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Portland’s New Year’s resolutions

new years

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2011 was a big year for Portland. We were sweetly satirized on cable television and think-pieced in the media ad nauseum, and at this point the name of the city could practically apply for dictionary recognition as an adjective for a kind of lifestyle some folks scoff at but secretly envy. As great as this year was, 2012 could be even better — with a few improvements. So we asked some culturally prominent Portlanders to give us their New Year’s resolutions for Stumptown itself. Shockingly, none of them included replacing the downtown Benson Bubblers with beer. Would that be too over-the-top?

Fernando Viciconte, musician

My resolution for the City of Portland in 2012 would be for city officials to convince Tri-Met to convert all buses into rolling food carts, with each bus line providing a different type of delectable treat. Maybe the Number 14 could serve Korean BBQ?

The second resolution would concern the Portland Police Bureau and their management of resources. In 2012, rather than wasting precious taxpayer funds on ousting protesters from city parks, I would deploy these enforcers of law and order to issue citations to all individuals caught wearing those “funny” winter animal hats, which violate every law of good taste.


Jonathan Maus, operator of BikePortland.org

For 2012, I would love to see the City of Portland go even further for “Bicycle Rights.” Despite all the press releases and glowing rhetoric that we live in bike utopia, the truth is that way too many of our fellow citizens are afraid to bike because of what they perceive as unsafe conditions. I would like 2012 to be the year when City Hall begins to see Bicycle Rights not as special rights, but as basic rights: That every citizen deserves the choice to ride a bicycle and that when they make that choice they can expect the same level of respect and safety as when they drive, take the bus, or ride the MAX.


Zora Phoenix, performer/producer/emcee/”gender illusionist”

For the upcoming year, I hope Portland learns to not take itself too seriously. We are a transient city made up of artistic individuals whose collective passions are wide and far-reaching and, like any mass of unique peoples, it can be difficult to find a common ground. It can often seem that Portland’s stance of attempting to be weird and different sets itself apart from no one other than its citizens. All of you are unique, just like everyone else. Embrace your uniqueness without feeling the need to capitalize on it. Lighten up, Stumptown, and have fun!


Jon Ragel a.k.a. Boy Eats Drum Machine, musician

Invent an iPhone app for dating that Auto-Tunes a user’s voice to sound like Gerald Wallace.


Theresa “Darklady” Reed, professional writer/speaker/activist/erotic event impresario

Randy Leonard once tried to scare the SE Division neighborhood where the former Nature’s building still stands vacant by pointing out that an adult business could move into the space. Given that Portland is famous throughout the country for its clean, safe, couple-, female-, and even queer-friendly adult establishments—and the fact the city is a Mecca for those of us who identify as being out of the mainstream—this was both an upsetting and worrisome attack on that well-deserved reputation. I’d like to see that negativity gone. Adult businesses aren’t just good for our employment and economic health, they’re also good for our relationship, mental, and physical health.

I’ve been largely freaked out by riding a bike ever since taking a nasty tumble along a busy street in east county during my teens, but I am beyond proud (yes, to the point of boasting about it alongside our booze-with-full-nudity-strip clubs and nation’s strongest First Amendment) of our bike-friendliness. Alas, the ironic flip side to the popularity of this eco-enhancing transportation method (and something that may be tied in with the aforementioned great coffee shops) is an arrogance and sense of combined moral superiority and immortality on the part of entirely too many bicyclists. Red lights mean stop for everyone, folks, even those using peddle power.

Finally, what I’d really like to see Portland do during 2012 is offer me a reasonably priced, excellently located, ADA accessible venue from which to run my business, host my events, and offer a wide variety of social, educational, and professional services to the sexually questing citizens of the city.

Whaddya say, Portland? Maybe we can talk about it over coffee?


Chris Haberman, artist

Eat No Cinnabon. It’s fat-people crack for Portland suburbanites, and we need to step away from its evil table of sugary goodness. As if bacon-topped doughnuts were better, but at least they are local.

