Remember When Infamous Thief Carmen Sandiego Stole All the Benson Bubblers?

Longtime Portlanders will remember waking up on the morning of June 9, 1993, to the news that all 52 original Benson Bubblers mysteriously vanished overnight. The crime shook the city. The Benson Bubblers were not only a truly unique historical treasure, they were also a crucial source of drinking water for the city’s homeless population and birds.

For weeks, the case went nowhere. That is, until ACME Crimenet agents recovered the bubblers and pinned the daring heist on none other than the notorious Carmen Sandiego. We recently caught up with Carmen, who is retired and married to a man from this area.

Dr. Millar: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Carmen.

Carmen Lakeoswego: It’s no problem. I love visiting Portland. James and I have a couple of properties here that we rent as Airbnbs. It’s nice. I love the sharing economy.

DM: Take me back to the crime. How did you set your sights on sleepy little Portland?

CL: That was a very busy time in my life. It was one caper after another, and each one had to top the one before it. It was stressful! In the months leading up to the Benson Bubblers, I had taken the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Easter Island moai, and all of the sushi in Japan. People were always asking me, “What’s next for Carmen Sandiego?” I finally said, “Enough is enough!” I decided I wanted to go somewhere relatively quiet and steal something that people didn’t really care about.

DM: Talk to me about what you remember from that era of Portland.

CL: Portland was such a hip city back then. You walked around and there was a kinetic energy in the air. I remember doing a lot of shopping at the mall—what’s the mall called? The Lloyd Center? I think that’s it—and people would just walk up to me and start talking about the weirdest shit. Just whatever was on their minds. I did a lot of traveling back then, and that didn’t happen anywhere else.

DM: In what ways have you noticed Portland has changed since then?

CL: Portland is still a cool city, but in a much different way. I’m not sure I can explain it, except to say that back then, I was quite comfortable walking around in my crimson trench coat and floppy crimson wide-brimmed hat. I didn’t feel out of place. Now, though? I feel like people are more likely to stare or snicker. It’s like you get in a line at Disneyland and then you see a sign that says, “You must be at least this cool to ride.” To answer your question, even though there are lots of new buildings and so many of the neighborhoods have changed, the biggest change is probably the attitude and culture of the people.

DM: Unfortunate, isn’t it? One thing I’ve always wondered, just what did you do with the Benson Bubblers after you stole them?

CL: The same thing I did with everything else I stole. I had a giant warehouse, and I pretty much just kept them there. I had them cleaned, and I hooked them up to some water pipes, and I drank out of them a few times, but I didn’t really get it. Honestly, I never really did anything with any of the crap I stole. (Laughs)

DM: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Carmen.

CL: Thanks for having me.

My Family Left the United States Because of the Bush Presidency—And It Didn’t Make Our Lives Any Better

Like many Portlanders, I’m at the point in my day where the shock of the Trump upset has begun to turn to a hellish ambivalence of “I should have seen this coming,” “Now what?” and a kind of omnipresent mental white noise. Like many Portlanders, my Facebook feed is full of people grimly re-posting that dumb story about the Canadian immigration website crashing. Like many Portlanders, I don’t really know what to do.

But I know what not to do: move to New Zealand.

In 2004, when I was 14 years old, my family— my mother, stepfather (a New Zealand citizen), my little brother and I— relocated to New Zealand. This happened for a bundle of reasons, but one of them bears directly on today’s news: a Republican presidency.

Specifically, the Iraq war. Remember that wacky incursion? By 2004, the Iraq war was in the middle of its degeneration into sectarian bloodbath, and there were rumors that that the draft might be reinstated to combat the worsening situation overseas.

My mother was scared shitless of having her teenage kids getting drafted, so we relocated halfway across the world.

I lived in New Zealand until 2014, attending both high school and college in a decent little city called Dunedin. It had its ups—meeting my wife and many good friends, cheap education (college was about a quarter of what it costs in the United States, law school, a fraction) and healthcare— and its downs (more on those in a second.)

