June Juxtapositions


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.  External photo attribution at the end of the post.  (#1 – #2)

In my last blog post entitled “May Meanderings,” I wrote about my favorite brewery – the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary and its Head Brewer, Father Martin Grassel. 

Also about the 2022 movie, “Father Stu: Reborn” and the late priest’s connection with Mount Angel.  And finally about the post pandemic travails of a wonderful dive bar I first visited in 2015 – Kelly’s Olympian – another example of the City of Portland’s ineffective and frustrating efforts to keep its businesses operational and its citizens safe.


The word is defined as:

“The act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side, often to compare or contrast or to create an interesting effect.”

I’ll try to do a bit of that in this post, but regardless of whether that succeeds, the title satisfies my affinity for alliteration.

I worked for twenty-five years on the mid-level floors of the PacWest Center – a great thirty-story skyscraper in Portland’s Central Business District. The Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt firm at one time occupied five floors and had about 130 lawyers – the anchor of our four branch offices.

The building’s proximity to the courts, government buildings and amenities made it a very desirable location. There were also great views and the expansive floor plate was conducive to functional and attractive designs for professional service firms.  And who can complain about a large Starbucks, a bar and at one time, a good restaurant – all – only an elevator ride away.

In a previous post, I mentioned the filming of parts of the movie “The Last Innocent Man” based on the novel by Portland’s best-selling author, Phillip Margolin, in addition to a commercial or two.

I’ve also gotten a chuckle on the “use” of the building in CBS’ comedy drama “So Help Me Todd,” which stars actress Marcia Gay Harden as a lawyer in a large Portland law firm.

The storyline makes anyone familiar with actual law firm operations and professional rules cringe, but it’s a fun series.  The exterior of the PacWest Center is often shown along with fleeting glimpses of Portland landmarks, but scenes of the law firm interior are evidently filmed in Vancouver, BC.

The PacWest Center also has character.  For example, the recent article entitled, “This Portland pine may be the world’s tallest tree planted on top of a high rise:” (#3 – #4)

“Standing approximately 40 feet tall, the pine prominently planted atop the Pacwest Center’s 25th-floor terrace could be the tallest tree growing from any high-rise rooftop on Earth.

Commuters anywhere southwest of Jefferson Street and 6th Avenue are bound to notice the coniferous evergreen towering above Downtown traffic. Planted shortly after the office building’s completion in 1984, the tree has quietly matured with the Portland skyline, drawing little attention in the last four decades.”

The article raised speculation about the height of the tree, but KOIN TV which published the story, went to the best source, John Russell, President of Russell Development Co. in Portland.  He was the developer of the PacWest Center and has both engineering degrees and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

“Russell said that the PacWest Center’s alternating exterior of silver paneling and tinted windows can be used like a measuring stick, which can give a rough estimate of the tree’s height. ‘It’s easy,’ Russell said. ‘The total of the two layers is 13 feet.’

With the tree extending roughly six layers high, it can be surmised that the tree is approximately 40 feet tall. Russell told KOIN 6 News that the tree was four or five feet tall when it was placed in the terrace’s metal planter bed. He and his wife Mary Fellows still look up at the PacWest Center and enjoy the pine tree for the oddity that it is.

‘The tree just delights me,’ Russell said. ‘It’s quirky and fun.'”

And if there is doubt about future ability of the floor plate to handle the weight of the tree, I suggest they contact John to do the stress calculations….

I was fortunate to get to know John Russell through his association with our law firm and civic work with the City Club of Portland.  And there are few if any in the Northwest with the long record of public service comparable to John’s. 

Among the boards and commissions on which he has been a member include the Portland Development Commission, the Oregon Transportation Commission, the Mayor’s Business Roundtable (Chair from 1993 to 2003), the Portland City Planning Commission and the Portland Historic Landmark Commission.

He has also served as Chair of the Oregon Investment Council. “He is known for supporting diversity and inclusion in his evaluation of investment pitches.” (Wikita.com) (#5 – #6)

I loved hearing John’s stories about him and the late John Schwabe – one of our law firm’s named partners, an Oklahoma boy and a genuine War World II hero from the Battle of Guadalcanal and other battles in the South Pacific.  (“For his military service, Schwabe was awarded a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and a Presidential Citation for Valor.”)

