E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

E-mail me

[What is this?]


Personal blogs

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

« July 2006 | Main | September 2006 »

August 2006 Archives

Thursday, August 31, 2006

It ain't Cheers

"[T]he MAC to me is a place where you have to have high esteem, because not everyone is going to like you."

A wail of a picture

Good news for art lovers -- Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream" has been recovered after having been stolen for several months.

It will now be returned to its permanent home, in the Lair Hill neighborhood in Portland.

Back here on earth

The O has a story this morning about proposed changes in the area between the South Park Blocks and the North Park Blocks. This was originally a major Goldschmidt Scam Zone, with talk of the city buying up many of the old buildings (owned by the Usual Suspects) and tearing them down for parks. "It will be like Barcelona!" Uh huh.

When that idea eventually bombed out in the post-Neil world, Vera talked about making changes along the streets to make them more Euro. I believe they held a press party in front of the old Brasserie to announce the plan. Another snoozer.

The latest talk is much more sensible. In addition to the new park going in over Moyer's Underground Garage (which admittedly has a scam odor to it), some modest upgrades are being planned for existing park properties. Gosh, the city actually spending money to make improvements to classic Portland parks? How novel.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Restoration software

Before I get too far down the road rebuilding this blog, I'm going to have to mess around with "Mr. Template," as Cousin Jim calls it. I can't bear this basic blue for long. Don't look for your favorite old (or even recent) posts until the framework is remodeled.

Oh, and if things go haywire, don't call the FBI this time. It's probably just me. When you mess with Mr. Template, anything can happen, and usually does.

Warming up

While I am sitting here in internet hell, my buddy Mike down in the Bay Area is out getting ready for his 15 minutes. Mike's a big 49er football fan -- season ticketholder for years -- and he's been selected to compete in a football throwing accuracy contest at halftime of the team's last exhibition game of the year, at Candlestick Park Friday night. If he makes the cut this time, he'll come back in December to compete with winners from other home games for the grand prize -- a Hummer!

The contestants will be given 10 balls each to throw into the back of a stationary Hummer from a distance of 15 yards. They each get only 30 seconds to see how many they can land.

Mike has no use for a Hummer, of course, but he figures if he wins he can sell it. He's been practicing so much the last couple of days, his arm is getting sore. He hasn't touched a football in years before this. I hope he doesn't resort to illegal steroids!

If he wins on Friday, we'll know what he's up to all throughout the fall months.

Hacked! (maybe)

Imagine waking up to find that four years of your writing has been lost, probably irretrievably. That’s what the company that has been hosting this blog told me earlier today. My recent experiences with that company warned me that something bad might happen, but I never stopped to consider that it might be this bad. They are claiming that they were hacked, but given my recent experiences with them, I can’t believe anything they say.

So what does it all mean?

Well, I’ve got a new web host – something that I should have done long ago. I have upgraded to the latest version of Movable Type software. And from here on out, I’ll be backing up everything to a different server, hosted by a different company, about every week or so.

It will take a while to get the blog looking the way I want it again. And without all those archives, my traffic will go way down, unless and until I can somehow figure out a way to recreate them. It is going to hurt like hell.

But hey, we soldier on. I’m still alive, and still as full of opinions and ideas as I was when I started this thing more than four years ago. And that’s what’s really important, I guess.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

When a story gets Gragged

The Oregonian pretty much missed the story on last week's historic Portland City Council vote to deny permission for a super-sized condo tower in the Goose Hollow neighborhood. Commissioner Randy Leonard said the City Council dialogue and decision were "the most important discussion on development the council has held in decades." The Trib was all over it, and I'm told the Northwest Examiner was too. But the O reported the council action in a fairly anemic piece on page B2.

Why was that?

It's because the O had handed the story off to Randy Gragg, its resident "architecture critic" (or whatever he's supposed to be), and he had made his usual hash of it in the InPortland insert the week before. Once a story gets Gragged, the O goes into a stoned trance about it for quite some time before it enlists actual reporters to come back in and stitch together what really happened.

Gragg's piece on the Goose Hollow proposal is a classic illustration of his modus operandi. The basic premise is always that high-rise development throughout Portland is inevitable -- a force of nature, almost -- and it's always a given that it's a good thing. "Building big sculpts a new urban skyline" was the headline of the latest piece. There's no debate to be had about it, folks -- it's a done deal.

If there is any discussion of the legal issues surrounding a development, it's always buried far down in the story. In the case of the Goose Hollow tower, the key issue was the transfer of floor area ratios (FAR) from one part of town to another; Gragg saves that for way, way down there, and he spins it, as he always does, the developers' way. His readers rarely get to form an informed opinion about what's really at stake. The architects and developers always know best.

When there's controversy, Gragg never gives the neighbors any respect. He hardly ever names or quotes them, and he inevitably employs a condescending put-down in describing them. In the latest story, the Goose Hollow neighbors are "plucky" -- how cute. Most times, he's even more hostile than that.

Meanwhile, all his developer and architect chums are named prominently, and most of them are quoted reverently. If they stage a little demonstration of support for their money-making schemes, as they recently did at a City Council meeting, you can bet old Gragg will be there to shine a light on it. "'I like height,' founding principal Mark Edlen says." Yeah, Randy, no kidding; he likes money even better.

Recent condo transplants who come to Portland with big bucks and no common sense are always prominently featured as well. This time some poor soul who just paid upwards of half a million to live in an apartment in Portland is talking about how much nicer it is in the Pearl than in Miami. What that has to do with the appropriate height of the buildings is beyond me.

Then there are the comparisons to Seattle and San Francisco. Gragg never lets up with these. As if the only way Portland will "succeed" is by turning itself into one of those two very unlivable places. This time around, our buildings aren't as tall as theirs, and so I guess that means we should make ours taller. Next time, it will be some other trait for comparison. We'll never be good enough.

When a story gets Gragged, the developers and their beret-and-baseball-cap architect cronies are all happy. I'm sure Gragg gets a lot of free wine and cheese out of it from his pals. But as coverage of local politics, it stinks. The O was a lot better off when this fellow was at Harvard.

Echo in here?

This is happening way too often.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Linnton deal

The Stennies are having a stroke over last week's Portland City Council vote not to turn the Linnton neighborhood's industrial wasteland into a "town center," presumably like the one in Beaverton. The vote was 3-2, with Opie and Sam the Tram dissenting.

A lot of vocal people out Linnton way worked long and hard to get housing built on the underachieving lots where proud factories once stood. The train was on the track, but it has suddenly been derailed, and Mayor Tom Potter, clearly a driving force in keeping the plan from taking effect, is taking heat for it from the streetcar crowd.

Not from me. The council vote makes a lot of sense. There was a bunch of talk about environmental contamination on the site, but I don't think that that was what this was really about. It seems to me that the council was simply weighing industrial "sanctuary" vs. more condos, and it came out in favor of keeping the land dedicated to potential middle-class jobs. Sure, the neighbors are frustrated, but welcome to the club. Who ever said that the neighbors dictate planning around here? Ask the folks in Buckman, and many other neighborhoods, about that.

What's funny to me are that the "progressive" voices crying out for pure democracy in this instance are the same ones who'll tell you the public can't be trusted on matters such as taxpayer financing of political campaigns and public power. In the latter cases, the City Council knows best. But when Erik and Sam and their real estate johns have the neighborhood association types going their way, then you have to give The People what they want, or else it's the end of civilization as we know it.

That's not how it works around here. Keep going, Mayor Potter. This was another right vote in your column.

Bad timing

Somebody's getting ready to release a new biography of Bruce Springsteen and his bandmates.

Better save some room at the end for this.

Covenant House goes on my "do not give" list

Dear Sister Patricia Cruise, SC,

Today I got my copy of your recent mass mailing asking me for a money donation to Covenant House. I must admit, your pitch that "[e]vil predators are out there robbing kids of their innocence and making them do unthinkable things" sure pulled at my heartstrings. But I'm afraid that I can't, as you ask, "help me rescue them."