Do Not Fear The Apocalypse. Do not to live 2012 in fear. Live for the now, spend money, have fun.  The calendar debacle is the Mayan Y2K.

Cook At Home, Use Everything In The Fridge Every Week. Only buy what you can carry and use everything creatively.

Zombies Aren’t Coming, Share Your Can Food With The Homeless.

When It’s Nice, Be Outside. Portland is a festival city, especially in the summer. Check out new things, make a festival check list.

Go To Water, Commune With Nature. Local rivers are great. Experience them, leave the Pearl and the PMA and see the outdoors, even in the winter. Hiking in the rain is inspiring.

Do Things, Go Places. Be active in the city and its trillion events. Go see music, theater and art.

Portland Community. Become part of something. Volunteer. Portland is only great because of its friendly and helpful people; be one.


Cool Nutz, rapper/Portland hip-hop ambassador

My New Year’s resolution for the City of Portland is to potentially run for mayor. Most likely I won’t win, but I think that it would be good for the city and also give me a task to actually challenge myself with. I also plan on fully entrenching myself in the city’s food cart culture and visiting as many carts in the city as possible. I will also plan on dedicating more of time to exploring and traveling on all of the cities bike paths. I want to take a more grassroots approach to 2012 and really see what the city has to offer.


Ron Funches, comedian

Enjoy yourself more this year, Portland. You have a vibrant arts scene, delicious food, and people make TV shows about how you live your everyday life. That’s treatment usually reserved for pawn shop owners and pregnant children. Live it up.


Nico Bella, movie hostess/cabaret entertainer/book club leader/candy girl/glittermonger

This year, as you make your New Years resolutions you little hamlet on the Willamette, make one of them convincing your citizens that something does not have to be green, rare, wacky, odd, boring, barrel-aged, unsettling, organic, all gender-speak variant inclusive, expensive, difficult, uncomfortable, itchy, handcrafted, full of doughnuts, made by bike, done on a bike, or including a bike #at all# to be legitimate, valid and, get this, fun.

We have lost track of what fun is here. We know how to make fun of things, but we have forgotten how to make things fun. In 2012, I hope this town remembers that what made this place “weird” was a bunch of people who did their own thing and didn’t care if people were watching. That pioneering spirit diminished in the shadow of Pioneer Place and the lively, randy, funny heart of this town dimmed as the last dirty book store went dark.

Where are we now? Now the whole world is watching and Williamsburg wants to be us—that, as the great poetess Emily Dickinson once said, “is jacked.” So, bring back the fun. Remind your citizens that it is OK to do/wear/ride/eat something, not just as an ironic statement but because you have an actual passion for it. (Oh, and on that note also remind them it is also OK to do/wear/ride/eat something and not give a good goddamn about it’s origins.)

So that being said, if some of your citizens hold tight to their kale chips and their deep appreciation for Belgian documentaries about bleakness filmed from a bicycle, cool—as long as it’s sincere, I applaud them. I, however, will be over here, eating Cheez Whiz and watching “Xanadu”…again.

P.S. Can you also work on your citizens to not dressing like adult babies? That would be cool too.

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Religuous Bill Maher

Politics Now!

10 Hilarious Political Documentaries You Need to See

Documentary Now! gets political with "The Bunker" premiering September 14th at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: ©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Who says political documentaries can’t be hilarious? The best political docs — like The War Room, the 1993 depiction of the Clinton presidential campaign that Documentary Now! pays homage to with “The Bunker” — have plenty in them to make you laugh. Here are 10 political documentaries that will elicit more than just bitter laughter.

1. The Yes Men

Activist duo Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos are responsible for not just one, but three funny and scathing political documentaries: The Yes Men (2003), The Yes Men Fix the World (2009) and The Yes Men are Revolting (2014). The pair impersonate bad guys from the worlds of business and government, and often end up fooling the media. They also stage elaborate pranks like having dozens of people don inflatable ball outfits called SurvivaBalls to help survive catastrophes resulting from climate change. Along the way they’ve racked up numerous awards and almost as many arrests.


