Why I don’t miss local politics

by Steve, September 20th, 2010

From Vancouver, Wash., Portland’s northern suburb, comes this gem of a public meeting.

Dear Al Gore,

by Steve, June 25th, 2010

When you’re in Portland, and you order a massage, you get a Licensed Massage Therapist who takes her profession seriously. I know, I know, in places like L.A., you get the buff and fluff with a “happy ending,” but that’s not how it works here.

In Portland, if you want a prostitute, you order a prostitute. Or just head out to 82nd. No need for euphemisms about “second chakras”; we’re kinda literal here. Just sayin’.

With regards,

Kook fight!

by Steve, November 10th, 2009

Wherein Loaded Orygun’s “torridjoe” calls Blue Oregon’s Kari Chisolm “a condescending dick.”

In the department of unintentional hilarity, this is one of the best entries I’ve read on local blogs recently. Chisholm, whose Blue Oregon blog is a de facto organ for the Democratic Party of Oregon, makes his living selling Web sites to politicians and shills for them on his own blog and others. One well-placed source told me, “The nicest thing I can say about him is he’s a political hack with an over-inflated ego.”

“Torridjoe,” who himself (sarcastically) describes his low-traffic blog as “Tumble Weed Hotel,” works for the City of Portland, and shamelessly defends every cockamamie scheme his bosses on city council come up with, on pretty much every blog in town that dares question them (including this one, and my other one).

Both these guys are mainstream party guys, actively trading in access and influence (or trying to), and they both like to assert their political relevance. It’s pretty funny to see them mud wrestling about the minutiae of health care policy. Especially when it starts getting personal.

Torridjoe: “…I’m sure it’s jarring to step away from Blue Oregon and visit blogs that don’t blindly and vacantly cheer for the Democratic brand no matter way [sic].”

(Much kvetching about the details of various “public option” health care plans, none of which would do what only single payer can do: cover everybody for less money than we spend today.)

Chisholm: “Off-topic, but absolutely fascinating: Since October 29, when you posted the above comment, there’s been exactly two comments on all of Loaded Orygun. Some ‘community’ you’ve got going.”

Torridjoe: “you’re kind of a condescending dick, aren’t you? At least, your ‘my blog’s dick is bigger than yours’ barb at the end of your comment would suggest so. It sure would be nice to have my business subsidize my blog project like yours does (not so nice to have my blog topics beholden to keeping my business as yours is, but I guess that’s the price you pay), but those of us who have to squeeze in time on it at the end of all other responsibilities are not blessed with that luxury. In any case, I think I’d prefer a few rational comments to the stream of idiocy often prevalent at BlueO. But hey, thanks for slumming down at the Tumbleweed Hotel with us.”


Footnote: what’s a kook fight?

Back in the days of USENET (if you don’t know, don’t ask), I used to enjoy trolling the alt.paranormal groups for entertainment. There would always be a cadre of remarkably credulous and humor-challenged “kooks,” who, when not defending their absurd beliefs against the “kook hunters,” would occasionally get into arguments amongst themselves. That’s a “kook fight.” There were also “kook reach-arounds,” wherein they’d give props to one another and circle the wagons against their detractors. (You could probably find a torridjoe/Kari Chisholm reach around if you searched hard enough.)

All good fun while waiting for compiles to complete at work. Not much substance, but it’s all archived at Google, for what it’s worth (i.e. nothing).

Oh, er, shit, does this make me a condescending dick?

Portland: We’re so broke our mayor can’t afford a grown-up boyfriend OR his mortgage

by Steve, June 22nd, 2009

…but at least he didn’t break any laws, at least not that he can be successfully prosecuted for!


(Thank goodness for Adams that his paramour is a lying sack of you-know-what, and that there were no other witnesses. Else, things might have come out differently!)

Thanks for keeping Portland weird, Sam! Now, where’s my damn baseball stadium?

(Props to Wacky Mommy for the title of this post, originally intended for a bumper sticker… stay tuned for that.)

