heron Songbook” with greaterkind

“The American Refrain: Jazz and Modern Music” featuring Noah Simpson

Teodross Avery Quartet “Harlem Stories: The Music of Thelonius Monk”

Additional events to be announced!

JAZZ FILMS “Herb Alpert Is …” & “Buster Williams Bass to Infinity”

Tickets @ pdxjazz.com

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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MURMURS ALEX WITTWER

BUDGET BLUES AT DEVELOPMENT AGENCY: Kimberly Branam, executive director of the city’s economic development agency Prosper Portland, this week abruptly postponed a long-term budget presentation to the agency’s board set for Nov. 18. Prosper Portland has delivered megadeals for the city in the past, including redevelopment of the Pearl District and South Waterfront. It’s now in the process of converting the former U.S. Post Office in Northwest Portland and surrounding properties into the Broadway Corridor. But in the presentation scheduled Wednesday, the agency was set to describe a dismal future due to expected fallout from COVID-19—budgets 30% to 70% below its target of $30 million, stretching for the next decade. That could dramatically reduce the city’s ability to engage in big developments. An agency spokesman says Branam delayed the presentation and will refine the numbers and bring them back in January. A HOUSE DIVIDED: In a move that could split the Democratic caucus in the Oregon House of Representatives, Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) is taking her bid to become the next speaker of the House to a floor vote. Calling for a break with precedent, Bynum says she wants a public vote rather than allowing the position to be filled in a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting. “For too long, old ‘traditions’ and ‘customs’ have prevented people who don’t come from traditional political backgrounds or communities of color from successfully challenging the status quo and leading with their truth,” Bynum says. On Nov. 16, Kotek, who ran unopposed, received the nomination of a majority of her caucus but not the 31-vote majority necessary to be elected on the floor without a challenge. For Bynum to win, she will have to cut a deal with at least 23 Republican members of the House and convince at least seven Democrats to vote against Kotek. In a statement, Kotek, who became House speaker in 2013, argued for experienced leadership: “As we head into the 2021 session, we are facing a global pandemic, high unemployment, a billion-dollar budget hole, an expensive wildfire recovery, a severe housing shortage, and the everyday harm of systemic racism. All of these crises require urgent action and experienced leadership.” 6

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

FACEBOOK SECURITY FIRM BUSTED: G4S Secure Solutions, a Florida-based contractor that provides security guards at Facebook’s facilities in Prineville, agreed this week to pay five current and former employees a total of $595,000 for racial discrimination on the job. All five are Hispanic. In complaints filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, the five alleged that beginning in 2017, they were treated differently and worse than white guards because of their ethnicity, demoted and assigned unfair schedules, and often referred to as the “Mexican Mafia.” In addition to the monetary settlement, G4S agreed to improve its training and harassment policies. “The actions of the former supervisors are not representative of the hard-working men and women of G4S,” the company said in a statement. “It’s illegal to be treated differently or subjected to harassment because of your race, sex or national origin,” Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle said. “Five Oregonians have received justice for the discrimination they experienced.” DOJ CRACKS DOWN ON COVID SCAMS: The Oregon Department of Justice announced Nov. 17 it had agreed to monetary settlements with four local businesses accused of price gouging and scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. The settlements ranged from $12,500 to $21,500, with the largest amount paid by the convenience store chain Plaid Pantry for selling 9,000 four-packs of face masks marked up to “unconscionably excessive prices.” The DOJ also reached settlements with two businesses that made unfounded product claims related to COVID-19, including a company called Live Your Colour Inc., which claimed its silk socks could protect against the virus, and a Bend skin care company called Sher Ray that advertised an aromatherapy diffuser blend, “Respiratory Remedy,” as a possible cure for COVID-19. “As Oregonians continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, these actions are a reminder that as your AG, I will not tolerate price gouging and other unconscionable trade practices,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Tuesday. (Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to the co-owner of WW’s parent company.)


HOT SPOT

WESLEY LAPOINTE

WESLEY LAPOINTE

NEWS

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEK

WHERE WE’RE AT

No Beds Left Oregon hospitals are nearly full already and COVID is getting worse. BY NIG E L JAQ UI SS

njaquiss@wweek.com

Oregonians may be wondering why Gov. Kate Brown is shutting the state down again today, a week before Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday shopping season, when retailers and restaurants typically make most of their money. One chart tells the story: Oregon hospital beds are rapidly approaching capacity. On Oct. 21, the number of Oregonians hospitalized for COVID -19 stood at 121. By Nov. 17, that number had risen to 378, a 212% increase. Over the same time period, the number of Oregonians occupying intensive care unit beds jumped from 38 to 96, an increase of 153%. Oregon has the lowest number of hospital beds per 1,000 residents in the nation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and a lower number of ICU beds per capita than all but nine states. As of WW’s press deadline, 561 of the state’s 697 adult ICU beds were full, or 80%. (The totals include non-COVID patients, as well.) In Region 1 of the state—the Portland metro area—286 of the 335 ICU beds available were full. That’s 85%. “We are not aware of any other time that hospitals around Oregon have faced this sort of capacity pressure,” says OHA spokesman Tim Heider.

As Brown and a team of experts, including the state’s top public health officer, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, and Oregon Health & Science University chief medical officer Dr. Renee Edwards, said last week, full capacity is right around the corner. “COVID is raging across Oregon,” Sidelinger said. Last week’s count of new cases, the highest ever, exceeded the previous week’s record by 46%. And, Sidelinger noted, it usually takes a couple of weeks for COVID patients to become ill enough to need hospitalization. That means the massive number of new cases in the past week is not reflected in the current hospitalization numbers. “We have four ICUs at OHSU,” Edwards said. “All of them are operating at 90% or more of capacity.” That’s why Gov. Brown is ordering Oregonians to limit in-home gatherings to six or fewer people and sharply curtailing public gathering spots. Will it be enough to keep hospitals—which still need beds for heart attacks, car crash victims and surgeries— from overflowing? That depends on Oregonians’ self-discipline. “We are about to face the roughest days of the pandemic,” Brown said. “We must take further measures to flatten the curve now.”

OREGON’S HOSPITALIZATION TRENDS BY SEVERITY

COVID-positive patients COVID-positive patients in ICU beds

Source: Oregon Health Authority

WINDOW SHOPPING: Powell’s and other retailers have limited their capacity during the pandemic.

COVID’s Wager

Academics calculate the risk of running into someone with COVID-19 in a Portland crowd. As case counts continue to climb, Portlanders face a significant risk of running into someone with COVID-19. Professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with researchers at the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University, have put an exact number on it—to help individuals and policymakers assess risk. The academics developed a tool that indicates how likely it is to run into a person with COVID-19 at a gathering, depending on crowd size. (An article documenting the analysis and the assumptions appeared earlier this month in the science journal Nature.) The model assumes that for every official case of COVID-19, 10 more go undiagnosed. Right now in Multnomah County, Gov. Kate Brown has capped the number of people who can gather for an indoor church service at 25. What’s the risk of running into an infected person among such a flock? It’s not good—and the odds are getting worse. Using the model, we compared the risk of encountering a COVID-carrying person in a Portland crowd of 25 with that in 10 other similarly sized cities. RACHEL MONAHAN.

What are the chances that someone in a crowd of 25 people has COVID-19?

91% SALT LAKE CITY 87% DENVER 86% MINNEAPOLIS 66% MIAMI 49% PORTLAND 41% SEATTLE 39% ATLANTA 30% PORTLAND, ME 29% AUSTIN 22% SAN FRANCISCO 18% BURLINGTON, VT

COVID-positive patients on ventilators Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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NEWS

Robyn Burek The new director of Portland Street Response explains what’s taking so long. On Nov. 12, Portland Fire & Rescue named a bureau management analyst, Robyn Burek, to lead Portland Street Response, the much-anticipated new city program aimed at dispatching a non-police response to certain 911 calls. The City Council approved a pilot program in November 2019, based in part on the example of the nationally lauded Eugene nonprofit CAHOOTS. That organization responded to nearly 19,000 calls in 2019—calls police would have otherwise taken. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who championed Portland Street Response, along with Mayor Ted Wheeler, wants to reduce the interaction between police and people who may be suffering from mental illness or homelessness but aren’t committing a crime. “The majority over the past five years would never have been arrested if not for being houseless or mentally ill,” Hardesty says. “That’s got to stop.” The fire bureau expects to roll out the program in the first quarter of 2021, deploying an EMT, a licensed mental health therapist, and a community health worker. That team, unarmed, will roll in two vehicles based in Lents, with an additional three-person team slated to follow a few months later to cover nights and weekends. No city initiative in recent years has as much riding on it as PSR. In June, when Hardesty convinced her colleagues to cut an additional $15 million from the Portland Police Bureau’s budget, the City Council directed a third of that total to Portland Street Response. It is the most concrete example of rethinking the traditional approach of sending cops or a fire engine to every 911 call—and the simmering demands for police reform have raised expectations for PSR sky high. Burek, 40, a licensed family therapist with an MBA, brings experience in mental health, business and government to a position that will demand a variety of skills. Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity. NIGEL JAQUISS. WW: Council approved PSR a year ago. Why is it still not up and running? Robyn Burek: When the pandemic hit, the city went into a hiring freeze. HR basically simply said we’re not going to be able to create our staff any positions, unless it’s for COVID response. So everything kind of had to pause from about March to June. The second part of that is that when you are standing a new program, there are a lot of pieces, like labor negotiations, drafting contracts for training, and program evaluation. We also needed to figure a new charting system to record calls, create new position descriptions, and figure out how to train people. What challenges do you still face to get up and running? Right now, the Bureau of Emergency Communications [which runs the 911 response system] has got their preliminary list of screening questions they’ve put together and they’re training everybody. Part of our pilot year will be communicating with BOEC about how these call types are getting triaged, and whether they’re the right calls for us to be going on.

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Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

COURTESY OF PORTLAND FIRE AND RESCUE

THREE QUESTIONS FOR

STREET RESPONDER: Robyn Burek will change how Portland handles 911 calls.

This is why we’re not going out citywide at once. It’s really important for us to get this right, the types of calls that we’re getting dispatched to. At the heart of this program, it’s about sending the right response. Initially, we were thinking we wouldn’t transport anybody [from a scene]. But as we talk to more and more cities, we’ve learned transport is definitely a big piece of what they do. So we have to figure that out. We’ve been working on kind of a system map of figuring out, OK, if this happens, then who are the other service providers that we could connect that person to, how do we make those referrals and those connections with other agencies that can provide wraparound care and treatment? What you learned from CAHOOTS in Eugene? Tremain [Clayton, the EMT assigned to PSR] actually just went and shadowed with CAHOOTS a couple of weeks ago. One of the things that he came back talking about was the number of high utilizers that CAHOOTS ends up responding to. We currently experience that with fire and police here. We’ll need to figure out if we refer people for wraparound services from outside partners or try to help them ourselves. The other thing that was really interesting is, CAHOOTS is still having really long wait times. In some cases, [there’s] a five-hour wait time between getting to a call. Because unlike traditional first-responder calls, where you arrive on scene as quickly as possible, and then you leave it quickly as possible so that you can be available for other calls, we’re going to be operating differently. We’re actually going to be taking our time with individuals to make sure that this situation is fully deescalated and that person is taken care of the fullest extent. Part of the pilot program will be determining what is an acceptable response time. I’m one of those people that loves to create something out of nothing. I feel just full of optimism.

BLACK AND WHITE IN OREGON

Who Gets Cavities? Disparities in dental care may be growing, thanks to school shutdowns.

THE WHOLE TOOTH: Dental clinics reopened this summer after COVID-19 closures.

Advocates say Oregon’s children are facing an oral health crisis. Children of color are among those hit hardest—and the COVID-19 pandemic is making the disparity worse. Jenifer Wagley, executive director of child advocacy nonprofit Our Children Oregon, says racial demographic data collected on oral health is limited in the state, but the data that is available shows children of color are at higher risk of getting cavities. “When you look at the racial demographics of it, we know who’s affected: Low-income children, kids of color and kids in rural communities are the most impacted,” Wagley says. “If you look at income, 68% of children living in lower-income communities have tooth decay compared to 44% of those in higher-income areas.” White children between the ages of 6 and 9 had fewer cavities and less untreated tooth decay than any other racial demographic, according to a 2019 Oregon Health Authority survey. Black children ages 18 and under enrolled in Medicaid in 2018 had the lowest access to preventative services and the highest rate of ER visits for avoidable dental problems. Cavities are entirely preventable and treatable. And compared to many of the racial disparities in this state, they may seem minor. But with lack of access to care or oral health education, a simple cavity can become a grave problem. The leading cause of absenteeism from school is dental pain, Wagley says. Untreated cavities can impact a child’s quality of life, causing pain that prevents them from being able to eat, sleep or concentrate in school. WW reported previously in this series that Black Oregonians face higher rates of poverty than white Oregonians, and lower income and a preventable dental emergency can put families in debt, she says. Wagley believes oral health has worsened since schools shut down in March due to COVID-19 because school-based care was how many children were getting treatment. “We’re really concerned because we know primary care is down, so we can assume oral health is slipping as well,” Wagley says. “If part of the solution is schoolbased services, how are kids going to get what they need?” LATISHA JENSEN.


