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

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September 2004 Archives

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

So long, Ruckley

My wife and I just learned that one of Portland's true characters, "Tin" Welch, left us on September 11, 2004, at the age of 75. "Tin" was short for his middle name, Quentin; his "real" first name was John, but we never called him that, except on the rent checks.

We had the great pleasure of knowing Tin in the early '90s, when we leased a house from him and his wonderful wife, Carol, in close-in SW Portland. They lived next door. You couldn't ask for better landlords, and we became fast friends.

The houses were both heavenly slices of Old Portland, down in the old Jewish part of Lair Hill, below where the infernal OHSU aerial tram is going to be built. The Welches had a great reverence for history, and an eclectic taste in art and furnishings, the likes of which I'd never seen before and haven't seen since. The neat old features of the homes were lovingly preserved -- there was still a mazuzzah on our threshold -- and enhanced by the many fine antiques and perfectly oddball decorations that Tin lined them with. You might not think that half-buried bowling balls would make a good garden border, and in most yards you'd probably be right, but at the Welches', they were positively works of art.

My now-wife and I were just starting out living together. We had little furniture, no curtains, and no rugs. But in the first of what was to become a long string of kidnesses, the Welches graciously loaned us surplus items from their huge collection of antiques and stained-glass windows. It really went a long way toward making that little house a home. Eventually we bought a couple of the items that we liked the best, and they're still prominently displayed in our current home, a couple of addresses removed from our renter days.

At the time we were next door to them, the Welches were heavily into buying and selling antiques, both as an agent for estates and on their own account. They owned a funky store up in North Portland -- open only on Saturdays, as I recall -- where they would re-sell tons of stuff that they had picked up from various sources during the week. It was a popular spot, and when it closed, many of the regular customers mourned.

Tin taught us the fine art of garage sale-ing. Stick to the estate sales, he'd say. Most of the rest is junk, and you'll be wasting your time. Moving sales? Forget it -- if the stuff were any good, they'd take it with them. And beware the "huge" garage and yard sales -- that word was a sure sign that junk was all you'd find. As we tool around to weekend sales these many years later, Tin's sage advice still rings in our ears.

We even bought a car from the Welches. They were selling off the estate of a friend of theirs, who had died unexpectedly, and included in it was a like-new Ford Taurus that was guaranteed to go to the highest bidder. We put in a bid, and a few days later, we had a new grown-up car, which we got at a relative steal.

It wasn't until many months into our friendship with Tin that he mentioned casually that he had been an actor in a prior stage of his life. He was very nonchalant about it, but as we demanded more information, we found out that Tin had been a stage actor in Portland for many years. Toward the end of the conversation, he remarked that he had even been in a Hollywood movie once. Just a small part.

Maybe we had heard of the movie? "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Continue reading "So long, Ruckley" »

Thank you, Ted McAniff

Governor Ted has kicked Lady Diana Goldschmidt off the Oregon Investment Council while the state conducts a further investigation into her vote to invest state funds in Texas Pacific Group, allegedly just as her husband was going into a lucrative partnership with TPG.

Well, it's about damn time.

Although the media accounts aren't saying so, I'll bet the governor's action was taken in response to findings of investigator Ted McAniff, a retired L.A. corporate lawyer and professor at the University of Oregon Law School. McAniff was brought in just a month ago to take a look at the situation, and it looks to me as though he didn't waste any time saying what he thought.

Good for him.

It's ironic and sad that Oregonians need an L.A. lawyer to point out the ethical lapses in government up here. But if, as I suspect, that's what happened, we owe McAniff a debt of gratitude.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Sometimes, living in Portland, it's hard to believe one's eyes and ears. I'm flabbergasted to see that the city is still pursuing an expensive, disruptive plan for a Euro-style "reunification" of the North and South Park Blocks. Mayor Vera Katz held a big party outside the Brasserie Montmartre bistro yesterday to unveil her revised "vision."

Let's see. When last I heard, the "reunification" plan was being pushed by Neil Goldschmidt and Tom Moyer. That's as in, the disgraced former governor / statutory rapist, and the fellow who's currently under indictment, charged with felony campaign finance fraud in the current mayoral election. And I seem to remember reading that Mr. Goldschmidt and his cronies own at least one of the properties whose value will greatly increase if the millions of dollars in public money are spent as planned on the "improvements" in the area. Not to mention that Mr. Goldschmidt's long-time lieutenant runs the Portland Development Commission, through which all the public money would be funneled.

Mayor Katz seems to think that since they're no longer talking about demolishing buildings, somehow people will fail to see whose pockets are being lined. Maybe she actually fails to see that herself, I don't know.

But in any other town, you would expect the local government to back off for a while, under the circumstances. Not in Portland. We put the Gold back in Goldschmidt, and we do it with pride.

As I say, it's breathtaking.

Monday, September 27, 2004

20 more reasons to vote for Tom Potter

The latest campaign contribution disclosure reports are out here in Oregon, and the contrast between Portland mayoral candidates Jim Francesconi and Tom Potter couldn't be in any starker relief. While Potter lists 126 pages of contributions -- virtually all of them moms and pops who gave him $100 or less since the primary election -- Francesconi's reports are full of contributions from the usual big-money suspects, who are doubtlessly hoping he'll become mayor and insure the continuation of business as usual at City Hall.