But living in New Zealand certainly did not make our lives any easier.

The vast majority of the “That’s it: we’re leaving!” people are expressing grief and outrage at the thought of a Trump presidency. But let me fill you in on what to expect should you decide to make a leap to another country to try to escape. If this sounds like something you can handle, by all means, embark on your new life in Manitoba. But don’t expect a smooth ride.

1) Many People Will Deeply Resent You For Being American.

You didn’t vote for Trump, right? Too fucking bad. Congratulations: As an American expatriate, you’ll be personally involved in every policy decision made by the Trump government, and will be required to answer for said decisions as soon as they come up in any conversation, with any person.

Until Obama was elected at the end of my first year of college, my family and I had to endure regular interrogations about our personal moral responsibility for the Iraq war and every other shitty thing the Bush administration did for the prior eight years. No matter if your family is comprised of dyed-in-the-wool Dems, or that New Zealand faces many of the same social problems that the United States does (God help you if you bring those up), you’ll have to answer for every transgression at a moment’s notice.

Be prepared to have every personal belief of yours dismissed with “that’s just ’cause you’re American.” Be prepared to have an acquaintance, 30 years your senior,  greet you with “So, who have you bombed today?” Be prepared for unprompted scoldings from your morally superior hosts about decisions that you neither agree with nor had anything to do with.

And don’t prepare for that to end once a Democratic president gets elected. Get ready for the sanctimony to hit overdrive when they find our your liberal president is sanctioning drone strikes in the Middle East. You’re responsible for that, too.

2) It’s really hard to move overseas unless you have a lot of money.

After my parent’s divorce, my single mother built a successful small garden design business basically by herself, with no money, that she ran out of our modest Minneapolis house. She sold that and the house to finance the move, and already had a house lined up in New Zealand. About $250k should be enough to get you situated, right?

Within about two years, we were broke.

Good luck getting a job in a country where you don’t know a single person to vouch for you, where your experience isn’t particularly recognizable and where you’re expected to beat out locals who’ve been working in an industry for years.

“But of course I’ll have a job lined up before I move, Walker— I’m not an idiot.” She had one of those— a nice spot at the equivalent of a community college. That fell through when we got there.

After 18 months of soul-crushing unemployment, our family went from being middle class to living paycheck to paycheck, my stepfather becoming a careworker and my mother bouncing from jobs until she landed a scholarship intended to provide enough money for a grad student, not a family of four.

Unless you’re independently wealthy—in which case it doesn’t matter what you do, your life is awesome—be prepared for a drastic downgrade in your quality of life. Speaking of which…

3) Expect to badly miss everything you’re used to in the United States.

Go outside. You feel that damp, chilly Portland November? Imagine it was 10 degrees colder and rainier. Now go inside. Instead of that nice central heating, imagine it’s that same November cold, but just as damp. Inside. For 10 months of the year.

Welcome to Dunedin.

Most of New Zealand is freezing fucking cold— a creeping, damp, inescapable cold that follows you into your home and penetrates your clothing. You’ll be warm maybe 20 percent of the time.

You’ll miss being warm, dearly. You’ll miss decent pizza. You’ll miss the rest of your family, you’ll miss football, you’ll miss HBO, you’ll miss Taco Bell.

You won’t miss health insurance—the single payer system is great—but you will miss a lot, and that first visit back to the U.S. will feel like jumping 20 years into the future.

You’ll miss these things so much that you’ll jump at the chance to befriend other Americans and Canadians (close enough), with whom you’ll build shared cultural bonds of “not understanding why everyone thinks I personally invaded Iraq.”

4) You’ll become much more patriotic. 

As soon as that first wave of mundane problems hits—car trouble, groceries, bills—you’ll realize that your life isn’t fundamentally different than it was in the United States, except now you’re broke. As soon as you hear people scaremonger about Chinese immigration, or bitch about how New Zealand’s native Maori people get special treatment, you’ll realize that these countries mostly have the same problems and that you’ll have to fight against them no matter where you are.

