Willamette Week, November 30, 2022 - Volume 49, Issue 4 - "From Portland to Jersey"

Page 1

INSIDE THE CRIME RING THAT SHIPPED THOUSANDS OF OREGON’S STOLEN CATALYTIC CONVERTERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
14 WWEEK.COM VOL 49/04 11.30.2022 NEWS: No Betting on the Beavers. P. 10 FOOD: A Six-Pack of First Impressions. P. 22 FILM: Spielberg Begins. P. 27
BY LUCAS MANFIELD, PAGE
SOME OF THE BEST OF THE YEAR MUSIC MILLENNIUM’s $12.99 CD $21.99 LP $34.99 DLXLP FONTAINES D.C. SKINTY FIA BETH ORTON WEATHER ALIVE $12.99 CD $26.99 LP $9.99 CD $24.99LP ODESZA THE LAST GOODBYE BLACK MIDI HELLFIRE $13.99 CD $25.99 LP RONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERS MERCY ME VIEUX FARKA TOURE & KHURANGBIN ALI MITSKI LAUREL HELL YEAH YEAH YEAHS COOL IT DOWN BJORK FOSSORA PORCUPINE TREE CLOSURE/CONTINUATION KINGS X THREE SIDES OF ONE JACK WHITE FEAR OF THE DAWN VARIOUS BROKEN HEARTS & DIRTY WINDOWS METRIC FORMENTERA ALEX G GOD SAVE THE ANIMALS WET LEG WET LEG LYLE LOVETT 12TH OF JUNE $11.99 CD $23.99 LP $11.99 CD $24.99 LP $11.99 CD $24.99 LP $7.99 CD $19.99 LP $7.99 CD $20.99 LP $10.99 CD $21.99 LP $10.99 CD $23.99 LP $10.99 CD $19.99 LP ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! $13.99 CD $24.99 LP ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! $13.99 CD $20.99 DLXCD $3 OFF VINYL ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! $11.99 CD $20.99 LP ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! ON SALE! OFFER GOOD THRU 12/31/22 ENVY OF NONE ENVY OF NONE $12.99 CD $25.99 LP ON SALE! Part bittersweet romance, part darkly political triumph - the songs ultimately form a long-distance love letter. Beth Orton describes Weather Alive, her most personal album to date, as “a collaboration with time – of someone struggling to make sense. A project rife with brightness and emotion, nostalgic yet rooted in the present, it serves as a sweeping sonic experience that speaks to themes of connection. No band can quite build their own universe like Black Midi. Hellfire, their third album and second in two years sees the London three piece at their most
These 12 songs present triumphant Blues - uplifting and hopeful songs that point to a better tomorrow, including "Soul Searching," & "A Prayer for Tomorrow."
direct.
Ali’s musical legacy lives on through his son, Vieux aka “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” an accomplished guitarist and champion of Malian music in his own right.
Each album always starts with a feeling that i try to shape into sound this time around the feeling was landing. -Bjork $13.99 CD $65.99 DLXCD $25.99 LP $79.99 DLXLP $13.99 CD $5 OFF VINYL
A thunderstorm of a return is what the legendary trio has in store for us on Cool It Down, their fifth studio album. Three Sides of One is the group's first album of new material in 14 years. Porcupine Tree have made their comeback with their first album since 2009!
Features new renditions of some of Prine’s most beloved songs performed by
June and more! Formentera is a conceptual arc that
tension and turmoil to dance-floor abandon, progressing through a color wheel of emotions.
Fear of the Dawn is the fourth studio album from Jack White, founding member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather.
Brandi Carlile, Tyler Childers, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell, Valerie
moves from
Wet
were
From beautiful acoustic ballads to swinging big band numbers, this record will remind listeners why Lyle is a national musical treasure. The ambient, cinematic darkness that the collective creates evokes a powerful atmosphere that will excite superfans and new audiences alike. ALSO AVAILABLE: BLACK ANGELS WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS $10.99 CD $29.99 LP
has written a
for
to the place where vulnerability and resilience, sorrow and delight, error and transcendence can all
3158 E BURNSIDE ST MUSICMILLENNIUM.COM 503-231-8926 2 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
Alex Giannascoli wrote and demoed these songs by himself, at home; but, for the sake of both new tones and “a routine that was outside of my apartment” during the pandemic.
Leg
catapulted from their confines on the Isle of Wight to sold out venues across the UK. This is the duo’s debut album!
Mitski
soundtrack
transformation, a map
sit.

Wind turbines are killing hoary bats 4

Multnomah County spent less than 70% of its homeless ser vices bond funds last year. 8

Fat Cobra Video was once a soda fountain and will soon be a vintage clothing store. 9

DraftKings now provides sports betting to the Oregon Lottery. 10

Christmas tree growers use shearing knives to give trees a conical shape 13

Oregon’s stolen catalytic con verters were shipped to Long Island 14

The alleged ringleader of a Lake Oswego catalytic converter theft ring traveled to Coachella and the NBA Finals. 15

Adidas is opening its first U.S. outdoors-themed retail outlet for a new line of athleisure wear in the Pearl. 21

Aurora was founded as a uto pian communal society in the 1850s. 21

There is no dancing at Street Disco. 22

Nodoguru lives again. 22

Grand Fir opened with twohour waits and a line around the block. 23

Maroon 5 won’t dine on a hunk of raw meat onstage. 25

Watch out for solar flares 26

Steven Spielberg’s eye color keeps changing. 27

Willamette Week welcomes freelance submissions. Send material to either News Editor or Arts Editor. Manuscripts will be returned if you include a selfaddressed, stamped envelope. To be considered for calendar listings, notice of events must be received in writing by noon Wednesday, two weeks before publication. Questions concerning circulation or subscription inquiries should be directed to Skye Anfield at Willamette Week. Postmaster: Send all address changes to Willamette Week, P.O. Box 10770, Portland, OR 97206. Subscription rates: One year $130, six months $70. Back issues $5 for walk-ins, $8 for mailed requests when available. Willamette Week is mailed at third-class rates. Association of Alternative Newsmedia. This newspaper is published on recycled newsprint using soy-based ink. TREE LIGHTING, PAGE 20 ON THE COVER: The mysterious part under your car that thieves turned into a half-billion-dollar black market; photo by Michael Raines OUR MOST TRAFFICKED STORY ONLINE THIS WEEK: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and the Portland Police Association ask for discovery neither party wants made public. Masthead EDITOR & PUBLISHER Mark Zusman EDITORIAL News Editor Aaron Mesh Arts & Culture Editor Andi Prewitt Assistant A&C Editor Bennett Campbell Ferguson Staff Writers Anthony Effinger, Nigel Jaquiss, Lucas Manfield, Sophie Peel News Intern Kathleen Forrest Copy Editor Matt Buckingham ART DEPARTMENT Creative Director Mick Hangland-Skill Graphic Designer McKenzie Young-Roy ADVERTISING Director of Sales Anna Zusman Advertising Media Coordinator Beans Flores Account Executives Michael Donhowe, Maxx Hockenberry COMMUNITY OUTREACH Give!Guide & Friends of Willamette Week Executive Director Toni Tringolo G!G Campaign Assistant & FOWW Manager Josh Rentschler FOWW Membership Manager Madeleine Zusman Podcast Host Brianna Wheeler DISTRIBUTION Circulation Director Skye Anfield Entrepreneur in Residence Jack Phan OPERATIONS Accounting Director Beth Buffetta Manager of Information Services Brian Panganiban OUR MISSION To provide Portlanders with an independent and irreverent understanding of how their worlds work so they can make a difference. Though Willamette Week is free, please take just one copy. Anyone removing papers in bulk from our distribution points will be prosecuted, as they say, to the full extent of the law.
WE LEARNED FROM READING THIS WEEK’S PAPER
WHAT
VOL. 49, ISSUE 4
CHRIS NESSETH WILLAMETTE WEEK IS PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY CITY OF ROSES MEDIA COMPANY P.O. Box 10770 Portland, OR 97296 Main line phone: (503) 243-2122 fax: (503) 296-2874 Classifieds phone: (503) 243-2122 fax: (503) 296-2874 3 FOR $6 DALBELLO DS MX 65W OR 75 Boot up! DON’T FORGET ABOUT OUR SNOWPACK PAYBACK! SCAN QR CODE FOR DETAILS! 25% OFF BLUE ICE rough Dec 4th NEW OUTERWEAR ALERT 686, Flylow, Patagonia, Picture Organic and so many more! UP TO 40% OFF 28% OFF 25% OFF 25% OFF 25% OFF 25% OFF 20% OFF 25%50% OFF AIRBLASTER OUTERWEAR & NINJA SUITS 10% OFF MSRP! Your favorite NW brand for 10% o ! COTOPAXI APPAREL STARTING AT 25% OFF MSRP! Brighten up that wardrobe with Cotopaxi! THERMAL SHELTER KIT Reusable thermal shelter kit that’s waterproof & lightweight. Solid addition to your camping or survival kit! NOSE PATROL AIR FRESHENERS De-stink your Subie with style! 25% OFF ASTRAL rough Dec 5th O’NEILL OUTERWEAR STARTING AT 25-50% OFF MSRP! HOT DANG! 30-50% OFF ALTRA LONE PEAK SALE! 30-50% o this years and last years models. Feat. Lone Peak 5 25% OFF 10% OFF 25% OFF LA SPORTIVA rough Dec 4th $179.99 COMPARE AT $249.99 $11.99 COMPARE AT $26.99 20% OFF OUTERWEAR DEALS! PICTURE ORGANIC, 686 AND FLYLOW! New outerwear for 20% o ?!? SCAN TO SHOP & SEE MORE DEALS OUTDOOR RESEARCH APPAREL STARTING AT 25% OFF MSRP! Get your new favorite rain jacket and so much more for 25% o ! SOCK SALE! Stu some stockings in those stockings! NEXT ADVENTURE DEALS GOOD FROM 11/25-12/8/22 Check out Deek & Bryan's Snowpack Payback: 3" of additional snow on Christmas day and GET YOUR MONEY BACK! Scan the center QR Code for more details. WHAT A DEAL! 3 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com FINDINGS

Last week, WW reported on the latest developments in City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s $5 million lawsuit against the Portland Police Association, in which she alleges that the former police union president leaked a false report about her in retaliation for her criticism of officers (“Zero Sum Game,” Nov. 23). Both sides in the case have been ordered by a Multnomah County circuit judge to produce discovery material for the other. Hardesty success fully sought PPA communications regarding her, as well as internal messages about the murder of George Floyd. (PPA attorneys tried to argue those communications were pro tected by union-member privilege.) Hardesty must produce any records after 2019 related to gambling activities, as union attorneys try to argue she’s in financial distress and seeking a payday. It’s possible some or none of the material will become public. Here’s what our readers had to say:

DOYLE CANNING, VIA TWITTER: “If you can’t pound the facts, pound the law. And if you can’t pound the law, pound the table…with a novel discovery defense called ‘union privilege’?

“The judge wasn’t buying it lol.”

BIG BISCUIT, VIA WWEEK. COM: “Not sure how it works with the law, but was Hardesty given a mulligan when she accused the police of setting fires on purpose during the riots? Seems like slander/libel unless a police department is not able to sue a city employ ee? Of course, in Portland it

was quickly brushed off by the media and Hardesty went on her merry way (at least until she was voted out of office).”

KORIANDER, VIA TWITTER: “Looking forward to those revealed [Portland Police Bureau] texts when she’s running for redistricted City Council in 2024.”

SUSAN MARIE, VIA FACE BOOK: “So, these cops don’t deny they have something to hide, but they want to get something on Hardesty to intimidate her. Gambling is legal. Debt is legal. What else ya got?”

DORSET, VIA WWEEK.COM: “The PPA attorneys are going to make mincemeat out of Hardesty. She’s in way over her head…”

FLASH STEVE, VIA WWEEK. COM: “I can’t stomach her, but I’m afraid she is going to collect major money here. She won’t actually see it in her checking account until 2024 at the earliest. Verdict…appeals, etc.”

BRYANRMORRIS, VIA WWEEK.COM: “Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they just kissed and made up and let bygones be bygones?”

REALDANPAULDING, VIA TWITTER: “As always, trolls who don’t even live in Oregon always have a lot to say about Jo Ann Hardesty. I wonder how many of these posts are by the same person running multiple accounts?”

PANCAKE REGRETS, VIA TWITTER: “Who keeps gam bling records?”

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: PO Box 10770, Portland OR, 97296 Email: mzusman@wweek.com

On summer evenings, we used to hear the chirps and see the knuckle-ball swoopings of bats silhouetted in the darkling sky. We were recently startled by the realization that it’s been years since we’ve seen or heard any of these magnificent beasts. Have our senses deteriorated that badly, or is something sinister going on? —Robin and the Other Guy

It’s certainly true that, if left untreated, our night vision does deteriorate as we get older. That’s why I subscribe to a doctor-approved regimen of special vitamins that allows me to see all the bats I want. Granted, the doctor was Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and the bats often seem pretty hostile, but you can’t have everything.

Some readers will already be familiar with white-nose syndrome, or WNS, a fungal infec tion that has decimated North American bat populations. Characterized by what looks like a dusting of white material around the nose (speaking of Hunter Thompson), the fungus spreads through colonies of hibernating bats, often killing up to 90% of them. The somewhat uninspiringly named little brown bat, Oregon’s most abundant species, has been particularly hard hit.

So, obviously, that’s what happened to

our bats, right? Well, no. So far, white-nose syndrome hasn’t been detected in Oregon, and a multiyear study published in 2019 found Ore gon’s little brown bat population (unlike the little brown bat population east of the Rockies) holding steady. That probably won’t last—the disease turned up in Washington’s Yakima County last year—but for now, we can’t blame our missing bats on WNS.

The same study found bleaker news for another Oregon species, the hoary bat: Tens of thousands of them are killed by wind turbines each year, enough to put a significant dent in our hoary bat cohort. So, Robin, if your bats are hoary,* wind turbines could be responsible for their decline.

Then again, maybe they starved because of the “global entomofauna die-off.” Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either. Apparently, it’s com mon knowledge among biologists that insect populations worldwide are in steep decline, which sounds like something that happens right before the shit really hits the fan in a Michael Crichton novel. That said, it does put the relatively minor tragedy of declining bat populations in the proper apocalyptic context.

Vitamins, anyone?

*Conversely, if your whores are batty, you could be a pimp in a nursing home.