You see, the weaselly marketers that you hired to put together your fundraising spiel decided it would be a good idea to enclose a metal object in the envelope to make sure that I did not shred your junk mail without reading it. I've gotten these shredder-wreckers before, and I've recently blogged about them. They purport to be objects of a sacred nature, meant to appeal to my presumed religious fervor, but their real intent is to teach a lesson to anyone who would shred your appeal without first opening it to remove the metal. In this case, it purported to be a cross necklace. Although you may be too other-worldly to realize this, I can see it for the money-grubbing device that it really is:

And so, Sister Patricia, even if you really exist, you may not want to stay up late at the convent waiting for my check to arrive. Groups that stoop this low don't get charity from me, and I hope my readers don't give them any money, either. Best wishes for your success in saving the children from those predators, though.

God Bless you, too.

Jack Bogdanski


Guitar afficionados, have you seen funtwo yet?

A day at the IRS

A reader sends along this anecdote:

The IRS decides to audit Ralph, and summons him to the IRS office. The IRS auditor is not surprised when Ralph shows up with his attorney.

The auditor says, "Well, sir, you have an extravagant lifestyle and no full-time employment, which you explain by saying that you win money gambling. I'm not sure the IRS finds that believable."

"I'm a great gambler, and I can prove it," says Ralph. "How about a demonstration?"

The auditor thinks for a moment and said, "Okay. Go ahead."

Ralph says, "I'll bet you a thousand dollars that I can bite my own eye."

The auditor thinks a moment and says, "No way! It's a bet."

Ralph removes his glass eye and bites it.

The auditor's jaw drops. Ralph says, "Now, I'll bet you two thousand dollars that I can bite my other eye."

The auditor can tell Ralph isn't blind, so he takes the bet.

Ralph removes his dentures and bites his good eye.

The stunned auditor now realizes he has wagered and lost three grand, with Ralph's attorney as a witness. He starts to get nervous.

"Want to go double or nothing?" Ralph asks. "I'll bet you six thousand dollars that I can stand on one side of your desk, and pee into that wastebasket on the other side, and never get a drop anywhere in between."

The auditor, twice burned, is cautious now, but he looks carefully and decides there's no way this guy can manage that stunt, so he agrees again.

Ralph stands beside the desk and unzips his pants, but although he strains mightily, he can't make the stream reach the wastebasket on other side, so he pretty much urinates all over the desk.

The auditor leaps with joy, realizing that he has just turned a major loss into a huge win. But Ralph's attorney moans and puts his head in his hands.

"Are you okay?" the auditor asks.

"Not really," says the attorney. "This morning, when Ralph told me he'd been summoned for an audit, he bet me twenty thousand dollars that he could come in here and pee all over an IRS official's desk and that you'd be happy about it."

Sounds familiar

"Stupid people with money are everywhere."

-- Unnamed resident of north fork of Long Island, on recent changes to her neck of the woods, as told to Sarah Hepola, in Southwest Spirit magazine.

Practically indescribable

What would you get if The Oregonian made a concerted effort to compete for the readers and advertisers of Portland Monthly?

We found out inside yesterday's paper: You'd get something truly, truly awful.

It's a bimonthly magazine called "Ultimate" -- "ultimate" as in "last," perhaps. As in, last thing you would want to waste two minutes on.

They've really outdone themselves this time. Dig it out of the recycling and save it, people. It is a genuine collector's item. One hundred eight glossy pages of dead tree and color ink, wasted.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What every blog needs

LeLo found them for us: cheerleaders!

Maybe Saltzman will fly up and save you

The engineers say the possibility of a midair stall is remote. So remote, they prefer we don't talk about it. But, if it happens, you don't want to be up there unless you can grow wings or you don't mind a little rope burn.

If it stalls, the tram's driver opens the door, hangs a rope from the frame out of the car and tosses it to firefighters on the ground. They climb up into the car by rope and help the passengers down one by one in a harness.

Can't wait to see them try that at night, in a 35-mile-an-hour wind and hard rain. Maybe it will only break down on sunny days.

Remember, this is coming from the people who told you it would cost only $15 million to build.

And how much are we spending to train the firefighters for this one? Or are we just going to show them a video? (Image by Portland Freelancer.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Portland, the Gang Banger City

Another shooting spree downtown last night. And now we have mobs of armed teenagers throwing rocks at cops and trashing cars.

Hey, Chief Potter, when are we going to admit we have a crisis on our hands here and start doing something other than business as usual at the Police Bureau?

We're too busy with streetcars and real estate scams, I guess. But hey, when you get hit by a stray bullet, you will soon be able to send the cops a free e-mail for help via the city's wi-fi cloud! Maybe Flexcar could get into the ambulance business...

Think globally, blog locally

I ran a couple of errands at the Meier & Frank store at Lloyd Center [bang bang] this afternoon. The signs of the changeover from M&F to Macy's were all over the place. Over the door that faces the ice rink, the raised letters proclaiming the store's name are gone, their old resting place covered by a canvas banner with Meier & Frank hastily stencilled across. Soon the new name of Macy's will appear.

Inside the store, I used my new Macy's card for the first time. It worked. The salesperson advised me that if I had any questions about The Transition, I could go onto the website noted at the bottom of my sales receipt. "Are they keeping you?" I asked with a smile. "Yes, they're keeping everybody," she replied, beaming. Cute kid.

When I got home, I cut up my old M&F card, and I thought that maybe I'd post something about today's experience. After a minute's reflection, I decided against it. "Nothing new there," I told myself. "The switch is old news. Everybody knows what's happening."

But later, when I sat down for a minute with my Saturday New York Times, I had another think coming. The darn story was front-page news.

I don't think he liked it

"It would be as bad as watching Ann Coulter giving a lap dance to Karl Rove. Just so very, very wrong."

More field burning shenanigans

"The wind shifted." Sure. (Via The Corvallist.)

Survivor: Race bait edition

This is going to backfire big time on CBS. A real spirit of public service, and especially great for the kids to watch.

Friday, August 25, 2006

You got that right

"When we need $35m for the tram, the City can find it. But When we need another residential de-tox bed, where is the money for that?"
More here.

The latest on Saturday Market

One of these days, I've got to shake the hand of this fellow Larry Norton down in Old Town. He's doing a great job covering the continuing saga of the Portland Saturday Market move.

I hope he likes jail

Because that's where this guy needs to go for a good long while

The long run

They're out there tonight -- thousands and thousands of crazy runners and walkers carrying their team's baton (actually, a wristband, the last time I checked) in the Hood to Coast Relay. Those who take on the full 197-mile course start at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and make their way to the Turnaround in Seaside in teams of 12 over roughly 24 hours. When they're not running or walking, they're cruising in one their team's two vans, or huddled in a sleeping bag trying to catch something that vaguely resembles sleep.

In my more serious running days, I ran six Hood to Coasts -- including one in which I held the dubious honor of being the very last runner or walker in the entire event for almost all five miles of my first leg (you run three). Those medals constitute the second most ambitious athletic accomplishment I can boast about -- and surprisingly, my marathons (boy, that goes way back) aren't that far ahead of it. I learned, "Train for a marathon, then run Hood to Coast."

Media coverage of the race is completely routine. Friday, "they're off." Saturday, "they're on their way," and then "finishing up and starting the big party." Sunday, "the winners, and a few color stories along the road." Same thing every year.

This time, though, there's a real twist. The man behind the 25 years of this madness has had some serious medical problems lately, and he's starting to hand off, as it were, to his daughter, who will succeed him in operating the event.

Hats off to that guy. It's a fantastic experience, and an amazing logistical feat on the part of him and his crew. And so I hope that on the road tonight, under all the stars that you can see, underneath the reflective vest, with the team bracelet on the wrist and tiny flashlight in hand, every participant takes a minute to send good thoughts Bob Foote's way.

UPDATE, 1:43 a.m.: Here's a live blog by a Hood to Coast team from out on the course.

Mom found out

The funniest stories are the true ones. (Via Ancientpelican.com.)

How to destroy business goodwill with one sentence

When the customer asks you a question relating to a problem with the goods and services you provide, say, "I have no idea."

What kind of person...

... would hit a 7-year-old boy on a bike with a car, and drive away?


Welcome to Blog reports -- twice -- on close encounters of the buffalo kind.

On a brighter note

You know what? There's real progress being made with the Portland Development Commission.

Now if the mayor could just kick a little tushie over at the Planning Bureau...

