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Jack Bog's Blog, by Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon

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November 2002 Archives

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Uh oh

Just when I thought I might get through the holidays without packing on some extra pounds, Burgerville comes out with their sweet potato fries for the month of December. Oh, man, these are way too good. (General tone and weight concern courtesy of Bob Borden.)

UPDATE: Great minds think alike, though in this case there's a genetic link. Just after I posted the above lament, I clicked over on my cousin Jim's excellent new blog and found him extolling the virtues of the North Jersey hot dog. BTW, I'm totally with him on Rutt's Hut. Although the dog is king there -- they used to ask every customer "How many dogs?" and sneered if you said, "No dogs" -- they used to punctuate every incoming order of fries with a loud, proud shout: "Frenchies!"

Nice day to start again

Guess who turns 47 today?

Hello again, sports fans

Read all the gory details about the big sports story from Portland.

Friday, November 29, 2002

In the mailbox

The Port of Portland is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to "study" the noise problems created by its beloved Portland International Airport. So far the consultants have churned out a lovely six-page, three-color mailer reporting that, upon intensive application of their high-priced expertise, they have discovered that yes, the airplanes do make noise, and yes, the people who live below them don't like it. So far it has taken no fewer than six consulting firms to reach this profound conclusion.

But according to the brochure, this is only the beginning. More and more study will be done, with public meeting after public meeting, before a "noise compatibility program" is submitted to the federal government. If the federal government doesn't approve, I guess there will be even more study required.

I have not perused such a silly document -- nor witnessed such a grand waste of public money -- since my days as an activist against the nuclear waste dump at Hanford, Washington. There has been no shortage of consultants, studies, advisory committees, meetings, plans, and brochures up that way, either -- I have boxes and boxes of the stuff -- but the plain fact is, they don't know what to do with the waste, and they have blown billions of dollars screwing around with decades of plans and pilot projects that haven't worked. Fat-cat government contractors get rich talking to the public about how the quality of life has suffered, and will continue to suffer.

The Portland airport noise study is like the nuclear waste program -- an attempt to process to death a problem that won't go away. It's like the airport's noise abatement office. There's a number you're supposed to call to report egregious noise problems from the airport. But when you call, you spend 20 minutes on the phone with a guy who confirms to you that, yes, a noisy little Cessna went over your house at about 500 feet at 4:10 the other morning. That's it, thanks for calling.

As long as the airport attracts traffic, it will make noise. If the Port had the guts to establish a curfew, we could spend these tax dollars on schools and cops and mental health and food and shelter for the homeless. But it doesn't, so we don't. If the Port had had the sense to require the noisy littler planes to use the Port's Troutdale and Hillsboro airports, there would be far fewer complaints from densely populated urban neighborhoods. But they didn't, and so the complaints continue to roll in.

The other role of this high-priced study is a smokescreen for the Port's obvious agenda -- to condemn the two golf courses out around the airport for yet another expansion. Bigger, bigger, bigger airport -- that's what the Port people have always wanted during my nearly 25 years here. Already the consultants are setting us up for it:

The program... is part of ongoing efforts by PDX to reduce the effects of airport noise while continuing to operate a vital international airport in our growing community....

From the regional viewpoint, the [Study Advisory Committee] must balance the economic benefits of having a vibrant airport with maintaining the desired quality of life.

As a veteran of the nuclear waste boondoggle, let me translate the six-page, three-color brochure for everybody: If you think the noise is bad now, just wait.

And you golfers out there in Northeast Portland, get your rounds in while you can.

Take a bow, Stevie

Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was going to miss it.

The new documentary about the Motown sidemen was in town, but it was scheduled to run for only a week at the local art house. And it was the busiest week of the year for me, so I couldn't make it. Now word is out that it's moving over to a bigger place downtown, so some friends and we are talking about catching it over the weekend.

I've been thinking about my own personal Motown history quite a bit lately. It started when I was in grammar school. I remember being at Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore with my family, and winning a little Japanese transistor radio at one of the wheels of chance on the boardwalk. It had not just one transistor, but two! And a little earplug for private listening. I never liked the earplug much, but I did put that radio underneath my pillow when going to sleep at night. Scott Muni and Cousin Brucie were the New York DJs who spun the hits. Don't forget Saturday night is Party Night on the Cousin Brucie Show!

Anyway, one of those summers, the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go?" was No. 1, and it was the perfect beach song. Motown wasn't a dynasty then, just one of many labels jousting for attention on the airwaves. Diana, Mary and Flo had such a wonderful sound, and they looked so nice on Ed Sullivan.

But then, all of a sudden, they got bumped off the top of my chart by the voice of this little blind kid who blasted forth with the happiest sound I had ever heard up until that point.

What he told us all to do was: "Everybody say 'Yeahhh!'"

And we did.

I'll never forget going to another one of those boardwalk wheels -- the one where you could win records -- and scoring the single "Fingertips" on the yellow Tamla label. Part 1 was on Side One and Part 2 was on Side Two. Part 2 got played to death on the radio, but I dug Part 1 almost as much. It was closer to pure jazz, and Stevie played that harmonica like crazy over there. Plus, you got hear him exhort you to "Stomp your feet, jump up and down, do anything that you want to do! Yeah!"

