Friday, November 30, 2012

5 noteworthy things to do in portland's powellhurst-gilbert neighborhood

Originally farmland, East Portland’s Powellhurst-Gilbert is named for a pair of 1800s settlers, Jackson Powell and William M. Gilbert, whose names also appear on a trio of neighborhood elementary schools. As the city grew, residential development claimed much of the land, but pockets of flora and fauna as well as urban agriculture still exist within and nearby today’s Powellhurst-Gilbert. Consistently an area for new Portlanders, the population has transformed from the initial pioneer families to the present-day diversity where Asian, Hispanic and black citizens make up more than one-third of the area's residents, a characteristic that’s plainly reflected in the ethnically varied businesses.

SHOP: The International Markets

Powellhurst-Gilbert is home to a glut of markets that primarily cater to various Asian populations but are also popular with adventurous eaters and holistic health practitioners all over Portland. With the Fubonn Supermarket, Tin Seng Trading Company and Chang Fa next door to Tin Seng (which has been called a mini Fubonn), you can find a vast array of packaged goods and Chinese herbal medicines as well as a selection of fresh produce, meat and even live seafood. The substantial Fubonn (self-proclaimed "the largest Asian shopping center in Oregon") also provides shoppers with a proper mall experience where you can find bubble tea, a bakery, restaurants, a jewelry store, gift shop, bookstore, spa, salon, clothing stores and more inside the building. Focused on traditional Chinese medicine, the nearby Wing Ming Herbs offers additional herbs, spices, teas, ginseng and so on, while the Eastern European Roman Russian Food Store, features a deli and bakery with a much raved about honey cake and other pastries.

Fubonn Shopping Center, 2850 SE 82nd Ave., Ste. 80, 503.517.8899
Tin Seng Trading Company, 8350 SE Division St., 503.777.8203
Chang Fa Market, 8310 SE Division St., 503.788.8882
Wing Ming Herbs, 2738 SE 82nd Ave., 503.775.9895
Roman Russian Food Store, 10918 SE Division St., 503.408.7525

PLAY: Seek Skate Nirvana

Named in honor of statesman and community activist Ed Benedict, the almost 13-acre park that bears his name features the standard amenities (basketball, soccer, walking paths, picnic tables, playground) as well as an 18,000-square-foot skatepark with ledges, rails, stairs and banks. Artistically designed to feature Dan Garland’s multifaceted concrete art installation (“which provokes thought regarding the intersection between natural and man-made environments”) and constructed using recycled and sustainable materials, the skatepark features native landscaping and on-site stormwater treatment. It’s even “considered to be the first environmentally sensitive skate plaza ever constructed,” according to Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R).

Ed Benedict Park, SE 100th Avenue and Powell Boulevard

Find three more things to do in Powellhurst-Gilbert on Neighborhood Notes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

portland micro roasters fueling the local economy (p3)

Photo by Jelani Memory
As the weather turns colder and wetter and the days shorter and darker, it’s time for Portlanders to cozy up at coffee shops with a hot beverage loaded with caffeine. Therefore, it’s also appropriate to spotlight Portland's coffee culture, specifically our local micro roasters who are small businesses producing small batch, crafted coffees and sharing them in their own coffee houses as well as cafes across town.

Why frequent corporate coffee chains when every quadrant of this city features not only an abundance of local coffee shops but also locales where you can see your beans roasted before they become your brew?

With more than 30 local micro roasters in Portland, here are a couple more local alternatives to Starbucks that support local and in turn energize our economy through collaboration.

Sterling Coffee Roasters + Coffeehouse Northwest

Making his home in NW Portland, micro coffee roaster Adam McGovern is the man behind two compact coffee shops: Coffeehouse Northwest, which began in 2007, and Sterling Coffee Roasters, which opened on Valentine's Day 2010 as a 50-square-foot stand next to Trader Joe's on NW Glisan Street. But as the grocer looked to expand, McGovern teamed up with friend Jeremy Campbell, who owns the equally petite M Bar around the corner, and moved into a newly devised collaborative location on Father's Day 2012.

