For the First Time Since 1947, a Wolf on Mount Hood

For the first time since 1947, there was a wolf confirmed on Mount Hood.

That detail comes from a just-released report by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which includes a single line about the tracks of a lone wolf found in the “White River Unit” back in December.

The White River Unit is located south of Hood River, in the eastern foothills of Mount Hood. Russ Morgan, who runs Oregon’s wolf program, confirms that wolf tracks were found in the snow in December, though he notes the wolf may have simply been passing through.

Still, this is an exciting moment for wolf appreciators, including Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild. Back in January, WW talked to Klavins about the possibility of wolves coming back to the 503 area code—important because the apex predators, once aggressively hunted in Oregon, benefit the entire ecosystem.

Our final question to Klavins at the time: “In another decade could we go out to Timberline and hear the howl of a wolf?

“There’s a good chance,” he said. “One thing they do regularly is surprise us. [In 1998, a] wolf swam down the Snake River, shook itself dry and came over to Oregon, and three years later we had one on the west side of the state. The trick is that there is a gap in good wolf habitat between where they currently live in Oregon and the Cascades. So it’s going to take a few brave, wandering wolves from elsewhere to cross and then find each other.”

Well, surprise: One brave, wandering wolf had already proven him right.

“Wolf recovery is really a story of redemption,” Klavins says. “This is history. This is only the second wolf in the Cascades since the last bounty was collected in 1947.”

More information on why wolves are awesome comes from the video below and from research done at Oregon State University.

Cheap Eats 2014

Top 5 Food Carts of the Year | 20 Amazing Bites for $7 and Under

Cheap Eats by Cuisine: African | Breakfast and Brunch | American Comfort  

Burgers and Dogs | Chinese | Diet: Veg/Gluten-Free/Paleo | Indian | Islands | Japanese 

Korean | Latin American | Mexican | Middle Eastern/Med. | Old WorldPizza 

Sandwiches | Sweets & Treats | Thai/Cambodian | Vietnamese

 

From the Editor

Portland is a great place to be a cheapskate. Each year, we put out our Cheap Eats guide to the best restaurants in Portland with dinners under $15 and lunches under $10, and each year there’s an embarrassment of riches. (And heck, if you want to go even cheaper, we’ve got a gallery of 20 amazing bites for $7 and under.)

Don’t get us wrong: We love a fine $100 prix-fixe meal. We also like a good hourlong foot rub. But if you’ve got $100 in your pocket and want to have a lot of fun, the spots in this Cheap Eats guide can keep you busy on that budget for a week.

Really, you could eat for a year among the 150-plus spots in this guide without repeating yourself once. It’s an urbane version of adventure and discovery—like off-road cycling or hot-air ballooning.

Amid the strip malls and five-lane suburban highways of Beaverton’s Koreatown, second-story noodle shops hide in the back of supermarkets stocked with durian candy and porcelain spoons. In Cully, a neighborhood best known for discount
auto-body work, the former sous chef of a fine-dining restaurant cooks up a $10 Yucatecan soup that’s stained black with chilies. In a Clackamas strip mall next to a former tanning salon, you can now get charred New Haven pizza topped with house-cured bacon.

Meanwhile, the city’s food carts, spreading from the valleys of Hillsdale to the used-car lots of Southeast 82nd Avenue, serve up Georgian, Belizean, Mauritian and Ethiopian food for prices that let you make a new discovery every day of the week.

We pay tribute to the riches found at our city’s food carts—essentially a giant laboratory of food—by naming our five favorite new food carts, including our 2014 Food Cart of the Year. We do so knowing that some of these, in a year or two, will have moved into brick-and-mortar restaurants, making way for a brand-new crop of streetside culinary experiments.

It is our hope that you’ll treat this guide as a treasure map. But if you do happen to find something uncharted, please send us a postcard at mkorfhage@wweek.com.

 

Eat well.

Matthew Korfhage

Editor, 2014 Cheap Eats

 

Contributors

Editor Matthew Korfhage

Art Director Amy Martin

Copy chief Rob Fernas

Copy Editors Matt Buckingham, Nina Lary, Jessica Pedrosa

Editorial contributors Ruth Brown, Martin Cizmar, Ramona DeNies, Jordan Green, Jay Horton, Rebecca Jacobson, Nigel Jaquiss, Deborah
Kennedy, Matthew Korfhage, AP Kryza, John Locanthi, Aaron Mesh, Lyla
Rowen, Matthew Singer, Adrienne So, Alex Tomchak-Scott, Aaron Spencer, Enid Spitz, Grace Stainbeck, Savannah Wasserman, Michael C. Zusman

Photographers Natalie Behring, Emma Browne, Ronit Fahl, Jerek Hollender, Leah Nash

Production Manager Ben Kubany

Ad Designers Xel Moore, Dylan Serkin

Director of Advertising Scott Wagner

Advertising Assistant Ashley Grether

Account Executives Maria Boyer, Ginger Craft, Michael Donhowe, Kevin Friedman, Janet Norman, Kyle Owens, Sharri Miller Regan, Andrew Shenker

Marketing & Promotions Coordinator Steph Barnhart

Accounting Manager Chris Petryszak

Credit/Collections Shawn Wolf

Manager of Information Systems Brian Panganiban

Circulation Director Mark Kirchmeier


Associate Publisher Jane Smith

Publishers Richard H. Meeker, Mark L. Zusman

 

Willamette Week

wweek.com

Published by City of Roses Newspaper Company

Send comments to: mkorfhage@wweek.com.

Bowling For Love

ILLUSTRATION: Kristen Wright

BY DEBORAH KENNEDY

It’s an unseasonably warm Saturday and thanks to OkCupid, a free dating site wildly popular among Portlanders, we’re getting afternoon drinks at Gold Dust Meridian on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard.