Among Jim-Bob's bankrollers (all figures since the primary):

Clear Channel - $2,500
Liberty Northwest - $2,500
Homer Williams - $3,500
Joe Weston - $1,000, w/American Property Management - another $2,405
Hoyt Street Properties - $1,000
Franklin Piacentini - $1,000
Jay Zidell - $1,500
James Winkler - $2,500
Naito Corporation - $2,500
North Pacific Group Inc. - $2,000
Sergeants Towing - $1,000
Tom Walsh - $1,000
Natural Gas PAC - $2,500
Hewlett Packard - $2,500
Umpqua Bank - $5,000
Hilton Hotels - $2,000
Gerdlen Edling Development - $2,500
Bank of America - $1,500
Wayne Kingsley, "investment manager" - $6,000, w/Joan Kingsley, "florist," same address - another $1,000
Daniel Hilferty of Ardmore, Pa., "health industry executive" - $1,500

And there's lots more, including some people with notable last names whose spouses or other relatives are part of the local power elite. Guess the real shot-callers didn't want their names mentioned. Careful, folks!

With this list, any hope Francesconi has of passing himself off as an agent of change seems almost laughable. As Granny Bogdanski used to say, "Show me your friends, and I'll show you who you are."

I'm tired of living in a city where all the big decisions are being made in secret by folks like those on the Francesconi list. For that reason alone, I'm more enthusiastic than ever to join the 126 pages of small donors in backing Tom Potter.

* * * * *

One last point about the campaign disclosures before signing off for now: Last night I posted some very complimentary comments about City Council candidate Nick Fish, even going so far as saying, "Trust me. When it comes to breaking the stranglehold that the developers and the West Hills Old Money have on Portland, he's the real deal." Looking at his list of campaign contributors today, however, I'm very surprised, and not in a good way. More on that later.

Well said

From today's "Back Seat" column in The Oregonian:

In a perfect world, we would all drive with your philosophy in mind. But commuting courtesy went out of style about the time The Turtles released "Happy Together" in '66.

Too much information

I missed this eBay auction, but the description of the goods is still a work of art.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Nick of time

It's been a big day for Portland City Council candidate Nick Fish. He's been endorsed by The Oregonian, which today changed its mind from the primary, when it backed his opponent, Sam Adams.

It's a big deal to be endorsed by the O -- especially when you've also gotten the nod (at least so far) from Willamette Week. And while scoring the vote of an editorial board is always a coup, having a newspaper reverse field and withdraw an endorsement of one's opponent is sweet indeed.

It couldn't come at a better time for Fish. Although his campaign is displaying extreme confidence at this point, my own intuition is that the race is very close, and that Adams has closed the sizeable gap from the primary to virtually nothing. The talk I'm hearing is all of Adams, and while the Fish lawn signs appear to have dwindled in number, the Sam signs keep popping up wherever I drive. And the ballots will be hitting the mailboxes any time now, won't they?

The new Adams signs are funny to me. In the primary and all summer, the font and format of his lawn placards was totally West Hills chic -- stately and dignified, like something out of a Rejuvenation catalog. All of a sudden, the new ones are straight outta 82nd Street -- "We trust Sam to SHAKE UP City Hall!" in a font reminiscent of an early Superman comic.

Apparently Adams's camp has finally figured out that the voters of Portland are sickened by the junk coming out of the Council Chambers the last few years, and that the only way to win this race is to disown all of it. Of course, for Adams, whose years as mayoral aide has earned him the title of the "brains behind Vera Katz," to tout his "outsider" status is ridiculous. But that's what he's selling this month, and I think people are buying. (BTW, if you put those brains in a bird, it would fly backward.)

Everybody says what a close call it is between Adams and Fish. Both would be worthy of the seat that they're seeking. And if Adams were to run against Dan "Nemo" Saltzman, I'd vote for him in a minute.

But this is Fish's time.

The O also endorsed Jim Francesconi today, a hopeless cause if there ever was one. (Oh yeah, I hear there's a poll that that race is suddenly close, but there was also a poll before the primary that gave James Posey 10 percent of the vote.) Interestingly, the editorial supporting Fish based its rationale in part on the more likely outcome that Tom Potter will be elected mayor. Apparently, the O prefers Potter-Fish "chemistry" to Potter-Adams. Potter-Adams would be two "insiders," and the O would rather have one "outsider" in the mix.

I agree. As much as Potter's backers see him as an agent of change, that's a doubtful proposition. As the Willamette Week suggested the other day, if Potter is elected, there's a good chance that Commissioner Erik Sten, Mr. Consummately Inside, will be the de facto mayor. Potter doesn't know his way around most city bureaus at all, and he'll likely count on Sten, whose endorsement propelled his candidacy, to sweat the details. And so to me, a vote for Potter is only a mild statement of displeasure at the current state of affairs at City Hall.

All the more reason to try to say something with a vote for Nick Fish. When it comes to breaking the stranglehold that the developers and the West Hills Old Money have on Portland, he at least looks as though he may be the real deal. He and Randy Leonard have the potential to be the most dynamic duo that the council has seen in decades.

(Elsewhere in municipal election news, the latest campaign finance disclosures are reportedly due tomorrow. It will be interesting to see who pungles up the dough to finance these races -- or has their secretaries do so.)

UPDATE, 9/27, 10:25 p.m.: Nick Fish's latest campaign contribution disclosures really worry me. If he's going to shake up City Hall, you couldn't tell it from the many moneyed interests here in town who are bankrolling his campaign in the general election. I've toned down some of my high praise for him in this post accordingly, and I'll have a separate post about this shortly.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Just say no

A while back, I said I'd probably vote no on all the ballot measures in Oregon this fall. It looks like Governor Ted agrees with me.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Wish I'd said that

Portland City Council candidate Nick Fish has proposed a great use for the gigantic rolls of unwanted plastic (the subject of the recent eBay scandal) that was supposed to cover the city's reservoirs. As b!X has reported it:

[Fish] reiterated his oppositon to reservoir burial and to filtration at Powell Butte. He then offered one idea to make money: Take the reservoir covers recently embroiled in the eBay fiasco and turn them into a "slip and slide" for Marquam Hill instead of building an aerial tram to OHSU.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Sacred ground

Belmar, New Jersey, August 6, 2004


If Keats could write an ode to a Grecian urn, then surely a blog tribute to my Weber grill is appropriate.

