Howell’s Lounge – You CAN Go Back – Part II

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

As stated in Part I on Howell’s Lounge in Oregon City, unlike Jim Westwood and Pat Green, my companions on the trip, I’d never been to Howell’s before.  I didn’t view the bar as having a family-type environment, but Jim’s first visit was when he was six. 

Out of curiosity and based on the proximity to my original house in Oregon City, I suggested we Beerchase at Howell’s.  Jim and Pat were both “howling:”

“Don, do you really think we can go back?”

We went late on a Thursday afternoon and ordered beers and it was great. Howell’s is the epitome of an old dive bar with a long bar at the front of the bar with stools (the original cast iron for the stools is still in place) and booths across from them when you walk in.

The bar extends towards the back where there are a few tables and then a large room with a step down to the right with a few lottery videos and several tables with the traditional red cushioned benches.

In the first post, I talked about the saga of the bar and how it integrates into the robust history of Oregon City.  After we got our beers, I asked to interview the owner.

Fortunately, Karen Beach Farthing, who bought the bar in 2015 after working for the Johnson family (previous owners) for thirty years was there.  She lives in rural Mulino and said that the pandemic made it hard to survive, but they pulled through.

 “I worked fourteen hour days, seven days per week.   Two PPP loans helped us get by.”

Karen was very friendly and spent a lot of time with us at our table. It’s obvious she has pride in the enterprise in which she has invested so many years – both as an employee and now as the owner.  She’s in the photo with Pat and Jim below.

Photo Mar 16, 4 25 21 PM

Both young kids and old people love this bar,” she emphasized, and her clientele used to consist of a lot of mill workers at Publishers Paper and Crown Zellerbach when they got off the swing shift.  Both mills shut down a number of years ago.

When I worked for the Clackamas County Commissioners at the Courthouse on Main Street – the lower level of OC by the Willamette River – the Commission Staff and lawyers from County Counsel and the DA’s Office would always head across the street to the beloved McNulty & Barry’s Bar after work. #1 (# External photo attribution at the end of the post.)

Karen said, however, that the Commissioners and judges used to drive up to the second level to Howell’s – probably to get some privacy and not have to be careful about their conversations.   One of my favorite Commissioners, Dale Harlan, was elected after I left the County in 1979, and was the epitome of an outstanding elected official.

His wife Estle, when she saw the first post on Howell’s affirmed that premise when she commented in an e-mail, “Dale loved that place when he was a Clackamas County Commissioner!” #2

My late friend, Commissioner Harlan, deserves some additional narrative: Dale served valiantly in the European theater in World War II (Purple Heart after being severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge). 

After attending Stanford Law School where Sandra Day O’Connor and William Rehnquist were his classmates (1952), Dale was an excellent lawyer in private practice. 

He served two terms in the Oregon Legislature (1965-9) and then two terms as a Clackamas County Commissioner (1983-1990).   After his retirement, Dale became a good friend and I loved to hear his stories and about the many books he read. (The 1986 photo on the right below, shows Dale – middle -and fellow Commissioner, Bob Schumacher – left – who was an usher in my wedding in 1980.) #3

The Oregon City High School Connection

When I told Karen that Jim, Pat and I had graduated from Oregon City High School (a long time ago….), she motioned over to another table and said, “Those people also graduated from OCHS.”   Since I always like to interview regulars at my bars, I walked over.

Sitting there at table of four were two of my 1966 classmates – husband and wife – Steve Mattesen and Jean Leach – both of whom I hadn’t seen since our 50th class reunion almost six years ago.  And standing by the bar was Mike Gholston, who was one year behind us.  (The big guy – a football lineman – who has the white beard in the second photo below.)

When

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Jean, Steve and Pat

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The Verdict…

We had a great time and the next day, Pat called me (Jim now lives in Portland) and said, “Let’s return to Howell’s and take our wives to dinner!”   

We did, which gave Pat and me the opportunity to try Howell’s famous rib-eye steak sandwich with Karen’s homemade potato salad.  Our wives opted for a turkey sandwich, and fish and chips.  The steak was very good and the potato salad earned its reputation.  

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Howell’s is a family/neighborhood bar and known for its great breakfasts – they have an extensive menu at reasonable prices.  The bar also has specials almost every holiday:

“Join us for Easter Dinner! Glazed pit ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans and a dinner roll for $13.50 – HAPPY EASTER.

July 4th and 5th Special – BBQ Ribs, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob – $14.00.”

The bar also hosts events such as karaoke and trivia nights several times per week.

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So if in doubt about returning to an old haunt, take it from the three of us:  “You can go back!”  If you don’t have your own favorite place from years ago, try Howell’s Lounge in Oregon City.

And Speaking of Verdicts….

Another one of my high school classmates from 1966 is Laraine Aughenbaugh McNiece.  Larraine was a good student at OCHS, but one who was independent and not afraid to state her opinion even when it was out of the mainstream.  She was selected as one of the Girls-of-the-Month and the caption from the yearbook under the second photo reads:

“Individuality – lost in the world of conformity, characterizes October’s Girl-of-the-Month.”  #4

udge2

She was one of the small group from our class that reconnected every ten years to work on our class reunions.  She has been a a key contributor to those events over the years.  And Laraine has a connection with Howell’s as will be shown below. 

Laraine had an outstanding, albeit delayed, legal career as stated in a story in the Portland Tribune dated May 28th 2021 entitled:   “Legendary Oregon City municipal judge leaves for South Dakota.”

“McNiece is the immediate past president of the Oregon Municipal Judges Association, but 30 years ago, no one would have predicted her rise to be one of the most respected judges in the state. She started as an attorney in 1990 when she was in her 40s, and worked as a legal secretary before that.”

Judge Laarraine

And Laraine’s connection with Howell’s – not just when she worked as a legal secretary at the Hibbard Caldwell firm across the street?   It goes back further as I pointed out when I introduced her along with other members of our Committee at the 50th Reunion.  Laraine’s introduction went like this:

“Now many of you don’t know that the only lawyer in our class is Laraine.   And not only did Laraine have a good private law practice, but she was appointed Oregon City Municipal Judge and even became the President of the Oregon Municipal Judges Association.

Now there’s a lesson here.  When the rest of us were seniors and on Friday nights were going to pep rallies, football games, dances and then eating burgers afterwards, what was Larraine doing?

Well, she was dating older guys and having beers at Howell’s!”

Fortunately, the judge has a great sense of humor and I didn’t have to swear in her courtroom that the above story is true…..

Have a wonderful retirement in South Dakota, Your Honor.  You made great friendships in our class and garnered the respect of the Oregon legal community and we all wish you the best.  (The photo below was from her City of Oregon City retirement send-off). #5

External Photo Attributions

#1.McNulty & Barry’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=478103727657587&set=pb.100063738903207.-2207520000..&type=3

#2.  https://obits.oregonlive.com/us/obituaries/oregon/name/dale-harlan-obituary?id=20246513

#3.  https://outlet.historicimages.com/products/orb31657

#4.  Oregon City Class of 1966 High School Yearbook

#5. City of Oregon City Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/cityoforegoncity/posts/10157815898102414

Howell’s Lounge – Can You Go Back? Part I

Pat Green and Jim Westwood at Howell’s on Seventh Street

My family moved to Oregon City from Cincinnati, Ohio when I was twelve – just as I was entering seventh grade.   We fell in love with Oregon and Oregon City is a wonderful and historic community of 37,500 (2020) about twelve miles south of Portland. 

And when I say “historic”, I don’t use the term lightly. To wit:

  • Established in 1829 by the Hudson Bay Company on the Willamette River by the historically significant Willamette Falls, it became the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains (1844).
  • The city’s newspaper, the Oregon Spectator, was the first American newspaper to be published west of the Rocky Mountains.
  • At the west end of the Oregon Trail, it became the final destination for many early immigrants. 
  • The Methodist Church – the first Protestant church west of the Rocky Mountains – was completed in 1843, the same year that a Provisional Government, under the jurisdiction of the United States, was established.  (This beautiful church was right across the street from our first house on Center Street.)

(External Photo Attribution at the End of the Post – Above #1-2)

And then there’s the Oregon City Municipal Elevator with an incredible history and which  “continues to operate as one of only four municipal elevators in the world and ‘Elevator Street’ remains the only ‘vertical street’ in North America.”  

It was three blocks from our house and I used to take it every day to deliver part of my paper route on the lower level of OC: 

“After years of discussion and conflict, the elevator, constructed of steel and wood, was placed into service on November 27, 1915, a day on which almost the entire population of Oregon City (3,869 persons) rode the elevator. The 89-foot ride to the top involved a wheezing, jerking three to five minutes.

Once at the top, it was necessary to cross a 35-foot catwalk that bridged the two sides of the city high above the chasm. When the elevator worked, it generally lowered the water pressure in the surrounding area. When it didn’t work, passengers had to wiggle out of a trap door and down a narrow ladder……(#3-4 on right)

Okay, just a couple more including a picture of our first house – we rented what was the original Captain Phillips House.

Speaking of History – Don’t Forget Howell’s Lounge!

Okay – this is a blog about bars and breweries and the preceding paragraphs are for context because just across 7th Street from the McLoughlin House and only one block from my house was (and is) an historic watering hole – Howells Lounge.:

“In 1929, back in the days of Prohibition, Hannah Howell opened Howell’s Confectionary at 418 7th Street (it’s now at 508 7th).  When Prohibition ended, she was issued one of the first Retail Beer Licenses in the State. In 1935, Hannah moved to the present location, boasting of the first electric beer cabinet.

Eventually, her twins, Frank and Charlie, took over the business and operated it until their retirement in 1978…..Frank and Barbara Johnson purchased it in 1981 and Barbara became the sole proprietor in 1994 and it stayed in their family until 2015 when she retired.”   

Karen Beach Farthing bought the bar in 2015, after working for the Johnson family for thirty years. We had a great conversation with Karen and I’ll relate the good job she has done maintaining and improving Howell’s ambiance in my next Beerchaser post.

That’s Frank and Charlie in the photo below at the bottom of their original menu.   You could get fish and chips for $2.50, a ribeye steak ($3.50), oyster stew (95 cents) and a deluxe hamburger for $1.10. 

Current prices are very reasonable, but have obviously risen since the 1940’s.  A ribeye is now $18.75, fish and chips $15.75 and the hamburger is $10.  Of course, at the time of the original menu shown below, the US Census Bureau reported that “…in 1940, the median home value in the U.S. was just $2,938.”

In the late 1960’s, I would often see either Frank or Charlie standing in front of the bar when I rode by on my bike on my Oregon Journal paper route or when I was buying an oboe reed at Wally’s Music Store which was next door . (Wally’s is still open and thriving, but moved one and on-half blocks away after a fire in its original store.)

Howell’s always appeared kind of dark and mysterious with its idiosyncratic sign and I had never been in it.  I decided that I should Beerchase with two of my good friends – also Oregon City High School grads – Jim Westwood (’62) – a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter -, Pat Green (’65) and me (’66). 

(As an aside – Jim and Pat were both Student Body Presidents at OCHS.  I ran for that office and lost and probably out of the empathy vote, was elected Senior Class President.) #7

Pat and Jim are recently retired attorneys (both with distinguished careers) and all of us worked in large downtown law firms – Jim at Stoel Rives, Pat at Davis Wright and I was the COO at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.  Since I spent my career trying to manage lawyers, I assured them that we would be welcome in Howell’s and they could return with their good recollections in tact and scheduled a date.

Pat first practiced in Oregon City at a law office (Hibbard Caldwell) right across from the McLoughlin House on Center Street and a walk across 7th Street to Howell’s.  He and some of his colleagues often lunches there and drinks after work because it was so close.  The last time he was at Howell’s was in1984 – 38 years prior to our visit. Jim’s first foray into Howell’s was when he was six!

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Green “Energy”

The Green Family has a rich history in Oregon City dating back to the early 1900’s.

There’s Pat’s grandmother, Rosa Green:

“One of the more well-known figures in recent Oregon City history,   She was a Sunday school teacher for 25 years and was past president of the Oregon City Chapter of Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Mrs. Green was a constant letter writer, a published author and part-time philosopher whos remembrances appeared many times in the Enterprise Courier. She had lived in Oregon City since 1915 and between 1918 and the time of her death, more than 680 letters to the editor had appeared in various area newspapers over her name.”

This Oregon City legend lived for years in the historic home on the lot in which the Hibbard firm built it’s office (shown in the photo above) – across the street from Howell’s.

Rosa’s legendary annual dinner in which luminaries from all over Oregon attended (those who didn’t, tried to wangle invitations) included former Governor Tom McCall; journalist Doug Baker; Oregon Supreme Court Justice Ralph Holman; entrepreneur and then Chief of Staff for Senator Mark Hatfield, Gerry Frank; and historian/writer, Steward Holbrook among many others.

