This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in July 2006. They are listed from newest to oldest.
June 2006 is the previous archive.
August 2006 is the next archive.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.
So there we were at the pizza joint with the kids, and they had TNT going on the tube, with the sound off, right in front of me. It was a rerun of "Arli$$," the HBO black comedy series that used to follow "Sex in the City." I'm sure they clean it up a little for TNT, but there was Arliss, the unabashedly hungry sports agent, running around trying to get over on his shiftless clientele, all the while professing to the world what heroes they all are.
I kept thinking, I know a guy like that in real life, but I couldn't figure out who it was. And then, around the third slice, it hit me.
Them fast-dealin' Trail Blazers have shipped out their center project from South Korea, Ha Seung-Jin, along with Steve Blake (alas) for a big guy, Jamaal Magloire from the Bucks.
This means the Darius Miles-Steve Blake package that the Blazers have reportedly been shopping around won't be sold. But with another tall timber type in the fold, does this mean that Miles and Zach Randolph are on the block together? If Zach's in play, you might get somebody to take Darius with him.
A fellow erstwhile Jerseyite of my age caught my discussion of the pink "stuff" a while back, and he reminded me the other day that I didn't tell the full story of Mateus, the Portuguese rosé that we used to guzzle down at the Jersey Shore when we were too young to know better.
I left out two details. First of all, the Mateus bottle made an excellent candle holder, particularly after it had been used for several different candles and had all sorts of drippings down its side. The Italian restaurants used to do the same thing with those cheesy chianti bottles that came with a basket around them, but for a teenybopper crash pad, only Mateus would do. (O.k., maybe Lancers, which was the equivalent of Mateus, but just those two.)
The other angle that I missed on the Mateus story was the fact that it often accompanied some lovely hashish. Jersey was full of hash in the early to mid-seventies, and where there was Mateus, you had a good chance of finding some "blond." Ah, the nights we'd spend partaking and listening to record albums. We took turns -- everybody would get to play an album side, and explain why they picked that one. Somewhere toward midnight, the Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell would fall away, and Let it Bleed or Sticky Fingers would get cranked up.
One guy I could never bring myself to vote for is Ron Saxton. You look at that round mug on the front page of the paper, and you can just hear that squeaky little voice nattering on about illegal immigrants, whether their kids should be U.S. citizens, "I'm focusing on the adults," blah blah blah. "I'm not a career politician." Of course not, dude, you can't get yourself elected. People, is that the best we can do? Super gong!
I still can't see why Teddy Cool Long deserves my vote, though. Bernie Giusto, Tom Imeson, Matt Hennessee, Dale Penn -- I've had enough of the whole aerial tramload of face cards that come with the current guv. As Granny Bogdanski used to say, "Show me your friends, and I'll show you who you are."
I was hoping that Gentle Ben would emerge as a potential winner. But now he looks like just a spoiler. Spoiling it for whom? And what's he really got to offer? Guess I've still got three months to figure it out.
There comes a time in every blogger's life to give it a rest, and as you can see, that's what the last several days have held for me. The real world is shining and ringing, and the virtual world seems a little pale. I'm sure that will change eventually -- turn out the sun and bring in the clouds, that would do it -- but all of a sudden I'm taking it all in, rather than pouring anything out.
John Lennon's wisdom is weighing in on this night. "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." There's a line that originated elsewhere, but it doesn't matter where. "I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go 'round and 'round." Indeed.
Don't know if you'll be able to get this if you're not a paid subscriber, but the Times has a nice little web-only interview up today with Wonkette. She talks about her secrets for blog success, and what it's like posting 12 times a day! (Not me, not today -- Life 101 is calling...)
I strongly dislike what's become of Oregon's citizens initiative process. I refuse on principle even to look at, much less talk to, the paid signature gatherers who hover around where I do my personal business. When they asked, "Are you a registered voter?" I used to reply, "Sorry, I'm a convicted felon." But now I don't even do that -- I just keep walking.
If I hear about a petition that I'm interested in (a rare occurrence), I'll seek it out from a source that I feel I can trust. Otherwise, I don't care what they're selling, those greaseballs can leave me alone.
And if previously you didn't have a good reason to do the same, now you do: Check this one out.
Don't think I missed the news story on the audit of the City of Portland's transportation maintenance policies. The news is that the city has now given up on preventive maintenance, and sends out the street crews only when something has deteriorated to a nonfunctonal condition. Penny-wise in the short run, pound-foolish in the long run, according to the audit. And to common sense. Tune-ups are cheaper than valve jobs, or new engines.
But it's actually worse than that. The latest budget for the city's Transportation Office has some sobering observations in it, including these:
The condition and trends in the City's transportation infrastructure have a direct bearing on the long-term financial health of the transportation fund. The City's transportation infrastructure is deteriorating due to age and heavy use. Much of the transportation infrastructure is past its original useful life. Moreover, inventories have increased dramatically in the last 20 years due to annexation and development. Budgets have not kept up with inflation, leading to cutbacks and an increasing backlog of replacement and repair.
Transportation manages 30 groups of assets worth a total of $5.8 billion. The five most critical elements of the infrastructure are streets, streetlight system, traffic signals, bridges, and sidewalks. Each of these areas presents pressing needs requiring significantly greater resources to protect the public's investment. For example:
. The street paving backlog has reached 597 miles, more than twice the target of 250 miles needed for efficient paving program management.
. The condition of streetlights has declined significantly: 94% of streetlights were rated "good" in 1994 and only 2% "poor"; in 2005, only 22% were rated "good" and 10% "poor."
. Condition of signal hardware has declined from 69% "good" in 1986 to 28% in 2005.
. As of July 2005, 22% of bridges were in poor condition, with 31 bridges listed as weight-restricted.
. 26,324 sidewalk comers need ramps to comply with ADA standards.
So what's the solution? Surprise, more money seems to be the city's answer:
PDOT estimates that additional investment of $19 to $26 million per year are required to halt the decline in system condition. An estimated investments of $28 to $36 million would be required annually to maintain the system at sustainable levels.
For example, more, and more expensive, parking meters, in operation in more neighorhoods, for ever-longer times of the day. How about a gizmo that would go into your car and charge you by the mile driven? If the city could, it would put a turnstile on your front door and charge you every time you left the house.
Cutting existing programs is another bureaucrat favorite. The practice of replacing broken curbs is on the chopping block, for example, and that popular leaf removal service that some neighborhoods get is about to come with a shiny new user fee.
Left out of the current conversation are priorities -- the things that the city is currently burning money on that make no sense.
Take the streetcar, for example. The city's subsidy of this ridiculously unnecessary toy has somehow drifted off the pages of your local paper, but it was at $1.1 million a year (and rising) when last reported. And that was before it was extended down to the vast nothingness in SoWhat, and the talk is of sending it down MLK and all the way to Lake Oswego. Plus we'll pay 15% or so of whatever it takes to operate the OHSU Health Club aerial tram [rim shot] -- and believe me, that will be a jaw-dropper of a number if and when it finally comes to light.
