De Files – De Files — Part II

(This is a long narrative. 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 at the end of the post and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In Part I of this Thebeerchaser post, I mentioned how my wife of almost 43 years has understandably insisted that I significantly reduce the myriad files in our garage, my office and scattered throughout filing cabinets we own.  (That means recycle most of them especially if they have not been viewed in the last ten to fifteen years.) 

In the last post I gave examples of material from my employment at Clackamas County and one undergrad college paper with a cryptic comment from a professor – one I didn’t use for a reference in my graduate school admission process…

I worked with lawyers in a management capacity for over thirty-five years at the Oregon State Bar and the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm based in Portland’s PacWest Center.  So in my first 2023 post, I’ll begin by giving you some glimpses of the enjoyment I got from the humor surrounding this work. 

Was it a  stressful environment?

Yes! 

But one where the tension was eased by jocularity and people not taking themselves too seriously.

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

Schwabe had a wonderful culture, shared by attorneys and staff alike and was a major factor why we regularly landed in the top ranks of Oregon’s Best Employers as rated by the employees themselves. There was an organizational sense of humor.

Lawyers are a competitive group and ensconced within the five floors of the thirty-three story PacWest Center in Portland, there was often a friendly rivalry on who could come up with the wittiest electronic missive or response to an e-mail.  The same was true in all the offices whether Seattle, Vancouver or Bend.

I have to admit as the COO, I tended to reinforce this trait by recognition of several “Emails of the Year” at our firm’s annual retreat – I’d present bottles of wine to the winners. 

The first one I saved from 1996.  (Now you know why Janet is on my case!)  It was even authored by a tax lawyer – a group often stereotyped as having senses of humor tantamount to the humor buried in the pages of the Internal Revenue Code on depreciation…… (#3)

A comedian’s source book?

I will generally omit the names of the senders in this post (although I don’t think they would mind and their colleagues would recognize the senders). 

The one below was authored by a brilliant tax litigator who would periodically send an e-mail to the entire Firm entitled, “Taxes are Your Friend.”  These would include an excerpt from the Code accompanied by a picture of a rabbit with a pancake or waffle on its head.

We also had a “junk-mail” address where people could send questions, advertise items for sale or raise other issues not related to client business.  This one started with the following inquiry: 

Question:  Is anyone familiar with how real estate is transferred in Brazil?  (#5 – #6)

Response:  The entire town stands along the property lines of the property to be conveyed.  A representative of the town recorder called the “Schlimph” garrotes a chicken and the children of the village spread the feathers at the corner of the property.

Then the appointed elders (“drelba”) while chanting ancient real estate incantations, pick up dirt clods and rocks and hurl them in the air.  Finally, a small child is selected from the crowd and forced to chug large quantities of Eucalyptus Tea and Tabasco while the rest of the villages shout “Go!” “Go!” “Go”.

If the selected child becomes ill, the transaction is considered “closed” and the buyer and seller exchange twigs from the plants growing on the property and go home. If the child is unaffected by the ordeal, the buyer and the seller are sacrificed to the real estate gods in the “Ritual of the Ostrich” and property eschews to the Schlimph.  (I hope this is helpful….)

Impermeable?

The one below was the winner at the 2010 Firm Retreat – written by one of my favorite associates in the Environmental and Natural Resources Group.  Notwithstanding his feigned disregard for Mother Earth, he’s now a partner.   

The Truth – Sometimes Stranger Than Fiction

Of course, e-mails were also sent to lawyers seeking expert witnesses, referrals, case cites, etc.  This one emanated from another Environmental Lawyer in 2005.

Bowler suit 1

Employment and Labor Law generated some of the most interesting and often bizarre situations.   While the following matter was not one at Schwabe, I added this 1967 case https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/257/468.html) to my files years afterwards as a keeper when I started collecting these treasures.

I was only a freshman in college when it went to trial, but I’ve kept it all these years.  Maybe because it portended some of the recent lawsuits involving education and religion – perhaps it’s surprising it’s not on a current docket.  (#7)

The Daily Grind…

Maybe there are days when it’s not the stress of legal work, but just daily life that makes one yearn for a highball at the end of the day.   This premise was demonstrated in this 2001 e-mail from one of our Seattle lawyers who inquired of his colleagues at 4:06 in the afternoon:

One difference between Schwabe and many other big firms was the lack of a status difference between attorneys and management.   They viewed non-attorney managers as professionals – in fact all staff were treated as professionals which helped the cohesiveness and teamwork at the firm.

And Management was often tasked with having to say “no.”   We made ongoing decisions on space planning and who received which office, negotiated on annual billable hour goals and, of course, determined compensation.  The list goes on…..

Just as the lawyer above, had a toddy with colleagues at the end of the day, one didn’t necessarily need to leave the firm as the daily grind ended.  This was the case when I appreciated the chance to have a single-malt beverage with the partner whose office was next to mine after she sent this e-mail.  We enjoyed at least one shot of Balvenie Scotch.