The highlight of the whole song, recorded live, was the ending. Stevie had just knocked everybody out, and the audience, which had a lot of kids in it, was screaming. The announcer was trying to drag Stevie off the stage, but he stayed out there and insisted on doing just a little bit more of his song. Apparently even the next band that was coming on wanted to play a few bars with him. "What key? What key?" one of them asks the piano player in the background. And that keyboard man plays them the three notes that identify the key, and off they all go together.

By now the announcer is screaming at the top of his voice: "Stevie Wonder!" It just made you want to turn it over and start all over again on Side One.

That 45 got lost somewhere along the line during my law school days, and I didn't hear Part 1 for many years, until a couple of years ago when I stumbled across a Stevie box set called "At the End of a Century." Right at the beginning, there are Parts 1 and 2, together in their full glory, with more of the announcer than you got on the single. When I heard it again in my grownup house, I nearly cried.

From there on, Motown went on a major roll for me and my friends, and although the new additions have long since stopped, that music is still my favorite. Fast forward a couple of years from the Shore days and you find The Four Tops Greatest Hits, the Temptations Greatest Hits and the Supremes Greatest Hits in heavy rotation. Martha and the Vandellas, the Marvelettes, Marvin and Tammi, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Junior Walker, and Not-So-Little Stevie. "Function at the Junction" � Shorty Long, wasn't it? Edwin Starr's "25 Miles." Greatness at every turn.

So I can't wait to see this flick about the orchestra. I want to learn some more about the guys who knew "What key? What key?"

UPDATE: Fred elaborates: The band coming on behind Little Stevie was Mary Wells' band. The guy doing the "what key, what key?" thing was the bass man. Stevie says that the guy (Larry Moses) said a few other things that they didn't put into the final version, 'cuz they weren't repeatable. The song, contrary to most people's beliefs, was recorded at the Regal Theater in Chicago, not the Apollo. The song was Motown's second #1 record. (Do you remember what was the first?)

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Enjoy it

Happy Thanksgiving!

Another blog birth announcement

My cousin Jim, he of Coasters-drummer-for-a-night fame, has just jumped into the Blogger pool. Welcome, James! We look forward to reading you on a regular basis.

That's two blogchildren in less than two weeks! I should get some kind of income tax credit for this.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

That's a relief

Looks like our war fears were unfounded.

New addition my "Other Bloggers" list

This gal seems wise beyond her years.

Long time gone

This having-a-job stuff has really been getting in the way of my blogging the last few days. In the academic world in which I work, the end of the semester (next Wednesday) marks the deadline for many things outside of the classroom. For example, right now all student activities must wind down for exams, triggering a flurry of last-minute happenings. Moreover, we're trying to decide whom to hire to fill a key position on our faculty. And a guy who was supposed to start working for us in January suddenly jilted us, quite unfairly. In addition, we're all scrambling to use our last few class hours as wisely as possible, which can take an unusual level of concentration. And right about now our students get pretty uptight about their looming exams, which in turn leads to the need to spend more time hand-holding.

Last night, in a major lapse in judgment, I also felt compelled to attend a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game. I had purchased the tickets as part of a season ticket commitment made several years ago, and I just couldn't bring myself to rip them up. And of course, given the disaster the home team has become, no one wanted to buy the tickets from me. The game was terrible -- poorly played basketball, and the bad guys won -- but the saddest part was, I really didn't care. It was a good excuse to get caught up with a friend, nothing more.

Now I'm looking at four days off, including some much needed sleep and unwinding. And what could be more relaxing and fun than sitting back and telling a few stories here and on Yakety Yak?

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Never trust a pirate

If you have little kids in the house, you probably know all about the snack foods called "Pirate's Booty," "Fruity Booty," and "Veggie Booty." These little puffed goodies resemble Chee-tos, only blander, and with weirder flavoring. Most children at a certain age can't get enough of this stuff -- so much so that one mom we know calls it "kiddie crack." We finally had to curb our little one's access to booty, as she was filling up on a decidedly unbalanced diet because of it.

Well, wouldn't you know it? The booty people were evil, evil, evil. Nestled in my New York Times yesterday was a tiny legal ad addressed to "all persons in the United States who, between January 1, 1999, and October 1, 2002, purchased at retail any of the following products distributed by Robert's American Gourmet Food, Inc." -- and then listing all three booties. The message? The booty boys and girls are being sued in a class action for allegedly falsifying the fat and caloric content of their products, and now a settlement is being proposed. The newspaper ad directs us all over to the official booty website for the full text of the settlement notice.

If you go over there, check out the colorful graphics and the seemingly innocuous little commercial site, with the plain words "settlement notice info" just under the cute cartoon booty hottie.

Perhaps funnier, although doubtlessly typical of class action settlements, is the proposed remedy: The booty boys and girls will be required to circulate a bunch of coupons giving consumers 40 cents off on each bag of booty purchased for a specified period in the future.

The plaintiffs' attorneys won't be getting compensated in snack food, however. Their reward, up to $790,000, will be paid in cash.

What a country.