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com. Dr. Know
PRESENTED BY SPOTLIGHT ON HUMAN SERVICES CATEGORY These nonprofits focus on providing services to marginalized communities. Advocates For Life Skills And Opportunities (ALSO) • Alano Club of Portland • Bradley Angle • CASA for Children, Inc. • Central City Concern • Centro Cultural de Washington County • Children’s Center • Domestic Violence Resource Center • Dougy Center: National Grief Center for Children and Families • Family Justice Center of Washington County • Family Promise of Tualatin Valley • Friends of the Children—Portland • Haymarket Pole Collective • Hygiene4all • Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) • NAMI Multnomah • New Avenues for Youth • NW Instituto Latino • Operation Nightwatch - Portland • Outside In • p:ear • PDX Diaper Bank • Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center + Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC + RAHS) • Pueblo Unido PDX • Rahab’s Sisters • Red Lodge Transition Services • Rose Haven CIC • Sarah Belllum’s Bakery and Workshop (SBWW) • Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) • Stone Soup PDX • The Cupcake Girls • The Miracles Club • Urban League of Portland • William Temple House SPONSORED BY THE STANDARD WW is raising $8 M for 235 nonprofits this fall in their annual Give!Guide. What causes do you care about? Find yours and give ‘em a few bucks! 4 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com DIALOGUE
For a limited time, get HBO Max™ included for 1 year. Stream all your favorite HBO® shows and Max Originals™ when you get Xfinity Internet with unlimited data included for just $55/mo for 2 years. Plus, get a FREE 4K streaming box. Experience the ultimate streamer setup from the provider with supersonic WiFi. Drop everything. It’s the Xfinity Black Friday Sale. Offer ends 12/5/22. Restrictions apply. Not available in all areas. New Xfinity Internet residential customers only. Offer requires enrollment in both automatic payments and paperless billing with stored bank account. Without enrollment, the monthly service charge automatically increases by $10 (or $5 if enrolling with credit or debit card information). The discount will appear on your bill within 45 days of enrolling in automatic payments and paperless billing. If either automatic payment or paperless billing is subsequently canceled, the $10 monthly discount will be removed automatically. Limited to Fast Internet with xFi Complete and HBO Max.™ Installation, taxes & fees extra, and subj. to change during and after promo. After 24 months, or if any service is canceled or downgraded, regular charges apply to internet services and devices. Service limited to a single outlet. May not be combined with other offers. After 12 months, regular rates apply to HBO Max™ (currently, $9.99/mo., subject to change). Flex: Not available to current Xfinity TV customers. Requires post-pay subscription to Xfinity Internet, excluding Internet Essentials. Limited to 3 devices. One device included, additional devices $5/mo per device (subj. to change). All devices must be returned when service ends. Subscriptions required to access all other streaming services. Viewing will count against any Xfinity data plan. © 2022 WarnerMedia Direct, LLC. All Rights Reserved. HBO Max™ is used under license. © 2022 Comcast. All rights reserved. NPA243803-0005 1-800-xfinity Free 4K streaming box Unlimited internet No annual contract required. Requires automatic payment and paperless billing with stored bank account. Taxes and fees extra, and subject to change. See details below. $55 /mo for 24 mos xfinity.com Visit a store today HBO Max™ included for 1 year Ad supported version Limited time offer 144470_NPA243803-0005 West Black Friday ad 9.639x12.25 Willamette.indd 1 11/17/22 2:46 PM5 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

Jill Hoddick

I am a California transplant—please don’t hold that against me! I came to Portland for a job in terview at University of Portland in March 1977. I returned in August to begin as an assistant professor of theater.

In the costume shop, we used to read Willa mette Week classifieds on Friday afternoons. They were amusing, and we were dreamers. One day, I found one that caught my eye. Several years later, I married Kent and we will celebrate our 39th anniversary on Nov. 25. Willamette Week does hold a special place in my heart!

Since retiring, I have divided my time be tween my art studio, my family, and my garden.

I have 14 rose bushes and participate in the Portland Rose Society’s Annual Spring Show each June. I have won dozens of ribbons and three trophies. I also grow around four dozen different dahlias and love to give bouquets to neighbors and friends. Both these blooms have become subjects for my fiber artwork.

My friends and I appreciate independent local newspapers like yours that tell the stories of those who live here. We value learning about what is going on throughout our area and being introduced to arts activities, restaurants, newsworthy individuals, and groups of interest. Your kind of honest journalism makes Portland a great place to live, and I am thankful for the help of WW in meeting my husband and making Portland my permanent home.

Friends of Willamette Week are readers who support independent local journalism. Here’s Jill’s story about why she became a reader and Friend. Become a Friend of Willamette Week today! giveguide.org/nonprofits/foww SCAN ME! 6 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

PORTLAND TO STUDY PROPOSED LIVE NATION

VENUE: WW first reported this summer that the events promotion giant Live Nation was eyeing Portland for its next concert venue, envisioning a 3,000-capacity indoor auditorium on the Central Eastside. That news was met with swift pushback by local music venue owners, who feared the arrival of such a mega-company, which signs exclusive deals with big-name artists and runs the ticket platform Ticketmaster, would crush existing concert halls. Now, Prosper Portland, which owns the land slated for the venue, has agreed to commission an economic analysis by Johnson Economics to study the potential effects of the venue. Prosper agreed to the analysis after receiving pressure from Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office and local advo cacy group MusicPortland. Prosper spokesman Shawn Uhlman tells WW it’s paying the firm $18,200 for the analysis, which should be com pleted within the next few months. The mayor’s office and MusicPortland submitted questions to Prosper that it wished to incorporate into the study. Jerry Johnson says the analysis is close to completion and his firm has been looking at “typical economic impact” questions as well as Live Nation’s effects on local music economies in other cities.

PORTLAND POLICE MUST STOP USING “FLASH-BANGS”:

The city of Portland has settled a 2-year-old lawsuit filed by activists accusing the Portland Police Bureau of using indiscriminate force against protesters. The city will pay $50,000 to each of the five people named in the lawsuit. It will also decommission the bureau’s “rubber ball distraction devices,” the “flash-bang” grenades used by police to control crowds during the summer 2020 protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minne apolis police. The grenades, advertised to deliver “four stimuli for psychological and physiological effects,” including rubber pellets, caused serious injuries. “This is a win for organizers and anti-fas cist activists everywhere,” says Teressa Raiford, executive director of Don’t Shoot Portland, the advocacy group that brought the lawsuit. It isn’t the first time the bureau has had to discontin ue its use of the munitions. In 2018, then Police Chief Danielle Outlaw temporarily suspended the use of flash-bang grenades after they seriously

injured multiple leftist protesters. The city even tually paid out a six-figure settlement related to one of those incidents as well.

POSEY

TAKES OVER AT THE NAACP:

James Posey, a co-founder of the National Association of Minority Contractors Oregon and a onetime mayoral candidate, has been elected president of the NAACP of Oregon. Posey’s election, first reported by The Skanner, follows a period of rebuilding under outgoing president Sharon Gary-Smith. Gary-Smith succeeded the Rev. E.D. Mondaine, who resigned in October 2020 after The Portland Mercury reported on accusations of sexual abuse against him. Posey is a long time activist and construction company owner who served as NAACP vice president when city Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was the orga nization’s president. Posey told The Skanner he plans to enliven the NAACP’s committees, recruit younger members, and restore the organization’s stature. “The NAACP can mobilize the Black community in a way that maybe other organiza tions have not been able to mobilize it,” he said.

GROUPS SEEK CITY HALL TRANSPARENCY

ADVOCATE: Now that voters have approved changing the form of Portland’s government, the Charter Commission is considering a slate of 15 “phase 2” amendments. On the heels of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s recent report that thousands of text messages in the mayor’s office went missing, and the city’s persistent foot-drag ging in producing public records, the League of Women Voters, ACLU of Oregon, and the Great er Oregon Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists asked the commission to consider including a “transparency advocate” as one of the charter amendments on which it will vote Dec. 3. The amendment would place an inde pendent, objective person inside City Hall tasked with making the city’s records and operations more accessible to the public. The state’s new transparency czar has dramatically improved the public’s access to records. Advocates hope the same will happen at City Hall. “We commend the city of Portland for adopting transparency as one of its core values,” says Debbie Kaye, president of the League of Women Voters of Portland. “We feel, however, that the city has far to go in imple menting this stated value.”

PROSPER
7 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com A PODCAST BY WILLAMETTE WEEK NOW STREAMING ON ALL PLATFORMS (503) 493-0070 1433 NE Broadway, Portland
LIZZO AT THE ROSELAND IN 2019
SAM GEHRKE

Saving for a Rainy Day

Multnomah County recently released its first annual report on its use of the $2.5 billion Metro homeless services measure voters approved in 2020. That money will go to the three Portland-area counties over 10 years to alleviate homelessness.

In its annual report, Multnomah Coun ty explained the outcomes the new money produced: “The Joint Office [of Homeless Services] used [supportive housing ser vices] dollars to provide emergency shelter services to 357 people, place 1,129 people [962 of whom were chronically homeless] in housing, and prevent evictions and home lessness for 9,156 households,” wrote JOHS interim director Shannon Singleton. (The placement of 1,129 in housing fell just short of the county’s goal of 1,300. Keeping people housed exceeded the goal.)

One other data point: The number of peo ple living unsheltered in the 2022 point-intime count increased 50%, or by just over 1,000 people, from 2019. All that can make assessing results con

fusing. The agency’s budget offers clearer points of comparison.

The agency spent significantly less than planned.

The Joint Office budgeted to spend $52 mil lion from the Metro measure in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. But by then, it had spent just $36 million, about 70% of what it planned.

That underspending looks even more dramatic when compared to the amount of money actually available—Metro bumped the forecast up to $68.4 million available midyear and actually collected $86 million for Multnomah County. That means JOHS spent far less than it could have (it will roll those extra dollars into this year).

Joint Office spokesman Denis Theriault says starting up a new program proved dif ficult.

“That requires time spent contracting with service providers, building up capacity to process a massive influx of new funding, and hiring frontline workers to take on the

new work,” Theriault says. “Hiring was particularly challenging this year, same as in other sectors of the economy, but exac erbated by the reality of frontline work in a difficult field that requires being on the ground in a pandemic.”

Tom Cusack, a retired federal housing official who blogs about housing, is tracking the spending of the Metro funds. Cusack notes that JOHS is off to a very slow start for fiscal 2023, spending only 7% of its budget in the first quarter of fiscal 2023.

“That means they have to spend 93% in the next three quarters,” Cusack says. “I just don’t know how they are going to do that.”

The agency spent its money far differently from its budget.

For instance, the agency’s budget shows it spent disproportionately on “short-term housing assistance,” allocating $18.5 million, or twice its budget on that expenditure.

Meanwhile, spending on “shelter, out reach and safety on/off the street” and “per manent supportive housing services” was $9.7 million, less than half the budget.

That prioritization did far more for people with existing, if precarious, homes than for those who are unsheltered and in need of the services supportive housing provides.

Patricia Rojas, director of housing at Metro, says the spending reflects what was possible in a short time. “It takes more time to identify a housing unit and connect ser vices required,” Rojas says. “That’s a lot more work than short-term assistance, which might just be cutting check.”

Polls show voters want to see visible im provement on the streets.

Theriault says it’s a matter of what can be done with limited staffing. “Shifts among the spending categories reflect the reality of getting dollars out the door overall,” he says. “If one program or service area is still ramping up but another area can scale up with additional funds and serve more peo ple, then there’s flexibility to do that.”

The November election is long over, but one item of business remains: a mysterious contribution from one of the top executives at FTX, the high-fly ing cryptocurrency exchange that recently declared bankruptcy after an old-fashioned run on the bank.

The Oregonian reported that the contribution to the Democratic Party of Oregon Political Action Committee, the largest in the PAC’s history, was made in the name of a Las Vegas-based crypto startup called Prime Trust. But it actually came from Nishad Singh, director of engineering at FTX, and the DPO PAC didn’t correct the information until the paper called about it, The Oregonian said.

When Secretary of State Shemia Fagan read about the error, she immedi ately requested that the Oregon Elections Division open an investigation, spokesman Ben Morris says.

Here are the details:

elect Tina Kotek’s campaign. That’s more than half the $4.5 million the DPO spent this year.

WHY IT MATTERS

Politicians often have to return or regift contributions when big contributors, such as the Holly wood producer Harvey Wein stein, fall into disgrace. Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke returned a $1 million donation from former FTX CEO

before Election Day, The Texas Tribune reported.

“The issue is important to us. We are aware of the situation and monitoring it closely. We have no other comments at this time.” Notably, the DPO has $562,000 left in its account, so it could afford to make things right.

8 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEK NEWS
Multnomah County spent less and differently than planned on homeless services last year.
SPENDING
FUNGIBLE TOKENS The Oregon Democratic Party won’t say if it will return a contribution from an FTX executive.
HOW MUCH? $500,000 WHO GOT IT? The Democratic Party of Oregon PAC WHERE DID IT GO?
Campaign cash is fungible but the DPO filings show it spent $2.69 million this year on Gov.-
Sam Bankman-Fried four days
WHAT DOES THE DPO SAY?
EFFINGER & NIGEL JAQUISS. CONTRIBUTION OF THE WEEK $86MIL. $36MIL. Available funds in 2021 Money spent Source: Multnomah County JOHS Source: Multnomah County JOHS $18.95 MILLION $9.7 MILLION $9.4 MILLION Budgeted for shelter, outreach and safety Spent on shelter, outreach and safety Budgeted for shortterm housing assistance Spent on short-term housing assistance $18.5 MILLION
ANTHONY

GRIEVANCES

Clean & Mad

Emails between the city and its three enhanced service districts show bitterness over homelessness, city inaction and public scrutiny.

The city of Portland has three districts in which business owners agree to pay a fee for extra cleanup and security services. Such pacts are called enhanced service districts. Each is operated by a nonprofit established by business owners in that district. Clean & Safe operates downtown, Central Eastside Together covers the inner eastside, and the third, named simply Lloyd, lies in the Lloyd District in Northeast Portland.

The districts have long been controversial, with critics painting them as an easy way for citizens with resources to buy additional services and the city’s attention that average Portlanders can’t while making life harder for the city’s unhoused. Meanwhile, busi ness owners who pay for the districts have regularly expressed displeasure with the quality of services they receive.

City Hall is conducting a community review after a scathing 2020 audit by City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero found trans parency issues within the districts and lackadaisical oversight and guidelines by city officials. The audit caused some hard feelings. (Two of the three ESDs have re newed contracts with the city under the au dit. Lloyd is expected to renew its contract next year.)

That tension is outlined in a series of re cent emails to the mayor’s office in which the districts complained the city was scrutiniz ing their work instead of thanking them for performing tasks the city should be doing.

The emails, obtained by WW via a pub lic records request, showcase the bitter frustration of business groups that believe government officials are failing to address open drug use and sidewalk camping on the streets of Portland. And lodged in the emails are occasional hints that the city is failing to uphold its end of the contract—suggesting that formal mediation could follow.

However, Jon Isaacs, vice president of gov ernment affairs for the Portland Business Alliance, says some of that tension may have subsided in recent months.

“Since all three of [the districts] united to

express our frustration with the lethargic re turn of basic services to our districts,” Isaacs tells WW, “downtown Portland has seen a renewed sense of urgency across multiple bureaus.”

