Well Beerchaser followers, below is the fourth installment of my contributions to The Oregon Way Online Newsletter. I’ve tried to suggest the perfect watering holes for each of the major Oregon Gubernatorial candidates to visit during their campaigns. The two candidate covered in this installment Bill Sizemore and Jessica Gomez are both Republicans – perhaps that’s because there are nineteen of them versus only ten for the Dems.
Below is the text from The Oregon Way supplemented by photos in an effort to make it more interesting:
Thebeerchaser’s Advice for Gubernatorial Candidates Bill Sizemore and Jessica Gomez
Republican Candidate Bill Sizemore – Running on his record?? * 1
(External photo attribution * at the end of the post)
One might question why with nineteen (or for that matter any) Republicans vying, a candidate with the following record would file to run for Governor:
In 2000, a jury found his organizations guilty of civil racketeering and they were fined $2.5 million.
In 2008, he spent a night in jail for contempt of court.
In 2011, he pleaded guilty to three counts of felony tax evasion.
That said, self-awareness has never been Bill Sizemore’s strong suit and as such, he should pay a visit to Church Bar in Southeast Portland for a campaign stop (and reflection).
The bar’s motto is “Eat, Drink, Repent.” The latter of which is especially relevant since the Oregonian in a three-part article about Sizemore’s “Trail of Debt” he allegedly left behind, stated it included an outstanding loan from a fellow church member. Sizemore said he repaid it….
One of the bar’s nice features is a photo booth – a “confessional” in which a high-quality digital camera takes photos of the “penitents” and through a custom-made software program transmits them to social media. He would not have to pay for this service as his multiple mug shots have been seen by thousands of Oregonians through the years.
I visited Church in 2013 with my former law firm colleague, John Mansfield – a bright intellectual property lawyer. I tried to get John to cause a stir and gain some publicity by emulating 16th century theologian, Martin Luther, and tacking 95 patents to the door of Church to commemorate Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses at the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg in 1517. (You’ll notice Mansfield’s’ resemblance to Luther in the photos below)
Sizemore could commemorate his questionable legacy by posting the texts of eight of his initiative petitions ranging from property tax, insurance and light rail and let voters see how they comport with his future vision for Oregon.
And since he earned a theology degree from Portland Bible College and then taught Old Testament History at his alma mater, perhaps a visit to Church Bar would let him reflect on the God of Mercy and Forgiveness in the New Testament rather than the God of Wrath and Fury in the Old!
Republican Candidate Jessica Gomez
Jesse Gomez is one of the less known Republican candidates, but one who is impressive. At age nine, she transitioned into the role of caregiver for her three younger siblings in New York and experienced homelessness when she was a teenager after her family moved to Oregon and her parents divorced.
Gomez lacked a secure place to live for a year while a teenager in Oregon. She then moved to the East Coast to live with her grandmother, finished high school and then graduated from community college and worked at a semi-conductor company.
In 2003, at age twenty-six, she and her husband founded a micro-chip manufacturing facility in Southern Oregon. She’s now CEO of Rogue Valley Microdevices which has 26 employees, 14 of whom are women and 11 are persons of color. Her civic and charitable activities are admirable.
Gomez should visit the Tide Pool Pub in Depoe Bay where, besides tasting the best pizza on the Oregon Coast, she would relate to Vicki, the quirky and personable owner who told us about going to “Take Your Kid to Work Day”in Iowa when her dad worked in a beef slaughterhouse.
And given Jesse’s on-time struggle for survival, she would also appreciate the “Tank of Death” as described by Matt Love in his Letitpour.net blog:
“….a salt-water glass coffin – It’s packed with all manner of marine creatures caught by local fishermen who bucket in their curious finds and dump them in. Eels, crabs, sea bass, perch, Dick Cheney, octopi and urchins all end up in the mix……….
According to the bartender, aquatic creatures regularly stage a battle royal to the death and the tank serves as a Roman arena of savagery and merciless predation – with bets slapped down and accelerated drinking when the water turns a creamy, cloudy red.”
Based on her entrepreneurial instincts, she should interact with voters at the Caldera Brewery – only fourteen miles from her residence in Medford. Founded in 1997 as a small ten-barrel brewery, by Jim Mills, it has expanded its brewing capacity and has a tap-house which is one of the largest restaurants in Ashland.
The company employs over 100 people and ships its award-winning beer internationally. (They also have one of the most impressive displays of bottles I’ve seen in eleven years of Beerchasing.)
They were the first craft brewery in Oregon to brew and can their own beer and ship their cans and bottles to seventeen states and six countries. Their sustainability practices are also admirable.
Any Oregon voter would be well-served to chat with Jessica Gomez, Jim Mills from Caldera Brewing or Vicki from the Tide Pool – small business owners who are the lifeblood of this state.
Well Beerchaser followers, below is the third installment of my contributions to The Oregon Way Online Newsletter. I’ve tried to suggest the perfect watering holes for each of the major Oregon Gubernatorial candidates to visit during their campaigns.
The article below was published about Democratic candidate Tobias Read who now serves as the Oregon State Treasurer.
It’s an effort to demonstrate that this Beerchasingenvironment is ideal for really having a constructive and meaningful dialogue – rather than superficial blathering – with voters in the State. And I would suggest that this could be a model for candidates not just in Oregon, but in any jurisdiction.
This premise was reinforced just this week with an article in Willamette Week in which they interviewed people in the new Oregon Congressional District about candidate Carrick Flynn, a political neophyte in Oregon, but one who has garnered campaign contributions in the proximity of $5 million from a cryptocurrency billionaire.
This Yamhill County resident and I have the same thoughts about relating to a candidate:
“‘This gentleman, who’s funding him in the Caribbean? I don’t know if I’m going to see him at my local watering hole,’ says Ramsey McPhillips, a Yamhill County farmer who sits on the boards of four local nonprofits. ‘He just has something to do with the blockchain.’” (Emphasis added)
After eight years when the State should be on a course to crest waves, Oregon has simply been treading water. Now we need strong Gubernatorial leadership – I’m not suggesting by which party, but the candidates should have the skills to pull Oregonians together.
So, I will continue my chronology of the best taverns/breweries for each major candidate to have a meaningful campaign dialogue based on my ten years of visiting Oregon watering holes.
Democrat Tobias Read has impressive education and experience – undergrad at Willamette U and MBA at University of Washington with private sector and legislative experience before becoming State Treasurer for the last eight years.
That said, Read would be inclined to answer the question, “Do you have trouble making decisions?” with the response, “Well, yes and no!?” As Jeff Gudman, his opponent for Treasurer aptly stated, “Tobias Read is Oregon’s self-proclaimed financial navigator who does not navigate.” And based on his actions and statements, Read’s view of the role of Treasurer is not to solve the PERS problem, but just to invest for the best return.
There are two bars that would help Read understand Oregon. The Mad Dog Country Tavern is a wonderful bar in Sawyer’s Landing on Newport’s Yaquina Bay I visited in 2014.
Pauline, the cordial bartender told us that her “regulars” are people from the adjoining RV Park, summer tourists and Newport residents – a good group for Tobias to meet because they have diverse interests and economic situations and often feel estranged from the power of State government.
“….Years ago, a large log rested in front of the tavern. It had seatbelts attached to it. In some sort of contest, certain patrons would strap themselves in and then proceed to consume a bottle(s) of a particular brand of fortified wine. The “winner” remained sitting upright. Thus Mad Dog Tavern.”
The pickled eggs and Reser’s Hot Mama sausages fermenting, in big jars might offend his sensibilities. However, an oft-quoted Mad Country story about a nearby tough dive bar eight miles east in Toledo perfectly illustrate his equivocation on a crucial timber issue in the area – the Elliot State Forest.
Enter star, Paul Newman carrying a chainsaw, exactly like the hard-ass logger character, Hank Stamper, he happened to be portraying…….Wordless, alone, Newman, who according to various biographies……has at times drank to considerable excess, fired up his chainsaw.
He sawed the legs off the pool table. It crashed to the floor. Stunned logging locals looked on. They did nothing. Newman left, perhaps later sending a check to cover the damage. Perhaps not.” (*7 and *8)
And this story is a perfect analogy for Tobias “cutting the legs” out on his constituents when he changed his position on the Elliot State Forrest – three times – once while a Legislator and then twice more as Treasurer.
He could finish his bar visits at nearby Hoovers Pub and Grill, just south of Newport on Highway 101. My visit reinforced what I saw earlier at the Mad Dog. A guy’s wife from the RV Park came in with her husband and handed Pauline an envelope with $125 in it. She left and Pauline “fed” it to him over the next 45 minutes until it was gone – a regular routine.
Hoovers was Alice’s Tavern in 1978, but that was after the mini-mart, gas station and petting zoo with a live alligator and black bear were decommissioned. We noticed a sign promoting their jello-shots stating, “Jello isn’t just for kids…,” – something maybe Tobias might relate to. There was also a sign promoting a charter fishing service that disappeared along the way……
As we were having a pint, a kid who couldn’t have been eighteen came in and burned through $70 on a video poker machine in no more than 15 minutes. As Matt Love write in Letitpour.net:
“In 1991 when the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Lottery to allow video poker in taverns and bars…..it was a frenzy. Then in 2005, line games were introduced into Oregon’s taverns and bars…..
Sure, the pool and darts continue, but these taverns are not the same, and I know because I drank beer in them before they were enlisted by the state to raise revenue from the pockets of vulnerable, occasionally inebriated people. What is especially sad is to have witnessed how video poker slowly transformed taverns from gritty bastions of independence into de facto tax collectors for the state….Rest in peace Oregon tavern.”
One also has to ask, what has Read done to mitigate Oregon’s reliance on this regressive and addictive form of tax collection?