Monday, November 25, 2002

New kids in town

My recent posts about the Coasters have spawned (just what the world needs) another blog. It's called Yakety Yak, and it will focus on the music of the '50s through the '70s. Joining me in its writing is my longtime friend and rock 'n' roll legend Fred. So if you want to keep up on my rock and roll nostalgia side, bookmark this and we'll see you over there.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

With a little help from my friends

Bloggers love referrals from other bloggers. Referrals increase readership and help spread one's ideas. Hence, weblogs are usually surrounded by templates that are crowded with list upon list of links, often returning past favors.

Until now, I have resisted creating such a list, mostly because to me it just makes the page too noisy. But I am quite grateful to the stars of the blogosphere who have mentioned me once in a while. Modest though its readership may be, this blog saw a relatively major uptick when Tony, Howard and Denise pointed to it. And there are a few others that I check in on every day, even though they have never heard of me.

And so herewith begins a little list, which can be found here. It will be updated periodically as I find new picks to suggest to you, the reader. But given the strange things that can happen when one edits a Blogger template, the link in the masthead above will always simply say "Other Bloggers."

Today's time waster

This will keep me busy. (Discovered at blort.)

Friday, November 22, 2002

Bang bang

Was (Not Was)
What Up, Dog?
Chrysalis Records, 1988

11 MPH (Zapp Ruder Version)

Lee Harvey O. didn't have no daddy
He never caught a break
He never drove a Caddy
Joined the Marines to learn a skill
And that he did
He learned to kill

At 11 miles an hour
Such a deadly speed
11 miles an hour
At the time and place agreed
They pulled that limousine
Down Elm Street slow and clean
Lead fell like a shower
At 11 miles an hour

JFK went down to Dallas
To cool some heels in the oil palace
Unfriendly country
But he was unafraid
He would wave to the people
From a passing motorcade


JFK told Krushchev
I'll leave Castro alone
If you take away those missiles
They're too damn close to home
The CIA, the Cubans
And the underworld bosses
Decided that was it
They had to cut their losses


Lee Harvey O. was made to order
A radical nut, a drifter and a boarder
Earl Warren got a version out fast
America was happy
The patsy had been cast


(Format idea courtesy of Tony Pierce)

We interrupt this program

Thirty-nine years ago today, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, I was in the sixth grade. We were in our classroom on the second floor, having just gotten back from our weekly trip down to the Bookmobile, which the Newark Public Library parked outside our school all day every Friday. The shades were drawn, and we were watching a program on WNDT, Channel 13, the educational station in New York. The black and white TV images were up in the corner near the ceiling. As usual, the faint sound of rattling cans from the nearby Ballantine brewery could be heard in the background.

I can't remember which show we were watching. It could have been "Parlons Francais," the French lesson show with Anne Slack. Or it might have been the music show with that nice African-American woman (Negro lady, in those days) who taught us such hot numbers as "Grinding Corn." Or maybe it was "Places in the News," the geography/current events show with that nice, smart Jerry guy.

But it was interrupted for a bulletin. Apparently shots had been fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in Dallas.

Our teacher, Mrs. Matheson, wasn't in the room at the time. She was down in the principal's office, where she retreated when she needed a break from us, which was often. One of the girls ran out to find her, because it seemed like this was big news.

The bulletins continued to interrupt the show, which no one could concentrate on any more, anyway. Each time, the screen would cut to a card that they showed that said "Bulletin." It also included the station logo, which was a very simple cartoon owl. Sometimes the cards they displayed between shows would have three of these owls sitting side by side on top of the station call letters and channel number. You always heard the announcer, but you never saw him or her. Now a man was reading copy from one of the wire services, and sounding very agitated.

By the time Mrs. Matheson got back, there was no more show, just the owl card and the news. Indeed, Kennedy had been hit and was at the hospital. There was a rumor that he was dead. Then Channel 13 switched over to CBS, and just started simulcasting what was being broadcast there. It was Walter Cronkite.

It looked like he was crying.

We prayed a lot at that school, but when Cronkite confirmed the worst, we did something we never did before or after: we all knelt down on that cold, hard tile floor, right next to our desks. We prayed like there was no tomorrow. We didn't know what else to do. While we offered up Hail Mary after Hail Mary, Mrs. Matheson ran down to break the news to the principal. Soon the principal got on the intercom and told the whole school what the sixth grade already knew. The last classes of the day were cancelled, and we headed across the street to the church for another round of prayer, probably a whole rosary, before we went home to our stunned, frightened parents.

Friday evening at our house usually featured either fried flounder or pizza -- no meat on Friday, of course -- and a raft of TV shows. Maybe Man from UNCLE would be on, and definitely Jack Paar at 10:00. That particular Friday night, though, the three big network stations broadcast just the grim news, and the other stations continued to simulcast it. By the end of the night, the grownups were simply dumbfounded. Our moms and grandmas cried, and the men swore.