The two went back to Wall Street to talk to the New York investment bankers in a successful effort to obtain financing for the PacWest Center. John Russell is the epitome of an outstanding citizen and businessman.

High Rises?

But with the pandemic and the recent trend of remote work, the future of high rise buildings raises many questions. A January, 2023 article in the Bend Bulletin stated, “U.S. Bancorp Tower, Oregon’s largest office building, faces loss of two major tenants.” 

The situation may have changed since publication, but still signals a change not only in Portland, but in cities throughout the country.

“Portland law firm Miller Nash and Bay Area internet pollster SurveyMonkey are leaving the U.S. Bancorp Tower.

The moves will leave about 100,000 square feet of vacant office space in the iconic ‘Big Pink,’ Oregon’s second tallest building and its largest office building, and suggests the recent weakness of the downtown office market will continue in 2023.” (#7)


“Big Pink”

On May 7th, Oregon Live asked: “Portland office vacancies have nearly doubled since the pandemic; Will return-to-office plans reverse that?”  Other law and professional service firms using the remote-hybrid model will certainly consider reducing office space when leases expire.

The May 12, 2023 Morning Brew summarized the situation in New York City and what steps should be taken if this trend continues:

“How much empty office space does New York City have right now? Enough to fill more than 26 Empire State Buildings (about 74.6 million square feet, if you want to be specific).

Researchers Edward Glaeser and Carlo Ratti made the comparison to emphasize how NYC and other large American cities need to make drastic changes to their zoning laws to adapt to the WFH era. The ultimate goal should be to become a ‘Playground City” where people live, work, and play all in the same neighborhood. (#8)

Playground City?

While I love the City of Portland, I’m not very optimistic about us becoming a “Playground City” referenced in the article above, much less returning to a vibrant metropolis that attracts tourists and beckons to those in surrounding areas to patronize businesses and hospitality establishments.

When a June 2, 2023 Oregonian article is entitled,

“Open-air drug use is at an all-time high’ in downtown Portland: Police turn to citations as fentanyl crisis explodes.”

it diminishes confidence in current efforts. 

And there is widespread agreement that it will take more effective leadership by the Mayor, City Council, District Attorney, Governor, State Legislators, public sector unions, business leaders and the Portland Police Department, Police Union, the homelessness bureaucracy and homelessness advocates of all sides, churches as well as, non-profits, among others to compromise and develop creative solutions. (#9 – #10)

Does that seem insurmountable?  Well, I still pray for World Peace and solutions to Global Warming!!  And with the amount of funds already approved to address the problem, the solutions are not for lack of resources – at least to make strong steps forward. 

Remote Work

Before closing, I want to offer one more opinion (rant) about this trend.  While I’m an old guy, I still believe the trend to largely vacant workplaces where most people work on-line should be reversed or at least moderated.  

While necessary during the pandemic and offering some distinct advantages – environmentally, economically, lifestyle and for working parents – we need to ask “What’s  the ultimate cost?” (#11)


Is it healthy for organizations not to have a sense of community, in-office mentoring and comradery?  And are the purported productivity gains real or imaginary?  Review a recent Bloomberg News article entitled “Remote Work May Come with Daytime Drug and Drinking Habits:”

Some of the statistics cited are stunning and alarming and at least raise questions:

“A May 2022 study by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta estimates that the number of working age Americans (25-54 years old) with substance abuse disorders has risen by 23% since pre-pandemic, to 27 million.  A figure that’s about one in six of people who were employed around the time of the study.

Drug recover firm Sierra Tucson concluded from a November 2021 survey that about 20% of US workers admitted to using recreational drugs while working remotely, and also to being under the influence during virtual meetings.

Quit Genius found in August 2022 that one in five believe that substance use has affected their work performance, also according to a survey…..Though back-to-office mandates are unpopular for many reasons, addiction experts note that resistance consistently comes from millions of addicted employees.”

