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Portlandia, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Portland

March 7, 2012 2 comments

Portlandia
When they first announced that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein were going to be shooting a half hour sketch comedy show in and about Portland, I really didn’t think many people would pay attention. I mean, who actually watches IFC? Apparently the answer is a lot of people. Here we are a year later and the show, in its second season, is extremely popular.

When I travel, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “Is Portland really like Portlandia?” Yes, yes it is. Portland is an odd little city; in fact, I don’t see it as much a city as I do the biggest town in America. Portland is intimately connected with other parts of the country (we seem to have something of an affair going on with Brooklyn), and yet at the same time we’re fairly isolated. People think we’re close to Seattle, but those same people have never made the schlep up the I-5 – it isn’t close.  Read more…

One Night With Janis Joplin Review

One Night With Janis Joplin

One Night With Janis Joplin

The concept behind Portland Center Stage’s production of One Night With Janis Joplin is a good one: bring the Janis Joplin concert experience back on stage and give modern audiences a taste of what it was like to see her in concert. Unfortunately, the production, created, written and directed by Randy Johnson, is one big hot mess.  Johnson has a fairly impressive resume with a number of other stage music re-experiences including Elvis The Concert, Always Patsy Cline, and Conway Twitty – The Man The Music and The Legend. Johnson also has extensive experience directing actual concerts and tours. All this experience, however, doesn’t result in a good show.

One Night With Janis Joplin suffers on a number of fronts.  The first and most serious issue with the show is an absolutely horrible script.  The play never can make up its mind if it’s a singular concert experience or a journey through Janis Joplin’s life. Many of the monologues that happen between or during songs are just one step up from ramblings. In the first act many of these monologues focus on “The Blues” and the other artists who influenced Joplin. Johnson seems obsessed with these influences and at times the show feels like it’s more an essay on The Blues than a show about Joplin herself.  This obsession manifests itself in the creation of another character who wanders in and out of the show, ‘The Blues Singer’.  This character comes on stage to represent many of the women who influenced Janis Joplin’s music. The role is voiced wonderfully by Sabrina Elayne Carten, whose rendition of classic Nina Simone, Bessie Smith and Aretha Franklin songs are some of the absolute highlights of the show. Read more…

Why I Am Cancelling The Oregonian

January 20, 2011 9 comments
Oregonian

Oregonian

There’s a point in almost any bad relationship when you know you’ve stuck around longer than you’ve should have. The moment came when you should have broken up but somehow you thought things might change, that whatever was weighing things down would dissipate if you only waited it out. This is how I feel about The Oregonian.

I first started to subscribe to The Oregonian in 1993 when I first moved to Portland. It was our first connecting point to the news of our new home. The Oregonian in 1993 was a mighty thing, with staff writers and columnists galore. The paper stood as many things in Portland do: much stronger than you’d expect for a city of its size.  Flash forward 17 years and you have a paper in absolute ruin.  Where once stood a Business section is often a single page of wire reports and cobbled-together news bits.  Where once there was insightful and award-winning investigative journalism, you now have reporters using anectodal information; my favorite was for the story Construction of downtown Portland high-rise is halted by tight credit in which “reporter” Ryan Frank says, “Real estate brokers had taken to saying that Park Avenue West would be built by the “Bank of Tom Moyer.” No source, no quote, no real reporting.

The Oregonian suffered like most papers in this country as the economy faltered and news migrated online.  But I stuck it out. I tried to look past the fact that more and more of the paper was comprised of news articles that came off the news wire.  It became harder when I started to see wire articles appear in the paper that had been online for days and some times weeks in advance. Again, a sign of the economic times.

With belt tightening at The Oregonian came another clear trend: articles that were going to print without being proofed.  Over the last year we’ve played a game at the breakfast table, reading aloud some of the headlines and articles from The Oregonian to our two grade-schoolers to see if they could spot the glaring grammatical errors. They almost always can. Read more…

Categories: Portland Tags: ,

Legally Blonde The Musical in Portland

February 18, 2010 1 comment
Legally Blonde The Musical

Legally Blonde The Musical

It’s refreshing, from time to time, to treat yourself to a night of entertainment that is simply fun and lighthearted. This is what you can expect from Legally Blonde The Musical. The 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon has been adapted for the stage, infused with music and dance, and is touring February 16-21 here in Portland as part of the Broadway Across America series.