In the driveway I've got an old black Weber grill that I love. And I do mean old -- I picked it up from my friend "T-Bone" the Mailman 20 years ago or more, and he and his wife Connie had used it for a year or two before he sold it to me. Moreover, I do mean love it. I'm not much of a cook -- my beautiful bride takes care of most of that -- but when I set my mind to it, I can make good things happen out there.

I started in the very early '80s with a mini-Weber -- the "smoky Joe." It fit right in with my mindset at the time. Go small. Stay portable. Save the earth. But when I got a great deal on T's larger model, I said yes, and the rest is barbecue history.

After a while, you get to know this appliance's ways, and if you're not too busy fixing drinks, watering plants, playing with kids, or programming the backyard boombox while you're grilling, you can pull some mighty fine eatin' out of it. Whole chickens. Even turkeys. Big slabs of fish. Baskets of grilled vegetables. Corn on the cob wrapped in tin foil with a little butter. Occasionally burgers, pork chops, or even steaks. Oh yeah.

Guys my age have gas grills. They also play golf.

Hell, no. Not me.

You get the coals to red, load up the grill, put that lid on top, leave the air holes open just a little, and dang, it gets hot in there. What a fantastic design. Bravo to the wonderful inventor -- a Midwest American, I hope -- who came up with something so elegant. They ought to have one of these babies in the Museum of Modern Art.

My old soldier's gone through some replacement surgery over the years. I think I'm on the third upper grill (where the food sits), and second lower grill (on which rests the charcoal). The little rails that keep the coals to the sides when I'm using the "indirect method" (which is most of the time) are not original. And I think I replaced the ash-catcher pan down by the wheels once. But the basic kettle is original, including the wooden handle, which is one tough piece of wood. There's a funky little appliance repair place up on NE Columbia Boulevard that sells replacement parts; I managed to score an official Weber cover for the whole setup there a few years back, and it's probably extended its life a little.

There are a couple of rust spots on the side of the old Weber, and they're starting to open up to the point where there may be only a couple of years left. Then the temptation will be strong to switch to gas. When it's raining and I wish I could grill, that temptation is strong. But there's something about doing it with the wood, just like grandpa, dad and the uncles did, that's irresistible. I'll likely be a charcoal man until my dying day.

Hey, I'm getting hungry writing about this, people. Time to trek over to City Market and pick up some sturgeon or halibut. Maybe a couple of oysters to throw on and cook in the shell. Bon appetit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Still my favorite blogger

Tony Pierce, genius behind the busblog, goes on a job interview.

Quotation of the Week

Another student athlete with an inspirational message for today's youth.

Accentuate the positive

O.k., this blog has gotten much too negative again. Time to lighten up. For the next 48 hours, no negative posts.

Of course, that could mean no posts at all -- oops, does that comment count as a negative in and of itself?


There are quite a few folks being referred here as they search for the Jack Armstrong beheading video.

For them, a public service announcement: It's not here.

Nor do I have photos of Joey Harrington nude.

UPDATE, 9/24, 6:50 p.m.: If you want to see it, it's here. But before you go, ask yourself why you want to view this. I'm past horror and revulsion at these sorts of displays. What they leave me with is profound sorrow, and extreme anger. If given the power to flip a switch and take the lives of the butchers, I would surely do so. God help me. If that's what you want for yourself, go ahead and click.


Here's an especially sleazy tale I missed as I was going out of town.

"Reunite the Park Blocks! It will be like Barcelona!"

Sure, Neil. And we taxpayers can buy them from you and your power lunch pals. What did you think -- if you demolished the Virginia Cafe, the ghosts that live there would stop haunting you?

Man, these people have no shame whatsoever. It's time for Oregon voters to get rid of them and all their lieutenants. Starting with Mr. Moyer's good buddy.

Then maybe the decent people of this state can take a good, long shower.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Getcher yuks here

Have you caught this guy's act yet?

And then there were two

The Tucson archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church has filed for bankruptcy protection, joining the Portland archdiocese in an effort to have claims related to priestly sex abuse of children dismissed or paid cents-on-the-dollar. In the Tucson case, plaintiffs are complaining that the archdiocese has been transferring assets to related entities on the eve of trial -- in their minds improperly attempting to avoid liability. In all the wrangling about the Portland archbishop's institutional wealth, I haven't heard that kind of charge, at least not yet.

Was it something we said?

I used to try to hold out 'til October 1 each year before turning on the furnace. But when we got home last evening and it was 63 degrees in the house, I headed right over to the thermostat and flipped the switch from "Cool" to "Heat."

Summer sure took off early, and in a hurry.

They've outdone themselves this time

Of all the rogues and scoundrels on the internet, there are few lower than the eBay deadbeat. Someone who would put an item up for auction, and snatch it back when it doesn't fetch a good enough price -- even though it was a no-reserve auction. They're every bit as bad as people who would win an auction and then skip out without paying.

I am totally ashamed that the government of the city in which I live is this very brand of lowlife. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

I hope somebody sues their a*ses off over this. I'll contribute $100 toward just such a lawsuit. Who'll join me?

UPDATE, 9/21, 3:36 p.m.: It just gets weirder and weirder. Now it turns out that the high bidder for the reservoir cover was a group of Water Bureau employees who had apparently figured out a way to re-sell it for more than they bid. Now there are some selfless public servants for you, eh?