Sounds right to me

Bush isn't senile, or drug addled. He's a lying a**hole. And it's hard work. Only truly gifted and intelligent sociopaths like Rove and Cheney can rattle it off. Bush can't.
As they say, read the whole thing.

Stolen moments

You've seen the Willamette Week story "Steal This Bike," but have you caught the video?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another reason to love Tom Potter

If Charlie Hales, the developers' call girl, thinks the mayor is doing a poor job, then he must be doing something right.

Hey Charlie, you left out, "He didn't even make me a finalist for the PDC job!" Quite humorous.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Score one for the good guys

It's a miracle -- the City of Portland has said no to the Goose Hollow condo tower!

Kudos to the Trib, whose well timed story on the latest development scam doubtlessly helped to kill this stinker.

The Bush military "draft"

Here's a thought-provoking piece about the state of our military under the Chimp.

Back in the O-zone

It must be because Randy Gragg is back. The O is losing touch with reality again.

First there was the story the other day that said that the Saturday Market vendors are fine with being ousted from under the Burnside Bridge, so long as the move isn't too far. Commenters here who identified themselves as vendors take issue with that.

Today we're being told (scrolll down) that a City Council vote against the Goose Hollow condo scam would be perceived by people like Tim Boyle of Columbia Sportswear as "anti-business":

This week will tell us a little more about what kind of Portland this City Council wants. The council is expected to cast up-or-down votes on the future of Linnton's riverfront and a Goose Hollow condo tower.

In Linnton, it's a battle for 36 riverfront acres. Neighbors, led by Pat Wagner, want housing. Industrial businesses want, well, industry to remain.

In Goose Hollow, developer Paul Krueger is taking creativity to new heights. He wants to transfer unused development rights above a Lloyd District building to build an even taller condo tower at 1715 S.W. Salmon St. Neighbors are split on the idea. Which way council members side will show how they feel about the still super-charged condo construction.

Depending how they fall, the votes may also give more yarn to Tim Boyle and the "Portland is anti-business" crowd.

On the Goose Hollow deal, the reporter's got it bass ackwards. There's a difference between condo monkey business and real business. Giving away still more of Portland's money and character to unscrupulous developers is about as "anti-business" as you can get. If Portland would stop the freebies for the real estate sharpies and start using its resources to support (or at least stop hassling) real businesses like Columbia Sportswear, I'm sure the Tim Boyles of the world would applaud.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Zoobomb casualty

I'm not a fan of the Zoobombers. Not so much that they're risking their own necks -- which is part of the thrill of it for them, I guess -- but because they could hurt somebody else, or have an innocent bystander get involved in their self-destruction. If you want to hurtle downhill on Highway 26 at night on a bicycle, for example, you're nuts, and I feel bad for the driver who hits you when they're later made to feel it was their fault.

The plot thickens a bit this week, however, as one of the Zoobomb crazies has been hospitalized with a very badly broken leg. According to the Zoobombers, the injury occurred Sunday night in a bike pileup caused by a bystander who threw ice in the face of one of the daredevil riders.

Now that's ugly. Zoobomb injuries are risks that the riders know, or should know, are coming. But they should have a right to ride without a malicious physical attack, if that's in fact what happened. The injured Zoobomber complains that you shouldn't throw ice at somebody riding 35 to 40 miles an hours down a neighborhood street on a kid's bike. Of course, you shouldn't be riding at that speed, either -- don't bicyclists have to observe the same speed limits as cars? But in this case, if the riders' side of the story is true, we have an assault, plain and simple.

Sad. Malicious bystanders or not, I'm afraid we'll be attending a Zoobomber funeral one of these days. I'm sure it will be a "kickass, fun" funeral.

UPDATE, 6:41 p.m.: Here's a much more disturbing story in the same vein.

UPDATE, 11:46 p.m.: Here's an interview with the crash victim. He dances around the question of sabotage. He indicates that people threw ice at the Zoobombers at some point, but he does not say it happened this weekend or that it caused this wreck. So far, no other identified rider has publicly made that charge, either. You have to wonder what really happened. I feel much worse for the gal out in Scholls.

Perfectly legal

If you wondered how aggressive developer weasels can wreck Portland neighborhoods while the city planning bureaucracy sits on its hands, check out this excellent story in today's Trib. Even the gangsters at Tri-Met are in on the act.

And don't miss the photo of two of the greaseballs who are getting rich by sucking the character right out of the Rose City. Nice hats, boys.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Two grouchy old guys commiserate

A friend writes, of Portland's much ballyhooed "urban planning":

it's sick... it really is... and too many people around here drink the kool aid... i always come out against trains and trolleys and am branded as anti-mass transit... all i ever say is they're the tools of developers to increase property value while being subsidized by the city... buses are fine and not subject to the restrictions of anchored-rail problems ... trolleys are incredibly inefficient, slow and stupid -- but if you're putting up a development these days, you just gotta have one ... cute little things really help sell condos... and we keep dumping hundreds of people on street grids built for just a few people -- or in the case of south waterfront, no people... and the citizens cheer them on... hooray for us -- we know things about living nobody else in the world knows! and homer just buys himself another segway...

Saturday, in the park?

Today's O tells us that the Saturday Market vendors are o.k. with a slight move, out from under the Burnside Bridge and up the street a ways or over to Waterfront Park. There are still other new locations on the table as well, and staying put seems a lost cause.

Apparently a couple of votes this week will really put the train on the tracks. But this is one of those done deals where no single moment of decision will probably ever be apparent.

We have a winner

Who had August 21, 2006 in the pool for guessing when the next Jail Blazer would hire local defense lawyer extraordinaire Steve Houze? Extra points if you guessed it would be in connection with a sexual assault investigation. No extra for guessing that the Blazer would be pot-smoking, high-driving, street-racing, double-handgun-packing Zach Randolph, though -- that was too easy.

We now reset the Blazer-Houze clock, and the jackpot starts growing again.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ups and downs

Well, heck. My web host changed out some hardware last night, and we were down for a while. Now some folks are e-mailing in that they're not able to see us again. It may be that it will take a day or so for the new IP address to "propagate" on the "name servers" for everybody. (I'm not sure that's right, but something like that.)

If you can read this, you're obviously not affected. If you just got back through after missing us for a while, welcome back.

Keepin' it real

Shocking! In today's O, one of the urban studies gurus at Portland State actually says he likes part of Portland just the way it is -- without yuppification!

It's a rare moment, people, so check it out.

I hope it's not a spoof of some kind...

Blog as chick magnet

A reader writes that a single friend of hers is so amused by the comments on this blog that she requests that commenters include their photos and phone numbers with their posts, "because nothing is more sexy than a witty guy. This could be better than match!!!!"

Hmmm. I don't know about that. The whole idea could easily get out of hand. Besides, some of the best wits are female.

I do have some photos of our guy commenters, but I don't know if they want their names and phone numbers associated with them. Here are a few; see if you can connect them with the names they use when they post here:

If any regulars would like to take the reader's friend up on her suggestion, go right ahead.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dear Randy Cohen

Somebody ought to write to The New York Times ethics guy about this one.

As Oregon scams go, it looks like nothing to me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Real boobs target fakes

Apparently, the Bush administration has discovered that the female terrorists wear falsies.

My dad was right

He told me, "Jackie, it's not what you know, it's who you know."

The livable (bang bang) city

The bullets are flying again at Lloyd Center.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Cousin Jim has returned from what he calls "the Comcastic Island of the Damned." He was sorely missed.


Pull over... I think I'm going to hurl...

More PDC math: $48K per apartment

Some more startling numbers in today's O story on affordable housing:

Since 1998, the city has spent $107 million on affordable housing, the report said. That's about 16 percent of all redevelopment spending within the city's 11 urban renewal districts. The cash comes from taxes paid on rising property values within the districts.

For that cash, the city helped developers build 2,212 apartments and condos.

That's $48,372.51 per apartment that the taxpayers paid. Geez, over the past eight years, how much has it cost to build a low-income apartment? It seems like an awfully high contribution from the public, and a low one from the developers.

I can't believe the good old boys don't want in on that one.

Portland's future?

How awful.

The Wal-Mart card

Democrats across the country have decided to seek votes by calling out Wal-Mart, according to today's New York Times. As fine an idea as that may be in the blue states, do you think it will play well in the heartland?

