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Portland’s New Year’s resolutions

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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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Maron Judd Hirsch Marc Maron Andy Kindler

Dear Judd

Judd Hirsch’s 5 Best Lovable Curmudgeon Roles

Judd Hirsch returns to Maron this Wednesday at 9P on IFC.

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Whether it’s blockbusters like Independence Day or his role as Marc’s dad Larry on Maron, Judd Hirsch has done it all, becoming one of the most recognizable actors of our time. With Larry joining Marc on his post-rehab amends tour this week, we thought we’d look back at just a few of our favorite roles from Judd Hirsch’s nearly five decades in entertainment.

5. John Lacey, Dear John

’80s kids likely remember this show’s catchy theme song (listen to it above and try not to sing along) which still pops into our head when we least expect it. The story of a divorcee who seeks solace in the arms of a support group for lonely people, Dear John ran for four seasons on NBC, including a couple where it followed Cheers on the Peacock Network’s once powerhouse Thursday night line-up. It’s best remembered today for a solid ensemble that included Hirsch and Breaking Bad‘s Jere Burns. And for that theme song, which we will be humming even on our death beds.


4. Julius Levinson, Independence Day/Independence Day: Resurgence

ID4 Judd Hirsch
20th Century Fox

Has there ever been a less likely action movie star than lapsed rabbi Julius Levinson, back in theaters this summer after a 20-year hiatus? With his kvetching and parental concern in the midst of an alien invasion, Hirsch stands out by providing humor and heart in a pair of movies in dire need of both. Somehow, he manages to take a Jackie Mason impression and imbue it with enough humanity to hold his own against citywide explosions and Will Smith one-liners.


3. Larry, Maron

Maron Judd Hirsch

As Marc’s estranged former doctor dad who now peddles homemade erection pills, Hirsch’s Larry Maron helps connect the dots on why our neurotic hero has turned out the way he has. Playing Maron Sr. as a RV-dwelling womanizer who only visits when he needs something, Hirsch is clearly having the time of his life on the show, even if Marc isn’t. But then again, who wants to see happy Marc?


2. Bill Herndon, Damages

Judd Hirsch Damages
Sony Pictures Television

As Bill Herndon, a former high powered lawyer who’s sunk into depression and addiction since being disbarred, Hirsch got one of the meatiest roles of his career. The part was originally envisioned as a guest star, but once the showrunners saw the sparks Hirsch was bringing, they kept writing more and more for his character.


1. Alex Reiger, Taxi

Judd Hirsch Taxi
Paramount Television

The role that made him a household name, Hirsch’s Alex Reiger was the pragmatic center of the classic sitcom Taxi that all the other oddballs and weirdoes circled around. The protagonist of a true ensemble, Reiger wasn’t as flamboyant as dopey Tony, stoned Revered Jim or sweet natured foreigner Latka. But with his heart, compassion and killer deadpan, playing Alex would help win Hirsch two Emmys.

Check out a scene from this week’s brand new Maron below:

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Weird Al – Comedy Bang Bang

Behind the Music

“Weird Al” Shares the Stories Behind “Eat It,” “Word Crimes” and More Hit Songs

Catch "Weird Al" on the 100th episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! Friday, July 1st starting at 11P on IFC.

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With a career spanning five decades and one that encompasses music, film, television, live shows, and the occasional podcast, “Weird Al” Yankovic has the very definition of a storied history. The performer has 14 albums under his belt — four of which went gold, six went platinum — and has amassed four Grammy Awards and several generations of diehard fans. We were curious about some of the stories “Weird Al” had behind a few of his hit singles, so we asked for a tiny glimpse at the making of these beloved tunes.

In celebration of his triumphant first season as Comedy Bang! Bang!‘s new bandleader, here’s the story behind five “Weird Al” songs as told by the singer himself. (Click here to read Al’s thoughts on joining Comedy Bang! Bang!, his new tour and more.)

1. “My Bologna”

Weird Al: I did [“My Bologna”] when I was 19 years old. I was going into my senior year in college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. I was doing a summer shift at the college campus radio station, and The Knack was huge that summer — “My Sharona” being by far the most requested song at the radio station. And I just had the most obvious, stupid idea for a parody: “My Bologna.” So I brought my accordion into the bathroom across the hall because the tiled walls gave off a nice reverb sound. And I recorded “My Bologna,” sent it to Dr. Demento, and he played it on his radio show in Los Angeles where it became a hit. In fact, I got a postcard from him saying “My Bologna” was number one on the “Funny Five” for two weeks in a row. And I couldn’t believe it. [Laughs] I thought to myself, “Well, it’s never gonna get any better than this.”

IFC: Did you shoot a music video for “My Bologna”?