You know, I wouldn't mind letting the Texas robber barons have PGE if they would also promise to take the Portland Water Bureau, too, and clean house. Especially firing the commissioner in charge, What's-His-Name.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

What I miss

Just got back from a fine four-day trip that showed how great the Northwest can still be. Flew to a small city, where it seemed like only 20 steps from the arrival gate to our luggage, which was already on the carousel waiting for us. And then another 20 steps to the car rental counter, and another 20 to the car itself.

An hour's drive from the airport, you hit the place where the urbs and suburbs stop, and the mountains, forests, and lakes begin. From there you could go many more hours before serious civilization was encountered. We stayed at a rustic, family-run resort, so friendly and well managed that it felt like you were staying at your grandmother's house. No phone service of any kind, no TV. We ate the trout right out of the lake, some smoked, some battered and fried. Huckleberry pancakes with the local fruit. The air was crisp and clean, the water clear and very cold, the northern night sky filled with stars beyond counting.

I couldn't help but think, This is how Portland used to feel to me, 26 years ago. And for the first time in all those years, I felt more at home on vacation than I did when I returned to PDX.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Cool down time

One of the resolutions I made on my recent five-week sabbatical was that when other aspects of my life got hectic, I was going to take a few days off from blogging here and there, without guilt and without worry that I was losing readers.

It looks like this is the first of those times.

To paraphrase the old comedian's cliche -- "I'm here all week; try the veal" -- let's just say, "I'll be back in a few days; try the blogroll."

Endangered species

It's been six years since we closed on our current home, where the Irvington and Alameda neighborhoods meet in Northeast Portland. And in that time, the neighborhood grocery store has virtually disappeared from sight.

Upon our arrival here, we had not one but two smaller groceries less than three blocks away, both at the corner of NE 24th and Fremont -- Nature's, a whole-food, bulk-product, low-packaging, earth-friendly market which at two storefronts wide was still pretty small; and Alameda Foods, a more traditional small grocery with all the plastic corporate American fare you could ever want. Both had fresh meat, a deli, and produce galore. The lines were short, and the convenience was incredible. If we needed a lemon, some maple syrup, a loaf of bread, or a bottle of wine, it was an easy walk and a quick errand. There was no thought of taking the car. The fresh air was good for the soul.

But it started to slide downhill soon after we arrived. Nature's packed up and headed nine blocks west to expanded quarters at NE 15th and Fremont. It was great for the new neighborhood, but not so hot at the old location. In its place there, after a substantial vacancy period, came a restaurant and a high-priced garden store. They both folded after very brief runs. Since then, another restaurant has come and gone, and a second garden store -- not as ritzy, but still not at all down-to-earth -- is hanging in there on the site.

Meanwhile, Nature's was bought out by Wild Oats from Colorado, and a new Portland-based chain, New Seasons, has sprung up elsewhere in Northeast, giving the new owners of Nature's a serious run for their money. Wild Oats has lost its pharmacy, much of its clientele, and whatever charm it may have had to go with its quirky attitude. It's not a very fun place to shop, and the help never smiles any more, either.

Across 24th from the old Nature's site, Alameda Foods reportedly had its rent abruptly jacked up, and the Arab-American guys who ran the place folded it. Now we have a commercial bank branch, which I can't believe anyone from the neighborhood ever patronizes, and a long-empty storefront that's apparently going to be a dentist's office. How cold is that?

From a comestible standpoint, then, what have we got left? A 10-block sojourn to the nearest fresh food place, and a somewhat forlorn scene when you get there. Except in periods of major ambition, the car is involved. And if you're in the car, why not drive 25 blocks to the New Seasons in the Concordia neighborhood, where the shopping is so much better?

All this is old news, I guess, but now the same thing is happening in the heart of Irvington, at NE 15th and Brazee. What had been a funky little food market for as long as I've lived in Portland, has recently been vacated and gutted to make way for what the landlord hopes will be a toney Italian restaurant and some sort of pricey clothing store. And so people down that way will be forced to deal with Safeway, Fred Meyer, Wild Oats or the new Zupan's (in the ghastly new condo tower on NE Broadway) whenever they need something as simple as a tomato. The old Irvington Market on NE Weidler is gone too, of course, displaced by a fast-food Chinese cafeteria that would be just perfectly appropriate for a bad shopping mall in Detroit.

How very sad.

A pox on all the landlords, I say. Fie on the toney new restaurants. Fie on the garden stores with the platinum-plated hoes and spades. Fie on the dentist's office where the Romaine lettuce is supposed to be. I won't patronize them until there's a little grocery store back in the neighborhood.

The livable city gets a little less livable every time an independent grocer is forced to close up shop. I really wish the Big Idea People down at City Hall would try to do something to preserve these small businesses, instead of embarking on all the misguided mischief that the bureaucrats are so good at. Instead they kiss up to Home Depot, who will run out all the mom-and-pop hardware stores, too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Movie theater mogul Tom Moyer has been indicted, along with two others, on charges of making campaign contributions under false names to Portland mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi, according to a story in this morning's Oregonian. I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised that the Oregon Department of Justice has actually dared to do something about corrupt practices in public life. Here's hoping that the DOJ's ambitions in that regard don't stop there.

Even more surprising, the O ran the story on the front page (albeit with a small headline, and below the fold), even though Mr. Moyer is a heavy advertiser with that publication (or at least, he was for many years). You can bet the editors called the advertising department over there before that decision was made.