Patty Dost (3)

 I mentioned space planning as one of Management’s ongoing challenges.  The same was true anytime there was a major remodel or a build-out when the firm expanded to an additional floor. 

Gaining anything close to a favorable reaction on carpet, paint color or even design of nameplates was problematic. (I could devote a book chapter on the Firm’s Art Committee alone……)

I’m going to depart from my stated guideline and name the lawyer who authored the next e-mail because he was well known in both legal and local broadcast circles and also served on the firm’s Board for a number of years and was supportive of Management decisions.

Jack Faust – one of my former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarters – moderated an award-winning Portland civic affairs television program (“Town Hall”) for many years and was also one of the most respected practitioners of appellate law in Oregon. 

He also loved engaging in the humorous revelry and we still recount these stories on some of the numerous Beerchasing Events we’ve had at various Portland bars since retirement. (The picture on the right below was not on one of those events, but from Jack’s law school years.) 

He offered these words of comfort to the Portland office in the midst of a major build-out on two floors in 2003:

Faust - Town Hall 5

Head Shot?

It’s not only the substantive legal issues that complicate lives in a large regional law firm.  As the prohibition against lawyer advertising prohibited by most states’ ethics rule was struck down in a 1977 US Supreme Court decision (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona), the practice of law forever changed. 

Interestingly, three justices (Warren Burger, Lewis Powell Jr. and William Rehnquist) predicted dire consequences.  As Powell stated “…..will effect profound changes in the practice of law, viewed for centuries as a learned profession.”(#8)

…Will effect profound changes in the practice of law……

When I worked at the Oregon State Bar in the late ’70’s, the Board of Governors spent a good part of every meeting discussing how to discipline lawyers who viloated the Ethical Rules by advertising. 

That changed and by the mid ’80’s, most large law firms had Marketing Directors (Schwabe used the euphemism “Director of Client Relations.”)    If a lawyer wanted to become a partner, he or she had to be effective at bringing in new clients.  Professional photographs for resumes and to spiffy up responses to Requests for Proposals became the norm. 

The aforementioned tax lawyer (see above) often battled with the Internal Revenue Service and offered this tongue-in-cheek response to the following 2007 e-mail from Client Relations.  The advice from the Marketing Assistant is also sanctimonious and I’m sure drew some deserved sarcastic responses:

Marketing Assistant: All Attorneys, Paralegals and Managers – our firm photographer will be in the Portland office.  Please dress however, you feel comfortable being represented as a professional – some prefer jacket and tie, others in shirt sleeves, still others in sweaters. – whatever represents who you are. 

These are color individual Headshots (emphasis added) so take advantage and put a little color in the clothes you wear (a bright tie, a colored blazer or shirt….)  

Tax Lawyer: Please do not use the term “Headshot” with those of us who deal with the IRS on a regular basis.  It makes us nervous.

The Oregon State Bar

This is a digression from Schwabe matters because the letter below was received by the Oregon State Bar when I worked there as Business Manager.  But it’s part of my collection. (#9)

Before getting into the essence of Ethics Opinion (No. 475) issued in 1982, I have to state that I loved working with lawyers from 1974 until my retirement in 2011.   

The overwhelming majority of those I met and with whom I worked were not only skilled and dedicated professionals, but people with whom I would not hesitate to have a beer and enjoyed their company.

Now I realize there are lawyer stereotypes – just like those that characterize sales people, undertakers, actuaries and consultants.   And while I disagree with the portrayal of J.W. Reid  from Costa Mesa, CA who wrote this letter, I had to laugh at his assertion.

It was written after the Bar issued an opinion (It was modified in 2005 with Opinion 2005-140) that stated except under very limited circumstances, a lawyer may not have a consensual sexual relationship with a client. 

The opinion made major headlines and Mr. Reid evidently focused on the limited circumstances allowing sex when he wrote the following:

Now the unnamed gentleman below from Independence, Oregon in his 1981 letter indicates anger and revenge for the Oregon State Bar based on a prior act, but the lack of specificity in his notice of claim indicates that he might need the assistance of a lawyer:

oregon State bar lawsuit 1

Expense Reimbursement and Perks

While working as a lawyer in private practice involves stress and very long hours, it had definite advantages – among them generous compensation and year-end bonuses and good benefits and perks – including travel to conferences and seminars paid by the firm.  (#10 – #11)

There were several trends that diminished law firms’ willingness to pay travel and lodging expense at these events.  The economics of law grew much tighter with the over-supply of lawyers and increased competition from advertising in the late 1980’s.   Clients became more sophisticated and concerned with the escalation of fees and costs. 

More importantly, the IRS also modified it rules on the deductibility of meals and entertainment – also spousal travel.  Agents also targeted professional service firms because there were often excesses under the guise of marketing.  (Maybe taxes aren’t always your friend!”)

Prior to that time, the firm would sometimes pay for senior partners to take their spouses to major events such as the American Bar Association National Convention or other professional association meetings.  This included spousal air travel, meals and lodging.   