Steve is thin, dark-haired and sarcastic. In less than an hour, he entertains me with wry anecdotes about his past as a classical-music promoter and his current career as the manager of a doggy daycare. After his second drink—rye on the rocks—we decamp for the Waffle Window. Steve checks his phone again. We cross the street. Another glance. I’m assuming we might move on to stage three—swinging by the nearby Powell’s—but he starts to mumble about “having an early day tomorrow.” Suddenly, he has to “jet.”

Later that night, I call my friend Jamie for post-date girl talk. Jamie is a veteran of online dating, whereas this was the first date I’d ever arranged online and, in fact, the first time I went out with someone new in four years.

Last year I left Indiana, and a man I loved—almost enough. Unfortunately, he came with an irreversible vasectomy that left me chasing the ticks of my biological clock all the way to my mother’s house in the 503 area code. This Valentine’s Day I find myself the embodiment of every single man’s worst nightmare: a woman on the rebound in search of sperm.

“It’s funny,” I told Jamie. “I didn’t even like him that much. He was a blowhard. Still, I feel dumb. I feel rejected.”

I swear I could hear her nodding sadly on the other end. “You’re the afternoon date girl.”

“The afternoon-date girl?”

“The guy obviously had another date that night,” Jamie said. “He schedules your date for the afternoon so that if y’all don’t hit it off, he’s got another girl waiting.”

“OMG,” I said. “You’re right.”

“I know I’m right, right?” Jamie sighed. “And I’ll bet he didn’t take evening-date girl to the Waffle Window.”

This much I learned from my afternoon with Steve: When it comes to dating, a lot has changed in the last five years. I’ve never had a thick black book of gentlemen callers—in college I preferred huddling in my dorm room watching Bridget Jones’s Diary to collecting tales for my own—but at least then I understood the rules. And those rules have changed thanks to the fact that, as this month’s Singles in America study revealed, for the first time the majority of first dates are now arranged through online dating services rather than mutual friends. With the help of the Web, you can find basically anything you’re looking for in a date now—with almost frightening specificity.
You’ve heard of eHarmony, for the Christian set, but what about ChristianMingle, for the even more Christian set? There’s also JDate—Christians need not apply. For baby boomers, there’s OurTime.com. For country folk, there’s FarmersOnly.com.

One set of sites—Match.com, eHarmony, Zoosk and Chemistry.com—charges users to use unique algorithms that apply data about your favorite food and your favorite position to help you find a soulmate. A second class—Tinder,
DateHookup and Craigslist—lead to (ahem) shorter-term relationships. Tinder, like its gay sibling Grindr, is a phone app that uses geolocation and Facebook photos. If you’re nearby and mutually attracted, Tinder pops you into a chat window so you can determine the nearest gas-station restroom.

Sites like OkCupid and PlentyofFish strike a balance between the two. Some folks are there for sex; others are hoping to find a partner. It’s up to you to figure out which, because most people’s profiles don’t really say.

My online profiles don’t come right out and announce what I’m looking for, either: that most elusive of males, the as-of-yet childless man in his late 30s or
early 40s who wants nothing more than to fall in love and make babies. Whip-smart, a dark sense of humor, a fondness for beer and college basketball would be nice upgrades. Then again, I don’t have to have the leather seats.

In Portland, it’s not hard to find Overly Earnest Guy—the one in the kilt who out-feminists you at every turn and describes himself as “spiritual”—or Overly Active Guy—who bikes up Mount Hood, then ziplines down so he can kayak the Columbia out to the coast for an afternoon of surfing. They’re sitting
at a bar made of reclaimed barnwood, drinking cider and eating gluten-free pretzels with Way Too Concerned With Where His Food Comes From Guy.

But those guys don’t bowl. So, I figured, in my quest to document some of my misadventures in online dating, why not set up my dates in bowling alleys? If a guy in Portland is comfortable on the lanes, my heart should be an easy-to-hit spare.

 

I met Ryan, an engineer, on a Wednesday night in January at Rainbow Lanes in Forest Grove. We’d found each other through Match.com, which, in my experience, has cuter, cleaner-cut guys than its competitors.

Intel has single-Fab-edly made sure it’s next to impossible to date actively in the Pacific Northwest without meeting a few engineers. And nothing against them—as a group (speaking in unforgivable generalities), they are intelligent and practical, and what they often lack in social skills they more than make up for in gainful employment and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek. Ryan and I both noted an affinity for the show on our profiles, which led to him messaging me.

He cut right to the chase.

“Jean Luc or Kirk?” he asked as we strapped on our shoes.

“Kirk,” I said.

“Ah.” He nodded, brow furrowed. I had the feeling he was sizing me up, but I couldn’t tell if I’d answered well or red-shirted myself. “Tiberius…”

Despite his enthusiasm for all things Enterprise, Ryan was an atypical engineer—his company builds a better bulldozer. So far so cool. He reminded me of my high-school boyfriend: funny, cute and possessing a contagious love of  ’80s butt rock. 

“I love Poison,” I told him, halfway through our first game.

“€œMost girls hate Star Trek, and they hate Poison even more,”€ he said. 

“I am not most girls.”

The first game ended with Ryan at 92 pins and Bubbles (that’s my bowling name, and I should note that all the gentlemen in this story have been given a proverbial bowling name of their own) at 132. We were having a marvelous time. 

I found out that Ryan, an Oregon State University grad and former Marine, was a recently separated father of three. So much for finding a childless man. He showed me pictures of his kids—adorable—and a photo of some hooch/punch he’d made that Halloween—adorable—and we took turns tossing balls and stretching out on lucky lane 13’s black pleather couch while the alley, empty at first, began to fill with upwardly mobile young families and truck-driving dudes in flat-billed ball caps.

