Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oil and Ignorance

Every now and then I sense a level of sheer ignorance coming out of this White House that is hard to fathom. The way Bush was talking about oil last night - about ending our addiction to Middle East oil is frighteningly out of touch with reality. That’s like saying we have to stop breathing so much. Could the White House just now be tuning in to the oil situation around the world? Is that possible?
Unless a spaceship lands and gives us an alternative energy source there is nothing out there right now that can save us from big trouble ahead. We’re adding one billion new people every 14 years. China and other parts of the world are starting to want more energy. This is a real crisis, folks, and it’s behind nearly every story you see in international politics. Oil is making countries act like competing organisms under a microscope.
We don’t even know what we’re really up against. Information about the known reserves is not reliable. There have been recent stories about Kuwait’s estimates being way out of line with their true reserves. Some say the Saudi fields have been damaged. The oil that’s left will be more expensive to remove.
If you want to understand the world right now, you’ve got to get serious about oil. It’s ultimately why we can’t afford to go into Iran. If Iran’s oil went offline, that could be enough right there to plunge the world into a depression. It’s that tight, folks.
Last night Bush talked about addiction to oil, like there was a 12-step program to get off it from back in his drinking days. There isn’t a good way off this sauce. I don’t care how much hemp oil or solar batteries, or windmills you can come up with - it won't be enough. Unless you have a whole new energy source, forget about it. That would mean, President Bush has begun to realize the problem, but he still thinks there’s a viable solution. Why else would he threaten the countries our economy is relying on? Could he be that ignorant?
It scares me to think this, but all the signs are there. We might be witnessing our President sticking his head outside the bubble and beginning to realize what’s really going on: We use 25% of the oil supply. The Arabs have a lot of it. Right now, unless somebody comes up with something startlingly great, they have us over a barrel.

The Speech: Hindsight? Second Guessing? You're Kidding, Right?

"Hindsight alone is not wisdom," President Bush said. "And second-guessing is not a strategy." He had that earnest look – that look of pride. He had been horrendously, catastrophically wrong, but that didn’t matter now. It was the reaction to him being wrong that was really wrong. I guess we were supposed to give this group a free pass on going to war for the wrong reasons. Not a free pass - make that a Freedom Pass. Maybe even hand out some more Medals of Freedom to the team who pulled it off. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the 2006 Reason we went to war. We weren’t protecting the United States from a threat. No, Freedom was on the march and it just happened to march us into Iraq. Hey, that would mean if you’re against this war you’re against Freedom.
I agree that hindsight alone is not wisdom. It helps to combine it with foresight - which a lot of us had before this Iraq debacle even started. In fact, I didn’t need to second guess President Bush. I didn’t need to first guess him. I knew this was a mistake from the moment I heard about it.
So, by the way, did Colin Powell, and the President’s own father.
This isn’t a question of losing my resolve. I still have it, but it’s to try and stop these immature, incompetent, power-crazy clowns from doing anything more stupid than Iraq in the last three years before life starts anew when they leave.
It’s always good to hear that Freedom is on the march. Too bad the parade seems to be heading the other way. I certainly don’t feel freer now than I used to - especially knowing the unlimited powers this President thinks he has over us. I’m sure the people that we tortured didn’t feel all that free either.
There’s an image for you: Detainees being tortured to death in the name of the United States of America. It’ll take more than a feel-good speech to make me forget about that.

Why I Love Portland

When a cute young woman is approaching me in the Post Office, and appears to know me, and – even more puzzling – appears to be glad to see me, I revert right back to 7th grade. In 6th grade I would have run, but by 7th I could stammer out something. Of course, I completely dorked out by not remembering where I knew her from. After all, it had only been 2 months since I appeared on A.M Northwest. And here was the person I talked with about it – who booked guests for the show - and I couldn’t place her. Embarrassing.
Now before you rush to judgment, this was not a Portland Freelancer self-promotion stunt. They actually called me. I went on in part to plug my brother’s book “Oh For Smart”, and to talk about the jokes sold to Jay Leno.
I had prepared an entire set based on an older Kathie Lee-type crowd, but the place was packed with school kids on a field trip. I repaired to the Green Room and wrote a whole new group of jokes on the spot, and the kids laughed, thank God. I thought I did pretty well, although I’ve noticed they haven’t called me back. Carl Click got in a good zinger, by the way. Some of these TV people are pretty darn smooth.
Waiting in line at the Post Office I would glance back at the woman and she would seem bored and looking down. Clearly this had not been my finest moment.
I wanted to mention I was there sending my script to Hollywood, which I was, but I just let it go. Best to stand there, soaking in my loser-dom.
Then who walks in but the owner of Artichoke Music, the irrepressible Steve Einhorn, who is funnier and a better musician than I’ll ever be. He and his wife, Kate Power, have a great two-part harmony thing going that made it all the way to the Garrison Keillor show.
Now with Steve I am no longer a dork. He is a musician/fun guy. These are my people. We always go right into the comedy so there was around 7 or 8 of us in line and I’m talking to Steve about the script, but I’m trying to make everyone smile. Because of the rain I had to bring the script in a garbage bag which I admitted was a “bad omen.” He asked who it was for, and I said, “I’ve got access from God. I get rejected at the highest levels.”
At this remark the darling woman from A.M. Northwest lets loose with a beautiful laugh and makes a nice smile. She is no longer viewing me as a 7th grade-level dork. By now she sees my maturity level as at least 9th grade – maybe even 10th. For me, this is a win. Thanks, Steve. Thanks, Artichoke Music. I love this town.


Here's a rerun of an earlier post about being oil junkies, in light of Bush's speech tonight:

One thing that doesn’t make any sense is the average American’s feelings about oil. It’s certainly understandable why the big oil companies are hated, but the actual stuff, the product, should be revered as the mother’s milk of our society. If we ran out of oil for a week, this society would plunge into chaos. In a month we’d have large numbers of people starving. If we ran out of oil globally, billions of people around the world would be dead within a year. The era of cheap oil is so tied to the soaring populations of the last century, that some scientists call us “Petroleum Man.”
Another thing that doesn’t make any sense is America’s current refusal to grasp the political realities that come along with being dependent on the stuff. We are going out of our way to destabilize and antagonize the oil producers of the Middle East, and it can only hurt us. It’s like a heroin junkie trash-talking his dealer.
Maybe we’re just so used to being #1, that having to count on Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq to keep the world from an economic meltdown, just rubs us the wrong way. If you really want to understand what’s happening but you hate Exxon and air pollution, here are two slogans that might help: Oil is Life. National Security Means Protecting the Oil Supply.
One of the lessons we could possibly learn in Iraq is that you can’t run an oil industry in an occupied country that hates you. It’s too easy to sabotage the many miles of pipes. So if we need oil and they have it, and we can’t strong-arm them into giving it to us, we might just have to play nice. Remember, we’re the junkies and they’ve got the heroin. It’s not pretty, but it’s true.

Oregonian Headline Disputed By Nitpicking Blogger

The headline in today’s Metro section reads “Portland sloshes through wettest January in 3 decades” followed by “And don’t think it’s over; rain clouds the forecasts for a week.”
I just want to point out that the wettest January in 3 decades will indeed be over tonight at midnight. That’s when the wettest February in 3 decades will begin.

Aerial Tram Solution Found

The Portland Freelancer has gone where no other media outlet in Portland has come close: A solution to the tram boondoggle that would cover us in glory and financial reward, and honor our heritage all at the same time:
The two bus-like, tram gondolas should look like covered wagons with statues of Lewis and Clark sitting up front. An alert reader named Andrew Klossner has since noted that covered wagons weren't used by the expedition, so we make that a nod to the settlers that followed. Not only do we enhance the amusement park aspects of the tram, but we make the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration a lasting part of our great city. I don’t think we’ve honored these gentlemen nearly enough. Did you know that 200 years ago this month the expedition was in Fort Clatsop? We have got to capitalize on that. Thanks to the tram, there’s still time. With the proper level of creativity, we can turn this project from a civic crisis into a shining Rose City victory! Darn, if we could only get more money in the budget for some plastic horses.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Clean Elections in Portland....Maine

Interesting to read about some fun they're having with clean elections in the governor's race in Maine. What if we suddenly had 7 City Council candidates who qualified for clean money?

Popularity may drain Maine's Clean Election Fund

Red Hot and Rolling

Bill Walton? Just another guy with an old record collection. Clyde Drexler? Glide on over. The new look Blazers are here and they had a fun win tonight against Seattle. I still can’t handle Ruben Patterson, but the rest of them played with charm and got Coach Nate a big win up in the land of the Seahawk. I've been accused of hyperbole before but Coach Nate's leadership skills? We should let him coach for a few years and then elect him governor. There is something to build on with this team. The Maryland guards, the youthful exuberance. They have a rare quality in professional sports: They seem innocent.
I was thinking back to the great Seattle team. Let’s see how my memory’s working: Gus Johnson, Dennis Johnson, Downtown Freddy Brown, Jack Sikma, mmm. That’s about it. Against the Washington team twice in the finals with each team winning one. Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes. That’s all I can remember, folks. I hope it's right.