Since Rosa was the President of the WCTU and no alcohol was served I would wager that at the conclusion of dinner, a number of these notables walked across the street and had a nightcap at Howell’s and said “hello” to Frank and Charlie! (Left to right – #8 – #12)

During the many years Rosa hosted these dinners, I think we can also conclude that the diners included a wide-eyed young Pat Green at various stages of his life……

Bill Green, Pat’s Dad, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 98, was also well known in Oregon City and like his older son, Pat, was Student Body President at OCHS.

“Bill was one of the last surviving members of the OCHS Class of 1937 and was Student Body President…..After several years delivering mail as a letter carrier, U.S. Senator Maureen Neuberger appointed Bill as the Oregon City Postmaster. Bill chaired several civic organizations and positively influenced the lives of many young people as a Boy Scout leader.”  (Oregon Live #14)

I will always owe Bill a debt of gratitude because after I got out of the Navy and moved back to Oregon City and was trying to figure out what to do with my life, he hired me over the Christmas season and I worked in the Oregon City Post Office and drove a mail truck for a few months.

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And finally, Forrest Green – a name which oozes with sustainability (known in high school as Frosty,) and Pat’s younger brother, established his reputation as a nationally known musician when he still in high school as reported in a 2012 Thebeerchaser post

“Until the late ‘60’s Forrest Green was a typical high school student – a class officer in his junior year at Oregon City High School and a talented musician who started his own garage band and a group called The Rising Sons. In 1967, Forrest’s senior year at OCHS, he got a call from Don Grady (who also starred as Robbie in the hit sitcom ‘My Three Sons.’ )       

Grady had become aware of Green’s talent on the keyboard and asked him if he wanted to tour with his group, Yellow Balloon.  Forrest, with his parents’ blessing, became the envy of his classmates and played with Yellow Balloon which released a song with a title identical to the group moniker.  Although “Yellow Balloon” was their only hit, it climbed to # 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967.  The group disbanded after their tour and release of one album.”  

(Below – Forrest’s Promotional Pictures – #15 -#16 – and Forrest, Bill and Pat)

Don’t Forget Westwood…

And Jim Westwood was no shrinking violet.  He lived about three blocks from me (and Howell’s) on Jefferson Street.  His mom, Catherine, was a beloved teacher of Latin and French at OCHS.  Jim’s notable exploits after high school and before his legal career are chronicled in this 2013 post where he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

The Portland State GE College Bowl Team #17

Now Back to Howell’s….

We went late on a Thursday afternoon and ordered beers and it was great. Howell’s is the epitome of an old neighborhood dive bar with a long bar with stools (the original cast iron for the stools are still in place) and booths across from them when you walk in.   

The bar extends towards the back where there are a few tables and there’s a large room with a step down to the right with a few lottery videos and several tables with the traditional red cushion benches.

Stayed tuned for the next post on this old-time watering hole and a tribute to a retired Oregon City Municipal Judge.

Cheers – Don ’66!

External Photo Attribution

#1.  Former Oregon City  First Methodist Churchhttps://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=4ef07c18-f00d-4668-8447-af3c31ad6991&gid=3.

#2. https://www.orcity.org/library/end-oregon-trail-interpretive-center

#3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_City_Municipal_Elevator#/media/File:  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Encmstr  16 December 2006

#4.  http://www.docomomo-oregon.org/resources/oregon-city-municipal-elevator/

#5.  Wikimedia Commons No  restrictions  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McLoughlin#/media/File:Dr._John_McLaughlin_jpg   Author:  OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons

#6.  https://livingnewdeal.org/projects/mcloughlin-house-oregon-city-or/

#7.  Howell’s Lounge Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/147299205331546/photos/

#8. Wikimedia Commons:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_McCall  By Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington – Charles A. Sprague Tree Seed Orchard Dedication, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51782505.

#9.  https://www.oregonlive.com/history/2022/01/doug-baker-chased-gangsters-embraced-news-stunts-but-his-love-of-portland-fueled-fame-in-1960s-and-70s.html

#10.Wikimedia Commons:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ralph_M_Holman.jpg  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1927 and 1977  Oregon Secretary of State, distributed by Marion County, Oregon to voters without a copyright notice 1970.

#11.  Oregon Historical Society https://patch.com/oregon/portland/gerry-frank-dies-8th-generation-oregonian-who-championed-state.

#12. Wikimedia Commons:    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stewart_Holbrook#/media/File:Stewart_Holbrook.png  This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1927 and 1963, The Oregonian, September 25, 1941

#13.  https://portlandartmuseum.org/about/board-of-trustees/

#14. https://obits.oregonlive.com/us/obituaries/oregon/name/william-green-obituary?pid=184586831.

#15 – #16.  Photo credits are shown on the images.

#17.  https://insideportlandstate.pdx.edu/2019/11/13/historic-1965-college-bowl-victory-gave-psu-national-visibility-local-credibility/

Gaining Perspective at the Falls View….

The Falls View Tavern

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Note: The last 25% of this post may be of particular interest to history buffs.  Check out this story which goes back to 1850 and continues to the present time.

I’ve published quite a few posts related to my time in Oregon City, Oregon – from seventh grade until after I got married at age thirty-one except for time at Oregon State University and in the Navy.  My wife and I then moved across the Willamette River to West Linn – another Portland burb and our high school rival in the old Tualatin Yamhill Valley League.

I was a pretty good kid in high school – motivated by the admonition of Dale Herron, our basketball coach, that if we even thought of frequenting one of Oregon City’s bars (or went skiing at Mt. Hood) we would have to turn in our Chuck Taylor Converse All-stars (black high-tops). 

Knowing that attending college also depended on an academic scholarship and a clean record, I never drank alcohol before I turned twenty-one in college.  (* photo attribution at end of post.)

Oh yeah. When I when I asserted above “pretty good kid,” – in the interest of full disclosure, there was that one incident at the end of our senior year when several of us from the Class of ’66 decided to put an old out-house on the roof of the school. 

Fortunately, OCHS Principal Vern Larson (possibly remembering his own school pranks in North Dakota) went easy on us.   His son, Dave, was one of my best friends, so maybe that didn’t hurt either.  Understandably, Dave was not in the group of pranksters.

And when I worked on Main Street for Clackamas County after naval service, my haunt was either McNaulty and Barry’s – a wonderful and fabled dive (still going strong) across the street from the Courthouse. 

The Dunes Motel Lounge (long gone) was a sleazy alternative – after work attendance and political banter and ample booze consumption were expected during the last two years when I worked for the Clackamas County Commissioners.

Thus, I was surprised when my friend, Matt Love, another Oregon City High School grad, (a lot of years after my diploma) but also an expert on Oregon dive bars, suggested the Falls View Tavern.   It’s right across the street from what was one of our favorite high school hangouts – Art’s Cafe.

We spent a lot of time at Art’s on Friday nights after our games eating their great burgers and fries (Art’s is now the Highland Still House which is a great place to go for a shot of fine whiskey):

“With more than 500 bottles of whisky consistently behind the bar and a rotating collection of rare and exciting whiskies from around the globe.”  *2

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But I never really even bothered noticing the Falls View Tavern. I’m glad that I remedied that in early July with Matt and another Beerchasing regular, Jim Westwood – the dean of our group and another Oregon City High grad.

Both Matt and Jim are outstanding individuals and accomplished professionals as set forth in my post: .https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/07/22/2021-summer-beerchasing-miscellany-part-ii/

And we were not disappointed.  Since it was a nice summer day, we sat in their expansive patio or beer garden.  Falls View on their website describes it as:

Best Beer Garden within ?,??? miles.  Umbrella Covered Tables, Covered Stage, Covered Smoking Area, Fire Pit and a refreshing Misting Station for those two really hot days.”

The patio was a recurring theme in the positive reviews of the bar as best summarized by this 2017 Yelp Review:

“They have created an amazing outdoor area for live music or just kicking back to enjoy some food and drink. Whenever I take pictures of the bands playing in their back patio, friends always think I’m in someone’s backyard, and that’s exactly how it feels. But it’s the best backyard because there are these lovely people who will bring you food and drink in exchange for plastic or cash.”

While it’s nothing fancy, it’s spacious and draws a lot of people who just hang out or listen to the live music on weekends, compete in Wednesday Night Trivia or sing at the open mike on Thursdays.   

The owner, Terry Bee Enstad, another Oregon City High School graduate, said that during the restrictions on indoor dining, the patio was always full and people would come from all over the surrounding area.

The Yelp review mentions “lovely people” and there are other comments about friendly staff. Cyndee, our server that afternoon, exemplified this sentiment.  She’s worked at the bar for 5 1/2 years and since they weren’t extremely busy initially, spent time enlightening us about what makes the bar a “Community.”

And Terry Bee, the delightful owner for the last twenty-one years as of the Friday before we were there (the bar goes back to the 1920’s) lives nearby.   She’s used her charisma and personal touch to turn the Falls View into a community gathering place.  

Cyndee introduced us to one of the regulars named Sabrina, who positively gushed about why “The Falls View has become the only bar I’ll ever visit in the future.”  She lives in nearby Canby and talked about the great food and people she’s experienced since the first time she came to the Falls View two years ago.

“This is the last bar I ever want to be in!” (Sabrina – a regular)

An old building provides some challenges and Terry had had her hands full with maintenance and updating.  For example, a 2018 project involving the flooring gives an apt picture of the challenges:

“With the discovery of hardwood flooring under the carpet, it was an easy decision for Terry to lead the charge to rescue it.  But as with all repairs and projects at The Falls View, being a hundred year old building, you have to be prepared for surprises (usually unpleasant & costly ones). 

 We immediately discovered the first one to be that the floor was covered with a variety of materials including plywood (heavily nailed down), particle board, and something called Fix-All which proved to be a huge obstacle.”  (Falls View Website)

The inside of the dive bar validates the label and has a great musty ambiance with historic photos, signs and a great back bar.  There’s also an alcove for video machines which is nice as they are away from the main part of the bar.

The food is one factor that distinguishes Falls View and people rave about the broiled chicken:

“That said, this place is a KEEPER!  I came for the chicken and left with the opinion that it was, by far, the best chicken experience I’ve ever had.  I say ‘experience’ because everything from the service to the seating was excellent.  Then comes the chicken – five pieces totaling a full half of a chicken, perfectly broasted and seasoned with a very light coating, some hand-cut jo-jos, and garlic bread.” (Yelp 7/9/17)

One-half of a chicken, jo-jos and garlic bread is only $11.75, or the cod fish and fries is a stunningly reasonable $9.75.  And I will definitely return for the chicken gizzards and fries for $8.25 – the only bar I know in the Portland area besides the Yukon Tavern that serves this “delicacy.” 

As their website asserts, “Quirky was probably invented here.”  The breakfast menu also looked very good.

To further give you an example of why Terry should probably raise her prices, take a look at the total bill for the three of us.   Matt had two micro-brew pints and Jim and I each had two tall-boys (Old German – the first time I’ve had that Pittsburgh beer) for a total of $8 since there is a $2 tall-boy special each day. We topped off with a large order of great French fries

And they have five rotating taps besides the three standards (Coors Light, Bud Light and Boneyard IPA) supplemented by almost twenty different bottled and canned beers, wine in addition to ciders and hard lemonades.

Notwithstanding the fact that she was being pulled in several directions as the regulars started to pour in, I spent a pleasant twenty minutes talking to Terry about the bar’s history and her plans.   

My congratulations for her shepherding this establishment into one of the most distinctive and pleasant neighborhood dives I’ve been to in ten years of Beerchasing.  I will definitely be back….

One More Thing…..But It’s Important!

Now to end this post, I have to include some of Oregon City’s fabled history which I have talked about in several prior posts.   That’s also easy with Matt Love, an authority on Oregon lore and history (check out his offerings at the Nestucca Spit Press).

Matt told us that we had to check out the historical marker across the street from the bar at the Willamette Falls View Point.  Besides the outstanding view of the Falls, the locks and the historic mills on both sides of the Willamette River, he told us that the marker conveyed the story of the last Oregon public execution in 1850.

Well there was, in fact, an historic marker, but it was just that of Dr. John McLoughlin,  “known as the ‘Father of Oregon’ for his role in assisting the American cause in the Oregon Country.” (Wikipedia)

What happened to the plaque about the Cayuse Five?

However there was nothing regarding the hanging which Matt had referenced.  This sent me on an Internet search and the research may have revealed why officials removed the sign about the capital punishment:

“In May 21, 1850, the trial of five Cayuse men accused of murdering Protestant missionary Marcus Whitman begins in Oregon City, capital of the newly organized Oregon Territory. Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 11 others had been killed during a Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla two and a half years earlier…..

The defendants were indicted on several charges associated with the attack but were tried on only a single count, that of ‘feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought’ killing ‘one Marcus Whitman’ (Grand Jury indictment No. 11). The trial lasts four days and ends when all five defendants are convicted and sentenced to death by hanging…….