The second game ended with Ryan at 94 and Bubbles at 134. Ryan didn’t seem bothered by his lackluster performance or my superior scores, and I took both as encouraging signs. Here was a man who was not only attractive—bright blue eyes, great smile, nice arms—but secure in his masculinity. I pinched myself under the hand-drying unit.

“So, do you think you might want to have more kids someday?” I ventured, just as we’d decided to head to the Grand Lodge for pool and beer. I thought I’d better ask before I started to like him. My face hurt from so much smiling.

He dropped his ball back into the rack and laughed.

“Hell, no,” he said. “Are you kidding me?”

PlentyofFish is free, and the main competitor to OkCupid, where I met Afternoon Steve. It’s also Canadian and, despite that, a bit braggy. It claims to “have more dates, more relationships, more visits than any other online dating site.”

“I thought that was eHarmony. “eHarmony makes the most marriages,” my mother informed me, oblivious to the fact that I’m an underemployed freelance writer without the disposable income to sign up for several paid sites at once. “You should get on that one.”

My second day on PoF, I met Paul, a bookstore manager. After we’d exchanged a few flirty messages about our mutual love of Moby Dick and our ambivalence toward our native Hoosier state, he agreed to join me at Southeast Morrison Street’s Grand Central Restaurant and Bowling Lounge on a Saturday afternoon.

Grand Central is the best of all possible bowling alleys. It embraces the tackiness of the sport—there’s a mirror ball hanging over the center lanes and a lot of neon—while at the same time offering up a great beer selection and one
hell of a burger. It’s also family-friendly. Paul and I were surrounded on all sides by children’s birthday parties.

Paul smiled vaguely at the chaos. He also smiled vaguely at me. Tall and thin and sporting a stylishly shaved head, Paul had ridden to Grand Central on his Jamis road bike, which he said was pretty much the only way he got around now that he’d escaped Indiana, where bike lanes are about as rare as ready access to abortion. 

“Carbon footprint?” I joked awkwardly. “In Indiana it’s more like Carbon Bigfoot.”

“Yeah.” Paul leaned back against our lane’s black leather couch. He had forgotten to unroll his left pant leg, hiked up for the ride over. “Sasquatch isn’t real.”

Oh, dear. Paul was Overly Earnest Guy. How did I not sense this earlier?

We bowled a second game and, in between throws, discussed everything from the Keystone Pipeline, Hillary’s running mate, Philip Roth and quinoa. Gradually, I grew a little weary of trying to sound smart, and with each new subject, my game got worse.

On the eighth frame of the second game, Paul decided to intervene. “Your form could use some work,” he man-splained. “Aim for the arrows. See the arrows?” I saw the arrows. “And don’t forget to follow through.”

Final score: Paul 144, Bubbles 87.

Outside, we exchanged the clichéd, pelvises-apart “let’s do this again,” hug, both of us clearly not meaning it. “Take care,” Paul said. I nodded, watching him ride away. Unlike Ryan, Paul didn’t have any children, and his profile said he might want them someday. It wouldn’t be with me—it was time to try a new dating site.

The newest, hottest thing in online dating makes this modest claim: “It’s like real life, but better.” Um, I guess so, if in real life everyone judged each other by the depth of their cleavage or size of their biceps rather than the content of their character. 

Oh, wait.

Tinder, which is less than 2 years old and has been adding users by the millions in recent months, uses geolocation to pair people already near each other, reasoning that sorting people who find themselves in the same place is more natural than matching people from Forest Grove and Gresham who both like Star Trek. The app boasts 500 million swipes per day, most by 18-to-24-year-olds, which means I’m outside the target demographic. On a Thursday night, I made my way to Punch Bowl Social, a grown-up Chuck E. Cheese’s that recently took over the space that housed a massive Asian restaurant on the top floor of Pioneer Place mall.

Punch Bowl Social is not the kind of place you’d expect the Dude or Donnie or the unfuckwithable Jesus to frequent. It’s nouveau-’60s swank— the suits from Mad Men would fit right in—the drink selection is decidedly snobby, and the lanes are dark and flanked with gold and black couches. The pins are on strings. They look and act like puppets. They also provide a challenge to the unseasoned.

“Our lanes are 6 feet shorter than regulation, so you’d think you’d be set,” the bartender tells me, “but the string thing can throw people off. The trick is not to hit them dead on. You’ve got to finesse them.”

Finesse. Subtlety. Mystery.

Everything that Tinder is not.

Tinder links to your Facebook account, randomly selecting a handful of pics and putting those in front of anyone who has the app and happens to be nearby. The geolocation software lets you know who’s in your ‘hood, so, if you’re game, you can hook up and hook up quickly. When two people “like” each other, they have the opportunity to message. I figured I would use the opportunity to ask a guy to come bowl with me. I also secretly hoped no one would “like” me back, because I was a bit trepidatious about meeting a complete stranger on such short notice, even in the security of a bowling alley.

When you pass on someone, the word “NOPE” appears across his or her picture in bright red letters. This is also the kind of app that allows you to learn a lot about yourself in a short amount of time, and let me tell you, unlike a lot of the people you’ll see as you flip, it’s not pretty. Apparently, I dismiss, out of hand, any dude who chooses to have his picture taken next to heavy machinery. Also anyone who’s bald (for shame, for shame), overweight (shame again) or has a selfie as his main profile pic. “Shallow,” I thought, flicking right on by, “selfies are so shallow.”

In the span of two hours I must have flipped by at least 200 guys, and it was easy. Almost too easy. Since I’m pushing 40, I automatically eliminated anyone under 30, which sadly put “Armando,” 22, out of the running. Why, I wondered, would Armando choose the first page of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis as his profile pic? (This question still bugs me.) My system also deep-sixed “Jake,” 21, whose headless picture showed a bare, sculpted chest and a pair of bulging Calvin Klein boxer briefs—very Marty McFly meets Carlos Danger. Tinder is a hookup site, plain and simple. My California friend and I agreed prostitutes would do brisk business on it.