Weird Al: Well, it’d be generous to call it a music video. A friend of mine Randy Kerdoon, who was also a DJ at the radio station, had to do a video as part of his senior project. We shot it at a nearby community college, and it was a no-budget shoot. It was me pretending to play the accordion and singing. But it was recorded! It exists! [Laughs] And it wound up being an Easter egg on one of my DVDs.


2. “Eat It”

Weird Al: “Eat It” was my first really big hit. I had a couple minor hits before then, “Another One Rides the Bus” and “Ricky,” but “Eat It” kinda turned me into a household name as a known character, I guess. Before that, nobody would’ve recognized me on the street. But after I did “Eat It,” it went into heavy rotation on MTV and got played six times a day. I became a literal overnight celebrity, and all of a sudden, my anonymity was gone. I’d be in line at a fast food restaurant and somebody would say, “Hey! There’s the ‘Eat It’ Guy!” So that was very dramatic and odd. [Laughs]

IFC: Did you use the original set from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video?

Weird Al: No, that didn’t really exist anymore. We tried to find out where they shot the original stuff, but those sets were gone and the locations looked completely different. So we basically did everything from scratch. We recreated the pool hall and the outdoor scenes on a soundstage in LA very, very quickly. I’m surprised we were able to finish the video. It was a very haphazard shoot. [Laughs] But it all came together. And that video, more than anything else in my career, had an enormous effect.


3. “Smells Like Nirvana”

Weird Al: I think we actually shot that on the same soundstage as Nirvana shot [“Smells Like Teen Spirit”]. It wasn’t an actual basketball court, of course. We got the same janitor, a bunch of the same cheerleaders, and some of the same audience members. We were driving more for authenticity on this one, so we got a lot of the same characters. I could be wrong, but I think it was all done in one day — one very long shoot — which is crazy. We didn’t know that we were going to get [Eight is Enough star] Dick Van Patten, but we knew we needed some random celebrity. So we went down the list to see who we could get, and somebody said, “Hey, I have a friend who knows Dick Van Patten.” We said, “Perfect!” And he showed up and he killed it.


4. “Amish Paradise”

Weird Al: Pretty sure that was a two-day shoot. That was a pretty complicated shoot because we wanted to shoot in Lancaster — again, for authenticity — but we found out very quickly that we couldn’t transport everybody across the country to go to Pennsylvania. So we had to shoot that in Southern California. And Lancaster’s very flat, and where we shot was very hilly. So we had to camouflage that there were hills everywhere. [Laughs] I got a lot of my family members in the video to play Amish people.

There’s a set piece at the end where we filmed an entire shot backwards, and I had to learn the chorus phonetically backwards, which was a real challenge. Of course, Florence Henderson’s there because, you know, when Michelle Pfeiffer can’t be in the video, Florence Henderson’s always available. [Laughs] She was amazing, and again it was a lot of fun. I think that was around the time that MTV stopped playing music videos. And it was a very popular video, but it was moot because MTV was just starting to say, “Yeah, we’re not so much a music video channel anymore.” [Laughs]


5. “Word Crimes”

Weird Al: That was basically a lyrics video done with kinetic typography, and I’m a big fan of that style of animation. And I was looking online to try to figure out who I wanted to actually do it, talent scouting on the Internet. [Laughs] And I saw a Jonathan Coulton video called “Shop Vac,” which was done by Jarrett Heather.

I saw in [Jarrett’s] work a sense of humor and a consummate level of skill, and I just liked his timing and the fact that he knew how to work with comedy. But I had checked all of his social media, and it was like he dropped off the face of the earth. His Twitter account had been inactive for a couple of years, and I thought, “Did this guy die?” [Laughs] So I emailed Jonathan Coulton and I tracked Jarrett down. He was working at his day job and just hadn’t been doing too much of that kind of work in his free time. And I said, “Hey, I really love the ‘Shop Vac’ video. Would you be interested in doing a video for my new album?” And he was thrilled and he did an amazing job. He spent over 500 hours working on the “Word Crimes” video, just basically him and his laptop. And he would go back and forth with me — I’d be giving him notes and he’d come back with these amazing ideas. And it was the song that ended up being the Top 40 single on the album, putting me in rare company of being one of three artists to have a Top 40 single in each of the last four decades.

Watch a clip of Weird Al’s diabolical twin from this week’s brand new Comedy Bang! Bang!.

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CBB podcast

Pod Talkerman

10 Essential Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast Episodes

Celebrate 100 episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC this Friday starting at 11P.