Even if one puts aside the obscene cost of building the toys -- part of which comes from the federal government -- the annual cost to operate them is what sucks the life out of the city in the long run.
Then there's the pure foolishness. Over in my neck of the woods, inner northeast, the city's on a major kick to get people not to drive their cars. They want you to walk or ride a bike -- take Tri-Met if you have to, even rent a Flexcar! But please, please, don't get in your own car and drive! They call it the "HUB" project, which I think stands for Hurl it Under a Bus.
Anyway, I'm willing to go along with the getting-out-of-the-car thing. In the summertime, I try to drive as little as possible, running, walking, and biking for any short hops that don't involving hauling large packages or objects. It feels great, and it's good for you. And I think it's noble for the city to show people how a healthier way of getting around is feasible in our pedestrian-friendly part of town.
But how much should we spend on that? Imagine my amusement when I got from the city in the mail recently not one but two different invitations to have the city hand out to me a free "transportation alternatives kit" that contains all sorts of maps, brochures, coupons and the like -- including a pedometer and a mini-"computer" to attach to my bike wheel to show speed, distance, time, etc. The second solicitation practically begged me to write in and get one of these care packages.
I figured, "Hey, I paid for it with my property taxes -- might as well get something back," and once I sent in my order, within a few days a city minion came out on a bike and delivered it to my doorstep:
Now how much did all of that cost? And aren't there curbs out there somewhere that could have, should have, been fixed with that money?
Bottom line: It's a crying shame what's happened to transportation maintenance in Portland. It's gone the way of park maintenance, school ground maintenance, and other wonderful features of a bygone era. But let's not kid ourselves about why it's happening. It's largely because the city has decided to spend the money elsewhere -- mostly on shinola. (Illustration idea via Cousin Jim.)
I'm ashamed to say that Bill McD. has once again hit the nail squarely on the head as he describes us folk of a certain age:
Meanwhile the truth is, WE suck. This generation sucks. You were loads of fun to party with but now that I've seen us in action, it's starting to be a horrible feeling. We go right on sniping at each other while the station wagon is heading off a cliff. We've taken the spoils that our parents sweated to give us, turned America into the richest most materialistic orgy in human history and now we're spending the money our children and grandchildren need for themselves.
Read the whole thing. And then tell me (or better yet, Bill) what we of the Worst Generation can do to make at least some amends while there's still time.
The sun's setting pretty much straight in the west here in Portland. Time for that midsummer night's dream...
CORRECTION, 6:37 p.m.: Looks like old Sol's going to hit the horizon still a bit north of due west. But it's getting close. No harm in starting that dream a little early. We still come this way only twice a year.
George Bush finally agrees to speak to the NAACP, and what is he selling? Repeal of the estate tax and privatizing Social Security:
You know, one of my friends is Bob Johnson, founder of BET. He's an interesting man. He believes strongly in ownership. He has been a successful owner. He believes strongly, for example, that the death tax will prevent future African American entrepreneurs from being able to pass their assets from one generation to the next. He and I also understand that the investor class shouldn't be just confined to the old definition of the investor class.
You know, an amazing experience, when I went to Canton, Mississippi, I asked the workers there, who were mainly African American workers, I said, how many of you have your own 401(k)? Nearly all the hands went up. That means they own their own assets. It's their money. They manage their own money. It's a system that says, we want you to have assets that you can leave from one generation to the next. Asset accumulation is an important part of removing the barriers for opportunity. I think it's really important, and I want to work with Bruce, if possible. The federal government should encourage ownership in the government pension program, to give people a chance to own an asset, something they can call their own.
Just what Americans of African descent are most concerned about these days.
The Portland Development Commission meeting next week will continue the generous heaping of taxpayer pork into the fiscal black hole known as the South Waterfront ("SoWhat"). Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but there are all kinds of millions floating around in the new SoWhat documents that I hadn't heard of before. For example:
-- Another $4 million for the SoWhat park (already well north of $7 million spent).
-- $6 million for the greenway, a third of which comes out of the Parks Bureau budget.
-- $18.7 million to coax the Usual Suspects to build "affordable" housing down there.
-- $3.5 million of city money into an "initiative" to try to get OHSU to bring bioscience jobs into the area (which I thought was what they promised to do all along).
-- $3 million "in transportation infrastructure contingency to cover unanticipated shortfalls in transportation projects." (Is this to buy the shuttle buses, or is this for when the aerial tram budget [rim shot], now at $57 million, goes up by another $10 million or more?)
Portland taxpayers, plan a big lunch for next Wednesday. You'll be feeling a little lighter late in the morning.
Q. Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive?...
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.
Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.
Larry Norton over on the O's Old Town blog has some interesting thoughts on this week's delinchpinization of the Portland Central Fire Station condo project, including:
[P]eople who wanted the station to move, for the most, either had a financial interest in the move or would not be one of the taxpayers footing the bill.
The Fire Department never wanted to move the station in the first place, nor did the Station Advisory Committee (SAC).
He also links to a wealth of documents on the whole now-dead project. (Look at how much time and money were spent on this dud.) And I'm gratified that he agrees with me that the PDC should go away and leave Saturday Market alone.
That sea of Irvington clay that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago has turned into a sea of gravel. They've covered over the native soil with a layer of thick black plastic, and then a thick layer of small gray rocks, to serve as the foundation for the artificial surface soccer field. Here's a closer view:
I just noticed from the two sets of photos that they've removed the old light pole at the far end of the field. There's also a new retainer around three sides of the bed that's been made for the playing surface, and a legitimate retaining wall appears to be going in on the north end:
I hope I get to see what goes down between the gravel and the fake grass. As for the dogs whose owners used to run them on the old schoolyard blacktop all the time, I'm sure they can't wait, either. That gravel just ain't comfy underfoot.
The City of Portland has decided not to move the Central Fire Station. Why not? Lots of good reasons, but the best one is because -- I am not making this up -- it is not a linchpin any more! According to this morning's O story:
"Public process is important, but one of the mayor's primary obligations is to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars," said John Doussard, the mayor's spokesman. Sten, who oversees the Fire Bureau, said the economic outlook for Old Town has improved since PDC planners first proposed the move. The fire station isn't the linchpin in development plans that it once was.
Does this mean no condo tower, no chi-chi public market, no tossing Saturday Market to the wolves?
No wonder the two Katz appointees left the building so quickly last week. They didn't want be around for the flak on this one from the West Hills. I suspect that somewhere out there right now are some fat cats whose next trip to the Tax Trough Saloon has been cancelled. And I'm sure they are mightily steamed. "We had a deal with Mazziotti and Hennessee!" Sorry.
But as a taxpayer who's been taken off the hook for the next boondoggle, let me be the first to say thank you, Mayor Potter, PDC chair Rosenbaum, even Commissioner Sten.
Now if someone would please tell the PDC people to go away and leave Saturday Market alone...
Sunday's accident shared similarities with a non-fatal 1989 crash in Mar Vista, Calif., in which Guilford's P51 Mustang, a World War II fighter, struck a house after losing power and stalling.
