Page 12 According to Portland kids.* *who are definitely not lying to us. SCHOOLS: Auctions on the Chopping Block. P. 16 FOOD: Inside the Hen House. P. 22 “SOMETIMES 50 CENTS IS A LOT MORE THAN 50 CENTS.” P. 6 WWEEK.COM VOL 49/28 05.24.2023
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2 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
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WHAT WE LEARNED FROM READING THIS WEEK’S PAPER VOL. 49, ISSUE 28
A proposed capital gains tax suffered the worst defeat of a Multnomah County ballot measure in 30 years. 6
Booze delivery drivers failed to check IDs 37% of the time. 7
Bend company Lucid Cradle plans to charge $15,000 for an eight-hour psilocybin trip. 11
Movie theaters are stressing Gen Z out. 15
Yes, there’s a difference between a makeup tutorial and a “get ready with me” TikTok 15
Some Portland parents were willing to pay $3,500 for a Grand Canyon Glamping Adventure 16
A former Intel engineer now DJs late-night Afrobeatsmeets-Bollywood dance parties. 21
Portland has a SpongeBob SquarePants-themed rave. 21
Cathy Whims’ beloved Insalata Nostrana is now available for a steal at the restaurant’s wine bar next door. 22
People across the country are naming their chickens after local author Tove Danovich. 23
The optimal high for exploring a dying mall in Salem comes from Sand Castle Hash’s new disposable vape pens. 24
Cosmic country music sounds expansive, mystical and stoned. 25
Billy Woods still doesn’t want to see Nas with an orchestra at Carnegie Hall. 26
In 1973, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine fought the battle of Cottage Grove 27
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ALBERTA ROSE THEATRE
Last week, WW told the tale of Michael Gregory, a Portland developer of low-income housing who would “rather kick myself in the balls 100 times” than repeat a journey through the city’s permitting process (“Permits Swamp,” May 17). City Commissioner Carmen Rubio pledges to cut the red tape that delays housing construction by assigning each project to one coordinator who shepherds permits through conflicting bureaucracies. That’s welcome news to many people: Gregory’s lament drew a raft of similar stories. Here’s what our readers had to say:
employees that will stick to the rule no matter how ridiculous it is. It’s really a bad mix. There is a lot of corruption at the top here in Oregon, but I don’t see it as much further down. I would rather have common sense rules and no corruption, but that’s even harder to get, so I am trying to be reasonable here…”
rooted in Ishumar Rock and Tuareg Blues, borrowing from various international influences
+ BIKINI DRONE
Accordion-wielding Chilean songstress
PASCUALA ILABACA Y FAUNA
RAXNOR, VIA REDDIT: “It took me two months to get [the Portland Water Bureau] to review a revised set of plans with ZERO changes to the water system.
“Something that should have taken 15 minutes took two months. No amount of fee changes and other bullshit is going to fix a system that fundamentally doesn’t work properly right now.”
THE CITY THAT CAN’T EXECUTE
of the residents live below the poverty line. It’s been 18 years since the storm, and the homes have held up just fine. New Orleans went from a homeless population of 80% of the city (representing over 360,000 people) in 2005 to fewer than 500 individuals in 2021.
the 17th annual DOLLY HOOT
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Shorty & the Mustangs - Kingsley
Western Edition Band - The Hackles
Alexa Wiley - Amanda Richards and The Good Long Whiles and more!
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1st annual Cascade Blues Association fundraiser
TOO SLIM AND THE TAILDRAGGERS REUNION TY CURTIS • NORMAN SYLVESTER BAND
JOHNNY WHEELS & THE SWAMP DONKEYS
KEVIN SELFE BIG BAND
Frank Zappa tribute
featuring NAPOLEON MURPHY BROCK
an international show of support THE WORLD IS WITH UKRAINE
60 years of GREEN ONIONS
CENTRISTFORCOMMONSENSE, VIA WWEEK.COM: “I have some advice for Portland’s city government. I lived in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, which pushed 3.5 feet of water into my house and about 134,000 other homes in the city. Fortunately, New Orleans realized that to solve this problem it had to take drastic measures. Building permits for gutting and remodeling were automatic and FREE. All you needed to get approved for one was a plan you could draw yourself on a piece of notebook paper. The only inspection mandated was electrical, to ensure the place wasn’t a fire hazard. In addition, the state handed out funds for this effort based on the pre-storm value of the home.
It cost me $135,000 to have my 1,800-square-foot house gutted down to the studs, re-roofed and repainted, and the entire insides replaced. (Interior gas and water lines were undamaged and remained. HVAC was replaced.)
“Using this system, 81% of the homes in New Orleans were
“Contrast this with Portland. Portland wants $50,000 for a PERMIT, which is about a third of what I paid for my whole HOUSE and lot in New Orleans 38 years ago. They are not trying to solve the housing crisis. They are trying to justify and enrich a bloated bureaucracy that stopped being a ‘city that works’ years ago.”
GLENN JOHNDOHL, VIA
EMAIL: “Really? Soviet-style bureaucracy? A ‘report’ by Redfin? Geez, I wonder what their incentive to write this report is? “Sloppy, biased reporting. You’ve done better work.”
POUPOU221, VIA REDDIT:
“Having worked in nonsensical-bureaucracy-heavy places such as West Africa and India, I think what’s special about Portland is this mix of nonsensical bureaucracy and unwillingness of the various government agents you deal with to go around the rule. Typically, these two things go hand in hand; nonsensical rules are addressed by corrupting officials. Here we have the worst of both worlds, nonsensical rules and by and large honest government
BY MARTY SMITH @martysmithxxx
Terrific article [“Permits Swamp,” May 17]. An inside look into the bureaucracy that absolutely fucks with everyone’s life. I’ve lived here for nearly 15 years, having moved from Spokane, Wash., where I raised my kids. Oregon and Washington have, arguably, the best laws in the land. But in Oregon, nothing gets done. It’s not just [the Bureau of Development Services]. We can’t make a software program— despite expending billions—to run healthcare.gov. Our unemployment software breaks at the first sign of pressure. Our foster care system is the most dysfunctional in the land. Our schools suck. The list goes on. And voters are starting to rebel. After taxing themselves roughly $2 billion to pay to address homelessness— and seeing nothing for it—voters rejected by a wide margin the measure to tax capital gains this week to pay for lawyers for renters facing eviction. First time I’ve ever voted against a tax increase. Not because I don’t support it: Because I don’t trust government to execute it with any degree of competence.
Thanks for the insightful article into why government can’t execute.
Stephen Reichard North Portland
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I’m hearing a lot of sky-is-falling rhetoric about Portland’s declining population, but all I can think about is how it’s going to be easier to find parking. We’ve been wishing people would stop moving here for decades; should I really be worried that a few are moving away now? — Member of the Portland 20-Year Club Way back in 2016, I coined the slogan “Make Portland Shitty Again” on the theory that if we could convince the rest of America that Portland was a terrible place, maybe they’d stop moving here and driving up the rents. Now it’s finally starting to work and everybody acts like it’s the goddamned apocalypse. Where, I ask you, is the gratitude?
My own megalomania aside, cities with falling populations can face some pretty frightening perils. One problem is that infrastructure expenses don’t scale with population: When the pool of taxpayers shrinks, suddenly there may not be enough money to keep up the parks (or the roads or the sewer system), and less money for services in general.
All this makes the city a less attractive place to live, causing more folks to leave. Property values start to tank. Soon, owners find it’s no longer worth it to maintain their buildings, which also fall into disrepair, leading to the classic urban death spiral we see in Rust Belt cities like St. Louis and Detroit.
But let’s not give up on Portland quite yet. It’s true that from 2020 to 2022 the Rose City was eighth out of 69 on the list of fastest-shrinking U.S. cities with populations over 300,000. But listen to the seven cities that shrank even faster: San Francisco, New York City, San Jose, Boston, New Orleans, Long Beach, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.
Sure, there are a few of the usual urban-decline suspects on that list (I’m looking at you, Cleveland), but mostly it reads like a “Top 10 Highest Housing Costs” feature overlapped with a “Cities That Let the Most People Work Remotely” list. Say what you will about San Jose, I don’t think it’s in danger of becoming the kind of place where landlords burn down their own properties because no one will rent them at any price.
So everyone needs to chill—the plan is working! Sure, it stings having John Cougar Mellencamp (among others) say mean things about us. But when you think about those rents stabilizing, it hurts so good.
Questions? Send them to email@example.com.
4 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com DIALOGUE
KOTEK KNEW OF FAGAN’S LA MOTA WORK:
In the wake of Shemia Fagan’s resignation as Oregon secretary of state due to a moonlighting scandal, one question in Salem has become: Who knew—and when? Records obtained by WW and first reported at wweek.com provide some answers. They show Fagan told staff about her contract with the embattled cannabis chain La Mota as early as Feb. 2. The topic came up again in a March 24 meeting, just five days before WW published its initial story on La Mota. Notes taken by Fagan’s deputy, Cheryl Myers, don’t describe the content of those conversations, but Myers wrote in the March 24 meeting notes: “La Mota/ WW upcoming story re tax lien status.” Myers, who became interim secretary of state after Fagan’s May 9 departure, says she and other subordinates urged Fagan to cancel the contract in both meetings: “Our advice was ignored.” Gov. Tina Kotek’s office tells WW that Fagan told her April 19 that she’d accepted a contract with La Mota. “Secretary Fagan said she had a consulting contract with La Mota and assured the governor that she had done everything appropriately,” says Kotek spokeswoman Elisabeth Shepard. It’s not clear if Kotek offered any advice to Fagan at the time.
WASHINGTON CENTER FENTANYL MARKET
BOARDED UP: Washington Center, the vacant building complex that was host to an open-air fentanyl market on one of downtown Portland’s most prominent blocks, has been boarded up completely. The eaves around the former KeyBank at the corner of Southwest 5th Avenue and Washington Street survived previous efforts to surround the building in 10-foot wooden walls— to the frustration of city officials and nearby businesses, which have long complained about the buying, selling and consumption of fentanyl that had come to define that stretch of downtown Portland. As of May 22, that corner too had been boarded up. Mayor Ted Wheeler hailed the recent development. “I’m grateful that the property owners are continuing to secure the site which is a commitment they made during the initial board-up of the Washington Center building,” Wheeler said in a statement to WW “My expectation is for efforts to continue in the weeks ahead, which includes working to address loitering. I look forward to the demolition or resale of this property to allow downtown to move forward.” Unmentioned were agreements by the mayor’s staff last year to pay for the board-up, which went unfulfilled to the frustration of the buildings’ owners, the Menashes, one of Portland’s top real estate families.
LATE BLITZ BOOSTS ELECTION TURNOUT:
Through May 15, the day before the May 16 election, the percentage of ballots returned stood at just 16.38%, an anemic total. It’s normal for the final day to see a flurry of ballots, but this year saw a far greater last-minute rush: 10.41% of voters turned in a ballot on election day. That’s about twice the percentage of voters who waited until the last day in the past two May off-year elections. (Ballots were mailed to voters nearly a week late, thanks to a printing error by the Multnomah County Elections Division.) And 2023 marked the first May off-year election in which ballots postmarked by, rather than received on, election day would be counted. So another 2.47% of ballots came in during the week after the election, bringing the final turnout to 29.26%, which is far larger than either of the past two May elections. “We were expecting 25% turnout and planning for 30%, so we had the resources in place to handle the late surge,” says county elections director Tim Scott. “It was still a bit surprising, though, since we hadn’t seen a 10% election day turnout increase in a special district election since May of 2017.” Voters elected Julia Brim-Edwards to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and Patte Sullivan to the Portland School Board, renewed the Portland Children’s Levy, and rejected a capital gains tax (see page 6).
PONZI SCHEME CHARGES LEAD TO CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST BIG BANKS: A lawsuit filed May 15 in U.S. District Court in Portland is seeking to hold banks liable for their alleged participation in a $44 million crypto Ponzi scheme. Two men, including Portland-based Sam Ikkurty, were charged last year with soliciting investments on YouTube and, rather than investing the cash, using it to pay back other investors. Now, one of those investors, Amit Fatnani, has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court, alleging that six banks and financial companies, including JPMorgan Chase, were complicit for not recognizing obvious “red flags.” Fatnani lost $350,000 in the scheme. One of those red flags was a series of transactions in “large, round number, and often-repeated dollar amounts, a transfer pattern indicative of money-laundering activities,” the lawsuit alleges. “I look forward to presenting this case to a local jury late next summer,” Fatnani’s attorney Michael Fuller tells WW. Ikkurty has denied the allegations of misappropriating funds in legal filings. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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 5 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com MURMURS
Dead on Arrival
Multnomah County voters deliver a historic rebuke to a tax measure.
BY AARON MESH firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week’s voter rejection of Measure 26-238, a proposed capital gains tax to fund lawyers for tenants facing eviction, was the worst defeat suffered by a local ballot measure in Multnomah County in 30 years.
The latest returns from the May 16 election show voters rebuffed the measure 80.53% to 19.47%. That means more than 4 in 5 voters said no. The margin raised eyebrows among political observers: Could it be that Portlanders have finally had their fill of new taxes?
In fact, a WW review of election results shows Multnomah County voters haven’t shown such uniform antipathy for any local proposal pitched to them via the ballot initiative system since 1993, the earliest year for which the county keeps digital archives.
To be sure, the idea hatched by Portland State University researchers and the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America—to levy a 0.75% tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and real estate, and use the proceeds to pay for legal representation for tenants in eviction court—faced stiff headwinds.
Not least of these was an off-cycle electorate that skewed toward older homeowners, says John Horvick, a pollster for the Portland firm DHM Research. The measure was unseriously crafted, applying retroactively and to the sale of homes—although in both instances, backers said they hadn’t meant to reach into those pockets. Opponents, generously funded by real estate interests, scored public denouncements from trusted liberals, including Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).
“It had both few endorsers and really strong opposition,” Horvick says. “When you have an organization that you expect to be a supporter that is an opponent, those are deadly. It just had nothing going for it.”
But Horvick cautions against the narrative that Multnomah
County voters have lost their appetite for taxes. (The same people who stomped the capital gains tax renewed the Portland Children’s Levy by 70.95% to 29.05%.) Instead, he suggests, the results augur a shift in attitudes toward homelessness.
Measure 26-238 was pitched as a way to prevent people behind on their rent from being kicked to the streets. But recent DHM surveys show most voters believe homelessness is primarily a result of addiction and mental illness rather than a housing shortage and steep rent.