The enhanced IRS enforcement and requirements now meant that among other requirements:

…… where a taxpayer’s spouse accompanies the taxpayer on a business trip, the travel expenses will not be deductible unless the spouse’s presence on the trip has a bona fide business purpose.” (emphasis added) (#12)

Interpretation of “Bona fide business purpose.”

Of course, garnering agreement on the definition of “bona fide business purpose” generated  debate – maybe of a lesser scale, but almost as vociferous – as that resulting from Justice Potter Stewart describing his threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964. 

And since I was involved in the final approval of these expenses, I enjoyed many of the esoteric justifications submitted.  Perhaps my favorite was the one below which also shows another trait exhibited by many lawyers.  While they may be stereotyped as having inflated egos, I always appreciated the self-deprecating humor shown by many as evidenced below:

While we appreciated his witticism, he either paid for his wife’s expenses out of his own pocket, or she stayed in Seattle while he enjoyed Florida’s sunny climate!

And Finally….

You’ve seen a very small sample of the items I’ve saved from my career in legal management and I’ll leave you with this classic.   The development of a robust Intellectual Property Practice at Schwabe (Patent, Trademark, Copyright, IP Litigation, etc.) began in 2002 under the late Al AuYueng – a gifted lawyer and manager.  It had some interesting implications.

While Schwabe lawyers making the cut to get hired as new associates were very smart and well-educated, the new IP attorneys possessed both of these qualifications, but their educations surpassed that of their colleagues. 

Besides undergrad and law school degrees and passage of the Bar, most of them also had masters’ degrees or doctorates in fields such as Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics or Computer Science.  They also had to pass the Patent Bar Exam.

Their high-tech clients had technical and esoteric issues requiring expert legal advice.  One of my favorites was this one from Al – his inquiry was serious – but his e-mail drew two great responses from lawyers who couldn’t resist the opportunity:

Al Au Yeung:  Does anyone have a recommendation for a carbon dating service?

Lawyer No. I:  Match.com?

Lawyer No. 2:  That’s the response I sent to Al, but I also warned him that they will often bait and switch. They show photos of really attractive minerals and all you end up with are common minerals such as silicon and iron.  You never strike gold!

A Final Comment on Enlightened Management

I worked for two co-managing Partners for most of the years I was the COO.  Mark Long and Dave Bartz were not only distinguished lawyers in their specialties, but had remarkable management instincts – and they complemented each other.

The length of their tenure belies the respect of their lawyer colleagues and that of all firm personnel.  They are both now honored with Emeritus status. (Long on the left and Bartz on the right).

0315_lil_long_and_bartz1

They were also very approachable and collegial which is why one firm paralegal did not feel threatened sending this e-mail to one of them under his own e-mail address: (you’ll have to guess which one received as I don’t want to get fired retroactively!  (In fact, I think the only way I got this e-mail was the recipient laughed about it and forwarded it to me.)

long scan test (2)

Cheers and Happy New Year!

External Photo Attribution

#1.  Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=513523270102753&set=pb.100043352539827.-2207520000.&type=3)

#2.  (https://www.facebook.com/schwabelegal/photos/pb.

100043352539827.-2207520000./1439037686148006/?type=3)

#3.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internal_Revenue_Code.jpg)  This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

#5.  Wikimedia Commons: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brazil_on_the_globe_

(Brazilian_Antarctica_claims_hatched)_(Chile_centered).svg)  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  TUBS    21 June 2011.

#6.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heres_a_bunny_with_waffle.png) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Source: File:Oolong the Rabbit’s last performance (2003).jpg: Hironori Akutagawa Derivative work: Yuval Y § Chat §

#7.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HCS_bus49.JPG) This work has been released into the public domain by its author, William Grimes at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide.  19 February 2007.

#8.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Supreme_Court_Justice_Lewis_Powell_-_1976_official_portrait.jpg)  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

#9.Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sex_education.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Shairyar.khan.7  7 December 2015.

#10.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Bar_Association_3c_1953_issue_U.S._stamp.jpg) This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

#11. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Airbus_A380_blue_sky.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Flickr user Axwel  12 May 2007.

#12.  Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blue-Eagle%2BIRS.png). This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

#13.  Daily Journal of Commerce Oregon (https://djcoregon.com/news/2012/03/16/leadership-in-law-mark-long-and-david-bartz/)  Author:  in 1535March 16, 2012.

 

Get a Read on the Rose City Book Club – Even Now!!

Explanatory Note

I was ready to publish this post on March 15th, but decided in light of world events, that perhaps I should suspend Thebeerchaser.com. for some period.   Offsetting this sentiment about being insensitive were quite a few comments from followers and family that by providing narratives that are on the lighter side right now might be appreciated and provide a diversion from the news.

With that in mind, I will do a few posts about some establishments that I visited months and maybe even a year or two ago, but never had the time to write – not the situation now….. You’ll also see updates on some bars and breweries that are adapting and still doing a good job of serving their customers now – in creative ways that comply with the Oregon’s regulations.

