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Portland's Funniest

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WILLAMETTE WEEK PORTLAND’S NEWSWEEKLY

This

Is Portland's Funniest Person

Quarantine can’t stop comedy. Here are the city’s top comics, as chosen by their peers.

Katie Nguyen

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SCHOOLS: Teachers Could Play Hooky. P. 6 NEWS: All Timber, No Unity. P. 9 MAP: Give a Creature, Take a Creature. P. 25


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FINDINGS

DIALOGUE CHRIS NESSETH

PROTEST TO REOPEN SCHOOLS, PAGE 7

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM READING THIS WEEK’S PAPER VOL. 47, ISSUE 14 Rose City Antifa wants no part of Portland window smashing. 3

Portland teachers are asking to regift their priority COVID-19 vaccinations. 6 Oregon’s largest crisis mental health care provider is in danger of missing payroll. 8 A Toledo city councilor held a twohour forum on Timber Unity yard signs. 9 Portland’s funniest person teaches high school Spanish by day. 12 A Lincoln City mortuary where police discovered the owner had been stacking bodies in the garage

became a comedy venue. 13

One of WW’s Funniest Five comics once hosted a standup showcase called “Fuck Willamette Week.” 14 There was a time in the early 2010s

when Portland’s three Applebee’s offered the best pay in town to standups. 15 Portland’s all-women football team held tryouts last week. 22 Portland is dead. Sorry about that. 23

Someone installed tiny doors in the trees at Fernhill Park and hid tiny goodie bags behind them. 25 A pinball bar in Portland serves canned horchata cocktails to go. 27

There is a stoner drag star named Laganja Estranja. 29 Most of the Clackamas County forests where Kelly Reichardt filmed Old Joy 15 years ago have been clear cut. 31

ON THE COVER:

OUR MOST TRAFFICKED STORY ONLINE THIS WEEK:

Portland’s Funniest Person Katie Nguyen, photo by Thomas Teal.

Portland is the new Pompeii, says Forbes.

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Located in Portland’s Cully neighborhood, the Owens-Brockway plant is the only place in Oregon that recycles glass bottles. But a proposed city carbon tax could shut down the struggling plant (“Glass Houses,” WW, Jan. 27, 2021). The Portland City Council may soon vote on the plan, which would increase Owens-Brockway’s taxes by $1 million a year and raise more than $80 million a year. Andrea Durbin, director of the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the taxes’ architect, says she’s taking urgent and ambitious action on the climate emergency recently declared by the City Council. Detractors of the taxes say the fees could kill Oregon’s bottling recycling program and won’t drastically reduce carbon emissions. Here’s what our readers had to say: @TySchimpf via Twitter: “This is a great idea. Now we can switch to the super-environmentally friendly plastic containers.” GVPortland via wweek.com: “Carbon trading, carbon taxes and so on is greenwashing to the maximum. I normally don’t agree with all those carbon footprint matters, but when RECYCLING activity is doing something deleterious to the environment, it is worth evaluating the net gain when they’re consuming one resource and emitting pollutants in order to recycle another resource.” David Sweet via wweek.com: “My Cully neighbors and I will shed no tears if Owens-Brockway closes down due to the city’s new carbon tax. I appreciate that Portland’s glass bottles can be recycled close to home, but that benefit creates Cully’s burden—neurotoxins pumped into our airshed. Owens-Brockway has refused our entreaties to install state-of-the-art filters to mitigate their emissions. Take your poison with you when you go.” Bevin Ankrom via Facebook.com: “So much for transparency. We should be supporting those businesses that are at least involved in responsible recycling. Go pick on businesses that ignore EPA standards and give us (the taxpayers) an opportunity to weigh in. Unless your intent is to shut every business down, huge tax increases do not equate [to a response to] climate change.” David Be via wweek.com: “We do need to do something about greenhouse gases. A carbon tax is likely the correct way to. Implementation is the

Dr. Know

problem. Getting emitters to go out of business—if they do not change—is a good goal, even if we do need the products that they provide. Others can step up to provide those services and products using less carbon-intensive methods or energy sources. That’s progress, that’s room for innovation. Implementation is bad here in that it doesn’t give incentives and allow those who WANT to be good actors a way out that lets them fix their ongoing operations over a time frame. You shouldn’t be allowed just to buy your way out, since the climate doesn’t care if CO2 is emitted just because it was paid for in a different way. That just lets big players emit at the expense of ones with tighter margins.” Hikerdude2009 via wweek.com: “The main issue with this tax is, it’s trying to address a macro-socioeconomic environmental issue at a very micro level that isn’t at all enforceable outside our micro-jurisdiction. Therefore, it’s essentially meaningless. These businesses will either collapse or move to jurisdictions that don’t have such taxes or overseas where the businesses don’t have near as much environmental safety requirements that they have domestically. The demand for the steel will still be there. Someone else will supply it.” @barbwonttweet via Twitter: “Great question is the city-vs.-state or federal level of regulation. We clearly can’t wait for feds. Big states like California can lead and push with their regulations, but what are the side effects of individual cities trying to affect a global problem?” Derrick Ross via Facebook: “A carbon tax is nice and all, but the more I explore of this city and the West Coast, the more I realize that even Seattle, L.A. and the Bay all still rely heavily on ‘polluting,’ heavy industry jobs. I’d rather keep the jobs here, somewhere with a bit higher environmental regulations than sending them to other states/countries where nobody cares as much. There needs to be a happy medium instead of pushing regulations that don’t really solve the issue but punish companies for being in a specific location.” 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

What’s up with all the cars driving around lately not displaying rear license plates or visible trip permits? Is this due to a COVID-related backlog at DMV, or are people just saying “screw it” due to perceived (or real) lack of enforcement? —Licensed Busybody I’d like to thank you for writing, Busybody—you’ve reminded me the tags are expired on both my cars. For the record, the phrase “both my cars” probably makes the humor-columnist lifestyle sound more glamorous than it really is. I won’t bore you with model years, but I’m pretty sure both of these cars were touted in their original marketing materials as “Y2K compliant,” and when they run out of gas, I have to soberly consider whether it’s really worth the investment to fill them back up again. I haven’t been too worried about their tags, though, because (A) I’m a bum, and (B) Oregon imposed a moratorium on expired registration enforcement way back in March 2020, when all our DMV offices closed due to COVID. From this information, one might presume we’ll be able to get out of tickets for expired tags forever by singing a few bars of “Shah-la, la-la-la-la live for

today” and kissing the arresting officer on the nose. Unfortunately, this love feast of leniency is not without caveats. For starters, the DMV actually reopened way back in June. It’s true that it’s by appointment only (and they’re pretty backed up, too), but you can still renew your vehicle registration online, or even—the mind recoils—through the mail. And they expect you to do it! The moratorium doesn’t mean you don’t have to do DMV stuff at all; it just means they understand that, at present, doing DMV stuff is going to take you longer than usual. (I’ll give your mind a moment to crawl out of the k-hole caused by hearing the words “DMV” and “longer than usual” in the same sentence.) The original moratorium ran through Dec. 31, 2020, but it’s been extended to April 30, 2021. However, this is a rolling moratorium: Only tags that have been expired for less than three months are covered. After that, whether you get a ticket depends on your singing voice (and, given Oregon’s history, perhaps the color of the face it comes out of ). QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com. Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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MURMURS WESLEY LAPOINTE

TINA KOTEK

MAYOR WILL HAVE SECURITY PROTECTION IN PUBLIC SETTINGS: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will now have a security detail with him nearly every time he goes out in public following the Jan. 24 pepper-spraying by the mayor of a lawyer who followed him to his car outside a McMenamins pub. “The mayor has enhanced security measures, and we believe they will be effective in protecting the mayor’s safety,” said Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for Wheeler. “Given recent events, the mayor will be using that service more frequently and virtually any time he is in a public setting.” Middaugh said the city contracts with the private firm G4S Secure Solutions to provide enhanced security, which will also be offered to other Portland elected officials. Wheeler was confronted twice last month by citizens at restaurants. The first incident, at Portland’s Cafe Nell, prompted the mayor to carry pepper spray provided to him by a staff member, Middaugh said. KOTEK AIMS TO DECRIMINALIZE HOMELESSNESS: House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) introduced a bill this week for which she is sole sponsor to address a contentious issue in Oregon and nationally: the criminalization of homelessness. House Bill 3115 would prohibit towns and cities from arresting or citing people for sleeping outside when no alternatives are available. The bill follows litigation in Grants Pass last year over whether that city could cite people for sleeping in city parks. Civil rights lawyers challenged such arrests, and a federal judge agreed with them. The case echoes a high-profile federal ruling in Martin v. City of Boise, which found people could not be punished for sleeping outside unless they were offered sufficient alternative shelter. Kotek’s spokesman, Danny Moran, says the bill grew out of extensive consultation with local governments.

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HERNANDEZ MISCONDUCT HEARINGS BEGIN: As a legislative inquiry into allegations of harassment commenced, state Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland) faced an avalanche of criticism this week from longtime allies, including the state’s largest public employee unions, the farmworkers’ union PCUN, and other groups that represent people of color, such as the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. The groups responded to a 33-page report based on interviews with five women who complained of harassment. The four days of hearings in front of the House Conduct Committee began Monday night, with Hernandez, who has ascribed the proceedings to a “political vendetta,” apologizing but refusing calls by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and others for him to resign. ROSE CITY ANTIFA DISTANCES ITSELF FROM WINDOW SMASHERS: In an email to local media Feb. 1, Rose City Antifa seemed to distance itself from recent protests that have led to vandalism. “Rose City Antifa has not been organizing recent protests, although we stand in solidarity with those who express opposition to current systems of oppression,” the Portland anti-fascist group, founded in 2007, wrote. “While many of the people involved may consider themselves anti-fascists in ideology, we narrowly define anti-fascism as actions taken to oppose the insurgent right wing. Under this definition, protests that are not involved in direct opposition to far-right violence and instead combat the state, capitalism, etc., would…be more accurately described as anarchist, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, or another term.” The anti-fascists’ effort to draw such a distinction marks the first time Rose City Antifa has denied responsibility for Portland’s civil unrest. It follows several instances since autumn in which Portland protesters destroyed property, most notably at an Inauguration Day rally where dozens tagged and smashed the windows of the Democratic Party of Oregon’s headquarters.


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Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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CHRIS NESSETH

NEWS

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEK

SIX QUESTIONS FOR

backing of two of the most powerful public employee unions in the state, the Oregon Education Association and the Portland Association of Teachers. Elizabeth Thiel is president of the PAT, which represents 4,500 members in Portland Public Schools. She’s aware that getting a vaccination presents a political trap for teachers: If they take the shot and don’t return to classrooms, they risk enormous public disapproval. In a conversation with WW, Thiel says some might risk that anyway.

WW: Obviously, you’re CLASS ACTION: Parents protested aware that a lot of seniors outside Benson Polytechnic High are frustrated that teachSchool this week, demanding a ers received priority on return to in-person instruction. vaccinations ahead of them. Is that something teachers asked for? Elizabeth Thiel: We did ask for teachers to be vaccinated before a return to in-person learning. Because that makes sense. We did not ask for a timeline for that to happen at the expense of anybody else. Teachers would much rather have had their parents vaccinated. It has been a very difficult position to be in, to be told you will get the vaccine before others. But it was never a choice presented to us as a union, if this is what we wanted.

Elizabeth Thiel

A union head says teachers didn’t ask to cut in line for vaccines—and they won’t automatically return to classrooms in gratitude. BY AA RO N M E SH

amesh@wweek.com

For some Portland teachers, the gift of a COVID-19 vaccination feels more like an offer they can’t refuse. Last month, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown propelled schoolteachers and staff to the front of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine line. Educators started receiving COVID shots on Jan. 25; Oregonians 80 years and older must wait until Feb. 7. Brown chose to vaccinate teachers before seniors—a decision at odds with the priorities of 45 other states— because she wants Oregon students back in classrooms ASAP this spring. It was a gamble: Brown bet that the bad publicity she’d receive for delaying vaccines for seniors would be countered by the boost to children languishing at home. But the awarding of vaccines to teachers is no guarantee they’ll resume in-person instruction at Portland Public Schools anytime soon. Instead, it’s the start of a protracted fight. Many teachers remain reluctant to return to the classroom. They fear entering poorly ventilated buildings and bringing the virus home to their loved ones. They believe school reopening will spread disease from kids to parents and grandparents. And they argue that wealthy, white students will more easily return to school buildings—creating separate and unequal education. Yolanda McKinney, a second grade teacher at Sabin Elementary, has three children of her own and is currently battling breast cancer, so she says she won’t be returning to the classroom when given the option—at least not yet. “If I’m looking at it from a parent standpoint, I would not send [my kids] back into the classroom,” McKinney says. “It’s scary to think that I could potentially die. I didn’t sign up for that. I don’t think anyone signed up for that.” Some Portland parents are growing irate at teachers’ reluctance. “If teachers get vaccinated, they need to get back to work. They’re getting something we all desperately want,” said Melissa Oliver-Janiak at a Jan. 31 rally on the steps of Benson Polytechnic High School. “So get the vaccine and do your job.” But teachers have an advantage in this standoff: the 6

Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

The union and the school district are negotiating on a memo of understanding under which teachers would return. What are the sticking points? Our students’ families don’t have protection against COVID if they’re not vaccinated. So educators are hugely concerned that if we bring students together in schools and those students, although they may be asymptomatic, bring that home to families that aren’t vaccinated, that opening schools will contribute to the sickness and death of students’ family members, and we’re particularly concerned that spread is most likely to impact our students who are already the most impacted by COVID. Those who are living in multigenerational homes, whose families are essential workers, who are caring for family members with preexisting conditions. It’s my understanding that PPS can’t just order you back. Around the country, we’re seeing cases where districts do order people to come back. And then what happens next is playing out in the news constantly, right? Like in Chicago, they were ordered back. Lake Oswego, teachers were ordered back. And then there are more things that happen after that. Whether that is through organizing or invoking contractual rights. This is new territory for all of us, of course. But absolutely it’s going to take teachers’ consent at some level in order to open schools. You cannot open schools without teachers. Sophie Peel contributed reporting to this story.

BLACK AND WHITE IN OREGON

Is it what you wanted? It is not what we wanted. We would have wanted the vaccine decisions to be made based on public health, not on a timeline to be opening schools. Some people wonder whether Brown was in effect thanking teachers for 25 years of support. Others wonder if her motivation was a little different—that she was in effect trapping teachers into returning by taking away their reason for staying out. What’s your take? I can’t speak to the governor’s motivations. I had not ever discussed with her personally why she did that. But it certainly feels to a lot of teachers like being put in a terrible position where we’ve been given a thing that is so needed in our community, that people are literally dying for not having access to, and then told, because we were given this, we need to go into live instruction, even though there are so many unanswered questions and concerns about whether that is going to cause an increase in community spread. It is a terrible position to be put into. I have heard overwhelmingly from teachers [with] misgivings about being offered a vaccine ahead of people who are much more likely to have immediate health impacts or to die, including teachers’ own family members. Educators are upset: “I don’t know what this means. I’m getting vaccinated. My spouse, the parent that I live with is not. Can I give away my vaccination?” And that [question] has been clearly met with no: There’s no giving somebody else the vaccine. But that’s the kind of question that educators have been asking. “Can I have someone come in my place?” and the answer has been no. What’s your advice to teachers who don’t want to return to the classroom regarding whether they should receive the vaccination? It has been made clear to us that the order of vaccinations is not going to change. Refusing the vaccine as an educator, I have no reason to think it will help get it to somebody else faster. My advice to folks is to follow the orders. We would like to contribute to getting vaccines out as quickly as possible. And we’re not part of making those plans. So we’re cooperating with the directions we are being given.