I don't.

So many businesses and politicians are responsible for the impending disappearance of the U.S. middle class. To scapegoat one big corporation -- especially one at which many lower-income folks shop religiously and find the lowest prices -- doesn't seem like a good strategy to me.

I am well aware of Wal-Mart's many shortcomings. But I am tired of being right and losing elections, and that's just where the Democratic Party seems to be heading. Again.

It's fun times for Hillary. She used to be on the Wal-Mart board of directors, from 1986 to 1992:

The Clintons also benefited financially from Wal-Mart. Mrs. Clinton was paid $18,000 each year she served on the board, plus $1,500 for each meeting she attended.

By 1993, she had accumulated at least $100,000 in Wal-Mart stock, according to Mr. Clinton's federal financial disclosure that year. The Clintons also flew free on Wal-Mart corporate planes 14 times in 1990 and 1991 in preparation for Mr. Clinton's 1992 presidential bid.

Even then, she was a big Yankee fan, though.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Got e-junk?

Don't we all? Here's a place to go to unload those electronic toys that have outlived their usefulness.

Just what we need

Oregon's next great export: Roundup-proof grass!

It's not licensed yet. But look for it soon in a yard near you. And watch as other plants develop immunity. "Feed me, Seymour!" It continues to blow my mind.

Common sense at City Hall

Once in a while, you actually see some:

Ty Kovatch, chief of staff to Commissioner Randy Leonard, said the existing rules encouraged car dealers to leave 122nd. But he said the dealerships are some of the best things going on the street dotted with strip clubs and pay-day lenders. "In the world of things we should be running out of 122nd, they aren't one of them," Kovatch said.
Hear, hear.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Now that's funny

The Pearlies are bitching about the train whistles at night. From the Trib today:

According to Sue Miller, vice president of primary Pearl developer Hoyt Street Properties, some residents are convinced this was not just a matter of train engineers putting safety first. They are certain the engineers are tooting their horns more than necessary.
I'll have a snappy comeback as soon as I stop laughing.

Hold on, it's going to be a while.

Lawyers on welfare

Down in California you can get "affordable housing" assistance even if you make "only" $160,000 a year.


The bizarre priorities of Portland city government were on full display in yesterday's O. On page 1 we learned that the police bureau's once-robust gang outreach "team" has been allowed to dwindle down to a single counsellor. Mayor Potter, a former police chief who must have known this was happening, has now offered to find the guy a grant writer to see if he can scare up funding for some help. How pitiful.

Meanwhile, buried in the business section was another story that confirms what's been rumored for quite a while: the city is studying building a fiber-optic network that would run into all homes in the city, offering high-speed internet service. This would be in addition to (and in competititon with) the "free" citywide wi-fi system that some poor fools from the Bay Area are already trying to build at the city's behest.

Obviously, the rest of our city fathers are joining Commisioner Sten's long-running, obsessive vendetta against Comcast. From his failed lawsuit that tried to force AT&T (Comcast's predecessor) to lease its cable lines to other internet providers, to the municipal wi-fi "cloud," it's clear that the Stennmeister will stop at no expenditure of time and money to socialize utilities in the city. (Along the lines of his futile battle to take over PGE.)

Chasing down these dopey "visions" isn't free -- far from it. Yet somehow there's always lots of money around for them.

I'm surprised that the rest of the council can't step back and see the forest for Opie's trees. We don't have two nickels to rub together to stop minority kids in north Portland from killing each other (and themselves), but when it comes to jerking the cable company around, the sky's the limit? For shame.

Thoughts for the Day

1. "This makes me wish I'd done something creative instead of becoming an accountant."

2. "its ok 2 type it"

3. "My heart was so, so in it. That's the best way to describe it. My heart was completely in it."

Voter-hated elections

The City of Portland's "clean money" public campaign finance "system" is getting exactly the reaction I knew it would from area residents: according to the Trib, 55 percent oppose it, compared with only 26 percent who support it.

I don't know where the Trib gets those totals. The report on the poll (see the last page) shows that within the city limits, only 47 percent oppose "clean money," while 35 percent support it. Still, it's clearly not what the populace wants.

Hey, City Council: Is it time for a vote on this yet? Or do we sit around in a circle and tweak it some more? Sooner or later, it's going down, fellows.

New accessory for your Dell laptop

A fire extinguisher.

Monday, August 14, 2006

True colors

An interesting little story got lost in the media void that is the Saturday paper. The O reported that the developer interests down in the SoWhat district of Portland are twisting the city's arm pretty hard to not spend too much of their precious urban renewal dollars on affordable housing:

An advisory committee mainly of property owners with some residents of the emerging South Waterfront area has come out against a citywide policy that would require such redevelopment projects to spend about one-third of their public money on affordable housing. While the committee said it favors funding for such projects in South Waterfront and across the city, it did not favor having a "predetermined set aside" that might leave less money for other priorities....

Committee members said they felt the City Council's proposal would restrict their decision-making too much year-to-year and shortchange budgets for parks, a riverfront greenway and streets in the mostly vacant industrial area. Like many urban renewal areas, the one that covers the South Waterfront is short of cash for a wide range of projects.

Committee members, at a meeting Thursday, were concerned about how to fund road projects costing tens of millions of dollars and a lush riverfront greenway that could cost $30 million or more. Costs for many of the parks and other amenities foreseen in the area are still unknown.

"Those are the kinds of things the council needs to understand," said Rick Saito, who along with some partners owns 3.6 acres in the district.

What arrogance. Here the city is shelling out nine figures for their little la-la land already, and these folks want to make sure that more city money goes for their landscaping instead of a few places where normal people can live. Screw the affordable housing, let's build more park for the condo dwellers.

When they sold SoWhat to former Mayor Katz and the rest of the then-City Hall crew (two of whom just got themselves so easily re-elected), Homer Williams, Peter Kohler, and Neil Goldschmidt made all sorts of promises. Nanotechnology jobs. Biotechnology jobs. Affordable housing. Towers so thin they'd be like the teeth of a comb. A $15 million aerial tram [rim shot].

And if they get their way, every one of them will turn out to be a bald-faced lie.

What's really galling is Sam Adams, the developers' new b*tch on the City Council. Formerly Vera's "economic development" expert (a laughable credential), now he's ready to play ball with the condo crew, just like his old boss always did:

Part of the disagreement appears to stem from whether the council wants all urban renewal areas to allocate the same percentage of budgets to affordable housing.

"A one size fits all approach is not good," said Mark Williams, Oregon Health & Science University's manager overseeing the university expansion in South Waterfront.

For his part, Adams said he doesn't want to see a single requirement for all the areas. Some of the areas are focused on industrial development and don't even have residential zoned land, he noted.

Extending debt levels of some districts could help them all reach an average of 30 percent funding across all the districts, he said.

There you go. You can smell it, can't you? Homer wins again.

Commissioner Sten wasn't available for the O story. But now that he's re-elected, you wonder whether he'll give in to these guys, too. My opinion of him and the rest of his colleagues would improve a great deal if they imposed the 30 percent requirement, and told OHSU and Homer what they should have told them five years ago: No.

Bill McDonald over at Portland Freelancer called b.s. on this over the weekend as well. It's an important issue that shouldn't be allowed to waste away on a Saturday. Let's talk about it on a Monday.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

They still don't get it

But eventually they will.

Flat as a pancake

The construction of the artificial turf soccer field near here continues along. (We've blogged about it previously here and here.)

Now the retainer is all the way around the four sides of the field, and the resulting box has been filled to the brim with gravel, which they've been pounding down all week. The whole house shuddered as they rolled over it and pushed it down to a perfectly flat floor:

That's about a three-to-four-foot drop-off from the edge of the playing field to the parking lot below. I wonder what kind of barrier they'll put up to keep wayward soccer balls on the field.

In between the gravel and retaining wall, there's a wooden liner -- perhaps to attach some element of the artificial turf to?

Overall, it's slightly ironic. After all that work, we've now gone from paved blacktop to paved gravel. But of course, it won't be that way for long:

And now it's much more level, and with a drainage system.

