Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The BESTY's 2019

The final year of the first decade in this new millennium is nearing its end. Adios 2019, hello 2020. Over the last 12 months I've been fortunate to soak in my new surroundings, aka Oregon. My new home has introduced me to great people, delicious food, engaging events, weekend bike rides, and wondrous natural beauty. Whether we're kicking it in Rip City, taking journeys, swimming in rivers, or escaping to the coast, 2019 exemplified how a big change in life, can bring about new life. 

In the past I've primarily highlighted my favorite live shows or events of each year. Snapshots that serve as reminders. Life's way more interesting when you collect memories and experiences, rather than possessions or objects. Food and travel appear to me to be far more valuable than stuff. Experiences tend to be priceless; perhaps the truthful food for our soul. I am grateful to do so many things that feel invaluable. I also get to do these things with my best friend. We are after all partners in crime.

The lists below look a bit different this year; far less live music and a bit more diversity in terms of pop culture and food. The new year is an opportunity for change and growth. I'd like to think we valued that which we could change, while embracing who we are. The tenth installment of the Besty's is below. Tis the season...

Best Live Events
Design Week PDX | Screen Printing @ PNCA | April 6-13

Game 4 WCF | Warriors @ Blazers | Moda Center | May 20 

Astoria Beer & Food Walk | Astoria CO-OP, Fort George, Buoy | June 23

Port Orford | July 4th Jubilee w/ Parade, Keg Toss, Equestrian Events, Pickle Ball Tourney | July 4-7

Sneaker Week | Party PDX & The Gallery Experience w/ Music by Jazz Cats | August 10-17

PDX Adult Soap Box Derby | Mt. Tabor | August 17

Hood to Coast | Mother of All Relays | Timberline Lodge | August 23

Blazers Bike Ride w/ Bill Walton | Celebrating 50 Years & Retracing the 1977 Parade Route | Music @ Terry Schrunk Plaza w/ Garcia Birthday Band | August 25

Live Jazz @ 1905 | Two Jazz Ensembles | Fall Season (x2)

Nacho Week | PDX Restaurants | Liberty Glass & Oregon Public House | October 10-14 

Rise Up, Young One | Live Performance feat. Song, Dance and Stage Adaptation | Wasatch School | Salt Lake City, UT | November 14

Julia Jacklin | Crushing Tour | Aladdin Theater | November 20

Best Films 
1. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (Hollywood Theater on 35mm)
2. Ad Astra (Bagdad Theater)
3. Joker (Laurelhurst Theater) 

Best Meals
Ava Gene's | PDX (M's Birthday Dinner)

Screen Door | PDX (Southern Style) 

Filberts Farmhouse Kitchen | Aurora, OR (Hop Harvest Brunch)

Avenues Bistro on Third | SLC (Fresh & French Inspired)

Providore Fine Foods | PDX | (Sunday Oysters, French Pastries, Salads & Rosé)

Special Shout Outs: Liberty Glass (Old Fashions & Burgers), Life of Pie (Margherita w/ Kale & Arugula Salad), Lauretta Jean's (Pie & Irish Coffee), Fort George (Cast Iron Cookie & Beer), Grand Army Tavern (Cocktails & Italian)

As you can see, 2019 was pretty damn good to us. In addition to these great events, happenings and celebrations, we also had a best friend move to Portland. Lucky us. Here's to 2020, the year of the rat. Ring in the new year safely. 


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

So Good So Far 2019

Where has the year gone? December's in full swing and the holiday craze is creeping in on us. One way to mitigate the hustle and bustle of the season is through music. The second half of 2019 has flown by, just as some of us will be flying for the holidays. So whether you're traveling to see family, or trying to escape them, music can be the tool to help remedy the stress.

Back when the summer sun was shining I listed my favorite albums from the first half of the year. Now that we're on the back nine it's time to round out the list. With all the content available to consume sometimes the best stuff falls through the cracks. Below is a small sample of the riches that exist within the sonic landscapes of 2019.

Music soothes the soul, brings us together, and allows us a safe space to be ourselves. Enjoy the holiday season and ring in the new year with some music. So far so good. So good so far. 

