Besides Wayfinder Brewing, which I reviewed in my last Beerchaser post, I’ve been back on the trail the last two months and had first-time visits to a number of breweries and bars that I’ll be sharing with you in future posts.
These include Binary, Von Ebert, and Pono breweries, the Wildwood Saloon and the Basement Pub – the latter a wonderful neighborhood bar on Portland’s SE side. Stay tuned and here’s a preview with some photos below:
That said and without trying to be maudlin at the start of a new year, I feel compelled to recognize three great Portland establishments – two that recently closed and one that will in the next few months. No glitzy brewery with shiny taps and sleek modern furniture can replace them.
“Admittedly, civic preservationists may have reason to worry about the Jolly’s truly irreplaceable feature.
Jackson admits there’s no clear plan on what will become of the bar’s justly treasured signage—a majestic freestanding pylon sign shaped like a ship’s mast at a height no longer sanctioned—but it’s evaded the wrecking ball before.”
For twenty years, an eastside landmark!
“….the property was bought by developers whose plans are for a five-story, 100-plus-unit residential complex……’We got destroyed during all the conflicts,’ (Portland protests and riots) Jackson tells WW.
‘No matter how much we tried to fix the building, people kept hurting it, and the police were unavailable to help.’ “(emphasis added)
(Another sad commentary on the City of Portland’s disastrous inability to protect its streets and businesses during the pandemic.)
Portland’s permitting process is notoriously slow – a blessing for regulars at the JR because the original closing was supposed to be on Super Bowl Sunday. A bartender told me in a phone call today, however, that it has been extended to April or until the developers get the final go-ahead for their project.
I hit the Jolly Roger with my friend and Beerchasing Regular, Hillary Barbour, whose other Beerchasing exploits have included The Verne and Mad Hanna – a Reed College alum who appreciates dive bars….
And the Jolly Roger certainly fits the definition of a classic dive as you can see from the photos below – the cheap beer, video machines, dark and windowless rooms, historic beer signs and the restrooms which defy health department and perhaps contemporary society’s standards. It is memorable and Portlanders will be sorry to see it set sail.
While the SE location will be missed, fortunately the Jackson’s have two other locations – the Jolly Roger at John’s Landing and the Sports Page in Beaverton.
Perhaps the historic ship’s mast should be placed at the top of Portland City Hall. Then all the City would need is a rudder……..!
A Buried Treasure Disappears
One of the establishments I reviewed in 2016, was one I visited for lunch many times while I was working at the law firm before retirement in 2011. The Schwabe firm was only two short blocks away from Mummy’s – an iconic Egyptian Lounge and Restaurant in the basement of another building.
It was owned by two unforgettable Egyptian brothers, Ghobvial and Phillip Mounir. They bartended, cooked and served the food – they were the only “employees.” They opened Mummy’s in about 1986.
I used to take some of our Summer Associates (law school clerks) there for lunch. Since we were competing with other law firms to recruit them, these top students were typically wined and dined at Portland’s finest restaurants – Higgins, the Heathman Grille, Jake’s, etc.
To our Recruiting Director’s initial horror, I would usually take them to Mummy’s – that is until without exception, they would tell her that they loved the “tomb experience,”– the ambiance, Pyramid Beer, the brothers’ hospitality and the good Egyptian cuisine:
And the Schwabe managers and my family surprised me after hosting my 2011 retirement dinner at nearby Nel Centro, with an after-dinner reception at Mummy’s – it was memorable – in fact, there is a video someplace in the Ethernet of me reluctantly sharing the floor with a belly dancer, who was performing that night.
The last time I was there was for late afternoon drinks with two of my favorite Schwabe lawyers, Brian (Brain) King and Margaret Hoffman – both skilled litigators who have since retired. We met at the firm at 5:00 and headed on our two-block journey – like a reverse exodus of the Children of Israel.
Even though it had been five years since I had been to their establishment, when I walked in, Ghobvial immediately exclaimed, “Schwabe!”and pointed towards what had been my favorite booth.
Whether it was the pandemic or the brothers deciding to forsake the daily grind, Mummy’s closed permanently in 2022.
Another possible theory was one I came across today in the Morning Brew newsletter – the ubiquitous arbiters of political correctness conceptually assigned the establishment to the same fate as one of Egypt’s most famous mummies Ramesses the Great, who was evidently ready to depart at the age of 90 after reigning for almost sixty years:
“Because of the many battles he fought, Ramesses’ body showed evidence of healed injuries and arthritis; his arteries were hardened; and he had a large dental infection that might have killed him.” (Photo attribution #1)
“Some museums want you to remember that mummies were once—a really long time ago—people, too. A trio of British museum organizations said they will avoid using the word “mummy” whenever possible, and swap it out with “mummified remains of” or “mummified person.”
Well Mummy’s may be gone, but it will not be forgotten – neither the name, the brothers, the food nor the ambiance and charm.
“(Sloan’s) closed for good Dec. 30 following Sloan’s sale of the property to developers— they plan to build a seven-story apartment building on the land, and (Shirley) Sloan will settle into a well-earned retirement.
Nostalgic well-wishers spent the last few weeks of 2022 coming by for one last visit and often to learn just how little they really knew about the establishment.”
And why do I describe this establishment as “iconic”? Well, just check the photo of the exterior wall on its west side in the photos I took when I reviewed the bar in 2016 – you can also view a younger Beerchaser from that visit….
Co-owner Bob Sloan also owned a body shop (Sloan’s Custom Body and Paint) next door and did skilled body and restorative work on classic autos. His specialty, however, was working on Freightliner Trucks which is evident from the exterior wall and a Freightliner grill built right into the bar.
When a café next door to the body shop run by an elderly lady closed, they bought the property and opened the bar in 1979. (The entire property was originally a creamery that opened in 1926.) Some reviews labeled it a “dive bar,” but it is no such thing.
When I interviewed this charming and classy lady in 2016, Shirley described Sloan’s as “My living room.”
“Notable elements of the décor there at Sloan’s is the ‘frozen in time’ 1970s look inside; the semi-truck cab jutting out from the building; and the Chicago Coin Band-Box jukebox, a rare thing to find anywhere in the U.S. (it’s estimated there are only about 10 of them operating around the country).
Put in a quarter and you’ll see the figurines at the top dancing and playing the musical instruments in their hands, in time to whatever tune you picked (mostly Country music).”
I was joined on my visit to Sloan’s by friends “West Coast” Dave Hicks, a San Francisco consultant with whom I worked in law firm days and John Horvick. People in the NW will recognize< John as an oft-quote political and polling consultant at the respected firm DHM Research and with whom I served on the Board of the City Club of Portland.
The three of us enjoyed the ambiance and the food (essentially home-cooked since it’s Shirley’s living room….). I’m sure they join me and other Portlanders who said farewell to this Albina area neighborhood institution. It’s one of a number of bars that will now exist only in our good memories.
May Shirley Sloan have a wonderful retirement and let’s hope the Oregon Historical Society or some other protector of historical artifacts gains possession of the Chicago Coin Band-Box jukebox.
(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?
But one where the tension was eased by jocularity and people not taking themselves too seriously.
