Welcome to the Red Flag

While slowly becoming one of Olde's and my favorite bars, The Red Flag seemingly has very few qualities that would propel it to such acclaim. There are no signature drinks, no decorative themes, nor is there a pool table. What the Red Flag does have, though, is a quiet corner on NE 28th Avenue (at Flanders) and an unpretentious vibe inside. The setting is dark, laid back, and does not cater to a specific clientelle. The Red Flag serves cheap drinks, has an assortment of tasty food niblets (the rice and beans dish hits the spot every time), and, most importantly, houses one of the best juke boxes in Portland (the ones with internet access don't count). For example, one can create a cacophony of sound with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Tom Waits, and Boots Reilly from the Coup. Also, you can always count on some terrible B-movie to be playing on the TV screen above the bar (Snakes on a muthafuckin' Plane was playing last time Olde and I were there).

Subtly calling attention to itself with an earth-toned mural on the outside wall, the Red Flag, while being unpretentious and low-key, does have its quirks. As mentioned above, it is not uncommon to find movies such as Snakes on a Plane playing on the TV above the bar. Also, there is a poster on the wall near the bathroom paying homage to baseball's home run king. Yes, folks, there is indeed a poster of Barry "US" Bonds displayed proudly on a back wall. Across from this wall is where the juke box sits. And it is this very juke box that brings Olde and I such great pleasure (although Oldie has difficulty operating it). In fact, it is with said juke box that Olde and I plan to claim Red Flag as our own. Our plan revolves around playing non-stop Wu-Tang, E-40 and the Click, the Coup, Spice 1, and Outkast, thus forcing the erstwhile hipsters out. Hopefully we'll sneak in a Johnny Cash, too. All along, we'll be throwing back cheap PBRs and chompin' on some of that bomb beans and rice.

When you get a chance, and are in the mood for a heavy rotation of hip hop on the juke box, stop by the Red Flag. You'll be glad you did.


Dublin Eagle Tanner Butt

Oregon is a beautiful place, there's no denying that. Despite our shortcomings (such as the plethora of backwards backwoods villages full of inbred racists...just kidding, Hillsboro!), our natural surroundings are some of the most breathtaking in the U.S. of A. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Columbia River Gorge and its surrounding mountainous terrain. Last summer (oh, how I wish this winter would hurry up and go the way of the Dodo) my two brothers Roofless and Briguy, Lucky, Reidseed, and I took a several day backpacking trip out into the wilderness south of the river up along the base of the Cascade mountain range...it was an epic adventure filled with raging 30-foot bonfires, lost wanderings off the poorly marked trail, clove-flavored bogue smoking, shit-shooting, and very sore anuses (thanks Dan!). I won't get into details, mostly because it was six months ago, and I can't remember much more than that the first day hiking up the Tanner Butte Trail was hell (something like 4,000 feet elevation gain over 3 miles), and the last day was absolutely stunning as we walked back towards the Columbia River on the Eagle Creek Trail...the path was a two-foot wide ledge with a sheer drop 100 feet into the creek, and amazing waterfalls at every bend in the trail. Just check out the video below of Tunnel Falls...yes, the trail actually goes behind the waterfall. Here are a few photos from the trip to help you through the rainy season and the accompanying hibernation we all experience.

Not sure what exactly I'm doing here, but seeing that I was absolutely obsessed at the time with Shaun of the Dead (and still am), this is probably me doing Nick Frost's character's impersonation of an orangutan. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Dublin Lake, full of fleet-footed fairies, and sinister leprechauns...some of the nicest camp sites I've seen in the back country and it's absolutely deserted.

Mt. Hood...about to erupt.

Luckygreen, The Rattler (great beard!), Briguy, and Oldie.
Some unnamed waterfall along Eagle Creek...there were dozens just like these.
Props to Danny Boy for the photos.