Below are verbatim excerpts from the emails sent by Portland Business Alliance president and CEO Andrew Hoan and the districts since the beginning of this year.

June 27, 2022: Hoan writes Mayor Ted Wheeler about a public survey asking Port landers about their opinions of the districts. The districts, asked to distribute the survey, take great offense to the questions in it.

“As this is the first time the three ESDs have acted together in a formal transmis sion to any of our recent memories, I hope you can appreciate the severity to which we regard this survey and its embedded bias towards our organizations,” Hoan writes.

“As representatives of organizations that donate millions of private ratepayer funds to provide additional services to our city, and to be spoken about in the manner to which this survey as an official form of city action, is frankly, offensive.”

Attached to Hoan’s letter is a five-page dissection of the survey questions by the districts, pointing out perceived bias and unprofessionalism by the city. One of the questions asks respondents to rate their lev el of agreement with the statement: “Though not perfect, historically enhanced service districts overall have had a positive impact on the community.” “Why would a survey use this type of subjective framing?” the districts asked. “Wouldn’t it influence a person’s response?”

The districts decline to distribute the sur vey.

Sept. 28, 2022: The three districts send a joint letter to the mayor’s office outlining their grievances. Complaints include:

Increased costs of measures to im prove transparency due to the audit: “The increased budgeted expenses related to these line items are largely because of audit implementation. These costs have doubled

since the audit. While the costs have doubled, we cannot indicate how we are receiving dou ble the customer service, or services in any of these areas. As we are privately funded through rate payer fees, it is critical that we can articulate to our boards the return on investment.”

City’s failure to uphold its end of the bargain: “While the ESDs are committed to delivering on our defined scopes of work that are defined as ‘Enhanced’, the near total ab sence of any of the ‘Basic’ services promised by the city provides a gargantuan gap in the ex perience of the district by our ratepayers and all those who use our districts. In the absence of City, County, Metro and State services, our districts have become overly dependent on providing front line services. They were not designed to do this. However, because of the systems failures across all these governments, we are often placed in the position to fill the service gaps.”

The city’s botched survey: “The re lease of the city survey which treated ESDs as a problem to be fixed, and the listening sessions that were conducted that uniformly represented inputs by the very few with highly motivated political agendas, the ESDs have not been treated as the high performing part ner that they are.”

A threat: “If substantial progress is not made by the city and its partner governments in restoring basic services, and accountability reporting on these obligations, as required in our renewals and under the auspices of the audit’s required transparency, the city would be in breach of its obligations.”

And a plea: “Lastly, while it may seem self-serving, a simple and occasional ‘thank you’ to the ratepayers who fund out of their own and voluntary considerations, the ser vices that remove needles, biohazards, provide public safety and enhance livability, would benefit from recognition and not be taken for granted. An absence of the districts were they to be disbanded, would result in a massive absence of services in our more impactful commercial districts.”

CHASING GHOSTS

SNAKE CHARMER

The former home of Fat Cobra Video will soon be a vintage clothing shop.

Address: 5940 N Interstate Ave.

Year built: 1949

Square footage: 3,217 Market value: $1.8 million

Owner: Pat Lanagan

How long it’s been empty: 3 years

Why it’s empty: Health troubles, street hassles

Last month, Pat Lanagan suggested WW examine this storefront along the MAX Yellow Line. “It has a somewhat interesting story,” he wrote. “It’s my building.”

That pitch was difficult to resist. Especially when it came from the onetime proprietor of three of Portland’s liveliest gay bars—Porky’s, the Eagle and Sullivan’s Gulch Bar & Grill—and when the address was the former den of Fat Cobra Video.

For the uninitiated, Fat Cobra was a chain of adult video stores Lanagan oversaw for much of the 2000s. The North Portland storefront on Interstate Avenue was particularly well known for its arcade of glory holes—and for the fact that it operated one block from Ockley Green Middle School.

Portland lawyer Lake Perriguey, who worked on cases that reaffirmed Oregon’s broad constitutional protections for free speech, cited Fat Cobra Video this year as an example of the rights upheld in the 2005 state Supreme Court decision in Oregon v. Ciancanelli

“If you can have a Christian bookstore across the street from an elementary school,” Perriguey said, “that’s why you could have a glory-hole emporium across the street from a middle school.”

You still can, though Portland doesn’t. Fat Cobra closed in 2019. Lanagan says several factors con tributed to the closure, including surgery that left him partially paralyzed in both legs.

Reached by phone on vacation in Maui, Lanagan told WW last week that he was ready to start a new chapter. “I was thrown off my horse really fucking hard,” he said, “and I’ve managed to climb back on.”

But the man who contributed to Portland’s anything-goes reputation said North Interstate Avenue had become a little too gritty to be con ducive to opening any sort of retail business. “In this environment, it’s a little bit disconcerting,” he said. He had reached out to the Portland Housing Bureau about using the building, including its up stairs apartment, as shelter for unhoused people but gained little traction.

Undeterred, Lanagan vows the space will soon reopen as a vintage store called 5 O’Clock Fashion Exchange. (New signage is already up.) As he ren ovated the erstwhile Fat Cobra, he grew fascinated by the building’s history: “It absolutely had been a soda fountain at one time.” AARON

Every week, WW examines one mysterious ly vacant property in the city of Portland, explains why it’s empty, and considers what might arrive there next. Send addresses to newstips@wweek.com.

9 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
GOOD FENCES: Setting up for the Pioneer Courthouse Square holiday tree lighting. CHRIS NESSETH

purveyors FanDuel and DraftKings.

As The New York Times noted in an examination of legal sports betting published last week, the black-mar ket boogeyman that Courtney mentioned is a frequent lever for oddsmakers, lobbyists and lawmakers seeking to expand state-sanctioned sports gambling.

“To persuade on-the-fence state lawmakers to board the sports-betting bandwagon, the gambling industry disseminated data about how much tax revenue states could expect to receive and how much gambling was already taking place outside of state supervision in illegal markets,” the Times found.

While Courtney came up short of the goal line, the pressure is on here to turn every cellphone into a legal, pocket-sized casino.

Here’s the state of sports betting in Oregon:

immaturity make them easy marks.

She believes the ultimate goal of both the gambling industry and the Oregon Lottery is to move gamblers where the real money for both is—video slot machines. Except the machines would be mobile.

Under pressure from the state’s nine recognized tribes, Gov. Kate Brown forbid the lottery and pri vate companies from offering more gambling options, pending a statewide review.

“Do we really want to put a slot machine in every body’s pocket?” asks Justin Martin, a lobbyist for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Oregon takes a bigger cut than most other states.

Oregon originally contracted its sports betting with SB Tech, a shadowy gambling company based in Malta.

Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com NEWS ALBERTA ROSE THEATRE ••••••••• •••• albertarosetheatre.com 3000 NE Alberta • 503.764.4131 ••••• ••••••••••••• 12/12 • BELONG ART COMMUNITY CONCERT 12/22 • CANDLELIGHT - VIVALDI’S “FOUR SEASONS” 12/23 • CANDLELIGHT - HOLIDAY SPECIAL UPCOMING SHOWS WHITE ALBUM X-MAS Beatles/circus mashup The NowHere Band + Rose City Circus NOV 30 THRU DEC 10 featuring Napoleon Murphy Brock DEC 14 MAGICAL STRINGS celtic yuletide soulful music, storytelling & Irish step-dancing DEC 16 the holiday edition deck the halls with books & burlesque 3 Leg Torso ELVES OF FROSTLÄND The Next Generation DEC 17 DEC 18 DEC 19 DEC 15 Frank Zappa a 14-piece tribute to DEC 20 DEC 31 THE LOVE BALL NYE party High Step Society The Saloon Ensemble Pink Lady’s “Cat’s Meow” Burlesque lyrics by Woodie Guthrie holiday cabaret THE KLEZMATICS Happy Joyous Hanukkah DEC 21 QUEER EYE FOR THE MAGI DEC 29 ONLY A FEWLEFT!TIX

On average, their per capita mobile sports gaming revenue is more than six times that of Oregon’s.”

Martz, the lottery critic, says state officials mis lead the public when they tout tax revenue without also reporting the societal costs of gambling. She says studies show those costs wipe out any revenue the state collects: “The only winner in this whole game is DraftKings.”

There’s a lot of pressure to expand.

The Times reported that 30-year-old whiskey, Cuban cigars and generous sponsorships are among the tools gambling companies have used to grease access to state-sanctioned betting across the country.

Those tools aren’t as necessary here, since officials are already deeply addicted to the nearly $1 billion that gambling generates annually. But Sport Oregon,

the nonprofit that counts the Portland Trail Blazers, Timbers, Thorns, universities, and apparel companies among its members, is pushing hard to expand sports gambling in Oregon. Other groups want to expand poker, betting on computer-generated games, and

s Joint

Interim Committee on Gambling Regulation, Sport

ferent critique from Martz’s. He argued that the state is certainly “leaving millions of dollars on the table” by taking too big a cut of DraftKings’ profits and not

wmakers and Gov. Brown deferred to the tribes’ desire to pump the brakes. But Nayman says there’s

eep doing what we are doing, Oregon will lag dramatically behind other states that have moved forward with expansions,” Nayman tells WW. He notes other states with sports betting generate five or six times Oregon’s per capita revenue.

Although it might seem expansion is inevitable, California voters offered a different perspective Nov. 8, defeating a ballot measure that would have allowed mobile sports betting in the Golden State.

Martz says she takes hope from the California vote that expansion here isn’t a fait accompli—DraftKings and its allies spent $200 million to support the mea sure. The ability to gamble 24/7 with just a cellphone and a credit card is a far cry from the low-tech version of the lottery that Oregon voters authorized in 1984.

“Oregonians voted for a pared-down, communi ty-based form of lottery,” Martz says. “It’s time to say what we have today is not what we agreed to.”

MCKENZIE YOUNG-ROY @MCKENZIEYOUNGART
11 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com COMING UP HISTORICAL TALK AND SIGNING WITH 1969 KISN BATTLE OF THE BANDS WINNER THE B GADE HEAR THEIR FASCINATING STORY AS MEMBERS OF THE BAND REUNITE AT MUSIC MILLENNIUM FOR AN HOUR OF STORYTELLING AND MEMORABILIA SIGNING! A COZY SHOPPING EVENING HOLIDAY MUSIC IN-STORE PERFORMANCE WITH THE TIDE SUNDAY DECEMBER 4TH COMPLIMENTARY REFRESHMENTS! SATURDAY DECEMBER 3RD AT 5PM THIS WEEKEND! AT 5PM

workforce dedicated to serving youth, adults, and families in the Eugene/ Springfield community. SSA’s at the RCC (Regional Crisis Center) help youth clients with skill-building and provide directions in performing daily housekeeping duties, chores, physical activity, recreation, hygiene, and school work. The RCC is a subacute residential facility (in Eugene, OR) where youth are placed directly from the Department of Human Services.

www.lookingglass.us/employment Apply today! All job listings and applications on our website
2022 Looking Glass is hiring For Social Service Assistants! WAKE UP TO WHAT MATTERS IN PORTLAND. Willamette Week’s daily newsletter arrives every weekday morning with the day’s top news. SIGN UP AT WWEEK.COM/NEWSLETTERS 12 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
Join a passionate

Hotseat: Casey Grogan

Oregon grows the nation’s Christmas trees—and it’s a year-round job.

Oregon is the nation’s largest producer of Christ mas trees, by a long shot.

In 2019, the latest year for which government data is available, the state shipped 3.8 million trees worth $110.3 million. North Carolina came in second at 2 million trees worth $67.2 million. Oregon trees travel as far as Mexico and Singa pore.

It’s a big business and, lately, it’s been a good one, even though plastic trees keep taking sales by looking less fake. There was a big shakeout after the Great Recession of 2008. Lots of tree farmers switched to other crops, says Casey Gro gan at Silver Bells Tree Farm near Silverton.

The ones that remain, like him, are getting good prices now, Grogan says. He declined to give a dollar amount. (The Christmas tree market is cutthroat, says Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries.) But a 6-foot, Oregon-grown Noble fir retails for $110 at a Northwest Portland tree lot.

It takes about eight years to grow a good Christmas tree. Because they hold their needles so well, the best are Noble firs, which are com mon in Oregon, and Nordmann firs, a species that originated in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia, Grogan says. He grows both.

Grogan, 46, recently bought Silver Bells from his parents, who started with one plot of land in 1976, right around the time Grogan was born. Now, he has 500 acres. He only sells wholesale, so don’t go looking to cut your own at his farm.

WW spoke to Grogan about capturing the mar ket and growing firs in a heat dome.

WW: So, it’s looking like a merry Christmas for tree growers?

Casey Grogan: Yes. Before 2008, there was a major oversupply of Christmas trees in the Northwest, and that drove prices down below the cost of production. About half the farms either went out of business or switched to other crops, like hazelnuts or wine grapes. Now, there aren’t as many trees out there, and the price has gone up dramatically.

How’s the competition from fake trees?

Fakes always cut into sales. There are substantially more fake trees being displayed for Christmas than real trees. It’s some where around 80% fake to 20% real. We bank on the fact that there will always be people who want real trees. Lots of people think that fake trees are better for the environment, but nothing could be further from the truth. They’re made out of plastic in

factories in China. Our trees are grown from the soil here in the U.S., and they’re a recyclable product. They can be mulched. They’re used as fish habitat.

How did your parents get into the business?

When they bought their property, they cleared the tall grass and discovered some seedlings planted out back that came with the property. They thought they’d try and grow them and figured it out. They sold their first crop, then purchased a parcel of land here and there, and it’s grown into what it is.

Do you get most of the year off, while the trees grow?

No. As soon as we get done with shipping this month, we’ll take a quick break and then start grinding the stumps on the fields we cut. Then we’ll plow and get ready to plant seedlings. Once we hit springtime, we have to work on pest management. All year, we’re using shearing knives to shear the trees into conical shapes.

Has climate change affected your business?

The heat dome in June last year was unique for everyone, and it certainly affected us. We worry about the younger trees. We’re a nonirrigated crop, so we have to get the young ones established. We’ve had more drought conditions in the last three or four years, so we’re probably losing a few more than we have historically.

Over the years, you learn that those things are going to happen and you just keep planting and planting and planting.

How do you prepare trees for shipment?

We have a machine called a baler that wraps them in string and turns all the branches upright to protect them during shipment, and so we can fit more on a truck.

Any tips for buyers?

Water them, especially in the first 24 to 48 hours. They’ll really suck it up. If a tree runs out of water, it will form a sap seal on the bottom and it won’t drink any more.

TREE SPREE: Casey Grogan’s farm near Silverton is in the black this season.
13 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com NEWS
COURTESY CASEY GROGAN
INSIDE THE CRIME RING THAT SHIPPED THOUSANDS OF OREGON’S STOLEN CATALYTIC CONVERTERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. FROM PORTLAND TO JERSEY 14 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

ON A CHILLY MORNING LAST FEBRUARY,

in the parking lot of a Beaverton Home Depot, a catalytic converter was harvested from a Ford pickup, one of hun dreds stolen each month in Oregon. At black-market prices, the torpedo-shaped hunk of metal was worth upwards of $1,000.