In that accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said the probable cause was Guilford's "poor in-flight training." Federal investigators said Guilford should not have immediately turned the Mustang to return to the airport after the engine lost power in three of its 12 cylinders. Investigators said he should have followed the plane's flight manual and continued straight ahead, slowly building up speed.
Here's a new slogan for the City of Portland. In connection with the city's latest quixotic, socialist move -- free wi-fi for everyone! -- Logan Kleier, the bureaucrat in charge of the project, was asked why the city didn't go with a larger contractor with greater financial backing. In an exquisitely Stennian moment, he told the O, and I quote:
Finances alone aren't the only thing that drive a decision.
Really? In Portland city government? D'ya think?
They ought to put that one on the police cars. You can think about it when someone steals your laptop, you can't get your free wi-fi any more, and the cop won't stop to take your report.
Yikes, they sold the Sonics basketball team to a group from Oklahoma City, and they're threatening to pull the team out of Seattle if they don't get taxpayer money for a new arena.
Paul Allen isn't getting them.
And they might be moving. Oklahoma City has done well as the temporary host of the New Orleans Hornets, and at some point, the Hornets will be moving back to the N'awlins area. Which means that the prospect of moving the Sonics is not an altogether idle threat.
UPDATE, 3:24 p.m.: And if the Sonics leave Seattle, and Allen still owns the Blazers, what will happen to the Blazers? Triple yikes!
It's cool tonight, but soak it up, Portland. There's a big heat wave coming our way, according to the weather prognosticators. Mark "Doogie" Nelsen has it at 100(F) on Friday, and 105 on both Saturday and Sunday. KGW's saying 102 Friday, 105 on Saturday. As usual, the Weather Channel's more conservative, calling for 99-101-97. Any way you cut it, though, that's hot by our standards. The hottest it's ever gotten in Portland is 107.
Here's a fascinating document (MS Word format) to consider in connection with the carnage at the Hillsboro air show over the weekend. It purports to be a public safety manual compiled by the City of Hillsboro in connection with last September's show.
Some of it's a little unsettling. Toward the back (page 35 and following), there are suggested canned answers to be given to media questions regarding any accident. Even before the accident happens, already they've got the canned responses! Here they are:
Anticipated "Top 10" Questions by the Media
Q1 Has the Oregon International Airshow - Hillsboro ever had a fatality?
A1 The Oregon International Airshow - Hillsboro has never had a fatality, either involving a pilot, or a spectator.
We have been conducting this airshow since 1988: the first 15 years were as a Portland Rose Festival Event, and this is the second year as the Oregon International Airshow - Hillsboro.
Q2 Why are there so many accidents at airshows?
A2 Any fatal accident is a tragedy, and this accident is no exception; but the fact is that airshow accidents are relatively infrequent. Because they are often dramatic and are nearly always captured on videotape, the accidents receive widespread publicity. But, in fact, there are typically three or four airshow accidents per year in the United States and Canada.
Q3 Isn't it just a matter of time before somebody from the audience is involved in an airshow accident?
A3 No. Because of the rules and regulations in place in the United States, it is highly unlikely that spectators will ever be involved in an airshow aircraft accident. Since current regulations were put into effect in 1952, there has never been a spectator fatality in an airshow aircraft accident. That's a safety record that is the envy of the entire motorsports industry.
Q4 What safeguards are in place to protect spectators?
A4 Spectator safety at airshows depends on four elements of a very effective safety program:
First, every pilot performing aerobatics at a U.S. or Canadian airshow must be evaluated each year by a certified aerobatics evaluator.
Second, airshow performers - both civilian and military - are prohibited from performing maneuvers that direct the energy of their aircraft toward the area in which spectators are sitting.
Third, the industry and regulatory authorities strictly enforce minimum set-back distances that were developed to ensure that, in the event of an accident, piece of the aircraft cannot end up in the spectator area.
And fourth, there is an invisible aerobatic box in which all aerobatics must be flown. Regulations prohibit anybody but necessary personnel from being in that box. If the box falls on top of a road, then the road must be closed during the airshow. If an office building is within the box, then the building must be vacated during the show.
Q5 Shouldn't somebody do something to stop these airshow pilots from killing themselves?
A5 There are a number of safeguards in place to ensure that airshow pilots are qualified and experienced, but, despite these rules and the close attention paid to safety issues, accidents sometimes happen. Accidents happen in car racing. Accidents happen in thoroughbred horse racing. Accidents happen in high school football games. And accidents happen in the airshow business. The pilots who perform at airshows understand the inherent risks of airshow flying. They do everything they can to minimize that danger.
Q6 Why did the crash/fire/rescue personnel take so long to respond?
A6 In an accident situation like the one we had today, it's not unusual for people to perceive the response time as being longer than actually was. But, based on our initial investigation, it appears that the emergency response was timely and professional.
Q7 Was there anything that show organizers could have done differently to avoid this accident?
A7 Each year, with or without an accident, we review our safety plan and our emergency response plan and make adjustments, additions and changes. And, following this accident, we will go through that process again. But, based on what we know right now, we wouldn't change a thing in our safety or emergency response plans. Our systems and our people appear to have performed exactly as they were supposed to perform.
Q8 Why did show organizers decide to continue the show? Or why did show organizers decide to cancel the rest of the show?
A8 Show management met immediately following the accident and, as part of a pre-arranged process, we discussed the relative advantages and disadvantages of continuing the show. After close consultation with regulatory officials and the performers, we made a decision to go ahead with (or cancel) the remainder of the show. Individual decisions on whether or not to perform were left with the individual pilots, along with the show management's assurances that we recognized this as a highly personal and emotional decision.
Q9 How many airshow accidents are there each year, we just heard about the one in the Ukraine not that long ago?
A9 As you would expect, this varies considerably. In some years, the industry has one or two accidents. In other years, it might have three, four or five.
Q10 What government organization is responsible for airshow regulation?
A10 The Federal Aviation Administration develops and enforces airshow regulations in the United States. The FAA has representatives on-site at the show today.
And one extra:
Q11 Will you hold the show again next year?
A11 It's too early to answer that question. Show management will be meeting on a number of issues during the coming days and weeks. Among the issues we will discuss will be the future of the show.
The necessary materials for the Airshow Office Conference Room, should an incident occur:
All Media Lists
Airshow letterhead (for all press releases)
In the event of an incident, all news releases shall drop the names of sponsors involved and refer to "this weekend's airshow at the Hillsboro Airport."
Also check out page 32, describing "Scenario D" - "A plane goes down off site and hits a nearby house." Chilling.
This was taken from the site of an outfit called the International Council of Air Shows, Inc., a promoter of these spectacles.
Oh, man, here's the easiest money you ever made. The City of Portland is looking for someone inspect the OHSU Health Club aerial tram [rim shot] to certify that the "ropeway" is safe. You'll have to do just two inspections a year -- one announced and one unannounced. Everything will be working so well that it will be a snap. Here's your chance to sign up for some of that stress-free "money for nothin'"!
Oregonian columnist Steve Duin has reached agreement with Oil Can Henry's, the quickie auto lube chain, to continue the use of Duin's likeness on the company's logo. Terms of the deal were not formally disclosed, but sources in the advertising industry reported that it was a five-year renewal contract worth $3.5 million.
