Category: Portland

30 Jan

Moustache vs. Moustache, and why a person should even bother

Oregon, Portland 1 Comment by Christina Cooke

Packing the Crystal Ballroom in Portland on Saturday, whiskery men pitted their facial hair one against another at the 2012 West Coast Beard and Mustache Championships. They competed in categories that included natural mustache, chops-style mustache, freestyle mustache, full natural beard and partial beard.

In honor of the competition, which the “Portlandia” blog covered here, I’ve talked with a few men across the country about the moustachioed way of life. Nashville web developer Michael Eades, creator of Moustache May, a month-long competition in which participants grow a ‘stache and post its picture to a website every day for a month, encourages everyone with the potential to grow a ‘stache to at least try. Not doing so, he says, “is like having a pair of wings and never bothering to try and fly.”

Here’s what Eades and a few other ‘stache wearers have to say about the upper lip accoutrement:

Name: Casey Paquet
Age: 33
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Occupation: Director of Web Services for a private liberal arts college
Favorite kind of moustache: Handlebar, “because it seems to be a lost art.”
Most common reaction: “I am shocked at how many people want to touch it. A lot of folks actually swoop in to take hold of it without asking, which is rather awkward.”
Grooming regimen: “I am REALLY bad about grooming. I often say I wish I could find a moustache mentor — some old dude that could teach me the proper method of grooming.”
Why should someone grow a moustache: “For the most part, the gentleman wearing the non-ironic moustache displays an air of confidence, a willingness to take the risk that a bare chin and cookie duster poses.”

Michael Eades
Age: 31
Location: Nashville, TN
Occupation: Web developer
Favorite kind of moustache: “The Handlebar ‘stache style is absolutely my favorite. There’s a regalness to it that no other `stache configuration seems to be able to embrace.”
Hardest food to eat: “Most food isn’t that hard to eat with a properly groomed ‘stache but occasionally a good beer will find its foamy way into the trouble zone.”
Grooming regimen: “I trim the ‘stache up every few weeks to keep it free of stray hairs and to keep its overall shape. I usually apply a tiny bit of wax to it each day as well, so give it the proper curl.”
Most common reaction: “I do occasionally get hollered at by at a group of drunken frat guys who tell me it’s a ‘bitchin’ moustache.’ I take this as a compliment.”

Johnny Mayer
Age: 24
Location: Portland, Oregon
Employer: Rocco’s Bar Grill and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
Why he has a moustache: “I enjoy it. I have a good facial shape for it.”
Moustache realization: It’s not a cure-all. When I was 16 or 17, I worked at Safeway. Everyone in the produce department and upper management had a moustache. I thought if I grew one, I could advance up the ranks. But I later found out I didn’t work hard enough.”
Hardest food to eat: “Anything with sauce.”
Grooming regimen: “I trim it every once in a while when it gets scary. I don’t really take care of it. I wear it; it doesn’t wear me.”

Name: Adam Orcutt
Age: 37
Location: Northwest Indiana
Favorite kind of moustache: “I have always been inspired by the wild west, so I decided to grow a Hungarian/wild west style moustache. That is what I currently have and I think I am sticking with it for the long haul.”
What a ‘stache says about a person: “I think having a moustache tells the world the you have confidence and you take pride in how you look. I find most people that wear moustaches to be honest, outgoing, and usually up for most anything.”

Name: Jay Wiggins
Age: 39
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
The psychology of moustache wearing: “You begin with the moustache wearing you, and then you start wearing the moustache. There’s an acceptance that happens psychologically. There’s a point at which it becomes part of you.”
Most common reaction: “At baseball games and things like that, people always want to give me a high five. I enjoy that part of it.”
Hardest food to eat: “Pretty much all foods are annoying.”
Grooming regimen: “In the morning, I put a little bit of hair wax to curl it up and out. I’ll trim the lip portion.”
Why ‘staches are great: “There’s a whimsy and novelty about it.”

Name: Aaron Aninos
Age: 26
Location: Concord, North Carolina
Occupation: Graphic Design student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Why he enjoys having a moustache: “It keeps my upper lip warm during the winter, and it also serves as a
‘flavor savor’ when I’m drinking a nice frothy beer, preferably a Fat Tire.”
Hardest food to eat: “Anything with a thick and heavy sauce. Which sucks, because I’m half Italian.”
Why someone should grow a moustache: “I see growing a moustache to show that you have confidence in yourself and dedication, extraordinary managerial qualities, and in most cases you probably are a huge fan of Tom Selleck.”

The Q&A was compiled in 2010.

