Taming the Beast

Can Mayor Sam Adams Put a Leash on Last Thursday?


I've been to LT before and i honestly don't see what all this phony fuss is about.

This "huge, rukus, out-of-control, free-for-all" i keep hearing about is apparently all but over with by 9:00, right when the sun sets. It isn't until the late afternoon when things get started up. Any booze consumed comes from the bars and corner stores already on the street - it's not like a beer garden gets set up and folks are walking around with open kegs. And hardly a trace of it is left come the next morning. Oh, not to mention how FAMILY-FRIENDLY it all is. Traffic, including the #72 bus, divert with ease along NE Killingsworth; which is actually good, since Alberta is typically way more congested anyways.

I bet the same people who whine and bitch about LT rush down to Rose Fest every freakin' year and stake out camping space for the big dumb parade right along side all the Beavertonians and Greshamites.
The need to fund Last Thursday is always brought up as a reason why the event needs to be changed. Money is not now, and never has been, the real issue, just a red herring the City uses as an excuse to grab control of the event. For over a decade we, the community, funded the event and are happy to continue to do so. The City rents barricades for $3500/month, but the same amount of money, or less, could have bought them outright--another thing the community supporters always had the funds to do. I heard FoLT is building them this season and, if so, good for them.

Prior to the City forcing their way in, we covered porta potties and trash pickup for years. That being said, since this power play started 4 to 5 years ago the City has spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and may continue to do so, from the look of things. They can't get things done cheaply like we can. Bringing in corporate sponsors and making the vendors pay will change the flavor of Last Thursday and within a year or two it will be just another boring fair like most every other one out there. We are only talking about a lousy five days each year. Why can't they just let us be?
Last Thursday needs to grow up. If the Last Thursday group was doing such a great job, the City would not have become involved. The neighbors forced the City to deal with the huge crowds that landlord Johannesson, the bars, the restaurants and to a lesser extent, retail have benefitted from handsomely.

Where are Binks, the Radio Room, the Nest, the Hilt, Cruzroom, the Know on the list of Friends of Last Thursday supporters? How about the restaurants that have been running profitably a few years?

Friends of Last Thursday have relied on the City to create jobs for themselves, when they need to get the merchants to pay to continue to nest the goose that laid the golden egg. If you think you can get the same results at lower costs, own it, don't play victim. Which is what the City is saying...
A lot of the costs seem to be from cops who clearly have nothing to do besides harass people who aren't walking on the sidewalk... Quit overstaffing the event with cops padding their overtime checks and the costs will plummet.
THANK YOU, econoline!
Hey posa,

Shouldn't everyone at LT wear name tags so YOU, the Gestapo, can see who everyone is?
I am so glad I moved away from there.

DamosA almost everything about your characterization of the event is wrong. It doesn't come close to ending at 9pm. There is lots of open drinking and pot use. There is a huge mess the next morning, which never got cleaned up on my end of the street (west of 15th), though I think from 15th to 33rd they used to have cleaning patrols the next day.

There are many fairs on other neighborhood retail streets in Portland (Mississippi, Belmont, etc.) They pay for permits and do what they're supposed to. There is zero legitimate reaons that Last Thursday should fail to do that, at great expense to the city every month. The idea that cops don't need to be there is a joke. During the summer, there are fights regularly.

Magnus J. is a an overgrown child who doesn't want to take responsibility for his mess. Since he clearly doesn't plan to lift a finger in support ever again, it's long past time he butts out. His attitude pretty much represents the business owners on the street who generally have zero regard for the neighbors on Last Thursday, or any other day. (One exception being the Bye and Bye.)
I am the owner of binks. We offered to pay for and store ALL of the barricades two years ago before the city took the event away and created FOLT. They wouldn't listen and wouldn't take our money. For years we collected money from different businesses on Alberta to pay for ALL of the port a potties and garbage service. We even set out our own trash cans from 15th-31st and picked them up at 2:30am in our own car. Two years ago my husband asked Sam Adams, at the same time we offered to keep paying for the port a potties, garbage, and fund the barricades, what else he needed to satisfy the cities requirements for LT. He responded, "you don't want me to tell you that". The city has never defined what exactly they want, so it is very easy for them to make us look like we are not pulling our weight.
When I gotta go at Last Thursday, I hike on down to going street.
I always felt that it should be in a different district every month. Belmont, Fremont, 28th Ave, etc could host it on alternating Last Thursdays. How does that sound?
Binks was the only one to step up in the old days and they deserve thanks and credit! Is Binks saying they don't support Friends of Last Thursday and want a different owner for the event? I'm sure staffers could tell you or anyone exactly what's needed, or ask any other street fair organizer.
Blabby, either you experienced a totally different event than i, or you're just being plain ol' disingenuous. B/c my comment was in reference to the last LT i attended - last year. The one i attended was starting to shut down around 9:00, this was in late Aug.