NEWS UNSPLASH

Doorbusters The governor canceled Thanksgiving. Why not Black Friday? BY TE SS R I SK I

tess@wweek.com

Large Thanksgiving celebrations are canceled in Oregon. But in-person shopping on Black Friday, the busiest retail day of the year, will carry on virtually unabated in one of the few states with no sales tax. Gov. Kate Brown invoked her emergency authority Nov. 13 to threaten criminal sanctions against those who gather in groups larger than six in private homes between Nov. 18 and Dec. 2, effectively prohibiting Thanksgiving Day gatherings statewide. That’s a measure that health experts say can save lives and free up increasingly scarce hospital beds. It’s the next day, however, that may be cause for concern. Per Brown’s executive orders, in-person retail can remain open during her two-to-four-week “freeze.” The one caveat is that retailers must limit in-store capacity to 75% in an effort to increase social distancing and, ultimately, mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. An expert on indoor air quality is skeptical whether that’s enough. “We are in an infection inferno that will only grow for the next six weeks or more,” says Richard Corsi, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University. “Bringing people together during Black Friday or any other time is just pouring fuel on the fire.” Oregon business groups, ravaged by the pandemic, lobbied hard for the governor to limit restrictions before her Nov. 13 announcement. They were partly successful: The governor arrived at the 75% store capacity after communicating with Oregon Business & Industry. “We appreciate that Gov. Brown worked with us on the retail capacity issue before she announced the restrictions,” says Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for

OBI. “While capacity limitations have been a challenge, especially for our small businesses with small spaces, we’re hearing from our members that the 75% limitation is probably workable this season.” Liz Merah, a spokeswoman for the governor, says the state looked at “a variety of capacity limits for indoor and outdoor retail” ranging from 25% to 75%. “After receiving feedback from stakeholders and health experts,” Merah says, “we opted for a single retail capacity limit of 75% with health and safety protocols in place for all retail, so that a uniform standard could be implemented and enforced.” Neighboring states took more drastic swipes at brickand-mortar stores: Washington state and almost all of California reduced in-store capacities to 25%. Brown’s office says she did enough to protect shoppers’ safety. “When implementing our health and safety measures, we have had to balance the need to limit the amount of people who come into contact with each other with the need for businesses to stay open,” says Merah. “The twoweek freeze measures allow retail to keep operating safely (but at a reduced capacity) and, along with the other freeze restrictions, model the changes we need Oregonians to make in limiting physical contact with others.” But experts say Oregon’s modest reduction in retail capacity might be insufficient to reduce the spread of the virus on Black Friday. In March, when most states first imposed stay-home orders, little was known about how the coronavirus is spread and transmitted. Now, however, health experts understand that the virus “aerosolizes,” which means moisture particles containing the virus hang in the air for up to three hours after an infected person exhales, coughs, talks or sneezes, according to a Harvard study released last week.

“With aerosols indoors, there’s no such thing as a safe distance,” says Chunhuei Chi, director of the Center for Global Health at Oregon State University. “We are at a very high risk, even independent from the holiday. Given that we are at a very high level of new cases, that means the virus’s presence is everywhere.” Washington state officials say they lowered indoor retail capacity so significantly because it is one of the major risk factors. “We know that a primary risk factor for spreading the virus is contact with an infected person in indoor spaces,” says Franji Mayes, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Health. Chi says Oregon businesses can elect on their own to reduce their store capacities to 25%, too, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. “I know there will be people who still want to shop,” Chi says. “Personally, I would not shop on Black Friday.” An important comparison: Oregon is just one of five states that do not charge a sales tax. Washington, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, has the nation’s fourth-highest combined sales tax, at 9.17%; California has the nation’s ninth-highest, 8.56%. That makes Oregon a relative shoppers’ paradise. Stores in the Portland metro region could see increased shoppers hailing from Washington state on Black Friday, especially at Jantzen Beach and Cascade Station shopping centers, says Josh Lehner, an Oregon state economist. “I think for a lot of stores, 75% capacity isn’t really a big deal. [With] 25% capacity in Washington, plus the sales tax, you would think that would push potentially more customers into the Oregon stores,” Lehner says. “Oregon, particularly in the Portland region and through the Gorge, we [already] have more stores and larger sales in retail because of the border effect with Washington.” Lehner also noted that spending during the pandemic has been higher than anticipated. “Income is up and so spending is doing much better than feared,” he says. “Holiday spending this year should be fairly strong. It should just be more online and e-commerce-related.” Gov. Brown faces difficult decisions about what activities to curtail amid rapidly spiking COVID -19 numbers. Every industry in the state is pointing fingers, like kids arguing their siblings should be in timeout. If retail was the big winner in the freeze, restaurants were the losers: Brown’s decision to shut down on-premises dining and drinking has the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association howling. But what drew the most attention over the weekend was Brown’s appetite for cracking down on house parties— even as the holiday season approaches. The governor’s office says the Oregon State Police will work with local law enforcement to enforce social gathering rules during the “freeze period.” Violators could face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,250. Those rules would be implemented “in the same way local law enforcement officers respond to noise complaints for loud parties, for example, and issue citations,” says Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor. Local police, however, don’t appear to have plans to raid local households and mass-arrest Portlanders in the middle of dinner. “The goal is not to be breaking down people’s doors at Thanksgiving,” says Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Instead, Middaugh says, the Portland Police Bureau will work on educating the public about the governor’s rules and encourage Portlanders to follow them. “At this point, the direction within the Police Bureau and what the community can expect from us remains unchanged,” says PPB spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen. “Portland police officers will exercise discretion, as they do in all kinds of circumstances, with regard to how they work through issues that may arise in the coming few weeks following the governor’s order.”

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

9


NEWS ALEX WITTWER

SEEING RED: Lillian Karabaic believes Smith should go. “I think very strongly that Jefferson thinks that this organization serves to promote this image and his reputation, and that the people are just a means towards that,” she says.

Bad Signal

Staffers at XRAY.FM allege unprofessional behavior by the station’s executive director, Jefferson Smith. BY S HA N N O N G O R M L E Y

sgormley@wweek.com

For the past six months, the nonprofit radio station XRAY. FM has experienced an exodus from its board. Three directors have resigned, and two more say they are in the process of leaving. On Nov. 2, seven remaining members of the XRAY board called a station meeting. The topic? Concerns about co-founder and executive director Jefferson Smith. Smith, a former state representative, Portland mayoral candidate and founder of the voting nonprofit Oregon Bus Project, didn’t attend. But the meeting concerned accusations he had overseen illegal labor practices and behaved unprofessionally at XRAY. After the meeting, Smith remains the station’s executive director. But the uproar has placed his future in question. On Nov. 17, Smith told WW he is “working with the board on a plan to restructure the organization in a way that contemplates eventual elimination of my current position.” Lillian Karabaic, the station’s former finance manager, quit in June. Jenny Logan, XRAY’s co-founder and board president, quit in September. Both left, they told WW, because of concerns about Smith’s financial management of the station and his conduct. “It’s heartbreaking,” says Logan, a longtime DJ and musician. “XRAY is very close to my heart. It hit really hard for me.” In addition to Karabaic and Logan, WW spoke to four other current and former staff members. Three of the six spoke on the record. All six described Smith bullying and intimidating station employees, especially women. They said he barraged them with after-hours calls and emails when he didn’t agree with their decisions. Each one claimed their job description was vague or functionally nonexistent. All of them felt they were expected to respond to Smith at all hours, including holidays and weekends. Karabaic says the station engaged in bookkeeping so shoddy that some of the station’s six hourly employees didn’t receive minimum wage. She blames Smith for that. Smith declined WW’s interview requests. But in a statement he issued to WW, he said XRAY has never been fined or cited by any oversight agency, and denied that any employee made less than minimum wage. “I’m passionate about the work that I do,” Smith said. “At my best I can simultaneously inspire, motivate, frustrate and burn people out. I never want to cause harm.” XRAY board president Holly Hinson, a neuroscience clinician at Oregon Health & Science University, says the 10

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

board took the allegations against Smith seriously. “[Karabaic] raised numerous points related to the executive director and labor practices within the station, and the board found these points very concerning,” Hinson said in a statement. An outside audit requested by the board found Oct. 2 that XRAY’s payroll was in disarray. “It is not clear that everyone currently classified as contractors meets the legal requirements,” reads the audit obtained by WW. “Currently, nonexempt employees are not tracking their hours worked, resulting in significant legal risk of minimum wage and overtime violations.” XRAY’s challenges are not unusual for small nonprofits, which often struggle financially and are driven by demanding leaders. (XRAY’s revenues were $483,237 last year. Smith’s salary was $45,500.) But the upheaval at XRAY is significant because both the station and Smith have high profiles in Portland. XRAY’s innovative, locally focused music program- ming and heavy emphasis on local politics have made it a critical darling. It’s also significant and because five of the six women that WW spoke to were so alarmed by Smith’s response to being questioned that they quit. When Lillian Karabaic went to work at XRAY as the financial manager at the end of 2019, it seemed an ideal match. Creative and independent, XRAY, 107.1 and 91.1 on the FM dial, captured much of what people love about Portland. The station’s black-and-white bumper stickers adorn cars all over the city. On air, some of Portland’s most revered DJs volunteer to spin eclectic sets at all hours. Karbaic, who also produces a podcast called Oh My Dollar, offering financial advice to artists and nonprofit employees, says she believed in the station’s mission. “It’s important to put a microphone to diverse, progressive voices in Portland,” she says. “XRAY is trying to be the alternative to conservative talk radio.” But Karabaic says she soon found a workplace in financial and organizational disarray. Karabaic claims that each of the station’s six employees—and eight to 12 contractors, depending on the month— were paid a wage that was set verbally and randomly by Smith. Many were making slightly less than the rate Smith promised them. That included Karabaic, who says she got paid $1.50 an hour less than Smith promised. Gregarious, charismatic and well over 6 feet tall, Smith, a Harvard law grad, made a name for himself in Portland when he founded the Bus Project (now called Next Up) in 2001. He later served in the Oregon House of Representatives for two

terms representing District 47 (East Portland), leaving to run for Portland mayor in 2012. Smith lost in the general election to Charlie Hales. He moved to XRAY after that. Smith’s political climb was upended when it was revealed that, while attending the University of Oregon in 1993, he had struck a woman in the face, injuring her badly enough to require stitches, according to a police report. After WW broke the story during Smith’s bid for mayor, Smith showed up at the victim’s home unannounced. In June of this year, Karabaic quit and submitted a letter to the board outlining her objections to Smith. “Because of the lack of clarity in Jefferson’s leadership,” wrote Karabaic, “the documented labor and legal concerns, the opaqueness of finances and communication, and Jefferson’s unprofessional behavior, I think that XRAY and the affiliated stations are being hurt by his role as executive director.” Nine other people working at XRAY—some full time, some contractors—submitted letters about Smith, copies of which WW obtained. “Jefferson Smith is a politician and he knows how to manipulate people for personal gain,” wrote Maria DeLorenzo, the station’s former marketing manager, who quit last March because she felt she couldn’t work at the station and “still maintain a livelihood,” according to her letter. “Throughout the years, I have commiserated with other women at the organization who felt similarly railroaded.” In her letter, contract employee Jennifer Thelander claims that when she suggested Smith give two longtime female staffers more management authority, he responded that he couldn’t because the two women were “babies.” “We have nobody to talk to about Jeff and his constant chaos,” reads Thelander’s letter. “He divides us by calling us individually to keep us on his side and won’t deal with issues publicly, and that’s shady.” In July, the XRAY board voted to place Smith on leave for a little over a month. The intent was to conduct an outside investigation of his conduct, but that investigation was never completed. After he returned, the board hired Cascade Employers Association to conduct a station audit. That audit found legal risk to the station from its payroll practices. “In order to comply with wage and hour laws, employees need to track their actual hours worked each week,” the auditors concluded. “Because none of this is being tracked and there is no clear record of how wages are determined, there is significant risk.” Paying employees less than they have been promised is sometimes called wage theft. Wage theft is a federal crime, punishable by a $1,000 fine and another $10,000 fine for each employee harmed. (The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has received no complaints against XRAY.) Three of XRAY’s remaining board members—Hinson, Maurice Rahming and Erik Noftle—declined to answer questions from WW but said in a statement the station is still working with auditors and “extensively revising the handbook and clarifying designations (e.g., employee vs. contractor, etc.). This will form the basis of lines of accountability and evaluation of wages.” After the Nov. 2 Zoom meeting, Smith sent a rambling all-staff email, alternately accepting responsibility and blaming his critics. “I got tired, and distracted, lonely, and took things for granted,” he wrote. The following week, the board held another Zoom meeting to outline specific reforms—implementing middle management and ensuring that all new hires were given offer letters. This time, Smith attended. Meagan Ruyle, a DJ who was at the meeting, says Smith accused staff members of conspiring against him. “He would say things like, ‘Some of you just want to see me as roadkill,’ as if it were an attack on him,” says Ruyle. Logan, XRAY’s co-founder and former board president, is still processing her decision to resign. “Beyond the sadness and the grieving around it, it was also a huge relief,” she says. “In the midst of everything that was going on in Portland and across the country, it just seemed all the more absurd that we were allowing this kind of behavior to go on.”


THOMAS TEAL

DINING dashed

Portland’s restaurants were hanging on by a thread. What will they do in a holiday freeze? BY AND I P REWI TT

aprewitt@wweek.com

A grand tree will still stand in Pioneer Courthouse Square this winter, but the landscape around it is unrecognizably grim. High-rise office buildings are deserted while their normal inhabitants work remotely. Theaters are locked tight, their marquees blank. Even the hundreds of bulbs that illuminate the underside of the Schnitz’s awning have all been unscrewed—as if to say downtown’s glimmer is gone. And what’s most conspicuously missing: restaurants. Downtown isn’t filled with animated patrons enjoying post-shift drinks or preshow dinners. Instead: blocks of windows with drawn curtains or covered in butcher paper. In one month—from March to April—the state’s leisure and hospitality industry lost 30 years’ worth of economic growth, according to a report by ECONorthwest. Some 55,000 jobs were shed this spring. Only 20,000 of those positions have been restored since the lockdown ended, says the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. Every type of Portland business has been hammered by COVID-19, of course. In September, the Portland Business Alliance hand-counted the number of shuttered storefronts downtown. It found 170 businesses closed—and 20 of them don’t plan to reopen. But restaurants and bars—our communal spaces where it’s not safe to gather—have been hit especially hard. And that was before the governor ordered everyone to bring their meals home in boxes once again. On Nov. 13, Gov. Kate Brown ordered a four-week “freeze” in Multnomah County—including a ban on indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars. It’s fitting that the governor’s announcement fell on Friday the 13th. For Portland’s restaurateurs, it felt like a horror-movie sequel. They’d been here before: in March, when a COVID19 shutdown sent all their customers home. Except this time, spring and summer, with warm temperatures and sun-soaked patios, have been edited out of the picture. Lockdown Part 2 is set in a long, dark winter with soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases spliced in. “We’ve already heard from members if there was going to be another shutdown,” says Greg Astley, ORLA’s director of government affairs, “even a short one like what’s been announced, they would either permanently close their doors—or close their doors until next spring or summer, when hopefully we have a vaccine.” Astley says at least 50 Portland-area bars and restaurants have told him they will call it quits because of the freeze. That adds to the statewide toll of 1,000 establishments that had done the same through September, the last time ORLA received updated figures. A survey the Independent Restaurant Alliance of Oregon shared in a letter from the group to Gov. Brown indicated that “the loss of indoor dining results in a revenue loss on average of 81.75%.”