While we've loosely used the word "collaboration" in this series to signify local businesses and individuals supporting one another, whether that's selling local baked goods or featuring artists on coffee shop walls, McGovern likes to "reserve the word ‘collaboration’ for times where we work in some equal capacity with another business or individual to produce a good or service we both offer at a retail level, or at least to which we both supply branding.”

With that in mind, McGovern and Campbell’s shared space is truly collaborative and decidedly unique. Sterling is open each morning and afternoon while M Bar takes over each night.

“Because the space is so small,” McGovern explains, “Sterling will set up and break down the entire service area, except for the espresso machine, every day.”

From a handshake to a sublease and lease negotiation, the process “ultimately strengthened our commitment to working together,” McGovern says. “The lease gave us a chance to consider every aspect of the partnership and to codify the ways in which we'll support each other.”

Another Sterling collaboration includes the Coffee Roasters United project “where several small roasters pool buying power to purchase micro-lot coffees each could not afford on their own,” McGovern explains. Partners include Portland coffee shops and roasters like Red E Café, Case Study Coffee, Seven Virtues, and Clive Coffee.

But, there’s one other venture that McGovern would also consider, by his definition, a collaboration—and it has nothing to do with coffee. Sterling recently launched a “line of men's and women's ties, designed for us by Crispin Argento of PINO,” McGovern says. “We hope to continue collaborating with designers to produce apparel and accessories as we grow.”

Read the rest on Sterling and Coffeehouse Northwest plus Coava Coffee Roasters on Neighborhood Notes.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

i'm thankful for...

With Oregon Music News celebrating our third birthday just a month ago, it's truly amazing to look back on what we've accomplished in the past 36 months and the people who have made us what we are today.

I am most thankful for the bevy of names that you see everyday on OMN's homepage—they are the lifeblood of this publication and their tireless efforts have kept OMN flush with not just content but also encouragement and a good deal of friendship and fun. Whether our staff has been with us writing, photographing, interviewing, designing, promoting, editing, tweeting, emailing, consulting, performing, producing videos and podcasts, and doing countless other activities behind the scenes since day one or day 1,001, each and every individual has helped build what you see today, shaping OMN with their contributions. Thank you to everyone who's ever submitted story or snapped a photo, everyone who's ever been an ambassador for OMN in our rich northwest music community.

I'm also thankful for the outpouring of support for this endeavor from the music community—from artists to professionals, promoters, small business owners and venue owners to fans and social media friends—you've each contributed to the success of OMN as well. We're humbled and delighted each time you share a story, leave a comment, or pay us a compliment. Without our readers and supporters, there'd be no OMN.

Finally, as already emphasized, there are oodles of artists and musicians, individuals and festivals, businesses and organizations in our community that are advocates for local art and music, and many of which are consistently giving back in one form or another. Since it's that time of year, we encourage you to give back to those that are in need or those that may be fundraising for the future. Many of the aforementioned arts and youth organizations are currently doing so via the yearly Give! Guide, so go ahead and make a donation to a worthy cause. Or, just pay attention for the next time an artist you love is seeking support through crowd-funding efforts or a nonprofit needs volunteers for an upcoming event—give back and give someone a reason to be thankful for you.

And if you're still not thankful for anything, just be thankful we didn't make you watch this.

See what else Oregon Music News is thankful for.

Monday, November 19, 2012

access to free community tools spawns a 3d film business in portland

Self-starter is a good way to describe Jesse Blanchard.

He’s a self-taught filmmaker working in stereoscopic 3D.

“I started making movies about 10 years ago,” Blanchard says. “Just picking up a camera and a Final Cut Pro manual. Since then, I've made 50 shorts films, which have played at Cannes and been picked up by George Romero and Dimensions Films.”

Oscar-winning animators have also sung his praises and his first “3D short took home the Best of the Festival Award from the 2011 Los Angeles 3D Film Festival,” according to Blanchard’s bio.