Catalytic converter theft is a national headache, tripling year over year in 2020 and again in 2021, fueled by the skyrocketing price of the precious metals they contain. Portland has been no exception.

Few nonviolent crimes contribute so greatly to Portlanders’ unease about the safety of their city, but no one could say exactly where the stolen goods were going.

Until now.

WW has learned that the theft of catalytic converters outside a Beaverton strip mall has connections to a Long Island fence supplying a major New Jersey metal recycler.

Specifically, a series of indictments alleges that catalytic converter theft is connected to organized crime and that an unassuming former Uber driver named Brennan Doyle, living in Lake Oswego, is the ringleader of an Oregon effort that reaches all the way to industrial parks and refineries on the East Coast, part of what federal and local prosecutors say was a half-billion-dollar nationwide criminal conspiracy.

On Aug. 2, Doyle was arrested and charged with racketeering and with turning 44,000 allegedly stolen catalytic converters into millions of dollars in cash. Doyle, 32, is alleged to have roped in high school buddies, girlfriends and small-time crooks to help him traffic a significant portion of the auto parts sawed from the undercarriages of Portland cars.

He has pleaded not guilty.

“[Doyle] is probably more responsible than anyone for the scourge of catalytic converter thefts in the state of Oregon,” says Washington County chief deputy district attorney Bracken McKey. “He is somebody facing a tremendous amount of prison

time. We intend to get it.”

The month after Beaverton police raided Doyle’s Lake Oswe go rental home, catalytic converter theft in Portland dropped 28%, according to Portland police. (The bureau has yet to release more recent data.) The Washington County Sheriff’s Office saw a more significant drop: from over 20 thefts a month in early 2022 to five in October.

Large as the bust was, no one thinks Doyle’s crew was han dling all or even most of Portland’s stolen catalytic converters. Much of the evidence used to indict Doyle and his accomplices remains under seal.

But a review of court documents, along with dozens of inter views with detectives, cronies, friends and victims, provides clues to what became of many of the auto parts that disappeared from Portland cars over the past two years.

It takes less than a minute to extract a catalytic converter from the exhaust pipe of a Honda.

“They can be in and out in 30 seconds,” Beaverton Police Officer Matt Henderson told reporters earlier this year. “Like a NASCAR pit crew.”

Catalytic converters became widespread thanks to the federal Clean Air Act of 1970, which set strict limits on car emissions. The devices convert poisonous carbon monoxide in car exhaust into carbon dioxide.

To quicken that chemical reaction, the converters use three metals: palladium, platinum and rhodium. It’s incredibly ef fective, says Robert Farrauto, a Columbia University professor and pioneer in the field. When mixed with the right amount of oxygen, the catalysts eliminate upward of 95% of the poisonous fumes.

But because the exhaust is so hot, the device must be placed underneath the car. “It’s effectively a black box in a pipe,” Farrauto says. It’s an easy target for thieves. “You cut each end, take the converter out, and there it is.”

The price of these “platinum group metals” has surged in recent years. In 2018, the National Insurance Crime Bureau recorded 1,298 catalytic converter theft claims in the United States. By 2021, there were over 52,000 claims.

Kevin Demer, senior deputy district attorney at the Mult nomah County District Attorney’s Office, has prosecuted cat alytic converter thieves for decades. He’s seen theft spikes before. But this one has been extreme. With so much demand, new buyers willing to purchase catalytic converters with an uncertain pedigree popped up like weeds.

Established players in the metal recycling market avoid buying stolen car parts by verifying the identities their sellers. But the new ones didn’t.

“The companies that are dirty don’t have those controls,” Demer says. “They’re ostriches in the sand.”

Into this frothy market stepped Brennan Doyle.

Oswego Lake has long been a magnet for Portland’s wealth. When two 30-somethings rolled into a lakeside rental earlier this year in an expensive new truck, no one batted an eye.

15 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

A ccording to Beaverton detectives, Doyle and his high school buddy, Benjamin Jamison, set up shop in a $5,000-a-month two-bedroom home on South Shore Boulevard for the summer.

Prior to landing in Lake Oswego, Doyle was born in San Francisco and later graduated from Tualatin High School. He drove for Uber, according to two longtime friends who spoke to WW on condition of anonymity. In 2015, he registered a sport ing goods business with the state. It sold snowboards and hats, but never appeared to gain much traction. Jami son had known Doyle since high school and worked in construction before Doyle pitched him on the new en terprise, Detective Patrick McNair of the Beaverton Police Department tells WW

property

Doyle bought a speed boat for $15,000 and spent evenings cruising the lake. He and Jamison invited friends from out of town, who documented the outings on Instagram. In one, Doyle mugs for the camera in a teal swimsuit, then leaps off the boat’s bow and swims off into the distance.

Next-door neighbors tell WW the two friends seemed like nice kids. They held par ties, with cars spilling out onto the streets, but told neigh bors to give them a call if their guests ever got too loud.

Doyle was a fan of the Golden State Warriors, and in July flew to San Francisco to watch the team play in the NBA Finals. He and his friends documented trips to the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals on Instagram. Doyle had plans to go to Bali, police say.

According to police, Doyle didn’t use the lake house just for pleasure. He and Jamison were visited regularly by men instructed to carefully conceal their deliveries

in bags or under blankets.

“This place was the heart of the business,” McNair tells WW

According to a July indictment, Doyle’s criminal en terprise began in early 2021. Doyle and a few friends allegedly purchased catalytic converters from thieves up and down the West Coast. But according to McNair, one of Doyle’s major suppliers was Tanner Hellbusch, the man spotted on the security video from the Beaverton Home Depot during the February theft from the Ford pickup.

Hellbusch, 32, was scraping together a living by re selling cars and their parts. He’d been convicted of DUII

three times and, by 2015, he’d lost his driver’s license. As of September, he owed his ex-wife over $17,000 in child support.

By February, he had begun stealing catalytic converters, according to an indictment. He was a major local fence, McNair says, either stealing converters himself or buying the parts directly from thieves and reselling them at a profit.

He lived with his new fiancée, Jerrica Oga-Garo, and their newborn in a three-bedroom rental on a quiet cul-de-sac in Beaverton’s Oak Hills neighborhood. “He seemed like a really friendly guy,” says Peter Stamos, who lives two doors down.

STATE OF THE ART: The half-billion-dollar New Jersey business had sophisticated machinery — and a mobile app.

PARTY BOYS:
“I can’t think of another
crimes wire case this big.”
The alleged ringleader’s $5,000-a-month lakeshore rental.
MICHAEL RAINES
16 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
COURTESY OF DG AUTO

Meanwhile, according to McNair, Hellbusch was posting advertisements seeking sellers for catalytic converters on Facebook Marketplace—and uploading photos of his hauls.

Hellbusch was doing business out of Oga-Garo’s parents’ home, police say, across the railroad tracks from Nike’s World Headquarters. There, Hellbusch met with buyers and stored the stolen merchandise. When making deliveries, Oga-Ga ro sometimes drove, police say. Like Hellbusch, she’s been charged with theft and racketeering.

At first, Hellbusch was reselling the catalytic converters to local scrap businesses, McNair says. But an Oregon law passed in 2021 required scrap metal businesses to begin keeping records of every catalytic converter they buy, including the vehicle identification number of the car it came from—and made it illegal to purchase the parts with cash.

The state’s metal recycling industry had reservations. “Un scrupulous buyers,” lobbyist Justin Short told legislators, would just “seek out locations with less restrictive laws to do business.”

Short’s prediction proved prescient. Thieves started looking for new buyers.

That’s when police say Brennan Doyle stepped in.

“It was about when that happened that Hellbusch started [selling his contraband] through Doyle,” McNair says.

Doyle found an out-of-state buyer in Adam Sharkey, de tectives say. Sharkey was a major East Coast fence who was buying catalytic converters in bulk from across the country and shipping them to Long Island, N.Y., according to a federal indictment.

Sharkey couldn’t have been hard for Doyle to find. “Looking to buy volume,” Sharkey wrote in December in a Facebook

THE CONVERTER CONNECTION

group for buyers and sellers of catalytic converters. “Will pay shipping 100+ pieces,” he added. Sharkey included his phone number.

Leveraging his new hookup, Doyle set up a warehouse on a property in Aurora and recruited friends to help launch the business. Jenna Wilson, his on-and-off-again girlfriend, kept the books, detectives say. Benjamin Jamison, his Lake Owego roommate, met with buyers and handled the cash. Both have also been charged with theft and racketeering.

As spring turned to summer, detectives watched as a steady stream of trucks pulled in and out of the Aurora warehouse.

Meanwhile, federal investigators were tracking Adam Sharkey.

In an investigation codenamed Operation Heavy Metal, Oklahoma detectives traced stolen catalytic converters from a fence in a Tulsa suburb to Sharkey’s warehouse in Long Island. Investigators confirmed to WW that Doyle’s catalytic converters made the same journey, by commercial truck and rail, as the Oklahoma car parts.

The Oregon investigation didn’t pursue the stolen goods any further than Sharkey. Saying what happened to them next requires a little conjecture. But that second investigation based in Oklahoma outlines in documents what became of catalytic converters Sharkey fenced—and identifies a likely final destination.

Adam Sharkey was selling stolen catalytic converters to a New Jersey company called DG Auto, according to an indict ment unsealed in early November. By the time the feds pulled down the Oklahoma ring, DG Auto had wired Sharkey more than $45 million.

DG Auto, based in suburban Freehold, N.J., 30 minutes

1. PRO AUTOMOTIVE & DIESEL SCAPPOOSE

outside Trenton, was not your run-of-the-mill metal recy cler. It had a mobile app, which provided real-time quotes on the value of catalytic converters as the underlying metals fluctuated in price.

“ With over 12,000 codes and over 10,000 photos of convert ers, you will have the most accurate information on converters at your fingertips,” reads the recycler’s website.

DG Auto would “decan” the catalytic converters and extract the precious metals from inside. The process is decidedly low tech. A miniature guillotine rips open the device’s metal can to expose the fragile core, which is then crushed into a powder. The company posted pictures of its shiny new decanning machine online.

Federal prosecutors say DG Auto sold the powder for a profit to “a metal refinery company operating in New Jersey and elsewhere,” which was not named in the indictment. Portland prosecutors say metals from Doyle’s shipments eventually ended up “overseas.”

Regardless, after the powder is subjected to intense heat and the precious metals extracted, the metals likely wind up back where they started: in a catalytic converter. The devices use around half of the world’s supply of palladium and 80% of its rhodium.

The nationwide “recycling” of these metals proved lucrative for DG Auto’s owner, Navin “Lovin” Khanna, 39.

The U.S. Department of Justice says that between 2019 and the summer of 2022, the unnamed refinery paid Khanna and his brother, Tinu “Gagan” Khanna, more than a half-billion dollars.

“They made hundreds of millions of dollars,” FBI Director Christopher Wray later said. “On the backs of thousands of

3. THE LAKE HOUSE LAKE OSWEGO

Thanks to a pair of recent criminal investigations, it’s now possible to trace the path catalytic converters took from the streets of Portland to an indicted New Jersey recycler.

Targeted by catalytic converter thieves on multiple occasions, including by a known associate of Tanner Hellbusch.

2. TAYLOR HELLBUSCH’S STOREHOUSE BEAVERTON

Police say Hellbusch fenced stolen catalytic converters through this suburban house near the Nike campus.

Hellbusch and others brought merchandise to Doyle here, police say.

4. BRENNAN DOYLE’S WAREHOUSE AURORA

Doyle’s associates boxed up catalytic converters here before loading them onto trucks and shipping them out of state, detectives allege.

5. ADAM SHARKEY LINDENHURST, NY

Police say Sharkey received shipments from Doyle here.

6. DG AUTO FREEHOLD, NJ

An Oklahoma indictment shows Sharkey received $45 million for catalytic converters shipped to a company operating out of this New Jersey warehouse.

HOMELAND SECURITY: Operation Heavy Metal.

1 2 3 4 5 6 COURTESY OF HOMELAND SECURITY 17 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

AUTO LOCKED

ONCE A TARGET OF CATALYTIC CONVERTER THIEVES, AN AUTO REPAIR SHOP TAKES MATTERS INTO ITS OWN HANDS.

Catalytic converter theft has proven particularly irritating for Oregon businesses that keep lots full of vehicles. Adam Ofstad would know.

He’s the owner of an auto repair shop in Scap poose. For the past two years, Ofstad has battled thieves who jack up cars and trucks on his lot to steal the valuable parts underneath.

These lots are easy pickings for catalytic con verter thieves who supply the stolen contraband allegedly trafficked by the likes of Brennan Doyle and his associates. Several low-level thieves were indicted alongside Doyle, accused of supplying the stolen contraband that Doyle shipped to East Coast buyers.

One of those names was familiar to Ofstad: Jessie Hillard. Before being arrested in August by police in connection to Doyle’s catalytic converter theft ring, Hillard had snuck onto the lot at Pro Automotive & Diesel in 2021. The measures Ofstad took to catch him are a signal of the frustration Oregonians feel with property crimes.

Early in the pandemic, break-ins were an almost nightly occurrence at Pro Automotive. So Ofstad set up a 24-hour surveillance system. He and his employees were armed. “Many times it was handto-hand combat with these guys,” he tells WW

B ut Ofstad soon discovered that Columbia County sheriff’s deputies and Scappoose police weren’t even on call some nights (they blamed their budgets). So Ofstad got the cellphone num ber of the sheriff, Brian Pixley, who promised to devote overtime to ensure deputies responded to thefts at Pro Automotive at all hours.

J ust after 2 am on April 9, 2021, Ofstad was awakened by a Ring alarm. He drove to his shop, and watched from a distance as Hillard strolled through the lot.

A Scappoose police officer and a sheriff’s deputy soon arrived to arrest Hillard. When asked why he was in Ofstad’s lot, Hillard said he was “taking a piss.” The deputy found a glass pipe and what looked like meth in Hillard’s pocket, as well as a pair of Sawzall blades. Police searched his truck and found “jiggle keys,” several saws and a floor jack.

Hillard was charged with attempted theft. He pleaded not guilty and posted bail. His trial is set for February.

In the meantime, Beaverton police say, Hillard was selling stolen catalytic converters to one of Doyle’s major suppliers, Tanner Hellbusch.

Hillard was pulled over this summer after selling a load of stolen parts to Hellbusch, police say. They found saws and floor jacks in the back of his truck. He was charged with racketeering Aug. 1. Still, Hillard managed to avoid jail—until he was caught by police Nov. 7 while sneaking into a win dow of a house in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neigh borhood of Southeast Portland.

