Oh the places you’ll go

by Steve, December 18th, 2014

pinthehatonthecathatsIn 1999 I finished an associate degree at Portland Community College, and Nancy talked me into doing the commencement ceremony at the old Memorial Coliseum. The speaker was an up-and-coming local politician who condescended to the assembled hoi polloi by donning a red and white stripedy top hat and reading from Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the places you’ll go! (By the way, the stripedy top hat is from a different Dr. Seuss story. Just sayin.)

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own, and you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

I think she preceded the reading with a heart-warming story about a woman who overcame her addiction and completed a program at PCC or something. Look, PCC is a community college, not a rehab program. Sure, there are some feel-good stories about people turning their tragic lives around, but primarily it’s working class people of all ages getting a basic post-secondary education. I’m sure she was just trying to be ironic and cute, but I’m not the only one who detected a generous whiff of elitist paternalism.

We’ve joked about this pol’s failure to connect over the years. Whenever her name comes up we say, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” She married the scion of a deeply connected construction baron and later left local government in 2007. Last year she became the head of a local non-profit foundation which we’ve happily supported over the past few years.

When you give money to non-profits, their development staff become your best friends every December thereafter. (I always tell these guys they don’t have to kiss my butt, and politely decline all the perks and galas and wine buses and behind-the-scenes tours offered.)

The other day we got a voice mail message on the home phone, not from the development director, but from my erstwhile commencement speaker herself. Her unctuous tone was markedly different from her speech 15 years ago. She left her cell and office numbers. (I didn’t call her back.)

Oh.

The places you’ll go.

NOTE: That call left me conflicted like crazy. This has been one of our favorite causes over the years, and I don’t want to cast aspersions on their incredibly valuable work (which is why I’m not using names here; if you know Oregon politics, you already know who I’m talking about). We directed some money their way last year, and we’ll no doubt support them again in the future.

Jesus got a haircut

by Steve, March 17th, 2013

jesus got a haircut

The word is “punch”

by Steve, October 9th, 2012

Jefferson Smith explains how his fist somehow became victimized by a drunk woman’s head. (Smith’s words on a photo by TedXConcordiaUPortland, used under a Creative Commons license)

Since Willamette Week broke the story of Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith’s assault charge for punching a woman in the face and sending her to the hospital for five or six stitches, Smith has come up with all kinds of passive-voice ways of not quite taking responsibility for his actions. She wouldn’t stop hitting him! See, he’s the victim, even though she’s the one who ended up with a bloody head wound and he’s the one who ended up with an assault charge.

It’s pretty safe to say his campaign is circling the drain now, with this latest bit added to previous reports of Smith being a general vehicular menace and traffic scofflaw and getting kicked out of recreational sports leagues for such trifling issues as punching opponents in the nuts. But the most troubling thing in all of this is how quickly Smith’s supporters are to rally to his defense, the well-being of his victim be damned. Never mind that he re-traumatized her showing up at her door last week (not once, but twice), leaving a creepy, intimidating letter. It’s all in the past, and we should forgive him! Or so say the chorus of his “progressive” supporters, who insist any opposition to the great white hope must be from the right.

Chief among his defenders are the clowns at the Blue Oregon Home for Wannabes and Also-Rans. Professional comedy writer Bill McDonald (did we mention he’s a comedy writer? and gets paid for it?) summed it up thusly in the very place where many of Smith’s supporters rarely get challenged in their passionate credulity: “What Iím saying is that we are in denial here – avoiding an obvious, glaring problem: Jefferson Boo Boo is a mess. A high IQ dunce.” Indeed, this is plain to see to anybody not on his campaign’s payroll and/or angling for a plum job in his administration (or at least some over-priced consulting work).


Photo from Kari Chisolm
used under Creative Commons license

BO editor Kari Chisolm kicks it off with this gem: “I’ve known Jefferson Smith for 12 years…. I’ve never known Jefferson to lose his cool or act in a violent or threatening manner.” Never mind that this is contradicted by a public record of acting violent and threatening going back almost two decades.

Jesse Cornett, the guy who single-handedly destroyed Portland’s public financing of elections by running a singularly lousy campaign on the public dime, can’t think of anything clever to say, so he just calls McDonald a “fcking a*hole.”

Mark Bunster, erstwhile BO competitor (with a blog nobody remembers), pigeonholes McDonald with the biggest insult he can think of: “See what happens when you let bojack people out into the light?” Evidently, Bunster’s still butt-sore from being fully pwned by Portland’s cranky megalomaniac blogger-in-chief.

