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A Word to the Super Bowl Buzzkill

Friday, January 30, 2015


With at least 100 million Americans expected to watch Sunday's Super Bowl, that leaves about 200 million Americans who will find something better to do with their time.

If you're one of the 200 million, good for you if you plan to spend an unseasonably warm Oregon weekend hiking in the Gorge, hitting the Coast for a walk on the beach or perhaps readying yourself to dress in costume for a “Downton Abbey watch” party later in the evening.

But spare us any lectures of how society must be in a freefall because Americans over-inflate the Super Bowl and falsely romanticize pampered amoral athletes you wouldn't leave alone with your wallet or your loved one.

If you're a sports fan, you know the scolds I am talking about, the buzzkill who feels compelled to remind us that sports is fundamentally meaningless and to ridicule us for caring one whit about what millionaire strangers do depending on what color jersey they wear.

Let's all stipulate this Super Bowl Sunday that sports is completely meaningless, is only a game and that none of us are fully formed humans because we are invested in entertainment that doesn't mean anything in a world beset by wars, poverty and ignorance.

Most of are not complete idiots. Most of us realize Bill Belichick and Marshawn Lynch are tiresome boors with their slightly updated turns on Rasheed Wallace’s old act. And most of us dread hearing about Russell Wilson channeling his inner Tim Tebow and LeGarrette Blount getting his umpteenth chance to come correct.

But for those of you wondering why sports fans get vested in these Super Bowl characters and what they do in trivialities like Sunday’s game when we could be curing cancer or volunteering for the Peace Corps, please keep in mind we’re not alone in walling ourselves off from reality.

Film fans have long flocked to the latest offerings from Hollywood despite tales of its founding fathers’ casting couches and its more modern morality plays offered by the likes of Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson, to name a few.

Music fans have gravitated for decades to listen quite happily to drug-addled performers like Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious, and too many others to mention. And they still enjoy Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” despite his murder conviction and long history of cheating African-American performers like Darlene Love.

Literature lovers laud the works of misogynists like Norman Mailer, of manipulators like J.D. Salinger, and the perpetually wasted Hunter S. Thompson.

Call all or any of the above from the worlds of film, music and literature “entertainment,” “a distraction,” or even “bread and circuses” when society faces actual problems.

Yet I still plan to stop channel surfing whenever Allen’s “Hannah and her Sisters” or “Broadway Danny Rose” is playing on TV, to crank the Doors’ “Love Me Two Times” when it comes on the car radio and to periodically plunk Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” or Salinger’s “Nine Stories” off my bookshelves to re-read them.

And for this Sunday, I also plan to watch the Super Bowl.

A native Oregonian, Hank Stern had a 24-year career in journalism, working for more than a decade as a reporter with The Associated Press in Oregon, New Jersey and Washington, DC. He worked seven years for The Oregonian as a reporter in east Multnomah County, Washington County and Portland’s City Hall. In 2005, he became Willamette Week’s managing news editor and worked there until 2011.


Related Slideshow: 10 Great Places to Watch Super Bowl XLIX

There is certainly an argument for staying in to watch the game this Sunday. If you're out and about though, this short list will guide you through some of the better bars for watching the Super Bowl in Portland. Every place on this list will probably be very busy. If you are looking for a quiet spot, a hotel bar out by the airport might be the perfect thing.   

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Yur's Bar & Grill

Yur's is a spacious neighborhood bar for the Northwest Portland crowd. Just a few blocks from the shopping strips of Northwest 21st and Northwest 23rd Avenues, Yur’s Tavern may be in the land of beautiful people, but don’t let that fool you. Yur’s is what keeps that neighborhood “real” and with plenty of space, big screen TVs and cheap booze it will certainly be keeping it that. 

Yur's Bar & Grill is located at 717 NW 16th Ave. 

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The Know

This is a small bar with only two TVs. I included it on the list for the Patriot fans. If this is your first winter here in Portland and you’re looking to not be alienated by the twelfth man, this might be a good place for you. You may even make some friends, if you’re cool enough. Just don’t take anyone home with you.  

The Know is located at 2026 NE Alberta St. 

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There is a Blitz on Hawthorne Street, but if you’re going to Hawthorne, check out number 5 on this list- there is no substitute. Blitz in the Pearl is a run of the mill Sports bar - cheap food and drinks (especially for the Pearl), a TV in every direction and plenty of other fans.   

Blitz Pearl is located at 110 NW 10th Ave. 

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Katie O' Brien's

The Cadillac of Sport’s bars. If you can get there early enough to grab a swivel chair at the bar, you’re in luck. If not, there is plenty of other- less luxurious- seating as well as a pool table and heated patio for halftime. 

Katie O' Brien's is located at 2809 NE Sandy Blvd. 

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If Katie O’Brien’s is the Cadillac of Sports Bars, Claudia’s is the Bentley.

Claudia's is located at 3006 SE Hawthorne Blvd.  

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Jolly Roger

Jolly Roger is an old neighborhood bar. It’s very cheap. There are plenty of seats and TVs. Yeah. 

Jolly Roger has two locations at 1340 SE 12th Ave., and 5627 SW Kelly Ave. 

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George's Corner Tavern

Feeling bad about life? Come to George’s Corner Tavern. If it doesn’t renew your faith in humanity, it will at least renew faith in yourself.

George's Corner Tavern is located at 5501 N Interstate Ave. 

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52nd Avenue Sports Bar

With very cheap food and draft specials, a friendly bartender and a lot of TVs, this cozy bar will be packed to the brim on Sunday. 

52nd Avenue Sports Bar is located at 5201 NE Sandy Blvd. 

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Rialto Room

Sick of seeing beards and flannel? Wanna see some leather jackets and hair gel? Rialto Room is, first and foremost, a pool hall. They also have an off-track betting kiosk next door. I’m sure if you wanted to make the game a little more interesting, you could meet some obliging folks. Even if you’re not betting, there are plenty of TVs and it’s a good place to watch the game if you’re not adverse to the smell of Axe.   

Rialto Room is located at 529 SW 4th Ave. 

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Belmont Inn

Big screen TVs, a good selection of beer and pool tables. Ask the bartender to make you a mojito. There are plenty of other bars in the vicinity if you get bored.

The Belmont Inn is located at 3357 SE Belmont Ave. 


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