Breitenbush Hippydrome

Kes is the one that's pregnant, and yet I'm fucking exhausted, too. How's that work? Anyway, this + the move next week = no blog posts lately. Sorry guys, it's just not that important in the grand scheme of things. I write this because some crazy woman has been bombarding Jeff and I's email addresses with psychotic rants about the lack of recent entries.

Get over it, one.

Really though, we have been remiss in our duties to our faithful readers. I'll try and knock out a few of these before the month is up. Take what you get, 'cause it ain't going to be the usual life-changing prose for a minute. Or two.

A good long while back, Kes and I took some much needed vacation time off from work/school and headed out into the wilds of Oregon for a bit of relaxation, crunchy hippy-style. Yes, we went to Breitenbush Hot Springs. This place certainly brings you closer to the Light, makes you feel one with the aura of your earth-brothers and moon-sisters, aligns your chi tai chi chis and all that weed-induced delusional love-speak.

I mean, just look at their mission statement:
Our Mission: To provide a safe and potent environment where people can renew and evolve in ways they never imagined.

That ganja sure was potent and soon after returning home I saw that I had grown six toes on each foot. I'm not sure one would go so far as to label that evolution, but it certainly was something I'd never imagined. Regardless, this place kicks ass. Good organic meals, a quiet contemplative atmosphere, amazingly well-maintained yards and hot spring-fed soaking pools, helpful staff, and lots of naked buttocks...what's not to like? Not sure what their rates are like, since we have a good friend who works there and let us stay in her cabin for free (score). It comes highly recommended, especially as a way to shed some of the stress and frantic tics that come with urban life. (You know..."The Portland streets ain't nothin' nice, get caught up, another figga gettin' smoked tonight..." - Cool Nutz/G-Ism)

I'll let the pictures say the rest...

Sunrise upon the River.

Some lovingly crafted handmade monument to the powerful stench of Sulphur.

A typical soaking pool...it was here that I discovered the meaning of life.

An absolutely unfuckwittable view, no?


King Muhfuckin Cool Nutz

When Northwest hip hop finally gets its due, it may be too late for Cool Nutz to capitalize off of it. However, his legend will be cemented nonetheless, as he has been to the Portland rap scene what E-40 is to the Bay. Since founding Jus Family Records in 1992, alongside fellow Portland musician, Bosko, Cool Nutz has released multiple records and appeared on countless other albums. But, being victim to a small market and a less than well known Northwest hip hop scene, Cool Nutz hasn't been able to bring his success to the main stream level. Perhaps that's by his own doing, though, as he has been able to sell more than 60,000 units independently. And maybe this is where his greatest success lies. While grinding independently, Cool Nutz, the "voice of Northeast Portland," has been able to propel his label into a legitimate business, while also garnering the attention of major recording artists. For example, E-40 was in town not too long ago to celebrate the release of his most recent album, King Cool Nutz.

What's admirable, too, is that Cool Nutz has not abandoned his down-to-earth, street hustle and grind. A few weeks ago, Olde and I were at Berbati's catching a Blue Scholars show (see blog)when we ran into the man himself. Without causing a scene or demanding any kind of attention, Cool Nutz was posted in the back of the bar handing out fliers and promoting himself...just as he probably did when he began his career 15 years ago. And what's just as admirable is that after blogging about running into him, Cool Nutz posted a comment on our blog.

So even though the rest of the world hasn't caught up to Cool Nutz, and maybe never will, he'll always be remembered for bringing "harsh game to the people." The Portland rap scene will always be indebted to Cool Nutz, as will true rap fans in general.
Much love to Cool Nutz.

If you get a chance, peep his myspace page, as well as his label's website:


Scattershot Scribblers

Apologies for the sheer negligence Jeff and I have shown this blog...not sure what Jeff's excuse is, but I've been knee deep in preparing to quit my job again, the discovery that I'm going to be a Dad (oh, the horror! Can we say rat traps and Tabasco sauce?), epic road trips (another day, another blog), and one absolutely hellish apartment search, which, as any Portlander knows, is in itself a full-time job...