“A lot of our voters think that personal responsibility is the reason why people end up in these situations,” Horvick says. “So it’s understandable that they wouldn’t be eager to open up their pocketbooks for that.” (Some economists disagree, citing expensive housing as the biggest factor.)
Colleen Carroll, a spokeswoman for the Eviction Representation fort All campaign, says backers will demand county officials fund an eviction-defense program with existing funds.
“We believe that voters rejected the proposed funding mechanism, but not the program,” Carroll says. “The need for a well-funded program that intervenes early in the process, provides legal aid without a cumbersome application process, and pairs representation with access to emergency rental assistance is still urgent.”
It may be an uphill battle. Elections records show Multnomah County voters have only shown this level of scorn for statewide measures that weren’t designed to appeal to them: In 2018, for example, 83.02% of county voters dismissed Measure 106, which would have banned public funding for abortions. No parallel exists for a local measure that was placed solely before county voters or those in a metro-area city.
Still, we collated the losses that came closest to Measure 26-238’s defeat. Among them are an attempted takeover of the Portland Water Bureau and an initiative to make the county sheriff an appointed position. One ray of hope for the DSA: Two of the largest defeats were handed to proposals to change Portland’s form of government, an idea that voters finally approved in 2022.
MAY 2023: MEASURE 26-238
WHAT IT WOULD HAVE DONE: Funded eviction defense with a 0.75% tax on capital gains.
WHAT WW SAID: “We encourage voters to reject this sloppy, unnecessary measure and instead raise their voices to encourage the county to deploy existing funds to help more residents avoid eviction.”
scandals, and the specter of a possible privatization measure on the 2024 ballot hanging over the commission, it’s anything but.
THE BACKGROUND: In 2009, during the Great Recession, Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked the OLCC to tag a “temporary” 50-cent surcharge on each bottle of booze. That was a handy way to raise some revenue because increasing the price of liquor requires only a vote of the OLCC board—whose members the governor appoints—rather than the three-fifths majority vote of both chambers of the Legislature that tax increases require. The OLCC has renewed that “temporary” tax every two years since. Kotek is now asking commissioners to double it to $1, which would raise about $45 million for addiction and mental health services over the next two years.
YES: 19.32% NO: 80.68%
NOVEMBER 2016: MEASURE 26-183
WHAT IT WOULD HAVE DONE: Made the Multnomah County sheriff appointed rather than elected.
WHAT WW SAID: “Public disapproval provides a level of accountability in an elected office that simply does not exist for appointed agency heads and bureau directors.”
MAY 2014: MEASURE 26-156
WHAT IT WOULD HAVE DONE: Created an independent water district, removing oversight from City Hall.
WHAT WW SAID: “Portlanders rightly cherish their uniquely pure drinking water. Handing it over to such an uncertain form of government is cutting off our hose to spite our face.”
MAY 2007: MEASURE 26-91
WHAT IT WOULD HAVE DONE: Restructured City Hall into a strong-mayor form of government.
WHAT WW SAID: “This measure is a dog that can barely whimper, let alone hunt.”
YES: 23.75% NO: 76.25%
MAY 2002: MEASURE 26-30
WHAT IT WOULD HAVE DONE: Restructured City Hall into a strong-mayor form of government with an expanded City Council.
WHAT WW SAID: “This measure is like trying to give your old dog some nasty-tasting medicine by wrapping it in a pork rind. Problem is, the medicine in this case is questionable, and the rind is rancid.”
YES: 24% NO: 76%
NOVEMBER 1995: MEASURE 26-32
WHAT IT WOULD HAVE DONE: Changed a Portland School District boundary so children in 14 households could attend Oak Creek Elementary School.
WHAT WW SAID: “Never should have reached the Nov. 7 ballot.”
both. In a spirited session marked by self-interest and speculation, Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, cited research and policy reasons for raising taxes. “Higher taxes and prices reduce consumption and heavy drinking in particular,” Naimi testified. “Higher prices [also] reduce total deaths from liver disease, at least seven types of cancer, motor vehicle crashes and suicides.”
Recovery, addressed that inequity in questioning by commissioners. “They have incredibly powerful lobbyists,” Vezina said of the beer and wine industry. “We’ve tried to pass a tax on those other types of alcohol several times, and we’ve gotten beaten every single time.”
THE ISSUE: Sometimes 50 cents is a lot more than 50 cents. This is one of those times. On May 18, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission took public comment for the second time on whether to ratify Gov. Tina Kotek’s proposal for a 50-cent surcharge on every bottle of hard liquor the state sells. That might seem a simple question. But with a new governor, turmoil at the OLCC over liquor and cannabis
THE ADVOCATES: Last week, the OLCC heard from public health officials and advocates for addiction and mental health services. They presented a two-pronged argument: Research shows that higher prices reduce consumption, which they like; and Oregon suffers from high levels of substance use disorder and untreated mental illness, and could use more money for
THE OPPOSITION: Representatives of both the liquor industry and Oregon distilleries turned out to lobby against the increase. They raised a whole host of arguments. Among them: Margins for producers and Oregon’s disproportionately large hospitality industry are thin. Bill Perry, a lobbyist for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, said his members are still recovering front the pandemic and battling a tight labor market and inflation. “Supplies are either increasing in cost or we’re struggling with availability,” he said.
Critics of the hike also noted Oregon’s tax on liquor (i.e., the markup from the state’s wholesale price to retail) is the nation’s second highest, while the state’s beer and wine taxes are among the lowest. Tony Vezina, director of 4D
WHY IT MATTERS: As a state, Oregon struggles with substance use disorder, ranking fifth nationally in the percentage of people addicted to alcohol. Kotek has placed making big improvements in addiction and mental health services among her highest priorities. Meanwhile, at least some of the seven commissioners appear poised to vote against the increase, which would mark a significant, although not unprecedented, rebuke to the governor (the commission spiked a request for a 25-cent increase in 2021). Kotek already replaced commission chair Paul Rosenbaum over the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon scandal; the scheduled June 15 vote on the 50-cent surcharge will be a reflection of her commitment to funding services and her sway with the commission. Kotek spokeswoman Elisabeth Shepard says the governor has gotten personally involved: “She directly discussed the surcharge with commissioners individually.” NIGEL JAQUISS.
6 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEK NEWS
That’s the fee hike that’s turning into a showdown between the governor and her booze agency.
THE BIG NUMBER
HOUSE BILL 3308
Nobody watchdogs home booze delivery. That could change.
During the pandemic, public pressure and some lawmakers pushed the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to legalize the home delivery of alcoholic beverages. President Joe Biden has told the nation that, notwithstanding the nearly 1,000 people still dying every week from COVID, the pandemic is over. But home delivery appears to be here to stay.
A Burnt-Out Case
Two lots on Sandy Boulevard fester as their owner faces prison time.
ADDRESS: 11606 NE Sandy Blvd.
YEAR BUILT: 1934
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,254
MARKET VALUE: $693,570
OWNER: Renaissance Properties LLC
HOW LONG IT’S BEEN EMPTY: 4 years
WHY IT’S EMPTY: A fire and no insurance money
Deep in Northeast Portland along Sandy Boulevard sits a small, gray concrete block building on a large lot surrounded by a chain-link fence. One side of the lot is shielded from view by a line of tall, unkempt hedges, and the rest is scattered with debris. Black chunks of charred wood are what remains of an old house that burned down in 2020.
Sheila Laplante, an owner of the vape shop next door, says that other than a short-lived attempt at cleanup, and the installation of the protective fence, the lot has sat in this state of disrepair since the fire.
The buildings that once stood at this address were zoned for both commercial and residential use. Starting in 2009, the building was rented by a landscaping business called Serenity Landscapes, according to state documents. A sign on the concrete building suggests it may have also been used by a car detailing company. In 2017, the land was sold to Renaissance Properties LLC, whose only registered agent is Saul Valdez.
Valdez lives in Vancouver, Wash., and is the registered agent for three limited liability companies. Renaissance Properties remains active in Washington but was dissolved in Oregon in 2018, just after acquiring the lot at 11606 NE Sandy Blvd.
Valdez tells WW he had interest from a number of tenants and even considered setting up an office for one of his own businesses in the building. The May 31, 2020, fire put an end to that idea—and launched a legal saga.
On July 10, 2020, Valdez sued Nationwide Insurance, which had declined to pay an insurance claim, in Multnomah County Circuit Court for breach of contract. The insurer said Valdez had misrepresented the state of the property when he purchased his insurance policy. The suit was eventually moved to federal court, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You ruled in favor of Nationwide last September.
Portland Bureau of Development Services spokesman Ken Ray says the city began receiving repeated complaints about unsanctioned camping on the property in 2020. In February 2021, Valdez installed a 6-foot chain-link fence
around the lot and secured the remaining building. BDS says the owner is in contact with Portland police and Metro to keep the site clean and secure.
“BDS continues to receive periodic complaints about the property, and the lien placed on the property for BDS’s enforcement fees currently stands at $59,828.60, growing monthly,” Ray said via email.
Renaissance also owns the lot across Northeast 116th Avenue, which holds a garage that was once used as a repair shop and three rental properties that Valdez has been struggling to empty. Valdez says he recently evicted tenants that refused to pay rent. State records show the most recent eviction was just four months ago.
The garage is also empty, which Valdez tells WW is the result of a load-bearing beam in disrepair. “There was no other choice but to have [tenants] removed so that we can make some repairs or to keep it vacant, as the city requested,” he says.
A city inspector found in 2018 that structural beams were either cracked or bowing inward. As a result, Valdez cannot rent out the property to any new tenants.
County records show Valdez is three years behind on property taxes for that lot—and didn’t pay taxes for the burned-out parcel last year.
He has other troubles. Last month, he pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud charges stemming from a Vancouver business called Conexión Latina. “Saul Valdez was an unlicensed tax preparer who led his immigrant customers to believe he was filling out their tax forms correctly,” wrote the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Washington in a statement. “Instead, from 2016 through 2018, Valdez inserted a variety of false deductions and expenses on tax returns, lowering the customers’ tax obligations.”
Those false deductions left his clients liable for back taxes and resulted in a tax loss of almost $1.3 million between 2016 and 2018. Valdez faces three years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in August.
Valdez says he was helping community members who struggled to understand their tax forms: “What they said was that I was reporting unallowable expenses for my clients, and I don’t believe that to be true. But there’s only so much you can do.” JAKE MOORE AND LEE VANKIPURAM.
Every week, WW examines one mysteriously vacant property in the city of Portland, explains why it’s empty, and considers what might arrive there next. Send addresses to email@example.com.
The OLCC reports that online shopping for alcohol nationally grew 80% in 2020 and could reach $40 billion annually by 2026. So, despite Oregon’s high levels of alcohol abuse, the prevalence of licensed retailers and drinking establishments, and the fact that drinkers survived without it for the first 90 years or so after Prohibition ended, booze on wheels is a thing. House Bill 3308 is an attempt to increase accountability for what the OLCC determined to be an underregulated service, with high rates of failure to check IDs.
CHIEF SPONSOR: Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene)
WHAT IT WOULD DO: Require the OLCC to license delivery companies, and give the agency the authority to conduct minor decoy operations, fine companies for noncompliance, and establish rules for the details of alcohol delivery.
PROBLEM IT SEEKS TO SOLVE: When Oregon legalized home delivery of alcohol in 2020, it didn’t require licensure for delivery companies. Nor did it require training or much oversight. Last year, state officials did spot checks and determined that delivery drivers failed 37% of the time to sufficiently check ID at recipients’ doors. That jibed with similar findings in Washington and California. Agency officials told lawmakers that Oregon’s current system is far inferior to the compliance requirements in Alabama and Mississippi.
Initially, HB 3308 proposed that retailers, such as liquor stores, convenience stores and big grocery chains supplying alcoholic beverages, be licensed and subject to penalties along with the delivery companies. That caused major pushback, and the bill was amended earlier this month to put the onus entirely on the delivery companies to make sure drivers are licensed and insured and, most importantly, that they screen customers.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: The Northwest Grocery Association, Oregon distillers, brewers and wineries, delivery companies such as Instacart, and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
WHO OPPOSES IT: Oregon Recovers, the advocacy group seeking to reduce substance use disorder, originally supported the bill but reversed course when it was amended to remove retailers from sharing responsibility for the delivery companies. For Oregon Recovers, the amendment meant the bill no longer had enough teeth. “From our perspective that carve-out doesn’t incentivize retailers to do as much as they can for compliance,” says Oregon Recovers policy director Tony Morse. “If the retailers are liable, they are only going to hire the best of the best, and they are going to fire the drivers that are noncompliant.”
Although temperance advocates normally get short shrift in the Capitol, that may be changing. On May 22, a related Senate bill failed, much to the surprise of observers. SB 616 would have increased the amount of beer brewers were allowed to deliver to Oregonians’ homes from two to five cases per month. HB 3308 is currently in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means awaiting further action. NIGEL JAQUISS.
7 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
BILL OF THE WEEK
When Oregon changed the terms on subsidized housing deals, private lenders balked and the market for new projects seized up.
BY NIGEL JAQUISS firstname.lastname@example.org
When Gov. Tina Kotek took office, she made creating 36,000 units of new housing each year her top goal.
The Oregon Department of Justice got in the way.
A perplexing and previously unreported decision by DOJ lawyers has halted the state’s aggressive investment in subsidized housing, throwing the most precarious part of the housing sector into turmoil.
The state’s affordable housing plan for the rest of 2023 included subsidizing two dozen new projects slated to comprise more than 1,700 units. But after an abrupt March edict from the state’s attorneys about language in the bond documents used to help fund state-subsidized development, private lenders balked. They have withdrawn their money, a crucial portion of any subsidized development.
The DOJ’s sudden shift baffled experts.
“As a member of the affordable housing industry, I’m puzzled,” says Javier Mena, affordable housing manager for the city of Beaverton and a member of the Oregon Housing Stability Council, which
approves all state housing investments.
“I have not heard any type of response about why the DOJ looked at the bond documents or if they engaged with lenders to see what the impact would be,” Mena says.
“I don’t understand it.”
and complicated, often requiring a half-dozen different sources of funding.
On April 13, however, the council faced a situation so urgent it waived the normal rules for public notice and called its members together for an emergency meeting to approve a hasty swap of one kind of state financing for another that was unaffected by the DOJ decision (but extremely limited).