The new symbol of Portland’s restaurant scene is an empty shed—something improvised to keep a business alive, only to see that backup plan crushed, too. “These structures were almost like the symbol of us solving winter. Like, we’ve figured it out,” says Sara Szymanski, co-owner of Threshold Brewing in Montavilla. She and her husband, Jarek, spent 40 hours and $3,000 building a picnic-table shelter outside their taproom. “And to have it be negated just as the weather is starting to get bad, that was like we’re back at square one.” The weeks leading up to Christmas are normally some of the industry’s busiest, and while no one expected to be hosting banquets or company parties in 2020, plenty of owners were ready to bundle up and serve patrons in fortified tents and sheds through Dec. 25. But if you run a restaurant in Multnomah County, the earliest you’ll have a shot at in-person service is Dec. 17. That’s three of the four prime holiday weeks erased—in a best-case scenario. Vitaly Paley had 90 reservations on the books for Thanksgiving at his eponymous bistro Paley’s Place. “Usually, Thanksgiving has been the biggest day of the year for us, and we’ve been counting on it to kind of stay that way, even through COVID,” says Paley. Now he’s hoping to persuade at least some of those who planned to eat there to take their holiday meal from his kitchen to theirs rather than cancel completely. “I assume some will and some won’t,” he says. “There’s a difference between people wanting to be in the restaurant atmosphere, enjoying the company of other people, and being home alone eating food that they’ve got to reheat themselves.” That’s what’s left: takeout. Every restaurant that survives will do so by serving dishes out a window. As we conducted a survey of what remains of a once-formidable restaurant scene, we found glimmers of hope. This industry is made up of people who are incredibly innovative and remarkably resilient. They will fight to survive. In the following pages, you’ll meet some of them. We spoke to David Machado, who owned five food and drink establishments and lost them all, but still has ideas for how Portland can move forward (page 13). We heard from the husband-and-wife team behind popular Indonesian restaurant Gado Gado who launched a new brick-andmortar takeout joint during the lockdown (page 12). And we found a brewery that actually found a way to expand its operations during a global health crisis—because it turns out in circumstances like these, people want a lot of canned beer (page 16). These are all snapshots taken in the days and weeks leading up to the governor’s most recent round of restrictions. With any luck, they will provide some much-needed inspiration as we hunker down again.

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

11


FROM POP-UP TO PERMANENT FIXTURE CHRISTINE

Gado Gado’s owners made a bet on highend-cuisine-meetsjunk-food Asian fusion during the pandemic. The wager paid off.

DONG

BY SCOU T B R OB ST

UP IN THE AIR: This year has been a wild ride for the Pisha-Dufflys, who temporarily closed Gado Gado, launched a pop-up, and had their first child.

12

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sbrobst@wweek.com

The new decade came out swinging for Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly, co-owners of Gado Gado, the buzzy Indonesian restaurant tucked into the Hollywood District. They welcomed the birth of their daughter, Loretta. They earned their first James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant just a few months after being named Newcomer of the Year in WW’s Restaurant Guide. March looked like it was going to be Gado Gado’s busiest month to date. “And then,” Thomas Pisha-Duffly says, pausing for dramatic effect. “It’s like, and then…everything changed.” On the morning of March 15, the Pisha-Dufflys began their day prepping for dinner service as usual. That afternoon, they could see a closure looming on the horizon. By that evening, it was clear this would be their last day of normal operations. As news about Gov. Kate Brown’s shutdown order swept across the state, small business owners, like the Pisha-Dufflys, had to make decisions at warp speed. The original plan was to remain open in some capacity, but Gado Gado’s menu—rich, thoughtful meals meant to be enjoyed at the table—seemed an awkward fit for the takeout model. “We knew we had to keep making food,” Thomas Pisha-Duffly says. “I don’t know what else to do at a time like that. My go-to is to make food and try to be some sort of beacon of normalcy in a time when everything kind of sucks.” After a couple of weeks of planning, the couple decided to temporarily reopen the restaurant as Oma’s Takeaway, an homage to Thomas’ grandmother—his “Oma”—Kiong Tien Vandenberg, who died earlier this year from COVID19 complications. Instead of creating new versions of Gado Gado’s typical fare, Oma’s Takeaway tapped into the cultural appetite at different moments of the pandemic, phasing its menu

through each collective craving and spike of anxiety. It began with what Thomas Pisha-Duffly calls “stoner food,” fun takes on classic dishes he could elevate with his culinary finesse. An early menu item paid tribute to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s greased-up Famous Bowl, but had a bit more polish by including Indonesian fried chicken, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and a blood sausage gravy with lemongrass and turmeric. It was an instant hit. “That was what people were looking for,” Pisha-Duffly says. “Something less cerebral.” When the quarantine sluggishness kicked in and patrons had sufficiently gorged themselves on comfort food, the dishes changed again, this time to include fresh, bitey salads with vegetables sourced from Side Yard Farm in Cully. As restaurants reopened under Phase 1, the Pisha-Dufflys returned their focus to Gado Gado. The original restaurant would welcome customers again with patio seating, limited reservations, and 6-feet-apart food drops. But Oma’s Takeaway felt destined to live on as its own quirky, pandemic-borne venture. When the bulk of Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok empire had folded in June and the couple later received an offer to launch inside the Whiskey Soda Lounge—the space that used to operate as a waiting room for the flagship—the move felt “fortuitous,” says Mariah Pisha-Duffly. Both Mariah and Thomas Pisha-Duffly worked for Ricker at different points in their careers. Their business partner, Toby Roberts, once served as president for the Thai restaurant group. Taking over the location would be an opportunity to try something new, and to rehire many of the staff who were laid off from Gado Gado last spring. In late August, Oma’s Takeaway took up its post on Southeast Division Street, keeping with the grab-and-go model while taking full advantage of the open patio. A handful of patrons can now “dine in” at Oma’s under a web of fairy lights and a bright blue covering. At least for now, the menu has settled into a rhythm that Thomas Pisha-Duffly is happy with. He kept Oma’s corn fritters, an early favorite, and rounded things out with a pork belly mee goreng (Indonesian pan-fried noodles), as well as laksa, a spicy noodle soup that riffs on New England clam chowder, a nod to the couple’s years in Portland, Maine. The Pisha-Dufflys know the dining experience at both restaurants will have to change in the coming months, each now prone to the whims of the weather. Mariah Pisha-Duffly has a vision for Oma’s Takeaway in which guests can bring blankets to their reserved tables and sip on creamy, Vietnamese-inspired coffee cocktails inside a heated tent. It could be like coming inside from a snow day as a kid and sipping hot chocolate. “Being outdoors in the winter,” she says, “we want to lean into that and make it part of the fun.” For both, Oma’s Takeaway has been a rough gem in a difficult year. And it probably wouldn’t have happened if not for the public health crisis. “Everything’s a gamble in the restaurant industry, it always is,” Thomas Pisha-Duffly says. “Even more now. We wanted to bet on ourselves and our staff.” And to bet on a high-end-cuisine-meets-junk-food Asian-fusion outdoor pop-up? “It’s very on-brand,” he adds. UPDATE: Oma ’ s Takeaway and Gado Gado are moving to takeout only during the lockdown, the former focusing on Malaysian comfort food and the latter serving similar dishes as its most recent lineup, but with more dinner sets for two to four.


KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ’EM David Machado closed all five of his restaurants because of the virus, ending his career in the restaurant industry. But he’s not bitter.

BY AN D I P R E W I T T

“You’ve gotta know what your strengths are,” Machado explains, “and that wasn’t one of our strengths.” David Machado is still astounded by how rapidly it all Without customers to bring plates to, his crews douwent downhill. bled down on the other half of their training: giving the In the days leading up to the mid-March lockdown, restaurants a thorough scrub. business was booming at his five restaurants. You would “The expectation was that if we continued to clean and have been lucky to snag a barstool at Altabira on March fix and organize, that by the time we were done we would 11. The dining room on the top floor of Hotel Eastlund have a horizon,” he says. “I remember saying to people, was packed with people pregaming before heading a few ‘I’ll see you back here in…,’ and I think I even gave a stupid blocks west to Moda Center for Tool’s Portland stop on date that was, like, three or four weeks away.” their 2020 tour. But a month came and went, and the restaurants didn’t The scene was similar downtown at Nel Centro. Waits reopen. Machado’s longtime director of operations delivfor tables were normal at the 11-year-old, French-meets- ered the sobering news. Italian eatery, but were made longer in early March thanks “He came to me and said, ‘I did the math. There’s no to a staging of Frozen at nearby Keller Auditorium. pathway back,’” Machado recalls. “‘If we move all the One evening, things were tables and we change the so hectic that when Machhours and we shorten the ado made his regular round menu, it doesn’t work. We of calls to the restaurants can’t get back.’” checking in, no one had time Every tool available to try to talk. to increase sales under norAnd just like that, every mal conditions—revamp the single one of those businessdishes, improve hospitality— es went dark. wouldn’t help in a pandemic. “ I t e n d e d a b r u p t l y,” And so Machado, at 65 years Machado explains. “I often old, decided to call it a career. ask myself, if the industry When everything he was so strong—if we were so worked for his entire adult vital to the success of Portlife was suddenly gone, it land as a municipality, for would be easy to assume that tourism, for conventions— Machado is despondent, or how come we ended so fast? even resentful. But when It was like we were knocked asked about the staggering over with a feather.” loss, his response takes a Machado, who has worked buoyant turn. in the restaurant industry “You walk around in pajafor more than 40 years, 30 of mas for about two months,” those in Portland, was conhe says with a laugh. “I had sidered a pillar of the city’s to make a decision early on culinary scene. It took only whether I was going to be two months for COVID-19 to devastated or angry. I had a topple everything. really good run. I had a lot of CLOSING TIME: David Machado The restaurateur permaworked in the restaurant industry for over success and great relationnently closed his entire port40 years, 30 of them in Portland. ships.” folio—Nel Centro, Altabira, While he may not be bitter, Citizen Baker, Tanner Creek Tavern, and Pullman Wine Machado is worried. Even before the newly instituted Bar & Merchant—in May. The announcement knocked the on-premises dining “freeze,” he saw a city teetering on the wind out of anyone who took even a casual interest in the edge and no clear solutions to shore up institutions like local food landscape. Up until that point of the pandemic, restaurants and bars that have enhanced its character and around a dozen independent bars, cafes and restaurants way of life. based in Portland had called it quits. Machado’s was the “I’m more troubled about what’s happened to Portfirst big restaurant group to fold, serving as the first big land,” Machado says. “I’m more unhappy about the prossign that the global health crisis could cripple the service pects of fixing this, for going forward. I’m unhappy about industry, particularly those businesses reliant on traffic the collapse of the industry I helped build. I’m at a bit of a from large-scale events. Because of the virus, no one is a loss for a path back.” ticketholder for the foreseeable future. He can, however, point to who is most likely to find the “We were part of a greater societal fabric,” says Mach- way: scrappy, young chefs and restaurant owners. Machado. “We were bigger places and busy places because we ado believes they are best poised to develop new models had a lot of people coming for reasons. They were travel- that those who’ve been in the field for decades may be too ing, they were going to a show, they were going to a Blazer set in their ways to discover. game. All of those feeders stopped working.” Machado puts himself in the latter group. And he’s OK At the start of this past unsettled spring, Machado with that. The restaurateur will retire knowing that he remained optimistic. With the governor-ordered shut- kept people fed and boozed during some of their happiest down looming, he began devising contingency plans for moments: before plays, during birthday celebrations, after every property: shrinking the menus, lopping an hour off Blazer game wins. That’s more than enough for him to find of operating times, sending employees home a little early. no need to dwell on the final two months of business. But all of that juking wasn’t getting him anywhere. “I didn’t get into too much crying or bellyaching about “Each day that the plan was written,” Machado says, “in the bad things that happened,” he says. “I would then a few days it was obsolete.” be destining myself to be an older, upset person. I just So he decided to temporarily close rather than experi- couldn’t do that, because everything has been so great up ment with—and potentially botch—takeout service. until it ended.”

TRIFECTA OF TRIALS

aprewitt@wweek.com

AT LEAST

1,000 OF THE APPROXIMATELY 10,000

FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS OPERATING IN OREGON HAVE GONE UNDER SINCE COVID-19 HIT—AND THAT NUMBER IS ONLY EXPECTED TO GROW.

SALES SLID BY AN AVERAGE OF

39%.

CHRISTINE DONG

62% OF BUSINESSES REPORTED THAT TOTAL OPERATIONAL COSTS SPIKED DUE TO SUPPLY-CHAIN ISSUES.