Where I lived, JFK was our man. In any given school, office, barber shop, or veterans post, you were likely to find pictures of three men: Jesus, Pope John XXIII, and JFK, and not necessarily in that order. Jack was the bright, young Democrat President. A robust (or so we thought) Catholic daddy with a beautiful, rich wife and two adorable boomer kids. And, we all joked, he had a lot of hair. He played touch football on the White House lawn with his huge Irish family. He had a temper, and as he showed the steel guys, he wasn't afraid to use it to his advantage. He stood up to Krushchev. He stood up to George Wallace. He and his brother even stood up to Jimmy Hoffa. We loved him, and now they had killed him.

I saw him once in person. He was coming to New York to address the United Nations, and my godmother, my mom's sister Peggy, insisted on taking my brother and me over to see the motorcade. And so over to the city we went on the Public Service no. 118 bus. We stood behind a police barricade along the curb on one of the big north-south thoroughfares as the giant parade breezed by. Kennedy was standing in that open car, smiling, waving at folks. Since we had only seen him on television and in the papers, we were surprised to see that his hair was a reddish brown, not black.

I also distinctly recall, as we were waiting for the motorcade to arrive, looking across the street at a man who was standing in a full-length second story window doing the same. I remarked to Aunt Peggy that that man could shoot the President from there. We all laughed then.

The assassination made for an exciting weekend for us kids, but at our age, we didn't realize how badly the wind had been knocked out of the nation and the world. We were getting used to impending disaster. Just a year before, we had trained for weeks about what to do if the air raid sirens went off. Walk quickly to the cafeteria in the school basement, where the prayers would start up again.

We knew that New York would be ground zero, because it was the center of the world. Our folks had calculated that we were just eight miles from where the Cuban missile would hit. When that crisis was defused, we had all thanked God, the Pope, and JFK, and not necessarily in that order. We had gone about the happy business of post-war America.

Then Dallas.

A few months later, the Beatles would give us our childhood back. But on that Friday before Thanksgiving, that childhood, and we, were lost.

(Photo of St. Aloysius School by my friend Bill Montferret)

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Just kiddin' around

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

A complete and total bust

Yesterday's Oregonian newspaper contained an interesting piece about how the City of Portland's quixotic plan to force the cable TV industry to allow other companies to use their cables to sell high-speed internet access has turned out to be utterly fruitless. Not only did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decisively reject the city's authority to impose this kind of restriction, but now the FCC has also decided not to force so-called "open access" on giants like Comcast, which just swallowed up Portland's cable monopolist, the good folks of AT&T Broadband.

Regular readers of this blog can guess my reaction. One question I have seen asked but never publicly answered is how much precious public money the city spent in fighting this silly fight, which no other municipality was pollyannaish enough to lead. Not only were in-house city attorneys involved: outside Washington, D.C. counsel was also hired to bring the losing case before the Ninth Circuit. Were there better places to spend these tens of thousands of dollars in the Rose City? Of course there were.

Another fundamental question is whether the city was even on the right side of the case. AT&T provides high-speed internet access to my house for about $45 a month. For that I get ISP service and the freedom to use my home telephone line for other purposes, even if I surf all day and night. Does the City of Portland really think that I would have been able to get this service more cheaply from another company operating over AT&T's lines?

Although this may all appear to be ancient history, that history is repeating itself. That same city government is currently spending hundreds of thousands of public dollars to flirt with taking over a huge electric utility, all supposedly in the name of lower rates. Those of us who open our water and sewer bills and faint -- even when they are delivered on time and are correct -- cannot picture getting cheaper power from City Hall.

Then there is the matter of the Bull Run reservoir, which the city wants to sign over to an amorphous board run by folks from the suburbs. More expense to study another weak idea in the utility field.

Will the city ever get it right?

Sunday, November 17, 2002

The season for giving is upon us

Here are some folks performing an important public service. Bookmark them so that you can help when the postman rings again.

Still Coastin'

My cousin Jim, one of those mentioned in my piece of a couple of days ago about the Coasters (among other things), writes:

I still have probably a hundred or so 45's in the basement. Perhaps on the next rainy day, I'll drag them out to see which ones survived the heavy duty plays with needles that weighed a pound or so, and the parties where they were commingled with other people's records and handled (and tossed about) with abandon.

And, of course, there are the Coasters. Perhaps you already knew, so I will try very hard not to spew endless details, but perhaps my most amazing moment in all the years (damned near 40!) that I have been playing music in one band or another, was the night I played drums for the Coasters.

Sometime between '72 and '75, we had a little trio that was working weekends in a place in Bloomfield called "Murray's Pub." The owner tried his hand at booking "oldies" acts. One of those acts was the Coasters. I could not believe it. I figured that I had a free ticket to see the Coasters up close -- possibly even from the "wings" as it were.

The Coasters showed up that night, and singing with them was Earl "Speedo" Carroll of the Cadillacs ("The often call me Speedo, but my real name is Misterrrrrrr Earl"), who replaced a member who had passed away (I believe). The only back up they used was a guitar player, who travelled with them all the time, and a tambourine.

So, when their guitar player wanted to talk with the "drummer" from the group that was set up. He also wanted to talk to Paul the bass player. He asked if I/we would back them up. My heart damned near exploded. He ticked off some of the songs that they planned on performing and asked me if I knew them. Do I KNOW them? I grew up with them!