# 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….)
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.
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.
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:
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:
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 abona 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!
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).
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.)
#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.
Many of us Boomers remember hearing the diminutive “Tattoo” played by actor, Herve Villechaize, on the popular television show Fantasy Island (1977-1984) ringing a bell and yelling “De Plane – De Plane” to Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalba’n) as the next group appeared on the horizon.
The series was a Saturday night staple after The Love Boat. The plane always brought “guests” who had either paid or won a chance to live out their fantasies. (# External photo attribution at the end of the post.) #1
Since college graduation (and perhaps a little before that event in 1971) I’ve saved a lot of material – currently stored in numerous file cabinets in our garage, my office, etc. These range from academic papers from undergrad (see end of post) to graduate school, personal mementos – also tax and financial records.
The eclectic collection also includes letters-to-the-editor I’ve written, civic work documents and work stuff from my almost thirty-five year career working with lawyers at Clackamas County, the Oregon State Bar and finally for twenty-five years at the NW Regional Law Firm Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt from which I retired as the Chief Operating Officer in 2011.
But there’s also newspaper clippings and magazine articles on travel and major events. (I have two large boxes of papers and magazines with the front pages or covers ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Moon landing, the turn of the Millennium, etc.). I always thought my grandkids might want to use them in their civic classes…….
My wife of almost 43 years has acquiesced to this idiosyncratic habit because although ubiquitous, they are at least organized and mostly out-of-sight. However, since we will probably be downsizing and in the event of the sudden demise of Thebeerchaser, she has insisted I significantly reduce (that means recycle most of them especially if they have not been viewed in the last ten to fifteen years).
Fortunately, this has been a mission on which we work, in part, together – negotiating and debating the wisdom of a continuing home in my archives for much of the content we review.
She did agree that the news clipping below from the long-gone Oregon City Enterprise Courier in 1980 had merit. (It was not in our wedding album and I uncovered it after a lot of years have gone by).
From the depths of the garage archives…..
However, not willing to encourage me, she asked the following for which I had no satisfactory response and as a result, culled one full file drawer of paper:
“Don, why do you need an outdated newspaper article or map of Sister Bay Wisconsin from 2003 and other places throughout the country when we would get updated information from the internet when we plan a trip?”
Before giving you some examples so you can get a feel for what I value and asking your opinion on their continuing survival, I offer this excerpt from a wonderful tribute my two daughters, Lisa and Laura – now both nurses – presented at my 70th birthday party. It shows that my collection, albeit a family joke, of sorts, also seems to get some tacit approval.
I might add, that one full file drawer is filled with their drawings and academic work from kindergarten through college – I have culled this category twice before deciding to keep the rest and letting them ultimately decide what they want to retain – examples are below:
“The File Guy “
“Dondi loves his files. Just so many files…The garage is full of them. There’s files at the beach house. There’s a file in Seattle. You can always count on him to be reading the newspaper and clipping out articles for us that he thinks we might find important, interesting or relevant.
The lesson here was for us to stay informed and to be engaged in our community, however small or large that meant. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. If you don’t like something, change it….or at least write a Letter-to-the-Editor..”
In the remainder of this post and the next, I’ll give somewhat of a chronology by category to give just a sample of what has survived the most recent purge.
I worked as the Assistant Supervisor of Elections and then as an Administrative Analyst for the County Commissioners from 1974 through 1979. The last two years, I was one of two staffers for the Commissioners and our boss was the Chief of Staff – a two-martini lunch guy who spent most of his time “lobbying” in Salem. We were the first admin staff hires by the Commission and they named us “The Whiz Kids.”
While the County was pretty dysfunctional, it had great people (especially the lawyers who had sharp intellects and senses of humor) and it was there that I met Bob Elfers, who came in as a consultant and became my future boss for the next eighteen years at both the Oregon State Bar and Schwabe Williamson – a wonderful mentor.
The late Commissioner Robert Schumacher was a superb and sharp elected official and became a good friend who served as an usher in our wedding.
Artwork? – Bob Schumacher graduated from law school and had a better grasp of the Oregon land-use system implemented in 1973 with passage of Senate Bill 100 than almost any elected official in Oregon. Besides that, Schu had a great sense of humor that helped to mitigate the stress of local government work.
When the County decided to have a contest to develop a logo with a $25 savings bond for the winner, Schu submitted the following which I found in my files.
Upper Volta and Oregon? – I discovered another document I hadn’t looked at since 1977, but it evoked the memory of Schu walking into my office and saying, “OK Whiz Kid, you drew the short straw.” The Commissioners had received correspondence from the International Visitor Program associated with the US State Department in Washington D.C.
An official named Idrissa Ouedraogo, who was Counselor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ and Director of Protocol for the African Republic of Upper Volta, was touring various governments in the US and he – fluent in French but spoke little English – and his interpreter would be spending most of the day observing aspects of Clackamas County government.
To make a long story short, I took him to visit the County Extension Service, the Data Center, a court hearing, a Commissioner’s meeting and to see the “famous” Oregon City Municipal Elevator.
Mr. Ouedraogo was a distinguished and polite young gentleman – about my age – and the only stressful thing during our interaction was trying to figure out whether I should look at him or his interpreter when I was talking. They left in the early afternoon for their next destination.
I had completely forgotten about it until I unearthed the missive from the State Department in one of the garage files this month. So before I recycled, I decided to see if through the miracle of the internet, I could find out anything about my former visitor from Ouagadougou – then capital of Upper Volta (which I learned is now Burkina_Faso). (#2)
Well, unfortunately, Idrissa, died in 2018 at the age of 64, but not before he gained fame as a screenwriter, director, and producer.
“He is best known for his feature film Tilaï, which won the Grand Prix at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival and Samba Traoré (1993), which was nominated for the Silver Bear award at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.” (Wikipedia)
Urinals, Stools – Average Load and Overlap Time – Perhaps it’s my idiosyncratic sense of humor, but I kept this 1977 letter to then Sheriff John Renfro from the State Workman’s Compensation Board because it seemed bizarrely ludicrous given the language. (My opinion hasn’t changed after 46 years).
It certainly indicates changes in gender roles since that time, for example, the agency is now known as the State Workers’ Compensation Board That said, the ranks of full-time female law enforcement officers nationally is still a low 13.3%.
Ralph Rodia, Assistant Manager of the Occupational Health Section, in this one page correspondence, informed the elected Sheriff in response to his letter about the adequacy of the County’s toilet facilities:
The second paragraph is most notably geeky from a solid waste standpoint and enough to make one flush with chagrin. I loved the letter’s ending sentence where Mr. Rodia admonishes:
“You are advised, however, that you have a marginal situation and if the number of additional men or their overlap time increases, at least one additional facility would be required.”
Linked-in reports only that Ralph Rodia is retired and living in Salem. Unfortunately, the 2021 message below on the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Facebook page indicates that John is no longer with us:
“We’re saddened to announce the Dec. 6 passing of John Renfro, the 27th Sheriff of Clackamas County. He was 85. John Renfro served a four-year term as Clackamas County Sheriff (1977-81). It was one highlight in a lifetime of service.
