“Bottoms Up”at The Oaks Bottom Public House

Many Oregon breweries have become high-profile operations with significant advertising budgets and sleek new brewpubs with roof-top patios attracting crowds of millennials from downtown high-tech firms that have become an important part of Portland’s new economy. The bravado is sometimes more for the underlying events and image of the venue than the beer.

Thebeerchaser is not suggesting this is a negative.  In fact, the micro-craft industry, from its roots in the mid-1980’s by some pioneers including Don Younger, the Widmers and the McMenamins has become a multi-billion dollar industry providing family-wage jobs, attracting tourists to all parts of the state and even becoming an integral part of the higher-ed curriculum at Oregon State, University of Portland and Portland State University

Logo for the OSU Food and Fermentation Science Club

According to the Oregon Craft Beer website, by the end of 2016, “…the state had 230 brewing companies operating 261 brewing facilities in 73 cities across the state….employing roughly 31,000 Oregonians directly and indirectly and contributing $4.49 billion to the state’s economy.”  4/017 (The 2017 ending brewery count had grown to 245.)

However, today’s post of Thebeerchaser focuses on one of the more understated and yet highly regarded members of the brewing community which has great beer.  Lompoc Brewing has four locations in Portland – down one when the Hedge House on SE Division closed last year.  “Sadly, it seems to be a victim of increased competition, rising rents and bad weather combined with the lease being up for renewal.”  New School Bar, 11/19/17)

Lompoc’s website is almost too basic and not typical of a brewery with their profile and history. I featured the original pub (the New Old Lompoc) on NW 23rd in an 11/18/15 post on the blog, when I visited it with one of my favorite individuals, Dennis Ferguson, Senior Philanthropic Advisor for the Portland State University Foundation.

Ty, Denny and Rosie, the Manager of the New Old Lompoc in 2015

Accompanying us was Tygue Howland, a superb athlete in his high school and college days and now Associate Athletic Director at Portland State. We loved the ambiance of this small pub which “rose like the Phoenix” when the area around it was redeveloped.

I had the same reaction, as did my fellow Beerchasers, on two visits to one of the other Lompoc locations – the appropriately named Oaks Bottom Public House – in the heart of Sellwood and adjacent to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Former Willamette Week Arts and Culture Editor, Martin Czimar, an expert on the Portland restaurant and brewing scene – in this excerpt from one of his last columns written before he left for a new job in Washington D.C. – wrote about Lompoc Brewing (although describing the NW 23rd pub, it fits Oaks Bottom as well):

“It’s just one story that illustrates why so many Portlanders are fiercely loyal to this friendly mini-chain, which was founded by Don Younger of Horse Brass fame before the ever-affable Jerry Fechter took over.  Lompoc is perhaps the city’s archetypal brewpub of its generation—homey, friendly and totally lacking in all pretension.” (Willamette Week 3/4/18)

Now most Portlanders in the Baby Boomer era (including Thebeerchaser) know the late Don Younger as the legendary founder of the Horse Brass Pub – one of the older and more revered Portland pubs and Younger’s legacy based on his contributions to the fledgling craft industry.

If you have never been to the Horse Brass, you should visit it next time you are in East Portland.  In fact, in Willamette Week’s  “2016 Best of Portland,” the Horse Brass Pub was recognized for the best pub food in Portland:  “….One of the most important pubs in the history of Portland’s brew culture.  It also has some killer meat pies and fish and chips.”  (In 2017, the weekly also recognized Horse Brass for the City’s best Fish and Chips.)

My own experience is described in this post I wrote in May, 2013: https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/05/23/the-horse-brass-pub-pinnacle-of-perfection/

However, we digress as is my tendency when talking about brews and breweries…..Back to the Lompoc Brewery…..In an Oregon Live article written in April 2017, Nathan Freeburg interviews the Lompoc Founder, Jerry Fechter, who the columnist describes as a “fun, friendly and gregarious guy,” about the origin of the Brewery:

“Fechter was working at ‘The Old Lompoc House’ on NW 23rd in the early ‘90’s.  It was a small bar that got its name because it reminded the owner of an old bar from the ‘50’s.  When craft beer started getting big in Oregon, Fechter figured out how to brew beer, went to beer school in Chicago and began building the brewery.  They brewed their first batch in early 1996.

