June 23rd, 2004 WW Editorial Staff | Special Section Stories
 

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IMAGE: ANNE REESER

Street Theater

...or guerrilla warfare for the masses!

BY STEFFEN SILVIS

Busking, that is to say the art of performing on the street for pocket change, is not quite an art form in Portland--yet.

Whereas in larger cities one can find quite competent (and occasionally brilliant) musicians, clowns and singers performing for bread and pennies, here we often get sad trumpeters who seem to play only "Happy Birthday" (badly), living mannequins and fundamentalist "Kill a Queer for Christ" screechers in Pioneer Courthouse Square (for a bit of Theater of the Absurd).

Yes, the odd violinist or drummer with talent will periodically materialize on Broadway with a coffee-tin coffer, but air guitarists, kazooists and addled Elvises remain the rule of the day. I will leave suggestions for forming boulevard bands to my colleagues in the music department. I'm more interested in theatrical presentations erupting on a street near you.

For those of you unfamiliar with some of Portland's larger political rallies, you have missed a lot of great street theater. Considering that things appear to be getting progressively worse by the day, it seems prudent to start some serious guerrilla theater to shake the fat, Humvee-driving, bourgeois, Sharper Image shoppers from their slackjawed patriotic torpor. But what to do? Well, here's one idea.

How about forming a "Future Veterans" performance troupe? You and your young friends, using wheelchairs, canes and Annie Sullivan glasses, can enliven downtown street corners with your own "World to Come" panorama by acting as veterans from future Bush Wars. As Gap-decked Beavertron matrons sashay by, deliver such lines as: "Help a Syrian War gunner, please," or "Spare some change for a Pakistani War vet?" For a nice Brechtian touch, add signs and sad, sardonic songs to your production. Be the first on your block to dramatize America's downfall.

Indie Summer

Thank god not all movies are blockbusters.

BY DAVID WALKER

The summer movie season is notorious for overflowing theaters with big-budget spectacle films that do much to drain the wallet but little to stimulate the intellect. But if you keep your eyes open, there will be plenty of great independent films rolling through town, too. Look for Yoji Yamada's brilliant Twilight Samurai; Riding Giants, a great surfing documentary from Stacy Peralta, director of Dogtown and Z-Boys; and the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster, from the filmmakers responsible for Paradise Lost. Many of the indie films won't be in Portland very long, so you'll need to pay attention. Your best bet (besides poring over the WW screen section, of course) is to check in with local havens of independent cinema, such as Cinema 21 (616 NW 21st Ave., 223-4515, cinema21.com), Clinton Street (2522 SE Clinton St., 238-8899, clintonsttheater.com), Hollywood (4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-4215, hollywoodtheatre.org) the Northwest Film Center (829 SW 9th Ave., 221-1156, nwfilm.org) and the Cinema Project (120 NE Russell St., 232-8269, cinemaproject.org).

Rock 'n' Chill

Keeping cool at summer's hottest fests.

BY MARK BAUMGARTEN & JOSHUA PARISH

Plan on hitting summer's hottest music festivals? Well, there's some stuff you should know before you go--that is, if you want to have a good time. And speaking of good times, here's a list of 10 of the best that will hit the Northwest this summer. For more concerts, indoor and out, see page 65. Enjoy!

Breakfast of Champions: Capitalism is a bitch, especially at summer festivals. If you're allowed to bring a picnic basket and cooler in, you're set. But if you have to rely on $7 Boca burgers served out of a tent to quell your hunger, expect to eat noodles for the rest of the summer. Save cash by eating a big, slow-burning breakfast that will keep your appetite sated for most of the day. Pancakes will do nicely. And line your waistband with energy bars.

Group Therapy: We're all sheep. Whatever festival you're hitting, chances are other agreeable people will be going, too. So carpool. If you're on an appropriate listserv, don't be shy. Post that you are looking for (or have room for) other people going to the festival. Or, check out the rideshare listings on Craigslist at portland.craigslist.org/rid/. Technophobes can post fliers.