Perhaps he should consider the description of former Legislative colleague Mark Hass, who said of Read, “If you play it safe in politics, you won’t make friends and you won’t make enemies and you won’t get anything done. “That’s Tobias.”
Perhaps he should consider the description of former Legislative colleague Mark Hass, who said of Read, “If you play it safe in politics, you won’t make friends and you won’t make enemies and you won’t get anything done. “That’s Tobias.”
Read could consider this while downing a new brew – a Milque Toast IPA – described as “Like Coors Light – Only Without the Body!”
Tobias Read has the credentials and intelligence to make a difference for Oregon. Will interacting with the regulars in these bars and considering their history and ambiance give him and other gubernatorial candidates added insight on how they could make Oregon better? Stay tuned for some additional suggestions.
This is the second installment of my contribution to The Oregon Way – an online newsletter devoted to public policy issues and civic dialogue. As I explained in my first post – “Beer and Politics – Part 1” – regardless of where a candidate is running for office, a watering hole is the perfect venue for them to have a meaningful dialogue with voters.
In the first article, I described two bars that candidates for governor for each party should visit to have meaningful dialogue with Oregonians – not campaign rhetoric, but down-to-earth conversations with bar regulars over a pint of beer – whether it be PBR or a craft brew.
I will now suggest the best bars or breweries for each major candidate to visit and chat with regulars based on their backgrounds, their personalities, and political positions. Let’s start with Betsy Johnson – the independent. If elected, Betsy will have to walk the tightrope between both parties – to form coalitions.
So why not have a gathering at the Coalition Brewery in SE Portland. Coalition means a joining of forces or thought to form unit as a whole – a worthy goal for State Government. It was one of the first breweries I visited for my blog – Thebeerchaser.com – in 2011.
Its goal was to bring the community together through beer. In 2016, Coalition also became the first Oregon brewery to make a commercially produced CBD infused beer – Two Flowers IPA – so it would have also provided Betsy a chance to talk cannabis policy implications. Unfortunately, it’s too late as Coalition was purchased by Gorges Beer Company in 2019.
So, let’s go to Central Oregon. Betsy’s birthplace was Bend and her dad, Sam, represented the region by serving in the Oregon House for six terms and finished his public service as Mayor of Redmond.
The historic Horseshoe Tavern on Prineville’s Main Street is more than eighty-years-old and represents that region perfectly. One review stated, “Good food, huge portions, $1 beer, friendly staff. What more could you want?”
The bartender told me that the most challenging customers were off-duty state troopers, who made her trucker patrons look tame. In an era where law enforcement budgets are challenged, the troopers would want to chat with Betsy about the State Police budget. And she and her gritty personality would have no problem downing an Angry Balls Cocktail – Angry Orchard Hard Cider and a drop of Fireball.
Betsy has represented the Coast and needs to mingle with this group. Rather than a bar per se, I’d suggest that her campaign convene a picnic on the grounds of Beaver Firearms and Groceries on Highway 101 in Cloverdale, where the owner advises you to “Come in to Get a Snack and a Handgun.”Attendees will find the PBR and Budweiser right next to the ammunition for sale.
Let’s move onto one of the Republican candidates – Bob Tiernan – who had a reputation for being extremely contentious and conflict-oriented when serving in the Oregon House. (And not just because he’s a lawyer. I worked with lawyers for forty years and most are wonderful people).
He should mingle with the regulars at Gil’s Speakeasy in SE Portland – one of my favorite dive bars. And, as the name suggests, you won’t find any sign on the exterior indicating it is a bar. Gil’s motto is “We’re the nicest assholes in town.”The candidate might improve his communication style if he learned to how to interact with more amicable assholes.
And if he worried about downing one too many pints during his chats with the regulars, he could pony up four quarters, and use the coin-operated breathalyzer – one of only two that I’ve seen on my Beerchaser tour.
Then Mr. Tiernan should hit the Springwater Station – right on the Springwater Corridor where it intersects 82nd Avenue in SE Portland.
It is appropriate not because he would like the somewhat dingy interior (“green decor, dim chandeliers with leaf designs”) and the unremarkable Chinese food (it’s tried to transition from a dive bar to a lounge and is now transitioning to a sports bar), but because he could mingle with cyclists who stop in for a pint while riding the Springwater Trail like my friend, David Dickson and I did in 2015.
Since in 2019, he sued (and won) to keep cyclists out of his private California community, which, according to one local, limited access to the transit corridor by disproportionately impacting students in the area who use the route to get to school and for training on the high school mountain biking team.
If Tiernan talked to the cyclists stopping in, he might see that Oregon byways are not “clogged with ‘packs’ of cyclists….and bicyclists (don’t) run into small children, hit vehicles and destroy property.”
After this dialogue he could stroll a short way down the Trail and learn about homelessness, by talking to those “camping” along the Trail. That’s because on his campaign website, rather than offering any specifics he states:
“It needs to be determined if the cause of the homeless situation is a lifestyle choice, or if the person is really down on their luck….First there has got to be a short-term solution to get the homeless off the streets, then the long-term solution is to address the reasons why people are homeless.”
Now that’s a platitude!
With stops at Gil’s Speakeasy and the Springwater Station, in addition to talking to potential voters, he might also enhance his empathy quotient – something positive for any political candidate regardless of party.
Thebeerchaser studiously avoids political controversy although sometimes making observations on policy issues. That said, if you read the last blog post entitled “Thebeerchaser’s April Acknowledgements,” you will read about an admirable young man named Kevin Frazier – graduating this spring from Berkley Law to take a one-year clerkship for the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court.
Besides his other accomplishments, Kevin, has been the Editor of an outstanding newsletter/blog named “The Oregon Way,”– a compendium of articles on public policy and current political issues by writers throughout the state.
Kevin suggested that I write several articles recommending the perfect bar or brewery for each of the major Oregon Gubernatorial candidates (there’s a slew as you’ll see below) to visit – to chat with constituents to find out what was on their minds outside of a political rally.
Now I know that many followers of this blog live a long way from Oregon, but I’m suggesting a model which is transferable to any jurisdiction. What better place to have meaningful dialogue than over a pint of beer in a watering hole? Regardless of whether someone is running for office in Missouri, Montana or Mozambique, they should belly up to the bar!
Below is the first of a number of installments that were published on The Oregon Way. Check it out and consider subscribing.
The Oregon Governor’s race has received intense scrutiny in recent months. From the controversial lawsuit regarding, former New York Times Columnist, Nicholas Kristof’sresidency to the late entrance of additional candidates from both parties and the viable candidacy of an “unaffiliated” candidate, speculation, speechifying, and sound bites have defined the May 2022 Primary. (* External photo attribution at the end of the post).
But how does one who wants to go beyond the surface of these candidates’ (16 Democrats, 21 Republicans and 1 Independent) platforms determine substance. As Jeff Gudman wrote in a recent piece for The Oregon Way, entitled “Oregon’s Next Governor:”
“….it is easier to speechify, bloviate if you will, then to do the hard follow up work that is not as exciting as making a pronouncement of some new program or initiative. Don’t talk in platitudes like investing in the 21st century workforce or serving the under-served. Be serious, be specific and then provide the sound bites.”
That’s a great point, but it occurred to me, “I want to know what makes these people tick. How do they relate to others, what’s important in their lives besides politics and what do they think about day-to-day issues Oregonians face?”
To really understand a candidate and his or her ability to relate to everyday voters, you have to do more than know their party affiliation. I’ve been a member of both political parties and unaffiliated and I worked for five years in the Clackamas County Elections Department, so I have a decent grasp of each party’s values, attitudes, and without stereotyping – the personalities of their candidates.
I propose a remarkable, albeit improbable solution to get a better sense of the true character and relatability of each candidate. It’s a solution based on my main avocation since 2011 when I retired as the COO of a large regional law firm based in Portland.
My hobby is visiting and reviewing bars and breweries and writing about the experience in my blog entitled Thebeerchaser.com. The narratives aren’t about beer but the watering holes themselves – the history, the regulars, the bartenders, and distinguishing features.
Originally the goal was to include just Portland bars, but with retirement travel, it expanded. After eleven years, I’ve reviewed almost 400 establishments – all over Oregon and throughout the US and a few in Europe. And the conversations have been remarkable.
Essayist Samuel Johnson (not candidate Betsy’s Dad!) reinforced this idea about the suitability of a tavern for this dialogue:
“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn … As soon, as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude: when I am seated…(wine/beer) there exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation and an interchange of discourse”
In future articles here on the Way, I’ll suggest some specific watering holes for the individual candidates to get a better sense of Oregon, but I’d first offer these two bars as a great option for all Democrats and Republicans. And these two favorite Beerchasing establishments are both within two blocks of each other in Multnomah Village.
The Ship Tavern
The Ship Tavern would be a perfect place for all candidates to chat with Democrats and get a better sense of their perspective. Opened in 1946 in what was once a garage, it serves peanuts in the shell which the patrons throw on the floor. As one reviewer stated:
“The Ship isn’t anything to write home to Mom about . . . heck it probably isn’t even a place I would tell my Mom I went . . . but it knows what/who it is.
The bar was once home bar for the Portland Rugby Club and the two most popular recording artists on the juke box were Jackson Browne and Waylon Jennings. And in tradition of a notable Democrat – former Mayor Richard Daley – the Ship is a Chicago hangout as evidenced by the fact a few years ago, any time The Bears, the Cubs or the White Sox played, Pabst Old Style Beer – A Chicago favorite – was $1.50 and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s $3.50.
The Democratic candidates might be uncomfortable with the Big Buck Hunter video game, but would otherwise love this place with 24 taps.