Americans Abroad

I don’t know why this ABC anchor and his cameramen getting hurt in Iraq, has affected me so much. I mean it happens to our soldiers regularly, and unless it’s a large helicopter’s worth or something unusual, we’ve gotten almost used to it. Or at least we’re used to living with the pain. I heard one report that the military hospital the two wounded newsmen were taken to in Iraq does brain surgery on someone almost everyday. That's a lot of head injuries.
I think it was seeing Tom Brokaw on TV, discussing his conversation with the wife of the wounded anchor - hearing the details of evacuation flights and wounds that can change everything for a family in seconds. For me, it set off all those memories of being in the Middle East and having one incident or another occur. Times when the phone in our house in Arabia would ring in the night and I’d hear my Dad talking in a serious voice; asking questions and often making more calls after he hung up.
He was in Government Relations – the part of the oil company that dealt with the King of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the government. Relations between us and our host country were great at that time. People like my father helped to accomplish it.
Still, problems would arise, and a small network of Americans would spring into action. Diplomats, oil company personnel, the American Consulate. People. And as usual, it comes down to the families. Wives that have to be told. Children looked out for. Arrangements made. What do we have here? A plane down in the Gulf? Someone missing in the desert?
Some kind of terrorist attack?
You know Steve Kerr and how his father was killed in the Middle East?
Our families knew each other. My brother played on his brother’s softball team in Cairo. I talked to Steve about that outside the Benson Hotel when he was with the San Antonio Spurs. Just about all the Americans in the Middle East had some kind of connection, and we were all looking out for each other. And we all appreciated what an incredible place the Middle East is, too. Being an American living abroad was like being in an extended family or tribe, where you could be taken care of by some other family at an instant’s notice and feel safe and comfortable to be there. And when a tragic event happened, our shared culture was something to behold. Trouble really brought out the American in you.
Sure, it’s the same here in the States to an extent, but there’s this huge infrastructure. I mean we were out there where you couldn’t call the Coast Guard or some agency. The men and women would organize the best response they could to what could be to some fairly horrible circumstances. Calls were made. Incredible improvised solutions were put in place. I would hear grave voices in the night as this small band of Americans tried to take care of their own. I heard that tone again tonight in Tom Brokaw’s voice.
I associate patriotism inside America with a flag on a pick-up truck and a donation to a charity. If you really want to know what it means to be from here, go overseas.


"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004.

This was my favorite Bush quote, because there were a bunch of dignitaries listening, including military men. I love watching the expressions when President Bush says something stupid, and folks, we are talking about a lot of quotes here - entire books full. My prediction for years is that this will catch up to him someday in a major way. Could this be at the State of the Union? This is the speech where Americans gather and say, “Well, by God, we still make a pretty good teleprompter.” Last year the highlight was the plan for bold Social Security reform. This year the highlight will be Bush’s pick for the Super Bowl. The over/under for the speech is oil over 90 and approval under 30. I am predicting this will be the time President Bush accidentally says something so crazy that nobody - not even Laura or the new Hamas leaders sitting in the gallery - can hold their expressions any longer. Laughter will break out across the land, from sea to shining sea. Yes, folks, I’m predicting the money quote here. And if it doesn’t happen Tuesday, well, there’s always the next time President Bush opens his mouth.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On To A New Week

The weekend ended in typical Portland Freelancer style. I watched my cable access show which was thrown together literally on the drive to edit it down. Of course, I added some foliage scenes from this Fall so there’d be a shot of traffic on Grand spliced in with a red tree from Mt. Tabor. Hey, it’s all art, baby.
My wife flipped over from her show during the commercials, upstairs in the living room – I spend a lot of time lurking in the basement. She had a hilarious review: “You know that part where you’re talking about the traffic lights on MLK? I just wonder about the people who go on watching. The people who say, “I can’t change the channel. I’m mesmerized by this.”” My wife can be very funny.
I went to print out my script and of course the printer ran out of ink. I don’t even flinch at times like these. I was very moved by the producer’s latest email. He has a documentary project coming out involving Peter Jackson of King Kong fame, not to mention Lord of the Rings, so the producer is in a great head space. He talked about how our karmas have become intertwined – not your typical producer talk. And not Brokeback Mountain talk either, if that’s what you’re thinking. We just became friends. He went through a stage where he seemed so remorseful about not getting a deal done, which is just crazy. We got past that and the new theory is we were just out of step with the powers that be. I’ll tell you this: I have access from God down there, and Leno had nothing to do with it. This is not a case of not getting my chance. My stuff gets rejected at the highest levels.
The key to being a freelancer is to enjoy the process. That might be all you get. I know comedians who act like they got screwed because they didn’t get a TV series or whatever. I didn’t go into this to become bitter. I’m trying to crack Hollywood like it was a safe. Uh oh. Maybe I’ve let on too much here. I play music out of artistic integrity. I write jokes partly to do good in the world, to be part of the fun side and alleviate misery. But Hollywood? Please. Let’s be real.

Check Out These Numbers

Here's a 2004 USA Today article about an aerial tram. My favorite sentence: "Supporters claim tourists and commuters would flock by the thousands to hop on a gondola car, rise 160 feet and enjoy the view as they travel between the waterfronts of Philadelphia and Camden, N.J."
USATODAY.com - Philadelphia, N.J. tram still a dream

Dangerous Work: Covering the World

Having an American network anchor get badly hurt in Iraq is a good chance to remember how many journalists are wounded or killed covering these stories. As I mentioned, my brother, David, a.k.a. Daoud, had plenty of close calls in his career as TV journalist. Indeed, video footage of him running from the police in South Africa was shown as the promo for the CNN special “Dying To Tell the Story.”
These journalists often meet and party together in trouble spots around the world, or in simple conferences. When Daoud worked in Egypt, he flew to Kenya to attend such a gathering and it was there that he first met the legendary Mo Amin - at one time the most famous photojournalist in the world. Mo broke the original Ethiopian famine story, launching a global relief effort that included the “We Are the World” campaign. How many journalists are credited with saving millions of people with one of their stories?
Daoud and Mo were bureau chiefs and colleagues together. At one point they met in Amman and Mo got Daoud a visa into Iraq, so they traveled in just prior to the first Gulf War.
In one scene from the script called “Covering It” that I wrote about my brother’s career, I describe an explosive event at an Ethiopian ammo dump that pinned down Mo, ripping off one of his arms and killing his soundman. A camera company built him a customized camera and Mo was given a high-tech replacement arm. When Daoud saw him in a hotel in London, Mo proudly showed how the motorized “hand” would rotate completely around.
In 1996, Mo was on the hijacked Ethiopian airliner that crashed in the Indian Ocean. Fittingly the crash was captured on video from shore, but unfortunately Mo Amin was among those killed.
The number of journalists and their assistants killed so far in this Iraq war is reported to be 79. I’m so glad my brother’s out of the business.

Steve Duin: “The Rubber Ducky of Truth”

Steve, come back to us, buddy. Bemoaning the loss of truth in our society, Steve writes in the Sunday Oregonian, that this is not a fad. Authors like James Frey are “a refresher course in what happens when the rubber ducky of truth meets the tsunami of shameless entertainment.”
Cheer up, Steve. Assuming the rubber ducky isn’t completely destroyed or buried under tons of debris, it probably will go on floating.
Oh, and I think I can guess your next point: So what if the rubber ducky goes on floating if it doesn’t make that squeaky sound when you squeeze it anymore?

Blog World Attacks On Earthquake, Rejects 31st and East Burnside Location, Demands USGS Be “More Specific”

Why even have a USGS if they’re going to talk in vague generalities? 31st and East Burnside for the location of an earthquake? One thing we don’t need in an event of this magnitude, is wild guesstimates. Who’s watching the store here, anyway? It’s a big city, folks. How about some specific numbers that we can rely on? For starters, how about an address? 31st and East Burnside leaves so many unanswered questions. Was it under the curb, under someone’s lawn, or worse yet directly under someone’s house?
We have human beings involved here. These geologists are paid good money and that is taxpayer money, my friends. How many times have we let them just say an earthquake swarm was occurring under Mt. St. Helens? Excuse me, but an entire mountain? Can’t you narrow it down at all? As usual the media won’t ask the tough questions, and they certainly won't demand answers. Once again, it is left up to us in the Blogging World. I, for one, vow that I will not rest after this “31st and East Burnside” earthquake-location joke, until these geologists of the USGS are finally willing to do their jobs for the citizens who pay them, and narrow this down. It’s called being specific.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

If This House Is Rocking

I ended up playing guitar tonight starting at around 7 p.m. at my friend’s house a few short blocks from over the epicenter of the earthquake. I’m talking Everett here, so they gave me quite a report. I did notice the cat still seemed freaked out. At 6, I had been getting my gear together in Southeast Portland and didn’t notice it. Oh well, I was in one in Southern California where I could see the shape of the room change back and forth. No thanks.
The best way I can describe a night of rock and roll, is that afterwards and till around noon the next day, I actually feel cool. Now, I know technically I might not be cool, but it feels that way. Everything is in balance and a simple activity like reading the paper seems like pure joy. Then the inevitable dorkiness returns, but I've got till tomorrow to wait for that.
I’ve been worried about the ears. They’ve had a buzz in them lately, and it could be a foretelling of the end of my musical career, as far as bands are concerned. I don’t even want to think about it.
Tonight as I was getting ready to go I suddenly realized it started about when I got this new electric toothbrush. I checked and the frequency was similar. If that is the problem then I’ll be so relieved. Whoever said silence was golden must have been in a rock band.

Yikes - Confessions of a Duke Fan

I am a Duke fan this year and I realize that’s a shameful thing for a lot of people.
As with everything basketball-related in this town, I blame the Blazers. They hired Coach Dunleavy and so his son played high school hoops here. I just liked the kid’s game and his stoic presence in the local news highlights.
I even told my hoop-loving relatives back East to check the young man out, when he went to Duke. I also went to see his team play Portland State here at the Rose Garden. It wasn’t the national championship version, but they did have Jayson Williams. Somewhere along the line my intense displeasure with this group began to fade.
But this year is the first time I’m willing to admit it publicly. If you are a hoops fan and you’re not enjoying J.J. Redick's play, you are truly missing something incredible. This young man will be remembered as one of the true legends of college hoops.
So there you have it. I’m a Duke fan. Please don’t give up on me. One of the first things in recovery is to recognize that you have a problem.