This success can be attributed to Blanchard’s attention to detail and the fact that he also designed, built and patented his own 3D camera system using tools from the Southeast Portland Tool Library—and is now selling the Robert Rig internationally.

Working under his production company, Goat & Yeti, Blanchard has employed public, community resources to bring his business and creations to life as he continues to develop innovative ideas, only hindered by the finite number of hours in a day.

NN: 3D filmmaking seems like such an amazingly complicated but fascinating process. Can you briefly describe what it takes to actually film in 3D?

JB: 3D is really easy to do, and pretty hard to do well. All you have to do is record independent images (left and right) and then deliver each stream independently to each eye. The brain is what does all the 3D magic. What's difficult about 3D is feeding the brain information in a way that's easy for it to put together. If you don't, you give the viewer headaches.

NN: It sounds to me like one of the things that has been integral to your success in the 3D world is of your own creation—you design and build your own 3D camera rigs. What led you to create your own rig?

JB: Necessity. I couldn't afford the pro [camera] rigs, which are very expensive. Since then, I've learned enough about 3D to actually build the rigs that I want. Metal work has been a great skill to pick up.

NN: Tell me about the role the Southeast Portland Tool Library (SEPTL) has played in this process.

JB: The SEPTL was really instrumental—pun intended! Most of the time, I wasn't exactly sure what tool would work, and sometimes, I knew what I needed but didn't have it. Often, you only need to put one hole in something, but it has to be at a perfect 90 degrees. So, having a drill press from the tool library was crucial.

Read the rest of this interview with Jesse Blanchard and see a teaser for his current 3D project on Neighborhood Notes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

5 noteworthy things to do in portland's historic irvington neighborhood

A 2010 addition to the National Register of Historic Places, Portland’s Irvington neighborhood is a slice of the American dream where luxurious porches and ornate entryways overlook expansive green lawns and sidewalk swings hanging from tree branches, sometimes with a secret treefort hidden high amongst the leaves as well.

SEE: Historic Homes and Lush Gardens

Originally plotted as an east side suburb in the late 1800s, Irvington was designed to be a middle- to upper-class residential district where commercial activity was prohibited. Wealthy residents flocked to the area during the early 1900s, building some of the largest houses in the city and flaunting common period styles like arts and crafts, craftsman, colonial revival, prairie style and bungalow. For the first 25 years of the neighborhood’s existence, there were also strict conditions placed upon builders aimed at maintaining the area’s exclusiveness, such as each residence must cost at least $2,500, lots were a minimum of 50 feet, houses had to be 25 feet back from the property line, and no liquor production was allowed at neighborhood residences. The grandeur of this legacy has mostly remained intact as the quiet, tree-lined streets still offer an impressive display of early 20th century residential architecture, with some 2,800 properties—the largest historic district in Oregon—“of which 85 percent are considered ‘contributing’ and retain their original appearance,” according to the Irvington Community Association’s home tour, and almost no commercial activity. Of course, you can stroll around Irvington any time of the year (or take a virtual tour, or, if you’re ambitious, make your own walking tour based on photo tours from previous years) and enjoy the beautiful period architecture, but each May on the third Sunday, the official Irvington Home Tour gives you the opportunity to go inside some of these amazing residences. Owners do their spring cleaning and then open their doors to the public to raise funds for the Irvington Community Association (ICA). Running for 30 consecutive years, “the Irvington Home Tour is the longest continuously running neighborhood home tour in Portland,” according to its website, and the sole source of funds for the ICA. Learn about the more recent history of the neighborhood and the genesis of the home tour.