Eat the rich!

by Steve, June 18th, 2009
The World

The World, a cruise ship that has been converted to a cross between a Pearl district condo tower and the world’s largest SUV, has been moored downtown all week. With 165 multi-million dollar condo units, 270 crew members, five restaurants, a pool and a theatre on board, The World has the equivalent of a small municipal power plant on board spewing carbon and particulates into our fair city for the benefit of its ultra-rich owners. Continuous circumnavigation is a hell of a lifestyle, but not exactly what you’d call “green” or “sustainable.”

The Oregonian ran a cute little puff piece today, giving credence to cruise ship industry flacks (“Travel experts”) claiming these people are spending $125 a day per couple in Portland during their stay. The travel agency that arranged their shore leave claims it could closer to $400.

Breakfast on the world


Meanwhile, as the idle, profligate rich enjoy breakfast on their balcony, and as we bask in the glory (envy?) of their extravagant lifestyle, the City of Portland announced the elimination of 90 jobs previously thought safe, with another 45 jobs in jeopardy and furloughs for those lucky enough to keep their jobs.

The new Gilded Age is upon us.

Wounded mayor defeated by nerds

by Steve, April 21st, 2009

A wounded Sam Adams, aided only by an army of man-child soccer fans and erstwhile enemy Randy Leonard, has failed to “get things done” vis-a-vis demolishing the Memorial Coliseum to make way for patrician Merrit Paulson’s stunted sports dreams.

At one point, Adams said he would resign if he could no longer be effective. We’ll never know if this failure had anything to do with his peccadillo, or everything to do with the fact that the whole plan is insanely rushed and involves the almost humorously cocky scion of George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary issuing ultimatums about our civic property.

But this is only the latest failure for the guy who boasted to his friends “I get things done.” Remember, Adams ran on an education platform. He also wanted an “iconic” bridge to Vancouver, Wash.

Perhaps his quixotic attempt to shovel city-backed loans to one of the richest guys on the planet will be his undoing. Having been defeated by a handful of modernist architecture lovers (with support from pissed off veterans and a few nostalgic hockey fans), he’s gone back to the drawing board to find another piece of city-owned land to hand over to Paulson.

Let’s see if he can get things done after all.

Shut the Eff up, Merrit Paulson

by Steve, April 15th, 2009

Merit Paulson, millionaire son of Bush Treasury Secretary and former head of Goldman Sachs Hank Paulson, wants to tell us to do with our Memorial Coliseum.

Isn’t that cute.

Besides being insanely rushed, there are many reasons to oppose this absurd deal.

The Coliseum is a modernist masterpiece, with its square glass curtain walls enclosing a simple, graceful sweep of the arena bowl. It also happens to be a very functional (if run-down) mid-sized spectator venue in the center of our city, providing year-round family entertainment, with fantastic sight lines for the game of hockey.

Paulson cites a figure of losing $500,000 a year, the amount dedicated from the city’s spectator fund (money from parking revenue and ticket surcharges) to do maintenance at the Coliseum. But he coliseum actually provides income to its contracted management firm (Paul Allen), and could make money for the city if they transferred management to the Winter Hawks, who might also be amenable to a public-private partnership to renovate the old glass palace in return for good terms on a long-term lease.

You guys on city council want to make a deal with a millionaire? How about ringing up Alberta oilman Bill Gallacher, owner of the Winter Hawks.

Such a renovation could include facilities for public recreational skating opportunities (the Winter Hawks have expressed an interest in starting a youth hockey program), revenue-producing suites, an improved ice plant and surface, and updated mechanical systems. A restaurant/bar could be added, which, combined with recreational skating, could draw significant use and income for the city-owned facility.

Merrit Paulson’s plan for our city property would be extremely costly and would see use fewer than six months out of the year. It would offer no public recreational use.

Portland policy makers for years have failed to address the future of the Coliseum, and have let it fall into a sorry state of disrepair. But even a total renovation would be less expensive than tearing it down and building a new facility. Portland has a demonstrated, ongoing need for a spectator venue of this size, it can be easily configured to offer public recreation, and it is an architectural treasure.

So, Randy Leonard: as a fellow hockey fan, I’m disappointed in you. Sam Adams, I’m not at all surprised. But you should be ashamed of yourself.