Against all odds, I found a dude in his 40s, who looked, dare I say it, normal. He was about three miles away. His profile pic showed him sitting on a boat—lots of Tinder dudes’ pics showed them looking pensive near water. I “liked” him, and in a few seconds found out that he “liked” me, too. I was shocked. I got sweaty. I got over it. I sent him a hurried message, asking if he had the time or inclination to meet me for a few pints and pins.

He would love to, he wrote, but sadly he already had plans. “Maybe another time.” Sure. Another time. Over the course of the next two hours, I liked and was liked back by two more dudes. Once I told them I wanted to go bowling, they were all too busy, but would love to meet up in a day or two.

Perhaps it’s a function of my age or the age of the guys I liked, but I wonder if Tinder ever really results in the kind of fast and dirty Last Tango in Paris hookups I’d imagined, or if most users have my experience: delayed gratification or no gratification at all. Then again, is that so bad? One thing I’ve discovered from my days as the Afternoon Date Girl is that anticipating the date is often better than the date itself.

While conducting my Tinder search, I flicked by three guys I recognized from my OkCupid days and one I’d seen that morning on PlentyofFish. I mentioned this fact to the bartender, who wasn’t at all surprised.

“It’s the shotgun approach to dating,” he said. “You basically spray yourself in as many directions as you can, hoping to hit something.” He filled me in on a bit of his own romantic history: His marriage ended when his ex-wife cheated on him. “I was on tour in Iraq,” he said. “She couldn’t handle deployment.” Now he’s in a long-term relationship with a woman six years his senior, whom he admired for her maturity and the kindness she showed his young daughter. 

“Love is a conscious choice,” he said. “Lust? That fades. But when you’re in a relationship, you wake up every morning and you make the choice to make things work.”

 

None

Scholars have reason to believe that Jane Austen, author of some of the best love stories of all time, died a virgin at 41. English gentlewomen like Austen, living and trying to love in early 19th-century England, were fated to wait in stiff drawing rooms for Mr. Darcy to discover them. They did not have the power to seek their own happiness.

In contrast, we live in an era of endless options. You can fill out a personality test that will allow a computer to tell you whom you should love or post this question on the Internet (“Want 2 Fuk?”) and almost instantly get an answer in the affirmative (“Where U at?”). You might think the ready availability of instantaneous communication, of cyber connection that often results in in-the-flesh meetings, would result in fewer lonely people. But then you might spend some time on Craigslist personals, and you might think again. Want to give or receive a blow job? Head here. Hoping to “Explore life’s possibilities…with herpes?” Craigslist is your site. Just don’t log on looking for love. 

After all of my romantic misadventures, I was starting to doubt if love—the love Carrie Bradshaw describes as “ridiculous, inconvenient, can’t-live-without-each-other kind of love”—is really what anyone is after anymore. Are we victims of the illusion of infinite choice? I couldn’t help but wonder if I would even recognize Mr. Darcy if he walked right into my virtual drawing room in a wet, white puffy shirt. Would I sigh dismissively over his sideburns (NOPE) and flick on to the next guy?

Just as I was finishing up this article and feeling lonely, discouraged and disillusioned, Ryan the mechanical engineer with the beautiful eyes and three cute kids sent me a text.

“Want to come over and watch The Big Lebowski?” he asked.

Ryan lives just around the corner from me, but without Match.com I probably would never have met him. I wouldn’t know that we share the same taste in movies, beer and bad jokes.

Perhaps I should take this whole online-dating thing less seriously. Maybe it’s less about connecting with one’s soulmate and more about expanding one’s world.

“Dude,” I texted back, ignoring for the moment the ache of my throbbing womb,
the constant tick-tock of my biological clock. “€œHell, yes.”

“You Look Pretty Niece”

In six months of online dating, I’ve accumulated a mountain of messages. Some are texts, some are onsite messages, others are emails. All are cherished—especially the one from the dude who sent me an unsolicited dick pic, then asked, “how many of these have you seen since you got here?”

“I’ve lost count,” I wrote back.

“Whoa. That is seriously fucked up. I am no longer interested,” he said.

My loss.

25-year-old firefighter: You look pretty niece.

34-year-old program manager: Hey what’s up beautiful, how you doing? How was your weekend? What you doing up so late? 

38-year-old hippie dude in do-rag: Were you at OktoberFest?

36-year-old pipe fitter: I bet u taste good.

37-year-old chef: Hello im Robert…andwow your beautiful. How was your weekend?

39-year-old welder: I’m looking for the same thing you are looking I’m from Vancouver if your interested hit me back

46-year-old investor: I’ve found that people with Masters are generally very
good at having too many interests and we all know Scorpio’s are umm well
you know……….. 

50-year-old long-haul truck driver: Want 2 rid with me?

36-year-old pipe fitter: What’d I do wrong?

43-year-old master gardener: Good luck with your search.

32-year-old dude on ATV: Lets get in some truble.

46-year-old civil engineer: Nice kitty in your pictures. Thanks for being a proud cat parent.

30-something metalhead: hello and good evening to you,lovly smile and great
personality you have.kinf of funny being online to these dating web
sites can honesty be a pain in the but.i love life and enjoy for the
good times it brings.you seem like a very nice lady,so i thought i would
say hello.have a nice evening,and a great week ahead. 

40-something carpenter: Hey pretty girl. I find you fascinatingly intriguing.

36-year-old pipe fitter: Wow. Yur a bitch.

 

Recording Everything

BY KATE WILLSON

Multnomah County and Portland police this week suspended a new program that supplied data-gathering ID scanners to Old Town bars after WW raised questions about whether it was legal.

The state-funded program allowed Portland police to equip downtown bars and
clubs in recent weeks with high-tech ID scanners that captured patrons’ names, ages and photos for upload to a central database, which police could then access. 