OVERDUE: A health care worker in North Portland.

Who Gets a COVID Vaccine? White people are overrepresented in the vaccine line, even as people of color catch the virus more often. White Oregonians have had among the lowest COVID-19 case rates for the entirety of the pandemic, while Black people, Pacific Islanders, and Indigenous groups have had among the highest. But guess who’s being vaccinated at the highest rate? White people. As of Feb. 1, Oregon Health Authority data shows that 58% of the vaccine doses administered have gone to white people. That’s 255,934 out of the 438,277 total doses. In OHA’s most recent weekly report, white people made up just 47.5% of the total cases. That’s an overrepresentation of more than 10 percentage points. By contrast, just 1.18% of vaccines have been given to Black people, who made up 2.4% of cases, signifying one of the state’s largest disparities. “The numbers are quite shocking,” says Eric Ward, a civil rights strategist with Western States Center. “It is


NEWS

THE BIG NUMBER

31,977 That’s how many all-electric vehicles Oregonians had purchased before President Joe Biden gave the industry a big boost last week. Biden and Senate leaders pledged 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, and the president signed an executive order aimed at transitioning the federal government’s fleet to all-electric vehicles. Easier said than done, as Oregon can attest. In November 2017, Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order of her own calling for Oregonians to have 50,000 all-electric vehicles on the road by 2020. Although national surveys of electric vehicle ownership, infrastructure and incentives place Oregon in the top handful of states, progress toward Brown’s goal has been modest. As of Feb. 1, the state had achieved just over 60% of her target: 31,977 electric vehicles—about twice the number Oregonians owned when Brown issued her order. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services, which manages the state’s automotive fleet, hasn’t made as

CHRIS NESSETH

disturbing not to see a very vigorous equity lens placed over the vaccination rollouts and the communities that have been prioritized.” The state’s equity panel for vaccinations has moved slowly, and largely been ignored. Last week, Oregon lawmakers of color sent a letter urging Gov. Kate Brown to prioritize low-income seniors, inmates and frontline workers instead of focusing only on people of color, and that by doing so, it would reach racial groups who are dying at higher rates. Ward calls this letter powerful. “I encourage the governor’s office to reconsider the vaccination plans, to listen to lawmakers of color who are reflecting concerns of their communities,” Ward says. “It is paramount that we try to get this as right as possible. Real lives are on the line here.” Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) agrees that the current numbers are worrisome. “[The data] is not good and it’s not just Oregon—we’re seeing it around the nation,” she says. “[Frontline workers] have the potential to spread and to not have the information at their disposal the way some of their white counterparts do.” The governor’s office says the racial demographics of who’s getting vaccines reflect who works in healthcare and education. “As we continue to vaccinate larger numbers of Oregonians, we expect those demographics to begin to more closely reflect the racial demographics of the state as a whole,” says spokesman Charles Boyle. Andi Egbert, a senior research associate with the American Public Media Research Lab, says that according to death rates by racial demographic, adjusted by age to account for the large population of white seniors, white people are dying at the lowest rate in Oregon. She says when you compare the numbers of those vaccinated versus those impacted, it’s a red flag. “The one thing that is absolutely clear is that populations of color have died at two and half or more times the rate of white and Asians through the course of COVID,” Egbert says. “If we have any notion of trying to undo the earlier harm that’s been done in this pandemic, then any sort of compulsion for equity should prioritize those groups.” Ward says the solution is simple: Listen to lawmakers of color and seriously consider their suggestions. Ward says he anticipates that individuals with networks and resources will begin to discover ways to obtain a vaccine, and he doesn’t expect them to be people of color. “That type of disparity in the beginning of a vaccination rollout almost predicts that, without intervention, it will continue,” Ward says. “In times of stress, equity gets lost, and it’s been lost in this moment—Black and Indigenous folks are likely to pay the price for that.” LATISHA JENSEN.

BILL OF THE WEEK

Senate Bill 571

PEN AND PAPER: Inmates in the Oregon State Penitentiary could soon gain the right to vote by mail.

WHAT IT WILL DO: Senate Bill 571 seeks to change Oregon law so that incarcerated people can vote “in the county of the qualified elector’s last voluntary residence.” The bill also states that people who are incarcerated shall have the opportunity to register to vote and should receive election materials, such as the Voters’ Pamphlet and ballots, in prison. WHO ELSE HAS DONE IT: Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C. WHO WANTS IT IN OREGON: Eight legislators, all Democrats, are chief sponsors, including the chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Rep. Janelle Bynum (Clackamas) and Sen. Floyd Prozanski (Eugene). WHY IT MATTERS: The bill would enfranchise the approximately 13,000 women and men in custody in Oregon prisons—a major step in criminal justice reform. For decades, Oregon has allowed convicted felons to reregister to vote after their release. If this bill passes, they could vote from behind bars. Prozanski said he’s influenced by a trip he and other members of the Criminal Justice Commission took to Norway in 2017, where they learned about the Scandinavian prison system, which is significantly more restorative and less punitive than that of the United States. “Voting, for me, that is something that is so civic,” Prozanski says. “To me, it is a way to help them participate and I think gives them more confidence in themselves in understanding they are not outcasts, that they are part of society still.” Similarly, Bynum says the bill is about “enfranchising

people on a variety of levels.” “I don’t know that their interests go away because they’re incarcerated. I’ve never understood that,” she adds. “A lot of people who are incarcerated have children. They have an interest in voting for the school board members. They also have an interest in who their state representative is. They still have an interest in what taxes are levied.” Bynum also points out that when censuses are taken, people who live in prisons are counted toward the locale in which they’re incarcerated rather than where they lived prior. Most of Oregon’s prisons are in rural counties. “Essentially, what it’s doing is taking the interests of the metropolitan centers and depositing the power in the rural areas,” Bynum says. “I’m not trying to pit metropolitan versus rural. I’m simply trying to rebalance where the influence comes from and where people’s interests are best represented.” WHO OPPOSES IT: Nobody yet, according to Bynum and Prozanski. For Prozanski, a prosecutor, the bill is the result of a personal transformation. His sister was murdered when he was a senior in high school. “I’ve been there, I’ve done that, as a victim,” Prozanski said. “I was a proponent of the death penalty for many, many, many years. But then I had this soul searching. I expect some people are going to come in and say, ‘This person did this to my loved one. They should be outcast, they should be buried,’ or whatever. But that doesn’t get us anywhere.” TESS RISKI.

much progress: It owns 4,100 vehicles, but just 41 are fully electric, according to DAS spokeswoman Andrea Chiapella. That’s a sliver of the 4.2 million registered vehicles in Oregon, according to state figures. Of that total, 3.1 million are passenger vehicles. Transportation is the largest source of emissions in Oregon, and policymakers believe switching to electric vehicles will be crucial to meeting the state’s goal of reducing emissions to below 75% of 1990 levels by 2050. A report DAS submitted to the Legislature last month spells out some of the roadblocks standing in the way of Brown’s order. Chief among them: Charging infrastructure is expensive and challenging to install. In addition, Chiapella says, the state replaces only about 10% of its fleet each year and has faced limited choices on the car lot. “Until very recently, only the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt offered viable options for state fleets for full EVs,” she says. “With their smaller size, they don’t fit all state business applications.” Since Brown’s original executive order, lawmakers have gradually put legislation and funding in place that will help build out the necessary charging infrastructure, including a project slated this summer to add 300 EV charging spaces in Salem. Brown is asking them to do more in 2021. “Oregon is making good progress, but we need faster

acceleration to meet our goals,” Brown’s spokeswoman Liz Merah says. “That is why Gov. Brown introduced House Bill 2165 to extend Oregon’s electric vehicle rebate program and facilitate utility investments in much-needed transportation electrification infrastructure.” NIGEL JAQUISS. ELECTRIC VEHICLES BY COUNTY

165 290 7,333 9,103 175 8 5 553 4,123 96 431 1,524 50 37 281 472 861 51 1,121 2,468 118

169

108

51

253 261

1,228

9

91

10 33 18

22

6

122 Source: Oregon Department of Energy Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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NEWS CHRIS NESSETH

BIG PLAYER: Cascadia opened the Garlington Center in 2018, providing housing and health care under one roof.

Care Crisis The state’s largest provider of community mental health and addiction treatment services seeks a bailout. BY NIGEL JAQUISS

njaquiss@wweek.com

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Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

If financial troubles at Cascadia sound familiar, that’s because the nonprofit also experienced serious problems

CHRIS NESSETH

More than 18,000 Oregonians depend on Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare for treatment of serious mental illness and addiction, conditions that for many have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Portland nonprofit employs nearly 1,000 workers and provides services at 75 facilities, ranging from walk-in crisis centers to supportive housing for more than 700 clients, including at its new 52-unit Garlington Center apartments on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Kevin Fitts is executive director of the Oregon Mental Health Consumers Association and a former Cascadia client. He says the state’s largest community mental health care provider is “too big to fail.” Records show it’s in danger. In a Jan. 15 letter to the Oregon Health Authority that WW obtained through a public records request, Cascadia CEO Dr. Derald Walker asked state officials for an immediate, $4 million bailout. “Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has incurred significant revenue losses and significant increases in costs that began early in the pandemic’s arrival last year,” Walker wrote. “The combination of these two incredibly unfortunate and unforeseen forces of escalating operating expenses and continued drop in revenue has left Cascadia with a very serious financial position, and created immediate challenges.” Cascadia’s budget crunch could not come at a worse time. Oregon regularly ranks among states that provide the least treatment for mental illness and addiction. Amid a pandemic, economic devastation and civil unrest, the symptoms of that crisis are all too visible on Portland’s streets: people screaming, harming themselves, shooting up in plain sight or just staring forlornly from soiled tents or junk vehicles as the world passes them by. Cascadia plays an outsized role in providing care and shelter for traumatized people the state would otherwise leave behind. “Cascadia provides crisis drop-in services, Project Respond, that goes out to people, and peer support services that are incredibly important,” Fitts says. “What happens if those are gone? There’s a lot of need out there.” Cascadia’s cash squeeze came as a surprise to its long-

time local contract partner, Multnomah County, which serves as the local mental health authority. “Regardless of where the funding comes from or who has responsibility, our entire continuum is impacted by a provider’s ability to serve,” says Ebony Clarke, interim director of the Multnomah County Health Department. “When people cannot get care, we all see the impacts— from emergency departments, to the Oregon State Hospital, to jails.” Cascadia spokeswoman Nicole Rideout says the nonprofit is confident its struggles will be “short-lived.” “Our concerns today are reflective of two big impacts: lack of funding by the state and the impacts of COVID-19,” Rideout says. “These are circumstances well beyond what any organization can know in advance.” But the story of how Cascadia found itself in dire circumstances at a uniquely inopportune time is more than another unfortunate coincidence during the public health disaster surrounding COVID-19. It reflects the challenges of trying to repair a long-frayed social safety net, and the difficulty of securing stable funding in Salem for mental health.

COVID WOES: The pandemic raised Cascadia’s costs and lowered revenues.

in 2008. Then, it was almost entirely funded by Multnomah County, and the county came to its rescue. After restructuring and a change in management, Cascadia returned to health. Since 2008, a lot has changed. Multnomah County is still a significant contract partner for Cascadia: It has 16 active contracts with the nonprofit that paid Cascadia $15.6 million in fiscal 2020 and will yield about $11 million this year. Despite that close connection, Cascadia did not alert county officials to its dire straits until Jan. 19, when Walker emailed Clarke and sent her a copy of his letter to the state. “I apologize for not giving you a call earlier as this challenge increased in seriousness,” Walker wrote to Clarke. Today, the bulk of Cascadia’s funding comes from the Oregon Heath Authority via the state’s Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan. OHA in turn is dependent on the federal government and state Legislature. Cascadia posted revenues of about $75 million in 2019. But although the nonprofit finished in the black in 2018 and 2019, its tax returns showed warning signs: increasing debt and accounts receivable—in other words, it borrowed more and struggled to collect money it was owed. At the root of Cascadia’s problems, it appears, were two related decisions. The first was Cascadia’s move to expand its business model in 2017 to become a “certified community behavioral health clinic.” Oregon got federal funding for a two-year pilot program that aimed to provide clients a more holistic range of care, including primary medical care. The idea was to generate better outcomes at a reduced cost by addressing all aspects of patients’ physical and mental health. Walker told the state in his request for assistance that Cascadia decided to build its own primary medical care capacity, rather than contracting with outside doctors. But in 2019, when federal grant funding for the pilot program ended, Cascadia couldn’t persuade Oregon lawmakers to provide the state funding necessary to continue Cascadia’s expensive new program—even though the feds had offered a 4-to-1 match. “People weren’t sure about the model or if we should try another approach,” says state Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), who co-chairs the Human Services Subcommittee of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. A second request for state funding ended prematurely in 2020 when Republicans walked out of the Capitol. In his letter to the state, Walker says the Legislature’s decision not to fund Cascadia’s new program has cost $7.25 million since July 2019. Hardship pay and the purchase of personal protective equipment during the pandemic cost Cascadia another $1.4 million, and it lost $1.5 to $2 million in revenue for services it could not provide during the past year. The nonprofit burned through $3.5 million of its $5 million in cash reserves. To save money, Cascadia cut 38 positions, saving $3 million. But that wasn’t enough. “[We] are perilously close to defaulting on our ability to meet payroll expenses without significant cuts to personnel and serious disruption to programming offered,” Walker wrote to OHA. In that letter, Walker asked for a bailout: “temporary support in the amount of $4 million.” OHA behavioral health director Steve Allen had a follow-up meeting with Cascadia on Jan. 19, in which he sought more specific financial information. Allen says OHA examined Cascadia’s financials and suggested how the nonprofit could “stop the bleeding.” Funding approved by the Legislative Emergency Board on Jan. 8 will help Cascadia, Allen adds. He expects to meet with the nonprofit later this week to discuss next steps. The county says Cascadia has not sought additional funding, but county officials are eager for more information. “Until we have a more clear picture of the need,” Clarke says, “we won’t know what our next steps might be.”


NEWS

Timber Army ANDI PREWITT

In the small town of Toledo, a 70-year-old city councilor picked a fight with Timber Unity.