The swap occurred in a confusing thicket of Roman numerals and acronyms. But the underlying issue was simple: In March, the Oregon Department of Justice materially altered the terms on which the state would now make its principal source of housing subsidy available.
Last month, the Housing Stability Council averted one crisis created by the DOJ’s decision. It was the financial equivalent of rescuing a single passenger from a sinking ferry. The council normally works in a deliberate fashion because developing new subsidized housing is slow
As part of what DOJ says was a regular review, lawyers examined the standard language in the Article XI-Q bonds that provide funding for subsidized housing. (Disclosure: Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is married to the co-owner of WW’s parent company).
The DOJ determined the bond documents underlying state financing provided insufficient collateral and had to be changed to specify that any new project include a greater level of security for the state of
RED TAG: A legal change has upended state financing for affordable housing.
“I have not heard any type of response about why the DOJ looked at the bond documents or if they engaged with lenders to see what the impact would be.”
Our event picks emailed weekly. Sign up at wweek.com/newsletters 8 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com NEWS
The practical effect of that change: Rather than acting as an unsecured lender for subsidized projects, the state now wanted to share the priority position typically held by private lenders such as Citibank, U.S. Bank and Umpqua Bank—and to receive a pro rata distribution of proceeds in the case of a foreclosure sale, rather than getting paid after the primary commercial lender.
In effect, DOJ was demanding that the banks surrender some of their security interest in the underlying collateral—the affordable housing projects—to the state.
Lenders said no.
The immediate result: a direct threat to a planned $52.7 million 96-unit affordable housing project in Montavilla referred to as Glisan Family Apartments. The developers, Related Northwest and the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization, were set to close the deal April 18, using money from tax credit investors, the Portland Housing Bureau, Metro, the state, and private lenders.
But the private lenders balked at the DOJ’s new terms.
The Housing Stability Council had previously finalized the state’s participation in Glisan Family Apartments in February. The deal: It would contribute $6.23 million from the Local Innovation and Fast Track, or LIFT, program.
LIFT, created by lawmakers in 2015, has enabled the state to contribute to the development of 6,600 new affordable apartments.
But when DOJ announced its rule change in March, it not only caused the private lenders to the Glisan Family Apartments project to threaten to pull out—it cast a cloud over the entire LIFT program, slated to help fund the two dozen new projects around the state in 2023 that promise 1,700 or so new units.
After la wmakers created LIFT in 2015, Oregon Housing and Community Services began funding it in 2016 by issuing what are called Article XI-Q bonds.
The State Treasury sells the bonds to investors, and the state lends the bond proceeds to affordable housing developers to help cobble together projects that meet federal affordability definitions for low-income renters.
As Oreg on’s housing crisis worsened, lawmakers increased LIFT’s bonding allocation from $40 million in 2015 to $300 million in 2021.
“In terms of affordable housing and funding, the LIFT funds have been an amazing tool,” Mena says.
“Without the LIFT funds, I don’t think many of the Metro projects [from a 2018 housing bond] would have moved forward.”
Article XI-Q bonds are a big part of the governor’s strategy—Kotek wants $770 million from them over the next two years.
The second pool of money used to close the Glisan Family Apartments deal is not an option. And so, two dozen projects are now in limbo.
Until the state can reach some kind of accommodation with lenders, the next project in the state’s LIFT pipeline is officially in jeopardy and a year’s worth of deals are now clouded with uncertainty.
At the April 13 meeting of the Housing Stability Council, Mena and others asked how long it would take to solve the standoff between private lenders and the DOJ.
The answer then: Oregon Housing and Community Services “expects to have the program issues resolved and addressed by the end of this month,” the agency said. But the end of April came and went. The answer now is still the same—soon. “ We expect that this will be resolved in the coming weeks and able to close transactions with updated documents before the end of the biennium,” Housing and Community Services spokeswoman Delia Hernández says.
DOJ spokesman Roy Kaufmann says there are good reasons to seek a greater security interest in LIFT projects.
“The changes continue to ensure that Oregon leaders have meaningful operational control of these developments in the unlikely and rare instance of foreclosure,” Kaufmann says.
Many experts, including Mena, are puzzled by the change, adding that affordable housing projects almost never go into foreclosure.
But Mena says the current impasse imperils the new development that Kotek and just about every public official in Oregon want to see happen.
“There’s no way that achieving those goals would be possible without the XI-Q bond program and the LIFT money,” Mena says.
Kotek wants a speedy resolution, says her spokeswoman, Elisabeth Shepard.
“The governor is eager to see the DOJ clarify their opinion in a way that supports affordable housing development in the state,” Shepard says. “She appreciates the expeditious collaboration among DOJ, OHCS, and affordable housing stakeholders to achieve that outcome.”
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STREAMING ON ALL MAJOR PLATFORMS
Taxpayers may soon be filling the funding gaps in Oregon’s psilocybin system.
BY ANTHONY EFFINGER email@example.com
So far, just three psilocybin service centers—offices where people can go on legal mushroom trips—have been licensed by the state of Oregon.
That’s bad news for law-abiding people itching to avail themselves of the much-advertised benefits of psilocybin: relief from depression, alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and end-of-life dread.
It’s also bad news for taxpayers, who may soon find themselves underwriting a shroom system that was supposed to pay for itself.
Proponents of Measure 109, the initiative that created Oregon’s legal psilocybin program, designed it to be funded by fees, not taxpayer dollars, so it would be palatable to more voters. Service centers, mushroom growers, and psilocybin testing labs are all required to pay $10,000 a year for their licenses. Facilitators, the people who sit with tripping subjects and guide them into the psychosphere, pay $2,000 a year.
The problem is that very few people are getting licenses of any kind to cover the cost of running the Oregon Health Authority’s Psilocybin Services unit, in large part because of the high fees. Very few licensees means very little fee revenue, which means the state has to find cash someplace else to
keep the program running.
That other place could be the state’s general fund. OHA has asked for $6.6 million to fill the program’s budget gap for the fiscal biennium starting July 1, according to a 13-page “policy option package,” or POP, that’s now sitting in the Legislature (Salem budgets two years at a time).
“ Without the additional funding, the sustainability of the work would be jeopardized,” OHA says in the POP document. “There would be insufficient staff to continue to implement the regulatory program, review license applications and conduct licensure inspections. Consequently, psilocybin businesses seeking licensure could experience financial hardship.”
The request is a black eye for backers of Measure 109, who promised, after a two-year “development period” ending last December, the program would cost $3.1 million a year, an amount that would be funded by fees and a 15% tax sales tax on psilocybin products.
It also raises questions whether the psilocybin program can really run on fees alone. Licensing started Jan. 2. In addition to the three service centers, three manufacturers, one testing lab, 10 facilitators, and 87 workers have been licensed. All the fees those people would have paid—one-time and annu-
al—add up to less than $100,000, by WW’s calculations.
Even if every application submitted so far were to get a license, fees from all of them would total about $625,000, far short of OHA’s request from the general fund.
“ We don’t believe that licensing fees will be enough to cover the first year of the biennium,” Angela Allbee, head of OHA’s Psilocybin Services unit, tells WW. “We knew it would take some time for licensees to be ready. There are a lot of unknowns right now.”
OHA’s request for taxpayer cash irks Noah Heller, an entrepreneur who suffered severe depression and found relief in ketamine. It worked, but it was too expensive. He looked into opening a psilocy-
“This is all about health equity, but state money is going to subsidize $15,000 service centers. And those probably serve wealthy people from out of state.”
10 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com NEWS
bin service center, hoping he could help others at a fraction of the cost. After months of study, he determined it would be terribly hard just to break even.
Indeed, one of the three service centers that has been approved, EPIC Healing Eugene, charges $3,500 for a high-dose, six-hour trip, the price the owners say they need to stay in business.
Backers of Measure 109 took great pains to try and make psilocybin available to the masses. After the initiative passed, thenGov. Kate Brown instructed the new psilocybin advisory board to “ensure equitable access to this therapy for anyone who might benefit from treatment, including Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Tribal and communities of color.”
OHA’s request for general fund dollars galls Heller because, if granted, he says the money would go to subsidizing a regulatory framework that allows psilocybin experiences that, so far, only the wealthy can afford.
“This is all about health equity, but state money is going to subsidize $15,000 service centers,” Heller says. “And those probably serve wealthy people from out of state.”
He’s not exaggerating the price point. Lucid Cradle, a Bend company, plans to charge $15,000 for an eight-hour trip, with a six-hour prep session the day before and an integration session the day after.
Lucid is still waiting on its service center license, according to its website. The founder, a fine artist and clinical psychologist named Jeanette Small, didn’t reply to emails seeking comment by press deadline. Once Lucid is open, it plans to offer clients the option of using a zero-gravity recliner with
“14 percussive elements built into it, which pulse through the body and flush the nervous system and realign optimal physiological function through resonance.”
Though the authors of Measure 109 sought to make the psilocybin program pay for itself, there is no hard and fast date for when that has to happen, says Allbee, the Psilocybin Services head. The program could run on other funds, as long as it can get them.
But there are hurdles. Gov. Tina Kotek didn’t put OHA’s psilocybin request for general fund dollars in her recommended budget, Allbee says. Instead, Kotek said to use “other fees” to pay for the shortfall. Other fees are licensing fees. But Psilocybin Services doesn’t have enough licensing fees.
“ We have to figure out a strategy for what to do next,” Allbee says.
If licensing fees fail to materialize, the state will find the money to keep Oregon’s mushroom test alive, says Elisabeth Shepard, a spokeswoman for Kotek.
“Given how early the program is in implementation, it is difficult to anticipate how much revenue will be generated through licensure,” Shepard says in an email. “It’s our understanding that it is well positioned to be fully implemented, and in the event it requires additional resources there will be opportunities through an interim budget committee to request funds to the program if necessary, which our office would support.”
So, it appears the money will come, even if licensing revenue continues to lag. That’s good news for people who want to try psilocybin for depression and other ailments, and for the rich who want to trip, legally, in vibrating chairs.
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11 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
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MCKENZIE YOUNG-ROY AND MICK HANGLAND-SKILL 12 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
According to Portland kids*
*who are definitely not lying to us.
The Rebel energy drink at Dutch Bros comes in flavors that sound like the names of nu metal bands (Aftershock, Double Rainbro), is jammed with more ice than Mt. Hood Skibowl, and often tastes overwhelmingly like raspberry syrup.
We have it on good authority that it is the status symbol of the Class of 2026.
At least, if you take their word for it. Over the past month, we turned to student journalists at two very different Portland high schools, asking them about coffee, fashion, food, music, social media, video games and more (page 15). It’s thanks to them that we finally understand the joys of Neymar jerseys and grilled cheese paired with hot chocolate.
Of course, it’s always possible they were making fun of us. My generation (greetings, fellow millennials) grew up reading about how Sub Pop Records employees in Seattle tricked The New York Times into believing the Gen X grunge scene used slang like “wack slacks” and “lamestain.”
But this new generation is…super nice?
Patiently, they answered our questions (kudos to the kids who had to explain Snapchat to me in terms their grandparents could understand). Yet just as often, they turned them inside out, not just answering, but delivering disarmingly sharp insight into Taylor Swift’s popularity, the prevalence of baggy
pants, and Portland’s reputation as a miserable city for walking. Even the most straightforward questions provoked nuanced answers, a theme that runs throughout the following pages.
The kids may be more than all right, but their parents definitely aren’t, as shown by the second story in this package—about the discord and excess surrounding school auctions and what it means for our city’s embattled, hollowed-out public schools (page 16). And while we were heartened to discover the wonders of Northwest Children’s Theater’s new headquarters (page 18), a series of interviews with second graders about Portland (page 18) brought home a sobering truth: It’s always hard to be young, and it’s arguably even harder in 2023.
One 8-year-old summed up the struggles of the moment perfectly, saying her favorite thing about Portland was “nothing” and her least favorite thing about Portland was “everything.”
That’s dispiriting to hear, but it’s also inspiring that she had the courage to say it. And it sounded like the words of someone who’s ready to do what few generations achieve: get shit done.
The voices of the future are here. We believe in them.
—Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
13 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
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The Trend Report
Student journalists school WW on what’s hot and what’s not.
BY BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON @thobennett
For a teenager, there are probably few things as irritating as trying to explain TikTok to a 30-something who still has a Facebook account.
Nevertheless, two groups of student journalists—one from Cleveland High School, one from Metropolitan Learning Center—gamely answered my questions as I quizzed them about trends. Questions were divided into six categories: coffee shops, fashion, film and TV, music, restaurants and social media.
In many instances, the answers were surprising, and the interviewees didn’t always agree. Still, we were able to sum up what we learned in six lessons.
1. Starbucks is done. So is coffee.
When it comes to coffee shops, the students we polled have wildly different tastes. All of them, however, seemed to agree on one thing: Starbucks is out. “[Starbucks] is really expensive compared to Dutch,” says Molly, 16. “A sandwich and a drink is like 10 bucks.”
Dutch, of course, is Dutch Bros, where the hip drink isn’t coffee but the Rebel, which Evie, 16, describes as “like a Red Bull slushie with flavoring in it.” In fact, the topic of energy drinks in general solicited more enthusiasm than coffee. “Coffee’s out and Monsters are in,” Hotch, 16, says bluntly.
While plenty of students perked up as they discussed Dutch Bros, others groaned at the very mention of it, favoring quirkier options, like Milwaukie’s Great American Video & Espresso (where Nico, 17, recommends the mint hot chocolate).
2. Baggy is better. For now.
Students were more unified on the subject of fashion, with several mentioning the current preference for loose-fitting clothing, including soccer jerseys.
“I’ve noticed jerseys are really in, but done in a very specific way, and paired with something you wouldn’t normally pair a jersey with,” Evie says. “Like with a skirt. Because of the World Cup, everyone fell in love with Neymar. Mainly girls have been wearing them.”
Hotch, meanwhile, noted the popularity of “baggy clothing and then tighter clothing on top—like a really baggy long-sleeved T-shirt [tucked into] some sort of bra. Which sounds like it would look tacky, but a lot of people can pull it off and it looks cool, actually.”
That said, Sarah, 17, warns that the baggy look is already starting to fade from Cleveland hallways: “Really, really baggy jeans were in, but now they’re kind of going out.”
3. Movies and TV shows are dead. Or are they?
Conventional wisdom suggests Gen Z prefers interactive media like video games to film and television. For some students, the stereotype rings true. “I don’t like movies for some reason,” Nico says. “If I ever go to the theater, it stresses me out. I like video games mainly.”