2. Weiner

“Hilarious…like a Spinal Tap of politics,” said the New York Post about the doc Weiner, of course adding, “…it’s the full package.” This doc follows the disgraced Congressman, who had to resign due to a sexting scandal, in his quest for a comeback, running for Mayor of New York City. Incredibly, yet another sexting scandal explodes during the course of filming. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, as the whole sordid story unfolds before the cameras, featuring Weiner and his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. It’s the film that puts the (Carlos) “danger” back in politics.


3. Please Vote for Me

Politics on a scale much smaller but just as riveting are on display in this 2007 documentary. A third grade class in China is given the task of holding an election for class monitor. The resulting web of intrigue, dirty tricks and bare-knuckle politics among this group of 8-year-olds are reminiscent of something Karl Rove or Lee Atwater would come up with. And the parents are worse. A fascinating look at the roots of democracy, with a touch of Lord of the Flies.


4. Roger & Me

Filmmaker Michael Moore could have any one of a number of his movies in this list (his is the first name most people think of when the subject of funny political docs comes up). But his first doc, Roger & Me, remains one of his funniest and — with its focus on the economic impact of globalization on American workers — still remains one of his timeliest. The film centers around Moore’s attempts to confront then CEO of General Motors Roger B. Smith. Moments from the film including scenes with former game show host Bob Eubanks and another with a luckless rabbit have become iconic.


5. Bronx Obama

The first feature-length documentary from filmmaker Ryan Murdock, Bronx Obama follows the story of Louis Ortiz, a lifelong resident of the South Bronx. Unemployed and with a young daughter, Ortiz is told by a friend in 2007 that he looks like a rising young politician. Before long, he’s making a living as a Barack Obama impersonator. The award-winning doc shows many hilarious moments intentional and otherwise as Ortiz comes to grips with his new life over the course of three years during Obama’s first term and deals with an unscrupulous manager.


6. Religulous

Bill Maher brings his scathing satire of organized religion to his 2008 documentary Religulous. In the course of the film he travels to The Wailing Wall, The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City and The Vatican, among other places. But some of the best scenes are in cheesy locales like The Creation Museum and a Christian theme park in Orlando called Holy Land Experience. He even finds a Muslim gay bar in Amsterdam. Maher is merciless in his mockery of the main Western religions, but even if you disagree with his viewpoints, his comedy is always spot on.


7. Al Franken: God Spoke

From the makers of The War Room, this doc shows the evolution of Al Franken from comedian to political pundit during the first term of George W. Bush. We see Franken touring in promotion of his book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, broadcasting at Air America Radio and touring with the USO in Iraq. The most memorable encounters in the film are clashes with right-wing pundits like Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. It’s a funny look at a man on a journey from SNL to the US Senate.


8. Journeys with George

In the year 2000, Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of Nancy Pelosi) was covering the presidential campaign of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush for NBC. For 18 months, she also used a handheld camcorder to record Journeys with George. The result is a remarkably warm and funny portrait of a somewhat goofball politician. Pelosi went on to become a filmmaker. Bush went on to bigger things as well. From the vantage point of 16 years later, the big takeaway from Journeys with George is that George W. Bush seemed a lot funnier before we had eight years of him as president.


9. Mitt

You may have suspected that George W. Bush could make a goofily entertaining subject for a documentary. What you never suspected was that Mitt Romney could ever be anything other than stiff and robotic. For the film Mitt, documentarian Greg Whiteley was given unprecedented access to Romney in his runs for president in both 2008 and 2012. What emerges is a surprisingly human portrait of Romney and his family. There’s an amazing scene in the hotel on the night Mitt lost to Barack Obama revealing that he never even contemplated the possible need for a concession speech.