STAY: In Georgian, Victorian or Greek Luxury

And if you actually want to take up temporary residence in one of these historic homes, take your pick of the refined, rustic simplicity of the bricked Georgian House, the opulence of Portland’s White House, or the Victorian charm of the Lion and the Rose. Each bed and breakfast offers a variety of gorgeous suites, standard amenities, and artfully adorned common areas, but The Georgian House is “one of only three true Georgian colonial homes in Portland,” according to its website, and features an English rose garden that was highlighted in Better Homes and Gardens. The Lion and the Rose also provides an English garden, but more impressive distinctions of the Queen Anne style mansion built in 1906 include the airy, Ionic-columned, wrap-around porch and the octagonal turret, visible between the tree branches to passing traffic on NE 15th Avenue. Yet, the grand approach up the circular drive to the Greek revival mansion style of the White House is a sight that welcomes you with 14 Corinthian columns and a three-tiered fountain.

The Georgian House, 1828 NE Siskiyou St., 503.281.2250 or 888.282.2250
Lion and the Rose, 1810 NE 15th Ave., 503.287.9245 or 800.955.1647
Portland's White House, 1914 NE 22nd Ave., 503.287.7131

Find three more things to do in historic Irvington on Neighborhood Notes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

10 noteworthy things to do in portland's old town-chinatown

Portland’s Old Town-Chinatown presents a dizzying array of shopping, sights, eats and events as well as characters and characteristics, from serenely traditional to outlandishly artistic to rambunctiously drunken. Historically home to significant emigrant populations of Chinese and Japanese, today’s Asian influence is mostly surface only as just a handful of gift shops, importers and restaurants remain in the neighborhood.

Yet, the impressive Chinatown Gate over Fourth Avenue still welcomes visitors to NW Portland with two imposing bronze lions sitting on their haunches. Iconic red lamp posts line the streets north of Burnside and the re-erected Hung Far Low sign endures just two blocks past the gate.

Amongst all the activity and weekend merrymaking, there’s a seedier side—strip clubs and an adult theater—and a blunt reality to the area where a significant homeless population lives and human services abound.

Nevertheless, a few things are guaranteed every night of the week: The echo of live music always hangs in the air as does the aroma of deep-fried dough and crystallized sugar, each welcoming you to your destination even before it’s in sight.

DO: Tour By Foot or Bike

Jump in an orange PDX Pedicab for a 45-minute tour guided by an audio recording, or set your own pace with the Old Town-Chinatown walking tour. While each will take you by many of the major historical sites of “Portland's oldest neighborhood,” according to the Old Town-Chinatown Neighborhood Association, there are two more stops you can add to your list: Take a stroll up the north side of the Burnside Bridge and turn around once you’re over the water to view the neon White Stag sign, which welcomes you to Old Town as you drive across the river; and then head down to what remains of the oddity-filled 24 Hour Church of Elvis, on NW Couch Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, to push the buttons of the coin-op kiosk, which offers fortune-telling and marriage ceremonies.

24 Hour Church of Elvis, 408 NW Couch St., 503.226.3671

PLAY: Game On at the Barcade

Founded by lifelong pinball and classic video game enthusiasts, Ground Kontrol “celebrates and preserves arcade gaming's ‘golden age’ by operating over 100 of the best video games and pinball machines from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s,” according to its website, as well as offering a full bar and snacks, which you can put away while seated at glowing tables. Bask in the warmth of buzzing, chiming machines and the luminescence of the retro-futuristic, TRON-inspired interior where white- and indigo-hued fiber-optic lighting and LEDs line the stairs and archways as DJs spin a fresh variety every night. The long-running Rock Band Tuesdays, dubbed “karaoke for gamers,” will allow you to pick up plastic instruments and rock out using pro gear (microphones, guitar and keyboard controllers, drum mod), lights and sound (PA system, audio monitors), but before you head home for the night, be sure to make your way to the restrooms to check out the floor mosaics—Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, respectively.

Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade, 511 NW Couch St., 503.796.9364

EAT + DRINK: Imbibe and Consume, Outdoors and In

Taking a page out of the old town playbook of Europe, Portland closed off SW Ankeny Street between Second to Third Avenues to traffic in 2011, effectively creating a communal, open-air space where the surrounding bars and restaurants set up picnic tables. Sit outside with your bright pink Voodoo Doughnut box while mulling over the stained glass likeness of a bacon maple bar and the faces of Voodoo’s owners, as well as the late Ted Papaioannou, owner of neighboring bar Berbati and music venue Ted's, and then wash down that cereal-, cookie- or candy-covered sweet with a drink from the uber-hip art space Valentines, or a craft libation from Central as you watch the chef work a compact kitchen through the restaurant’s one alleyway window. The dim recesses of the new-ish industrial chic, speakeasy-style bar may be blocked by a curtain, but the large windows of next door's 105-year-old Dan & Louis Oyster Bar—Portland’s “oldest family-owned restaurant”—reveal shucked oysters and nautical paraphernalia, like a massive wooden ship's wheel that hangs above the bar in the The Old Shucking Room.

Voodoo Doughnut, 22 SW 3rd Ave., 503.241.4704
Ted’s Berbati’s Pan, 221 SW Ankeny St., 503.226.2122
Valentines, 232 SW Ankeny St., 503.248.1600
Central, 220 SW Ankeny St., 503.719.7918
Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, 208 SW Ankeney St., 503.227.5906
Berbati, 19 SW 2nd Ave., 503.248.4579

Find seven more things to do in Old Town-Chinatown, including art galleries, drag shows and live music, on Neighborhood Notes.

keeping stars’ family spirit alive up ‘north’

After more than a decade of making passionately intimate indie rock together, Stars' drummer Pat McGee believes the group's familial dynamic has been what's kept the Canadian five-piece collaborative, creative and successful over the years.

"I think that we really act like a family. And that's what keeps us together. Your family can drive you nuts, but you can't get rid of them," McGee laughs.

"They can drive you to the brink of insanity, but you can't shake them," he continues. "They're always going to be there. And I think that's what Stars has kind of become. We're five people who have done this for so long and been through so much ridiculousness together that I think that is where the intimacy comes from."

The band's sixth full-length album, The North, released via ATO Records in September, is laden with an abundance of these innermost lyrical and musical moments, the kind Stars have become lauded for.

From love lost ("Lights Changing Color"), to attempting to save or reignite love ("The 400" and "The Loose Ends Will Make Knots"), and even just cherishing love ("Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It"), Stars typical topics are present, but they're reaching a wider audience than ever before as The North earned the group their highest Billboard chart debut to date.

Something familiar to long-time Stars fans are the sporadic audio samples scattered throughout the record.

"It's something that's been happening since the very beginning of Stars," McGee says. "We kind of wanted to get away from it somehow but it doesn't seem to disappear; it just a thematic thing, it was always on our records."

And the samples allow Stars to "create a synthesis of people and places and sounds that reflect things we're thinking of," he says.

With the clanging of locomotive bells in the background, the opening audio sample to The North, from Glenn Gould's 1967 CBC radio documentary "The Idea of The North," reflects "the idea of the future and the idea of the north. The idea was sort of about hope and a mythical idea of what the north was and what it could be. I think now, we've lost a lot of that and I think that's what this record is about a little bit… we've lost this sort of hope, a sort of fantastical and mythical, beautiful idea of what a utopia the north could be. Now we just talk about pipelines and ice caps melting and shit, and it's kind of depressing. It's not as philosophical or artistic or creative as it used to be."

Yet, Stars found a way to creatively diversify their own vision of The North. Containing both anthemic and delicate songs,  The North is full of contrasts—from the recognizable tug of war between dark, moody lyricism and bright, poppy music to the play of singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan guy-girl vocals, which often tell two sides of the sentimental story, or complete each others' sentences, or just naturally harmonize, complementing one another.

Overall stylistically, The North is less than cohesive, much less so than their previous effort, the demure The Five Ghosts. But maybe this is exactly the strength of the record.

"I never listen to our records and I really liked this one," McGee laughs. "Once we've finished the record, I don't really want to listen to it anymore. I've listened to it maybe 400 times already; the last thing I need to do is listen to it again. But I don't know what it is about this one; it does jump around a little stylistically, but I find there is a continuity in there somewhere—there's something that ties it together. Maybe it's the way we recorded."

Read the rest on OMN.