I just went to the one tonight, and admittedly, things still kept going well after 9, though vendors were starting to close up. But still, faaar from the big chaotic mess that's been jined up in our local media! I saw very little open drinking - no more so than you'd see dt on any given weekend. Same for pot use... which is to say, virtually NONE out in the open.

And anyways, why would you even cite pot use as an "example"? As if there were anything terrible about that. I don't smoke it, but i'll take pot any day over walking through plumes of cigarette smoke. And certainly better than cops jacked up on steroids.
@Bianca - All those things you describe sound like a sponsorship. Binks was sponsoring Last Thursday. Isn't that what the city is asking for, and what FOLT is saying they won't accept?
DamosA, I lived a half block from it for five years. Were you there at two in the morning? Because I was, every month. Smoking pot isn't the worst thing in the world, unless its a group of five people sitting on your garden wall who tell you to fuck off when you ask them to move on, so that your young child can play outside, without sitting in a cloud of pot smoke listening to adolescent cursing. They reopen the street at 9pm, then the after party starts.

This disagreement we're having is exactly the problem with Last Thursday. Everyone who comes uses the neighborhood and has a "great time" and then leaves. They don't understand what the "big deal is". The people who live there, for whom that is their home, want to meet basic expectations of public behavior and decorum on their front lawns. That doesn't seem ridiculous, or conservative, or too much to ask.

All of this is exacerbated by the fact that no one is in charge of this thing. Look at these people who want to call themselves "friends of last thursday" but don't actually want to run the thing. Listen to Magnus J. or Biana Youngers. All I see is people who use the event and benefit from it and then when asked to take some responibility the claim they have no connection to it whatsoever.
So it sounds like you're just griping over harmless party revelers and pot smokers in a neighborhood you no-longer live in, anyways. No, i wasn't there at 2 in the morning - why would i? I went home around 10, like most people.

But what YOU'RE telling me is that there would be these after-parties that would run very late into the night. And what I'M telling you is that the times i've been, things would start winding down after sun-set. If folks are STILL hanging out in the street long after the buses stop running, had it not occurred to you that maybe some of them actually live in that neighborhood, too?

Might it even be conceivable that, perhaps, some people who live near Alberta actually don't mind the event???
And what I'm saying is you've been to an event a couple of times and left fairly early and you're telling someone who lived there for five years that you understand it better than him. You don't.
Blabby...arguing with DamosA is not recommended. It's like playing chess with a pigeon.
icprez, that's an idea my husband and I have talked about for years. Let the other neighborhoods in Portland experience what it's like to have Last Thursday in their face. But not just for a month, let each of them have it for a year. Let them experience the joys of finding human excrement in their front yards, watching idiots like mad pisser urinating in their parking strip, sweeping up broken glass, having to call a tow truck because the garage door is blocked (I actually like that one), trying to take their nieces down to this 'family friendly' event only to find revelers stripping naked in the middle of the street, listening to the drunken visitors find their way back to their cars until midnight, or having them knock on the front door because they're to stupid to remember where they parked...I could go on.
Friends of Last Thursday is a joke. I've been to a meeting and they don't seem to have a clue as to how to really run this event.
I used to live on Alberta and I support the event. I'm sure there are many others like me.

Culture is what makes a place worth talking about. If you don't like it, move to the middle of Iowa and go talk to cows.
I live a block off Alberta, just west of 15th - pretty much exactly the place Blabby is talking about. The only noise we get is people parking and leaving, a couple of them might be loud but very few, and everyone is gone by about 11 (since the street reopens at 10). Any noise is in or just outside bars. I guess you could live next door to a bar, in which case you knew what you were getting into when you moved there; but for anyone else it's not once been a problem in the 3 years I've lived in that house.
Raymont, pigeons are a superiorly evolved and highly adaptable animal that will almost certainly out-live humans. So i'll take that as a compliment, thank you!