Dame D.O.L.L.A. / Big D.O.L.L.A. / Aug. 9
assassin on the court and on the mic, mean bars, nasty beats, he's elite, lyrically dropped Shaq, diamonds shine brighter on some rough necks, Baggage Claim, main attraction, Ricky Bobby

Marco Benevento / Let It Slide / Sep. 20
80's vibes, Solid Gold, funky, dance to it, drip with it, Baby Don't Make Me Wait, breakdowns like nobody else, Send It On A Rocket,

Amendola vs. Blades / Everybody Wins / Oct. 11
the new duo, drums and keys, percussive, funk, jazz, Hi-Lo, outer space, earthlings, catch your breath, room to breath, Hambela

Circles Around the Sun meets Joe Russo / EP / Oct. 18
grateful, instrumental, musicianship, funky sounds, peddle effects, Get It Right the First Time, William Onyeabor meets The Band, Added Addition

Free Nationals / Free Nationals / Dec. 13
long awaited, welcome to the funk lounge, On Sight, synth-pop-gospel, Oslo, hip hop too, Cut Me a Break, everybody's welcome

Honorable Mention
Raphael Sadiq / Jimmy Lee / Aug. 23
Robert Randolph & the Family Band / Brighter Days / Aug. 23
Lana Del Rey / Norman Fucking Rockwell / Aug.30
Wilco / Ode to Joy / Oct. 4

Best Singles 
Julia Jacklin - Someday / Princess Nokia - S.H.I.T. & Balenciaga / Valerie June - Cosmic Dancer

Happy Holidays,

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

NBA Qtr. Mrk.

Spicy Nugs are still available in the NBA. Certain players have been on fire; Dončić, Dame, Giannis, AD and LeBron. Other squads will soon decide on whether or not to tinker with the recipe. Secrets will be shared and trades will be made. What will teams do as the trade date approaches?

Spicy Nuggets (aka hot takes)
1. Luka Lone Star is the best young star. He already shoots and passes better than Giannis, and he's younger than any other guy you'd build around. Luka sees plays and makes passes on an elite level, reminiscent of LeBron. It's one thing to see a pass and another thing to make it. It's an entirely different pass altogether when delivered on time and on target. Hell, only a few players in the league can even make those type of reads and he's one of them. Not only does he make plays, he makes other players better.

2. Milwaukee's the best team in the east, but I'm not confident they make The Finals. Giannis is relying on his physical tools. His numbers are even more insane than last year. He may still need to refine his skills (i.e. dribble, pass, shoot), but Giannis dominates like a young Shaq who can handle the ball. Antetokounmpo undoubtedly has that killer mentality. His infectious pursuit, limitless effort and transcendent ability courses through the rest of the roster. The Bucks play extremely hard. He rubs off on them. They don't want to let him down. Their style of play doesn't tend to translate in the playoffs. Giannis probably still needs help, or maybe he doesn't. Could the Bucks make a trade without pissing off Antetokounmpo? 

3. The Blazers make a big trade. Whiteside, and sadly Bazemore, are the obvious choices with their salaries and expiring contracts. But what if the front office gets real spicy and explores the market for CJ? They should call Cleveland for Thompson, not Love. Then they should call Minnesota and ask about Covington. Maybe target Gordon in Orlando. Let me be clear, I'd prefer to keep CJ. However, if the Blazers could truly get better, I'd contemplate moving him.

CJ, Bazemore and Whiteside have salaries that total $71.5 million. For that much money anything is possible within the NBA trade world. To put that into perspective, Aaron Gordon, Robert Covington and Tristan Thompson total $50 million. Portland could trade Bazemore for Gordon straight up, the money matches. Another scenario could net the Blazers Thompson and Cedi Osman in exchange for Whiteside. Or they could try to pry Covington from Minnesota. The front office in Portland needs to explore deeper than Love and Aldridge. Everyone mentions those two players, though neither are what they need. They blew up their roster this summer, they could reset it again before the trade deadline.

Another option is for the Trailblazers to go small as I've noted before. Little should start due to his energy and size on defense. He literally flies around. Simons needs to get more run too. I want the coaching staff to get creative on offense and potentially make some hard choices in terms of their defensive schemes as well. Rip City could benefit from a shot in the arm. Portland has nine wins in large part because they have Dame. Unleash a lineup of Lillard, McCollum, Little, Melo and Simons. When they need a big call upon Skal. Run opponents into the ground and battle on defense with a more switch heavy scheme. Nurkić and Collins are obviously missed, and now Hood (DAMN). May the Force be with you.

4. For as much as Ben Simmons can do, he can't shoot. At all. For someone so athletic he looks uncoordinated. His game has remained too raw for too long. He's not a max guy. I'm less inclined to care about his plus/minus regardless of what those numbers suggest. Watch the game. Philly better come to grips with the fact that Simmons and Embiid are far from being a harmonious fit.  

5. Jaylen Brown > Jason Tatum. Jaylen has a higher on-court-IQ and a better feel for the game. He also has more internal grit and fire. As the rest of the NBA gushes over Tatum's potential, I'll ride with Brown. He appears less burdened by distractions. After all, he's an incredibly smart chess player who has his ego in check.

MVP: Antetokounmpo, Davis, Dončić, Harden, James (alphabetical)

Load Management,