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Photo Credit: Earwolf

With Comedy Bang! Bang! fast approaching 100 episodes on IFC, we thought it was time to look back at the podcast that launched it all. A madcap mishmash of ridiculous characters, fake celebrity interviews and game breaking improv, the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast is a dense universe unto itself, full of callbacks and inside jokes that reward hardcore fans. If you’re new to the series, the best bet would be to start on the first episode and listen to all 430 (and counting!) episodes. But for those of us who don’t have hundreds of hours of free time to kill, here are a few of the very best episodes in CB!B! podcast history.

10. Amy Poehler’s Rap (Episode 123)

It’s no secret that America’s sweetheart, Amy Poehler, can spit verse. (She famously rapped about Sarah Palin on SNL while nine months pregnant!) But never has her brilliance been more evident than this classic CB!B! episode. While host Scott Aukerman often likes to goad his guests into rapping just to watch them crash and burn, Amy rises to the occasion, and puts together a classic little ditty about her home schoolin’ curriculum that involves teaching youngsters that the moon is made of cheese.


9.  Time Bobby (Episode 150)

Paul F. Tompkins is more than a guest in the world of CB!B!. As it stands, he’s appeared more on the show than anyone, outside of Scott himself. With a bevy of classic characters like Cake Boss and J.W. Stillwater, he’s a key player in the show’s evolution. In this classic episode, he plays Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber as he weighs whether to adopt murderous orphan Fourvel, played with eerie innocence by SNL‘s Bobby Moynihan.


8. 2012 Holiday Spectacular (Episode 191)

Paul F. Tompkins appears again in this Holiday Spectacular, playing everyone’s favorite former pimp turned TV show cop, Ice-T. One of the funniest spots in the show’s history, T talks about his Keith Haring advent calendar, his disappointment with the “We Are The World” video, and his Santa Claus (or Santer Klantz, as he’s known in The Maldives Islands) costume.


7. Shanghaied by Irene (Episode 122)

And, because we’re on a roll with PFT characters, we can’t leave out Werner Herzog, the crusty German filmmaker who views life as a bleak battle between man and nature. This was his first appearance on the show, although he would go on to appear many more times.


6. Oh, Hello (Episode 107)

Nick Kroll has also been a go-to improviser for CB!B!, repeatedly bringing his menagerie of characters to life in the studio. Still, it took over a hundred episodes for Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland — his and comedian John Mulaney’s tuna loving, Upper West Side living, Alan Alda worshiping comedic creations — to stop by. Judging by the befuddled reaction of fellow guest Lizzy Caplan, the wait was worth it.


5. Ching Chong Matinee (Episode 161)

Tim and Eric‘s Tim Heidecker got the opportunity to share some big news on the show. He’d been cast in the new Woody Allen movie — a blatantly racist, black-and-white silent film called “Ching Chong Matinee,” about a group of artists doing an opera based on Kung-Fu Panda. Sadly, with stars like Jason Alexander, Jackie Chan and the great Howie Mandel filling out the cast, Heidecker’s Chinese stagehand character barely made the final film.


4. Zap! (Episode 131)

Andy Daly is another mainstay of the show. Here he plays Chip, the gregarious Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, whose chipper personality masks a dark, deeply disturbing history. Throughout the episode Scott, guest Jason Mantzoukas and Chip dig deep into his past, uncovering awful stories about his dead wife, his history of street fighting, a disfiguring Jeep accident and a “Satanic Voltron” of child soldiers from his game show “Zap.”


3. Scott Pays Tribute to Harris Wittels (Episode 336)

A departure from the loose improv games that precede it on the list, this episode contains one of the most genuine and sad moments in CB!B! history. Harris Wittels — a Parks and Recreation writer, author of Humblebrag and frequent guest on the show — passed away from a drug overdose in 2015. This episode finds Scott trying to come to terms with his friend’s sudden death in real time. It’s raw and real and moving, and unlike anything before or since on CB!B!.


2. iBrain (Episode 35)

Deeply NSFW, Brett Gelman’s reading of his short story, “iBrain,” is one of the funniest bits of filthy madness you’ll ever hear. While the story starts out as a hackneyed attempt at satire, much to Scott’s chagrin, it quickly takes a turn in a very unexpected direction. Have the kids leave the room before giving this one a listen.


1. Farts and Procreation (Episode 120)

Probably as close to a consensus pick as this list could have, “Farts and Procreation” is considered a high water mark of lowbrow humor on the show. While fan reaction can be divided about F&P, everyone has an opinion, making it one of the most famous episodes in the podcast’s history. Having spawned numerous sequels, the story of Jack Sjunior and Bryan Pieces, two lumberjacks with a deeply disturbing history, seems destined to define this series for better or worse. A must listen for anyone wanting to know how far this show can take things when the rules get thrown out the window.

Check out 100 Scott Aukerman Nicknames in honor of CB!B!’s 100th episode! 

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