The owner of Below Zero Records, Joe Mendez, is realizing that generosity does not go unrecognized in Portland's underground music scene. From time to time, the small record and bookstore along MLK hosts rowdy all-ages punk shows. But unfortunately, Mendez's come-one, come-all policy has been met with condemnation from both the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and what Mendez calls "the music mafia."
Even though there is no drinking onsite, Mendez recently received a letter from the OLCC threatening to shut down his store. The letter attributes various acts of drunken debauchery to Below Zero patrons.
"The letter felt very threatening," said Mendez. He contends that he goes to great lengths to make his shows alcohol and drug free, and have never had an alcohol related incident.
And, if that wasn't enough, now BMI, a company that distributes royalties to major record labels, also contacted Mendez and threatened to shut him down. That letter advised him to purchase a license that costs more than $500 so that he can continue to "legally" play records in his store and allow performers to play cover songs.
Mendez, who while giving this interview sold three used records for a total of four dollars, is shocked that BMI is so concerned with people like him. "I'm doing shows for free just to get people in the door," he says. "I mean, I'm lucky if I make $20 a day here."
After canceling several shows, Mendez has announced that he will continue on a trial basis. Below Zero Records is located at 3532 NE MLK. JASON SIMMS
NORTHERN BOUND! The Canadian Supreme Court gave a big thumbs up to gay marriage last week, ruling that same-sex unions are constitutional. The Court also backed government efforts to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples--which would make Canada the third country in the world to fully legalize gay marriage. Marital discrimination based on sexual orientation has already been banned in six Canadian provinces and one territory, putting Canada well ahead of the rest of the hemisphere. On Wednesday, the Oregon Supreme Court heard oral arguments challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriages; attorneys for 11 couples are asking for civil unions to be recognized as legal. ALISON HALLETT