In 1999, the owners weren’t ‘into the whole craft beer thing,’ so he bought them out. ‘We were playing golf and I said, ’hey, can I buy the brewery?’  By the end of the round, we had agreed upon a price’ and the rest is history”

Accompanying Janet and me to the Oaks Bottom Pub were Beerchasing regulars Roy Lambert and Mary Maxwell – they also accompanied us on our first trip to the pub several years ago – both times after a good walk to enjoy the scenery described below.

Newcomer to our walking group and new to Oregon as well, Chris Hamm, who moved here recently from New Hampshire, joined us on the walk and Kate Dickson, met us at the pub afterwards for dinner and beer.

While Oaks Bottom had a nice feel in the past, the expanded space (they acquired the former dry cleaning shop next door) enhances the experience.  It provides additional booths and tables to accommodate what can be robust crowds especially for the good Happy Hour values available.  It also has a nice décor and a big fireplace for winter visits.

Nice job on expansion space…

One trend in micro-brewing lately is to incorporate all kinds of weird ingredients when making beer in an ill-advised effort to be innovative.

According to an article in Paste Magazine, the list includes dill, horseradish, peppercorns, celery seed, maple syrup, molasses, margherita pizza, bourbon vanilla beans, Vietnamese cinnamon and peanut puree to name a few.

Fortunately, there was no indication that Lompoc decided to try leftover dry-cleaning solvents, from their expanded space, in a new beer release which could include turpentine spirits, benzene, carbon tetrachloride or liquid carbon dioxide in furtherance of this trend.  Sorry, I just have no desire for a “Cleaned and Pressed IPA!”

The bar, itself, is a nice setup although most people use the tables and booths.  It’s in a passageway that leads to the patio in the back – a much better option than the few tables on the sidewalk in front of the pub – right on busy SE Bybee Blvd..

While the menu can be described as pub food, it offers a lot of options and based on our experience, the food is pretty good and reasonably priced.  On the first trip, one of us tried the fish and chips and a delicious cobb salad and rated them highly.

On this trip, we stuck to burgers and sandwiches – the Oaks Bottom Burger (1/2 lb. for $12) or a smaller one at Happy Hour and the chicken sandwich.   While the HH hamburger  is a good deal at $6, it does not compare favorably with some of the bars and pubs at which burger lovers rave.  Examples include the Slow Bar and Wilder.  (See prior Beerchaser reviews.)

But the tap list of  Lompoc beers is the highlight – particularly the Proletariat Red, a former winner (2015) of a silver medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.  Craft Beer.com describes it as, “Deep chestnut in color…..features a toasted malt profile with biscuit undertones leading to notes of caramelized pear and cinnamon. It strikes an ideal balance between malt and hops.”

Native Portlander, journalist and Communist party figure

And the proximity to Reed College with its sometimes controversial reputation and the history of Portlander, John (Jack) Reed, (not the founder of Reed College as is often thought) but a key figure in the early Communist Party raises the question, why isn’t Reed’s picture on the back of the Proletariat Red bottle?

Reading about John Reed and Reed College is worth placing yourself in an easy chair at the Pub while having one of the Lompoc Beers. (For example, their Kick Axe Pale Ale – according to RateBeer.com: “The unofficial beer of the Timbers’ Army.  Kick Axe is a crisp and nicely hopped pale ale that has been dry-hopped in the fermenter with whole leaf Cascades for a huge hop aroma.”)

One fascinating article describes John Reed’s interactions in Russia with Lenin and Trotsky in an article entitled, “Oregon lad became a founding father’s of Russian Communism.”  He was buried with full military honors and is the only American to be buried in the Kremlin Wall!

https://offbeatoregon.com/1602d.john-reed-communism-380.html

Another example is  this excerpt from a 2009 piece written by a Reed grad and activist – Ty Marbet, who interestingly enough, tried to get rid of gun free zones on Oregon college campuses including Reed:

“Depending on who you ask (Princeton Review, etc.), Reed is between 2nd and 8th ‘most politically and socially liberal’ college in the country, comparable to UC Berkely.  Our school’s unofficial seal proudly sports the hallowed trinity: ‘Communism, Atheism, Free Love.'”  

Elliot Hall at Reed College

Finally, an extremely interesting and detailed article on John Reed is from the Marxist Internet Archive with intriguing references to the Arlington Club, Waverly Country Club, Dunthorpe and Portland society – part of John Reeds, young life in Portland – written by prolific Portland author, Michael Munk, another Reed College grad and university professor.