PERCENTAGE OF OREGON RESTAURANT OPERATORS WHO SAY THEIR TOTAL DOLLAR SALES VOLUME IN AUGUST WAS LOWER THAN IT WAS ONE YEAR AGO:

89

COVID FORCED DINERS OUTSIDE,

THEN ALONG CAME THE WILDFIRES.

INDUSTRY MEMBER ERIC BOWLER ESTIMATES HE LOST $15,000 TO $20,000 BY SUSPENDING SERVICE

DURING THE WEEK PORTLAND EXPERIENCED DANGEROUS AIR QUALITY.

“WE’VE ALL PUT MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF WORK

INTO OUR OUTDOOR SPACES. WHAT DO WE DO WHEN IT STARTS RAINING FOR SIX MONTHS?”

—TIM HOHL, COIN TOSS BREWING

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

13


CHRISTINE DONG

THROUGH THE SMOKE The owner of a new Japanese comfort food restaurant faced two challenges when opening this year: a pandemic and historic wildfires. BY SH A NNO N GO RM LEY

sgormley@wweek.com

David Edwards spent most of 2020 preparing to open his first restaurant during a pandemic. He wasn’t prepared, however, to have to hold a grand opening while Portland was experiencing historically toxic air from wildfires. “It was just a whole other layer,” says Edwards, chef and owner of Nanban on Southeast Water Avenue. “It was a challenge we did not foresee.” In a way, Nanban seems perfectly suited for COVID times. The Japanese comfort food spot serves up sauce-drenched carby delights like Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki—chewy soba noodles topped with a thin, savory crepe, mushrooms or meat, and smothered in rich, tomatoey sauce. But opening the exact week Portland became shrouded in smoke due to megafires around the state wasn’t exactly a challenge Nanban could have seen coming. Prior to the September launch, Edwards and Nanban’s staff had already spent months figuring out how to open a COVID-safe operation. Working out of a small, narrow restaurant under the Hawthorne Bridge, they decided to offer only delivery and takeout.

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Offering only food to go gave Nanban the advantage of starting small at a time when restaurants were being forced to downsize. But it also meant Edwards and his team could design a menu specifically for takeout. While developing the food lineup, they tested to see if a dish still tasted good after it sat out for an hour, and subjected it to “the angry driver test,” jiggling each meal around in a takeout container. Items that became cold, mushy or messy were axed, and the pickled slaw-topped pork katsu and fried chicken sandwiches that passed were made to fit snugly inside a takeout box. Partly because of all the trials and tribulations that Nanban had already been through, when wildfire smoke engulfed Portland and produced historically bad air quality, Edwards decided to go ahead with the grand opening anyway. To his surprise, they served plenty of people. “We had a positive interaction with every customer that came in,” he says. “It was almost like they had gone through some kind of crucible to get to us.” UPDATE: Nanban will continue to offer pickup and delivery during the lockdown.

HELL’S KITCHEN: Even though raging wildfires filled Portland’s skies with smoke, plenty of customers showed up to David Edwards’ new restaurant its opening week.


CHRISTINE

SLAYING THE BEAST

DONG

Naomi Pomeroy may have shut down her iconic prix-fixe restaurant, but she isn’t abandoning the city’s food scene anytime soon. BY M E IR A M E G A N G E BEL

Naomi Pomeroy wasn’t necessarily ready to say goodbye to Beast when it closed indefinitely in March due to COVID-19. But she wasn’t going to shed a tear over it, either. Instead of pivoting to takeout, like many Portland restaurants were forced to do to try to ride out the pandemic, Pomeroy has spent the past eight months focusing on how to keep the industry alive. She is one of the founding members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which is calling for lawmakers to secure more relief for food and drink establishments by passing the Restaurants Act introduced earlier this year by Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Still, Pomeroy wanted to stay involved in the local food scene, but didn’t see a future where she could utilize Beast’s small, 600-square-foot dining room in the new, socially distanced world in the same way as before. “What were we going to do? Charge $400 a person?” she says. “It didn’t feel like the time to pivot to something extra exclusive. I wanted to do something that would feel true to me. No one is coming back to sitting at a big communal table.” Pomeroy then got the idea for “gourmet convenience”—a community market, with an online presence, that offered all of the things customers loved about Beast, but without the need to consume anything onsite, or risk having soggy food show up on customers’ doorsteps. “Instead of trying to make this square peg fit into this round hole,” she says, “I just want to make something that fits exactly into this new reality.” Pomeroy’s new venture is Ripe Cooperative, which she aims to launch at the end of November. The market will offer fresh pastas, bread, wine, and box meals to go for customers to finish at home. The kits will continue her mission of taking the mystery out of cooking, which was one of the things she loved most about her 13 years at Beast. “I wanted to see how much we could empower people to be partially responsible for the production of their food,” explains Pomeroy, “so that they had a little bit of an educational moment.” Pomeroy says she is lucky to be able to take this kind of risk right now, even if it brings added expenses. She knows independent restaurants feel pressure to survive but can’t do much without assistance from the government. That’s why she’s focused her efforts on saving those businesses and not on her own future in the experimental dining space. Sure, she expects a seismic shift in the industry within the next year. But don’t necessarily expect Beast to be resurrected. “I might never open another restaurant,” Pomeroy says. “If it’s meant to be back, it’ll be back.” UPDATE: Pomeroy expected a second shutdown and doesn’t anticipate Ripe Cooperative will be too affected by it. She will continue to offer takeout for the foreseeable future.

OPEN AND SHUT Jessie Aron’s first brick-and-mortar hadn’t even been operating for a month before the lockdown, but Malka is fighting to stay alive. BY MEIR A MEGA N GEB EL

In February, the coronavirus wasn’t exactly on Jessie Aron’s mind. At the time, only a few cases had been reported in the Pacific Northwest. Truth be told, the mysterious illness didn’t consume her thoughts back then mainly because she was a little preoccupied preparing to launch her first, five-years-inthe-making, brick-and-mortar restaurant, Malka. The chef and co-owner stressed over the menu, the décor and the vibe. She wanted it to reflect a similar sense of “chaos and comfort” that her former venture, food trailer Carte Blanche, was known for. Malka is situated in a small house on Southeast Division Street—only six blocks from the home she grew up in. The space features mismatched chairs, colorful Persian rugs, and floral wallpaper Aron designed herself. She recalls the glee she felt when she could finally showcase the antique plates and bowls she’d been collecting from thrift stores and estate sales for customers to eat off of. But as the pandemic swept the country, the decorative place settings were packed away and replaced with cardboard to-go boxes. And Malka had not even been open a full month. “That was the moment I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is going to be the long haul,’” Aron says. “It was a moment of sadness and adjustment, where I sort of realized that I had to set aside my original vision and just adapt.” Launching a yearslong dream in the middle of a global health emergency was anything but ideal, but Aron is scrappy. Instead of shuttering for good (a thought that

HOTBOX: Malka owner Jessie Aron’s antique plates will have to wait. Customers will continue to get their food in takeout packaging indefinitely.

did cross her mind) or closing until what felt like normal arrived (it hasn’t), she relied on her previous experience running the food cart and started slinging orders. “It was like I was in intense, adrenaline emergency mode,” says Aron. “We were new and we had just started to win over customers. Then I started to see the fear in myself and in my staff. I remember the feeling of not knowing what to do at all, and wanting someone to just tell me what to do. I felt like a kid.” Aron still craves guidance—from the government, mostly—but the generosity of Malka’s customer base is what has kept it afloat. A regular who wished to remain anonymous came to Aron with an idea to give the restaurant $250 to make meals for people in need. That proposal had a domino effect, morphing into a “vessel of kindness” for patrons to buy food for strangers. There are no plans to reopen Malka’s dining room anytime soon. So long as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Aron says the restaurant cannot safely serve customers indoors, and she will fulfill takeout orders indefinitely. “There’s a chance that we won’t survive,” she says. “Am I optimistic? Yes. I am cautiously optimistic. Terrified? Yes. Confident? Probably not. We are trying our best, and we are still here.” UPDATE: Malka will continue takeout during the most recent set of restrictions, and Aron expects a boost in sales since all dining out is prohibited.

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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CHRISTINE DONG

BEER UP: The demand for canned brews means Wayfinder is adding three fermenters.

GETTING CANNED Wayfinder, like many breweries during the pandemic, has ramped up its packaging for homebound drinkers. BY AND I P RE WI TT

aprewitt@wweek.com

While you were scouring store shelves for megapacks of Charmin and jugs of Lysol last spring, Kevin Davey was in a mad scramble to stock up on crowlers. “There were just no crowlers,” Wayfinder’s brewmaster explains. “Everybody bought as many crowlers as they could, and they were just selling. We went from doing 20 crowlers a week to 110 crowlers a day or more.” The pandemic created a run on a whole slew of unusual goods, but Portlanders weren’t about to quarantine for weeks on end without their favorite beer to help them cope. And brewery operators were more than happy to keep their customer base as comfortably 16

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

buzzed as possible during a nerve-wracking period of uncertainty. During the past eight months, local breweries tapped into their teams’ creative spirit and developed various paths to profitability, despite limitations on operating hours and capacity upon reopening. Some began selling family-style meal kits; many transformed parking lots and side streets into expanded taprooms. But the lifeline for pretty much all of them has been selling packaged beer to go. If there is one consistent theme in 2020—other than the rising number of COVID-19 cases and a collective sense of misery—it is that brewers who previously only offered their lagers and ales on draft either started canning and bottling as quickly as possible once the pandemic began to tear through the U.S. or they closed up shop. “If your model is, ‘I’m going to sell pints across the bar and put a heater on, and if nobody comes in, I’m just going to be mad at [Gov.] Kate Brown,’ then that’s not the right answer,” Davey says. “Everybody is experiencing this pandemic and you’re going to have to figure out how to sell your product.” For Wayfinder, whose standout German-style beers have made its century-old brick warehouse on the industrial inner eastside something of a destination brewery, the solution was filling and sealing a whole lot of crowlers. But the first few days of closures— which Davey’s crew dubbed “Red Tuesday”— mostly felt like a confusing blur. “Talking to other people who run breweries—Ben [Parsons] at Baerlic and Brenda [Crow] at Little Beast—they both saw the writing on the wall months before it was happening,” says Davey. “I felt like I was caught with my pants down about the whole thing. I think

that when they canceled the NBA, that’s when my heart sank. That means, what isn’t on the table to get axed?” With most of the pub staff temporarily let go, Davey, Wayfinder’s general manager and the sous chef quickly fell into a routine: Top up a 32-ounce vessel, run it out to the waiting customer, come back inside, wash hands, repeat. The initial rush to support the business was heartening, even if it caught everybody a bit by surprise. “I had this moment where it felt like that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart thinks he’s going to lose the bank and then everybody comes in and just, ‘Here, here! You can borrow some of my money!’” Davey says. “I had all of these people that, like, I knew they were unemployed at the moment, and they’re coming in and buying beer from us.” Going forward, Davey knew that selling more beer more efficiently would mean he needed to ramp up canning. So he called Craft Canning + Bottling and booked as many days as he could with the mobile packager. “We had very little problem selling most of those cans,” Davey explains, “mainly because a lot of people were sitting at home buying cans, so that was really helpful.” Pre-COVID, the brewery would schedule about one packaging run a month, amounting to somewhere between 250 and 300 cases of cans. Now, Davey is filling at least that many containers every week. That means his business is one of a fortunate few in the hospitality industry currently undergoing an expansion. In December, Wayfinder will add three 40-barrel fermenters to its assemblage of eight 20-barrel tanks where the yeast does its work. The new equipment should put Davey on track to pump out 3,500 to 4,000 barrels of beer in


OF BOEDECKER CELLARS

UPDATE: For now, Wayfinder will not offer takeout or dock sales and crowler fills. Davey and his team will continue to brew and can beer, which you can find at local bottle shops.

COURTESY

2021, up from 2,000 last year. By increasing capacity, he’ll be able to keep the pub’s taps flowing when restrictions on dine-in have been lifted, and continue the more aggressive canning campaign—goals Davey couldn’t have fulfilled with the current brewhouse. Portlanders have kept drinking during the pandemic—that much we can be sure about—but how they drink has evolved. As the months have worn on, Davey noticed consumers weren’t necessarily coming back for Wayfinder’s flagships. They were asking for new stuff, sometimes weird stuff, that under normal circumstances the brewery sales staff could never have moved. Smoked beer in a can? That sold out in a week. A low-alcohol Munich dunkel? There’s already a list of pre-orders. “It’s funny, because before the shutdown, we couldn’t make enough of our most popular beers: our helles, our Flower in the Kettle [hazy IPA],” says Davey. “Those were the beers that people were really drinking by the gallonful. And right now, it’s like, ‘Whaddya got that’s new?’ Because everyone is just buying cans and hanging out in their backyards.” It makes sense to try to break the monotony with whatever tools are available, even if that’s a tall boy. While we may be physically restrained this year—and probably well into next—our palates can still roam freely. Wayfinder’s pandemic success has also bucked predictions that the high-end beer market would begin to dry up in this economic downturn. With prices starting at $16 a four-pack, they are hardly budget brews, and rightfully so—a premium lager requires more time in the tank than a style like an IPA, and time is money in brewing. Davey remains optimistic because he’s making one of the few indulgences people seem to be willing to spring for right now. “People always drink beer,” Davey explains. “It’s not going to the opera, it’s not the New York steak with a bottle of wine on a Saturday night. It’s a very simple pleasure.”

BOTTLED UP: Boedecker Cellars is pausing in-person tasting and shifting to curbside pickup and shipping.