And, it does not speak well for “frontier” justice at that time:

“How the Cayuse made the decision to turn in those five men is not known. There was some speculation, at the time and afterward, that the Cayuse simply gave up five volunteers in order to appease the whites and end the fighting. For his part, Lane (the Governor of the Oregon Territory) seemed unconcerned about whether any of the prisoners had participated in the killings or whether any of the actual attackers had gone free. ‘The punishment of these Indians,’ he told the Territorial Legislature on May 7, 1850, two weeks before the trial, ‘will remove the barrier to a peace with the Cayuse, and have a good effect upon all the tribes’…….

“Oregon City at that time was a frontier town of about 500. The jail was a one-room structure on Abernethy Island, at the foot of Willamette Falls. There was no courthouse; the trial took place in a tavern, crowded with a couple of hundred onlookers. During the jury selection process, on the morning of May 23, the defense issued so many preemptory challenges that the original panel of 24 prospective jurors had to be augmented with people chosen at random from among the spectators. Eventually, a jury of 12 was empaneled and District Attorney Amory Holbrook (1820-1866) began presenting the prosecution’s case……

“The court heard three hours of summation from the defense and the prosecution and then adjourned. In giving his charge to the jury, at 9 a.m. Friday, May 24, Judge Pratt basically said the defendants’ guilt was proven by the fact that the tribe had turned them over to the authorities. As Lansing points out, ‘Today, Judge Pratt’s actions would have been a clear violation of the hearsay rule and the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment confrontation clause: ‘the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him’ “‘(Lansing, 151).

The jury deliberated for one hour and 15 minutes before returning the expected verdict: guilty. The defense immediately filed several motions on appeal; all were denied. At 4 p.m., Judge Pratt reconvened the court and pronounced his sentence. He ordered the prisoners to be confined until 2 p.m. on Monday, June 3, 1850, when they were to be taken by the U.S. marshal — Joe Meek — to a gallows to be erected in Oregon City, ‘and there by him be hung by the neck, until you are dead’ (Oregon Spectator, May 30, 1850).”

(History Link Essay No. 9401 – By Cassandra Tate – Posted 4/16/2010: “Trial of Five Cayuse Accused of Whitman Murder Begins on May 21, 1850.” https://www.historylink.org/File/9401)

The story has a woeful ending according to this account in article from MyNorthwest.com by Feliks Banel on 11/29/2-017:

“The Cayuse Five were [named] Clokomas, Kiamasumkin, Isiaasheluckas, Tomahas and Telokite,’ Karson Engum said. ‘They were hung in Oregon City and they were taken off in a cart and they were put either in an unmarked grave or in a mass grave, and at this point, there’s ideas that they may be under a parking lot somewhere in Oregon City or in some not necessarily unknown cemetery.’

Those interested in this story and related history will hear more in coming months as the area in question and adjacent to the Falls View Tavern is part of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.  While the Whitman massacre was a tragedy, the manner in which the accused were convicted adds to the sad narrative.

Interested parties including the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, various historians and government agencies involved in the project including the City of Oregon City and Metro are involved in bringing more information to light as set forth in this article by Oregon City historian, James Nicita, in the 6/13/18 Clackamas Review entitled A step towards healing: Repatriating the Cayuse Five; author offers theory on gravesite location.”

Photo Attribution

*1  https://www.facebook.com/highlandstillhousepub/photos

/a.442627192277/154748597277/

*2 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:

A_classic_Black_pair_of_Converse_All_Stars_resting_on_the_Black_%26_White_

Ed._Shoebox_ (1998-2002).JPG Author: Hadley1978  at English Wikipedia

*3 – *7 Falls View Tavern Website (https://thefallsviewtavern.com/)

Dont Get Mad — Get Mad Hanna!

Beerchaser regular, Jim Westwood, at the entrance to Mad Hanna

While one can cruise the infamous Barmuda Triangle (also known as “The Stumble Zone”) in SE Portland and find numerous dive bars, unearthing these hidden treasures in other quarters of the Rose City, has become more challenging – particularly with the closure of some historic dives.

In the eight years of Thebeerchaser blog, I’ve reviewed quite a number of memorable dive bars.  I attempted to memorialize (if you will) the Portland all-stars in this category in a February post:  https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/09/thebeerchasers-best-portland-dive-bars/ .  It captures the essence of my four personal favorites.

Now my second visit to Mad Hanna was after publishing the aforementioned post or it would have been an addition to the four favorites.   And it is in NE Portland, which does not reflect the wealth of dives in the southeast quadrant.

Mad Hanna (hereafter “MH”), while clearly exhibiting the notable characteristics of a dive, borders on the temperament and character of a neighborhood watering hole.  As evidence of this slightly schizoid ambiance, see  both the martini glass and the Pabst sign which decorate the front of the establishment which is otherwise dumpy and rundown – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Notice the martini – gin with an olive – in the upper right part of the sign….

We have to be careful here because one description in a link to the MH website describes it as a “casual, playful tavern.”  (No dive bar should have the adjective “playful” characterizing it, so we will scratch that phrase as misguided…..), but it does have positive mood or presence similar to another one of the NE dives – The Standard. And it self describes in the caption to it’s own website:  “The Best Dive Bar in Portland.”

While I spend a considerable amount of time researching the establishments I visit, I had never heard of MH until reconnecting with a friend, Hillary Barbour.  She lives in the general area and said that it was a bar that deserved recognition by Thebeerchaser, so my first visit was with Hillary.

I first met her in 1994, when she was a research assistant for the Portland City Club and I was on the Research Board of this civic organization.   She was a recent graduate of Reed College and earned the endearing moniker, “Barbour the Magnificent,” by some of us on the Board because of her superior performance and enthusiastic work ethic.

After a few jobs trying to discover what she wanted to do with her life, she worked as a key staffer for Congressman Earl Blumenauer for almost fifteen years and became the Director of Strategic Initiatives for Burgerville in 2016.

Barbour the Magnificent on her throne at Mad Hanna

As a recent Reed graduate, Hillary spent a lot of time at the City Club trying to  convince us that she was really politically moderate, had worn dresses to most of her liberal arts classes and that most of the students at Reed were just like those at Oregon State University except that they major in Nuclear Physics, Bio-chemistry or Chinese Literature rather than Forestry or Animal Husbandry.  

Actual picture of Cerenkov radiation surrounding the underwater core of the Reed College nuclear reactor

Note:  Some Portlanders may not know that Reed is also the only undergraduate educational institution in the world to operate a research nuclear reactor.    Those who live near campus might consider acquiring a Geiger counter to supplement their portable generators if they view this excerpt from the Reed website: “We are dependent on incoming freshmen who want to run the reactor…..”

Hillary asserted that Reed’s intercollegiate sports program including rugby, ultimate frisbee and soccer, was less expensive and more inclusive that those of the PAC-12 – maybe it was the PAC-10 in 1994….

Ultimate Frisbee in between time at Reeds’ nuclear reactor…

And finally, she tried to explain the Reed’s Student Ethics Code to members of the Research Board  – it differs from most (maybe all) universities in that it is:

“….a guide for ethical standards themselves and not just their enforcement. Under the Honor Principle, there are no codified rules governing behavior. Rather, the onus is on students individually and as a community to define which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.”

Westwood offered explanation of Honor Guide…

Jim Westwood, a hard-core Beerchaser regular, who is also a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and one of the most skilled appellate lawyers and intelligent people I know, was also a City Club leader at that time.   He accompanied me on my second visit to MH.

So as we were drinking a PBR, as a conversation piece, I asked him for his interpretation of this somewhat abstract university credo.  He mumbled something about the substance of jelly-fish and then referenced protoplasm and amoebae…

But we digress….. Back to Mad Hanna……Why wouldn’t you like this bar?   While the outside might be somewhat off-putting, the inside has everything one could ask for in what is colloquially labeled “a watering hole.”

It has great old beer signs – such as Pabst, Oly and Rolling Rock and a good, although not excessive, selection of brews ranging from the standards to a few micro-brews  (Happy Hour = $4 micro – $2.50 standards and PBRs’ are $2) all of which are listed on a blackboard rather than an electronic display.  I was impressed with their line-up of ten cocktails – see below – which get good reviews.

There’s also an impressive pool table, a poster of Wonder Woman and a few, but not too many video poker machines in addition to arcade (video) games.

Adds to the ambiance….

There were a couple of TVs but ones which are of moderate size and for which the glare doesn’t disturb the somewhat dingy but very comfortable ambience.  And instead of low-scoring soccer games or Sports Center blaring on the main screen, there was a muted Charlie Brown animation film captivating the audience.

Dive bars are often characterized by hard-core regulars who react with mild to more aggressive hostility to newcomers, but on both of my visits, you are unnoticed when you walk in and stake out a location and head to the bar to order.  That’s because scattered groups of regulars are engaged in active discussions or in friendly interactions with the amiable and helpful bartenders.

People, whether on the excellent patio in the back (see below), gathered around the bar or sitting at tables in small groups, were having a good time.

Sterile environment – operated by the same corporation that runs the Olive Garden.

Now there are a few of the bars or breweries visited on Thebeerchaser’s multi-year tour which either reflect sterile, corporate-type settings or environments or worse, a benign neglect or seeming apathy of the owners.  A less genteel way to convey this is that the character of the bar “sucks!”

The only two Portland examples I can cite are The Yardhouse in downtown Portland and Bar 33-Brooklyn just north of Sellwood.

A lot of potential, but apathy greets you at the entrance

(If you want to learn the rationale for my conclusions, click on the links above, but suffice to say that if you really are thirsty for a beer, have at it.  But if you want a “bar experience,” don’t waste your time.)

Mad Hanna is the antithesis of these bars and I would suggest that it’s because of the attitude of the co-owners —Crystall Maddox and Liz Hanna, who not only came up with the good name, but also make efforts to instill community and the spirit that seems to radiate within the walls.

They get a nice mention in a 2017 feature in Portland Drink entitled “Visit One of Portland’s Many Female-Owned Bars” 

For example, their Facebook page is informative and filled with information and they also have a nice, but not overly sophisticated website with scores of pictures of people having fun and the inviting description below:

“Mad Hanna, your neighborhood living room, drinks are cold and the welcome is warm.  Need a laugh or ear to bend, swing on by and you’ll find it.  Fresh squeezed juice and house-infused liquors mean delicious hand-made cocktails. 

Enjoy ping pong, horseshoes and conversation in the sunny backyard or stay inside for pool, jukebox and sass from the best bartenders in town.  When you’re here your part of the family – we got your back!”

Let’s look at the evening activities:  Tuesday and Thursday they have DJ NIghts from 8:00 to midnight and on Saturday from 4:00 to midnight. On Wednesday, it’s Open Mic Night from 6:00 to 110:00 PM.  Don’t forget Karoke on Sunday……and periodic movie nights.

And their DJ booth is unique – also a great place to sit when they are not spinning discs.

As a side note, the Rovon Inn used to be the name of the bar prior to the change in ownership in 2012 that brought us Mad Hanna.   It was involved in a dram-shop lawsuit back in 2011 involving a drunken driver who allegedly drank there and at another establishment before being involved in a car wreck that killed a woman in another vehicle.)

While both times I was there, it was a typical Oregon winter day – cold and drizzly, but even so, there were people bundled up on the back patio and I can just visualize the activity during good weather – although as the sign indicates, under control…….!

 

 

 

Earlier I mentioned the tap list, but MH is also known for it house-infused cocktails and jello-shots they have a good collection and get excellent reviews in print and social media:

“……a chalkboard cocktail menu juggling the sublime (“$6.25 Ginger Whiskey Sour”) and ridiculous (“$9 CBD Margarita”).  While most regulars enjoy the well-curated array of mostly local brews, make sure to plunk down $1.50 for a pudding shot—an addictive dollop of soft-serve indulgence that’s become Mad Hanna’s signature libation. As an ideal blend of the playful and potent, the 80 proof is in the pudding.”  Willamette Week June 9, 2018

Now you won’t find an expansive menu here, but they do have some munchies from nachos to hummus and the grilled-cheese sandwich options gets good comments.  And my friend, Jim, paused in our conversation while chowing down on his $4.50 (Happy Hour) peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

This post is already too long, but there’s still a bit more to the story.  One factor that can add to or detract from a bar is the “juke box.”  MH’s garners great reviews not only for the music, but the bar’s approach is consistent with the tone set forth above:

 ……a special note – check out the jukebox here – it has such a great mix, everything from punk to classic country to ROBYN! don’t be afraid to throw in a few quarters and dance, also don’t be shocked if strangers join in too! its a real friendly place 🙂Yelp 7/8/14  (For those out of the cultural mainstream, ROBYN is a Swedish singer and songwriter…..)

Fantastic juke box, but who the heck is ROBYN??

Regardless of whether one considers Mad Hanna a dive or a neighborhood bar, it warrants a visit.