In addition to signing Duin up for a new five-year endorsement term, the auto service franchise group also revealed that the columnist's brake and transmission fluids were very dirty, and needed to be completely flushed and replaced to avoid immediate and catastrophic damage to his car and all of its contents.
Fifteen or 20 years ago, people in the know wouldn't touch a rose' wine. I remember a saying that ran in a certain circle when describing the evening's vino offerings. Your choices were "red, white, or the pink stuff," and that last word wasn't "stuff" but something much more vulgar. In any event, the contempt for what was then caled "blush" wines was clear.
At that time, at least as I recall, the pink "stuff" was pretty awful. The makers of large-batch wine used to pump out something caled white zinfandel, and it wasn't so hot. If you were stuck with a rose', your best bet might have been to opt for a Portuguese version put out by an outfit called Mateus. No vintage, not even the grape was identified, just "Mateus." I slugged down a fair amount of it one year as an underage drinker down at the Jersey Shore, when even I was smart enough to stay away from Ripple, Bali Hai, Boone's Farm Apple, and the like. Once I could legally consume any beverage of my choosing, however, there was no good reason to call for the pink stuff. Throughout the '80s, when everyone drank either chardonnay or cabernet, I followed suit.
How times have changed. Yesterday we threw a cookout for 10 adults, and we had wine of every color (and other drinks) at our guests' disposal. And what flew off the table? The rose's. They were all imports, and they were all good. A few people also had the red Rioja with their burger plate, but as the hot afternoon became a warm evening the pink stuff was a big hit.
It's been like that at our place the last few summers. Some excellent rose's have graced our dinners. Yesterday it was Marques de Caceres's 2005 Rioja rosado; L'Hortus Rose' de Saignee 2005; and a new one for us, Chateau Mourgues du Gres Fleur d'Eglantine 2005. (That last one got the Zidane conversation rolling.) There are also a number of locally produced pink wines showing up, being made with such grapes as Oregon pinot noir, and we'll have to get out of our newfound rut and try one of these next time.
Wonderful stuff. Great company. Summer is good.
So what's the next taboo? How about box wine? The place where I shop for wine has quite a selection of it out on display. All kinds of wine, with names and labels that would intrigue me enough to make a purchase if the product were in bottles. But in a box? I just keep thinking of being cornered and tongue-kissed by Bob Packwood. (Photo from AliThinks.)
Word is out that the Buckman Pool is reopening. They're having a celebration at the pool this afternoon.
Congratulations to the neighbors, and thanks to the city parks people, who finally responded to the arm-twisting and fixed the pool. Somehow they also got the MLC pool over in Northwest open, too. Good! Not to do so would have been criminal.
Now about that community center you've been promising the folks in Buckman....
The word around Portland is that Mayor Potter is going to name a labor union type as the fifth of his five appointments to the board of the Portland Development Commission. This all comes as the City Council feuds with PDC management over whether contractors in PDC-sponsored projects should be required to pay the "prevailing wage" to their workers.
O.k., fair enough, but which union should be represented? Please, Mayor, not the construction trade unions, who could care less about the burden on taxpayers and the negative impact on neighborhoods, so long as the concrete is being poured for the next condo ghetto! Let's get a union person with strong neighborhood ties and a relatively neutral position in, say, a service industry.
Yep, I still say Amanda Fritz would be a darn good choice.
Why I'll never give a nickel to Catholic Relief Services
I hate marketers. I pay the phone company serious money to keep them off my telephone. I have spam blockers trying (vainly, some days) to keep them off my corner of the internet. I refuse to talk to them when they ring my doorbell.
And when the sales pitches fill up my snail mailbox, I just throw them, unopened, into a basket to be shredded. I wish I could just throw them directly into the recycling, but of course nowadays you should first shred anything with your name on it so that the tweakers don't come by and steal it out of your recycling. So to the shredder it all goes. I recycle a bag of shredded junk every few weeks or so.
And the marketing weasels know this. So they've come up with several new ploys to stop you from shredding the junk mail before you open it. The most insidious of these is the inclusion of metal objects in the mailings -- one group actually stuck in a nickel, but other types of tokens are becoming common. If you don't open the envelope and take out the metal piece, it will hurt your shredder, perhaps fatally.
I just got one of these today from an outfit known as Catholic Relief Services. Here's the insert in the envelope:
And here's the nasty little surprise waiting for my shredder -- a slug about the size of a quarter:
Well, I caught it in time. And hey, clever marketer, I opened the envelope, and even read the contents! But here's something I don't think you were counting on. I'm telling this tale to all the world, and urging anyone who reads this not to give any money to Catholic Relief Services until they publicly announce that they're ending this particularly vicious marketing practice. Keep this gift as a reminder of the people whose shredders you wrecked.
Guardian angel, my eye. You'll suffer in purgatory for that, you evil creeps!
Portland bureaucrats are so full of... themselves, let's say. Here's a beaut in today's Trib. Describing the $4 million glorified empty lot in the Pearl District that's got a "park" sign on it but no users, one of the City Hall types sniffs:
[I]n a high-density area you need a sense of green relief, and not looking out your window and seeing a mass of people gathering on a hard surface
Hmmm, that's funny. Then why is the city planning to wreck Waterfront Park, the best "green relief" imaginable, with a series of hard surface "improvements"?
Fortunately, they have to find the money first, and that $7 million plus that they've already plunked down for the empty lot on the Public Storage property in the SoWhat district will no doubt suck up many more millions before they can get around to wrecking Waterfront Park.
The accounts of the Pearlies up on their postage-stamp condo balconies hectoring the people who dare to walk their dogs through their weird new park, even on leashes, are pretty funny, too. But hey, when you pay $300 a square foot to live in a noisy apartment building in Portland, Oregon, I guess you could be expected to do just about anything.
It's official: Urban renewal has Portland strapped
This just in from the chair of the Portland Development Commission, as told by the Trib:
Rosenbaum believes there are two primary reasons why the council is taking such a close look at the PDC -- Portland's new mayor and the city's financial situation.
"Mayor Potter's approach to government is different than any of his predecessors. He is committed to making decisions in an open and transparent manner. Previous mayors have insulated the PDC from a lot of scrutiny. This is the first time the council has been able to ask questions about the PDC's policies and decisions, and they expect answers," he said.
At the same time, Rosenbaum believes the council has less discretionary money to spend on public projects, especially since the federal government has cut back on the housing and transportation funds available to cities.
"The city's access to resources is just really stretched. In these circumstances, access to the piggy bank at the PDC is very tempting. There's just not a lot of money to pay for streets, parks or housing anywhere else," he said.
You don't say. And here 19 cents of every dollar of property tax the city collects goes to the "urban renewal piggy bank." Maybe it's time to change that.
An alert reader notes that the old Corno's Market on SE MLK has come down to make way for progress -- first a big hole in the ground for the Big Pipe extension, and then no doubt some nice condos for saps from California. No, wait -- I mean "mixed use" development: small condos, medium-sized condos, big condos and a Starbucks.