10. Sarah Palin: You Betcha!

No list of things both political and funny can avoid having at least one entry about Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin: You Betcha! is from noted British documentarian Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney) and should not be confused with the fawning Palin doc The Undefeated. In 2011, after she had become a conservative icon, Broomfield went to Alaska and documented his attempts at getting an interview with Palin in a Roger & Me-esque pursuit. In interviews with Palin family, friends, fans and foes, Broomfield manages to make the self-described “mama grizzly” seem both dangerous and ridiculous, both of which are undoubtedly true.

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Bill and Teds Bogus Journey Everett

Die Laughing

5 Depictions of “Death” in Comedy

Catch Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey this week on IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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With Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey airing as part of IFC’s Rotten Fridays, we got to thinking about how exactly the character of Death made his way onto the screen – and onto the poster – of a 1991 comedy sequel.

Ingmar Bergman’s depiction of Death in his 1957 classic The Seventh Seal set the tone for how most people think of The Grim Reaper. Portrayed by Bengt Ekerot, Death was a chess-playing philosopher, answering deep existential questions while capturing your rook with his knight. In Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Death is partial to board games.

Here then is the journey of Death in movie comedies, from Bill & Ted to Whoopi.

1. The Dove / De Duva (1968)

Three years after The Seventh Seal hit theaters, this short film parodied as much Ingmar Bergman as could fit into 14 minutes. The centerpiece is of course the pale-faced and shrouded Death, challenged this time in a game of badminton. It’s also the film debut of Madeline Kahn, who would go on to become the queen of parody with Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety and Blazing Saddles.


2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail trailer (1975)

One of the greatest comedies of all times parodies one of the greatest movies of all times –- but only in the trailer. Referring to the director and title by name, this preview promises something “all rather silly” when compared to The Seventh Seal. To wit: Death takes a pie to the face.


3. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Bill and Ted
Orion Pictures

If Death can play chess, then why not Twister, Clue and Battleship? Of all the comic portrayals of Death in movies, this is the one that holds up best. William Sadler brings a vulnerability to the role while never losing Death’s sense of menace. Like the Bill & Ted movies, it’s brilliantly smart and stupid all at the same time.


4. The Last Action Hero (1993)

"Ian
Columbia Pictures

This action-comedy-trainwreck acknowledges The Seventh Seal as a movie and then takes a big leap as the character of Death leaves the land of Ingmar Bergman and jumps into the world of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ian McKellen (the Bengt Ekerot of our day) takes over the role and wreaks havoc in 1990s America.


5. Monkeybone (2001)

Monkeybone
20th Century Fox

Whoopi Goldberg plays Death in this bizarre 2001 comedy, where Brendan Fraser’s comatose cartoonist must get an “exit pass” from Death in order to return to the land of the living. Also, Death has a giant robot. It’s a weird movie, folks.

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Rick Moranis Honey I shrunk the kids

Rick of Time

10 Best Rick Moranis Roles

Catch Rick Moranis in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

Everyone loves Rick Moranis. It’s just the truth. This month on IFC, you get a chance to rediscover his awesomeness in Honey, I Shrunk the KidsAs you enjoy that family comedy gem, here are a few other roles that showcase Rick Moranis’ greatness.

1. Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour Krelborn

Only Rick Moranis could play a character that you still root for even though he’s murdering people and feeding them to an alien plant. Audiences loved Seymour so much, the studio had to reshoot the ending of the film. Originally, the film ended like the original Off-Broadway play, with Seymour and Audrey being eaten and Audrey II taking over the world. Test audiences couldn’t stand the fact that they were killed, so a new ending was shot with our leads victorious and the film became one of the best movie musicals of all time.


2. Ghostbusters, Louis Tully

In a film with so many comedy legends, it would have been easy for Rick Moranis to fade into the background as the hapless Louis Tully. But he more than holds his own up against the rest, making Tully just as funny as he is pathetic. And when he goes bug-eyed as Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer, that’s when the fun really starts.


