Oh hello, I didn’t see you come in. I was just sitting by this fake fireplace petting a corgi that is not my corgi and drinking a hot chocolate spiked with more chocolate, just like I do every January as I agonize over my definitive list of things that are disinvited from the Earth in the new year. This isn’t some pedestrian kvetching; this is a list of highly relevant, exquisitely topical, easily digestible nuggets of indisputable taste. This simple list can fix 90 percent of this city the world, if only it were followed to the letter.

Or maybe they’re just jokes.

Whatever they are, thanks to a booming newspaper industry, you’ll have to look at them staring at you from newsstands for twice as many weeks as my previous lists. So rest assured I’ve put twice as many minutes into writing them.

Street preachers before parades

I could write a separate 1,500-word feature story on how to fix parades. (Maybe I should. Weird venue, but.... Hey, Mercury editor! Can I write a whole thing about how to fix parades? [Editor’s Note: No.]) Okay, for now, I’ll start with the most obvious problem: Before every Portland parade kicks off—where kids play frisbee and people roam the streets selling grocery carts full of light-up garbage—another pre-parade ritual begins. Three to five sad, old white guys wander the route with compensatory bullhorns yelling religious nonsense at people who just came to watch a police horse shitting in the street.

Before one parade this year, the Uni- piper unipiped in circles around one of these decrepit shit stains, which was a good start—but we can do better. Next time they show up to yell “harlot” at a 10-year-old, let’s surround them with musicians. Let’s hire one of the city’s surprising number of adult marching bands to form a circle around them, and drown them in “Louie Louie.” It’s the right thing to do.

Paper straws.

I get it. You saw a turtle video and decided you were going to save the world by ruining drinks. That’s fine. But we’ve got to come up with something better than paper to make our turtle-safe drinking straws... because PAPER. Paper! It’s paper. And you’re getting wet. Three sips into a drink and the middle of the straw wicked-witches into a puddle. Because it’s paper. It’s science, okay? We shouldn’t make straws out of paper, just like we don’t make insulation out of fireworks.

Complaining about homeless people.

I’m sorry you saw a tent and it ruined your day. Portland is packed with liberal people who see a person sleeping on the sidewalk and act like they’re the victims for having witnessed it. It’s like complaining about how loud ambulance sirens are. I feel bad you had to go through all that, but maybe the bigger problem isn’t fucking about you. There’s a crisis here, and it isn’t your view.

Listening to music without headphones.

If you do this, you know you’re a monster, right? I will buy you headphones. Right now. They cost 75 cents at Plaid Pantry. The only way it’s okay for you to force people to listen to music from your phone is if you exclusively listen to movie scores and you dress/act like you belong in that movie. If you’re blasting John Williams and carrying a lightsaber, that’s okay. If you’re wearing a dinosaur costume and blasting... well, I guess that’s John Williams also. If you’re left home alone and bumping... oh, that’s also John Williams? Jesus, that guy did a lot of good movies. Okay, revision: You are only allowed to listen to music without headphones if you’re listening to John Williams.

Questions and answers.

The only thing Portlanders can ruin faster than a Facebook conversation is a Q&A session. “We’d like to take a couple of questions, so if you could—” and there are already 47 people in line waiting to give a rambling speech about how they’re polyamorous and live in the woods and would you like to comment on that? And it’s at the end of a show, so every traveling podcast or performance ends like you’re eating at a fancy restaurant except the dessert is made by a kid. Seems nice for the kid, but the last taste in your mouth is spaghetti tacos.

Pizza innovation.

Like everywhere else in the world, Portland was overrun in the last year by a new breed of pizza place that answers the question nobody asked: “What if pizza was more like Subway?” Stop Blazing and Modding pizza. In fact, stop innovating pizza completely. Pizza doesn’t need to be fixed! Pizza is already the one thing we can be proud of as a species, so just stop. We already won at pizza. We need to learn to take pizza for an answer.

Ugly sweaters.

Oh, a holiday themed one! Fun! Half the clothing stores in Portland sell newly manufactured ugly sweaters. So that’s it. Pack it up, gang, it’s over. It was fun for a little while, but there you are—in a Nordstrom’s “Ugly Sweater”—jumping over a shark, which is also in a sweater.

Crow shit.

In general, I’m a fan of Portland’s recent emo phase. For a couple years now, every inch of the late afternoon sky has been filled with ravens. It’s like somebody saw the swifts and thought, “This could be way more ominous.” It’s great—but they also shit. And yes, it’s objectively hilarious when somebody else gets shit upon by a death-pigeon. I’ve laughed those laughs and they were hearty. But it’s only a matter of time until it happens to me and that would be objectively unfunny.

Major League Baseball in Portland.

You gotta stop talking about it. It’s not going to happen. And it shouldn’t—it’s a bad idea. It’s a bad sport at a bad time in a bad market. Let’s face it: The biggest sports success the city has had since the ’70s is soccer. Soccer is amazing here, and it makes sense: We’re a second-tier major city, and soccer is a second-tier major sport. It’s a match made in Runner-Up Heaven. The Okay Place.

Instead of setting a billion dollars on fire to build a half-empty baseball park, let’s double down on other also-ran sports. Let’s build a riverside badminton stadium. Replace Memorial Coliseum with jai alai. If there’s going to be another tram, it better take me to a world-class water polo arena with a raised glass pool so I can watch them punch each other in the bits.

