IN OUR OPINION the perfect party requires a diverse cast. We need both heroes and villains, movers and shakers, and at least one fool—like, for instance, Portland construction worker Matt Wilkinson, who suffered a snakebite to the tongue after putting a rattler’s head in his mouth to impress his ex-girlfriend. To assemble such an ideal troupe of revelers for our imaginary year-end bash, we combed through headlines from the past 12 months, then narrowed the list of invitees based on who made us cringe, cry or chuckle the most. Please join us in raising a glass to the people behind the good deeds and greatest gaffes of 2007. Here’s to even more material in 2008.
DAVID WU In January, U.S. Representative David Wu did his best to court the nerd vote by comparing the Bush administration to Klingons. We thought it was kind of cute, but the right-wing faction of the blogosphere was definitely not amused: One online wag referred to Wu as the Democratic representative from “Dorkville.” Ouch. Can’t we all just live long and prosper?
GREG ODEN Anyone’s knee would buckle under the weight of all the hype heaped upon our No. 1 draft pick from Ohio State. After being lauded as the Blazers’ savior, poor Greg Oden is out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair cartilage damage. Guess it serves us right for jumping on the bandwagon. (Oden’s smiling mug graced our August cover.)
JEAN AND WALT The neighbors didn’t exactly welcome tram cars “Jean” and “Walt” with casseroles when the aerial tram opened to the public in late January. While the media pointed out that the project went $40 million over budget, one irate citizen expressed his displeasure in bold letters on the roof of his Southwest Portland home, which lies beneath the tram’s route. For five days in April, passengers gazing down were privy to a scathing line of profanity that rhymes with “Duck the ram.” For their part, Jean and Walt took the high road, choosing not to respond to the tirade. In October, the busy couple transported their millionth passenger.
BONNIE TINKER In early April, a pack of fired-up grannies led by Quaker crusader Bonnie Tinker stopped incoming foot traffic at an Armed Forces recruiting center on NE Broadway and left red handprints on the windows. Six elderly activists (though not Tinker) were arrested for criminal mischief and unlawfully applying graffiti. We cannot confirm reports that bail was reduced after the presiding judge received a hand-knitted cozy for his gavel.
TONY ALPERT In October, Oregon Department of Education assessment director Tony Alpert had the unenviable job of explaining why statewide student test scores released just days earlier were, ummm, wrong (actual scores were lower). Alpert attributed the error to a programming snafu. Our guess? The computers tabulating the results came from Florida.
VELVET THE WONDER DOG This heroic hound gave Oregonians something to cheer about in February when, after sliding 400 feet down an icy Mount Hood slope with three mountaineers, she curled up atop the climbers and kept them warm for 23 hours until rescuers reached the stranded group. If only she’d been able to protect Oden’s knee.
RICK WILLIS Hallelujah to CEO Rick Wills for finding a deep-pocketed buyer for Tektronix, the 61-year-old high-tech company that seeded Washington County’s Silicon Forest. In 1975, the Beaverton-based oscilloscope manufacturer beat IBM to production with one of the world’s first desktop PCs and dominated the market until the head of R&D put the kebosh on an effort to develop an operating system. Tek, which employed 24,000 at its height in the 1980s, never quite recovered from the blunder. When DC-based Danaher forked over $2.8 billion for Tek in October, the employee roster numbered only 4,500.