SPINNING THE BOTTLE First the pandemic halted tasting-room traffic, then wildfire smoke threatened their grapes. Yet local winemakers are finding new ways to serve flights and save the 2020 vintage. BY A N THON Y EFFIN GER

EAT, DRINK & BE THANKFUL

ORDER YOUR FEAST ONLINE! ELEPHANTSDELI.COM

Before she became a winemaker, Athena Pappas worked as a human factors engineer at Hewlett-Packard and Epson, watching how people used printers in order to improve them. That training has come in handy, strangely enough, during the pandemic. Pappas and her husband own Boedecker Cellars in Northwest Portland, and COVID-19 has forced Pappas to redesign the 10,000-square-foot space for physically distanced customers. She may look like she’s staring into space at times, but she’s really watching how people behave so she can finetune the operation and keep everyone safe. “The bottleneck is at checkout,” Pappas says. Boedecker is a small winemaker, producing 5,000 cases in 2019 and 2,000 this year. Pappas relies heavily on the tasting room, so she’s done everything in her power to keep it open. Fortunately, the space has high ceilings, a loading dock where she can seat customers and rollup doors. Rather than pour wine into glasses at the bar or tables, she fills 1- and 2-ounce bottles and puts them into holes she drilled into cheese boards so she could hand flights to customers all at once. The pre-pours break her heart because they diminish the aromatics. Worse yet, she’s not serving food because it just feels like too much of a risk. “I’ve been pivoting, and pivoting and pivoting,” Pappas says. And all of that was before historic wildfires produced an acrid haze that settled over wine country in September. Winemakers in hotter places like Australia and Califor-

nia know all about “smoke taint,” but it’s a new scourge in Oregon due to climate change. The volatile phenols in smoke can permeate grape skins, making the wine taste like an ashtray, or a crayon. Worst of all, it’s often hard to tell if grapes are ruined until you make wine with them because it’s the fermentation process that releases the phenols. Pappas leases rows of vines at vineyards in the Willamette Valley, so she was worried. That prompted her to do a micro-fermentation about two weeks before harvest to see how the juice would taste. It passed, and she made wine—carefully. Like many Oregon producers, Boedecker makes mostly pinot noir. Other winemakers focus more on white, which is likely to help them this year. Few white grapes were wrecked, because they’re picked earlier and were safely inside when the fires raged. Sarah Horner at Montinore Estate says the winery’s white grapes were tucked away before the conflagration. Rudy Marchesi, one of the partners, has always been a fan of cool-weather grapes like riesling, Müller-Thurgau and gewürztraminer, and he grows a lot of them on his 200acre estate in Forest Grove. Being at the northern end of the Willamette Valley also helped because the smoke was much thicker farther south. Like Pappas, Horner has had to rely on old skills during this terrible year. After high school, she took a job with Time-Life Books, cold-calling to try to sell a series on the logging industry. It was hell. She lasted two weeks. But after COVID-19 shut down the tasting room in March, Horner and her staff hit the phones, calling wine club members and customers who had visited the winery in years past. It turns out that wine is a much easier sell than books about logging. Their calls have helped boost online wine sales by 350% since January. Pappas, too, is upbeat about sales. There are fewer people visiting her winery now, but those who come are buying lots of bottles and tipping heavily. “Sometimes, I want to tear up,” Pappas says. It’s been that kind of year. UPDATE: The new lockdown does not affect Montinore because the tasting room was closed for in-person service for the season. Boedecker will offer flights to go and discounted bottles for curbside pickup or delivery through FedEx. Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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STREET

WEATHERING THE STORM Photos by Alex Wittwer

Instagram: @_wittwer

The National Weather Service’s forecasted high winds and pounding rain wasn’t as fierce as expected, but Portland still got a good soaking. Those who ventured out bundled and masked up in style.

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STARTERS

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING S T H AT H AP P E NE D I N PORTLAND CULTURE THIS WE E K, GRAP H E D.

Music Millennium

RIDICULOUS

Presents: Record Store Day Black Friday Friday, Nov. 27th

The “Nightmare Elk” created by Portland protestors and stolen by the Proud Boys shows up at a right-wing rally emblazoned with “Trump 2020.”

The Oregon Historical Society releases newly restored footage of the time state officials blew up a rotting sperm whale with dynamite.

MICHAEL DURHAM

Special Store Hours 8am- 10pm COURT

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Over 130 Special Limited Vinyl Releases!

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Titles from:

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Oregon Zoo announces that ZooLights will happen this year as a drive-thru.

The Oregon Symphony cancels all of the concerts left on its calendar, extending its cancellations into summer 2021.

In light of the COVID-19 freeze on bars and restaurants, Von Ebert temporarily shuts down operations.

Alice in Chains Drive-by Truckers Jerry Garcia Band My Chemical Romance Willie Nelson Sonny Rollins Elliott Smith Beastie Boys

Chris Cornell George Harrison Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Public Enemy Lou Reed U2 The Weeknd

AND MANY MORE!

CHEESE-BAR.COM

MUSIC MILLENNIUM Recomends BRIAN BURK

Delta Rae - Coming Home To Carolina Out 11/20

Earthy, familial alt-pop outfit Delta Rae skillfully juggle gospel-tinged country-rock, sensual blue-eyed soul, and harmony-laden Americana, resulting in an infectious, radio-ready sound.This electrifying concert film, Coming Home To Carolina was filmed with fourteen 4K Ultra Hi Def Cameras in their home town in Raleigh, North Carolina.

CD/DVD Sale: $24.99

Decade-old market Cheese Bar announces it will close after New Year’s.

Expires 12/11

Dive bar and beloved fried chicken spot Reel M Inn closes indefinitely.

SERIOUS Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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GET...OUTSIDE?

WHAT TO DO—AND WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING—AS PORTLAND REOPENS.

Chess by Mail

Playing a classic apart, together. BY JAC K K E N T

jkent@wweek.com

A longtime tradition in my family is fully underway: chess by mail. There’s a chessboard on our dining room table. It’s been there for months. This board mimics the one that’s on the coffee table at my parent’s house. These two separate chessboards are the same game. Connected through mail. It all started when my dad was telling stories of how his dad would play multiple games of chess this way. Recently my wife and dad started a chess game via snail mail. My family really gets into picking the right postcard for the upcoming chess move. You jot your note, add your chess move like, “b8 to a6,” slap a stamp on it, raise the flag on your mailbox, and wait for your opponent’s return move to arrive in your mailbox. It’s a fun way of keeping in touch while supporting our postal service.

Now It’s Your Move 1.

Contact someone you want to start a chess game with.

2. Make sure you both have chessboards and all the pieces. (There’s a makeshift board on the next page just in case you need one.)

3. Study up on chess if need be and learn all

the move notations. There’s plenty of howto’s online to get you going.

4. Get some postcards and stamps. We love

getting antique postcards from thrift shops.

5. Mail your first move! IMDB

Chess Viewing to Get You Going The Queen’s Gambit (streaming now on Netflix) Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) Magnus (2016) Brooklyn Castle (2012) Queen of Katwe (2016)

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Need to learn how to play chess? Scan this QR code or go to: chess.com


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FOOD & DRINK

FEATURE

Casual Ambition

Here are four of República’s signature dishes:

República’s menu is based on South Mexican dishes and very fresh masa. BY JAS O N CO H E N

Before the current COVID-19 “freeze,” any restaurant was just happy to have customers. But when Angel Medina began doing food pop-ups at La Perlita, his Pearl District coffee shop, he was also thrilled by who was actually lining up outside the Ecotrust Building in Northwest for tortas, quesadillas and pastries, all made by BIPOC and/or women cooks. “I’ve been in Portland for 10 years, and I’ve never seen this many brown folks in one space for something that isn’t like, the Cinco de Mayo Festival,” jokes Medina, who also owns the Mexican coffee-focused Reforma Roasters. “And it’s not just, like, my Mexican parents. It’s young, hip Mexican Americans, Black folks, brown folks.” Now Medina’s pop-up is a restaurant: República, a collaboration among Medina, torta master Lauro Romero, who’s also executive chef at King Tide in the Riverplace Hotel, and Olivia Bartruff, a pastry chef and baker who started out as a teenager at Fleur de Lis. The trio knew full well that it was bold to open a new restaurant in the middle of a pandemic. But the pop-ups showed there was demand, and the Ecotrust space that used to be a Laughing Planet was just sitting there available. “We’ve been talking about this concept for quite a while now: taking food that we love without having to label it as something cliché,” says Medina. “Like ‘elevated Mexican cuisine.’ Or ‘street food,’ whatever the fuck that is.” República is a casual yet ambitious place built around guisados—the stewed fillings that go in tortas and tortillas—and corn masa. Right now, República is getting its masa from Three Sisters, but aspires to mill and nixtamalize its own. It also has a not-so-secret weapon in tortilla maker Doña Chapis, who does her own quesadilla pop-ups several days a week. She previously worked at Mi Mero Mole, where you could see her pressing masa through the window facing Southwest 5th Avenue. “What she does is just masterful,” says Medina. “The first time I saw it was like everything stopped and classical music started playing in the background, with a spotlight over her.” Having opened just in time for the freeze on in-person dining, República’s “De Noche” menu—with a focus on wine, specials, small plates, dessert and an elaborate cheese-and-charcuterie service—is being reassessed. But the “Platos Rotos” daytime menu—tortas, guisados and soups—remains as is, and it’s already been doing nighttime takeout specials. But when in-person dining is available again, República’s founders want the place to feel like home. “The vibe that we wanted to create was that it should always feel like you’re going to your friend’s house in some part of Mexico,” says Medina. “And if you know my culture, and the way we are, we constantly feed you.” 22

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Torta de Cochinita ($15) The classic Yucatan guisado—pork marinated in achiote and sour orange, slow-cooked in banana leaf—comes on a telera roll from Panaderia Mexicana Cinco de Mayo. “A good telera needs to be kind of crunchy on the outside, but really soft in the middle,” Romero says. The meat is layered on the roll with refried black beans, pickled onion, habanero pepper and avocado. The torta is then finished with a little butter on a panini press, just like at Romero’s favorite shop next to his old elementary school in Tulancingo. “I still go there every time I go back home,” he says. “It does something different to the sandwich.”

Quesadilla Oaxaqueña ($8) A simple, yet completely elegant expression of just three ingredients: corn, cheese and salsa. A visually arresting swirl of both blue and yellow masa is pressed large and thick, put on a comal, flipped, and then folded over stretchy Queso Oaxaca from Don Froylan Creamery in Salem. The quesadilla is served alongside red-black salsa macha, which gets its layers of flavor (and fat) from sesame seeds, peanuts, chilies, garlic and oil. “It’s not very common here,” says Medina. “But if you go to Oaxaca, the hot dog guy’s got like ketchup, mustard and salsa macha.”

Paste ($8) That’s pronounced PAH-stay. As in “pasty.” When mining companies from the English town of Cornwall first came to Romero’s home state of Hidalgo, they brought two things with them: futbol and Cornish pasties. The Mexican silver miners made the filled dough—basically the same genre as empanadas—their own, using lard and pulque (a fermented agave drink) in the crust, and their own fillings instead of the traditional meat, potato and rutabaga. At República, Bartruff brings her “pie crust knowledge,” to the recipe, adding a bit of sugar and experimenting with different beers instead of pulque. The large, flaky pastes are currently filled with whatever guisados the restaurant has on hand (pork, chicken, mushroom), but Romero also plans to try out more typical Hidalguense fillings, like chicken tinga and a sweet arroz con leche.

Pistachio Flan Brûlée ($9) Even to go, Bartruff ’s desserts are presented like fine dining, artfully arranged in the sort of delicate little plastic-lidded box you might find in a macaron shop. These molded, Mexico City-inspired flans are made with sweet pistachio butter from the Southwest food cart Duo PDX. “It’s very creamy and nutty,” Bartruff says. The flans are topped with a thin helmet of burnt sugar, and are accompanied by mascarpone whipped cream, pomegranate reduction and pralined pistachios.

EAT: República, 721 NW 9th Ave., 951-206-8237, @republicapdx. 11 am-3 pm and 4-9:30 pm daily.


FOOD & DRINK BAR REVIEW

TOP 5

HOT PLATES Where to eat this week.

Cooperativa

THE PH EXPERIMENT

1250 NW 9th Ave., 971-275-2762, cooperativapdx.com. 7 am-8 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Cooperativa was already in the planning stages long before COVID-19, but it’s now perfectly suited to our current takeout, cook-at-home reality. It’s a grocery store, a coffee shop, an ice cream place, a sandwich shop, a bar, a restaurant and a pizzeria. Cooperativa is all about the vibe and flavors of Bologna, of Florence, of Rome and the “slow food” movement that was born in Italy. But there’s plenty of Portland DNA. In addition to Italian-accented food, drink and sundries, Sarah Schafer and Anna Caporael’s Pearl District market has eight local vendor partners who provide much of what you’ll find inside.

First Street Dining Commons

JUICED: The Portland-based company works with “co-creators” to make one-off batches of novel drinks.