Other answers painted a more complicated picture. Nash, 18, says he enjoys the strategic challenges of the Hitman game series, but also likes the films of arthouse auteur James Gray (Ad Astra, Armageddon Time).
As for television, not one student mentioned the show of the moment, HBO’s The Last of Us. But there was love for older series, including Breaking Bad, Shameless and BoJack Horseman, the animated Netflix saga about an embittered humanoid horse (voiced by Will Arnett).
“I feel like a lot of that content is relatable to a lot of kids of this
generation,” Zayn, 15, says. “And it’s comforting to see [trauma and parent issues] portrayed in a comedic way and a messed-up way. It’s a stupid show that’s good at the same time.”
4. Music means catharsis.
In a post-pandemic world, it’s not surprising that teens are embracing the doomy theatrics of heavy metal. “It’s good rage music,” says Tee, 16, citing Slipknot, Metallica and Korn.
Nico voiced a similar preference for maximalist music. “I like electronic music,” he says. “Not really like lyric songs, though. I just like loud noises—dubstep and stuff. I mainly like it because when I listen to it, I imagine action scenes or something in my head.”
Others voiced less apocalyptic tastes, mentioning artists like Morgan Wallen, Drake, Lana Del Rey, and especially Taylor Swift, who earned admiration for her versatility. “She’s done a lot of genres,” Sarah says. “She started in country, now she’s in pop, she’s done indie. There’s a wide audience.”
5. You’re never too old to be on a budget. Inflation loomed over our conversations about restaurants, as students fretted about the rising costs of food. Price and conve-
nience dominated answers, with chains like Chipotle, Subway and Laughing Planet singled out as favorites.
Still, a few surprise picks came up, including Hawaiian restaurant Ate-Oh-Ate in the Buckman neighborhood, and Northwest Portland’s Coffee Time, where Nico, the hot chocolate connoisseur, enjoys spending the long Wednesday lunch hour with a grilled cheese and a cup of cocoa.
Overall, though, restaurants were best summed up by one particularly forthright Cleveland student: “Anything not expensive.”
6. TikTok goes the Gen Z clock.
Yes, Gen Zers love TikTok as much as you’ve heard. Particularly popular on the app are “day in my life” videos (one with a private chef in the Hamptons got a shout-out) and “get ready with me” segments. “It’s not like a tutorial,” Evie explained. “They just talk while they do their makeup.”
Still, students expressed antipathy toward social media (three at Metropolitan Learning Center said they weren’t on any platforms). And the supposed rise of the Metaverse hasn’t impressed teens, including an MLC student who says, “Everything except Facebook.”
15 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
BY RACHEL SASLOW @RachelLauren12
On a chilly spring evening, Alameda Elementary parents zipped into polyester jumpsuits and teetered atop platform shoes to a fundraiser. The theme? Disco. The cause? Hiring someone to help teach their children.
After paying $85 a ticket—plus shelling out for a babysitter and any aforementioned polyester expenses—partyers could raise their paddles in a live auction for items such as a Grand Canyon Glamping Adventure (final net sale price: $3,500), round-trip private jet service to anywhere in the Pacific Northwest ($2,300), or a chance to get lucky in the raffle (tickets: $100 each) and end up with four nights at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun.
The March 11 event was held at an industrial-chic event space in inner Southeast called The Loft at 8th Avenue and cost the school foundation $55,000 to put on. It raised about $100,000 after expenses. Two-thirds of that haul Alameda gets to keep, and one-third goes to a general fund for the half of Portland public schools that don’t have foundations.
“It’s a great social event that everyone looks forward to,” says Surina Hollingsworth, chair of the Alameda School Foundation.
Well, not everyone. Cara Haskey has been an Alameda mom for eight years but has stopped attending the auction because the event never sat right with her.
“The idea that we needed to privately fundraise for public employees? I found it astonishing that it was even permitted,” says Haskey, who grew up attending public schools in rural Washington.
She went when her oldest daughter was in kindergarten and first grade because of “a palpable sense of urgency” that parents open their wallets to keep the school afloat. But a student getting to be “principal for a day” because their parents paid handsomely for the privilege at an auction?
Parents feeling uncomfortable because they can’t afford to raise their paddles or attend the auction at all? Haskey was out.
And she is not alone.
The future of school auctions has become a fight so vicious that no elected official wants to touch it. It combines all the most combustible elements of Portland Public Schools: class, race and a shrinking enrollment that leaves parents scrambling for dollars like a dropped coke vial on the bathroom floor at Studio 54.
At issue: whether parents with discretionary income should be allowed to use it at lavish fundraisers to boost staffing at their kids’ public school.
The Reform PPS Funding movement is run by Beth Cavanaugh, a Southeast Portland parent who published her University of Portland doctoral dissertation in 2022 about equity issues with Portland Public Schools foundations. Cavanaugh began her PPS mom life in the Abernethy Elementary mainstream: helping out with classroom art projects and attending the school auction.
“I love a party,” she says. “I didn’t stop and look around to see who wasn’t there.”
Through her work on a school boundary change committee, Cavanaugh started to connect with parents across the district and dig into fundraising data. “The time was ripe,” she says, for a discussion of social and racial inequity. The Reform PPS Funding website went live shortly after the Black Lives Matter summer of 2020.
Voicing her dissent to the established power structure at Abernethy came with steep social costs. She paused, took a deep breath, and warned “it makes me a little sad to talk about this,” before answering a question about the personal impact of her advocacy work. She lost friendships.
“I didn’t feel like I was always welcome in our school community anymore,” Cavanaugh says. “I’d show up to a PTA meeting and it was like, ‘Roll your eyes, here comes Beth again.’”
There were certainly other like-minded parents on the issue: Cavanaugh received anonymous text messages thanking her for speaking up at those same PTA meetings. But for most people, it wasn’t worth sacrificing peace on the sidelines at Saturday soccer games.
Critics of auctions have a simple beef: The schools that raise the most money tend to be in the richest, whitest neighborhoods.
For example, the top-earning foundation in the district last year was Duniway Elementary School’s, which raised more than a quarter-million dollars (see “Big Spenders,” page 17). Duniway stands serenely in the leafy Eastmoreland neighborhood of Southeast Portland. The school’s student body is about 82% white this year, compared to 55% in the district overall, according to PPS. (Disclosure: My children go to Duniway, and I have paid to attend the school’s auction three times, including this April.)
Duniway’s auction this year was also disco-themed, in part to allow an easy swapping of volunteers and decorations with Alameda.
While boozy auctions remain a rite of spring at those two schools, the tradition is fading at others.
At the district level, this battle over a 29-yearold tradition is playing out via dueling groups both advocating to the Portland School Board. In this corner: “Save PPS Foundations,” backed by a coalition of parents from 17 of the schools with the most active fundraising. Their foes: “Reform PPS Funding,” also backed by parents, who say they will no longer be complicit in a system they describe as unfair at best and racist at worst.
Despite several work sessions this school year to create a new foundation policy, there is still no draft and the School Board has all but kicked the can to next school year.
At the school level, parents who run foundations say they are just trying to provide students with the basics. Dissenters argue that glitzy auctions create further disparities for kids already ill-served by the school system.
This does not make one popular, whether it’s in the form of side-eye at the PTA or “lost” invitations to social events.
“There are times I’ve felt I’m a little bit on an island,” Haskey says. “I’ve also reached the point where I’m OK on an island.”
Beverly Cleary K-8 School in Grant Park hosts an online-only school auction these days. The school’s foundation raised $39,000 last school year, including proceeds from the virtual auction. In 2018, Beverly Cleary’s auction alone raked in $178,000.
Alameda, while still hosting a robust auction, has made some shifts in the name of equity. The silent auction is online so anyone can participate, “principal for a day” is a thing of the past, and families and staff can “pay what you wish” for admission.
Vernon K-8 School in Northeast Portland stopped calling it a school “auction” six years ago because “that name evokes uncomfortable feelings for a lot of our community members,” says Vernon PTA president Maya Pueo von Geldern.
Von Geldern has two children at the school. She remembers feeling astonished when a family paid $1,600 for a classroom’s quilt project at the auction she attended when her oldest was in kindergarten.
“But when I learned about things happening at other schools, where they’re fundraising to make sure all their kids have coats for the winter or food for over vacations, those moments of excitement started to feel icky,” von Geldern says.
Vernon hosted its last “Night Out for the Owls”
Are lavish school auctions a crass relic? Or the way to give dwindling classrooms a future?
LAST DAYS OF DISCO: Surina Hollingsworth (right) at the Alameda School Foundation’s “Disco Fever” auction that she planned. ANGELA DAWN PHOTO/COURTESY OF ALAMEDA FOUNDATION
16 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
“I love a party. I didn’t stop and look around to see who wasn’t there.”
(the school mascot) three years ago. Despite the name change and tickets priced on a sliding scale, the event still felt divisive.
“It is still a room full of people spending money,” von Geldern says. “It is never going to be comfortable if you’re trying to pay rent and get food on the table.”
While Vernon no longer has an active foundation, the PTA is planning a community carnival June 2 with live music, food trucks, bouncy slides and games. There will be items available for “silent bidding.”
To understand how Portland Public Schools fundraising got to this point, let’s rewind to Nov. 6, 1990. Voters passed property tax limit Measure 5, which put funding for public schools in the hands of the state. PPS students soon noticed that they had to use glue sticks down to the nub and tattered textbooks would have to live to see yet another school year.
To stop the hemorrhaging, the Portland School Board passed a policy in 1994 allowing schools to establish foundations. Those foundations raised $2.76 million in the 2021-22 school year—less than one-tenth of 1% of the district’s budget. Foundations are separate from parent teacher associations, which can fundraise for classroom needs, such as art supplies or books, but not for teachers or staff.
“There is a perception that our schools are flush with programming, and that’s just not true,” says Donna Ingram, foundation chair at Rieke Elementary in Southwest. “We have no music, no band, nothing. We fundraise just for part-time art. We have no EAs [educational assistants].”
Ingram goes to Rieke frequently to assist her own neurodiverse child because “there is nobody else to help.”
In the 2021-22 school year, Portland school foundations raised $2.76 million. Here are the 15 top-earning foundations that year, according to the Fund for Portland Public Schools. After the first $10,000, a school can keep two-thirds of money raised. The remaining third goes to the Fund for PPS and is distributed to schools without foundations: $10,000 to elementary, $15,000 to middle and $20,000 to high schools. RACHEL SASLOW.
Duniway ES $272,765
Bridlemile ES $213,738
Richmond PK-5 $196,726
Lincoln HS $194,569
Laurelhurst K-8 $193,701
Ainsworth ES $157,728
Rieke ES $125,787
Forest Park ES $124,702
Alameda ES $121,711
Sellwood MS $101,400
Abernethy ES $102,158
Cleveland HS $97,344
Buckman ES $77,177
Llewellyn ES $75,692
Sunnyside K-8 $65,000
Source: Fund for Portland Public Schools
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE: Beth Cavanaugh is the Southeast Portland parent leading the charge to reform the PPS foundation system.
Portland Public Schools’ system of foundations that can hire teachers for individual schools is rare in public education, Cavanaugh says. In the rest of the region, the Lake Oswego, West Linn-Wilsonville and Tigard-Tualatin school districts all have one central foundation. Nationally, the conversation is more about equity among school PTAs: A school district outside of Chicago is in the midst of a familiar-sounding “PTA Equity Project” to spread the wealth more evenly.
Many of the Portland schools that do not have foundations receive Title I funds from the federal government, which is extra money for schools with a high percentage of low-income children. Separate from that, the district’s budget also provides extra money for high-needs kids and students of color, allowing them to hire more teachers and have smaller class sizes.
But the biggest factor in school funding? Enrollment. And Portland elementary enrollment has dropped by 17.3% since the 2018-19 school year, according to district data (“Big Kid on Campus,” WW, April 12).
Some schools have been hit particularly hard, including Alameda, whose enrollment has fallen 26%, a loss of nearly 200 students, over the past five years.
Hollingsworth, Alameda’s foundation chair, has noticed a massive exodus to private schools. “It’s upsetting, but I also understand why families are wanting to go,” she says. “They are fed up with the district and fed up with huge class sizes.”
When students walk away from their neighborhood school, they take their attached funding with them. Fewer students mean fewer teachers and, paradoxically, larger class sizes.
All three classes of Alameda’s second grade have 30 or 31 students in them, Hollingsworth says. Districtwide, the median class size in second grade is 21, according to Portland Public Schools data.
Schools are still dealing with well-documented pandemic effects, such as learning loss and behavioral challenges.
“ What’s not being discussed is the mental health crisis that is happening,” Hollingsworth says. “Whether it’s in the form of smaller class
sizes or more educational assistants, we just need more help with students.”
One of the reform camp’s ideas is to do away with foundations and instead have one central fund to which parents can donate. Gary Hollands, vice chair of the Portland School Board, has floated the idea of one huge auctionlike social event at Moda Center.
Ingram, whose background is in professional fundraising, is skeptical about moving to a central fund too quickly.
“That’s a massive risk,” Ingram says. “You don’t have the relationships. Parents love the fact that they know where their money is going. Just like people vote in their best interest, they also give in their best interest.”
Board member Julia Brim-Edwards hopes that an $8 million line item in Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero’s budget will help keep the peace, at least for one year, if adopted next month. The money—about $120,000 per school—comes from leftover pandemic funds and with a lot of asterisks about how schools with foundations can use it.
“The most equitable thing to do is go down to Salem and advocate for more school funding or support the local option,” Brim-Edwards says, referring to a special levy that would raise extra property taxes for schools. “Because that is a way to help all school communities.”
Parents on both sides of the debate agree that after years of “talking to each other through the media,” as Ingram at Rieke describes it, they are finally communicating. The ice was broken after an April 12 meeting at district headquarters in which a group of about a dozen parents and School Board members talked informally for 90 minutes as custodians swept up around them and turned off the lights.
Since then, the groups have been working together to write a proposal that will revise the school district’s foundation policy. Hollingsworth uses words like “collaborative” and “civil” and “hopeful.”
“At the end of the day we all want the same thing,” Hollingsworth says. “All we want is better funding for our kids.”
17 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
The Next Generation
Second graders at Sunnyside Environmental School sound off about what they like and dislike most about Portland.
BY BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON @thobennett
Hazel, age 8:
Likes: Trapeze classes
Dislikes: The patriarchy, racists and “a really high hill at Laurelhurst.”
