• Category Archives Portland
  • The Slug Bug is dead! Long live the Smug Bug!

    Back in the 80s, the Volkswagen beetle was as common as a can of new Coke, the phrase “totally radical” or a pair of Esprit jeans. Combine the VW Bug’s popularity with the iconic and easily spotted shape, and it was the perfect car for a road game. The rules of this game varied from family to family – some played “slug bug” (or punch buggy), where siblings were encouraged to punch each other as hard as they could whenever they spotted a VW Bug. My family liked to play “Herbie,” where it was a contest to see who could spot the most. I suspect this was because I was an only child, and my parents didn’t want me to punch them as hard as I could – but I digress. smug-alert

    The days of slug bugs and herbies seems to have died – as there just aren’t that many 40 year old cars on the road anymore. Sure, there was the New Beetle, and supposedly was a special “slug” you were supposed to use, but that never caught on and really even those aren’t as prevalent as their ancestor beetles. There’s a huge void in the “spot the car while abusing your siblings and friends” style of game! So what do we do? The answer is simple: SmugBugs!

    The name “SmugBug” is my nickname for the Toyota Prius. I can’t claim credit for the word, so don’t say that I coined the phrase. I gained inspiration for the phrase “smug bug” from the South Park episode “Smug Alert,” where people droves of South Park residence decided to drive Prii and felt like they were some sort of environmental hero – when really they were just smug idiots. From the episode…

    …although emission levels are down, people who drive hybrids spew “self-satisfied garbage” into the air, an emission called “smug”, and South Park now has the second-highest levels in the country, after San Francisco.

    To be fair, not all who drive hybrids, particularly those who drive Prii (I swear that’s really the plural), are by far from smug. In fact, my one experience riding in a Prius involved the driver pressing the start button several times, cussing, and calling their beloved vehicle a damned piece of junk. Having said that, there are plenty of people who drive a Prius with a smug self-satisfaction of being a hero. One can often times recognize these people by their bumper stickers. Phrases like “There is no planet B” or “My other car is a bicycle,” or “Vegans do it in the dirt…” These smug addicts often times litter their cars with multitudes of these bumper stickers. You’ll also notice a distinct sound coming from their speakers. It’s a song you may or may not have heard but sounds like it’s trying way too hard to not sound like every other piece of indie rock that’s been produced in the last three or four years.

    At what point did this car become a parody of itself?
    At what point did this car become a parody of itself?

    But back to the game already…how does one play “SmugBug?” The rules of SmugBug are quite simple – when you see a Prius, yell “SmugBug (color of the car)” and punch the person next to you as hard as you can – or at least as hard as the law allows without an attempted assault and battery charge. Once someone “calls” a specific car, that car cannot be called again. It’s literally the same rules as Slug Bug – only instead of a car designed for Nazi Germany, you’ve got a vehicle designed for Nazi tree-huggers.

    So, mourn not the death of VW Beatle. Mourn not the fact that you will never have to drive your kids to the hospital because Tommy slugged Tammy a little too hard. Mourn not that a demonically possessed car piloted by Dean Jones will never again get a movie! Hit your sister as hard as you can! You jut saw a Toyota with the number 53 on its silver finish parked in the Whole Foods parking lot! Herbie Rides again!

  • Dear MusicfFestNW…GET OFF MY LAWN!

    hires_custom-9407414d6e47cacf19d48fe0f70e9c5a14fc8376-s6-c30MusicFestNW has announced their line up. This year, many changes have been made. Instead of a citywide event, providing business for many venues in the area, MFNW has been reduced to a two-day festival on Waterfront Park. Instead of showcasing a ton of local acts and artists, as well as a handful of nationally known artists, MFNW has decided to only feature larger names – with only two local artists on the ticket. Instead of featuring a variety of musical styles, appeasing several different age groups and tastes in music, MFNW has instead decided to limit themselves to the most hip and young bands they could find. I have one thing to say to this new and not so improved MusicFestNW – GET OFF MY LAWN!(and get back to the venues where you belong).