3. Spaceballs, Dark Helmet

You don’t often think of James Earl Jones and Rick Moranis being typecast together. But in Mel Brooks’ goofy send-up of Star Wars, Moranis takes on his version of Darth Vader. As Dark Helmet, Moranis is a perfect mixture of occasionally threatening and mostly inept. If Brooks ever decides to revisit the Spaceballs franchise on the big screen, hopefully he’ll find a way to bring Dark Helmet into the new Star Wars universe.


4. Parenthood, Nathan Huffner

Directed by Ron Howard, Parenthood is a wonderfully truthful movie about marriage, having children and the dangers of oral sex while driving. Moranis plays Nathan Huffner, an intellectual who’s more interested in raising his daughter as a science experiment than being a loving father. Though there are many comedic moments, this is a much more understated performance for Moranis. And he gets easily the sweetest moment in the film when he serenades his estranged wife in front of her students.


5. Strange Brew, Bob McKenzie

Bob and Doug McKenzie were breakout characters from SCTV that were originally created by government demand — the CBC mandates that a certain percentage of all shows in Canada have specifically Canadian content. So, Moranis and Dave Thomas thought of the most stereotypical Canadians possible and the McKenzie brothers were born. The duo appeared on SCTV, in Pizza Hut and Molson commercials, on a platinum-selling comedy album and their big screen debut, Strange Brew. It’s a tale of poisoned beer, mind control plots and an escape from an insane asylum. Plus, it’s a loose take on Hamlet. Probably not what you’d expect from characters made as a joke, but that’s what makes Bob McKenzie a great and surprising “hoser.”


6. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne Szalinski

In this 1989 classic, Rick Moranis plays a bumbling inventor who accidentally shrinks his kids and neighbors to the size of ants. Though that may sound horrifying, Moranis is great as a man who’s thrilled that something of his finally worked and just as comically terrified by what he’s done. With impressive special effects for the time, the film still holds up as a fun family comedy.


7. My Blue Heaven, Barney Coopersmith

Did you know that Rick Moranis was in a comedic version of Goodfellas? My Blue Heaven, starring Steve Martin and Moranis, came out one month before Scorsese’s legendary Mob film. Though the silly comedy and gritty gangster drama may seem completely different, both are based on the life of Henry Hill, known as Vinnie Antonelli in Heaven. Moranis plays the average neighbor who tries to keep former mobster Vinnie (Martin) in line so he can remain in witness protection. Though Goodfellas was based on a novel about Hill’s life by Nicholas Pileggi, My Blue Heaven was written Nora Ephron, who happened to be married to Pileggi at the time. It’s a small mob world.


8. The Wild Life, Harry

This ’80s teen comedy has been mostly forgotten, but it’s notable not only for a performance by Moranis as a trendy manager with very big hair but it’s top level cast. Eric Stoltz, Randy Quaid, Lea Thompson and a bleached blonde Chris Penn all star, with a soundtrack by Eddie Van Halen. It’s all the more surprising that this film isn’t better remembered, since it was writer Cameron Crowe’s follow up to Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


9. Head Office, Howard Gross

This 1985 satire of the corporate world stars Judge Reinhold as a new employee who gets mysteriously promoted within a huge company and learns of the seedy underbelly of business. The film features a few subplots, one starring Danny DeVito and one with Moranis as a failing executive whose screaming idiocy is a great parody of the executive top brass. Though it may not be much of a parody, since we’ve all probably experienced our fair share of screaming, asinine bosses.


10. Brewster’s Millions, Morty King

In Brewster’s Millions, Richard Pryor finds out he’ll get a $300 million inheritance only if he can spend $30 million in one month. (If only we all had such troubles.) As Pryor’s character gets more attention for his big spending and eventual mayoral campaign, he attracts a bunch of odd characters. One of which is Moranis as Morty King, King of the Mimics. It’s a small role where he plays a guy that always repeats everything that’s said, but Morty has got a great costume and Moranis plays this confident weirdo with delightful skill. Also, the idea of anyone crowning himself “King of the Mimics” for doing a trick that little brothers use to annoy everyone is a pretty insane thought.

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