No one in the Francesconi campaign was charged, and so of course old Jim-Bob was in the paper pointing out how his office was "cleared." This is apparently the new definition of being "cleared" in Oregon -- the prosecutor decided not to indict you. Anyway, innocent though he may be, Francesconi takes yet another hit to his battered campaign, which reportedly even he thinks is doomed. I suppose this sordid tale will also boost City Commissioner Erik Sten's proposal to have the taxpayers in town foot the bill for public financing of local political races.

According to the news story, Francesconi admits he knew that two large donations to his campaign were made by an employee and relative of Moyer. But he says that neither he nor anyone on his campaign staff knew that the money was actually Moyer's, as alleged (but not yet proven) by prosecutors.

Francesconi is an energetic fundraiser who has even used an auxiliary office in a downtown law firm to dial for dollars for his campaign. As a guy who prides himself on raising money, what did he think when Moyer gave him $500, Moyer's secretary gave him $2,000, and Moyer's granddaughter gave him $2,500 (math majors out there, you see the total is $5,000) all on the same day?

I wonder if there are any other skeletons of this sort in his or other candidates' donor rolls. What, if any, duty does a political candidate have to check out the true sources of contributions coming his or her way from relatives of the wealthy and powerful?

I guess one could ask Francesconi, whose list of supporters includes both the wife and the ex-wife of You-Know-Who, but not The Man himself. You know, another unindicted gentleman, but one definitely not "cleared."

Monday, September 13, 2004

It can't happen here -- can it?

The New York Times had a scary front-page story on Monday about the rapid increase in absentee voting around the country, and the increasing number of instances of fraud surrounding the practice:

As both major political parties intensify their efforts to promote absentee balloting as a way to lock up votes in the presidential race, election officials say they are struggling to cope with coercive tactics and fraudulent vote-gathering involving absentee ballots that have undermined local races across the country.
Among the documented illegalities: Voters being paid for their ballots. Party workers "collecting" ballots for delivery, then not mailing them. Helpless nursing home patients having their vote steered by high-pressure tactics. There are prosecutions for these and other "shenanigans," as the Times calls them at one point, pending in several states.

Although Oregon was listed in a chart among swing states with loose absentee ballot rules, no mention was made of the fact that all balloting here is done by mail. But if the Times is worried about fraud wherever absentee voting is popular, imagine its horror at the Oregon system.

Does vote fraud happen here? Oh no, not in Oregon. It's unthinkable. The very idea is as preposterous as the thought of a Portland mayor having sex with a 14-year-old repeatedly for years and getting away with it.

Guess that's why you've heard of zero prosecutions for vote fraud since vote-by-mail took effect here. Everything here is fine, just fine.

Travel alert

If you're heading to Eugene on Friday, you might want to wear a helmet. Old Dick Cheney's coming to town, and I'm sure he'll be reminding everyone how a vote for John Kerry is a vote for Al Qaeda.

You know the patchouli oil will be flowing outside the barbed-wire fence surrounding that speech. Teva's with socks will be mandatory.

Weird science

Here's how a species gets so smart that it eventually becomes supremely stupid. First, it invents and mass-markets something as toxic as Roundup. Then, it bio-engineers plants that are immune to Roundup.

Presumably, we'll continue to create and indiscriminately spray around ever more toxic substances, and propagate ever more resistant plants, until some day the only thing that's not immune are humans. At which point, we'll disappear from the planet.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Protest song, 2004

(With apologies to Robert Zimmerman)

How many tax breaks can a City Council give
A Pearl District condo tower scam?
How many years will some rich doctors whine
Before we build them a tram?
Yes and how much more dirt will they dig up on Neil
Before heís again on the lam?

The answer, my friend
Is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

How in the world can a high-tech billionaire
Declare heís in bankruptcy?
How many moves will an archbishop make
To not pay the priestly molestees?
Yes and how many Texas robber barons will it take
To rape and pillage PGE?

The answer, my friend
Is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

How many dollars can a candidate spend
And still never get to be mayor?
How many times can he screw up his campaign
Before it hasnít got a prayer?
Yes and how many voters will decide who to choose
Depending on which candidateís gayer?

The answer, my friend
Is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Saturday, September 11, 2004


There are a lot of memorials going on today, and rightly so. But I'm against lumping the victims of 9/11 in with the Americans lost in Iraq, as many of the ceremonies are doing.

Afghanistan was about 9/11. Iraq is about something else entirely.

Bush was ready to attack Iraq from the day the Supreme Court anointed him. The connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein was bogus.

Let's have services in honor of the 1,000-plus American soldiers lost. But let's not have them on 9/11. 9/11 was the excuse for Iraq, not the cause of it.

Third anniversary

It's a fairytale so tragic
There's no prince to break the spell
I don't believe in magic
But for you I will, yeah for you I will
If I'm a fool, I'll be a fool
Darlin' for you

And I'm countin' on a miracle
Baby I'm countin' on a miracle
Darlin' I'm countin' on a miracle
To come through

There ain't a storybook story
There's no never-ending song
Our happily ever after Darlin' is
Forever come and gone
Yeah I'm movin' on
If I'm gonna believe
I'll put my faith
Darlin' in you

And I'm countin' on a miracle
Baby I'm countin' on a miracle
Darlin' I'm countin' on a miracle
To come through

Sleeping beauty awakes from her dream
With her lover's kiss on her lips
Your kiss was taken from me
Now all I have is this:
Your kiss, your kiss, your touch, your touch
Your heart, your heart, your strength, your strength
Your hope, your hope, your faith, your faith
Your face, your face, your love, your love
Your dream, your dream, your life, your life

I'm runnin' through the forest
With the wolf at my heels
My king is lost at midnight
When the tower bells peal
We've got no fairytale ending
In God's hands our fate is complete
Your heaven's here in my heart
Our love's just dust beneath my feet
Just this dust beneath my feet
If I'm gonna live
I'll lift my life
Darlin' to you

And I'm countin' on a miracle
Baby I'm countin' on a miracle
Darlin' I'm countin' on a miracle
To come through

And I'm countin' on a miracle
Baby I'm countin' on a miracle
Darlin' I'm countin' on a miracle
To come through
And I'm countin' on a miracle

Friday, September 10, 2004

Tale of two news stories

Thursday's Oregonian contained the blaring front-page headline: "Saif clears ethics accusation." I had to laugh. "Clears"? What the story actually said was that the state Government Standards and Practices Commission "could not prove" illegal lobbying by Saif via its contract with disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt.