There’s no indication patrons knew they were being tracked.  

“We tried to say ‘no’ at the very beginning, and police strongly encouraged
that we should do it,” says Mike Reed, general manager of the Boiler Room and Jones Bar, both located in Old Town. “We don’t want to track people’s every move. We considered that a possible issue.” 

Despite his misgivings, Reed gave the scanners a try. So did a dozen other downtown clubs.  

With government agencies already surreptitiously gathering information without warrants, the Portland program raised questions about transparency and privacy. 

It might also have been illegal.  

“It really is an illuminating example of where our privacy laws are, and our
disconnect in a modern digital world,” says Becky Straus, lobbyist for ACLU Oregon.  

Straus is referring to a 2009 Oregon law that limits companies’ legal ability
to collect, store or share information from ID scanners. Straus says she
was unaware Portland bars were collecting such data, or that police
could grab it. 

“We had wondered, when we wandered around Old Town, whether bars were complying with the swiping law,”€ she says. 

Club manager Reed says police assured bar owners that it was legal to gather
customers’ information and to share it with law enforcement.  

“To our understanding, we’re doing everything within the law,” Reed says.
“€œPolice were definitely the big promoter of the scanners.”€  

Neither Portland police nor the city attorney was aware of the 2009 law until WW raised the question. “We’re glad when someone brings this up. We want
to do what’s best to protect public safety and protect people’s rights,” Multnomah County spokesman David Austin tells WW.

Austin said the county is meeting with state and local law enforcement in the coming week to determine how to move forward 

“If we learn that information was being maintained in violation of state law, we would seek to remedy the situation, to make sure the technology is used within
compliance,”€ says Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.  

He says the police don’t own the scanners, and so aren’t responsible for how they were used.  

“It’s an issue between the bars and the company,” he says. “We recommend a
lot of things to people, but it’s up to the individual to make sure it’s compliant.” 

The program was designed to combat underaged drinking.  

In 2011, the state awarded Multnomah County a three-year grant to reduce
alcohol abuse. Last year, the county gave $60,000 to Lines for Life, a nonprofit that works on reducing substance abuse, to purchase scanners for Old Town bars and clubs.  

The bars used the scanners, Lines for Life owned them and Portland police
controlled the devices. Police ensured clubs were using them. 

“€œIf we don’t use it, they know,”€ a downtown bouncer tells WW. 

A few club owners turned down the free scanners. One owner says he added surveillance cameras when police asked. “€œI happily installed those. But this was going too far,”€ the club owner says. “€œIt felt invasive.” 

The scanners, made by Servall Data Systems of Calgary, Alberta, collect
patrons’ names and ages while a camera captures their photo. The information is stored in a database shared by all clubs with the scanners for 90 days.  

If a club ejects a patron, the bouncer can flag that person in the database. If that
customer then tries to enter another bar, the database alerts the other club.  

When a crime occurs, Portland police can ask Servall for access to the
data—no subpoena needed, says Servall president Alberio Frota. Bars already freely share with police the data they gather, say bouncers at multiple clubs across the city. 

In October, Tiffany Jenks, 35, was shot to death in Blue Lake Park in
Fairview. Police quickly arrested three suspects—based in part, court records show, on evidence gleaned from ID scanners.  

Staff at Mystic and Club 205 in Hazelwood had swiped the IDs and snapped photos of the three suspects. Both clubs  purchased the scanning systems on their own. 

Other cities are already using the sophisticated scanners. 

Vancouver, B.C., bars began using ID scanners in the early 2000s, and crime in the city’s bar district plummeted within six months, says Vance Campbell, a
club owner who spearheaded the initiative. The city of San Francisco also encourages its downtown clubs to invest in ID scanners.  

Some Portland bar employees say the scanners keep police and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission happy. Most say the scanners make their jobs easier. 

“If someone hits me, I don’t have to beat their ass,” says a bouncer at another eastside strip club that purchased a scanner. Instead, the club simply turns the
assailant’s record over to police.  

But others worry they are helping create Big Brother. 

“I like having the scanner,” says a bouncer who asked not to be named
because he’s not authorized to speak to the press. “But what does that data do? People don’€™t know; we haven’€™t given them the choice.”

Some younger customers in Old Town told WW they didn’t know what the ID scanners could do, nor did they care.  

“Millennials don’t care,” said Scott Lansing of Portland, standing outside the
Rainbow Room as two of his friends wrestled in the snow. “We’ve just
been brought up to expect that everyone has access to that information.” 

Maybe some people don’t care, says public defender Chris O’Connor. But plenty of people would have a problem, he adds, if they knew their nighttime
entertainment could be tracked. 

“Maybe some Mormons don’t want people to know they’re going into a bar, maybe someone doesn’t want his probation officer to know he’s going into a
bar,” O’Connor says. “Maybe so-and-so doesn’t want his wife to know where he’€™s been over the last 90 days.”  

WW staff writer Aaron Mesh contributed reporting for this story.

Worst Day of the Year Ride Canceled Because of Bad Weather

It’s a moment that Portland cyclists will be living down for years, if not decades: the challenging portion of the 2014 Worst Day of the Year Ride, which had been scheduled for this Sunday, has been canceled because the weather will be bad.
By bad we mean that there will be as many as eight inches of snow on the ground in Portland. The ride is, of course, supposedly timed to the worst weather day of the year. And just yesterday, ride organizers were encouraging riders to “have no fear about the forecast.”
But, more than 48 hours before the event, “Portland’s Favorite Wacky Winter Ride” has canceled its more challenging route “for safety reasons” and will instead ask riders to pedal around flat city streets for a few miles and then warm their little toesies by the fire with a warm cup of cocoa everything, even the hot cocoa.

