Portland’s Last Affordable Bike Neighborhoods

[Editor’s note: Due to a technical glitch, the map on this piece did not print correctly. We regret any confusion. The map’s below.]

Portland has long been thought of as a cycling mecca for one big reason: Affordable homes were close enough to work to commute by bike. Housing prices rose by another 6.6 percent last year, and a February project by Governing magazine found the city is gentrifying faster than anywhere else in the nation. Does the promise of an affordable, bikeable Portland still hold up?Consider that the median income for a family in Portland is around $50,000, which financial advisers will tell you means they should not spend more than $315,000 on a house. Also consider that the national average commuting time is 25 minutes each way.

So can you find an affordable house in a place that’s about a one-hour round-trip commute to downtown Portland by bike? It’s increasingly difficult.

We used a city-provided map of every Portland neighborhood and contacted D. Patrick Lewis of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate for a list of the median prices of homes sold in each neighborhood. Then we used Google Maps’ cycling directions to determine how far each neighborhood was from downtown—specifically Big Pink—in miles and minutes of cycling. (Traffic and the specific location within a neighborhood can cause these times to vary considerably, but this is our best try.)

What we found won’t surprise most Portland house-hunters: It’s no longer cheap to live close to downtown, even in long-shunned North Portland. Here’s what else we found.

After you remove outliers such as Chinatown and Goose Hollow—if you can actually find a livable, single-family house there for under $300,000, we would be happy to buy it from you—the best bet for bikers is probably Foster-Powell. There, houses are selling for about $262,000, and the round-trip commute is 66 minutes. And the neighborhood looks to get even better with an upcoming “road diet” plan for Southeast Foster Road. Starting next year, the city will spend $5.5 million to build bike lanes and remove two of the busy thoroughfare’s five car lanes.

lede_bikeandbuy_map

Two other mid-Southeast neighborhoods are close behind: Woodstock and South Tabor. However, South Tabor is the better value for bikers as living there shaves 12 minutes and nearly three miles from your daily commute. It has a better bike score to match: 84 compared to Woodstock’s 77.

Creston-Kenilworth—roughly the area south of Powell Boulevard between 28th and 50th avenues—also stood out. Homes there are selling for a median price of $330,000, and the cycling commute is 50 minutes.

North Portland, long known as cheap and close to downtown, isn’t so much like that anymore. Vernon boasts housing prices of $370,000. Neighbors in Piedmont, Overlook and Humboldt come in at $50,000 less—putting them on the bubble of affordability, while being only a few minutes closer to downtown than far-cheaper Southeast neighborhoods.

Your best bet for a true bargain? Brentwood-Darlington is an outside contender, with home prices sitting at around $213,000. Right now, it’s 81 minutes to downtown along the Springwater Corridor, but the new Orange MAX Line could be a game-changer if you don’t feel like making a long ride.

Or you can just wait—and pray—for the Portland housing bubble to pop.

Click here for a searchable chart of Portland neighborhoods!

Bar Guide 2015: Our Favorite 178 Portland Bars by Neighborhood

 

 

Our Favorite 178 Portland Bars | Bar of the Year: Stammtisch | Best Bars No. 2-5

Strip Club Hangouts | Sports Bars | Shot ‘n’ a Back | English Bars | Dessert Cocktails 

Patio Bars | Bars That Look Like Houses | Skee-ball Bars | Cart Pod Bars

Where to Eat After Bar Close | The Most Important Little Bar ‘Hood in Portland 



Bars by Neighborhood:

SOUTHEAST  | NORTHEAST  | NORTH  |  NORTHWEST  | SOUTHWEST  | BURBS

 

SOUTHEAST

82nd Avenue

The Blue Room

Lion’s Eye Tavern

 

Belmont

Aalto Lounge

The Conquistador

Belmont Station

Cascade Barrel House

Charlie Horse Saloon

Crush Bar

Grand Central Bowling

Holocene

Horse Brass

The Liquor Store

The Nest

Pips & Bounce

Sassy’s

Star Bar

Sweet Hereafter

There Be Monsters

Bushwhacker Cider

B-Side

Burnside Brewing

Eastburn

 

Burnside

Fire on the Mountain

Rontoms

Union Jacks

The Wurst

 

Central Eastside

Bunk Bar

Carmella’s Wines

Coopers Hall

Dig a Pony

Hair of the Dog

Oso Market + Bar

Slow Bar

 

Division/Clinton

‘Reel M’ Inn

Baerlic Brewing

Blitz Ladd

Double Barrel

Hedge House

Landmark Saloon

Lucky Horseshoe Lounge

The Richmond Bar

Scoreboard

Scout Beer Garden

Southeast Wine Collective

Whiskey Soda Lounge

 

Foster-Powell

Bar Carlo

Bar Maven

Da Hui

Devils Point

Gemini Lounge

O’Malley’s

N.W.I.P.A.

Pod Bar

Starday Tavern


Hawthorne

4-4-2

Bazi Bierbrasserie

Blackbird Pizza

Claudia’s

High Dive

Likewise

Mad Sons Pub

Prettyman’s General

The Ranger Station

The Tanker

White Owl Social Club

 

Lents

The Eagle Eye Tavern

 

Montavilla

Montavilla Station

Roscoe’s

Vintage Cocktail Lounge

 

Powell

Rose City Strip

 

Stark

Captured by Porches

Enso

Holman’s

Rum Club

The Slammer

 

Tabor

Sapphire Hotel

 

Woodstock

Lutz Tavern

 

NORTHEAST 

Alberta-Killingsworth

The Bye and Bye

The Knock Back

The Know

Expatriate

Prospect Bottleshop & Bar

Radio Room

Wilder Bar Cafe

 

Broadway

Black Water

Habesha Lounge

Hale Pele

The Moon and Sixpence

Rose & Thistle

 

Cully

Spare Room

Velo Cult

 

Dekum

Breakside Brewery

The Oregon Public House

 

Fremont

Fire on the Mountain

Free House

Mad Hanna

 

Hollywood

Blackwell’s

 

Kerns

Angel Face

Beulahland

Blue Diamond

Chopsticks Express II

Church

Club 21

Stammtisch

The Standard

 

Laurelhurst

Laurelthirst Public House

 

MLK

Beech Street Parlor

Billy Ray’s Dive

Bunk Bar Wonder

Mint/820

Purringtons Cat Lounge

Reverend Nat’s

The Secret Society

 

Roseway

Laurelwood

 

Mt. Tabor

Tannery Bar

 

NORTH

Columbia

Ponderosa Lounge

 

Interstate

Ex Novo

The Alibi

 

Kenton

The Fixin’ To

The Foggy Notion

Mock Crest Tavern

World Famous Kenton Club

 

Killingsworth

Florida Room

The Hop & Vine

The Lost and Found

Saraveza

 

Mississippi

Atlantis Lounge

Bar Bar

Bungalo Bar

Liberty Glass

Moloko

Red Fox

Spin Laundry Lounge

Stormbreaker Brewing

 

St. Johns

The Baowry

The Central Hotel

Plew’s Brews

St. Johns Porch

 

Williams-Vancouver

Interurban

TeSóAria

Turn! Turn! Turn!