Some of that Irvington clay they pushed around has been put to good use behind that retaining wall over on the north side, next to the neighbor whose house sits up a bit from the schoolyard:

I suspect the turf installers will be showing up any day now. Alas, the grafitti psychos should be here any minute now as well.

Yin and yang

This may be as old as the hills, but when a friend sent it around the other day, it was the first I had seen it:

Dog's diary:

7 a.m. Oh, boy! A walk! My favorite!
8 a.m. Oh, boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9 a.m. Oh, boy! Kids! My favorite!
10 a.m. Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!
Noon Oh, boy! A nap! My favorite!
2 p.m. Oh, boy! A car ride! My favorite!
3 p.m. Oh, boy! The kids! My favorite!
4 p.m. Oh, boy! Playing ball! My favorite!
6 p.m. Oh, boy! Welcome home Mom! My favorite!
7 p.m. Oh, boy! Welcome home Dad! My favorite!
8 p.m. Oh, boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9 p.m. Oh, boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My favorite!
11 p.m. Oh, boy! Sleeping on my people's bed! My favorite!

Cat's diary:

Day 183 of my captivity... My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre
dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat while I am forced to eat dry cereal.

The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape & the mild
satisfaction of clawing their furniture.

Tomorrow I will eat another house plant.

Today, my attempt's to kill them by weaving around their feet almost
succeeded... Tomorrow I must try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again
induced myself to upchuck on their favorite chair. I must remember to do
this on their bed.

Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to
show them what I am capable of, and to strike fear in their hearts. They
only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmm,
that did not work according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in
solitary during the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the
food. More important, I overheard that my confinement was due to my
ability to produce "allergies". Must learn more about this.

I am convinced my other captives are flunkies and possibly spies. The
dog is routinely released and seems happy to return. He is obviously a
half- wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant and
speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports on my every move.
Due to his placement in a metal room, he is safe from me for now. But I
can wait; it is only a matter of time...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Here's your chance

Now you can put in a bid on the personal belongings of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Hmmm, my budget is limited -- I'd love the blue hoodie from the wanted posters, but I may have to settle for his copy of "1984." Maybe I could get Bush to autograph it.

Stone cold sober as a matter of fact

Pril's back, on a Blogger blog called I count to 4. Yay.

Terror probe uncovers wider threat

Reuters is reporting that Scotland Yard detectives and FBI agents have discovered evidence that the terrorists who were going to blow up trans-Atlantic flights with liquid explosives also planned to carry bomb ingredients on board the flights by other means. Sources say a search of the suspects' computers, and a crime lab analysis of sticky notes found on one of their refrigerators, show that they were planning to pack explosives into candy shells made from melted-down M&M's.

"The evidence is fairly conclusive," said one senior law enforcement official. "They read the stories in the New York Times about the guy who's doing the prison art with melted M&M shells, and they figured out a way to pack bomb materials into them. It was diabolical."

Officials at major airports in the United States and Britain immediately moved to ban all M&M's from commercial aircraft, and they are actively considering banning the candies from within the airports' security zones entirely. The latest security directives prohibit plain, peanut, almond, mini, "m-amazing mini," and white chocolate varieties of the popular chocolate candy. Reese's Pieces and Skittles are also considered contraband.

According to one source close to the investigation, the terorists had color-coded the various ingredients for a bomb inside the bags of M&Ms they were planning to carry as they boarded flights between the two continents. "Red was going to be nitric acid, and green was nitrobenzene," the source said. "They weren't going to use the blue, though, because apparently one of the terrorist guys hates the blue ones."

Officials were shocked to discover that the plot involved the "white chocolate pirate pearl" M&Ms as well. "I didn't think anybody bought those, they're so gross-looking," the source was quoted as saying. "Only a fascist would eat those things."

As the Reuters report went to press, Homeland Security top brass was meeting in an emergency session to determine whether Jelly Bellies also needed to be kept off flights. "We're trying to balance security and liberty," a high-ranking White House official said. "People need to be vigilant, but they also need to go on with their lives."

The White House is blaming the Times story about the prison art for inspiring the plot. "That is one of the most irresponsible acts ever taken by a professional news organization in our country's history," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "You show melted M&Ms and a convicted felon -- you know there's going to be some kook out there who gets ideas."

Officials would not confirm or deny reports that the suspects were planning to conceal the candies in body cavities. "That would be a devastating blow to the airline industry," said Ethan Feldcamp, a professor at the Wharton School. "You think the searches at the airport are bad now -- wait until you see what you'll go through if that turns out to be the case."

Late Friday, the terror alert level was changed from melon to dandelion.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't call us, we'll call you

LeLo in NoPo gets a resume' that should go straight to the round file.

Delta Airlines responds

In-flight bottled water: $9.

Wal-Mart goes union

But only in China.

Uh oh! Sam the Tram -- time for another fact-finding trip! Fireman Randy will lend you his tourist books.

Two half-stories

This pair of articles is kind of odd when you think about it. According to the O, Multnomah County plans to stop monitoring jail inmates whom it releases early due to overcrowding. Over at the Trib, on the other hand, they're reporting that the county plans to institute more rigorous checks in determining which lowlif -- er, offenders -- to cut loose when the cells are full.

What's curious to me is that neither story mentions the facts that the other one reports. I guess you're supposed to put 2 and 2 together on your own.

Or you can just check in here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is it just me...

... or does anybody else think that today's bust of the alleged Pakistani jet bomber brigade in England may be just a little hyped up, to rally support for our continued bloody adventures in Iraq and Lebanon?

Oh, and the new wave of security theater at the airports will be fun. We're past "Take off your shoes!" No Starbucks on the plane -- might be a bomb! Toothpaste? Could be a lethal weapon, sorry. Will they still serve those little bottles of vodka? Pretty flammable, you know.

I think the Bush people's terror alarm has developed a snooze button, and I'm inclined to push it on this one.

Working with, and around, OregonLive

Alt.portland has a nice user's guide to the web version of The Oregonian posted today. Most useful is the business at the end about how to search back issues of the O electronically. As we Portland bloggers know too well, after 14 days news articles disappear from OregonLive, the O's affiliated web site, entirely. But if you have a Multnomah County Library card, you've got access to a much deeper archive, back to 1988. Check it out.

Ben's final hour?

Is Gentle Ben Westlund giving up the ghost in his independent run for Oregon governor? He's got an ominous-sounding press conference scheduled for just under an hour from now:

Independent candidate for Oregon governor Ben Westlund will announce Thursday afternoon whether he will stay in the race at a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem.

John Turner, Westlund's communications director, refused to comment on the nature of the announcement. It was scheduled for 2 p.m.

I was just saying last night how Saxton is toast because he's got other Republicans running against him -- one to his right and one to his left. If Ben packs it in, it's a good day for the Nasal Nabob of Neildom. (Via KGW.)

UPDATE, 2:34 p.m.: It's official. Neil's third term is now a lock.

We missed out

If Paul Allen had owned the Blazers in the '80s, here's a guy who would have been on the roster, for sure.

Breaking news: IRS employees are normal people

The feds snoop on themselves sometimes, too. The Treasury Department decided to take peek into IRS employees' e-mail inboxes lately to see what was in them. Lo and behold:

IRS employees are violating provisions of the personal use policy with their email usage. Specifically, we found inappropriate email messages in 74% of the employee mailboxes reviewed. These inappropriate email messages contained chain letters, jokes, offensive content, and sexually explicit content.
On a more important note, however, the inspectors found that the IRS's e-mail servers are sitting ducks for hackers:
To evaluate the security over email servers, we selected a judgmental sample of 28 email servers and found 687 security vulnerabilities on all 28 servers. People can exploit security vulnerabilities to shut down the servers and disrupt email service or to use the servers to access or attack other computers in the network, which could disrupt other critical operations in the IRS.
Read the whole thing here. (Via TaxProf Blog.)

The big difference

This incident in Tacoma could never happen in Portland. Down here, when the criminal court judge asks people in the courtroom to say "Go Blazers," the defendant says, "Your honor, I am a Blazer."

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Sound vaguely familiar?

Here's the latest on the San Diego municipal finance fiasco. Lots of trouble down there, stemming from the city's pension fund, sewer billing, and lack of transparency in financial reporting. But hey, they have lots of pretty, shiny, new condo towers downtown. Light rail and trolleys, too.