We remind you that Minneapolis claims to be the best biking city in America, that their best day of February is worse than our worst and that they are all going to laugh at us.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to get home before it gets dark because our office is officially closed and Portland’s streets really are scary when it snows.

 

UPDATE: Organizers point out that, at this point, the less-challenging urban ride will go on, snow or no snow, and that there will still be a party to celebrate. The first line of this post has been clarified to reflect this.
UPDATE 2: Would-be 2014 riders are already paid up for 2015.

The Secret of Yummy Garden

Sunny Chan has a lot of history at Yummy Garden, the Brooklyn neighborhood restaurant he used to own, and at another restaurant he owned, Chinese Garden in Gresham.

Today, there’s change afoot at both joints. Yummy Garden, known for its kelly-green exterior and lemon-yellow floor tiles more than its cuisine (one regular says he took to ordering a burger or grilled cheese because the Chinese food was so bad) closed Jan. 29. Chan’s Chinese Garden, which features a menu heavy on chop suey and chow mein, green vinyl booths and a flashy electronic Keno board over the cash register, remains open, although Chan abruptly assigned ownership to his wife in June.

And Chan is nowhere to be found.

“He’s in China,” says a Chinese Garden manager who declined to give her name. “We don’t know when he’ll be back.”

Probably never. Chan is the alleged leader of a Chinese drug gang. Last week,
Chan’s top lieutenant, Shu Guang “Big Rock” Wu, was in federal court and is expected to plead guilty Feb. 20 to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. He faces 26 years in prison.

Big Rock’s would be the highest-ranking conviction in a three-year investigation into a large, sophisticated Chinese marijuana-growing operation that had its unofficial headquarters in Chinese restaurants, but extended into ordinary-looking houses scattered across Southeast Portland.

Nailing the leader of this operation will be difficult, unless Chan, 59, tires
of China. He’s got little reason to return to Portland. Federal prosecutors who indicted him last year are demanding he cough up nearly $4 million in cash and a couple of houses and spend the next few decades as the government’s guest.

Prosecutors say Chan had ties to at least three restaurants—Mandarin Palace in
Beaverton was the third—as well as elaborate money-laundering and property transactions.

The case offers a rare glimpse inside Asian organized crime in Portland.

Someone who’s had more than a peek at this underworld is Jeff Zoria, a mortgage
broker whose office at Wing Ming Square, at 2788 SE 82nd Ave., is in the heart of Portland’s new Chinatown.

Zoria, 51, whose daughters and business partner are Chinese, complained for
years about illegal gambling parlors in his building. But Zoria, who says he suffers from severe asthma, thought the Chinese gamblers, who included Sunny Chan, were guilty of nothing more than clicking mahjong tiles and violating indoor smoking laws.

“Why would all these Chinese guys, who speak little or no English, get into growing pot in Oregon?” Zoria asks. “They’re serious and they work like oxen. There’s just no mixture between the Chinese community and weed. I’m baffled by it.”

The answer, of course, is money.

Like other industrial products, such as textiles, automobiles or computers,
marijuana production moves from place to place and group to group. Even as legalization in Oregon looms, growers are enjoying outsized profits by shipping their product east.

“Legalization is following a very different path from the repeal of Prohibition,” says Alison Holcomb, drug policy director of the American Civil
Liberties Union
of Washington state. She was a leader of that state’s successful 2012 marijuana legalization campaign.

“Prohibition’s end had an immediate impact because it happened at the same time nationwide,” Holcomb says. “[Marijuana] legalization is piecemeal, so won’t have the same impact on the black market.”

Outdoor growing operations are still responsible for most of the 150,000 or so
plants law enforcement seizes annually in Oregon—but Chinese indoor growing operations are the latest trend. Chan’s operation, for example, was equivalent to 20 percent of all the indoor grows seized in Oregon last year, according to federal statistics.

“It’s all about a business opportunity,” says John Deits, a recently retired federal drug prosecutor who oversaw part of the Chan case.

While Mexican cartels have dominated Oregon pot production, there’s clearly a new entrant to the market.

“The Chinese growers are a real recent phenomenon,” Deits says, “and they are very well-organized.”


NO MORE CROPS: A one-time Lents grow house owned by Sunny Chan. IMAGE: Bethlayne Hansen

If what the feds say about Sunny Chan is true, his underlings were correct to nickname him “Big Brother.”

Federal warrants say he ran a large and complex “marijuana-manufacturing and money-laundering conspiracy.”

Law enforcement agents believe Chan is the boss of a ring that involved at least five marijuana grow houses in outer Southeast Portland and at least one in Southwest Washington.

These were not houses with just a few plants in the basement. Agents busted the houses in 2011 and 2013, seizing more than 3,000 marijuana plants with a street value of as much as $3 million.

Those cases were in addition to at least four other busts of Chinese growers in Portland and in Washington and Yamhill counties since late 2010.

Deits,66, who was Oregon’s top federal drug prosecutor for 11 years before
retiring in November, says the Chinese are the latest group to make a grab for Oregon’s marijuana market.

Deits began his career as a drug prosecutor in 1974.

“€œThe marijuana market has changed dramatically since then,”€ he says. 

In those days, Deits recalls, marijuana growers were Caucasian.

“Way back in the late ’70s, I don’t remember a lot of ethnic groups being involved,” Deits says. “It was hippies.”

Over time, however, the source of production moved north.

“In the ’90s, you had ‘B.C. bud’ coming out of Canada,” Deits says. “Nobody
was growing much here, and because the Canadian border was insecure, you
had huge quantities of super-high stuff available.”

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, led to tighter security and a sharp
reduction in the supply of Canadian marijuana. “The Canadian drug groups—a lot of them were Vietnamese—moved down to Seattle, Portland and
Sacramento,” Deits says.

Mexican cartels also moved in after 9/11, setting up expansive growing
operations on remote federal lands. In the mid-2000s, Deits says, law
enforcement agencies started targeting such Mexican operations. They remain Oregon’s biggest growers, but the focus on them created opportunities for new growers.