 

NORTHWEST

21st and 23rd

The Abbey Bar

M Bar

Pope House Bourbon Lounge

Rams Head

 

Industrial

Nicolai Street Clubhouse

 

Old Town/Chinatown

Ground Kontrol

Pints

 

Pearl

10 Barrel

The Big Legrowlski

Deschutes Portland

Fat Head’s

The Fields

Jimmy Mak’s

Low Brow Lounge

Remedy

River Pig Saloon

Teardrop Cocktail Lounge

Vault Martini

 

Slabtown

Lucky Labrador

Paymaster Lounge

Yur’s

 

SOUTHWEST

Downtown

Bailey’s Taproom/Upper Lip

Barlow

Higgins Bar

Kelly’s Olympian

Mary’s Club

Punch Bowl Social

Rookery

Tugboat Brewing

Veritable Quandary

 

Goose Hollow

Civic Taproom & Bottle Shop

Goose Hollow Inn

 

Hillsdale

Sasquatch

 

Multnomah Village

Renner’s Grill

 

Old Town

Kit Kat Club

Valentines

 

West End

Cassidy’s

Chizu

Jackknife

Pepe Le Moko

 

SUBURBS

Oregon City

The Highland Stillhouse

 

Beaverton

Watson Hall

 

Troutdale

Edgefield

Our Favorite 178 Portland Bars | Bar of the Year: Stammtisch | Best Bars No. 2-5

Strip Club Hangouts | Sports Bars | Shot ‘n’ a Back | English Bars | Dessert Cocktails 

Patio Bars | Bars That Look Like Houses | Skee-ball Bars | Cart Pod Bars

Where to Eat After Bar Close | The Most Important Little Bar ‘Hood in Portland 

The White Line

 They call the dark spots “cancer.”
“That’s the industry term, because once you have that dark spot, it’ll collect heat and spread,” says Dave Tragethon, PR director for Mount Hood Meadows. “Snow’s white and it reflects the sun, but once it gets dark it collects the heat and it starts warming up the ground around it.”
We’re standing in the lift line last Sunday, the 118th and final day of operations at Meadows. I’m standing on a 30-inch base, but just a few feet away you can see bare grass that will soon sprout wildflowers.
It’s been a rough winter all along the West Coast. At Meadows, the end of the season has a bittersweet note. On one hand, it was a short season. On the other hand, it could have been a lot worse—just look at Skibowl. And it would have been worse had the resort not developed new techniques for harvesting and storing snowpack to build enough of a base at the bottom of the hill.
“We’re standing on November snow,” says Tragethon. “We harvested this from our parking lot and saved every inch of it, and it’s what got us through.”
Skiing on snow that was scraped off a parking lot isn’t especially sexy. And to a certain class of Portland powder hounds there’s likely something off-putting about it. But given our warming Earth’s new weather patterns, I think it’s important to adjust your paradigms if you want to continue enjoying snow sports.
Oregon’s resorts were built for an era when the white line that separates winter from spring sat much lower on the hill. Meadows slopes got just 100 inches of snow this season, and much of the snow that fell was higher on the mountain than in the past. Compare that to a typical year, when it’s more like 450 inches. In a very heavy year the snowfall has topped 800.
“We’re lucky in that we do have good snow up top,” says Tom Scully, director of mountain operations. “The issue is connecting the base area to that, which is where the snow harvesting came in. It used to be that we were looking for a place to put all the snow that fell. Now, we’re trying to conserve it and use it to fill the gaps.”
That’s a new mindset on Hood, where snow had long fallen in dumps of heavy, damp powder. But it may well be our new reality. And it could be much worse. Spring skiing came a month earlier than I’d like, but I still enjoy the vibe—warm cans of Miller Lite on the sink in the men’s room, a big line for a squirt from an industrial-size jug of sunblock, a beer patio full of people decked out in vintage jackets.
And then there was the guy in a Viking suit, who actually stopped midrun to thank Scully for the efforts to extend the season, which involved buying new equipment to haul and store snow and long hours for Sam Cordell, who is in charge of slope maintenance. “I grew up on a farm, so I know how it is,” says the Viking. “They did an amazing job with what they had.”
Not everyone was happy, of course. I also rode with a guy in a tie-dyed shirt who complained that they should have done more to keep snow on the Stadium trail, a wide, grassy run better handled at this point with a mountain bike instead of skis. Then again, this guy did rack up more than a million vertical feet over the course of the season, and rode the lift some 800 times.
“I live for this, so this winter sucked” he said. “But it could’ve been worse.”
For the resorts, obviously, it’s bad for a bunch of reasons. Including the cost of managing their precious-little natural snow. Operating a snowcat for three hours costs about $500, the price of one season ticket, and they had as many as 12 of them running at once when the skies opened up.
But that’s what it takes to adjust. The resorts seem to be figuring this out faster than the customers. When the best snowfall of the year came last week, most skiers and boarders I know were already done. That’s Portland: The season begins after Christmas, not with the first snowfall around Thanksgiving. The season starts winding down in early March, a full month before the Cascadian snowpack reaches its peak. So it is for people who have always been blessed with abundance.
Well, unless you’re a climate-change denier, you need to reschedule your ski season. Because, Sunday was a great day to be out on the slopes.
“Traditionally resorts don’t close because they run out of snow, but because they run out of people,” says Tragethon. “I don’t know if it’s just seeing that white line or if it’s the weather in town or what, but people just stop coming even when there’s still good snow.”

A Guide to Portland Record Stores

NORTH PORTLAND

Beacon Sound

3636 N Mississippi Ave., wearebeaconsound.com. Noon-7 pm daily.

With its clean, minimalist design, Beacon Sound has the air of an art gallery, which might also owe to the fact that it’s connected to one. Either way, it belies the shop’s focus, which, while stocking the usual of-the-moment indie stuff, tilts avant-garde. On a recent visit, customers milled around the counter discussing Steve Reich and John Cage while crazy-making free jazz spilled from the store speakers. No one will judge you for only buying the new Sufjan, though. Not out loud, anyway. MATTHEW P. SINGER.

Specialization: Cutting-edge electronic and experimental music.

Find of the day: John Simeone, “Who Do You Love” b/w “Forever,” a ’70s soul-funk 7-inch worth $300.

Mississippi Records
5202 N Albina Ave., 282-2990. Noon-7 pm daily.

Rightly regarded as one of the truly special record stores on the West Coast, if not the entire country, Mississippi Records piles all manner of curios—mostly of the blues, gospel and folk varieties, a good chunk of which were reissued via owner Eric Isaacson’s label of the same name—into a room resembling the den of that eccentric hermit at the end of the street you’ve been dying to become friends with. MPS.

Specialization: Rare blues, gospel and pre-Beatles rock, as well as punk and garage rock.

Find of the day: A mint-condition original pressing of Atomic Bomb, a 1978 album by recently rediscovered Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor.

Vinyl Resting Place
8332 N Lombard St., 247-9573, vinylrestingplace.com.

