Things About Portland That Suck Book Deal!!!


The good folks at Powell’s Bookstore have agreed to do a limited book run of the Top 100 things about Portland that suck(could also have something to do with the write up by TAP and their 1,000 increased page views a week). Our staff of writers will be doing book signings later this month at the downtown and SE locations. The book will retail at $10 and made to be recycled after the first reading.

Posted: 04/01/09

#68 Gresham

gresham-barbie1In Oregon, there lies a place just outside the city of Portland where people go to escape being awesome. Every major city throughout our country has this. Los Angeles has Bakersfield. New York City has the entire state of New Jersey. Detroit has 8 Mile Road.

Located east of Portland in Multnomah County, Gresham is the fourth largest city in Oregon. The per capita income for this city was $19,588 for the last census taken in 2,000*. As the armpit of Multnomah County, Gresham spans a large section of agriculture area. Due to the low income housing environment, Gresham is plagued by gang violence and drugs. Activity related to shootings and meth house explosions can be viewed by Portlanders on KGW. Since we would never dare step foot in Gresham city limits, this is the only way we can experience the insanity… or unless your stereo was stolen from your car in Northwest.

Even though Tri-Met and City Police have been working together the past three years to increase passenger safety at the Max Blue Line stops, these still are hot spots for gang related activity. Basically, all those people unfortunate to be stuck in Gresham have to put up with this mess. The thing about Gresham that sucks the most: Gresham people hate Gresham as much as Portlanders.

On the positive note, there are some pretty decent people in Gresham.  They happily drive their minivans on Powell and Division to downtown Portland once a month.  With their Graco baby seats they purchased at Wal-Mart, Greshamites are those happy pedestrians you see at Waterfront Park.  I love watching at how happy they are to escape the depression of suburbia.

You won’t meet someone who throws around Gresham pride. Kids aren’t sporting their Centennial Eagles or Sam Barlow Bruins sweatshirts in Portland.  Why? Because they live in the most unhappy city in the metro area.  As the Portland Development Commission has successfully been cleaning up Portland, low-income families are being pushed into Gresham. Gresham Development Commission… I have one word for you: Sandy.

*This is important to know, because of all the fancy resturants that exist in Gresham, Sizzlers is #1 in my book.  Wait… you have a Red Lobster too?!?!

#67 Lakers Fans

n19709813_33469515_8173To all my friends, family and coworkers who are from the State of California,
I’m sorry to confess:

I’m a Californist.

My heart has learned to open up a little and become more open minded to people from California. Your views and tanned skin might be a different than mine, but I accept your existence. I understand that you moved to Portland because of our affordable living. Portland needs a little tweaking to be perfect in your eyes, and I accept the contributions you’ve made to our State. What irritates the $@%* out of me is how quickly you resort to a “Better-Than-You” attitude when the LA Lakers come to town.

Since the 80’s, we’ve had to put up with you snotty Laker fans due to their yearly visits during the NBA season. But it was in the 90’s that the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers were also consistently facing each other in the playoffs that the Lakers’ fan became really super ultra douchey. Enter the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Down by 13 in the fourth quarter of Game Seven in the Western Finals, Portland suffered the greatest collapse in NBA history. “Kazaam” led his team to the improbable win. The Lakers would become NBA Champions for the first time since 1988. It was the beginning of two great teams going in two completely opposite directions.

Recently, the Lakers haven’t had much to look forward to in Rose Garden Arena. Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson blame the weather for its impact on the Lakers’ recent performances here. They have not won a game here in the past four years.

As if their performance wasn’t a claim to lame, their California transplant “faithful” are. You can spot them a mile away.

  • 24-Hour Fitness gym rat who wears yellow and purple shorts
  • Orange skinned girl wearing a pink Lakers jersey at Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Fat guy wearing #24 at pretty much any Portland home game

So you recently moved to Portland from California? Do yourself a favor and leave your LA Lakers gear at home. Stop being that guy/girl. You are openly giving us two visible reasons to hate you.