As it turns out, having people constantly tell you that your country sucks while you’re cold and damp (inside your own apartment, in summer) will make you really realize that it is mostly really nice to live in the United States.

5) You’ll develop a lot of empathy.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to come to the United States as someone in a position not nearly as fortunate as we were when we moved to New Zealand. It’s a miracle that we had enough money to afford a house and keep ourselves afloat while my folks were looking for work. Trying to do this with no money in our pockets or not speaking English is unthinkable.

But I know that if it sucked for us, it must be almost unbearable for the people who now face a government that’s openly hostile to their existence. So instead of high-tailing it out of here, I’m going to stay and try to make the United States livable for those who truly face a hard, dry fuck of a next four years.

Peppy Polly’s Was Like Chuck E. Cheese’s For Kids Who Grew Up in Portland—But With Coffee

Growing up in the Northwest, coffee was a big part of my life from an early age. I remember rainy mornings in school when the teacher would walk around with a kettle. If you wanted a cup, you stuck out your mug and she would give you a word to spell. If you spelled it correctly, you were rewarded. If you were incorrect, she tipped the scalding beverage onto your outstretched wrist.

Of the many cups of coffee I enjoyed as a small child, my favorite place for coffee was Peppy Polly’s. Some of you may remember Peppy Polly’s. There were a dozen locations in Portland and surrounding areas. My neighborhood Peppy Polly’s was located across from the Hollywood Transit Center, where the eyesore Trader Joe’s is now.

Peppy Polly’s was for coffee what Chuck E. Cheese’s was for pizza. It had arcade games, skee ball and tickets that could be redeemed for prizes. Peppy Polly’s bought most of the commercial airtime during the after-school television blocks. I can still hear the jingle.

Polly was a jittery animatronic wolf spider. Six of her hands held steaming coffee mugs; the other two held cigarettes, from which she took long, deep drags. Twice per hour, she and her arachnid friends would perform covers of pop songs. The black widow, for example, would croon Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man.” The scorpion did “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The showstopping finale was a rendition of Andrea True’s disco hit “More, More, More,” during which coffee was half-price.

When I was 10, my friend Mickey Mafron and I got into some mischief at Polly’s.

We hid in the restroom stall. After the place closed and we were sure all the staff had gone home, we emerged and made a huge pot of very strong coffee. But the novelty soon wore off and we grew restless.

Everything was turned off—the animatrons, the arcade games, the lights. Eventually, we stumbled into the control room. Here, we pressed every button in the hopes that one would turn on the arcade games, but sadly none did.

We did, however, manage to turn on the animatrons.

This turned out to be a terrifying mistake. Whereas previously it had been creepy and quiet, suddenly the reanimated arachnids were singing and dancing and intent on ambushing us. While during the day their revue was festive, at night, when everyone was gone, it took on an unmistakably sinister tone.

We climbed atop one of the tables as if it were our life raft. “The spiders cannot reach us here,” I repeated over and over to Mickey, trying to comfort him. But it was no use. A timid child, he was ill-equipped for our ordeal. At one point, I dozed off, telling myself that we would be rescued in the morning. I was awoken later by screaming. I opened my eyes in time to see Mickey leap off the table and flee into the darkness.

We later learned that in his panic he had run headlong into one of the spider’s nests and had become entangled. He was discovered the next afternoon, and the fire department had to be called to free him from the web.

It is a shame that all of the Peppy Polly’s franchises are now shuttered. They have been replaced by so many nondescript hipster-owned-and-operated coffee shops and roasters that offer the same generic experience. A shame, but certainly not a surprise that something so unique could not survive in New Portland.

Five Mind-Blowing Facts Every Portland Hipster Transplant Should Know—You Won’t Believe No. 4!