Such is the case with Rose City Book Pub, where owner, Elise Schumock, who you will meet below, is still open for “take out food, growler fills, and book sales.”  Her new hours are 11 am until 10 pm.  Check out the introductory paragraphs in her website which convey what she is doing and some great options you should consider not only for your own enjoyment, but to support a small business owner during this crisis.  (I visited Rose City three times in the last year.)

And if you have any thoughts about if and where Thebeerchaser should “go” in the next weeks – other than to have a draft beer in your favorite watering hole, leave a comment.    Don Williams aka Thebeerchaser

Cheers!

I have to admit that when I read about bars that have a dual function e.g. a tap room and also serve as a cycle or record shop, etc. it evokes reservations.   The bars and watering holes I love (all 367 in the last eight years) are almost always characterized by patrons – especially the regulars in dive bars – engaged in active discussions and interaction.

At home in a tavern…..

Two quotes by Samuel Johnson reinforce this idea although I have used the first on this blog before:

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”

and

“’As soon,’ said he, ‘as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude : when I am seated….wine there exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation and an interchange of discourse with those whom I most love.’”

Philosopher opposed nukes….

Would a book pub be one where patrons immerse themselves in 500-page volumes of Tolstoy or quietly ponder philosopher and historian, Bertrand Russell’s views on nuclear disarmament with only an occasional sip of a brewski while deliberately refraining from any typical barroom banter?

Thus, I had some skepticism about the announcement of the new Rose City Book Pub (hereafter RCBP) when it opened in November, 2018. Part of that was from the fond memories I had at a Beerchasing event in 2012.

I joined colleagues who were members of the Schwabe Williamson law firm Environmental and Natural Resources group when County Cork was located in the same space on NE Fremont.  It’s a charming space in a wonderful old building built in 1927.

Schwabe Environmental lawyers toasting the EPA in an Irish Pub

We had both cheerful and weighty conversations and we liked the pub’s Irish theme.  Brien Flanagan, who is now the leader of that group, a Notre Dame undergrad before law school, even told the joke about the Irish boomerang: “It doesn’t come back. It just sings songs about how much it wants to.”

Why Should You Visit the Rose City Book Pub?

After three visits and a great interview with the cordial and interesting owner, Elise, however, my reservations disappeared and I will return.  The concept works quite well.

And since on two of the three visits to the new establishment were also with lawyers who are Beerchasing regulars (former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jim Westwood – and Bernie Stea), the company was equally stimulating at both County Cork and RCBP.

Elise, Bernie and Jim

I say this as a non-attorney who worked with lawyers for forty years and as one family member said, was a victim of the curse, “May your life be filled with lawyers.”  I loved my career in legal management, however, and as evidenced by these three examples, still spend a lot of time Beerchasing with lawyers – voluntarily…..

The RCPB has a very nice physical layout and ambiance.  And in spite of my concern that it might tend to be a bunch of bibliophiles burying their faces in books, it was exactly the opposite.

Although there are some nice niches where one can cozy up with a book, most people are reading, socializing or working on computers at tables or booths which are an  integral part of the large comfortable and bustling room or chatting at the bar.  The book shelves on each of the far sides provide nice “bookends,” if you will, sitting against walls which are attractively painted.

And the bar with about ten barstools fronts the kitchen where the jovial staff has ongoing interaction with customers.   There’s also some nice art by local artists scattered throughout.

Bar opens to kitchen

What About Elise?

We should talk a little bit about Elise, who based on her outgoing personality, her entrepreneurial spirit and her interesting background deserves accolades.

Elise – “temporary” hiatus in LA….

This Portland native, who attended Grant High School, and then Whitman College, where she majored in Education.   She graduated during the recession and there were no jobs teaching Latin in the NW – her career choice – so she moved to LA in 2001.  She then worked at an elite K-12 private school in which the annual tuition was $40,000.   Her second week as a teacher started with the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.

The neophyte educator tutored and taught Latin, which started a great conversation since Jim Westwood’s mom, Catherine, was both Jim’s and my Latin teacher for two years at Oregon City High School in the ‘60’s.   I threw out the only two Latin words I remember – “pulchra puella” which means beautiful girl.

Caeser – Bloody in Canada…

So Jim and Elise started talking about the Roman Empire and to keep it in context he informed us that a Bloody Caesar is the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary except it includes clam broth.

Her goal was always to return to Portland and after seventeen years, a friend, Matan Gold, had an conceptual idea about a “book pub” in Portland and she thought, “I could do that!”   After a six-month search, she found the building “which perfectly matched my parameters.

Is this used book store and pub the only such combination in Portland?  Well, according to critic Michael Russell in Oregon Live:

As noted by Eater PDX, which broke the bar news last week, this will be Portland’s first such establishment, joining Boston’s Trident Cafe, the Spotty Dog in Hudson, or Afterwords in Washington, D.C.”

They opened on November 3, 2018 and after starting months that saw packed houses,  the first part 2019 “was pretty lean.”  Since that time things have gone very well.  (With that said, Elise, who goes by the title of Book Publican, like any small business owner is concerned about the long-term economic impact of the Corona Virus.)