And Blabby, not to keep harping on this, but i was just out on Alberta again today. And even though i was only along acouple of blocks (returning movies to Videorama), they seem to have done a marvelous job cleaning up the streets. Even all the trash/recycling bins i saw were empty. Why, one could hardly tell that there were this big street party the night before.

Your Ron Swanson avatar and [generally] genuine demeanor make it difficult for me to be a jerk to you.
I stopped by this past Last Thurs. The event has become *just like every other street fair*, except the entertainment is unpaid, unless sponsored by a bar. The good old days of tall bikes, fire performers, marching bands and some good DJ's has been replaced by performers with bucket drums and not so good DJ's.

Because property tax limits came into effect at the bottom of the market in the 'hood, owners and landlords of existing buildings pay ridiculously low property taxes compared to most of the city. But they are getting the benefit from higher property values because they can walk to Alberta businesses. There are plenty of rentals who make their own party that night, so some of the complaints might be with your own neighbors.
I lived in the Alberta neighborhood for over ten years. It seems to me the war over this issue isn't between the city, local businesses, and this so-called Friends of Last Thursday, but between what the neighborhood used to be and what it's become. It used to be that Alberta and Killingsworth were low-income neighborhoods, inhabited by students, starving artists, grungy hippies, street punks, and ethnic minorities. "You'll be shot!" members of my family exclaimed when I told them where I was moving to. I remember when every item on the Tin Shed's menu was 3-4 dollars cheaper than it is today, when they had two happy hours where a poor person could afford to eat great food. The only real bar was the Alberta Street Public House, which had previously been the Love Train. Last Thursday was more of a street party for the local community, where starving artists and budding musicians could perform and sell a few CDs, where neighbors could show off their screen printed T-shirts and patches and maybe make a few extra bucks that would then spend at La Bonita or La Serenita. Bands like Sasspirella would perform on one corner, while a few blocks down, solo artists like Adam Hurst would fill the air with great music. Fire dancers performed down side streets, and the clowns of the Clown House would perform their antics and invite others to join in in their huge side yard. People sold baked goods from card tables. There was no need to close down the street. It wasn't exactly a family-friendly event, but for the most part it was good clean fun.

Then the gentrification went into full swing with galleries, expensive boutiques and new restaurants, and a score of bars popping up everywhere. People from all over the city and the suburbs started coming to set up booths and food carts, and their families, friends, and neighbors came with them to overrun the neighborhood. Subsidized-living apartments were laughably renovated into "condominiums." Old, run down houses that had housed twelve adults living communally were fixed up into expensive homes, and rent skyrocketed so that the neighborhood's inhabitants could no longer afford to live there. Everything about Last Thursday changed, and yes, it's gotten out of hand. I stopped attending the event. Then I'd go to return rentals at Videorama, forgetting what day it was, and when I approached and saw the streets choked with cars and started hearing booming bass from three blocks away, I'd think, "Oh fuck, I forgot about Last Thursday." And then I wouldn't be able to even find a place to lock up my bicycle. Neighbors all began complaining about not being able to find parking on their own street, or cars blocking their driveways. Hordes of families would choke Alberta while some people still attempted forms of alternative or subversive entertainment. The trash issue? Well, let's face it, that neighborhood has always had a litter problem, and it's not one that Last Thursday ever seemed to add to.

The problem with Last Thursday is that what it was for ten years is struggling with what it's become in the past five. A different event, in a different neighborhood. I can't imagine what the solution is, but I haven't heard a likely one thus far.
Last Thursday may not be everyone's cup of java, but the 10-15,000 people that show up each month sure seem to be having a good time. Over the years, the volunteer event organizers have been adamant that it remain organic and horizontal. All along, we have insisted that vendors not be charged and that there will be zero corporate sponsorship. Plenty of individuals and businesses have happily contributed time and money toward an infrastructure that has been strong for years. The port -a-potties have been where they need to be for 7 to 8 years and the trash has been picked up by 9 am Friday morning for at least the last 4 years. Having a good infrastructure has allowed the event to appear completely unorganized, which always was the intention.

A few neighbors don't like Last Thursday; however, a poll a few years back showed that the vast majority do--with many citing the event as the specific reason they selected Alberta as their home. Blabby, whom I know well, bought a house four doors from Alberta, right by a noisy bar. If peace and quiet was a goal, that might not have been the ideal location. Many of the complaining neighbors moved here after Last Thursday started growing larger. To me that is a bit like buying a house in the flight path and then whining that the planes are too loud.