JEFFERSON DREAMIN’: A Timber Unity rally outside the Oregon Capitol in February 2020. BY TESS RISKI

tess@wweek.com

Each time Toledo City Councilor Bill Dalbey drives along U.S. Highway 20—which winds through the tiny timber town he calls home and extends to Newport, Ore., 7 miles to the west—he’s reminded of the hornet’s nest he kicked over. That stretch of highway leading into Toledo, as well as businesses along the town’s Main Street, is scattered with more than a dozen Timber Unity signs, Dalbey says. But it’s not the signs themselves that bother Dalbey. It’s what, in his opinion, they symbolize: far-right extremism. “It’s a black eye for the city of Toledo to have 15 goddamn 4-by-8-foot signs in this town advertising an organization that has these associations,” Dalbey said during a Jan. 27 Toledo City Council meeting. “I would think anybody venturing into our town would assume that this town is literally owned by Timber Unity.” A meeting of the Toledo City Council is not typically a matter of statewide interest. The logging town of about 3,500 people on the Yaquina River is perhaps best known for its wooden boat show each summer. But last week’s hearing drew testimony from all over Oregon. That’s because Dalbey, 70, turned it into a referendum on one of the fastest-growing activist movements in the state, and whether it enabled the same kind of anti-democratic mindset that resulted in a mob of Trump loyalists storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a failed insurrection. The conversation in the tiny Lincoln County town was a rare example of people on both sides of a festering argument sitting BILL DALBEY in a room together to talk. And while that dialogue nominally concerned the character of a local political movement, it highlighted the chasm that divides the country. Dalbey looked at Timber Unity—a conservative protest group that regularly rallies at the Oregon Capitol in support of loggers and truckers—and saw the seeds of homegrown extremism. WW reported that its spokeswoman, Angelita Sanchez, attended the Capitol insurrection. She also livestreamed from the state Capitol in Salem on Dec. 21, when conservative protesters trespassed into the building. Last month, Dalbey began circulating a letter calling Timber Unity “a magnet for fringe groups” like QAnon, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. That didn’t go over well in Toledo, where the mayor once gave Timber Unity a key to the city, according to the group’s founder, Jeff Leavy. “I honestly think this has been a colossal waste of time,” Toledo City Councilor Heather Jukich said toward the end

of the two-hour meeting. “Frankly, I’m disappointed in Bill for getting so many people upset about this, and we all have to come here and get upset and get angry, and that’s what’s upsetting to me.” (She later apologized for calling the forum a waste of time.) Dalbey disagrees. He says the group, at the very least, tolerates racism on its Facebook page, and that it doesn’t truly represent his hometown. “Domestic terrorism is the greatest threat to our country right now, as confirmed by everybody at the federal level,” Dalbey tells WW. “You got to take action in your local sphere of influence. And I looked around and I saw all this Timber Unity stuff and I researched it. I understood that they’re associated with some really bad actors, and I had to object to it.” Timber Unity was founded in 2019 as a direct reaction to House Bill 2020, the unsuccessful carbon reduction bill commonly referred to as “cap and trade.” The group, which says it’s a nonpartisan grassroots organization representing working loggers and truckers in Oregon, created the populist groundswell behind the Republican walkouts that brought the Legislature to a halt in 2019 and 2020. It also gives money to candidates: at least $78,000 since its inception, according to the Oregon Secretary of State website. The vast majority of Timber Unity’s donations have gone to Republicans, including recent contributions to Clackamas County Commissioners Tootie Smith and Mark Shull, and a $45,000 contribution to the Oregon secretary of state candidacy of Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer). Since 2020, research groups like the conservation nonprofit Oregon Wild have argued in the pages of WW and Mother Jones that Timber Unity fosters an environment of extremism, misogyny and white supremacy. “Through their online presence and in-person events, Timber Unity attracts people with white nationalist and paramilitary views,” says Lindsay Schubiner, program director at Western States Center, which tracks extremism in the Pacific Northwest. Former state Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), a lead organizer of Timber Unity, says the group “absolutely” condemns white supremacy and that it is a nonpartisan organization with no ties to the far right. “We would love to have more Democratic lawmakers and county commissioners, particularly those in the urban core, who would be willing to get out of their bubbles to really understand who Timber Unity members are,” Parrish tells WW. “Our members, our board and our families are diverse because natural resource workers come from all ethnicities and races.…I would never personally volunteer my time for a group who supported racism.” Several members of Timber Unity, including Sanchez and Leavy, showed up to testify during the Jan. 27 Toledo City Council meeting. Peggi Rush, a moderator of the group’s Facebook page, which boasts over 65,000 members,

noted that the group receives 25 to 50 member requests a day: “We got to be doing something right,” she says. Toledo City Councilor Betty Kamikawa, a Democrat whom Timber Unity endorsed during her run for Lincoln County commissioner, suggested that any Facebook page with so many members is going to have a few bad apples posting inappropriate comments. “Like any other organization, you can always get a turd in a punch bowl. You can’t kick ’em all out. It’s just the way it is,” Kamikawa said during the meeting. Others found it baffling that Dalbey would try to sever a logging town from a group that advocates for timber interests. Logging and trucking are the town’s economic lifeblood: Hundreds of people in Toledo work for the Georgia-Pacific mill and recycling plant, owned by Koch Industries, which contributed over $55,000 to the campaigns of 11 Oregon state senators who walked out of the Capitol in 2019. “I got to shake my head here a little bit. I’ve had three citizens on this testimony now tonight call me a racist for the sign on the side of my building,” said Charlie Cyphert during the council meeting. “This is a timber town.” Cyphert owns Timbers Restaurant & Lounge in Toledo—where legend holds that a tipsy Paul Newman once chainsawed the legs off a pool table while in town to film the movie Sometimes a Great Notion. Cyphert says he has two Timber Unity signs affixed to the building. In an interview with WW, Cyphert says he purchased the restaurant in September 2020 and that the signs were already on the building. He and his wife decided to keep them up. “Every logger, fisherman, road builder, rock hauler— everybody comes through this restaurant,” Cyphert tells WW. “For God’s sake, our name is Timbers Restaurant & Lounge. We have part of the name of Timber Unity in the name of our restaurant. We don’t get tips when loggers come in with work boots on and drag mud and put scrapes in our floor. We’re like, ‘Hey, guys, you just got out of the woods, you must be cold. Here’s your cup of coffee.’ We’re here for them.” If he was presented with solid evidence that Timber Unity was affiliated with white supremacy and extremism, Cyphert says, he would gladly take the signs down. But for now they’ll remain. Cyphert says he’s gotten “a flood of support” since the city council meeting and that more people in town have put up Timber Unity signs since then. Dalbey doesn’t regret starting the furor. “I see my members of my community sort of being duped by this. They sort of drank the Kool-Aid that Timber Unity is good for them,” Dalbey tells WW. “It’s a microcosm of the entire country. It’s the same phenomenon on a local level: the misdirection and the outright lies that people have been fed in order to make them think they’re a part of a grassroots movement.” Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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Funniest Five 2 0 021 2 0 2 Quarantine can’t stop comedy. Here are the city’s top comics, as chosen by their peers. PHOTOS BY THOMAS TEAL

2020 should have been the year that killed comedy. Last March, when the open-mics shut down and clubs went dark, it felt at first like the intermission would be brief. In two months, we’d all be back sitting shoulder to shoulder, seeing who came out of quarantine with the best jokes about Tiger King and learning to bake. But as the pandemic wore on, it became clear that gathering in tight quarters while forcefully expelling respiratory droplets in appreciation of a good bit about hoarding toilet paper wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. It’s the reason we initially decided to forgo our annual survey of more than 100 comics, club owners, bookers and megafans, looking for the best standups in the city. But then we realized something: Just because stages are empty doesn’t mean comedy isn’t happening. It’s happening in empty parking lots at guerrilla-style drive-in shows. It’s happening at BYOC street performances—that’s “bring your own chairs.” And, of course, it’s happening on the internet, on every platform available.

And so, here is your Funniest Five Class of 2020. Better late than never. The honorees all have two things in common: They do indeed miss the stage—but that hasn’t stopped them from finding other ways to be funny. One managed to shoot a semi-autobiographical short film while teaching high school students online. Another became a hit on TikTok by posting goofy videos. One converted their long-standing comedy game show to a digital format, while another shifted to creating delightfully absurd sketches for social media. We hope this issue helps you to discover new sources of levity following a very grim year—we’ve even provided a list to get you started (page 16). And we also hope it makes you envision a time, in the nearish future, when we can gather in a darkened room and enjoy a much-needed collective laugh. It will happen again—because if this issue proves anything, it’s that comedy never dies, especially in this city. —Andi Prewitt, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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BY SHA N N ON GOR MLEY

#1

Katie Nguyen

Nguyen’s jokes are noticeably lacking in mean spirit. Instead, she pulls humor out of the absurdity of everyday situations.

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Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

sgormley@wweek.com

A high school teacher by day, Katie Nguyen was prepared for the shift to virtual teaching in at least one major way— she had already dealt with hecklers. “Most teachers haven’t bombed at an open mic,” says Nguyen, who instructs Spanish in North Portland. “I don’t think I take it as personally as most folks.” Her work as a teacher has informed how she deals with comedy club hecklers, too. Nguyen has no interest in roasting overly vocal audience members. Instead, she gives them a polite, nonconfrontational talking to. Nguyen recalls a standup showcase a few years ago at a now-defunct bar—she can’t remember which one—where an intoxicated woman in the front row kept loudly commenting on each performance. So after doing her best to ignore the woman’s outbursts during her own set, Nguyen sat next to the woman at the bar, and gently let her know that she was likely distracting the comedians. It worked—the woman was receptive, apologetic and stopped disrupting. “One thing you learn in education is that behavior is an expression of needs, whether it’s ‘I need attention,’ or ‘I need help,’” says Nguyen. “A lot of times, hecklers don’t just understand how to be at comedy shows. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.” Nguyen has been an omnipresent name in Portland comedy for years. She’s performed at seemingly every venue and festival in town. In 2018, she published a satirical piece in The New Yorker titled “Times You Didn’t Tip Enough and Ruined Someone’s Life.” Before the pandemic, she co-hosted the storied weekly showcase Earthquake Hurricane, and she’s continued teaching classes at Helium Comedy Club post-lockdown. So for a career as prolific as Nguyen’s, it’s somewhat surprising to hear that she’s only had to deal with hecklers a handful of times. That’s possibly explained by the fact that Nguyen isn’t exactly boisterous herself. Onstage, Nguyen speaks the same way she does in conversation. Her quick, soft-spoken delivery is just above a murmur, and she often hunches over while gesticulating with whatever hand isn’t clutching the mic close to her face. Her refusal to humiliate hecklers fits into a larger comedic philosophy. Nguyen’s jokes are noticeably lacking in mean spirit. Instead, she pulls humor out of the absurdity of everyday situations. In one bit, Nguyen, who is Vietnamese American, imagines telling a co-worker that no, she wasn’t a “diversity hire,” she was an “adversity hire”: “I wasn’t hired to bring an underrepresented perspective to the table. I was hired to start shit, make things real difficult for everyone around here.” Nguyen’s unassuming, naturalistic stage presence is perhaps explained by the fact that she never intended to become a comedian. While she was growing up in Minnesota, Nguyen’s friends and family often praised her comedic abilities. But it wasn’t until she moved to Portland in 2010 for a

corporate office job that her peers began suggesting that she pursue comedy in earnest. She decided to sign up for an improv course at the now-shuttered Brody Theater, thinking it’d be a good creative exercise and a way to meet people in a new city. She had no intention of ever performing in a club. “Generally, in public, I try not to be very conspicuous, not make eye contact with people,” she says. “I didn’t think of myself as the ‘I like to be the center of attention’ kind of person.” But the positive feedback she received surprised her. Nguyen kept taking classes until she was offered a spot in Brody’s improv ensemble. Before long, she was getting regularly booked as a standup, too. It didn’t occur to Nguyen that she had become a comedian until a couple years into her career, when a stranger outside a bar mentioned that they had seen her perform before. “I was actually really rude,” she recalls. “When they said that, I was like, ‘What?’ I never said thank you and kept on walking. It just blew my mind.” Now, she’s undeniably a local stalwart, and one of the most idiosyncratic standups on the scene. Though her material is mostly clean and nonconfrontational, it’s anything but bland. Onstage, Nguyen lurches from deadpan bits about arbitrary beauty standards to absurd act-outs of her own version of Rihanna’s “Sex With Me,” which include bragging about never eating food off the floor and getting over the time her fifth-grade crush told her she had a mustache. Still, Nguyen is the first to admit that her comedy isn’t for everybody. “People with a weird sense of humor tend to like me more,” she says. “There’s people who think I’m not funny at all, who like things that I don’t think are funny at all. That’s cool.” Despite her reserve—both on- and offstage—lockdown has affirmed for Nguyen that she likes performing live. “It’s not ‘I miss being onstage’ so much,” she says. “It’s a community thing, it’s a social thing for me.’” For the most part, she’s forgone digital shows during the pandemic, instead focusing on scripted projects. That includes Crouching Comic, a semi-autobiographical short movie she starred in and co-wrote with local director Alberta Poon. Shot last Labor Day weekend with an allAsian American cast and crew, the film stars Nguyen as an anxious aspiring comedian, and pulls from Nguyen’s life as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, and Poon’s life as a Chinese American filmmaker. Though finished, COVID-19 has indefinitely postponed its premiere. “Sharing my story as an Asian woman comic from a family of immigrants in a comedic short film was an incredibly meaningful and validating opportunity,” says Nguyen. “I can’t wait for people to eventually see it.” If the film’s Instagram account can be taken as a mood board, Crouching Comic will be full of heart and goofball humor. Populated with photos of behind-the-scenes antics, pictures of the cast and crew’s moms inexplicably holding fruit, as well as infographics about dismantling white supremacy, the account also encapsulates the kind of wisdom that informs Nguyen’s heckling policy: Sometimes being compassionate and refusing to accept bullshit are the same thing. “I think people kind of see heckling as an opportunity to show my mean side or my roast-y side, but like I said, I do think it is an expression of need,” she says. “It’s all about teaching and modeling appropriate behavior, really.”


#2

Tory Ward

BY A N D I P R E W I TT

aprewitt@wweek.com

As the pandemic dragged on last year, Tory Ward grew increasingly desperate for conversation. She began to experiment with a few new outlets to connect with others: recording sketches with a fellow comic and uploading them to YouTube; going back to college, taking virtual classes at Portland State University. Ward also started taking her clothes off for strangers. That’s not the main reason she decided to find temporary work camming for a sex site, but it was a welcome bonus, even if all the talking happened via keyboard strokes. Ward had not performed inside a comedy club since March, and most of her jobs in the service industry that required human contact were lost to COVID-19. The internet gig restored some form of communication in the 32-year-old’s life. “It was really fun,” Ward says. “I lost 80 pounds in the last year and a half, so I felt I was getting a lot out of it. And there are people who are really nice and tip you a lot.”