The pun probably worked better back when buying records seemed like grave-robbing, but even after the medium’s resurrection, Vinyl Resting Place, long one of St. Johns’ best-kept secrets, keeps a mostly vintage inventory. You won’t find any Best New Music selections, or much new anything, but there is a ton of reasonably priced old folk and country, plus a world-class jazz section allegedly frequented by Japanese collectors. MPS.

Specialty: Folk, jazz, country, classic rock.

Find Of The Day: Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, which sits behind glass with a $200 price tag.


NORTHEAST PORTLAND

Anthem Records*
2706 NE Sandy Blvd., 963-9000, anthemrecords.bandcamp.com. 3-7 pm Friday, noon-7 pm Saturday or by appointment.

Hidden in a narrow alley just off Sandy, Anthem Records is a small specialty store owned and operated by Jon AD, founder of the electronic music label Lo Dubs. But don’t expect to see anything as commercial as, say, the new Disclosure record sitting in the bins of vinyl stacked throughout the sparsely decorated shop. Instead, you’ll find a limited-edition orchestral metal album detailing the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog, a few fleetingly popular 3-inch CDs tacked onto a wall or selections of a genre called “Gabber.” KAITIE TODD.

Specialization: Electronic and metal.

Find of the day: Bryce Rohde Trio, Turn Right at New South Wales (1979).

*Note: Now primarily mail order.

Jump Jump Music
7005 NE Prescott St., 284-4828. Noon-5 pm Monday-Friday.

Jump Jump Music is one of the oldest record joints in Portland, with an emphasis on hip-hop, soul and jazz. While the store looks like something out of Hoarders, cluttered with boxes and dusty memorabilia, the records are intensely organized and the owner knows his stuff. ASHLEY JOCZ.

Specialization: Hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz.

Find of the day: The Baron Von Ohlen Quartet featuring Mary Ann Moss, The Baron, a ’70s electronic jazz album of popular pop-song covers.

Little Axe Records*
3746 NE 42nd Ave., (503) 320-3656. Noon-6 pm Wednesday-Monday.

Tucked inside a quaint Victorian house, Little Axe Records is a hidden gem in the Alberta neighborhood. While the store doesn’t boast much square footage, it’s got an extensive and in-depth collection of classics, hits, rarities and old Southern gospel. Displaying such records as Mississippi Delta Blues, Vol. 1 and the Endless Summer soundtrack, the store caters to every level of record geek. There’s an extensive cassette collection as well. AJ.

Specialization: World, folk and gospel.

Find of the day: MEV/AMM, Live Electronic Music Improvised (1970). 

*Note: This listing was written about the store’s previous location on NE Alberta. Little Axe is moving to 4142 NE Sandy Blvd. on April 30, 2016.

Musique Plastique
1627 NE Alberta St. Suite #5, (503) 282-0236, musique-plastique.com. 11 am-6 pm Monday-Sunday.

With Little Axe having moved out of the ‘hood, Musique Plastique is somehow Alberta’s only record shop. Resembling a walk-in closet with a cash register, the tiny boutique feels less like a store than a museum exhibit of a vinyl junkie’s precisely curated, neatly arranged personal collection; it almost seems like touching anything should be consider a violation. But while the atmosphere is certainly geeky, it’s hardly stuffy or uninviting: In such close quarters, it won’t be long before you find yourself nerding out with one of the co-owners over the rare, all-German-language versions of Kraftwerk albums or the brilliance of Manuel Gottsching’s 1984 electro-prog opus E2-E4. MATTHEW SINGER.

Specialization: Krautrock, early electronic music.

Find of the day: A dub version of Israel Vibration’s The Same Song, available for $400.

Turn! Turn! Turn!
8 NE Killingsworth St., 284-6019, turnturnturnpdx.com. 4-11 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 3 pm-midnight Friday-Saturday, 3-11 pm Sunday.

Turn! Turn! Turn! is the “renaissance man” of record stores. Not only does it have some of the best country vinyl in town, but it’s also a bookstore, a venue, a bar (with a killer craft beer menu), and even has a small vintage clothing selection—basically, everything awesome in one place. AJ.

Specialization: Rare country.

Find of the day: The Dead C, Harsh 70s Reality (1992).

Turn Turn Turn


SOUTHEAST PORTLAND
Belmont Records (NE Blythe & Bennett)*
3334 SE Belmont St., 234-6996, blytheandbennett.com. Noon-8 pm daily.

Residing in a small nook once occupied by the Dixie Mattress Co., Blythe & Bennett occupies a perfect niche on Belmont, where it sits next to Sweet Hereafter, Straight From New York Pizza and Stumptown. Riding a booze or caffeine buzz Blythe & Bennett stays open late (for a record store), so stop in and browse the impressive $2 record bins, where you’ll find everything from Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album to Porter Wagoner compilations. The store also has the coolest listening station in town—a record player and pair of headphones inside an old phone booth. MICHAEL MANNHEIMER.

Specialization: Old and new rock with a heavy ’90s bent.

Find of the day: A rare copy of P, the self-titled record from the band Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes started with Johnny Depp. 

*Note: Closes April 24, 2016.

Clinton Street Record and Stereo
2510 SE Clinton St., 235-5323, clintonstreetrecordandstereo.com. 1-7 pm daily.

Part vintage stereo equipment shop, part college-rock boutique, the tiny Clinton Street is a geek-focused shop for collectors and connoisseurs. They can set you up with a turntable (most run about $100) and a $50 copy of Mercury Rev’s Yerself Is Steam and even a $60 set of used Polk Audio bookshelf speakers. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Specialization: Vintage college rock, obscure hip-hop and electronic music.

Find of the day: Pearl Jam’s No Code (1996) on vinyl, $90.

Crossroads Music
3130 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-1767, xro.com. 11 am-6 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-7 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday.

A flea market of a record store, Crossroads offers collections from more than 30 individuals on consignment. With so much used vinyl spanning most genres, some digging is required, but the friendly staff will help you find treasure. The shop also sells stereo equipment and boasts an impressive collection of local concert posters. MARK A. STOCK.

Specialization: Classic rock, jazz.

Find of the day: Roky Erickson’s The Psychedelic Banjoman, a European release of songs recorded by the 13th Floor Elevators mastermind between 1976 and 1985.

Exiled Records
4628 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-0751, exiledrecords.com. 11 am-7 pm Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.

A petite but lauded shop known for its collection of rarities, bargain bins, international releases and zines. Sharing a complex with a liquor store and sandwich shop, Exiled feels like an industry secret, a delightful marriage of new and old records with helpful handwritten tags and placers devoted to acts as unsung as Brian Cook. MAS.

Specialization: Psych rock, experimental.

Find of the day: Testify, a 1971 release from local pro wrestler Beauregarde featuring a 17-year-old Greg Sage on guitar.

Future Shock
1914 E Burnside St., 327-8473, futureshockpdx.com. 11 am-9 pm daily.

Between the anime-style vinyl figurines, the weirdly stylish kitsch and handmade skateboards on the walls ($69, unique!), you almost could be in the world’s best store for designer kicks. But the weird, low-ceilinged shack by the Burnside Plaid Pantry is all about the kick drums, snares and breaks, at that intersection of geek, toker and cool-kid DJ that describes maybe 30 percent of Portland. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Specialization: All things choppable or already chopped: hip-hop, old soul, generation upon generation of Ninja Tune, plus house, techno and electro. 