Food for thought.

It's so obvious

Here's another loser who needs to go behind bars and never, ever come out again.

He can be roommates wth this guy.

Jersey on my mind

This morning I found myself on an inbound Max train with my morning New York Times in my lap. Very unusual -- me being up at that hour, and me cruising through Parkrose on light rail. (We have a great, albeit expensive, transit system, except for the dopey streetcars and the you-know-what [rim shot].)

Anyway, on their Metro page were two stories out of the Garden State that caught my eye:

First, I noticed a case that I'm guessing My Bro the Prosecutor will likely get a piece of. What a place.

Second, here's a guy who's been in the news for around 40 years. Charging 500 bucks an hour, and that's his charity discount rate! And here I am blogging for free.

Blackout Week continues

First my blog goes out. Then Cousin Jim's cable dies. Then Joe Lieberman's site goes down. Then Sarah at Pinktalk loses her DSL.

And now... Pril's site is suspended!

Astrologers out there, what in blazes is going on here???

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Notes from all over

Now yer talkin'! This blog is ready for its own travel section! By coincidence, the following two e-mail dispatches came in from two different readers, within minutes of each other:

I'm in New Orleans and there is a WiFi cloud over the French Quarter and the Central Business District. There's not garbage pickup, mail delivery, traffic signs/lights, etc. But they have the wifi cloud! It's kind of a scary look into Portland's future.

I am on the road this week down in Ca, and driving down from Santa Barbara tonight they reported on the radio a story that there was just a study completed this week on the City of San Diego's finances, and they called it a "culture of corruption" that rivaled Enron.

I'm with ya, people.


Our kitten "Lily" turns out to be a boy.

You have to laugh. And you know who's laughing the loudest?


Green Cab gets its medallion yanked

The City of Portland cites multiple violations of municipal rules regarding taxis.

I wish they'd add a driver-shower requirement.

Not so big, not so easy

Our regular reader Frank Dufay is in New Orleans, and the experience is so vivid that he has started a blog about it.

"You can smell smoke at Timberline Lodge"

Nasty day on our side of Mount Hood. Let's hope they get the fires out quickly.

Makes you realize how important this story is.

No cheap airfare or car quotes today

Well, that was interesting -- a one-day forced hiatus. For a while, some folks were getting through to this site, some weren't. Then, by this time yesterday, it all went kerblooey for everybody.

A mixup by my web host allowed my web domain to expire. When that happens, you lose your site back to the registrar -- in this case, an outfit called eNom -- and they turn it over temporarily to the "cheap airfares" weasels who occupied this space yesterday. Meanwhile, you get to scramble around to get your own site back up.

Fortunately, I was able to fight through some formidable phone menus and get through to helpful human beings both at eNom and at my web host, and they got the situation rectified for me as quickly as humanly possible within the confines of their organizations. If you ever read this, Veronica and Elida, thank you for restoring my faith in humanity.

There was a time when this sort of thing would have sent me ballistic, but for some reason I was able to keep pretty cool this time. Maybe it's because I could have prevented the mishap myself if I had been paying closer attention. But more likely it's because so many readers had my back. I got e-mails, even phone calls, from concerned frequenters of this blog, expressing concern and offering suggestions. People blogged on their own blogs about my disappearance.

That was awfully nice. My hat's off to you, people.

In an eerie paralel, Cousin Jim at Parkway Rest Stop has also gone dark, quite involuntarily. His situation is a bit different from mine. His entire internet hookup is down. But on the other hand, his site is up, and Eric from Straight White Guy is doing yeoman's duty as a guest blogger. It's great to have friends.

Speaking of which, special thanks are due to my buddy Bill McDonald, who reprinted my morning post and let me vent a little over at The Portland Freelancer. A special guy.

O.k., enough about that. Lesson learned. On with the show.

UPDATE, 1:46 p.m.: Before I went out of commission, I had a couple of posts that got lost in the shuffle. This one in particular may be worth your going back for.

Funny Story of the Week

I am not making this up. Before Opie's new pals from the Bay Area can start building the city's "free" wifi system, they have to cut a deal with PGE for use of their power! That ought to be a fun relationship.

Oh, and already it won't work with the parking meters like they said it would. Uh huh...

Don't forget: One-inch banner ads are going to pay for it all, too. Sure. Sounds like a deal only Paul Allen would make.

This could end up being more fun than the water billing system.

Monday, August 7, 2006

I'm still standing, for some people

Due to a domain registration issue, some readers report having trouble accessing this blog today. Instead of the blog, they're getting this!

We're working on it. But if you can read this, the problem obviously does not affect you!

Sunday sudsy Sunday

I spent most of Sunday washing the family van. Usually this task gets me cranky long before it's finished, but this time, it was great fun all the way through, and I really got into it.

Why was that?

Great weather for it. Got the kids involved. Cranked up the boombox with some great stuff -- a couple of homemade party mixes, a Buffett, the Motown greatest, and then a mellow Neil Young to cap it off. (Apologies to the neighbors, especially when I joined in the singing on a few numbers.) Used both garden hoses, which was handy. The Mrs. fueled us with a fine lunch. We took some breaks for cool drinks. Neighbors dropped by -- one bearing gifts. And all the car washing gear was on hand and working well. Besides, the vehicle really needed it.

Many hours later, a very clean van emerged, and along with it a ridiculously strong sense of satisfaction on my part. I'm not sure I'll ever understand why. Perhaps it's because I have a bit of a tan.

Perhaps it's best not to ask.

More SoWhat stinky cheese

The odor rising from the South Waterfront got a little stronger this morning -- more of the aroma left behind by Don "the Don" Mazziotti, recently departed godfather at the Portland Development Commission. He and an OHSU VP named Lois Davis reportedly hired Molly Bordonaro, Gordon Smith crony Dan Lavey, and their firm on a six-figure (eventually, seven-figure) no-bid contract to lobby Congress for pork for SoWhat -- even though the fix was already in for the federal money.

For a while, the PDC was forking over $10,000 of city taxpayer dollars to the lobbying firm, the Gallatin Group, every month, while the SoWhat developers and OHSU were paying three times that much. Over time, the story indicates, the PDC paid $170,000 of lobbying costs out of pocket (with another $60,000 apparently authorized but unspent), before shifting to an even more outrageous deal, whereby the city is paying a 50 percent "commission" to OHSU for supposed lobbying results. All the while, the congressional delegation is unanimous in the view that the project didn't really need to be lobbied -- and definitely not to the tune of $1.2 million.

Of course, the O story buries some of the most important stuff way down there. It turns out that the city may be using federal funds to pay for the aerial tram [rim shot] -- at least indirectly -- and that's not sitting well with Senator Wyden:

When [the city] backed out, the development commission agreed to repay OHSU if the lobbyists succeeded in landing federal cash. For every dollar the Gallatin Group attracted above $4.2 million in last year's transportation bill, the city will repay OHSU 50 cents, according to the deal the City Council approved in June 2004....

The transportation bill ended up with $11 million. Under the formula, the city reimbursed OHSU for half the money it attracted over $4.2 million, which means Portland owes the university $3.4 million. That's more than twice what the lobbying efforts cost the university through this spring. The university plans to spend the reimbursement on the rising cost of the aerial tram.

But news of that deal apparently was not shared with some Oregon lawmakers.

Wyden, for example, repeatedly denied requests to use federal money for the tram.

Kardon, Wyden's chief of staff, said: "If federal funds he helped obtain became part of a shell game to pay for the tram, Gallatin and OHSU should have disclosed the arrangement. We are going to get to the bottom of that question."

Good golly Miss Molly -- you mean OHSU, Homer Williams, and the Don snookered somebody for money for SoWhat and the tram? Jeepers, I can't believe it. Opie and Big Pipe would never have let that happen.

Speaking of sleaze, in a sidebar, we learn that part of what the lobbying firm was reportedly doing on the city's and OHSU's dime was political fundraising for local politicians!

The Gallatin Group reported five times in work summaries provided to the city of Portland that it had raised campaign money, hosted fundraisers or organized River Campus Investors' attendance at fundraisers....

[T]he Gallatin Group reported hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Smith where South Waterfront was discussed, according to Lavey's February 2004 report.