You will see evidence of the comfortable vibe mentioned in this post whether it is seeing a poster about a benefit to help an ailing bartender or resident of the neighborhood,  having a chat with one of the amiable bartenders or even hitting the bathroom – it also has character!

Further evidence of “community”

You should take the advice of this 6/9/18 Yelp reviewer who stated:

“Probably the coolest place I’ve been to in a long time. I will be going back to this place whenever I’m in town!”  6/9/18

And if you run out of conversation topics, you might want to revisit the interpretation of the Reed Ethics Code.  Alternatively, you could discuss the recent article, “What is a Reedie Anyway?”

Mad Hanna  6129 NE Fremont

The Standard – It Redefines the Meaning of the Term


You last read about one of Portland’s fabled bars in the most recent post of Thebeerchaser – that being The Dockside Saloon and Restaurant.   Located in an historic building, this classic bar has been owned by the same family since 1986.  Well, the following narrative will tell you about another legendary bar you should visit – this one a dive bar in Northeast Portland.

Now when you see the term The Standard, (I’m choosing to capitalize both words throughout the post) you might automatically assume it references the Portland-based life insurance company.  Indeed, “The Standard” is a marketing name for Portland’s own Standard Insurance Company, which was chartered in Oregon in 1906, now employs about 2,500 individuals and owns several high-rise buildings in downtown Portland.

Not a sparkling exterior

But The Standard you will read about below is a bar which, even with a great reputation, has been below the radar in an inconspicuous location on NE 22nd Avenue – just off Burnside.  And some might assert that with the dark wooden fence with a dumpster in the middle, fronting the bar, it looks like a recycling center.

Opened in 2007, it doesn’t have the long history of some other classic bars, but demands recognition.   Why would you travel here and struggle for parking rather than hit one of the city’s many sparkling breweries or taprooms – some relatively close by including Upright, Laurelwood, Alameda and Culmination?

A spacious interior

The 2018 Edition of “The Bar Guide.”

Well, one of Thebeerchaser’s trusted resources during the seven years of this tour of bars, taverns and breweries is Willamette Week’s Annual Bar Guide.   The 2018 Edition) “Portland Bars and Happy Hours – the 101 Best Bars in Portland,” sums it up succinctly in a wonderful review written by the weekly’s former Project Editor, Matthew Korfhage:

“But the thing that made me treat this bar as an extension of my living room for seven years, what makes it different from every other bar with cheap drinks and a pool table and a covered patio in winter, is the simple decency of the place.  

The Standard is one of Portland’s last true neighborhood bars, a ramshackle version of Penny Lane decorated in shattered CDs and corrugated metal……More than any other bar I know in Portland, it is a sodden vision of an ideal society.”

And, in fact, going back and reviewing past issues of the Bar Guide, The Standard, unlike most Portland bars, has made the list of top bars – usually around 100 establishments – each of the last five years.   Now this may be in large part due to Korfhage’s long tenure at the weekly paper.

*Note:  Since he wrote a majority of the reviews in the Bar Guide, he is an expert and has written the piece on The Standard each year.   And you can see below that his favorable opinion has not changed.  Whether The Standard will hit a sixth consecutive year in 2019, may be in doubt since Korfhage wrote his last column for WW in April.

Korfhage – writing will be missed.

This reporter, who in 2017, was awarded first place for his columns on food writing by the American Association of Alternative Newspapers, has lived in St. Louis, Chicago, Munich and Bordeaux.

He just moved to Hampton Roads on the East coast to become the Food Editor for the Virginian Pilot. It’s Virginia’s largest daily newspaper.  His excellent writing will be missed in Portland. 

As can be seen by viewing his first two months of columns in Virginia, he continues his interesting and creative, if not somewhat unhealthy lifestyle, writing about bars and restaurants on the East coast. For example, his May 26th column was entitled and ends the first paragraph with this sentence.  “I sacrificed my own health to try hot wings at 22 spots all over Hampton Roads and picked the best.”

But you can see below, his praise of The Standard was unwavering through the years:

Bartender Tyler checks the reflection…

2014: “The Standard is what it says it is, ‘A neighborhood standard.’”

2015: “But The Standard is pure of heart, from its owner through its bar staff through the longtime patrons who took up a collection to buy a scooter for the retiring cook and bartender…” 

Friendly staff appreciated by the regulars.

2016: “It’s the best little bar in Portland, and I won’t hear otherwise.”

2017: “The bar is cheap, no-nonsense fun in a way that takes all comers and yet is loving towards its long-time regulars.  These days in Portland that makes The Standard not very standard at all.  It makes it a GD treasure.”

The Standard has a wide variety of games and was even recognized in the website “Four Square Lists” as one of “The Best Fifteen Places for Bar Games in Portland.”   And it has a bunch ranging from Big Buck Hunter to the traditional Pac Man to pool tables to classic pinball games including Terminator 3.

Classic pin-ball machines to Big Buck Hunter

Last Call – Not in the Top 50 but…..

It even has a video puzzle arcade game named “Last Call.”  While not on the list of the Top 50 which includes classics such as Trash Panic, Tetris Attack and Super Scribblenauts, it will probably keep you interested and occupied??!!

Or you can pick one of the many “treasures” in a vending machine that has everything from old Playboy Magazines to heart-shaped sunglasses to Nutter Butter candy bars to a mystery package which says “Porn Pin – Probably.”  

(The only similar machine I’ve seen in eight years and visiting 120 Portland bars, was at Slab Town – a NW PDX dive bar with a once stellar reputation as an old-school rock and roll venue visited by Thebeerchaser in 2013).

Unfortunately, it became one of the classic Portland bars which poured its last PBR and hosted its last concert in 2017.  In the Slab Town vending machine, you could even buy guitar strings and drum sticks – not the kind you eat……!

On the left “Porn Pin – Probably”

You can also have your picture taken in one of those old-fashioned photo booths.

 

 

 

Visiting The Standard that day with me were Beerchasing regulars, Jack Faust and Jim Westwood, both former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter based on their compelling stories. They did outstanding appellate work during their careers at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and Stoel Rives respectively.

From left – Shannon, Charlie, Chuck Jack and Jim

In addition, three other friends added to the late afternoon gathering – Charlie Faust, a mortgage loan consultant and Jack’s son; Chuck Mitchell, another retired attorney and a trial lawyer who showed skill in the courtroom and Shannon Asato, who works in the Accounting Department at the Oregon Food Bank.

Shannon was the only Beerchasing neophyte and her good humor and competence when she worked with me for a number of years at the Schwabe law firm, made her a welcome addition to our crew.

“Standard” would not be an apt description for the exterior of the bar, and you might drive or walk right past it if you weren’t deliberately seeking it – in fact, Jack Faust was focused on joining us and drove past anyway.  He then called his son to find out where we were and took static for his lack of punctuality when he got there.  (Of course, he parked, before dialing his cell….)

A great covered patio for all seasons….

You walk in through the covered patio, which is vaguely reminiscent of the days before Oregon’s smoke-free legislation passed in 2008 and the interior of every dive bar had a hazy, smoke filled environment, which would be hazardous for anyone without pristine lungs. (The smoke was pretty minimal, however.)

Individuals and groups sit at the picnic tables chatting or working on computers – often accompanied by their dogs and drink cheap beers or stiff well drinks.

“Abbreviated” shuffleboard

The inside of the bar is also spacious and filled with the type of stuff which endears us to this type of venue.  Besides the old-style pinball machines and games, a pool table and a curiously-short shuffleboard, there are old beer signs, tacky art, an idiosyncratic (or bizarre) cracked mirror the full length of the bar behind it and, well, just a lot of stuff that makes you feel at home….

Careful – they sneak up on you….

There are too many features at The Standard to name them all including Jello Shots for $1, alcoholic Slushies, Sunday craft beers for $3, and a Crappy Book Club – “Bring your crappy books, and trade them for other crappy books!” 

And like a number of storied watering holes, the bar is a community unto itself.  For example, there’s traditional Christmas decorations in season (also Santa Claus horror movies), an annual Chili Cooking Contest – the proceeds in 2018 went to Friends of the Columbia River Gorge – a Kentucky Derby Party and occasional golf tournaments – the proceeds last year went to the Oregon Food Bank.

Call for schedule of Santa horror movies

Another distinguishing characteristic is a noticeable affinity for Hamm’s Beer.  This is manifested in its Wednesday all-day $1 Hamm’s pints, numerous logos and a notable stuffed “Hamms’ Bear” over the bar wearing a Portland Trailblazer jersey.

Trailblazer fan from Wisconsin

An affinity for Hamms

Don’t forget the sign on the two unisex bathrooms stating, “One at a Time,” possibly a concern that those imbibing in the $1 brews or jello shots may think they can join the “Mile High Club” without leaving terra firma. 

And I don’t think you will ever see The Standard take the appalling route of one of Portland’s other bars – Saraveza.  In 2015, perhaps to be trendy as quoted in New School Beer on 11/5/15:

“‘For seven years we have honored the world of domestic beer by always pouring a pint of Hamm’s alongside some of the best craft beers in the world.

It was important to me to acknowledge the industry that created a springboard for our recent craft beer revolution,’ said Sarah Pederson, owner of Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern. ‘Breakside’s Wisco Tavern Beer does the same thing for us, but with a new twist that we are proud to stand behind.’” (emphasis supplied)

Really???  (Maybe you want to change, Sarah, but don’t suggest that Breakside can replace Hamms!)

Founded in 1865 as compared to 2010….

The last time, I had a draft Hamm’s on tap was at a wonderful bar – The Coyote Road House, in Door County, Wisconsin.  That’s right next to the “Land of Sky-Blue Water” which is home to the Hamm Brewery, founded in 1865 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Another place to get Hamms on Tap

Now, when Faust and Westwood first got to The Standard, the practice ingrained in them for so many years — each worked in  different high-rises owned by Standard Insurance — got the best of them.  Both took out legal pads and started billing time as they drank their $1 Hamm’s.

The Standard Insurance Center – home for Westwood at Stoel Rives

Since Chuck Mitchell worked in a small plaintiff’s firm in Clackamas County, he took a more relaxed approach and talked the other two into just considering this a pro-bono engagement.

Mitchell on the left advocates pro-bono

And Jack always gets a kick each time the famous French opera bearing his name comes to Portland.  This time it was Portland Opera’s three and one-half hour rendition of French composer, Charles Gounod’s, “Faust,” in June.

In a deal with Mephistophele’s – the Devil, (a baritone in the opera), the protagonist, Faust, trades his soul for a chance at a second youth and the prospect of seducing a beautiful young maiden,

Mephistopheles is a baritone…

Charlie Faust became worried when he heard his father, quoting some lines from the opera, to wit:

“When will death free me from this burden?  I curse happiness and knowledge, prayer and faith.“ 

We had to convince the younger Faust that his dad was not depressed, but just showing his erudition and cultural refinement in addition to his tendency to share his philosophy on the human condition, temptation, redemption, Goethe and the Oregon Supreme Court’s latest opinion on the Gun Control Initiative.

But we digress….The Standard is not going to be your go-to place for quality pub food.  It’s line-up is limited and confined to items such as chips and salsa, a few sandwiches, mini-corndogs and fried ravioli(?)

Limited but cheap selections

They also have a drink special every day which includes the aforementioned Hamms’ special on Wednesdays.

Daily Drink Specials

The Standard was a great addition to the bars I have visited and all of us gave it a thumbs- up.

And you have to look hard for a social media review which is critical.  Almost all reviewers love the character, sense of humor and charitable heart of this saloon.  The few critical ones seem to be malcontents who didn’t like the service – kind of an anomaly when it is a self-service bar or maybe a bartender wasn’t as friendly as they would have liked.  Or take this one going back to 2012.  (I guess that’s not too bad…..):

“I have a hard time with this review. The location is really good and the people seem really cool. On the other hand their well rum was by far the worst rum that I have been in near proximity with.”  (Yelp – 4/9/12)

Now Portland has over 700 bars, breweries and taverns, but if you haven’t been to The Standard, you should remedy that.  And it does redefine the meaning of the word “standard” as there is nothing ordinary or typical about it.

While they have some good craft beer on tap, in the interest of history and honoring the character of this bar, belly up to the bar and ask Tyler for a draft Hamms’.   If it’s Wednesday, it will only set you back $2 – a buck for the beer and a buck for Tyler. 

The Standard         14 NE 22nd Ave.     Portland

Jello Shots – Even better with pop rocks on top…

 

Renners – “Generous Cocktails, Cold Beer and Good Food Since 1939”

Multnomah Village is a small community with a bustling, albeit small business district about five and one-half miles south of downtown Portland.   It was annexed by the City of Portland in the 1950’s.  “The community developed in the 1910’s around a depot of the Oregon Electric Railway.” (Wikipedia)  For many years, it’s been relatively off-the-radar except for those who like to visit the Annie Bloom’s Books or O’Connor’s Restaurant – a nice little bistro owned by Montana natives who have been serving good food for the last twenty years.

The Ship – just around the corner in the Village….