Then comes Carla Axtman who is (or was) on Jefferson’s campaign payroll, but doesn’t see fit to disclose it. (Since BO basically comes down to bottom-feeder Democratic political operatives arguing among themselves on behalf of their respective employers anyway, this should surprise no one.) Carla apparently fancies herself a “writer” and lets loose with some florid prose in defense of her man. “Rarely do we get to see this sort of unintelligible BS blend so spectacularly with pontificatory jackassery.” Now this is funny, because, uh, Pot, meet Kettle, and also, I can just imagine her polishing that turd for half an hour or more before depositing it on BO.

On Twitter, Jefferson’s campaign staff took umbrage when OPB radio host Dave Miller questioned Smith. “Dave Miller: How are you diff. from when you were 20?” To which the Irony Department replied, “Yeah, Dave, when did you stop punching women in the face?”

Which is what this all comes down to. Smith’s supporters are all over Twitter and blogs defending him, saying how much he’s changed since then. Here’s somebody who punched a woman in the face 19 years ago, but can’t quite admit it, and who continues to lose his shit and punch people, and who can’t understand that approaching his victim will likely be perceived as an act of aggression. And we’re supposed to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that 39-year-old Jefferson Smith is a totally different person than 20-year-old Jefferson Smith.

Echoes of child rapist Neil Goldschmidt’s story are abundantly clear in all of this, as sycophantic supporters, with complete disregard for the physical and emotional safety of his victim, close ranks around a volatile candidate who has obvious untreated “issues.” All in the name of how “progressive” Smith is.

(I’m not sure when women’s rights were dropped off the prog agenda, and, yeah, I know, Charlie Hales used to be a Republican. Worse than that, he’s totally in the pocket of Homer Williams and the Portland gentrification mafia — just like Sam Adams, Vera Katz, et al. Don’t delude yourself into thinking those fuckers wouldn’t get to Smith in a New York minute if he got elected, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, you might expect your elderly male relatives to not get this basic concept: It’s never okay to hit a woman. Period. Debating this with Portland “liberals” and “progressives” would be precious if it weren’t for the fact that some of us are tired of telling our daughters It’s a man’s world; get used to it.

There are real victims in this story. And Jefferson Smith isn’t one of them.

[Disclaimer: I don't live in Portland proper anymore, so I don't have to hold my nose in this election, even if I'll be holding it after...]

In case you were wondering

by Steve, October 9th, 2012

This is what a mens’ room at a Justin Bieber concert looks like:

Thin-skinned journalists who schmooze with the powers-that-be

by Steve, October 2nd, 2012

The Oregonian clings to the outdated 20th century charade of objectivity, even while nagging their reporters to get with social media, and even while editors and reporters continue to socialize with the people they’re supposed to be covering. (The pretense of “objectivity” is, in the end, just another way of comforting the comfortable.)

It’s well known that former editor Sandra Rowe and late editorial page editor Bob Caldwell partied with child rapist Neil Goldschmidt. Then there was golden boy reporter Tom Hallman taking gifts from Andy Wiederhorn, the subject of a Hallman puff piece who later plead guilty to federal tax charges.

Now, with twitter, the schmooze fest between reporters and the powers-that-be is occasionally revealed in all its quaint naivetť, as when self-absorbed columnist-cum-beat reporter Anna Griffin glibly invited the mayor’s deputy chief of staff over for brunch.

The thin-skinned part comes when she’s called out on this…

…and then blocks the twitter user calling her out.

Of course, anybody can continue to see (and laugh at) her tweets (variously begging for story ideas, telling scatological stories on her child or just creating found poetry), which, as has been pointed out, don’t necessarily fit with Bhatia’s pleas to use social media to drive traffic to the O’s comically horrid Web site.

And, as one reader notes, “All her stories make me go WTF….” Just another “Digital Day” in the life of a soon-to-be unemployed hack writer.

Anna Griffin Tweet Mash-up

by Steve, February 2nd, 2012

A collection of Anna Griffin’s tweets, compiled and mashed up by Fred Leonhardt. (Anna Griffin is on leave from The Oregonian, but will once again grace its pages with her substantive musings soon).

Tomorrow’s column

    Tomorrow’s column
    is decidedly mediocre
    and touchy feely.
    I apologize
    and promise that Saturday’s column
    will be
    snarktastic and meaty.

Thursdays

    Is it time for Project Runway?
    Is it time for Project Runway?
    Hell, is it time for Jim and Pam to get married?
    I love Thursdays …

Life is Weird

    Life is weird:
    Working in a coffee shop,
    sitting right next to a guy who is reading my column
    and oblivious to my presence.

Starbucks

    On the blissful Monday agenda:
    homelessness
    unemployment
    prostitution
    campaign finance reform,
    sore throats
    nasty headaches and
    snot galore.
    Anybody got any happy news for me?
    I am thankful for coffee
    There is no amount of bad morning that a maple bar and coffee cannot fix.

