Tag Archives: Portland OR

Cruz gets blowback from criticizing O’Rourke’s potty mouth

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign is trying to paint challenger Beto O’Rourke as a potty-mouthed punk who drops f-bombs at random.

Social media response has been, well, a bit different from what the Cruz campaign expected. The revelation seems to be making the Democratic challenger seem more cool.

This mini-tempest makes me laugh and it reminds me of something that happened back in my hometown of Portland, Ore., during a race for the mayor’s office.

Incumbent Mayor Frank Ivancie’s 1984 re-election campaign dug up a 1978 picture of a challenger, Bud Clark — owner of the legendary downtown Park Blocks watering hole the Goose Hollow Inn — “exposing himself” before a statue. The picture showed Clark with his back to the camera pulling open a trench coat with the caption “Expose Yourself to Art.”

Ivancie, a man with no discernible sense of humor, thought the picture would doom Clark’s insurgent candidacy. It did precisely the opposite. It called attention to the challenger and — no pun intended — exposed Ivancie to be a stuffed-shirt prude.

Clark won the election, defeating Ivancie.

So, with that I want to hail the attempt by Sen. Cruz’s team to make Beto O’Rourke out to be a young man with a foul mouth. It well might produce the same result that occurred in Portland so many years ago.

Landmark birthday venue still going strong

I was visiting with my son today and I blurted out that I spent my 21st birthday playing pool and drinking beer with my father and grandfather at a popular watering hole in downtown Portland, Ore., my hometown.

That was in December 1970. Then my son made a discovery. He wondered if it had survived all those years. He Googled “Kelly’s Olympian” on his phone and discovered that it’s still in business.

Not only that, it appears to be thriving. It’s lively. It’s trendy. It apparently serves good food and a wide assortment of adult beverages. It doesn’t look much as it did back when Dad and I were playing pool and swilling cold ones; my grandfather walked in later and joined us.

Kelly’s Olympian isn’t the only longtime business that has survived the ups and downs of any city’s economic cycle. Portland, though, has turned its once moribund downtown district into the gold standard for how to make the central district a destination for those who live within that city or those who are just visiting.

*****

This thought occurs to me.

Amarillo,Texas, where my wife and I lived until just about six weeks ago, is undergoing quite an urban makeover in its own downtown district. Polk Street is rumbling back to life. Work is proceeding briskly on that ballpark on Buchanan Street. Longstanding iconic structures have been repurposed into downtown lofts.

When I take the long view and think of what future generations might recall about Amarillo’s downtown district, I wonder — and certainly hope — that they can recall a place that flourishes today. If we flash forward another 47 years, to 2165, my expectation would be that Amarillo’s downtown will continue to evolve into something brighter and more vibrant than anyone ever imagined.

Those Amarillo residents who today are enjoying the fruits of their downtown’s rebirth will look back and be as astonished as I was today to learn that Kelly’s Olympian is still packing ’em in.

Why not run the rail line a little farther north?

If I were more of a political activist, I might be inclined to raise a little ruckus in my new community of residence.

Fairview, Texas, is a nice town in Collin County, just north of Dallas County, which is where Big D is located.

The issue at hand? Why not run the light rail service that shoots north from Dallas to Fairview?

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is a successful mass transit system that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. We’ve ridden DART from Plano south to the Dallas County Fairgrounds. It’s a nice ride, believe me.

I now live just a few blocks east of where the rail line ought to run, along U.S. Highway 75. Except that it doesn’t come this far north.

Were they to run the line just a little farther north from Plano, past Allen, through Fairview and into McKinney, I would use the train. I would be its most vocal champion. I would take up the cudgel for mass transit rail ridership.

My hometown of Portland, Ore., is arguably the unofficial “mass transit capital of the United States.” Its bus system is second to none; it runs a light-rail system that carries passengers into the city from miles beyond the city limits.

