Activists Issue Demands Following Release of Portland Police Texts with Joey Gibson


Portland activists are calling on Mayor Ted Wheeler to step down as police commissioner, and for Police Chief Danielle Outlaw to resign or be fired, after Willamette Week and the Mercury reported on newly released text messages between the Portland Police Bureau and far-right Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson on Thursday.

A coalition of activists held a press conference outside Portland City Hall Friday afternoon. They included a representative from local group Direct Action Alliance (DAA), and anti-fascist organizer Luis Marquez, who was mentioned several times in texts between PPB Lt. Jeff Niiya and Gibson.

Direct Action Alliance presented a list of several demands that they want the city to meet by Friday, Feb 22. In addition to calls for Wheeler to step down and for Outlaw's dismissal, they are also asking that Niiya be suspended without pay, and that PPB undergo an independent investigation—rather than the internal investigation mentioned in Wheeler's Thursday statement.

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The Fantastic New Kankyō Ongaku Compilation Explores ’80s Japanese Ambient Music

Jean-Claude Vorgeack
In 1980s Japan, during a boom that transformed the global economy, Japanese musicians refined a strain of abstract music that was a direct response to the country’s increasing urbanization and a means of reconnecting with the nation’s spiritual roots, which were very much tied into nature. The result was a marvelous substrain of so-called “ambient” music—although that shorthand term scarcely scratches the surface—that united disparate sensations, simultaneously evoking Japan’s growing, artificially illuminated cityscapes and the archipelago’s wild fields, coasts, and mountains. A stunning compilation of this ambient and installation music from the ’80s has just been released by Seattle reissue label Light in the Attic, and it’s the perfect point of entry into a fertile music scene that feels shockingly relevant in 2019 America.

Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 is the third in Light in the Attic’s series of ambient- and new age-adjacent multidisc compilations, following I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America 1950-1990 and The Microcosm: Visionary Music of Continental Europe, 1970-1986—although it perhaps more directly fits in with the label’s ongoing Japan Archival Series, which has included Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 and the announced but not yet released Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1985; Light in the Attic founder Matt Sullivan says there will eventually be nearly two dozen releases in the series. The label has also released direct reissues of albums by influential Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono, whose solo work is represented on this new Kankyō Ongaku by the comp’s lengthy, achingly gorgeous closing track “Original BGM,” which was originally composed as background music for the MUJI department store.

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Hilarious Sketch Comedy Show The Aces: State Fair Is a Blue Ribbon Winner!

The Aces: Shelley McLendon and Michael Fetters
The Aces: Shelley McLendon and Michael Fetters

My notes from The Aces: State Fair begin with “My god, what a pair of seasoned professionals.” And continue, “they're like a flippin' boyband up there!” The rest of my notes are Boston lyrics, which I'll explain in a moment. Things got a little loose because I had a super fun time watching this show.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of the Aces. The sketch/improv duo (Shelley McLendon and Michael Fetters) produce a new show on an annual/bi-annual basis and I always make my beeswax to get over and see them. Fans of The State or Kids in the Hall: if you haven't checked out the Aces, this is for you! They're easily one of Portland's freshest and funniest comedy resources. So, to let you know a little more about the show, here are my five favorite things about State Fair in no particular order:

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It's the Golden Hour of Kacey Musgraves

KACEY MUSGRAVES Mon 2/18 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
KACEY MUSGRAVES Mon 2/18 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall JAMIE NELSON

To say Kacey Musgraves had a stellar 2018 would be an understatement. Her new record Golden Hour debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 chart, was included on countless music critics’ year-end lists, and won Album of the Year at the Country Music Awards and the Grammys. Former boy band heartthrob Harry Styles—who recruited Musgraves to open for his 2018 solo tour—said, “It’s impossible to listen to her too much.” The world tends to agree. Last year Musgraves played shows from Sweden to Japan, putting her in an elite class of Nashville artists to break out of the South.