    I’m quite serious. If Pioneer Square is Portland’s living room, it stands to reason that Waterfront Park is Portland’s front yard. Therefore, as a citizen of Portland, I shall raise my cane in protest and yell once more, “Get off my lawn!” A little history of MusicFestNW through my eyes….

    My first time going to MFNW was about eleven years ago. I saw so many bands that I can’t even remember them all. I saw many local favorites – Viva Voce, Menomena, Stovokor, The High Violets, The Helio Sequence – and that’s just to name a few. I saw Vancouver BC’s Delirium, Seattle’s Pedro The Lion, and even got to watch the now defunct Portland Organic Wrestling. I paid 35 bucks (43 in today’s dollar), and I was never turned down because the venue was full. Oh, and there was no such thing as a VIP ticket. That’s quite a deal, and a better deal than the current 85 dollar ticket (300 dollars if you want the VIP treatment).

    In other years, I got to see The Decemberists, Portland Cello Project, Crooked Fingers, Quasi, Neko Case, the 1900s, Mogwai. and even Rilo Kiley. Save for perhaps the Decemberists, I don’t believe any of these bands would fit this year’s line up. They’re either too small, or just not hipster friendly enough.Even Rilo Kiley would probably be deemed too “Country sounding.”

    Ok, so despite the fact that there’s nothing for me at the current MFNW, the changes are a serious blow to local venues. Sure, the past few years have seen shows at Pioneer Square, but there were also shows at venues such as Dante’s, The Crystal Ballroom, Mississippi Studios, Ash Street Saloon – pretty much every venue in the city, large or small, wanted a piece of the action. I’m sure MFNW was a yearly boon for these business, and lined many a pocket, from the owners all the way down to the servers. Rich, middle class, and poor all benefited from previous MFNW.
    Oh, but it gets worst than that. This could very well cost local businesses and service people more than just a yearly bonus – this could actually hurt the local venues (and their employees) during that weekend. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, if you’re booking a show, do you really want to book a show against a huge festival with close to unlimited seating? A show with huge, nationally known bands at such a low cost? It’s the same reason why, during the Winter Olympics, most networks aired repeats instead of new shows. They knew they could not compete. But besides competing against MFNW, there’s also the fact that the venues downtown will suffer from people who want to avoid Downtown while MFNW is happening. I’ve read several comments stating just this – that person X is going to avoid Downtown that weekend – it’s just not something they wish to do. The crowds of people who drunkenly stumble out of Waterfront Park – just not something they want to deal with, and neither do I.

    keep-calm-and-get-off-my-lawn-1Perhaps I’m over reaching with that last paragraph. There’s one group of people the new MFNW is really going to harm – the local artists. In my past treks to MFNW, be it one show or the whole weekend, I heard a lot of new music. Even in the years where I had to camp out at the same venue, I was always exposed to some artist I had no idea existed before that night. Some became favorites (the High Violets, Stovokor, and although not local, the 1900s). I’ve bought a lot of music from artists I was first introduced to via MFNW, even from bands I do not consider favorites. People like me will not be exposed to these types of bands, and therefore, these bands will miss a great opportunity in gaining new followers and fans – or at least an opportunity to sell a record or two.

    The new hipster friendly MusicfestNW Sucks. The new MFNW and is just going to fiscally hurt those who can’t afford to be hurt. The New MFNW will isolate people, and it just isn’t something I want in my city. So what can we do? Well – there’s two things. Firstly – pay attention to the shows being advertised by venues during the weekend of MFNW. If there’s a show that sounds interesting to you….go! Buy your tickets early, buy records, and make sure to show up for the opening act. Fully support local venues and artists during MFNW.

    The Second thing one can do to protest MusicFestNW might sound a little crazy, but it just might be worth a shot. If you’re not supporting a band during the weekend of MFNW, join me in literally protesting MFNW. I plan to walk around Waterfront Park, yelling “Get Off my Lawn and get back to the venues.” If it’s just me doing this, they’ll just thing I’m a crazy person, but if a whole group of us gather to do this – well my friends, that’s how we start a movement.