My Basic Philosophy

    My basic philosophy:
    If they have a maple bar,
    you buy it.
    Not hungry?
    Watching your weight?
    Doesn’t matter.
    A maple bar trumps all.

Bag, Dang It

    A co-worker just referred
    to my cute little bag
    as a purse.
    I am 99% certain
    I never have carried a purse.
    It’s a cute little bag,
    dang it.

Ode to George Clooney

    I dreamed I was pregnant last night
    It’s been a long time since I was this happy to wake up.
    Dear George Clooney:
    Next time you appear in my dreams, could you ditch
    the horn,
    tail
    and weird lizard tongue?
    Actually, keep the tongue.

Badass

    When the badass black boots
    in my giant size
    are marked down from $110 to $60,
    I’m meant to buy them, right?
    Isn’t that a sign
    from above?
    Tom McCall,
    any way your ghost might come show us the way?

B.J.

    Headed to a kiddie bday party featuring
    B.J. the Clown.
    I just bought real pork sausage
    Now I feel naughty.
    Neil Goldschmidt, could you lend someone your vision,
    if not your morals?
    And yes,
    Iím 13.

Starbase Portland: The Big Picture

by Steve, November 20th, 2011

A video I made about Starbase Portland, a partnership of the US Department of Defense and Portland Public Schools aimed at 4th and 5th graders.

Best. Timelapse. Evah.

by Steve, January 21st, 2011

???-54 ? ????? ??? “???????? ???????” from North Pole on Vimeo.

Watch full screen. A Russian research ship on a supply mission to Antarctica. Some really surprising and amazing imagery.

So the mayor, a councilman and a billionaire walk into a bar…

by Steve, October 14th, 2010

Geo. W. Bush and Henry Paulson

If you know me, or if you’ve read this blog from time to time, you’ve got some inkling what I think of Merritt Paulson, ultra-rich scion of former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. (If you don’t know me, and don’t want to follow the links, here’s what I think: he’s a spoiled rich kid playing sports team owner and an annoying little twit.)

After a bizarre series of attempted deals with the Mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, and the shadow mayor, Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard — who tried like hell to figure out a way to build the Paulsons two stadiums on the public dime, but ran into tenatious opposition from veterans, architects, urban planners, neighborhood activists and historic preservationists — poor wittle Merrit only got one stadium and had to sell his wittle baseball team for lack of a suitable playground.

(His daddy is a partner in his minor league sports empire, by the way, so it’s a wonder he wouldn’t put up more cash to build a stadium if it’s such a sure fire financial win to invest in sports stadiums as is frequently claimed. But I digress….)

The excavators are already busy at PGE Park (nee Civic Stadium; the Paulsons get the dough on the naming deal), ripping out part of the $38.5 million renovations done in 2001. These renovations, that Portland is still paying off, were done to make it a better venue for baseball, including a retro, manually-operated scoreboard. It’s a long story. Cutting to the chase: they’re re-renovating nine years later as a soccer-specific venue, to the exclusion of baseball.

Today comes the news that the Portland Beavers have been sold as expected, and are officially moving to Escondido, California.

I generally avoid the crappy comments section at OregonLive, the crappy Web partner of our crappy daily The Oregonian, but today I couldn’t resist jumping in to the Soccer v. Baseball war when somebody posted an invitation to a “Timbers Army/Sam Adams joke contest.” Here’s my entry, edited here in a vain attempt to punch it up a little:

A mayor, a councilman and a billionaire walk into a bar. A couple sleepy customers are watching a baseball game on the screen behind the bar. Bartender says, what’ll it be, boys? Mayor says, whatever my friend here wants, it’s on the house. Bartender says, no way pal, hit the road.

Next thing you know, a bunch of drunken, middle-aged, white man-children wearing scarves are flooding through the front door, knocking over tables and singing vulgar songs…. pretty soon the sleepy baseball fans are out on their ears, there’s a soccer game on the TV, the billionaire’s behind the bar with his hands in the till and the bartender’s getting beat up by the councilman.

The mayor takes out his phone and tweets: “This is a great day for Portland. #timbersarmy #mls”

Yeah. It’s a joke, but it’s not very funny.

Do me better. What’s your Portland/Sam Adams/Merritt Paulson/Randy Leonard/Timbers Army/Beavers joke?

Take me to your leader

by Steve, September 28th, 2010

techYes, the United Nations has an Office for Outer Space Affairs (who knew?). No, its director, Malaysan astro-physicist Mazlan Othman, is not being named the world’s first alien ambassador, at least according to the UN. And former air force officers are coming forward with some pretty interesting stories about UFOs and nukes. And there were more mysterious lights over Phoenix last week.