Next thing I knew I was on stage with the great ones, while they kicked ass and took names. Some of the tunes I remember playing with them are "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown," "Searchin'," and "Poison Ivy." There were others that will come back the next time I pick up my "Complete Collection" of the Coasters songs. A week or so later, I was playing with Harvey and the Moonglows ("Ten Commandments of Love"), but nothing, nothing, nothing would top actually playing "Searchin'" with the Coasters and simply not being able to believe it was all happening.

The music was king.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

I swear

This is a fun time-killer.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Take out the papers and the trash!

When I was a kid -- and I mean a little kid of 3 or 4 -- I had teenage cousins who got me into rock 'n' roll. They'd give me some of their 45s when they grew tired of them, and of course, to me it was all new. The very first one they handed down -- Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" on the blue Chess label -- was followed up by Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire" on the yellow Sun label and Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly" on the yellow, black and white Specialty. In addition to dancing and singing, I'd stare at the turntable as it spun those records round and round.

Pretty soon I was watching "American Bandstand," televised live from Philadelphia, and buying my own records at Two Guys from Harrison, the local discount store. Under my parents' influence, there was some stuff by Connie Francis and the Diamonds thrown in, and it being "Down Neck" Newark, the Four Seasons were represented, but there were always a couple of straight-ahead rock 'n' roll numbers lying around. I knew "Hound Dog" by heart -- at least, the words that I could make out on the primitive hi-fi equipment of the day.

One oddity was my total aversion to playing the records at the wrong speed. If anyone did that, I would scream and cry unconsolably. Especially since I enjoyed the Chipmunks, a novelty act based on that very recording technique, this was quirky indeed. So much so that the same cousins would occasionally set me off for their adolescent amusement. (I eventually outgrew this little pocket of fear.)

My careers as an amateur DJ and accountant sprouted then, too. I kept all my 45s in a box, and put a little number sticker on each single. In the front of the box was a directory form, with handwritten entries (done by my parents at first) keyed to the numbers. Most of the contents of that box disappeared in my law school years -- I know where they went, and it's an interesting topic for another post -- but to this day I still have my copies of "Who's Sorry Now" (no. 39) , Joey Dee's cover of "Shout" (no. 5), "Beep Beep" by the Playmates (no. 19), and some others. I see a number 78 in here, so the box must have held 100. Maybe there were two boxes of 50, but I wanted a single numbering system. Anyway, by the time I was 8 or 9 I was recording my own radio shows on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in my room. Hours and hours of playing records and trying to sound like those New York DJs from WABC.

One of the key groups from the earliest days of this story was the Coasters. For a kiddie rocker, this was the perfect group. Rockin', melodic, and funny. Between "Charlie Brown" and "Yakety Yak," these guys were in heavy rotation on the old tube-powered record player in the bedroom I shared with my brother, while my cousins could be expected to have "Searchin'" blasting on my uncle's big stereo in the living room of his apartment upstairs. The Coasters' fine singing was punctuated by awesome sax solos by King Curtis. Parents and kids alike danced and laughed. Beautiful noise.

Yesterday I read in the paper that one of the four members of the Coasters has passed away. Billy Guy, the baritone who took the lead on several of the group's big numbers, died on Tuesday in his apartment in Las Vegas. He was 66. The New York Times obituary can be found here.

Remembrances of the legendary bi-coastal group always include reminders of how much fun the group's work was. Leiber and Stoller, the songwriting pair whose songs catapulted many rock 'n' roll acts to stardom, were quoted in the early '90s as saying:

Of all the record sessions we ever produced, the ones with the Coasters were the most fun. They were fun to work with; they were fun to be with; they were a great bunch of clowns, and they made our songs sing.
Guy himself said: "We had more fun than any other group."

It was infectious.

Having a bad day? Get the Rhino CD "The Very Best of the Coasters," and put it in the player. Press "play." The day will get a little better.

On the same page of The Times is a story about the death of Billy Mitchell, the tenor and lead singer from the group the Clovers, who had a big hit with Leiber and Stoller's "Love Potion No. 9." Mitchell, who also sang lead on "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash," left us on November 5 from Washington, D.C., where he lived. (No doubt the Times found out about Mitchell's passing when it was researching the Guy obit.)

I hope that wherever these guys are, they've got 'em laughin' and rockin'.

My friend Fred and I are always phoning each other to note the passing of R&B legends. There have been many such phone calls in the past 10 years or so, and I'm sure we'll talk about Guy and Mitchell soon. But for some reason, this time around, the memories of that Down Neck four-plex and me as that little kid with the record player have come screaming back.

Especially the teenage cousins and grownups who danced, sang, and laughed with little me. Now that I've got my own kid showing many of the same tendencies, I am so grateful for the rock 'n' roll hand-me-downs that I got. As Stevie Wonder put it in a song that was a clear tribute to the Coasters: "I wish those days could come back once more / Why did those days ever have to go? / 'Cause I loved them so..."

UPDATE: Fred writes:

There was actually a third big loss this week. Johnny Griffith of the Funk Brothers, previously part of the backup band at Motown. Be sure to read today's review in the WSJ of the new documentary, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown."
Thanks, Fred. And so we shall. Sounds like a real rockin' time up in the clouds tonight!