Sean Connery Anecdote Downsized

I just finished the script rewrite, (see post below), and as usual I sent the producer one of my typically optimistic emails: “Hollywood would be crazy not to make this picture.” Ahh, who has more fun with their little screenwriting fantasy than me? Okay, besides Mike Rich. You know, once I sold Leno a joke and later Sean Connery was a guest, and in his answer to a question, he referenced back to my joke and even acted it out a little. This became my “Sean Connery acted out something I wrote” anecdote. Our fellow-Portlander Mike Rich took a lot of steam out of that story when he wrote “Finding Forrester” starring one Sean Connery. Thanks a lot, Mike. Don’t trip on any of those big piles of money you’ve been making.

Take 100: Wait, Let Me Rewrite That For You

It was so cold out there this morning, Sung Koo Kim, our celebrity panty thief, thought about taking some long johns. What weather.
Actually, I was relieved to see all the precipitation this morning. I was afraid we weren’t going to get our foot of rain this week.
I’m feeling good because I woke up around 6 a.m. and finally knocked out the latest script update. It’s weird when you get a little distance from one of these things, and read your words with a fresh head. If one of the studios just had the gumption to make this, it would be large. The producer calls this week, so it’s off to the copiers and the post office for the overnight to L.A. Something I’ve done dozens of times.
One of the fun little games this particular script calls for, is replacing the old with the new, without changing any lengths. It’s written pre-screen-writing program so if you change things around you have to format it from that point on. Boring! That must sound awfully primitive to any pro writers out there, but I will upgrade the script just as long as the new sentence is exactly as long as the old. Call it my commitment to artistic integrity.
Actually, you want to talk primitive? I once wrote a script in 8 days on an electric typewriter, which meant acute Whiteout poisoning. The positive thing is it forces you to think more clearly and commit before typing. That was the most pure experience I’ve had with these things. I used a yellow legal pad with a scene by scene outline but two thirds of the way through, I winged a new character - a significant character, too. The new guy went from inspiration to final draft in moments. That script remains the only one the producer was really thrilled with from the start. And by thrilled I mean $2,500 for a 5-year option.
Of course, it’s sitting on his shelf down in L.A., but the process goes on. This rewrite today was fun. I forgot how enjoyable it is to be lost in one of these things. Of course, I had plenty of motivation right outside with the relentless rain. These rewrites would work just as well sitting in a beach chair in Hawaii.

Freedom’s Just Another Word

Every time President Bush wants to get all moist in one of his speeches, he talks about freedom and how he wants to spread it to the world.
I wonder if he even knows what it means. His idea of freedom is to do what America wants. It’s the freedom to obey us, or else.
9/11 didn’t change the world nearly as much as nuclear weapons did. These wretched things are what drives our foreign policy. They are the worse case scenario, short of a biological attack that unleashes a pandemic. These beasts are so deadly, they have us acting like animals at the watering hole again: The rule of law is quaint and irrelevant as we turn to might and killer instincts to run the world.
So how are we approaching the bomb? Our policy is that we can have them, but you can’t. Oh, if you’ve already got them, there’s nothing we can do about it, but if you want the freedom to get a nuclear bomb, we will attack you and kill you. But you’ll be free.
What the United States most resembles now is the strong-arming leader of a criminal gang. Bush supporters were excited that Iraq led to Libya changing for the better, but that was the result of an implied threat. That was Tony Soprano putting one of his gangster rivals in line.
Nuclear deterrence worked because each country with the bomb knew if they launched an attack, they would be hit so hard their country couldn’t take it. In a way, that was closer to freedom than the Bush model. He wants us to have them, and you not to, and by the way, if we even think you’re thinking about it, we have the right to kill you.
Oh, and the first time we tried out our new policy, we got all the facts screwed up. Sleeping better yet?
One thing I’ve noticed is that when people live under a constant threat - and that’s what the United States now is - they become resentful. They try and scheme their way to a better position. The big question is whether these strong-arm tactics will bring on the very situation that we're trying to avoid. It's also downright embarrassing how arrogant we've become. George acts like he was asked to run the world by God, but with none of the fabled peace intiatives that also come with Christianity. I mean we're trying to run the world like a Mafia don would, and sometimes that doesn't work out. Looking at a country with reckless leaders like ours, knowing we have many, many weapons of mass destruction, and you have none, must provoke a lot of feelings. I don’t believe the feeling of being free is one of them.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Uh Oh: A Chilling Thought For a Cold Night

One pattern that I see from Karl Rove is the political masterstroke where you solve two or three problems at once, and fire up public support for your side while you’re doing it. I believe that’s what really gives him the intoxicating high. It never has been about good government. It never has been about conservative ideals. It’s been about the art of duplicity - putting one over on the people. You can start with getting a candidate like George W. Bush nominated in the first place, and just move on from there. For Karl Rove it's whatever works: The best issues available to beat up your opponent and get your guy into the winner’s circle.
So what on this chilly night, have I been contemplating for the 2006 Midterms? How do you eliminate the problem of Iraq without appearing to cut and run? What would sell the best, with huge approval numbers? Ask yourself: What will Karl Rove do? It’s going to be a new war; a new war against Syria. Iran is just too big to mess with and there is the oil supply problem.
But the slick twist that nobody I’ve read has mentioned is that the new war is going to be partly so we have a reason to get the hell out of Iraq. We're not cutting and running. We're cutting and fighting. We're not bogged down someplace old. We're bogged down someplace new. That’s the Portland Freelancer prediction: We’re going to attack Syria. Our troops are leaving Iraq straight over the border into Syria. And Isreal will attack Syria along with us. The Iraq problem will be basically over. Public support will reach that war fever pitch. And the Republicans will win in a landslide in November. That's the plan cooking away in the brilliant but ghastly brain of Karl Rove.
If it doesn't happen, it'll be because he figures they'll win without it. But either way, the decision will have nothing to do with good government or the best interests of America.

The Accidental Activist

I’m not one of those born activists – you know, the type who organize their 6th grade class to protest tuna casserole day in the cafeteria. Then later they try to unionize the cheerleading squad, before heading somewhere to build huts for impoverished people. The world needs these types; I applaud these types; I’m just not one of them. I admit I was my 9th grade class president but that’s because I was the only one who knew which end of the pencil to write with. Wait, that’s not fair to my classmates, but I’m ticked off right now because I just drove all the way to cable access to mix a tape down, and there was nothing on it. Somehow we sat here and talked into a camera for 28 minutes and the tape mysteriously didn’t work.
At a time like this you tend to wonder why the hell you’re doing a cable access show in Portland, Oregon anyway. (The Born to Slack Show, Friday, 11pm, Channel 11.) And it goes back to the activist thing. Somewhere along the line with this administration I began to believe I had to do everything I could think of – within reason - to counter what’s going on. I really believe these “leaders” are that bad - so bad that we’ll be judged by future generations as to how we reacted: “Why didn’t you do anything about the torture, and the preemptive strikes, and the chemical weapons in Fallujah?”
And on and on and on.
So I’m fighting back. Sometimes it’s through comedy. I do write for over 140 radio stations. Or music. A couple of summers ago my band made a DVD called “Let’s Leave Iraq.” But mainly I’m just not going quietly into that dark NSA night.
I didn’t want to get involved but these bastards have drawn me out.
I’m the accidental activist.

Oprah In Apology Mode

First, this is great. I’ve grown so tired of these Oprah spectacular moments where some event or party is the most meaningful thing of her celebrity life.
It just never ends. There’s always some huge celebration with John Travolta and his wife usually there, where everyone sits around and feels the magnificence that is Oprah. Then afterwards they ask what the party meant to her and she goes overboard describing how intensely and spectacularly meaningful it all really was. Somewhere between the first course and the dancing afterwards she realized something about her life that she had never truly appreciated enough. Oh, she thought it was spectacular but somehow tonight she had grown as a person enough to see how much more amazing it had become.
This thing with the book was different. This was a screw-up where she basically came down on the wrong side of the truth issue.
Truth matters. For me it was always a sore point because I’d be visiting America for longer than usual - once while my Dad took a business seminar at Harvard - and I distinctly remember how mad I’d get when my temporary classmates didn’t believe that I was from Arabia – that I had been born there. God, that became annoying. Jokes about it? Fine. Where did you park your camel? No problem. But “You’re lying”? That pissed me off.
In fact with that start, I was sort of forced to try and continue the adventure. Some of us went out of our way to compile some pretty good anecdotes.
When people just make stuff up, it ruins everything. It destroys the whole purpose of life: To do amazing things and then share your experiences with everyone else. Above all it is so illogical and counterproductive. There’s so much information and tremendous data being generated on this planet, and you’re just going to fabricate your life's story? It’s pollution, plain and simple.
Here’s another little fact that I might explore later on this blog: I’ve hitchhiked over 25,000 miles around America. That’s true. So for Oprah to support this clown for lying was aggravating and I’m glad she got it together later. Even if it wasn’t one of her spectacular moments, it was definitely meaningful.

Friday Lights

1. President Bush held a press conference, and I tell you the White

House is getting good. You can’t even see the little guy who gives

Bush a cracker when he says something right.

2. If you missed the conference, I’ll sum it up for you: I can do

anything I want because it’s legal and everything I do is going


3. President Bush says his eavesdropping program was designed

to protect civil liberties. Oh yeah? Who did they get to design it?

The guy who designed those levees down in New Orleans?

4. You can tell when President Bush’s press conferences are over.

Dick Cheney comes out and gives him a lollipop.