I'm not surprised that the commission "could not prove" it. First of all, the commission is notoriously understaffed -- as I recall, there is something like one director and one investigator, that's it -- and it would be hard for them to dig very deep, even if they wanted to. Second, a major point of the whole Saif scandal is that in key areas, records weren't kept, and in other key areas, by Saif's own admission, records were destroyed. So if you're going to find evidence, you're going to need to do it by intense investigation -- the kind that the ethics commission isn't set up to do. (And the Legislature expressly wants it that way.)

I filed a complaint with that commission once. I and some others accused a physician who held a high state office of a conflict of interest. The commission hemmed and hawed and came up with a nice pat explanation of how there was no conflict. It also included in its report a discussion of our motivation for bringing the complaint, which I thought was interesting. Anyway, it turned out that many months later, it was revealed that the good doctor was a raging alcoholic who was so in denial that he gave up his license to practice rather than go for treatment. (The guy had been driving around the freeways so drunk that other motorists were calling 911.) Nobody at the Standards and Practices Commission had ever asked any questions about that, I'm sure.

Yesterday's news stories included quotations from Gov. Kulongoski and others that, by golly, we're glad that we've got a cleanup specialist in Saif now, and everything's fine. Time to put this unpleasant chapter behind us and get on with our bright future, blah blah blah.

Anyway, back in today's Metro section, The O casually got around to confirming that there's now a federal investigation under way into government corruption in Oregon generally. They're not naming any names, but one of the deals the FBI is looking at is Saif and its relationship to Goldschmidt.

Now that's news.

One year ago today...

...we had a most interesting morning.

[Six-minute video; while bandwidth lasts.]

Thursday, September 9, 2004

We'll always have the blogosphere

Today I had lunch with John Dunshee, proprietor of the blog Just Some Poor Schmuck, headquartered down the Willamette Valley a ways. John's political leanings and mine are very different in most areas, but we're in sync in at least a few others. Like me, he's a good old middle-aged white guy who digs computers and cares about what's going on in the world around him.

Pursuant to our prior arrangement, we dined on burgers and Cokes. The venue: Giant Burger down in Lake Oswego. I even indulged in some onion rings. And so now, obviously, it's time for a workout.

Nice to meet John in person after our many cyber-exchanges.

It is already time to be getting down, yes?

Get busy with MC Yuri. And scroll down to check out his blog...


Time for another lame, self-congratulatory post, as visit no. 175,000 arrived on this site just around noon today. It took 72 days (including our hiatus) to get there from no. 150,000. Yay, me! Welcome, readers!

Funniest blog post of the year so far

Go here and follow along. What's that out the window?

Make up your own caption.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Make room on the Capitol Mall

Here's a sad, sad post.

Throw in a cheese steak and a Rolling Rock

There's a poll being taken here to see where the Democrats could better spend $10,000 -- in Pennsylvania or in Oregon.

Although I'm a (usually) proud Oregonian, and I like to think we're important, I can't see how I could possibly vote for Oregon. Pennsylvania's got three times as many electoral votes, and the race there is much closer than it is here at the moment.

I'd say give it to Pennsylvania, hands down.

Lefty shoppers alert

Hey, all you Portland-area hipsters running down to the Pearl District to get your groovy "alternative" gear at the new Anthropologie store: Did you know that Richard Hayne (red tie), the chairman and president of Anthropologie, which also owns Urban Outfitters, is a certified right-wing wingnut? That he gives big money to the big-name red-meat Republican candidates? And so, of each dollar you spend at Anthropologie, a penny or two may wind up going to re-elect Bush and Cheney -- or worse?

Just thought you'd want to know.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Randy's right

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard is proposing that cell phone service, like regular phone service, be subject to the city telecommunications excise tax. I don't know how you define "telecommunications," but to me, of course it should include cell phones. Trouble is, the city tax is so old that the operative ordinance never heard of a cell phone, except maybe in the Dick Tracy comic strip.

You would think an amendment of the tax provision would be uncontroversial, but guess again. The money-grubbing weasels at the cell phone companies are acting like the city is physically torturing them. They've got lawyers and are ready to sue to block the extension of the tax. How dare the city call cell phones "telecommunications"!

I'm ready to pay the tax on my cell phone bill. In an era when many people aren't using conventional land phones at all, it's eminently fair of the city to get its pound of flesh out of both classes of users.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman revived from his coma briefly last week and stated his opposition to the "new tax." Dan's all for big-ticket projects like the Big Pipe and his favorite, burying the city's reservoirs. But he comes up pretty short on ideas for paying the bills. Why do I think he'll be getting some needed cash from the cell companies when he runs for re-election?

Monday, September 6, 2004

In our prayers

Heart surgery has become somewhat routine, but it's still a frightening experience. Now one of the great heroes of our recent past has gone under the knife and come out whole. From east to west, a grateful nation sends its best wishes for his speedy recovery. Get well soon, sir -- we need you in these troubled times. Hail to the Chief!