Find of the day: The guy behind the counter was stoked on the new Sven Atterton, a hacked-up wallpaper of Minneapolis-style synth funk. I was sort of excited about a limited-edition Strawberry Shortcake platter for $8.

future shock

Green Noise Records
5857 SE Foster Road, 956-3110, greennoiserecords.com. Noon-7 pm Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.

The former location of this shop, which doubles as home base for local garage-rock label Dirtnap Records, got gentrified out of its Woodstock space because of a fancy sandwich shop. Now, it’s out on a scrubby stretch of Foster. The selection is large, and the entrance is well-stocked with punk zines. MC.

Specialization: Garage rock and punk.

Find of the day: Pretty much everything Mean Jeans has recorded on vinyl.

Jackpot Records
3574 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 239-7561, jackpotrecords.com. 10 am-8 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday.

Jackpot’s original Hawthorne location (the larger downtown store closed last year) is as small and charming as an ice-cream parlor. Vintage signs dangle above tidy stacks of mostly contemporary CDs and vinyl. The shop opened in 1997 and has since coined a record label, reissuing work from the likes of Portland punk-rock pioneers the Wipers and Dutch garage experimentalists the Outsiders. MAS.

Specialization: Indie rock.

Find of the day: Grock by Crock, a frenetic prog-rock project from Quasi’s Sam Coomes and Hella’s Spencer Seim, of which only 500 neon-green vinyl copies were pressed.

Music Millennium
3158 E Burnside St., 862-8826, musicmillenium.com. 10 am-10 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-9 pm Sunday.

At 56 years old, the labyrinthine nooks and crevices in Portland’s oldest and most storied record store look as if they evolved naturally, like canyons carved into sandstone. They didn’t. The store is in heavy rearrangement, with an extra vinyl room in the works because one wall of the current vinyl room will soon have a bar and cafe serving up libations for shoppers and the lookie-loos at Portland’s busiest in-store show venue. MK.

Specialization: Everything is special. Nothing is special.

Find of the day: A first pressing of Led Zeppelin I with turquoise lettering recently sold for $1,000.

music millenium

SMUT Vintage
7 SE 28th Ave., 235-7688, smutportland.blogspot.com. Noon-7 pm Monday-Friday, 11 am-7 pm Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday.

SMUT is a lot like that remote corner of your dad’s weird bachelor friend’s basement you snuck glances at while
no one was looking: kitschy beer signs and vintage porn galore, as well as a small but eclectic selection of vinyl that coalesces more around facial-hair preferences than genre. The soul and funk section has been raided several times over by local revivalist DJs, but the pool of classic rock and AM gold favorites is as wide as it is deep. PETE COTTELL.

Specialization: Mustachioed 8-track favorites, modern hip-hop.

Find of the day: Iggy Pop’s The Idiot (1977), $40.

Tender Loving Empire
3541 SE Hawthorne Blvd., (503) 548-2927; 412 SW 10th Ave., (503) 243-5859; 525 NW 23rd Ave., (503) 964-6592, tenderlovingempire.com. 10 am-7 pm daily (West End location closes at 6:30 pm). 

“Empire” is right: Since Jared and Brianne Mees launched their label and original boutique store way back in 2006, Tender Loving Empire now has three locations and a discography representing the cream of Portland’s indie-pop crop, from Typhoon to Radiation City. Although its Hawthorne location, which opened in 2014, is more gift shop than record store, the music it does sell is the most Portland-focused in the city, from the TLE catalog and beyond. MATTHEW SINGER.

Specialization: Portland music.

Find of the day: A series of PDX Pop Now compilations on CD, going as far back as 2007.


SOUTHWEST/NORTHWEST
2nd Avenue Records
400 SW 2nd Ave., 222-3783, 2ndavenuerecords.com. 11 am-8 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-8 pm Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday.

A downtown mainstay for more than three decades, 2nd Avenue’s impeccably curated embarrassment of vinyl riches caters to just about every taste imaginable. Aging scenesters eye “Cowboy Classics” 78s stacked below the yawning reggae selection. Tattooed tweeners leaf through hardcore 45s probably recorded before they were born. A hyper-disciplined organization of goods dispels any whiff of the flea market and, with enough artist tees hanging from the rafters to fill a dozen Hot Topics, even the music haters among us should leave happy. JAY HORTON.

Specialization: No one in town carries more metal.

Find of the day: Samurai (1971), an exceedingly rare self-titled prog-psych LP from former members of U.K. jazz fusion outfit the Web.

Everyday Music
1313 W Burnside, 274-0961; 1931 NE Sandy Blvd., 239-7610, everydaymusic.com. 9 am-11 pm daily.

Among the vinyl-adorned pillars and magazine-clipping-collaged electrical boxes of Everyday Music’s library-style layout—a décor my companion deemed “industrial-meets-dollar store”—you’ll find what is likely the largest collection of vinyl in the city. If you uncover a used $2 Stevie Wonder record after staring at the spidery wall decals from an old Of Montreal album, it shouldn’t be a surprise. KT.

Specialization: If you need the new Death Cab or Decemberists, they got you.

Find of the day: A mono copy of A Hard Day’s Night, $80.

everyday music downtown

Platinum Records
104 SW 2nd Ave., 222-9166, platinum-records.com. 11 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday.

Although the larger back room of DJ gear and PA systems may now attract the lion’s share of business, Platinum Records still boasts a daunting supply of ’70s funk, ’80s R&B and block-rocking white labels. Give prospective purchases a spin at listening stations set up below signed testimonials from DJ Dan and Mix Master Mike. JH.

Specialization: Dance music.

Find of the day: Test pressing of Candy (1979) by Con Funk Shun.

Landfill Rescue Unit
400 NW Couch St., 679-8579. 11 am-7 pm daily.

Housed within Old Town’s Floating World Comics, this teensy record store might appear to be just an outgrowth of four-color wares. But Landfill’s separately owned and operated area—soon to have a designated sales associate three to five days a week (and weekends)—catches the eye through graffiti-scrawled, specially constructed wooden dumpsters whose hidden shelves roll outward to reveal vinyl treasures. JH.

Specialization: Punk, hardcore.

Find of the day: Sleep’s Dopesmoker (2003), on Tee Pee Records, for $75.

Swingin’ Party

About the time the couch crash-landed on Southeast Ash Street, it became clear this was a Replacements show that would live in infamy.

Portland always brought out the worst in the Replacements. Singer Paul Westerberg went so far as to call it a “curse.” And the show on Dec. 7, 1987, the last on the Pleased to Meet Me tour, was the nadir. Or, depending on your perspective, the peak.

Memories being what they are, no one is sure if the crashing couch was the punctuation on the most disastrous gig in the career of a band famous for disastrous gigs or just the beginning. What’s certain is, at some point, members of the ’Mats and their opening act, the Young Fresh Fellows, got it in their heads that it’d be fun to pitch the dressing-room sofa out the second-floor window of what was then the Pine Street Theater.