When I was informed that certain fans of my historical testimonies have referred to them as “clickbait,” I was initially confused. While I am a progressive man by nature (I recently had a sleek dumbwaiter installed in my house), and I accept that language is constantly evolving, this is the first time I had heard this modern portmanteau.

It has been explained to me that “clickbait” is a piece of writing that inspires wonderment in a reader, who then seeks out a pen with a retractable tip and clicks it repetitively in intense contemplation. So in that regard, thank you, loyal readers. My pledge to you is that I will do everything in my power to continue producing fine clickbaits for you to ponder.

Also, in honor of your flattering compliment, I have conducted some historical research on traditional clickbait forms. Here now is a missive that I hope meets the archetypal definition of a clickbait: a listicle.

Five Mind-Blowing Facts Every Portland Hipster Transplant Should Know. You Won’t Believe No. 4!

1. Poseidon once rated Portland his second-favorite American land-city behind only Billings, Mont.

2. From 1975 to 1985, Portland implemented a “Baby Raffle” program. Under this controversial program, any child born in a Portland-area hospital would become temporary property of the government, and the parents would be given raffle tickets. Every month, a drawing would be held to determine the order in which the proud parents would choose one baby from the pool of available babies. Many other cities followed Portland’s example in enacting the Baby Raffle, although there are few remaining in the United States today.

3. One easy way to tell the difference between Portland natives and transplants is the terminology they use to describe Portland. For example, although street signs and maps divide Portland into five “quadrants,” many longtime Portland residents identify anything east of the Willamette River as Starboard Portland. Anything west of the river is Port Portland. This is why Vancouver, Wash., is sometimes referred to as Portland’s Aft.

4. Portland was founded in a heavily wooded area. To entice settlers to come, city founders Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove knew the trees had to be removed. Most of the trees were chopped down, but the roots and stumps remained. Asked if he knew an easy way to get rid of them, Lovejoy famously said, “Hmm, that’s a great question.” That’s how Portland got its first nickname: Stumpedtown.

5. The city got its actual name by a coin flip. Initially, Lovejoy, who was from Omaha, and Pettygrove, who was from Tacoma, wished to name their new city “Tacomaha.” However, they also thought “Portland” sounded like a pretty sweet name. When they flipped the penny, which is still on display at the Oregon Historical Society, it came up tails for “Tacomaha,” but Pettygrove chimed in, “Best three out of five?

How a Little-Known Soul Man Created the Blues Brothers with a Toga Party in Eugene, Oregon

39 years ago this Sunday, a low-budget, near-star-less, patently offensive “drive-in movie” began filming in Eugene, Oregon. You’ve probably seen it. It’s called Animal House.

Now enshrined as one of the great American comedies, Animal House would essentially launch the state’s film industry and galvanize a local music scene that inadvertently inspired The Blues Brothers by getting John Belushi onstage.

This Sunday, October 30, the Oregon Film Museum will host an anniversary toga party at the Exchange Ballroom featuring Otis Day himself—who played the house party in Animal House—and the Kingsmen, whose “Louie Louie”was recently hailed in the New Yorker as perhaps the “dirtiest song of the sixties.”.

The party will take place a recreation of the original U of O frathouse set—using pieces of the original house where Otis Day first played.

WW spoke with DeWayne “Otis Day” Jessie, and location scout/casting director and Animal House of Blues documentarian Katherine Wilson. Here’s what the two had to say when asked to share their memories of the legendary production.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity. All images used with permission from Katherine Wilson.

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WW: Was the school always proud of its connections with the film?

Katherine Wilson: Back then, the University of Oregon had a contract with Universal that said the film was not to divulge where it was shot. Every college had turned them down because the script was so disgusting, but, at U of O, President [William] Boyd said that he’d made a mistake passing on a movie called The Graduate. He’d read that script, turned the movie down, and, then when he saw the movie, he realized he didn’t know how to read scripts. So, that’s how that happened. He never read Animal House.