Renfro served in the U.S. Army for three years, and later joined the Oregon State Police, where he was a trooper from 1960-62. He then joined the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in 1963, serving as a deputy and detective until 1968. He worked as a Juvenile Court counselor and training officer from 1968-76.” (#3)
A career in public service.
I’ll finish my Clackamas County collection and also this post, by including two pictures – one I found in a clipping from early 1979 – again from the Oregon City Enterprise Courier – and one Janet took of me at home during a COVID shutdown period in 2021.
Admittedly, this is primarily for egotistical purposes to provide evidence that Thebeerchaser at one time could grow a decent beard and mustache even though it also shows that my taste in neckties has not improved.
In closing, I hope you’ll indulge me as I unveil some additional relics from my files in the next post. I know at least one person who enjoys this escapade!
I indicated above that one component of my files is papers from undergrad and grad school. I’ve now been persuaded that those have no value to anyone including me; however, I insisted on saving page 12 from this 1968 course at Oregon State on Latin American Political Systems.
I thought I had waxed eloquently about future policy initiatives to mitigate the spread of Communism. I was therefore taken aback with the professor’s comment highlighted in yellow which states:
“This paper is really a mixed bag, fluctuating widely between superficial and pedestrian description and sophisticated analysis.”
I didn’t go to his office afterwards and ask him to break that down into percentages, but he give me a B on the paper so perhaps the high-level intellectual narrative was able to transcend the shallow and cursory BS I wrote while drinking Budweiser.
My idiosyncratic pursuit of new bars and breweries – initiated as a retirement hobby in August 2011 – was waylaid by the pandemic in 2020-1 and major back surgery in June, 2022.
It’s resumed, albeit at a slower pace than the rapid stride that saw me at the end of 2019, having visited and reviewed a total of 366 watering holes of all kinds. 119 were in the Portland metro area and the other 247 scattered throughout Oregon, many of the fifty states and even a few in Europe.
In 2020, I only added nine – as establishments temporarily closed or went out of business permanently. While I’ve lost the formal count, going back in my files, I arrived at a new total.
It appears that during temporary breaks in the lockdown in 2021 and after starting the routine again in 2022, I added 25 more – meaning my Beerchasing exploits have taken me to approximately 400 wonderful (at least most of them) watering holes in a little over eleven years.
Aside from seven listed below in 2021-2 – all in Oregon – I have not written complete reviews on the other eighteen. That’s because with the exception of road trip visits, I always try to hit a tavern or brewery at least twice before I write up my reactions.
You can read the reviews of the following by clicking on the links below:
Since a number of the others in Portland merit at least a mention, in one of my next posts, I’ll give a thumbnail sketch of some of these establishments.
Communication From Former Colleagues
That said, I have to relate an e-mail from one of my good friends from working days – Howard Mudrick – now the Executive Director at Winstead – a large national law firm based in Dallas, Texas He worked with Schwabe (my firm) as a legal consultant for almost twenty years on a variety of projects from mergers to strategic planning.
(Mudrick and Peterson below – photos from their respective firms)
Howard and I co-presented at a number of national and regional Association of Legal Administrators’ conferences and, of course, shared many beers and martinis over the year. He is well aware of my Beerchasing hobby.
Pete Peterson is another consultant and CPA at Maxfield Peterson with whom we worked on a number of great law projects and also made presentations practices with his wife, Catherine, in Ridgeway, Colorado. He is also well aware of my Beerchasing exploits and raised a mug on numerous occasions.
Howard sent the following e-mail and link on October 28th with a copy to Pete:
“Don – hope this finds you and Janet doing well and staying healthy. I hope she doesn’t kill me, but this article SCREAMS YOU. Quite an interesting idea. Take Pete with you. I still have to work for a living.”
(Pete replied by e-mail that he had already applied!)
The following article from the October edition of Food and Wine is entitled:
“This Company Will Send You on a Two-Year RV Trip to Visit Breweries:”
(External photo attribution at the end of the narrative #1)
“Harvest Hosts is looking for someone to create the ultimate brewery and distillery road trip across America. For beer and spirits lovers, the idea of spending two years traveling around the country in an RV hitting up hundreds of breweries and distilleries might sound like a dream come true.
Well, the RV campsite company Harvest Hosts is looking for someone to do exactly that — and will cover a lot of the expenses to make it happen.”
Without being presumptuous, I would suggest that Thebeerchaser would be one of the most qualified people in the US to take on this onerous project. Howard’s assertion re. qualifications is correct since the requirements – besides being over 21 and having a driver’s license, are:
“Evidence of your love of breweries and distilleries with ‘images and videos highly recommended.'”
The evidence makes a convincing case for Thebeerchaser!
When I enthusiastically showed the article to wife, Janet, she pointed out the wording about them paying “some of the expenses” and the paragraph:
“As for actual pay, the company says they are only offering a daily stipend of $50, meaning that despite all the free drinks and rent-free RV, the effective salary isn’t much more than $18,000 per year.”
(Janet said she didn’t want to kill Howard as suggested in his e-mail above, but I should just send all his missives to my spam folder.)
She also reminded me that I also got very enthused (albeit naively so) in May this year when I saw the following story in Taste of Home:
“The folks at Oscar Mayer are looking for a new Wienermobile driver, or “Hotdogger,” to escort six giant wieners across the nation. It’s a pretty high honor considering the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile has been going cross-country since 1936.
According to Oscar Mayer, there are more people who have gone to space than people who have held the title of Hotdogger.” (#2)
“The position isn’t just driving, though. The newest Hotdoggers to carry on the legacy will be spokespeople for Oscar Mayer for one year. This means public appearances, some time on the small screen and radio and newspaper interviews .
As a Wienermobile driver, you’ll also receive a competitive salary on top of the sightseeing bonus.”
So even though I reluctantly gave up the idea, my creative juices started to flow thinking about a term I haven’t used (fortunately) since retiring in 2011 – “Synergy.”
I would persuade these two firms that they could combine the two positions based on the dynamic and almost divinely inspired relationship between beer and hot dogs as evidenced by just the examples below:
We all viewed with morbid fascination the video at Yankee Stadium, as explained in the following excerpt from an 8/22 post on NBC Sports.com
“In a video captured by @NewYorkNico on social media, a Yankees fan at the game was seen turning a hot dog into a straw for their beer.
Yes, you read that correctly. The fan poked holes in both ends of the hot dog before placing it in the beer and taking a sip through the makeshift straw.”
(Unfortunately, all of the images of the guy at the Yankee game are copyrighted, so I’m just alluding to the stunt in the photos below. #3 – #4)
And how many of you – and, of course, broadcast media personalities – tried to replicate this feat of hand/glass coordination yourselves?
The sacred bond between Brat and beer can be further explored by demonstrating the topic “Hot Dogs Cooked in Beer,” as artfully explained in this mouthwatering article in Bikehike.org:
“Hot dogs simmered in beer are deliciously tender and have a mild flavor that works perfectly with our beer-infused sauerkraut topping. Slow-simmering hot dogs in beer gives them a mellow flavor and tender texture that’s a great alternative to grilling or frying.”