“Who’s idea was it? I can’t remember for sure, but let’s blame it on Tommy,” says Fellows frontman Scott McCaughey, referring to Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson. “We thought it was brilliant at that moment—it would have been less comical had it landed on somebody. Obviously none of us were interested in thoughts of safety or retribution at the time.”

In truth, the show doesn’t sound much different than other Replacements shows of the era: moments of blotto ineptitude interspersed with the occasional glimmer of transcendence and lots of random cover tunes. Nevertheless, it’s probably the only show the band ever felt the need to publicly apologize for. They even wrote a song about it.

***

Twenty-eight years later, and 24 since their last visit, the Replacements are coming back to Portland. Of course, this Replacements isn’t the Replacements, as two of the four slots in the band are occupied by literal replacements. It’s more like “Paul and Tommy Play the Hits.” It’ll almost assuredly be great. Few legacies are as protected against reunion-tour cynicism as theirs, and reports from the festival dates they’ve played over the last year, including a triumphant Minneapolis homecoming in September, indicate the songs are as vital as ever, regardless of who’s actually playing them.

But without the threat of the whole thing falling apart in a boozy mess, it still won’t be the Replacements. In its heyday, the group made self-sabotage into an art form. By the metric of practically anyone who heard them, the ’Mats should’ve been the biggest band in the world, the pre-Nirvana force to rise up from the American punk underground and bring raw, honest rock ’n’ roll back to the pop charts. And over and over again, they managed to snatch failure from the jaws of success. Over time, those spectacular flameouts—getting banned from Saturday Night Live, getting tossed off a Tom Petty tour—came to define the Replacements as much as anything they recorded. With almost any other band, that might seem depressing. In the case of the ’Mats, though, it’s damn near heroic.

“They knew they were never going to succeed on their own terms,” says Gorman Bechard, director of the documentary Color Me Obsessed. “At least they could fail on their own terms.”

It’s all different now, though. A reunion tour is an inherent victory lap, particularly for a band that didn’t sell a lot of records in its prime. It’s proof the Replacements did succeed on their own terms—it just took two decades in absentia for it to happen. Even with their old Pacific Northwest running buddies the Young Fresh Fellows on the bill, there’s little chance this show will devolve into chaos. There’s nothing to ruin, because there’s nothing to protect. All we’ll get are the songs. And, truth be told, that’s not such a bad consolation.

***

In 1987, though, there was still plenty to fuck up. Released in April, Pleased to Meet Me was the Replacements’ second major-label album. As many ascertained from its production sheen and punk-deficient songwriting, it was meant to be the record that would finally break the band big. (It had horns on it, for crying out loud.) The night before the start of the supporting tour, Westerberg, Stinson, drummer Chris Mars and guitarist Slim Dunlap (who joined after Tommy’s brother, Bob, either quit or got fired), along with McCaughey, shaved off their eyebrows. This is how the Replacements chose to present themselves to a potential new mainstream audience: as a crew of bedheaded Uncle Festers.

By the time the tour reached its end in Portland, the ’Mats were no more famous than when it began, and everyone was exhausted. They’d played San Francisco the night before and, according to McCaughey, were operating on an hour of sleep.

“The minute we arrived at Pine Street,” he says, “Paul came up to me and chanted, ‘Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!’” The tour had actually swung through town five months earlier, and while that show wasn’t exactly a sober affair, this was something else. “We’re not talking a bunch of New England Conservatory grads to start with,” says former WW music critic Marty Hughley. “The second time, they were so drunk whatever chops they had just disintegrated.” With the Fellows lobbing food at them, the ’Mats stumbled through a set consisting mostly of songs from its back catalog and several covers, of everything from the Stones to Prince to Dusty Springfield, stopping, restarting and occasionally abandoning a song altogether (while, naturally, completely disregarding their single at the time, “Alex Chilton”). Stinson and Westerberg—who came out draped in a velvet “Leonardo da Vinci” robe McCaughey often wore onstage, with the rest of McCaughey’s tour clothes wrapped around him—gradually stripped, tossing garments into the crowd and eventually playing with their pants around their ankles. About half the crowd left. All in all, a pretty standard Replacements experience.

“I don’t know if, from an audience perspective, that show was any more disastrous than other Replacements shows over the years,” says David Benedetti, a former KBOO DJ who used his tax return to follow the band on tour. “I saw some crazy Replacements shows, so this just fit in as another crazy Replacements show.”

If the show has earned a place in Replacements lore, it’s likely more because of what happened backstage. Aside from the couch-tossing incident, Westerberg charged at a chandelier for a “Tarzan swing” and yanked it out of the ceiling. The two bands bowled in the hallways using empty beer cans and balls stolen from a nearby alley. Fellows drummer Tad Hutchison fell on a broken jar of peanut butter during an attempt at a human pyramid and had to get stitches. There was even an appearance by Pappy the Clown, mild-mannered Chris Mars’ “demonic,” drunken alter ego. “Eight Keith Moons armed with bottles and bowling balls and a complete disregard for reason” is how McCaughey describes the scene. Concert promoter Monqui had just taken over the building, and co-founder Mike Quinn admits to feeling ambivalent about the situation.

“I was pissed,” Quinn says “But it’s like, what do you do? I love the band. Part of me was like, ‘This is awesome,’ and another part of me is like, ‘This is fucked up.’”

***

When the Replacements went back into the studio in 1988, they committed two apologies for the Portland debacle to record, one more literal than the other. On the original vinyl pressing of Pleased to Meet Me’s follow-up, Don’t Tell a Soul, Westerberg requested the phrase “We’re Sorry Portland” be etched into the record’s run-out groove, where the serial number would normally go. More obliquely, around the same time, Westerberg also wrote a song called “Portland,” a countryish tune that went unreleased for a decade. Though not a direct expression of contrition, it does feature a lyric that seems to address that besotted night: “It’s too late to turn back/ Here we go, Portland.” (Westerberg also requested to play for free the next time through town, but management nixed that idea. They did lower the ticket price, though.) As late as 2013, members of the band were still talking about it: In an interview with Time, Tommy Stinson was asked about the story behind “Portland.” “It wasn’t one of our defining great moments,” he said. “It was a bad gig, and people were really bummed.”

 

The “curse of Portland,” as Westerberg once referred to it in The Oregonian, continued to haunt the group even after it initially disbanded. In 1993, Westerberg was supposed to play solo at La Luna—the renamed Pine Street Theater—when a back injury forced him to cancel. The Replacements did manage to get through one gig in Portland without incident, in 1991, on its final tour until this current one. But that show had problems of its own, in that it didn’t have any. If they were too drunk in ’87, they were too sober in ’91.

“To me, that’s a bad Replacements show,” Benedetti says. “A show that’s loose and sloppy, and comes off the rails, that’s what I loved about the Replacements—you never knew what you were going to get.”

They just couldn’t win—which is precisely why everyone loved them. 