Anyway, here are one "before" and two "after" shots that she sends along:
Nothing much was happening on that property for many years now, but I'll still miss it. It was left to rot purposely, in another example of demolition by neglect. The soul of the central east side is now clearly up for grabs.
Don't look now, but the whole Arab-Israeli thing is escalating big time. With George W. Bush in charge of keeping the lid from blowing off the whole region. Maybe he should send Karl Rove or Michael Brown right over.
The newest commissioner of the Portland Development Commission is Charles A. Wilhoite, a partner in the Portland office of nationally known business valuation firm Willamette Management Associates.
On the up side, Wilhoite is a CPA and a business valuation expert. This means he should be very good at sizing up whether particular projects and affiliations make financial sense. Business appraisal has gone from being a motley trade to a skilled profession over the last several decades, in large part due to some of the founders and principals of the Willamette firm, which as its name suggests was started here in Portland but now has offices around the country. Wilhoite's a relatively recent addition to the Willamette staff; he's only in his early 40's, and has been in Portland since 1990.
Since Wilhoite can whip you up a current value for virtually any enterprise, he's not likely to be snowed by developers or staffers who are trying to sell the board a bill of goods. If he says yes to a particular prospect, it won't be for lack of understanding the economic benefits and burdens that come along with it. He won't be naive in the realm of financial smoke and mirrors, as he battles in that area every workday.
On the down side, he's got serious political connections and gets himself appointed to all sorts of boards. He was on city Commissioner Dan Saltzman's supporter list in the elections just concluded, and he also supported Saltzman henchperson Jeff Cogen for county commissioner. Ted "Cool Long" has him on the board of OHSU (home of the million-dollar CEO and aerial tram [rim shot]) and he's on the board of the Portland Business Alliance, traditionally another bastion of the city's old boy network. He's a leader of the local Urban League, and until yesterday he was the chair of the city's Charter Review Commission. (This is the august panel that recently had its recommendations for the city's form of government promptly stoned to death in the Council Chambers.) In any event, Wilhoite's now being pulled off what's left of the charter board for the PDC board. He's also listed as having board-type affiliations with Jesuit High School, Portland State University, and the Oregon Children's Foundation reading program SMART. The O's City Hall blog adds: "He is also a member of the Portland Fire and Rescue Bureau Advisory Committee; the Portland Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants and the Citizens' Crime Commission."
With three kids, all that other volunteer work, and hopping all over the country giving advice and testimony on how much various private businesses are worth, one wonders how much time Wilhoite will be able to give the PDC. Oh well, they say he's a former track athlete at Arizona State -- maybe he's an "iron man" type. In any event, we wish him luck.
Well, the Portland Development Commission board had its special meeting to elect its new officers yesterday. Mayor Potter's appointees took the three offices, as one would have expected.
The official explanation of the need for a special meeting for something so mundane was that the terms of the two outgoing commissioners held over from the Goldschmidt-Katz days expire before tomorrow's regularly scheduled meeting. I guess that means they're out of there as of today.
And as they mosey off into the sunset, I think it's time to pay them a musical tribute. Eric Parsons and Doug Blomgren, this one's for you: (Hit it, Ralph!)
Thanks for the memory
Of budgets for the tram
Reality be damned
The theater in the Armory
And all the other scams
How lucky we were
And thanks for the memory
Of Anthony and Than
When Tracy cut and ran
The laughs we had though times were bad
When Wyman was the man
How cozy it was
Now is the long overdue hour
To count all the ways you'd abuse power
The parties you had down at Bluehour
We loved the Don, but now he's gone
So thanks for reminding us
Of every goofy scheme
The shaft you gave to Beam
The sweetheart deals for friends of Neil's
When you'd tell us, "Live the dream"
We thank you so much
We thank you so much
I think I forgot a few verses, readers. Help me out here.
Ten years ago, when I moved into Portland's Buckman neighborhood, I was aghast at how dangerous it was to cross Hawthorne Boulevard as it traversed the avenues numbered in the 20's, 30's and 40's. You took your life into your hands. The traffic was way too fast, and the drivers drove with blinders on. Trying to get from, say, the Cat's Meow on the south side to Noah's Bagels on the north was a death-defying act. I saw many a close call, heard many a screech of slammed-on brakes.
About a year later, the City Council passed some sort of plan or other that was supposed to help the situation. That was nine years ago. While we all waited around, a few neighbors started wondering why the city couldn't at least paint some crosswalks at the most dangerous intersections. With a straight face, the city traffic experts told us that that would be too dangerous because it would give pedestrians a false sense of security. More than once it was stated that the city was concerned about its own liability if someone was struck in a crosswalk.
All of which sounded supremely stupid to me. Meanwhile, the hazards continued unabated for nine long years. Last summer, an older gent was hit by a van and killed one afternoon.
Anyway, finally something is going to happen. Beginning this Sunday, Hawthorne -- formerly known as Asylum Street (you could look it up) -- is going to get a pedestrian safety facelift. The details are here. You can quibble with the specifics -- I'm sure we'll hear from you-know-who about the curb extensions -- but all I can say is, it's about darn time that something was done over there. We've built an entire faux city in the Pearl District and gotten our second one well under way in SoWhat while the residents of, and visitors to, Buckman and Sunnyside have risked their necks crossing Hawthorne.
Although Hawthorne's the center of attention in this project, it's not just about that main thoroughfare. There are also some speed bumps and other traffic "calming" devices going in south of Hawthorne -- most notably on Lincoln Street. Mount Tabor and Colonial Heights residents will learn to love 'em or hate 'em over time.
Of course, the big "improvement" that the city would like to add to Hawthorne is parking meters. The p.r. push to get the merchants there to sign off on that change will no doubt come on hot and heavy once the upcoming construction starts showing results. I hope they're smart enough to fight it. I know I'll think twice about going down there to shop if it's going to cost me a buck or more to park.
But that story's for another day. If you're in the mood this week, take a ride along Hawthorne to get the "before" picture. They have a little Second Thursday thing that's kind of nice. The place may never feel quite the same again after Sunday. And in some respects, that's a good thing.
Is Portland going to knock down its downtown fire station and kick the Saturday Market out of its home to make way for a condo tower and wine and cheese purveyors? These proposals have been on the table for years now, and I've long since concluded that they are done deals. The fact that members of the public are actually paying attention to the various processes currently in play is slowing things down a bit, but the PDC continues to work behind the scenes making move after move while holding countless diversionary community meetings that disclose nothing.
There's apparently going to be yet another one with the Saturday Market vendors and fans this Friday. Don't hold your breath expecting any kind of serious announcement to come out of that, but do expect to come away with an incrementally stronger feeling that their current location is toast.
It looks as though there will never be a magic moment when the PDC or the City Council actually meets and "decides" these issues. But be shocked if they don't come to pass. Perhaps they'll use the old aerial tram [rim shot] ploy -- get it way down the road and then scream "It's too late to turn back now!"
For the record, the two moves are now being discussed as done deals over at the Parks Bureau (see page 2).