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Good news to start the day

The Big Man is back.

Apparently the scene was darkened, however, by a demonstration outside the concert hall by local residents who have been advocating a boycott of Cincinnati to protest alleged police brutality. Springsteen answered by opening the show with "American Skin," a pre-9/11 anti-police-brutality protest song that has drawn fire (figuratively speaking) from police backers. Springsteen has never, to my knowledge, opened a show with this number, and he often omits it entirely. And so starting the show with it was actually quite a statement. But I'm sure the current protesters weren't satisfied.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

In other words

Thanks to the folks at Google, even I can be an international man of mystery.

Just in time for the holidays

Civil charges (and perhaps worse) against Martha Stewart are expected to be filed shortly. Here is an interesting assessment of the potential case(s) against the "Leona Helsmley of the securities world."

Monday, November 11, 2002

Is this funny?

With some hesitation, I hereby opine that it is. (Thanks again, Blort.)

Sunday, November 10, 2002

It ain't me, babe

A while back, I put up a post about a recent court decision on the constitutional status of nude dancing in Oregon. I predicted that the post would attract many hits from new readers because of its topic.

I was partially right.

What is making this a real hit magnet for me is not the power of this post alone. Nay, what's bringing the browsers in is the fact that the post was near another, more innocent piece about the current state of pro football.

So what are those Google users searching for? Three words: Joey Harrington nude.

A blessed event

Looks like I have a blog baby -- my friend Matt Whitman quickly got tired of feeding me brilliant insights for this space, and he has started a weblog of his own. Have fun, Matty!

So now Eugene Volokh has a new blog grandchild. Probably one of dozens!

Guilty, guilty, guilty

I just spread a chemical fertilizer on my lawn.

Saturday, November 9, 2002

Best apple in the world

The Washington Cameo. It's what a Red Delicious apple used to be, 40 years ago.

Friday, November 8, 2002

That's our guy

Portland City Commissioner-elect Randy Leonard wastes no time. In today's Portland Tribune, he is already quoted as refusing to succumb to "city think" -- the willingness to say yes to whatever the big money contributors propose without first talking to a broad base of constituents.

You tell 'em, Randy!

I hope this attitude persists throughout Leonard's four-year term. As I e-mailed him on election night:

We were with you all the way. Please get down there and counteract some of the silliness being perpetrated by Vera and Erik. Stop giving public money away to Homer, Joe Weston and the West Hills old-money mafia. Kill the tram. No more Pearl District trolleys. No more methadone clinics and gangster halfway houses in east-side residential neighborhoods. Enough with the Convention Center white elephants. Do something for the east side, particularly southeast. Get the police stations open at night again. How about a decent mental health system, and better facilities for the homeless so that they don't all live in the St. Francis Park?

Don't succumb to the disease that most people catch once they sit in that council chair. We are looking up to you.

Wipe off that mud they threw on you, and get to work, guy.

The next day, he actually e-mailed back, thanking me and noting that I sounded like one of his campaign speeches.

Now if we could just find a like-minded, credible candidate for mayor....

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Best wishes to the Big Man

Bruce Springsteen's saxophone player and long-time stage foil Clarence Clemons is recuperating from surgery for a partially detached retina. The rousing Bruce tour is on hold until the Big Man, as he is known, is ready to blow again.

When Springsteen first burst onto the national scene in '75, the fold-out cover of Born to Run -- that Eric Meola photo of Bruce leaning on Clarence -- captured everyone's imagination. To most of the country, it seemed like an improbable pair -- this round but powerful black guy with the big horn and this skinny, melting-pot acrobat (so much shorter he's obviously standing on a box), with the Fender Esquire around his neck, smilingly admiring his friend. To people from urban New Jersey, however, this was no aberration. It was but a simple illustration of how seemingly different people come together to share and protect the good things they have when the world around them is one big bleak, oil refinery-lined turnpike. Here are some young men making magic in the apartment house basement after Tony Soprano heads back to the 'burbs for the night.

In concert an important peak in those days was when Bruce and Clarence would stalk each other menacingly, coming closer, closer, closer... then nose to nose...

At which point they'd suddenly kiss, which was the cue for a major blast from the entire band and the next segment of the song. It brought the house down every time.

Bruce has written lots of different kinds of music over the three decades since "they made that change uptown and the Big Man joined the band." The dramatic moments in the new songs are no longer reserved for the sax. On several numbers, Clarence is relegated to a tambourine-and-maracas role. But he stands stalwart up there on the stage, as if to say, "This is my family. I'm proud to be up here. Don't mess with us."

Springsteen's introductions of Clarence are always a treat. They typically take on the tone of a wrestling ring announcer. So awed is the Boss that he doesn't even look at Clarence as he shouts out his accolades. One year he was "the Master... of... Disaster!" In Portland a couple of months ago, Springsteen feigned a loss for words and sputtered out: "You wish you could be like him, but you can't!"

Indeed you can't. We can't wait to see Clarence back up on that bandstand as soon as he is able, and we hope that it is soon.

Musical interlude

This one goes out to all the kids at Animal Law. (Link courtesy of Blort.)