Bubbling Over PH Experiment creates small batches of category-crushing drinks, from hard chai to pickle juice gose. BY E L I Z A R OT H ST E I N

Jake Baez grew up drinking Tepache. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the ’80s, and he fondly remembers sipping on the fermented pineapple wine during family trips to Mexico City. Now, he and his fiancée are planning a wedding, and they intend to serve their guests an artisanal, custom-brewed tepache-style…seltzer? Baez and his fiancée are two of 300 co-creators at the pH Experiment, an innovation arm of Anheuser-Busch with the ambition of creating the future’s favorite beverage. The collaborative comprises creatives with strong opinions on the beverage industry, and brewmaster Thomas Bleigh, who brings those dreams to life. The co-creators are scattered across the country, but the company is based in Portland, where it pumps out minuscule batches of category-crushing drinks. In physical form, the pH Experiment is a science lab currently occupying the old Widmer Pub on North Russell Street at Interstate Avenue. Taps that used to pump out the official craft beer of the Portland Timbers are now filled with ciders masquerading as aperitivos and freeze-dried collard greens suspended in kombucha. The endgame of the pH Experiment, however, is much less tangible. “I’m trying not to envision it,” says general manager Karmen Olson.“I’m waiting for creators to tell me what they need.” To make that happen, Olson and Bleigh work with co-creators across the country to forget and reimagine what they know about a good drink. They pour these dreams into limited-edition cans and gather feedback from their imbibers. Past experiments include a pickle juice gose, carbonated sangria, nitro hard chai tea and an alcohol-free tequila soda. “One of the flaws in the craft beer community,” Olson acknowledges, “is that we have become such an echo chamber, and it’s gotten us to a place where we go to a grocery store and see 75 versions of IPA on the shelf.” This is what co-creator Maya Massad calls “the mushy middle.” For Massad, the ideal drink is either nostalgic or jarringly novel. She cites perfumery as an industry that’s taking fruitful, if polarizing, risks: “Not everything is floral and pleasant and clean anymore; they’re not afraid to get

dirty and a little murky.” Massad picks up on something that the pH Experiment, unlike standard consumer research panels, understands, too: It’s OK—in fact, preferable—to create a polarizing beverage if it’s beloved by at least one community. Brewmaster Bleigh produces these could-be cult classics by marrying his 20-plus years of experience as a brewer with the memories and traditions of the PH co-creators. For any company, let alone a branch of a beverage conglomerate, this degree of mutual development with consumers is unique. “PH trusts me to inform them on how you’d approach brewing a drink using true-to-the-home-country methods,” Baez says of collaborating to craft his nuptial libation. “That’s an incredible thing that I’ve never before encountered.” Bleigh’s chemical knowledge was further tested when one co-creator came to him with the idea of fermenting jun—kombucha fermented with honey instead of sugar— with hand-juiced collard, mustard and turnip greens. Called Green G Jun, the drink was created by Deoshia “Dee Dee” Hopkins to raise funds for Exit the Maze, a nonprofit founded to expose and break down racial injustice. With the drink, Dee Dee sought to write a “love letter to Black Culture.” She and PH sourced the holy trinity of greens exclusively from Black Futures Farm and juiced them by hand. Mixed with a dash of ginger, the beverage energizes with a gust of horseradish and hot sauce to the nose. Dee Dee says it should taste like home. Now, six-packs of Green G Jun are on sale at greenHAUS. Insights may lead to the next big beverage in 2023, but for now, most of the drinks are to be enjoyed by the co-creators and their communities. The only way to get your hands on these cans (unless you’re near a select few AmazonGo stores in Seattle) is to pay close attention to the drink menus of events around Portland, join PH as a co-creator yourself, or persuade Baez to invite you to his wedding. The latter wouldn’t be an off-base recommendation for PH. To exemplify how PH has fundamentally altered the conversations he has and the concoctions he makes, Bleigh shares one of Olson’s frequent sayings: “Let’s stop asking people to come to our party. Let’s go to their party.”

Southwest 1st Street between Watson and Washington avenues, downtownbeaverton.org/blog/dining-commons. 7 am-8 pm daily. Beaverton has been quietly amassing a collection of the Rose City’s best spinoff restaurants in the heart of its Old Town. When the COVID-19 outbreak prompted a pavilion to sprout in the main drag, it created the perfect opportunity for people to abandon the normal requirement to stick with one dining room for the duration of their dinner. At the outdoor dining hall, you can get the unfettered thrill of plate hopping some of Portland’s best spinoff restaurants—Ex Novo Brewing, Big’s Chicken, Top Burmese, and lauded ramen spot Afuri Izakaya. You can now cavort from restaurant to restaurant, collecting an assortment of spectacular dishes never before assembled for the same feast that you’ll unfurl and enjoy in the road.

Fills Donuts

1237 SW Washington St., 503-477-5994. 8 am-2 pm Wednesday-Sunday. If you thought Portland didn’t need another doughnut maker, this one introduces a new style to the culinary scene: the Berliner, traditional German pastries with no center hole and a filling of fruit, chocolate or custard. At Fills, the focus is on seasonality, quality ingredients, and unexpected flavor combinations, both sweet and savory. Expect plenty of inventiveness in Fills’ finished products, including flavors like matcha, pumpkin, hazelnut and a pimento cheese with a sesame seed topping. There’s even a doughnut breakfast sandwich that’s griddled in butter and filled with a scramble of bacon and eggs, plus a chile aioli.

Birrieria PDX

16544 SE Division St., Portland, 971-336-6804. 11 am-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 9:30 am-9 pm Friday-Sunday. The birria boom has reached Portland, and this cart in deep Southeast is one of its main purveyors. Birria de res, like its sibling, barbacoa de res, has a long tradition in many parts of Mexico, but Birrieria PDX’s menu goes beyond classic applications: Other inventive options include the keto taco, made with crispy melted cheese instead of a tortilla, and birria ramen, the Japanese noodle soup made with the broth of the birria, resulting in something that tastes more like pho or Thai boat noodles.

Rock Paper Fish

2605 SE Burnside St., rockpaperfishandchips.com. 11 am-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday. Rock Paper Fish is yet another fast-casual Micah Camden restaurant, and yet another quick pandemic pivot. Open since mid-August, it’s a pickup- and delivery-only fish-and-chips window operating out of what used to be Boxer Ramen in the Burnside 26 building. The seafood may be mostly local or regional, but the style is New England: double-battered, double-fried, with thick fries reminiscent of Belgian frites. The fish is dipped in apple juice and seasoned with Old Bay, and double-battered, double-fried so it holds up to delivery. Keeping with the “like Maine, but Oregon” theme, there’s a Dungeness crab and Bay shrimp roll instead of lobster roll, while the New England clam chowder also comes as “poutine” over chips.

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FLASHBACK

THIS WEEK IN '04

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MOVIES

Editor: Andi Prewitt | Contact: aprewitt@wweek.com

SCREENER

Written by: Scout Brobst Contact: sbrobst@wweek.com

EMPIREONLINE.COM

FIVE BOOKS TO READ RIGHT NOW TO TRAVEL THE COUNTRY WHILE STUCK AT HOME

The South: Some Go Home, Odie Lindsey

BROMANCE: The Climb grew out of a 2018 short depicting two lifelong friends ascending the French Alps.

Spinning Their Wheels A buddy bicycle comedy that premiered at the Portland International Film Festival right before the pandemic lockdown is finally getting its theatrical release. BY C H A N C E SO L E M - P F E I FER

@chance_s_p

On March 6, a pair of Hollywood co-stars clad in vibrant biker Spandex made a confident left turn across Southeast Powell Boulevard. That day, Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin seemed to pedal straight out of their forthcoming buddy comedy, The Climb, and into Braking Cycles bike shop. For Marvin, the Portland press stop marked a homecoming. “It’s a big deal for me too,” Covino joked, “but I don’t understand why.” But like practically everyone else on March 6, the duo couldn’t see what came next. After a packed screening at the Portland International Film Festival, COVID-19 stuck a wrench in their chains, and the theatrical release of The Climb inched backward for most of the year. Distributor Sony Pictures Classics clung to a theater-or-bust approach, and The Climb was finally made available this month via private rental screenings at Portland venues like Cinema 21 and Living Room Theaters prior to the second governor-ordered partial lockdown. If nothing else, 2020 did The Climb the courtesy of confirming its themes. Covino and Marvin’s buddy comedy maintains a helpless, bittersweet relationship to character development. The harder the lifelong bros (also named Kyle and Mike) push themselves, the less control they have. “Life is absurd,” Covino said back in March. “We should really all try not to take this too seriously.” The feature film grew out of a 2018 short depicting two lifelong friends ascending the French Alps. Midway through the climb, Mike admits to sleeping with Kyle’s fiancée. Kyle is furious, but not a strong enough cyclist to catch Mike. The subsequent bickering and wheel-spinning continue for the rest of the mountain ride and, in the feature-length version, another 10 years. Both Marvin and Covino acknowledge that many films inspired by shorts fail to transcend their original premise, so they entered a game of self-upmanship to top their opening cycling scene with highly choreographed single takes. “How can we make this scene harder [to execute] than the last?” Covino said. “That was a personal, masochistic way of approaching it.” 26

BOOKS

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

For an indie comedy from virtual unknowns, the visual ambition sticks out—from funeral brawls, to ice-fishing mishaps, to an almost gymnastic tour of a Christmas party. Marvin and Covino find prickly humor in the smallest details interrupting the long pans or sustained stillness. Everyone fights about everything, like the French translation for “bike water bottle,” or whether a mourner should be allowed to toss dirt at a union cemetery. This approach led Marvin and Covino to specific casting aspirations and a crew of supporting actors like Gayle Rankin (GLOW), George Wendt (Cheers) and Talia Balsam (Mad Men) with one quality in common. “We had our casting director really look for theater actors, people who could sit in a scene, in a character, for 11 minutes before they had their first line,” Marvin said. “We were the least-qualified actors.” Meanwhile, surrealist interstitials, like a spontaneous musical number and a montage of ski-dancing, give the audience a little space from Mike and Kyle’s codependency and the absurd question of why these guys are still friends. Despite insisting onscreen that Kyle and Mike—a hapless teddy bear and a sardonic depressive, respectively—represent complex fictional blends of their genuine selves, the filmmakers still reveal small moments of symmetry with the characters. On March 6, Marvin had forgotten his wallet (blame the bike shorts) and couldn’t pay for coffee. Meanwhile, Covino was quick to jokingly answer one question, “That’s probably from an interview where Kyle misspoke.” As for Marvin’s Portland connection, while growing up in Sellwood and attending Sheridan High School, he ironically never gravitated toward cycling. It took moving to New York and Los Angeles, working in advertising, and co-writing a bike comedy to connect with one of Portland’s favorite pastimes. With The Climb finally out, he may reconnect with Portland in deeper ways soon. “I’m doing everything I can to move back here, actually,” said Marvin, a father of two. “My childhood couldn’t have been better, and I want to share that quality of life that Portland has. It’s not even slower [than L.A.], it’s just more thoughtful.” SEE IT: The Climb screens at Cinema 21 and Living Room Theaters. Both venues offer private bookings during the pandemic once the state-mandated freeze has ended.

Author Odie Lindsey sets his debut in a fictional town, Pitchlynn, Mississippi, a place he describes as “the poorest slice of the poorest state in the nation.” It’s hardly a romanticized image of the South, but Lindsey is earnest in exchange for all of the generalizations he likes to make. Set across three generations, Some Go Home is an ambitious project, blending gothic folk tale with murder mystery while fully leaning into the pageantry of Southern life. Lindsey is forgiven for his wordy descriptions of the land, if only because he is a Mississippi boy himself.

The Midwest: Marlena, Julie Buntin Set in rural Michigan, Julie Buntin’s Marlena indulges in its own ugliness, taking on adolescent friendship in a way that skirts the clichés of the young adult genre. Buntin intertwines the stories of two characters: the titular Marlena and Cat, two friends whose relationship is marred by substance abuse, poverty, mania and an untimely death. It is a fictional joyride, but also a sharp portrait of life in certain pockets of the Midwest where meaningless terms like “flyover country” have stood in place of real understanding.

The Pacific Northwest: Shadowlands, Anthony McCann In 2016, armed protesters occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon, resulting in a standoff that lasted 41 days. Depending on whom you cared to talk to, the protesters either virtuously demanded that the federal government relinquish control of public lands or were the direct product of a political system beginning to affirm extremist behavior. In Shadowlands, Anthony McCann—a poet by trade— captures one moment in our state’s history, placing it in the broader context of a nation deciding what it wants to be.

The Northeast: New Waves, Kevin Nguyen Kevin Nguyen, in his debut novel, New Waves, performs emotional surgery on the internet age, but manages to do it with the utmost care. His appraisal is still bleak— neck deep in the startup world of New York City, Nguyen’s two characters are bottom feeders at their young company, saddled with the difficulties of young adulthood, financial insecurity, corporate racism and limited mobility. Nguyen writes with the confidence of a tech insider and the empathy of an essayist, stacking mystery on mystery with ease.

The Southwest: Bad Indians, Deborah Miranda Deborah Miranda’s Bad Indians acts as both memoir and historical nonfiction, diving into an element of Californian anthropology too often overlooked. Miranda begins with the story of her own family, which belongs to the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Monterey Bay region, before systematically dismantling the “California mission mythology and gold rush fantasy” through oral histories, newspaper clippings, recordings and poems. Miranda writes in clean, cleareyed prose, a testament to her skill as an elegiac artist.


POTLANDER

Deep Roots Jesce Horton is already the founder of cannabis advocacy nonprofits. Now he runs a weed cultivation company, too. COURTESY OF LOWD

MASS CONSUMPTION: Jesce Horton (right center) and LOWD’s employees. BY BRIA N N A W H E E L E R

Jesce Horton is a unique force in the cannabis industry. His balance of entrepreneurism, advocacy and general enthusiasm for cannabis has cemented his legacy as one of Oregon’s most prolific BIPOC industry participants. His newest endeavor, LOWD brand cannabis, is his first time thus far navigating Oregon’s marijuana industry. The result is top shelf, both literally and figuratively. As a founder of both the Minority Cannabis Business Association and the NuLeaf Project (the incubator that helped launch both Green Muse and Green Box), as well as Panacea Valley Gardens, Horton has always kept his ideals at the forefront of his work in the cannabis industry. “I just don’t think there’s any way that you could be responsible or be smart about how you get into this industry,” he says, “without also making sure that those who have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition can get in as well.” Horton sat down with WW to talk about ditching the corporate world for a basement grow, the personal way the war on drugs affected his professional development, and why building a bridge between advocacy and ownership is essential to his success. WW: What compelled your pivot from the corporate world to the cannabis world?

the development of LOWD?