Asha, age 8:
“My favorite thing about Portland is how it’s in the city and there’s so many amazing food places and you can ride on the MAX and the bus. My least favorite thing about Portland is how there are so many homeless people.”
Isaac, age 8:
“I like making friends. I don’t like smoking.”
Hazel C., age 8:
“One of my favorite things about Portland is that it has big shopping stores where you can get clothes and stuff. I also like how it’s really green. One of the things I don’t like about Portland is that downtown there’s a lot of trash. And I also don’t like that a lot of times it’s really cold and rainy.”
Delia, age 8:
“The thing I like about Portland is that it’s nice and sunny [right now]. The thing I don’t like in Portland is that it’s rainy a lot!”
Marian, age 8:
“My favorite thing about Portland is, No. 1, [my friend] Swan because she’s a really nice friend to me. And No. 2 is the clothes I have. [One of my least farvorite things is that] sometimes [Portland’s] not a place you’d choose to go on vacation, because not that much stuff happens here, but also lots of stuff happens here at the same time. It’s like a crazy place.”
Eva, age 8:
“My favorite thing about Portland is that there’s play places and parks. And my least favorite thing is people who smoke.”
Greta, age 8:
“My favorite thing about Portland is how much nature there is. I love the redwoods and woods, how well they thrive in our country. And my least favorite thing is how many cars we use.”
Aiden, age 8:
“What I like about Portland is there’s a lot of good food restaurants [like Burgerville]. And my least favorite thing is that we don’t have an NHL team.”
Swan, age 8:
“My favorite thing about Portland is nothing. And my least favorite thing about Portland is everything.”
Northwest Children’s Theater Opens The Judy
BY ERIC ASH
Across from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1000 SW Broadway is now the new home of Northwest Children’s Theater.
The Judy Kafoury Center for Youth Arts, aka The Judy, is named for the company’s co-founder and features four dedicated performing arts spaces: the Stage (a proscenium setting with 240 family bench seats), the Black Box (a flexible space with 120 seats), the Studios (three rooms for classes and camps), and the Cinema. It’s a place not only for children to experience theater, but to take part in it as well.
In 1993, current NWCT managing director Judy Kafoury was one of three founders who opened the company on a budget of $6,000, though she says that “by the end of the year, the company had grossed over $275,000. We knew we were here to stay.”
In that first year, NWCT’s main production was Winnie the Pooh. Many more productions have followed in the intervening years, and for much of that time NWCT was located in the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center at 19th and Everett.
Now, NWCT has finally found a new and improved space to put down roots in the heart of the city (a project budgeted at $6.3 million). As it happens, The Judy’s new location was, until 2011, the site of the Regal Broadway Metroplex, one of several Regal cinema locations in the downtown core (Portland cinephiles still have fond memories of descending into its cool, enveloping basement theaters).
Asked whether the Cinema would have been part of The Judy if NWCT hadn’t selected this location, artistic director Sarah Jane Hardy says, “The answer is categorically no. It wasn’t part of our initial planning at all…with the vision for our building, we looked at a variety of options. Did we want a community theater, did we want more community space? Let’s just leave it as it is, reinvest in it as a movie theater.”
NWCT has already started putting that investment to good use, with the Cinema at The Judy having had its inaugural Family Movie Night on April 21 with Mary Poppins. Other films for
future dates are lined up, according to Hardy, but the rights are still pending, so details cannot be shared publicly yet.
“ We’re hoping to have a year-round calendar,” she says. “We’ll be open to all kinds of shows…[but] our main focus for the last three or four months has been opening weekend.”
The opening weekend event of which Hardy speaks took place April 29, and The Judy’s first show on the Stage was held the same day: Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!, written by acclaimed picture book author and illustrator Mo Willems (also known for his Pigeon series).
Elephant & Piggie will run on weekends until May 28. Meanwhile, at the Black Box, May 5 was opening night for the NWCT Catalyst Youth Company’s production of Cinderella, which had evening shows on Fridays, plus matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays, until May 21.
This version of the fairy tale uniquely incorporated tap dancing, set to music by Portland jazz pianist, composer and teacher Ezra Weiss. It is one of several productions Weiss has scored to introduce children to jazz, along with Alice in Wonderland and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (another Mo Willems adaptation).
As for the Studios, spring 2023 classes are in session through June 4. Classes include “Enchanted Lands Travel Agency,” “Night at the Museum,” and “Peppa’s Barnyard” (based on the British animated series.)
Summer camps will run from June 19 through Aug. 25, with events on the calendar based on Bluey, Shrek, Into the Woods and many more. Scholarships and payment plans are offered, and classes and camps will also be held at other venues throughout the metro region (two Methodist churches in Portland, plus theaters in Sherwood and Beaverton).
The Judy promises to be an all-encompassing artistic space for children and families, and NWCT is pulling out all the stops to make its first season in its new location one for families to remember. Two decades after that production of Winnie the Pooh, the company still appears to be here to stay.
COURTESY NORTHWEST CHILDREN’S THEATER 18 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
After 30 years in operation, the company is bringing a new performing arts center to Broadway.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
Aidan Barbar, 16, a photographer and high school student, captured dreamy fragments of his friends’ lives this spring on the rural outskirts of Hillsboro.
19 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
ALIENS AMONG US
McMinnville has long been Oregon’s lesser-known Roswell. While most are drawn to this Yamhill County town’s abundance of wine, the alien-obsessed assemble at least one weekend a year for the McMenamins UFO Festival. The annual May gathering was inspired by a McMinnville farmer’s photos of an unidentified flying disklike object taken in 1950, which quickly made national headlines. No such sightings were reported this year, although plenty of people dressed as extraterrestrials for the celebration’s costume contest and parade, and at least one dog sported its own earth-bound saucer.
Photos by Michael Raines On Instagram: @m_h_raines
20 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com STREET
GO: Portland Rose Festival Opening Night & Fireworks
In Portland, Memorial Day weekend—the unofficial kickoff to summer—always arrives with some extra pageantry because the city’s signature festival gets started on the same date. Friday marks the opening of CityFair, which will pack Waterfront Park with all of the traditional rides, games and food vendors you’d expect. Arrive early to claim a seat for the fireworks show that evening, which is choreographed to a special soundtrack. A full lineup of events is scheduled through late June, including the Starlight and Grand Floral parades, Dragon Boat Races, a Spring Rose Show and a sailors-gone-wild Fleet Week. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 98 SW Naito Parkway, 503-227-2681, rosefestival.org. Opening ribbon cutting ceremony 5 pm, fireworks 9:50 pm Friday, May 26. Free. $12 general admission to CityFair.
DANCE: Afrobeats Meets Bollywood Dance Party
The brainchild of DJ Prashant in 2017, this event blends Afro-Caribbean and desi music, creating a fusion of sounds you won’t find anywhere else in Portland. The former Intel engineer is now the life of these latenight parties; he not only runs the turntables, but also works interactive dance lessons into sets to get everybody moving. Add one more task to that lineup at this gathering: director. DJ Prashant plans to shoot a music video at the venue, so come wearing your finest. Lola’s Room, 1332 W Burnside St., 503-225-0047, mcmenamins.
com/crystal-ballroom/lolas-room. 8 pm Friday, May 26. $16 in advance, $20 at the door. 21+.
DANCE: Bikini Bottom Rave
Prepare to party in a pineapple under the sea: Bikini Bottom Rave (named after the city SpongeBob SquarePants calls home, for anyone who didn’t tune in to the Nickelodeon cartoon) is a celebration of the iconic yellow character set to music. Costumes are encouraged, though maybe don’t forgo pants if you want to pay tribute to SpongeBob’s crotchety neighbor, Squidward. A murderers’ row of EDM DJs will keep the party going until 2 am, so bring that youthful energy. Rainbow City, 301 NW 4th Ave., 971-212-2097, rainbow-city.org. 8 pm Friday, May 26. $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
DRINK: Portland Farmhouse and Wild Ale Festival
The maintained grounds of a golf course might not say “17th century Belgium farmstead,” but that will be your view while sipping well-crafted farmhouse ales behind Von Ebert’s eastside location. The Portland Farmhouse and Wild Ale Festival returns to the paved and covered pavilion at Glendoveer Golf Course with 50 beers made by 25 breweries. You can expect saisons, bière de gardes and grisettes from esteemed producers like Hill Farmstead, Fair Isle, Alesong and The Ale Apothecary—and if you’re truly a fan of these funky, tart and earthy beverages, attend the event on both days since the
tap lists will not repeat. Glendoveer Golf Course, 14015 NE Glisan St., portlandfarmhousefest.com. 4-9 pm Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday, May 26-27. $35 general admission, $50 VIP.
DRINK: Hip Chicks Do Wine Memorial Day Weekend Tasting
Start embracing summer vibes with Hip Chicks Do Wine’s special Memorial Day weekend tasting menus. Two flights will be available to purchase; one includes a sangria while the other comes with truffles made by local chocolatier A Yen for Chocolate. Can’t decide between the two? Why not get both? Dessert wine fans will also want to tack on a tasting of three ports.
Hip Chicks Do Wine, 4510 SE 23rd Ave., 503-234-3790, hipchicksdowine.com. 2-7
pm Friday, noon-7 pm Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday, May 26-28.
GO: 2nd Annual Holi Spring Harvest Fest
Get ready for the messiest festival of the year. While Holi traditionally takes place in March to usher in spring, the conditions at Topaz Farm are typically more enjoyable come late May (you want to get covered in colored powder at this event, not mud).
Plus, the spirit of the holiday—rejuvenation—still applies, since we’re emerging from a chilly, wet start to the season.
You can expect music, dancing lessons and South Asian food vendors like Big Elephant Kitchen and Bhuna. Each ticket comes with a packet of organic colored powder, so you can get to slinging right
off the bat. Like last year’s inaugural festival, sales will benefit farmers in India who are facing drought and distress. Topaz Farm, 17100 NW Sauvie Island Road, topazfarm.com. 4 pm Saturday, May 27. $25 for individuals 17 years and older, $15 for kids ages 6 to 16, children younger than 6 get in free.
West Side Story
Oregon Symphony hosts a special screening of this iconic film by playing the score live as it’s projected. Sure, West Side Story ’s performances were amazing, the choreography was brilliant, but the songs by Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) are unforgettable and will probably get stuck in your head after this event. Don’t miss this chance to see, on the big screen, why the picture won 10 Academy Awards and became an American classic. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 503-228-1353, orsymphony.org. 7:30 pm Saturday, May 27. $25-$115.
WATCH: Oregon Short Film Festival Spring 2023
Fans of indie films, assemble! If you love to discover new stories and talent then you don’t want to miss the Oregon Short Film Festival at the Clinton. This daylong screening is actually part of a four-timesa-year program, and spring’s edition features amazing works by budding directors in multiple genres. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 971-808-3331, cstpdx. com. Noon–9 pm Monday, May 29.
MOVIE MARATHON: Watch dozens of films in a single day at the spring edition of the Oregon Short Film Festival.
SEE MORE GET BUSY EVENTS AT WWEEK.COM/CALENDAR COURTESY OREGON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL STUFF TO DO IN PORTLAND THIS WEEK, INDOORS AND OUT MAY 24-30 21 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
WHERE TO EAT THIS WEEK.
1401 SE Morrison St., #105, 503-236-7006, enotecanostrana.com. 5-9 pm
Monday-Thursday, 5-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
Most folks go to Nostrana’s neighboring wine bar to sample from its extensive bottle collection. But the next time you’re in search of sustenance, don’t overlook this place and head directly next door. Enoteca Nostrana just rolled out a new happy hour menu that includes three of chef Cathy Whims’ classics for a steal: the Insalata Nostrana ($6), capellini in Marcella’s tomato butter sauce ($10) and a Margherita pizza ($10). You can then finish your discounted meal with a delightfully fun adult take on a childhood classic: a boozy popsicle ($4).
1015 SE Stark St., @makulitpdx. Noon-7 pm
FOOD & DRINK
Wednesday-Thursday, 4-9 pm
Makulít, one of the new food carts in the Lil’ American pod, is a master at melding the familiar with the unfamiliar—in this case, Filipino ingredients and flavors with American fast food classics. Best of all: Everything on the menu is fun. The most playful dish is the Big Bunso, a cheeseburger with a spicy longanisa sausage patty and atsara, a mix of pickled papaya, carrot, daikon and bell pepper. The resulting flavor combo lands somewhere between burger, meatloaf sandwich, and banh mi.
3. VIKING SOUL FOOD
BY JASON COHEN @cohenesque
One thing local writer Tove Danovich’s new book quietly reveals: She and her chickens live outside of Portland proper, as most residents within city limits can’t keep a flock of more than four. Under the Henfluence: Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People Who Love Them (Agate Publishing, 232 pages, $27) has more clucking characters than that, including Peggy, Joan, and Betty; Olivia, Harriet, and Scully; Emmylou and Loretta; and Thelma and Louise.
“ Where we are, we can technically have up to 50 chickens, which is wild,” Danovich says. “We do not have 50 chickens. We have eight right now.”
Danovich’s relationship with her myriad (and multicolored) breeds is the foundation of a lovingly researched and reported book about the lives of chickens, organized loosely into sections about chickens at home, chickens at work, and chickens in the wild. Anyone who already thinks about eating ethically, or has read books like Fast Food Nation or The Omnivore’s Dilemma, already knows how badly these birds have it in their role in American agriculture—be they egg-laying hens, so-called broilers, or roosters that are euthanized—including the fact that they are not protected by federal humane slaughter laws.
Under the Henfluence animates these realities by introducing us to chickens and chicken people, both individually and collectively, including mail-order hatchery chicks, therapy chickens, 4-H club chickens, feral chickens and rescued roosters. Ultimately, as Danovich says, the book asks the question, “Who are chickens without us, and sometimes despite us?”
WW : What made you want to get your first chicks?
realized that had changed completely, which is not uncommon among chicken-keepers at all. So I haven’t eaten any chicken in close to five years now. And I don’t eat any poultry either because it was like, why not? Easy to avoid turkey or duck.
So, from the book we know you’ve had chickens named after Mad Men characters, fictional detectives and country singers, as well as Thelma & Louise. Has there been a new round of naming inspiration?
Well, I have only added two more. Rose and Blanche—two of The Golden Girls—and they actually came with those names. They are Cochin bantam chickens in colors that are kind of unusual—like, “ooh, fancy chickens”—so they got to keep the names that they came with.