Rennners’ Bar and Grille
Conversely, Renners’ Bar and Grill is a more “establishment” bar focusing on cocktails rather than beer. Established in 1939, it’s a “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” kind of place Republicans would like – the bar burned completely down in 2018, but fought back and reopened in 2020. It’s known as a tough place with stiff drinks.
And the Republican political chats should be held in Renners’ Suburban Room – at the back of their bar – “it’s dark, it’s a little gritty…… Fleetwood Mac is somehow always playing and the food is greasy in the best way possible……The wells are a dollar instead of the drafts, and…. they’re the strongest you’ll get west of the river.”
The clientele is very different than the Ship – I talked to a nice guy who was an insurance adjuster. The guy on the other side actually ordered a vodka martini – wanted it shaken not stirred! Republican candidates could get an earful on their campaigns.
In closing, I should add that visiting a bar doesn’t imply nor necessitate drinking in excess (or drinking at all !), the most important thing is to engage in an open conversation with whomever happens to sit down next to you. Stay tuned for further discussion of “Beer and Politics!”
*4 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dr-Johnson.jpg) This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer. Source: The Gallery Of Portraits With Memoirs encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1833.
In these days of both national and international turmoil, divisiveness and lack of civility along with ominous global phenomena, it’s a real challenge to remain optimistic. So with an initial digression from bar and brewery forays, Thebeerchaser will provide some evidence in this post – perhaps one small step in encouraging you about tomorrow.
We all know the foils of much social media, but at the same time, it opens opportunities for expansive education, exploration and new relationships all over the world.
I have seen this in the ten years of Thebeerchasing.com where I’ve developed ongoing dialogue with bloggers ranging from Rich Carbonara – Beerwanderers.com – a guy whose written several books and gives beer tours in Bavaria, to Theresa, who lives in New Jersey and authors a wonderful blog – the National Parks with T. (Photos below of Acadia and Badlands National Parks)
And they’re diverse! For example, I get to read compelling narrative and see stunning photos of the Colorado wilderness and varied sites throughout the world in “Handstands Around the World” the adventures of Diana, a former gymnast, current college nutrition professor, and “perpetual vacation planner” in Denver.
She and her fiancé have spent most of the past 4 years exploring the never-ending beauty of Colorado and the surrounding states. She’s also working on summitting as many US state high points as possible (currently at 12/50). Her blog posts always include a photo of her incredible handstand as her unique trademark.
A few more also deserve recognition and my ongoing appreciation – Sandra J, a talented professional photographer authors a blog – “Into the Light Adventures” – she and her husband are retired and travel the country documenting the beauty of nature.
Then there’s Kelly MacKay’s blog Maritime Mac.com – Kelly is a fascinating lady from Canada with an incredible background – twenty years in the thoroughbred racing industry – seven as an exercise rider and thirteen as a successful jockey, ultimately incurring an injury which caused her to change careers.
Besides enhancing her education, she then worked as a trail guide on horseback tours in Ontario, labored in the financial industry and even as a cellphone sales person. She’s now in her dream job as a Fitness Leader to a Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in Oromocto, New Brunswick, Canada. Kelly has backpacked around Europe and has been to every US State but Hawaii and Oregon. Her travelogues are fascinating.
Another – no less interesting – Color My World where sixty-six year old Charly Holganza, born in then rustic Tagbilaran, in the island of Bohol, Philippines, entered the Philippine Military Academy – he joined the military at 17. Charly retired in 2012, after spending 37 plus years of devoted service.
Charly authors several blogs which embody his theme “Living, loving, learning, leaving a legacy.” The one I enjoy the most is his cogent and detailed analysis of the NBA – that’s right – an expert across the world with considerable insight.
And Finally, Jadi Campbell grew up in little New England/upstate NY villages, spent summers in a cabin in the woods, and attended a state university on the West coast. She decided at the age of 6 to be a writer, and earned a B.A. in English Literature and worked in corporate America until she became a Licensed Massage Therapist.
Living in Europe since 1992, she published her first of several awarding-winning books Broken In: A Novel in Stories in 2012. Her second novel Tsunami Cowboys followed in December 2014 and Groundedappeared in May 2016. In 2020 Jadi, published a collection of short stories, The Trail Back Out. Her blog covers everything from natural beauty to science.
But What About Kevin Frazier?
So how does Kevin Frazier work into this scenario? In November last year, I came across a blog – The Oregon Way – in which Kevin, the Editor, wrote a very compelling piece on a transportation policy issue. It also caught my interest because he referenced a dive bar!
I reached out by e-mail to compliment him – not just on his article, but his excellent on-line publication and we discovered some mutual background and acquaintances. My follow-up research revealed that we will be witnessing some great things from this young man in the future.
Through Linked-in I discovered that Keven was first in his Southridge High School class of 495 students in 2012. In the ten years since, his volunteer and leadership activities, internships in the public and non-profit sector and higher educational achievements are profound.
After graduation from the University of Oregon where he gave the Honors College commencement speech, he earned his Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School while serving as a research intern and graduate teaching assistant.
After passing the bar exam, he’ll head for Helena, Montana and spend the next two years gaining experience with two prestigious and competitive clerkships –
2022 – Chief Justice Mike McGrath on the Montana Supreme Court
2023 – Judge Michael McShane of the US District Court for the District of Oregon
And to reinforce the good news, he and his girlfriend, Dalton just got engaged.
Kevin and I decided that since COVID would preclude getting together to raise a mug in a dive bar, that we’d have a ZOOM Happy Hour – a great 90-minute conversation we had in January.
We still have not met in person because of travel complications. A meeting scheduled in San Francisco when my wife and I had planned to road-trip to the Bay City is now canceled because of Thebeerchaser’s herniated disk – that’s another story.
With his clerkships, Kevin has handed his editorial responsibilities to colleagues and I will miss his incisive commentary on subjects ranging from the lottery, to wages and living conditions of wilderness firefighters to selecting the judiciary.
I’ll still actively follow The Oregon Way’s piercing commentary on issues ranging from political analysis, tax policy, public health and issues all of us need be informed. So check it out below:
The Oregon Way is a nonpartisan blog that features contributors from around the state and across the political spectrum. You can .visit it here: https://theoregonway.substack.com/
Run by a volunteer team, the Way has no agenda other than reminding Oregonians of our capacity to get stuff done. That’s why the blog welcomes submissions from any and all folks who share a commitment to putting good policy before partisan goals. On this blog, nuance, complexity, and humility are respected and shared. Consider joining the Oregon Way volunteer team or submitting a piece for publication by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org
But Wait – There’s More….
Kevin and I discussed me making a written contribution to The Way and the result demonstrates that he not only has analytical, but creative skills. Oregon’s Gubernatorial race has an unbelievable number of candidates – nineteen Republicans, fourteen Democrats and an Independent.
He proposed that I suggest the perfect bar or brewery for the major candidates to visit during their campaigns – where they could have meaningful dialogue with the regulars based on the history and circumstances of the watering hole. This was a great idea and watch for the next posts of Thebeerchaser to see the result – something that was quite fun to write.
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
In the last two blog posts, I’ve talked about two events which took place at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm where I worked for twenty-five years before retiring as COO in 2011.
The HBO movie(“The Last Innocent Man”) filmed, in part, at the firm in 1987 and the three-and one-half-day West Coast hearing for the Latrell Sprewell Arbitration with the NBA and the NBA Players’ Association, were both memorable.
* External Photo Attribution at the end of the Post
I’ve “teased” Beerchaser followers with the events leading up to the arbitration in the first post – the Choking and subsequent punching of Coach PJ Carlesemo at a Golden State Warriors practice on December 1, 1997, Sprewell’s immediate termination by the Warriors and the one-year suspension by the NBA – the longest of any non-drug related in NBA history.
In the second post, I also mentioned how Schwabe came to be approached by the NBA to host that hearing through the connection by former Blazer General Counsel, Mike Fennell, who worked as a Schwabe associate attorney after he graduated from law school. At the end of this post, there’s a deserved tribute to this late colleague, who was a wonderful person and outstanding lawyer.
So let’s take it from the phone call inquiry from Mike, where Schwabe Management determined that we would accept the invitation to serve as the site. We agreed to provide secure conference rooms; witness waiting areas; secretarial resources as required; telephone, fax and computer equipment they could use.
The assistance would also include logistical support such as transportation from lodging and catering plus coffee, refreshments, etc. during the hearing. Of course, the firm would charge both the NBA and the Players’ Association for providing these services.
While we were used to having hearings, legal conferences and other events at the firm, an event of this notoriety and scope was uncharted ground – it presented many questions. These resulted in negotiations based on the demands of the parties – primarily the NBA.
“Although we tried to get a contact name from the Players’ Association and made requests through the NBA, we had no contact from the Players’ Association until the Friday before the hearing (began the next Monday) when I talked to Bob Lanza (General Counsel).
By that time, of necessity, we had made all the arrangements including limousine service, catering, security, secretarial service, etc.”
And firm personnel did a lot of advance work – but only with the NBA who communicated with us. Our Client Relations Department worked with a caterer to plan continental breakfasts, lunches and snacks – different for each day and potential dinner menus since the hearing was supposed to continue into the evenings – the first day, it lasted eleven hours until 8:30 P.M. (The PA had to go along with the menu selected by their adversary in the proceeding!)
We reserved a secretarial station outside each Association’s conference room, with a Schwabe secretary on-call there (into the evenings) to type memos, etc. send faxes, make calls or dinner reservations, etc.
Legal Secretaries were on call
While after twenty-four years, my recollection has dimmed on some of the specifics, the following account of the interactions and incidents are my best effort to convey what were stimulating and sometimes humorous occurrences – from the negotiations to the hearing itself, to contact with the parties afterwards. I’ve also relied on conversations with Schwabe colleagues.