Those are the ideal makings of the kind of bit you would expect Ward to recount onstage at some point, whenever it’s safe to laugh together in the same room again. She falls in the category of comics who mine their lives for material—Ward would simply call her sets an elaborate, socially acceptable form of oversharing. “I talk to myself compulsively,” she says. “It’s usually stuff that’s embarrassing. I’ll just repeat what happened over and over again to try to make it funny. I think it’s to try to relieve the agony.” Among the more memorable, awkward encounters Ward has workshopped out loud was the time she accidentally dated an 18-year-old, who lied about his age, when she was 26. “So we had sex, and he was like two seconds,” she says. “And I was like, ‘Is something wrong?’ And he said, ‘No, that was great! Let’s do it again.’ And I’m so stupid. Instead of being, ‘I clearly just fucked a child,’ I thought, ‘My ex-boyfriend must have been some kind of sex god, and this is just how everybody else has sex.’”

Whether she’s walking you through an interaction with her physician about her five new antidepressant prescriptions or describing bad sex, Ward has the gift of placing you in the episode as if you’d been a witness. It both underscores the listener’s own neurosis while also distracting from it once she reaches the joke’s turn. Divulging uncomfortable experiences in order to self-soothe is just one factor that prompted Ward to pick up a microphone. But it really had more to do with her late father, who loved comedy, fully encouraged her enthusiasm for it, and had a venue where she could develop a stage presence. A decade ago, Ward’s father saw something in a vacant Lincoln City mortuary that nobody else did. The building made national headlines in the mid-’80s after police discovered the owner had been lying about cremating bodies and instead stacked them in the garage “like cord wood,” as the local newspaper put it. No one would touch it after that, but Ward says her dad was always a “bargain hunter” and envisioned a new life for the space as an events center. After restoring the structure and renaming it The Eventuary, he started hosting everything from weddings to touring standup comics, including performers like Arj Barker, Tony Camin and a pre-fame Ron Funches. Ward logged a lot of stage time during her first two years at a show there called “Laughs and Lasagna.” Her duties as host were more complicated, though, since she’d be taking orders and clearing plates at the same time. A friend and comedy vet who came one night to watch immediately offered what needed to be done differently. “He was like, ‘You’re supposed to be the host. You’re not supposed to bus tables and then go run onstage,’” Ward says. “So I tried to tell my dad that, and my dad’s like, ‘Well, when your dad owns the venue, you do it.’” By 2018, Ward was no longer pulling double duty and instead working on the most ambitious project of her career: the Undertow Comedy Festival, a threeday event featuring dozens of comics at clubs and bars across Lincoln City. Ward secured a grant and, together with co-producer Amanda Arnold, recruited impressive names, such as 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander, Jeff Dye, and a now-famous Ron Funches. It was a huge accomplishment to pull off in a small town better known for its kite festival than standup scene. But in the middle of planning Undertow, Ward’s life was upended. Her father was diagnosed with leukemia after initially going to the hospital for flu-like symptoms. He died a month later. “[The festival] didn’t go well for me,” she says, “because I have it all wrapped up in this experience that sucked.” Ward has considered reviving the event elsewhere, perhaps even setting it on the beach. But right now she’s just trying to envision what comedy will look like post-pandemic. If you were to place a bet on Ward’s return to the stage, odds are you’ll find her back up with a mic in her hand. She’s missed the roar of the crowd far too much to give up comedy for good, a fact that became evident during that stint on a sex cam site during lockdown last year. Naturally, it’s an experience she has no problem talking about. “People respond in the chat window. When you say something funny, they’ll go ‘Hahaha,’ ‘LOLOL,’” Ward says. “So I’m there with my tits out, feeding off of them laughing. I realize the whole time I’m trying to get jokes in. ‘Ahhhhh, finally! I need these laughs so much.’”

Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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#3

Lydianning Ma

#4 Tyrone

Collins

BY M E IR A M E G A N G E BEL

Lydia Manning will never bail on a bit—no matter if it is dead silent or “the vibes are off.” “I overly commit sometimes, even if it doesn’t feel like most of the room is into what I’m doing,” she says. “It’s because I’m doing the jokes that I want to tell because they’re fun for me.” Luckily for Manning, what’s fun for her also happens to be what most of her audiences find entertaining. She’s glaringly satirical, and her delivery almost always includes a smirk, like she’s waiting for you to get to the gag before she delivers the kicker, while also wondering what took you so long. Growing up in North Carolina, she didn’t imagine her future would include talking about uncircumcised penises onstage, imitating toad calls or recapping especially bad dates in a dark bar to strangers. But she knew what she liked to hear. “Since my adolescence, ‘you’re funny’ was the one compliment that I really swooned over,” Manning says. “It’s still my favorite compliment to get.” Manning often felt envious watching standup specials featuring comedians like Maria Bamford and shows like Mad TV as a teenager. It looked fun and effortless, like anyone could do it…even her! So in high school, she dipped her toe in the water, starting with a roast of the seniors in her marching band class. “I had to make fun of someone in a way that would get people to still like me,” she says. “That was the moment where I was like, ‘Oh, I have to do standup.’” The roast was successful, and the ego boost propelled Manning to pursue comedy in college. However, it took a few years of rewriting jokes to get her to perform before people who were not her friends. “I called my mom immediately after getting off stage,” she says. “I called my mommy, like I’m a 21-year-old baby.” When Manning moved to Portland three years ago, what struck her about the local comedy scene was just how big it was. Back in Wilmington, N.C., she was lucky if there was one open-mic night a week. Here, she can hop around to different spots on any given night and workshop material to different audiences. Everything changed in 2020. Clubs closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, and when Manning’s colleagues

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jumped online, she thought she’d try her hand, too. She joined TikTok and created a character dubbed the “Douchebag Life Coach”—where Manning dons a fake mustache and doles out advice on how to achieve “noble goals” like “becoming more hot” by buying a bidet. To her surprise, one of her videos did well, amassing a couple thousand likes, and in the process she found out she had a hidden talent: “Doing two things that I’m not bad at, and doing them at the same time,” like hula hooping and playing the Star Wars “Cantina Band” song on the flute, which she displayed in a clip for her Instagram followers in December. The high from her first video’s success eventually wore off, though, and Manning began to see social media for what they are: highly addicting with little reward. So she deleted the TikTok app. “I’ve consciously been trying to do a little less clout chasing,” Manning says. “I’m trying to not make that such a big part of what I do. I want people to follow me, and I want people to know who I am, but I also don’t ever want to be hustling for followers and obsessing with how much people are paying attention to me.” What Manning is focused on now is the podcast she co-hosts called SpecScript, where guests write an episode of a TV show they’ve never seen. So far they’ve done installments of How to Get Away With Murder, Entourage and Succession. The podcast was once a live, in-person event that has since moved exclusively to the streaming platform Twitch. But mainly what Manning is waiting for, like most comedians, is for venues to open back up. She’s eager to get back in front of crowds and anticipates a lot more newbies on the scene, but there are still a lot of unknowns. “I think everyone will be awkward and bad at not just comedy, but interacting socially,” Manning laughs. “It’s not going to be a from-scratch rebuild, but it’s going to be like releasing chickens into the wild. The chickens are going to be fine, but it will take them a while to figure out how to do anything.”

BY MAT T HEW SIN GER

msinger@wweek.com

A few years ago, Tyrone Collins took exception to a certain comedy poll published in a certain Portland newspaper. His grievances were twofold: First, there were no female comedians featured in the issue. And second, neither was he. “It looked like a sausage fest,” he says now, puffing on a blunt during a Zoom call. “It actually looked like a good ol’ boys club, if you want to keep it real.” In response, Collins and his wife arranged their own standup showcase, with an all-women lineup and Collins serving as host. They called it “Fuck Willamette Week.” Hey, no hard feelings. Besides, if we were paying attention, we probably would’ve known Collins, 46, might take matters into his own hands. He has a history of it. When he got sick of waiting for hours just to get three minutes of stage time at other open mics in town, he went out and started one at a bar on Southeast 82nd Avenue. After getting shut out of the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, he co-founded the NW Black Comedy Festival, again with his wife, Courtenay. If a club like Helium won’t book him, he’ll simply go to Harvey’s, or up to Tacoma. He’s even put together multistate tours, taking him from California to Vegas to Omaha, all without the local press taking much notice. In his 10 years of doing comedy, Collins, who performs under his teenage nickname Hyjinx, admits he’s often felt overlooked—but that doesn’t mean he’s been easy to ignore. An acolyte of Eddie Murphy and his mother’s Rudy Ray Moore records, he approaches his shows with the energy and volume of a dude holding court at the bar, telling stories that force everyone in the vicinity to lean in and listen. Some of those stories are drawn from his life as a married father of four. Others are plainly outlandish: See his bit about “the Ghetto Sutra,” where he describes sex acts named after famous Black leaders. Even now, after a year without standup, Collins’ voice still has the rasp of someone doing three sets a night, and that’s because he’s stayed on his grind, recording podcasts and YouTube videos. He knows


better than most that if you wait for an opportunity to present itself, you may end up waiting forever—it’s best to go out and create your own. Originally from Asheville, N.C., Collins never considered doing comedy for a living until landing in Portland in the late ’90s, and even then, it took another decade to happen. A promoter saw a sketch he starred in for his sister-in-law’s college project and, although Collins had no standup experience, invited him to open a gig aboard a boat in Seattle. Tall and lanky, he made jokes about trying out for the Blazers and getting rejected because his rap sheet wasn’t long enough—material that killed in SuperSonics country but got blank stares back in Portland. “I actually stopped doing comedy for, like, eight months,” he says, “because I was under the assumption that when you bomb once, that’s your career.” Falling in with experienced comics like Nathan Brannon, Collins learned that failing was part of the job, and he began to see even the bad shows as a chance to improve. Over time, he left the basketball fantasies behind and began to take more from his real life. His favorite bit is about growing up poor, and how it made him resent the holidays. It ends with him singing a remixed version of “The 12 Days of Christmas:” “Twelve gauge a-shootin’/11 pimps a-panderin’/10 ladies lap-dancin’/9 bills a-waitin’...” Obviously, if you’re reading about him here, those years of pushing are beginning to pay off. Not that getting voted into these pages is at all his end goal. But it’s a sign, perhaps, that the city is finally paying attention, present company included. “Everything happens for a reason and in due time,” he says, “and maybe this was just my time.”

He approaches his shows with the energy and volume of a dude holding court at the bar, telling stories that force everyone in the vicinity to lean in and listen.

#5

ey n t i h W eed Str

BY CHA N CE SOLEM-PFEIFER

@chance_s_p

Even through a pandemic-mandated Zoom interview, the local authenticity of Whitney Streed’s comedy rears its head—its many heads. “Ants!” Streed yells, brushing the omnipresent intruders away from their computer and recalling their onstage pitch for a Portland TV show to succeed Portlandia. It was a reality program aptly titled So You Think You Have Ants. That joke was a hit at Helium in 2018 even before the stinger: “Spoiler alert, the season finale is Borax.” “Most of my jokes are about terrible things happening in my apartment,” says Streed, though ample home time hasn’t led to a wealth of material since their last show on March 2, 2020. For Streed, 12 years of Portland standup has hinged more on stage dynamics and live, riffing rhythms than solitary joke writing. A year off is a lifetime for someone who’s witnessed their standup community evolve from its Applebee’s era, through Bridgetown boom times, to whatever comes next. When Streed first rolled into town with western Pennsylvania college friends in 2008, the scene was more dude-centric, lacking in diverse spaces, and stingier with stage time, and there was certainly a lot more comedy hosted at Applebee’s. Streed describes a bizarre early 2010s window when three separate locations of the restaurant chain held a weekly showcase. “They were all atrocious,” Streed says, while noting the pay was somehow among the best in town. “No one intends to see comedy [at an Applebee’s].” For those early sets and especially when facing stiff audiences, Streed leans on an unabashed affection for wordplay. It’s perhaps a little safer than material on politics and identity, but still provocative in its way. “People will become angry at puns when they’re good,” Streed explains. “Most jokes feel like people wrote [them], but puns feel like they exist and people just find them. So you have to sell the shit out of puns.” The barrage approach can sometimes thwart the haters: “You’re like, here’s the pun. And people are like, ‘Awww.’ And you’re like, ‘Here’s four more! Ha-ha, fuckers! You’re never getting out!’” Steed’s stagecraft has evolved significantly in their decade-plus behind the mic, particularly when sizing

up an audience and diving into more personal or obscure topics. On the right night at the right venue, Streed jokes they would do “10 minutes on Judith Butler.” Their gender is a regular standup subject, often landing in a gleefully unresolved punchline. One such bit declares that Streed’s gender reveal party has been postponed indefinitely, maybe until their funeral. Then, the coffin finally opens, but the blue and/or pink balloons are still missing. “I feel comfortable talking about gender as a joke anyway,” Streed says. “There are so many inconsistencies in the system we use and assumptions just to get through the day. That’s where comedy is best: things we do all the time but don’t think about.” Other career highlights include opening for Maria Bamford at Seattle’s Neptune Theatre, helping produce the 2017 Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and hosting the six-years-running comedy game show Rants Off / Dance Off, which livestreamed via Zoom during 2020. Streed’s is the caliber of committed scene history that should earn a warm welcome back post-pandemic. But honestly, any reception will do. “I would love to bomb,” Streed says, imagining their eventual comeback set. “When the only thing that’s funny to you is how poorly it’s going, that would be amazing to feel again. You’re never more alive.”

"There are so many inconsistencies in the system we use and assumptions just to get through the day. That’s where comedy is best: things we do all the time but don’t think about.”

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I'm Actually Laughing DON'T MISS WWEEK'S FUNNIEST 5 LIVE ZOOM FEB. 18 TICKETS ON SALE NOW SHORTURL.AT/UCJQ2

Assville

Former Funniest Five finalist Shain Brenden and fellow comic Seth Allen hang out and shoot the shit about whatever crosses their minds in this podcast, from ’90s music to basketball to Portland food carts. There is a buttbased rating element woven into each show—the scale goes from a single cheek-clap to a whole peach—but really, the premise is just an excuse for these two good friends to catch up every week, and maybe learn important facts about each other. Like, for example, that Allen misheard the lyrics to Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me” for years, in a way that made the song infinitely more disturbing. MATTHEW SINGER.

Blerdy Talk

“Blerdy’’ is short for “Black” and “nerdy,” and Blerdy Talk indeed covers some nerdy subject matter: video games, anime, Star Wars, standup comedy. Of course, such geekery is hardly niche anymore—it’s pretty much the dominant culture now—but Chris Johnson and Thomas Lundy bring a casual familiarity to their podcast that makes in-depth discussions of Tekken and open-world gaming appealing even for those of us who haven’t picked up a controller since the Dreamcast was discontinued. MS.