It is also home to one of Thebeerchaser’s favorite dive bars – The Ship Tavern – reviewed in 2012. https://thebeerchaser.com/2012/12/10/all-hands-on-deck-at-the-ship-tavern/.

Based on my two recent visits, I have added another memorable dive bar to my list of favorites – Renner’s Grill and Suburban Room, a well-known watering hole that’s been around since 1939.

Don’t be misled by the title and most notably the words “Suburban Room”  – the “Room” is a small, dark chamber in the back of the bar to which many of the regulars gravitate.

The Inner Sanctum..

And Renner’s for years had a reputation for being a tough place with stiff drinks and regulars who don’t welcome strangers.  In fact, one person told me that it was the hangout for those who were too tough or unrefined for The Ship.

Photo courtesy of Keith Watkins, Religious Historian *1

The Village has changed, however.  It’s becoming gentrified and a great location given its proximity to Portland yet largely retaining its small-town ambiance.  Property values have soared, there are new stores and restaurants e.g. a Lucky Labs Pub, in an old building that used to be a Masonic Temple. It’s now a challenge to find a parking place even on a weekday evening.

Renner’s has also changed, as you will see below, however, it has definitely retained it’s character and ambiance.  This excerpt from a May 23, 2017 Willamette Week review describes it well:

“…..This little hole-in-the-wall tucked among the century-old buildings of Multnomah Village is the epitome of a dive bar, minus any of the pretension about being a dive bar you’d get closer to the center of the city.

It’s dark, it’s a little gritty, it takes forever to get a drink, Fleetwood Mac is somehow always playing and the food is greasy in the best way possible……The wells are a dollar instead of the drafts, and as every night, they’re the strongest you’ll get west of the river.”

The  Multnomah Villager blog quoting the Portland Tribune in October 2005 stated, in part,:

“Renner’s is built into the side of a hill. It feels like the dining car on a Depression-era train, and it’s about that big. A lunch counter and a few raised booths fill the front.

….. Art deco lamps hang from the uneven  …….The back wall is lined with photos, like the signed celebrity photos in many historic dining rooms. But here they are all pictures of loyal customers.”

Renners regulars from years past

Even the sometimes cynical  Portland Barfly opines:   ”With some sixty-odd years under its belt, Renner’s vintage charms beckon a surprisingly diverse array of regulars. It’s a shining example of the endangered neighborhood bar.”

A distinctive and historic sign

As one approaches Renner’s, the sign, which looks similar to an old Rexall Drug Store sign, beckons you into what is a very tight and intimate space – very different than some of the spacious classic dive bars reviewed previously on Thebeerchaser such as Gil’s Speakeasy or Bar of the Gods.

But Emmie, the cordial bartender, who is a McMinnville girl like Thebeerchaser’s spouse of 37 years, gives a friendly “hello” and expertly goes through the list of eight drafts and six bottled beers available in addition to three Tall Boys – Ranier, PBR and Rolling Rock.

A good selection of beers

There are about eight or nine seats at the semi-circular bar and three booths with black vinyl seats in the front part of the bar with historic photos or newspaper articles on the walls of each.  The first time there, I was accompanied by Beerchaser regular Walt Duddington

Walt is a veteran of such bars such as the Lutz Tavern and more recently, Ancestry Brewing.  Walt had a draft Total Domination IPA from Ninkasi Brewing and I couldn’t resist a PBR Tall Boy.

Walt Duddington on the first Renner’s visit

We talked to a nice guy named Steve Potter, an insurance adjuster and also chatted with two personable chaps who were in their coveralls and had just finished the day installing and maintaining HVAC systems.  Their customer base includes a number of bars in Southeast Portland – nice fellows and typical of dive bar regulars.

On one of the two big screen TV’s, we watched part of the first round of the NBA draft wondering if General Manager, Neil Olshey, would pull off some kind of miracle to allow the Blazers to exceed the fifty-win threshold in 2018 and garner another trip to the playoffs.

Or alternatively, draft a tall, skinny kid from the WCC who wasn’t a starter the entire year before he turned pro…. maybe he should have opted for a Migration Brewing’s Terry’s Porter for his first draft choice (ABV: 6.7% IBU:42: Roasted chocolate malts with hints of herbs and coffee)

A draft while watching the Draft – NBA style…

The next trip to Renner’s was for both beer and dinner with another veteran Beerchaser, my brother-in-law, Dave Booher.  He has also accompanied me on two three-and one-half day Beerchasing fieldtrips  through Central and Eastern Oregon in 2013 and the Central Oregon Coast in 2014.

Dave, the Tapman on the Oregon Coast

Dave and I started with a beer at the bar and  then moved into the Suburban Room for dinner which I was anticipating with additional salivary gland adrenalin after talking for twenty minutes on my first trip with Josh, the co-owner, who also bears the moniker, “Uncle Stumpy.”

Emmie and Josh make you feel at home…..

 

Josh, has been the co-owner for  2.5 years although he has worked at the bar since 2010.  He is also a partner in another bar with great atmosphere in the Barmuda Triangle in Southeast Portland – the Hawthorne Hideaway which Thebeerchaser reviewed in the first full year of the journey. 

https://thebeerchaser.com/2012/03/26/the-hawthorne-hideaway-amiable-alliteration/

Now one of the characteristics of many dive bars is cheap but not succulent food.  One doesn’t expect a Steak Diane with your $2.00 PBR.  For example, given the cost, I was happy with my Friday Special of Sloppy Joes and Chips for $1.50 at Gil’s Speakeasy, but it didn’t rank up there with the faire at some of Portland’s fine restaurants.

Gils Speakeasy Sloppy Joe is typical of dive bar grub

However, Uncle Stumpy has aggressively worked to make Renner’s menu attractive and the food one orders from that extensive document is superior and something that makes his clientele want to return.  (I have not used the word “clientele” previously in a blog post about dive bars…..).  Josh speaks with pride about his bar and stated

“Renner’s is 5.5 miles from downtown Portland, but it might as well be 100,” Josh asserts. 

His goal is to “maintain the dive bar experience, but offer superior food from scratch and a neighborhood bar charm.”  So far, he is succeeding.  As evidence I offer our dinner experience and these recent reviews from social media:

Cozy bar with INCREDIBLE food. Seriously, Renners has managed to elevate pub food to a whole new level. Their buffalo chicken thighs are so good (yes thighs not wings). I haven’t tried anything I didn’t like!”  Yelp 5/7/17

They even have started a quality breakfast which is worth a trip:

This historical bar serves a whoppin’ size breakfast that’s really good! Old menus and photos adorn the walls and good old village folks like the happy hour too!”  Trip Advisor 8/12/15

This is just the specials……

Take a look at the five entree’s available during BBQ Month the night we were there, a number of which rotated during the week.   These are supplemented on the regular menu by thirteen burgers including an elk burger and a peanut butter bacon burger which should probably be avoided unless your nickname is “Skippy.” 

Outstanding onion rings

There’s also seven hot dogs and eight sammies from which to choose including “Connor’s Cardiac Arrest” which should come with its own defibrillator given the ingredients including brisket, pulled pork, bacon and barbecue sauce on a ciabatta bun.  And if you’re not up for dinner, there are seven Happy-Hour items ranging from fries to tacos, cheeseburgers and sliders.

The Taman pleased with his Hangar Steak dinner

The Tapman opted for the Hangar Steak with corn-on-the-cob, fries and cole slaw ($15.75) and I honed in on the Bison Meatloaf Sandwich ($14.75) and upgraded to some wonderful onion rings.  Dave said it was the best hangar steak he had eaten in Portland and my sandwich was excellent and large enough that it made a good follow-up lunch.

There were a few scattered and minor complaints about the bar on social media including the music being too loud and the pace of service:  “….the music is way too loud. It’s excessively annoying. I can’t have a conversation with the people I’m with. If I wanted to listen to music, I’d put some headphones on at home. It’s terrible. Everyone around us is yelling because the music is so loud. Bad ambiance.“ Yelp 4/15/17

However, both of us and a number of others at the bar who were over sixty, can’t hear most conversation anyway and don’t try when any kind of music is playing.

Looking out from the Suburban Room

Renner’s was filled the night we were there and Emmie did a wonderful job with our drink and dinner orders.  No complaints on what was excellent and friendly service on both visits when the bar was very busy.

This alley is grandfathered in the zoning ordinance

Overall, it was a great experience and Josh appreciates the historic ambiance provided by the turn of the 1900’s building including the small alley-walkway in between the bar and the next building.

He’s also being creative with specials and events.  Up until July, 2017, you could get a draft OR a well-drink for a buck from 9:00 PM to close.  Based on insurance issues, that was changed to $2 – still a good deal.  Or you can visit on Wednesday, which is Bingo Night and gets great comments.

And on August 21st – during the celestial event:  “All you can eat and drink during the eclipse.$25.00.”  (I didn’t check to see whether this was during the two minutes and forty seconds of totality or for the two hours and thirty-five from start to finish in which case, it could be a good deal…..)   

Start drinking and eating…..(Courtesy of R.W. Hap Ziegler)

You should take the succinct but accurate advice of this couple and hit Renner’s:

“Quaint little neighborhood dive bar.  The place looks well worn, but loved by the regulars.  Stopped in for breakfast at 7:30 AM, there were about a dozen or so other patrons scattered around.  Most were drinking and seemed to know everyone else.  So a friendly place to meet and plan your day or your mischief.“ Yelp /23/17

And perhaps your “mischief’ should include a walk around the corner with a stop at The Ship for a beer chaser after your tasty breakfast at Renner’s.

Renner’s Grill and Suburban Room

7819 SW Capitol Hwy

Multnomah Village

The bar in the Suburban Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

*1 Keith Watkins blog:  https://keithwatkinshistorian.wordpress.com/tag/james-david-duncan/  3/4/14

 

Gil’s Speakeasy – “We’re the nicest a-holes in town……”

Gil’s Speakeasy – A classic dive at the bottom of an apartment building with no sign…..

Since January 1, 2017, Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs has featured nine venues consisting of two breweries or brew pubs, four neighborhood bars, a sports bar and the Multnomah Whisky Library which really defies classification. You may have noticed that there are no dive bars in this categorization..

This is typical of a “sparkling” new brew pub.  Breakside in the Pearl

The above does not count six additional brewpubs/breweries visited, but not yet posted including the relatively new digs at Breakside’s and Ten Barrel’s Pearl District facilities and Flyboy’s new location in Tigard.

Also included is our visit to three enjoyable and classy breweries on the North Oregon Coast – Astoria’s Fort George and Buoy and the Seaside Brewery in late April.  Stay tuned in the next few months for narratives on all of these.

This (Club 21) is typical of a dive bar

One of Thebeerchasers favorite (former) dive bars – RIP Club 21

So it is fitting, and possibly imperative, to return to my favorite type of watering hole – the classic dive bar.  And the latest bar visited needs no rationalization why it fits that description.  Gil’s Speakeasy has been around since 1939 and derives its moniker from the Prohibition saloons which weren’t identified by signs or external labels.

These places that served alcohol had to stay hidden.  The regulars (and usually the cops) knew where they were, but admission was selective.

The current status of the Club 21 building – yes, that’s graffiti….

Note:  This blog has previously shared the concern about the disappearance of some of Portland’s most sacrosanct dive bars.  In this case, take a look at both a past and a more recent photo of the iconic Club 21 as the historic structure awaits demolition.  With development in SE Portland, Gil’s Speakeasy could see the same future.

Former City Club of Portland’s Interim Executive Director and now consultant, Greg Wallinger, and I visited Gil’s on my first trip to the saloon.  Greg was also on a previous successful Beerchasing event at The Rambler – one of my favorite neighborhood bars.

Our plan was to meet for a brewski at the Charlie Horse Saloon – also a dive bar which is on SE Morrison, but we were greeted with a locked door and a sign stating, “Closed for Remodeling.”

Closed for remodeling

Parking in that vicinity is a challenge and based on the picture below, which is typical of ongoing development, it’s not going to get better.

As I walked the three and one-half blocks to the Charlie Horse from my car, I remembered seeing what looked like it might be a bar on the ground floor of a large, three-story apartment building on SE Taylor.

How many parking spaces do you think will accrue to this SE PDX apartment building???

We made the return trip and I was correct.  Though it had no sign with the name of the place and only a slit-type peephole in the door, a classic neon Pabst and a Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum sign indicated that this wasn’t a coffee shop and we walked into what PDXbars.com’s Best Bars” succinctly (and accurately described) as,  Small, hard to find bar with a huge personality.”

“Small, hard to find, with a huge personality.”

Followers of this blog understand how a dive bar earns the label (and can be reminded by examining the following post) https://thebeerchaser.com/2011/09/18/analyzing-dive-bars-head-first/— but one characteristic of which I’m fond are the signs and bric-a-brac lining the shelves and much of the interior of dive bars.

In Gils’ case our favorite was, “The consumption of alcohol may actually cause pregnancy.”