So does the RCBP have the feel of a typical pub or of a bookstore that just offers some alcoholic beverages.   Let’s look at Willamette Week’s well-stated description in January, 2019:

“It has all the makings of a Portland cliché: craft brews, staged poetry readings, rows of old, obscure books. But don’t be deterred by appearances. The simple bar manages to fuse two of the city’s trademarks—beer and used books—without a drop of pretension…..

This isn’t a bookstore you enter seeking something specific. It’s a humble, well-curated selection, presented for carefree browsing and happenstance discovery. Plus, the bar’s inviting atmosphere and free-flowing beer taps are a recipe for a rare Portland occurrence: chatting with strangers.” (Emphasis supplied)

What’s to Drink?

They have fourteen rotating micro and two nitros on tap in addition to two ciders and Kombucha.  As you can see from the image below, the beers are diverse and comprise 3 IPA’s, a couple amber ales, a Kolsch and Pilsner and a sour ale.  Elise reports, however, that her top single seller is the house red wine – one of four.

You can also have a cocktail as well. And the next time I go back, I will definitely supplement my beer and with a root beer float for $5.

Bernie Stea, a member of the elite law school honorary, Order-of-the-Coif and not to be outdone by Westwood’s erudition in his reference to the Roman Empire, made a point of ordering one of Camas, Washington brewery Grains of Wrath‘s beer.  He then quoted  John Steinbeck – thinking we might see the connection:

“There is nothing in the world like the first taste of beer.”

And his preference for beer from the Camas brewery is understandable since Bernie and his wife, former Portland radio personality, Debb Janes, have a successful high-end residential real estate practice there – View Homes of Clark County.

Grains of Wrath – A good Camas brewery option…..

What’s to Eat?

Elise on her website describes their menu as, “….cafe and bistro style with hearty, whole ingredients and bold flavors.” 

And while I didn’t eat there, it appears to be pretty robust and offers more options than one would expect ranging from sandwiches, salads, appetizers and even some entrees such as roasted chicken and pork shoulder – the latter at reasonable prices of $12.50 and $16.00 respectively.   Also deserts and a kids’ menu.

One Yelp reviewer commented that they should have more vegan options and Elise replied:

Our vegan options are Mediterranean Sandwich, Quinoa Bowl, Pasta Puttanesca, Hummus Plate, Fries made in our gf and vv fryer.  One of the rotating soups is always vegan, and several of our snacks are vegan, including olives, Chex mix, gf pretzels, hummus and carrots, apples and peanut butter, and ants on a log. 

The term “pub crawl” doesn’t apply to this snack.

Elsie asserted the need for diversity in her menu by also stating, “Vegans have friends who are not vegan.”

(BTW,I didn’t know what “ants on a log” were and was relieved when I learned the snack is made by “…spreading cream cheese, peanut butter, ricotta cheese…..on spreads of celery and placing raisins on top.” (Wikipedia)

For those put off by the title, it’s better than one of the variations “ticks on a stick” – substitute black olives for the raisins.  Elise asserted that ants on a log goes very well with a shot of whiskey.

She and her staff (Christine, Amy and John, the cook) are very friendly and helpful in explaining the food options and a very impressive tap list for a small, new establishment.

Christine and Amy are great ambassadors for the pub

One thing I have noticed in the eight years of my watering hole travels is that the bars that appear to be successful and radiate a welcoming vibe are those that have become a “community” of sorts, not only within their neighborhood but for those who gather socially from other parts of the City.

Elise promotes this approach stating:

“We host all kinds of events: readings and live music, book clubs, fundraisers, and stuff for kids, We aim to build a community, and become a hub of sharing, discussion, and good times.”

Stuff for kids…

And the Calendar-of-Events on their website is filled with gatherings such as Trivia Night every Wednesday from 7:00 to 9:00, affirms it.  Live music also brings in patrons on the evenings its offered.

They also have a very nice back patio.

What’s to Read?

The inventory of books on the shelves and in niches throughout the large space is about 5,000 (with about another 100 boxes in storage)  and Elise’s specialty is literary fiction.  They also have kids’ books.

How are the Reviews?

Certainly, one way to get a feel for how things are going besides personal visits and talking to the owner, is checking out social media reviews.   I always try to see if there are themes and if their are trends to the comments.  Also, if there are any crazy reviewers which is often the case.

My son-in-law, Ryan Keene orders from Christine

In the first year of operation, one would expect some negative reviews but other than one reviewer who complained that she thought it was too loud and another that he thought that it was too quiet and they needed music, many of the reviews were almost effusive (see below).

I was impressed that whenever there was a comment with even a mild criticism or some suggestions for improvements, Elise always responded – a smart move for any business owner.  And I did find one from 12/7/19 that seemed at least at little bit crazy:

Everyone here seemed nice, but snobby. I found myself to be the only one of 7-8 people grooming the book shelves in search of a life changing event. Most people keyed away on their laptops or tablets.