5. President Bush also said prosecutors were welcome to look at

his White House for signs of corruption. Oh sure. They fought

the 9/11 investigation. They fought the Katrina investigation,

but these prosecutors? Come on in.

6. President Bush has declared a war on pornography, so that

means we’re all soldiers just doing reconnaissance work.

7. Of course President Bush doesn’t quite have his facts straight.

He says we have to go to war on pornography because our

lap tops are being threatened by lap dances.

8. Things have really changed in Hollywood. Today a major

movie star held a press conference to deny he was straight.

9. Michael Jackson has been seen in Bahrein wearing the

traditional black robe that Arab women wear. So to his long

list of credits, we can now add Mid-East crossdresser.

10. In fact, the latest demand by the Insurgents is that the US

can stay in the Mid-East as long as we take Michael Jackson back.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hillary On Broadway

She’s back. At least she’s scheduled to return Friday to the same Hilton hotel in downtown Portland that she visited sans Bill early in the first term of the Clinton administration. Remember back then, when she was pushing for healthcare reform in some kind of bus caravan? The effort was seen as an overreach and a colossal failure, but at least she realized how big the issue was going to be. Right now, healthcare costs are playing a significant role in the dismantling of the U.S. auto industry, and I bet many CEOs would gladly settle for a national program. Healthcare costs GM around $1500 per car, and it just keeps going up. I’ve heard that most of it is technological advances, but I don’t trust that assessment. In medical terms, I think we’re getting probed here. More and more Americans have good health care coverage, as long as they remain in good health, but if they get sick, why, that’s another story.
So how healthy are Hillary’s chances in 2008? If you ask me Geena Davis will be President before Hillary, but politics is one area I’m not good at predicting. My rule is always to expect the American people to pick the one who looks most like he or she could play the part on TV. And I don’t mean some highbrow TV show like West Wing, either. If you look like you could play the visiting senator or president on an episode of Dukes of Hazzard, why, then I believe most times you’re going to win. By the way, I had this theory long before George Bush came along, but tell me he doesn’t look perfect if you were casting for a President on Dukes of Hazzard? I mean it’s too good.
Going by this rule, Hillary doesn’t stand a chance. She’s tough, she’s smart, and she has an amazing life force. Of course, she’s got more baggage than a sinking ocean liner, but that’s not a deal breaker. Let’s just say as TV presidents go, she’s no Geena Davis. They might have welcomed Bill, but there’s no way Hillary would show up on Dukes of Hazzard.

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Notes

Another stage up in Seattle. The three musicians of the Lighter Notes.

This is onstage in Seattle. I'm in the blue shirt on the left, and since there's no audio, let's just assume the band was sounding awesome.

Relax Portland: Aerial Tram Project Solved!

The Portland Freelancer has gone where no other media outlet in Portland has come close: A solution to the tram boondoggle that would cover us in glory and financial reward, and honor our heritage all at the same time:
The two bus-like, tram gondolas should look like covered wagons with statues of Lewis and Clark sitting up front. Not only do we enhance the amusement park aspects of the tram, but we make the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration a lasting part of our great city. I don’t think we’ve honored these gentlemen nearly enough. Did you know that 200 years ago this week the expedition was in Fort Clatsop? We have got to capitalize on that. Thanks to the tram, there’s still time. With the proper level of creativity, we can turn this project from a civic crisis into a shining Rose City victory! Darn, if we could only get more money in the budget for some plastic horses.


Since President Bush’s supporters take credit for everything that has happened since we invaded Iraq, I wonder if they’ll include the Hamas victory, or later, after the civil war in Iraq, when it becomes an Iranian-style theocracy. I know: Maybe they’ll take credit when oil hits 100 dollars a barrel? Wait, they’re religious, aren’t they? Maybe they want the credit when President Bush causes Armageddon.


President Bush on the wiretaps: “There’s no doubt in my mind it is legal.”
Well, that’s good enough for me. Especially since George Bush’s mind is such an amazing place. Wait, I have a follow-up question: Did Jesus tell you this was legal or did you come to that conclusion on your own?


My current musical group settled on its name, “The Lighter Notes”, the way most bands do. First, there’s a long ridiculous naming process and then the one that everyone can live with, is picked by default. I’m from the old school where the band name should be a group of things like “The Beatles”, rather than an object like “The Thundering Chicken.”
Before we became a trio, my duo changed its name frequently. Finally we settled on the Whateverly Brothers. It was actually a fairly successful act in that we had a beat – I played the tambourine and occasional cowbell with my foot. I used to have a wahwah pedal but I found it just didn’t capture the emotion in my foot properly.
I never really was crazy about "The Whateverly Brothers" name, because it was derivative – a feeling that was driven home even more when I found myself at a Simon and Garfunkel concert and the real Everly Brothers came out, but the fact is we played some fairly big clubs around town: The Dublin Pub and Harrington’s to name two.
Actually, we did notice that many of the clubs we played would close, and it became sort of a running concern, especially after we played one place, and it closed, then we played it again under a new name, and probably a new name for us as well, and it closed again.
This was Galway’s, a triangular building on Sandy. Not only did it have no parking but cars whisked by both sides of the stage, and I always felt we’d end that gig in dramatic fashion.
Some of our other names back then were “The Opposable Thumbs”, “The Likely Stories” and the "Koola Wahids", which is based on Arabic.
I bring all of this up because the aerial tram has now produced one undeniably great band name: “The Vital Linchpins”. I intend to approach my group, “The Lighter Notes”, and see if they want to make the switch. We would sacrifice our fan base under the old name, but, come to think of it, that shouldn’t be a major problem. We do have a big gig in Eugene coming up, and we’ve played Redmond in one earlier version, and a bunch of times in Seattle and Salem. Still, let’s just say no one would be too traumatized by the sudden switch.
This got me thinking of band names with the word “Tram” in them. By the way, there would have been a second great band name coming out of this project, but “The Boondoggles” was already taken. Besides, the overall feeling here is of something forced upon us against our will.
This lead to the following question: What if bands were suddenly forced against their will to include “Tram” in their names? I’m going to make an exemption for Aerialsmith, although Aerotram works even better. But here’s how some of the others would go: The Rolling Trams, Tram 2, KC and the Sunshine Tram, Pink Tram, The Tramimals, The Dave Clark Tram, The Tramtations,...
Wait, this is ridiculous. Let’s just make this announcement: “The Lighter Notes” might become “The Vital Linchpins”, so to all of you sitting out there right now trying to think of a band name, that one is taken.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I watched a show on Pearl Harbor tonight and it dawned on me that the United States declared war on Japan and Germany in December of 1941, and it was over by 1945. Let’s see 9/11 was in 2001 and it’s 2006. This war on terror has now lasted longer than World War 2 for the United States and there’s no end in sight. In fact, if we’re waiting for terror to disappear in the world, we will be in this war forever, especially since our current course of action is guaranteed to produce one crop of terrorists after another. So it’s official then: We now have a new form of government where the President has unlimited powers based on being at war forever. Pull up a chair. Let’s talk about the good old days when wars eventually ended, and presidential powers were under control.


One purpose of this series is to give you enough of a head’s up on a pressing topic, so that you won’t be embarrassed if someone delves into it at a cocktail party. It’s a complicated world and every now and then one of these more serious subjects drifts into polite conversation. Not knowing about it would be gauche. Even the ladies of Wisteria Lane are probably aware of this next term, although they’re way too busy and polite to discuess it.
The subject is depleted uranium. Here’s your response if someone mentions it: “Gosh, I hate those scientific terms. Can’t we talk about the new fat-absorbing pill instead?”
Whatever you do, and I mean this: Do not look into the effects of depleted uranium on people, especially our troops in Iraq, or from the first Gulf War. If you do, you will no longer be so pleased with yourself. You will no longer be able to brag about how much you support the troops. You won't be a happy American anymore.
I’m sorry. I hate to bring these things up, but it’s for your own good. Now quick, back to something we can handle: Did you hear the star of “My Name Is Earl" got the chicken pox? No, really!


It’s always different after the first people get fired, isn’t it? Suddenly good journalism and effective government are forgotten, and self-preservation kicks in. Merely covering your ass has been upgraded to digging a quick foxhole and hunkering down till the battle is over. And that’s the trouble with the tram. It won’t be over unless the project is stopped. Not explained away, not apologized for, but stopped. And even then it will go on in court, but at least it will be tucked away somewhere, not hanging there day after day, as the bad numbers accrue.
The numbers of people who lose their careers should also grow. If this is built I believe that every commissioner who voted for it will lose their jobs – maybe not soon but eventually. Any debate they’re in will consist of their opponent rising up, pointing at them and saying, “He thought the tram was a good idea.” The obituary on their political careers in Portland will start with one phrase: Voted for the Tram.
So what’s my estimate on how many will ultimately lose their jobs because of this? I’m going to go conservative here, even though we’re just getting started. How many people does a tram car hold? 79? I’m going to guess that between 7 and 9 big-time players in Portland will flick their career switch to “Off” over this thing. The process is only beginning.