It’s no wonder; Golden Hour is an impeccably paced album with infectious melodies and a refreshing lack of yee-haws. Opening track “Slow Burn” commands attention with simple but alluring layers of strings and vocals. “Happy & Sad” articulates that indescribable emotion of two opposite feelings at once, and “Lonely Weekend” addresses the need to balance a social life with proper self-care. While Musgraves’ twangy flair isn’t entirely lost on electro-pop tracks like “Velvet Elvis” and “High Horse,” she draws many different musical elements into her irresistible take on country.

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Portland Trombonist and DREAMer Denzel Mendoza Is a Grammy Winner

Denzel Mendoza playing with Haley Heynderickx at Pickathon 2018
Denzel Mendoza playing with Haley Heynderickx at Pickathon 2018 Katie Summer

You might not be familiar with his name yet, but last weekend, Denzel Mendoza won a Grammy.

It all began one day last March, when Mendoza—a Portland-based trombonist who plays with local acts like Kulululu, Haley Heynderickx, and Joshua Thomas—received a call from music attorney Doug Davis while he was in a recording session with the Portland Jazz Composers' Ensemble. Davis wanted Mendoza to be part of a new project he was spearheading with producer Kabir Sehgal and celebrated trumpeter/composer John Daversa called American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom.

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Portland Leaders Respond to Texts Between the Police Bureau and Patriot Prayer


On Thursday, Willamette Week and the Mercury reported on text messages between a police officer and Joey Gibson, founder of the Vancouver, Washington alt-right group Patriot Prayer. Portland elected leaders, nonprofits, and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) have all responded to the texts, which reveal a protective relationship between PPB and Gibson.

The texts also suggest that Lt. Jeff Niiya, the officer in contact with Gibson, may have broken PPB policy by helping another Patriot Prayer member, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, avoid arrest. The Mercury obtained the text messages through a public records request.

Mayor Ted Wheeler released a statement Thursday afternoon, calling the messages “disturbing” and directing Police Chief Danielle Outlaw to investigate the issue.

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The 29 Best Things to Do in Portland This Weekend: Feb 15-17

Just because Valentine's Day is out of the way doesn't mean there aren't plenty of opportunities for love this weekend, especially if the things you love include podcasts, comedy, live music, classic films, getting tipsy on delicious alcoholic beverages—you know, the stuff that makes life worthwhile! The NW Black Comedy Fest is back for the third year with their biggest and best lineup, Listen Up Portland brings some of the country's most popular podcasts through town, and there's no mania like Zwickelmania! Of course that's just a tiny percentage of what's on tap for the weekend: Hit the links below and choose wisely.

Jump to: Friday | Saturday | Sunday
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Grocery Store Pandemonium: Your Weekly Food and Drink Wrap

Rose VL
Rose VL Meg Nanna

Food news rolled slowly in this week, but the biggest story was the one that wasn’t: the panic and pandemonium of your local grocery market as you, me, and everyone we know lined up to stock our refrigerators with vegetables and proteins as we waited out a severe winter storm that never came. An equally unreported story might be how hard restaurants were hit last weekend when people who’d normally treat themselves to a weekend brunch, lunch, or dinner, stayed home, flush with food, to cook at home.

But there was actual news to report, too.

This week, the Mercury reported that the former pop-up, now brick-and-mortar nightclub No Vacancy Lounge is closing its doors in the old McCormick & Schmick’s spot downtown, alleging that its landlord lured them into a lease as a way to prove the viability of the space’s potential commercial potential to sell the building somewhere down the line, theorizing that its rent might drastically go up should such a sale go through. Its last dance party goes down on Tuesday, February 19. But it wasn't all sturm und drang, as our food critic listed her 14 favorite Asian soups which she encourages you to eat in just one week (“two soups a day for the best seven days of your life”), with stops at Rose VL on 82nd to Noodle Man way out in Happy Valley to Good Taste in Old Town-Chinatown. She has thrown her gauntlet down and it now up to you to pick it up.