I really just didn’t like the kind of people in this place. Maybe it’s that I don’t fit in. I felt like I was surrounded by angry feminists and judgmental leftists. I was wearing business attire and the glares I got were uncomfortable. I just didn’t feel like I fit in. Otherwise this would be a 5/5”

I hope this person had a life-changing event other than the one all of us have experienced in the last few weeks, but in contrast, the comments below describe the ambiance of the pub:

“This place feels like a comfortable mix of a Powell’s and your favorite corner bar. People were sitting alone reading and sipping beer, playing games with family, meeting up with a friend or having a glass of wine while they worked on their computer.  I got lucky enough to meet the owner, Elise, who is as charming as this pub. She has made a place that everyone can feel welcome.”   (Yelp 12/29/19)

Beautiful space with friendly ‘barbarians’ and a warm atmosphere. Will definitely be back!” (Yelp 3/11/20)

“I stopped in for the first time on my latest trip to Portland and absolutely fell in love!  This place is basically Portland in a pub.”    (Yelp 9/12/19)

“Only in Portland will you find a place as cool as this. Where east meets west, the place that defines PDX. If you thought Powells was cool, this place trumps it in all aspects.”   (Yelp 7/22/19)

What’s Holding You Back?

And finally, another one that is more evidence that you should drop by and say “hello” to Elise and her staff:

“This place is pretty awesome! Do you ever have a book and want to read? Do you ever want to read with beer and or wine, maybe a cocktail? Not a bar, not some scene place, but some place where you can actually read. I’ve long wanted one and this is it.

It’s a mash up if you’re favorite small bookstore had food and drinks, this is what would happen. We came here for bookclub and it was so fun. We had a great discussion, their selection of beers on tap is extensive and they have several food options.”

And if you feel so inclined, you can even bring in and post some original writing or poetry for patrons to view which occupy one wall and add another nice community touch.  This photo  shows  their  “Take a Poem/Leave a Poem” feature.  Some are original works, some are copies of published works.  Another nice touch. (And by the way, if you want to help, the RCBP also takes donations of books.)

Rose City Book Pub     

1329 NE Fremont

 

Books and Brew

Thebeerchaser’s home office and library  –  See narrative below

I have written about books devoted to beer and brewing in prior posts.  Examples include Jeff Alworth’s, The Beer Bible which Goodreads states, “….is the ultimate reader-and drinker-friendly guide to all the world’s beers.” 

Another volume I’ve mentioned and purchased from the Mount Angel Abbey Book StoreDrinking with the Saints – The Sinners’ Guide to a Holy Happy Hour is also a great reference “and a concoction that both sinner and saints will savor.” 

It’s a great collection of cocktails, toasts and anecdotes based on the Holy Days and saints.  For example: “As our Episcopal brethren like to say, ‘Where two or three are gathered in His name, there is a fifth.'”

And then there’s my friend, Dr, Eric Hall, who teaches theology and philosophy at Carrol College.  In his book, The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to God.  Eric integrates academia and spirituality with wit and wisdom.  For example:

“Then again, some mystics describe the deep sorrow of seeing their true self within a context of divine luminosity.  Again, this idea makes sense as it’s kind of like seeing what a bar floor looks like when the lights come up: you didn’t know how many dirty old pork rinds were either on the ground or in your soul prior to the divine unveiling.”

The Rose City Book Pub

The spark for the topic of this blog post emanated from the grand opening of The Rose City Book Pub on November 3rd. This new pub is located in the former NE Portland space of County Cork (see Beerchaser review in June 2012)  While I am sorry to see any bar bite the dust, it’s good news that a new watering hole filled the vacuum.

Reveling (rather than reading) at County Cork in 2012 with the Schwabe Williamson Environment Group

Portland Eater describes the new venture as “a bookstore-meets-bar-meets restaurant with beer, wine and comfy cafe-style menu..”

I’m just not sure if I am comfortable with a pub where regulars are sitting in comfy nooks in easy chairs rather than telling stories at the bar while raising mugs.  That said, I will make a trip and let you know what I think and I wish owner, Elise Schumock well.

However, the concept pervaded my consciousness with some other thoughts on books – including pondering my own reading habits after a visit to Powells City of Books – a Portland treasure which houses about one million books.

What I Should Read Versus What I Do Read 

While wondering through Powell’s, I saw some books on display with notations of “Staff Picks.”   These are works of both fiction and non-fiction that Powell’s staffers are evidently reading and have favorable reactions – they print a short synopsis on a note card by the tome so you can see why it is recommended.

Staff Picks at Powells

But I was struck by how cerebral and refined the majority of the books on these shelves  appeared to me – two in particular that made me think a little bit more:

Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens.   Now this novel did get five stars on Amazon but the staff account was “This story is a beautiful and mesmerizing coming-of-age saga featuring Kya – aka Marsh Girl.  Part mystery, part love story, this book will haunt me!” 