And Finally…

Consistent with the concept of “placing two or more things side by side, often to compare or contrast or to create an interesting effect,” let me suggest two options if you do decide to commute back to the office:  (#12 – #13)

And to end on an upbeat note after some sobering narrative, I leave with this quote which I loved from one of my favorite authors – John Sandford – in his novel Field of Prey:

“The day was another good one, with fair-weather clouds floating overhead and warm and humid. Here and there, in the ditches, the sumac was showing orange leaves and the dust from gravel roads hung in the air for a while, as it does on the windless humid days; a good day not to be dead.”  (Emphasis supplied – Page 141 – #14 – #15)


External Photo Attribution

#1.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mountain_peaks_under_snow.jpg) This work has been released into the public domain by its author, G%C3%BCrkan Seng%C3%BCn. This applies worldwide.  Author:  G%C3%BCrkan Seng%C3%BCn.

#2.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Waves_breaking_on_ocean_coast.jpg)  This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Rosendahl. This applies worldwide. Author: Rosendahl.

#3. – #4.  Photos courtesy of Dan R. Swift, SIOR, CCIM –  Senior Vice President
CBRE | Advisory and Transaction Services – Investor and Occupier.

#5.  Willamette Week (Oregon Investment Council Member Blasts Elite Fund Manager For Lack of Diversity (wweek.com) 6/20/18

#6. The Oregonian obituaries (https://obits.oregonlive.com/us/obituaries/oregon/name/john-schwabe-obituary?id=27054738)

#7.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MtTaborPortlandHood.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author:  Cacophony – 30 May 2007.

#8.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (File:Empire State Building (aerial view).jpg – Wikimedia Commons)  The author died in 1952, so 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 70 years or fewer.  Author:  Sam Valadi – 17 July 2012.

#9. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seized_drug_equipment_Forum_Marinum.JPG)
I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.  Author: MKFI – 26 August 2012.

#10.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Homeless_in_New_York_City..jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  Author:  Adjoajo – 31 December 1969.

#11. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_Working_from_Home_during_Maternity_Leave.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: CIPHR Connect – 21 August 2001.

#12. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1950_Schwinn_Spitfire.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bs/ – 6 October 2006.

#13.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Electric_Bicycle_Adventure_06_23_2021_(51267213401).jpg

#14.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skunkbush_sumac_

(Rhus_trilobata)_on_Seedskadee_National_Wildlife_Refuge_(37332909495).jpg) This image or recording is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain. For more information, see the Fish and Wildlife Service copyright policy. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author:
USFWS Mountain-Prairie
– 13 September 2017.

#15. Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tamsa.JPG)  I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. Author: Ingvar Pärnamäe (Õväküvä) – 27 July 2010.


Yoking “The Choke” – Part I

The Thirty-one Story PacWest Center

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Large urban law firms typically are housed on the upper floors of majestic skyscrapers with expansive views and have very impressive trappings – from the client reception area, to conference rooms, to the lawyers’ offices. 

Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC, my law firm for twenty-five years – I retired in 2011 as the Chief Operating Officer – was no exception.  When I left in 2011, the six floors occupied in the Pac West Center on floors 15-20 had a total footprint of just under 120,000 square feet. 

They were well designed and scrupulously maintained – Schwabe took pride in the impression it presented.  The Portland office was the anchor of our five other offices.

Legal economics and the pandemic have forced a dramatic change in professional service firms’ space configuration, however.  For many large firms, the days of the expansive and plush partner offices are history.   

For example, at Schwabe, associates and partners now have the same size and smaller offices except where the prior configuration precluded that such as in some corner offices.  

Law libraries, which once housed hundreds of bound volumes, are skeletons of their prior capacity.  While there are still some hard-bound volumes, case-law and written legal authority is primarily accessed from the lawyer’s office on-line.  And oftentimes, word-processing and copy centers are now outsourced or located off-site in less expensive remote space.

This situation was exacerbated with COVID.  Law offices locked-down and lawyers found out that working from home provided some real advantages – like working in sweats and the daily “commute” reduced to walking from the kitchen to the home office twenty-feet away – usually with coffee and pastry in hand.  

What transpires, post-pandemic, in office leases is speculative, but most firms will probably reduce their space as hybrid arrangements replace the traditional fully-occupied model and the demand to reduce overhead expense continues.  That said, most large firms will still have imposing reception areas and client conference areas.

Famous Visitors!

Schwabe’s location and the quality and configuration of its facilities resulted in two major external requests to use its space in 1987 and 1998.   The results were interesting and memorable and I’ll relate the stories in the next few posts of Thebeerchaser.  While they provided great anecdotes and some ancillary income to the firm, in retrospect, if you were in firm management, you wondered if it was worth the disruption.