Chinese entrepreneurs saw an opportunity in plentiful cheap houses, high
unemployment and profit margins unimaginable in the restaurant business.

They jumped in. Unlike the Mexican cartels, which work outdoors in rural
areas, Chinese pot growers work indoors in urban centers, where their plants produce a higher-quality product because of the climate-controlled conditions.

“Indoor grows produce higher THC,” says Deits, referring to the main mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana.

Sunny Chan’s indoor operations were almost invisible. And because most of the
product got shipped out of state—experts say Oregon is a large exporter of marijuana—there was little risk of street dealers implicating Chan’s crew.


NOT SO HAPPY VALLEY: Sunny Chan fled to China last year, leaving this $600,000 home just over the Clackamas County line to his wife. IMAGE: Bethlayne Hansen

Because Chan’s case is still pending in federal court, some of the details of the investigation that led to his indictment are not public. (Lawyers for five others indicted with Chan declined to comment.)

But a 2011 bust of two of Chan’s associates and search warrants served last year reveal how his gang allegedly operated.

Anybody who’s watched The Wire or crime movies knows how cops often attack drug rings—they grab low-level dealers and roll up the chain of command.

Busting grow houses doesn’t work that way. Instead of info from street dealers,
the best intelligence usually comes from one of the most law-abiding
organizations in town, Portland General Electric.

“A lot of times utilities provide a tip,” Deits says. “PGE investigators will call the police and say, ‘We see a diversion.'”

When cops raided one of Chan’s grow houses on Southeast 118th Drive in August 2011, they said the house had been using thousands of dollars of electricity each month—for free.

Stealing electricity is a risky proposition. Trying to tap into the high-voltage lines on residential streets carries the risk of electrocution or fire.

Ryan Lufkin, a Multnomah County deputy district attorney who prosecuted those arrested at Chan’s house on Southeast 118th Drive, says investigators believe there is a rogue electrician who serves grow houses, using his training to connect grow houses to the high-voltage wires.

Indoor grows require lots of electricity. Chinese growers tear out interior walls, clear all furniture and turn homes into giant greenhouses. They then hook up electricity for continuous lighting, irrigation and drying of marijuana. By tapping electricity before it goes through the household meter, the growers can hide their usage from PGE.

The utility’s investigators monitor homes and businesses for unusual
consumption, and indoor growers want to avoid that scrutiny.

Thieves steal nearly $1 million in electricity annually from PGE, says company
spokesman Steve Corson. Corson does not know how much of that is stolen by marijuana farmers, but he says the amount is substantial.

“We’ve seen a definite trend in terms of growing operations moving indoors,”
Corson says. “A large grow operation can steal between $1,000 and $2,500 a month.”

Stealing power was in some ways the riskiest part of Chan’s operation.

WW interviewed neighbors near grow houses on Southeast 115th and 84th
avenues. Fearing retaliation, they spoke on background but said neither house raised much suspicion.

A 2,640-square-foot grow house with a large garage on Southeast 115th Avenue in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood is tucked away on a flag-shaped lot and surrounded by a high fence.

Ironically, in front of the home is an Oxford House, for those in recovery from
alcoholism and drug addiction. After a Chan underling bought the house in foreclosure in 2010, a Chinese man moved in.

Neighbors say a van stopped by periodically, and people walking in the park
behind the house detected the smell of marijuana. But other than the fact that the lights never went off, it was difficult to tell if anyone lived there.

Chan’s grow house on Southeast 84th Avenue in Lents has less privacy and is
smaller—cops seized only 486 plants there, one-third of the total seized at the Southeast 115th Avenue house. A neighbor says an Asian woman appeared to live there by herself, only venturing outside for an occasional cigarette. The woman also received regular visits from a van driver.

Neighbors near two of Chan’s grow houses say the first time they were aware
something extraordinary was happening was when several PGE trucks showed
up to work on the power lines.

“I came home one day and couldn’t get through the street because there were so many PGE trucks,” says an 84th Avenue neighbor.

Chan’s gang operated as a tightly controlled cell. Records show Chan’s wife, son and nephew were involved, along with other accomplices who were closely connected. (Chan’s son, Evan, declined to comment. Chan’s wife could not be reached.)

The Portland Police Bureau and local federal law enforcement agencies employ
few Chinese-speaking investigators. And like other immigrant groups,
prosecutors say, members of Portland’s Chinese community are reluctant to speak to police.

Chan’s group used prepaid cellphones that don’t require identification for
activation, court records show. That makes wiretapping difficult.

Despite the language and cultural barriers to investigating Chinese growers,
prosecutors say there is one officer with extraordinary expertise in Chinese grow operations.

“The cop who did a ton of these investigations is Scott McCollister,” Lufkin says. “He knows everything there is to know about them.”

Today, prosecutors admire McCollister for his skillful investigations. A decade ago he was infamous for fatally shooting Kendra James, an unarmed black woman.

To take down Chan’s operation, McCollister, who declined to be interviewed
for this story, and his colleagues pulled together bank records, decoded
convoluted property transactions and figured out where all the marijuana and money was going.

“These cases are very complex,” Lufkin says. “Everybody has a specific role, and it’s very organized.”


TAKING THE FALL: The feds indicted Sunny Chan and five associates last March. Chan fled but others, including Sun Ae Walker (left) and Chan’s nephew Yau Yee “Fat Boy” Ma, are pleading guilty. IMAGE: Multnomah County Sheriff Dept.

All Sunny Chan needed to become a big-league marijuana grower was people and property.

It appears his enterprise began during the 2008 recession, when unemployment was high and home prices were low.