So I've got a stack of things to chatter my phalanges on. A brief sampling:
  • The Blazers just lost to the Celtics, 90-100. I know, big gigantic stupendous surprise. Roy, however, demonstrated yet again that he can hang with the likes of Allen, Pierce, and Garnett...the dude's that good.

  • Portland has to be about the only city in the universe to do such a thing, but throughout this week our very own City Hall is setting up shop at our lowest-performing public school, Jefferson High. Publicity stunt? A way to shine a spotlight on the failings of a campus that is constantly bombarded with the lowest common denominator staff and the most draconian policy decisions (the only school in the city-wide district that requires name badges and has split male/female academies with uniforms, and is also, coincidentally I'm sure, largly comprised of minorities)? Too soon to tell...but make sure you keep your ears open for Mayor Tom "Mr. Irrelevant" Potter's State of the City address this Friday. It's sure to be excitsnnnnooooooorrrre.

  • On an absolute serious tip, this has to be one of the more interesting social experiments I've heard of in years. I'll just quote the text from the Portland Tribune: 'The city of Portland has donated land for the proposed housing subdivision [foster-home project Portland Hope Meadows], which will be built pro bono by Legend Homes. Families who live there will adopt three to four foster children, receive free housing, and one parent per household will be given a small salary and health insurance. Senior citizens in the development will volunteer as "granparents" for the community and be given below-market rent for their housing.' I'm speechless. Talk about passing feel good warm fucking fuzzies all around...unfortunately, the pessimist-cynic in me thinks that once the development is completed, it will be available exclusively to upper-crust Yupsters at prices 300% above the current market rate, and will feature rooftop altars on which to slaughter poor children and the homeless. Bummer, foster-dude.

  • In the wake of the 4th Ave./Chavez Blvd./Interstate Ave. street renaming debacle, a group of cats are trying to get 42nd Avenue changed to Douglas Adams Blvd. Yeah, that's the guy who wrote those awesomely dorky sci-fi books. Anyway, the campaign website is here, just in case you'd like to drop them a bit of support for the cause. You have to love this town...


Impressions of Portland [Guest Blog]

My sister, Kate (aka Slug), was kind enough to add to our blog with her impressions of the Stump, based on a recent trip to the Northwest. We only had two and a half days, which was cut short but my ill-timed flu, but we made the most of it.


So, I have been promising Jeff a Portland visit for the past 2.5 years. I finally did it! Over the Christmas holiday, I flew into Portland and stayed with Jeff and his roommate for a few days. I also brought a little friend of mine – my cat (aka: The Puss). This was her first plane ride and visit in her 16.5 years and she was pretty calm and collected – but don’t mess with her mojo, you hear? Though she loves her uncle Jeff, she found his roommate’s lap to be her Portland choice of comfort. And so it began, Jeff took me out on the proverbial town…showed me around a bit.

Jeff drove me around the different neighborhoods on my first afternoon, showing me such wonders as the bowling alley where Kes’ car was stolen and the 4-corners of artistic embellishments (Sunnyside Piazza, SE 33rd & Yamhill ). We then went to some funky little café (Laughing Planet) where the seats were benches backed up to the wall and cushy pillows hung from the vertical for ‘back’ comfort. This place reminded me of some random, eclectic, funky hot-spot in good old San Francisco…ah, home-sweet-home! Then we walked down the street to enjoy some of Stumptown’s finest grounds – yes, I’m talkin’ ‘bout coffee, man! Seattle may have Stabucks but they have no bragging rights over Portland’s own java delights. So, while we were delicately sipping our coffee-cinos I looked over Jeff’s left shoulder and noticed a woman wearing flip-flops. Now, I know some people are hot-blooded but, really, it was pretty cold and rainy (and I ain’t no wuss – I live in Colorado). Okay, fine, but here is the catch…she was wearing these half-sock things that were all wooly and patterned, allowing only her toes to peek at the world. Thus, they worked magnificently with flip-flops. Being an avid flip-flop wearer myself and always begrudgingly switching to more practical shoes in the winter, I was in love (with the socks, not the woman) . Turns out she got them in Nepal but suggested a few "hippie" shops around town that I might check. I dragged Jeff on my quest but never found them. Ah, well.