Those considering a trip to the Oaks Bottom Pub, should definitely work in a hike given the proximity of some attractive options.

For example, on the first visit, we walked the trail along the Oaks Bottom Wild Life Refuge for which the pub is named.  It’s an urban wetland popular with bird watchers and full of other critters including beavers, otters and cranes which sometimes pose for photographers.

Photo taken during our walk along Oaks Bottom

It also provides some great views of the southern parts of Portland along the Willamette River – a great contrast to the wild and primitive nature of the area surrounding the trail.

This was a description from a 10/10/17 Willamette Week article on haunted hikes in Portland

“You’ll wind around Wapato Marsh, passing by the wildlife mural on the Portland Memorial mausoleum, which became the first crematory west of the Mississippi when it opened in 1901.

Eventually, you’ll turn left onto the Springwater Corridor and head toward Oaks Amusement Park. The amusement park is allegedly haunted by a young man and a little girl who died there long ago, according to Ghosthunting Oregon by Donna Stewart.”

 

And if you want a more urban, although highly scenic option, try meeting at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens adjacent to Eastmoreland Golf Course and across the street from Reed College and only 1.2 miles away from the pub.

While you’ll have to pay $5 per person for admission to the Gardens, the flowers and surrounding ponds are well worth the price.

And then we walked through the interesting trails on the Reed College campus which also includes more wooded landscape, streams and ponds.   It’s also great to see the students lounging on the greens scattered through the campus which also has some interesting and historical buildings.

Even if you don’t supplement your trip with a hike, check out the Oaks Bottom Pub.  This excerpt from a Yelp review last August sums up the situation pretty well and is typical of those you will see on social media.

“…….now it’s one of my favorite spots for dinner and/or drinks in the Sellwood neighborhood! I love that they expanded the place, so it’s definitely faster getting a table now. But I do tend to try to go before or after their busiest times.

The food is great (I actually love their salads!) and the drinks are strong in just the right way. Service is almost always awesome. And I love sitting by the fire on cold, rainy nights.”

Oaks Bottom Public House           1621 SW Bybee Blvd.

The Woodsman Tavern Strikes a Chord

Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Pubs has resulted in visits and reviews of over 200 establishments since its inception in 2011 – not only in Portland, but all over Oregon, the US and even a few in Europe.   Therefore, its logical that the Woodsman Tavern – a Portland icon, of sorts, would make the list.

That said, I try to avoid venues that are primarily restaurants with a bar as kind of an ancillary feature.  It’s not that these establishments don’t have good beer or cocktails or attractive bars.  They just don’t have the character and ambiance of a stand-alone watering hole, especially that evidenced in dive bars!

The McMenamin’s bistros generally fall into the former category although I have made a few exceptions.  Beerchaser visits to The Fulton Pub, the White Eagle Saloon and the St. John’s Pub were splendid.  These all, however, had historical significance or distinguishing features.

For example, The Fulton was the site at which Hammerhead Ale was originated (and I consumed my first beer with the late NW author and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Brian Doyle) and the White Eagle is on the National Historic Register – its history is replete with tales such as a prostitute being murdered and it being haunted by ghost-like apparitions on the second floor.

Notwithstanding its title, the Woodsman Tavern is an example of the former category i.e. more restaurant than bar.   While our two visits were well rewarded, it had the look and feel of a high-end restaurant.  That said, let’s look at why it is getting great reviews – it has a new chef, an expansive menu of cocktails and whiskeys and the food – most notably, the fried chicken is superb.   (Note also that most taverns do not have a “chef” per se’.)

The Woodsman is also one of the few places that I’ve visited where the Oregonian’s food critic, Michael Russell has authored a detailed review.  (He’s probably never been in the Reel M’ Inn – twenty blocks down Division Street and also known throughout the Northwest for its fried chicken. According to one article, it fried up an estimated 52,000 pounds of chicken in 2016.  But it’s a completely different ambiance….)

The Woodsman is in an old building in Southeast Portland and has a bright and attractive entrance with classy dark wood interior.  When opened in 2011, it was evidently a hot spot in the Portland food culture – known for its high-end dishes such as roasted trout.