The Gallatin Group's fundraising extended to the city of Portland, too.

Also in February 2004, the firm reported raising money to support, among other politicians, mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi. Lavey wrote: "raised money in support of Sen. Smith, Sen. (Ron) Wyden, Congresswoman (Darlene) Hooley and Jim Francesconi on behalf of the RCI (River Campus Investors) team."

Wow. I guess we had public campaign financing even before Opie's little "clean money" clubhouse opened for business!

Nice investigative job by the O. Several years too late, of course, but quite interesting nonetheless.

Just remember, everybody: Everything's fine. City That Works. Brownfields to greenfields. Biotech. Nanotech. Smart growth. Eco-roofs. $635 a square foot. Affordable housing, maybe someday maybe. Kohler Coaster. Wine and cheese with Sharon Kitzhaber. The FBI has no business sniffing around our City Hall. Emilie Boyles -- bad! Canola oil -- good! Go by streetcar! (Illustration courtesy Portland Freelancer.)

Season's greetings

Lots of Googlers out there this week hitting on this post from two summers ago.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Sad weekend in L.A.

Arthur Lee (top center), who blew everybody's minds in the late '60s with his group Love, has left the building. A fascinating life, some great music.

Here's a 2003 performance by Lee of a song that was in heavy rotation on the Jonathan Schwartz radio show in New York in the early '70s:

And here's Lee laying the groundwork for punk, way back there, on American Bandstand (of all places):

Trivia question of the day: Who wrote that last song?

Rest in peace, Arthur.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Good luck!

As I made my way out of the grocery store this evening, a bird on a wire dropped a bullseye right on the top of my head.

Yo, let's go crabbin'

It's not too often that the skills I gained growing up in Jersey come in handy in my adult life here on the Upper Left Coast. Take Granny Bogdanski's methodology for consuming hot tea. She'd brew up a pot of the finest black stuff Lipton or Tetley had to offer, pour herself a large cup, and then put some milk and sugar in it. After a while, it was on to the ritual cooling of the tea, and here's where she turned it into an art form. She'd carefully pour some tea out of the cup and onto the saucer on which the cup had heretofore been resting. Then she'd blow gently across the surface of the tea puddle until the liquid was just the right temperature. At which point, God bless her, old Granny Alice would slurp the stuff right out of that saucer.

We saw Granny do this countless times, including when she had company over, and I do believe the company would join in. Impressionable youngsters, we just assumed that that was how you drank tea. It wasn't until I was a teenager, and I nonchalantly performed this process before a stunned audience of a girlfriend and her family, that I discovered that that wasn't the way most folks did it.

Another given in Jersey that's decidedly not a given anywhere else is cooking and eating Taylor ham. If you've never had it, I'm not sure I can fully explain it to you, but "Taylor pork roll" was just that, a roll of pork, made into a large sausage about the size of a bologna or a liverwurst. Exactly what parts of the pig were in it, you didn't want to know. You wouldn't dare eat it raw -- you would surely die -- but fried up with some eggs, it was lip-smackin' good. Cousin James, still a Jerseyite to his day, has written about it over on his blog, Parkway Rest Stop, and I've mentioned it here before as well. As kids we both ate lots of Taylor ham.

When I first moved to California, I was truly homesick for a long time, and my mom would try to cheer me up with care packages, which typically included a whole Taylor ham. Now, that stuff was supposed to be refrigerated, but hey, for a taste of home I was willing to take a chance with whatever might have happened to it in its three to five days being flown across the country. If you're eating Taylor ham, you're obviously not all that risk-averse, anyway.

Some of my classmates at the hotsy totsy Stanford Law School were absolutely aghast when I fried up some Taylor ham in the dorm basement, slapped it on a hamburger bun with some Gulden's mustard, and polished it off with gusto. They had never encountered the, ahem, distinctive aroma of sizzling Taylor ham before, and they were not sure they ever wanted to again. Eventually they concluded that the stuff was made out of ground donkey genitalia. None of them would touch it, much less eat it.

After a while, I got over my wicked homesickness. And soon Taylor ham, like Granny's method for cooling tea, disappeared from my life.

Every once in a while, though, my Garden State upbringing pays a dividend here in the Beaver State. And so it was earlier this week, when, on a fantastic trip to the Oregon Coast, I demonstrated my skills as a crabber.

Now along the New Jersey Coast -- "down the Shore," as it's known -- there are two main bodies of water. You've got your ocean (Atlantic) and your bay (Barnegat). A lot of the beach towns are just a few blocks wide, with the ocean on the east side and the bay on the west. I don't know what the situation is these days, but back in the late '50s and early '60s, the bay was full of crabs, and they were good eating if they were big enough, which many were. And so part of every Jersey Shore vacation we took as kids with my parents and my dad's relatives was spent crabbing. Catching crabs and eating crabs were a big deal, as were the inevitable jokes about "crabbing," in the sense of being grouchy.

Most of our crabbing was done from a dock on the bay, where you could catch the victims with a box trap or just snag them with a scoop net. The latter technique was particularly interesting. You tied a big fish head onto a string and dropped it down to the bay floor just below the dock. Every once in a while, you'd pull it up ever so slowly until you could see it through the green bay water. If there was a crab eating it, you continued to inch the bait up as close as you could to the surface without scaring off the crab. Then you or your crabbing partner would move in with a scoop net at the end of a pole. If you caught the crab in there, you'd carefully dump it in a bushel basket, on top of whatever other crabs you had already caught that day.

This would make the crabs very angry, and you'd have to be darned careful not to get any part of your anatomy too close to those pinchers, because they would be a-snappin'. Often the occupants of the bushel basket would take their frustrations out on each other, which was pretty scary to watch. (Although nothing was as intense as watching them all meet their fate in a huge pot of boiling water that evening. The Old Bay smelled good, but the sight of the crabs meeting their maker made you want to soil your trousers.)

You could get up really early and head out on the bay to crab from a boat, if that was your druthers. You could even crab at night, with a flashlight, if you wanted.

If you didn't catch any crabs (or enough), you could always buy some at a seafood store, of which there were many. A dozen fairly large live crabs went for around three bucks in those days. You'd take them back to the beach bungalow in a large, doubled brown bag, which you'd handle with care. Every once in a while an angry claw would poke through both bags. I will never forget the time that the bag broke just as we were pulling up to the house and getting out of the car. A few crabs hit the sidewalk and made a break for it. Now, the way to catch a getaway crab on land was to step on it, but much to our surprise, a crab got its pincher around the toe of Uncle Bill's very flimsy $1.59 Vans sneakers. We all laughed, but he didn't. I never saw him move that fast, before or after.

Another time a high school buddy and I picked up a dozen in lower Manhattan and brought them back to Jersey City on the PATH train, a subway under the Hudson River. It's a short ride, but I remember thinking about what a riot would ensue if the bag broke and the dozen green-blue critters started skittering around the packed commuter car, blowing those frightening bubbles and snapping those claws at the Wall Street types in their Brooks Brothers suits.

Anyway, where we stayed on the Oregon Coast this week, there were quite a few little crabs running around in the nearby bay. There were also lots of crabs hanging out in the ocean tidepools at low tide. Since the kids are fascinated with wildlife of any kind, the Mrs. and I pulled a few out of the water each day with a sand sifting toy, and we kept them in a tiny inflatable baby pool, filled with sea water, for easy observation.

My crabbing prowess drew rave reviews from the girls, but on closer inspection of the two crabs I scooped up one day, my achievements were greatly diminished. One of the little buggers had an entire claw missing. And after a while, our oldest announced, "This one has only one eye!" Sure enough, both our specimens had survived wicked battles with undersea foes before falling into our clutches.

Anyway, the teeny Oregon crabs weren't for eating, just for watching for a little while, and as we packed up to leave the bay beach, we let them both go. Wounded though they were, they both skittered briskly along the sand when given the opportunity, and back into the bay they speedily went. Here's the one with one eye heading out:

Like so many of their kind, he and his crustacean colleague learned a lesson: Don't mess with a Jersey crabber.

More bad news for Floyd

The second urine test also came back positive for testosterone doping.

He's still saying it was all done naturally, but his credibility is sinking fast. Oh, well. He got to feel what it was like to win the Tour de France. Now he'll get to experience many other things as well.