Bellies satisfied, we set for home to figure out our next plan of action. A movie at one of Portland’s quaint theaters, perhaps? Well, unfortunately, I had seen everything playing except for some movie about an Irishman falling in love with a Czech girl that Jeff wanted to drag me, Kes, and Olde to. Knowing Jeff’s predilection for the Irish, we thought he might just be a bit biased on the plot. But maybe Olde owes him! Olde suggested an Afghanistan restaurant that none of us had ever tried. After much deliberation and curiosity, we were all game and met there around 7p. Turns out that Afghani food is a cross between Indian and Mediterranean food. This place served free chai (equals good) that was lip-searing hot and needed about 14 packets of sugar (equals bad). Never the less, I think that Olde, Jeff, and I drank about 3-5 cups, each, not realizing how much caffeine was in this stuff. We never made it to a movie but should have because none of the 3 of us chai drinkers could fall asleep…until maybe 4am!

When Jeff and I woke the next day, we found that my furry little friend had not been using her newly appointed litter box, but rather the entire floor space around it. In fact, I don’t think that she managed a single drop in the appropriate place, but she did get her message across. You see, Jeff wasn’t sure what kind of litter to buy her so I told him, "Scent-free and self-clumping". After about 45 minutes in the cat litter aisle and not finding this combo, he settled on a scent-free, non-clumping brand. Didn’t I say not to mess with her mojo? After the mess was cleaned and feelings were hurt (again, we’re sorry, Jeff), we left to meet Olde at the Travel Café. This place is another typical café but untypical in that it has large screens on the walls that played footage of various vacation spots (minus Rick Steves). We had arrived either just in time or seconds too late, as Olde needed to relieve himself but didn’t want to lose our table. Either way, Olde excused himself as soon as we got there.

The 3 of us then embarked on a journey to the Columbia River Gorge region. We did some minor hiking up to a couple of different waterfalls and stopped at a few scenic spots. Olde was kind enough to point out the bridge where some bright guy decided to jump and kill himself last summer (completely accidental, mind you). And then…it was on to view the giant sturgeon, which Olde warned, "…like the epilogue to the Star Wars movie, it might take a few minutes."

Later that evening, I got my first Christmas present from Jeff – a coveted ticket to the Nuggets vs. Blazers game. Now, this was a big night – and not just because it would be 10-in-a-row if the Blazers won, but it was also Sergio Rodriguez bobble-head night. I was excited to see this Jeff-proclaimed (maybe self-proclaimed, we don’t know) gypsy do cartwheels down the court. Jeff told me that I might even get to see him fly. Even though I am a complete Nuggets fan (and was actually told to go back to Colorado by some guys seated behind me), I had a great time. The energy was high and every seat was filled. The Nuggets played a much better game than I had expected, having just played a double-overtime game in Colorado the night before. I guess, if truth be told, Iverson and Anthony played a better game than I thought. I think that the rest of team just sat on the sideline in their warm-ups. Anyway, I was pretty impressed with how Jeff played both sides (being a Nuggets fan for 11 years and only a Blazers fan for 2). He was a mute the whole night. Also making the evening fun, we had started by meeting a Colorado-friend of mine at a downtown sushi bar, where much sushi and a couple of tall Asahi’s only cost us $16 for all 3 of us (my friend’s brother works there). Then Amy joined us for the game.