With all the tiebreakers applied, here's the final outcome of our World Cup football pool. Even with four tiebreakers, there was still one tie! That's soccer, I guess:
3. Gordon G.
4. Steve C.
11. Drew S.
12. David (tie)
12. jarvisd (tie)
15. Alan DeW.
16. Gordon H.
21. Jon W.
If anything looks amiss, feel free to appeal below in the comments.
TRP is the winner and will receive free beverages from your host in the near future. When the date and time are set, perhaps we'll invite other entrants to join us.
The pool was great fun, as was following the Cup generally. Thanks especially to Steve and Harry Stark for suggesting that I might enjoy this. Indeed I have.
Since none of our entrants had either Italy or France to make it to the championship match, we can now announce the final scores in our World Cup soccer pool:
TRP - 13
Bean - 13
Gordon G. - 11
Amanda - 11
Steve C. - 11
Travis - 11
Martin - 10
Pankleb - 10
Quyen - 10
Bog - 9
David - 9
jarvisd - 9
Craig - 9
Drew S. - 9
Eric - 8
Alan DeW. - 8
Gordon H. - 8
Jyah - 8
hilsy - 7
tjtassin - 7
Jon W. - 7
George - 7
beerrick - 7
Brown - 6
Rubin - 5
Jeff - 4
Swankette - 4
Soccernut - 3
The ties will be settled tomorrow. For top spot, TRP said there will be four goals in the championship match (not counting any penalty kick shootout); Bean said there will be five. Closer to the actual total wins the prize -- a couple of beverages on me.
Commenters here have raised some interesting arguments for retaining some sort of special liability cap for OHSU. You can read them yourself in the comments to this entry. I'm not sure I'm buying them -- not as I stare at that infernal tram tower -- but let's assume that you do. Well then, we could solve this mess by retaining the cap -- just making it much larger, and adjusting it every year by some inflation factor.
The state agency liability cap (ORS 30.270) came in in 1967. Was the $200,000 limit put in place then? If so, let's just change it to reflect inflation over the intervening 38 years. What cost $200,000 in 1967 would cost $1,138,686.94 in 2005, according to the national Consumer Price Index.
Of course, the cost of medical care has gone up much faster than the cost of living generally. And the cost of living in Portland -- particularly housing -- has escalated much faster than it has elsewhere in the country. So let's be generous and set the new limit at $2 million, or even $2.5 million, and adjust it automatically every year for inflation. You could pick whatever inflation index you like.
If the recent court ruling is right, this is going to take an amendment to the state constitution. But if OHSU deserves a liability cap, it should not be at a number that was set decades ago. Certainly they're not talking about rolling back their prices up there to 1967 levels.
The guys who want to build a huge hotel near the white elephant Oregon Convention Center -- and who want Portland taxpayers to pay for most of it -- are testing the portability of their proposal. Now that the Portland Development Commission, under Mayor Potter's appointees, is apparently turning a cold shoulder to the massive taxpayer subsidies that it would take to make this whale of a mistake happen, the salesmen for it have taken their pitch to -- get ready for this one -- Metro.
What in the heck is Metro? I hear some of you asking. That's our "unique" regional government that's not a county, not a city, just this other layer of governmental thing that lurks over much of what goes on around Portland way. Its main function is to coordinate land use regulation and garbage collection in the metropolitan area around the Rose City, but it's also got a handful of other responsibilities. It runs the zoo, the Convention Center, and the Expo Center, and it's in charge of all manner of publicly owned open space, including most of the old and neglected cemeteries that nobody wants. Metro came into its current configuration during the Goldschmidt time, and so it's got the customary environmental gloss over the seamy underbelly of big bucks backroom wheeling and dealing.
From my own cynical viewpoint, Metro is just another unwatched pot of public money sitting there ripe for pillaging by the ravages of human greed. It's on my list with the PDC, the Port of Portland, Tri-Met, the Expo Commission, the "Lottery" Commission, the OLCC, Saif -- too many flakey budgets and too many opaque financial statements for anyone to keep good tabs on. And -- unlike the PDC -- places like Metro, the Port, and Tri-Met still have lieutenants of the city's Old Boy Network at or near the helm.
So it's natural that when the PDC board came to its senses and said "probably not" to the hotel (thank you, Sal Kadri!), the project's proponents went to look for another brimming tax trough to drink out of. And who better to provide it than the boys at Metro?
And by jove, Metro is intrigued by the convention center hotel concept -- positively fascinated -- and allows that maybe it could somehow be the public benefactor for it. Or maybe it could enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the city or the PDC. Uh huh -- just like the SoWhat district and the OHSU Medical Group aerial tram [rim shot]. Nothing but greatness can result when our various governmental entities band together.
Bring on the smoke and mirrors.
It wil be interesting to watch the meanderings of the Metro folks as they get cozied up to by the hotel developer (who already happens to be a major landlord around Metro's own headquarters). Can you say "charrette"? One of the issues I hope somebody raises is whether Metro has the legal authority to get involved in the development of a privately owned or operated hotel to begin with. Its charter may not permit it. Here's what it says, in relevant part:
Metro is also authorized to exercise the following functions: (1) acquisition, development, maintenance and operation of: (a) a metropolitan zoo, (b) public cultural, trade, convention, exhibition, sports, entertainment, and spectator facilities, (c) facilities for the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, and (d) a system of parks, open spaces and recreational facilities of metropolitan concern; (2) disposal of solid and liquid wastes; (3) metropolitan aspects of natural disaster planning and response coordination; (4) development and marketing of data; and (5) any other function required by state law or assigned to the Metropolitan Service District or Metro by the voters.
Yes, "convention... facilities" is in there, but does that include a hotel? And notice too that it says "public" facilities. Is a privately owned (or at least privately operated) hotel included in that category? Far from clear.
If the Metro angle bombs out, I'm sure the people who want to build this monstrosity will move on to the next Old Boy pork pot. Tri-Met's a stretch, but there is a light rail station nearby. Give Bernie a call. Maybe the Port? Calling Tom Imeson. Lottery Commission? Of course there will be slots in the bar, but only a hundred machines or so. Wonder what Dale Penn would say. Saif's usually good for a scam. Or hey, how about OHSU itself? The constant stream of international biotech gurus that are on their way to Portland will need a place with a spa to stay and enjoy a massage as they leaf through the Portland Monthly.
Adding to the pathos is the recent revelation that the downtown hotel operators, who obviously need this competition like a hole in the head, have hired none other than supremely annoying lobbyist Len Bergstein (himself an Old Boy) to fight the project in the media. You can expect the same transparency from Len on this issue that we're now enjoying in the Gorge casino debate. It's not about money, people, it's all about the salmon! And of course, the children.
In any event, if this hotel is of such regional importance that Metro needs to be involved, then let's let all the taxpayers in the region pay whatever high-eight-figure subsidy it's going to take. Let's make sure everyone under the Metro umbrella -- in Beaverton and Hillsboro and West Linn and Molalla and Wilsonville -- pungles up their share of the taxes that build the thing. Lord knows, no one in the hotel industry is dumb enough to try it themselves.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that individual doctors and nurses at Oregon Health and Science University (and their insurance companies) are not protected by the $200,000-per-botched-procedure liability cap that OHSU itself enjoys under state law. It looks like a truly significant victory for the plaintiff, a boy who was left seriously brain-damaged by alleged negligence up on Pill Hill. The opinion of the unanimous three-judge panel (which interestingly, included Oregon Supreme Court candidate Virginia Linder) is here.