#66 Being Unhappy :(

sadcat-story-2KATU news broke this incredible story yesterday about Business Week’s list of miserable places to live.

“PORTLAND, Ore. – Believe it or not, Portland has been named the “unhappiest place in the country.”

According to Business Week magazine, Portland ranks No. 1 on the list of miserable places to live.

To determine the ratings, Business Week looked at calls to a crisis intervention hotline, depression and divorce rates, crime, and even cloudy days – of which there are an average of 222 every year.

Maybe they forgot to get some local coffee and an umbrella.”

Now, I strongly disagree with Business Week, as Portland is awesome. I think most of this has to do with people from Gresham, Beaverton, Vancouver and Hillsboro calling Multnomah’s Suicide hot-line.  The divorce rates can be attributed to the seedy underbelly of Portland’s night scene (strip clubs, escort services, Dixie, etc.).  Liberal cities tend to have a higher divorce and crime rate anyways.

I’m disappointed that New Orleans didn’t win the coveted spot.  How did we beat them out?  I guess the truth hurts. I’m going to get my divorce on now.

#65 Willamette Week

wwI. Can’t. Stand. Willamette. Week.

My dislike for WW began in the Spring of 2006. I had recently moved from an apartment to a house in NE Portland. It was a hot day, full of chirping birds. Then I looked on my doorstep and saw that some jerk-off had thrown a copy of Willamette Week on our sidewalk. At first I was upset that someone in Portland wouldn’t recycle… until I realized what every one else already knows. The Willamette Week is trash. Pages of rumors, music listings and made up stories don’t deserve to be in the recycling bin along with a milk carton, Macy’s shipping box, Miller Lite 24-pack box or 1st draft of college thesis.

When you first think of Willamette Week, memories flood your cerebral cortex with happy ponderings: The first time your band was listed on the music pages. The witty liberal cartoons that made you look forward to every Wednesday. Let’s not forget my favorite game, “Guess what suburb the writers of Ask the Editor are from.” But then comes the day that you get over the Willamette Week.

Along with the minimal good stuff (Oregon political figures being brought down by sex scandals) you realize that the rest is a bunch of crap: the little nimby news stories and overly biased liberal agendas, the lack of genuine effort to report relevant thought or evidence in a particular story, the music reviews that fail to offer objective substance or information on the artist’s performance.

Basically, the Willamette Week is your old aging drunkle. He used to be hip and cool at one point. He was free and ALL over town! But the years have not been kind, and with age comes a creeping need for legitimacy, which does not really mesh with the f**k-the-man ethos of a free weekly. Just like your uncle can not concurrently hold a job, still drink every night and play in his never-quite-profitable band, the Willy Week cannot be doudy normal newspaper and quirky weekly.

After some deep investigative reporting*, I’ve found that the battle for eyes between Portland Mercury and WWeek has already been won. This community no longer feels DubDub offers anything important, though there are still some uses: Paper cut attacks. Starting fires. Wallpaper for the homeless. Prove you just moved to Portland. Wrapping Fish (Although Lars Larson believes this role is best served by the Oregonian). What else?

*I don’t do no reportin’

#64 Hygiene

maxrailcrowdedYou’ve sat next to this person on the MAX. You’ve shared the sidewalk with this individual. At one point, you might have called them a friend. In the city of Portland, they seem to be everywhere. As their body odor permeates from their skin as they bike across the Hawthorne bridge, these characters assault our senses through smell-pollution.

I’ve never lived in any city where general hygiene seems to be so “uncool.” Washing your hair every other month, taking as few showers as possible, and still engaging in physical activities such as biking, hiking, or yoga has an effect on others that cannot be ignored. Many of us who prescribe to a regular bathing schedule can smell the human bacterial colonies that live amongst us. Organic soap isn’t able to wash away the stank. Crystal deodorant is a sham. Therefore, our summers are littered with stinky progressives. Tears spring to sensitive eyes of hygiene-normals much like chopping onions. The offender, long used to the odor emanating from their body (or long accustomed to covering it up with patchouli oil, incense or pot) does not know the pain they causes. Or probably doesn’t care.