Feast on It: Finding the spot with the golden sound ought to be high on your festival must-do list. It's not on everyone's, so stake your claim away from the noisy beer and food tents. Find that soundboard! Whoever's mixing the show has the best seat in the house. Camp right in front of him or her if you can--you'll get the view and sound you paid for.

Avoid the Water Crisis: Summer is hot. Heat makes people thirsty. Festival organizers have figured this out and, more times than not, are making a buck off it by banning all containers and charging the price of a healthy child for an 8-ounce bottle of H2O. Your best bet is to invest in a sturdy, multiuse bottle and place it in your bag. Try to hit the entrance with a security guard of the opposite sex. If they tell you that you can't bring the bottle in, play dumb and tell them how much you paid for it, maybe start to cry. If they have a heart, they'll let you in--and usually you'll be able to find a place to fill the bottle.

Make a Blanket Statement: Once you've claimed your territory, make it your empire. Bend the rules of the festival as far as they'll go. If you can bring a blanket, maybe you can bring in folding chairs? If so, chances are you can bring anything that isn't for sale inside. Camping gear, games for the kids, the family dog--just don't infringe on anybody else's sovereignty.

Have a Good Script: Yeah, yeah, so some of us like getting high while listening to music. Be sharp--and artful--in your abuse to maximize your pleasure. Pace yourself. Don't smoke your head to sleep before the opening act, and remember that those pills you bought in the bathroom turn one beer into three. And c'mon, will a 120-degree pit and 1,000-watt speakers really be blissful on acid?

More Port-A-Potties than You Think: Don't be afraid to get all European when the lines back up. (Lines back up? Get it? Yessir!) Nobody's watching that bush or alleyway as much as you think they are. If there's no cop with ticket book in hand, the worst you'll suffer is minor embarrassment should a random glance fall during your 10-second indecent exposure--a small price to pay for liberation.

Film Flam

Two ways to spice up summer memories.

BY AARON SCOTT

In this soggy puddle of a city where we see the sun, like, eight days a year, we need summer souvenirs to carry us through the other 357. Snapshots from an old Instamatic may have sufficed for road trips with the folks, but nowadays you might need something new to spice up your summer memories. Try these:

Old-school: Pretend the world's not in nauseating digital color but the classic tones of black and white. To make your photos classy and artistic, find a vintage Polaroid Land Camera at Goodwill or various thrift stores or on--where else?--eBay. Great for taking (and giving!) pictures of friends and complete strangers. Besides, bandleader Thomas Lauderdale doesn't leave home without one.

New-school: To turn normal pictures into durable works of art, try an acrylic gel photo transfer. Make a photocopy of your photo or image, use a paintbrush or palette knife to apply a thin layer of acrylic matte gel (available at Art Media, 902 SW Yamhill St., 223-3724, and other arty outlets), let dry, and repeat until you reach the thickness of about five sheets of paper. Wash the photocopy away from the dried gel film with lukewarm water. The image will remain on the gel with a textured translucence. The transfer can be hung alone or incorporated into larger art projects. Cool and anything but crafty.

Cracked Pots

Quirky workshops, classes and other cool summer-school offerings.

BY ELIZABETH DYE

When we were kids, the beginning of summer meant one thing: the end of school. Now that the oasis of summer vacation has all but faded into the dusty recesses of our school yearbooks, the notion of mixing classes with summer doesn't seem so much sacrilegious as rewarding. Better yourself in the better part of the year with these classes. Or look to local schools' course catalogs for other ideas.

From Fleece to Felt--A Magical Transformation: Felt happens to be one of the most ancient textiles, not to mention a perennially cool craft phenomenon. Learn how to make this clever unwoven fabric using little more than wool fleece, water and felting needles, and then go to town making hats, pouches and other objects for modern living. Not only will this workshop provide you with Christmas gifts for years to come, but--hello, August--splashing around in all that water is sure gonna feel good. Oregon College of Art and Craft, 8245 SW Barnes Road, 297-5544. 9 am-4 pm Aug. 18-22. $320 with an $85 studio fee.