Eateries run in cycles.  Social media reviews until recently started trending negative on the food and service.   That appeared to change late last year evidently because one of Portland’s noted chefs, Doug Adams, temporarily took command of the kitchen and menu:

“Suddenly, the Woodsman Tavern is once-again among the hottest restuarants in town.”   (1/1/18 Review by Martin Cizmar of Willamette Week.) Adams made his mark at Paley’s Place among other restaurants and is waiting for a new restaurant in downtown Portland to open.

The Bar Itself

The dining room is separated into two large rooms with booths and tables.  The bar is a long L-shaped counter with about twelve stools at the back of the east section.

It has an impressive display of hard liquors and twelve cocktail options ($12) with names such as “Dog Will Hunt” and “Married in a Fever,” and includes their trademark “Old Fashioned.”

For the bourbon and whiskey connoisseurs, I counted 120 options on the menu ranging from a pour of Jim Beam for $7 to Wild Turkey Tribute 15-Year Bourbon that will set you back $180.  (Perhaps this is economic validation of the distillery’s 2011 ad campaign entitled, “Give’em The Bird.”)

They have a nice selection of wines and fifteen beers on tap including five by one of my favorite breweries – Block 15 in Corvallis.  On our first trip to the Woodsman when we had dinner, I had a pint of Block 15 Double IPA and on the second trip, where we just sat at the bar for drinks during Happy Hour, I could not resist a cold Rainier for $2.

The east side of the restuarant

Let’s get back to the food, which should be the guiding rationale for a visit.  I will talk more about the food critics’ reviews below, but The Oregonian stated, “For food fans, this might be Portland’s best sports bar.”

Since there are only two televisions over the bar – both with sporting events when we were there, I guess this is his subtle way of promoting the Woodsman’s Double Cheeseburger and implying that the food in most Portland sports bars, sucks! 

An outstanding starter

The side dishes are ala-carte and either $3 or $5 and the bucket of chicken was $19, so we started by splitting what is a boring option in most places – a wedge salad.  And while a little spendy at $11, it was wonderful (bacon, big croutons and superb blue cheese dressing!)

I love fried chicken – that’s how I persuaded my wife, Janet, to go with me to the Woodsman.  It was a late birthday present.   There was no question what I was going to order. And it’s a fantasy – your own metallic bucket filled with five large pieces.  I am appalled that I was so enthralled that I forgot to take a picture!

Now let’s look at how some experts describe this one of six entr’ees.  Martin Cizmar, who for the last seven years has been the Arts and Culture Editor at Willamette Week, is succinct, but on point.  (I am sad to see him leave the weekly this month.  He wrote great reviews of not only restaurants, but every kind of bar, tavern or brewery in Portland and always creatively captured the character of the place.  (He’s moving to Washington D.C. to write for an on-line publication.)

You should read his entire review of The Woodsman:  http://www.wweek.com/restaurants/reviews/2018/01/02/the-woodsman-tavern-is-entering-a-new-golden-age-under-chef-doug-adams/

Martin Cizmar – will be missed….but will still drink PBR (Photo courtesy of Willamette Week

He is a an outstanding writer and seems a lot less pretentious than his counterpart at The Oregonian:

“….the best fried chicken in town….(Adams’) ultra crispy recipe in which the honey is drizzled onto just out-of-the-fryer batter.”  (WW 1/1/18)

Now compare that to the more ostentatious description by Michael Russell:

“…..Adams’ fussed over bird , each crunchy piece wearing a shaggy brown coat reminiscent of a teddy bear’s fur, drizzled in honey and served with a clear glass bottle of hot sauce on the side.” (Emphasis supplied !??)

And not to get overly compulsive, but this one from a Thrillist ranking of the top 15 fried chicken places in Portland by Andy Cryza (9/2/15 – before Adams arrived…)  Woodsman was the top-rated option.  (Reel M Inn was #3.)

“…..Perfectly fried, with the juices locked into the premium bird, which is cut up into five generous pieces…..And the breading – occupying the zone between crisp and light – is kissed with a smack of honey which, when mixed with the salt, takes it into a danger zone hovering near meat-candy perfection.”

But if you don’t like chicken there are other worthy choices. I was able to persuade Janet, if I gave her a little bit of my chicken, to get the Double Cheeseburger ($16).  It was immense and the Canby, Oregon, Laney Family Farm’s beef scrumptious.  The fries were a perfect complement.

