By Wm. Steven Humphrey, Katie Shimer, Phil Busse, Marjorie Skinner, Justin Sanders, Lance Chess, and John Dooley

Here at the Mercury, we refuse to bite off more than we can chew. And though this attitude makes it increasingly difficult to put out a paper every week, when it comes to constructing advertiser-friendly "Best of" issues--"less" is definitely "more." Since it's impossible to determine the "best" of an entire city and please every advertiser without coming off as increasingly desperate and money-hungry, the Mercury chooses to discover the best of Portland NINE BLOCKS AT A TIME.

This year, we are proud to announce that our selected "Nine Blocks of Greatness" goes to North Lombard, from Richmond to St. Louis Avenues. Also commonly referred to as "St. Johns," this bustling little burg caught our attention with their "can-do, fuck you" attitude. But first a little St. Johns history.

The township of St. Johns was originally dedicated in 1868.

Okay, enough history. All you really need to know is that St. Johns is the "Burt Reynolds of Portland Neighborhoods." As you are certainly aware, for a while Burt Reynolds was really popular. Then he got really UNpopular. First, Burt was sexy later, he was just gross. But sooner or later he always gets really popular and sexy again! That's Burt Reynolds, and it is also St. Johns.

But while Burt Reynolds played pretty much one character (see "I'm Staying Home" video picks, page 45), St. Johns is a mishmash of creative, eccentric and occasionally desperate personalities, and a "portrait of opposites." While St. Johns is home to the possibly insane business owner, the ceaselessly jabbering retiree, and the 40-ounce-drinking obliteration drunk, it's also home to a bustling community of artists, world-class architecture, and some the city's most overlooked treasures. You would need two, possibly two and a half issues of the Mercury to sufficiently cover all the joys and oddities these nine blocks have to offer. Happily for all of us, St. Johns--like Burt Reynolds--will always be around to admire and explore.

As a place to live, work, and love, St. Johns is ready to EXPLODE. And with this year's "Best of Lombard (from Richmond to St. Louis Avenues)" issue, the Mercury is all too happy to light the fuse.