The filming of some scenes of “The Last Innocent Man” movie in 1987 and hosting the three-day West Coast hearing of former NBA star, Latrell Spreewell’s arbitration in 1998, brought some well-known celebrities, athletes and coaches to our offices.   The latter garnered not only national, but international attention.

Embed from Getty Images
*1 . (* external photo attribution at the end of this post)

Latrell Spreewell, who was drafted 24th in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, built a solid reputation in his first few years in the League as a shooting guard and small forward.  He was selected for the Western Conference All-Star Team in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and ultimately four NBA All-Star Teams.

After the Warriors, he finished his  “checkered career” in 2005 after stints on the New Work Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves.  I state “checkered” – in part – because in 1997, this sizeable physical and athletic specimen at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing in just under 200 pounds, proceeded to physically attack, choke and then punch his 6 foot 1 inch Warrior Coach, PJ Carlesimo at a practice session.   

(Carlesimo was not only physically less imposing, but not as good a basketball player because this Fordham University guard went undrafted in the 1971 NBA draft…..)

Coach and Broadcaster Carlesimo *2

“Sprewell was suspended for 10 games without pay. However, the next day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder of his contract altogether, which included $23.7 million over three years, and the NBA suspended him for one year.”  (Wikipedia)    

Spreewell took the case to arbitration – the first step in a long line of litigation with the Warriors and the NBA.  Schwabe hosted the first four days of this arbitration in our Portland office (the final four days were held in New York City) and in the next post, I will convey how we came to be the site of that hearing and some of the stories that surround it.

Lights   Camera    Action!

Phillip Margolin is a best-selling author of murder mysteries who until he started writing novels full-time in 1996, had a dynamic criminal law defense practice in Portland, Oregon.

He also had a solid reputation with Oregon State Bar members for his professional and civic activities including serving as President and Chairman of the Board of Chess for Success – a non-profit charity that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills

As stated in the biography on his website:

“…..I graduated from The American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government. From 1965 to 1967, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. In 1970, I graduated from New York University School of Law. During my last two years in law school I went at night and worked my way through by teaching junior high school in the South Bronx in New York City.

My first job after law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals. From 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals.

As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court and I have represented approximately 30 people charged with homicide, including several who have faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use the Battered Women’s Syndrome to defend a battered woman accused of murdering her spouse.”

I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the 27 books he’s written.  The Last Innocent Man was his second novel and rated a 3.91 out of 4.00 on the Goodreads literary website.  Like any major best seller, reviews vary such as the two below:

“This book was on the chronicles list of best ever thrillers… Inexplicably. It reads like it was written by a second grader and the only reason I finished it was because I was too lazy to get up off the beach.” (2010)

However, I shared the perspective of this reviewer:

“Like always, the Portland, Oregon Author does it again!!! Very fast paced and the Trial of the crime, always so Awesome!!!” (2020)

An HBO “Classic” – set in Portland *5

HBO decided to produce a movie on the novel which is based on a fictitious Portland attorney.  I don’t recall exactly how – probably at the recommendation of Margolin who knows a number of Schwabe lawyers – the network approached us about using our Portland office to film several scenes.

We negotiated for the film-work to take place on nights and weekends and they used our law library and a partner’s office.   Dick Templeman, our outstanding Director of Facilities and Support, remembers the location manager being “pretty demanding” but they left everything in good order, for example, repainting the library after they had transformed it into a color meeting their specifications.

When having preliminary talks with both the NBA and HBO, they advanced the assertion that having these events take place at the firm would enhance the firm’s status and reputation.  One has to question, however, whether any potential clients would choose Schwabe just for the potential and unlikely opportunity to ride the elevator with co-stars Ed Harris and Roxanne Hart, both of whom continue to have good acting gigs in their early seventies.

That said, there may have been some clients and staff who would have loved to walk the halls and chat with Clarence Williams III (Linc Hayes of Mod Squad fame).  In the movie, ee played D.J. Johnson and the only really memorable line uttered after he was advised he could remain silent, was: ” Fuck the right to remain in silence! Call Silverman!”