Gettin’ Better

Ron Funches is here for you. Every Monday, the Oregon-raised, L.A.-based comic releases a new episode of this podcast, which mixes Funches’ goofball humor with candid conversations about mental health. Funches starts each episode by reciting daily affirmations, then launches into surprisingly feelgood conversations about topics like shame and anxiety with fellow comedians, from Maria Bamford to Conan O’Brien. But if you just need someone to tell you you’re doing the best you can right now, Funches has you covered— he posts minute long clips of his affirmations on Gettin’ Better’s Twitter account. SHANNON GORMLEY.

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In the nearly one full year that comedy clubs were by and large closed due to the pandemic, local (and formerly local) performers adapted by creating new, streamable content, while others kept their longstanding podcasts going. Here are six programs that have caught our attention since last spring’s lockdown.

Unnamed Sketch Show Featuring Tory Ward and Wendy Weiss

So far, Tory Ward and Wendy Weiss have only two sketches under their belts, but the quality of these early projects (streaming on Facebook and YouTube) is promising, and a third is already in the works. The two combined their joke-writing skills to start creating scripts for absurdly hilarious vignettes that are more Kids in the Hall in tone than playing-it-safe-for-broadcast SNL. The first features a sight-for-sore-eyes cast of other local comics as terrible job applicants at “Lady Capitalists.” The second places our showrunners inside a surreal call center that was inspired by Ward’s former employer. And the third is about…cookies? “The premise is, we’re having a cheat day and we’re going to get together and make cookies, and [Weiss] is like, ‘’Cause we’re cheating on our diet!’ And I’m like, ‘’Cause we’re cheating on our husbands!’ So we have very different expectations about what’s going to happen, and then it gets really weird.” ANDI PREWITT.

What Is Stuff

What happens when two former Funniest Five comics, who also happen to be roommates, end up stuck in their house for the better part of a year? It might sound like the beginning of a very corny sitcom specifically tailored to viewers held hostage by the pandemic, but this podcast is anything but schlock. Jake Silberman and Hunter Donaldson regularly performed onstage together pre-COVID, and they are clearly still having fun riffing off of one another here. Many of the episodes tackle the chaotic political climate, but rather than provide clarity, they run their topics through a blender. The show also makes time for personal anecdotes—a recent one still saw Silberman performing in oddball locations. Let’s just say, he never expected to end up telling jokes to a room full of maskless assholes in the storage attic of a Salem tchotchke shop. AP.

What’s More Metal

Launched three years ago by another pair of Funniest Five honorees, What’s More Metal examines a random topic every week by having the two hosts, Dan Weber and Nariko Ott, suggest the most “metal” aspect of their subject matter. In a late January episode, that meant coming up with hardcore uses for corpses (Ott: crash test dummies; Weber: cadavers repurposed as medicine). What could be more metal than the actual program? Perhaps the listeners’ reviews: “The best podcast to listen to while intentionally harming yourself just to feel something during quarantine.” AP.


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STREET “WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT TODAY?” At the tryouts for the Fighting Shockwave, Portland’s all-women football team. Photos by Annie Schutz @AnnieSchutz

“I’ve loved playing in other seasons. The people keep me coming back.”

The Fighting Shockwave’s coaches.

“I’m just thankful for something to do during the pandemic that keeps me in shape.”

“I just wanted to see these wonderful ladies again.”

“With nothing happening on campus, this seemed like a fun option.”

“It’s a diverse and inclusive group. I need spaces like that.”

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STARTERS

THE MOST IMPORTANT PORTL AND C U LT U RE STORI E S OF THE WEEK—GRAPHED.

Portland is dying, according to Forbes. That’s a shame.

RIDICULOUS

Now Open for Walk-In Shopping - Space Permitting

Sunday 11-5pm Tues-Fri 11-5pm Saturday 10-5pm 1433 NE Broadway St Portland • 503 493-0070

Amy’s, the popular vegetarian frozen food brand, is considering opening a drive-thru in Portland. STEVE TERRILL/CORBIS

MICK HANGLAND-SKILL

MICK HANGLAND-SKILL C

A

R

LY

DI

…for, like, an hour.

AZ

AWFUL

AWESOME

It actually snowed in Portland last week…

Kachka is back open—and its famous horseradish vodka has returned to store shelves after a three-year absence. WSJ

Hulu’s acclaimed Portland-set comedy Shrill will end after its upcoming third season.

C

H

R

I

I ST

NE

DO

NG

Kelly Reichardt’s Oregon-shot Western First Cow has been nominated for three Film Independent Spirit Awards. Alfredo Climaco, Portland’s piña colada king and owner of newly opened bar Tropicale, dies from COVID-19 complications at age 32.

SERIOUS

STAY SAFE, STAY INFORMED. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. WWEEK.COM Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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GET INSIDE

WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME THIS WEEK.

D AV I D M C C L I S T E R

STREAM: Mic Capes Live at Laundry PDX There’s been plenty of guitar-and-vocal livestreams, but far fewer hip-hop shows. Thankfully, veteran Portlander Mic Capes recently released a new live set on YouTube. Backed by his longtime collaborator Drae Slapz and performing at local vintage clothing store Laundry, Capes brings as much energy to the almost-empty room as he would to a packed club. The moments when Capes waves his hand in the air or tells his digital audience to clap along will probably make you miss being in an actual crowd, but for now it’s a pretty good substitute. Stream at YouTube.

SEE: Portland Winter Light (Non)Festival Most organizers have pulled the plug on largescale celebrations for the first quarter of 2021, but the Portland Winter Light Festival will go on—things are just going to look a little different. The sixth annual event is now scheduled to take place over two weekends in February to prevent crowds from mobbing the illuminated installations at the same time. Attendees can expect to find displays spread out across the city, including pop-up window pieces, video projections and architectural lighting, the hope being that by averting large clusters at installations, visitors can better physically distance. Find a map at pdxwlf.com. 6-10 pm Friday-Saturday, Feb. 5-6 and 12-13. Free.

STREAM: The Prismagic Radio Hour The world may be in timeout, but the Fertile Ground art festival is alive as ever: Programming

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HEAR: Florian T M Zeisig’s Music for Parents Florian T M Zeisig makes ambient music with a humanistic quality. Last year’s Coatcheck reflected his experiences working behind the scenes at a massive Berlin club, and his latest, Music for Parents, is made for Mom and Dad, with deep bass rumblings and endless chords apparently designed to resonate with certain frequencies in the body. This is ambient at its most physically pleasurable. Stream on Bandcamp.

WATCH: Chungking Express With Chinese New Year quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to binge-watch some toptier Chinese cinema to bid farewell to the Year of the Rat and ring in the Year of the Ox. This 1994 genre-bending drama from arthouse legend Wong Kar-wai is split into two distinct stories: The first about a heartbroken Hong Kong cop who falls for a mysterious, blond-wigged drug smuggler, the second about a different heartbroken Hong Kong cop captivated by the eccentric attention of a Manic Pixie Dream snack bar worker. Stream on Criterion Channel.

WATCH: One Night in Miami… Academy Award-winning actress Regina King’s directorial debut stages an informal 1964 summit of Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Malcolm X, mostly in a hotel room. Based on Kemp Powers’ play, it asks the world of its actors: embody famed prodigiousness while also revealing human conflict. The result is two rememberthat-name turns from Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcolm X) and Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown). Stream on Amazon Prime.

WATCH: Super Bowl LV Hey, did you know football was still a thing? Apparently, the NFL made it all the way to the end of its pandemic season, which means it’s time for the Big Game, featuring Old Man Brady and the Pirates of West Florida taking on the Kansas City How About You Guys Change Your Name Now inside a not-empty-enough arena that’s also in Florida. Of course, for some of us, getting together to watch the game is more about the “getting together” part, which renders this year moot. But if you want to replicate the experience, the venerable RingSide Steakhouse is selling a $74 meal kit to go, with smoked pork ribs, potato salad and truffle mac and cheese, so you can throw a gluttonous Super Bowl party for one. OK, your lizard can have a nibble, as a treat. 3:30 pm Sunday, Feb. 7, on CBS. Order RingSide’s Super Bowl Meal Kit at ringsidesteakhouse.com. MIRAMAX/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

WATCH: Old Joy Following the three Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations Kelly Reichardt’s Oregonshot First Cow received last week, it’s a reminder that the director has a deeper filmography of movies that were made locally, including Old Joy. A Sundance breakout 15 years ago, this drama sketches the uneasy friendship between two Portlanders—Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London)—as they seek out Bagby Hot Springs for a hike, a soak and a hundred little talks. Old Joy showcases Reichardt’s trademark attention to detail and short-story author Jon Raymond’s trademark intimacy, and a decadeplus later remains a stirring but ambiguous journey. Stream on Criterion Channel.

streams for free on YouTube and Facebook. One way of transcending the limitations of a lockdown is to blitz your audience with comedy, movement and magic tricks. That philosophy fuels The Prismagic Radio Hour, a variety show created by the circus company Prismagic Events. It’s defined by the dizzying acrobatics of Alison Lockfeld and Prismagic co-founder Petra Delarocha, but the best part of the show is Kristen Schier’s performance as a “Junior Star,” who wants to make the wishes of mortals come true. See fertilegroundpdx.org for streaming details. 9 pm Friday, Feb. 5.

AMAZON

STREAM: Trampled by Turtles After almost a year without concerts, more and more venues are launching livestreams. This week, the Wonder Ballroom hosts the Portland leg of Trampled by Turtles’ virtual “tour.” Earlier this year, the Americana rock band recorded four live sets in Minneapolis, their hometown. The band will release a new set via local venues across the country every Thursday in the month of February. A portion of ticket sales will go to the Save Our Stages campaign—though it’s unclear how the pricey “meet-and-greet bundle” options work during a pandemic. Stream via Wonder Ballroom at wonderballroom.com. 6 pm Thursdays, Feb. 4-25. $15-$220.


GET OUTSIDE CARTOGRAPHY

Magical Mystery Tour A map to a small selection of Portland’s neighborhood curiosities. No matter how cynical you’ve grown about this town, Portland remains a city of hidden urban wonders, from the stable of tiny horses tethered to random curbs to public art projects to the abundance of Little Free Libraries. But there’s always more to discover. Want to kill a weekend afternoon and actually get out of the house for a while—particularly if you have kids? Take this map and venture forth.

I-5

MATTHEW SINGER.

15th

hwy. 3

0

fremont

24th

23rd

broadway

way

5

naito

broad

I-40

Burnside stark belmont hawthorne

2636 SW Talbot Road A family has spent quarantine posting a new handwritten riddle each day outside its home, giving pedestrians in the Southwest Hills something to chew on while on a jog or power walk.

Car Library Northeast 20th Avenue and Fremont Street A display of toy cars from the neighborhood, with one given pride of place as Car of the Month.

division

powel The Riddle House

I-84

39th

I-84

hwy. 26

y

sand

knott

Wishing Tree I 2954 NE 7th Ave. For eight years, this horse chestnut tree has welcomed passersby to Sharpie their hopes and dreams on blank tags and affix them to its branches.

42nd

williams

I-5

killingsworth

33rd

mlk jr. blvd.

alberta

Tiny Creature Swap 2802 NE 21st Ave. It’s like a “give a penny, take a penny,” except with figurines: Think McDonald’s toys, plastic dinosaurs, the occasional Minion, etc.

Fernhill Park, 6010 NE 37th Ave. Of course there are gnomes in Portland—who else is going to ride all those toy horses? Tiny doors fashioned in the nooks of a select few trees hide goodie bags filled with small treasures.

ia

y

lombard

Northeast 27th Avenue and Wygant Street Six shelves of toys free for the taking, but don’t expect to find a Nintendo Switch—it’s mostly for the toddler set.

columb

cull

Toy Library

Portland Gnome Trees

I-5

l

Wishing Tree II Northeast 20th Avenue and Fremont Street The one on 7th is the original, but the idea is spreading. Don’t let the name fool you, though: This one isn’t a literal tree but a 5-by-6-foot metal rack.

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FOOD & DRINK CHRISTINE DONG

FEATURE

NO, SOUP FOR YOU!

SLURP CITY: In response to the pandemic, prix fixe legend Langbaan has rebranded to Thai drinking snacks and noodle soups.

EAT

LANGBAAN’S SEAFOOD DUMPLING SOUP Like the ocean in a bowl.

Two of Portland’s best Southeast Asian restaurants are putting their fine-dining expertise into takeout noodle soups—just in time for the coldest part of winter. BY AN DR E A DA M E WO O D

@adamewood

For the first few months of the pandemic, I avoided noodle soups when ordering takeout. There’s something about a giant piping hot bowl placed on the table in front of you that can’t be replicated when served out of a plastic container. Often you’re faced with soggy noodles and lukewarm broth. The only thing harder to capture in a to-go box? Haute cuisine, with its foams, intricate plating and the whole indulgent experience of sitting in a finely appointed room and having a glass of expertly selected wine poured by a pro. Wasn’t that lovely? So when the kitchens at Vietnamese fine-dining upstart Berlu and Thai prix fixe legend Langbaan both pivoted to making à la carte noodle soups for the winter, I felt these might be the exception to my self-imposed rule. Both spots are using their finetuned attention to detail on their bowls, and it turns out that’s exactly what a good soup to go really needs. The soups at chef Vince Nguyen’s Berlu are the more elusive of the two shops’. He’s making two per week, one with meat and one vegan, available for pickup on Fridays at Southeast 6th and Morrison. Ordering goes up on Berlu’s website at noon on Monday, and the soups sell out within minutes. On a recent Friday, I collected orders of bun mang ga and bun mang chay in returnable takeout containers neatly nestled with a list of instructions on how best to heat and prepare your bowl at home. (Hint: 26

Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

You’ll need a stove and a pot. Also, do not overcook those noodles.) The bun mang ga—made of shredded organic chicken breast, chicken hearts, bamboo, sprouts and herbs—was deeply rich and gingery, with medium-thick rice vermicelli noodles. Nguyen’s care for the craft meant the chicken arrived still pink, so that it didn’t overcook as you heated the soup. All it needed was a small dollop of the accompanying chile to kick it into serious cold-busting territory. It is, as Nguyen writes in the instructions, a warm embrace by way of noodle soup. The vegan bun mang chay, with maitake mushroom, roasted Brussels sprouts, greens, bamboo and herbs, failed to reach the same level—instead, it was more like a bracing tonic. I could have also used a bit more in the topping department: Each soup is $18, and if I had just eaten the vegan soup, I’d have needed a snack not long after. Fortunately, Berlu is also operating as a bakery on weekends, and you can add treats like a pandan waffle or a slice of mango roll cake to your order. At Langbaan, owner Earl Ninsom rebranded to Thai drinking snacks and noodle soup, meaning you can (and definitely should) add bites like its famous scallops with coconut cream (two for $9) and supremely flavorful fried fermented short ribs ($12). But the real stars are the seven soups, including a hearty beef noodle curry topped with grilled short rib ($24), with

pickled cabbage providing a kick that keeps the soup from becoming too heavy. The beef perches above thick egg noodles like a ship adrift on the tastiest ocean, and you will wind up very full if you try and eat it all in one go. Which, you know, go for it— YOLO and all that stuff. Boat noodles ($16), a Thai menu standard bearer, gets cheffed up as well, arriving in a rich stock of oxtails, filled with more oxtail, beef meatballs and egg noodles, and a black cod rice soup ($18) is a soothing ginger embrace. The standout is undoubtedly the seafood dumpling soup ($21). It’s like an ocean in a bowl: This baby’s got shredded king crab and two fat shrimp swimming in a garden of seaweed, with islands of plump dumplings filled with halibut. I eat a lot of noodle soups, and this one was a first, achieving a depth of flavor that most seafood-based stocks could only dream of. It’s very salty and slightly spicy, with a ton of herbal infusion. Unlike the far less subtle beef curry soup, this one kept me guessing with each bite, and filled me up without driving me to the brink of explosion. Langbaan and its sister restaurant, Paadee, have limited sidewalk seating, so you can enjoy the soups in person. But the care the chefs put into packaging and preparing these soups means that you’re going to do just as well at home, which is where we all belong anyway. BERLU 605 SE Belmont St.,

NUOC LEO CHAY Vegetable broth flavored with fermented shiitake mushroom. vermicelli rice noodle, lobster mushroom, kale, sprouts and herbs from Berlu.