Set List: The Replacements at Pine Street Theater, 12/7/87

1. Happy (The Rolling Stones cover)

2. Valentine

3. Hold My Life

4. Honky Tonk Women (The Rolling Stones cover)

5. Left of the Dial

6. Little Mascara

7. Answering Machine

8. Never Mind

9. Favorite Thing

10. Kiss Me on the Bus

11. Another Girl, Another Planet (The Only Ones cover)

12. Darlin’ One

13. I Will Dare

14. Cruella DeVille

15. I Don’t Know (with Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows)

16. Within Your Reach

17. California Sun (The Rivieras cover)

18. The Look of Love (Dusty Springfield cover)

19. Color Me Impressed

20. Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) (The Hombres cover)

21. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (Prince cover)

22. Can’t Hardly Wait

23. Gary’s Got a Boner

Encore:

24. Johnny’s Gonna Die

25. Willpower

26. Unsatisfied

SOURCE: setlist.fm

SEE IT: The Replacements play Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., with the Young Fresh Fellows, on Friday, April 10. 9 pm. Sold out. All ages.

Bad Boy

Greg Belisle demanded an answer. Steve Buel refused to give him one.

It was Jan. 27, 2014, and Belisle was holding the gavel as co-chairman of the Portland Public Schools board. He and the other six board members were about to vote on a plan by Superintendent Carole Smith to stash $14 million in unexpected revenue in the school district’s piggy bank.

Most of the School Board was willing to go along. After years of tight budgets, the district could finally put away a little extra cash for emergencies.

Not Buel. 

A former teacher elected to the board in 2013, Buel thought the emergency was already at hand. He wanted to spend more money in classrooms immediately. “We could have put a certified librarian in every elementary school in the city of Portland with that money,” he told fellow board members.

That wasn’t the only problem with Smith’s plan, Buel argued. The board’s blind support of Smith typified deeper problems—the absence of hard questions, the
disregard for transparency, and the lack of frank discussions about the district’s educational failings.

When it came time to vote, Buel kept talking. Belisle lost his cool.

“Yes or no, Director Buel?” Belisle demanded.

Buel reached for a white paper bag.

“I’ve been trying to get along with the rest of the board,” he said. “I figured I might get in a little better if I brought my own rubber stamps.”

He then took two stamps out of the bag—one for “yes” and the other “no.” He stamped the resolution in front of him, then held it up for colleagues to admire.

“Anyone want to borrow my rubber stamp?”

Teachers cheered as Smith, seated next to Buel, forced a painful grin.

Buel is often rude, irritating and insulting. Yet he may be the school district’s best chance for a rescue from the eight-year slumber that has characterized Smith’s reign.

On May 19, Portland voters get a chance to shake up the PPS board and decide whether Buel going forward will have enough support around him to transform the district like he wants. 

Rex Hagans, a retired planning director for Education Northwest, a research organization, describes Buel as smart, committed, organized and effective.

“He’s a very persistent and very consistent person in his philosophy, which is basically that you need to trust the professionals in the schools,” Hagans says. “You can’t quiet him. You can’t do it. It’s not going to
happen.”

 

 

At an age when his peers are gliding into retirement, Buel, 70, still burns like a spiraling fireball. In passive-aggressive Portland, he’s just plain aggressive—an outlier on a School Board that’s about as buttoned up as the Dowager Countess of Grantham. 

Craggy and vinegary, Buel has a wide, crooked grin and white, side-swept hair. At 5-foot-7, he’s short but scrappy. He once tackled a man who trespassed and tried to expose himself at a middle school where Buel taught, holding the man down until help arrived.

He often attacks his fellow board members the same way: If he disagrees, Buel will knock their ideas to the ground as if they were an intruder. 

Buel has a long history as an agitator on education issues. In the 1970s, he wrote articles on schools for Willamette Week, which was founded by his older brother, Ron. (The Buels haven’t had any affiliation with the newspaper since the early 1980s.)

Buel served on the PPS board once before, from 1979 to 1983, when he lost a bid for re-election. In 1983, a then-colleague on the board said Buel was like sandpaper, “he just scrapes on people.” 

At times, Buel seems unaware of how irritating he can be, even to people who are likely to agree with his goals. 

“Steve’s one of those people you listen to with one ear and ignore with the other,” says Zeke Smith, the superintendent’s chief of staff from 2007 to 2012. “He’s constantly launching grenades just to see how they explode.”

Even his allies notice his effect on others.

“He has some really good things that he’s bringing up,” says Andrew Davidson, a 2014 Grant
High School graduate and student representative to the board last year. “The board just marches on right past him.”

Buel has had a second, unexpected effect on the board: His impertinence has cracked open PPS leaders’ long-held reluctance to question the status quo and Smith’s decisions. 

“He really has changed how the board operates,” says Davidson, who is now running for a full seat on the board. “They seem less afraid to ask questions now and challenge staff.” 

Three incumbents who regularly fought with Buel—Ruth Adkins, Greg Belisle and Matt Morton—have all declined to run again in the May 19 School Board election. Adkins and Belisle said they wanted to spend more time with their families; Morton said he needed to focus on running his nonprofit, the Native American Youth and Family Center. 

It also seems Buel has worn them down. Adds Tom Koehler, who also joined the board in 2013
with Buel: “There was a kind of cozy consensus before Steve and I got on the board. That no longer exists.”

The Buel-driven change in the board’s makeup could shift a majority against Smith. New candidates—such as Davidson, Paul Anthony and Mike Rosen—and incumbent Bobbie Regan have shown more willingness to work with Buel to challenge Smith to do more.

Buel, who often appears to be failing in his larger mission, could actually be the force that creates a School Board that brings more attention to the needs of students, teachers and parents—and perhaps new leadership at PPS.

 

Portland Public Schools is the largest district in the state, with 47,000 students, 3,200 teachers and a $535 million annual budget. Yet it’s run by an unlikely superintendent.

In 2007, Carole Smith had been chief of staff to then-Superintendent Vicki Phillips, who moved with such force and speed to close and merge schools she earned the nickname “Hurricane Vicki.”€ She lasted less than three years. 

The PPS board named an interim superintendent and then, turning away nearly three dozen other local and national applicants, gave Smith the permanent job.

Smith’s previous management experience included running a small alternative school in North Portland. Her biggest asset eight years ago was that she was nice and that she seemed to listen well, two traits Phillips couldn’t claim to share. 

Smith answers to the Portland Public Schools board, whose seven members volunteer their time. Historically, the board has been deferential to the PPS superintendent. But Smith has pushed through a number of controversial changes over the years, and the board often goes along with a minimum of questions.

Buel took notice.

He had lost a campaign for the board in 2005. After Smith’s hiring, Buel tried and failed to get appointed to the board in 2008, and lost another election bid in 2009.

Buel retired from teaching in 2010 and two years later helped found a small activist group called Oregon Save Our Schools. The group rails against standardized tests and top-down administration. It bird-dogs the Oregon Education Investment Board, the superboard that oversees all schools, colleges and
universities in Oregon. Buel rarely misses a meeting.

After he took down PPS board incumbent Martín González in 2013—with a hefty $12,000 check
from the Portland Association of Teachers union Buel didn’t wait long to start pushing his agenda and upsetting the board’s go-along-to-get-along attitude.