That Last Thursday continues into the wee hours is just plain inaccurate. By 11 pm, or shortly thereafter, the street is empty. Many of the LT participants go to local bars and taverns, which are packed into the night. If they're loud, that does not imply that Last Thursday continues until the bars close. I'd love to see every single bar on the street packed seven nights a week. Drunks make noise. For that reason, I won't be buying a house next to a bar.

Much of the politics of Last Thursday has taken place behind closed--and sometimes not so closed--doors. Most of it is never publicized. The dialogue the Mercury article provided is typical of the tone that has been ongoing since at least 2007. Tempers have flared on many occasions and, from what I can tell, will continue to do so. There have been at least three hostile takeover attempts, but here we are: The vendors are not being charged and no corporate sponsors so far.

FoLT is made up of a great group of people who are doing their best to make this work for everybody. Both Blabby and I myself prefer that I remain at the sidelines.
Let me see if I can translate accurately what the city is saying:

Last Thursday, your getting to exploitable, eh, I mean out of control and we need to step in and make some revenue, er, I mean get things under control. There are corporate sponsors ready to step in and suck your life blood, eh, I mean help out. I realize that LT is a local community event that you want to sponsor and regulate yourselves, but that doesn't waste nearly enough money for us and not having authority over something that's getting so popular is just unbearable for us. So we'll just keep playing up the pot smoking, public urination and noise complaints to propagandize our citizens into supporting our take over. Thanks for seeing it our way.
You wouldn't buy a house near a bar. That's sensible. How about people who are renting a home near where a bar is established? Is it their fault they reside near this ruckus? And is it entirely without reason to assume that said bar is noisier and generates more raucous passersby as a result of Last Thursday?

I am not opposed to Last Thursday, nor am I am opposed to the restaurants and bars that have cropped up on Alberta over the past five years. I am a supporter of respect. And some of these businesses do their damnedest to be respectful. But they can't help the overwhelming influx of people that Last Thursday generates, nor can they keep their eyes on all the drunk drivers that end up leaving the neighborhood, drunks that have, in my experience as well as reported by others, harassed people on their porches or in their homes.

To say that Last Thursday does not extend beyond when the booths shut down is a tactic of denial. Yes, the vendors leave and the party stops mostly after sunset. That does not mean that people attracted by the event aren't still in the neighborhood congesting the neighboring streets and getting loaded until they decide to leave. I've watched this happen for over a decade.

Does the city really need to expending money and energy on this event? I don't think so. It was a self-contained event for ten years, and the neighborhood is one of the most-patrolled precincts in Portland. Should the city let local businesses pay for barricades instead of griping about renting them? Yes. Should corporate sponsorship be left out of this equation? Again, yes. There is nothing to be gained by the city's or corporate involvement, except to increase the problems of Alberta St's neighbors and to decrease any advantage low-income local artists could still gain from this event.

The problem is mutual respect, plain and simple, for the residents of the area, as well as the city meddling to try and claim a financial edge.
Raven, you got it.
This is not an arts festival. It doesn't resemble the Last Thursday event that was started by the community. It's a place for douchebags and people who think they're DJs to trash a neighborhood. Period. More than one person left in an ambulance on the 31st, and the assaults, robberies, and arsons are as regular as the bad music now.

There actually still is some good music, but it is barely audible because the bad wannabe DJs. Used to be Frock would have a dance party and that would pretty much be the only canned music on the street. Now, it's every block and then some.
What's really sick is the racist double standard this event is. Good in the Hood doesn't even know if they are going to get a permit until it's almost too late to plan their event. Then when there's one (weaponless) fight, the cops shut it down.

There are popped-collar bros fighting over parking at five in the afternoon at Last Thursday.

Johnassen, you just want money, don't play. You go around bragging about buying a house in the neighborhood for $250 like that was ever the fair price. You are just a capitalist vulture. Don't fake like you care about art or the neighborhood. In fact, please just sell your properties and move on.
Magnus J., I just want to be clear that we've never actually met, and I very much doubt that I am who you're thinking of. I have mostly been vocal about this online, not in person. I just don't want you tagging someone else with my opinions.

Stu, I did live much closer to multiple bars than you. Half of them weren't there when I moved in. Most nights they were totally fine, so the problem is Last Thursday. For those who say that people like me should move to the burbs, my simple answer is "no." That was my home. I paid for it. I was every bit the property owner that the commercial property owners are, and I don't see why I should quiet down and "respect" them and their drunk-ass patrons if they don't respect me.