During the winter months, women don’t shave. Men grow out their hair and shave faces sparingly. The majority of us look disheveled amongst the professionals*. Of course, the advertising, marketing and tech communities are largely responsible for the lack of hygiene. Quirky personalities and possibly a case of Asperger Syndrome or ADD make it socially acceptable for them to go into meetings with 5 o’clock shadow and uncombed hair. As long as you are wearing designer denim with those Chuck Taylors and your facial scruff is covered with a cashmere scarf you are good to go.

The people of Portland have let themselves go. We do not take ourselves seriously. Other cities have no reason to take us seriously. If the cast of Charlie Brown were represented by major cities, we would be Pig-Pen. We stink.

*People with careers

#63 Bad Karaoke

p3130304There is no greater social experience than a packed karaoke joint on Friday night. The number of talented performers is shocking when you compare that to lesser cities (San Francisco, Boise and Seattle). Boiler Room, Chopsticks, Alibi, Bear Paw, Galaxy, Gypsy and Grand Cafe provide the largest crowds of karaoke faithful. On most nights, it seems like an American Idol audition. But at any one of these joints you are bound to hear awful renditions of:

  • “Give Love a Bad Name”
    Overweight drunk dude, please stop screaming
  • “Bobby McGee”
    Ladies, you don’t even know the words… sit down
  • Disney tunes
    You are not going to show me the world
  • “Love Shack”
    The original is annoying, what do you think you can add?

Ultimately, these performances give Portland’s karaoke scene a bad name.

Karaoke is when amateur singers perform popular songs for entertainment. You know that gal who sings a chilling rendition of “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera? What you just witnessed was an effortless performance. It should be noted that she also chose that song forty prior times and usually picks from a list of ten songs she’s comfortable with. Same goes for that guy who sings “Renegade” by Styx. All his friends know he’s picking it as his first song the moment Boiler Room is suggested. These two are examples of karaoke masters and they know how to entertain the masses.

However, karaoke is also an opportunity to be a jackass in front of a crowd. Portlanders are nice enough to applaud, but its painful to sit through a slur of “Dancing Queen”. There is an appropriate list of songs that you just can’t just screw up if you’re smashed when the KJ calls your name. Girls… pick any Madonna song. I have never heard any drunk chick screw up “Like a Virgin”. Guys… you stick to Neil Diamond. So good… So good…

For those of you who want to be better amateur singers, Alex Williams has created the Ten Karaoke Commandments:

Karaoke is not a singing contest
No text message voting, no record contracts, you won’t win any awards

Leave it all on the stage
Don’t just stand there, get up and do some moves. Just perform, don’t have any regrets.

Use a fake name
Create a persona, it’s not you, it’s that other person

No groups – Two people at most
There are only two microphones so if you’re not holding a microphone, you’re irrelevant and get off the stage

Know your range
Know what type of voice you have, if you can’t sing Don’t Stop Believing, stop believing you can sing it. Sweet Home Alabama is a great song to sing, not too high not too low. Don’t be a hero.

Pick a song you would play at a party
The party test: A song you’d play at a packed party, if you wouldn’t do that, don’t do it in karaoke. That quirky song only you know and love? Fun for you, but 3 minutes of awkwardness for the crowd.

Know the verses of the song
If you don’t know the verses of a rap song, don’t do it.

Musical measures are the enemy
A long guitar solo is a long you solo

Karaoke DJ is The Soup Nazi
Hand them your slip, a tip and walk away (they’ll never be your friend)

Adapt to your Audience
Pick something the audience would like, not just something you want to sing.

Don’t forget to tip your K.J.

#62 The Smoking Ban

smokingbansmallMarathon. Low Brow Lounge. Touche. Berbati’s. Gypsy. Claudia’s. Belmont Inn. Katie O’Brien’s.