This raises important questions such as how long do you cook the dogs, how much beer do you use and most importantly, what beer is best – a topic which draws diverse views from the experts:
“Miller High Life. Rich Depascale, beverage manager at The Wilson in New York City. Budweiser. Laura Mitchell, bar lead at BEER PARK in Las Vegas. Others: Reissdorf Kolsch. Old Style. Avery White Rascal. Dogfish Head SeaQuench. Coors Light. Dos Equis Lager.”
I would add PBR and Sticky Hands IPA (#5).
And in Conclusion….
Should I have been selected for the job, I would have proposed my first trip – driving the vehicle to Toppling Goliath Brewery in Decorah, Iowa. That’s where Clark and Barbara Lewey – former home brewers – founded this enterprise in 2009.
“What is a Hot Dog Time Machine? We’re so glad you asked! To begin, we have to explore why it even matters. Our amigos at Hop Butcher for the World shared the same interest as us in exploring the alternate reality of the ‘fluffy’ IPA.
We threw multiple types of wheat into our fluff capacitor, heavily hopped it everywhere except the 88-minute boil, and fermented with yeast primed for trans-temporal travel.
Last year was certainly the wurst of times, but now it’s time to ketchup with us on our journey and relish in this hot dog fueled time travel adventure.
(I called Toppling Goliath to see if they still brewed HDTM Beer. They don’t and the person couldn’t explain why, but it must have been a good “trip.”
Not totally willing to give up, I said to my wonderful wife of 42 years, “Janet I would relish this job and, to be frank, after a year, they would appreciate what I Brat to the table.”
Before she walked away, she asked me how badly I wanted to get to 43 years…..
My family moved to Oregon City from Cincinnati, Ohio when I was twelve – just as I was entering seventh grade. We fell in love with Oregon and Oregon City is a wonderful and historic community of 37,500 (2020) about twelve miles south of Portland.
And when I say “historic”, I don’t use the term lightly. To wit:
Established in 1829 by the Hudson Bay Company on the Willamette River by the historically significant Willamette Falls, it became the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains (1844).
The city’s newspaper, the Oregon Spectator, was the first American newspaper to be published west of the Rocky Mountains.
At the west end of the Oregon Trail, it became the final destination for many early immigrants.
The Methodist Church – the first Protestant church west of the Rocky Mountains – was completed in 1843, the same year that a Provisional Government, under the jurisdiction of the United States, was established. (This beautiful church was right across the street from our first house on Center Street.)
(External Photo Attribution at the End of the Post – Above #1-2)
And then there’s the Oregon City Municipal Elevator with an incredible history and which “continues to operate as one of only four municipal elevators in the world and ‘Elevator Street’ remains the only ‘vertical street’ in North America.”
It was three blocks from our house and I used to take it every day to deliver part of my paper route on the lower level of OC:
“After years of discussion and conflict, the elevator, constructed of steel and wood, was placed into service on November 27, 1915, a day on which almost the entire population of Oregon City (3,869 persons) rode the elevator. The 89-foot ride to the top involved a wheezing, jerking three to five minutes.
Once at the top, it was necessary to cross a 35-foot catwalk that bridged the two sides of the city high above the chasm. When the elevator worked, it generally lowered the water pressure in the surrounding area. When it didn’t work, passengers had to wiggle out of a trap door and down a narrow ladder……(#3-4 on right)
Okay, just a couple more including a picture of our first house – we rented what was the original Captain Phillips House.
Dr. John McLoughlin, known as the “Father of Oregon” built his house on the corner of Center Street and 7th Street – also in the same block as our house – shown on the right below.
Speaking of History – Don’t Forget Howell’s Lounge!
Okay – this is a blog about bars and breweries and the preceding paragraphs are for context because just across 7th Street from the McLoughlin House and only one block from my house was (and is) an historic watering hole – Howells Lounge.:
“In 1929, back in the days of Prohibition, Hannah Howell opened Howell’s Confectionary at 418 7th Street (it’s now at 508 7th). When Prohibition ended, she was issued one of the first Retail Beer Licenses in the State. In 1935, Hannah moved to the present location, boasting of the first electric beer cabinet.
Eventually, her twins, Frank and Charlie, took over the business and operated it until their retirement in 1978…..Frank and Barbara Johnson purchased it in 1981 and Barbara became the sole proprietor in 1994 and it stayed in their family until 2015 when she retired.”
Karen Beach Farthing bought the bar in 2015, after working for the Johnson family for thirty years. We had a great conversation with Karen and I’ll relate the good job she has done maintaining and improving Howell’s ambiance in my next Beerchaser post.
That’s Frank and Charlie in the photo below at the bottom of their original menu. You could get fish and chips for $2.50, a ribeye steak ($3.50), oyster stew (95 cents) and a deluxe hamburger for $1.10.
Current prices are very reasonable, but have obviously risen since the 1940’s. A ribeye is now $18.75, fish and chips $15.75 and the hamburger is $10. Of course, at the time of the original menu shown below, the US Census Bureau reported that “…in 1940, the median home value in the U.S. was just $2,938.”
In the late 1960’s, I would often see either Frank or Charlie standing in front of the bar when I rode by on my bike on my Oregon Journal paper route or when I was buying an oboe reed at Wally’s Music Store which was next door . (Wally’s is still open and thriving, but moved one and on-half blocks away after a fire in its original store.)
Howell’s always appeared kind of dark and mysterious with its idiosyncratic sign and I had never been in it. I decided that I should Beerchase with two of my good friends – also Oregon City High School grads – Jim Westwood (’62) – a former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter -, Pat Green (’65) and me (’66).
(As an aside – Jim and Pat were both Student Body Presidents at OCHS. I ran for that office and lost and probably out of the empathy vote, was elected Senior Class President.) #7
Pat and Jim are recently retired attorneys (both with distinguished careers) and all of us worked in large downtown law firms – Jim at Stoel Rives, Pat at Davis Wright and I was the COO at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt. Since I spent my career trying to manage lawyers, I assured them that we would be welcome in Howell’s and they could return with their good recollections in tact and scheduled a date.
Pat first practiced in Oregon City at a law office (Hibbard Caldwell) right across from the McLoughlin House on Center Street and a walk across 7th Street to Howell’s. He and some of his colleagues often lunches there and drinks after work because it was so close. The last time he was at Howell’s was in1984 – 38 years prior to our visit. Jim’s first foray into Howell’s was when he was six!
The Green Family has a rich history in Oregon City dating back to the early 1900’s.
“One of the more well-known figures in recent Oregon City history, She was a Sunday school teacher for 25 years and was past president of the Oregon City Chapter of Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
Mrs. Green was a constant letter writer, a published author and part-time philosopher whos remembrances appeared many times in the Enterprise Courier. She had lived in Oregon City since 1915 and between 1918 and the time of her death, more than 680 letters to the editor had appeared in various area newspapers over her name.”
ThisOregon City legend lived for years in the historic home on the lot in which the Hibbard firm built it’s office (shown in the photo above) – across the street from Howell’s.
