63 Things Every Portlander Must Do

Must Do: Become a Fan

Become a fan of Portland's home teams, from mainstream sports to more alternative arenas.

By Karen Brooks July 15, 2010 Published in the August 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

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Steven Price with (from left) Bleeda Ford, Rhea Derange, Honey Hellfire, Scratcher in the Eye, Mobi-Wan-Kanobi, Cadillac, and Smack Ya Sideways at Oaks Park roller rink.

Watch the Brutal Beauties

STEVEN "SKIPPYSTEVE" PRICE has long been drawn to “the far end of the bell curve” of society as a criminal defense lawyer and then a judge for the Washington County Circuit Court. But in his spare time, Price walks an even wilder side with the Rose City Rollers roller-derby league. The six-year-old league is the country’s largest, with more than 180 skaters filling rosters for teams like the Break Neck Betties and the Heartless Heathers. Price is the league’s most ardent photographer (the Pearl District’s Visage Eyewear is featuring his work from August 5 through October 6), and he sits on the Rollers’ board, chairing (no surprise) the Code of Conduct committee.


1. Get a good seat: Whether at the Expo Center or Oaks Park, sit at the starting line—preferably next to someone wearing an “Ask me about derby” T-shirt.

2. Learn the strategy and tactics: What may look like a free-for-all is really full-contact chess on wheels. The skaters in the helmets emblazoned with stars are the “jammers” who score the points, but no less important are the “blockers.”

3. Enjoy: “Roller derby,” observes Price, “is one of the few venues where women can openly express both their athleticism and their femininity.”

Earn Your Stripes in the Timbers Army

SHAWN LEVY—noted film critic for the Oregonian, Rat Pack expert, and lauded biographer of Hollywood hero Paul Newman—is also an obsessed soccer fan, complete with his own well-trafficked global soccer blog (twitter.com/worldisround). He is a senior soldier in the Timbers Army, that merry band of rowdies (and, yes, soccer moms) who fill PGE Park for every home game played by the Portland Timbers. Loud, savage, and hilarious, the gang is 3,000 strong and growing, especially with the anticipation of Major League Soccer coming to the town in 2011. It’s one big, open-armed, grassroots, earnest, anarchistic family, complete with hymnals, streamers, and smoke bombs. New recruits are warmly welcomed.


1. There’s no membership, fees, or initiation rites. Just buy a ticket, show up, and wander into the madness.

2. Find the Timbers Army table in the concourse and grab a sheet of chant lyrics.

3. Stand—always stand—sing, clap, laugh, and, above all, root for the home team.

4. Buy the Timbers’ “No Pity” scarf at the merchandise trailer at SW 20th Avenue and Morrison Street. It’s only $10, and sold at cost—never in stores—in typical Army spirit.

5. Sing “You Are My Sunshine” in the game’s 80th minute and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” in the 85th.

Tune In to Your Inner Motor Skills

LARRY VOLLUM is the quintessential Portland eclectic—on steroids. Two years ago, the industrial designer invented the NuBOOM, a revolutionary video and equipment manager that transforms a standard hospital operating room into a state-of-the-art theater. But beyond work, he has two passions: zeroing in on top-flight solo piano concerts and driving a Formula 1000 race car. What’s the connection? "Racing requires a level of focus, intensity, total commitment, doing something powerful on a physical level," says Vollum. "So does live concert piano—I like to see where these performers are going to take us." And in Portland, it’s easy to find out. More generous than a college student downloading music for friends, Vollum welcomes visiting concert pianists for workouts at his rural retreat, a family tradition passed on by his pioneering parents, Tektronix co-founder Howard Vollum and leading philanthropist Jean Vollum. But in his winged, tree-frog green colored car he’s all solo. "The track is the perfect vehicle, so to speak, to learn how to drive in fun but appropriate ways," he says. "I’m not running red lights and screaming around town—do that on the track."


Portland Piano International: Great hall, great performers, affordable prices. But most important, solo piano recitals are increasing rare. "Portland is about local, sustainable food culture," he says. "This is the opposite: selecting from the best in the world and creating a robust piano culture here." The season opens October 10 with Joaquin Achucarro, the venerable Spanish pianist, as expressive as a Goya painting. $14-54. Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway. portlandpiano.org

Portland International Raceway: From late-night drag races to weekly bike races, PIR has something for almost anyone on wheels. For Formula fantasies, however, Vollum suggests the many car clubs. "It’s driver education made fun. You can’t go up on the hills and learn what you can learn on the track." portlandraceway.com

Join the Cross Crusade

UNDER THE PRESSURES of co-founding and directing programs for P:ear, a downtown homeless youth support center, Beth Burns developed a pack-a-day cigarette jones. A natural athlete, she found she could still compete in triathlons—as long as she got her pre-race puffs. But after attending just one meet of the Cross Crusade, Portland’s crazed wedding of cyclocross and community, Burns found a new addiction. Soon she was on a bike in the mud, nicotine patch in place. Three years later, she’s one of the regulars helping the Crusade remain the largest regular gathering of cross bike racers in the country. The beauty of the Crusade’s success, she says, “is you don’t have to be good at it.” Mountain bikers aren’t afraid to look clumsy. Unicyclists and sometimes even dogs race. On Halloween, everyone competes in costume. “Cyclocross has changed my life,” says Burns. “There’s such a sense of community, and it’s all about enjoyment.” Indeed, she’s only rarely smoked since.


1. Show up. There’s a beer garden (even in the morning). Bob’s Red Mill serves oatmeal. 


Beth Burns races in the 2009 Cross Crusade.

Image: Ryan Flood

2. Bring mud boots, serious rain gear, and a cowbell. Ringing the bell is how people root for the racers. Some are even custom-made. The ringing is constant and LOUD.

3. Borrow a bike. “That’s how tons of people get started.”

4. Keep your sense of humor and be willing to make a complete fool of yourself.

5. Get ready to get dirty. Cross Crusade starts in October when the rain—and the mud—gets thick. It’s absolutely filthy fun.

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