Food weeks.

The Mercury crushed it with Burger Week (full disclosure: you’re reading the Mercury right now). Burgers everywhere, for a week. Oh, what a good time that was. And then they expanded to Pizza Week and it didn’t have the same magic... but it was good. And then the Oregonian, a paper that’s never seen a trend they couldn’t be late to, started Nacho Week. And now it’s out of control. Just to be contrarian, Willamette Week is probably going to start a Black Licorice Week. And then we’ll have to contend with the Portland Monthly’s Beautiful Pastries to Look at, But You Can’t Have Any Because You’re Not Doing Carbs Right Now... Week. And then the Asian Reporter will... still mostly cover the world of pandas. They found a niche and they’re sticking to it. I respect that.

Like, half of the beer festivals.

If there were only 42, that would still be fine.

That full-contact haunted house that broke somebody’s teeth.

Haunted houses are all bad. They’re just jump scares and imagery from the mental health industry. But Gresham’s House of Shadows took it up a notch by making the awful genre truly unbearable: Now out-of-work actors with chainsaws can... break your teeth? No, nope, no please, no thank you. Haunted houses need to add molestation like Santa Con needs more nudity. You’re taking a bad thing and making it so much worse.

All the campaign mailers.

Postcards are already worthless. It’s a picture you didn’t take of a place I’m not going, plus space for one sentence that everybody who touches my mail will read. But campaign postcards somehow manage to be a thousand times worse. Instead of a picture of London Bridge, it’s stock photos of a young couple looking at their bills and some insane text like, “Measure 71 requires your kids to be gay—and you’ll have to pay for it!” I need a spam filter for real mail, where the postal carrier just automatically recycles it.

Violent counter- protests.

Your heart is in the right place, but it’s like that saying about wrestling a pig: You get dirty and the pig likes it. I’m not saying leave them alone, we just need to evolve our counter-protest strategy. Just like the Unipiper and the street preachers, we need to fight Nazis with demonstrations that Nazis will hate. What if, instead of ski masks, Antifa was known for staging elaborate corgi fashion shows? That would distract the cameras away from the Nazis, and the corgis would love it! Look at that little puppy in a cowboy hat. Now that’s a proud boy.


r/Portland. Our city deserves a better corner of the internet. For some reason this one is just pictures of sunsets mixed with calls to murder the homeless.

Breaking into cars. There are more puddles of broken glass around the city than crow craps. If you’re going to break into cars, please go to Lake Oswego where they can afford to replace their windows.

Wapato Jail. The current reality show Extreme Makeover: Jail Edition still doesn’t have a fun ending. Maybe let’s not try to flip any more prisons, huh?


Over the last six years I’ve written this column, I’ve felt an increasing need to add positive “Yep, Invited Back” items at the end. This year I’ve expanded the list because I’m feeling a tiny bit more optimistic. Or maybe these are also just jokes. Hard to say.

Downtown falconry.

I like the crows, but I want them to move before they shit on me. But what if we took a cool thing—the nightly invasion of Game of Thrones birds—and chased them away with EVEN COOLER BIRDS. We did that. The city brought in goddamn raptors to scare the shit back into the crows. We use falcons. With tiny backpacks. To scare away crows. That is so fucking cool. I’m ready for the next step in apex predator-based solutions: those red-vested high-pressure charity sales people who also flock to downtown? Let’s see if we can move them off their corners with grizzly bears.


This is so completely obvious. They’re a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to do short trips around town than Uber or Car2Go. They’re more convenient than sitting in downtown traffic. But most importantly, they’re really fun. Riding a bike is work, but scooting is the only way to commute that regularly makes people say “wheeeee.” Sure, they’re risky. If you ride one regularly you’ll almost certainly be bullied by a middle schooler. But it’s worth it.

Better Naito.

Nobody is enjoying Worse Naito right now. The only hard decision should be whether to settle for making Better Naito permanent or hold out for Best Naito.

Ted Wheeler muttering after press conferences.

It’s so satisfying to hear the mayor mutter about hating his job. He said it wasn’t his most endearing personality trait, but I disagree. Most people hate their jobs, and Mayor of Portland is one of the worst jobs around. It was extremely humanizing to hear him admit it. I’d like to see honest muttering become a requirement of government press conferences. How great would that be? After Kate Brown unveiled her budget, an aide whispers, “Ahem. You’re required to mutter something, Governor.” And she says, “Oh yeah. *grumble grumble* I can’t believe Knute Buehler got 43 percent of the vote with that Smash Mouth goatee *grumble grumble*.”

A new Portlandia.

It’s time for a new show that really captures the city. Sure, people around here loved talking shit about Portlandia, saying they liked the first few seasons, but got tired of it. But that’s just the most Portland possible response. “Uh, we liked their early work.” Now that it’s over, I’d love to see a new show that captures the city so perfectly that we have to pretend to be too cool for it.


Aminé. National treasure, available locally. The city should gift him at least three billboards a year.

The Timbers and the Thorns. Way to take mediocre seasons and still have a shot at the title. Portland soccer teams always seem to run into the playoffs with the same vigor the Blazers run out of them.

Anti-abortion ballot measures. Very satisfying to vote against, and probably raise turnout for the good guys. Keep it up.