As you walk in, you’re greeted to a spacious, albeit appropriately dingy, space divided by the large bar into two sections.  The bar has a wonderful and very typical collection of signs, old bottles, photos and memorabilia throughout.

On the right side is an old pool table with red felt and what is a pretty good juke box, a Big Buck Hunter video game and a classic pinball. (The Sopranos)

Big Buck Hunter included

Albums ranging from Otis Redding to Dion and the Belmonts…..

And I might add, that while dive bars have their faults, one item which seems to fit in well in most, is a good juke box.  In this case, it had a slew of albums ranging from those by Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, to Pearl Jam, Guns N Roses and even the popular vocal group from the ’50’s, Dion and the Belmonts. (The last one seems a little counterintuitive as I don’t think any of the regulars would appreciate hearing the group’s main hit, Teenager in Love even though it hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March,1959.)

The focus on the bar’s left side is a large shuffleboard game described by Willamette Week in its “2015 Best of Portland” issue:

“Shuffleboard is no longer only the sport of septuagenarians on cruise ships. With its crowded floors, greasy snacks and affordable beer, Gil’s Speakeasy has all the necessary components for a great shuffleboard experience.”

One of Portlands best shuffleboards

Another distinguishing factor is the ceiling at Gil’s which is filled with chalked comments, drawings and signatures (reminiscent of The Twilight Room visited back in 2011 – a month after I started this journey).

The ceiling at Gil’s

I asked the bartender, who was a nice woman named Katie, (or it might be KT) “Who’s Gil?” and she replied that he is the co-owner of the bar (since 2004) and her husband – Brett Gilhuly.  The couple also own the Twilight Cafe and Bar at 14th and Powell, which is a bar that hosts rock groups most evenings.

Bartender and wife of the owner, Katie, with Judd, who in one review was called, “The best bartender in town.”

When interviewed by the Portland Tribune in August 2012, about the historical lack of signage, Gil stated:

The door at Gil’s – You won’t see a sign…..

“If you could find it, you were more than welcome to come in, and if you couldn’t, find something else.” 

He followed by asserting that when he took over the bar he never gave a thought to the lack of a sign. 

Unless it was in the woman’s bathroom, I could not find the old foosball table that was referenced in some reviews. (Katie told me in a subsequent phone call that it broke down and they took it out about a month ago).

 

The Men’s Head at Gil’s

 

But speaking of toilet facilities, the men’s head was a tribute to dive bar “climate” (although not comparable to that found at the Yamhill Pub which should have been declared an environmental hazard.)

Yamhill Pub – envir.  hazard?

We ordered two beers after reviewing the twelve on tap which, of course, included PBR and Rainier, and Greg opted for Santiam Brewing’s Pirate Stout, while I had a Seaside Brewing ESB – my first of a number of future encounters with this excellent pale ale.

The beer list is certainly adequate and like most dives, at a very reasonable price.  For example, you can get a pint of PBR or Rainier for $2 or $1.50 if its Happy Hour (small pitchers are $3!)  The most expensive pint if it’s not at HH is $4.50 for quality beers such as Boneyard, Lagunitas or Oakshire

Now the regular menu at Gil’s is what you might expect at a dive bar – a few salads, chili and nine different sandwiches ranging from $7 to $9, but the really distinguishing factor is their daily specials, which are notable enough to require itemization:

The Sloppy Joe and chips – What a bargain for $1.50 on Fridays

Saturday –  Chili Dog  – $3

Monday  –  Three Tacos  $1 – also Dirty Bingo night…

Tuesday – Turkey and Mashers with Salad – $6.50 or Turkey sandwich – $5

Wednesday – Pork sliders – $1.50

Thursday – Prime Rib – $10   from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM (See note below) or French Dip – $5 all day

Friday – Sloppy Joes – $1

Tell me where you can score a better deal and the past reviews are good.  For example, this one from Yelp on 4/17/14, “In my top 5 dives in Portland. this place is great. drinks are reasonable, strong pours, and the food is great and affordable. check out their turkey dinner. delicious, home made, cant be missed. place is cozy.”

As we look at the prime rib special, take a look at this quote on dive bars:

“Some dives have vomit-caked toilet seats in the bathroom; others have cracked vinyl booths in the barroom.  Some have nicotine-stained murals dating back to the Depression; others have drink prices that seemingly haven’t wavered since then….”  (Seattle’s Best Dive Bars by Mike Seely – pages 9-10)

Now while the price may not be the same as in Depression days in the quote above, look at the price of the prime rib special from this review in 2010:

Been here 10+ times. Best prime rib in Portland. Thursdays prime rib with salad and bread $10.00.”

Well, if you walk in Gil’s on a Thursday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, you can still get a 6 1/2 ounce of prime rib at Gil’s for $10.00 (for which Gil is the personal cook) or up to a 16 ounce slab for $25.  (There were no recent reviews commenting on the prime rib.)

From Gil’s Facebook page

And to conclude, I asked Katie if she knew who had originated their motto, since Gil’s slogan asserts that they are “the nicest a%$ holes in town.”  She didn’t know and I thought the people I met at Gil’s were quality individuals, but to digress for a moment on a more scholarly note on what is becoming a more compelling, contemporary issue, you might want to check out a recent New York Times best seller by philosopher, Aaron James, entitled “Assholes – A Theory.”

James presents a theory of the asshole that is both intellectually provocative and existentially necessary.  What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often personally stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name.

Gil’s – great dive bar ambiance

Try as we might to avoid them, assholes are found everywhere and in multiple iterations: smug assholes, royal assholes, the presidential asshole, corporate assholes, reckless assholes. The list goes on.   Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Much as Machiavelli illuminated political strategy for princes, this book finally gives us the concepts to think or say why assholes disturb us so….”   

The above could be an absorbing topic of discussion especially while swilling a $2 pitcher of PBR with a friend.   And while you’re at it and considering the current political environment, you might want to reflect on a related best-selling tome by former (January, 2012) Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Dr. Harry Frankfurt, Princeton Professor Emeritus and author of the brilliant book On Bullshit.” 

Dr. Frankfurt in his 2005 book asserts:

The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.  And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us.  In other words, we have no theory.”

Dr. Harry Frankfurt – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2012

To remedy this sad state of affairs, Dr. Frankfurt proposes (and brilliantly succeeds):

“……..to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory analysis…..My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not.”

And in what will remain as one of the treasured pieces of correspondence related to this blog, I offer Dr. Frankfurt’s response when I informed him that he had received the title of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter:

From: Harry G. Frankfurt

Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012

To: Williams, Donald

Subject: RE: Hello Dr. Frankfurt

Dear Mr. Williams,

First of all, thank you for the honor of naming me the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Quarter.  I have looked at the blog in which you announced my receipt of this distinction, and I was impressed by its wit, its charm, and its erudition.  Also, I enjoyed the pictures.  I intend to follow your blog regularly.  Anyhow, thanks very much for writing.  Sincerely,  Harry Frankfurt

________________________________________

From: Williams, Donald [DWilliams@schwabe.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Subject: Hello Dr. Frankfurt

Dr. Frankfurt, during your distinguished career as a professor and an author, you have undoubtedly received many honors and much acclaim. I would like to inform you about one additional plaudit, although it pales with those previously received. You were named the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Month on my blog www.thebeerchaser.com<http://www.thebeerchaser.com

One of my lawyer friends in the firm gave me a copy of your book, On Bullshit a few years ago and I loved it. While I could be described as a purveyor of bullshit at times during my tenure at the firm, I did not often have the opportunity to write creatively. Memos regarding law firm statistics, strategic planning and operational issues tend to be on the dry side. My blog has been a wonderful chance to remedy that and I wanted to share some excerpts from your book with my followers in the context of an essay, which I tried to relate to my bar tour and the presidential election cycle.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of your works now that I am retired and thank you for the hours of enjoyment I got from reading your book and sharing its wisdom with others.  Sincerely,   Don Williams

“Blow Before You Go”

And if you get too enthused in your discussion and are concerned that you drank too much beer in too little time, there is a breathalyzer right by the door to determine whether you need to catch a cab for the ride home. (“Wait 10 minutes after last drink for best results….”)

Regardless of whether you want to talk about a best seller, mingle with friends, have one of their daily specials or just have a pint of Rainier and reminisce about the good old days, you should drop by Gil’s Speakeasy, one of Portland’s venerable watering holes.

Gil’s Speakeasy         609 1/2 SE Taylor

Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive

Thebeerchasing group - minus Cheryl Rath at Bill Rays on MLK Blvd.

Thebeerchasing group – minus Cheryl Rath at Bill Rays on MLK Blvd.

When I saw the March 9, 2016 Portland Mercury article entitled, “Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive: A Springboard for Bad Decisions,” I knew I had to make this great dive bar, the next stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs.

P1040531And one of the distinct pleasures of my Beerchasing hobby, has been sharing most visits with companions who like beer but perhaps concurrently have poor judgment as evidenced by the three gents in the picture above.  The photo also affirms the assertion of the Mercury reporter who also gave some evidence – the best example:

In ’47, two men hailed a Broadway Cab outside its doors, produced a revolver and submachine gun, and forced the young driver to whisk them to the hinterlands of SE 145th and Foster. They argued—drunkenly—about who should tie up the cabbie. They fled with the cab.

The trio in the photo above are Brian (Brain) King and Brien Flanagan, members of the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Natural Resources Group and John Mansfield, an intellectual property lawyer, who has his own firm – Mansfield Law is on the right.  Cheryl Rath, also a lawyer, joined us on the great patio in the back of the bar, but not in the picture is an Assistant Professor of business law, sports law and sports management in the Business School at Concordia University besides practicing law at her firm, Rath Legal.   More about this quartet after some of the scoop on Bill Ray’s:  P1040536

“Billy Ray’s has occupied that long, skinny building only since around the turn of the millennium….., but the ghosts of those past dives—of Marv’s, and the Montana, and who knows how many others—still clatter their empty mugs against the copper bar top. For me, it is the Portland dive bar…….

B. Ray’s is still maddeningly, charmingly a cash-only establishment that refuses to serve decent food (take your pick from an assortment of TV dinners, peanuts, or chips), although they welcome any outside fare you might bring in. The Medieval Madness pinball table upstairs is still somehow working. The re-entry policy—’You may re-enter Billy Ray’s once per day’—is still in force, and ‘Surfin’ Bird’ is still on the jukebox. The smell of stale beer still hits you well before you walk in.” (Excerpt from March 9, 2016 Portland Mercury article)

Having fought Portland’s ugly traffic, which redefined the meaning of gridlock (By the way, Mayor Hales, “Better Naito” doesn’t work…..) I was late.  Brian King, however, concerned about his carbon footprint and also based on his premise, “You meet very nice people on the bus after dark,” took the MLK Tri-Met Line 6 both to the bar and back to the firm late that evening.

An intellectual crew with Thebeerchaser logo.

An intellectual crew with Thebeerchaser logo.

After walking through the long, narrow and dark bar interior, I joined the others  on the patio. Brian and Cheryl were downing Tekate in cans, and I asked them why they didn’t try one of the four beers on tap (PBR, Jonny Utah Fresh Hops from Georgetown Brewing in Seattle, Lagunitas IPA and Worthy Easy Day Kolsch).

Only four beers on tap, but a lot of options in cans...

Only four beers on tap, but a lot of options in cans…

Brain responded for both of them:

“Based on the Presidential campaign, we empathize with our Mexican friends, and if Trump is going to build a wall, we think it should be with cans of our favorite Mexican beer. (empty cans I assume…)”

schwabe logo

Concern about Presidential candidate bias.......

Concern about Presidential candidate bias…….

 

 

I might add that all four lawyers were at Schwabe while I served as the Chief Operating Officer and the firm, besides having excellent lawyers, is known for its amiable culture and sense of humor.

For example, Mansfield, who last went Beerchasing with me at Church (where the bar’s motto is, “Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent”) suggested we again pin a copy of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses on the entrance to Billy Ray’s.  Not to be denied, he argued that since Billy Ray’s was on Martin Luther King Blvd. it would still be appropriate.  

"Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent and remember the 95 Theses

“Eat, Drink, Pray, Repent and remember the 95 Theses

Although many IP lawyers have undergraduate degrees in Physics, Mathematics, Chemical Engineering or other hard sciences, Mansfield is more culturally refined having received his degree at the U of O in Music (theory and composition) before earning his Masters in Political Science at Portland State and finishing his education with his law degree at Cornell where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

He tried to show his expertise in environmental topics by stating, “You know it’s not pollution or industry that is harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water.”

Spacious game room upstairs....

Spacious game room upstairs….

There were only a few people inside – more on the patio – but it’s small enough downstairs that it seemed reasonably busy.  No one was in the spacious game room upstairs with ping-pong, old fashioned pinball machines and a pool table.  Both of the bartenders I met, Mara and Tammy were friendly.