It was also a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Selection and Reese, who after all, went to Harvard Law in one of her movies, went so far as to say, “I can’t even express how much I love this book! I didn’t want this story to end!”   (Perhaps she was reading it while she was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail…) 

The New York Times describes it asPainfully Beautiful,” (emphasis supplied) which makes me wonder if it was one of those books where you’re half way through and hate it, but refuse to lose the investment of time by abandoning it.  You slog through it with discomfort and end up being glad you finished it afterwards.

Now the book above is a murder mystery and perhaps a good story, but The Vegetarian by Han Kang elicited this excerpted comment by the reviewer:  “Somewhere between the crossroads of obsession and mental illness, lust and betrayal, the Vegetarian exists.”

This novella, which was critically acclaimed internationally, takes place in South Korea and scored 3.6 out of 5.0 stars by Goodreads.   Their synopsis, in part, states, “In a country were societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more ‘plant-like’ existence is a shocking act of subversion.”

Potentially subversive??

Well anyway, it made me wonder what books are really on the bed stands of these reviewers.   Do they really devour these for enjoyment or is it just part of the job?

It’s the same concept when magazines ask celebrities what novel they are reading.  The answer is usually one by Dostoevsky, Jane Austen or F. Scott Fitzgerald or a four-hundred page non-fiction book on dialectical materialism rather than a thriller by Danielle Steele or James Patterson.

And then I remembered hearing about Oprah’s Book Club.  Maybe it differs from Reese’s in that those who indicate they like her selections get a free car.  Since I was reflecting, I then wondered why I had never heard any famous males who have national book clubs.

Buffet’s Book Club?

Although according to a New York Times article “Men Have Book Clubs Too,” why don’t famous guys like Warren Buffet, Tony Bennett or UCLA Coach Chip Kelly have national book clubs with recommended selections?  Maybe Chip’s would feature The Carnivore…..

 

The Annals of America – A compendium on the great story of America

So I started feeling guilty looking at my own library.  After having my own office on our dining room table for most of my career, in retirement I now have a wonderful library/office. Some of the collections are those my parents gave us in school.

These include the 54-volume “Great Books of the Western World” (1952) and the eighteen-volume Annals of America, both published by the Encyclopedia Britannica.  There’s a bunch of others that I enthusiastically accumulated over the years with the idea that I would read them when I had more leisure time.

Churchill – “Their Finest Hour” is still waiting to be read…

But I noted that although my intent has been to read Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War, all of the sixteen volumes in my set of “The Nobel Prize Library” and about 35 books on the Civil War and World War II, they sit largely untouched on the shelves.

I shouldn’t leave out the twelve of forty-one volumes in the Time/Life Collection of World War II, I bought at a used bookstore in Lincoln City a few year ago.  

Twelve of the forty-one in this great collection

Although I have read some great non-fiction books in the last two years (see below) my most recent reads (which I have really enjoyed) are the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child, a slew of John Sandford paperbacks (which prey on you…) and almost all of the wonderful mysteries by Phillip Margolin.

Should my book time be devoted to more cerebral works?

Interesting, albeit tragic times in American history

But rationality prevailed and I realize that one of the reasons I have not read more highbrow volumes is because I have spent gads of time in the last seven years visiting about 250 bars, pubs and breweries (about half in Portland the rest throughout Oregon, the US and Europe) and then writing 200+ posts on Thebeerchaser.com – each averaging about 2,200 words.   I love this idiosyncratic hobby!

Joe R. Lansdale – unique dialogue and compelling.

And it can be asserted that what some would describe as escapist-trash fiction is really enjoyable.  If you look beyond the mainstream authors such as Sanford, Child, Ignatius, Turow and the aforementioned Phillip Margolin, you can find some treasures.

I’ve discovered some lesser known scribes such as Joe R. Lansdale, who has written forty-five novels.  (The one below is the first one I’ve read – I liked the cover art when I saw it in the Library).

I recently read Bad Chili, a “tongue-in-cheek” murder mystery in Texas.   The action is innovative e.g. an early encounter with a “vicious, angry, bloodthirsty, rabid squirrel.”  Lansdale’s dialogue is unique and  rich with quotes such as this one from Jim Bob Luke, a primary character:

“Life’s like a bowl of chili in a strange café.  Sometimes it’s pretty tasty and spicy.  Other times, it tastes like shit.”

A novel of suspense (and spice….)

Or the following from protagonist, Hap Collins, a working-man, turned private detective:

“His mother, a harried woman in lace-up shoes designed by the Inquisition, a long black dress, and a Pentecostal hairdo – which was a mound of brown hair tied up in a bun that looked as if it had been baked into place to contain an alien life form – was pretending to be asleep.”

I should also state that I have read some very good historical works in the last two years – among them Ike’s Spies  by Stephen Ambrose and the Path Between the Seas – The Creation of the Panama Canal, both by David McCullough.

Add to that River of Doubt (Teddy Roosevelt’s exploration of the Amazon River) and Destiny of the Republic – A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (about the assassination of President James Garfield) both by Candice Millard.  All read like novels.