I don’t yet know whether they plan to extend DART service eventually farther into Collin County. I’ll have to study up on it, sniff around, ask some questions.

Fairview Town Hall is just around the corner from where we live these days.

What the heck … I believe I am going to stick my head in the door and ask to speak to the city manager/administrator.

Hey, why not try to rustle up some interest in a proven method of moving people from place to place?

Wish me luck.

Rain is no longer an annoyance

There once was a time when I hated the rain.

I lived in a city, Portland, Ore., where it rains constantly. I grew up there. I detested the endless drizzle.

Then I got married and moved eventually to Texas. We lived first in Beaumont, along the Gulf Coast, where it rains a lot, too. There, though, the rain comes in furious bursts. Then the sun would come out. So would the humidity. Ugghh!

After a while we moved to the Texas Panhandle, where it rains a lot less. Of late, the Panhandle has received even less than that, which is to say it’s been tinder-dry here. We’ve had one day of measurable rain since October 2017.

Today, though, we received another healthy dose of measurable precipitation. More is on the way, along with some thunder and lightning, or so we are being told by the TV weather forecasters. Hey, they got this one right. I’ll accept their projections for the next day or so.

The rain we’re getting through the night and into the next day won’t do a thing to break the drought we’ve endured for the past six months. It’s a bit strange to recall that a year ago at this time the Panhandle was being drenched. The playas were filling up. Farmers were grinning from ear to ear; so were the ranchers who watched their cattle fatten up with the rich harvest of grass and grain the rain produced.

Then it stopped. We finished 2017 with nary a drop of precipitation, even though the first half of the year enabled us to nearly double our annual average rate of rain and snowfall.

Here we are today. The rain is falling. It’s coming in fits and starts.

I no longer hate the rain. It brings a sense of comfort.

Weird, eh?

Praying for sun gives way to praying for rain

There once was a time — long ago! — when rain drove me nuts. It made me stir-crazy. I suffered cabin fever because it rained constantly in my hometown of Portland, Ore.

I took a couple of years away from home to serve in the U.S. Army; my hitch took me to Vietnam, where it also rains a good bit of the time.

I got married not long after I returned home. My wife, sons and I eventually moved to Texas; our first stop was in Beaumont, which also gets a good bit of rain. Then my wife and I moved to Amarillo, where, um, it doesn’t rain so much.

We are now in the midst of a drought. It’s been months on end since we had any measurable moisture.

I no longer pray for sunshine. I now pray for rain. I am doing so this evening. The weather forecasters are telling us we can expect some rain tomorrow.

I hope they’re right. Oh, brother, I want them to be correct.

I’ve written on this subject before.

This isn't the Dust Bowl, but …

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself. Still, it bears repeating. The Texas Panhandle doesn’t get a lot of rain annually, only about 20 inches — give or take. This year we’ve got to go some if we’re going to reach our annual average.

The region is quite dependent on agriculture, which quite naturally requires water. Those dry land farmers who don’t pump groundwater to irrigate their crops rely exclusively on the sky to bring rainfall to them. Five-plus months of no measurable “precip” has deprived them of their income — and their ability to produce food that ends up on our dinner tables.

My outlook about rain has changed dramatically since my boyhood. I griped so much about the rain I drove my parents — chiefly my dad — to near madness.

With all of that said, I think I’ll wait — and hope — that the Texas Panhandle gets wet.

‘I may be old, but … ‘

A Facebook “memory” I posted this morning brings to mind a personal anecdote I want to share briefly on this blog.

The memory was this, from Feb. 10, 2013: Best bumper sticker of the day: “I may be old, but at least I saw all the cool bands.” You go, dude!

I am now 68 years of age. I graduated from high school in the Summer of Love, which would be 1967. My life took a dramatic turn the following year when I shipped out after being inducted into the U.S. Army.

It took yet another marvelous turn in 1971 when I married a girl who had appeared before my eyes, like a vision. The rest, as they say, is history.