After the game, Jeff took me to Voodoo Doughnuts, a Portland landmark. This place is open 23 hours a day and has some great and some bizarre flavors of doughnuts. They had one called "Cock and balls" and I can only assume that doughnut holes were involved. He and I ended up sharing the Memphis Maffia which was a giant banana fritter covered in chocolate and peanut butter. I can still feel the sting on my teeth. Although seeing and tasting this place was good, the best part came as we were leaving...two guys were walking into the place together and one of them said aloud, "I want the penis doughnut!" Yes, Portland has a lot to offer!

Jeff and I had plans to visit the Saturday market on it’s last Saturday of the season but with the rain and my brother’s cold, we decided to skip it and just meet up with Olde and Kes at Beaterville Café (notice Portland has A LOT of cafes?). This place has car paraphernalia all over the place with a quarter-car mounted on the outside as a small dining table and hub caps decorating the walls. Another eclectic gem. And this was where I actually witnessed the phenomenon known as "Olde’s random napkin note-taking". I have no idea what ended up on the napkin but I have evidential, photographic proof of this mystery and I have plans to send it to the Discovery Channel.

This about sums up my 2.5 days (1 day per year that Jeff has been there) in Portland. Needless to say, I have to get back there soon. We had a few plans that didn’t quite happen because Jeff was sick, but that gives me just one more reason to plan another visit (that and maybe the hopefulness of better weather).


Your first place Blazers

The Blazers are getting stingy. They've been hoarding wins by the handful for over a month now, and show no signs of sharing them any time soon. After an amazing 13-game win streak, they've been able to snag four more consecutive wins after the original streak was snapped by Utah last week.

There are a few things that make this feat so impressive. First, the current Blazers have the youngest average age in the NBA. So while most young teams are developing their players with an eye on the future, the Blazers are winning now...and at an alarming rate. Also, the sloppy, selfish, and disorganized play that is characteristic of young teams, is not evident in the Blazers.

Secondly, they are playing as a team and finding different contributors every night. In Denver, Iverson and Carmelo score 75% of the team's points every night; in Los Angeles, it's the Kobe Bryant show. In Portland, however, everyone has contributed to the 17 wins in the last 18 games. Naturally, Roy and Aldridge are making things happen. But when they don't have a good game, Martell Webster or James Jones steps up. Or Jarrett Jack. Or Joel Pryzbilla. Or Travis Outlaw. Get it...they have depth and can share the load.

Lastly their only loss in the last 18 games came at a time when their head coach, Nate McMillan, was attending a funeral and couldn't be at the game. What if he had been there? Hmmm?

Here are a few of the standout stats:

* James Jones is shooting just under 54% from three-point range.

* As a team, the Blazers lead the league in three-point shooting percentage.

* The Blazers have the 9th best assist to turnover ratio, which means, despite being a young team, they are not turning the ball over easily.

* Among point guards, Steve Blake has the 6th best assist to turnover ratio. Among shooting guards, Brandon Roy is 1st.

* They have a real, live-in-the-flesh gypsy on the team. His name is Sergio. He can fly and one of his favorite foods is Spanish ham.


Portlanders Vote "Down With Whitey!"

The results of our latest poll, asking fellow Stumptowners what Portland is missing in its quest for Greatness:
  • 43% chose "Less honkies, more diversity." Amen, down with Whitey.
  • 25% chose "Another professional sports franchise, preferably MLB."
  • 18% chose "Less Gresham." We just lost two readers, both the only technologically literate folks in that fair city to the east.
  • 12% chose "A dedicated arts-driven Civic Center."
  • 0% chose "An iconic building...Big Pink doesn't cut it." I guess we have those two shiny new flying suppositories to be proud of.
  • 0% chose "A permanent, year-round public market."
  • 0% chose "More sun. Please." Roundly defeats the idea that we hate us some rain (actually, we really do).

Be sure to vote in this month's two polls, asking who's your favorite Trailblazers starter and backup in honor of their hot shitness of winning 15 of their last 16 games, apparently due to the sheer magical splendor of Sergio Rodriguez's hexing abilities and his fondness of pata negra.