He was carrying a fake New York state identifi cation card that he’d “paid a lot of money for” and was using to “avoid being caught on his warrants,” he told the arresting officer.

This time, he remains in custody.

Meanwhile, says Ofstad, his proactive approach to thefts on his property has borne fruit. More than a dozen people have been arrested attempting to steal from his shop, he says. “The word is out. Nobody goes and steals cats from Pro anymore.” LUCAS MANFIELD.

18 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

wiretaps were the difference maker.”

innocent car owners.”

Over the summer in Oregon, two dozen police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state special agents watched Doyle’s lake house and warehouse in shifts. The Beaverton Police Department led the investigation, which had started with tips from one of their patrol officers and a Clackamas County detective that Hellbusch was a major buyer of stolen catalytic converters.

But when police observed delivery trucks backed up to the warehouse, the cargo was hidden from view. And detectives found it difficult to prove that Doyle was aware he was trafficking in stolen goods.

So the Oregon Department of Justice helped police tap four phones, including Doyle’s.

“The wiretaps were the difference maker,” McNair says. Using phone records and freight receipts, detectives were able to piece together the organization—and ultimately connect Doyle to Sharkey.

Doyle did little to hide his trail. He and his friends discussed shipments over the phone, including who was making deliveries and the amount of cargo, says Phillip Kearney, assistant special agent in charge at the Oregon DOJ. “They were flamboyant—kind of party boys,” Ke arney says.

Over the summer, Kearney says, police began seizing assets and intercepting the ring’s wire transfers. On July 18, one of Doyle’s childhood friends and alleged accom plices, Casey Smith, went online to complain that he’d been locked out of his Chase bank account—and access to $130,000. Smith faces similar racketeering charges.

Later, the friends met to discuss their financial woes over lunch at nearby sandwich shop Lardo. Unsure whether their money had been frozen by the feds or they’d simply been victims of bad luck, the crew brain stormed possible workarounds.

Kearney tailed them and sat in an adjacent booth, listening in.

On Aug. 3, a SWAT team descended on Hellbusch’s house. Police raided Doyle’s lakehouse and searched the pair’s warehouses. They found nearly $40,000 in cash in Doyle’s bedroom. In the warehouses were 3,000

catalytic converters.

Authorities collected more than 1,100 pages of finan cial records and recorded nearly 3,000 audio clips. A grand jury indicted 14 people, nearly all charged with racketeering and various counts of theft and money laundering.

In total, Beaverton police say, Doyle and his cronies sold worth $22 million worth of catalytic converters in the past two years.

At least $10 million of that money flowed through Doyle’s bank accounts, prosecutors say. “We haven’t tracked down all of his cash,” chief deputy DA McKey told a judge at a court hearing in September.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years. I can’t think of an other property crimes wire case this big,” says Detective Sgt. Cliff Lascink with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

When WW called Doyle to request comment for this story, he declined and hung up.

Doyle gave up the lease on his lake house. The owner put it back up for rent in October. Hellbusch’s house on the Beaverton cul-de-sac is vacant.

It’s not clear how much money the two had left after blowing much of it on jewelry, trips and fancy cars. De tectives say Doyle owed more on his new Bronco than it was worth. According to his attorney, Doyle now spends his days washing cars at an auto dealer in Vancouver.

If the case goes to trial, Doyle will likely claim he didn’t know his business was trafficking in stolen goods. His friends say he’s being scapegoated for Portland’s crime problems.

The all-hours surveillance means prosecutors have hours of recorded phone calls and troves of financial documents to make a case that Doyle knew the illicit origin of his product.

But tracing any given catalytic converter from the underside of a Portland car all the way to a New Jersey metal refinery is next to impossible. The trail WW traced for this story disappears in places. Unlike other car parts, catalytic converters have no unique identification num ber that can be used to trace them back to their original owners.

Federal legislation introduced earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would change that, requir ing that new vehicles’ catalytic converters be stamped with the VIN.

It’s “one step closer in the fight to end catalytic con verter theft,” Wyden says.

Although catalytic converter theft dropped signifi cantly in Portland in August, the problem is still far from being solved. Doyle’s organization wasn’t unique even in Oregon, DOJ agent Kearney says. “It is probably one of a few of that size.”

ALLEGED RACKETEERS:
MICHAEL RAINES CLACKAMAS
COURTESY
19 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
“The
Tanner Hellbusch, Brennan Doyle and Casey Smith.
COUNTY SHERIFF
OF CASEY SMITH/INSTAGRAM

LET THERE BE LIGHT

The Pioneer Courthouse Square Christmas tree lighting ceremony returned to its traditional, in-person format following two years of televised and streamed versions of the event. People were clearly ready to gather in Portland’s living room again for the celebration. Despite downpours and chilly temperatures, the crowd stuck it out through a (perhaps too lengthy) singalong led by Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale before the 75-foot Doug fir’s 9,500 lights were switched on. And the tree wasn’t alone in its adornment. Some attendees showed up in costume, and at least one beard was decked out in ornaments.

Photos by Chris Nesseth On Instagram: @chrisnesseth
20 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com STREET

WATCH: Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord

If reliving the trauma of the past two years—from COVID to George Floyd’s murder to the uptick in Asian hate crimes—sounds excruciating, you’re in for a huge surprise. Kristina Wong, who stars as herself in this one-woman production, has combined brilliant social commentary with sharp humor, which will not only have you laughing out loud, but possibly partic ipating in the production by tossing your bra, hair tie or purse strap onto the stage.

In Sweatshop Overlord, the audience discovers how Wong recruited hundreds of volunteers from across the country to sew masks during the pandemic when all of her work as a performer dried up. It’s a story that will leave you more optimistic about humanity than when you arrived.

Portland Center Stage at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave., 503-445-3700, pcs.org.

7:30 pm Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday-Sunday, 2 pm select Thursdays, through Dec. 18. $25-$67.

 GO: Adidas Terrex Grand Opening

Let’s face it: Athleisure is the Pacific Northwest’s dress code. It’s comfy, rain friendly and often evokes Star Wars Rebel Alliance uniforms. Adidas has launched its own three-striped iteration of the clothing genre, called Terrex, and is opening the brand’s first retail store in the U.S. right here in Portland. The Pearl District popup was designed to immerse visitors in a simulation of the great outdoors and will feature everything from snowboarding gear to apparel like sneakers and beanies that should protect you from the elements

while taking on less ambitious activities, like walking to your MAX stop. Besides the shopping, you can expect live music, a happy hour with light bites and beer, as well as product giveaways. Adidas Terrex, 1411-1435 NW Flanders St., 4-8 pm Thurs day, Dec. 1. Free.

LAUGH: (Winter) Wonderland

Back after a five-year hiatus, (Winter) Wonderland is a sketch comedy program created by the multitalented writer, actor and director Jason Rouse of Weekend at Bernie’s and Live Wire fame. Some of Portland’s top improv artists will come together for this two-week show, which, among other things, promises to explore perilous lawn decorations, Pinocchios, unusual teeth and “up to six live children.”

Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis St., sirenthe ater.com. 8 pm Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 1-3 and 8-10. $5-$30.

Paninoteca, stay for the salvaged wood platters from Davis Co. Wellspent Market, 935 NE Couch St., 503-987-0828, well spentmarket.com. 11 am-7 pm Saturday, Dec. 3. Free.

DRINK: Cup the World

If you’ve sipped your way through every coffee shop in town, consider your palate primed for this event. Attendees get to taste 11 first place-winning brews from around the globe with the team from Cup of Excellence, a nonprofit that supports coffee farmers and industry innovation. After you’re hopped up on caffeine, stick around for the second half of the program, which includes samples of boozy beverag es and light bites from Proud Mary Cafe. Finex Cast Iron Cookware Co., 2236 NW 21st Ave., eventbrite.com. 3-5 pm Satur day, Dec. 3. $85.

$59 at local shops day of event.

WATCH: Miranda Sings

Featuring Colleen Ballinger

Haters Back Off alum Colleen Ballinger brings her signature quirkiness to the Newmark Theatre for an evening of magic, music and, possibly, cat hair. Ballinger is no stranger to fame—on top of star ring in the cult classic Netflix series, she has 4 billion views on YouTube, two New York Times bestselling books and a one-hour standup special. This show, in which she plays the character Miranda Sings, promises to be equal parts cringey and hilarious. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 503-248-4335, portland5.com/ newmark-theatre. 7:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 4. $45. $90 VIP.

EAT & LISTEN: We Can

GO: The Portland Garden Club Holiday Sale

Because plants. Portland Garden Club, 1132 SW Vista Ave., 503-222-2845. 10 am-1 pm Saturday, Dec. 3. Free.

GO: Holiday Bazaar at Wellspent Market

See what crafty, talented Portlanders have been up to (and maybe pick up some gifts) at Wellspent Market’s Holiday Bazaar. The Buckman event will feature independent manufacturers and crafts people selling goodies and adorable home goods, including handmade ceramics and linens, mocktails, wines and much more. Come for the polenta al ragù from Sorbu

EAT & DRINK: Aurora Wine & Chocolate Walk

Take a jaunt to Oregon’s original commu nal community, Aurora. The town, founded in the 1850s with utopian aspirations, has since shifted its sights to more humble ambitions, primarily antiquing and (at least for one weekend in December) wine and chocolate. Businesses throughout the historic district will offer samples of locally made treats. Tickets include two “I Love Aurora”-branded wine glasses and tast ings at 15 locations, plus $24 in Aurora gift certificates, which are good at any of the area’s merchants. Downtown Aurora near Pheasant Run Winery & Tasting Room, 21690 Main St. NE, Aurora, aurorawineand chocolate.com. 11 am-5 pm Saturday-Sun day, Dec. 3-4. $30; $49 for two in advance,

Listen Presents: Culinary Community + Culture

The latest panel in The Old Church’s series on social justice will explore Oregon’s Black food systems and the disadvantages Black farmers face as well as advance ments made in local cultivation, climate justice and food access. Industry pro fessionals will share their narratives and attendees can enjoy a pop-up tasting by Right Bayou Cajun Cuisine, famous for its po’ boy sandwiches. The Old Church Concert Hall, 1422 SW 11th Ave., 503-2222031, theoldchurch.org. 7-9 pm Tuesday, Dec. 6. Free.

IN STITCHES: Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord documents how Wong recruited hundreds of volunteers from across the country to sew masks during the pandemic.
PORTLAND CENTER STAGE STUFF TO DO IN PORTLAND THIS WEEK, INDOORS AND OUT SEE MORE GET BUSY EVENTS AT WWEEK.COM/CALENDAR NOV. 30 - DEC. 6 21 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com GET BUSY

FOOD & DRINK

First Impressions

Portland’s dining scene continues to rebound from the pandemic. Here’s a glimpse at six newcomers/reboots.

After a couple of weeks away from town, it felt good to catch up with Portland’s latest wave of new and under-the-radar restaurants. Here are a half dozen to gnaw on:

Akadi PDX

1001 SE Division St., Unit 2, 971-271-7072, akadipdx.com. 5-10 pm Wednesday-Sunday.

What it is: West African post-pandemic reboot. First impression: In Portland, African restaurants have most often represented the foods of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Akadi charts a different course, offering dishes more common to nations on the continent’s western half, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and, in Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These countries’ flags are depicted on one wall of Akadi’s large former warehouse space on Southeast Division Street. Highlights include crispy, starchy manioc fries ($8), generously seasoned chicken wings ($11), “street-style” grilled goat with plantain ($25), and grilled chicken with a choice of sides ($19), and several traditional stews. Seating is abundant, though Akadi is proving popular even on weeknights.

Heavenly Creatures

2218 NE Broadway, heavenlycreaturespdx.com. 5-9 pm Mon day-Saturday.

What it is: Intimate wine bar and St. Jack founders reunion.

First impression: Seeing wine boss Joel Gunderson and chef Aaron Barnett work together again after years charting sepa rate paths is sweet nostalgia. Their new joint project is a whole lot compressed into the tiny space that was once José Chesa’s churros shop. Gunderson is back in his element, gently guid ing visitors through his small, but varied slate of wines by the

glass. An abundance of bottles are available for purchase, too. Meanwhile, on the edible side, Barnett’s menu of nibbles and more offers characteristically bold flavors, well suited to wine, most notably stewed pig trotter and meatballs in a deep red wine and cognac-blasted broth ($23) and yellowtail toast with a rich tonnato spread ($18). The lighter bites dominate, however. For a good time, try the whipped camembert with chips ($12).

Street Disco 4144A SE 60th Ave., street-disco.com. 5-10 pm Thursday-Monday. What it is: Euphoric pop-up gone storefront with an eclectic menu.

First impression: While there has been no actual dancing seen so far, this potential breakout hit might make you want to step out after a few bites. Occupying a mint green-hued dive bar from a past life, Street Disco has a small bar area and a larger dining room, with kitchen counter seats and tables, that is at once spa cious and cosseting. The menu is as eclectic as the playlist flitting in the background. Workers add to the joy with unyielding good cheer. Best to build a meal around the lamb neck ($40), which is plenty for two, or the perfectly cooked octopus leg ($24) with a garniture of navy beans, kale and sliced octo flavored with Italian fish sauce and Calabrian chile oil. There are vegetable dishes aplenty, too, along with tinned fish of various sorts. Do not sleep on dessert here, either.

Scholar PDX

2226 NE Broadway, 503-344-1507, scholarpdx.com. 5-9:30 pm Thursday-Sunday. What it is: Moody pizza and Italian-ish joint for adults and families alike.

First impression: From the bar area up front, Scholar seems best suited to the thirsty over-21 crowd. But then the trickle of families with young children headed to the rear dining area

clues you in to the breadth of Scholar’s appeal. A first look at the menu reveals that it, too, intends to please anyone who might walk through the door. There are ample libations, with amari prominently featured, both as a standalone and in mixed drinks. For dinner, 12-inch thin-crust pizzas are solid, with dark-baked rims encircling both sauced and white pies. Order one of the predetermined choices ($15-$18), such as plain cheese or pep peroni, or build your own with up to three toppings ($2 to $3 per topping) added to one of the base pies. Best nonpizza item: Buffalo-style chicken livers with smoked blue cheese over po lenta ($13). Think hot, crispy, gamey and gooey all on one plate.

28 Tigers

4105 SE 28th Ave., 503-444-9077, 28tigers.com. 4-9 pm Tues day-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday.

What it is: Hole-in-the wall Chinese food passion project. First impression: Like his father before him, chef and co-owner Chris Bogart has spent his life learning about and cooking region al dishes from China. 28 Tigers is a tiny spot, with just a handful of counter seats and a couple of tables. Of course, takeaway (or eating out of boxes in the adjoining bar) is an easy option, but this food is best straight from wok to plate. The spicier dishes, with origins in Sichuan and Hunan, get the highest marks. Consider numbing dan dan noodles ($16) or vibrant pepper bath chicken ($16). There is often a nightly special. Order it. A recent Chung Du pork special ($16)—shredded pork, vegetables and peanuts in a spicy bean sauce—was substantial and satisfying. For spice wimps or as a simple appetizer, the pork pot stickers ($9 for four) are fresh and juicy.