The next two years

What's ahead with the Republican White House finally enjoying a solidly Republican Congress? I'm no InstaPundit -- heck, I'm not even a VodkaPundit! -- but a few things appear obvious to me.

It will take a few months to reorganize the Senate, but come the first of spring we're likely to see a wild flurry of legislation of the Lott-Hatch persuasion.

The judicial nomination battles will become even bloodier, and more public. But in the end W. will make many, many court appointments, including anywhere from one to three on the Supreme Court.

We are going to resume throwing our hands around militarily.

Probably some more irresponsible tax cuts will be enacted, but the major battles on the tax code will be put off until after the '04 Presidential election.

Civil rights are going to have a bad couple of years.

Forget about real campaign finance reform. Or accounting reform.

The protest movement -- already loud and unpretty in places like Portland -- will grow substantially.

The economy won't respond, and interest rates are already at rock bottom.

The financial markets don't like the Bushes, and are likely to be even more skittish with Congress in the Presidential pocket. Don't count on the 401(k) coming back to life this cycle.

An oil crisis may occur naturally, or it may be manufactured Enron-style; in either case we'll drill the Arctic and think about reviving "safe, clean, cheap, plentiful" nuclear power.

If the Democratic party can figure out whether it still stands for anything, it may actually have a good shot at unseating Bush 43 at the end of the two years. But it's very doubtful that the Demos can right the ship. Look for an '08 ticket with people like Gore and Hillary on it -- a ticket that can't win.

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Election final

The Oregon races that were undecided last night are now concluded, and I posted mostly more winners. Kulongoski won, as did the increase in the minimum wage. Election of appeals judges by district was defeated. But the voters passed the property tax increase for child development programs, despite my cranky objections.

So the libraries, the parks, and the kids all won despite my protest votes against them. What the heck. They're all good enough causes.

Er, gee, Charlton, none of the above

Here in its entirety is today's Daily Poll on the AT&T Broadband Internet home page:

How many guns do you own?

__ 1
__ 2
__ 3
__ 4
__ 5
__ More than 5

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Election results so far

Quite a few folks checked in here over the last couple of days to read my rants on the Oregon and Portland ballots. As the vote-counting slows to a near halt overnight, here is how I did so far:

Where I lost: The Portland parks and library tax measures appear to have passed. I don't begrudge these folks the several hundred dollars a year this will cost me, but I am disappointed that so few voters can see through the thick smoke pouring out of the City Council and County Commission.

The genetically engineered food labelling measure went down hard, as I suspected it would. This is another common case in which a group gets a measure on the ballot, and then hasn't a penny left to campaign effectively. The big bucks from Monsanto and elsewhere squashed it like an organic banana.

Too close to call: The governor's race, which left me quite ambivalent anyway (though I voted for Ted Kulongoski); the local tax measure for vaguely defined child development programs (I voted no); the proposed increase in the minimum wage (I voted yes), and the ballot measure that would have state appellate court judges elected by district (I voted no).

The winnahs! I had the winning horses in Sen. Gordon Smith, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, City Council contender Randy Leonard, bonds to earthquake-proof public buildings (passed), the measure to reduce the age for serving in the legislature (failed), "none of the above" for judicial races (failed), universal health care (failed miserably), and the prohibition on paying ballot measure canvassers by the signature (passed).

I can live with this! As for the revived Republican Congress joining the Republican White House, that's quite another story, and quite another post.

Message to The Los Angeles Times

Let me join the chorus presently seeking to inform you that you simply must hire this man.

Monday, November 4, 2002

Your bar dues at work

Imagine my surprise upon reaching into my office mailbox today, to see on the cover of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin -- the official magazine of the mandatory state bar association -- the smiling face of Sen. Gordon Smith, who just happens to be running for re-election this week. Of course, his Senate colleague, Ron Wyden, is smiling alongside him. Of course, the story has to do with federal support of legal aid. But the week of the election?

And quotes like these:

Yet despite their wildly disparate dossiers, the two men happen to comprise the only bipartisan delegation in the U.S. Senate that actively and consistently sticks its neck out for the rights of low-income Americans being denied access to civil justice.
Another beaut from the staff of the Oregon State Bar. I can't wait to read the fallout from this one.

Sunday, November 3, 2002

Election Day confessions

I voted against the libraries, the parks, and the kids.

Here in Oregon, where all voting is by mail (a curious setup that merits a long post of its own sometime), I just signed and sealed up my ballot, which I will deliver tomorrow. Among the votes that I regretted to cast were those against three local ballot measures that would have increased property taxes by more than $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for the county library, restoration of park maintenance, and various vaguely described children's programs.

It's not that I'm against these programs, because I'm not. What angers me is that we are put on the spot to vote to increase taxes for these programs, when our city and county leaders have no qualms about shelling out tons of tax dollars for far less worthy and popular programs without ever consulting the voters, or in outright defiance of what the voters have already told them.

I drive around Portland and see all sorts of projects that are making developers rich while bankrupting municipal coffers. Regular readers of this weblog are no doubt tired of hearing my list: Convention Center expansion, more light rail, Pearl District trolleys, trams to Pill Hill, the ice skating rink, and now a $1 million "exploration" of whether the city should dive into the energy business. Voters have never OK'd these projects -- in fact, they have rejected a couple of them. And yet before we can have parks, libraries, and programs to combat child abuse, we have to vote to jack up our taxes. It's ridiculous.

I've got my property tax statement on my desk right now -- the annual check's due the 15th of the month. The tax is 4.87 percent higher than it was a year ago. That's enough inflation for me. I'm just not up for volunteering to increase it by 13.38 percent for next year, over and above the increases that are already allowed by law. If these measures pass, next year the jump will probably be in the neighborhood of 18 or 19 percent.

If some or all of these measures go down, the politicians will make folks like me out to be the villains. We're too selfish and cheap, they'll imply, to make an investment in our future.

To them I reply: Stop wasting the money we already pay you on toys that will get you your campaign money from the West Hills and your quotations in The New York Times. Start figuring out how to prioritize so that parks, libraries and kids can get a fair shake under the existing budget. Some of the electorate is smart enough to figure out when we're being used, and we resent it.

My other picks:

U.S. Senate: Gordon Smith. A rare vote for a Republican candidate. His Democratic challenger, Bill Bradbury, ran a campaign that did not speak to me at all. Its only message seemed to be, "Gordon Smith votes his conscience instead of the will of the voters of Oregon." Not only was that a weak note to make one's central theme, but on a lot of issues it just isn't true. If Bradbury had mentioned something about the scandalous 2001 tax cuts that are bringing deficits back with a vengeance and hindering economic recovery, I might have listened. But he didn't.

Oregon Governor: Ted Kulongoski. With a large clothespin tightly over the nasal passages. If the Republicans had had the sense to run Jack Roberts, I would have voted the other way.

U.S. Congress: Earl Blumenauer. A good guy, he's done a good job.

Portland City Council: Randy Leonard. We already have one Erik Sten; we don't need a second. It's time to hear from someone who lives in (gasp) Southeast Portland, and acts like it. Plus, Leonard has earned this.

Bonds to earthquake-proof public buildings: Yes, of course. I'm not that cheap.

Reduce age for serving in the Legislature to 18: No, thanks. I'd increase it to 35.

"None of the above" for judge: The most mean-spirited ballot measure in many years, and there has been lots of competition. No, no, a thousand times no.

State appellate judges elected by district: Heck, no! The existing electoral process already exposes the public to too many weird candidates, and makes the bench too political. To narrow the field for worthy judicial talent and localize the politics even further makes no sense whatsoever. I get a kick out of the ads that claim that giving eastern and southern Oregon guaranteed seats on the appeals courts will somehow bring about ethnic and gender diversity on the courts. Right.

Universal health care: Yoohoo! Hello! We're all broke! We can't afford to even be talking about this.

Increase the minimum wage: If you can't afford to pay your help $6.90 an hour, you don't deserve any help.

Prohibit paying ballot measure canvassers by the signature: Yes, yes, yes. The Oregon initiative system has become a perverse joke (see some of the above rants for examples). If you want my signature, you should be out there pestering me in front of the grocery store on your own time. If we must allow you to be paid, we should be able to say how.

Require labelling of genetically engineered foods: I confess to voting for this one, despite the apparent impracticality of it all. I just remember when the food industry spokepersons claimed that the sky would fall when they had to start listing the fat content of their foods on the label. "No other country does this, it's complex, it will create a bureaucracy, and blah blah blah." Since they were faking then, I'm just going to assume that they're faking now. If it's so safe, why are they so afraid to tell us what they're doing before we put the food in our mouths?

OK, that's it. More than you wanted to know, and doubtlessly likely to cost me some plum political job some day.

Saturday, November 2, 2002

The Saturday papers

Not much is better than a Burgerville turkey burger (hold the mayo) and the Saturday New York Times. (You'll have to register to follow the Times links, but it's painless.) Today we learn that the recent federal campaign reform legislation was a lot of hot air -- now the soft money will simply flow to the state parties, rather than the national parties. Another fine piece of legislation out of our Congress.

Back on the op-ed page, columnist Bill Keller holds up a harsh spotlight to the root causes of the weakness in our federal legislature. He names names -- the worst six members of Congress (4 GOP, 2 Dem; 4 House, 2 Senate) currently up for re-election. Those "whose defeat would make Capitol Hill a more civilized and productive place." I'm with you, Bill!

Friday, November 1, 2002

I know the guy this place was named after

According to the story making the rounds on the Internet, this establishment is in Winnipeg.

Crank up the hit counter

Weblog writers often boast about the number of hits their sites receive each day. Well, here's a story that may help me boost my own numbers: The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that totally nude dancing -- once thought to be a God-given right in our state -- is not in fact protected by the State Constitution. You can read the opinion here.

This is big news in Oregon, where many, many bars leave so little to the imagination that some patrons earn community college credit in gynecology.

In case you search engines out there missed it, let me remind you that I'm talking about Totally. Nude. Dancing.

Actually, this is a legitimate post for this blog, since I know both the judge who wrote the opinion and the lawyer for the strip joint way out over there on the Idaho border. And it will be an important issue for the State Supreme Court to decide.

But I won't mind the extra hits.

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