Were they rescues?
No, I got them from a Facebook group. Someone was rehoming their chickens. Trying to downsize their flock.
But, as you write about in the book, it is possible to “adopt, don’t shop” for chickens.
Yeah, exactly. What the industry considers “spent hens” are around 18 to 24 months old. They go through their first molts. It’s not that they are too old to lay eggs—it’s just that molting takes a long time, and farmers don’t want to feed these chickens while they’re not laying. And they’re not worth anything for food, so they don’t go into the food
4422 SE Woodstock Blvd., 971-430-0171, vikingsoulfood.com. 11 am-7 pm
Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-8 pm Friday-Saturday.
Viking Soul Food, a long-standing member of The Bite on Belmont food pod, recently opened its first brick-and-mortar, where many items on the menu come surrounded by a lefse, a delicate wrap made with potatoes, butter and flour. The versatility of the lefse works wonders, adding lightness to savory wraps, like the smoked steelhead, enhancing the crunch of the greens and tartness of the pickled shallots. Looking for something sweet? Try the lingonberry lefse, filled with a tart jam and cream cheese. It’s intensely comforting and ideal for littler Vikings.
4. PHO OREGON BEAVERTON
12870 SW Canyon Road, Beaverton, 503-747-0814, phooregon.net. 10 am-9 pm Monday-Saturday, 10 am-8 pm Sunday.
Pho Oregon, Portland’s 20-year-old Vietnamese beef noodle soup standard bearer, has opened its second outlet after nearly two years of planning. If an early visit was any indication, it was worth the wait. The must-have pho order, the No. 1, is a quart-sized cauldron of aromatic awesomeness with thin rice noodles as well as bits of beef tendon, tripe, quartered meatballs and more. When the urge for hot soup wanes, the menu seems to ramble endlessly with choices, from rice plates to grilled meats to stews.
3244 NE 82nd Ave., 971-429-1452. 11 am-9 pm Tuesday-Sunday. With a menu full of panuchos, salbutes, relleno negro and menudo, it feels sacrilegious to start with an ode to Manuel “Manny” Lopez’s burritos, but we’re gonna do it. We love these burritos passionately. Go for the asada, which is seasoned and grilled, layered with black beans made with lard and spices, and given the usual sour cream, cheese and guac treatment. But the true God-tier move is the layer of crispy griddled cheese, which adds salt and crunch, resulting in deep satisfaction.
Tove Danovich: As a food writer, I initially got them thinking that they would be food-producing animals that I take care of in exchange [for eggs] and not much more than that. But, very quickly, I just got so interested in them and their little lives and why they were doing all the things that they were doing.
In the book, you talk about how you originally imagined what I think a lot of us imagine: an idyllic scene of chickens laying eggs, but also the possibility of a fresh chicken dinner rather than keeping them to the end of their natural lives— although you said you’d probably give them to friends instead.
Yeah, that was definitely what I thought going into it. I knew myself enough to know [that once] I’ve raised these animals, and gotten to know them, I would probably rather not eat them myself. I have a lot of problems with industrial chicken farming, but in theory, the idea of raising an animal, giving them a good life where they live outside and get to express all of their natural behaviors, and then using them for food is not as ethically fraught to me.
Probably within about six months of having them, I
In her new book, Under the Henfluence, Portland journalist and author Tove Danovich describes how she became one with her flock.
22 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
FLOCK TOGETHER: Tove Danovich has sworn off poultry since becoming a chicken mom.
supply. So we kill them. It’s just a really sad waste of life. But the U.K. popularized this thing where people go to farms and rescue as many hens as they can find homes for, and give them lives where they get to be chickens for the first time. I had two of them, Thelma and Louise. And they laid so many eggs, and they were just so sweet and fun.
So tell me how you’ve come to have a few chickens named after you.
It’s such a delight. One [belongs] to a writer who actually reviewed my book and wanted to rescue chickens of her own after reading it. So one of her rescue chickens she named Tove in my honor. And then Tanya Bailey, whose therapy chickens appear in my book, she has two new silkies that will soon be in training for the program, and one of them is named Tove. So hopefully Tove makes it. And then this woman was at my reading in Minneapolis and we were chatting and she mentioned that she had a new chicken that she named Tove as well. It’s an absolute delight and honor that was not on my list of things that might happen when I wrote this book.
Finally, how do you like your eggs?
I like them in all kinds of ways. This time of year, we just got our first heat wave, and we currently have way too many eggs, so I will probably be making some of those into ice creams and sorbets. Ice cream making was my lockdown cooking thing, and it has continued because it’s delicious and a fun project.
1. THE SHAKU BAR
3448 NE Sandy Blvd., 971-346-2063, theshakubar.com. 4 pm-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 4 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday, 3-10 pm every other Sunday. This year-old spot proves that good things come in small packages. The closet-sized bar serves cocktails with big flavors, like the Princess Peach, which is a refreshing mix of local Aria gin, Aperol, St-Germain and lemon juice topped with a half-centimeter of creamy-white Fee Foam (Google it!). We’re definitely coming back for a Kvothe the Bloodless—pickle juice, hot sauce, lime and a secret sauce. Shaku calls it a bloody mary “without the blood.”
2. LITTLE HOP BREWING
4400 SW Garden Home Road, littlehopbrewing.com. Noon-8 pm Saturday.
Most homebrewers dream of going big, and Zak Cate achieved that goal working as a pub brewer for McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge before deciding to scale back and launch this nano operation with his wife, Lisa. In April, they started a teeny-tiny taproom inside a trailer, which is open just one day a week while the couple prepares to move into a larger space nearby. For now, come drink at the state’s smallest tap house, which thankfully can squeeze in more people than you’d expect due to a decent-sized beer garden.
3. GRAPE APE
77 SE Yamhill St., 503-261-3467, grapeape. wine. 11 am-bedtime Tuesday-Sunday.
Sorry to break it to fans of the ’70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name, but you won’t find a 40-foot purple primate at this new Central Eastside bar. However, much of the décor is from that era, and the lineup of fine natural wines should soften the blow. The curated list highlights selections from low-intervention labels, including Oregon’s Hooray for You chardonnay, California producer Populis’ sauvignon blanc and a Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme gamay from France. Pair one with marinated white beans and mayo on toast or a jamon baguette and pretend you’ve made an escape to Paris for the afternoon.
4. LOLO PASS ROOFTOP BAR
1616 E Burnside St., 503-908-3074, lolopass. com. 4-10 pm daily.
Beyond giving guests a place to rest their heads at the end of the day, Lolo Pass is home to one of Portland’s newer rooftop bars where locals and visitors alike can sip drinks and take in the view of the Central Eastside. The fifth-story perch reopens May 4 following its winter hibernation with a new and seasonally changing cocktail menu. The debut Snap Pea martini sounds like the perfect vibrant drink to toast the warming spring afternoons.
5. DIRTY PRETTY
638 E Burnside St., dirtyprettypdx.com.
4 pm-1 am Sunday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday.
This is the third venue in industry veteran Collin Nicholas’ quickly growing bar portfolio, which also includes Pink Rabbit and Fools and Horses. As with its sister locations, you can expect a fusion of Asian and Hawaiian ingredients on Dirty Pretty’s food menu (pork-shrimp shumai, fried saimin, furikake jojos), and the lengthy cocktail list is filled with tropical flavors. Drinks with names like Jungle Juice, Charliebird and Guava Wars should brighten what’s been a pretty gray Portland spring.
WHERE TO DRINK THIS WEEK.
LYLE MILLS COURTESY
sunlanlighting.com Sunlan cartoons by Kay Newell “The Lightbulb Lady” Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Google 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 23 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
Editor: Andi Prewitt Contact: email@example.com
Blowing Off Steam
We sampled three varieties of Sand Castle Hash’s new disposable vapes, then ventured out into the world to assess their effects.
BY BRIANNA WHEELER
For Sand Castle Hash, the future of cannabis extract is solvent-free.
When recreational use became legal, rechargeable pens were often complimentary when purchasing a 510 cartridge, and companies making disposable, all-in-one vapes—as well as proprietary pen-cartridge combos—were elbowing each other for shelf space. The hottest fad in cannabis, it seemed then, was extract or concentrate vaporization, and most products were made with volatile and/or toxic solvents.
Extraction technology has come a long way since then, but Sand Castle Hash used a more traditional approach when developing its newly debuted disposable and rechargeable vape pens named Shorty (after the popular Tillamook County surfing destination, Short Sand Beach). The brand eschewed solvents altogether, instead filling its vapes with live rosin—a solventless extract derived using only heat and pressure.
Over the course of a week, I tried three different varieties of Shorty: MAC, Chemdawg and Strawberry Guava, each containing a half-gram (or 150 hits) of extracted hash oil—with each hit delivering around 5 milligrams of THC. The goal of my experiment was to see whether I could swap out my daily joints with discreet puffs of hash oil from these palm-sized vape pens. Here are the results:
MAC, aka Miracle Alien Cookies, is a super-balanced cultivar that typically delivers light, syrupy physical effects and a mildly euphoric head high. After three deep draws, I caught an upbeat vibe shift that was precisely what I anticipated and needed for a Saturday afternoon spent exploring the Salem Center mall, which was surprisingly busy even though its vacancy rate seems to indicate eventual obsolescence. While the onset nearly overwhelmed, the high quickly mellowed into light, attentive bliss—the perfect mood for navigating the late-capitalist hellscape of a dying shopping center.
Bottom line: Great for urban exploration.
This cultivar sits on the more relaxed end of the spectrum, so I thought it might pair well with my chiropractor appointment. I took a few sips of the Shorty approximately one hour before the session, and by the time I arrived I felt almost too chill to identify any pain points for my doctor. When we moved to the acupuncture table, rather than tightening with anxiety like I normally would, Chemdawg’s velvety body effects kept me loose. In fact, I was lulled into a half-sleep by the time the first
needle pierced my skin. When the appointment concluded, there was no lingering grogginess—just cheerful relaxation. I still cringe when I think about acupuncture, but my emotional support Chemdawg Shorty can now keep me from blowing off any more appointments due to needle anxiety.
Bottom line: The ultimate relaxer for the perpetually uptight.
The Shorty that took me on the creamiest ride was Strawberry Guava, a potent strawberry phenotype that delivered a dreamy, euphoric head high and cushy body buzz. I puffed this Shorty before brunch with a girlfriend. Strawberry Guava kept me both engaged in conversation and thoughtful, which meant I was super-intentionally connecting with my homegirl. It was like the high dissolved my pretense so I could be present with my friend. Bonus: As the high waned, I developed some next-level munchies, which really helped me clear that brunch plate.
Bottom line: An excellent brunch date pregame.
24 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
Cosmic Country Boy
Jeffrey Silverstein has entered a new galaxy of country music.
BY DANIEL BROMFIELD @bromf3
As country music has shed its conservative image in the past half-decade, the term “cosmic country” has been popping up a lot. It’s one of those “you know it when you hear it” genres, and though it often doesn’t sound too different from classic honky-tonk, it’s defined more by a sensibility: expansive, mystical, stoned, head-in-the-clouds even as its boots stay firmly planted in the mongrel American dirt that gave us country music.
“Of all the tags you could have, I’m pretty OK with that one,” says Portland singer-songwriter Jeffrey Silverstein. “When people don’t know what that is, they almost have to kind of stop and wonder: I thought I knew what country was.”
But perhaps a more accurate description of Silverstein’s sound can be found in the title of his new album, Western Sky Music, which was released May 12 on Arrowhawk Records. Atmospheric, faintly ambient, and willing to indulge in instrumental flights of fancy, Silverstein’s second full-length reflects the awe of living in a city with some of the most dramatic skies in the country, one that always seems in the midst of being swallowed by nature.
The 35-year-old is a fairly recent Portland transplant, settling in the city in 2018 with his wife. He was born and raised in the suburbs of New Jersey, where he first honed his musical chops playing in garage bands with his close friends.
“It was pretty sleepy,” Silverstein says. “But it was a pretty classic scenario where like a lot of my friends were all picking up guitars or drums or bass around the same time just to find something to do.”
Most of Silverstein’s friends in Jersey were playing pop punk, as teens in the 2000s tended to do. Upon relocating to Baltimore to study journalism at Towson University, he fell in with the city’s hip indie-rock scene, which included artists like Future Islands, Beach House, and Dan Deacon.
Silverstein cut a few recordings as a member of a group called Secret Mountains, then formed a duo called Nassau when he moved to New York to get his master’s degree in special education at Hunter College. Though these bands’ reverb-drenched psych folk gives a clue as to Silverstein’s later direction, he did not think of himself yet as a country artist.
“My friends and I were not listening to country music,” he says. “There was no country music in my house. It’s not part of my DNA, necessarily.”
Though Silverstein’s uncle was a “touring folk musician” with wild stories to tell about country legends like Jerry Jeff Walker and Townes Van Zandt, it was not until Silverstein started collecting records that he discovered his true love of country music.
“The thing you can find most often for the cheapest are country records,” Silverstein says. “It’s a really cool way to start collecting.”
Among his early record-store discoveries were Chet Atkins, the guitar virtuoso who helped popularize the “Nashville sound” that kept country music’s commercial viability alive during the late-1950s rise of rock ’n’ roll, and the soundtrack to Easy Rider, featuring counter-
SHOWS OF THE WEEK
WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO HEAR
BY DANIEL BROMFIELD @bromf3
TUESDAY, MAY 30:
Holocene celebrates its 20th anniversary with a DJ set by Moritz von Oswald , one of the most mercurial and influential names in electronic music, who invented dub techno as one-half of Basic Channel and expanded their boundaries with Rhythm & Sound. Joining him are Laurel Halo, the avant-leaning producer and keyboardist who performed on the Moritz von Oswald Trio’s fantastic 2021 album, Dissent, and DJ E3, who runs the local ZamZam Sounds label. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 503-239-7639, holocene.org. 8 pm. $25. 21+.
TUESDAY, MAY 30:
cultural freak-folk artists like the Fraternity of Man and Holy Modal Rounders.
Silverstein pays tribute to both influences on separate tracks from his two full-lengths. His 2020 debut album, You Become the Mountain, includes a song called “Easy Rider,” and Western Sky Music features a song called “Chet,” made in collaboration with latter-day Nashville guitar virtuoso William Tyler.
One of the elements that drew Silverstein so strongly to the genre was the sound of the pedal steel guitar. “When I’m digging in dollar bins, a lot of times I’m focused on who the steel player [on a record] was,” he says.