BERLU berlupdx.com. Order in advance at exploretock.com/berlupdx. LANGBAAN 6 SE 28th Ave., 971-344-2564, langbaanpdx.com. 3-9 pm Wednesday-Sunday.


FOOD & DRINK CHRISTINE DONG

Five Other Awesome Noodle Soups in Portland Super Bowl A at Good Taste

18 NW 4th Ave., 503-223-3838. This is probably the largest bowl of soup in the state of Oregon, but none of the additions are unnecessary. Good Taste starts with a wonton noodle soup—fat wontons with whole shrimp in each, along with bok choy and egg noodles—then heaps BBQ pork and roasted duck and pork on top in the name of decadence. LANGBAAN

Dac Biet at Pho Oregon

2518 NE 82nd Ave., 503-262-8816. Pho Oregon’s house special is the finest example of this Northern Vietnamese special that I’ve had the pleasure of slurping in Portland. There are many fine bowls, but the rich, not-too-sweet broth, along with the finest balance of fatty tendon, chewy tripe and perfectly rare slices of beef and brisket make this my favorite.

Mi Quang at Rose VL

6424 SE Powell Blvd., 503-206-4344. This is the soup. Rose VL is open during the pandemic and putting out its meticulous,

Vegan Tonyu Red Ramen at Marukin

609 SE Ankeny St., Suite A; 126 SW 2nd Ave. (inside Pine Street Market); marukinramen.com. This is a plant-based satisfier, based on soy milk for richness, with plenty of mushrooms and tofu to bulk it up. If you’re not a vegan, add an egg for ultra-luxe completion.

Bun Bo Hue at Tèo Bun Bo Hue

8220 SE Harrison St., #230, 503-208-3532. Respect to any place that just names itself after its signature dish. Tèo nails this central Vietnam staple (and its pho is excellent, too), right down to a precise level of spice, and that famous blood cube. ANDREA DAMEWOOD.

DRINK MOBILE

WESLEY LAPOINTE

Little Hands Stiff Drinks at Wedgehead

James Beard Award-nominated soups in some of the most thoughtful to-go packages around. Available on Saturdays, Mi Quang is the one to order, with a crisp rice cracker sail gliding through a turmeric broth loaded with goodies.

Cocktails in a can. BERLU

Surrounded by pinball tables, KaCee Solis-Robertson swizzles and shakes double-batch cocktails behind the bar at Wedgehead. Hers are the self-described “freakishly small hands” seen clutching rosary beads on the logo of her new canned cocktail brand, Little Hands Stiff Drinks. After tending the bars of Portland establishments like Clyde Common, Bar Casa Vale and, most recently, Freeland Spirits, this is Solis-Robertson’s breakout venture. Little Hands is currently running the cocktails-to-go program at the Northeast Sandy Boulevard pinball arcade. Solis-Robertson’s cocktails are steeped in a local-supports-local ethos. The Sleep Witch, a tart neon fuchsia drink, features local Dogwood Distilling vodka infused with Washington-based Tea Hunter’s Blue Valentine lemon-ginger tea. Each 16-ounce can ($18-$22) contains two servings, and Solis-Robertson makes them to order. Behind the bar at Wedgehead, she measures, shakes,

and squeezes fresh citrus into a mixing glass before pouring it into a can and sealing it with a cannulator. The Sleep Witch gets its pucker (and purple color) from a healthy squeeze of lemon that mixes with blue butterfly pea flowers in the tea, while the Cha Cha is made with homemade vegan horchata. The canning process doesn’t hinder the smoky, starchy drink but Solis-Robertson does expect you to crack and sip immediately— these aren’t pasteurized, after all. The drink, along with a complimentary cup of ice, is in your hands 30 minutes later when you pick it up or have Wedgehead deliver it—which the bar does itself, to avoid “bloodsucking third-party apps.” From there, imbibing instructions from Solis-Robertson are simple: “You just pour over ice and get to drinkin’!” ELIZA ROTHSTEIN. DRINK: Wedgehead, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-477-7637, wedgeheadpdx.com. 4-10 pm Wednesday-Sunday. Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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2. Paydirt

TOP 5

BUZZ LIST Where to get drinks this week, one way or another.

1. Tropicale

2337 NE Glisan St., 503-894-9484, tropicale.co. Noon-9:30 pm Wednesday-Sunday. The Portland food world was leveled last week by the passing of Alfredo Climaco, Portland’s piña colada king and owner of this colorful, recently opened cocktail bar. But a piece of his vibrant spirit survives in the drinks that made him famous, like the smokysweet Oaxaca Forever. Named after the home state of Climaco’s father, it has a subtle wood smoke that wafts in the background like a bonfire on the sand, joined by a swell of grapefruit that crashes against a dash of warming cinnamon.

CHRISTINE DONG

2025 N Lombard St., 503-208-2660, tinybubbleroom.com. 3-10 pm daily. Growing up in Northeast Portland, Jeremy Lewis remembers family dinners at the Lung Fung Chinese restaurant. Now, the place is his. His new bar, Tiny Bubble Room, is named for Lung Fung’s adjoining old-school lounge and gives Arbor Lodge and Kenton a “not-so-divey dive” similar to Roscoe’s in Montavilla, which Lewis also owns.

ROCKY BURNSIDE

HOT PLATES Where to get food for the Super Bowl this week.

1. Baes

225 SW Ash St., 1613 SE Bybee Blvd., baeschicken.com. 11 am-9 pm daily. The bad news: Tom Brady is going back to the Super Bowl. The good news: Ndamukong Suh is going with him. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end grew up in Northeast Portland, attended Grant High School and, most relevant to our concerns, is co-owner of this fried chicken joint with fast-casual kingpin Micah Camden. Baes doles out fresh, juicy birds with ruthless efficiency and alarming consistency, and it’s on all the major third-party delivery apps.

2. Fire on the Mountain

Multiple locations, portlandwings.com/superbowl. Portland’s Grateful Dead-themed wing stop, pizzeria and brewery is basically like a year-round Super Bowl party, so it’s no wonder the place has some very specific rules about ordering your Big Game provisions: takeout only, only pizza and bone-in chicken wings will be available, and ordering 72 hours in advance is strongly encouraged. Even if your watch party is just you and your dog, this is your go-to, but you probably knew that already.

716 NW 21st Ave., 503-384-2219, randrpdx.com. 3-10 pm daily. Overhauled from a Belgian bar into a faux-beachside resort, R&R borrows elements from your Hawaiian vacation Pinterest board—palm fronds, piña coladas, poke—and brings them to life. But the standout is what may also be your new favorite nacho plate in town. Pepper jack cheese is generously layered with diced tomatoes and sautéed corn, and the smoke in the drizzle of jalapeño sauce pulls together all of that light sweetness and salt. Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

4. Tiny Bubble Room

TOP 5

3. R&R

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2006 NE Alberta St., 503-954-2021, imperialbottleshop.com/glubar. 4-10 pm Wednesday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday-Sunday. Inspired by the outdoor Christmas markets in Northern and Western Europe, Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom’s new curbside pop-up makes patio drinking in the dead of winter not only feasible but downright jolly. The lineup of mulled drinks changes about once a week, but whatever options are available, always spring for something that can be set on fire.

825 N Killingsworth St., 503-206-8483, tulipshoptavern.com. Noon-10 pm daily. While the building has seen quick turnover in recent years, Tulip Shop Tavern feels like a neighborhood staple that’s been around far longer than not even three years. It’s achieved that by hitting the deceptively simple trifecta that many nouveau Portland bars struggle with: good vibes, good food and damn good drinks. You can now get those drinks to go— from well-made standards to house cocktails, such as the fruit-forward Paper Tiger—and pair them with the under-the-radar burger. The vibes, though? Those are up to you for now.

Join the Dive podcast every Saturday as we quickly cover the week’s headlines, and then dive deeper into the big stories of the week. Host Hank Sanders sits down with the paper’s staff as well as the biggest names in Portland to discuss the city and the events that change lives.

Available anywhere you get your podcasts

3. GlüBar

5. Tulip Shop Tavern

YOUR BACKSTAGE PASS TO THE WWEEK NEWSROOM

The Dive podcast by Willamette Week is the best way to stay up to date with Portland’s news, sports, arts, and culture.

2724 NE Pacific St., 503-908-3217, paydirtbar.com. 4-9 pm Wednesday-Saturday. The to-go version of Paydirt’s House Old Fashioned— Old Taylor bourbon with bitters and sugar, plus an orange twist and “fancy cherry”—is made to order, funneled into 4-ounce brown glass bottles. It also comes with an added bonus in order to satisfy state liquor regulations: a cheese sandwich, literally a slice of American cheese between two pieces of white bread.

4. PDX Sliders

1605 SE Bybee Blvd., 971-717-5271; 3111 SE Division St., 503-719-5464;pdxsliders.com. 11 am-10 pm daily. PDX Sliders represents one of those rare moments when Yelp actually gets it right: Users voted it “4th Best Burger in America” in 2016. The competitive advantage at play is the modest price and size of each sandwich, most of which run around $5 for a 3-ounce slider and yield an unheard-of amount of flavor for such a small package.

5. The Star

1309 NW Hoyt St., 503-300-7827, thestarportland.com. Noon-8 pm SundayThursday, noon-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday. Portland might be overdosing on quality pizza at the moment, but if the pie can hold its own, hey, what’s one more? While known for deep-dish, the must-get item here is the cracker-crisp pesto chicken. A hypnotic, basil-colored spiral drizzled around the pizza compels you to drop whatever else is occupying your mouth at that moment and dig in.


POTLANDER

PRODUCT REVIEW

Rub Down

Stoner drag star Laganja Estranja’s new CBD skin care line is mostly fabulous.

BY BRIANNA WHEELER

Drag and weed have been the pillars of my self-care during this epoch. So when I heard about a cannabis skin care line endorsed by the drag queen of cannabis herself, Laganja Estranja, I nearly shablammed with excitement. Honey Pot CBD is a Cannabis Cup-winning brand of handmade, medicated topicals that recently teamed up with the noted cannabis advocate and drag megastar formerly known as Jay Jackson for a line of hemp CBD-infused potions.

WW auditioned all three products in the Honey Pot x Laganja Estranja skin care line: Blue Dream Cream Body Lotion, Super Lemon Blaze Hand & Body Wash, and a Sugar Daddy Purp Bath Bomb. The names imply strain specificity, but the intended audience appears to be stoner divas on Self-Care Sunday rather than devotees of particular medicinal cultivars. Regardless, each product showed value beyond mere spa indulgence. Well, almost all.

Blue Dream Cream Body Lotion (1000 mg CBD per bottle) My partner is a laborer who often clocks out from his shift with stiff joints and aching muscles, and CBD has been his most effective remedy. Always keen to try a new recipe, we slathered his shoulders and back with this lotion after a particularly draining night on the job. The lotion is rich but silky, with a medium-stiff consistency that doesn’t drip or feel at all oily. It massages into the skin with minimal effort, leaving a perfume of tart grapefruit, sweet cocoa butter and earthy hemp that, while robust in the bottle, is sheer on the skin. My partner reported a minimal easing of superficial aches and pains after a while, but the biggest takeaway was how supple our skin felt after tandem massages. Our shoulders, hands and fingers all felt cashmere soft after our alternating applications. I’ve since moved the lotion from the topicals shelf to my own high-femme beauty arsenal, and after a week of use, I can report that it not only quieted some lingering tendonitis aches in my wrists, it completely quenched every inch of ashy winter skin on my body— heels, knees and elbows included.

Super Lemon Blaze Hand & Body Wash (1000 mg CBD per bottle) For a good chunk of lockdown, I’ve kept my hair conveniently locked into a grid of box braids. As other braid wearers know, a braided scalp will begin to itch after a week or so. It’s a natural consequence of keeping the same hairdo for several consecutive days. Rather than go into wash day with a drugstore shampoo or a more chemically complex anti-itch variety, I decided to wash my hair—well, my scalp mostly—with Super Lemon Blaze Hand & Body Wash. A review of the ingredients (minimum sulfates, maximum oils) supported my theory that this potion would be appropriate, if not beneficial, for use on an otherwise healthy scalp. I worked the medium-viscous liquid soap into the grid of knots across my scalp and felt instant relief. A combination of cocoa butter, lemongrass and rosemary oils extinguished the angrier areas with a cool tingle, and a relief that may have been supported by CBD kept the itching significantly diminished until the next week’s wash day. As a bonus, the tangy traces of bergamot oil left my whole coiffure smelling like a freshly brewed cup of Earl Grey tea. As a body wash, Super Lemon Blaze performs on “normal” skin as expected. It’s got a slight tingle, and a light foam that rinses clean away. Those with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis or persistent itching may want to check in with their derm before committing to a full 8 ounces of these medicated suds. My itching was remedied, but your results may vary.

Sugar Daddy Purp Bath Bomb (150 mg CBD) As a working parent, my opportunities for medicated bath times are few and far between. When a soak becomes possible, I try to make it the most extravagant soak imaginable and, best-case scenario, that includes a big-ass bath bomb. At 8 ounces, Laganja’s Sugar Daddy Purp has the weight and perfume of a luxury bath bomb but is free from the dazzling color treatments that make extra large bombs such an Instagrammable experience. But I prefer my at-home spa treatments to prioritize pampering over kaleidoscopic waterworks, so the lack of underwater psychedelia wasn’t a disappointment. This colorless bath bomb aggressively dissolved into a hot bath, leaving a shimmer of essential oil and a powerful perfume. Rainbow glitter baths have their place, but so do legitimately therapeutic soaks; this bath bomb is mostly on the therapeutic end of the spectrum. Sugar Daddy Purp features 150mg of CBD in a pungent medley of lavender and lime oils. The main carrier oil for the aromatic bath fizzy is mango butter, which is rich in the terpene myrcene. Myrcene has long been associated with intensifying highs—conventional stoner wisdom implies that eating fresh mango before, during or after a smoke session will concentrate cannabinoids in a user’s bloodstream, resulting in deeper intoxication. Whether or not that theory extends to topicals dissolved in warm water was not to be discovered during this particular soak. After 30 minutes in the tub, I was rubbery and relaxed, but the same results could be had with a long hot bubble bath and a smear of CBD medicated lotion. Then, at least, I wouldn’t have to scrub essential oils out of my bathtub.