I started MCBA for two reasons. I was trying to find my way into the cannabis market, and there was a real need for services and education that I knew would benefit others. It’s twofold in figuring out how can I make sure that my involvement in this market is not just for my own gain or is not just financially focused, but also because of that legitimate need for services and education. My wife, Jeanette, and I decided to start the NuLeaf Project, which is focused on education, grants, loans, resources and connections, for these same communities. Everything we do in that organization is in the service of benefiting others. I’ve already gotten a really big boost in the industry and I’ve been able to develop resources that put me in a position to help others. I’ve been arrested a few times for cannabis possession, I lost my scholarship because of a possession arrest, my dad spent seven years in prison for an ounce of cannabis. There are too many conversations happening at the city, state and national level about what to do. It’s just one of the biggest problems with this market and with this industry evolving, the history of cannabis arrests. I have such a connection with the prohibition enforcement piece, I saw that there was a big opportunity there to help people, but also to figure out how to help myself and my family to get into this market. How has your work with those nonprofits informed

A lot of the things that we’ve done here at LOWD, of course, is building a diverse team. Not just diverse from a racial perspective. We’ve got people who identify with the medical aspects of cannabis and people who only identify or connect with the recreational aspect of cannabis. And that’s because we know that the cannabis industry is one of the most diverse industries as far as the consumers. There’s not a lot of products out there that are used by so many people, every single demographic, so many different ages, races, backgrounds. We built our company with that in mind. Another part of my advocacy is not just equity, but also energy efficiency, environmental efficiency, and sustainability. I’ve joined the Resource Innovation Institute, the leading organization in the country for energy-efficient cannabis cultivation operations. That’s also a very strong piece of my advocacy and something that has been built into our organization

COURTESY OF LOWD

Jesce Horton: I came to Oregon with Siemens. I was in Munich, Germany, for about a year and a half, working at the headquarters there. When it was time for me to come back to the U.S., I was offered a position in New York, which was a lot more corporate, or I had a choice to go to Portland, which was a sales position. So I moved here and within a year I realized how much I hated sales. But I also started growing in my basement. I really was just loving cannabis cultivation and just kind of got lost in that whole world. So on the one-year anniversary, in 2012, I turned in my resignation and decided to go all the way in with cannabis. You know, it was pretty gradual, I would say the biggest thing, though, is that because I spent so much time in my basement and so much time on forums learning about cannabis, I had become really horrible at my job. At that time, you could take excess flowers directly to the medical dispensary. So I really developed an understanding of the potential of this being a real economy and not just a moneymaking opportunity. What led you to develop the Minority Cannabis Busi-

ness Association and the NuLeaf Project?

BEST BUD: LOWD aims to produce flower that’s handled as little as possible.

LOWD’s slogan is “Smoke Like a Grower.” What does it mean to smoke like a grower and why have I not already been doing so? Well, maybe you have! What stops most people from smoking like a grower is the process that the bud goes through from the harvest to when it gets to you at the shop. I’m a cannabis consumer before I’m an advocate, that’s where my heart is. Ultimately, what it means to me is, the best part about being a grower is after you’ve watched cannabis grow from seed to harvest you really understand the best buds, the best plants, the truest expression of the genetics. If you can imagine cannabis being so delicate, you can drop a bud and trichomes will fall off, you can touch a bud and you will see trichomes on your fingers, on your gloves afterward, then you can imagine the degradation of that flower before it actually gets to you, the smoker. What we do is cut branches. We don’t touch the bud. Our best trimmers will grab the stick and then they will trim that bud and clip that bud directly into the Smoke Like a Grower jar. The ultimate goal is when you go to that dispensary, you’re the first one to touch that bud. It has not been dumped out yet, it has not been handled multiple times. The most unadulterated weed is from the growers who get a chance to select the best of the best and process it in a way that preserves that flower. It’s a better smoking experience. Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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MOVIES

GET YO UR REPS I N

Editor: Andi Prewitt / Contact: aprewitt@wweek.com WW ARCHIVES

SCREENER

While the local rep theaters are out of commission, we’ll be putting together weekly watchlists of films readily available to stream. This week’s suggestions center on complicated women on the fringes of society who are pushed to their breaking points, be they impoverished and desperate or privileged and isolated. In other words, the theme is “Women Be Snapping.”

Wanda (1970)

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Until the new COVID restrictions went into place, you could rent a theater at the Living Room downtown.

Private Screening

With her debut film, Wanda, Barbara Loden became the first woman in cinematic history to direct, write and star in her own feature. Playing the titular role, Loden crafts a heartbreaking character study of an aimless antiheroine who, after being fired from her low-paying job in a sewing factory, inadvertently goes on the run with a hapless bank robber. Criterion Channel, Kanopy.

Cinema 21 and Living Room Theaters offered private rentals before the most recent lockdown, which made them some of the only venues in town showing new releases. BY C H A N C E SO L E M - P F E I FER

@chance_s_p

Experiencing Bong Joon Ho’s Memories of Murder in a practically empty theater, you’re liable to peek over your shoulder into the dark once or twice, startled by its dynamic sound design. The 2003 true crime manhunt for a South Korean serial killer is as gripping as Bong’s Oscar-winning Parasite, enhanced dramatically by the theatrical experience and one of a few new releases available in Portland this fall. But it’s the “empty theater” part that’s key. In a year defined by exhibitors waiting endlessly to safely open, at least two Portland theaters—Cinema 21 and Living Room—have gained momentum through private rentals. Now, in light of Gov. Kate Brown’s “freeze” on businesses like theaters, bars and restaurants, they’ll have to wait at least four weeks to rent their screens again. “I’m holding out hope we can just get back to it,” says Cinema 21 manager Erik McClanahan. “It’s been going about as smooth as possible: Every [rental] group has been super respectful, small in size, none of the worry of dealing with people who don’t care.” Cinema 21 and Living Room Theaters opened for private rentals, making them some of the only venues in town showing new releases until the new COVID order. “I’ve missed [theaters] so much,” says Living Room owner Steve Herring. “You get people to experience it again, and it’s like, ‘Ah yes, this is what it’s like to be off the couch.” Throughout the summer and fall, Portland-area theaters were classified as venues by the state and therefore not permitted to sell tickets until Phase 2. But Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties never met Phase 2 criteria. After petitioning the governor in August to be cleared for reopening alongside restaurants, theaters like Cinema 21 and Living Room could book their auditoriums privately to distanced and masked groups no larger than 25. This approach circumvented ticketing, which proved sticky to define with both regulators and film studios refusing to open certain titles in Phase 1 counties. As for the four-week stoppage, McClanahan is dispirited but understanding given Oregon’s record-breaking COVID19 numbers: “I think our governor has a very tough job that I sure as hell wouldn’t want. I get the sense we’re operating under science and the best practices we have.” 28

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

As of October, though, studios like Focus Features, Neon and even Netflix warmed to distributing new films for private rental. Both locations are offering Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, and Ammonite, starring Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, along with The Climb and more. Then, McClanahan touts the Memories of Murder re-release and Mank (David Fincher’s Netflix film, arriving at Cinema 21 in December) as two standout offerings. Once restrictions are lifted, patrons can also book either theater to play Blu-rays or older movies of their choice. Currently, Cinema 21’s 500-seat main room is the biggest auditorium in the city at a $250 price point ($100 of which goes to a concessions credit). The Nob Hill theater’s evening slots are booked through 2020. McClanahan says the price will go up to $300 in January. Living Room bookings are also priced at $250 (same $100 concession credit), but the cinema is additionally launching a new website to allow “last-minute bookings.” In such cases, as few as two customers could book a theater the same day for $30 apiece with a $10 food credit on each purchase. Financially speaking, call the rentals a life raft, stopgap, on-ramp, whatever—they’re the surest survival method of the past eight months. Herring says private bookings have increased 50% each month at the Living Room, though he hopes to see those numbers double and triple for the Portland location to truly break even. In other parts of town, the Hollywood Theatre continues its private screening offerings, even making 35 and 70 mm prints available at prices between $450 and $950. Representatives of Laurelhurst, Cinemagic and the Academy say private rentals are a future possibility with nothing definite planned, and Clinton Street Theater co-owner Lani Jo Leigh continues to offer “super-private” rentals for groups eight or fewer for bookings like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. As 2020 winds down, optimism in the exhibition world is incredibly relative. Herring can confidently say 2021 “looks a lot better.” McClanahan remains heartened that so long as independent theaters maintain loyal followings, they’ll outlive the pandemic and likely some wounded multiplexes, too. “I think if we can just hang in there, we can afford to be lean,” he says, “I’m convinced people still do want to go to the movies. It’s obvious.”

Swallow (2019) Emotionally repressed, newly pregnant and feeling trapped by her new husband’s overbearing family, a housewife (Haley Bennett) develops a concerning new habit in order to gain some sense of control over her life: swallowing inedible objects. Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, Showtime, Sling TV, Vudu, YouTube.

Morvern Callar (2002) Traumatized after discovering her writer boyfriend has committed suicide, Scottish grocery worker Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) decides to chop up his body, steal his unpublished novel, pass it off as her own, and go on vacation with her best friend. Written and directed by the great Lynne Ramsay. Amazon Prime, Kanopy.

Fish Tank (2009) Academy Award winner Andrea Arnold directs this coming-of-age drama about Mia (Katie Jarvis), a volatile 15-year-old living in the projects of Essex. When her mum snags an attractive new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender), Mia becomes infatuated with him despite their wide age gap, irrevocably complicating the relationships between the three. Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, Google Play, iTunes, Sling TV, YouTube.

Beast (2017) Jessie Buckley stars as Moll, a troubled 27-year-old whose life is upended when a handsome stranger (Johnny Flynn) rolls into her small island community on the English Channel. Sure, he’s suspected of a string of brutal murders, but Moll, wanting to rebel against her affluent family and harboring a few dark secrets of her own, willfully ignores the rumors. Amazon Prime, Google Play, Kanopy, Sling TV, Vudu, YouTube.


MOVIES YO U T U B E

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK

Collective When Bucharest nightclub Colectiv burned in 2015, 27 people died—and that was just the beginning. In the following weeks, 37 injured survivors of the fire perished, a loss that led to the exposure of a sweeping conspiracy that had corrupted the Romanian health care system. That scandal is the subject of Collective, a mesmerizing and enraging documentary directed by Alexander Nanau. The film focuses on Catalin Tolontan, a journalist at a sports newspaper who reported on the use of heavily diluted disinfectants in Romanian hospitals, and former Minister of Health Vlad Voiculescu, whom we watch soberly struggle to reform the institution he serves from within. Devoid of didactic narration and expert interviews, Collective trusts that images of horrendous injustices (like a neglected patient’s maggot-covered face) will speak for themselves. The greed, lies and apathy revealed are almost too much to bear, but there’s no turning away from a film this morally urgent, thoroughly researched and beautifully paced. When Tolontan declares, “All I’m trying is to give people more knowledge about the powers that shape our lives,” it’s as if he’s speaking for the filmmakers. Collective is the embodiment of his words—a masterpiece that is both cinematic and journalistic. NR. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. On Demand.

OUR KEY

: T H I S M O V I E I S E XC E L L E N T, O N E O F T H E B E S T O F T H E Y E A R. : T H I S M O V I E I S G O O D. W E R E C O M M E N D YO U WATC H I T. : T H I S M O V I E I S E N T E R TA I N I N G B U T F L AW E D. : T H I S M O V I E I S A P I E C E O F S H I T.

ALSO PLAYING

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

American Utopia

Angrier, funnier and smarter than the original, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan brings back Sacha Baron Cohen’s fictional Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev to prank real-life American bigots. Ordered to woo the Trump administration with a gift, Borat embarks on a quest to make Mike Pence marry his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova). The plot isn’t the point—it’s an opportunity for Baron Cohen and Bakalova to stage witty assaults on anti-Semitism, misogyny and racism (no one bothers to stop Borat from walking into the Conservative Political Action Conference dressed as a Klansman). Baron Cohen is just as dementedly entertaining as he was in the original Borat, but Bakalova relentlessly upstages him. Just when you think nothing can top the scene in which Tutar has her period and performs a fertility dance at a debutante ball in Georgia, Bakalova pulls off the film’s brashest stunt—an encounter with Rudy Giuliani that gleefully lays bare the sadism and sexism of Trump’s legal lapdog. That sequence is the film’s climax, but still to come is a twist that attempts the seemingly impossible: to make COVID-19 funny. It’s a great gag and a great testament to Baron Cohen’s apparent belief that the world will only end when human beings lose their lust for inappropriate laughs. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Amazon Prime.

Spike Lee directing a concert doc might sound bizarre. But a closer look at both American Utopia and its subject, David Byrne, reveals a deeper connection between the filmmaker’s body of work and this project. Performing with musicians from around the globe who make shimmering water on which Byrne’s voice floats, he sings about love, life, home, harmony and chicken heaven (yes, chicken heaven). The Talking Heads frontman invited Lee to shoot a screen version of his Broadway show of the same name, which opened in October 2019 and closed four months later. The result is an intimate look at a grand stage performance. Byrne starts out alone, pondering a model of the human brain. When he finishes, barefoot dancers and musicians enter the stage, one by one, all clad in gray and carrying their own instruments. The group’s message of unity binds together a set of songs—some new, some old (about half come from the Talking Heads’ catalog)—that is enhanced by Annie-B Parson’s glorious choreography. Cutting between 11 camera angles, in the crowd and onstage, Lee complements her work. The director also makes a powerful addition to the Janelle Monáe protest song “Hell You Talmbout” by showing photographs of the Black Americans killed by police who are mentioned in the anthem. Here, Lee is the same as he ever was. NR. ASHER LUBERTO. Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu.