01 Oct

A road and its opposite

Oregon, Portland 2 Comments by Christina Cooke


Saw this caterpillar in the middle of a closed road up near the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

Aaaand, a couple more photos from a hike my mother and I took through some bearinfested territory near Craggy Gardens:


22 Sep

Chimney swift slumber party

Oregon, Portland No Comments by Christina Cooke

It’s a chimney swift slumber party every night in September at Chapman Elementary School in Portland. Since the late 1980s, Vaux’s Swifts have used the school’s smokestack as a roosting spot during their fall migration to southern Central America. As many as 35,000 of the small black birds circle the chimney each evening around sunset and then pack in to spend the night.


Chapman Elementary, at the intersection of NE Pettygrove Street and NE 26th Avenue in Portland

Some friends and I wanted to see it all go down. We arrived by bike around 6:45 p.m. and positioned ourselves among many others on the grassy hillside overlooking the school. Members of the Audubon Society of Portland stood by to loan out binoculars and answer all swift-related questions, and a neighborhood boy sold his mom’s chocolate chip cookies at a stand across the street.

Munching, we waited for the spectacle to start.

The birds arrived one or two at a time at first, but after a while, they came in droves and filled the sky. They swooped and rose, dipped and dove and eventually took up a counterclockwise direction, circling again and again above the smokestack. Then, as if on command, a segment of the flock began spiraling into the chimney like coffee grounds in a draining sink.


The birds continued funneling into the chimney on and off for about half an hour, majorly interrupted only once when a hawk swept in and picked one off. (Is fishing in a barrel really fair?)

Eventually, only a few dozen birds remained outside. The group tried diving into the chimney once, twice, three times, but without success. It was full. After a few more attempts, the birds gave up and flew west toward Forest Park to fend for themselves.

The audience applauded, and the show was over. Until the next day.

09 Sep

By the way: Byways Café

Oregon, Portland No Comments by Christina Cooke

If you’ve never been humbled by a plate of French toast, it’s time you make a trip to Byways Café, a 1950s diner at 1212 N.W. Glisan Street, right in the heart of Portland’s ritzy Pearl District. The down-home café serves a killer plate of Amaretto French Toast — four thick, fluffy pieces of brioche served with honey pecan butter and maple syrup — piled so high you’ll have to take a moment to admire before you dig in.


Good thing we split a plate between the three of us. Trying to tackle servings solo would have done us in.

The walls and glass cases above the booths in the café are filled with the type of travel kitsch your grandmother would bring you home from summer vacation — snow globes, porcelain bells, commemorative plates. The decor gives the place a comfortable, retro feel.

The counter, during a rare moment when it’d cleared out

The wait staff was friendly enough that I forgave them for not bringing me a cup of coffee until the third time I asked (once it arrived, it was good).

Also on the breakfast menu: blue corn pancakes, biscuits and gravy, all sorts of scrambles and hash. Lunch is apparently available sometimes too, and on that menu, you’ll find burgers, corned beef sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches and BLTs. Portions are hearty.

To know what’s going on at Byways RIGHT NOW, find them on Twitter at

10 Mar

More coffee talk

Oregon, Portland No Comments by Christina Cooke

It was a showdown, but rather than pistols, hot rods or decks of cards, espresso makers were the weapon of choice. Sixty of the country’s top baristas displayed their skills at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2009 Barista Championship in Portland this weekend.

I stopped by the convention center on Sunday in time to catch the top six baristas facing off in the finals (oddly enough, no Portlanders made it to the final round, not even Alex Pond of the Fresh Pot, Northwest Regional Champion this year). The aroma of the competition floor alone was enough to give me the jitters and make me immediately use the bathroom three times in a row.


Devin Pedde of Los Angeles’ Intelligentsia Coffee prepares a coffee drink during the final round.


The competition took place at the three coffee-making stations at the center of the room.

Mike Marquard of the Saint Louis’ Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co. stepped into the spotlight soon after I arrived. The red handkerchief in his pocket perfectly matched the tablecloth and the cups he would use to serve his drinks. (Showing a little flair, the apron around his waist pictured a triceratops and the word “booyah.”)

Under the scrutiny of four judges, Marquard produced a cappuccino, a single shot of espresso and his signature drink, a citrus-laced caramel espresso wreathed by honey-cut tobacco smoke, which he created by enclosing his coffee creation and burning tobacco leaves together under an overturned glass. He finished right as the clock hit the 15-minute time limit — and placed sixth overall.

To assign points, the judges consider the quality of the espresso first and foremost. But everything else matters too. They also note the temperature of the drink, the timing of the shots, the cleanliness of the work space, the service… and probably even the music blasting from the speakers


Pedde, who placed fifth overall, answers emcee (and 2008 champion) Kyle Glanville’s questions after his turn.

Michael Phillips of Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee won the championship and will represent the United States in the World Barista Championship in Atlanta, Ga. April 16-19.

Check out the Oregonian’s slideshow of the event here.