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Archive for April, 2009

Photos from Sportfight 25

April 28, 2009 No comments

Here are some photos from Sportfight 25 at Spirit Mountain Casino

Here’s a video of the bout between Tom Shrout and Colt Toombs:

More Sportfight Info:

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Twitter Updates: 401 Cafe, Todbott's Triangles and Los Gordotos 2

April 26, 2009 No comments
401 Cafe

401 Cafe on NE 28th & Flanders

  • Gorgeous day going to walk to @traderjoes (get some wine for afternoon deck sitting) then take long walk via park to lunch at Paradox Cafe! #
  • Wine tip from the wine guy @traderjoes. Their Three Knights private label comes from high end wineries. Huge bargains because of recession #
  • Trying lunch at 401 on NE 28th based on the recommendation of @pearlgirl. The place has a fantastic vibe! #
  • Lunch at 401 Cafe was really good. I had their Vegan platter. Also our table had BLT, Grilled ‘fancy’ cheese and Green Garlic soup all good #
  • Ugh. Trying to get Blazer Playoff Tickets but Comcast Tickets can’t handle the traffic and isn’t loading. #uprise #
  • OK. Comcast Tickets officially sucks. Total FAIL on any attempt to get Blazer Game 5 Tix. #uprise #fail #
  • Yummy food at Peoples Farmers Market. Really enjoyed a Todbott’s Triangle and Tropical Green from Sip. http://twitpic.com/3sphg #
  • Trying out the Los Gordotos 2 cart at SE 8th and Ankeny. This one is all Vegan. http://twitpic.com/3wriy #
  • Los Gordotos 2 Fajita Burroto was fantastc. Very filling and extremely tastey. Here’s a pic of their menu: http://twitpic.com/3wt7c #
  • RT: @PDXPipeline Tonight: Watch Portland Trail Blazers in Pioneer Square http://pdx.be/image-0424 #
  • OH: Maybe Greg Oden will have a Benjamin Buttons career where he gets younger and healthier every year. #
  • Blazers showed something tonight. They may not have won, but they will win again. Only a fool would count them out #uprise #
  • Great dinner at Bai Yok Thai on NE 82nd just south of Glisan. The house special curry is worth the trip. #

Be sure to follow @OnPortland on Twitter.

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On Portland on Twitter

April 20, 2009 No comments

If you’re just reading the On Portland site you’re missing over half the picture! On Portland has a very active Twitter account with regular updates of what’s happening in and around Portland every day.

Here’s an example of just a few recent tweets from On Portland:

Be sure not to miss all these updates and information and Follow On Portland on Twitter

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Ecomotion's Fire Sale – Would You Buy an Electric Car for $1210?

April 9, 2009 3 comments
Zap Xebra PK Electric Car

Zap Xebra PK Electric Car

I’ve always fancied the idea of owning an electric car.  The idea of not ever having to fuel up at a gas station has always appealed to me. So when I saw that Ecomotion on NE Sandy Blvd. was running a going out of business fire sale I just HAD to check it out.

Ecomotion specializes in cars from Zap motors. They basically carry two cars, the Zap Xebra PK (a ‘pick up’)  and the Zap Xebra Sedan. Both of these cars are manufactured in China and are completely electric.

As I browsed through their selection of cars, the service director Al Ham set my expectations:  “Before you get into this car you need to vastly lower your expectations. If you’re looking for a Toyota, go buy a friggin Toyota. What these are, are Chinese cars made from the cheapest parts they can get away with and the quality level on them so low they vary wildly from car to car.” With those words in my head I gave the first of many Zap cars a spin.

The thing I noticed immediately was how much attention I got driving the car. I drove a big loop from the Ecomotion building to the traffic circle at NE 39th and back. Heads turned and people pointed, and at first driving it was a little bit of a thrill. But with each successive car I tried out I realized that they all had the same thing in common – they were all truly cheap crappy cars.

The story would have ended there, but the cars are a devil’s bargain.  A new 2006 model Zap Xebra PK sells there at $2,999.  Almost 10K off its initial list price.  You get a $1,500 Oregon energy tax credit and a $290 Federal Tax credit, bringing the cost (before license and fees) to $1209! Less cost than some configurations of a MacBook Pro! As I did the math on this over and over, I decided to give the car another spin.  How can you pass up a deal this good?