To keep things from becoming "shady

To keep things from becoming “shady

I asked Tammy the rationale for the sign about re-entry and she replied, “So we don’t have anything shady happen, although we rarely enforce it.”  I guess I’m still confused about the policy; however, I do understand why they have a cash-only policy.

Tammy - helpful and friendly

Tammy – helpful and friendly

This excerpt from the Willamette Week 2016 Bar Guide, like the Mercury article, paints a great image:

“Like Benjamin Button, Johnny Cash and Greg Oden, Billy Ray’s was born old…….. the place looks like it was left abandoned on the side of a rural highway in the 1950s and reopened by squatters who have yet to figure out how a card reader is supposed to work. In truth, its current incarnation has only been around for about a decade. ……..

The sign out front reading ‘tavern’ seems permanently on the blink, the restrooms are a scared-straight program for anyone nervous about peeing in prison, and if you order food, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate some things. All this, of course, is part of the ramshackle charm…..”

P1040538The bar is owned by Portlander, Billy Ray Lenz, and although his picture hangs in the doorway, it is not named for former Portland Trailblazer, Billy Ray Bates.

The bar actually has some interesting art, most notably, the wood mural upstairs – a map of the US which was a collaboration of fifty employees, patrons and friends and for a period hung in former Mayor Sam Adams office.

Original and collaborative art

Original and collaborative art

Now back to my companions – Brien Flanagan, although he looks very youthful, has fifteen years of experience and is the Practice Group Leader for Schwabe’s Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Practice Group.

Given his surname, you will not be surprised that his undergraduate degree was at Notre Dame and he went on to graduate from the prestigious Georgetown Law School, where he met his wife, Nooby,

Flanagan resumeHe is a skilled litigator with a great sense of humor as you will see below.  Brien has handled all aspects of the development process including permitting; investigation and remediation of contaminated property; environmental compliance, including hazardous waste management and stormwater regulations. He knows environmental regs very well and is even working on permitting a gold mine and representing a coal mine owner in federal litigation.

At firm retreats, I used to make an award for the best e-mail each year and Brien won it in 2009 after he sent an inquiry to firm personnel for a referral to help him remove two trees at his house.   His response to the inquiries was as follows:

“Because of the number of responses I got regarding the importance of trees to the environment, please be assured that I am removing his tree purely because it disturbs the view from my living room window and it drops berries onto our patio that I find annoying.

I will be replacing it with a paved impermeable cement surface and invasive non-indigenous plants that I will treat with outdated and generally illegal pesticides.”

One would think Brien would be less naïve about asking for referrals after that although I guess he thought firm management was above some of the juvenile humor when he acted upon a facetious recommendation I gave him in 2010. He had been having some concerns with his heart and asked if anyone could recommend a Portland cardiologist.

Careful on what referral you accept on this.....

Careful on what referral you accept on this…..

As background, Portlanders (at least most who followed the news) were amazed at the media frenzy on Dr. Jayant Patel, a Kaiser physician who was labeled by the media as Dr. Death because of repeatedly botching operations and performing surgeries he was not qualified to handle.

He had previous trouble in New York and “Kaiser banned him from liver and pancreatic surgeries in 1998 after reviewing 79 complaints.  The Oregon Board of Medical Examiners later cited him for ‘gross or repeated acts of negligence.”  He was extradited to Australia where he went on trial and received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to fraud.

Brien’s e-mail to me after he called Kaiser cardiology to set up an appointment with Dr. Patel stated,”The receptionist asked me if I was trying to be funny….”

2016-07-28 20.25.12Brien redeemed himself that night by recommending that we eat at Russell’s Barbecue, less than a block away from Billy Ray’s.  We had PBR in old-fashioned bottles and each of us loved the food served by our friendly waitress, Heidi Mae seen in the picture below.

2016-07-28 20.26.57I might add that I was curious about a line of about 200 people across the street from Russell’s which appeared to be outside Bunk Bar.   John Mansfield, who represents some marijuana enteprenuers, however, informed us that they were lined up to get into the Wonder Ballroom for the free concert on the Leafly Comedy Tour.   P1040542

Cheryl Rath, the other person at Billy Ray’s although she opted to “see history being made,” when rather than joining us at Russell’s, she watched Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination.

Hillary in acceptance speech while Milania in the hat listens along with Cheryl....

Hillary in acceptance speech while Milania in the hat listens along with Cheryl….

Cheryl, besides being a great lawyer and a talented professor is also an amazing athlete.  Both she and Donald Trump are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania and then she earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Management at the University of Massachusetts before graduating from law school at the U of O.

An outstanding jump shot....

An outstanding jump shot….

——-

 

 

She was named the outstanding female athlete at Penn in 1989, where she played lacrosse and basketball and had stints as Assistant Basketball Coach at both Penn and Lewis and Clark before starting law school.

And finally, just a few words about “Brain” King, who deserves more and will be addressed in a forthcoming Beerchaser post about the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Idaho.  Brian played a key role in  my two visits to that fabled dive bar.

But he is an excellent attorney in all aspects of environmental law.  As has been implied by this post, he also has an advanced, albeit irreverent, sense of humor.  If you want a great example, read the essay he wrote that was published in Oregon Live in 2009, when he and his wife were in Denmark http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2009/12/only_the_strong_survive_julefr.html

It’s about Julefrokost, a Christmas lunch normally held in December with traditional Danish foods and lots of alcohol.   It will make you laugh in your aquavit or Tekate. For example: “One of my Danish friends told me that one of his favorite Julefrokosts,  featured a tank of helium and a karaoke machine.”  

Aquavit - Skoal!

Aquavit – Skoal!

Brian “anchors” the firm’s Corvallis office – his wife is a full professor at Oregon State University where she teaches Business Law.  He went to undergraduate school at Colorado State in Fort Collins, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa notwithstanding his propensity for frequenting the same bars that Thebeerchaser found compelling when we spent ten days in Colorado.  https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/the-town-pump-fort-collins/

His law degree is from the University of Colorado and Brian’s practice focuses on environmental and worker safety law.

Brain King offers a prayer up to his favorite beverage

Brain King offers a prayer up to his favorite beverage and the gods of Julefrokost.

And Brain likes beer, admitting that he and his wife occasionally like to drink wine, but to avoid the impression that he is not loyal to the malty brew, he often puts his empty wine bottles in his neighbor’s glass recycling bin in order not to give the wrong impression.

Upon reflection, perhaps my thirty plus years working with attorneys emanated from my experience in second grade at Miami Hills Grade School in Madeira, Ohio.   I told Miss Whipple, the teacher, that I thought the characters in our reading primer – Ted and Sally and their pets, Boots and Tuffy were boring and acted like wimps, whereupon she yelled at me, “May your life be filled with lawyers!”  

That turned out to be true and has worked out pretty well.  At least she didn’t utter the curse, “May you have visions of narcissists with orange hair…..”  I think that would have made me move to Canada……

P1040533The robust juke box added to the ambiance of Billy Ray’s and overall, The Beerchaser concurs with the premise advanced by the Mercury reporter: “Billy Ray’s is a hell of a dive!”  You should find out yourself.

Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar     

2216 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.

Pausing for a MoMo of Reflection……

P1040442

My recent visit to MoMo – a bar right in the heart of downtown Portland (on SW 10th Avenue one block north of the Library) made me and quite possibly, my friend, Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, who joined me, reflect on why we didn’t make more time for this type of cultural pursuit during the earlier years of our careers.

Counselor Westwood

Counselor Westwood

Both of us worked (Jim is still billing hours as an appellate lawyer on a part-time basis at the Stoel Rives law firm) more than twenty-five years at our downtown law firms in high-rise office buildings, yet July was the first time we graced the premises of MoMo Maximo bar.  (There is disagreement on the origination of the name of this dive which has been around since 2002 and was previously a tea house.)

And the same is true for me regarding some other wonderful downtown bars within walking distance of the PacWest Center including the Tugboat Brewery, Kelly’s Olympian, Bailey’s Tap Room and the Yamhill Pub.  Thebeerchaser has reviewed all of these long-term establishments since starting this “journey” in August 2011. (The links over the names will take you to Thebeerchaser reviews)

P1040446MoMo’s is a fascinating venue, which gets mixed reviews in social media – a few very critical of staff and service levels – mostly because of its popularity and the large crowds in the bar especially on weekends.

That said, most are effusive about the expansive back patio which Willamette Week recently even included in its “Best Portland Patio Bars That Are Also Pokéstops”  – 7/12/16 W Week.  (In my mind this is tantamount to getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick…..)

Some who don’t remember the days when the interior of any bar had enough second-hand smoke to fully populate an emphysema ward, criticize the patio for the heavy concentration of smokers:P1040444

“The outdoor seating area is great, but the sheer number of smokers out there keeps me from loving this place. The patio (is) pretty large, but with so many people smoking it just fills the area and there’s no escaping it.”  Yelp 4/10/16.  We thought it was fine, however, and were sorry that we neglected to bring cigars for the occasion (see below).

Dating back to 1794

Dating back to 1794

We began with shots of one of the world’s quality scotch whiskeys – Oban.  This fourteen-year old whiskey was described in a review by the Scotch Noob blog as:

“A satisfying dessert dram. Honeyed and full-bodied, it reminds me a lot of white port, but with more bite. It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving Oban 14.”  

And it has a great tradition with the distillery in the West Scottish Highlands dating back to 1794. The rationale for the fine whiskey was to toast the memory of our mutual friend, and my colleague for many years at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm, Tim Haslach, who on July 6th lost his long and heroic battle with cancer.

Tim and Sara

Tim and Sara

An apt description of Tim as a person is the following: “He had a HUGE heart, was insanely loyal, loved his two kids completely and would have given anyone here, the shirt off his back if needed.”

Tim was also an outstanding attorney and partner:

“…an AV rated lawyer with Martindale-Hubbell, a testament to the fact that his peers considered him at the highest level of professional excellent.  He was a pioneer and giant in his field (consortia model for technology standards), known and respected internationally.  Equally important to him was his work for non-profits such as the Black Parent Initiative, Oregon Sports Authority and Jamii Moja.”  Haslach-Timothy Schwabe

But besides being a wonderful family man and a respected lawyer, his athletic achievements were notable:

“Tim was an accomplished athlete, having been an Oregon High School State Swimming Champion, an All-American Swimmer, United States Masters Swimmer, and a rugby player at Santa Clara. After graduating law school, Tim added sailing, skiing, body boarding, and golfing to his athletic pursuits.

1937257_1164769799603_7033498_nIn 1991, Tim found his way back to the pool and was part of a successful English Channel Relay Swim. He crossed the channel again in 2001 as part of the Team Gaffney Relay, which raised money for The Karen Gaffney Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and dedicated to championing the full inclusion of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.” 

The Gaffney Team after the successful swim of the English Channel.  Tim first in the back row and Karen Gaffney in the front.

TeamGaffney after the successful swim of the English Channel. Tim first in the back row and Karen Gaffney in the front.

 

13557897_1086988388016951_6531069354180020794_n

http://www.riverviewcemeteryfuneralhome.com/obituary/Timothy-Tim-Francis-Haslach/Portland-OR/1637990

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/some-reflections-tim-haslachs-professional-brad-biddle

Now while the loss of our friend was a time for reflection and toasting Tim’s memory, we also had an opportunity to celebrate a significant achievement by Jim’s son, David.

David followed his dad’s Ivy League graduate school footsteps (Jim graduated from law school at Columbia) The afternoon we met at MoMo’s, David’s defense of his Ph.D. dissertation was formally approved at Harvard Univeristy.  His area of study – Chemical Biology.

David at Brookhaven

Dr. David Westwood at Brookhaven National Lab

No, that’s not biochemistry, but try out this explanation from the Harvard website:

Chemical biology is a rapidly growing field that combines the rigor and quantitative aspects of traditional chemistry and biochemistry programs with the excitement and medical relevance of modern molecular, cellular, organismic, and human biology.”

This above photo is David at the Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, standing by the huge X-ray machine that’s about to bombard (and destroy) a microscopic protein crystal he has carefully prepared. The aim is to determine the structure of the protein from the scatter image, the better to use it for application in attacking diseased or pathogenic cells.

Now our toast to David was with PBR-filled mugs; however, I am sure that as his career progresses, he will rate an Oban salute too.

___ the friendly bartender at work

Aaron, the cordial and helpful bartender at work

Mo Mo Maximo was a good stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Pubs and Taverns.   Aaron, the bartender, was a friendly guy, the deck was superb and the maroon interior with spacious booths, pool tables and an interesting bar added to the dive-bar ambiance.

Notwithstanding the fact that Jim and I both partially rely on Medicare as our healthcare delivery system, we were not disappointed in our reception even after the admonition by this October, 2010 reviewer in Portland Barfly:

P1040448

“This place is just fine to go to if you are in your 20’s or 30’s……Anyone over 40 will probably not be wanting to come here cause its a little young.”