A year after arriving in Portland, Silverstein released his debut EP, How on Earth, on Driftless Recordings. Driftless co-founder Patrick McDermott performs in an ambient duo called North Americans with pedal steel player Barry Walker, and after hearing a few releases with Walker and discovering he was a “Portland guy,” Silverstein called him up.
Walker—also a member of Portland country-psych project Rose City Band—is one of many luminaries to grace the liner notes of Western Sky Music. Others include Tyler, whom Silverstein met through curating a tribute compilation to obscure Detroit musician Ted Lucas, and Tucson folk singer Karima Walker, who sings the final track “Birdsong in the Canopy.”
Though there’s a rich community of Portland artists with bold and forward-thinking takes on country music, Silverstein says it’s not just a local phenomenon. Silverstein finished a U.K. tour last month and was amazed to find English artists like Bobby Lee and Joe Harvey-Whyte performing their own take on “cosmic country.”
“It’s a wild time to be in that pocket of music,” he says. “It’s exciting, and there’s so much of it I genuinely really love and support.”
SEE IT: Jeffrey Silverstein and Fruit Bats play Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St., 971-808-5094, revolutionhall. com. 8 pm Thursday, May 25. Sold out. 21+.
Thanks to the presence of local label Sahel Sounds, it’s not hard to see great live desert blues in Portland. Mdou Moctar, Bombino and Les Filles de Illighadad have all played well-received shows in the city recently. But perhaps no artist has played such a major role in popularizing this distinctively North African take on rock ’n’ roll than Tinariwen, whose late-2000s breakthrough came after almost 30 years of playing together in Algeria and northern Mali. Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., 503-284-8686, wonderballroom.com. 8:30 pm. $35. 21+.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 31:
Hermeto Pascoal is basically a wizard— and a talented enough composer to win the respect of the Sorcerer himself, Miles Davis, who featured several of his compositions on the epic Live-Evil. At 86, the impressively bearded Brazilian avant-garde musician continues to tour, this time as part of the intergenerational collab project Jazz Is Dead shepherded by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Tickets for the early show are sold out, but snag one for the late show for a chance to see one of the greatest living musicians of his generation. Mississippi Studios, N Mississippi Ave., 503-2883895. 9:30 pm. $35. 21+.
COURTESY JEFFREY SILVERSTEIN
25 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
MUSIC Editor: Bennett Campbell Ferguson | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
BILLY WOODS AT POLARIS HALL
BY ROBERT HAM
Rapper Billy Woods is a gift for any producer. The New Yorker’s dense, dexterous wordplay has few equals in modern-day hip-hop, as does his preternatural ability to hear rhythm even when there is none. One of the many jaw-dropping moments of his performance at Polaris Hall last Tuesday was hearing him spit rhymes over a vast sea of drones generated by his onstage partner, producer Kenny Segal.
The two were a study in contrasts. Segal remained in one fixed position, gamely setting forth each track from his small array of gear but rarely moving to his own beats. Like the rest of us, he kept his eyes locked on Woods. The rapper paced the lip of the stage, sticking out his left hand to emphasize certain bars and tilting his head back as he ratcheted up the intensity of his delivery.
Even though the Portland stop came toward the end of the duo’s current tour, there was an impressive looseness to their set. Woods kept directing the sound engineer to adjust the lights to better suit the mood of the music. He and Segal futzed with the set list in real time. And, at one point, he chided himself for his lyrical predilections. “I really didn’t want anyone calling me,” he laughed, referring to a theme that ran through Hiding Places, he and Segal’s 2019 album.
The key moment, though, came during “Spider Hole,” a paranoiac song from Hiding. Woods switched it up slightly, softening one otherwise potent lyric: “No disrespect, but I don’t want to see Nas with an orchestra at Carnegie Hall.” The two-word addition at the beginning of the line, delivered to a sold-out room in Portland, suggests that Woods knows he’s on the cusp of mass acceptance. Best not to burn any bridges with one’s peers before you reach them.
A ghostwriter enters a maze of deceit in acclaimed Oregon playwright E.M. Lewis’ True Story.
BY ERIC ASH
Ten years after it debuted in Trenton, N.J., True Story, a postmodern take on the noir genre by Oregon playwright E.M. Lewis (Magellanica), comes to Portland Center Stage’s Ellyn Bye Studio (it’s produced by Artists Repertory Theatre, whose main location on Southwest Morrison Street continues to undergo renovations).
In its debut year, this play racked up five Barrymore Award nominations, including Best New Play. After several previews, True Story enjoyed its premiere May 12, with further performances to follow Wednesdays through Sundays until June 4.
Stylistically, True Story combines mid20th century office aesthetics, music reminiscent of Hitchcock films (composed by Matthew M. Nielson), and conversations on smartphones. It stars Joshua J. Weinstein as Hal Walker, a mystery writer who has recently lost his wife, Lori, in a tragic incident.
Despite being depressed, drinking to excess and failing to meet creative deadlines, Hal is hired to ghostwrite the memoirs of Donnie Lawrence (Setareki Wainiqolo), a
real estate mogul once accused, but not convicted, of killing his own wife.
Eventually, Hal’s and Donnie’s wives coalesce, with parallel descriptions of each husband’s loss making it difficult to tell which dead wife either of them is talking about at any given moment. In this way, the story expertly blurs the lines between hero and villain, while also making relevant points about the dangers of preexisting biases when it comes to justice.
The unreliability of the narration also explains certain inconsistencies. When Detective Hayden Quinn (Claire Rigsby) interrogates Hal and his editor, Brett Martin (Maria Porter), they may tell the detective they said one thing, but the narrative rewinds to a cellphone conversation, showing how they fudged the details.
Similarly, Donnie’s daughter Miriam (Sami Yacob-Andrus) introduces herself as a girl of 15, but acts more childlike, with a baggy wardrobe, precociously inappropriate questions, and a tendency to cozy up and infringe on Hal’s personal space. And while Donnie’s mansion is said to be 200 miles north of the city (implicitly New York), suggesting Ver-
mont or the Adirondacks, later he is said to live in Connecticut.
What is consistent is the strength of the cast’s performances. As Donnie, Wainiqolo comes in friendly and jovial, but quickly puts up walls as Hal probes his unflattering and traumatic memories. Porter, meanwhile, captions Brett’s lightning-fast acerbic wit, while Weinstein brilliantly blunts Hal’s humor with drunkenness, stumbling over words and gazing at the world through red, often droopy eyes.
Following the show, director Luan Schooler presided over a toast to the cast, crew and audience. Artists Rep’s prolonged renovation may have raised concerns about its future, but as glasses were raised, so were hopes for the 2023-24 season, which will bring productions to every quadrant of the city.
SEE IT: True Story plays in the Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage, 128 NW 11th Ave., 503-241-1278, artistsrep.org/performance. 7:30 pm WednesdaySaturday, 2 pm Saturday-Sunday, through June 4. $5-$50.
COURTESY ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE
FEELING BLUE: Claire Rigsby, Setareki Wainiqolo and Joshua J. Weinstein.
COURTESY BILLY WOODS
26 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com PERFORMANCE
Editor: Bennett Campbell Ferguson | Contact: email@example.com
Editor: Bennett Campbell Ferguson
The Railway Men
Fifty years ago, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin battled each other in the Oregon-filmed Emperor of the North.
BY CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER @chance_s_p
If Paul Bunyan threw down with RoboCop, they couldn’t match the bare-knuckle brutality of A No. 1 vs. Shack in Emperor of the North (1973)—all for the right to ride a train.
Released 50 years ago this month, this Oregon-made slugfest pits a Depression-era railroad bull (Ernest Borgnine’s Shack) against the toughest hobo in the Lower 48 (Lee Marvin’s A No. 1).
Emperor of the North reunited two of director Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen (1967) stars for a forgotten action feature that employs Marvin’s and Borgnine’s star power like 300-pound cudgels.
Originally titled Emperor of the North Pole, the film was shot primarily around Cottage Grove, as the No. 19 rumbles north through Eugene and Salem. All along the track, destitute Hooverville denizens and railyard workers alike gossip and gamble on whether A No. 1 can hitch on Shack’s train all the way to Portland.
The film’s commercial failure in 1973 is a little hard to explain in retrospect. Yes, Emperor roves around a little too much, delaying the climactic showdown with offtrack mentorship high jinks between A No. 1 and Cigaret, an arrogant hobo-wannabe played by fresh-faced Keith Carradine. And sure, the decision to shoot one critical set piece in artificial fog yields a scene more incoherent than raw.
But the filmmaking is as muscular and exciting as the performances—all mythic wide shots and gritty close-ups that idolize the broad shoulders and Easter Island heads of its stars. Marvin dares anyone to break his concentrated squint; the raging Borgnine might blow a gasket before his overworked locomotive.
Maybe the period particulars cooled audiences compared with, say, the much broader prisoners-do-a-toughjob pitches of Aldrich hits like The Dirty Dozen and The Longest Yard (1974). The director himself once lamented to Film Comment that he couldn’t believe moviegoers didn’t connect to Marvin’s character and his unflinching code of patience, self-sufficiency and picking only on bullies. What’s not to like? We’re talking about a character who’s introduced by beating back would-be robbers with a live chicken.
A half-century later though, the specificity makes Emperor a two-fisted delight. We’re thrust into a subculture
cultivating its own lingo, rules and real-time folklore. It’s the kind of thin yet instantly legible world-building that makes John Wick so appealing.
Lines from onlookers like, “No one except A No. 1 could ride with the Shack!” resonate like barbershop debates about some underground heavyweight clash in a country hard up for heroes. (Though uncredited, the screenplay owes both names and tales to several published adventures of author Jack London and “King of the Hoboes”
Leon Ray Livingston.)
As for the on-track action, the pulpy weapons and tactics feel equally organic, born of contextual necessity. A No. 1 and Cigaret board the train animalistically, tucking themselves into crevices and barrels. This is that rare film where someone catches a steam burn and uses a razor blade to smear the injured flesh with journal-box grease.
For his part, Shack’s ploys are all mean-spirited geometry to deny A No. 1 and Cigaret livable space. In one scene, he combs “the 19” for riders yard by yard as it traverses the Buxton Trestle, so there’s no escape route but a death drop. Likewise, his weapon of choice is a footlong knuckle pin tied to a rope, sent bouncing beneath the train. He knows he’s found the distance when the trapped stowaways yelp in pain.
Portraying this industrious cruelty against the poor, Emperor is blunt and effective. While the film isn’t much for humanism or overt messaging, it’s plain to see A No. 1 is a man of the people and Shack a zealous steward of property rights. In 1933 (as today), the unhoused are treated as “a breed apart,” says the opening title card, and we see how their dehumanization stokes the sadism of authority figures.
Borgnine himself was awed by his character’s gnashing malevolence. In 2012, just a few months before his death, the 95-year-old actor told Portland Monthly that he frightened himself as Shack: “There were things coming out of me that I’d never done my life.”
Other characters in Emperor might agree.
“Jesus,” Cigaret softly winces during the final melee, watching Shack hurl a ball-peen hammer into A No. 1’s ribs. If either of them makes it to Portland, only their legends will be fully intact.
SEE IT: Emperor of the North, rated PG, is available for rent at Movie Madness.
The Elephant Man (1980)
Long known as one of David Lynch’s few “normal” films, The Elephant Man remains remarkable for all the ways it defies that characterization.
Distinct, visceral and wounded, the film finds London surgeon Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) plumbing a street circus for intriguing pathology subjects. There, he discovers John Merrick (John Hurt), whose tumorous disfigurement will soon make him a medical curiosity and tabloid celebrity.
Throughout, Lynch’s storytelling subverts the “super doctor heals special patient” melodrama. The initial spectacle is Hopkins’ slack-jawed reaction shots, not Merrick’s condition. Soon, the audience is accustomed to seeing the ever-earnest Merrick in the middle of the frame (in makeup that led to the creation of the Best Makeup Oscar category in 1981), and his mind becomes the film’s central question. Hurt’s burbling yet mannered performance is masterful, while Hopkins’ propensity for high-English coldness suggests a constant gulf between the would-be friends.
Meanwhile, cinematographer Freddie Francis shoots one of the few black-and-white films of the color era that could credibly be from 50 years earlier. And Lynch is in full command of his sensorial wizardry, synchronizing Merrick’s labored breathing in sound collages with Victorian London’s churning industry.
Sure, The Elephant Man is “normal” in the sense of being a historical drama with occasional redemptive notes, but those notes are tinged by the mystery of not only man’s inhumanity to man, but also why a universe would ever create such theatrical modes of pain. Academy, May 26-June 2.
5th Avenue: After Life (1998), Dreams (1990), May 26-28. Academy: The Wild Bunch (1969), May 26-June
1. Cinema 21: Duel (1971), May 27. Clinton: Cats (2019), May 25. Wicked Stepmother (1989), May 27. Hollywood: Boogie Nights (1997), May 26-28 and 30. 2001: A Space Odyssey 27-28.
: 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.
GET YOUR REPS IN
ALLSTAR/BROOKSFILM/STUDIOCANAL 27 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
An absurd but fun piece of pulp, Sisu plays like a mix of a spaghetti Western, a World War II thriller, and John Wick (2014). The film reteams director Jalmari Helander and actor Jorma Tommila, who previously worked together on the Christmas horror film Rare Exports (2010). Tommila plays Aatami, a man of few words and many scars, who discovers a gold deposit during the Lapland War in 1944. He then comes into contact with a platoon of Nazis, led by the ruthless Bruno Helldorf (Aksel Hennie), who defies orders and sets his sights on Aatami’s gold, even after learning that Aatami is a former Finnish soldier nicknamed “The Immortal.” Most of Sisu finds Aatami killing off the Nazis in a variety of brutal ways as he protects his riches. He manages to outmaneuver the soldiers at nearly every turn; he even sets himself on fire at one point in order to get a dog not to attack him. The last 20 minutes of Helander’s film gets a bit too ridiculous as Aatami reaches an almost superhero level. For much of its runtime, though, Sisu remains just believable enough to go along with as Helander keeps the creative and bloody action sequences coming. R. DANIEL RESTER. Cascade, Clackamas, Eastport, Vancouver Mall.
THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS
The luminous cinematography of Ruben Impens takes the lead until filmmakers Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen allow their characters to wrestle it back in this adaptation of Paolo Cognetti’s 2016 novel, which took home a Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film embarks on a four-decade journey with Pietro (Lupo Barbiero), whom we first met as an 11-year-old city kid in 1984. His family has rented a house in a small mountain village for the summer. There, he’s introduced to the only other child in town, Bruno (Cristiano Sassella), who lives and works with his aunt and uncle. Each summer, Pietro returns, cultivating their friendship until they’re separated by diverging paths not of their choosing. Then, the boys reunite several years later, with unspoken envy frustrating any efforts to recapture that idyllic childhood connection. As the film progresses, the captivating imagery washes away, revealing a gruff reality resulting from the characters’ inability to communicate and the hidden traumas caused by their fathers. The oscillating nature of their friendship gets tedious over the two-and-a-half-hour runtime, but the film movingly explores family and identity, asking, “Can we truly ever go home again?” NR. RAY GILL JR. Cinema 21.
THE LITTLE MERMAID
Disney’s ongoing project to make live-action adaptations of its animated classics has thus far delivered mixed results at the best of times, but it’s an especially risky move when the House of Mouse tackles projects from its Renaissance era. The early ’90s was when Disney perfected its formula for animated blockbusters, and works like Beauty and the Beast Aladdin and The Lion King remain indelible touchstones for a generation of filmgoers. 1989’s The Little Mermaid is no exception, and while its modern update holds up better than most, it still struggles to find its own identity. The story remains a bowdlerized version of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale—a mermaid princess (Halle Bailey) goes against the demands of her overprotective father (Javier Bardem) and makes a Faustian bargain with a sea witch (Melissa McCarthy) to become human and win the heart of a handsome prince (Jonah Hauer-King)—with most of the film’s resources going to rendering the most vibrant and lush undersea world since Avatar: The Way of Water. Bailey’s performance is a stunning, starmaking endeavor, proving herself a vividly talented name in the making (and her chemistry with Hauer-King helps sell the story). Plus, the filmmakers faithfully re-create iconic moments from the original in beautiful CGI, but it all can’t help but come off as a facsimile of a modern
classic rather than anything experimental, challenging or bold. PG. MORGAN SHAUNETTE. Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd Center, Mill Plain, Pioneer Place, Studio One, Wunderland Milwaukie.
When devout gardener Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) wants his staff to inspect a handful of dirt, he tells them to smell and kiss the soil; inhale the scents of animal, vegetable and mineral, he insists. What drives such discipline? When we see the swastika tattoos covering Narvel’s back, we begin to understand. Once a white supremacist, Narvel turned on his fellow neo-Nazis. Now sequestered in a witness protection program, he quietly and diligently tends to Gracewood Gardens, the verdant estate of the imperious Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). Racially insensitive, sexually ravenous, and baffled by the internet, Norma is a crude caricature of a wealthy old white woman—just as her drug-addicted grandniece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) is a crude caricature of a disenfranchised Black millennial. Director Paul Schrader’s illustrious career (from writing Taxi Driver to directing First Reformed ) clearly hasn’t taught him much about women, but the deeper he digs into Narvel’s broken soul, the more persuasive Master Gardener becomes. “I was raised
to hate people who were different than me,” Narvel says. Determined to nurture life instead of destroying it, he embraces gardening as both a path to joy and an act of penance. Can it lead to redemption? A radiant, hallucinatory image of Narvel surrounded by pink blossoms gleaming in the night offers hope. Master Gardener may not fully earn its tender conclusion, but its faith in the power of both plant and human life to radically transform is profoundly moving. At 76, Schrader has learned what many of his filmmaking peers never have: that dreaming up a happy ending, not unlike gardening, is hard and worthy work.
R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Clackamas, Laurelhurst.
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER
Jamie (Anwen O’Driscoll) is a teenager who moves to small town Quebec in 1992—and is forced to acknowledge, with some awkwardness, that the relatives she’s moved in with are Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the plus side, Jamie quickly connects with Marike (June Laporte), a sweet girl who’s also a hardcore Jehovah’s Witness, despite their obvious sexual chemistry. Viewers are more likely to watch You Can Live Forever for the lesbian coming-of-age story than any kind of commentary on Jehovah’s Witnesses (Marike’s sincere positivity about her faith muddles any interpretation of the film as an attack on a belief system). On that front, You Can Live Forever delivers well enough. The film tells a sad yet nostalgic story that’s likely to resonate with many young moviegoers, whatever their sexual or religious orientations. Even the small-town Quebec backdrop mainly serves to accentuate a sense of joy in the midst of Jamie’s loneliness. NR. WILLIAM SCHWARTZ. On demand.
Carmen has been devouring men since the 19th century, and we can count firsttime director Benjamin Millepied among them. The opera by French composer Georges Bizet that brought this femme fatale turned modern-day feminist icon to life was a misunderstood masterpiece in its time, boldly critiquing race, power and gender. Subsequent adaptations have seen portrayals by Dorothy Dandridge (leading to her becoming the first African American to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination, for 1954’s Carmen Jones) and introduced a 19-year-old Beyoncé Knowles to acting in MTV’s “so bad it’s kinda good” cult classic Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001). In this Carmen, Millepied’s criminally underutilized rising star, Melissa Barrera (In the Heights, Scream VI ), is one of the few highlights of a scattered rendition with nothing to say. Attempts to mesh Millepied’s own choreography and the cinematography of Jörg Widmer fall flat, while Carmen is robbed of her arc and saddled with a tormented companion (Paul Mescal). Even the romance is seemingly born more from convenience than passion, with a potentially timely tale of an undocumented immigrant crossing the Mexico-U.S. border that does little more than move the plot from one location to the next. Carmen has an immersive score (by Nicholas Britell, Taura Stinson and Julieta Venegas), evocative dance sequences, and stunning visuals, but they paint a pretty picture that Millepied altogether fails to frame. R. RAY GILL JR. City Center, Living Room.
TOP PICK OF THE WEEK
28 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com MOVIES
LIONSGATE, NORDISK FILM, SONY PICTURES
by Jack Kent
29 Willamette Week MAY 24, 2023 wweek.com
BY MATT JONES
ARIES (March 21-April 19): My reading of the astrological omens inspires me to make a series of paradoxical predictions for you. Here are five scenarios I foresee as being quite possible in the coming weeks. 1. An epic journey to a sanctuary close to home. 2. A boundary that doesn’t keep people apart but brings them closer. 3. A rambunctious intervention that calms you down and helps you feel more at peace. 4. A complex process that leads to simple clarity. 5. A visit to the past that empowers you to redesign the future.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Do you want a seed to fulfill its destiny? You must bury it in the ground. There, if it’s able to draw on water and the proper nutrients, it will break open and sprout. Its life as a seed will be over. The plant it eventually grows into will look nothing like its source. We take this process for granted, but it's always a miracle. Now let’s invoke this story as a metaphor for what you are hopefully on the verge of, Taurus. I invite you to do all that’s helpful and necessary to ensure your seed germinates!
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Your meandering trek through the Unpromised Land wasn't as demoralizing as you feared. The skirmish with the metaphorical dragon was a bit disruptive, but hey, you are still breathing and walking around—and even seem to have been energized by the weird thrill of the adventure. The only other possible downside was the new dent in your sweet dream. But I suspect that in the long run, that imperfection will inspire you to work even harder on behalf of your sweet dream—and this will be a blessing. Here's another perk: The ordeal you endured effectively cleaned out stale old karma, freeing up space for a slew of fresh help and resources.
1. 1150, to Caesar
4. West Coast NFLer
9. Tiny firework
14. Is for two people?
15. Speed skater ___ Anton
16. "General Hospital" figure
17. Substitute leader pre1918?
19. Didn't feel good
20. "Wicked Game" singer
21. "Downton Abbey" nobleman
23. Command for pirates to start talking?
30. Los Angeles-to-New York dir.
31. Come after
32. Reverb effect
33. New York's Mount ___ Hospital
35. Emerald or olive
36. Kung ___ chicken
39. Pointer painting and Scottie sculpture, for instance?
42. Get droopy
43. "Goodness me!"
45. Dragging to court
47. '80s pesticide
48. Fern leaf
50. Sushi bar tuna
53. Deeply discounted versions of porcupines (with way fewer quills)?
58. Last word in a 1978 #1
59. Free tickets, say
62. Fruit-flavored candy (or
what happens at the end of each theme answer)
67. Breezy class
68. "Metric" prefix
69. Arms and legs
71. "Mad Men" protagonist Draper
2. Defoe hero Robinson
3. Country singer Womack
4. Potato pancake served at Hanukkah
5. On topic
6. "Takk..." band Sigur ___
7. Carte starter
8. "The Island of Doctor ___"
9. Traffic tangle
10. Bee expert?
11. Web address
12. Suffix in Sussex
13. Flower plot
18. Puts aside
22. Stout, maybe
24. "Biggest Little City in the World"
25. Bit of a hang-up
26. It's OK to call him
27. Low cards
28. Ostrichlike bird
29. Record number?
34. Halogen compound suffix
35. "Master Minds" channel, briefly
36. "La Vie en Rose" singer
37. "It's ___ ever wanted"
©2023 Jonesin’ Crosswords (firstname.lastname@example.org) For answers to this puzzle, call: 1-900-226-2800, 99 cents per minute. Must be 18+. Or to bill to your credit card, call: 1-800-655-6548. Reference puzzle #JNZ990.
38. Any of several kings of Norway
40. Littlest littermate
41. Laundry room brand
44. Place for a pint
46. Loup-___ (werewolf)
48. "Go ___ the gold!"
49. Car wash machine
51. "You're a wizard, Harry" speaker
52. "That's correct"
54. Mastodon items
55. Perform poorly
56. "Dragonwyck" author Anya
59. Record-setting Ripken
60. ___-Wan Kenobi
61. May VIP
63. "I Ching" concept
64. "Antony and Cleopatra" snake
65. Dark bread
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Testing time is ahead, but don't get your nerves in an uproar with fantasy-spawned stress. For the most part, your challenges and trials will be interesting, not unsettling. There will be few if any trick questions. There will be straightforward prods to stretch your capacities and expand your understanding. Bonus! I bet you'll get the brilliant impulse to shed the ball and chain you've been absent-mindedly carrying around with you.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Biologist Edward O. Wilson said that the most social animals are ants, termites, and honeybees. He used the following criteria to define that description: “altruism, instincts devoted to social life, and the tightness of the bonds that turn colonies into virtual superorganisms.” I’m going to advocate that you regard ants, termites, and honeybees as teachers and role models for you. The coming weeks will be a great time to boost your skill at socializing and networking. You will be wise to ruminate about how you could improve your life by enhancing your ability to cooperate with others. And remember to boost your altruism!
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Jack Sarfatti is an authentic but maverick physicist born under the sign of Virgo. He suggests that if we make ourselves receptive and alert, we may get help from our future selves. They are trying to communicate good ideas to us back through time. Alas, most of us don’t believe such a thing is feasible, so we aren’t attuned to the potential help. I will encourage you to transcend any natural skepticism you might have about Sarfatti’s theory. As a fun experiment, imagine that the Future You has an important transmission for you—maybe several transmissions. For best results, formulate three specific questions to pose to the Future You.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I have five points for your consideration. 1. You are alive in your mysterious, endlessly interesting life, and you are imbued with the fantastically potent power of awareness. How could you not feel thrilled? 2. You’re on a planet that’s always surprising, and you're in an era when so many things are changing that you can't help being fascinated. How could you not feel thrilled? 3. You have some intriguing project to look forward to, or some challenging but engaging work you're doing, or some mind-
bending riddle you're trying to solve. How could you not feel thrilled? 4. You're playing the most enigmatic game in the universe, also known as your destiny on Earth, and you love ruminating on questions about what it all means. How could you not feel thrilled? 5. You never know what's going to happen next. You’re like a hero in an epic movie that is endlessly entertaining. How could you not feel thrilled?
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn," advises Scorpio author Neil Gaiman. Let's make that one of your mantras for the coming weeks. In my astrological understanding, you are due to cash in on favors you have bestowed on others. The generosity you have expressed should be streaming back your way in abundance. Be bold about welcoming the bounty. In fact, I hope you will nudge and prompt people, if necessary, to reward you for your past support and blessings.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): So many of us are starved to be listened to with full attention. So many of us yearn to be seen and heard and felt by people who are skilled at receptive empathy. How many of us? I’d say the figure is about 99.9 percent. That’s the bad news, Sagittarius. The good news is that in the coming weeks, you will have an exceptional ability to win the attention of good listeners. To boost the potential healing effects of this opportunity, here’s what I recommend: Refine and deepen your own listening skills. Express them with panache.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Because you’re a Capricorn, earthiness is probably one of your strengths. It’s your birthright to be practical and sensible and well-grounded. Now and then, however, your earthiness devolves into muddiness. You get too sober and earnest. You’re bogged down in excess pragmatism. I suspect you may be susceptible to such a state these days. What to do? It may help if you add elements of air and fire to your constitution, just to balance things out. Give yourself a secret nickname with a fiery feel, like Blaze, or a crispy briskness, like Breezy. What else could you do to rouse fresh, glowing vigor, Breezy Blaze—even a touch of wildness?
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I love to use metaphors in my writing, but I hate to mix unrelated metaphors. I thrive on referring to poetry, sometimes even surrealistic poetry, but I try to avoid sounding like a lunatic. However, at this juncture in your hero's journey, Aquarius, I frankly feel that the most effective way to communicate with you is to offer you mixed metaphors and surrealist poetry that border on sounding lunatic. Why? Because you seem primed to wander around on the edges of reality. I'm guessing you'll respond best to a message that's aligned with your unruly mood. So here goes: Get ready to surf the spiritual undertow all the way to the teeming wilderness on the other side of the cracked mirror. Ignore the provocative wasteland on your left and the intriguing chaos on your right. Stay focused on the stars in your eyes and devote yourself to wild joy.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "The gift of patience opens when our body, heart, and mind slow enough to move in unison." So says Piscean poet Mark Nepo. I feel confident you are about to glide into such a grand harmony, dear Pisces. Through a blend of grace and your relaxed efforts to be true to your deepest desires, your body, heart, and mind will synchronize and synergize. Patience will be just one of the gifts you will receive. Others include: a clear vision of your most beautiful future; a lucid understanding of what will be most meaningful to you in the next three years; and a profound sense of feeling at home in the world wherever you go.
Homework: What is the most spiritually nourishing pleasure you should seek out but don’t? Newsletter.FreeWillAstrology.com
"Supernova"--you're all so bright.
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