Taking matters into their own hands


Why would you bring pepper spray to a cooking contest for local chefs in Portland? Well, let’s just say that it was not employed to spice up one of the entrees. Instead, it was used by police to halt what Willamette Week Online described as a brawl featuring “drunken head-butts, chefs being ejected from a local bar and a pair of food industry pros being Tasered, pepper-sprayed and arrested by the cops.” The food fight was sparked mostly by the pièce de résistance — pork — because the pig whose meat was used in the winning recipe was not from Oregon, but from Iowa. Chef Eric Bechard took exception to the foreign food, and after engaging in several fistfights was arrested for disorderly conduct, harassment and interfering with a peace officer. Bechard suffered cuts and bruises to the face, but another chef, Randy Lowe, must have hit the bar floor even harder. Lowe, who was also arrested, went to the hospital the next day to take care of “a leg fracture, which was compliments of the situation last night.” Bechard explained that the foodies began throwing punches because everybody was drinking and that he, perhaps, had become too “Oregon-centric, maybe to a fault.”

After Mountain Gazette magazine asked its readers to send in “incendiary verbiage” about that quirky human habit of naming inanimate objects, Walt Read, now of Fresno, Calif., went back 45 years to his student days at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo., to recall the time he shared a funky house — for $40 a month — that quickly became known as “Poverty Flats.” The Flats became a hangout for artists, musicians and even some professors, though it had no phone and a bathroom that was marginal at best. Read says that one day, when the toilet overflowed, his roommate proposed a novel solution: “Let it run a while till we see the water get to a low spot.” Once the water pooled in the kitchen, “John got out his .22 rifle, shot a hole in the floor, and away the water went.” As for the vehicles students drove in the mid-’60s, Read says a lot of people back then called their car a Pisashit: “But I think that was a brand name, not a personal name.”

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