Best of Portland 2008

Here’s a smattering of all sorts of write-ups I did for Willamette Week’s “Best of Portland” issue, which hit the streets 7/23/08:

Best Place to Hear Live Music: Hawthorne Theater

[The People’s Republic] 3862 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 233-7100. Thanks to OLCC regulations, running an all-ages music venue here is about as easy as opening up a Planned Parenthood office in the Vatican. But the Hawthorne Theater is damn good at letting the young ones play together with adults in a spot where indie rock, punk, metal and a whole lot more leaves ears of all generations ringing.

Best Spine Saviors

When a ski accident left 18-year-old Barlow High School senior Kip Johnson with a paralyzing spinal cord injury, the outlook was nothing short of grim. After Johnson spent one month in the ICU and underwent months of rehabilitation, his insurance coverage ran out. Then his family found Adapt Advanced (9923 SW Arctic Drive, 352-0177), a high-end, intensive and specialized training facility in Beaverton designed for people with severe neurological injuries . “We work on the fundamentals of movement, breaking down what the body needs instinctually to move,” says Nat Willis, the group’s director of operations. “Before programs like this, if you broke your neck, you were in the chair, and that’s your life,” says Lisa Johnson, Kip’s mother. “[But] people with spinal cord injuries can actually improve their condition.”

Best cheap date

So you find a buck on the street. Here’s what should be an easy decision: Do you (A) buy a crappy coloring book at the dollar store, or (B) Venture down into the depths of the wine-tasting room at McMenamins Edgefield (2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, 669-8610) and try their $1 flight , featuring seven (seven!) different wines, like delicious pinot noir and gris, white riesling and chardonnay? Each glass tends to be poured a little fuller than your standard taste, plus there’s free live acoustic music just about every night of the week. It’s a no-brainer date for all of the cheap romantics out there.

Best Place to People Watch: Mississippi Avenue

[Baristaville] If ever there was a stretch of asphalt that embodied the marvels (and tensions) of this city’s metamorphosis, whether you call it “diversity” or “gentrification,” it’s the curious blocks of Mississippi Avenue. Find a comfortable perch, shut up for a sec and let your eyes soak in the medley of foot traffic as white people, black people, collared shirts, shopping carts, artists, yuppies, the scraggly and clean-shaven all stumble along the same avenue.

Best Place to Hear Live Music: Jimmy Mak’s

[El Dorado] 221 NW 10th Ave., 295-6542. For a long time now, Jimmy’s has been one of the few foundations of the live jazz circuit in town—with crisp sound, almost nightly performances (often including good old Mel Brown on his drum set), sumptuous hummus plates (and a whole lotta other Mediterranean delights), and a rare chance for young jazz fans to catch a show, up till 9:30 pm.

Best Place to Hear Live Music: McMenamins Edgefield

[The Outer Limits] 2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, 669-8610. Yeah, getting to Troutdale is a little bit of a schlep. But at least once a year, you’ve gotta squeeze in, carpool, and make the trek out to East County’s best treasure. If you can afford it, Edgefield’s pricey summer “Concerts on the Lawn” series is a kick—where high-profile acts play to thousands of happy people outdoors.

Best Place to Hear Live Music: Aladdin Theater

[Sellwoodstockland] 3116 SE 11th Ave., 234-9694.

It’s safe to say that no theater in town has changed with the times like the Aladdin. What started as a vaudeville house in the roaring ’20s, transformed to a family movie emporium midcentury and eventually a sticky-floored porn house in the ’80s, is now one of the best spots to catch bigshot out-of-towners and up-and-coming local talent in a surprisingly intimate setting.

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