Our initial contact was with Rick Buchanan, the then young, Assistant General Counsel for the NBA. From the outset through the culmination, Rick was a class act and it does not surprise me that recent internet research revealed that this Harvard Law graduate is now General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer for the Association.
A younger Rick Buchanan *2
I didn’t meet Ron Klempner, from the PA, but he is now Senior Counsel, Collective Bargaining for the PA and graduated from the Maurice A. Dean School of Law at Hofstra University.
Both Klempner and Buchanan had remarkably similar legal careers from their excellent law school educations – graduating in 1987 and 1988 respectively – and after notable judicial clerkships; worked at large, prestigious, multi-national law firms before they joined their organizations. Both began this work in 1993 and Klempner and Buchanan are still working for their respective associations.
Becoming an associate at this type of multi-national law firm is extremely competitive and new hires are the top students from the nation’s most prestigious law schools.
Interestingly, Klempner, in 2015, “served as acting executive director of the NBPA between the firing of former seventeen-year executive director Billy Hunter for questionable hiring practices, financial decisions and other alleged misdeeds,” according to an article in Forbes.com. (Hunter is also a lawyer and played wide receiver in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins. His story with the PA could comprise another two posts….)
Billy Hunter *7
And after all these years, the parade of lawyers involved continues:
“The election of Michele A. Roberts, a former Partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates, marked the first time a female was elected to the highest position of a major sport’s players association within the United States.”
And if you thought Buchanan and Klempner worked at large law firms, Skadden-Arps with 1,594 lawyers generated revenues of $2.6 billion in their twenty-one offices, earning a ranking of fifth on the 2021 AM Law 200.
(Michele Roberts probably took a cut in salary as the profit per partner at Skadden-Arps was a staggering $4.3 million). One wonders if Skadden still maintains their Moscow office! Both Covington and Weil have Beijing and Shanghai offices, but none in Russia.
I digress, but can’t help noting that Roberts was succeeded as Executive Director for the PA in September, 2021 by Tamika Tremaglio. (Elected for her first four-year term in January, 2022.)
You guessed it – Tremaglio is not only a lawyer, but also an accountant most recently serving as the Managing Principal for Deloitte Financial Services in their DC office and “where she has worked as an advisor and consultant to the NBPA since 2012.” (Sports Illustrated.com)
Security, Security and More Security!
From the outset the NBA was extremely concerned with security. They knew that both the East and West Coast hearings would receive intense media coverage.
On site reporting would not only be by sports media but given the initial reports of “The Choke” (hereafter “TC”) and the personalities involved such as the NBA stars and high-profile NBA Coaches and even famous attorney, Johnnie Cochran; national and even international general print and broadcast media would be there. (We started getting calls from media outlets ten days before the hearing.)
The Chief NBA Security Officer flew out from New York (totally at NBA expense) as were the security personnel during the proceedings. He met with firm management and representatives from the PAC West Center – obviously Building Management was very concerned about disruption for the other tenants in the 33-story building.
To give some perspective on the importance of this position to the NBA, the current Chief, Leon Newsome, commenced his position in 2021, after serving as Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service. He is a 1992 Princeton graduate where he starred in football and in his new position will:
“…..oversee all aspects of security operations for the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and soon-to-launch Basketball Africa League as well as the NBA’s 15 offices worldwide.”
Leon Newsome – now Chief Security Officer for the NBA * 11
The NBA Security guru, while in Portland, proceeded to visit the multiple high rises in the adjacent blocks (see photo below) where he evidently got permission from building management to go up on the roofs to see what visibility the east side of the Pacwest Center would present to photographers who attempted to film the hearing and witnesses (Really!?).
Since the hearing room had curtains, we rejected the request that we put up construction paper on the east-facing windows on the 17th – 19thfloors where there were no curtains.
The NBA security team which traveled to our offices from New York for the hearing, appeared to be former FBI agents and had personalities befitting that background – no smiles during initial days in the Pacwest Center.
They were adamant about protecting the sanctity of the hearing and the privacy of the witnesses and the parties. (The Players’ Association never inquired about security or media issues.)
Joe Smith (pictured) Bimbo Coles and Felton Spencer – all who played for multiple NBA teams, were Sprewell’s teammates on the Warriors. *13
That said, we were operating at 125-lawyer firm, with at that time, four floors in a high-rise building with clients, attorneys representing opposing parties and vendors/consultants needing access to our people and facilities.
At that time, we had a receptionist on each floor with access to the public. (Now, with five floors, Schwabe has only one reception area at the firm’s Conference Center on the 19th floor, where all external parties initially check in).
The NBA’s initial position was that we needed to lock down all of our floors with access only through clearance by a receptionist on one floor. We calmly responded that this was overkill since the hearing would be located on the 19th floor large hearing room with the parties each having conference and temporary office facilities on the 17th and 18th floors.
The Pacwest Center made additional conference rooms available for the firm’s business, if necessary. We compromised and agreed on a partial lockdown – having all firm personnel come up to the 16th floor and then using internal staircases. We could greet clients on the 16th floor. As a result, no unauthorized persons gained access during the event.
While they initially came across as “hard asses”, the NBA security guys turned out to be reasonable and interacted amicably with firm personnel. We worked cooperatively to develop practical security solutions and they were quite personable once the hearings started.
Their anticipation on the level of media coverage turned out to be well-founded. The hearing took place on Tuesday through mid-day Friday. The intent was to get the current NBA players and coaches in as witnesses early on Tuesday so they could make games later that week.
On Tuesday morning, the PacWest Center lobby was filled with anywhere from 25 to eventually about 50 reporters – hungry to interview the parties and witnesses or anybody who could offer any insight on what was transpiring nineteen floors above.
This was in spite of the announcement that all involved parties agreed to a gag order prior to the hearing:
“Chris Brienza, the league’s director of media relations, has tired to discourage a media stampede. ‘I’ve been telling those guys, this will go from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every night, the proceedings will be closed and our guys are not going to have much to say,’ said Brienza.
Still, the league is sending one media relations person out for the hearings. ‘Crowd control,’ Brienza said.” (The Sunday Oregonian , 1/25/1998.)
The standard method for an external party to access Schwabe offices would be to come in through the main entrance on 6th Avenue, or if they were driving, to enter the parking garage, to park with the valet on the first level and then take the elevator to the lobby. Once in the lobby, a second set of elevators would access the high-rise office facilities.
This would present a problem, because the media knew by sight, the players and coaches and would descend on them en-masse the minute they appeared. So we cooperatively developed an alternative.
We had arranged town-car limo service from their hotels, and the drivers were instructed to enter the parking garage on Jefferson Street. Rather than stop at the valet, they would proceed to the third level where we had reserved spaces for them.
Although not befitting a prestigious law firm, the visitors to Schwabe would then proceed through the entry to the freight elevator and take that very cumbersome and slow lift to the 17th floor or 18th floors where they would exit and then proceed to their assigned quarters.
It was masterful and none of the correspondents or their photographers discovered this surreptitious entry until it was too late.
That said, on the third morning of the hearing, those that were still there (about half-left when they got frustrated with lack of contact) did have an exciting moment. The Manager of the firms Copy Room and related support functions was a wonderful employee named Wendell King.
Wendell was a tall, good looking, always impeccably dressed and articulate Black man who was an exemplary manager. He decided to make his first trip that week to the Starbucks located in one corner of the Lobby for a latte’.
When the elevator reached the lobby and Wendell walked out with some other people who worked in the building, the press (assuming the stereotypical NBA forward) took one look and congregated around him “battering” him with questions about how the arbitration was going, was he testifying on behalf of Sprewell, etc. It was one of the most humorous moments during the event.
(Unfortunately, Wendell passed away in 2009 and to recognize the standard he set for client service and performance, the firm created the “Wendell King Best of Schwabe Award” which is still given out each quarter to the Schwabe employee who best meets the standard Wendell set.)
Towards the end of the hearing, things got more relaxed although the press was still hanging around. Latrell asked our attractive and personable sixteenth floor receptionist, Jenny, out for dinner (she politely declined….) and some of those involved would go to Starbucks for coffee. Dave Bartz, the future President of the firm, related in a recent e-mail:
“My elevator ride was down the main elevator (from the 17th floor). There was a rush – hubbub, in the lobby. I was in the elevator. The door opened and they jumped in (Sprewell and some suits – I assumed some handlers or lawyers). I moved to the back. Spre and I exchanged a nod and a hello.” (and rode back up in the elevator!)
Dave also related:
“I learned that PJ’s favorite Italian restaurant in Oregon was the West Linn (where Thebeerchaser now lives) spot, Buggatis. (Pretty high praise for a NJ boy.)”
Mike had a great career and rose in the ranks for the Trailblazers from handling a few matters as outside counsel to in-house General Counsel from 1992 to October 2012.
Portland Trailblazer General Counsel – an outstanding lawyer *17
He was an associate attorney with Schwabe after graduation from University of Oregon Law School in 1983. He was regarded as a very good corporate and securities lawyer and just a great colleague. Mike became a key member of the Trailblazer Executive Management Team, providing strategic direction for the company in day to day operations
“Mike loved his ‘work family’ at the Trail Blazers and was extremely grateful for his amazing colleagues.”Upon his departure, Sarah Mensah, who the was the Trailblazer’s COO stated:
“The imprint that Mike leaves as a legal strategist, counselor, negotiator and front office executive is a lasting one,” said Mensah. “It’s hard to see him go, and on behalf of the entire Trail Blazers organization, we extend our deepest gratitude to Mike for his significant contributions, and wish him continued success as he pursues a new phase of his career.”
Mike passed away far too young (61) in December 2018 after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014.
This post got way too long, but we’re not yet done with the Sprewell story. Stay tuned to Thebeerchaser! And in closing, to my amazement, parents can still purchase the item below at Amazon.
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
The filming of some scenes of “The Last Innocent Man” – an HBO movie in 1987 and hosting the three and on-half day West Coast hearing of former NBA star, Latrell Sprewell’s arbitration in 1998, both brought some well-known Hollywood celebrities, athletes and coaches to our offices.
Sprewell choked his coach, PJ Carlesimo in December,1997, an incident which garnered not only national, but international attention. “The Choke” (hereafter referenced as “TC”) and its related events read like a bad sports novel, but before telling you about our law firm’s connection, let’s go back twenty-five years for context and recollections that might depress you.
But if you look at a chronology of significant events occurring in December of that year from “On This Day.com” besides those below which I thought were interesting, you’ll find five references to Latrell Sprewell – shown following the vivid description of TC itself:
12/1 – “Howard Stern Radio Show” premiers on Davenport Iowa radio station KORB.
12/11 – Delegates from 150 industrial nations attending a UN climate conference in Kyoto, Japan, reach agreement to control heat-trapping greenhouse gases. (Obviously, we’ve made incredible progress….!!?? See note at the end of the post)
12/17 – Saturday Night Live Comedian, Chris Farley, died of an overdose of a combination of cocaine and morphine, commonly known as a “speedball.”
12/29 – Hong Kong begins slaughtering all its chickens to prevent bird flu. (I guess this taught us a lot about containing pandemics….)
12/31 – More Swedes died than were born in 1997 – 1st time since 1809. (I couldn’t resist that one….)
The Actual Incident
But before listing the Sprewell items, let’s look at a detailed description of the incident as described in the subsequent 2001 US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Spreewell v Golden State Warriors:
“Tensions between Sprewell and Carlesimo climaxed during a closed-door practice on December 1, 1997, during which Carlesimo told Sprewell to pass the ball to a teammate for a quick shot. Despite Sprewell’s contention that he passed the ball ‘admirably, as one would expect of an All-Star,’ Carlesimo rebuked Sprewell for not putting more speed on his pass.
When Carlesimo subsequently repeated his criticism, Sprewell slammed the ball down and directed several expletives at Carlesimo. Carlesimo responded with a similar showing of sophistication. Sprewell immediately either walked or lunged at Carlesimo and wrapped his hands around Carlesimo’s neck. With his arms fully extended, Sprewell moved Carlesimo backwards, saying ‘I will kill you’
Carlesimo offered no resistance. Sprewell grasped Carlesimo’s neck for approximately seven to ten seconds — the time it took for other players and coaches to restrain Sprewell. Sprewell then left the practice floor, saying ‘trade me, get me out of here, I will kill you,’ to which Carlesimo countered, ‘I am here.'”
Note: The above images are courtesy of Paul Eide, the creator and author of a great sports blog (I-80 Sports Blog). It covers all major sports and is a wonderful source of articles and opinions.
Paul is a freelance journalist since 2000 and has had his work published via AskMen, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Busted Coverage, and Autotrader. You should check it out and subscribe to his e-blast. His description of The Choke can be accessed at the link above.
* Dec. 1– Sprewell attacks Carlesimo at a practice; the Golden State Warriors suspend Sprewell without pay for at least 10 games.
* Dec. 3 –The Warriors terminate Sprewell’s $32 million contract.
* Dec. 4 — The NBA suspends Sprewell for one year, with Commissioner David Stern saying, “A sports league does not have to accept or condone behavior that would not be tolerated in any other segment of society.”
* Dec. 5 — The Players’ Association files grievances against the NBA and the Warriors (on behalf of Spreewell).
* Dec. 9 — In his first public comments on the attack, Sprewell says his conduct was unacceptable. “I am a good person and I’ve never had any situation like this come up before,” he says. “I feel 10 years of hard work shouldn’t be taken away for one mistake. My career didn’t happen overnight and I don’t feel it should be taken away overnight.”
* Dec. 10 — “With six former teammates behind him and famed attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. at his side, fired pro basketball star Latrell Sprewell apologized publicly Tuesday to his former coach for choking him last week.” (emphasis added) Buffalo News 1/10/1996
What’s somewhat both ironic and humorous – as are a lot of elements of this story – is Johnnie Cochran serving as a member/advisor of his legal team. That’s because Sprewell then made a comment in a January 23, 1997 interview with the New York Post stating: (LA Times Archives)
“I’m not as bad as everyone has made me out to be. It’s as if I’m another O.J. Simpson. Yes, I was wrong, but I didn’t kill anybody. I’m not a double murderer.” (Emphasis added)
The Law Firm Connection
Readers who have made it this far may be asking, “Okay Beerchaser, so what’s the link with the law firm and the Sprewell arbitration that you’ve mentioned?” In the next post, I will go into detail about the interactions and logistics of that multi-day hearing, but first, why did they select Schwabe’s Portland office as the site?
The NBA and Players’ Association knew with the witnesses testifying, it made economic and scheduling sense to break the arbitration into West Coast and East Coast hearings. Since PJ and some Golden State coaches and players who were testifying, were in the midst of the 1997-8 season, it had to be scheduled around the NBA games.
The NBA contacted the Blazers about a site for the Portland hearing – one with multiple large conference rooms, comfortable waiting areas, business equipment such as computers, faxes, etc. and most importantly, secure facilities to prevent media and interested fans from interfering or disrupting the proceedings.
The late Mike Fennel, was a Schwabe associate attorney after he graduated from law school in 1983 and subsequently spent five years as one of the Trail Blazer’s outside counsel at another firm doing primarily basketball related work.
When the Trail Blazers decided to build the Portland Rose Garden, they wanted to have an in-house General Counsel and Mike’s experience with the basketball side made him the prime candidate.
Mike Fennell – an outstanding lawyer and gentleman *13
In 1992 he became the first in-house General Counsel for an NBA team as Senior Vice President/General Counsel for the Trail Blazers from 1992 to October 2012. During his time at the Blazers, he assisted with all of the Trail Blazers legal matters including providing support on player contract negotiations, other team-related issues and the building of the Moda Center. Additionally, he served as General Counsel for other Paul Allen affiliates that operated in Portland.
Mike contacted us at Schwabe towards the end of 1997 and asked if we would be willing to discuss hosting the hearings. We agreed to negotiate the details with the NBA and Players’ Association. Those discussions and the following negotiations on the logistics were some of the most stimulating I experienced in my twenty-five years at the firm.
In the next post, I’ll also make a tribute to Mike who passed away far too young (61) in December 2018 after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014.
Note in Closing on the Kyoto Protocol and Beyond…..
“A highly anticipated report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded there is a ‘brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.’ It warned of certain ‘tipping points’ that could increase climate risks if global temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (it’s already increased 1.1 degrees).”
How effective was the Kyoto Protocol? According to an October, 2020 post from Earth.org.
“The U.S. was originally part of the agreement, but dropped out in 2001 due to the concern of an economic turndown. George Bush, the former US president, stated that complying with the Protocol would mean limiting the country’s growth and argued that there could be other ways to cut emissions without harming the economy.
When Canada withdrew in 2011, many thought the Protocol had failed. A year later, estimates showed a 20% drop in developed countries emissions (vis-à-vis 1990 levels). Despite global emissions rising by an overall 38% over the same period, Kyoto Protocol’s effect remains significant.
…It is more reasonable to see the Kyoto Protocol as a first step toward a greater international commitment to reversing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”
Fortunately, the Paris Agreement, adopted by 196 Parties and effective on 4 November 2016, is now a legally binding international treaty on climate change.
“The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.”
On January 20, 2021 – his first day in office – President Biden signed the instrument to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement.
*4 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seinfeld.svg) This logo image consists only of simple geometric shapes or text. It does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain.
*5 Public Domain – Wikimedia Common (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Men_In_Black_logo.png) This logo image consists only of simple geometric shapes or text. It does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain. Author: Universal Orlando – 1997.
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
Large urban law firms typically are housed on the upper floors of majestic skyscrapers with expansive views and have very impressive trappings – from the client reception area, to conference rooms, to the lawyers’ offices.
Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC, my law firm for twenty-five years – I retired in 2011 as the Chief Operating Officer – was no exception. When I left in 2011, the six floors occupied in the Pac West Center on floors 15-20 had a total footprint of just under 120,000 square feet.
They were well designed and scrupulously maintained – Schwabe took pride in the impression it presented. The Portland office was the anchor of our five other offices.
Legal economics and the pandemic have forced a dramatic change in professional service firms’ space configuration, however. For many large firms, the days of the expansive and plush partner offices are history.
For example, at Schwabe, associates and partners now have the same size and smaller offices except where the prior configuration precluded that such as in some corner offices.
Law libraries, which once housed hundreds of bound volumes, are skeletons of their prior capacity. While there are still some hard-bound volumes, case-law and written legal authority is primarily accessed from the lawyer’s office on-line. And oftentimes, word-processing and copy centers are now outsourced or located off-site in less expensive remote space.
This situation was exacerbated with COVID. Law offices locked-down and lawyers found out that working from home provided some real advantages – like working in sweats and the daily “commute” reduced to walking from the kitchen to the home office twenty-feet away – usually with coffee and pastry in hand.
What transpires, post-pandemic, in office leases is speculative, but most firms will probably reduce their space as hybrid arrangements replace the traditional fully-occupied model and the demand to reduce overhead expense continues. That said, most large firms will still have imposing reception areas and client conference areas.
Schwabe’s location and the quality and configuration of its facilities resulted in two major external requests to use its space in 1987 and 1998. The results were interesting and memorable and I’ll relate the stories in the next few posts of Thebeerchaser. While they provided great anecdotes and some ancillary income to the firm, in retrospect, if you were in firm management, you wondered if it was worth the disruption.
The filming of some scenes of “The Last Innocent Man” movie in 1987 and hosting the three-day West Coast hearing of former NBA star, Latrell Spreewell’s arbitration in 1998, brought some well-known celebrities, athletes and coaches to our offices. The latter garnered not only national, but international attention.
Latrell Spreewell, who was drafted 24th in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, built a solid reputation in his first few years in the League as a shooting guard and small forward. He was selected for the Western Conference All-Star Team in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and ultimately four NBA All-Star Teams.
After the Warriors, he finished his “checkered career” in 2005 after stints on the New Work Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves. I state “checkered” – in part – because in 1997, this sizeable physical and athletic specimen at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing in just under 200 pounds, proceeded to physically attack, choke and then punch his 6 foot 1 inch Warrior Coach, PJ Carlesimo at a practice session.
(Carlesimo was not only physically less imposing, but not as good a basketball player because this Fordham University guard went undrafted in the 1971 NBA draft…..)
“Sprewell was suspended for 10 games without pay. However, the next day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder of his contract altogether, which included $23.7 million over three years, and the NBA suspended him for one year.”(Wikipedia)
Spreewell took the case to arbitration – the first step in a long line of litigation with the Warriors and the NBA. Schwabe hosted the first four days of this arbitration in our Portland office (the final four days were held in New York City) and in the next post, I will convey how we came to be the site of that hearing and some of the stories that surround it.
Lights Camera Action!
Phillip Margolin is a best-selling author of murder mysteries who until he started writing novels full-time in 1996, had a dynamic criminal law defense practice in Portland, Oregon.
He also had a solid reputation with Oregon State Bar members for his professional and civic activities including serving as President and Chairman of the Board of Chess for Success – a non-profit charity that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills
As stated in the biography on his website:
“…..I graduated from The American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government. From 1965 to 1967, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. In 1970, I graduated from New York University School of Law. During my last two years in law school I went at night and worked my way through by teaching junior high school in the South Bronx in New York City.
My first job after law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals. From 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals.
As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court and I have represented approximately 30 people charged with homicide, including several who have faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use the Battered Women’s Syndrome to defend a battered woman accused of murdering her spouse.”
I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the 27 books he’s written. The Last Innocent Man was his second novel and rated a 3.91 out of 4.00 on the Goodreads literary website. Like any major best seller, reviews vary such as the two below:
“This book was on the chronicles list of best ever thrillers… Inexplicably. It reads like it was written by a second grader and the only reason I finished it was because I was too lazy to get up off the beach.” (2010)
However, I shared the perspective of this reviewer:
“Like always, the Portland, Oregon Author does it again!!! Very fast paced and the Trial of the crime, always so Awesome!!!” (2020)
An HBO “Classic” – set in Portland *5
HBO decided to produce a movie on the novel which is based on a fictitious Portland attorney. I don’t recall exactly how – probably at the recommendation of Margolin who knows a number of Schwabe lawyers – the network approached us about using our Portland office to film several scenes.
We negotiated for the film-work to take place on nights and weekends and they used our law library and a partner’s office. Dick Templeman, our outstanding Director of Facilities and Support, remembers the location manager being “pretty demanding” but they left everything in good order, for example, repainting the library after they had transformed it into a color meeting their specifications.
When having preliminary talks with both the NBA and HBO, they advanced the assertion that having these events take place at the firm would enhance the firm’s status and reputation. One has to question, however, whether any potential clients would choose Schwabe just for the potential and unlikely opportunity to ride the elevator with co-stars Ed Harris and Roxanne Hart, both of whom continue to have good acting gigs in their early seventies.
That said, there may have been some clients and staff who would have loved to walk the halls and chat with Clarence Williams III (Linc Hayes of Mod Squad fame). In the movie, ee played D.J. Johnson and the only really memorable line uttered after he was advised he could remain silent, was: ” Fuck the right to remain in silence! Call Silverman!”
“Linc Taylor” passed away in 2021 at 81. *8
I have to admit that I never saw “The Last Innocent Man” (and will put it on my future list after “The English Patient”…), but what kind of critical acclaim did it garner? While getting six ACE (American Cinema Editors) nominations in 1988, it received no awards.
The IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) reviewers were also not overly impressed and it chalked up 6.3 out of 10.0 Typical of the reviews was this 2002 comment captioned “Mediocre Perry Mason Stuff”:
“The Last Innocent Man” is a predictable, by-the-numbers journeyman tv flick with Harris playing a top criminal attorney. In it’s somewhat long two-hour run time, this-jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none flick, manages to squeeze in murder, investigation, trial, romance, sex, dirty cops, a pimp, a sting, a crazed killer, etc. without distinguishing itself in any particular way. Filler for late night cable”.
To show how culture has changed in thirty-four years, it should be noted that one rating database stated, “Warning to the faint of heart, this movie does contain a few nude/sex scenes!”
And if trying to decide whether to view it, I would not be persuaded by this somewhat ludicrous remark from a guy who had a “formidable” bias with his comment captioned, “I Was in This Movie”
“This excellent movie was filmed in Portland……A thriller to say the least with twists and turns. A must see. (I can be seen walking past Meshach Taylor (Crosby) at the motel murder scene, as I walk out of camera, I shun a reporter. I was a plain clothes detective (extra))”.
Now, I’m old enough to remember the comedy (1986-93) in which Meshach Taylor won an Emmy, but those who weren’t, will have to click on this link.
Before devoting the next Beerchaser post strictly to the Spreewell arbitration, I have to add one more story about Phil Margolin. Two years ago, I read Fugitive – one of his novels taking place in Portland that I had previously skipped.
One of the primary characters is a senior deputy district attorney, named Mike Greene – the boyfriend of protagonist, Amanda Jaffe, a criminal defense lawyer. I thought I remembered this character from a few of the other Margolin mysteries.
Mike Greene is one of my favorite Portland lawyers. Now retired, he was a national authority on legal malpractice and diabetes discrimination matters. We go to the same church and based on his work with the American Diabetes Association (Chair of the National Board of Directors from 1994 to 1995 and continued involvement since 1982), I asked him to speak to the firm about the disease.
Greene formed a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination on behalf of people with diabetes. He and former Portland Trailblazer, Chris Dudley, who also is a diabetic and active in this work, gave an impressive presentation. (Dudley also created the Chris Dudley Foundation, an Oregon-based group intended to improve the lives of diabetic children.)
(Greene top and Margolin bottom *10 -11)
Now the Portland Bar is a “small community” and Mike is about the same vintage as Phillip Margolin, so I e-mailed him and told him I was reading Margolin’s book, stating:
“I know that a number of novelists name characters after friends and/or colleagues and this seemed to be more than a coincidence.”
”Phil has been a friend for decades. I purchased at a Diabetes Auction, the privilege of Phil using my name. He liked the name and character he created to use the name. I am now in five of his books. What a purchase? A piece of immortality? It’s fun. I have been asked about this by many people over the years.”
So if you are reading any of the following Margolin novels, look for Mike Greene: Wild Justice (2000), Ties that Bind (2003), Proof Positive (2006), Fugitive (2009) and Violent Crimes (2016)!
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the video at the end of the post and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
The events of the last two years – most notably the pandemic, have generated profound changes – in economics, culture, politics, media, communications and interpersonal relationships as well as education – to name a few. (*1 See end of post for external photo attribution)
And, in part, due to the stress and the unfortunate influence of social media (except for blogs….) there is a spate of irrational thought as the chorus in Billy Currington’s song states:
“God is great, beer is good And people are crazy.”
One wonders about those who question the need for masks and the debate has caused a lot of strife. It made me think back to one of my favorite childhood TV shows – the Lone Ranger.
Perhaps those who oppose masks and don’t believe in the scientists’ assertions, could protest by adopting the legendary Texas Ranger’s – facial adornment as shown below rather than an N95 mask or suitable alternative. (The people in Texas might approve of this style.)
Clayton Moore and Silver – “Master of Disguise?” *2
And what struck me as somewhat humorous is that the description of the Lone Ranger’s attributes on Wikipedia listed “Expert marksman, above-average athlete, horseman, hand-to-hand combat, and master of disguise.” (emphasis added) This raises several questions I never thought about in the “50’s such as “Did he just make the University of Texas RodeoTeam, but not get into the starting roster and therefor was only considered above average?”
More importantly, “Did Clayton Moore and the Directors really think that this mask, which he always wore (even without a mask mandate), would keep most people from surmising who wore it? What about this facial covering makes him a “Master of Disguise?”
COVID has also resulted in a need to redirect the emphasis of Thebeerchaser blog from exploring new bars and breweries – at least until the statistics trend downward. But, in pondering the pandemic, I offer a few thoughts – and questions.
Although it is vital that they are monitored, we’re all tired of hearing about trends for the virus – statistics which are always filled with nuance and disclaimers. And then, a new variant springs up. I don’t know as many statistician jokes as lawyer or bar jokes, but this one is pretty good and also works in a bar theme:
“A guy met a statistician at a bar and asked her for her phone number. She gave him an estimate.”
We made it through 2020 – a horrible year and as 2021 closed, most people thought, “We are out of the woods,” only to have Omicron start a new and more contagious surge. This prompted one guy to ask rhetorically, “Omicron is like eternity. When is it going to end?”
And one empathizes with parents, teachers and students as education has been turned inside out. One wonders if grade school kids are now going to have to learn the Greek Alphabet — and what it will look like in cursive?
There are other crazy news items including this one which most people wouldn’t comprehend. And as can be seen below, it wasn’t just because of COVID, but a repeat annual record. (Maybe I just have more time to read this type of valuable information since the lockdowns and constraints on traveling.)
“Spam sales hit a record high for the seventh year in a row, the CEO of parent Hormel said.” It appears that this is because of global sales:
“Outside the (Continental) US, Spam has a large international market, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. It has been a household name in Hawaii since it was introduced in 1937. It can be found on menus across the islands, as Spam musubi – a sushi-like dish – Spam fried rice, and the popular breakfast – Spam, eggs, and rice.
In South Korea, it was introduced by the US army during the Korean War, when food was scarce. Today, Spam is so much a part of South Korean culture, that it is the staple ingredient in one of the country’s favorite dishes: budae jjigae, or army stew.”
And if you would like to personally take in all the facts about this pork product, take a trip to Austin, Minnesota where the Spam Museum is located and admission is free!
“The museum tells the history of the Hormel company, the origin of Spam, and its place in world culture. Austin is also the location of final judging in the national Spam recipe competition.”
What Were They Thinking???
But perhaps the most bizarre event I’ve read about occurred recently in my own city – Portland, Oregon. It made papers ranging from The Oregonian to the New York Times to The Guardian. It begs the question, “What were these people (a lot of them in different roles) thinking?”
98-year old David Saunders, a World War II and Korean war veteran who lived in Louisiana with his 92-year-old wife, died from the coronavirus.
His wife donated the body to Med Ed Labs, a Las Vegas based company and is told it would be used for research with the cremated remains returned to her in an urn.
Med Ed sells the body to another company – Death Science for use in a “Cadaver Lab Class” held during the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, an annual traveling event marketed toward “lovers of the strange, unusual and bizarre.”
Death Science sells tickets for an autopsy to be held at a downtown Portland hotel with tickets ranging from $100 to $500 per person.
The hotel, originally scheduled, finds out about the plan and backs out, whereupon the Portland Downtown Marriott ends up holding the event. Seventy people watched a “certified anatomist – a former University of Montana professor – handle the remains with ‘utmost respect’ and take questions from people in the audience representing themselves as students, anthropologists, and therapists, (New York Times)
Perhaps the Manager of the Downtown Mariott took an overly broad interpretation of the corporation’s mission statement: “To enhance the lives of our customers by creating and enabling unsurpassed vacation and leisure experience.”
Understandably, there was a lot of finger-pointing by all parties involved and both law enforcement and regulatory agencies from Multnomah County and the State of Oregon are investigating. And then there’s the future law suits…….
And since this is a blog that usually deals with bars and breweries and the beverages consumed therein, I will end with some more statistics, recent events and an observation or two.
The pandemic has obviously affected the work environment and work habits of millions of Americans. While some workers prefer the remote environment and not having to either dress for or commute to work, it creates stress if their home workspace is small and has to be shared with family members. Conversely, in many cases, it creates a more relaxed and informal workplace.
“Beer is their drink of choice over cocktails, according to Alcohol.org, but that’s probably little consolation to corporate bigwigs….Advertising and marketing agency employees had the highest percentage of employees answering with ‘Yes’, with 49.14%,’ Fishbowl (a social network for employees) reported…..
The larger Fishbowl survey showed workers in North Carolina, Oregon and Connecticut were the biggest drinkers, each with 47% partaking on the job.”
Having worked in a law firm environment, I can see where a gin and tonic could help a lawyer’s attitude when trying to formulate a creative justification for the taking clause in an eminent domain case or construct a Daubert motion to exclude expert testimony.
However, this is a disturbing trend and it remains to be seen how companies will implement policies on working on/off site once the pandemic is over.
And one article asked, “What’s more embarrassing—a drunk text or a drunk trade? Nearly one-third of investors, and 59% of Gen Z investors, have traded while inebriated, according to a survey from consumer finance site MagnifyMoney.” *9
And so Oregonians don’t get overly concerned about the statistics above, (after all, the survey was taken during a global pandemic) consumption by those in Oregon pales in comparison to Australia and France as set forth in this fascinating piece from The Guardian – 12/3/2021 with the caption:
“Risky levels – Australia is the drunkest country in the world, survey finds — While French drank most times a week, Australians surveyed got drunk an average of 27 times a year, almost double the global average.”
It begs the question, “Were respondents sober enough to give an accurate answer to the questions?” The results are summarized below:
The international survey found Australians drank to the point of drunkenness an average of 27 times a year, almost double the global average of 15. Almost a quarter of Australians reported feeling regret for becoming intoxicated.
The Global Drug Survey (GDS) asked more than 32,000 people from 22 countries what their drug and alcohol consumption was last year….(the majority of participants tend to be young and the findings are not representative of the wider population).
On average, Australians drank alcohol in line with the global average of two nights a week, and became heavily drunk about once every two weeks. The French topped that metric, drinking around three times a week.”
What’s interesting is how time (and booze) ebb and flow. For example, in October 2020 during the first year of the pandemic, I read a headline, “Millions of kegs of beer have gone stale as venues and bars closed down across the country, Bloomberg reports.”
“While some companies have found creative ways to turn the beverage into natural gas for electricity generation or into hand sanitizer, a majority of it will ultimately be dumped—a college fraternity’s worst nightmare.” *12
Fortunately, offsetting the statistics on increased alcoholic consumption as COVID raged, is a new trend addressed in an ABC News article (3/15/21) entitled, “New wave of bars creates buzz without the booze. Alcohol-free bars are opening around the world amid a growing number of people exploring sobriety”
I have often said that I could pursue my hobby and “Beerchase” while drinking Sprite or soda water, because I primarily want to discover the ambiance and history of the bar or brewery. For example, on my 2019 solo road trip through Montana where I hit 29 watering holes in six days, you better believe I did not consume a Budweiser at each stop.
“But an increased interest in health and wellness has allowed brands to try to own the practice of moderation. A 2019 Nielsen survey found that 66% of millennials are trying to cut back on alcohol consumption, compared with 47% of all people of drinking age in the US.” (“Marketing Brew” Newsletter – 9/27/21)
In addition, alcohol-free beers and cocktails are starting to appear. For example, Heineken started marketing its “0.0” beer in the US in 2019 and a senior marketing rep stated“…the Heineken brand is spending nearly half its US media budget in 2021 on marketing 0.0.”
Brewing a great tasting 0.0% alcohol free malt beverage, is it even possible? *13
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
I guess it is appropriate that my 300th post on Thebeerchaser blog be a celebration, of sorts – ten years of this retirement hobby – started in August 2011. My plans for a more formal gathering in the early fall were delayed by the pandemic and will be held in 2022.
After first working in the public sector and then legal management for the the last thirty-years of my career – the final twelve as the Chief Operating Officer at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm – a 150 attorney firm with its principal office in Portland, Oregon, I retired in early 2011.
Since I spent many of my waking hours working, there was some concern about how I would handle retirement. But from the first day, I loved it.
There has never been a boring period whether it was from trying to remaster the oboe – I had abandoned after junior high – with lessons, traveling with my wife of thirty-one (now forty-one) years, playing with the blessings to come – four granddaughters, enjoying the Oregon coast or what became my primary hobby – a blog named Thebeerchaser.com.
The seed germinated before retirement was sown with visits to two great dive bars – The Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley, Idaho and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon. It prompted the crazy idea to personally experience and then tell the story of bars and breweries – initially just in Portland – but shortly thereafter, all through Oregon and parts of the US and even a number in Europe.
The books and bar guides shown in the picture at the start of this post, are some of the references I used in framing my posts.
So Thebeerchaser.com was brewed – starting slowly and with the help of two wonderful and talented friends who created the two logos I’ve used (Teresa Maclean and Jud Blakely), I slowly (and often painfully) learned how to use WordPress to convey the impressions on my subject.
It was not a technical commentary on my favorite beverage, but narratives on the history of the bar or brewery, interviews with the regulars and bar staffs, descriptions of the trappings and what distinguished the ambiance from other watering holes.
Early on, I also decided to relate the stories of individuals or groups (primarily those I knew personally) who may not have had any connection with bars or beers, but had an interesting story and made a notable contribution to society in my humble opinion. These soon came to be “honored” with the moniker of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.
This is an eclectic group and past recipients include lawyers (some worked at the Schwabe firm), authors, athletes, clerics, musicians, environmentalists, military heroes, academicians and athletes.
Also three family members – Janet, my wife, in part, for supporting and joining me on many of my Beerchasing travels, my brother, Rick, for his remarkable career in the Navy which culminated as skipper of the nuclear sub USS Spadefish (SSN 668) and most recently, my Dad (F. Duane Williams – FDW), who although he passed away at the age of 54 in 1973, left a notable legacy.
For a composite list of these remarkable individuals and groups and some additional background, check out the following Beerchaser link for the 2020 post entitled, “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who,What,Why? – thirty-five at that time.
Since I have expanded on my tribute to lawyers with multiple posts and composed several chapters to my Dad’s story in 2021, the count now is thirty-six which I hope to expand more diligently in 2022.
Not once have I considered commercializing this blog – it’s strictly a hobby, so I don’t have to worry about deadlines, number of viewers, etc. That said, since I worked in a law firm for twenty-five years where statistics translated into economics i.e. compensation, I do have some interest in the metrics of my blog.
I will also freely admit that my posts are usually too long – they average 1,677 words for the ten years, but for the last five the average has increased to 2,136 and this one is over 3,000 (sorry!), which discourages most viewers from reading the entire post – even with the pictures scattered through the narrative. But this trend, probably won’t change since I’m writing primarily for my own enjoyment after framing numerous legal management memos during my career that bored even me – the author!