But in 1965, I got to watch the all-time greatest rock ‘n roll band. It was the very first rock concert I ever attended. I tell folks that today and they are shocked and amazed, I tell ya. The Beatles came to my hometown of Portland, Ore., in August 1965. It was their second U.S. tour.

They played at the old Memorial Coliseum, built in 1960 at a cost of $8 million. When it opened, the “Glass Palace,” as it was called then, was considered a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue. These days, you can’t repair the plumbing in such a venue for what it cost to build the Memorial Coliseum.

John, Paul, George and Ringo came to Portland back then. They played in front of a hysterical crowd of about 10,000 fans at the Coliseum. My sister and I sat at the center of the front row.

My most vivid memory of that event isn’t so much the music The Beatles played. It is the brevity of the event. They played 10 songs. The “concert,” if you want to call it that, lasted about 30 minutes.

They came onstage, they hooked up their instruments, played some songs and then were gone. Poof! Just like that.

I’ve been able over the years to see many more such events. The Association, Toto, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Grassroots. I’ve seen some others. Those just stand out.

Oh yes, I also saw Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney perform solo shows long after The Beatles broke apart.

Yes, we Baby Boomers got to see some “cool bands.”

Rock on, y’all!

Name tags: cure for embarrassment

PORTLAND, Ore. — Thank goodness for name tags.

They saved my backside while my wife and I attended my 50-year high school reunion. I had feared walking into a roomful of individuals I hadn’t seen in a few decades. I was prepared to deal with the consequences that time has brought to human beings over a 50-year span of time.

I did discover a couple of things about my classmates. One is that a surprising number of them remain quite recognizable. Another is that they — and I, for that matter — are pretty good at shooting quick-hit glances at name tags before greeting each other.

I found myself relying somewhat on name tags — which contained pictures from our 1967 Parkrose High School yearbook.

The event was far more enjoyable than I expected, which demonstrated the wisdom of setting the bar low and then being pleasantly surprised at the positive result.

I made up a throwaway line for those who wondered where I live these days. “I live in Amarillo, Texas,” I would say, “but my wife and I came all the way here for this reunion — and just to see you.”

Here, though, is my major takeaway from the 50-year reunion. It is that I am giving some preliminary thought to attending the 60-year event when it rolls around.

One of the women of my class, Karen is her name, mentioned attending No. 60, presuming she’s still alive. Indeed, time has that way of reminding us of our mortality.

If I am still on this side of the grass in 2027 and am in reasonably good health — and still have my wits — I’ll likely be there.

It is weird in the extreme to have these thoughts after how I felt coming out of the previous reunion two decades ago.

I’ll have to remind the event planners, however, to be sure to print the name tags. We’ll need ’em even more the next time.

Reunion No. 50: much better, thank you

PORTLAND, Ore. — I owe one of my sons a debt of thanks for steering me this direction, at this time, to attend a particular event.

I have regaled (or bored) you already with my tale of woe regarding my 30-year high school reunion. I had some serious trepidation about coming to the 50-year event. My son talked me into going.

I’m glad he did.

Yes, the event exceeded my expectation. Who knew? Perhaps it was because I set the bar so low that it was next to impossible to not clear it with ease. It was quite  unlike No. 30, for which I set an impossibly high bar; there was no way to meet the expectation I had set for that one.

And wouldn’t you know it, as I gravitated around the room schmoozing, back-slapping the guys, hugging the girls and getting caught up, I heard from three — maybe four — of my Parkrose High School classmates that they thought No. 30 was a downer, too.

Imagine that, will ya?

My son had advised me that this one would be better because his mother — my wife — would be there with me. She had a good time, too. She met some of my classmates, a couple of whom shared stories about me back in The Day that bore a semblance of truth, although one of my old runnin’ buddies seemed to embellish his recollection more than just a little.

