We all know that The New York Times is in love with everything Portland, but is our karaoke scene really good enough to qualify as art? That’s the premise of a story in the Jan. 20 issue of the newspaper’s Sunday Magazine. It was written by Dan Kois, senior editor at Slate and a contributing writer at the magazine.

Much of the article focuses on John Brophy, a local musician who builds karaoke tracks of non-mainstream songs. He also visits a number of karaoke bars. In the article, Kois speculates that Portland’s karaoke scene could be as revolutionary as grunge and hip-hop.

But Kois blows it when he writes, “Is it possible that one of the most exciting music scenes in America is happening right now in Portland, and it doesn’t feature a single person playing an actual instrument?”

What about Karaoke From Hell, the live karaoke backup band that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year? Talk about revolutionary.

What’s in a name? Maybe an election

What do you want, healthy kids or clean water? That’s the choice offered by the names of the two political action committees fighting over fluoridating the city’s water supply. The committee in favor of fluoridation is called Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland. The committee opposing it is called Clean Water Portland.

The campaign manager for Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland is Evyn Mitchell. She previously worked on Charlie Hale’s successful campaign for Portland mayor, Dwight Holton’s unsuccessful campaign for Oregon attorney general, and for the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, which supports Democratic candidates for the Oregon Senate.

Clean Water Portland is affiliated with the Clean Water Portland Initiative Committee, the group that referred the fluoridation plan approved by the City Council to the ballot. It will appear as Measure 26-152 on the May 21 special election ballot.

Mr. Dotty regretfully declines

At the Jan. 10 board meeting for the Hayden Island neighborhood association, known as Hi-Noon, someone threw out a provocative idea. Why not invite the neighborhood’s nemesis, the owner of six video lottery bars at the island’s “Lottery Row,” to join the board? The idea was to help mend fences.

Told of the idea on Tuesday, the man in question eagerly agreed. “I would love to,” said Dan Fischer, president of Oregon Restaurant Services Inc., which owns the lucrative Dotty’s chain.

There is one problem, though. He lives in Nevada, which could disqualify him from serving on the neighborhood association board.

Schrader avoids congressional labels

Democratic Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader is making it difficult for Republicans to label him as a typical tax-and-spend liberal. The Fifth District lawmaker has joined No Labels, a new nonpartisan centrist organization. He was one of four U.S. House members who participated in the organization Jan. 14 meeting in New York.

On Tuesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent an email demanding to know where Schrader stands on the No Budget, No Pay bill supported by No Labels and House Republicans. It says Congress won’t get paid if it doesn’t pass a budget on time.

The next day, No Labels named Schrader as one of five House members who support the bill and are willing to talk to the press about it. In an email, No Labels said interviews with Schrader and the other could be lined up through the organization’s press secretary.

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