Since Rosa was the President of the WCTU and no alcohol was served I would wager that at the conclusion of dinner, a number of these notables walked across the street and had a nightcap at Howell’s and said “hello” to Frank and Charlie! (Left to right – #8 – #12)
During the many years Rosa hosted these dinners, I think we can also conclude that the diners included a wide-eyed young Pat Green at various stages of his life……
Bill Green, Pat’s Dad, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 98, was also well known in Oregon City and like his older son, Pat, was Student Body President at OCHS.
“Bill was one of the last surviving members of the OCHS Class of 1937 and was Student Body President…..After several years delivering mail as a letter carrier, U.S. Senator Maureen Neuberger appointed Bill as the Oregon City Postmaster. Bill chaired several civic organizations and positively influenced the lives of many young people as a Boy Scout leader.” (Oregon Live #14)
I will always owe Bill a debt of gratitude because after I got out of the Navy and moved back to Oregon City and was trying to figure out what to do with my life, he hired me over the Christmas season and I worked in the Oregon City Post Office and drove a mail truck for a few months.
And finally, Forrest Green – a name which oozes with sustainability (known in high school as Frosty,) and Pat’s younger brother, established his reputation as a nationally known musician when he still in high school as reported in a 2012 Thebeerchaser post:
“Until the late ‘60’s Forrest Green was a typical high school student – a class officer in his junior year at Oregon City High School and a talented musician who started his own garage band and a group called The Rising Sons. In 1967, Forrest’s senior year at OCHS, he got a call from Don Grady (who also starred as Robbie in the hit sitcom ‘My Three Sons.’ )
Grady had become aware of Green’s talent on the keyboard and asked him if he wanted to tour with his group, Yellow Balloon. Forrest, with his parents’ blessing, became the envy of his classmates and played with Yellow Balloon which released a song with a title identical to the group moniker. Although “Yellow Balloon” was their only hit, it climbed to # 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. The group disbanded after their tour and release of one album.”
(Below – Forrest’s Promotional Pictures – #15 -#16 – and Forrest, Bill and Pat)
Don’t Forget Westwood…
And Jim Westwood was no shrinking violet. He lived about three blocks from me (and Howell’s) on Jefferson Street. His mom, Catherine, was a beloved teacher of Latin and French at OCHS. Jim’s notable exploits after high school and before his legal career are chronicled in this 2013 post where he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.
Now Back to Howell’s….
We went late on a Thursday afternoon and ordered beers and it was great. Howell’s is the epitome of an old neighborhood dive bar with a long bar with stools (the original cast iron for the stools are still in place) and booths across from them when you walk in.
The bar extends towards the back where there are a few tables and there’s a large room with a step down to the right with a few lottery videos and several tables with the traditional red cushion benches.
Stayed tuned for the next post on this old-time watering hole and a tribute to a retired Oregon City Municipal Judge.
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
In the last two blog posts, I’ve talked about two events which took place at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm where I worked for twenty-five years before retiring as COO in 2011.
The HBO movie(“The Last Innocent Man”) filmed, in part, at the firm in 1987 and the three-and one-half-day West Coast hearing for the Latrell Sprewell Arbitration with the NBA and the NBA Players’ Association, were both memorable.
* External Photo Attribution at the end of the Post
I’ve “teased” Beerchaser followers with the events leading up to the arbitration in the first post – the Choking and subsequent punching of Coach PJ Carlesemo at a Golden State Warriors practice on December 1, 1997, Sprewell’s immediate termination by the Warriors and the one-year suspension by the NBA – the longest of any non-drug related in NBA history.
In the second post, I also mentioned how Schwabe came to be approached by the NBA to host that hearing through the connection by former Blazer General Counsel, Mike Fennell, who worked as a Schwabe associate attorney after he graduated from law school. At the end of this post, there’s a deserved tribute to this late colleague, who was a wonderful person and outstanding lawyer.
So let’s take it from the phone call inquiry from Mike, where Schwabe Management determined that we would accept the invitation to serve as the site. We agreed to provide secure conference rooms; witness waiting areas; secretarial resources as required; telephone, fax and computer equipment they could use.
The assistance would also include logistical support such as transportation from lodging and catering plus coffee, refreshments, etc. during the hearing. Of course, the firm would charge both the NBA and the Players’ Association for providing these services.
While we were used to having hearings, legal conferences and other events at the firm, an event of this notoriety and scope was uncharted ground – it presented many questions. These resulted in negotiations based on the demands of the parties – primarily the NBA.
“Although we tried to get a contact name from the Players’ Association and made requests through the NBA, we had no contact from the Players’ Association until the Friday before the hearing (began the next Monday) when I talked to Bob Lanza (General Counsel).
By that time, of necessity, we had made all the arrangements including limousine service, catering, security, secretarial service, etc.”
And firm personnel did a lot of advance work – but only with the NBA who communicated with us. Our Client Relations Department worked with a caterer to plan continental breakfasts, lunches and snacks – different for each day and potential dinner menus since the hearing was supposed to continue into the evenings – the first day, it lasted eleven hours until 8:30 P.M. (The PA had to go along with the menu selected by their adversary in the proceeding!)
We reserved a secretarial station outside each Association’s conference room, with a Schwabe secretary on-call there (into the evenings) to type memos, etc. send faxes, make calls or dinner reservations, etc.
Legal Secretaries were on call
While after twenty-four years, my recollection has dimmed on some of the specifics, the following account of the interactions and incidents are my best effort to convey what were stimulating and sometimes humorous occurrences – from the negotiations to the hearing itself, to contact with the parties afterwards. I’ve also relied on conversations with Schwabe colleagues.
Our initial contact was with Rick Buchanan, the then young, Assistant General Counsel for the NBA. From the outset through the culmination, Rick was a class act and it does not surprise me that recent internet research revealed that this Harvard Law graduate is now General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer for the Association.
A younger Rick Buchanan *2
I didn’t meet Ron Klempner, from the PA, but he is now Senior Counsel, Collective Bargaining for the PA and graduated from the Maurice A. Dean School of Law at Hofstra University.
Both Klempner and Buchanan had remarkably similar legal careers from their excellent law school educations – graduating in 1987 and 1988 respectively – and after notable judicial clerkships; worked at large, prestigious, multi-national law firms before they joined their organizations. Both began this work in 1993 and Klempner and Buchanan are still working for their respective associations.
Becoming an associate at this type of multi-national law firm is extremely competitive and new hires are the top students from the nation’s most prestigious law schools.
Interestingly, Klempner, in 2015, “served as acting executive director of the NBPA between the firing of former seventeen-year executive director Billy Hunter for questionable hiring practices, financial decisions and other alleged misdeeds,” according to an article in Forbes.com. (Hunter is also a lawyer and played wide receiver in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins. His story with the PA could comprise another two posts….)
Billy Hunter *7
And after all these years, the parade of lawyers involved continues:
“The election of Michele A. Roberts, a former Partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates, marked the first time a female was elected to the highest position of a major sport’s players association within the United States.”
And if you thought Buchanan and Klempner worked at large law firms, Skadden-Arps with 1,594 lawyers generated revenues of $2.6 billion in their twenty-one offices, earning a ranking of fifth on the 2021 AM Law 200.