“Linc Taylor” passed away in 2021 at 81. *8

I have to admit that I never saw “The Last Innocent Man” (and will put it on my future list after “The English Patient”…), but what kind of critical acclaim did it garner?  While getting six ACE (American Cinema Editors) nominations in 1988, it received no awards.   

The IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) reviewers were also not overly impressed and it chalked up 6.3 out of 10.0  Typical of the reviews was this 2002 comment captioned “Mediocre Perry Mason Stuff”:

“The Last Innocent Man” is a predictable, by-the-numbers journeyman tv flick with Harris playing a top criminal attorney.  In it’s somewhat long two-hour run time, this-jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none flick, manages to squeeze in murder, investigation, trial, romance, sex, dirty cops, a pimp, a sting, a crazed killer, etc. without distinguishing itself in any particular way. Filler for late night cable”.

To show how culture has changed in thirty-four years, it should be noted that one rating database stated, “Warning to the faint of heart, this movie does contain a few nude/sex scenes!” 

And  if trying to decide whether to view it, I would not be persuaded by this somewhat ludicrous remark from a guy who had a “formidable” bias with his comment captioned, “I Was in This Movie”   

“This excellent movie was filmed in Portland……A thriller to say the least with twists and turns. A must see. (I can be seen walking past Meshach Taylor (Crosby) at the motel murder scene, as I walk out of camera, I shun a reporter. I was a plain clothes detective (extra))”.

Now, I’m old enough to remember the comedy (1986-93) in which Meshach Taylor won an Emmy, but those who weren’t, will have to click on this link.  

Meshach Taylor *9

In Closing…..

Before devoting the next Beerchaser post strictly to the Spreewell arbitration, I have to add one more story about Phil Margolin.  Two years ago, I read Fugitiveone of his novels taking place in Portland that I had previously skipped.

One of the primary characters is a senior deputy district attorney, named Mike Greene – the boyfriend of protagonist, Amanda Jaffe, a criminal defense lawyer. I thought I remembered this character from a few of the other Margolin mysteries.  

Mike Greene is one of my favorite Portland lawyers.  Now retired, he was a national authority on legal malpractice and diabetes discrimination matters.  We go to the same church and based on his work with the American Diabetes Association (Chair of the National Board of Directors from 1994 to 1995 and continued involvement since 1982), I asked him to speak to the firm about the disease.

Greene formed a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination on behalf of people with diabetes. He and former Portland Trailblazer, Chris Dudley, who also is a diabetic and active in this work, gave an impressive presentation.  (Dudley also created the Chris Dudley Foundation, an Oregon-based group intended to improve the lives of diabetic children.)

 (Greene top and Margolin bottom *10 -11)

Now the Portland Bar is a “small community” and Mike is about the same vintage as Phillip Margolin, so I e-mailed him and told him I was reading Margolin’s book, stating:

“I know that a number of novelists name characters after friends and/or colleagues and this seemed to be more than a coincidence.”

He responded:

”Phil has been a friend for decades. I purchased at a Diabetes Auction, the privilege of Phil using my name.  He liked the name and character he created to use the name.  I am now in five of his books.  What a purchase?  A piece of immortality?  It’s fun.  I have been asked about this by many people over the years.” 

So if you are reading any of the following Margolin novels, look for Mike Greene:  Wild Justice (2000), Ties that Bind (2003), Proof Positive (2006), Fugitive (2009) and Violent Crimes (2016)!


External Photo Attribution

*1 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/363658716932?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290)

* 2  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

*3 Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillip_Margolin#/media/File:Phillip_Margolin_cut.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author:  UAwiki – 11 November 2011.

*4.  Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/183404631782669/photos/pb.100050566242576.-2207520000../3564642426992189/?type=3)

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

*6  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ed_Harris_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Gage Skidmore – 22 July 2017.  

*7  https://alchetron.com/Roxanne-Hart

*8  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Williams_III#/media/File:Clarence_Williams_III_Mod_Squad_1971.JPG)  Publicity photo of Clarence Williams III from the television program The Mod SquadThis work is in the public domain in the US because it was published in the US between 1927 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice.

*9  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meshach_Taylor_in_NY2011_photo_by_lia_chang.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Lia Chang -17 May 2011.