These places were once a haven to those who enjoyed a stiff drink and a cig. Whether you are an occasional smoker, or have no regard for your personal well-being, you’ve chained smoked* at one of these places. You knew that as long as the bar was smokey, it was hip. Lame people would stay away from you, your favorite dive bar and just stay home. They wouldn’t want their pea coats and hair smelling like ash trays.

Fact: Smoking an American Spirit goes hand-in-hand with a Pabst Blue-Ribbon.

There are many in society who associate second-hand smoke with lung cancer and wrinkly skin. With these health risks comes an obligation to the well-being of an establishment’s employees. The representatives of our State legislature made the decision to create a smoke-free workplace. The State of Oregon wanted to protect wait staff, bartenders and cooks from the risk of catching the cancer. Ironic that 60% are smokers (that number jumps to 90% when they are drinking). I highly doubt the ones most affected by the ban were allowed to voice their opposition.

Fact: The previous paragraph’s percentage numbers were based on zero research.  They were, however, well thought out.

Ultimately, patrons that bitched about the smokey atmosphere in their favorite bars led to the ban. This move will likely cut into their dive bar’s profit margin and precious video poker dollars. Oregon loses tax revenue from the sales of cigarettes and lottery. The smaller, neighborhood joints won’t be able to afford to stay open every night. Karaoke performances will become uninspired and empty without the vocally-trained hipster. Breathe easy, Portland, as this is not the end. Thanks to all the fat people in Oregon, we’ll probably see a fast-food ban soon. has created a list of the smoking/smoker friendly bars in Portland:

*Smoke a lot of cigarettes back to back to back… Definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary

#61 Inclement Weather Driving

asdfasdfThe week of December 15th, 2008, the Portland area was hit by a “arctic blast.” Temperatures hovered around freezing. The rain we are accustomed to turned to flaky snow. What does this gentile early freeze do to the metro area?

Sends us into the Portland Inclement Weather Pandemonium!

Four (five in some areas) days off of school for the kids. Chain requirements on the local highways. Insufferable stories from our local news stations (No, I do not need to see the snow accumulation on your disc thermometer to know it is snowing.) And horrible, horrible driving.

Everyone in Portland has seen it. “Portland Pilgrim” from Georgia moved here to work a creative job in some e-business. They go out and buy a 4Runner because its consider “extreme,” load it up with studded tires, and on the first snow of the year, they head out and immediately get stuck in a ditch. 4WD does not mean you get free license to be a tool. In most snow/ice situations, cautious, slow driving will keep you out of trouble.

The only good thing about the arctic blast is that there are fewer cyclist on the road.

PS- Here’s a good winter car prep list from Cartalk

#60 Vera Katz Statue

060602katz_statueAn important journey on your way to becoming a Portlander (for all you just-got-to-towners), is the Waterfront Jog (or Yog, if you will). The Waterfront is comprised of sidewalk along the East and West side of the Willamette River in downtown. The Waterfront jog is a 2.5 mile loop of pavement between the Steel and the Hawthorne bridges. The loop features: jogging next to traffic, under a bridge, on floating concrete and on the Eastside Esplanade… a statue of former Portland Mayor Vera Katz.

Serving as Mayor from 1993 to 2005, Katz is consider one of the best in Portland’s history. Unfortunately, she became unable to run for for Mayor due to medical reasons, and the entire City of Portland lost an important leader.* In an effort to immortalize Katz for her public service, a statue was unveiled on the Waterfront in 2003. The creepiest statue ever sculpted.

As you approach, you aren’t quite sure exactly what the small figure is.  Is it a weary jogger?  Is it a small child?  Is it a transient?  Not, it’s Vera.  Seated in the “Listener” position, Katz welcomes all who pass by on the Eastbank Esplanade.  The statue has the basic likeness of the Mayor, but non of the charm.  Undoubtedly, the Katz statue has been a victim of public affection from the denizens who jog by. I encourage you to visit Vera’s statue and experience the magic for yourself.

*The next mayor was Mr. Irrelevant, Tom Potter