OHSU says it will appeal further. Can't waste money taking care of that boy when we've got an aerial tram to build.
Hard to believe, but here it is the fourth anniversary of the start of this blog. To everyone who's visited here (and you've done so more than 900,000 times so far), thanks for giving me this outlet to express myself.
Best wishes also to the many other bloggers whose writings inform, uplift, amuse, inspire, and excite me nearly every day. One of the great joys of becoming an avid blogger has been becoming an avid blog reader.
One of the things we've learned in our years in the blogosphere is not to ask why Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard takes the positions he does. If you dare to suggest that politics enters into his calculations, the good commish himself will often jump into the conversation to say, How dare you question his reasons! "You don't know my motivations," he'll tell you. "You're insulting me."
The more I've thought about this line from the good fireman, the odder it seems. Is that what he's going to tell his constituents the next time he runs for re-election -- "You have no way of knowing what motivates me"? Either you're trying to please the people who vote for you, Randy, or you're the dumbest politician walking around Portland -- and we all know for a fact that the latter isn't true.
And so it is with Leonard's recent salvos against the Portland Development Commission. Now he's got the religion we've been preaching on this blog for around four years now. The PDC's footsie deals with the private developers who are cashing in on the city government's bizarre condo fetish look a little hokey. Paying millions for property, then suddenly discovering it's worthless and literally giving it away. Fireman Randy now says (with Opie and Sam the Tram nodding frantically in agreement) that that smells at least a little fishy, and it needs to be independently audited. No kidding, dude!
But where've you been, commissioner? And why the sudden, intense burst of activism? Especially now, with the new Potter PDC commissioners on board, the Convention Hotel scam temporarily on hold, and a recent commitment by the PDC bigwigs to better performance measurement? It's still a tangled web over there, but the general direction seems to be one of mild improvement. So why the sudden attack bursts from Randy and his City Council colleagues?
Now that's the question the good fireman won't answer, or even sit still for you to ask. But you have to notice that the turning up of the heat comes along just as we ponder the PDC's recent court victory over the local construction workers' unions. The unions wanted PDC-sponsored public-private "partnership" deals declared sufficiently "public" that they had to comply with the laws that set minimum "prevailing wage" pay scales for public projects. A judge in Multnomah County court rejected that proposition, and so the developers who get PDC pork can still say they're "private" and not comply with those laws.
Funny thing, but that's right about the point that Fireman Randy, a former firefighters' union chief, boiled over on the subject of PDC roguishness generally. Coincidence?
Do not get me wrong, people. I'm all for the unions. My dad was a Teamster his whole working life, and if he hadn't been, I wouldn't be where I am today, that's for sure. As Steve Earle puts it, "If you ever had a dangerous job, you'd know you need a union."
And like Fireman Randy, I'm down on the loosey-goosey status of the PDC -- they deserve all the scrutiny that he's proposing, and a whole lot more. But let's get right down to it. I suspect that when the PDC rolls over on the "prevailing wage" issue (and it's just a matter of time), things between that agency and the city commissioners will get all nicey-nicey again.
Speaking of the "prevailing wage" controversy, I was intrigued to see this announcement from the PDC after its meeting last week:
Finally, the board introduced a resolution authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an indemnity agreement with the owner on the Assurety Northwest project, to cover construction cost increases attributable to the application of prevailing wage law up to five percent of the $2.735 million construction contract.
"This resolution means the PDC Board is behind this project and committed to its success," said Commissioner Mark Rosenbaum. "This project is extremely important to the Lents community and represents renewal and jobs to this community."
Assurety Northwest has proposed to purchase a 77,000 sq. ft. site along SE Foster Blvd. in the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area (Lents URA) with the intent to build a new 30,000 sq. ft. commercial building. The site is currently empty and the project represents the first major new commercial investment in the Lents URA since the creation of the urban renewal area in 1998. The project would meet several economic development goals for the district beyond the construction investment including creating new construction and permanent jobs, and moving Assurety's 45 employees to Lents to help revitalize the Town Center area. The Assurety resolution was approved by a vote of 4-0.
Does this action (apparently not on the meeting's official agenda) mean that the contractor out in Lents is going to be bound by the "prevailing wage" law? And that it will continue to pay illegally low wages, but that the PDC -- namely we, the city taxpayers -- will pick up the difference?
Is that what Fireman Randy is driving at?
Just another crazy day in Portland city government, I guess.
Last evening's post about the Madeleine School yard brought in a nice e-mail response from reader Mike Rose, who writes:
I attended Madeleine grade school 1946-1954, before the playground was blacktop. In those days it was as you describe: clay, with patches of gravel and ruts eroded by the ever-present Portland rain. As I recall, there were 2 baseball backstops....one at the NW corner of 23rd and Klickitat, the other diagonally across on the 24th ave side, up against the school building. A sidewalk stood between the school building and the playground, and the black habited nuns would stand there and monitor our recess activity, whistles around their necks, using them regularly to slow us down if we were chasing the girls too fast, or otherwise engaging in some prohibited activity. Back to class was signaled by one of the nuns clanging a bell.
We'd play softball and baseball, as well as soccer and football. Falling down would earn us gravel ground into our hands and knees, and possibly a rip in our salt 'n pepper corduroys, paired with our navy blue sweaters and white shirt uniforms which were mandatory for most of the school year.
Our team, the Madeleine Mighty Mites, was coached by Fr. James Dillon, a younger priest who was assistant pastor to Msgr. George Campbell, who aspired to Archbishopric, but never made it, as Edward Howard outlived him. Campbell drove the fundraising to build the "new", current church. He had elegant taste, and insisted on the quality construction and traditional, gothic design that distinguishes the edifice. His taste also dictated the fine, gold lame Mass vestments that hung in the vestry and were used for special Mass occasions.
As an altar boy, I was fortunate enough to be asked back to serve at the dedicatory Mass for the new church, which was completed and opened just after we had graduated and moved on to Central Catholic HS in 1954.
Other neighborhood minutiae includes a vacant lot, directly across Klickitat from the old playground...resplendent with fir trees, scotch broom, dusty paths, blackberries and hideaways, where we often played as kids. At the Fremont end of the lot, there existed the Alameda drug store, complete with traditional soda fountain, with real milkshakes, cokes and green river sodas. Arden ice cream was the brand they scooped. Next to the drugstore on Fremont was John Arneson's barber shop, as well as John Rumpakis' shoe repair. Upstairs was jack Hamil's dentist office (mercury in the silver fillings!!!....how did we all survive?) South of the drugstore on 24th was the upscale Alameda market, with oiled wood floors, where the grocer filled your order, and delivered to your home in a black, Plymouth paneled delivery. The SE corner of Fremont and 24th was a Safeway store, while the north side of Fremont were Chevron and Shell "service" stations on either side of 24th. I and my family were customers/patients of all noted above.