Now, of course, a lot of people are going to the U of O because of Animal House. It actually just became acceptable in the last five years: What happened was kids would get together at the games. And, when there was a touchdown, the kids would start singing “It Makes Me Wanna Shout,” and then other guys going to the games would start singing with them. Before you know it, there was this wave of all these people singing “Shout” from Animal House. So, the U of O decided they needed to get on that bus, and they contacted Otis.

He has been a sort of mascot for the Oregon Duck games. He played in February at the halftime for the Oregon men’s basketball tournament before 34,000 people. He did the Civil War game the year before. He’s played at Dexter Lake Club numerous times – packed houses for $100 a ticket. He’s been really involved up here.

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WW: Did it have much impact on the local film industry?

Wilson: Before Animal House, when a film like Rooster Cogburn—or, to a certain degree, even One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest—came to Oregon, they brought their own crew with them. In the meantime, indigenous filmmakers were busy crafting their skills and would maybe get some work but never in key positions. Animal House was so low budget that they couldn’t afford to bring anybody up from L. A. so they hired me as location scout, location casting director, extra coordinator, stunt girl…

So many of us got jobs that it kind of broke the mold open, and, the next thing I know, the word got out. ‘Well, God, this crew up in Oregon is so phenomenal – they’re really talented and they’re hip and they’re cool and they’re good at what they do. And, so, more and more films would come here, and they would let Oregon gaffers and grips and people like me be key department heads. It just got to the point that they were only bringing up skeleton crews. They even do post-production in Oregon now. It’s a completely different world.

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WW: How were the musicians cast? Was Otis Day …

Wilson: [As DeWayne Jessie], he was a contract player for Universal.

DeWayne “Otis Day” Jessie : I was an actor first. I’ve been an actor all my life, and that’s how come I got the job as Otis Day. You know, I was brought up in a house full of music. My brother was a big influence on my life. He was a musician and sung with The Platters. I was raised in a house of music, I love to sing, but I wanted to go into show business in another kind of way. That’s why I wanted to become an actor and a singer then now they got it twisted.

WW: And, the other musicians? Did Robert Cray live in Eugene?

Wilson: Robert Cray moved to Eugene because of the rumors going on up the I-5 corridor —the “Chitlin’ Circuit” —about Eugene being such a great blues town. Part of it was because of the record stores, and I owned one that had a shrine to Rahsaan Roland Kirk in the lobby.

I was mentoring and tutoring Black Panthers at the University of Oregon at the time. They were clueless about the music, but I got into the blues on an Indian Reservation before I went to the U of O. When I was 18, I ran away with Buddy Guy. I was really into the blues. Now, when we went to cast Otis Day and the Knights … the truth was there were very very few black people in Eugene, Oregon, at the time.

Day: I’ll tell you something, when I did the film, I got up that morning when we were shooting at …

Wilson: … the Dexter Lake Club out in the redneck neighborhood.

Day: I didn’t know the history of the club. I didn’t know anything until I get up that morning to go to work and see all these sheriffs or something on top of my trailer. So, I ask what’s happening, and they told me they had gotten death threats – based on the color of my skin. And, I didn’t know all that was happening until right then.

Wilson: We had 90 black people bused in from Portland to the Dexter Lake Club, and there were pickup trucks circling the club with rifles in the back. Then, when we broke for lunch … you know, in those days, above-the-liners got catering and the extras all got brown sack lunches. Well, you can imagine what that looked like—having the extras in one line and the whites in the other. It was crazy and I told the [unit production manager] he was going to lose all these people. Black women had come up to me and said “we’re walking, we’re out of here—this is dangerous.”

Day: That was a sign of the times, you know?

Wilson: They were maybe curious, you know, but the death threats tell me it wasn’t just curiosity.

Day: And, you know what, Dexter Lake was supposed to be where they’d hang black people and throw the bodies in the lake. So, you know, because of that, I think maybe that’s why my scenes had such a profound effect. What I was doing came from inside-out and maybe the struggle and all that was captured in my performance. I think that’s what made it so captivating to people.