If you still believe in a traditional view of the American government – and it is a comforting approach – you might want to avoid looking too closely at TWA Flight 800. Why not just live on with those feelings of Mom, apple pie, and yesteryear that made this country so great? You know, the story of George Washington and the cherry tree and “I can’t tell a lie”?
Well, in this case, the cherry tree that came down was an outbound 747, and what’s happened since will not be used as a morality lesson for future generations - not unless you’re talking about the relentless drive of some of the witnesses and investigators who continue calling the government’s story a lie.
It’s also refreshing these days - when you can’t criticize without being called a Bush hater - that the culprit in this cover-up was one William Jefferson Clinton, who felt a terrorist attack was the kind of wild card that could keep him from getting reelected. It was the summer of 1996, almost ten years ago.
So have a look, especially at the quality of witnesses who disagree with the story that the nose of a 747 was blown off and yet, it continued to fly upwards for several thousand feet. It really is fascinating stuff, but be forewarned, you might not feel the same way about your government after you’re done. Mom won’t be serving apple pie afterwards either.
TWA Flight 800 Investigation

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


There are times for careful fact-based analysis based on the minutia of the daily news – times for a traditional scholarly approach involving footnotes, references, and endless research. Then there are times to wing it. Let’s face it, we’re living in an endless document dump these days called the Information Age. That’s one way our leaders keep us busy and too distracted to notice what’s really going on. Here, in my opinion, is what is really going on:
1. Dick Cheney is terrified and it’s made him crazy with rage. Have you ever thought you were going to die? There is no way to experience that without it profoundly affecting your psyche. Now imagine what it’d be like to go through 4 - count them - 4 heart attacks, and several other close calls. Not in a late-night joke sort of way, but in a real life, moment to moment panic that this was the end. Then, live every moment waiting for #5. Someplace in Dick Cheney there has got to be a terrified little puppy dog, that was walled off from the world. Could you imagine him talking candidly about how frightened he was of dying? Hell, no. Now what does that say?
I believe he has turned that fear into a profound need to have power and to inflict pain. He is furious to be in this predicament and he is compensating. He can’t control his heart, but at least he can make the world pay for his pain and deep fear. He hates his own heart for betraying him.
2. Now imagine being George W. Bush. You’ve known for years that you were mediocre. There’s your father, the war hero, the hard worker, the smart guy; everything you’re not. And you even have his name. The only thing you really love is baseball and you’re not even good at that. But there’s something else, something darker. Deep down inside you know there is a quality missing from your soul. You aren’t really a nice and warm person. You talk about being compassionate and a godly man, but it’s a cover for the glaring meanness that you are not equipped to figure out or handle. Deep inside you are the nation’s #1 Bush hater. You are in an endless race to outrun the truth, and power is one way to do it. What you want more than anything else is to be the Man. It’s never been about doing things right or helping anyone. It's never been about America. You just need to feel that rush. You aren’t beholden to the Constitution, or your Dad, or the law. You are the law. Feeling like this is the only time you’re not alone with your self-loathing. By inflicting the pain on others you spare yourself, plus you enjoy it, because somewhere under that cuddly blue shirt you like to wear, you are one mean, twisted hombre.
Together these two have seized unlimited power in a time of war - a war of necessity only to them, as they desperately flounder in another failed attempt to deal with the darkness in their hearts and the vast emptiness in their souls.


Tonight, Tuesday, at 10pm on Channel 23 the Portland community is once more graced with “The Born to Slack Show” – what TV could be like. See it there, vent about it here.


Okay, okay, I’ve been a little judgmental here lately so it’s time to give my standard disclaimer: Everything in Portland would be 10,000 times worse if I ran it. If I were mayor, a lot of routine stuff would get screwed up. The paperwork of government would be a mess. The correct forms would not be turned in a timely manner, and the information would be sloppy and incorrect. Indeed, the next mayor would have to devote most of the council’s time and the city’s budget trying to figure out what the hell happened when I was in charge. My years at the helm would be marked by disastrous downturns in nearly every facet of city life. There would be no statues of me in the Park Blocks. My term in office would be remembered as a complete and utter failure.
And yet, in my heart, I am sure about two things: First, City Council meetings – or at least the ones I didn’t cancel – would have had more laughs, and, secondly, there would be no way we would be currently building the aerial tram. I am not a symposium on mental health, I am not a MENSA meeting waiting to happen, but there is no chance that I’d be dumb enough to go for this. And I wouldn’t have spent more than a minute and a half figuring it out. In fact, I would be a model of efficient government on this one. I would have made the right decision and made it very quickly. I state this even after conceding that I would have been a horrible city commissioner or mayor.
So to all those who voted for this project, I really have just one question: What did you plan to do after your career in politics was over?


One of the delights of light rail is that it doesn't run during an ice storm. That got me thinking of how the tram would handle ice. Perhaps you could keep the tram cars moving during a weather event like this, so the ice didn’t form, but what if the thick cables just sat there, as an inch or two of the solid stuff formed on them? Then, the sun came out and the ice began to thaw? Wouldn’t you have icicle-like formations dropping on the people below? Tell me I’m wrong here. I’m begging you to tell me I’m wrong. Okay, I’d settle for just knowing that the reason so many other things got screwed up on this project, was because the City Council was focused on issues like this. Otherwise, we could be doing a Portland version of that scene in the Omen where the priest gets impaled from above. That would take a lot of the laughs away from our little Tram Fun-fest, now wouldn’t it?


Everybody with any kind of writing outlet in Portland has weighed in on the tram this week, from Jonathan Nicholas to Steve Duin to Phil Stanford to Jack Bogdanski. Sam Adams is getting the most heat lately for his thinly veiled attempts to cover his ass by letting some tram officials go. Sam, it’s not working. These artful little statements aren’t working either. You blew this. Steve Duin compared you to a “most inattentive nanny” which was an image that I found deeply disturbing. Not about you, but about Steve.
Meanwhile the Portland Freelancer is the only outlet currently talking about the real story. It’s not the budget, stupid, and it’s not the developers. Oh and by the way, will the Oregonian please stop using the phrase “an article in the Oregonian”, or “the Oregonian article” as if that one tram piece precipitated the Big Bang and brought the universe into existence? Relax, if you folks had really been doing your job, we might not be in this mess. Here's a clue: The constant bragging was too much for me and I view fawning self-promotion as a way of life. Besides, harping on what you’ve done only serves to highlight the truth: The debate on this has been driven by a blogger: One Jack Bogdanski.
But even Jack the Man is missing the point about this tram. It is two bus-shaped objects suspended by cables hundreds of feet off the ground. Do you read the international press about the role busses sometimes play in terrorism? Why in hell would we want to make it this easy for them? Why would we want to spend everyday worrying just a little about our vulnerabilities here? Stop the tram now! This isn’t funny anymore!


Early in December my producer connection in Hollywood called and said that one of my scripts could be in play if I just updated it and we made sure our option agreement was current. That implied one of us knew where the option agreement was, and that I was in the mood to attack the script yet again.
One thing about Hollywood is that they’re always chasing what is hot. This particular script is R-rated and it was rejected at a time when family pictures like “Meet the Fockers” were doing very well, and R-rated pictures were not. Since then “Wedding Crashers” did good business, and the movie’s producers even accepted their People’s Choice award by saying how great it was that someone took a chance on an R-rated film again.
Translation: Hollywood now wants R-rated scripts. This reflex reaction was driven home after “8 Mile” was a hit when a script we had been kicking around for years suddenly needed a white rapper. And speaking of driven home, just wait till the cheap copies of “Brokeback Mountain” hit the theaters.
So it’s early December, and America was in the middle of a war on Christmas. I put off updating the script, which was already set in the future by the way. This was clearly a project for the New Year. Well, it’s January 24th as I write this, and the producer emailed me that he wants to talk next week. All I can say is thank God this is the weekend with no football games.
Next, I just have to convince myself all over again that the script has a chance. I can hear the call now: “We love the update but could you add a couple of gay cowboys?”

Monday, January 23, 2006


Channel 8 at 11 last night really ticked me off. One thing I hate about TV newscasts is when they take advantage of people who are deeply in shock immediately after the loss of a loved one. The newscast can tell the story but the heart-wrenching interviews should only occur when the people are in their right minds, and after you lose three kids in a fire, you are not in your right mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if that mother from Salem has no recollection later of even talking to the reporters. She was clearly in shock, showing her kids' pictures and talking about how it felt like they’d be home the next day. Channel 8 and any of the other stations who stuck a camera in her face, at that time, should be ashamed of themselves.
Once when my brother was in Egypt, his bosses told him to go and videotape the parents of a kid who had just stepped on some ordinance at the beach and been blown up. My brother flat-out refused to do it. He told them he didn’t care if they fired him, it wasn’t going to happen, and he went on to have a spectacular career in TV journalism. So there is a right way.
And don't say, "But you watched." I flipped away for what seemed like 30 or 45 seconds and when I came back they were still showing the kids' pictures and talking to the Mom. I don't think we need that, and more importantly, I don't think SHE needs that.


First, let’s give credit to the Constitution. It did last over 200 years and that’s not bad. And it took an unusual combination of unfortunate circumstances and criminal behavior to bring it down. The United States was a noble experiment in government – an experiment in managing the innate love of power that motivates our souls. The plan wasn’t idealistic or naive. It was creative, and based on stark reality. We had to find a way for rulers to be controlled. They could not be allowed to call the shots completely on their own. The world had seen enough of kings.
Every kid in school heard the phrase “checks and balances” and the concept worked pretty damn well for over two centuries. Power was split amongst three branches of government, and monitored by a free and independent press.
The last word went to the voting public, and they responded: the despotism that had been so much a part of the world’s history was finally eliminated, at least from this country. What a magnificent time. The idea took off and America flourished. If the citizens of another country ever try democracy and freedom again, they could do a lot worse than imitate our system. In fact, they couldn’t do much better.
So what went wrong? Basically one party seized all three branches of the government. No more checks and balances. That in itself shouldn’t have been enough but the voting process was corrupted and a presidential election was stolen. The Supreme Court grabbed the power to decide a presidential election and away we went. Remember what Shakespeare wrote about what happens after a king seizes power through deceit? Elections continue to be rigged with no way of even checking the results. The rulers talk endlessly about democracy abroad while they try and end it here.
What about the press? The media has been purchased and neutralized by the same corporate interests who have purchased the legislative branch. If the electorate could vote, they still would be subject to the endless government propaganda of corporate media, with very little chance of hearing the real story. And what is that story?
It’s simple: The United States has changed its form of government. The President is claiming unlimited powers and there is nothing to check him. Without saying the word, he’s become a king. He still gives lip service to the rule of law, but the list of impeachable offences he has committed grows almost monthly. To him, the Constitution is an impediment – an inconvenience that he must work around. It is no longer relevant. He believes with all his heart that he IS the rule of law. And he has the nerve to try and argue that this is what our forefathers had in mind. There is a general malaise amongst the citizens because they realize that nothing can be done. There is no one left to check the man’s power. The fact that we can't correct our course, proves our system has changed. In the old days, we could fix things, if they got out of hand. Our system is broken and no one I talk to believes we can repair it. Do you? How?
The stunning part is that the President acts as if being a despot is an original idea. He doesn’t even realize the world has dealt with his kind for time immortal. Such is his knowledge of history. His approach is not just horrendously dangerous – it’s trite. He is everything this country tried to avoid all rolled into one.
President Bush and his cronies have ruined a good thing here. How could they be allowed to do that? There is an urge to be angry but at what? We shouldn’t blame the Constitution. After all it did last a long time, and it took a massive effort of criminal behavior to bring it down. The Constitution was magnificent. I’m really going to miss it.


As reported earlier by the Portland Freelancer, (which in blog language, means I linked to the Oregonian), three of our Multnomah County Commissioners can’t stand Chair Diane Linn. Darn it, this is one time where I could have had a scoop. Why? Because if you look at the minutes of the last Multnomah County Commissioners meeting, the signs are all there.
Let’s start with Commissioners Serena Cruz Walsh, Lisa Naito and Maria Rojo de Steffey, who proposed a new county program called the “You Think You’re All That, But You’re Not” Plan. This was followed by Diane Linn’s counterproposal called the “I Can’t Hear You, That Must Be the Wind Blowing” initiative. This led quickly to the trio of Commissioners proposing a new paid allowance for county employees called “Betrayal Leave”, in case you feel betrayed by someone you work with. If that weren’t enough, they followed it with “The Dumb Blonde Relief Act’ which I thought was going too far. It’s so sad the way these things escalate. The minutes go on to say that Diane Linn turned a bright red color and fired back with a program called the “Shut Up , You Skanky Ho’s” Act of 2006, at which point the meeting degenerated into ten minutes of wrestling around on the floor, before adjourning.


The White House is rushing to call the pictures of Jack Abramoff and President Bush a “coincidence”, almost as though Bush was on the White House lawn and Jack was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.
What these really sound like, for the most part, are posed pictures available to hefty donors, and that’s always bothered me. I became suspicious of this aspect of the fundraising setup back in the days of the first President Bush. But it's not just the pictures; the whole thing is a racket.
You probably know a campaign fundraising trip has to be paid for by the party, right? So how do they get around that? First, they grab the money and then on the way out of town, they stop at some other location like a school. Suddenly the trip becomes 50% official business.
When the first President Bush stopped at a Portland school on his way to the airport, a young African American kid asked him for his watch and Bush gave it to him. Remember that? That’s when I first learned about funding for these trips. Of course, it was phony(the stopover-not the watch). President Bush would never fly all the way out here to visit that school, so it was a purely cost-cutting measure for his political coffers. No wonder he could afford to give the kid a watch. The kid’s school had saved the Republican party tens of thousands of dollars that would have gone to paying for the trip. Instead the taxpayers picked up the tab.
Okay, the way the actual fundraiser works is that you pay one sum for a seat at a banquet table, but for another much bigger sum you get a picture of yourself with the President. So the leader of the free world is hawking a physical object that is created while he or she is in office, and using the money to get reelected.
Of course, it’s unseemly. The President might as well be selling autographs.
If you want to contribute to a campaign and you want to go hear and see your candidate, that’s fine. But paying the candidate for a picture is a different thing. These are the Presidents of the United States. We already pay them to work for us. We don’t need them running a memorabilia shop on the side.


Kobe scored 81 yesterday so it’s official: Shaq was holding him back. He did it against the Toronto Raptors. Apparently the raptor was a dinosaur that went extinct because it didn’t play defense. The big story up the road was that the Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl. You could tell it was Seattle, ‘cause after they won the players drenched Coach Holmgren with a big bucket of iced lattes.


This is why rich guys buy sports teams, isn’t it? So that when your team of world class athletes accomplishes something spectacular like going to the Super Bowl, you become different. You become a hero, too, right? All those cheerleaders who snubbed you in high school? Guess what? You have a SQUAD of cheerleaders working for you now, and cheering on your team.
Plus, it is real in a sense. If it hadn’t been for you, none of this would have happened. It was your decisions ultimately, and your money, (plus around 500 million from Washington state taxpayers), that made this day possible.
At the conclusion of the game yesterday, Channel 8 got a sound bite from Paul Allen, and a couple of things were immediately clear:
1. If he had a girlfriend in high school, it was because he built one out of computer parts.
2. No matter how many yachts you buy, and how well you play Eric Clapton’s old guitar, you can not, (repeat) not buy your way out of geekiness. Paul Allen seemed almost like he was realizing it right on camera: “Gosh, the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl, and that still doesn’t make me cool.” Relax, Paul, embrace the geekiness. That’s what the rest of us do.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Faced with the cancellation of “West Wing”, local TV viewers took heart at the return of the “Born To Slack” show, airing tonight at 10p.m. on Channel 22. This cable access effort goes out of its way to bring something real to the corporate wasteland that is modern TV. Starring - if that is the right word - James Shibley and Bill McDonald, a.k.a. the Portland Freelancer.


My sister sent some haunting deserted-looking pictures of New Orleans. Here's some that should grab you.


Chair Wars: 3 vs. 1, and little gets done

The Oregonian is reporting that our Multnomah County Commissioners are barely speaking to each other, and I couldn’t be more relieved. Sure, it’s aggravating watching well-paid politicians putting their own petty dramas ahead of doing their jobs, but what do you expect from this group? It's always been about them, whether they're inserting themselves into a national story like gay marriage, or just grandstanding here at home. Their sudden leap into the gay marriage spotlight - followed by Diane Linn's ass-covering apology - is apparently what led to the Big Chill, but who really cares? Clearly they did more harm than good. In fact, I’m surprised they didn’t get a thank-you card from Karl Rove when Election 2004 was over. I believe if they’re barely speaking to each other now, they won’t be able to screw up as much. So pout on, you little princesses. Don’t bother trying to explain. Just talk to the hand.


The words were straightforward and direct: “Hey Bill... Your new bit of blog homework is to learn how to make links.” Who knows how Kari sensed some footdragging here? Who knows how Kari knew that Bill needed to be told, not asked. At any rate, this comment led to a frenzy of activity at the Portland Freelancer site. Weekends were canceled, production staff was rushed back from vacations and rehab. Publisher Bill McDonald gathered the troops and made a dramatic plea: “Look, damn it, Kari has been commenting here from the beginning. This request will be honored and it will be honored today!”


Bush Puts Mine Safety Back on Agenda

It looks like bad publicity still counts for something. Bush Puts Mine Safety Back on Agenda - Yahoo! News
At least through the 2006 Elections.


There has got to be more to this story than they're letting on. I saw the first episode and it was not THAT bad.

ABC Defends Cancellation of Graham Comedy - Yahoo! News


When we last interviewed would-be rock star Bill McDonald, he was describing his song “Test Flight”, (See post below), in which he modestly compared strumming his guitar in a basement in Spokane, to the launch of a Saturn rocket. Since the interview was published, Bill has recalled some additional lines:
“The realities certainly seem quite differently, and cynics always try and bring you down. Baby, if they were around, the Wright Brothers never would have made it off the ground.”
Here, the 20-something-year-old compares problems his band was facing because of drugs, egos, and a talent shortfall, to mankind’s historic first flight. There are no plans to contact Rolling Stone with news of the latest lyric flashback, but the song, the band, and frankly, the man himself, are still in line for the cover of “Pretentious Magazine.”

Saturday, January 21, 2006


* So Bill, you mentioned trying to make it in the music business before turning to comedy writing. What went wrong with that? “Well, first of all, they put our drummer in prison. We were a good band when he was keeping time – not so good when he was doing time.”
* But what about the music itself? What about the songs? “Uh, I’d say my lyrics were a little different from the standard pop fare. Once, I wrote a whole tune comparing the recording of our music to the space program.”
* You’ve got to be kidding. Could you show us those lyrics? “Okay, but they’re weird. People said we were ahead of our place."
* Don't you mean ahead of your time? "No, there were so many words, we'd actually lose our place and get ahead of ourselves."
* I see. Okay, let's see the song lyrics:
In describing what we’re doing you can make an analogy from the annals of modern aviation history, all our projects only go the speed of sound but some take off – others crash back to the ground. In doing this I mean no disrespect to all the test pilots alive or dead, they’re the ones who put their lives on the line, if we have to bail out, all we do is push rewind.
Now that we are fully operational, it’s time to go out on another ride, now that we’re doing it right, it’s time to head out on another test flight. I was soaring like an X-15 the other day, the sky above was turning darker blue, and everything was so clear, I had reached the limits of the upper atmosphere. But I want to go out into space, I want to make my contribution to the human race. I’m still trying hard to get it right, on another test flight.
On another test flight, on another test flight, yeah, yeah yeah.
Going by this analogy we’re almost at the start of Project Mercury, after that if it’s all systems go, we might take it to the moon as in Apollo.
I know that we’ve made our share of big mistakes, I know that we’re running out of time, but I never gave up hope, I never stopped pushing back the envelope, and I’ve been doing it so long, and all I want to do is carry on, I’m still trying hard to get it right on another test flight, we’ve got to build another candle, and light it up, all I need to know is which way’s up, I’m still trying hard to get it right, on another test flight, on another test flight, on another test flight, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Postscript: There’s actually a couple of lines missing, and that’s the good news. But I can honestly say this song never sounded so good. And I’ll let you guess what we were really lighting up. Oh well, we might have been polluted but those times were pure.