In an August 2013 meeting, one month after being sworn in, Buel refused to keep quiet when Belisle told him he couldn’t interrupt the board’s consideration of the business agenda to question Smith about a $35,000 tutoring contract. 

He also demanded to know why PPS was spending $800,000 on outside attorneys when it had lawyers on staff. (The answers didn’t satisfy him.)

He then introduced three motions that—breaking with custom—had not been pre-approved by the board’s co-chairs. 

The other board members tried to put him off. “I’m trying to make a point here,” Buel said. “We’re supposed to be making decisions in open meetings.”

Belisle relented, letting Buel put forward a motion requiring Smith to make sure the grass got cut in front of school buildings. Buel waved weeds he had plucked from the lawn at Vernon K-8 School in Northeast Portland.

“How’d you like to live next door to that?” Buel asked. “How do we expect our kids to take pride in our schools?”

Buel later said he knew his stunt was symbolic, but he wanted to put an end to board members’ passively waiting for the superintendent to put forward ideas.

The other members voted his proposal down.

Buel would soon get used to that.

In February 2014, Buel pushed a peanut ban at Beverly Cleary K-8 School’s Hollyrood campus
after learning that a single first-grader at that Northeast Portland school had a life-threatening peanut allergy. Board members rejected his proposal, agreeing a peanut ban could give the child a “false sense of security”—a line Buel traced to the peanut lobby hoping to tamp down growing peanut fears. 

For the next several School Board meetings, Buel set a jar of Skippy peanut butter in front of him to protest his colleagues’ inaction. 

“No one likes to be accused of killing children in public,” he says.

 

 

Buel’s persistence has put pressure on other board members regarding much weightier issues than peanut butter and weeds.

He was the only School Board member to attend contract talks regularly as PPS teachers and administrators negotiated a teachers contract in 2013 and 2014. As teachers neared a possible strike, student protesters interrupted a January 2014 meeting. Of those present, only Buel stayed to listen to their demands.

Buel voted against Smith’s glowing performance evaluation in May 2014 and rejected the superintendent’s 2014-15 budget because of the board’s unwillingness to allow more public discussion about it. (Buel claimed the board scheduled only eight seconds of budget debate for every million dollars spent.)

That August, he voted against a 28 percent pay raise for Smith, which brought her annual salary to $247,000. “It was too much money,” Buel says. “We gave a 2.3 percent raise to teachers, and a 28 percent raise to the superintendent? It doesn’t make much sense to me.”

Last October, he voted against board protocols that asked members to refrain from “personally criticizing another board member or district staff in public.” He passed out copies of the First Amendment and accused colleagues—including Morton, who is Native American and oversees a high school for native students—of quashing free speech.

“I would think Mr. Morton, who runs a school filled with children whose ancestors had their rights stripped from them for centuries, might be cognizant of protecting basic rights,” Buel said. “But I guess not, so vote away, but as for me, I am voting no.”

The majority voted yes. Koehler abstained, but not before Belisle chimed in.

“I just want to acknowledge that I felt co-opting another group’s oppression for personal gain, or to make someone’s point, especially someone from the
dominant culture, is quite inappropriate,” he said.

Buel’s off-the-cuff remarks often draw rebukes from critics. He says his words are misread. During a public budget forum with Spanish-speaking parents in April 2014, Morton noticed a note in front of Buel. 

“Kick my chair if I nod off,” Buel had scribbled on a notepad. Morton—who often battles with
Buel—took a picture of the note with his phone. Morton says the note struck him as being at odds with Buel’s claims of devotion to transparency and inclusiveness. “It makes me wonder if his private
beliefs match his public displays,”€ Morton says. 

Buel says he doesn’t remember writing the note, but says it would have had nothing to do with the fact the audience included Latino parents. “There’s no way for Matt Morton to know what I was thinking,” he says.

Charles McGee, co-founder of the Black Parent Initiative, calls Buel “the Joe Biden of Portland politics.” Buel, McGee says, often utters statements that give him pause. “At the same time, his heart is in the right place,” he says. “It doesn’t take away from the inappropriateness.”

At a board retreat in March 2014, Buel questioned the district’s recent practice of pulling teachers at low-income schools out of their classes for professional development training, frequently leaving their students with substitutes.

The next day, Morton, currently the only minority member on the board, sent an email to the other members in response to Buel. Morton said the training helped teachers—most of whom were white and middle-class—to provide more culturally relevant instruction. 

“It is not cut and dried in the manner Matt suggests,” Buel shot back. “Much of our professional development has been spent around re-engineering adults’ attitudes instead of giving teachers the skills to deal with children who are of significantly different backgrounds than they are themselves.”

“If you believe ‘re-engineering adults’ attitudes’ is unnecessary,” Morton responded, “you may want to brush up on your critical race theory and develop a
firmer understanding of the elements of institutional racism.”

“Yeh, and you brush up on how to educate children,” Buel wrote back. “Screw you.”

“My style of communication you are so openly disgusted with is founded in my indigenous values,” Morton responded. “Based on your behavior I’m not at all surprised you don’t recognize key elements like kindness, respect and consensus.”

“Yeh, well, I’ll say it again,” Buel wrote. “Screw you, asshole.”

 

 

Buel’s outspokenness on the School Board may not have produced monumental policy change, but his willingness to challenge Superintendent Smith has created openings for other candidates who are also questioning the district’s direction.

“Steve’s raising some really important issues,” says Paul Anthony, who’s running to replace Morton in inner Northeast Portland. “He is inviting more dissent.”

Mike Rosen, who’s running unopposed to replace Greg Belisle, says Buel once described himself to Rosen as a “disrupter.”€ 

“He’s the guy who throws the wrench into the gears,” Rosen says.

Buel, Rosen says, has been treated poorly by some members of the board, and that has made him angry and frustrated. “He’s just so completely isolated,” Rosen says. “If he had a group of people who were willing to work with him, it’s reasonable to expect he’€™d be part of constructive progress.”€ 

Board members with whom Buel has clashed—Ruth Adkins, Pam Knowles and Belisle—declined to be interviewed.

“I appreciate that he’s pushing us out of our comfort zone,” says Bobbie Regan, an incumbent running for her fourth term. “He is pushing us, and I think in
the end, he’s going to make us a better board.”

Buel says a different board could make Smith more effective.

“If things switch over, and you get a different group, she’s said she’s very willing to work with the new board,” Buel says.

One of the biggest preoccupations of the school district’s administration and the board
today concerns which students go to which schools.

It’s an issue Buel dealt with when he served on the School Board in 1980. (See below.)

The district recently spent months tweaking its student transfer policy, a change that had at its heart a desire to alter the racial makeup of schools that were seen as too white or too black. It’s also why the board and Smith recently launched a process to redraw school boundaries—an effort to ensure all
neighborhood schools offer high-quality programs.

“We haven’t come that far,” says Rosen. “We just feel better about the way we talk about it.”

Except Steve Buel. He’s talking the same way, saying the same thing. The question now is, will anyone listen?