CANNA-FLAGE: Laganja Estranja.

BUY: Shop the collection at honeypotcbd.com. D AV I D E L A F F E

Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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PERFORMANCE

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

Humor She Wrote

MUSIC Written by: Daniel

Bromfield

| @bromf3

Now Hear This

Listening recommendations from the past, present, Portland and the periphery. SOMETHING OLD

In Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, a legendary columnist gets her close-up.

Let “Milkshake” blast in every club when they open again, but Kelis’ artistry goes so much deeper. Flesh Tone, from 2010, is one of the most rewarding full-lengths from American pop’s early Obamaera Euro-club fixation (David Guetta, Boyz Noise, Benassi Bros. and Will.i.am produce). Less hedonistic than the genre’s norm, these songs carry themselves with grace and dignity and tackle themes as personal as the birth of her first child over some of the steeliest robo-music money can buy. SOMETHING NEW REAL HOUSEWIFE: AM Northwest host Helen Raptis plays syndicated columnist Erma Bomback, who wrote about the challenges of suburban family life.

BY BE N N E T T C A M P B E L L FE RGUS O N

“If a woman is ever to have an affair, it will be in March,” columnist Erma Bombeck wrote in 1970. “Psychologically, it is a perfect month. The bowling tournaments are over. The white sales on bedding are past. Your chest cold has stabilized and the Avon lady is beginning to look like Tom Jones.” Those words demonstrate Bombeck’s style. Caustic to a fault, her writing about the struggles of American mothers was alive with cynical wit and suggested that if you acquiesced to patriarchal rule, the least you could do was be grumpy about it. Words were her weapon in the war for gender equality, a battle she also fought by campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment. Bombeck bursts to life in Triangle ProducIS tions’ Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, a filmed R A P T N E play directed by Triangle’s executive H E L director, Don Horn, a brilliant biographical storyteller. He created the moving and delightful 2019 musical Darcelle: That’s No Lady, and At Wit’s End is even more welcome because it offers wise and witty entertainment during a pandemic. It also stars AM Northwest host Helen Raptis, a performer whose charisma transcends the limits of TV and computer screens. At Wit’s End, written by twin sisters Allison and Margaret Engel, begins with Bombeck asking, “How did I end up in suburbia?” The rest of the play is her answer. In an hour-plus monologue delivered from her home, she takes us on a tour of her life. Kids, work, cancer, activism, politics…it’s all here, along with plenty of Bombeckian gags. (Of her time writing obituaries, she says, “You try getting all those people to die in alphabetical order.”) Wearing a butter-yellow apron, Raptis looks like an archetypal homemaker, but what matters most is that she finds truth in every facet of Bombeck’s personality. You believe her when she makes a mordant joke (“I have never met a woman who’d give up her lunch for sex”), and when she reveals vulnerable sincerity (“well, I can assure you there was love in every line I wrote”). 30

Willamette Week DATE 2020 wweek.com

Shot at Triangle’s longtime home, The Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza, some scenes lack finesse (a few props, including Erma’s vacuum cleaner, are unnecessarily loud), yet it is elegantly and effectively filmed. The play shifts between wide shots that dramatize the isolation of Erma’s domestic kingdom and close-ups that allow us to feel the empathy and defiance that drive her. After I watched At Wit’s End, I started speculating about its place in Erma Bombeck’s life. Bombeck died of complications of a kidney transplant in 1996, which makes you wonder if Erma is speaking to us from beyond the grave. Is the suburban home in the play supposed to be her personal heaven? Hell? Both? I ask because Erma’s relationship with her children, who are represented by offstage voices, gave me pause. As written by the Engels, Erma believes that a parent’s first duty is to dominate, lecture and control. She has a lot to say about saying no, but next to nothing to say about learning what her children want from life and listening to their hearts. By serendipity or design, At Wit’s End emerges as an implicit critique of an outdated school of parenting that mistakes discipline for compassion and kindness for weakness—a school of parenting to which Erma enthusiastically subscribes. Near the end of the play, she even seems to acknowledge her shortcomings by confessing, “If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.” Those words have weight, but so do Erma’s triumphs. Throughout the play, we see her typewriter perched on her ironing board, a juxtaposition that symbolizes the two worlds she straddles. At Wit’s End honors the strength it takes to succeed at home and at work. It’s a tale of two Ermas, both of whom experience exultation when they hear the words that come to define their existence: “You. Can. Write.”

SEE IT: Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End streams at fiveohm.tv/triangle-productions/at-wits-end through Saturday, Feb. 13. $15.

Florian T M Zeisig makes ambient music with a humanistic quality. Last year’s Coatcheck reflected his experiences working behind the scenes at a massive Berlin club, and his latest, Music for Parents, is made for Mom and Dad, with deep bass rumblings and endless chords apparently designed to resonate with certain frequencies in the body. This is ambient at its most physically pleasurable. SOMETHING LOCAL Classically trained pianist Daniel Lichtenberg, who also records as Saturn Finger, stakes out a place in Portland’s rich tradition of hermetic synth wizardry on the lovely Bandcamp EP Swan Island Tapes. The star of the show is “Terminal 6,” which sounds a little as if the organ on “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” were allowed to meander into postacid life thoughts. Lichtenberg isn’t well-known, but he’s prolific and has a pleasingly rugged style.

SOMETHING ASKEW One of the most interesting puzzles in jazz is Ornette Coleman’s The Empty Foxhole (1966), which features his then-10-year-old son, Denardo, on drums. The kid thrashes and bashes, but per his dad, he’d already been playing the drums for several years. Apparently, some musicians Ornette played it for thought the drumming was brilliant, others thought it sounded like, well, a child. Listen to Foxhole and ponder whether musicians need to know how to play “properly” before they can break loose.


Editor: Andi Prewitt / Contact: aprewitt@wweek.com MOMA.ORG

SCREENER

MOVIES

Joy Ride

As Kelly Reichardt’s first Oregon feature turns 15, it’s the perfect time to revisit the beginning of an end of an era in Old Joy.

GET YO UR REPS I N While local rep theaters are out of commission, we’ll be putting together weekly watchlists of films readily available to stream. With Chinese New Year falling on Feb. 12 this year, we’re highlighting some top-tier Chinese cinema to bid farewell to the Year of the Rat and ring in the Year of the Ox.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Ang Lee’s four-time Academy Award-winning martial arts adventure is set in early 19th century China, where a renowned warrior (Chow Yun-fat) rescinds his fabled “Green Destiny” sword only for it to be stolen by a mysterious masked thief. Brimming with both romance and adventure, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is considered one of the alltime greatest action films. Amazon Prime, Google Play, IMDb TV, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube.

Saving Face (2004) Written and directed by Alice Wu, her acclaimed feature debut, this touching rom-dramedy follows Chinese American surgeon Wilhelmina (Michelle Krusiec) and her traditionalist mother (Twin Peaks’ Joan Chen) as they clash and cope with their own cultural taboos: Wilhelmina is a lesbian in love with her boss’s daughter, and Ma is single and pregnant. Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Pluto TV, Tubi, Vudu, YouTube.

A Touch of Sin (2013) INTO THE WOODS: Old Joy follows the uneasy friendship between two Portlanders during a hike to Bagby Hot Springs. BY C H A N C E SO L E M - P FE I FER

@chance_s_p

SEE IT: Old Joy is available to stream or purchase on DVD or Blu-ray via the Criterion Collection website, criterion.com.

IMDB

Fifteen-year film anniversaries aren’t particularly marquee moments. They lack 25’s nostalgia or the prestige of 50. But they’re useful: 15 years on, you can make out the vapors of a time just disappeared. As Kurt from Old Joy would say, you can finally see “everything you just went through…you see that it has a shape after all.” The release of Old Joy in 2006, Kelly Reichardt’s first Oregon feature, announced the director as one of the state’s (and country’s) great 21st century artists who would go on to make a series of films in our state, including Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Meek’s Cutoff (2010). A Sundance breakout 15 years ago, Old Joy sketches the uneasy friendship between two Portlanders—Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London)—seeking out Bagby Hot Springs for a hike, a soak and a hundred little talks. As Roger Ebert said in his 2006 rave, assessing Old Joy by its plot is like saying “James Joyce’s The Dead is about some Irish people who go to a party and then go home.” Showcasing Reichardt’s trademark attention to detail and short story author Jon Raymond’s trademark intimacy, Old Joy remains a stirring but ambiguous journey, punching miles above the weight class as a film shot by eight people in under two weeks. Its slight, 70-minute frame belies how deeply Reichardt peers into Mark and Kurt’s stagnated bond and divergent lives, as they camp, guzzle Hamm’s and talk physics. Mark is settling down in a Portland about to rapidly transform. He tries and fails to meditate in his yard before tuning into Air America. His pregnant wife, Tanya, blends a green smoothie. His character seems exemplified by his child-rearing philosophy: “I guess we’ll do whatever it is people do.” Kurt clings to freedom by clinging to nothing. He’s traveled nomadically from Ashland to Big Sur to Arizona. He’s crashing in a dandelion-colored house on Northeast 12th Avenue, in the shadow of the Portland Bottling Company’s bygone 7UP monument. His character seems exemplified by his self-rearing philosophy: “I never got myself into anything I couldn’t get myself out of.” If Old Joy projects eternal discovery, perhaps it’s because Reichardt hadn’t yet lived in Oregon when she made the

movie. It captures the unpredictability of giving oneself over to the Pacific Northwest wilderness, which is just as likely to result in a precious experience as an upsettingly weird one. Either way, every time feels a bit like the first. But finality looms too. “End of an era!” Kurt proclaims of Portland’s dying small businesses and rising housing costs, all set to Yo La Tengo’s horizonwide Western score. The losses kept coming. Reichardt told WW last year that many of the Clackamas County forests where she shot Old Joy have since been clear cut. Still, the film is not in itself an elegy, especially for so-called Old Portland. The mutable, minimalist achievement suggests we wade every day through unprocessed life changes. These suspended moments of transformation are Reichardt and Raymond’s specialties. Their collaborations drop in on lost Oregon wagon trains (Meek’s Cutoff), or an unhoused Alaska-bound woman stranded in Portland (Wendy and Lucy), or frontier entrepreneurs whose business practices can’t possibly sustain them (First Cow). When the credits roll, the audience can sense that fate will spit these characters out into new forms. But we never see that part, just as we seldom observe real-time changes in ourselves. Watching Old Joy this winter, there’s an almost coercive temptation to read the film through a pandemic lens, dearly missing friends and spontaneous connection. But that’s a slight misapprehension. World-altering events, the kind Mark soaks in via talk radio, don’t slice the invisible fissures between longtime friends; we do that ourselves. But if sorrow is nothing but “worn-out joy,” as Kurt explains the film’s title, it’s hard not to take in Old Joy without feeling the weight of our prolonged, collective wearing out. So much joy has aged before our eyes. Your phone wants to show you unreachable memories from one year ago today. Friends and family hope you can rebook last year’s scheduled happiness for summer or fall. And if you lost someone last year, maybe you carry around all their old joy lodged in your chest. Love should do more than just weather into sorrow. Let it change shape. This era will end too.

Chosen by The New York Times as one of the 25 best films of the 21st century, this anthology by Jia Zhangke chronicles four random acts of violence. All are inspired by tragically true events that occurred in modern-day China, ranging in setting from rural provinces to populous cities. Amazon Prime, Hoopla, iTunes, Kanopy, Vudu, YouTube.

Chungking Express (1994) This genre-bending drama by arthouse legend Wong Kar-wai is split into two distinct stories: the first about a heartbroken Hong Kong cop who falls for a mysterious, blond-wigged drug smuggler, the second about a different heartbroken Hong Kong cop who is captivated by the eccentric attention of a Manic Pixie Dream snack bar worker. Criterion Channel.

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) Another Ang Lee picture, this one set in 1990s Taiwan, where a widowed master chef lives with his three precocious daughters: a Christian chemistry teacher, a headstrong airline executive, and a college student working in a fast food restaurant for extra cash. Each struggles with complicated romances, and at their weekly Sunday dinners, perennial values and family dynamics bloom. Amazon Prime, Hoopla, iTunes, Pluto TV, Tubi, Vudu.

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NPR

MOVIES TOP PICK OF THE WEEK

The White Tiger In the nastiest scene in The White Tiger, several roosters are decapitated. “The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above,” says Balram (Adarsh Gourav). “Yet they do not rebel. The very same thing is done with human beings in this country.” That may be true, but Balram—a poor man from a village in India—is determined to fly the coop. The White Tiger is the story of how he becomes a driver for a cruel and callow businessman (Rajkummar Rao) and eventually transcends poverty and notoriety to become a princely entrepreneur. Director Ramin Bahrani (who adapted the film from Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel) has named Goodfellas as an inspiration, which might explain The White Tiger’s cynical edge. This is not a Slumdog Millionaire-style saga of instant wealth—it’s a brutal tale of a man who decides the best weapon against India’s caste system is a broken bottle slashed across the right throat at the right time. Near the film’s end, Balram declares that his face could be the face of any man in India, which sounds like an understatement. The White Tiger is a reminder that the world is filled with men like Balram—brilliant, exploited and ripe to be seduced by the gospel of greed. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Netflix. OUR KEY

: THIS MOVIE IS EXCELLENT, ONE OF THE BEST OF THE YEAR. : 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 Jasper Mall Demonized by generations of filmmakers as the physical manifestation of predatory commercialism and fad-chasing consumerist vapidity, the American mall, with its newfound obsolescence, calls for a more complicated analysis. Should we cheer the extinction of a Main Street-devouring invasive species or mourn the loss of any communal hub? Jasper Mall’s elegiac portrait of its titular shopping center’s steep decline evades easy answers. By withholding any historical details or regional context, we’re forced to walk the small-town Alabama mall alongside the unhurried pace of locals getting their exercise inside the vaguely alien architecture of its long corridors. No matter how artful their shot compositions, documentarians Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb (Lost Weekend; County Fair, Texas) hardly shy away from moments worthy of trending reality TV, but they never lean into the easy joke or sacrifice empathy for spectacle. Our de facto tour guide Mike, the mall’s security guard, facility manager and maintenance man, only reveals his Joe Exotic-esque backstory as a former private zookeeper in Australia at the film’s midpoint. When the Jewelry Doctor plugs in his electric guitar to drum up business for his struggling retail sales and repair shop, the riffs echoing through the empty concourse feel more joyous than desperate. It’s a scene that highlights Jasper Mall’s ability to showcase all that is valiantly ridiculous about the fight to keep the shopping center open in a tone that is both warm and dignified. NR. JAY HORTON. Amazon Prime, Google Play, Pluto TV, Vudu, YouTube. 32

Promising Young Woman Carey Mulligan often delivers her best work in unexpected places: snooping quietly through a BBC detective series, overlooked in a Paul Dano family drama, ripping Llewyn Davis a new one. But Promising Young Woman, the debut feature from Killing Eve scribe Emerald Fennell, feels designed to showcase Mulligan. She plays Cassie, a mysteriously reclusive barista who exposes men’s sex crimes by night. Across from a cast typically connoting standup dudes (Bo Burnham, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Sam Richardson, Max Greenfield, Adam Brody), Cassie knowingly awaits their heel turns, and Mulligan is as malleable as this tone-shifting movie, seemingly flicking the light in her eyes on and off at will. Distracting though the leaps from gonzo thriller to credible rom-com to edgy character study may be, the ambition of Promising Young Woman is impressive. Perhaps Fennell’s shrewdest move is suggesting the film’s bad men are actually too guilty to let these more earnest genres take hold of her film. So, thriller it is. And a riveting one throughout, even if the film’s taste for neatness and resolution cleaves off a full exploration of Cassie’s catharsis and damage. A distinctly #MeToo film, Promising Young Woman knows well (to the point of icy mockery) the tricks men use to justify predatory behavior. And in Mulligan, you couldn’t ask for a better actor to grind this ax. R. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. On Demand.