Upon my return Al gave me a ‘you again’ look and told me firmly, “at this price, you’re either going to buy it or not. I don’t get paid enough to actually sell these cars.” After handing me the key of another Zap Xebra PK and the dealer plate I was off.  With this second round I tested out four separate Zap cars, and even though I willed myself to try to like the car, I just couldn’t. Each one rattled, shook, and barely stopped. I never was able to get any of the cars past 35 mph and at least half struggled to get upa modest hill. At six feet I had to drive the ‘car’ with two feet as the steering column was so close to the seat I couldn’t move my foot from the gas to the brake.

Ultimately I decided that even at the ‘they’re practically giving them away’ price the Zap wasn’t for me.  I do hope someday to find a car that doesn’t burn gas, find a better more ecological way of getting around town, unfortunately that reality just isn’t there yet.

After making my decision, I realized my first test drive got caught on this news report from KATU news:

Here are some helpful links in case you want to tale the plunge:

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Spirit Mountain Casino Delivers a Knock Out to Sportfight

April 5, 2009 No comments
Tyson Jefferies in Defeat Sportfight 25

Tyson Jefferies in Defeat Sportfight 25

“I knew we should have left earlier”, I said as I was gritting my teeth in bumper to bumper traffic on the 99W. I was on my way to Sportfight at the Spirit Mountain Casino and a supposed hour and forty five minute drive was looking to be a much longer and harder trip.

Sportfight previously held their events at the Rose Garden, a mere five minutes away from my home. I was now schlepping all the way to Grand Ronde, Oregon to catch the Mixed Martial Arts action. Would it be worth the trip?  As the traffic started thinning out around Sherwood my optimism began to return. All be told, the trip down to Spirit Mountain Casino wasn’t all that awful; a few tunes from a friend’s iPod and a sunny afternoon made sitting in the car a lot more bearable.

It had been a while since I had been to the Spirit Mountain Casino. Since my last trip they’ve expanded quite a bit, adding a hotel, gas station and event center. After the last Sportfight there were rumors that fans would have to wait until September for the next event. This April event at Spirit Mountain Casino was announced only a few weeks prior and almost everyone I spoke to indicated that it was pulled together fast.

As I jockeyed around trying to get access to the event I discovered a very clear fact: Spirit Mountain Casino was running the show. Almost every aspect of the event aside from the guys in the ring had the touch of the casino.  In Las Vegas this would be a good thing, but here in Oregon it is something all together different. As I walked through the casino floor I was struck by two very clear realities: the room was smokier than hell, and not a single person had a drink in their hand. Spirit Mountain Casino is run more like a huge video poker and slot machine gallery than a casino. Casinos make their name on service and entertainment, two qualities unfortunately missing from Spirit Mountain.

As I met with James Buxman, PR manager for Spirit Mountain Casino, I asked him to give me the run down of the Casino. He look at me doe-eyed and said he had to run to take care of the fights. In an email exchange he explained that the casino was working to try to attract more people under 40. With a new sports bar planned for May, and night club, they hope to hip up their image. Unfortunately, their ambitions won’t be realized until they can genuinely understand their new target audience. A prime example of their cluelessness is apparent in the selection of bands for their big unveiling party for the new nightclub and sports bar: Kool and The Gang, a band  more likely to attract the parents of their target audience than the audience itself.

As fight time approached I was lead to my seat at the back of the arena. I realized then that the story of trying to get the story at Sportfight was going to be more interesting than the event itself. The press row was so far back from the action that trying to get a story, any sort of story, was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  How do you talk about a fighter’s ground game when you can’t really see the mat?  As I was bemoaning this fact to Matt Lindland, owner and founder of Sportfight, he threw up his arms and said “The casino is handling everything, you have to talk to them”.  My photographer, David Lawrence, opened up his camera bag and handed me his spare camera. “Geoff, you’re a photographer. Shoot this next to me at ringside.” As the announcer entered the ring a security guard came around and told all the photographers that they must kneel during the fights. This meant shooting the fights from a position which probably is now banned right next to water boarding in terrorist interrogations.