*10 (http://rgdpdx.com/michael-greene/)

*11 (https://www.phillipmargolin.com/about-phillip-margolin.php)

October Origins

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

The Origins of Beer

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the legacy of Benedictine Monks in the history of beer which dates from the 5th century along with the great story of St. Brigid of Ireland.  This remarkable woman was a patron saint of several things, including dairymaids, cattle, midwives, and newborns. But there’s also evidence of an equal passion for beer.

“…..when the lepers she nursed implored her for beer, and there was none to be had, she changed the water, which was used for the bath, into an excellent beer, by the sheer strength of her blessing and dealt it out to the thirsty in plenty.”

Going back further, Wikipedia chronicles the earliest archaeological evidence of fermentation — 13,000-year-old residues of a beer near Israel.  The earliest clear chemical evidence of beer produced from barley dates to about 3500–3100 BC, in western Iran. 

“During the building of the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, each worker got a daily ration of four to five liters of beer, which served as both nutrition and refreshment that was crucial to the pyramids’ construction.”

Egyptian Worker Happy Hour…..*3

Well, my education on the history of beer was supplemented last week, when my good friend, “West Coast Dave Hicks,” a consultant with whom I worked at my law firm before I retired, sent me the following article, which of course, piqued my interest:

http://Ancient Poop Shows People In Austria Enjoyed Beer And Blue Cheese 2,700 Years Ago) 

Blue Cheese and Beer After Work…..*4

Dave is one of the smartest guys I know, having graduated first from Princeton (cum laude)  where he was also a bass in the famous Princeton acapella singing group, The Nassoons. and then from University of San Diego Law School – including a semester of study in Paris.

He then started his consulting career, which has taken him all over the world.  On his trips to Portland, there have been numerous memorable Beerchasing expeditions. 

The diverse watering holes we hit included the Horse Brass Pub, Sloan’s Tavern, the Double Barrel, Reel M Inn and Richmond Bar, to name just a few, where we have raised a mug and eaten unhealthy pub food.

The article relates how archeologists found evidence of what may have been the first cheeseburger and beer combo!

“Several thousand years ago, an Iron Age salt miner took a dump in what is now …… Austria. In all likelihood, the pooper never gave their little deposit a second thought.

He would be rather surprised to learn that it has now become a scientific artifact, enabling researchers to discover that Europeans ate blue cheese and drank beer 2,700 years ago.”

Thanks to Dave for keeping us informed and the next time he comes to Portland, I guess we need to come up with beer name to honor the ancient “dumpster.”  Since I don’t think either directly or indirectly referencing fecal matter in the name of a beer would fly, what about “Outhouse Ale?” 

But what brewery would take this on?  Fortunately, through research, I noticed that there is an Out.Haus Ale Brewery in Northwood, New Hampshire.  Perhaps they would brew this on as a seasonal basis.

The Origin of “Dirt”!

From Dirty Donnie to Dirty to Dirt…

I often get questions from those who view the header of Thebeerchaser (credit is due to my long-term friend, fraternity brother and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely) which has the moniker, “Don ‘Dirt’ Williams,” where this moniker originated.   Often, the questioner suspects it was based on some nefarious exploit from my college years.  

Well to set the record straight, it did emanate from college, but from my fraternity brothers at the SAE house at Oregon State University.   I was on an NROTC Scholarship and in my freshman year, decided that to get in shape and because I admired my fellow frat bro and NROTC, colleague, Walt Ebel, I joined the Army ROTC group named “Raiders.”  Walt had signed up previously.

In retrospect, it was kind of ludicrous.   On Saturday mornings, we would dress up in utilities, go down to the Armory on campus and then run several miles holding rifles, do the obstacle course and try to look cool.  Well, at that time, my height was 5’10” and I weighed about 120 pounds dripping wet.

There was an illustrator named “Hutch”, who made a decent living by doing cartoon caricatures of OSU students.  He would tour the dorms and fraternities and feed off the comments of colleagues of his subject to create his image.  Hutch was quite talented.

So when it was my time, there were about twenty of us in the SAE living room and my peers started yelling, “He’s a Raider.”  Well, below is the end product.

From “Dirty Donnie,” to “Dirty,” to “Dirt”!