Friday, August 4, 2006

$635 a square foot -- for an apartment in Portland

That's $1,115,000 for a 1756-square-foot condo. Oh, and you don't get to move in for more than a year.

What a deal! No word on whether psychiatric care is included.

What can you do me

Here's your regular teaser from the Portland Development Commission agenda department. The commissioners are holding an executive session (secret, I presume) on Wednesday evening to discuss "current litigation."

I'd love to be a fly on the wall of that one. Who all is suing the PDC, and why?

Can't buy me love

Yawn. So now Paul Allen isn't going to sell the Blazers. Huh. Well, it sure didn't look like a team that was about to be sold -- not these past few weeks, not with the excellent personnel moves it's been making.

It's too bad. Paul Allen has shown himself to be -- how shall I put this delicately? -- a colossal jerk, and the sooner he's out of Portland's hair, the better.

What's really going on with this guy? It beats me. If this is more of his laughable "hardball" act with the former mortgage holders who are now the unwilling owners of the Rose Garden arena, it isn't going to work. After all he's done to those folks, they're not going to make him a deal of any kind. They'd rather carry lackluster real estate on their books than show the rest of their borrowers that they're an easy mark.

And is the city or state going to bail Allen out? It's out of the question.

My guess is that he still thinks he can move the team to Seattle. Oh, I know, he's got a long-term lease that says he's stuck in Portland until they sing that "In the Year 2525" song, but I suspect he thinks, rightly or wrongly, that there's some way out of that. Just as he thought, quite wrongly, that his bankruptcy stunt and the constant whinging about his operating losses were going to produce a taxpayer bailout, a more reasonable lease, or both. With so many dumb business moves lined up in a row, you've got to think more stupidity is in the offing.

Maybe he's thinking of proposing a swap with the Oklahoma crew that just bought the Sonics -- exchange the Blazers for the Sonics, straight across, like they used to do in the old days with the Blitz-Weinhard and Olympia breweries. Both ownership groups will already have been league-approved. Then they can move the Blazers to OK City.

I wouldn't put it past Allen to waste many months and throw many millions at such a fantasy. When it comes to his running a business without Bill Gates, let's face it, a fatal exception always occurs.

One thing for sure, Mr. Chapter 7 Moneybags will never own another NBA team after the shenanigans he's pulled with this one. And so unless he's giving up on pro basketball entirely, he'd better hold onto the Blazers, wherever he thinks they are going to play.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Rum and tonic

I'm en route back to Portlandia from six fantastic days on the central Oregon coast. Lately I've been making it to the Beaver State beach only once a year, but this trip has been a doozy.

First and foremost: sun, lots of sun, all afternoon and evening nothing but, every day. Of course, it's summer on the coast, and that means north wind galore to go with the rays most of the time. But if you find a spot sheltered to the north (and there are plenty of them, manmade and natural), it's downright cue-the-Beach-Boys hot. I have reached the threshold of what you might call sunburn. Forgive me, Dr. Bob the Dermatologist, but it feels so good.

The first part of the trip was the second annual Pokerama, where the cronies and I take the occasional poker game on the road. We redid last year's stupendous run of food, wine, cigars (miraculously, I held it to one measly cigarillo), reckless low-stakes cards, gossip, lying, and manly stuff like that. Several aspects of the party were taken to new heights -- particularly the food and wine. I'm sitting there slugging down Cain Five and bluffing a low hand -- quite the life. The camaraderie was as good as it gets. One player was still working off jet lag from a trip to England, which was quite a ways to come just to be there (not to mention the marital capital spent).

I managed to come out $17.50 ahead over two nights, which is a win in my book. I also broke my recent personal best for consecutive hours of sleep, clocking 13 in a row Friday night/Saturday morning/Saturday afternoon. I had pulled a couple of near-all-nighters getting out of town, and things were so peaceful and cushy at the beach that... as Bob Borden likes to say, that was some sweet sleepin' in. Several of my colleagues were appalled; I was thoroughly refreshed.

The boys went home Sunday morning, and after tidying up a little and crashing on the deck for a while, I greeted at the door a most beautiful sight, my wife and daughters. We've spent three fantastic days (and then some) taking in the joys of our western shore. Lots of breakthroughs here: a family hike in some real woods; assembling our own aquarium on a couple of different beaches with various creatures that we've plucked from the ocean (we release them back as we head back to the house); a deer crossing our path on the way home from dinner; flying a Winnie the Pooh kite in the blustery beach winds; playing pinball (well, if I do say so) in the local pizza joint, impressing the kids; one exquisite moment after another. When your two-year-old is busy telling you the differences between high tide and low tide, you wonder if that's sea mist in your eye or what.

I know that attitude is everything, and that every day can be a day at the beach if you let it. But it sure helps to have the real thing blasting at you so big that you need your shades on. Nobody's luckier than I am, and try as I might to deny it sometimes, this week proves it, once again.

Happy birthday, Tony Bennett

It must be some feeling, to be turning 80 and still be the best in the world at what you do. Here's to one of the greatest singers our nation has ever produced.

Earthquake near Battle Ground

The USGS has it as a 3.8. Here's the location they're giving.

Score one for the middle-aged white guys

Here's the spirit of Portland: When somebody's trashing your neighborhood, you do what it takes to get him to stop. Kudos to Steve Schaeffer and David Munson, who prove that this is a great town, despite local government.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Fading echo

Oregon's losing a good man -- Pat Hearn, the guy who's supposed to have been policing state government for corruption, only they stripped him of any meaningful budget.

Among his parting words in today's Willamette Week are some sentiments that readers of this blog will find quite familiar:

Some people claim there's little or no serious corruption in Oregon. How do you respond to that?

I don't want to suggest that Oregon is an extremely corrupt state, but let me answer it this way. We expect there to be corruption in places like New Jersey and Chicago. But corruption is an element of human behavior. And I don't think human behavior recognizes any geographical boundary. So I think it's almost pompous of Oregonians to think that if it happens in these other places, it's not happening here either. It may be that we just don't know about it because we don't have the resources to know about it.

Do tell. What a place.

Google Search of the Week

I don't want to know...

Revival of a golden oldie

I remember a really schmaltzy Simon & Garfunkel song called "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her." Change the "y" in the second word to "ie," and that may be the City of Portland's new theme song as the "clean money" campaign finance farce heads into a new chapter.

It's still all about Emilie Boyles, one of two candidates who turned in apparently phony signatures but the only one of the two who got the $150,000 of taxpayer dough before the city (sort of) wised up. Our gal still owes the city well over half of the money back. The deadline for repayment has now come and gone, and the City Hall reporters at the O are now openly speculating that she's left town.

The end of the saga seems pretty obvious to me. Eventually, she'll file for bankruptcy (unless she already did that in recent years), and the taxpayers will see little, if any, more money from Boyles. The O reporters are talking about "leniency," but it's really a nonissue at this point. She isn't going to be indicted. (And will anybody? The trail is getting colder by the day... Hello! Oh, Hardy!) And an unsecured civil judgment, which is the best that the city can get against her at this point, is virtually worthless. You can't get blood from a stone. We don't have debtors' prison in this country.

That "clean money" worked well, though, didn't it? Really shook things up at City Hall. Brought to you by the same hippy-dippy social architects who are going to bring the Pearl District to Produce Row, a streetcar to every boulevard, and biodiesel to every pump. And if you don't agree with them, then you must hate Portland.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Portland: Let's waste some more money

The plan to turn West Burnside Street -- which has got to be one of the busiest streets in town -- into a one-way street just won't go away. "Burnside's a pedestrian barrier," whine the developers along the way who are licking their chops at the prospect of getting a bunch of additional frontage handed to them by Sam the Tram and his posse. Once Burnside is two lanes and one way, what happens to the rest of that real estate? The adjoining owners get it. And I'm sure we can guess who they all are.

Hey, if it's that bad being a pedestrian on Burnside (which I would contest), put in some more traffic lights and crosswalks. In case you haven't noticed, the city's overall transportation infrastructure is falling apart. We need to get what we have up and running the way it's supposed to, and stop loading on more debt for more of the perpetual planner make-work projects that are breaking the city.

Clicky Web Analytics