Wilson: The shoot was so magical. You guys were so incredible. It was like a spiritual experience. You were doing “Shama Lama”, all these people were dancing, and I remember thinking “this is heaven.” I wanted to be a filmmaker for the rest of my life because of that scene.

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WW: What was the club like normally?

WilsonBack then in 1977, it was, you know, logging territory. So loggers, mostly. But there was a contingency of Merry Pranksters out there too. The night of Otis’ shoot, Dan Aykroyd showed up to drive Belushi back home in a big green station wagon, Ken Kesey showed up with a producer. Some of the gang on the bus showed up in solidarity. You know, word got around really fast about what was going on.

Day: And I had heard all the energy that was generated for the film being shot there, and that brought a whole other kind of love to Eugene.

Wilson: Otis, I did not even know … he became those words and that music – incredible talent. I was so proud of Otis and The Knights because they did bond and become a group. Just like that, we had the finest blues people in the whole Northwest in that room.

Day: Everybody on that shoot was impeccable, you know what I mean? It was so incredible. There was something totally magical—no egos or star tripping.

Wilson: We were all nobodies pretty much, except for Donald Sutherland, and we bonded because of our creativity. Landis let us all be creative, and that screenplay was like the blueprint. It was thrown out, pretty much. Everybody improvised on set …

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I worked on 50 movies in the Northwest, fifty major motion pictures – you know, not blogs—and have never experienced anything like Animal House. It was the one where we became a family. We all bonded, we all helped each other, and there was some kind of magic fairy dust on that whole shoot because every time I turned around to ask “where am I gonna find a seven foot tall black man?” They couldn’t find one in LA!

Day: Now who was …

Wilson: Jebidiah. He was the seven-foot-tall hot dog salesman on campus who just happened to have played Othello on Off-Broadway.

Day: That film was different. It was just so different, man. Y’know, we meet up every two or three years. Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, Mark Metcalf, Peter Riegert, Martha Smith—we meet up and we talk about it. The camaraderie that we have is something else, and we did not know it was going to be like this. We did not know that we were going to have the effect that we had. At all. Nobody had any kind of idea. I’m telling you, man. It’s crazy

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WW: Did the film have much impact on Eugene as a music town?

Wilson: The other way around. Eugene as a music town had an impact on Animal House. And, Eugene as a town that was home to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. The writer of Animal House was just smitten by Kesey and the book the Electric Kool-Acid Test. His community wanted to be real pranksters.

WW: What if they’d filmed at another college?

Wilson: Well, the Blues Brothers wouldn’t have happened. I was there, I pushed Belushi on stage to sing, and what happened was this:

October 31, 1977, we did the toga party scene. The Knights were jamming while the the cameras were being set up for the different takes, and there was a bond that happened with Belushi and Otis and Robert Cray and Robert Bailey and Ron Steen and Sonny King.

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[Director John] Landis would drive us all into the grave if he could. He was just a perfectionist, and he would go ‘do it again, do it again, do it again’ until it was perfect. There were so many setups—53 setups! It went on forever, and, finally Robert Cray said, “We started at 8 this morning, and now it’s time for me to go to work. I have another job, and I’m not going to blow it for this movie.”

So, Belushi followed us over to the Eugene Hotel for Robert Cray and Curtis Salgado, DK Stewart, Dave Olson, Richard Cousins … [Salgado’s band] The Nighthawks and the Robert Cray Band did a splinter group called the Cray-Hawks.

They sang this Howlin’ Wolf song called “Who’s Been Talkin”, and … Belushi went nuts. It’s the most incredible song. Curtis Salgado plays the harmonica like I’ve never heard him play. Robert Cray plays the guitar like I’ve never heard him play. That night, it was like all the stars lined up and went bam! The next thing I know, Belushi’s asking people to introduce him to Curtis Salgado.