I described Michael Russell’s writing above as somewhat pretentious e.g. he started his review with the following: “…the restaurant has languished of late (last year) behind food that seemed to have lost its sense of place.” 

I changed my opinion – a little.  He was a little more down-to-earth when he wrote this about one of the Woodsman’s twelve starter options:

“Take the bologna sandwich.  It’s impressively thick cut of pink meat seared gently, surrounded by melted American cheese like fondant on a wedding cake and topped with sweet pickle on a sesame-seeded bun.  It’s a borderline obscene take on the classic….I’ve ordered it on every visit.” 

Fried chicken – “each piece wore a shaggy brown coat….”

At least he shied away from the toy creature analogy he made above with the fried chicken and didn’t compare the bologna to the Porky Pig stuffed animal he got at Disneyland……

And to affirm that this menu option may be worth the seemingly steep price ($12), let’s look at a non-foodie’s view – just your typical Yelp comment on 1/17/18:

“Now I know what you’re thinking, what the hell is in Bologna anyway, but this (sandwich) was freaking delicious.  I don’t know what’s in Bolgna, I probably don’t want to know.  But I’m on board.” 

Finally, while the bistro is also known for its chilled seafood and a seafood tower for $95 along with “Oyster Hours” all day Monday and from 5:00 to 6:00 on other weekdays, I loved our meal there because the food was good but also plentiful.  The picture below shows the box that we took home with our leftovers (It was filled and some of which survived to lunch the next day…) 

As another Yelp review who shares similar views succinctly stated:

“The food big.  Big food.  Platters….Reminds me of a place when I was a kid.  Logger means, man.”  (Yelp 1/15/18)

Most of the recent social media reviews are very positive although some question the prices especially since it is an ala-carte menus.  Another complaint which rang somewhat true with us on our first visit was the physical spacing:

“I don’t mind sitting at tables or booths, but why does anyone think that being 6 inches from a stranger is comfortable.”  (Yelp 1/14/18)

However, if someone is going to do a hatchet job on the Woodsman Tavern, they will have to come up with something of more substance than tables being a little too close.  Besides, you should check out their fried chicken……….

The Woodsman Tavern

4537 SE Division Street

 

Beerchasing Miscellany – Pondering Suds, Suffrage and Civility

The Hitselberger farm near Seal Rock on the Oregon Coast

Wolf Tree Brewery

While staying in Lincoln City for a week recently, I read an article in Willamette Week about Wolf Tree Brewery – typical of Oregon’s great brewery stories.  Reporter, Martin Cizmar did his usual good job of conveying the story of Wolf Tree’s founder and owner, Joe Hitselberger’s small operation on his 600 acre cattle and timber ranch six miles east of Seal Rock. “A Tiny Coastal Brewery is Becoming the King of Sitka Spruce Beers.”

Since 2013, Joe has specialized in spruce-tip beer – it’s probably the only Oregon brewery to make it year-round.  As described by Cizmar in his article:

“With a mild cotton-candy and strawberry sweetness, Wolf Tree’s barrel-aged spruce bud ale, is the best I’ve ever had and I’m not alone in my opinion. Earlier this month, Wolf Tree came out of nowhere to win a gold medal for best ‘Experimental’ beer at the Oregon Beer Awards.”

Joe Hitselberger sampling some of his spruce tip beer

Since I had some spare time, I called Joe and he agreed to let me interview him and take some photos.  Coincidentally, two guys from Boise who had tasted his beer, showed up at the same time and we sampled both his Spruce Tip Ale and the Camille’s Golden IPA – named after Joe and Taryn, his finance’s, late golden retriever.  The beer is part of their Ranch Dog Series:  

“We created the Ranch Dog Series as a tribute to our furry friends who live here at the ranch.  A portion of sales for these beers will be donated to the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis.”  

Camilles Golden IPA from the Ranch Dog Series

I’ll cover this brewery in more depth this summer, when they open the planned tasting room on the south side of Newport’s Yaquina Bay Bridge.  But the six mile drive on Beavercreek Road after I left Highway 101 was amazing – including the herd of 25 Roosevelt Elk I discovered grazing in a field just off the road.

Until the taproom is opened, Thebeerchaser will head to Belmont Station, one of four Portland distributors of Wolf Tree’s beer.