My best friend from high school, Dennis — along with his wife, Linda — attended the event, which all by itself made it worth the trip from Texas. Dennis’s friendship is the longest sustained relationship I have with anyone on Earth who is not a member of my family; we go back 55 years, to the seventh grade.

My biggest takeaway is this: The 110 or so classmates who attended seemed to go out of their way to circulate and to talk to those they might not have known all that well in the old days. My comfort level was enhanced many times over what I felt two decades ago when I ventured here from Portland to attend the high school reunion I swore would be the last one I’d ever attend.

Silly me. I must have forgotten how time has this way of making most of us grow up.

I am glad I came.

‘Atmospheric river’? Huh? Eh?

PORTLAND. Ore. — We are being swept up in something I never knew existed.

The TV weathermen and women here are referring to something called an “atmospheric river.” You might ask, “What the bleep is that?”

I have deduced it describes a long band of rain clouds that is tracking over a region. We are RV-parked along the Columbia River in Portland. It’s been raining like the dickens almost since the day of our arrival. Weather conditions are producing more of it, which is welcome around here, given the Eagle Creek fire that incinerated much of the forest land around the Columbia Gorge.

But I am amused/bemused at this new meteorological term of art: atmospheric river.

The last time I heard weather people glom on to a particular term I guess was that “polar vortex.” I laughed when I heard that one.

Whenever I hear the term “vortex,” I flash back to 1970. They had a music festival here then. It took place at McIver State Park near Estacada, which is southeast of Portland in the foothills of the Cascade Range. I recall it was meant to protest the Vietnam War.

They called it “Vortex.” The most interesting part of it was how then-Gov. Tom McCall decriminalized marijuana use during the run of the festival. I believe the late governor wanted to give those rascally kids a pass on getting stoned while they “protested” whatever it was they were protesting. No need to hassle them and assign lots of cops to round ’em up, McCall thought.

Just so you know: I didn’t attend Vortex.

I digress.

“Atmospheric river” is a descriptive term used to define a lot of rain. That “river” has become a rapids.

And aren’t you just relieved that climate change is just a giant, cooked-up “hoax”?

Hoping a lower bar allows for satisfaction

PORTLAND, Ore. — A big day awaits my wife and me.

We ventured to the city of my birth to attend a high school reunion, an event I once swore I’d never attend again for the rest of my life. Not ever. Not in a million, billion, gazillion years!

Here we are.

The 50-year reunion for my high school class will commence in a little more than 24 hours and I am expecting it to produce a significantly different emotional result than the 30-year reunion I attended.

I graduated from Parkrose High School in the Summer of Love; that would be 1967. I took a stab at college, but didn’t make the grade. The U.S. Army beckoned the following year and it sent me to Vietnam, which placed me on the fast track to becoming an actual grownup.

I returned home in August 1970, got married a year after that. My wife and I went to my 10-year reunion in 1977. I skipped No. 20, but flew back to Portland from Amarillo to attend No. 30.

I hated it. I had set the bar far too high. I placed too great an expectation on what I would discover about the people next to whom I sat in class or goofed off with in the hallway or the cafeteria.

One of my sons blamed my disappointment on the absence of my wife at No. 30. He’s a wise man and he’s likely correct that my trip back alone contributed to my lack of satisfaction in the 30-year reunion.

I got invited to No. 40. I chose to skip it for reasons relating directly to the event I attended a decade earlier. I heard from one of my pals who did attend No. 40; he told my wife and me that everyone had a blast. Good deal.

So, my wife and I have ventured here together in our RV.

I will walk into the hotel banquet room with next to zero expectations. My wife and I will catch up with a couple of good friends of mine with whom I’ve stayed in touch over the years. I’ll seek to catch up the best I can with the others. I won’t expect anyone to recall what a great guy I was back in those Glory Days.

I’ll slap a few backs, shake a few hands and perhaps swap a lie or two. Then my wife and I will be on our way.

But you know … these low expectations just might be exceeded by what we encounter. I’m not expecting it. Then again …