The crew he assembled often met after hours, records show, at Chan’s restaurant, Chinese Garden. Chan even told one associate, his nephew Yau Yee “Fat Boy” Ma, to sponsor the immigration of a man named Chan Wen Chao to work at Yau’s restaurant, Yummy Garden. (It is unclear when Chan came to the United States. Court records show he married his wife in Portland in 1983.)

Wen Chao’s real function, according to a federal search warrant, was to serve as a straw buyer for one of Chan’s grow houses.

Investigators found that Wen Chao presented falsified bank statements to a title
company to prove he could afford a house, when in fact the real buyers were Chan and his wife.

The purpose of the deception: “To conceal Sunny’s involvement in the illegal
[marijuana] manufacturing activity taking place at the residence,” the search warrant alleges.

The real-estate transactions provided Chan an opportunity to launder some of
the cash his operation was allegedly generating. He bought at least three houses, paying more than $500,000 in cash.

Chan’s marijuana business made a lot of money. A woman arrested for her role
in tending plants told police she got paid 10 percent of the proceeds from the Lents house each month. Her monthly payments were $6,000 to $7,000 during 2012, which suggests that grow house—Chan’s smallest—was netting $60,000 to $70,000 a month.

None of the legal titles to Chan’s grow houses was in his name, at least initially. But when the cops started moving in, he flipped at least one back into his name to protect his business.

Chan bought the Lents house in 2009. Less than a month later, he sold it to an associate named Jian Pan Su.

In March 2011, police stopped Jian after he left a suspected marijuana grow house in Ridgefield, Wash.

That same day, Jian gave the Portland house back to Chan for free, which a
search warrant describes as “an attempt by Jian to avoid discovery of the marijuana-growing operation inside the 84th Avenue residence.”

Bank records showed that Chan controlled accounts in other states, such as
Georgia, where money would be deposited and transferred back to Portland. In the 2011 bust, investigators found stacks of boxes for mailing marijuana elsewhere.

“The joke in law enforcement is that the U.S. Postal Service is the biggest drug dealer in the country,” Deits says.

For all the sophistication of Chan’s operation, his crew made some silly mistakes.

Although Chan went to great lengths to disguise his property transactions,
Multnomah County property records show that his wife, Suzi, paid the 2012 property taxes for three homes held in other people’s names.

Suzi Chan also figured in one of the unintentionally comedic events of the downfall of her husband’s gang.

After the 2011 bust, she went downtown to bail out one of the growers, a man
named De Bin Zhen, who had been arrested for growing marijuana.

“Suzi provided $10,000 cash in an attempt to bail out De Bin,” according to court documents. “The money was seized following an alert from a narcotics-detection canine, which [was] alerted to the presence of a narcotic odor on the money.”

De Bin did not fare any better in the judicial system. Lufkin, the state prosecutor, says Chinese growers usually plead guilty because such cases typically include overwhelming evidence of guilt and carry light sentences.

At the house where De Bin was arrested, officers seized 1,053 marijuana plants and 490 marijuana clones, which are fast-growing cuttings from mother plants.

“The guy’s defense was, he did not know what marijuana was,” says Lufkin, who prosecuted De Bin. “That did not go over very well in court.”


NO SMOKING: Mortgage broker Jeff Zoria’s frustration with chain-smoking Chinese gamblers brought authorities to Wing Ming Square on Southeast 82nd Avenue. IMAGE: Lennox Rees

The 2011 arrest and subsequent conviction of De Bin and another grower were just the first step in officials’ pursuit of Chan.

To make a federal case against Chan, investigators pored over financial and
property records to establish the interstate distribution and money-laundering aspects of the case.

After seizing evidence from Chan’s grow houses, investigators had one final search warrant to serve.

They wanted the records kept by the real-estate agent who’d worked for Chan in at least three transactions.

That agent is a woman named Xiao Tang, and her realty firm shares space on
Southeast 82nd Avenue with Bamboo Mortgage, Jeff Zoria’s company. (There’s no indication either of them was involved Chan’s drug ring.) 

Ironically, Zoria was desperate for the authorities to bust the Chinese gambling operation in his building.

“The gamblers are chain smokers and they were destroying my health,” Zoria says.

Throughout the first half of 2013, Zoria sent emails and letters to the Portland
Police Bureau’s drugs and vice division, Portland Fire & Rescue, Multnomah County’s smoking-prevention program and even the city agency that licenses social-gambling operations.

During the spring and summer, a drugs and vice cop stopped by, as did a fire
inspector and the city’s gambling-license regulator. A county code inspector even visited six times. But nothing changed.

Then, on Oct. 10, police and federal agents raided Zoria’s office, seizing Xiao Tang’s computer and records related to Sunny Chan.

Zoria says he sat in his office dumbfounded when officers served their search warrant.

“I’ve been complaining to the police about the gambling for a long time,” he says. “Then they came in like storm troopers for something else.”


IMAGE: Lennox Rees

 

Today, Zoria says his lungs are clear. Instead of tobacco smoke, the sugary smell of charred meat from New Wing Wa BBQ King, on the floor below, wafts through his office.

In January, the Chinese gambling club in his building closed. Some of the
gamblers have been arrested. Chan is gone, holing up in China.

His associates are pleading guilty one by one. His wife filed for divorce in
December—perhaps in an attempt to preserve assets, because she’s said to be with Chan in China.


Although Oregon is hurtling toward marijuana legalization, prosecutors say there will be plenty of people eager to take Chan’s place.

Even if Oregon legalizes marijuana later this year, many states are far from such a decision, which means demand for Oregon weed will remain strong.

In Colorado, where legalization went into effect last month, prices have gone up, not down.

Holcomb, the Washington ACLU drug policy director and a former criminal defense lawyer, says demand will keep the Sunny Chans of the world busy. And
“whack-a-mole” justice will continue.

€œ”We think the legal price will track the black-market price,”€ Holcomb says. €œ”There’€™s still plenty of money to be made.”€