The premise is simple: college sorority president and blonde bombshell Elle Woods has everything going for her – perfect clothes, perfect friends, perfect boyfriend/future husband Warner Huntington III, until said boyfriend heads to Harvard Law and dumps Elle for someone more “serious”, Vivienne Kensington. Determined to get her man, Elle manages to get herself into Harvard and sets a plan into action to get Warner back. It never occurs to her that she could fail, that no one will take her seriously, or that she might fall for someone else.

The role of Elle Woods is played, for the majority of the Portland run, by Becky Gulsvig. She keeps up with the high energy demands of the role and has a striking resemblance to Reese Witherspoon. For those of you planning to see the show later in the run, I would shoot for one of the performances on February 20 and 21 to see Portland native and Tigard High grad Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone in the role of Elle. I wish I could have seen a show with her to see some local talent.

Most of the rest of the cast are what you would expect from a traveling show. The vocals vary, some performances are stronger than others, and they double and triple up on actors playing multiple roles (not my favorite). When it comes down to it, however, this is a musical based on a fairly silly romantic comedy, so you have to keep that in mind and just enjoy the spectacle. The show does have some very funny and cute moments, like the first time Elle’s chihuahua, Bruiser, runs on stage and delivers “lines”, the marching band and cheerleaders at Elle’s admissions interview at Harvard, the “Take It Like a Man” number during which Elle’s law school friend, Emmett Forrest (played by D.B. Bonds) changes clothes on stage behind a tiny changing room door, and the courtroom scene with the entire ensemble singing “Is He Gay or European”.

An upbeat, spirited production, and dizzying number of pink costumes, Legally Blonde The Musical is entertainment that lets you just turn off your brain and enjoy.

Legally Blonde Runs at The Keller Auditorium 2/16-2/21. Get more info from the Legally Blonde The Musical National Tour Site.

– @PDXHeather

Categories: Events, Portland, Theater Tags:

Travel Portland – The Best of Portland Video

September 13, 2009 1 comment

Travel Portland has put together a fantastic look at the city of Portland. I think it sums up some of the amazing things that makes Portland, Portland and why it’s becoming one of the premiere travel and tour destinations in the US.

To keep up with the Best of Portland:

Categories: Portland Tags:

SoupCycle – Local Organic Soups Delivered

Jed Unloads The Soup

Jed Unloads The Soup

I’ve seen a ton of great business ideas come and go.  Some of them were ahead of their time, others were great ideas poorly executed. Most often though, great ideas go down in burning flames because people aren’t patient enough to let their ideas blossom and grow. They want to get from small to huge in a blink of an eye.

SoupCycle is a fantastic example of a great business, based on a fantastic idea that is getting the time and space it needs to really grow. The entire SoupCycle company is comprised of just three people. (Pretty mind blowing when you hear other local start ups like Forkfly have 16 employees!) Owners Jed and Shauna handle every aspect of the business from soup to nuts (quite literally) with some help from one other part time delivery person. The impact of this is a business whose owners are extremely in touch with the actual business and its customers. For example, as part of SoupCycle’s regular weekly email to their customers,  there is a request for feedback on each week’s soup. SoupCycle makes changes to their line-up based directly on that feedback.

SoupCyle - Soup Salad and Bread

SoupCyle - Soup Salad and Bread

The SoupCycle service is a pretty simple concept.  Every week SoupCycle delivers a container of soup, a box of salad and some bread. If you’ve got a bigger family they deliver two containers of soup, and two boxes of salad.  One of the things that sets them apart from other food delivery options is that they deliver this soup entirely by bicycle.  SoupCycle ‘s soup selections are entirely based on ‘what’s in season locally’ and their bread is baked at a small local bakery (Little T American Baker).

For my first SoupCycle delivery I was greeted by owner Jed Lazar and handed two quarts of Potato Kale soup (the vegan option) along with four big slices of french baguette and two boxes of salad.  Jed rides a recumbent bike with an electric assist. By the time he delivered our soup he had already clocked an impressive sixteen miles.