Sunday, September 5, 2004


One of the guilty pleasures of being 50 years old is the fun I have shopping at Costco. Big cases of cool stuff. Great prices. All you need is a homestead large enough to store the stuff.

One marvel of the Costco world is its wine selection. Awesome! And now, they've got their own "Kirkland" brand wines in the cases next to the big hitters.

We just took a $9.69 flyer on the Kirkland Australian shiraz, and I'll tell you, we'll be heading back for more of that. It's a $15 bottle at least. Go, Costco!

A family date

The girls and I headed down to the South Park Blocks in Portland the other day to catch a little of "OBT (Oregon Ballet Theater) Exposed." This is the annual event at which the local ballet troupe rehearses under a tent in the park and invites anyone and everyone to come watch.

I'm not a big fan of the ballet -- at least not how it's been done in these parts in recent years -- but it's funny how having two daughters can change one's program.

Anyhow, we caught the show, which was actually neat for a couple of hours, and then strolled around downtown. I hardly recognize downtown Portland any more. It's gotten a lot more glass-and-steel-ish, a lot more like it's trying so desperately to be a big city. Virtually all the funky places are gone. And there are fewer people walking around, too.

There's a lot of money being thrown around, but I'm not sure too much of it is being well spent. Down by Portland State, it's become a jungle of butt-ugly condo towers. Every comfortable, cheery, character-filled spot that used to grace that neighborhood has been snuffed out, replaced by a huge, cold edifice. The new Safeway is part of a apartment tower. Where the Safeway used to be (for many years, the very funkiest place in the Rose City), a big hole in the ground awaits another highrise of some sort. To the geniuses on the City Council, this is wonderful. To me, it's nauseating. You think people are going to move here to live like that? Maybe for a while, but not for long.

Nevertheless, there were a few bright spots on our walk. Lunch at Geraldi's on Fourth Avenue was its usual filling, doughy, Italian feast. We picked up a great cup of coffee at Peet's. And the hotel staffers out on the sidewalk were very friendly.

But the hands-down highlight was an older man driving around by himself in a brightly painted, multi-color station wagon with his window rolled down and the radio turned up. On closer inspection, he was wearing a red clown nose and had blackened out his upper side teeth, leaving only the front two exposed. Whenever he saw kids, he would quickly pop up a hand puppet of a monkey in the driver's window and have it lip-sync the music. "If you don't know me by n-o-o-o-o-o-owww," the monkey was singing as he cruised by us.

Well, the kids went nuts laughing. A monkey singing in a car window! And the guy was getting such a kick out of the kids' reactions, he was cackling even louder than they were. It was impossible not to join in. Even the people in the cars behind, who were being held up by this little act, were laughing.

There was no name painted on the vehicle. He wasn't selling anything. No handout inviting you to go buy something. There was a ladder on the roof; it looked like a painter's ladder. He just gave the kids the show and drove away.

Whoever you are, buddy, thanks. That was fun.

UPDATE, 9/7, 12:34 a.m.: Apparently, that was none other than former Portland mayoral candidate Extremo the Clown!

Saturday, September 4, 2004

What are you waiting for?

This is really disgusting. I expect to see some indictments. Governor TedNGL*, AG HardyFOG** -- what do you say?

* - Neil Goldschmidt Lieutenant
** - Friend of Goldschmidt

Jersey Shore vacation, Part III

It's the Labor Day weekend, and all up and down the Jersey Shore, the summer residents are getting their last licks in. Come Monday, they'll be heading back up the Garden State Parkway (and for some, the harshest part of the New Jersey Turnpike) for another crisp fall, brutal winter, and brief spring. For the pleasures of the Shore, this is it. It's one last killer sandwich from the Bay Point Deli, a last round of drinks at D'Jais, one more classic pizza from Luigi's, one last boardwalk ride at Funtown or Jenkinson's, the closing set by the local garage band. Time to take a daring ride and maybe break your boogie board. Cash in all the points you earned at the arcade. One final chance to win that giant stuffed Shrek. Do it this weekend, or wait 'til next year.

I'm thinking of that place a lot these days. So much of our recent two-week jaunt to the Shore still sticks with me nearly a month after its conclusion. My beach tan is almost gone, but the refreshed outlook the experience provided is still quite in evidence. Steve Earle sings, "Won't nothin' bring you down like your hometown," but in this case I'll argue against that proposition.

What was it about returning to the Shore that so uplifted me? No question, it was nostalgia: the sights, sounds, and smells of a place that played such a crucial role in my life for the better part of 21 years. When I was a kid, it was our precious family getaway -- two weeks every year, in the middle of July, off the block in Down Neck Newark, free to run around on the white sand of a real beach, and the distinctive yellow and white dirt and pebbles of a Shore renters' neighborhood. We kids saved all year to have 20 bucks apiece to blow on the boardwalk. Later, when I got to high school and especially during my years at commuter college (still living with my mom), it was a place to spend the summer weekends in blissful, wild independence with the all-important circle of friends.

Both those phases of my life were conjured up repeatedly on this year's trip. With our two children in tow, I relived many great kid moments on the boardwalk and on the beach. As Springsteen once put it, "All I can think of is being five years old following behind you at the beach / Tracing your footprints in the sand / Trying to walk like a man." I felt so connected with the people of my parents' generation, who despite many financial obstacles found a way to this place every year so that we little guys could enjoy ourselves. Only two of that group survive, but we were blessed to have one of them, Mom, with us to enjoy it and reflect on it again after the many decades.