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What To Watch This Weekend: Alita! Jackie Chan! And Sam Elliott Killing Hitler and Hunting Bigfoot!


Welcome to What to Watch This Weekend™, a weekly post in which I tell you what to watch this weekend! I will continue doing this post until you have watched everything you should watch.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot isn't playing in any theaters in Portland, but it came out a few days ago on iTunes and Amazon and whatnot, and I recommend it. It's not amazing—think of it as an exceedingly solid B-movie—but it does deliver both pulp thrills (killing Hitler! hunting Bigfoot!) and an affecting story about aging, regret, and loneliness. It all comes together, naturally, because it stars the always amazing Sam Elliott, beloved friend of the Portland Mercury.

Arts Editor Suzette Smith really liked Alita: Battle Angel! And she thinks it's worth a few extra bucks. "I have never recommended seeing a movie in 3D, let alone IMAX 3D, because films should either succeed in 2D or they aren’t worth seeing," she writes. "But for Alita: Battle Angel, I will—for the first time—tell you to splurge on the IMAX. I can’t stop dreaming about the glimmering city in the clouds that hovers above the film’s sci-fi setting."

Elinor Jones loved Rebel Wilson's Isn't It Romantic, a romcom that she says is "smart, it’s hilarious, and most importantly, it doesn’t punch down. Plus, it has what I never realized every film needs, which is a bare-chested Liam Hemsworth playing the saxophone."

The Umbrella Academy is now on Netflix, and I liked it quite a bit. It stars Ellen Page and a talking chimpanzee who wears very nice suits.

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Good Morning, News: Portland Police Pal Around with Joey Gibson, and Trump's National (Non)Emergency

Stay up to date on Portland news and politics. Looking for fun? Here are the best Things to Do in Portland today.

Portland Police show favoritism toward alt-right huckster Joey Gibson.
Portland Police show favoritism toward alt-right huckster Joey Gibson. Lester Black

GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! Bid my blood to run, before I come undone. Save me from the nothing I've become. LET'S GO TO PRESS.

TOP STORY: In one of those sad, but not entirely surprising stories, texts reveal that a Portland cop was sending protective messages that showed favoritism toward alt-right doorknob Joey Gibson. NOT. A. GOOD. LOOK. (Our Alex Zee has the story.)

In an effort to supply some belated "transparency," the Portland Police has released all the texts and emails between the department and Joey Gibson.

From PPB Chief Outlaw:


A rally to protest the police's actions is reportedly being planned today for 3 pm outside of City Hall. Stay tuned for more updates.

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Pickathon Starlight Series, Episode 4: Bedouine


It's been a busy and exhausting week, so kick off your Friday right with some mellow vibes from last year's Pickathon. Today's video—part of our ongoing Starlight Series, highlighting the best performances on the Starlight Stage from 2018's Pickathon festival—comes from Bedouine, the alter ego of globally raised, LA-based folksinger Azniv Korkejian. While Bedouine's 2017 self-titled debut reflected Korkejian's nomadic roots (which range from Syria to Armenia to Saudi Arabia to all parts of the US), this stripped-down performance of "One of These Days" is pure California sunshine, albeit delivered in the wee hours of the morning, long after the day has ended.

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Downtown Nightclub No Vacancy Lounge Announces Closure Due to Conflict with Property Management Company Melvin Mark

[UPDATE: Melvin Mark clarifies that they have no ownership interest in No Vacancy's building and instead manage and lease it for a third party. The records on Portland Maps indicate that the property's owner is Lauren Louise, LLC.]

No Vacancy Lounge, the downtown Portland nightclub, stated today that they would close indefinitely, following a final event next week on Tuesday, February 19.

The announcement comes as a shock. No Vacancy, which began as a series of successful dance nights and events at different locations around the city, opened the venue in 2017 in the former McCormick & Schmick's space on Southwest 1st Avenue. That space had stood empty since the McCormick & Schmick's restaurant closed in 2009, and co-founders Rick Sheinin and Billy Vinton oversaw a dramatic redesign of the wood-paneled restaurant into a modern 350-person-capacity nightclub that attracted top talent, drew large crowds, and won Willamette Week's Bar of the Year prize in 2018. No Vacancy cites ongoing problems with their landlord and the property management company, the Melvin Mark commercial real estate company, as the reasons for the closure.