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Well, here’s the thing. Belushi was a mimic. I know that Dan Aykroyd was very into the blues before Belushi came to Eugene. They did a Killer Bees skit [for Saturday Night Live] singing a blues song, but Belushi couldn’t get into it. It was only when he saw a white guy singing the blues. You gotta remember, for crying out loud, the Paul Butterfield blues band was notorious for having black and white musicians. And, here in Eugene was a black guy and a white guy doing the blues together, and Belushi saw these guys with the Ray-Bans, the fedoras, the old blues guy suits, the briefcase, the cop car—DK Stewart had a souped-up cop car that Belushi rode on the way to Curtis’ house.

By the time the Blues Brothers came out, Robert Cray and Curtis had both moved to Portland and were playing at the White Eagle … nobody knew, nobody knew … Y’know, you go through life, you do stuff, but, like Otis said, it was a B-movie for drive-ins. We didn’t know it was going to last. We didn’t know it would be like this.

GO: Animal House Halloween Party. Otis Day & The Kingsmen, Curtis Salgado & D.K. Stewart, The Cry, The Mean Reds, The Hauer Things. Sunday, October 30th. Exchange Ballroom. 6 PM. $39/$125/$250 Tickets here.

Animal House Of Blues premieres at the Eugene International Film Festival on November 17th.

In 1984, Presidential Candidate Walter Mondale Almost Came to Portland Pornhouse The Oregon Theater

The last time I supported a presidential candidate was 1984. Our nation had spent the previous four years in a trance, following that Pied Piper Ronald Reagan. I did not know if it was possible to return from as far astray as he had led us, but if I was going to trust anyone, it would be Walter Mondale.

I liked Mondale for too many reasons to count, but chief among them were three. One, his aquiline nose reminded me of the soaring ospreys that are native to our region. Two, he was a progressive who trusted science. Third, his appropriation of the Wendy’s ad slogan “Where’s the beef?” resonated with me at a time when I was eating a lot of hamburgers.

I had an “Elect Mondale ’84” visor. For a few months, I wore it pretty much every time I went out, hoping to elicit a derisive comment so I could try rationalizing with the heckler. Fellow Oregonian, let’s punt that slicked-up Californian! Let’s put a halt to his dream of systematic nationwide gentrification!

I waited all summer for the Mondale campaign to announce a rally in Portland. Then one day late in September, I opened the calendar section and scanned it as usual. In the corner was a small notice: “Mondale/Ferraro LIVE at the Oregon Theater.”

I put down the newspaper and dialed the number for Mondale campaign headquarters. A soft-voiced staffer answered. I explained: “I suspect that whoever booked the venue did a minimum of research. The name ‘Oregon Theater’ conjures a certain image. Maybe you’re picturing a small opera house or a neighborhood playhouse. It is not. Actually, it is primarily, well, a pornography theater. I just thought you should be aware of that if you weren’t already. And also, they don’t have much in the way of seating. They have a few comfortable couches, but you have to get there really early if you want one.”

“Can you hold on a moment?” the staffer said. The concern in her voice was noticeable. The line went quiet. Ten minutes later, a different person came on the line and thanked me for the tip. They asked for my phone number, but I don’t think anyone ever called me back.

As the days before the election dwindled, it became clear that Reagan would not only win, he would do so in landslide fashion. Even so, I was looking forward to the rally. I had no illusions about an impassioned speech that would change the complexion of the race, but I thought we had a shot at turning Oregon blue. I also figured it would be a good place to meet like-minded women.

On the day of the rally, I arrived at the Oregon Theater and handed my ticket to the usher. “Where’s the beef?” I chided playfully. I was early enough to claim one of the large, comfortable couches. Some others showed up, but not many. Then, an hour before the rally was supposed to start, the theater manager informed us that the Mondale camp had canceled and was not rescheduling. The Oregon Theater did, however, honor our tickets. It was a huge disappointment to all of us who came.