It appears we are going into a dry spell in the weather, and while this is no reason to panic, the right precautions now could really pay off this summer. This week should be a drastic change from what we’ve been used to, so the Water Bureau believes this is a good time for a review. If the community cooperates voluntarily now, we can hopefully prevent any water-related mandates later:
1. Please avoid watering your lawn this week. No one likes a brown colored lawn, but that is the price we may have to pay, if this dry weather continues.
2. Try not to wash your car either. A dusty, dirty car should be seen as a sign of civic pride. However, if you must wash it, we ask that you look at the last digit of your social security number. If it is odd, wash your car on Wednesday, Friday or Sunday. If it is even, wash your car on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday. Tuesdays are for motorcycles.
3. We also ask all area restaurants to serve water to their customers only upon request. This shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, since the weather the last few weeks, has driven many people to alcoholic beverages anyway.


My friend John Wetteland has come up with the best word twist yet on our current situation: Tramatized. He offered it to me for the cause, and I put it in the phrase: "Help! I’ve Been Tramatized!” Let’s get moving on this so we can recoup some of what those clowns in City Hall are costing us. By the way, John Wetteland is a private investigator and standup comedian. Perhaps you saw him mentioned in a recent Phil Stanford column. Phil even included Wetteland's business email: johnwillfindit@comcast.net - a real sign of respect from the noted columnist.
So write me here. I see bumper stickers, I see t-shirts, I see billboards:
“Help! I’ve Been Tramatized!”


A thousand hits in 12 days? Sounds like my freshman year in college.
The Portland Freelancer has burst through a significant barrier, and only 200 of the hits were mine. At an emotional time like this, I have to thank the people who helped me get here: First there’s the original trio of addictive blogs starting with the One True b!X, the undercover Portland Media Insider, and of course, Jack the Man. I’d also like to thank my brother who bought me this computer last year in exchange for using my illustrations in his book “Oh For Smart.” How bad was my old computer? Instead of Windows, it had Drapes.
He also talked me into high-speed Internet, with mixed results. Now, when it comes to Internet porn, there's no time for foreplay.
Just kidding, NSA. I only went to that Swedish Nannies site to check the spelling of Gothenburg.


As reported Friday, my sister, a Georgetown alum and resident of Birmingham, Alabama, drove all the way to New Orleans to sit in a bar with her fellow alums and watch the Hoyas take on 17-and-0 Duke. Clearly, the deep voodoo of New Orleans was too much for J.J. and the Blue Devils.
Georgetown: 87, Duke: 84. Nice work, Eileen. Drive carefully, dear.


My logger from another blogger (huh?) – also known as Garage Wine - has informed me that I had a very restrictive comments policy. Trying to remedy that I hit the hidden cache of code words, etc… that could help me one day compete with the elusive group called “People Who Know What They’re Doing.” Maybe it’s good that I steeled myself before taking the full brunt of your abuse. Did I say that? I meant “before appreciating the full depth of your kindness and insight.” So fire away, or not, and thanks, Garage Wine, for pointing this out. Here’s to welcoming garagewine.blogspot.com to the world.


One of the most obnoxious Supreme Court decisions of all time was the eminent domain ruling last year that said the government can seize your home if it can get more tax revenue by selling it to someone else. Since the local government sets the taxes, that puts the decision to take your home completely in their hands. Anyone getting mad yet? Apparently some people are:
Justice David Souter, one of the legal geniuses behind this ruling, is now facing a vote in March to see if he loses his own home. The town of Weare, New Hampshire, population 8,500, will vote on whether a new business, the Lost Liberty Inn, gets to buy the Judge’s 200-year-old home out from under him. Word is that the town will probably defeat the measure, but the fact that the Justice has to wonder if he’s going to be evicted, is sweet payback indeed. What does it really mean if we only get to stay in our homes, based on the whims of the local government? Can we still talk about owning a home anymore, or is that concept over? What about the vast potential for governmental abuse here? What if someone in power - or in this case, some political activists - just want to punish you with this? Oh well. Let us know how the vote turns out, Judge. Maybe we can collect some cardboard boxes for you, if you have to move.


This recent private-club snafu with Ted Kennedy reminded me of an experience I had one summer working at a similar establishment, back in the late 1970s. My regular place of employment had suffered a seasonal lull, so I got a job as a waiter at the Arlington Club, the stately old building at the north end of the Southwest Park Blocks.
I don’t know how it’s run now, but in those days women were not allowed as members. Oh, they could work in the kitchen all right, but they couldn’t set foot in the dining room, even if the place was closed. I remember one of the women poking her head out from the kitchen one afternoon and asking me to go get the Maitre D., an intensely gay man named Jimmy Day. I felt a little awkward about her request and so did she. She was clearly embarrassed at having to stay behind the line.
I also remember waiting on Glenn Jackson before he became a bridge.
One of my bosses in another establishment used to run to serve him anytime Glenn entered the room. As I recall, it was a little pot of coffee, just for him, but it might have been tea. It didn’t matter who else was there. Glenn came first. My boss was Chinese and he would turn to me and solemnly say about Mr. Jackson, “He has all his fingers in all the pies.”
Some of the Arlington Club’s entrees included a side dish, and one day Glenn had a nasty little exchange with me about that. He didn’t want it if he hadn’t ordered it, and he gave me a squinty-eyed look of deep distain. This convinced me that A.) Glenn was used to being powerful, and B.) Glenn could be a prick.
Another person I saw there was Bill Naito before he became a parkway. I remember him as being an energetic guy and he would smile. He certainly seemed happier than his family would be later.
The conversations around the club were often about stocks and money and business deals. The old timers would talk about this move or that and the general feeling in the air was that everyone involved was a serious powerbroker.
That’s why it was so hilarious, and yet chilling, when the limo pulled up and out stepped David Rockefeller to address the members. He was running Chase Manhattan Bank at the time, with holdings that could bankroll entire nations. I enjoyed that day because suddenly all the local big shots were just peasants, acting like excited money groupies. This was heavy. Here was the real power − the lasting kind that doesn’t change hands with an election.
At the other end of the scale of influence, were the waiters − quite a cast of characters, much more interesting in their own way. Among them was a painter, and a foreign student, and the usual non-conformists. Some were very intelligent, and eccentric. They sought out the waiting job because they couldn’t do the 9-to-5 cubicle thing. These included artists and musicians just trying to get by. One of the radical types briefly discussed taping the Rockefeller speech since it was such a rare opportunity. I know that’s why I listened to the talk, but I also watched the reaction of the Arlington Club faithful. The club members looked like they were ready to drop to their knees and start praying to the guy. He actually made them seem to doubt themselves, and it took several days before they fully regained their powerbroker swerve.
Of course, the waiters were harder to impress. They were mainly just fun-loving young drinkers, me included. We’d sneak a glass of wine with lunch, and bring the cook some wine in a coffeepot. We weren’t allowed to collect tips, and the members usually just signed for things, but man, did we eat well. Lunch was usually the extras from the specials of the day. We’d dine on stuffed rainbow trout, and salmon, and all manner of swanky fare. Then after giving our 3 or 4 hours to society − after serving lunch to the captains of industry - we would retire to the Spot Tavern for a few pitchers of beer.
Come to think of it, Ted Kennedy would have felt right at home there, too.

Friday, January 20, 2006


The Dow dropped 213.32 and oil settled at 68 dollars a barrel on concerns that the President might try and play cowboy again. Analysts say Iran is 5 years from a nuclear weapon and nuclear weapons are unacceptable unless Jesus wants us to have them. The shortterm outlook is that oil companies will continue reaping unbelievable profits, while Cheney tries to keep a straight face, and discusses how grave everything is.
In other news: Iran threatens to play the oil card if the West continues to hassle it. Meanwhile President Bush is currently planning what route to ride his bicycle today.
Next up: Osama continues to taunt us and threatens to release an album of standards. Even he can’t believe he’s still alive, if he really is, especially closing in on 5 years since 9/11.
The President smiles, happy that his bicycle looks shiny. He wonders if he should tear up the Constitution and stick it in the spokes to make that cool motorcycle sound.


Note to Oregonian Editors: Until this tram thing blows over (whoops!) do not, I repeat do not, have any editorial titles with the word “overhead” in them. Especially if the rest of the piece is riddled with phrases that could apply to the tram disaster. “Just take it out of overhead…” in today’s Oregonian is supposed to be about voter-owned elections, with a laughable point about the growing gulf between the business sector and city hall. I WISH there was more of a gulf between the power elite and their minions downtown. Then maybe we could get more distance between the power elite and the Oregonian, and we’d have a functional city.
In this gem, big business is calling the clean money bit “an expensive boondoggle, a solution in search of a problem.” Gee, where have you heard that kind of talk lately?
Here’s some more Tram Talk: It “harms the city’s ability to help solve other important problems – school funding, for example.”
Here’s a subtle one: “Anyone who’s ever tried to run a business can see the flaw in the “overhead” argument.” Plus there’s this phrase: “the flawed idea that big money dominates”? Of course they meant to say big money doesn’t dominate the election process, but they blew that, and didn’t even realize it! Yes, I agree! Having big money dominate IS a flawed idea.
The big close: “This wasteful and open-ended financial commitment.” Think tram liabilities. How much will we pay the first time something really goes wrong in the doctor-friendly skies over Portland?
Yes, folks, the Oregonian editors have now entered the Righteous Zone, where they are so deep in their own pompous spin that they can’t even see how funny they’re being.