The soup is delivered cold and SoupCycle recommends you put out a cooler if you expect to be away for more than three hours during their delivery days. Many people get the soup delivered to their office so they can take it home from there.

SoupCycle's Amazing Soup

SoupCycle's Amazing Soup

The evening of our first delivery we heated up the Potato Kale soup and had dinner in moments.  The two quarts of soup easily fed my family of five (two adults and three children) with about one serving of soup left for leftovers. The Potato Kale soup was delicious, well spiced, perfectly cooked and brimming with flavor.

I had heard a lot about SoupCycle’s salad dressing (which is also impressively vegan) and so was eager to see if it lived up to the hype. It does. The salad is a nice mix of fresh greens, shredded carrot and cranberries but elevates to something entirely amazing with the dressing. With SoupCycle’s soup being so good it’s hard to say that you should try their service out just for the salad dressing, but it is THAT good.  The bread from Little T was soft and flavorful and I recommend you try dipping it in the dressing!

SoupCycle offers three different options for their soups: vegan, vegetarian and an option with meat.  Jed indicated that their most popular selection is vegetarian even among people who eat meat.

Here’s an example of two weeks of their selections:

The Cumin Chihuahua (vegan)
A flavorful cumin-infused tortilla and corn soup.

Cream of Spinach (veggie)
Your mouth will approve of this tasty soup that’s full of nutrients. Made with coconut milk.

Chicken Noodle (meaty)
One of the best chicken noodle soups you’ll ever taste. Savory chicken, wide noodles, plenty of celery and carrots and just the right spice.

French Lentil (vegan)
Hearty lentil soup with flavorful vegetables, the distinctive taste of red wine vinegar and a touch of Dijon mustard.

Who Framed Ginger Rabbit (veggie)
Sweet and savory carrot soup with a strong punch of ginger.

Clam Chowda’ (meaty)
A creamy clam chowder so tasty you’ll think you’re dining in New England.

To order SoupCycle, you sign up for a SoupScription on SoupCycle’s site which sets you up for a weekly delivery of the soup style of your choice.  SoupCycle bills you the Wednesday of your delivery and you can make changes to the following week’s delivery (vacation hold, adding or dropping your level of soup or going a la cart without salad and bread) by Friday at midnight.  SoupCycle soupscriptions start at  $18 for 1 quart of soup + bread and salad (which serves 2 people) and goes all the way up to dinner for 6.

The soup, salad and bread for 4 at $30 ended up feeding 5 of us for a net cost of $6 per person for fresh, local and organic soup delivered.  A pretty affordable option for such a tasty meal.

I knew I liked the concept of SoupCycle but I’m frankly surprised by just how much I enjoyed the whole SoupCycle experience.  It’s refreshing to deal with a company so committed to its customers with such a high quality product.  SoupCycle’s soups are just plain fantastic and when you combine that with their truly exceptional salad dressing you’ve got a combination that just can’t lose. I highly recommend SoupCycle!

For more information on SoupCycle:

On Portland Resumes

March 12, 2009 No comments
Spring Arrives in Portland

Spring Arrives in Portland

As many of you may have noticed I’ve taken a short hiatus from On Portland. I felt like I needed to step back for a while and make sure I was moving the site in the right direction. There are so many great Portland sites that I don’t want On Portland to just be another voice in the same chorus.

To me the definitive “What to do in Portland this weekend?” site is PDXPipeline. They cover more events and goings on than anyone. As much as I enjoy covering the occasional event I just don’t see On Portland being an event site.

In terms of neighborhood coverage there is nothing that even comes close to neighborhood notes.  If it’s happening in Portland, anywhere in Portland then neighborhood notes has it covered.

Beyond those there are great Portland news sites like Oregonlive (whose Oregon Reddit I use as a key source to keep my finger on the pulse of the city)  the Examiner and my topix feed which catches most news sources in the city.

So I keep asking myself, where does On Portland fit in?  The answer keeps coming back to the reason why I started this site. I think living, working and playing in the city of Portland is something really extraordinary. Having traveled through most of the states in the union and lived on both coasts I can say that Portland offers things that other cities simply don’t. It’s unique in the truest sense of the word.