Update on 2017 “We the People “Competition

Some members of the Grant Team with Rogers and Westwood on the right

Beerchaser followers were previously informed that the Grant High School Constitution Team won the Oregon competition and was headed for the nationals in Washington DC.

Well, that April trip was successful since they placed second – quite an accomplishment.  More remarkable is Oregon’s record in the last six years in the national competition as shown below:

2012 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place  2013 – Oregon (Grant) first place

2014 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place  2015 – Oregon (Grant) first place

2016 – Oregon (Lincoln) first place, Oregon wild card (Grant) third place

2017 – Virginia first place, Oregon (Grant) second place (10 points behind, out of 1800), Indiana third place (85 points behind Grant)

In fact, those who subscribe to conspiracy theories, have wondered if prior results by both Grant and Lincoln High Schools, persuaded the judges that a school from another state should get some of the glory……

Alice and the proud parents at Washington DC competition

The Grant team has a double Beerchaser connection since team member, Alice Eden Fischer, is the daughter of Amy Faust and Kevin Fischer.   KWJJ Radio personality, Amy, is the most recent Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

And one of the long-term coaches and team advisors is Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood, who received the same recognition from Thebeerchaser in March 2013.  (To read about these two interesting people, click on the link over their names.)

Westwood (second from left) and Padrow on the right

In fact, this story of Oregon in national competition is reminiscent of another remarkable run by an Oregon school – that of the Portland State College team that set records in 1965 in the television competition (The GE College Bowl) that captured the nation as recounted in this article. (Portland State Alumni Association News – May 2, 2005)

“The 415 points scored in their final match ties them for fifth-highest single-game total achieved, and their 1725 points total set a new record at the time, and is fourth highest overall. The March 26, 1965 issue of Time has an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change Portland State’s image as “the flunk-out school” for University of Oregon and Oregon State drop-outs…”

If you look closely at the picture of the Grant Team above, you might recognize the same guy in the Portland State photo.   Yes, that’s the same Jim Westwood who was the captain of the PSC team and possibly learned some coaching techniques from the late, Ben Padrow, who brilliantly guided the four students to their records.

I’m not sure that Padrow went as far as Westwood, however, when the Grant coach for the last fifteen years, promised his team in 2013 that if they won, he would get a tattoo to memorialize (so to speak) the victory.  To get the story on the significance of the 1783 date, check out Thebeerchaser post https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/kellys-olympian-bar/

“Stamp” Out Complacency

And having some idea how much effort all the students in the “We the People” competition put forth, I cannot help but again shake my head with the Oregon Legislature’s misguided effort to increase voter turnout encompassed in Senate Bill 683.  The same concept was defeated in 2016, but unfortunately returns in the 2017 Session, thanks to the sponsorship of Senators Richard Devlin and Michael Dembrow.

If passed into law, voters would no longer have to put postage on their vote-by-mail return ballots.  The State of Oregon, which ironically faces a projected $1.6 billion deficit, would cover the forty-nine cent cost of a stamp in each election at an estimated cost of $650,000 to $1.3 million price tag for each biennium.

Original use on (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/28/beerchaser-miscellany-five-years-of-thebeerchaser/

The symbol of the “Stamp Culture”

Ironically, Devlin is the Senate’s chief budget writer and tried to justify the bill because its tough for some would-be voters to afford the cost of a stamp.  Dembrow stated:

“This is especially true for a lot of young people who don’t use stamps.  They’re just not into the stamp culture……”

Original use (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/07/28/beerchaser-miscellany-five-years-of-thebeerchaser/)

Crossing the Delaware to fight for our right to have postage-paid return ballots.

Perhaps someone should explain to those who are not into the stamp culture, that they might want to consider the walking culture,” since libraries, city halls or courthouses are all locations where ballots can be returned without postage and are usually within a few miles of most voters’ residence.

Thebeerchaser subscribes to the assertion that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  I guess that premise is no longer operable and it’s just $.49.

The Anarchists Tried to Get Their Act Together

Newspaper stories these days are never surprising and the irony of this report in the Oregonian on March 14th makes me shake my head.  A group labeling itself Portland Anarchist Road Care, “working anonymously with one person wearing a mask….” actually filled potholes on Southeast Salmon Street.

The group said it is now exploring alternatives to patching potholes including mobilizing people to fix roads in their neighborhoods.  ……..“By creating structures (emphasis supplied) to serve the same purpose as state structures, organizations such as ours have the ability to show that government is not necessary for society to function.”