(Michele Roberts probably took a cut in salary as the profit per partner at Skadden-Arps was a staggering $4.3 million). One wonders if Skadden still maintains their Moscow office! Both Covington and Weil have Beijing and Shanghai offices, but none in Russia.
I digress, but can’t help noting that Roberts was succeeded as Executive Director for the PA in September, 2021 by Tamika Tremaglio. (Elected for her first four-year term in January, 2022.)
You guessed it – Tremaglio is not only a lawyer, but also an accountant most recently serving as the Managing Principal for Deloitte Financial Services in their DC office and “where she has worked as an advisor and consultant to the NBPA since 2012.” (Sports Illustrated.com)
Security, Security and More Security!
From the outset the NBA was extremely concerned with security. They knew that both the East and West Coast hearings would receive intense media coverage.
On site reporting would not only be by sports media but given the initial reports of “The Choke” (hereafter “TC”) and the personalities involved such as the NBA stars and high-profile NBA Coaches and even famous attorney, Johnnie Cochran; national and even international general print and broadcast media would be there. (We started getting calls from media outlets ten days before the hearing.)
The Chief NBA Security Officer flew out from New York (totally at NBA expense) as were the security personnel during the proceedings. He met with firm management and representatives from the PAC West Center – obviously Building Management was very concerned about disruption for the other tenants in the 33-story building.
To give some perspective on the importance of this position to the NBA, the current Chief, Leon Newsome, commenced his position in 2021, after serving as Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service. He is a 1992 Princeton graduate where he starred in football and in his new position will:
“…..oversee all aspects of security operations for the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and soon-to-launch Basketball Africa League as well as the NBA’s 15 offices worldwide.”
Leon Newsome – now Chief Security Officer for the NBA * 11
The NBA Security guru, while in Portland, proceeded to visit the multiple high rises in the adjacent blocks (see photo below) where he evidently got permission from building management to go up on the roofs to see what visibility the east side of the Pacwest Center would present to photographers who attempted to film the hearing and witnesses (Really!?).
Since the hearing room had curtains, we rejected the request that we put up construction paper on the east-facing windows on the 17th – 19thfloors where there were no curtains.
The NBA security team which traveled to our offices from New York for the hearing, appeared to be former FBI agents and had personalities befitting that background – no smiles during initial days in the Pacwest Center.
They were adamant about protecting the sanctity of the hearing and the privacy of the witnesses and the parties. (The Players’ Association never inquired about security or media issues.)
Joe Smith (pictured) Bimbo Coles and Felton Spencer – all who played for multiple NBA teams, were Sprewell’s teammates on the Warriors. *13
That said, we were operating at 125-lawyer firm, with at that time, four floors in a high-rise building with clients, attorneys representing opposing parties and vendors/consultants needing access to our people and facilities.
At that time, we had a receptionist on each floor with access to the public. (Now, with five floors, Schwabe has only one reception area at the firm’s Conference Center on the 19th floor, where all external parties initially check in).
The NBA’s initial position was that we needed to lock down all of our floors with access only through clearance by a receptionist on one floor. We calmly responded that this was overkill since the hearing would be located on the 19th floor large hearing room with the parties each having conference and temporary office facilities on the 17th and 18th floors.
The Pacwest Center made additional conference rooms available for the firm’s business, if necessary. We compromised and agreed on a partial lockdown – having all firm personnel come up to the 16th floor and then using internal staircases. We could greet clients on the 16th floor. As a result, no unauthorized persons gained access during the event.
While they initially came across as “hard asses”, the NBA security guys turned out to be reasonable and interacted amicably with firm personnel. We worked cooperatively to develop practical security solutions and they were quite personable once the hearings started.
Their anticipation on the level of media coverage turned out to be well-founded. The hearing took place on Tuesday through mid-day Friday. The intent was to get the current NBA players and coaches in as witnesses early on Tuesday so they could make games later that week.
On Tuesday morning, the PacWest Center lobby was filled with anywhere from 25 to eventually about 50 reporters – hungry to interview the parties and witnesses or anybody who could offer any insight on what was transpiring nineteen floors above.
This was in spite of the announcement that all involved parties agreed to a gag order prior to the hearing:
“Chris Brienza, the league’s director of media relations, has tired to discourage a media stampede. ‘I’ve been telling those guys, this will go from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every night, the proceedings will be closed and our guys are not going to have much to say,’ said Brienza.
Still, the league is sending one media relations person out for the hearings. ‘Crowd control,’ Brienza said.” (The Sunday Oregonian , 1/25/1998.)
The standard method for an external party to access Schwabe offices would be to come in through the main entrance on 6th Avenue, or if they were driving, to enter the parking garage, to park with the valet on the first level and then take the elevator to the lobby. Once in the lobby, a second set of elevators would access the high-rise office facilities.
This would present a problem, because the media knew by sight, the players and coaches and would descend on them en-masse the minute they appeared. So we cooperatively developed an alternative.
We had arranged town-car limo service from their hotels, and the drivers were instructed to enter the parking garage on Jefferson Street. Rather than stop at the valet, they would proceed to the third level where we had reserved spaces for them.
Although not befitting a prestigious law firm, the visitors to Schwabe would then proceed through the entry to the freight elevator and take that very cumbersome and slow lift to the 17th floor or 18th floors where they would exit and then proceed to their assigned quarters.
It was masterful and none of the correspondents or their photographers discovered this surreptitious entry until it was too late.
That said, on the third morning of the hearing, those that were still there (about half-left when they got frustrated with lack of contact) did have an exciting moment. The Manager of the firms Copy Room and related support functions was a wonderful employee named Wendell King.
Wendell was a tall, good looking, always impeccably dressed and articulate Black man who was an exemplary manager. He decided to make his first trip that week to the Starbucks located in one corner of the Lobby for a latte’.
When the elevator reached the lobby and Wendell walked out with some other people who worked in the building, the press (assuming the stereotypical NBA forward) took one look and congregated around him “battering” him with questions about how the arbitration was going, was he testifying on behalf of Sprewell, etc. It was one of the most humorous moments during the event.
(Unfortunately, Wendell passed away in 2009 and to recognize the standard he set for client service and performance, the firm created the “Wendell King Best of Schwabe Award” which is still given out each quarter to the Schwabe employee who best meets the standard Wendell set.)
Towards the end of the hearing, things got more relaxed although the press was still hanging around. Latrell asked our attractive and personable sixteenth floor receptionist, Jenny, out for dinner (she politely declined….) and some of those involved would go to Starbucks for coffee. Dave Bartz, the future President of the firm, related in a recent e-mail:
“My elevator ride was down the main elevator (from the 17th floor). There was a rush – hubbub, in the lobby. I was in the elevator. The door opened and they jumped in (Sprewell and some suits – I assumed some handlers or lawyers). I moved to the back. Spre and I exchanged a nod and a hello.” (and rode back up in the elevator!)
Dave also related:
“I learned that PJ’s favorite Italian restaurant in Oregon was the West Linn (where Thebeerchaser now lives) spot, Buggatis. (Pretty high praise for a NJ boy.)”