So as I go forward with this site I intend to try to capture what is special about living in this city.  The people, places and experiences that make this a place that I call home.  It’s a journey and I’m glad you’re following me as I go on it.

Today was one of those true Portland moments for me – sitting up at one of the tables behind the Starbucks at Pioneer Courthouse Square, eating Indian food from The Real Taste of India, soaking up some of the first rays of spring and watching the world go by.

Categories: Portland Tags:

How Clean is That Portland Restaurant?

January 19, 2009 No comments
Find Out How Clean it Really Is

Find Out How Clean it Really Is

In the past month I’ve had the unfortunate luck of getting sick after eating at a local restaurant (Bangkok Restaurant).  As I was feeling quite under the weather I spent some time searching the Internet for some site or resource that could have clued me in to the less than clean kitchen that my meal must have come from.

I finally found the Multnomah County Health Department Establishment Inspection Database a fantastic resource that lets you peek into the kitchen and see just how clean everything is.

The results are pretty eyeopening.  On the good side some of my favorites Dove Vivi,Vita Cafe , Kuhn Pics Thai, La Bonita, Vegetarian House and Paradox Cafe all scoring in the high 90’s or getting perfect 100.  On the bad side a number of places I eat didn’t fair so well.  Nicholas Restaurant had a pretty long list of issues and a paltry 77 score, Pad Thai Kitchen 61,  and places like Laughing Planet and Opposable Thumb Gallery Cafe seemed to have the very common issue of employees NOT washing their hands when they should.

Of course this database is just a peek at one point in time in the life of a restaurant, but it’s a good starting point to see just how clean the places you’re eating at really are.

Categories: Food, Portland Tags:

@PortlandRain Storms Twitter

December 12, 2008 No comments

When I first saw @PortlandRain I was skeptical. I thought it was some sort of Twitter marketing ploy by one of the firms in town that specializes in Social Media Marketing. But the more I’ve followed @PortlandRain the more I’ve realized that it’s not marketer, but some sort of artist or poet using Twitter as their canvas.

Just check out some of these recent @PortlandRain tweets:

Believe it or not, PotlandRain isn’t at home. Please leave a message at the bee-eep. I must be out, or You would be we t. Where could I be?
Had a long night. Taking a few hours off this morning.

Only one day of rain and @PortlandSun is back! Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue

I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining. Because I’m free (&Thankful), Nothing worrying me

@PortlandRain has been getting a fair amount of attention lately, first with an interview with the Oregon Red Cross Blog and then one with the Portland Water Bureau@PortlandRain was even mentioned on a recent episode of 7 Live @ The Square.

However, @PortlandRain really hit its tipping point today as a rain storm blanketed Portland  and @PortlandRain stormed twitter.  I think I saw as many references today to @PortlandRain as I have to #bacon this whole week. @PortlandRain even seemed to trump the highly anticipated release of WordPress 2.7.

Since the launch of @PortlandRain there have been a lot of other weather related twitters (including @PortlandSun and @PortlandSnow), but none seem to have the level of whit and character as @PortlandRain. Portland has long been known for its rain, so it’ll be interesting to see if @PortlandRain finds national prominence.

Categories: Portland, Technology Tags:

Cool Tech at PDX

November 28, 2008 No comments
Columbia Sportswear's Interactive Display Window

Columbia Sportswear's Interactive Display Window

On Wednesday I went down to PDX to pick up family vising in Portland for the Thanksgiving holiday. As I waited for them to get off the plane and clear the security checkpoint I played around with the window display at the new Columbia Sportswear store (which is right before the security checkpoint at the A, B and C gates).

The Columbia Sportswear store has an interactive display window. You can touch the various icons on the window itself to get information about Columbia Sportswear and to play videos of their products in use. Most people standing around the window didn’t realize that you could interact with it, but the reception to it was pretty good when my daughter stepped up and started playing Warren Miller snowboarding videos on the full display window.

The opportunities for a rich interactive retail experiences are so vast and it’s nice to see a non-technology company like Columbia Sportswear embrace new technologies for one of their keystone stores. Who knows maybe Microsoft will start promoting this technology as “Windows for Display Windows”.

Categories: Politics, Portland, Vegan Tags: