Jumping in June

Wesley Walter and Sullivan

(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’m still not fully back in the groove on exploits to new bars and breweries although I still have a few visited in the last few months to write-up, but first wanted to throw out a few miscellaneous topics which may be of interest.  These include dogs, the Dirty Shame Saloon and its former owner, John Runkle along with his new venture) and the Benedictine Brewery.

Grand-puppies!

Janet and I during the forty-three years we’ve been married, have never had a pet.  That said, our two daughters and their spouses each had wonderful dogs and they became our “Grand-puppies.”   We always looked forward to our visits with Sullivan – a wonderful thirteen-year old Havanese and Wesley – a beautiful six-year old Golden Retriever.

First there was “Sully Bear.”  He always waited with anticipation at the window for his “parents” to come home and was the ultimate lap dog – he loved to cuddle.

 Wesley loved to run and swim especially at the river and the beach.  A big dog, but he was always gentile with the babies at his house.

Both dogs were wonderful with our granddaughters and both loved the beach. They also got along very well with each other at family gatherings. 

We were grief-stricken on March 10, 2021, when Wesley, after a few cardiac episodes, died of a heart-attack.  Exactly one year later, his “brother” Sullivan succumbed to multiple health issues based on his advanced years.  The memorial stones below will always provide memories of these wonderful members of our family.

A Resurrection, of Sorts

Followers of Thebeerchaser know that I was captivated in the fall of 2019 with my two and one-half day visit to The Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak Montana where I thoroughly enjoyed my interaction with its charismatic owner, John Runkle – one of this blog’s memorable Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter. 

The Shame remains my favorite bar visited in the eleven years of Beerchasing as reflected in the multiple blog posts needed to relate the rich history and stories of the fabled watering hole.

Thus, when John announced last year that he was selling the bar, I was downcast, thinking about how the many and robust fables which still lingered within the log walls of the bar would be lost – the second-hand smoke is largely gone….) . Now why should I be maudlin about a dive bar – 514 miles (8 hours and 38 minutes) – from my home in Oregon closing when I’ve visited and reviewed almost 400 incredible bars and breweries in the last eleven years?

Photo Jun 08, 3 53 24 PM

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes???

Perhaps the short description excerpted from Joan Melcher’s first book “Watering Hole –  A User’s Guide to Montana Bars”  written in 1983 conveys some of that emotion:

“The Dirty Shame is the fresh, sharp smell of pine, and the dank odor of dirt-laden, beer splashed floors, wild nights of revelry and mornings of shared pain.”

It brought to mind the song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” by my favorite country-western singer, the late George Jones – (Okay maybe a little overdramatic, but remember, I’m Thebeerchaser!)

“Who’s gonna fill their shoes?
Who’s gonna stand that tall?
Who’s gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you?
Lord, I wonder who’s gonna fill their shoes?

Yes, I wonder who’s gonna fill their shoes?”

George Jones Asked the Rhetorical Question! *1

Would the out-of-state buyers, who also purchased the Yaak River Tavern across the street, retain the trappings described, in part, in my second blog post on the Shame

“…a large rifle, cowboy boots, an old wood stove, a pool table and Fox News on the big screen TV over the bar.  (The bullet holes in the wall when John bought it, from its hard-core biker days were removed after John bought it.) Two bottles of MD 20-20 wine prominently displayed on a shelf and which John says dates back to 1978.”

And the stories are incredible….even the more recent ones such as that reported in a December 1, 2017 edition of The Missoulian about a  Saturday night incident which John described in an e-mail to me when I told him I was coming to Yaak:

“Don, you will see an article where a guy went nuts in the Dirty Shame with an AR-15 and you will also see the video of me bear spraying him and his brother trying to fight their way back into the bar and another video embedded in that article showing him running around the parking lot trying to shoot me through the window and then almost shooting his brother in the head.  

It was a crazy night. The Dirty Shame is truly still the Wild Wild West.”

Then there’s the tales related to the Shame involving the Yaak River Road murderers, the “Crack Pillow” or how I was privileged to meet two personable and well-mannered relatives of Chevie Keyhole, the leader of the infamous Keyhoe Gang.  (Chevie is now serving three life sentences in Florence Prison – known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” – in Colorado.) There are too many others to relate.

Murderer and White Supremist – now “rehabilitating” at the Alcatraz of the West….*2

The Dirty Shame was a community in itself and a key part of the Yaak locale.  What would replace its role in events like the Adult Easter Egg Hunt, the Sasquatch Festival and the Crawfish Festival which involved other attractions such as The Big Foot Run, a mechanical bull, a giant inflatable Sasquatch and the Ceremonial Leg-Shaving to name a few.

(The Dirty Shame has not reopened at this time and who knows what the new owners are doing to the interior of the bar.)

What would John, a former Army paratrooper and instructor, successful real estate firm owner and entrepreneur-at-heart do?  I couldn’t see him as Mayor of Yaak or another elected office – except possibly Governor of Montana…or talk-show radio host or land developer of environmentally responsible communities.  It should be noted that helping raise their three young children will significantly occupy what he self-describes as “the oldest and proudest dad in the World!”

Fortunately, that question has been answered – at least for a time.  John didn’t sell the Lodge and now — the Hungry Hunter Saloon – within the confines of that edifice opened just before  Memorial Day – it’s already having live music and events!  As John told me in a phone conversation this morning, “We’re rocking.”

He has some of the same crew who worked at the Dirty Shame including Darilyn.  Of course the “Montana Motif” as John described it, is present with taxidermy, artifacts of the West and even a skunk hanging over the bathroom doors.  There’s a long bar which seats twelve people made of yellow poplar from back east – people love it!  With its tables, the Hungry Hunter can accommodate about sixty people. (Photos *3-5)

During my time in Yaak, I stayed in the Wolf Room at the Yaak River Lodge, where I had great conversations with John (besides those over beer at the bar) and reveled in the breakfasts featuring unforgettable blueberry pancakes.

The Lodge remains intact other than the bunkhouse which slept twelve.  There’s an added benefit to the bar. Those imbibing too heavily at the bar can just walk down the hall and rack out in the Wolf Room or one of the other rooms – all with character – then wake up  in the morning to the smell of bacon and take the short walk to the dining room for pancakes, hashbrowns, eggs and bacon with unlimited Folger’s Coffee

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John also bought two food trucks – one that serves tacos, Philly cheese steaks, etc. (also to go) and a larger one to supplement the kitchen.  And their prices are very reasonable!!

John’s wife, Dallas, who is a dedicated teacher and counselor is teaching in Washington and the family has moved east of Yakima. John has been commuting regularly to Yaak and will spend most of the summer there. (Photo *6-7)

Stay tuned for more stories about the Hungry Hunter and see the connection between the picture of John and Don with Benedictine Beer I presented to him in 2019, relates to the next segment of this post.

The Benedictine Brewery – More Accolades!

I’ve mentioned this wonderful Benedictine Monk – owned and operated – brewery many times and was fortunate enough to be involved in the planning before it opened in the fall of 2018. Fr. Martin Grassel, the Procurator (CFO) of the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary – a former software engineer before seminary, is also the General Manager and Head Brewer of the enterprise – one reason he gets by on very little sleep because his primary dedication is being a Benedictine Monk.

Notwithstanding a number of skeptics, the Brewery and St. Michael Taproom have soared since the erection of the structure in November, 2017 at an old fashioned “barn raising”, where over 125 monks, priests, seminarians and members of the Mount Angel community started in the morning with a concrete slab.   

Bolstered by a wonderful buffet lunch, by the end of the day, the frame of the structure was completed. (Be sure to check out the amazing videos in this Beerchaser post “Beam Me Up.”

The Brewery’s motto – “Taste and Believe” – was in full force from the inception. Since that time, the beautiful Taproom has been extended with an expansive patio and Fr. Martin has increased his beer offerings – now about ten on tap including the original Black Habit.  

He has developed, not only a local, but a regional following for his excellent beer and people repeatedly clamor for its availability – now only at the Brewery itself or the Abbey Bookstore – a short walk away on the beautiful Abbey Hillside.

Unfortunately, one of the other Monk-owned Breweries – Spencer Brewery – in Massachusetts, which was formed by the Trappist Monks eight years ago, just announced it was closing due to financial reasons. With that closure, there will be only four ongoing monk-owned breweries in the US.

Jeff Alworth, prolific author and one of the nation’s leading beer experts (shown below at the Benedictine structure-raising in 2017) posted a very informative piece on his Beervana Blog entitled, “The Beer Market is Rough – Even for Monks.”   It contrasts the business plan of Spencer Brewery with Fr. Martin’s successful strategy. Jeff also did a subsequent post entitled “Benedictine Brewery Thriving – both are good articles.

And furthering the exposure of Fr. Martin and his brewery, internationally recognized micro-craft industry consultant, Sam Holloway, who is also a full professor at the University of Portland, posted an outstanding nine-minute video interview of Fr. Martin on his “Crafting a Strategy” site.  (*10-12)

Sam is President of CAS which is:

“.. a learning community which pursues understanding oneself, the industry and business strategy while combining the three wisely to craft a business.  We provide a platform for members in communities to engage with others as they learn.”  

Sam gave us some meaningful advice during the planning stages in 2016, and has been a good friend of the Brewery since that time.  Fr. Martin is a devoted follower of the CAS site and it has enhanced his brewery and business acumen.

Expect to hear more good reports on Fr. Martin and the Benedictine Brewery going forward!

Cheers

External Photo Attribution

*1.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons –https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Jones.jpg) This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Secisek at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide.

*2   Southern Poverty Law Center: (https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2013/two-members-notorious-kehoe-family-arrested-again)

* 3-5+8 Hungry Hunter Saloon Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/hungryhuntersaloon (religionunplugged.com)

* 6-7  Runkle Facebook Pages (https://www.facebook.com/john.runkle.73) (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100017127797846)

*9  Spencer Brewery Facebook

* 10-12  Crafting a Strategy Website (https://craftingastrategy.com/)

The Trains – The Trains – FDW Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

(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 several previous Beerchaser posts, about my wonderful Dad, I mentioned the Lionel Trains that he used to acquire in the 1950’s from his good friend who managed the Toy Department in Cincinnati’s Shilitos Department Stores.

Dad built large train tables in our basement where we had expansive layouts to display the trains and run them to our hearts’ content.   We spent hours in the basement doing that – when it was not flooded with sewage because of a municipal infrastructure flaw.

I chronicled this part of the story in this same post including FDW’s dramatic appearance in front of the City of Madeira City Council.  That’s when he testified – walking up front carrying a large bag which he unveiled to reveal a bucket of raw sewage which filled the Council Room with pungent odors for the rest of the meeting.

The family has kept these trains throughout the sixty years since we last had them set up in Ohio.  They have been stored and occasionally admired and moved across the country.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, Dave Booher, who inventoried them, took photos of many of them and reminded me that he and his wife are paying storage fees for them……

Dave Booher – outstanding brother-in-law who has absorbed storage fees for twenty + years……..

I’ll devote this post to the Lionel trains including photos of those beloved “toys!”  I say “toys”, because Dad used to buy them throughout the year and save them for Christmas Day when we would always get at least one new engine and the cars that came with it in addition to accessories such as a coal loader or water tower and infrastructure such as bridges and switches.

Being too young to fully appreciate the craftsmanship in these authentic replicas of the real thing, we were always more interested in presents such as baseball bats, bicycles, etc.  As we got older, however, we realized that when we opened these wrapped trains, that FDWs’ eyes would light up like a kid’s on Christmas morning….  As it states on the Lionel Corporation website:

“Soon Dads too were encouraged to join Youngsters in model train enthusiasm, to further father-son bonding. With growing prosperity, Lionel’s layouts cropped up in more living rooms, especially at Christmas.”

A Little History

(Note:  External photo attribution is at the end of the post.  All of the pictures in this post of actual trains and accessories are from those we still have in storage.)

Over a century of craftsmanship…..*1

Lionel was founded by Joshua Lionel Cowen who founded Lionel Manufacturing Company in the heart of New York City in 1900.

“During Lionel’s early days, Americans were captivated by the railroads and awed by electricity, still a rarity in many homes. Lionel’s first trains were powered by wet-cell (acid-filled!) batteries, soon replaced by the 110-volt electric transformer. By 1906, with the introduction of preassembled track and a selection of engines and cars, the Lionel we know today was already taking shape.”

The history of the Lionel Corporation could be a great PBS documentary and it thrived through the early to mid-20th century, but after 1970, is filled with corporate reorganizations, lawsuits for copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation and in 2006, Lionel filed for bankruptcy from which it emerged in 2008. 

*2

For example, it became a holding company of General Mills in 1970:

“….due to General Mills’ cost-cutting measures, production of Lionel-branded toy and model trains returned to profitability, but sometimes at the expense of quality. Detail was often sacrificed, and most of the remaining metal parts were replaced with molded plastic….

The year 1982 brought General Mills’ poorly received move of train production from the United States to Mexico. Some Lionel fans were angry simply because the trains had been made in the United States for more than 80 years, while others criticized the quality of the Mexican-produced trains. Lionel production returned to the United States by 1984.”

One wonders if it learned from past errors, however, as it outsourced its manufacturing to China and Korea in 2001 and Viet Nam in 2021.

And our O-gauge trains were not cheap plastic.  They were solid and built to last – diecast with a metal alloy that was a combination of recycled aluminum, zinc and magnesium.  There was no lead and they didn’t rust.  In 1973, Lionel started producing the smaller HO gauge and plastic train products.  

Engines and Trolleys

The engines and self-contained units such as trolleys were the highlights.   The detail and quality made these 1950’s “toys” into collectors’ items. The engines would whistle and blow their horns and the steam engine shown in the bottom slide below would actually produce smoke.

Accessories and Infrastructure

The accessories were always fun because they gave a sense of realism to the layout that would not be attained by just watching the trains go around the track.   A perfect example was the barrel loader:

“The Barrel Loader No. 362 was introduced in 1952 (when Thebeerchaser was four years old….!) and was available until 1957. This was another of those vibrating accessories. In this case, a vibrator placed beneath the metal ramp would, when activated, move the barrels up the ramp where they would be loaded into a car waiting on the track.

Another example was the Culvert Loader which was more sophisticated: 

“An optical beam senses when a culvert gondola is present, automatically triggering the hazard lights on top of the conveyor, followed three seconds later by the light in the watch tower!.”

And my final example – the Icing Station.  As Lionel stated:

“Keeping perishable freight cool was a tough job before the days of mechanical refrigeration. Watch as the figure pushes the ice cubes from the chute down to the awaiting Ice car (sold separately). Position the Ice car at the platform and load it up.”

The train layout was always enhanced with the authentic neon (cardboard) signs and items such as train stations, oil derricks, water towers and bridges.

Compare the quality and durability of the tracks, switches and infrastructure with what is typically available today.

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Box Cars, etc.

We would load up the sturdy engines with box cars, cattle cars and specialty cars that carried everything from logs, cattle and electric transformers to search lights, airplanes and boats.

“….The newest feature on the 3520 Rotating Searchlight Car is a remote-control operated on-off switch. This switch allows the operator to activate Lionel’s ‘Vibro-motor’ which in turn begins rotating the searchlight lens.” 

And what better way to end the photos of our partial train inventory than with a caboose! 

“The 6417 caboose is a nice caboose with good detail. Standard features include: painted bodies and lettering, illumination, bar-end trucks with a single operating coupler, plastic end railing detail on each end plus plastic brake-wheels and roof ladders.”

Now I suppose we, at one time as many collectors, thought, “We’ll save these trains because they keep getting more valuable and we’ll sell them for thousands of dollars after we no longer want them.”

Well, like many collectables such as Hummels, cameras, Beanie Babies and old records (I  used to have a slew of my Dad’s old 78 RPMS from the Great Band Era.…), just because something is old doesn’t mean it keeps appreciating or even retains its value.   

Photo Apr 23, 1 50 16 PM

FDW’s 45 and 78 RPMs albums

For example, the caboose shown above is listed on e-bay from $18.94 to $55.  The impressive engine shown at the start of the post, which was only manufactured for two years, (1956-8) would go for around $450.  And our family trains got a lot of wear which decreases their value. According to one collectors’ resource:

“Buyers truly want all-original trains that have never been tampered with. Once the originality has been compromised, prices take a steep turn downward from their original counterparts. Pricing is always subjective among buyers and sellers. Today’s train market is increasingly becoming a buyer’s market due to that supply and demand.”

That said, I’m not sure that we could get rid of our trains anyway and maybe we’ll let our kids have that honor…… They made FDW and us happy for many years and now just looking at them, we know that although the company changed hands many times, the name is still identified with quality.

And finally we can take comfort in the fact that according to Wikipedia:

“In 2006, the Lionel electric train was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, along with the Easy-Bake Oven. It was the first time an electric toy had ever been inducted.”

A co-inductee into the National Toy Hall of Fame! *3

External Photo Attribution

*1  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lionel-Logo.png)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author:  Lionel, LLC – 17 July 2019.

*2  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lionel_Corporation_Logo.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author:  Zachary578 – 17 February 2015.

*3  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_first_three_versions_of_the_famous_Easy-Bake_oven.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author:  Bradross63 – 26 February 2015.

Beer and Politics – Part 4

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

2016-09-27 20.22.34

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.

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*10

External Photo Attribution

*1  Wikimedia Commons – (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bill_Sizemore.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Pete Forsyth 20 May 2008.

*2 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martin_Luther,_1529.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.

*3 Bill Sizemore Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=133217049285202&set=pb.100077907232102.-2207520000.)

*4 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Book_of_Genesis.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: John Snyder 11 May 2019.

*5 Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Bible_College#/media/File:

Portland_Bible_College_campus_-_Portland,_Oregon.JPG

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.   Author: M.O. Stevens 1 May 2011.

*6-7,9-10 Jessica Gomez for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/jessicagomezforgovernor/photos)

*8  Rogue Valley Microdevices Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RogueValleyMicrodevices

photos/a.154324724593574/1507140455978654/

 

 

 

Beer and Politics – Part 3

Image Courtesy of Pam Williams

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 Beerchasing environment 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)

The Oregon Way Article

*3

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.

My friend, Matt Love, relates the origin of the name in his Letitpour.net blog account:

“….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.

The Elliot State Forest *6

Again from Matt Love: During the 1971 filming of the movie “Sometimes a Great Notion,”

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.”

P1020652 (3)

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!”

 

*9

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.

External Photo Attribution 

*1  Wikimedia Commons (http://*2 Wikimedia Commons )  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Oregon National Guard from Salem, Oregon, United States.  20 September 2017.

*2  Tobias Reed Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=414951043784282&set=pb.100058081688470.-2207520000..&type=3)

*3  Wikimedia Commons – This work is in the public domain in the U.S. because it is an edict of a government, local or foreign. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_State_Treasurer#/media/File:Seal_of_Oregon.svghttp://By Svgalbertian – This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this file:, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6684371

*4  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tobias_Read.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author:  LA for TJR  22 March 2012.

*5  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:UW_Tower_from_38th_%26_Eastern.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author:  SounderBruce – 27 May 2015.

*6  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elliott_State_Forest.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Oregon Department of Forestry – 5 November 2013.

*7  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Newman#/media/File:Paul_Newman_1970.jpg)  By Photographer unknown. Published and distributed by Maron Films. – Scan via Heritage Auctions. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=114043860.

*8  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_17022_-_Photograph_by_Ed_Edahl_taken_on_10-11-2005_in_Texas.jpg).  This image is a work of a Federal Emergency Management Agency employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As works of the U.S. federal government, all FEMA images are in the public domain in the United States.

*9 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coors_Light_logo.svgThis 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

 

Beer and Politics – Part 2

Photo courtesy of Pam Williams

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.

Part 1 was a generic suggestion for Democrats – The Ship Tavern – and Republicans – Renners’ Bar and Grill.  The narrative below is for two individual Oregon Gubernatorial candidates – Independent Betsy Johnson and Republican Bob Tiernan.

The Beerchaser’s Recommendations – Part 2The Oregon Way

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!

*7

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.

External Photo Attribution

*1  Wikimedia Commons (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Betsy_Johnson_2009.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Oregon Department of Transportation – 9 July 2009.

*2  Betsy Johnson for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=379252287343580&set=a.335226288412847).

 *3  (https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/coalition-brewing-portland-2?select=JxcK3CqdgoCZN0X_izF8Kg).

*4  Beaver Firearms and Grocery Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.868932676609676&type=3).

*5  Bob Tiernan for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/

108919638384715/photos/pb.100078045984917.-2207520000../108945471715465/?type=

*6  Bob Tiernan for Governor Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=128872499724282&set=pb.100078045984917.-2207520000..&type=3).

*7  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_Portland_homeless_tent_camp.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author: Graywalls 3 June 2020. 

 

Beer and Politics – Part 1

The Oregon State Capitol Building *1

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’s residency 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).

Sorry Nick – you didn’t qualify for the ballot….*2

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?”

The Oregon Legislature *3

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”

Samuel Johnson *4

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!”

Cheers!

At the Horner Pub in the Lauterbrunnen, Valley of Switzterland

External Photo Attribution

*1  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_State_Capitol#/media/File:Oregon_State_Capitol_1.jpg)  This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Aboutmovies at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide. Author:  MO Stevens – 16 March 2007

*2  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholas_D._Kristof_-_Davos_2010.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author:  World Economic Forum   30 January 2010

*3  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (http://, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.)  Author:  M.O. Stevens 12 January 2009.

*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.

Thebeerchaser’s April Acknowledgements….

Find out why this guy should imbue you with optimism – see below!

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 Storiein 2012. Her second novel Tsunami Cowboys followed in December 2014 and Grounded appeared 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?

Biking in the Bay City

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.   

He graduates this spring from University of California Berkley School of Law where he was a

ter 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 theway@or360.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.
 
Cheers
 

External Photo Attribution

*1  Facebook page Harvard Kennedy School (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=299945832166112&set=a.299945792166116)  

*2  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taubman_Building.JPG) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: Bostonian13  12 June 2013.

*3  Facebook Page – University of California at Berkley Law School (https://www.facebook.com/UCBerkeleyLaw/photos/a.477083278124/1016173790)

  *4  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boaltsouthside.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Subject to disclaimers.  Author:  Donutmonger at English Wikipedia  14 July 2006.

Breaking Out at Breakside….

Well, with COVID and other constraints, my Beerchasing efforts have been curtailed for many months – I’ve covered other issues in the blog. But two weeks ago, we took a small step to get back on the trail with our first inside visit since 2020 – a lunchtime trip to the Breakside Brewery’s Taproom in Lake Oswego – a suburb of Portland, Oregon – the newest of five locations of Breakside Brewery’s offerings.

A welcome foray……after all these months..

“Breakside Brewery opened in 2010 in Northeast Portland as a restaurant and pub brewery and has grown to be a highly regarded regional brewery producing 30,000 barrels annually. The brewery is known for its broad portfolio of award-winning, innovative beers.  In 2019, Breakside became one of only a handful of employee-owned breweries in the country.

In addition to winning many national, international, and regional awards for its beers, Breakside was named Brewery of the Year in 2017 and 2019 at the Oregon Beer Awards and the 2018 Best of Craft Beer Awards.”  (Breakside Website)

The taproom is in the midst of a renewed downtown Lake Oswego that is thriving with new businesses, restaurants and living accommodations.   It’s not fancy, but has room for fifty people at the expansive bar and a few tables inside in addition to a nice outdoor drink rail on the street.

The décor is dark wood with attractive art and posters – a very nice ambiance.  There’s plenty of drink options with 16 beer taps, plus wine, cider and cocktails. The menu is very limited – as one might expect with just a few appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Andrew, the bartender and cook was an affable guy and made a great sandwich. 

We had the “Up in the Club”“roasted turkey, smoked sweetheart ham, hickory smoked bacon, white cheddar & pepper jack cheese, pickled onions, mixed greens, dijonaise, on toasted ciabatta, served with kettle chips.”

It was outstanding although at $16, demonstrates the impact of inflation on restaurant prices.

Andrew

Oregonians can be proud of Breakside’s contribution to the Oregon economy, and craft beer scene.  It has enlightened management and a progressive mission.  As reported by Oregon Live’s excellent editor and beer writer, Andre Meunier, in an April 7th article:

“Perennial awards powerhouse Breakside Brewery dominated the 2022 Oregon Beer Awards on Wednesday night, taking home 11 medals and the title of Large Brewery of the Year. 

More than 1,200 beers were submitted by 123 entrants for the competition that determines the best of Oregon beer in 2021. The competition was judged by 72 beer-industry professionals, who tasted without knowing the brewery or beer name of each sample.”

Oregon Live Editor and Beer Writer, Andre Meunier

Willamette Week reinforces the positive vibe by the following description in a 2017 article:

“Breakside is the rare brewery that will please all palates, from casual patio sippers to obsessive beer geeks. That’s born of brewmaster Ben Edmunds’ nonstop experimentation: Every year since 2013, Breakside has brewed 100 different beers.

Want an easy-drinking, perfectly crisp Pilsner? “Liquid Sunshine” is just the vitamin D replacement you need. You could also get a delightful punch in the mouth with the Passionfruit Sour Ale, or just call it a night with the chocolate- and chile-infused, bourbon-barrel-aged Aztec weighing in at 12 percent ABV.”

Check out the Lake Oswego Taproom or one of Breakside’s other locations.   You will enjoy the experience and the beer.

Cheers!

Yoking the Choke – Part III

(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.

Latrell Sprewell as a Minnesota Timberwolf in 2003 *1

* 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.

The Preparation

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.

As I stated in a 1998 letter to Ronald Klempner, Associate Counsel for the Players’ Association, following the arbitration (after they objected to the firm’s billing…) we surprisingly did not have any contact with the Player’s Association (hereafter “PA”) until the weekend before commencement of the proceedings.

“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.

P1010993 (3)

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. 

RickBuchanan8x10_8456-240x300

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.

Klempner clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was an associate for five years at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York City (now with fifteen offices and 1,132 lawyers with revenues of $1.7 billion and No. 17 on the The American Lawyer’s 2021 Am Law 200 rankings – Law.com.)   

*5

Buchanan clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals/D.C. Circuit and then for almost five years was an associate at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington DC. (now with thirteen offices and 1,174 lawyers with revenues of $1.3 billion and 25th on 2021 AM Law 200 Rankings  – Law.com

*6

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….) 

eyJidWNrZXQiOiJwaWN0dXJlcy5jLXNwYW52aWRlby5vcmciLCJrZXkiOiJGaWxlc1wvNjAxXC8xMDE0NTQ2LTMwMDg4OC0xLmpwZyIsImVkaXRzIjp7InJlc2l6ZSI6eyJmaXQiOiJjb3ZlciIsImhlaWdodCI6MjAwLCJ3aWR0aCI6MjAw (1)

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.)

One of Sprewell’s early legal advisors * 10

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.”

dbbb3a77-727e-42f6-b32c-671705d44ad0.sized-1000x1000

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 – 19th floors where there were no curtains.

The Pacwest Center is in the lower center of the picture *12

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.)

And we understood the need for these constraints.   After all, NBA teammates of Sprewell including Joe Smith, Bimbo Coles and Felton Spencer, would be at the Portland hearing. And this would be the first time since The Choke, that Sprewell and Carlesimo would sit face-to-face. (New York Times 1/29/1998)

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). 

Schwabe 19th Floor Conference Center Reception

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. 

Gag Order

No one talks to the Press! *14

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.

Pacwest Lobby – Picture this jammed with media people

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.)

Surreptitious Entry!

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!)

Mark Long – Managing Partner and Dave Bartz – President —Two outstanding leaders at Schwabe from 2001 to 2017 *15

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.)”

Favored by Coach Carlessemo *16

A Tribute to Mike FennellFacebook

In the last blog post, I mentioned how Mike Fennell, General Counsel for the Portland Trailblazers, was responsible for making the connection between our law firm – Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC and the NBA – regarding hosting the West Coast portion of the Latrell Sprewell arbitration hearing.

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.

In Closing…

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. 

Micheal Pellowski is a children’s author who wrote a number of books including Karate Bear and Double Trouble on Vacation in the late ’80’s. The Sprewell offering is still available for $23.93 and is recommended for kids from six to twelve.  The book:

“Examines the personal life, college years, and professional career of NBA basketball star, Latrell Sprewell, who now plays for the New York Knicks.”

Children reading the book might want to have adult supervision!

Pellowski is a New Jersey native who graduated from Rutgers and is now 73 years old.

Role Model for Cover of Composition Notebook? *18

Cheers!

External Photo Attribution

*1  Latrell Sprewell Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/123246144405531/photos/pb.100042176306027.-2207520000../123246191072193/?type=3)

*2  “The Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law” (https://harvardjsel.com/2016/02/interview-with-nba-general-counsel-rick-buchanan/)  26 February 2016.

*3  The Org.com (https://theorg.com/org/nba/org-chart/rick-buchanan

*4  Linked-in.com – Ron Klempner (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ron-klempner-36aa247/)

*5    Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weil,_Gotshal_%26_Manges#/media/File:Weil,_Gotshal_&_Manges_LLP_logo.svg) Author: Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

*6  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons –   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covington_%26_Burling#/media/File:Covington_logo.svg)  Author; Covington & Burling.

*7  C-Span – Billy Hunter (https://www.c-span.org/person/?1014546/WilliamBillyHunter

*8   “Wesleyan University Magazine”  (https://magazine.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2019/05/20/a-smooth-crossover-from-the-court-room-to-defending-nba-players-rights/)  20 May 2019.

*9  (Linked in – Tamika Tremaglio (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamikatremaglio/

*10 Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnie_Cochran#/media/File:Johnnie_cochran_2001_cropped_retouched.jpg) By Mark Winograd (Personal photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

 *11 The Daily Princetonian – (https://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2021/03/leon-newsome-princeton-university-ivy-league-secret-service)  4 March 2021.

*12  Google Earth (https://earth.google.com/web/@45.515254,-122.6794129,35.6438696a,418.81430678d,35y,102.83948888h,0t,0r)

*13   Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Joe_Smith_Cavs2.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Keith Allison  27 April 2008.