Perhaps this emphasis on the younger crowd explains the puzzling assertion by City Search in its description and reviews of MoMo, that “persons who like MoMo might also enjoy the Sylvan Learning Center.….??!”

And I don’t think our acceptance by the regulars was based on recognition of Jim’s celebrity status from his 1965 gig as captain of the notable Portland State College GE College Bowl team which set records on the nationally-televised program or celebrity-struck deference to his stint as a weatherman for KGW in non-prime time slots during the same era.

A young Jim Westwood with College Bowl teammates and coach Ben Padrow

A young Jim Westwood with College Bowl teammates and coach Ben Padrow (Portland State Magazine, May 2, 2005)

And if I might digress for a moment since this is a time for reflection, the accomplishents of the PSC team were notable as documented in this excerpt from the PSU archives:

“The final (championship match) score, 415 – 60 (against Birmingham Southern U.), marked only the second time a team had broken the 400 mark. Along the way to five straight wins, PSC set several College Bowl records:

Most total points scored in five games; most points scored in a single game; lowest total points scored by opponents; and most games in a row over 300. The producer of the GE College Bowl program told team members they had shown “the greatest team effort” he ever had witnessed during the more than 220 previous shows. (“Portland State and the GE College Bowl” by Clarence Hein – PDX Scholar)

Although a lot of the Mo Mo clientele are millennials, the patrons we saw appeared to personify the eclectic description way back when it opened in the fall of 2002 as described by a reporter from the Portland Tribune: “……(the lunch hour when) librarians from the downtown library come in on a break, is busy, too. Early in the evening, happy hour attracts area workers, and later in the night employees from nearby Jake’s Grill stop in for a nightcap.”

Jim used public transportation to make the return trip to his NE Portland home and assured me that he was not going to further his alcohol consumption while making part of the trip by Streetcar, thereby taking advantage of information conveyed in an August 8, 2015 Willamette Week article entitled, “Take the Portland Streetcar drinking tour. (Trolley Drunk)”.  

Portland Streetcar - A Drunk Delivery Device??

Portland Streetcar – A Drunk Delivery Device??

The journey “…..on the slow-moving, easy-riding streetcar is the perfect drunk-delivery device,” and the weekly paper’s recommended eleven stops included Mo Mo and former Beerchaser Pearl District bars Life of Riley (March 2016 review) and the Low Brow Lounge (June 2015 review).

To conclude, while the number has increased, there is still a paucity of good bars in the core downtown area and MoMo’s dark and spacious interior (described in this Portland Barfly summary) complemented by the bright and expansive patio along with friendly bartenders are a winning combination and merit a visit:

Grotto like with spacious booths

Grotto like with spacious booths

“A wondrous, jarring, thoroughly misplaced grotto remains from the former tea house, and Momo’s wisely……. left things alone beyond a few strands of Christmas lights less tacky than rakish given the context – Easter Island lounge as abandoned evidence of a once great culture utterly ignored by the natives currently in residence.”

And if you do drop by, raise a mug (or a shot glass) to the memory of Tim Haslach.

final picture of Tim

MoMo Bar Maximo        NW 10th Avenue  Portland

Life of Riley Tavern – Visit this Bar in the Pearl

P1040096

Those of you who have lived as many decades as Thebeerchaser probably remember watching William Bendix, the loveable wing-riveter at a California aircraft assembly plant, who was the star of the television show, Life of Riley, which ran for five seasons in the late 1950’s.

William Bendix and his son "Junior"

William Bendix and his son “Junior”

Only a few of the group who had a great lunch at this Portland bar recently were even born at that time.  But the majority were tax lawyers from Schwabe Williamson &  Wyatt and probably didn’t watch TV when they were kids anyway.

They were drawing images of the IRS logo with crayons, which served them well as five of the six lawyers present that day, in addition to having their law degrees and passing the Oregon State Bar went on to get an LLM – essentially a masters degree in tax law.

While Thebeerchaser’s only other experience with a dive bar in the Pearl District was less than memorable (the Low Brow Lounge), Life of Riley Tavern (hereafter LoR) was a very good venue – not only for the lunch we enjoyed, but when I returned for a beer several afternoons later.  An apt description is this one from Yelp on 3/26/2015

The upstairs bar

The upstairs bar

Amazing bar, exemplary staff. I don’t usually find myself in The Pearl but I do make it down here at least once a week because of the great service, free billiards, shuffleboard, and darts in the basement nightly.

The upstairs is nice as well, but the basement feels more homey. Both the upstairs and downstairs have great TVs for sports viewing…..the music in the basement is top-notch…..Oh yeah, they’re happy hour is ridiculously awesome.”

Good lunch-time specials

Good lunch-time specials

So let’s start with the upstairs portion of the bar – one reviewer compared it to a ‘50’s diner, which is not too far off.  There’s only a small bar and some small, round bar tables with the rest of the seating as tables for the restaurant.   In fact, I didn’t even realize that they had a great bar space downstairs until I read some of the reviews after my first visit.

Scrumptious mac & cheese

Scrumptious mac & cheese

The food is a strength.   I had a scrumptious and plentiful serving of Cajun Mac & Cheese (which required a long workout after lunch out of guilt….) and the remainder of our party of eight all were very positive about their lunches ranging from the Riley Burger to the Pulled Pork Sandwich. 

Great sandwiches too

Great sandwiches too

As Megan, our friendly server explained, “You should try our barbecue – its’ awesome,” and the traeger, right outside of the bar is well employed.   She also was justifiably proud of the fresh sauces and dressings – their own recipes and made fresh each day.  The prices are typical of Portland and a bit lower than you would expect in the Pearl.

But it’s the lower level that really defines LoR.  Down the steps into an intriguing, dark basement space with just a few small windows – it reminded me of the fallout shelters the government promoted when I was a kid.  (They also told us with sincerity during drills that we should assume a position under our desks in order to avoid the impact of a nuclear warhead…..)

Get under your desk, cover your head and kiss your *#@ goodbye."

“Get under your desk, cover your head and kiss your *#@ goodbye.”

Down to the "Fallout Shelter" bar

Down to the “Fallout Shelter” bar

And I had a great conversation with Dave, the bartender, who has been there for ten years –  a former carpenter who  helped build the bar and with construction after the current owner purchased the building …….

Dave draws rave reviews from customers and he told me about the 22 beers on tap and let me sample a few – free, which was nice after our experience at Hair of the Dog Brewpub where you had to pay from $1.25 to $3.50 for a 2 ounce sample.

He stated that his clientele includes a bunch of regulars who work in the Pearl to neighbors who show up in hordes especially when there are Blazer or Timber games or when March Madness is running.   Dave also stated that one thing that distinguishes the bar is that all the games including pool, darts and a great shuffleboard game are free.    P1040158

Almost all of the comments about LoR on social media were positive although speaking of the Timbers, a rant is in order.  It demonstrates the reason why a number of Portlanders who think soccer is boring and should be confined to Europe, also get upset at the pretentiousness of some Timber fans.

Free shuffleboard

Free shuffleboard

While this comment goes back to August 2011, here’s the remarks by a guy who trashed what he admitted was a great bar simply because of one objection – and he signed the review “Anonymous.

“What a shame. Great beer, lovely TV projection screen, decent food but totally cynical staff with the ‘no sound during a Timbers game’ attitude. Come-on owners! This is Portland, Home of the Timbers.

My friends and I were amongst the 15 people watching the game vs the 4 that were at the bar with no interest and the staff insisted that there was not enough people in the joint to put the sound of the game on. I am very disappointed with the patriotism of Life of Riley. You disappoint your patrons and you disappoint Portland. Shame on you!”

Dave, the friendly downstairs bartender.

Dave, the friendly downstairs bartender and a guy with good judgment!

No, you misfit!  Shame on you for not having the guts to even identify yourself and for your myopic perspective.

A little due diligence revealed that the Timbers played 34 games in 2011 in which they scored a total of 42 goals.  Games are 90-minutes and assuming no overtime matches (which may not be totally factual, but this is a bar blog….) that means one goal scored by the Timbers every 72.86 minutes.

This begs the question, “What would the narration have added in a game that probably ended either in a scoreless tie or one with fewer than two goals scored?” (That’s a rhetorical question….)  I think this rant is justified especially in light of one other comment on Yelp“……… music in the basement is top-notch and suited for whatever crowd may be in at the time.”

Cheers to the 2009 Oregon Legislature.

Cheers to the 2009 Oregon Legislature.

One other very dated and interesting complaint from Portland Barfly dating clear back to 2008, again demonstrates the wisdom in the Oregon Legislature’s 2009 expansion of the Oregon “Smoke-free Workplace” Law which provided that bars and taverns could no longer permit smoking on or within ten feet of the premises.

“I visited Life of Riley for the first time this friday night, my friend and I hung out downstairs because I love smoky dens. It was a pretty cool place – the servers were quick and friendly and stayed on top of things even though it was packed. The drinks were good and strong. We managed to meet some cool people……

Now I hate it when people bitch about how smoky bars are and… I am a smoker and I love smoky dives, but holy shit!! This was by far the smokiest space I have ever been! Our eyes were burning! And this feeling lingered the next day. My advice to the owner: crack a few windows when it gets that busy….. You gotta have a little more circulation in there.”

Thebeerchaser appreciates this law because having reviewed about 175 bars since late 2011 – many of which I visited multiple times, my health and possibly my lifespan would have been adversely impacted by the second-hand smoke, especially given my preoccupation with dive bars.  The tobacco lobby at the time, taking lessons from the NRA in opposing reasonable legislation, maintained:

“Cigarettes don’t kill people.  It’s the tars, and toxins in the smoke.”  

Upstairs bar area

Upstairs bar area

Look back at the comments from a prior post in this blog (check the link below) to see what the pre-2009 bar environment was like:

The Horse Brass Pub: “We worried that (the new law) would spell the end of …(the) venerable Brit Pub…Not because the 33-year old bar…wouldn’t retain its loyal patrons, but because we assumed its billowing, milkshake-thick clouds of cigarette smoke were load bearing structural elements of the building without which the sprawling pub would collapse.”  (“2009 Willamette Week Drink Guide”)

And finally, a couple of comments about my companions at LoR. Now one might think that tax lawyers, especially those who have over-achieved and gotten their LMM, might be boring company,  but they are a great and interesting group.

Interesting companions...

Interesting companions…Woodhouse, Reuter, Van Zanten and Eller

Roy Lambert, now retired, is an active masters competitive swimmer with some regional records.  In retirement, he audits courses in medieval and Renaissance history at Portland State.

Marc Sellers, besides majoring in chemistry as an undergrad, he was the first attorney in the U.S. to obtain an award of attorney fees against the Internal Revenue Service under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. 

This courtroom mentality may have been derived from his dedication to martial arts for many years where he competed at regional and national championship levels.  He was also an accomplished mountaineer and volunteer in mountain rescueand for years was a member of Mt. Hood Mountain Rescue.

Sellers - skilled litigator with a dry sense of humor

Sellers – skilled litigator with a dry sense of humor

Besides that, Marc has a remarkable sense of humor which he regularly demonstrates on firm e-mails such as the following:

“This week’s Tax Department Employee of the Week is Peter Osborne. Peter was recently recognized by Firm Management as the ‘Lawyer Most Likely to Get the Correct Answer’ with respect to issues arising under Internal Revenue Code Sections starting with the number three.”

Haystack Rock by Pete Osborne.

Haystack Rock by Pete Osborne.

Pete Osborne, who was accompanied by his spouse,Terri, is described by his colleagues as one of the smartest, if not the smartest, tax lawyer in Portland.  On occasion, he has been known to return to Portland with both a big smile and winnings from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas – Senior Division….   He’s also a talented artist.  (See another of his works in the post about Brannons’ in Beaverton.)

Osbornes etching of the Three Sisters

Osborne’s etching of the Three Sisters

Jennifer Woodhouse, besides being fluent in Spanish, is a mentor at Lewis & Clark Law School where she graduated cum laude and leads Schwabe’s Women in Business group

Dan Eller received the prestigious Joyce Ann Harpole Scholarship and other law school honors at Lewis and Clark.  He is an skilled outdoorsman and cyclist and frequently cycles around the base of Mt. Bachelor – active in numerous civic boards and a scout leader for his kids.

Even the Tax Group endorses Thebeerchaser logo

Even the Tax Group endorses Thebeerchaser logo

Katherine Van Zanten is an avid skier and a girl scout leader for her kids.  Also active in the Oregon State Bar Tax Section.

And don’t forget one of Portland’s best legal secretaries, Gretchen Reuter, who has the technical expertise, interpersonal skills and patience to manage the workload of several of these people concurrently.

Having lunch with the Tax Group was enjoyable.  And Life of Riley is a really good bar with good food, a friendly and knowledgeable staff (with enough common sense to mute the sound during a sporting event to play great music) and an awesome cellar that you won’t find too many places in Portland.

Life of Riley Tavern 300 NW 10th Ave