Some Guy in the Other Portland Dressed Up As A Tree and Blocked Traffic

The day has come when Portland, Maine has outweirded us.

A Maine man dressed up as a tree and stood in the middle of an intersection yesterday morning in Portland. His name is Asher.

Police told him to get out of the street. When he didn’t say anything, an officer responded, ““I’ll accept your silence as you understand. You’re free to go.”

But just moments later, the man went back into the street. That’s when police arrested him. He was not wearing the branches when he got into the police car, and was fully clothed. He was booked on charges for obstructing a public way and was let out on a $60 bail later that day.

Nobody knows what the man’s intent was, but the assistant police chief had an idea:

“His motivation was to see how people would react to what he called his ‘performance’ and how he might impact ‘people’s natural choreography,’ ” he told the Portland Press Herald in an email.

…Sure.

Even the OG Portland’s cops seem to have outweirded ours.

Oregon Googles “How To Hack Wi-Fi” More Than Any Other State

Googling how to do something is among the most personal activities someone can do on the internet, next to watching their favorite kind of porn, looking at their ex’s Instagram and trying to figure out their health insurance benefits.

My recent how-to searches include “how to cook an eggplant” and “how to change a vacuum bag.”

Real estate site Estately just revealed a whole lot about the collective psyche of each state. They used Google Autocomplete and Google Trends to come up with a list of the how-to’s that each state Googles more than any other.

The list is oddly specific, but undeniably on-point for each state.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t show the most-Googled how-to in each state; it’s showing what each state Googles more than any other.

In Oregon, we search for “How to make floral arrangements” and “how to hack wifi” more than any state. Basically, we like to be on free WiFi when we upload photos of our pretty floral bouquets to social media.

In California, people are wondering “how to spot a narcissist,” “how to join the KKK” and “how to get on Wheel of Fortune.”

Washington’s searches might be the most on-point of any state, which include “how to bake salmon,” “how to cook a wolf,” “how to use a french press,” “how to eat a fig,” “how to be hot,” “how to dab,” “how to make hard cider,” “how to compost” (tie w/ Colorado) and “how to survive an earthquake.”

Pennsylvania is particularly curious about defeating ISIS, New Jersey wants to know “how to stop Trump” and Wisconsin wants to stop its own governor. Those isolated souls in Oklahoma just want to know “how to sext,” while equally forlorn Ohio, millennia behind Africa in technological advancement, wants to know “how to make fire.”

Along with being confused about the proper spelling of “forty,” the people of Texas want to know “how to sell your soul.” You’d think it’d be easier there than anywhere.

You can read the full list here. But here’s a map showing some of the best:

how-to-map-2

 

The City of Portland Is Trying to Map All the Trees In the City

If you ever wanted to find every single tree in Portland but didn’t know how, Portland Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry has a solution for you: a map of, you guessed it, (almost) every single tree in Portland.

The map, which is the result of Urban Forestry’s Tree Inventory Project, is an almost freakishly specific guide to Portland’s trees. You can type in any address and the map will show you all the trees located in that area.

The map even lists the trees by types. A quick search tells you that there are two yellow wood trees by Director Park, enough maple trees to cover nearly all of downtown and over 20 pear trees on SW Yamhill St.

To inventory Portland’s trees, Urban Forestry has turned to volunteers. And because mapping hundreds of thousands of trees wasn’t tricky enough, volunteers have been collecting information about the trees’ species, health and size. Each November, the findings are presented at a Tree Inventory Summit.

While completing the Tree Inventory Project sounds as daunting clambering up a redwood with no footholds, the project’s results are impressive. Over 218,000 trees have been surveyed with the goal both improving the health of Portland’s existing street trees and finding spaces where new trees could have a home.

If you want to help out with the Tree Inventory Project, you can learn more about volunteering here. And if you want to collaborate with a Neighborhood Tree Team in the area where you live, Urban Forestry has a list of teams located across Portland.