  • Jeld Wen Field is Dead!

    timbersarmyIn the ashes of Jeld Wen Field has arisen Providence Park as though it were a phoenix. Ok, nothing so dramatic – Providence Health has just taken over naming rights to what used to be Jeld Wen Feild/PGE Park/Civic Stadium/Multnomah Field. Sure, a not for profit health care company should focus more on lowering their clientele’s premiums instead of sponsoring a baseball soccer stadium, but at least Providence Park is a better name than Jeld Wen Field. Still, it will always be Civic Stadium to me. Why? Because that’s what it was for the first 26 years of my life. Secondly, because of the five names the stadium has had, Civic Stadium is the only one that wasn’t about corporate sponsorship. Civic Stadium, while generic in nature, was all about the city itself – not promotion of a corporation or organization.

    Regardless, almost all of the names have held some virtue, though some have had more virtue than others. It’s clear that some names are better than others. Let me elaborate from best to worst:

    1) Civic Stadium – I already explained this one. Yes, it is generic and boring. In all honesty, the fact that this name is the top choice means that – well, this stadium has not had any truly decent names. Having said that, I again make my point that Civic Stadium represented a stadium of the people, of the city, and of the region. Civic Stadium stood for Portland – not whoever bought the naming rights.

    2) Multnomah Field – What, if anything, is wrong with Multnomah field? Well for one thing it was NOT named after the county, but rather named after the Multnomah Athletic Club. Still, we can pretend, even presume that Multnomah field was not about the athletic club that built the original stadium.

    3) Providence Park – This is the new name, and to be fair, it roles off the tongue quite nicely. Providence Park gives a picture of a peaceful place where all is good and well and – hey wait a minute, this is a freaking soccer stadium! Timbers and Thorns fans are ANYTHING but peaceful. The Timbers Army motto is “No Pity.” They chant profanities and have been openly criticized by the local media for said chants. They’ve got subgroups under the names 101st Amphibious Assault, The Fighting 106th , and my favorite, the 103rd Ballistic Unit. Yeah – there are a lot of words I would use to describe that group of fans, but provident is far from the top.

    4) Jeld Wen Field –
    The only virtue I could think of on this name is that at least out-of-towners might think this name belonged to an actual person or something – maybe some history was behind this name. Nope – Jeld Wen is a multinational company that makes windows and doors. How boring! But asides from the boring factor, Jeld Wen just doesn’t role off the tongue very easily and it’s not easy to remember. I can imagine one of the aforementioned out-of-towners cruising west on Burnside, looking for “Jed Win” field (and wondering if they’re ever going to be able to make a left turn).pge-park

    5) PGE Park – There is no virtue in this name. None, nadda, nicht, zilch – so let me focus on the negatives. When the stadium was called PGE Park, I liked to call it Enron’s revenge – because that was about the time of the infamous Enron scandal of 2001. They happened to own PGE at the time, and instead of selling it off – instead decided it would be more fun to pay their debtors with PGE stock. Thanks for treating our utilities with such respect Enron, glad I’m in Pacific Power territory! But I digress. Once more, what was the freaking point of PGE naming a stadium? It isn’t like their subscribers could just go to another company! If you’re in PGE territory, you either use PGE or you have no power. So – let’s pay expensive naming rights to a stadium, and screw our customers because they’re the ones paying for it. Yeah…

    While I said Civic Stadium was the best of the five names, I also said it wasn’t the best name. A great name would be something that either meant something to the general population, or at least to the fans that field the stadium seats. A great example of the former was the Rose Garden (now the MODA center, or as I call it now, the M.O.D.O.K. center). The rose Garden, while a little confusing to tourists who wanted to go to the Rose test Gardens, was a symbol of Portland (aka The Rose City). As far as the latter, the Timbers and the Thorns aren’t old enough in their current form to have any retired numbers – but if we do get our own form of David Bekhem, maybe we should name the stadium after that player. But for the sake of all of us, if we’re going to sell naming rights, let’s at least have some standards. I don’t want to go to a concert at the Arlene Schnitzer American Cyanamid Company Hall.