I grew up on 21st, between Fremont and Klickitat....often sold Kool-Aid and used comics at curbside. The Broadway street car (Portland Traction Co) ran south to downtown on 22nd, and back to our neighborhood north on 24th. Buses replaced the streetcars sometime in the 50s.
I remain in touch with a few of my classmates who still live in Portland. Indeed, my first girlfriend from way back then, lives today in her parents' home where she grew up, and still has the same phone number I dialed 55+ years ago (fewer digits....if memory serves, methinks the prefix was GA-rfield xxxx....which then became AT-lantic 4-xxxx....and is now 284-xxxx).
This exercise taxes my old brain....but what a fun trip back it was. More minutiae than you ever imagined, I'm sure.
Surprisingly, none of the players in our pool had either of the winners of the two semi-finals in World Cup football -- Italy and France. And only two players can still win any points in the third-place ("consolation") match on Saturday.
Thus, we can name a winner in the pool, except that there's a tie at the top. Bean and TeacherRefPoet each have 13 points, and so the tie will be broken with reference to the combined scores of both sides in Sunday's final match. Bean went with 5, and TRP with 4. The closer to the actual count wins, and so we'll have a winner on Sunday.
The final standings, except for the tiebreaker, will be available after the third-place game on Saturday. Since no one had either of the finalists right, no one will be earning additional points in the standings on Sunday.
Here where the Irvington and Alameda neghborhoods of Portland meet, our native soil is clay. For the gardeners of the neighborhood, it's less than ideal, and so we do our best to break it up by adding all sorts of rich black soil, peat moss, and compost to our flower and vegetable beds. But when all that stuff breaks down, the clay is still there, soaking up water and acting dense. You can win out over it only for a while.
Right now there is on display one of the largest exhibits of Irvington clay you'll ever see, at the playground of the Madeleine School at NE 24th and Klickitat. This was a big expanse of blacktop for many decades (you can see it pretty clearly in this older satellite image), but now the macadam has been torn out to make way for an artificial-grass soccer field and some other amenities.
It looks as though they're trying to make the surface of the whole lot perfectly level, and that creates some interesting angles with the surrounding sidewalks, since the rights of way on that block most definitely have a slope:
As the neighorhood grouchy old coot opposed to change, I'm staying neutral on this one. There's a lot to like about it, but also some things to worry about. And as an old blacktop schoolyard man from wayback, I'm going to miss the familiar sight of Catholic school kids wrecking their uniforms doing unauthorized baseball slides and taking unanticipated tumbles on the hard surface. Long before there was Astroturf, there was stickball.
Anyway, if you ever wanted to write an ode to Irvington clay, now's the time to drop by for inspiration.
In honor of the semi-finalists in the World Cup "football" tournament, tonight's dinner featured: from Portugal, fado music and vinho verde; from France, Perrier water; and in honor of Germany, hamburgers. Italy was not represented, but that will be easy to make up for in our regular menu rotation.
France just eliminated Brazil from the World Cup. And so the first rule of World Cup soccer has already been fulfilled: When the Cup is held in Europe, a European team will win. All four teams left in this year's event are from that continent.
There's chaos in our prediction pool, no doubt. Time to get over there and try to sort things out.
UPDATE, 2:21 p.m.: Mathematically, I have a shot at winning the pool! But France will have to beat Portugal. Based on what I just saw, I'm optimistic. Vive la France! (Now that will get this site some traffic from the NSA, eh?)
Two gam -- er, matches -- in World Cup "football" today: at 8 a.m., we have England vs. Portugal, and at noon, Brazil vs. France. Both of these "knock-out" matches should be interesting.
I'm pulling for Portugal in the first game. I've been to that land, it's beautiful, and its people love to fleece the English tourists with a sweet smile. Plus, I love how they stick an "h" after the "n" to make the "ny" sound, rather than slapping that squiggly thing on top of the "n." If the Portuguese win, it's vinho verde with supper tonight! If the Brits prevail, we'll toast with a cold Newcastle Ale.
Neither outcome in that one affects my pool entry -- I had the worthless Dutch to win that match, and they're long gone -- but the second game is a biggie for my first-time effort as a world Cup prognosticator. Like most, I've got Brazil to win.
Now, I feel for the French side. Playing Brazil is like playing the Yankees in the World Series. Everybody knows them, thinks they're the best, long tradition of winning, top-shelf players, yada yada yada. But I'll tell you, the French looked mighty good against the Spaniards. They're athletic, talented, and pretty smart out on the pitch (I love that kind of talk). Plus, I hope I won't get into too much trouble saying this, but so that you non-soccer-devotees can picture it: They're not a bunch of pasty guys with curly mustaches -- many are black. To me, the French bench looks quite like that of an NBA team. In any event, they are not going to go down easy.
The winners of these two contests will play each other in the semi-finals on Wednesday. (The other contenders at that level are Germany and Italy, who won yesterday and square off on Tuesday.) Today's losers, like yesterday's, are done.
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2012
Decoy, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Marqués de Murrieta, Reserva Rioja 2010
Kendall-Jackson, Grand Reserve Cabernet 2009
Seven Hills, Merlot 2013
Los Vascos, Grande Reserve Cabernet 2011
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Forlorn Hope, St. Laurent, Ost-Intrigen 2013
Upper Five, Tempranillo 2010 and 2012
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Topsail, Syrah 2013
Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2013
Robert Mondavi, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2012
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2014
Boomtown, Cabernet 2013
Boulay, Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Domaine de Durban Muscat 2011
Patricia Green, Estate Pinot Noir 2012
Crios, Cabernet, Mendoza 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Dehesa la Granja, Tempranillo 2008
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #15
Selvapiana, Chianti Ruffina 2012
Joseph Carr, Cabernet 2012
Prendo, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2014
Joel Gott, Oregon Pinot Gris 2014
Otazu, Red 2010
Chehalem, Pinot Gris, Three Vineyards 2013
Wente, Merlot, Sandstone 2011
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2012
Monmousseau, Vouvray 2014
Duriguttti, Malbec 2013
Ruby, Pinot Noir 2012
Castellare, Chianti 2013
Lugana, San Benedetto 2013
Canoe Ridge, Cabernet, Horse Heaven Hills 2011
Arcangelo, Negroamaro Rosato
Vale do Bomfim, Douro 2012
Portuga, Branco 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2009
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Kristina's Reserve 2010
Rodney Strong, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 28, 2012
Coppola, Sofia, Rose 2014
Kirkland, Napa Cabernet 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Napa Meritage 2011
Kramer, Chardonnay Estate 2012
Forlorn Hope, Que Saudade 2013
Ramos, Premium Tinto, Alentejano 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Rutherford Cabernet 2012
Bottego Vinaia, Pinot Grigio Trentino 2013
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2011
Pete's Mountain, Elijah's Reserve Cabernet, 2007
Beaulieu, George Latour Cabernet 1998
The Occasional Book
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt
Miles run year to date: 3
At this date last year: 0
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269