Releasing the Spirit: If you smirk at a class called "Releasing the Spirit," you are too, too cynical, my little 21st-century star. In this weeklong workshop, art therapist and teacher Betty Mayther teaches students techniques for overcoming self-consciousness and inhibition in the creative process. All of this leads to freer emotion, more direct expression and, ergo, better art. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with getting naked. Pacific Northwest College of Art, 1241 NW Johnson St., 821-8903. 6:30-9:30 pm July 12-16. $175.

Portraits of Your Pet: Over the years, Fluffy has given you countless priceless moments--the shredded pashmina, the decimated Christmas tree, the hundreds of half-gnawed shrews and small birds she's laid at your feet. Isn't it time you rewarded her with a lifelike portrait in charcoal, watercolor or chalk pastel? Working from photographs, you'll learn to capture the essence of your beloved domestic beast--now those memories can be frozen forever, in art. PCC Community Education Southeast Center, Tabor 133. Visit www.pcc.edu to register. 5:30-7:30 pm Thursdays, June 24-July 29. $59.

Cache and Carry

Geocaching gets geeks outside.

BY IAN GILLINGHAM

In the four years since a Global Positioning System user first half-buried a bucketful of goodies just east of Portland and posted its coordinates on the Web, the geeksport of geocaching has grown from a gadget-head curiosity to, well, a gadget-head curiosity with global reach and a serious local following.

Essentially a techno-hybrid of compass-and-map orienteering and a scavenger hunt, geocaching typically entails using coordinates from a website such as www.geocaching.com and a GPS unit (which triangulates satellite signals to determine the user's position on the planet, within as little as 20 feet) to find a hidden stash, taking a souvenir from the stash and leaving one in its place, and entering a "Kilroy was here" in the logbook. Variations on the theme include "travel bugs," dogtags that are logged and tracked on the Web as they make their way from one cache to the next. With prices falling on entry-level units such as the cell-phone-sized Garmin eTrex ($119 at REI, 1405 NW Johnson St., 221-1938, which offers a monthly beginner's GPS course), geocaching.com boasts more than 100,000 caches in 206 countries.

In Portland, the sport's birthplace, "we're more hardcore than the general geocaching community," says local seeker Chris Reeves. "We tend to take it up a notch." Reeves, an Intel techie who goes by the nom de cache "Soup," says Portland geocachers solve puzzles to learn coordinates ("I once even put a clue in WW Personals," Soup says) and hold events such as the upcoming stash-hop "Portland Cache Machine" (June 26-27) and a July 4 campout in Newberg (check out www.pdxgeocaching.com and www.oregongeocaching.org for all the inside info).

How about a soused-up "GPS Vice" variation, such as a nightlong route uncovering the ingredients for Long Island Iced Tea? That's a general geocaching no-no, laughs Soup, but "I bet we'd be up for it."


2004 SUMMER GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS:

INTRO | OUTDOORS & TRAVEL | FOOD & DRINK | ARTS & CRAFTS | BODY & SOUL | HOME & WORK | FASHION | CONCERT / EVENT CALENDAR

10 SUMMER FESTIVALS SURE TO HEAT YOU UP

The Northwest String Summit, June 25-27

Horning's Hideout, North Plains, www.stringsummit.com .

Waterfront Blues Festival, July 2-5

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, www.waterfrontbluesfest.com .

PDX POP NOW Music Festival, July 9-11

Meow Meow, 320 2nd Ave., 517-0824. www.pdxpopnow.com .

Lollapalooza, July 14-15

White River Amphitheatre, Auburn, Wash., www.lollapalooza.com .

Nike Run Hit Wonder, Aug. 1

Pioneer Courthouse Square, www.nikerunhitwonder.com .

Mount Hood Jazz Festival, Aug. 7-8

Main City Park, Gresham, www.mthoodjazz.com .

The Pick-a-thon, Aug. 27-28

Horning's Hideout, North Plains, www.pickathon.com .

Bumbershoot, Sept. 3-6

Seattle Center, Seattle, www.bumbershoot.com

Musicfest Northwest, Sept. 9-11

All over Portland, www.musicfestnw.com .

Bones & Brew, Sept. 10-12

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, www.bonesandbrew.com .

 
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