From the Chicago Haymarket Affair

While I realize that anarchists sometimes do advocate societies based on voluntary institutions, this seems a bit of a contradiction in terms.   And it begs the question:

If government is not necessary for society to function, who is supposed to control the masked thugs who threw burning objects, blocked streets and damaged buildings during the May Day Parade in PDX? 

Lawyers are trying to figure out the liability issues if the Anarchists don’t fill in the potholes correctly and cause accidents or vehicular damage.  Perhaps they should heed the advice of Mitchell Kapor (the founder of Lotus Software) who advised:  “Inside every anarchy, there’s an Old-Boy Network.” 

A Precursor to the “Digital” Age

Since this is a blog about bars and beer, I typically refrain from political topics, but unless one has been living under a rock for the last eighteen months, it’s difficult to stay above the fray.  While the tripe that emanates from the West Wing becomes more unbelievable and dangerous each day,  one also has to hold the media accountable for the methods of coverage at times.

Source of alternative facts (to be polite…..)

One wonders if we can return to the civility and bipartisanship led by statesmen that characterized the Oregon Legislature e.g. Tom McCall and Hector MacPherson and the US Congress e.g. Mark Hatfield and Tip O’Neill in the 60’s and 70’s. 

Yet, based on the nature of the beast, there were times even in this more refined era (without 24-hour news coverage) when emotions overcame propriety – something which lent some humor and excitement to the news.

Such was the case on September 16, 1976, when Vice President Rockefeller was campaigning with Sen. Bob Dole, who had been selected to be President Gerald Ford’s running mate.   Some student in a group of hecklers gave the finger to the VP and he immediately reciprocated the gesture — with gusto!  I’ve kept the picture below from the newspaper for all these years thinking I could use it at some point and the excerpt below describes the incident: 

“At the time, Rockefeller’s finger flashing was scandalous and the gesture was referred to thereafter as ‘The Rockefeller Salute.’  Rockefeller refused to apologize for his outburst.

‘I was just responding in kind’ he said, neatly avoiding the point that the apology was not expected to go to the hecklers but to the general public.”

A veteran with a Purple Heart and a good sense of humor…..

Bob Dole was asked by a reporter why he didn’t join Rockefeller in “the salute”.  ‘I have trouble with my right arm,’ he replied. (Rarehistorical photos.com October 16,2016)

And in closing, perhaps we need to look at  the anger we see today from all parts of the political spectrum.  As conservative columnist, George Will wrote in a 2007  opinion piece in the Washington Post I saved, but is still relevant:

“Once upon a time, Americans admired models of self-control, people such as George Washington and Jackie Robinson, who mastered their anger rather than relishing being mastered by it. 

Today, however, proclaimed anger — the more vituperative the better — is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality…..Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity:  ‘I snarl, therefor I am.’  Such people make my blood boil.” 

Or the LA Times’,Tim Rutten, who in a  2009 column entitled, “A Crash Course on our Descent Into Coarseness” opened with:

“Incivility is the new secondhand smoke.  Everyone feels impelled to disdain it, but nobody is willing to do away with it entirely.”

Rather than ponder in frustration, “When will all the rhetorical questions ever end?”,  Thebeerchaser would suggest a small step to solve this dilemma harkening back to the 18th century — to one of the Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin.  In 1727, he formed the Junto, a group of “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.”  (Wikipedia)

Ben Franklin – believed in civil dialogue

When they met they discussed issues of the day, debated philosophical topics and devised schemes for self-improvement.  In a description of the goals of this group, Walter Isaacson, in his 2003, 590-page book, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life states:

“Franklin stressed the importance of deferring, or at least giving the appearance of deferring, to others…… ‘When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him.’ 

Instead, he would agree in parts and suggest differences only indirectly…. This velvet-tongued and sweetly passive style of circumspect argument would make him seem sage to some, insinuating and manipulative to others, but inflammatory to almost nobody.”

Franklin’s Junto was evidently open only to men and they drank coffee rather than alcoholic beverages, but adapting to the times, perhaps we need to have this type of discussion for members of all genders in bars, taverns and pubs while drinking Oregon microbrews.  And even if Ben Franklin, didn’t actually utter the words often attributed to him, the assertion still has merit: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”

Regaining Civility

Cheers!