Press Sits in the Back at Sportfight 25

Press Sits in the Back at Sportfight 25

The event started with very little fanfair except for one of the most painful renditions of the Star Spangled Banner that I’ve heard in years.  Would a Las Vegas casino have a sixty year old dude in a bad toupee ham up the Star Spangled Banner? I doubt it. The first bout was notable because it featured Colt Toombs, son of professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper. Toombs fought at the previous Sportfight and his father proudly cheered him on from ringside. This time around, despite the promotion from the casino that he’d be there, he was seemingly absent. This first bout set the tone for the evening: a lightening quick fight with one fighter clearly dominating another. It wasn’t even close.  I barely had time to comment on this fact when Toombs smacked Shrout across the face right in the corner where I was taking photos showering me with blood spatter. Yeah, it was going to be that kind of night.

The first four bouts each lasted no longer than two or three minutes a piece. After the fifth round I realized that there was a distinct pattern to the evening –  ‘stand ’em up and knock him out’ with the winner of each fight belonging to Team Quest. Sportfight has long fought criticism that it rarely breaks out of being nothing more than a showcase for Team Quest. The last Sportfight seemed to be a solid step away from that with a strong presence from other rival gyms like Braveheart. This time around Team Quest owned the evening, even to the point of promoter Matt Lindlan cornering for at least one of the fights (something odd for a promoter to be doing). I spoke to one of the commissioners from the Oregon Athletic Commission and they commented that the event had come together “extremely fast”, and it really felt that way. One of the things I really value in MMA is how strong match ups often are, and here most of them weren’t very competitive.

Of the eleven fights of the evening only two made it past the first round (Tom Shrout v Colt Tombs went mere moments into round two and Marlo Meiranda and Tyson Jefferies went the longest – three full rounds). The only fight of the evening that felt like any sort of real competition was the Main Event between Meiranda and Jefferies, but even that bout was plagued with issues.  After a second kick to the groin in round two, Jeffries huddled in the corner where we were shooting.  “What the fuck!” he yelled as he held his groin. Lindland, who was also cornering Jefferies, advised him to take his time and clear his head; instead, Jefferies made the amateur move of winding himself up and then going to hard and too fast at Meiranda, who answered with one of the most punishing knees to the head that I’ve seen in a long time. This kind of bush league move isn’t something you’d expect from the main event of a professional fight, but none of the fights really had the mark of top caliber Mixed Martial Arts.

Line Them up and Then Knock Them Out - Sportfight 25

Line Them up and Then Knock Them Out - Sportfight 25

Even mediocre fights can be enjoyable with a good crowd, and even though the Spirit Mountain Casino event center was filled to capacity (at just over 2000 seats), there wasn’t much energy to the crowd.  Rather than cheering I often heard people yell obscenities at the fighter they were rooting against or even a spattering of boos if they didn’t think the action was moving fast enough (insane considering how short the bouts were).

After the fights were over we tried to find somewhere to crash and decompress for a little bit before driving back to Portland. After kneeling for two and a half hours my entire body ached. The only lounge in the casino had a line out the door and there was no casual place to go and just sit with a beer. I grabbed a bottled juice from one of the ‘food’ stands at the casino and then we were on our way back to Portland.

I’m a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts and I really think that an event like Sportfight in Oregon could get some real traction and be something significant, but there are no short cuts. Throwing together an event run by a casino who knows nothing about MMA or really entertainment isn’t going to further the cause. If Sportfight is ever going to be relevant they’ll need good match ups with fighters beyond Team Quest and put together an evening of real entertainment (there’s no excuse to not even having fighter intro music). Although it’s on a much smaller scale I think the Rumble at The Roseland, which is considered amateur MMA, is much more successful and relevant. Next time around I’ll save myself the long drive and just head down the street to the Roseland because I can’t see how anything at Spirit Mountain is going to be worth the trip.

Here’s a video of the bout between Tom Shrout and Colt Toombs, it gives you an idea of how one sided most of the evening was:

More Sportfight Info: