YEARS: 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
FEATURES: Intro | the Mt. Hood freeway | city hall of fame | architexture | rhymin' rogues | some of our favorite Portlanders | 25 years of statistics | what ever happened to...| Nike's marketing muscle | The Oregonian's big oh's
1991: The X-Ray Café | Video poker's busted flush | Giving til it hurts: Sen Hatfield's presents Daycare |
mom runs away with boy, 13
In January, the Portland School District admits it hushed up a 14 percent pay raise for support staff, lest it provide ammunition for proponents of tax-cutting Measure 5. The district winds up with the worst of both worlds: The measure passes anyway, and now its credibility is shot.
Hundreds of Portlanders take to the streets to protest Operation Desert Storm but are outnumbered by demonstrators supporting U.S. troops. Traditional pacifist hotbeds put in a token appearance (three Reedies are arrested for blocking the sidewalk), but it's clear that anti-war activism is on the wane.
The City Council rolls out the red carpet for Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, approving a special exception to an ordinance banning swine within city limits. (An ordinance whose provisions are honored more in the breach than in the observance, we might add.)
Portland's longest-running screen engagement, Deep Throat, winds up its final reel when the 67-year-old Aladdin Theater is bought by violin repairman Paul Schuback and reincarnated as a performance venue and art-film house.
AIDS becomes the top killer of men ages 25 to 44 in Multnomah County.
In the wake of property-tax-slashing Measure 5, Gov. Barbara Roberts begins "a conversation with Oregon" about the sales tax. Watch out, Babs! The sales tax is the third rail of state politics.
In his 90s and still working, the elegant Italian-cum-Portland architect Pietro Belluschi is awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bush. Belluschi's legacy includes the Equitable--the city's first modernist office building--as well as the Portland Art Museum, the Waddles sign and New York's Pan Am Building.
Mayor Bud Clark mails out 19,600 invitations to a $100-a-plate black-tie fund-raising dinner to retire his campaign debt--and only 90 people show up. Organizers are reduced to giving tickets away just to fill up the hall.
Portland sci-fi author Robert Sheckley's novel Immortality Inc. goes into production as the film Freejack, starring Mick Jagger, Anthony Hopkins and Emilio Estevez.
After a year of polyunsaturating the airwaves with Barry Manilow, KESI 970 AM trades in its soft focus and weepy violins for an angry scowl and an electric guitar, becoming KBBT The Beat. As an added plus, the DJ is a computer.
After nine months behind bars, transient Robert Bone, 33, is cleared of all charges in the murder of a homeless woman. Bone, a compulsive confabulator with a long history of mental illness, apparently told authorities he was involved in the killing so that he could be committed to a mental institution and get off the street.
As many as 15,000 Portlanders jam Waterfront Park to hear Pinetop Perkins at the first Waterfront Blues Festival.
Another arts group falls victim to the recession: Music Theatre Oregon goes out of business, leaving 5,000 Portlanders holding worthless season tickets.
The Oregon Symphony begins handing out free cough drops to reduce disruptive bouts of hacking.
Yes, shit happens, but nowhere with such historic significance as in Blue Lake, where an unidentified swimmer who can't hold it any longer facilitates the first reported waterborne outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7. This particular strain of the nasty bacterium--commonly traced to undercooked beef--debuted in an ill-begotten hamburger at a White City McDonald's in 1982.
Hundreds of residents scramble to save their homes after the collapse of Dominion Capital, a mortgage broker that owns 350 houses in North and Northeast Portland. At the prompting of neighborhood leaders, the city steps in and acquires the properties, many of which were vacant or abandoned.
BY JOHN GRAHAM
Before it became a magnet for chic California evacuees and groovy musical hipsters, Portland was a simpler place with simpler tastes, a province ruled by gutsy blue-collar bluesmen like Paul deLay and rustic rockers such as Jon Koonce's Johnny and the Distractions. While various punk clubs--Revenge, Urban Noize, The Met, 13th Precinct--made some waves, only Satyricon was able to consistently buck the mainstream tide, and Stumptown's heart always beat for red-blooded rock 'n' roll.
Sometime in the '80s, however, things started to change. Growing in size, yet freed from national trends due to its relative media isolation, Portland began to fly its freak flag higher on the local pole. The small punk scene mutated. New Wave begat post-punk. And at the tail end of 1990, Tres Shannon and Benjamin Arthur Ellis opened "ye olde" X-Ray Cafe, the downtown pizza-joint-turned-hip-hotspot on West Burnside Street whose bantam size belied its heavyweight role in shaping Portland's underground culture. In June 1991, Details magazine declared it one of the best rock-and-roll clubs in the country.
"We tried to foster freaky things," says onetime mayoral candidate Shannon about the duo's aims for the X-Ray. To this end, they often dressed like clowns, favored bands that featured non-rock instruments (like accordions and horns), and generally promoted as much surreal behavior as the small space could contain.
The all-ages policy of the club--one of the few such places on the West Coast--also gave Portland youth the "training wheels" to find their own personality balance, fostering creative expression instead of fashionable coolness. Many of today's alt-scene fixtures got their starts either on the X-Ray's stage or in its audience; key members of bands like Crackerbash, Hazel, Heatmiser, Hitting Birth, Mood Paint and the Spinanes went on to become some of the names (Sean Croghan, Rebecca Gates, Pete Krebs, Elliott Smith) and bands (Jr. High, King Black Acid, Pond, Quasi, Satan's Pilgrims, Team Dresch) Portland is best known for. Pop oddities such as Big Daddy Meatstraw, Completely Grocery, Mr. Seed, New Bad Things, Roger Nusic and Sprinkler never failed to kindle audience reaction. Sometimes national bands would pass on their usual payment guarantees to play the friendly venue for 50 percent of the door proceeds--which, with a 49-person legal capacity, wasn't always much.
And if nothing else, the kitschy shoe box of a nightclub had character.
"We didn't have anything but," Ellis notes in retrospect. "So we milked that for all it was worth."
In the end, though, that milk ran dry. Pine Street Theater reopened as LaLuna in 1992 (see page 100), drawing kids to the bigger shows made possible by the post-grunge alt.rock "revolution," and the perpetually in-the-red X-Ray closed its doors in 1994 (see "Whatever Happened To...?," page 80). Although it may be gone, it'll never be forgotten for the part it played in incubating the city's fledgling alternative music scene.
DRAWING TO AN INSIDE STRAIGHT
BY MARTY SMITH
Drooling, unshaven, the state of Oregon lay slumped in its chair, wracked by uncontrollable need. The once-proud state's hands scrabbled clawlike through hundreds of bars and restaurants, trying desperately to assemble enough cash for one more fix. "I can quit any time I want to," it muttered aloud. "Next biennium, maybe, I'll give it up, go straight."
But not this biennium, thought the state. This biennium I need it too badly. Scraping up the last of the precious lottery funds, the governmental entity hurriedly injected the cash directly into its revenue stream, feeling the warm rush of over half a billion dollars flowing through its coffers.
The sickness began back in 1984, when Oregonians approved a pair of measures enabling Salem to dabble with an increasingly popular drug-delivery system known as the state lottery. Within a few years, legislators were already feeding a $55 million-a-year lottery habit.
But that was nothing compared to what lay in store. Because 1991 was the year we graduated to the hard stuff--the Legislature approved video poker.
Video poker earned (if that's the word) $77 million in its first year. Today, the state's 8,900 machines suck away about $403 million a year--$1.1 million a day, or about $16 every second they're plugged in.
Say what you will about the state muscling organized crime out of the numbers racket, that money has created a lot of jobs. Higher education, state parks and economic development programs have all felt the benefit of the lottery's largesse. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the costs?
Walk into any tavern in the state, day or night, and more than likely you'll see a row of video poker's victims, their faces bathed in a blue glow, slavishly feeding their paychecks to the machine, their craving punctuated by a synthetic snippet of Handel's Messiah (and a more crass repurposing of a piece of sacred music is hard to imagine), chasing the Big Payoff till the money runs out.
According to a 1997 survey, roughly 78,000 Oregonians--3.3 percent of the state's adult population--have had a serious gambling problem at some point in their lives. (For scale, 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War.) And 80 percent of gambling addicts who enter treatment in Multnomah county say their main problem is--surprise, surprise--video poker.
For the first time in a decade, there is significant support for pulling the plug. Opponents of video poker hope to place a measure on the ballot banning the game in November 2000. "In addition to addiction, bankruptcy, suicide, embezzlement, divorce, disgrace and the devastation of countless lives, we have the corruption of the relationship between people and their government," says Portland lawyer Greg Kafoury, one of the chief sponsors of the measure. "Video poker turns the government into a predator and a pimp. It makes people see the government as a hostile, dishonest and exploitative force in the community--and, tragically, that perception is true."
PETER AND DIANE
BY JILL SMITH
The two had become almost inseparable. They would shop together, eat together, golf together, wear matching outfits and generally ignore any other family members who accompanied them on outings. The relationship caused tension in both families, and Peter's father finally sat the two down for a talk early in the summer. He told Peter he didn't think a 41-year-old woman should be his best friend.
Things only got worse. By the end of the summer, Peter's mother announced she was cutting off the relationship. Aug. 30 was to have been their last day together. As he left the house that evening for his last "date" with Diane, Peter asked his father to give him a kiss--an extremely unusual request from the teen.
Peter's parents later found a "packing list" behind his desk. They also learned that he had told a friend he was running away with someone.
A few days after the WW story appeared, Peter and Diane were apprehended in the parking lot of a New Jersey casino. Videotape of the arrest was broadcast on national TV.
The two were flown back to Portland, where a jury eventually found Diane not guilty on charges of kidnapping and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor but guilty of custodial interference, a class B felony. The Rudge family still appears to live near Gabriel Park. Records indicate Diane and Jerry Walden are still living at their Raleigh Hills home.