Mike had a great career and rose in the ranks for the Trailblazers from handling a few matters as outside counsel to in-house General Counsel from 1992 to October 2012.
Portland Trailblazer General Counsel – an outstanding lawyer *17
He was an associate attorney with Schwabe after graduation from University of Oregon Law School in 1983. He was regarded as a very good corporate and securities lawyer and just a great colleague. Mike became a key member of the Trailblazer Executive Management Team, providing strategic direction for the company in day to day operations
“Mike loved his ‘work family’ at the Trail Blazers and was extremely grateful for his amazing colleagues.”Upon his departure, Sarah Mensah, who the was the Trailblazer’s COO stated:
“The imprint that Mike leaves as a legal strategist, counselor, negotiator and front office executive is a lasting one,” said Mensah. “It’s hard to see him go, and on behalf of the entire Trail Blazers organization, we extend our deepest gratitude to Mike for his significant contributions, and wish him continued success as he pursues a new phase of his career.”
Mike passed away far too young (61) in December 2018 after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014.
This post got way too long, but we’re not yet done with the Sprewell story. Stay tuned to Thebeerchaser! And in closing, to my amazement, parents can still purchase the item below at Amazon.
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
The filming of some scenes of “The Last Innocent Man” – an HBO movie in 1987 and hosting the three and on-half day West Coast hearing of former NBA star, Latrell Sprewell’s arbitration in 1998, both brought some well-known Hollywood celebrities, athletes and coaches to our offices.
Sprewell choked his coach, PJ Carlesimo in December,1997, an incident which garnered not only national, but international attention. “The Choke” (hereafter referenced as “TC”) and its related events read like a bad sports novel, but before telling you about our law firm’s connection, let’s go back twenty-five years for context and recollections that might depress you.
But if you look at a chronology of significant events occurring in December of that year from “On This Day.com” besides those below which I thought were interesting, you’ll find five references to Latrell Sprewell – shown following the vivid description of TC itself:
12/1 – “Howard Stern Radio Show” premiers on Davenport Iowa radio station KORB.
12/11 – Delegates from 150 industrial nations attending a UN climate conference in Kyoto, Japan, reach agreement to control heat-trapping greenhouse gases. (Obviously, we’ve made incredible progress….!!?? See note at the end of the post)
12/17 – Saturday Night Live Comedian, Chris Farley, died of an overdose of a combination of cocaine and morphine, commonly known as a “speedball.”
12/29 – Hong Kong begins slaughtering all its chickens to prevent bird flu. (I guess this taught us a lot about containing pandemics….)
12/31 – More Swedes died than were born in 1997 – 1st time since 1809. (I couldn’t resist that one….)
The Actual Incident
But before listing the Sprewell items, let’s look at a detailed description of the incident as described in the subsequent 2001 US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Spreewell v Golden State Warriors:
“Tensions between Sprewell and Carlesimo climaxed during a closed-door practice on December 1, 1997, during which Carlesimo told Sprewell to pass the ball to a teammate for a quick shot. Despite Sprewell’s contention that he passed the ball ‘admirably, as one would expect of an All-Star,’ Carlesimo rebuked Sprewell for not putting more speed on his pass.
When Carlesimo subsequently repeated his criticism, Sprewell slammed the ball down and directed several expletives at Carlesimo. Carlesimo responded with a similar showing of sophistication. Sprewell immediately either walked or lunged at Carlesimo and wrapped his hands around Carlesimo’s neck. With his arms fully extended, Sprewell moved Carlesimo backwards, saying ‘I will kill you’
Carlesimo offered no resistance. Sprewell grasped Carlesimo’s neck for approximately seven to ten seconds — the time it took for other players and coaches to restrain Sprewell. Sprewell then left the practice floor, saying ‘trade me, get me out of here, I will kill you,’ to which Carlesimo countered, ‘I am here.'”
Note: The above images are courtesy of Paul Eide, the creator and author of a great sports blog (I-80 Sports Blog). It covers all major sports and is a wonderful source of articles and opinions.
Paul is a freelance journalist since 2000 and has had his work published via AskMen, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Busted Coverage, and Autotrader. You should check it out and subscribe to his e-blast. His description of The Choke can be accessed at the link above.
* Dec. 1– Sprewell attacks Carlesimo at a practice; the Golden State Warriors suspend Sprewell without pay for at least 10 games.
* Dec. 3 –The Warriors terminate Sprewell’s $32 million contract.
* Dec. 4 — The NBA suspends Sprewell for one year, with Commissioner David Stern saying, “A sports league does not have to accept or condone behavior that would not be tolerated in any other segment of society.”
* Dec. 5 — The Players’ Association files grievances against the NBA and the Warriors (on behalf of Spreewell).
* Dec. 9 — In his first public comments on the attack, Sprewell says his conduct was unacceptable. “I am a good person and I’ve never had any situation like this come up before,” he says. “I feel 10 years of hard work shouldn’t be taken away for one mistake. My career didn’t happen overnight and I don’t feel it should be taken away overnight.”
* Dec. 10 — “With six former teammates behind him and famed attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. at his side, fired pro basketball star Latrell Sprewell apologized publicly Tuesday to his former coach for choking him last week.” (emphasis added) Buffalo News 1/10/1996
What’s somewhat both ironic and humorous – as are a lot of elements of this story – is Johnnie Cochran serving as a member/advisor of his legal team. That’s because Sprewell then made a comment in a January 23, 1997 interview with the New York Post stating: (LA Times Archives)
“I’m not as bad as everyone has made me out to be. It’s as if I’m another O.J. Simpson. Yes, I was wrong, but I didn’t kill anybody. I’m not a double murderer.” (Emphasis added)
The Law Firm Connection
Readers who have made it this far may be asking, “Okay Beerchaser, so what’s the link with the law firm and the Sprewell arbitration that you’ve mentioned?” In the next post, I will go into detail about the interactions and logistics of that multi-day hearing, but first, why did they select Schwabe’s Portland office as the site?
The NBA and Players’ Association knew with the witnesses testifying, it made economic and scheduling sense to break the arbitration into West Coast and East Coast hearings. Since PJ and some Golden State coaches and players who were testifying, were in the midst of the 1997-8 season, it had to be scheduled around the NBA games.
The NBA contacted the Blazers about a site for the Portland hearing – one with multiple large conference rooms, comfortable waiting areas, business equipment such as computers, faxes, etc. and most importantly, secure facilities to prevent media and interested fans from interfering or disrupting the proceedings.
The late Mike Fennel, was a Schwabe associate attorney after he graduated from law school in 1983 and subsequently spent five years as one of the Trail Blazer’s outside counsel at another firm doing primarily basketball related work.
When the Trail Blazers decided to build the Portland Rose Garden, they wanted to have an in-house General Counsel and Mike’s experience with the basketball side made him the prime candidate.
Mike Fennell – an outstanding lawyer and gentleman *13
In 1992 he became the first in-house General Counsel for an NBA team as Senior Vice President/General Counsel for the Trail Blazers from 1992 to October 2012. During his time at the Blazers, he assisted with all of the Trail Blazers legal matters including providing support on player contract negotiations, other team-related issues and the building of the Moda Center. Additionally, he served as General Counsel for other Paul Allen affiliates that operated in Portland.