True Mothers After struggling with fertility issues, Satoko now lives a peaceful life

Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

THE WHITE TIGER with her devoted husband, Kiyokazu, and their 6-year-old adopted son, Asato. One day, Asato’s birth mother Hikari appears, claiming she wants her baby back. But Satoko and Kiyokazu don’t recognize her as the shy teenager they met six years ago. Are they the victims of a scam? A sick joke? This is where the nonlinear story switches, jumping back in time to document 14-year-old Hikari’s pregnancy and her stay at Baby Baton, a plenary adoption center in Hiroshima. Japan’s Academy Awards submission for Best International Feature is an effectively suspenseful drama, luring viewers into the tangled mystery of Hikari’s identity. Naomi Kawase, who made history at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival as the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Caméra d’Or, wrote, directed and edited the film. Her vision is cleareyed and precise, extracting veritable emotion from each breathtaking landscape shot and poignant performance—even if the result is a bit bloated at 140 minutes long. Much like Japan’s excellent 2018 submission Shoplifters, True Mothers is a wistful ode to the infinite forms that family can take, a cogent assertion that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of motherhood. NR. MIA VICINO. Virtual Cinema.

You Will Die at Twenty The first image of You Will Die at Twenty is that of a dead, decomposing camel, splayed in the Sudanese desert. Its carcass serves as a ghastly portent of our protagonist Muzamil’s assumed fate: As a baby, the village shaman prophesied that he would die at the tender age of 20. Now, Muzamil is 19 and the threat of imminent death looms over his head like a fog, affecting his behavior, life choices and relationships. The only person who doesn’t treat him like a pariah is

an eccentric old man on the outskirts of the village, and through him, Muzamil learns that oppressive religion and fate are both escapable. Shot on location in the village where director Amjad Abu Alala’s parents are from, this existential coming-of-age drama is the first Sudanese film ever submitted to the Academy Awards for Best International Feature—it’s also only the eighth Sudanese film ever made, as the country hasn’t had a cinema industry since Omar al-Bashir’s military coup in 1989. Considering these parameters, and the fact that the Sudanese Revolution began during filming (the picture is dedicated to the movement’s victims), Alala’s groundbreaking feature-length debut is even more impressive. NR. MIA VICINO. Virtual Cinema.

My Little Sister Lisa (Nina Hoss) is a playwright struggling with writer’s block. She hasn’t been able to write since her twin brother and muse Sven (Lars Eidinger) was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia— he lives in Berlin as an acclaimed theater actor, while she has reluctantly moved to Switzerland at the behest of her husband Martin’s career. With Sven’s condition worsening and Martin’s job offering him a five-year contract, Lisa finds herself torn between living with her family in one country and caring for her brother in another. Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond’s German-language cancer drama is Switzerland’s official Oscar submission for Best International Feature. Though the formidable actors give compelling performances that elevate the thin script, the biggest problem is that Lisa is so relentlessly stubborn to the point that it’s difficult to have much sympathy for her. Hoss is excellent as always in the role, but it’s unclear why she

can occasionally be so caustically cruel: In one scene, she berates her director friend for rightly refusing to let the weakened Sven exhaust himself to death by playing Hamlet onstage. Despite some genuinely tear-jerking moments, My Little Sister ultimately boils down to a navel-gazing, surface-level study of an insufferable privileged family. NR. MIA VICINO. Virtual Cinema.

Pieces of a Woman Pieces of a great film don’t necessarily make a great film. While Kornél Mundruczó’s haunting saga of a home birth gone bad unleashes a deluge of wondrous performances, it isn’t as profound as it wants to be. Vanessa Kirby (The Crown, Mission: Impossible— Fallout) plays Martha Weiss, a woman who descends into the haze of grief after the death of her baby. The birth scene is a master class in artful traumatization—it unfolds in a 24-minute shot that seems to drill every ounce of Martha’s agony into your body. Unfortunately, the film’s narrative discipline slackens as Martha’s anguish deepens. Rather than offer a nuanced portrait of a grieving family, Kata Wéber’s screenplay abruptly turns Martha’s partner (Shia LaBeouf) into a philandering villain and forces Martha’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) to deliver guilt-tripping lines so heavy-handed that even the formidable Burstyn almost breaks beneath their weight. Pieces of a Woman improves when Martha’s midwife (Molly Parker) is unjustly tried for manslaughter, but when Kirby and Parker wordlessly forge an emotional connection across the courtroom, they remind you what the film should have been about—two women painfully and intimately united by tragedy. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Netflix.


FLASHBACK

THIS WEEK IN 2009

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ART N’ COMICS!

JACK KENT’S

Jack draws exactly what he sees n’ hears from the streets.

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JONESIN’

Week of February 11

©2021 Rob Brezsny

by Matt Jones

"Quiet Onset"--I can't hear you.

ARIES (March 21-April 19)

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Author Anton Chekhov made a radical proposal: ”Perhaps the feelings we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows people who they should be.” In accordance with astrological potentials, my beloved Aries darling, I invite you to act as if Chekhov's proposal were absolutely true for at least the next two weeks. Be animated by a generous lust for life. Assume that your intelligence will reach a peak as you express excited kindness and affectionate compassion. Be a fount of fond feelings and cheerful empathy and nourishing ardor.

Author Raymond Carver wrote, "It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love." That seems like a harsh oversimplification to me. Personally, I think it's fun and interesting to pretend we know what we're talking about when we talk about love. And I think that will be especially true for you in the coming weeks. In my astrological opinion, you should be discussing love extensively and boldly and imaginatively. You should redefine what love means to you. You should re-evaluate how you express it and reconfigure the way it works in your life.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) Poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau told the following story about Taurus composer Erik Satie (1866–1925). When Satie died, his old friends, many of whom were highly accomplished people, came to visit his apartment. There they discovered that all the letters they had sent him over the years were unopened. Satie had never read them! How sad that he missed out on all that lively exchange. I beg you not to do anything that even remotely resembles such a lack of receptivity during the coming weeks, Taurus. In fact, please do just the opposite: Make yourself as open as possible to engagement and influence. I understand that the pandemic somewhat limits your social interactions. Just do the best you can.

GEMINI (May 21-June20)

ACROSS 1 Life force, to an acupuncturist 4 One of the Three Musketeers 10 Consumer protection gp.

51 Breezes (through) 52 Scrooge's comment 55 Filmmaker Ephron 58 Math conjecture regarding a quadrilateral inscribed in a circle

24 Philbin's onetime morning cohost 25 "It's Shake 'n Bake!" "And _ _ _!" (old ad tagline) 26 Pager noise 27 Persian Gulf country

62 "I identify," in online comments

29 Arctic floaters

14 Like the opening letter of each of the four longest answers

63 Ear ailment

31 B equivalent, in music

15 "Dog Barking at the Moon" artist Joan

65 "Bill _ _ _ Saves the World"

13 "_ _ _ Wiedersehen!"

16 Magazine whose website has a "Find a Therapist" feature 19 "Away!"

64 Baseball stat 66 Hastily arrive at, as a conclusion 67 Celebrity chef Martin

30 Burning 34 Contrite phrase 35 A few feet away 36 Greek consonant 38 Happy fun Ball? 42 Code where B is -...

DOWN

43 Some TVs

21 How hair may stand

1 Pen parts

48 Ecological community

22 Maritime patrol org.

2 Period of quiet

25 "The mind _ _ _ own place ..." (John Milton)

3 Haunted house challenge

50 "Be My Yoko _ _ _" (Barenaked Ladies song)

4 Hearth leftover

51 "Wheel of Fortune" action

26 Offer on eBay

5 Brazilian beach city, briefly

52 Eight bits, computerwise

28 Japanese grills

6 "It was _ _ _ blur"

53 One side of the Urals

32 "Common" chapter of history

7 "Feed me or I'll knock your drink over"

54 Address abbreviation

33 Flavor on a German schnapps bottle

8 "Splendor in the Grass" Oscar winner

57 Former dictator Idi

37 Rank between marquis and viscount

9 Piglet's home

59 "Boardwalk Empire" actress Gretchen

10 High-end hotel amenity

60 Battleship score

11 Fiber-rich cereals

61 That, in Madrid

20 Stunned state

39 Bell or whistle? 40 "Peter Pan" henchman 41 Device that records respiration 44 Went nowhere 45 Tightly cinched 46 "How We Do" singer Rita 47 "Fun, Fun, Fun" car in a '60s hit 49 British mil. decorations

12 "Cheers" bartender Woody 15 Philosophies that regard reality as one organic whole 17 Lettuce variety 18 "_ _ _, With Love" (Sidney Poitier movie) 23 Golden State traffic org. (as seen in an Erik Estrada TV show)

47 Frayed

56 Country star McEntire

last week’s answers

On behalf of the cosmic omens, I demand that the important people in your life be reliable and generous toward you in the coming weeks. You can tell them I said so. Tell them that you are doing pretty well, but that in order to transform pretty well into very well, you need them to boost their support and encouragement. Read them the following words from author Alan Cohen: "Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused."

CANCER (June 21-July 22) For a while, poet Alfred de Musset (1810–1857) was the sexual partner of Cancerian novelist George Sand (1804–1876), also known as Aurore Dupin. He said that after intense love-making sessions, he would fall asleep and wake up to find her sitting at her desk, engrossed in working on her next book. Maybe the erotic exchange inspired her creativity? In accordance with current astrological potentials, I recommend Sand's approach to you. Vigorous pleasure will coordinate well with hard work. As will deep release with strong focus. As will tender intimacy with clear thinking. (PS: I know your options for pleasure and intimacy may be somewhat limited because of the pandemic. Call on your ingenuity and resourcefulness to work the best magic possible.)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Leo poet Warsan Shire suggests, "Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself—what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat." This would be an excellent exercise for you to carry out during this Valentine season. You're in a phase when you're likely to enhance your lovability and attract extra support simply by intensifying and refining the affectionate compassion you feel and express toward yourself.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) I wish the pandemic would give us a short break so we could celebrate the Valentine season with maximum sensual revelry and extravagant displays of joyful tenderness. I wish we could rip off our masks and forget about social-distancing and hug and kiss everyone who wants to be hugged and kissed. But that's not going to happen. If we hope to be free to indulge in a Lush Love and Lust Festival by Valentine Season in 2022, we've got to be cautious and controlled now. And we are all counting on you Virgos to show us how to be as wildly, lyrically romantic as possible while still observing the necessary limitations. That's your special task.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) I'm turning over this horoscope to psychologist John Welwood. His words are the medicine you need at this juncture in the evolution of intimacy. Study the following quote and interpret it in ways that help illuminate your relationship with togetherness: "A soul connection is a resonance between two people who respond to the essential beauty of each other’s individual natures, behind their facades, and who connect on this deeper level. This kind of mutual recognition provides the catalyst for a potent alchemy. It is a sacred alliance whose purpose is to help both partners discover and realize their deepest potentials."

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Transform yourself with the sweetest challenge you can dream up. Give yourself a blessing that will compel you to get smarter and wilder. Dazzle yourself as you dare to graduate from your history. Rile yourself up with a push to become your better self, your best self, your amazingly fulfilled and masterful self. Ask yourself to leap over the threshold of ordinary magic and into the realm of spooky good magic. And if all that works out well, Sagittarius, direct similar energy toward someone you care about. In other words, transform them with the sweetest challenge you can dream up. Dare them to graduate from their history. And so on.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) I invite you to compose a message to a person you'd like to be closer to and whom you're sure would like to be closer to you. Be inspired by what poet Clementine von Radics wrote to the man she was dating, telling him why she thought they could start living together. Here's her note: "Because you texted me a haiku about the moon when you were drunk. Because you cried at the end of the movie *Die Hard* on Christmas eve. Because when I’m sick you bring me fruit, kiss me on the mouth, and hold me even though I’m gross. Because you bring me flowers for no reason but on Valentine’s Day you gave me a bouquet of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Because every time I show you a poem I love you’ve read it already."

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) I've adopted some lines from poet Walt Whitman for you to use in composing a love note. Send it to a person you know and love, or to a person you want to know and love, or a person you will know and love in the future. Here it is: "We are oaks growing in the openings side by side. We are two fishes swimming together. We are two predatory hawks, soaring above and looking down. We are two clouds driving overhead. We are seas mingling, two cheerful waves rolling over each other. We are snow, rain, cold, darkness. We circle and circle till arriving home again, voiding all but freedom and our own joy."

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) "To heal is to touch with love that which was previously touched by fear," wrote author Stephen Levine. I propose you make this theme a keynote for your best relationships in the coming days. What can you do to alleviate the anxiety and agitation of the people you care for? How might they do the same for you? If you play along with the cosmic rhythms, you will have extraordinary power to chase away fear with love.

HOMEWORK: How has the pandemic changed your approach to getting and giving love? How have the restrictions on our ability to mingle with each other altered the ways you seek intimacy? FreeWillAstrology.com Check out Rob Brezsny’s Expanded Weekly Audio Horoscopes & Daily Text Message Horoscopes

©2021 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.

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

1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700 Willamette Week FEBRUARY 3, 2021 wweek.com

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VOL06.17.2020 46/37 07.08.2020

Profile for Willamette Week Newspaper

Willamette Week, February 3, 2021 - Volume 47, Issue 14 - This Is Portland's Funniest Person 2021  

Quarantine can’t stop comedy. Here are the city’s top comics, as chosen by their peers.

Willamette Week, February 3, 2021 - Volume 47, Issue 14 - This Is Portland's Funniest Person 2021  

Quarantine can’t stop comedy. Here are the city’s top comics, as chosen by their peers.