And I’m half way through an insightful and thought provoking work by David Brooks entitled The Road to Character – a timely topic these days….. I would heartily recommend all of the above – just do 25 pages in one of these non-fiction works and then 100 in a Jack Reacher tale before you fall asleep.

Odysseus – his exploits make Jack Reachers look tame!

I’ll keep devouring the paperback spy adventure or murder mystery without guilt and just enjoy looking at the volumes while I’m in my office with the thought that I will at some point read another Nobel Prize author besides Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea) read last year.

Oh, and I forgot that I studied a Great Book selection – Homer’s The Odyssey with my youngest daughter when it was a selection she studied in her senior year at high school.  (I guess that was about ten years ago come to think of it…)

A Story about the Northwest’s Lawyer Novelist

Speaking of Phillip Margolin, let me introduce you to another long-time Portland lawyer.  Mike Greene is a Stanford Law graduate and practiced law in Portland for many years.   He is now basically retired although he still serves in an “Of Counsel” capacity to a small law firm.

Portland Lawyer and sometime Sr. Deputy District Attorney, Mike Greene

Since I worked at the Oregon State Bar and in Portland’s second largest law firm for a combined total of over thirty years, I know and have a lot of attorney friends.  Mike is one of my favorites.

After graduating from Stanford, he was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1972, and became a highly respected trial lawyer – Oregon Super Lawyer six times – among other peer review honors. Like many of the counselors I know he has also devoted a considerable time to civic and professional endeavors.

Mike’s resume of these goes beyond most and he has been involved in American Diabetes Association work since 1982 and was Chair of the National Board of Directors from 1994 to 1995.  He also created a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination on behalf of people with diabetes.

Recently I read one of Phillip Margolin’s earlier novels that I had inadvertently skipped, since I have read and enjoyed almost all of his twenty-three books, all of which have been in the New York Times best-seller list.   In Fugitive, 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 that I remembered this character from a few of the other Margolin mysteries.   Now the Portland Bar is a “small community” and Mike is about the same vintage as Phillip Margolin.   So I e-mailed Mike and wrote:

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

Mike 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.” 

Portland Lawyer and Author, Phillip Margolin

Mike and I go to the same church and last Sunday when we chatted, he agreed to send me the names of the novels in which Mike Greene makes his appearance.  He added that the topic has helped break-the–ice in some tense legal negotiations over the years.

I told him that I assumed the Oregon State Bar could not prosecute him for any disciplinary issues that might arise from his conduct in the novels.

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).

As an aside, besides his writing career – he began writing full-time in 1996 – Phillip Margolin had a distinguished legal career as well.  After graduating from NYU School of Law in 1970, he started by clerking for the Chief Judge of the Oregon the Court of Appeals.   As an appellate lawyer, he has appeared in the US Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals and both the Oregon Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Frequent speaker

As a trial lawyer, he represented about thirty people charged with homicide, including several who faced the death penalty.  His service to others began with a two-year stint in the Peace Corps after college graduation and he taught junior high in the South Bronx during his last two years of law school.

He was Chair of the Board for Chess for Success from 1996 to 2009, a non-profit that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills.   He was also on the Board of Literary Arts, which sponsors the Oregon Book Awards from 2007 to 2013.

I regret that I never got to see either Mike Greene or Phillip Margolin in the courtroom!

Farewell Tom

Tom Dulcich

Another notable Portland lawyer was Tom Dulcich, who I knew from working with him for twenty-five years at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.  Tom passed away in July at the age of 65 from a rare form of cancer.

The Astoria native besides being a wonderful human being was the consummate lawyer.   He was a Phi Beta Kappa grad at the U of O and one of two Rhodes Scholar finalists in 1976.  He attended one of the nation’s leading law schools – the University of Chicago and started his 38-year career as a Schwabe trial lawyer soon afterwards.

He was a fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, served on the Schwabe Board of Directors and as a member and Chair of the Board of the Columbia Maritime Museum.   He was a man of faith and family.

Justice Scalia – Fishing partner…..

One of his passions was fishing and he took pride in operating the family’s gillnet boat.  In fact, a number of years ago, when the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was in Oregon for a speech, he asked Tom to be his guide in a successful fishing trip on the Columbia River.

“Dry Humor”

Earlier in the post, I mentioned some good brew-related books and I remembered one other mentioned in the The Week magazine.  The Wet and the Dry: a Drinker’s Journey relates a pub crawl, of sorts, that author, Lawrence Osborne, took through the Middle East and Southern Asia.

Now I have read (and used as a resource) some similar books including Colorado – A Liquid History & Tavern Guide to the Highest State by Dr. Thomas J. Noel, a professor at the University of Colorado, who visited every bar in Colorado for a doctoral thesis.

And don’t forget Joan Melcher, who essentially made the same journey (50 watering holes) in Montana as documented in Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars

It seems a little unusual to undertake this type of study in some countries where alcohol is illegal, but as the reviewer states, “If you are looking for ‘an entertaining romp through half the bars in the Middle East” The Wet and the Dry will not disappoint.”

Cheers!