And Merrit Paulson, just because daddy’s rich, doesn’t mean you can ride into town and tell us what to do with our treasured civic property. Why don’t you take your sports dreams somewhere else and leave our Coliseum alone.

Keeping Portland, uh… weird

by Steve, February 13th, 2009

News that the state of Oregon is considering reinstating the teaching license of an admitted serial child sex abuser is weird enough. But it gets weirder.

Roberta Weber, cited in the O as someone “who directed hard-of-hearing education and other special education programs in Portland for years”, defended the former teacher, Kimberly Horenstein: “Kim has a unique talent for working with this special population … and maintains clear and appropriate boundaries with staff and children. … I am fully aware of Kim’s … issues in her past, and can support, without reservation, that Kim should return to the field of education.”

But wait, here comes the really fun part.

Weber’s current job with Portland Public Schools: director of strategic partnerships” charged with building external relationships with “strategic community partners.”

Could that include our illustrious mayor Sam Adams and his well-regarded plan to increase high school graduation rates?

I just love how warm and tolerant Portland is… (unless you’re a child or other vulnerable member of society).

“…detached from reality”

by Steve, January 25th, 2009

That’s how Commissioner Randy Leonard describes Mayor Sam Adams, who declared today that he will soldier on as mayor, shortly after the Oregonian broke the news that his relations with Beau Breedlove were closer to the thin blue line than previously reported.

Adams should understand that his political future depends much more on what guys like Leonard think than the thoughts of court musician Thomas Lauderdale, Breedlove’s attorney Charles Hinkle (“…if he committed a crime by having sex with a boy two months shy of his 18th birthday, that is not a crime that looms large in the history of mankind”) or one-time reality TV star Storm Large (who tells us she’s “kind of a big deal”). Or Dan Savage (described by Kevin on Wacky Mommy’s blog as “the aging sex columnist who parachuted in from Seattle like Al Sharpton”).

Or Gus van Sant. (“The only people in this town who still want to think that 40 something gay guys screwing teenagers is hot made Mala Noche,” says Rose on Wacky Mommy, who also wonders whether Michael Stoops and Walt Curtis will step forward with their support and reminds us of “Portland’s sordid history of chickenhawks, from our heyday as the country’s boy prostitute capital in the early 1980s to how we treat gay pedophilia with our glitterati with a wink and a nudge.”)

Of course, if you are the parent of a teenager, or if you think maybe a the most powerful gay man in the state just maybe oughta have avoided playing so strongly to the stereotype, you must be a hysterical prude. A Victorian, I say! Why, you must want to turn back the clock on all the advances we’ve made in society for middle-aged men who love teens! (Never mind that Sam Adams himself has brought tremendous shame to the gay community, and that Just Out, the state’s largest gay newspaper, was among the first voices calling for his resignation.)

The outcry from Sam’s crowd of extended-adolescence admirers has been nearly deafening. They want desperately for this to be about sex and sexuality, which gives them what they humorously think to be the moral high ground. As long as it’s about sex, those who talk about honesty, loyalty and — heaven forbid — getting work done are just bigots and prudes.

Tell that to Randy Leonard, the guy Adams has thoroughly snaked. Adams leaned heavily on Leonard when the rumors of his affair with the young intern first broke, and Leonard bestowed his own credibility on Adams’ mayoral campaign.

So instead of giving a shit what middle aged men who romanticize sex with teenagers (van Sant, Savage) or local pop stars (Large) or cocktail pianists (Lauderdale) have to say about things, we should be asking how Sam’s patrons like their chances now that their man will not have the trust and implicit backing of his colleagues on the council (Dan Saltzman is alone in his unconditional support, Amanda Fritz has backed down after earlier support, and Nick Fish seems disinclined to put his name on the line for Adams).

How does Michael Powell like his chances of having his Burnside Couch couplet/streetcar dream fast-tracked now? How are the Naitos and Edlens and Williamses and Walshes feeling about their subsidized “green” development plans under a hobbled Adams administration?

Tell them this is about sex.

