If there were a degree in Portland Studies, Cory Davis would have earned it by now. He spent his first seven years in town as a bike messenger. Realizing it to be "the epitome of a dead-end job," and to facilitate his addiction to high-end bicycles, Cory supplemented his income with various other jobs, including dishwashing at Colosso. Eventually he signed on as a "groundie," assisting friends who pruned and removed our city's storied trees. Immediately he knew he wanted to move up in the field... 100-plus feet up, in the trees, his life hanging by a few ropes and a well-tied knot. Originally from Iowa, Davis seems to have found his calling: He's planning to pursue a degree (in addition to Portland Studies) in horticulture or urban forestry, and hopes his next move will be to the Olympic Peninsula, where there are even more trees to groom.
What's your favorite part of the job?
It's a skill that travels well, and I don't feel I'm greasing the wheels of some corporate machine. Also it's very physical and I like working outside.
Does it suck in the wintertime?
Oh yeah, it totally fucking sucks. You just want to shoot yourself.
I thought you loved working outside.
It's a love-hate relationship. I think being a tree climber takes infinite patience. There are so many things that can go wrong. Getting your rig through a tree is incredibly difficult sometimes. Hawthorns suck. Those monkey-puzzle trees are fucking wicked. A tiny little piece of one of those fell from 20 feet and hit our groundie in the arm. Every point on it went right into him and made these little bleeding gouges.
What's the craziest thing you've ever seen on a job? Seen any naked ladies when you're up there?
I keep watching for that, but so far all I've seen is a guy smoking a cigarette and eating cereal. Dogs get way pissed when they see humans up in trees. A little while ago I was up in a weeping willow in St. Johns. There were two burly dogs in the neighbors' yard, one a pit bull and one a rottweiler. There were chickens in the yard, too. The dogs were going nuts for five or six hours. Finally the rottweiler snaps, grabs a chicken, rips its head off, and eats the head. The pit bull is going bonkers at this point, grabs another chicken and does the exact same thing. That's probably the craziest thing I've seen on the job.
Do you get babes working in the trees?
I've been asked to "come inside and have a look at the houseplants." VIVA LAS VEGAS