“There will always be some disagreements, and I think that’s a good thing,” says Bill Scott, who served with Buel on the School Board from 1979 to 1983. “I would continue to be skeptical of Steve’s skills in expressing those in a way that’s useful or helps the group move toward a consensus.”

Koehler has heard the same criticism of Buel. “For every good thing that he says, he also shoots himself in the foot,” Koehler says, though he holds out hope. “I expect going forward there will be less foot shooting and more statesmanlike behavior.”

Buel says he’s not only capable of change, he’s ready for it. “I was a disrupter because that was the only avenue I was given,” he says. “It will be imperative
for me to move from ‘disrupter’ to ‘builder.'”

He says his message has gotten through. “A lot of people understand the board isn’t working—that’s progress,” he says. “You don’t have to disrupt things
that are moving along smoothly.”€ 


 

Buel’s History Lesson

Tensions in the Portland Public Schools over race and equity were shaped by tumultuous events at the district decades ago—and Steve Buel had a direct role in shaping them.

Buel, then 31 and a teacher in the Reedville School District, now part of Hillsboro, first sought election to the board in 1976. He lost, but then tried twice unsuccessfully to get appointed to vacancies.

He won outright in 1979. His opponent was Evie Crowell, an African-American who was then the only minority on the board. 

Buel’s path to victory was smoothed by an endorsement from Herb Cawthorne, a black leader of the Community Coalition for School Integration, who told the Portland Observer that Crowell didn’t represent the African-American community’s interests.

Portland Public Schools was then led by Superintendent Robert Blanchard, a nationally recognized educator who had served more than a decade as superintendent.

The city’s white elite loved Blanchard, who was under tremendous pressure by minority leaders to reduce disparate discipline against black students and address the district’s two-tiered system of schooling for black and white children. The burden of integration fell to black families.

“Our kids were being bused all over creation,” says Ron Herndon, then leader of the Black United Front, a fiery protest group whose members commanded attention by standing on School Board members’ desks. “Our black teachers were not allowed to teach in predominately black schools, and there were very few black principals.”

Buel sided with the Black United Front.

“What the Black United Front was saying was, ‘We want to be equal, therefore we want our children’s schools to be as good as anybody else’s,'” Buel
recalls. “For me that was the connection—to be able to choose a good education in your own community, if you wanted. That choice wasn’t previously available to you in that way.”

In April 1980, the Portland School Board, without Blanchard’s support, adopted a desegregation policy that ended forced busing and allowed all children to attend neighborhood schools.

Buel played a crucial role. “He was more than willing to challenge the status quo,” Herndon says, “which was very uncommon for most people on the School Board.”

Three months later, the board voted 4-3 to fire Blanchard. The decision sparked dueling recall campaigns—one against the four who had fired Blanchard and one by the Black United Front against the three members who supported the superintendent.

“The community turned on every one of us,” Buel says. “I was getting bombarded.”

In November 1980, Blanchard died of a massive heart attack. His estate claimed on-the-job stress contributed to his death. A year later, the board voted to name the district’s headquarters after Blanchard. Buel abstained.

Anger over the Blanchard firing lingered into the next election. “[H]e has been a time-wasting obstructionist,” The Oregonian editorial board said of Buel when he sought re-election in 1983. “Even during the important school desegregation meetings, Buel, more than anyone else, was responsible for interminable attention to trivia, pointlessly prolonging meetings beyond rational patience. His four-year performance has been a disappointment both in terms of style and substance.”

Voters ousted Buel in favor of a former bank executive.

His departure was a relief to others. “Utterly difficult to work with,” is how Charlotte Beeman, who served with Buel on the board from 1981 to 1983, sums him up. “It appears that he hasn’t changed.” BETH SLOVIC.

Album Review: Houndstooth, No News From Home (No Quarter)

[POSTCARDS FROM SOMEWHERE] Appropriately for an album informed by the perpetual displacement of life on the road, No News From Home, the second full-length from kaleidoscopic folkies Houndstooth, begins with the band already in motion. Opener “Bliss Boat,” a motoring bit of country rock by way of the German Autobahn, comes in with the gas pedal down, chugging along on an insistent, almost krautrocking rhythm, suggesting miles of highway were in the rearview before the listener even hit “Play.” “Lately I’ve been thinking of the fall,” sings Katie Bernstein with the detachment of someone who’s been staring out the passenger-side window too long.

For a small-time touring band, the most pervasive hazard of living out of a van is not blown tires but the places idle minds drift when left to wander in those hours upon hours between gigs. As one might guess, on No News From Home, thoughts in the Houndstooth van most often turn to home, in one form or another. On the jangling title track, Bernstein, sounding like a less rambly Courtney Barnett, frets over the radio silence she’s receiving from the crush keeping her tethered to the place she left behind. On “Wasted Hours,” singer-guitarist John Gnorski outright begs to be taken back to “where I belong,” but “every road leads to the East/There’s no escape for me.” The phrase “you can’t take it with you when you go,” uttered on the slow-burn ballad “Green Light,” is the album’s thematic tagline—”it” meaning anything from a loved one to the entire topography of the Pacific Northwest.

But hey, at least they’ve got each other. Gnorski wraps Bernstein’s sweet-sad melodies in warm, slinky leads, while bassist James Mitchell and drummer Graeme Gibson dutifully keep the train a-rollin’ to the next town. Some weariness sets in during the homestretch, as the propulsion starts to drag and the songwriting blurs. But that’s just as well: With any road trip, you can rarely expect the endpoint to live up to the time spent getting there.

SEE IT: Houndstooth plays Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water Ave., with No La La, on Saturday, April 4. 10 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.

10 Barrel: Barreling Forward

10 BARREL BREWING IMAGE: jenniferplitzko.co

I really wanted to hate 10 Barrel’s new Portland brewpub (1411 NW Flanders St.,224-1700, 10barrel.com). Last year, 10 Barrel Brewing, which was crafting some of my favorite off-the-shelf beer in Oregon, sold to Anheuser-Busch while in the process of opening this new brewery, which is helmed by former Pelican brewmaster Whitney Burnside. I haven’t bought any of my once-beloved OG Wheat IPA since. So when the new space finally opened March 16, I ho-hummed my way through their pretty doors. And, goddamn it, I liked
the place.

Situated across from Rogue and a few blocks from Fat Head’s in what’s fast becoming one of Portland’s better beer ‘hoods, the bright, wide-open pub stands at the pinnacle of contemporary brewery chic, with lots of concrete and rough-hewn wood arranged around an open brewhouse. The staff is friendly, attentive and remarkably well-trained for new hires. The menu is similar to what you find at the Bend branch, with pizzas and $13 “nachos” consisting of a mountain of housemade potato chips topped with steak and Gorgonzola. That dish, plus a delicious $7 Cajun Brussels sprouts appetizer (also a huge amount of food) made me wonder whether this place is better than the nearby Deschutes pub, making me both angry and confused.

The pub is mostly pouring 10 Barrel beers made at other locations while they break in the house brewing system. The first beer from that system, Pearl IPA, is a perfectly bitter, slightly hazy, excellently crafted beer. I won’t be back soon because I am a purist, but I won’t ruin a good thing for you, either. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.