And “Dirty Donnie” hit a chord.  It then mutated to “Dirty” and then just plain “Dirt.”  Although my time in Raiders was less than one year, that appellation has stuck for over fifty years.  And I love it!   

When my younger brother, Rick  also an NROTC midshipman, joined the SAE’s several years later, as one might predict, his nickname became “Dust.” 

Dust when he was not grimey….

An example was twenty-five years after OSU graduation, while I was working for the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm in the PacWest Center.   The Building Manger was Doug Bean and Associates, a high-end commercial real estate firm.

Doug Bean was a fraternity brother at OSU and transferred to the U of O where he graduated and then formed his very successful real estate and property management firm.  He had an office in the PacWest Center as did I. 

When Doug would see me in the lobby, he would yell across the space in a booming voice which caught the attention of other people in the lobby of the thirty-floor high-rise, “Hey Dirt. How’s it going?”

In retrospect, the original college label of “Dirt” has kept me grounded, let to many down-to- earth conversations and I’m proud to say that Dirt remains a part of my identity!

The Origin of Freeland Spirits – Part II

Why is Thebeerchaser Touting Bourbon? *11

In a recent Beerchaser post, I wrote about a relatively new distillery in NW Portland that is a great story.  I became aware of this enterprise when my son-in-law gave me a bottle of Freeland Spirits Bourbon a few months ago.  It was the best bourbon I’ve ever had and I researched the origination of the the business.

“Freeland Spirits celebrates the women of the craft. From the gals who grow the grain, to those who run the still, we’re creating superior spirits that celebrate all the Northwest has to offer.”

You should check out the story of how co-owners, Jill Kuehler and Molly Troupe demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, opened Freeland in 2017 and have never looked back – even during a pandemic.   Well, they are expanding and had the Grand Opening of their new Tasting Room on N. State Street on October 14th.  They’ll be open daily from noon to 6 PM.

The new tasting room in Lake Oswego *14

And Speaking of Outhouses….

With apologies for redundancy to regular followers of Thebeerchaser, but since I talked about poop in this post and it’s the month of Octoberfest, I feel it appropriate to restate one of my favorite lawyer stories from my post:  https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/05/27/lawyers-continued-summer-associates-part-i/

In this litigation – filed in the early ‘90’s, a Portland resident filed a $53,220 lawsuit against the Mount Angel Octoberfest claiming the portable toilet he entered was pushed over by unruly patrons. His lawyer claimed:

“Plaintiff was violently thrown around the inside of said portable toilet, became intimately mixed with the contents thereof, sustained a fracture of his right wrist as well as other contusions and abrasions.”

“Intimately mixed with the contents thereof…”

Unfortunately, I could not determine the result of this lawsuit and assume – just like the contents of the overturned chamber – it settled. Thus, a jury never had to contemplate either culpability or damages as a group exercise – one which might have proven to be an odorous task.


*  External Photo Attribution

*1.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Olaf_Simony-Jensen_-_K%C3%A6lderinteri%C3%B8r_med_munke_i_festligt_lag_-_1904.png

*2.  Wikimedia Commons – Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic. Author: Wolfgang Sauber – 21 July 2011.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid_of_Kildare#/media/File:Saint_Non’s_Chapel_-_Fenster_3_St.Bride.jpg)

*3  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EMS-89615-Rosecrucian-Egyptian-BeerMaking.jpg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: E. Michael Smith Chiefio 12 May, 2007

*4  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salzbergwerk,_Deutschen_Museum.JPG) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany license.   Author:  High Contrast – 2010

 *5  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human_Feces.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.  Author:  Cacetudo 29 May 2006.

*6  Out.Haus Ales Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/Out.Haus/photos/10158449282739118).

*7  Wikimedia Commons (http://By U.S. Army – U.S. Army, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45595228) Source: US Army 2015

*8  Oregon State NROTC Alumni Website (https://www.osu-nrotc-alumni.org/) Courtesy Jud Blakely.  

*9  Doug Bean and Associates Website (http://dougbean.com/people-2/doug-bean/

*10  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons – PacWest Center 

*11 – 14   Freeland Spirits Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/freelandspirits/photos/?ref=page_internal)

*15  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Outhouse,_Lake_Providence,_LA_IMG_7386.JPG) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Billy Hathorn – 17 May, 2013