And while Thebeerchaser.com is a hobby, I have been delighted with the additional exposure it has gotten every year which leads to more interactions with people from all over the world.
My wife says I spend more time these days on the computer than when I worked and since my 299 posts have generated 501,485 words, she’s probably right. Unfortunately, the pandemic has essentially curtailed my visits to new locations since early 2020
Up to that time I had visited (usually twice for each one counted) 366 establishments of which 119 were in the Portland metro area and the other 247 scattered through God’s country and beyond. It’s almost impossible to identify a few favorite watering holes, but the photos above show four of them. In reviewing my galleries for this selection, I note with sadness that a number I could have included are no longer in business.
I also state – with disappointment – albeit with some anticipation, that in the last two years because of lockdowns and our own caution in dealing with COVID, I’ve added only nine premises to that total – seven in Portland and two in Bellingham, Washington – a very nice town we visited on a long weekend with lots of breweries, expansive parks and a nice college. At both the Boundary Bay and Aslan Breweries, we were able to eat on decks with plenty of ventilation and mask protocols. We will return!
Diverted, but not Diminished…
Instead, my blog posts have been devoted to catching up on the narratives of the forty-nine bars and breweries we visited on an extensive Montana road trip in 2019 – six days with Don flying solo and the remainder after I picked Janet up at the Billings Airport to continue our trip through the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho before returning to Oregon.
I also offered reflections on life during a worldwide pandemic, memories from high school and working around lawyers, sarcastic comments about technical reviews on beers, and updates on some of my Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter along with miscellaneous other trivia from my files – those that my wife insisted I clean out during the pandemic.
The blog now has 411 “followers” – individuals who get an e-mail every time there’s a new post. I also realize that my metrics pale compared to some of the blogs I regularly follow and have gotten to know the authors – something I will elaborate on in a future post.
In 2021 Thebeerchaser.com garnered a total of 28,500 views from just over 20,000 “visitors” – up from the comparable figures of 6,800 and 4,800 in 2012 – the first full year of the blog. The majority are people searching the internet and land on “Thebeerchaser.”
Although just over 90% of these views are from the US as one would expect, the exact localities in the 104 other countries where views have emanated in 2021, fill me with curiosity.
This includes three from Iceland – a place I hope to eventually visit and raise a mug of their Kaldi Fresh Breeze beer at the Micro Bar on Second Street in Reykjavik after seeing the Northern Lights.
Besides the opportunity to quaff hundreds of great craft beers (although I will always opt for a PBR Tallboy), the blog has presented many other ancillary benefits. One I’ve written about numerous times is becoming involved in the planning of the Benedictine Brewery on the grounds of the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary and which opened in late 2018.
The Brewery and St. Michael Taproom has since expanded and been very successful – even during a pandemic – under the skillful management and superb brewing skills of Fr. Martin Grassel, who has become a good friend. It also led to my service on the Abbey Foundation of Oregon Board of Trustees for which I just started my second three-year term.
I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking about my Beerchasing journey to four Rotary Clubs in Oregon – West Linn and Lincoln City in person and Lake Oswego and Bend over ZOOM – a new and challenging experience in public speaking – it was hard to tell if anyone was laughing at my bar and lawyer jokes…..During the in-person presentations, I, at least, knew that they weren’t!
Learning a lot of history and geography while researching the places I’m reviewing has been rewarding; however, the most beneficial and lasting aspect of this retirement pursuit (without question) has been the diverse range of people we’ve met while Beerchasing.
I met people ranging from loggers in Wallace, Idaho at the North Idaho Mountain Brew pub; to an Alaska fisherman – a guy in his fifties named Bill – at Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, who in the ’70’s used to transport marijuana in the fenders of his big Lincoln across the country. And there was Irish Mike, who journeys twice yearly on his Harley from San Francisco, to Lincoln City, Oregon.
Irish Mike is a burly, bearded guy and designated the “local ambassador” at one of my favorite dives – The Old Oregon Saloon on the Central Oregon Coast. As I was taking pictures, he motioned me to come over to him, reached in his wallet for some dollar bills and told me to plug the juke box adding “Don’t screw it up!”
Then there was the regular at Eilers’ Place in Pueblo, Colorado, who coincidentally happened to be in the bar with three friends after the bartender responded to my question about the history of the bar. She took out the photo below to demonstrate that the bar has always been a family oriented place and asked:
“You see that mama in the photo holding her baby – second from the end? Well that baby is sitting in the booth right over by the door.”
I went over and introduced myself and he shook hands and he said, “I’m James Mohorcich, but you should just call me ‘Horse.’ I live across the street and I’ve been coming here for at least forty years.”
I’ve met some wonderful bartenders and owners from Phoebe Newcombe – who gave me a baseball cap she autographed on my first Beerchase in 2011 at the Brooklyn Park Pub, to Andre’, from Macedonia, who had an infectious smile, a warm personality and joked with us notwithstanding a very busy bar at the Little Missouri Saloon in Medora, North Dakota.
On one of our East Coast swings we visited the Marshall Wharf Brewery in quaint Belfast. This Maine town of a little less than 7,000 was founded in 1770 and like our Portland, the name (derived from the Northern Ireland city) was determined by a coin toss.
“Smoke on the water! This Bamberg (Germany) inspired smoked ale is Bacon in a Glass (emphasis added). Very polarizing beer – you either like the style and taste or you never want to drink it again…..”
I loved it. Of course, what food or drink with bacon infusion wouldn’t I savor…..?
I love the bars in Montana and won’t forget one of my favorite regulars of Thebeerchaser’s Tour – Fritz – who had his own stool at the Antler Saloon in Wisdom, Montana. About fifty miles away from that great bar, I had a long chat while nursing a Miller High Life with Tom Davis, the “seasoned” owner of the Wise River Club.
He emigrated from Scotland in 1964 and told me, “In those days if you had an accent and could sing, you could make some money.” He formed a band and played lead guitar. Tom and his group fronted and toured with Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and Papas and in the Northwest with Portland’s own Paul Revere and the Raiders.
And, by chance, when I walked in one late Saturday afternoon, after reading about them in the book “Montana Watering Holes,” I had a memorable and extended conversation with Dick and Charlotte Sappa, the legendary owners since 1973 of the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls, Montana.
It’s purported to have the longest bar in Montana and is known for its legendary taxidermy including a polar bear. I was fortunate to get a tour of the “Upper Room” – filled with exotic trophies – by their son, Bill – “something we don’t usually do for strangers……”
Three “Unforgettable Characters“!
I can’t end without naming three of the most unforgettable people I’ve met strictly as a result of this hobby – again hard to narrow the candidates down – but they stand out – John Runkle, the late Brian Doyle and Matt Love.
John Runkle, who up until one month ago, was the owner of my favorite and most iconic bar I visited in the ten years – the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana.
I spent two days in Yaak and stayed in the Wolf Room at the Yaak River Lodge which John still owns. (His goal is to move to Texas.) John has charisma and both a personality and heart as big as the Montana sky. (He also claims to be the only sixty-year old with three kids under five (four, two and three months!)
I met the late author, Brian Doyle, in 2013 after I wrote a letter and asked him to meet me at his favorite bar (the Fulton Pub) so I could interview him for Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter honors. To my surprise, he agreed. He was a wonderful human being who left a legacy at the University of Portland, where he was on the faculty, the basketball courts of the Boston City League and most notably fans of great literature. His award-winning books and essays are mentioned in the post I dedicated to him – Brian Doyle – Beerchaser Eternal
Matt Love, is a fellow Oregon City High School grad who lived in Oregon City during his junior high and high school years and graduated from OCHS in 1982. He is a prolific author (nineteen books) who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a small publishing company. His repertoire, to name a few I’ve read, includes Oregon Tavern Age – an exploration of dive bars on the Oregon Coast – something Thebeerchaser relished.
Matt’s writing style, his humor and rich descriptions are especially evident in his 102-page tome on dogs entitled Of Dogs and Meaning.- it’s absolutely captivating – and I make that assertion even though Janet and I have never had a dog during our 41 years of marriage.
Besides Matt’s own heart-warming stories from athletics, teaching and most notably, of his own dogs – Sonny, Bonnie and Clyde, and Tex, he relates canine tales ranging from those involving George Washington, James Madison, John Kennedy, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill and WC Fields. And of course, his years in dive bars yield a few good anecdotes:
“I met a dog in an Oregon Tavern who fetched cans of Hamm’s for humans from behind the bar, but only Hamm’s. Budweiser was out.”
Matt also has a big heart and compassion and respect for others. His latest project is a newsletter entitled “The New American Diaspora.” You can (and should) subscribe by clicking on the link:
“I coined the phrase the New American Diaspora to describe the growing phenomenon of those people living in homelessness and those people checking out of the so-called American dream and taking up residence in the margins.
The focus of this newsletter is on Oregon where I live. I float around the state. I don’t necessarily hold my observations and interactions out as representative of what’s happening elsewhere around the country, but perhaps they are.”
Say Goodnight, Geoff!!
For the finale and to further explain why Montana will always be my favorite Beerchasing state, I have to leave you with a tune by an affable old guy named Geoff at the Yaak River Tavern – across the street from the Dirty Shame Saloon (but no comparison on the ambiance). He was playing guitar and singing – on a bar stool at the bar – nursing one of a number of beers he had consumed that day/night and telling stories.
I told the owner that I was buying him a beer when he came in the next day (he didn’t need any more that night…) and to credit his account. So Geoff sang us his favorite song. This is an excerpt although it essentially captures all the lyrics in 19 seconds…. (When the lyrics have “palm trees,” “banana,” “beach” and “Montana” in the same verse, you know there’s creativity!)