COLLECTIVE

On the Rocks When your second film is a universe of compassion, wit and wonderment, it’s not easy for the rest of your career to keep up. Yet On the Rocks is one of the most intelligent and moving films that writer-director Sofia Coppola has made since her transcendent Tokyo odyssey Lost in Translation. It’s the kind of movie that gets you guessing about what a great director is up to, then surprises and pleases you when she doesn’t go where you imagined. On the Rocks stars Rashida Jones as Laura, a writer who suspects that her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans), is cheating on her. Since Laura’s father, Felix (Bill Murray), is eager for an excuse to spy on his son-in-law, the two embark on a shambling investigation of Dean, which culminates in a surreal sojourn in Mexico. Murray suavely sells the contradictions of Felix, a decrepit playboy who defends his daughter’s honor but delights in demeaning women. Felix can be a mesmerizingly phony charmer, but On the Rocks is about Laura awakening to the emptiness behind his incandescence—an awakening that sets the stage for her spiritual rebirth. That journey may not match the visual and emotional heights of Lost in Translation, but On the Rocks triumphs on its own terms by telling the story of a woman who, scene by scene, gradually claims the movie as her own. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Apple TV+.

City Hall Celtics. Red Sox. Dunkin’ Donuts. Sam Adams. Mark Wahlberg. City Hall. Wait, what? Yes, lots and lots of city hall. Boston culture runs on more than Dunkin’ Donuts and slam dunks, and director Frederick Wiseman makes that very clear in City Hall. His 45th documentary in 53 years goes deep into the administration building that helps Boston function, a nine-story

slab of concrete where the mayor works and the citizenry comes to petition (i.e., talk their way out of parking tickets). It’s a fitting setting for Wiseman, whose movies are all about the way human-made institutions function—how people work in tandem to keep their society going. Or, as Mayor Martin J. Walsh puts it, “democracy in action.” City Hall is sort of like watching a puzzle being put together in real time (it’s over four hours!), only the pieces are people, meetings, ideas and industries, and the final picture is of a stable democracy. That sounds intimidating, but I could have watched another hour of people talking to each other in conference rooms. There is no plot or music, no Celtics or Dunkin’ Donuts. In Wiseman’s long and leisurely film, we get to see a different side of Boston. The side that makes a difference. NR. ASHER LUBERTO. Virtual Cinema.

Higher Love To say that Hasan Oswald’s debut documentary is a snapshot of America’s opioid crisis implies something too quick. There’s nothing snappy about spending 10 minutes cramped in a room of New Jerseyans endlessly shooting up. The camerawork is graphic and unsteady, and you can feel the lack of control permeating every inch of squalor. Despite this grotesque intimacy, Higher Love finds its more interesting subject idling outside the trap house. We first meet Daryl, the 47-year-old printing press owner and father of eight, trolling dilapidated industrial parks in search of his pregnant girlfriend, Nani. If she’s depicted as one of the opioid crisis’s ceaseless tragedies (her mother died of an overdose), Daryl is one of its memorable supporting characters. You couldn’t script his boundless patience with Nani or his explosions of contempt at how deep her addiction runs. Secondary stories of other Camden residents battling the needle aren’t as layered, though

they do reveal untold absurdities of the recovery system, like needing to score one final time in order to receive a suitably high dose of Suboxone for detox. In that light, Higher Love reveals utter extremity becoming dismally banal. For Daryl, the burning question becomes, when is giving up the only rational response? NR. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. On Demand.

American Dharma An eerie reversal kick-starts legendary documentarian Errol Morris’ sitdown with Steve Bannon. In Morris’ genre-altering The Fog of War (2003), he played the junior interlocutor to Robert McNamara and prodded the former U.S. defense secretary with his generation’s burning Vietnam War grievances. In American Dharma, it’s Bannon who professes to admire Morris. The Fog of War, the former Trump adviser says, was a life-changing look at how elite politicians betrayed everyday Americans. Hard to argue with that; it’s just 95% of the conclusions drawn afterward that make Bannon an eminently troubling subject. After that curious moment of bonding, Morris and Bannon never really speak the same language again. Bannon rails against globalism but keeps all the hatred and white supremacy wrapped up in that discourse entirely euphemistic. Unfortunately, Morris keeps his rebuttals to a career minimum in American Dharma—bad timing, considering his subject is an active fire-starter, not a regretful, driedout war hawk. That said, Morris depends on the audience to understand what they’re watching. He’s constructed a glimpse into Bannon’s mind, channeled through the John Wayne and Gregory Peck movies that defined the proud nationalist’s worldview. Some may call American Dharma platforming hate. Morris would probably call it knowing your enemy; he’s still taking lessons from McNamara. R. CHANCE SOLEMPFEIFER. Topic.

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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ART N’ COMICS!

Be a Willamette Week featured artist! Any art style is welcome! Let’s share your art! Contact us at art@wweek.com.

FEATURED ARTIST: Derek Yost

Derek Yost is a native Oregonian whose work investigates the geometric patterns and mysteries left behind by his ancestors and what it means to be connected to a place. He lives and works in Portland Oregon. IG @_derekyost_

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Jack draws exactly what he sees n’ hears from the streets. IG @sketchypeoplepdx kentcomics.com

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Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com


JONESIN’

Week of November 26

by Matt Jones

"UR Here"--as if it isn't obvious.

ACROSS

51 Discharges

26 Shrivel

1 1 of 100 still being finalized in D.C.

53 Back-to-school mo.

28 Hurry back, perhaps

55 Fertility clinic supply

30 Cohesiveness

56 Disinfectant sheet

32 "Born," in some notices

58 Burj Khalifa's loc.

33 E. Berlin was its capital

60 Alloy containing tin

35 "Army of Darkness" director Sam

4 Company with "counting sheep" ads 9 Beginning (of the hour) 12 "The Clan of the Cave Bear" author Jean 14 It may have a big impact 15 "_ _ _ Been Thinking About You" (1991 Londonbeat song)

62 Bug that might bug you in the kitchen

36 Donut, mathematically

63 Tool to help build a city?

37 Boy king of Egypt

65 Descend diagonally

38 Levin who wrote "Rosemary's Baby"

16 Greetings from trained bears?

66 Battleship blasts 67 "The Flintstones" pet

39 Be resigned to one's fate

18 Shirt marker

68 What Portland went back to recently

43 Quick learner 44 Hebrew alphabet starters

69 Printer's excess

48 It'll pick up the faintest of noises

19 "Can you wait just a freaking minute?!" 20 It had a baby face in "Teletubbies" 21 Escapees from Pandora's box 22 "George of the Jungle" creature 23 "_ _ _ and Juice" 25 California ballplayer 27 Burn a little 29 Modern, to Merkel 31 Annoying 34 Deployed with alacrity? 37 "The Princess and the Frog" princess

70 Animal in "Jack and the Beanstalk"

50 Like some margins

1 People get steamed there

52 Weasel cousin

2 One side of "the pond"

54 Shepherd's pie bit

3 AriZona alternative

56 Paper nest builder

4 Fix a button

57 Calligrapher's supply

5 HHH, in Greek

59 Icicle lights locale

6 Accelerate

61 2000s Iraq war subject, briefly

7 Polish site 8 "_ _ _ longa, vita brevis" 9 Golf ball brand

40 Heavy metal singer Ronnie James _ _ _

10 Like the head of a tennis racket

41 Pronounce

11 Lite-Brite bulbs, really

42 Way to keep your spiky sea creatures fastened?

13 "Hamilton" creator _ _ _-Manuel Miranda

45 City that shares Seattle's airport

14 Asking for a tiny bit of fish, maybe?

46 "The King and I" actor Brynner

17 December cartonful

47 Chaka who sang "I Feel for You"

49 Oat-based skin product brand

DOWN

21 Siberia's neighbor on a Risk board 24 Lists of basics

©2020 Jonesin’ Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords.com) For answers to this puzzle, call: 1-900-226-2800, 99 cents per minute. Must be 18+. Or to bill to your credit card, call: 1-800-655-6548. Reference puzzle #JNZ990.

©2020 Rob Brezsny

63 Charging port, maybe 64 "Mmhmm" motion

last week’s answers

ARIES (March 21-April 19)

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

"A little too much is just enough for me," joked poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. I suspect that when he said that, he was in a phase similar to the one you're in now. I bet he was experiencing a flood of creative ideas, pleasurable self-expressions, and loving breakthroughs. He was probably right to risk going a bit too far, because he was learning so much from surpassing his previous limitations and exploring the frontiers outside his comfort zone. Now here's your homework, Aries: Identify two actions you could take that fit the profile I've described here.

"Those who build walls are their own prisoners," wrote Libran author Ursula K. Le Guin. She continued, "I'm going to fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I'm going to unbuild walls." I hope that sounds appealing to you, Libra. Unbuilding walls is my first choice for your prime assignment in the coming weeks. I'd love to see you create extra spaciousness and forge fertile connections. I'll be ecstatic if you foster a rich interplay of diverse influences. If you're feeling super-plucky, you might even help unbuild walls that your allies have used to half-trap themselves.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20)

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

Biologists believe that no tree can grow more than 436 feet tall. As much as an individual redwood or spruce or mountain ash might like to sprout so high that it doesn't have to compete with other trees for sunlight, gravity is simply too strong for it to pump enough water up from the ground to its highest branches. Keep that in mind as a useful metaphor during the next ten months, Taurus. Your assignment is to grow bigger and taller and stronger than you ever have before—and know when you have reached a healthy level of being bigger and stronger and taller.

"If you can’t help me grow, there’s no point with you being in my life." Singer and actress Jill Scott said that. In my view, Scorpios may be the only sign of the zodiac that can assert such a sentiment with total sincerity and authority. For many of the other tribes, it might seem harsh or unenforceable, but for you it's exactly right—a robust and courageous truth. In addition to its general rightness, it's also an especially apt principle for you to wield right now. The coming weeks will be a potent time to catalyze deep learning and interesting transformations in concert with your hearty allies.

GEMINI (May 21-June20)

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

I haven't felt the savory jolt of bacon in my mouth since I was 15, when I forever stopped eating pigs. I still remember that flavor with great fondness, however. I've always said I'd love to find a loophole that would allow me to enjoy it again. And then today I found out about a kind of seaweed that researchers at Oregon State University say tastes like bacon and is healthier than kale. It's a new strain of a red marine algae called dulse. If I can track it down online, I'll have it for breakfast soon. I bring this to your attention, Gemini, because I suspect that you, too, are primed to discover a fine new substitute— something to replace a pleasure or resource that is gone or taboo or impossible. What could it be?

"You live best as an appreciator of horizons, whether you reach them or not." Those words from poet David Whyte would be a perfect motto for you to write out on a piece of paper and tape to your bathroom mirror or your nightstand for the next 30 years. Of all the tribes in the zodiac, you Sagittarians are most likely to thrive by regularly focusing on the big picture. Your ability to achieve small day-by-day successes depends on how well you keep the long-range view in mind. How have you been doing lately with that assignment? In the coming weeks, I suspect you could benefit from hiking to the top of a mountain—or the metaphorical equivalent—so you can enjoy seeing as far as you can see.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) By age 49, Cancerian author Norman Cousins had been struck with two debilitating diseases. His physicians gave him a one in 500 chance of recovery. He embarked on a series of unconventional attempts to cure himself, including "laugh therapy" and positive self-talk, among others. They worked. He lived lustily for another 26 years, and wrote several books about health and healing. So perhaps we should pay attention to his belief that "each patient carries his own doctor inside him"— that at least some of our power to cure ourselves resides in inner sources that are not understood or accredited by traditional medicine. This would be a valuable hypothesis for you to consider and test in the coming weeks, Cancerian. (Caveat: But don't stop drawing on traditional medicine that has been helping you.)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) In accordance with astrological rhythms, I'm giving you permission to be extra regal and majestic in the coming weeks. You have a poetic license to be a supremely royal version of yourself, even to the point of wearing a jeweled crown and purple silk robe. Would you prefer a gold scepter with pearls or a silver scepter with rubies? Please keep in mind, though, that all of us non-Leos are hoping you will be a noble and benevolent sovereign who provides enlightened leadership and bestows generous blessings. That kind of behavior will earn you the right to enjoy more of these lofty interludes in the future.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) In the coming weeks, I will refer to you as The Rememberer. Your task will be to deepen and refine your relationship with the old days and old ways—both your own past and the pasts of people you care about most. I hope you will take advantage of the cosmic rhythms to reinvigorate your love for the important stories that have defined you and yours. I trust you will devote treasured time to reviewing in detail the various historical threads that give such rich meaning to your web of life.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Sensible Capricorn author E. M. Forster (1879–1970) said, "Passion does not blind. No. Passion is sanity.” That's the opposite of what many poets and novelists have asserted down through the ages, which is that passion isn't truly passion unless it renders you halfcrazy, driven by obsession, and subject to delusion and irrationality. But in offering you counsel in this horoscope, I'm aligning myself with Forster's view. For you in the coming weeks, Capricon, passion will help you see clearly and keep you mentally healthy.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Alpine swifts are small birds that breed in Europe during the summer and then migrate long distance to Africa for the winter. Ornithologists were shocked when they discovered that at least some of these creatures fly for more than 200 days without ever once landing on the ground. They're not always flapping their wings—sometimes they glide—but they manage to do all their eating and drinking and sleeping and mating in mid-air. Metaphorically speaking, I think it's important for you to *not* act like the alpine swifts in the coming months, dear Aquarius. Please plan to come all the way down to earth on a regular basis.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) There's substantial evidence that when people talk to themselves out loud in the midst of doing a task, they improve their chances of succeeding at the task. Have you ever heard athletes giving themselves verbal encouragement during their games and matches? They're using a trick to heighten their performance. In accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to experiment with this strategy in the coming weeks. Increase your brainpower by regularly offering yourself encouraging, supportive instructions. It's fine if you just sort of whisper them, but I'd love it if now and then you also bellowed them.

HOMEWORK: Imagine it's 30 years from now and you're telling God the worst things and best things you ever did. What would they be? Testify at FreeWillAstrology.com. Check out Rob Brezsny’s Expanded Weekly Audio Horoscopes & Daily Text Message Horoscopes

freewillastrology.com The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at

1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 18, 2020 wweek.com

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