Nodoguro

623 NE 23rd Ave., nodoguropdx.com. 6:30 pm single seating Thursday-Sunday.

What it is: The 3.0 version of Portland’s finest and most elab orate Japanese tasting menu.

First impression: It only seats 13, costs $250 before drinks, and is a tough reservation to snag. The fan pool for Ryan and Elena Roadhouse’s incomparable meals is deep and enthusias tic. On the hopeful side, Nodoguro should be anchored at this location for at least three years. In addition to the dining table configured in a horseshoe that harks back to the pre-pandemic Belmont location, the new space has an adjoining sitting area where early arrivals can have a drink, chat and anticipate the procession of fine Japanese dishes to come. Yes, there will be uni, caviar, Dungeness crab and several varieties of pristine fish flown in from Japan. But the artistry in presentation, the restraint evident on every plate, is at least equal to the luxury of the ingredients. Altogether, an enduring (one hopes) favorite.

22 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
MCKENZIE
YOUNG-ROY @MCKENZIEYOUNGART
Editor: Andi Prewitt Contact: aprewitt@wweek.com

Hot Plates

1. GRAND FIR BREWING

1403 SE Stark St., grandfir brewing.com. Noon-10 pm Tuesday-Sunday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday.

It was only a matter of time before brewer Whitney Burnside and chef Doug Adams went into business together. The husbandand-wife team opened Grand Fir in the former West Coast Grocery Company space in mid-Novem ber, and there was a line around the block to get in on the first day (evidence of how highly an ticipated this project has been).

Adams’ famed smoked meats (braised elk, Calabrian chicken wings) anchor the food menu and pair perfectly with Burnside’s beers.

2. URDANETA

3033 NE Alberta St., 503-2881990, urdanetapdx.com. 5-10 pm Tuesday-Sunday.

If you’ve been waiting for chef Javier Canteras’ Bikini to return to the menu, your patience has just been rewarded. Urdaneta’s take on the classic ham-andcheese sandwich is back and part of a seasonal offerings shake-up. A toasted brioche bun stuffed with jamon serrano, American cheese and sofrito béchamel is what we’ve been longing to bite into once it actually felt like fall instead of a prolonged August.

3. BAG O’ CRAB

3255 NE 82nd Ave., 971-7168888, thebagocrab.com. 3-10 pm Monday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday-Sunday.

Looking for a good time? Call Bag O’ Crab. There is no way to feel serious about anything— except, perhaps, demolishing a large bag of Cajun-sauced crustaceans—the moment you step through the doors at this new restaurant, thanks to details like the giant lobster mural and a robot waitress. Keep the fun vibes going by ordering Combo 4: a lobster or Dungeness crab, shrimp, crawfish, clams, corn, potatoes and sausages. Use an order of garlic bread to sop up the spicy, buttery boil.

4. MATT’S BBQ TACOS AT GREAT NOTION BREWING 2204 NE Alberta St., #101, 503548-4491, greatnotion.com. Noon-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday-Saturday. One of the city’s most popular smokehouses is now officially in charge of the kitchen at Great Notion’s flagship. Matt’s BBQ Tacos moved into the brewery in early November—a change that will allow Great Notion’s owners to focus on continued expan sion. You can expect all of Matt Vicedomini’s greatest hits at the pub, including tender slices of pork belly, chopped brisket, and smoked ground beef served on housemade, lard-infused flour or vegan corn tortillas.

5. JOJO

902 NW 13th Ave., 971-331-4284, jojopdx.com. 11 am-10 pm daily. A stationary version of the much-loved Jojo food cart has arrived in Northwest Portland. As with the truck, the highlights are smash burgers and multiple permutations of fried chicken, plus the eponymous deep-fried potato wedges, served with a side of sauce of which there are 10. A small order of jojos is ample for two. But go ahead, gild the lily and get one of the loaded versions, with different combinations of cheeses, sauces and alliums.

Buzz List

WHERE TO DRINK THIS WEEK.

1.

STRAIGHTAWAY COCK TAILS TASTING ROOM

901 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 971-2551627, straightawaycocktails.com. Noon-7 pm Monday-Wednesday, noon-8 pm Thursday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.

There’s a good reason all of the charter yacht guests on the ever-expanding Bravo franchise Below Deck order an abundance of espresso martinis. The ’80s cock tail really is delicious, and thanks to the caffeine content, it helps keep the party going. Straightaway Cocktails and Stumptown Coffee teamed up to make their own canned version with coffee liqueur and cold brew, which you can now drink at the distiller’s Hawthrone tasting room or purchase to enjoy at home. Sip carefully: This drink weighs in at 25% ABV.

2. SISSY BAR PORTLAND

1416 SE Morrison St., 503-2064325, sissybarportland.com. 4 pm-midnight Wednesday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday, 4-11 pm Sunday.

There’s no dance floor or recurring drag shows at Sissy Bar, which tend to lure customers to other gay bars in town, but the new vid eo lounge does offer a space for unapologetically queer company and the pop music sustaining the community. Open since June, the venue is heavy on moving images for aesthetics, illuminated by both YouTube videos of recording art ists and colored cubes reminiscent of the electronic memory game Simon. Order a Will Smith Punch, which here happens to be a drink, not a blow to the head.

3.

MASALA LAB & MARKET

5237 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-340-8635, masalalabpdx. com. 9 am-3 pm Thursday-Tuesday.

The recently opened Masala Lab just extended its hours of operation and added new items to the menu after the team had several weeks to perfect recipes. While every thing coming out of the gluten-free kitchen sounds appealing—from the saagshuka to the chaat hash— we might be most excited about the lineup of new cocktails, boozy brunch classics with an Indian twist. As we head toward Decem ber, at least one chai hot toddy should accompany your meal.

4. WONDERWOOD SPRINGS

8811 N Lombard St., 971-242-8927, wonderwoodsprings.com. 8 am-8 pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Mike Bennett’s new cafe is mostly about the art: 400 hand-paint ed pieces, ranging from cute woodland creatures to a sleeping dragon. However, this isn’t just another of the prolific artist’s pop-up exhibits. You really can eat and drink at Wonderwood Springs. Expect to find two custom coffee blends personally selected by Bennett, along with a regular hot chocolate and another made with mushrooms.

5. ABIGAIL HALL

813 SW Alder St., abigailhallpdx. com. 5-11 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, 5 pm-midnight Thursday-Saturday.

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, we can go into full-on Christmas mode. And what better way to get into the holiday spirit than by drinking cocktails in spired by the season? Abigail Hall’s beverage director, Derek Jacobi (formerly of New York’s Dead Rabbit and Black Tail), has created a new cocktail menu with some Christmaslike drinks, including a Brûleevardier (a take on crème brûlée) and Walnut Olivetto (a nod to lemon meringue pie).

5
Top
Top 5
EAT THIS
WHERE TO
WEEK.
SIGN UP AT WWEEK.COM/NEWSLETTERS 23 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com Get Busy Tonight OUR EVENT PICKS,EMAILED WEEKLY.

Joint Venture

Two of Oregon’s most respected cannabis companies, East Fork Cultivars and Peak Extracts, are merging, which, if you rely on either brand medicinally or just appreciate them recreationally, is great news—and not just for con sumers, but possibly other small businesses, too.

If you glance at each business’s profile, the merger makes sense. Both East Fork and Peak are renowned for their award-winning therapeutic products. Both companies began with the founder’s need to treat a specific disorder. Both companies prioritize education as well as quality over quantity. East Forks’ expansive, outdoor farms have become a gold standard in organic cultivation, and Peak Extracts boasts a similar reputation for manufacturing strain-specific chocolates and tinctures. So we wondered what, if anything, can consumers expect to see change as a result of the merger?

“Katie [Stem, founder of Peak Extracts] and I have been friends and peer mentors for years,” says Mason Walker, founder of East Fork Cultivars. “We already knew we had a really good overlap on values, products, our product vision, and our business philosophies.”

“I was trying to think of ways that we can change the way we do business,” Stem says. “And it was just like, what does Peak need, what does East Fork need, and how could we possibly help each other out? And the longer Mason and I talked, the more it seemed that there was just an enormous amount of synergy.”

WW caught up with Stem and Walker to discuss what the merger will mean for not just therapeutic users, but for cannabis education, cannabinoid research and de velopment, and small cannabis companies hoping for a survival blueprint.

WW: What was the impetus for the East Fork/Peak Extracts merger?

Katie Stem: I hadn’t talked to Mason for a number of months. We regularly had brunches and hangouts before the pandemic. But I had a dream about him. I woke up, and literally, as I picked up my phone, he texted me. I was like, OK, this is funny. So we called each other that day, and I was trying to think of ways that we can change the way we do business. And he and I started with a thought experiment. Material sourcing has always been a barrier for us, because we’re super picky about who we use. So wouldn’t that be the dream, to have a farm but without all the liability of farming?

Mason Walker: When we started getting more serious, talking about a merger, we already had that foundation. And we could quickly jump forward to the more nutsand-bolts strategy and vision moving forward, knowing that a solid foundation was already there. Peak and East Fork have long been independently owned, family-ori ented craft cannabis operators. As the market continues to commoditize and consolidate and corporatize, we’re

able to put our organizations together to better compete against that trend, but still maintain independent own ership, family scale. Through the vertical integration that Katie was talking about, we’re already seeing some of the benefits of that merger.

Is this going to shift focus from either of the brands’ therapeutic roots?

Walker: I’m glad you pointed out therapeutic roots. We already knew that we both deeply hold the same values and largely the same founding story for each of our organiza tions. East Fork was founded due to a sick family member who had a neurological disorder, and Peak is the same exact story—a little bit more personal, because it’s Katie, specifically, who has Crohn’s disease. I think the merger, if anything, strengthens those founding values, because we both had to be fairly pragmatic and match the market.

How will East Fork and Peak be restructured post-merger?

Stem: The short answer is that there’s not going to be as much that changes, as people would probably guess. One of the super-attractive parts for me about this whole merger is that my passion and background are in formulation and scientific process and chemistry. So I don’t spend nearly as much time as I’d like making and formulating products because I’m running the company. East Fork has this super-well-laid-out and well-crafted infrastructure, but Peak has held on to the core team of seven since the pandemic. That just means I’m doing a lot of really small jobs and not focusing on the formulations.

Walker: Katie is now the president, a board member and minority owner. I got to moderate a virtual panel hosted by Cannabis Business Times, and the topic at hand was exploring rescheduling and descheduling of cannabis as a controlled substance. I think I’m hopeful that this merger can help us be more ready for that because we’ll have more resources to pour in both directions. The com bined organization is about 30 people, and I think we’re definitely better situated for that now, mostly because we’re just a little bigger.

Is there an ulterior motive with this merger to set a low-key example that might help preserve some of these smaller companies?

Walker: Absolutely, yeah. East Fork has put our story out into the world. We’re small, but we can show a way of doing things that we believe in and hopefully inspire others to follow the alternative path to regenerative agriculture. We’re tiny. So, in the grand scheme, our impact is limited, but the information, the example can be powerful. This is an alternative for Oregon craft cannabis companies that are under a lot of duress, as opposed to just giving up or trying to sell themselves to the big multistate operators or retail chains.

Two highly regarded local cannabis businesses, East Fork Cultivars and Peak Extracts, have decided to merge. BUDDIES: East Fork Cultivars’ merger with Peak Extracts is not expected to change anything at its recently opened flagship Hemp Bar.
24 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com POTLANDER
COURTESY OF PEAK EXTRACTS COURTESY OF EAST FORK CULTIVARS

A Most Musical Intersection

On All Classical Portland’s Noteworthy, Lynnsay Maynard reveals the hidden links between literature and classical music.

Some people, like All Classical Portland host Lynnsay Maynard, are simply born with a passion for reading and books.

“My parents have always joked that I would bring hardback books into my crib with me instead of dolls,” Maynard says, laughing. “But honestly, [reading] is one of the biggest loves of my life.” And she has carried that interest in the written word with her at All Classical, the internationally recognized radio station where she can be heard regularly in the wee hours of weekday mornings from 2 to 6.

When Maynard interviewed for the on-air position, she pitched the idea for a program that would explore the connections be tween classical music and literature—pieces of music inspired by prose or poetry, novels and plays influenced by symphonies or operas.

That concept became Noteworthy, a weekly program hosted and produced by Maynard that airs Sundays at noon. As promised, each episode tugs on a thread tying together music and literature through a selection of classical pieces and readings of poems or short passages.

For example, the debut episode, which aired in late October, explores Frédéric Chopin’s 24 Preludes, a series of short piano pieces that the composer partly wrote while living in Majorca with lover George Sand. Maynard played segments of the mu sical cycle as well as readings from Briefly, A Delicious Life, Nell Stevens’ novel told from the perspective of a ghost who falls in love with Sand.

A more recent installment wrapped together music that Jo hannes Brahms and Gustav Holst wrote for universities in the literary genre known as the campus novel, referencing Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim and Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

The depth and range of each episode of Noteworthy that has aired so far is fairly typical of All Classical’s programming, but feels even more impressive when you consider that Maynard is an autodidact when it comes to her interests in music and literature.

“A lot of people who work in this field have played an instrument

or grew up in a house where Mom and Dad loved classical music,” she says. “I don’t have either of those in my pocket. I don’t play an instrument. I can’t read music. And my parents were the James Taylor, Carole King crowd. The way I really started to connect with the music was looking up stories about the composers and stories about their lives and how they got inspiration for the pieces.”

Though Maynard’s résumé includes work at other noncom mercial radio stations like Seattle’s KUOW and Maine Public Radio, her day job until recently was working as a therapist. Her new full-time gig at All Classical and being able to work on Noteworthy are clearly a balm to her, especially after she became burned out on her previous profession during the pandemic.

Ever since getting the go-ahead for the show, Maynard has dived into the production with a particular zeal, speed reading new books for potential inclusion and doing research. As a result, she says she has already mapped out the next three months of programs.

On deck in the coming weeks are an examination of grief via the work of Beethoven and Joan Didion, and a show focused on the Harlem Renaissance. Also, Maynard is hoping to start featuring conversations with local authors and those visiting Portland on book tours.

It’s not difficult to get swept up in Maynard’s enthusiasm as she talks about the future of Noteworthy. I left our short phone call with a list of books and authors to search for at the library and pieces of music to track down—and I’m by no means on my own on this. Even after only a month, listeners to All Classical have been exuberant in their praise for Noteworthy and the show’s host.

“I’ve been pretty blown away by the feedback,” Maynard says. “People are overwhelmingly really, really liking the show. I just got an email from a listener today that said she’s been putting a spreadsheet together of all the books that are referenced on Noteworthy because she wants to add them to her ‘to be read’ list. As a fellow reader, that’s a pretty big compliment.”