*14 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Censorship.svg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: Time3000, Tomchen1989, Mozilla.  28 March 2008.

*15  Daily Journal of Commerce.com (https://djcoregon.com/news/2012/03/16/leadership-in-law-mark-long-and-david-bartz/)

*16  Bugattis Italian Ristorante Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/bugattisristorante/photos/a.252041161513560/2261514310566225/)

*17  Oregon Live (https://obits.oregonlive.com/us/obituaries/oregon/name/michael-fennell-obituary?id=15737681)  

*18  Amazon Prime (https://www.amazon.com/Latrell-Sprewell-Super-Sports-Star/dp/0766018113/ref=sr_1_16?crid=JXJ6XILZ5W7H&keywords=latrell+) ” “Latrell Sprewell (Super Sports Star)”.  Author: Michael J. Pellowski 

Yoking “The Choke” – Part II

(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 post on Thebeerchaser, “Yoking the Choke – Part I” – I described two interesting events not directly related to our clients at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC – the law firm where I served as the COO before I retired. 

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.

1997 is not a year ingrained in most of our memories.  Why would you want to remember “Bitch” (No. 15) and Madonna’s  “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (No. 87) – two of the “Billboard Year-end Hot 100 Singles” that year?  (Madonna didn’t even edge out No. 82 “Macarena” – inexplicably down from its No 1 ranking in 1996.)

And neither television’s Seinfeld at No. 1 (Seinfeld then announced that 1997 was the final season) or “Men in Black” on the big silver screen in 1997, are exactly cultural icons that pull us back.  (Seinfeld fans will remember Art Vandelay, President of Vandelay Industries who was a Beerchaser-of-the-Month in this blog in 2014.)

Art Vandelay – President of Vandelay Industries

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)

*6 Map of Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – Orange and Red are not parties.

12/17 – Saturday Night Live Comedian, Chris Farley, died of an overdose of a combination of cocaine and morphine, commonly known as a “speedball.”

Embed from Getty Images

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.'”  

*7 Courtesy of I-80 Sports Blog

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.

As  promised, the December, 1996 Sprewell Chronology from the LA Times Archives:

* Dec. 1– Sprewell attacks Carlesimo at a practice; the Golden State Warriors suspend Sprewell without pay for at least 10 games.

*8 Coach PJ Carlesimo

* 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.

Golden State had a game with the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday, January 29th and with Seattle on Thursday the 31st (they beat the Blazers and lost to the Sonics!) so their appearances could be worked into that window. 

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…..

Climate change is a critical global issue (among many these days).  As stated in a 3/1/22 article entitled ” Another Troubling Climate Report:”

“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.

* 14 The Paris Agreement – Blue = Parties, Yellow = Signatories, Black = Parties also covered by European Union ratification

Cheers

External Photo Attribution

*1  (https://www.amazon.com/Last-Innocent-Man-Ed-Harris/dp/B000CN9VS2

*2  Latrell Sprewell Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/123246144405531/photos/pb.100042176306027.-2207520000../1131335593596576/?type=3)

*3  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Madonna_Rebel_Heart_Tour_2015_-_Stockholm_(23051472299)_(cropped).jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Author: chrisweger 14 November 2015.

*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.

*6  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kyoto_Protocol_parties.svg)   I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. Author:  User:CanuckguyUser:Danlaycock  – 2 October 2014.

*7  I-80 Sports Blog (https://i80sportsblog.com/latrell-sprewell-chokes-pj-carlesimo/)

*8   Wikimedia Commons: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P._J._Carlesimo_2015_cropped.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author: MavsFan28 – 26 September 205.

*9  Latrell Sprewell Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/123246144405531/photos/pb.100042176306027.-2207520000../123246191072193/?type=3)

*10  Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnie_Cochran#/media/File:Johnnie_cochran_2001_cropped_retouched.jpg) By Mark Winograd (Personal photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

*11  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Basketball.png) This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Reisio. This applies worldwide.  Author:  Reisio 26 January 2006.

*12  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rockefeller_Park_td_(2019-03-09)_101_-_Basketball_Courts.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author: Tdorante10  9 March 2019.

*13  Oregon Live (https://obits.oregonlive.com/us/obituaries/oregon/name/michael-fennell-obituary?id=15737681)

*14  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ParisAgreement.svg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author: L.tak  22 April 2016.