My cautious optimism about Adams’ education agenda has been all but dashed. Seriously… who won’t be distracted now when Adams talks about helping more high school students graduate on time?

Having no direct control over any educational institutions in this city, all Adams has to go on is his name. When it comes to improving opportunities for disadvantaged teens, that name isn’t going to be one many people want associated with the cause now.

Tell me this is about sex, as my hope of a mayor pressing the school board for meaningful, progressive changes in our schools evaporates.

Randy Leonard has made it pretty clear that his trust was betrayed by Sam Adams, and it doesn’t seem likely there’s much that will repair that relationship. This means that this will be more than a distraction when it comes to getting the city’s business taken care of. If Adams thinks that’s what’s best for Portland, I believe he’s mistaken.

So you want to be a barista

by Steve, November 21st, 2008

Maybe it’s the economy. Or maybe it’s just the way evil do-gooders do business. But have you ever seen a five-page application (PDF) to work in a coffee shop?

Besides the usual work history and contact information, they want you to write a short essay about why you want to work at Ladybug Organic Coffee Company. They also give you a cutesy “pop quiz” with the following questions:

  • Please tell us about a time that you provided excellent customer service. (Well, there was that one time at Mickey D’s…)
  • What one thing makes you absolutely stand out above the rest? Why should we hire you over applicant X? (Because I wasted an hour of my life answering these ridiculous questions?)

Okay, no big deal so far, but then it starts getting good:

  • What is the most important thing that you have ever learned and how has it changed your life? (Well, there was that time I stayed up all night drinking Mountain Dew driving a school bus to a Grateful Dead concert, then took a Xanax to get a couple hours of sleep before waking up and dropping acid for the show. I learned to never, ever, sleep under the school bus after the show, because some drunk deadhead might come and pee on your leg. Man, what a show, though. Jerry changed my life that night.)
  • What are your greatest strengths, the things about yourself that cause you greatest pride? (Ah, pride, that deadly sin that employers always want us to indulge in. Well, I’m pretty proud of my gluttony and sloth! And I’m pretty good with lust, too.)
  • What are your greatest weaknesses, the things about yourself that you could benefit the most from working to improve? (It’s okay to have weaknesses! Unless of course, you’re Superman or Wonder Woman!) (Dude! Speaking of lust! Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman! All the world’s waiting for you, and the power you possess! In your satin tights, fighting for your rights and the old red white and blue! Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman!)
  • Tell us about your best friend and why they are a part of your life? (Would that be my best real or imaginary friend?)
  • What is something that you do on a regular basis to make the world a better place? (I believe… Just by waking up every day, and walking lightly on Mother Earth, and smiling at strangers, I make the world a better place.)
  • What is one thing that you think would make Portland a better city? (Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I got this one: More coffee shops?!?)

Then there’s a whole series of yes/no questions:

  • I can usually work weekends. No.
  • I get along well with many different types of people. Yes, as long as they’re cool.
  • I am always upbeat and positive Always? Uh, well, no, I guess not. I mean, I’m mostly always upbeat, just not always.
  • I can work during most holidays. No.
  • I enjoy working evenings. No. I mean, wait, that means I can sleep in, right? Yes.
  • I am a problem solver. Depends. What kind of problem?
  • I enjoy getting up early. I prefer staying up until it is early. Is that a problem?
  • I like to work by myself. Absolutely! Then I can smoke out in the cooler.
  • I pay attention to details. When I come out of the cooler, all the details are so, like, intense, man!
  • I am a good listener. I’ve listened to every bootleg of the Dead at least six times
  • I like to clean. Who doesn’t? Whenever I’m out of weed, I clean my roommate’s bong and get a couple good hits out of it.
  • I am a quick learner. What was the question again?
  • I can multi-task. I can kick a hacky sack while reciting the set lists from the Dead’s last six shows at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
  • I am self-motivated. Everything’s cool, man. Stuff will get done.

And finally: “Last question. What one word describes you best and why did you choose that word?”

I’d have to say “cool.” Because if you’re not being cool, man, you’re being uncool. Nobody likes it when you’re uncool. I think it would be cool to work at your coffee shop! Is there, like, a dress code or anything?