Beyond that, the reasons are not entirely clear. No Vacancy, in a statement today, says, "The actions of the Landlord and Melvin Mark in not disclosing a conflicting lease with the other building tenants prior to the signing of the lease by No Vacancy, and their subsequent activities since, have restricted No Vacancy from operating as the cocktail lounge and club for which it was established." They accuse Melvin Mark of "fraudulently induc[ing] us into signing a lease in the hopes of leasing up the building and then selling it."

The club sits on the ground floor of the Henry Failing Building, which was built in either 1886 or 1890 (reports vary), and whose upper floors contain several office spaces. We have reached out to No Vacancy and Melvin Mark to provide more specific details on the disagreement. [UPDATE: Rick Sheinin of No Vacancy tells the Mercury that the buildings' tenants "had two conflicting leases, ours being for a night club and the other preventing any business like ours from existing in the space.... This has been an issue since we opened our doors."]

No Vacancy says the conflict has generated severe legal fees, which in turn has led them to make the decision of closing the business. They intend to relocate any upcoming events after February 19 to different venues around the city.

The full statement from No Vacancy follows:

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Isn't It Romantic Review: A Flawless Romcom That Also Features a Bare-Chested Liam Hemsworth


In Isn’t It Romantic, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is unlucky in love... until she suffers a blow to the noggin that transforms her world! It's impossible for me to explain how much I absolutely loved this movie without reminding myself (and everyone else) how much I hated the last romcom about a woman who suffered a brain injury that altered her reality: Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty. The whole "brain injury" concept isn't a great gimmick to begin with, so like, really? Another one already? My expectations were subterranean.

But Isn’t It Romantic is everything that I Feel Pretty wasn’t: it’s smart, it’s hilarious, and most importantly, it doesn’t punch down. Plus, it has what I never realized every film needs, which is a bare-chested Liam Hemsworth playing the saxophone.

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The Secret History of Romantic Customs: Why We Kiss, Give Flowers, Write Cards, and Draw Hearts

Originally published January 31, 2018.

Charles Mudede would tell you we inherited the practice of kissing from other primates, who kiss as a way to create and test bonds. But an anthropologist might disagree.
Charles Mudede would tell you we inherited the practice of kissing from other primates, who kiss as a way to create and test bonds. But an anthropologist might disagree. KATI LACKER

In Austria, it was once customary for young women to dance with slices of apples tucked beneath their armpits. When they finished dancing, the women would then give the sweaty fruits to their crushes as a sign of affection.

While this sounds incredibly hot to us now—almost pornographically hot—it is also weird. But it's not that much weirder than plucking a flower from the ground and giving it to somebody, or even touching your lips to someone else's to communicate affection.

As any pop song will tell you, words often fail to express what others mean to us. That's because language is cold, full of dead metaphors insufficient to the task of describing the hot rush of a new crush or the deep joy of long love. It's good for giving directions to the ballroom, but bad for communicating the way we feel when we watch our date glide across the dance floor with apples under their arms.

So we've developed these weird rituals that render our feelings in roses, gestures, foods, and art—stuff a lover can literally feel. Over time, though, these rituals lose their refresh value. They start to feel as old and rote as the phrase "I love you." When that happens, it's helpful to remember the reasons why we started doing them in the first place.

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The World Might Not Be Ready For Alita: Battle Angel


I have never recommended seeing a movie in 3D, let alone IMAX 3D, because films should either succeed in 2D or they aren’t worth seeing. But for Alita: Battle Angel, I will—for the first time—tell you to splurge on the IMAX. I can’t stop dreaming about the glimmering city in the clouds that hovers above the film’s sci-fi setting.

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