Perhaps surprisingly, though, the most intense memories were of the days just before I left Jersey -- my years as a college student and young adult summering in the ocean burg of Belmar. Years in which all sorts of lessons were learned about friendship, love, lust, making a living, good clean recreation, not-so-good-clean partying, and living near (but not quite on) the edge. So many times on this year's trip, as I dove into oncoming waves in the warm Atlantic, I was 20 years old again, realizing for the first time that I was no longer a child, looking over to see my buddies of the same age, doing their own dives and coming to the same realization.

Toward the end of this year's vacation, my last summers at the Shore fell into sharp perspective. These were '74 and '75, when I knew I was heading west, and didn't know when I was going to be coming back. I loved my life up to that point, but I had heard something calling me on a different path. Suddenly, although I shared my friends' sense of place, I knew it wasn't going to be mine much longer. I was going to give up the security of the familiar, disregard a lot of people's advice, and free myself from the entire East Coast structure. In exchange for what? I had only a vague idea at best. I only knew I was getting the yellow Volkswagen ready for a long, long journey, alone. There was intense excitement and anticipation. But there was fear, too, and as I jumped around in those waves and pounded my last beers, I had already begun missing the place, and the people around me.

Continue reading "Jersey Shore vacation, Part III" »

Friday, September 3, 2004


My evening run took me down to the foot of the Hawthorne Bridge tonight. There's a bunch of new lighting on it -- supposed to make it look glamorous or something. It's more the cheap whore look, if you ask me.

What a waste of energy and money. I suspect it's all privately funded, but that just goes to show that there is such a thing as too much money. How many salmon will die to light this thing, night after economically depressed night?

And what kind of community is it that puts ornamental lighting on a bridge when there are people living under it?

UPDATE, 9/4, 12:51 a.m.: I should have known. Another great priority, Diane!

Making the big time

This weblog reached an important milestone yesterday, when, for the first time, we received a letter from the attorney for a local public figure, demanding a correction of something written here.

Fortunately, the lawyer was mistaken. The comments he was complaining about were posted on somebody else's blog.


Thursday, September 2, 2004


There aren't too many self-help programs that I'd ever buy into, but I must say this one has real promise.

It's that time

Parents, have you and the kids figured out the Halloween costumes yet for this year? If not, don't overlook these. (Thanks to an alert reader.)

Lying low

Man, it's a hot time in national politics. The Republican convention is sure getting hearts pounding -- some in excited joy, some in black rage. While I slog my way at work through the first week of a new school year, I've been catching the action mostly through the lens of The New York Times. Their detailed coverage is subtly designed to make a Democrat's blood boil, and it surely has mine.

But what difference does it make, really? It seems to me that more people have their minds made up two months before this election than in any previous Presidential contest since Nixon-McGovern. And although the undecideds are still calling the shots -- particularly if they live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, or Wisconsin -- I don't see this week's folderol swaying them one way or another. I think most of the undecideds are going to stay that way for another four to six weeks.

That being the case, what's the sense of my trying to fisk everything that's coming out of New York? Readers who support the W already have their pat answers ready for just about everything I've got to say, as I have mine for them. And so I'm going to take the easy way out and pretty much just rest.

However, I did want to point out one interesting thing I picked up from the Times the other day. There was a full-page ad that called into serious question the GOP's boast that it is a "big tent" in which many different kinds of voters play a role. The ad, purchased by the folks behind the book "The Great Divide," pointed out how few Republican minority-group officeholders there actually are around the country. Alas, their website doesn't appear to have the ad on it anywhere, but the salient points were these:

Among Republican state legislators, 3,643 are White (98.8%); only 16 are Black and 13 are Hispanic. In Congress, 374 of the Republicans are White; there are no Blacks and all 3 Hispanics are Cuban-Americans.

President Bush's home state leads the way. Texas, with a minority population of 47%, has 106 Republicans in the state legislature, but there are 0 Blacks and 0 Hispanics among them....

It is the Democratic Party, which has 20% minority representation at the state and federal levels -- 732 state legislators and 67 members of Congress -- that truly represents all Americans.

Pretty interesting, as is the site. If nothing else, go there to check out the banner design for their blog. Wish I'd thought of that!

Anyway, short of taking a trip to Ohio or Pennsylvania to ring doorbells, I'm not sure we're going to be making much of a difference flying our flags here, at least not for a while. My colors are clear, as they have been all this Year of our Lord 2004. And so, as rant-inducing as it may be, I'm going to lay off the election for now.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Last visit

I hate it when guests drop in unexpectedly.

Losing face

There are a number of Republican politicians whom I vaguely admire, but they're all losing points with me quickly as they loudly sing the praises of the dumbest president we've ever had. These include:

Gordon Smith
John McCain
Rudolph Giuliani
Bob Dole

I'm sure they're all just playing the good Republican footsoldiers, but that's just what's causing them to decrease in stature in my eyes. For people as smart as these guys, there's an element of deception in their glowing speeches.

Consider, for example, what McCain has been saying when he's off the podium. He told his old Vietnam buddy R.W. Apple of The New York Times this the other day:

Is this really the best we can do, Mr. McCain asked, almost 30 years after the fighting ended? Are we fated to go over this ground again and again, looking backward instead of forward? Won't we ever get over that war? He said he "hated the way this issue is dominating the campaign," and I thought I detected deep frustration that he had managed to do nothing about it.

"If they question Kerry's medals," he said, "they question everybody's medals. All those men who found it so hard to come home, who found so little gratitude for their sacrifices when they got here, are going to feel mistreated again. The families of the people whose names are on the monument in Washington will feel wronged, too. The painful wounds we all worked so hard to close will all be reopened.

"We've got to get that garbage off the air as soon as we can."

Funny, none of that made the final script at Madison Square Garden.

Of course, Arnold's also a fool, but we knew that already.

At least Jack Roberts had the good sense to stay home.

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