Okay, don’t get the wrong impression about my sister Eileen just because she’s going to spend tomorrow in a bar in New Orleans. She’s got 4 kids and is ultra-Catholic, and makes me look like a hawk on Iraq. Last summer she had a milestone birthday and her husband, the great Ron, also known as the Ronster, offered to fly her anyplace in the world to celebrate. Guess where Eileen went? She drove herself to Crawford, Texas to join in an anti-war protest there.
Tomorrow is different. See, Eileen went to Georgetown so…Oh, hell, let’s just go to the email: “The Georgetown Club of New Orleans has invited alumni in the Southeast to come watch the Georgetown-Duke hoops game this Saturday at a bar in New Orleans. I feel it is my civic duty to go. Plus, having watched #1 Duke (17-0 for the season) take care of NC State last night, I think the Hoyas may need all the support they can get. There is supposed to be a large Duke contingent at the bar too and I hope they are all gentlemanly.

(See what the bar, the famous Cooter Brown's, used to be like at http://www.cooterbrowns.com/main.html Sounds great!!)

This also gives me a chance to stop by Picayune on the way and check in with ----------------. Jan 25 will be the second anniversary of Elmer's death so it's timely. I'll leave here Friday about noon, drive the 5 hours to Picayune, spend the night there with Marian, pick up some freshly made King Cake at Paul's Pastry on the way out of town the next morning, and head on into the Big Greasy. If I can find some hot beignets somewhere, my trip will be complete. I will return to B'ham Saturday after the game, not only because I'm not sure about New Orleans after dark but also because I have a program bright and early Sunday morning at church. I'm now going to go study the Hoyas roster so I can be somewhat conversant on this year's team. –E”
I love Eileen.


1. California has finally come up with a plan to scare illegal

aliens away from the border. They’re going to have

Arnold patrol on his motorcycle.

2. I love it when Congress talks about reforming itself. That’s

like trying monogamy in a whore house, it’s not going to work.

3. There’s a voter backlash by seniors to the Republican

prescription drug plan, but Republicans aren’t worried. They

figure the plan is so complicated, most seniors won’t make it

to election day anyway.

4. Congressman Murtha predicts the vast majority of American

troops will be out of Iraq by the end of this year.

Now the bad news: They’ll be in Iran.

5. The man who discovered LSD has turned 100. I bet that was

quite a birthday party. I hear it lasted for 11 hours.

6. At one point they played “Pin the tail on the hallucination.”

7. Liza Minnelli has a new young boyfriend. She just wanted

someone to share those long walks to rehab.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


What I need is a grocery store on the 2nd step to my front door, because that’s where I’m always at when I remember why I went to the store in the first place. I don’t have what some call the shopping gene, and the only list I make is the topics on the Tonight Show every night.
That can be fun, you know. It’s a little like if Jay Leno had a blog and he makes the first joke on a topic, then we all pile on with our comments. It can typically last for 5 days. Or in the case of naughty presidents, 8 years.
Now, I don’t get many comments on this blog but I have a feeling I’ll be looking back on that part as the good old days. Either that or I’ll fade out altogether, but fading out….Well, let’s just say I played my first musical gig when I was around 11 and my current group, The Lighter Notes, has got another one coming up here in early March. I don’t know about other bands, but I find if we don’t play a gig every 2 or 3 months, we sort of lose our edge.
This sure has been a fast start, the way this blog has seemingly landed in the middle of the tram debate - if you can still call it a debate. You ask me and it’s now just different shades of screwed up. But I want you to know I can handle the excitement.
I once launched a topic on old Newt Gingrich, with a simple, tasteful elegant joke, that I don’t need to revisit. What happened is that it inspired all the other writers to jump on the topic and old Newt got kicked around like his parents should have kicked around his nickname before giving it to him.
I assume you’re a fan of irony, so let me tell you of an ironic twist that might not have been made clear. Back when I wrote columns twice a week, I begged them to let me just do my thing. Don’t hedge your bets. Let’s stir it up! I figured the only way the Trib would take off is if it was not dull. You couldn’t act like it was required reading.
Now, isn’t it amazing that I’m finally in the position to do that with this blog, and one of the people on the other end, is none other than a Trib executive, from the “play it safe-community-fluff” days? That, my friends, is what you call irony.
So why the regret? It’s because right now, I’m all over the place. One bit reads like a cheap Daily Show imitation, and the next reads like a college essay. I don’t know how to link to other articles and a ton of other things.
Still, I know if you bear with me I’ll find the mother groove. These things take time.
And it’s a blast. I can feel my brain coming alive and the “professional” jokes have been flowing out. Writing a blog might make the work stuff easier to do, and I wasn’t exactly shoveling coal to begin with.


First, I’d like to apologize to Lynn over at Oregon Media Insiders if my last post didn’t work for her. Security is a touchy subject, which is what I wrote back when the Portland City Council was talking about our water supply. At that time I felt any of our vulnerabilities should be dealt with as quietly as possible. What good did it do to publicize the subject and then fund a high-profile study - which I believe cost north of a 100 grand - if we weren’t going to do anything anyway?
There are days when the world seems like a silly place and there are days like today. Government officials have requested that we think about security right now. Maybe I’m missing something but I think discussing the security concerns of a highly visible project like the tram is profoundly necessary. Furthermore, I have yet to talk to anyone in private about this subject for any length of time, when they haven’t expressed worries about this aspect of the tram. Just being on it if someone gets weird is enough to give many people the creeps. At least with the Max you’re on the ground.
How about a compromise? We go on not talking honestly about the construction costs, the operational budget, and the true purpose of the tram. I’ll concede the City Council all the secrecy and deception they want on that.
Instead, let’s just look at this thing from a security point of view. That alone should be enough to sink this turkey.


It did not take the release of another Osama tape to make the tram look like an unbelievable security risk. The best case you can give for it is that it could present a diversionary target that could spare downtown. Just ask yourself what it would take to bring down the Space Needle, versus shooting apart a cable.
Weren’t we the ones who were spending hundreds of thousands to study putting a cover on anything bigger than a water fountain? How do you make a cover for this bastard?
The Bush administration has used the threat of terrorism for its own ends, but that does not mean there is no threat. As Y2K approached a terrorist was stopped entering America in a car up in Port Angeles, Washington. His plan was to proceed to LAX, which would have meant driving right through our city. That is reality. We’ll never be able to protect against all threats, so the key is to analyze what it would take, versus what it would cost in blood and money.
The tram would be a symbolic, visible target, with two cars holding possibly 79 people each. The falling debris would land on freeways and residential areas. I’m sure I’d worry if I lived under the damn thing.
But here is the crazy part: How little it would take. A high-powered rifle could blow the cable apart, couldn’t it? That’s way too easy. Hell, the marksman could be in so many places he might even get away with it. And the required tools could be purchased here. You wouldn’t even have to smuggle something in the country. This is an unacceptable risk.
So why bring it up? Because the damn thing is not built yet! If it was, I would not discuss this in print. I hate those stories: “Tonight on the News: How the Terrorists Could Kill Us All!”
Besides, we have some local politicians here who are currently playing dumb about how they got into this. I would hate to build the tram and have an incident and then hear our local council lie like Condi: “Nobody could have imagined that someone would shoot down the tram.” Well, go ahead: Use your imagination and stop this crazy project right now!


This beast has taken off. A mere 9 days ago, I was killing time while a repairman worked on the furnace so I decided to set up a blog. There were over 800 hits by today, and it’s been mentioned in the “Willamette Week”, or if you’ve seen their ads, the “Willamette By The Hour." God, I’m going to regret that crack when I start selling ads myself.
Let’s be clear: I’ve had tons of material that ultimately helped market things on the radio and TV, so a bigger whore does not walk this earth. Bill Maher, whom I once had an independent writing contract with, makes me smile when I see him on TV talking about how his “Politically Incorrect” network show didn’t sell out like the other talk shows. Listen, if you’re attracting viewers so that advertisers can sell them something, you might as well be holding up the product yourself. There are very few ways to avoid some level of whoredom in the media. It is not an easy place for the righteous.
You’re probably wondering how it went with Bill Maher: He had an arrangement on his old cable show, where you sent in a certain number of jokes and if they didn’t sell you’d have to wait something like 6 months to do it again. Plus he only used three or four a night, so it didn’t work out, which is a damn shame: I believe Bill Maher is a national treasure. But back to the matter at hand:
Some have accused me of using this blog to vent about Lora Cuykendall and my dismissal from the Trib. Once again, I never accused her of having me fired; I just sensed she didn’t like me. But if you’re pontificating on the merits of my columns one year, and the merits of the aerial tram the next, you are opening yourself up for a little blowback. The tram is a joke.
By the way, I never claimed there was a connection between Lora’s job, and the Oregonian’s editorial position on the tram. Before this is over, they might be looking for an explanation for why they thought the tram was such a nifty idea, but for now, let’s just say they reached their ridiculous conclusions completely on their own.
Indeed, things were sailing along quite well, weren’t they? Then one column by Phil Stanford, that compared the tram to a ski lift, drew Lora out.
She wrote her former paper a snippy little letter about Phil, and if she hadn’t done that, none of this would have happened. She has only been working at OHSU 2 months, according to what I’ve read, and things were going great. But that letter announced to Portland that she was defending the tram, and now we have a little media storm. I believe if she had it to do over again, she might stick that letter in the garbage can.