LISTEN: Noteworthy airs at noon every Sunday on All Classical Portland 89.9 FM.

WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO HEAR

THURSDAY, DEC. 1:

Say what you will

and audacious. How many other arena-packing bands have people who’ll dine on a hunk of raw meat on stage? Not Maroon 5, that’s for sure. With sterling ’80s-style hooks and a U2-sized conviction that they’re the most important band in the world, The 1975 is so big in every sense of the word that Moda Center seems the only place in Portland that could hold them. Moda Center, 1 N Center Court St. 7 pm. $45.50. All ages.

FRIDAY, DEC. 2:

nothing

Cloud Nothings ’ early albums, like Attack on Mem ory and Here and Nowhere Else, were bellwethers for the 2010s’ shift in indie rock away from bookish Brooklyn prestige and psychedelic haziness toward the rawness and expressiveness of emo and pop punk. But influence alone doesn’t make a great rock band—Cloud Nothings just plain rip, and across seven albums they’ve stayed true to the promise of rock ’n’ roll, embracing what the Fall’s Mark E. Smith called “a mistreating of instruments to get feelings over.” Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burn side St. 9 pm. $22.50. 21+.

SUNDAY, DEC. 4:

In the anarchic universe that was the late-’90s mu sic industry, a Chapel Hill, N.C., swing band called Squirrel Nut Zippers ushered in a movement of bands looking earlier and deeper than rock ’n’ roll for inspiration. The “swing revival” didn’t last long, and neither did the Zippers, but in 2007, leader Jimbo Mathus brought the band back—this time with an increasing focus on the music of New Orle ans, a city that epitomizes the Zippers’ aesthetic of “the old, weird America.” Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St. 8:30 p.m. $35. 21+.

SHOWS
WEEK
CHRISTINE DONG / ALL CLASSICAL PORTLAND about The 1975 —and opinions are polarized, to say the least—but the English pop-rock group is if not fearless
25 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com MUSIC Editor: Bennett Campbell Ferguson | Contact: bennett@wweek.com

Brick and Torpor

With a transplanted locale and disappointing performances, Netflix’s Blockbuster never collects late feels.

Within the first few minutes of Netflix’s new original series Blockbuster—which is inspired by the eponymous video rental empire—store manager Timmy (Randall Park) takes a fateful call from corporate HQ. That’s how he learns that Alaska’s last few Blockbuster outposts have fallen and that the company is entering bankruptcy.

Eventually, Timmy relays the bad news to his employees. The staff includes Eliza (Melissa Fumero), the object of Timmy’s unrequited affections, budding auteur Carlos (Tyler Alvarez), fresh-faced naif Hannah (Madeleine Arthur), lonely senior Con nie (Olga Merediz), and Kayla (Kamaia Fairburn), the teen age daughter of Timmy’s best friend and landlord Percy (J.B. Smoove), who also happens to be a failing party store magnate.

In other words, counting Timmy, there are seven people who defy an industry’s twilight and continue to operate the store, waiting each day in the hopes of serving the occasional customer. Maintaining a video business in 2022 was always going to nudge eccentric, but Timmy’s business model veers toward the clinically insane.

To be clear, the series takes place in an entirely different universe from the Bend, Ore., success story chronicled in the documentary The Last Blockbuster (the sitcom is set in Michi gan). Though both ostensibly cover the same central dilemma, a fictionalized extrapolation of the documentary would be less

madcap comedy than Hallmark Christmas fare.

The Last Blockbuster has perhaps colored memories of the trade. Lord knows, it’s gratifying to learn that the sole remaining franchise chugs forward because the proprietress held genuine concerns for her workforce. This was not, if needs be said, always the industry norm.

Evidently, should the last Blockbuster be situated in a lovely corner of a thriving tourist mecca and link itself with the sur rounding artistic community, more than enough money can be made by hawking merchandise advertising their own survival. Transplant the business from a picturesque resort town to the dying Rust Belt minimall of the sitcom, however, and things seem far more bleak.

Park does his damnedest to charm his way through a woefully amorphous role (Timmy is essentially a dankest-timeline version of Park’s steakhouse-helming Fresh Off the Boat pater familias). Nothing is especially compelling about the character’s amiable wistfulness, but the torch Park carries deserves a better spark than Fumero’s damp kindling. As a regretful Ivy League dropout married too young, she attacks every line with the same manic intensity of her adorably anal Brooklyn Nine-Nine detective to wearying ends.

Despite the fact that they spend all their days waxing cinematic, the employees don’t really seem to like movies. It’s peculiar, given that once upon a time, video clerks sold themselves as gatekeepers to a glimmering realm at the moment our enter

tainment industrial complex began producing so many titles that simply keeping track of what one wanted required professional assistance.

For a certain sort of media-oversaturated trash-culture maven, this was their long-awaited turn in the spotlight—vindication after all the unloved and underpaid years of bloody-minded insistence on absolute certitude—before the heavens opened and web forums made god-trolls of us all. Yet Blockbuster suggests Timmy’s generation might well continue fighting the inevitable, rewound ceaselessly into the past.

An undercurrent of economic disquiet burbles through the first seven episodes of Blockbuster, before finding ecstatic fruition in a delirious finale that very nearly saves a disappointing first run and teases what could be for the yet to be renewed series should creator and co-executive producer Vanessa Ramos (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Superstore) embrace the giddy nihilism at its core.

In the last episode, solar flares spike communication satellites on Christmas Eve, and a local populace bereft of internet pro gramming descends into madness, rushing to the sole source of analog distraction. In the land of the offline, unhinged spectacle showcases the screwball potential of likable characters unteth ered to any semblance of life as lived.

To put it simply, Blockbuster once again becomes king of kings. Look upon its works, audience, and giggle.

SEE IT: Blockbuster streams on Netflix.

NETFLIX
OLD KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Melissa Fumero and Randall Park.
26 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com STREAMING
Bennett
Ferguson | Contact: bennett@wweek.com
Editor:
Campbell

MOVIES

The Fable Man

Steven Spielberg evokes the essence of his childhood in The Fabelmans.

Absent fathers, fed-up mothers and obsessive children have always populated Steven Spielberg’s films, some times overshadowed by the aliens they befriend.

Now, 33 features into arguably the American directing career of the past half-century, Spielberg finally lays bare these familial roles with his origin story, The Fabelmans As budding filmmaker Sammy Fabelman comes of age, his cinema fixation grows into a coping mechanism and a magnifying glass for his family’s dysfunction.

There’s no masking autobiography here, even with frequent Spielberg scribe Tony Kushner (Lincoln, West Side Story) co-writing. Sammy’s father, Burt (Paul Dano), is a computer engineer who moves the Fabelmans from New Jersey to Arizona to the Bay Area in pursuit of an IBM career. His mother, Mitzi (Michelle Williams), is a concert pianist turned unhappy homemaker. It’s all true to Spielberg’s life, including three younger sisters, his childhood film projects referenced by name, and his early fear of movies, as seen when Sammy’s parents carefully explain how the pictures work before blowing his mind with The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).

While Spielberg found the memoiristic approach un comfortable enough to delay making The Fabelmans for two decades, this legacy effort often feels too at ease. Family dinners and Sammy’s 8 mm showcases routinely oversell their simple points about wonder, achievement and betrayal. Similarly, we’re immersed in the family’s jabby sense of humor, but it’s seldom actually funny.

Dano’s and Williams’ performances are thick, actorly and archetypical. Caged at home, Williams does a manic starlet schtick, a bit of Liza Minnelli in her voice; Dano chides in the soft “doggone it, Sammy” meekness of ’50s sitcoms. Their dreamer/engineer duality defines Sammy’s psychology, but he must also fight its influence.

Burt views filmmaking as mere hobby, while Mitzi presents a cautionary example of artistic ambitions left idle. Her constant desire to perform, though, touches on the film’s strangest, most captivating observation about directing, evidenced in a standout campfire sequence wherein Sammy films his mother dancing and a later scene capturing classmates at the beach: Even as kids, those behind the camera learn early to wield the alluring, transformative power native to their art.

If you want to know what’s really on (and off) Spielberg’s mind, consider a small goof. Mateo Zoryon Francis-De

Ford (child Sammy) and Gabriel LaBelle (teenage Sammy) have completely different eye colors—translucent blue and deep amber, respectively.

Sammy’s eyes are his most notable feature: wide, impas sioned and persistently illuminated by projector beams. To Spielberg, these eyes are the circuitry of child wonder, not a distinct character attribute.

For much of the movie, Sammy and his portrayers are outshone by avuncular performances from Seth Rogen (as Burt’s best friend) and Judd Hirsch (as the boisterous Uncle Boris). Sammy is essentially a human lightbulb, waiting to be illuminated by a blockbuster director who will force this film’s supposed intimacy to come to him, not the other way around.

Indulgences aside, The Fabelmans does largely make good in its third act. When his father moves the family to Northern California, Sammy loses innocence but gains a personality. Kushner and Spielberg start writing intense, venomous, funny school scenes that confront anti-Sem itism and reveal an artist developing his edges. In these underdog chapters, LaBelle’s performance comes alive too, especially in the film’s wildest subplot: Sammy dating a comically devout Christian girl (Chloe East).

Has Spielberg earned singular autobiography status? Yes. Can you get most of this (plus clips of better mov ies) from the 2017 documentary Spielberg? Regrettably, also yes. But there is a late-blooming raison d’être here: reminding us that Spielberg’s great works (from E.T. to A.I. to Munich) have always evoked lonesome alienation when they wanted.

The Fabelmans has tropes of a love letter, but it’s ul timately more a farewell note. When the opportunity presents itself to make movies for real, Sammy—not unlike Close Encounters’ Roy Neary—has a higher calling than his family. That’s curiously unsentimental. Countless directors’ first instinct is to tell us what created them, but it’s taken Spielberg 50 years to share how his inspiration and evacuation occurred together.

Because that’s the life of a film devotee, no? Our families introduce us to movies as a new way of seeing, but we end up loving what we see alone. And if we’re lucky (and good), dreaming it back into existence.

SEE IT: The Fabelmans, rated PG-13, plays at Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, and Living Room.

STREAMING WARS

YOUR WEEKLY FILM QUEUE

SHEEN-TASTIC PICK:

Doubtless you’ve seen Michael Sheen’s bellowing tribute to the Wales football team (“a red storm is coming to the gates of Qatar!”). What you probably haven’t seen is his magnificently manic star turn in Tom Hooper’s uproari ous and underappreciated The Damned United (2009), a fictionalized chronicle of Brian Clough’s doomed reign as the manager of Leeds United in 1974. Free on Crackle, Roku, Tubi.

HOLLYWOOD PICK:

Bumper in Berlin, really? Just say no to nonsensical fran chise extensions and rewatch Jason Moore’s original Pitch Perfect (2012). Get ready to rock out to the a capella version of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” (which Anna Kendrick and company sing with geeky-cool bravado) and cheer for the Barden Bellas as they vanquish their elitist and misogynistic rivals in the gladiatorial arena of collegiate choral competitions. Peacock.

ANIMATION PICK 1:

If you dug the gloriously clever and colorful trailer for di rector Peter Sohn’s upcoming Pixar film Elemental, check out his feature debut, The Good Dinosaur (2015). Set in an alternate reality where the meteor missed Earth, the film is a bighearted bromance about a talking dinosaur and a cave boy adrift in the prehistoric wilderness. Disney+.

ANIMATION PICK 2:

screener UNIVERSAL PICTURES COLUMBIA PICTURES STUDIO GHIBLI
PEEPING STEVE: Gabriel LaBelle. Hayao Miyazaki isn’t Studio Ghibli’s only environmentalist visionary. Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) directed the buoyant and poignant Pom Poko (1994), about a group of rambunctious tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs) waging war against suburban sprawl. The shape-shifting shenanigans of the magical tanuki are a delight, but their battle against human hubris is at once comic and tragic. HBO Max.
27 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
Editor: Bennett Campbell Ferguson Contact: bennett@wweek.com

From Russia With Love (1963)

In his second outing as James Bond, Sir Sean Connery fends off a helicopter, rats, boats and a buff, blond Robert Shaw (their showdown on the Orient Express is one of the most ferocious sequences of hand-tohand combat in cinematic history). Some scenes drag, but the film is far livelier than Goldfinger (1964). Plus, Connery is at his smug, swaggering best, having not yet succumbed to the ennui of You Only Live Twice (1967) or the self-parodying kitsch of Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Academy, Dec. 2-8.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

To borrow a phrase of film critic Owen Gleiberman, this is the BBME (Best. Bond. Movie. Ever). On his one and only adventure as 007, George Lazenby infiltrates the snow-capped, mountaintop lair where Blofeld (Telly Savalas) reigns, but the star attractions are exuberantly suspenseful ski chases and Diana Rigg’s haughty and soulful performance as Teresa di Vicenzo, the daring countess who becomes the love of Bond’s life. The film’s many fans include Christopher Nolan, who paid tribute to its icy action and lush romanticism with Inception (2010). Academy, Dec. 9-15.

License to Kill (1989)

If you don’t think Bond should feed a corrupt DEA agent to a shark, kill a drug kingpin with a flamethrower, or romance secret agents with fashionably short hair, then this is definitely not the 007 movie for you. If, however, you enjoy seeing the Bond playbook gleefully immolat ed, you’ll get a kick out of License to Kill, which violently (and entertainingly) casts aside the lovably clownish theatrics of the Sir Roger Moore era. The climactic tanker chase on a twisting desert highway is one of the series’ greatest action scenes—and with his final performance as Bond, Timothy Dalton brought fierce cunning and wrath to the character that has never been matched. Academy, Dec. 16-22.

GoldenEye (1995)

Fans of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond (who are known as the “Brozza Brigade” on social media) are ferociously loyal—so loyal that they can even find things to love in Die Another Day (2002), which brought the series to a bludgeoning low with a car chase through a melting ice palace. More casual fans should skip his later Bond films and stick with GoldenEye, which features a savvy love interest (Izabella Scorupco), lip-smacking villains (Sean Bean, Famke Janssen), and a flamboyant St. Petersburg tank battle that includes some highly entertaining prod uct placement for sparkling water. Academy, Dec. 23-29.

AFTERSUN

There’s no such thing as a cool dad, confesses Aftersun through oblique heartbreak—even if that dad shoots doubles pool with his daughter and is played by Paul Mescal (the budding heartthrob of Normal People and Phoebe Bridgers-dating fame). As anoth er character in the film does, you might mistake Calum (Mescal) and 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) as age-distant siblings when you first see them on their budget-re sort vacation in Turkey. She’s calm and self-possessed for her age; he’s chaperoning very loosely for his. First-time director Charlotte Wells memorializes the singular, unreal and entirely fleeting feeling of a vacation bond shared with one’s irregular guardian (Calum lives separately from Sophie and her mother), and Aftersun’s constant use of camcorder footage as a looking glass for the characters is no innocent nostalgia document. Calum keeps checking the tape as if evalu ating whether they’re having a good time, and Gregory Oke’s elliptical cinematography pays off when we understand that what we’re witnessing is not so much a golden or stolen father-daughter moment. It’s that crossroads where an immature parent and a mature child meet in the middle all too briefly. R. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Living Room.

BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS

: THIS MOVIE IS EXCELLENT, ONE OF THE BEST OF THE YEAR.

: THIS MOVIE IS GOOD. WE RECOMMEND YOU WATCH IT.

: THIS MOVIE IS ENTERTAINING BUT FLAWED.

: THIS MOVIE IS A STEAMING PILE.

Silverio Gama (Dan iel Giménez Cacho) clambers atop a mountain of corpses and faces Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador who decimated the Aztec empire. Then, someone calls, “Cut!” Turns out we’re on a set where Silverio, a filmmaker and journalist, is creating a work of docufiction. Is he a visionary artfully confronting evil? Or a pretentious egomaniac using genocide as a vessel for his genius? You might wonder the same thing about Bardo’s direc tor, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose devotion to extreme filmmaking (from the ultra-long takes in Birdman to the snow-and-blood brutality of The Revenant) has earned him a reputation as a brilliant showboat. Still, haters and adherents alike should agree that Bardo puts on an intoxicat ing show. With its wild flourishes of fantasy, tragedy, absurdity and sex, it is, blessedly, a movie that can barely be contained by the big screen. Silverio may wonder whether fame has leached the authenticity out of his activism, but Iñárritu never gets his feet stuck in existential mud. Like Cacho in the film’s ecstatic open ing shot in the desert, he leaps and soars, carrying us through both the mortal world and the afterlife. Death always looms, but Bardo has air in its lungs and blood pumping through its heart, especially in the tender moments Silverio shares with his family. Just watch as he chats with his daughter Camila (Ximena Lamadrid) in a swimming pool whose light blue waters seem to extend to eternity. It’s a scene at once ordinary and wondrous,

conveying the film’s defining belief: Dreams are the stuff of life and life is the stuff of dreams. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGU SON. Hollywood.

THE MENU

A horror comedy with a nuanced social commentary emerges as often as a snowball freezes in hell, but when Satan sees Mark Mylod’s The Menu, he’ll have to don a fur coat. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Margot, who’s not the type to frequent an extravagant and highly exclusive restaurant that serves tiny-portioned abstract concepts as courses. Nonetheless, she happily obliges her date, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), and his nonstop musings about the culinary arts. As the couple joins the other diners on a small yacht heading toward a restaurant on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, the chaotic plotlines woven throughout the story ignite. In short, The Menu skillfully subjects White Lotus-type characters to a Willy Wonka-style comeup pance. Ralph Fiennes, as Chef Slowik, is the most spellbinding psychopath since Anthony Hop kins’ Hannibal Lecter; composer Colin Stetson’s eerily dissonant instrumentals (reminiscent of his Hereditary score) punctu ate each cleverly constructed scare; and writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy unleash a gripping argument about the consump tion of art in the age of content. Mix these ingredients together and they equal a movie that will devour your attention from start to finish. R. ALEX BARR. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Cine ma 21, Clackamas, Division, Fox Tower, Lake Theater, Laurelhurst, Living Room, Lloyd Center, Oak

Grove, Pioneer Place, Studio One, Tigard.

SALVATORE: SHOEMAKER OF DREAMS

Hollywood’s golden age spawned many tales of ordi nary people fighting to get a foot in the door—and an Italian immigrant who put a shoe on it once they’d arrived. Salva tore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a documentary by director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, Suspiria) about Salvatore Ferragamo, Tinseltown’s most famous maestro of footwear. Narrated by Michael Stuhlbarg and colored with classic reels, old photographs, and high-pro file interviews (Martin Scorsese makes an appearance), the film poignantly depicts Ferraga mo’s immigration to America in 1915. Arriving as a poor teenage shoemaker, he was eventually discovered by a small town called Hollywood and made shoes legendary for their comfort, yet stylish enough to be worn by America’s first celebrities (“I have found there are no bad feet. There are bad shoes,” he would say). Guadagnino remains hyper focused on Ferragamo’s passion for feet, only tangentially touch ing on his experiences during major world events like the Great Depression and World War II during a tedious third act. Still, the film shines while showing his early immigrant story, and there’s an infectious Forrest Gump -type joy to this tale of a simple man rubbing elbows with fame and history—and how a platonic foot fetish and exceptional skill made him Salvatore Ferragamo, “Shoe maker to the Stars.” PG. RAY GILL JR. Living Room.

OUR KEY
TOP PICK OF THE WEEK
MUBI EON PRODUCTIONS GET YOUR REPS IN: 007 EDITION 28 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com MOVIES
29 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
by Jack Kent

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Aries filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky wrote, "To be free, you simply have to be so, without asking permission. You must have your own hypothesis about what you are called to do, and follow it, not giving in to circumstances or complying with them. But that sort of freedom demands powerful inner resources, a high degree of self-awareness, and a consciousness of your responsibility to yourself and therefore to other people." That last element is where some freedom-seekers falter. They neglect their obli gation to care for and serve their fellow humans. I want to make sure you don't do that, Aries, as you launch a new phase of your liberation process. Authentic freedom is conscientious.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The term "neurodi versity" refers to the fact that the human brain functions in a wide variety of ways. There are not just a few versions of mental health and learning styles that are better than all the others. Taurus musician David Byrne believes he is neurodi verse because he is on the autism spectrum. That's an advantage, he feels, giving him the pow er to focus with extra intensity on his creative pursuits. I consider myself neurodiverse because my life in the imaginal realm is just as important to me as my life in the material world. I suspect that most of us are neurodiverse in some sense— deviating from "normal" mental functioning. What about you, Taurus? The coming months will be an excellent time to explore and celebrate your own neurodiversity.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Poet Jane Hirshfield says that Zen Buddhism is built on three prin ciples: 1. Everything changes. 2. Everything is connected. 3. Pay attention. Even if you are not a Zen practitioner, Gemini, I hope you will focus on the last two precepts in the coming weeks. If I had to summarize the formula that will bring you the most interesting experiences and feelings, it would be, "Pay attention to how everything is connected." I hope you will intensify your intention to see how all the apparent fragments are interwoven. Here's my secret agenda: I think it will help you register the truth that your life has a higher purpose than you're usually aware of—and that the whole world is conspiring to help you fulfill that purpose.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Author Flannery O'Connor wrote, "You have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it." I will add a further thought: "You have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it and strive to transform it into a better place." Let's make this one of your inspirational meditations in the coming months, Cancerian. I suspect you will have more power than usual to transform the world into a better place. Get started! (PS: Doing so will enhance your ability to endure and cherish.)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Many sports journalists will tell you that while they may root for their favorite teams, they also "root for the story." They want a compelling tale to tell. They yearn for dramatic plot twists that reveal entertaining details about interesting characters performing unique feats. That's how I'm going to be in the coming months Leo, at least in relation to you. I hope to see you engaged in epic sagas, creating yourself with verve as you weave your way through fun chal lenges and intriguing adventures. I predict my hope will be realized.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Venus is too hot and dry for humans to live on. But if travelers from Earth could figure out a way to feel comfortable there, they would enjoy a marvelous perk. The planet rotates very slowly. One complete day and night lasts for 243 Earth days and nights. That means you and a special friend could take a romantic stroll toward the sunset for as long as you wanted, and never see the sun go down. I invite you to dream up equally lyrical adventures in togetherness here on Earth during the com ing months, Virgo. Your intimate alliances will thrive as you get imaginative and creative about nurturing togetherness.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): As far as I'm concerned, Libran Buddhist monk and author Thích Nh t H nh was one of the finest humans who ever lived. "Where do you seek the spiritual?" he asked. His answer: "You seek the spiritual in every ordinary thing that you do every day. Sweeping the floor, watering the vegetables, and washing the dishes become sacred if mindfulness is there." In the coming weeks, Libra, you will have exceptional power to live like this: to regard every event, however mundane or routine, as an opportunity to express your soulful love and gratitude for the privilege of being alive. Act as if the whole world is your precious sanctuary.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A reader named Elisa Jean tells me, "We Scorpio allies admire how Scorpios can be so solicitous and welcoming: the best party hosts. They know how to foster social situations that bring out the best in everyone and provide convivial entertainment. Yet Scorpios also know everyone's secrets. They are connois seurs of the skeletons in the closets. So they have the power to spawn discordant commotions and wreak havoc on people's reputations. But they rarely do. Instead, they keep the secrets. They use their covert knowledge to weave deep con nections." Everything Ella Jean described will be your specialties in the coming weeks, Scorpio.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Of all the signs in the zodiac, you Sagittarians are least likely to stay in one location for extended periods. Many of you enjoy the need to move around from place to place. Doing so may be crucial in satisfying your quest for ever-fresh knowledge and stimula tion. You understand that it's risky to get too fixed in your habits and too dogmatic in your be liefs. So you feel an imperative to keep disrupting routines before they become deadening. When you are successful in this endeavor, it's often due to a special talent you have: your capacity for creating an inner sense of home that enables you to feel stable and grounded as you ramble free. I believe this superpower will be extra strong dur ing the coming months.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Capricorn author Edgar Allan Poe made this mysterious state ment: "We can, at any time, double the true beauty of an actual landscape by half closing our eyes as we look at it." What did he mean? He was referring to how crucial it is to see life "through the veil of the soul." Merely using our physical vision gives us only half the story. To be receptive to the full glory of the world, our deepest self must also participate in the vision. Of course, this is always true. But it's even more extra espe cially true than usual for you right now.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Aquarian theologian Henri Nouwen wrote, "I have discovered that the gifts of life are often hidden in the places that hurt most." Yikes! Really? I don't like that idea. But I will say this: If Nouwen's theory has a grain of truth, you will capitalize on that fact in the coming weeks. Amazingly enough, a wound or pain you experienced in the past could reveal a redemptive possibility that inspires and heals you.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Piscean novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen says it's wise to talk to yourself. No other conversational partner is more fasci nating. No one else listens as well. I offer you his advice in the hope of encouraging you to upgrade the intensity and frequency of your dialogs with yourself. It's an excellent astrological time to go deeper with the questions you pose and to be braver in formulating your responses. Make the coming weeks be the time when you find out much more about what you truly think and feel.

Homework: What action could you take to rouse unexpected joy in a person you care about? Newsletter.FreeWillAstrology.com

©2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords.com) For answers to this puzzle, call:
99 cents per minute. Must be 18+. Or to bill to your credit card, call:
Reference puzzle
Across 1. Rubbed out, gangsterstyle 6. Feasted 9. Laundry issue 14. Island near 11-Down 15. Bit of a beverage 16. "Why am ___?" 17. Tiny solution for cleaning up (like an understaffed moderation team) 19. Original "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" host 20. Lyrical poem 21. Symbol of clumsiness (like announcing, then canceling, an $8/month verification system) 23. Royal sphere 25. Mine contents 26. EGOT winner Moreno 27. Wood for wine barrels 29. Wanna-___ (imitators) 30. Packers' org. 33. Official imprint 36. Shipping units? 38. "Gotcha" 39. Use unfair tactics (like suspending accounts from just one side of the political spectrum) 42. Paleozoic, et al. 43. "A Death in the Family" Pulitzer winner 44. Centrifuge inserts 45. Place to study 46. Turn purple, perhaps 47. Shriner's cap 48. Days long past 50. Fla. NBA team, on a scoreboard 52. Baryshnikov's former co. 55. Evoking both happy and sad feelings (like a social network that's provided both joy and frustration) 59. Wonderment sounds 61. Skips 62. U.K. "Love Is All Around" band which lost 40% of its members in 2022 (like a certain website that's apparently hemorrhaging users) 64. Handles 65. Acting instructor Hagen 66. Background distraction 67. Nail file stuff 68. Spill cleaner 69. Message that can be seen hidden in order in the five longest answers (which might not be seen anymore if its platform implodes) Down 1. Eight, for starters 2. "Lord of the Rings" ringbearer 3. Less in number 4. Summer, in Paris 5. Bench press muscle, briefly 6. Fur-trading tycoon John Jacob 7. Spine feature 8. Fencing sword 9. Marina of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" 10. Taking things badly? 11. Greece/Turkey separator 12. Pleasant feeling, in reggae songs 13. Fledgling's place 18. Moon of Endor dweller 22. "___ Off the Boat" 24. Really fails 28. Long-armed animal 29. Computer memory unit 31. Dipped, like stocks 32. "___ Make a Deal" 33. Tool building 34. Radial, e.g. 35. Whenever 36. Old Venetian VIP 37. Wowed feeling 38. Island famous for its nightlife 40. Jacket over a shirt, e.g. 41. Mother of Abel 46. Elegantly clad 47. Got off the ground 49. Weasel's aquatic relative 50. Give credit for 51. Draw upon again 53. Stardust alter ego 54. The ones nearby 55. Femur, for one 56. Mosque figure 57. Done laps in the pool 58. Sidewalk sale pop-up 60. Don't delete 63. Part of a car rescue JONESIN’ BY MATT JONES "Bird is the Word"--who knows where it'll end up.
1-900-226-2800,
1-800-655-6548.
#JNZ990.
WEEK OF DECEMBER 8 © 2022 ROB BREZSNY FREE WILL last week’s answers ASTROLOGY CHECK OUT ROB BREZSNY’S EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES & DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES freewillastrology.com The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700 30 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com
SCAN QR CODE! 31 Willamette Week NOVEMBER 30, 2022 wweek.com

Tradeupmusic.com SE 503-236-8800 NE 503-335-8800

Greenberg Tree Service

for INSTRUMENTS
CASH
selling,
every
TO PLACE AN AD, CONTACT: MICHAEL DONHOWE
mdonhowe@wweek.com CLASSIFIEDS Sunlan Lighting For all your lightbulb fixtures & parts 3901 N Mississippi Ave. | 503.281.0453 Essential Business Hours 9:00 to 5:30 Monday - Friday | 11:00-4:00 Saturday WAKE UP TO WHAT MATTERS IN PORTLAND. Willamette Week’s daily newsletter arrives every weekday morning with the day’s top news. sunlanlighting.com Sunlan cartoons by Kay Newell “The Lightbulb Lady” Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Google SIGN UP AT WWEEK.COM/NEWSLETTERS SUBSCRIBE AT WWEEK.COM/NEWSLETTERS Get Busy Tonight OUR EVENT PICKS,EMAILED WEEKLY.
Steve
Pruning and removals, stump grinding, 24-hour emergency service. Licensed/Insured. CCB#67024. Free estimates: 503-284-2077 TRADEUPMUSIC.COM Buying,
instruments of
shape and size. Open 11am-6pm every day. 4701 SE Division & 1834 NE Alberta.
503-243-2122