Mike contacted us at Schwabe towards the end of 1997 and asked if we would be willing to discuss hosting the hearings. We agreed to negotiate the details with the NBA and Players’ Association. Those discussions and the following negotiations on the logistics were some of the most stimulating I experienced in my twenty-five years at the firm.
In the next post, I’ll also make a tribute to Mike who passed away far too young (61) in December 2018 after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014.
Note in Closing on the Kyoto Protocol and Beyond…..
“A highly anticipated report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded there is a ‘brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.’ It warned of certain ‘tipping points’ that could increase climate risks if global temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (it’s already increased 1.1 degrees).”
How effective was the Kyoto Protocol? According to an October, 2020 post from Earth.org.
“The U.S. was originally part of the agreement, but dropped out in 2001 due to the concern of an economic turndown. George Bush, the former US president, stated that complying with the Protocol would mean limiting the country’s growth and argued that there could be other ways to cut emissions without harming the economy.
When Canada withdrew in 2011, many thought the Protocol had failed. A year later, estimates showed a 20% drop in developed countries emissions (vis-à-vis 1990 levels). Despite global emissions rising by an overall 38% over the same period, Kyoto Protocol’s effect remains significant.
…It is more reasonable to see the Kyoto Protocol as a first step toward a greater international commitment to reversing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”
Fortunately, the Paris Agreement, adopted by 196 Parties and effective on 4 November 2016, is now a legally binding international treaty on climate change.
“The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.”
On January 20, 2021 – his first day in office – President Biden signed the instrument to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement.
*4 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seinfeld.svg) This logo image consists only of simple geometric shapes or text. It does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain.
*5 Public Domain – Wikimedia Common (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Men_In_Black_logo.png) This logo image consists only of simple geometric shapes or text. It does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain. Author: Universal Orlando – 1997.
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
Large urban law firms typically are housed on the upper floors of majestic skyscrapers with expansive views and have very impressive trappings – from the client reception area, to conference rooms, to the lawyers’ offices.
Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt PC, my law firm for twenty-five years – I retired in 2011 as the Chief Operating Officer – was no exception. When I left in 2011, the six floors occupied in the Pac West Center on floors 15-20 had a total footprint of just under 120,000 square feet.
They were well designed and scrupulously maintained – Schwabe took pride in the impression it presented. The Portland office was the anchor of our five other offices.
Legal economics and the pandemic have forced a dramatic change in professional service firms’ space configuration, however. For many large firms, the days of the expansive and plush partner offices are history.
For example, at Schwabe, associates and partners now have the same size and smaller offices except where the prior configuration precluded that such as in some corner offices.
Law libraries, which once housed hundreds of bound volumes, are skeletons of their prior capacity. While there are still some hard-bound volumes, case-law and written legal authority is primarily accessed from the lawyer’s office on-line. And oftentimes, word-processing and copy centers are now outsourced or located off-site in less expensive remote space.
This situation was exacerbated with COVID. Law offices locked-down and lawyers found out that working from home provided some real advantages – like working in sweats and the daily “commute” reduced to walking from the kitchen to the home office twenty-feet away – usually with coffee and pastry in hand.
What transpires, post-pandemic, in office leases is speculative, but most firms will probably reduce their space as hybrid arrangements replace the traditional fully-occupied model and the demand to reduce overhead expense continues. That said, most large firms will still have imposing reception areas and client conference areas.
Schwabe’s location and the quality and configuration of its facilities resulted in two major external requests to use its space in 1987 and 1998. The results were interesting and memorable and I’ll relate the stories in the next few posts of Thebeerchaser. While they provided great anecdotes and some ancillary income to the firm, in retrospect, if you were in firm management, you wondered if it was worth the disruption.
The filming of some scenes of “The Last Innocent Man” movie in 1987 and hosting the three-day West Coast hearing of former NBA star, Latrell Spreewell’s arbitration in 1998, brought some well-known celebrities, athletes and coaches to our offices. The latter garnered not only national, but international attention.
Latrell Spreewell, who was drafted 24th in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, built a solid reputation in his first few years in the League as a shooting guard and small forward. He was selected for the Western Conference All-Star Team in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and ultimately four NBA All-Star Teams.
After the Warriors, he finished his “checkered career” in 2005 after stints on the New Work Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves. I state “checkered” – in part – because in 1997, this sizeable physical and athletic specimen at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing in just under 200 pounds, proceeded to physically attack, choke and then punch his 6 foot 1 inch Warrior Coach, PJ Carlesimo at a practice session.
(Carlesimo was not only physically less imposing, but not as good a basketball player because this Fordham University guard went undrafted in the 1971 NBA draft…..)
“Sprewell was suspended for 10 games without pay. However, the next day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder of his contract altogether, which included $23.7 million over three years, and the NBA suspended him for one year.”(Wikipedia)
Spreewell took the case to arbitration – the first step in a long line of litigation with the Warriors and the NBA. Schwabe hosted the first four days of this arbitration in our Portland office (the final four days were held in New York City) and in the next post, I will convey how we came to be the site of that hearing and some of the stories that surround it.
Lights Camera Action!
Phillip Margolin is a best-selling author of murder mysteries who until he started writing novels full-time in 1996, had a dynamic criminal law defense practice in Portland, Oregon.
He also had a solid reputation with Oregon State Bar members for his professional and civic activities including serving as President and Chairman of the Board of Chess for Success – a non-profit charity that uses chess to teach elementary and middle school children in Title I schools study skills
As stated in the biography on his website:
“…..I graduated from The American University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government. From 1965 to 1967, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. In 1970, I graduated from New York University School of Law. During my last two years in law school I went at night and worked my way through by teaching junior high school in the South Bronx in New York City.
My first job after law school was a clerkship with Herbert M. Schwab, the Chief Judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals. From 1972 until 1996, I was in private practice specializing in criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. As an appellate attorney I have appeared before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals.
As a trial attorney, I handled all sorts of criminal cases in state and federal court and I have represented approximately 30 people charged with homicide, including several who have faced the death penalty. I was the first Oregon attorney to use the Battered Women’s Syndrome to defend a battered woman accused of murdering her spouse.”
I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the 27 books he’s written. The Last Innocent Man was his second novel and rated a 3.91 out of 4.00 on the Goodreads literary website. Like any major best seller, reviews vary such as the two below:
“This book was on the chronicles list of best ever thrillers… Inexplicably. It reads like it was written by a second grader and the only reason I finished it was because I was too lazy to get up off the beach.” (2010)
However, I shared the perspective of this reviewer:
“Like always, the Portland, Oregon Author does it again!!! Very fast paced and the Trial of the crime, always so Awesome!!!” (2020)
An HBO “Classic” – set in Portland *5
HBO decided to produce a movie on the novel which is based on a fictitious Portland attorney. I don’t recall exactly how – probably at the recommendation of Margolin who knows a number of Schwabe lawyers – the network approached us about using our Portland office to film several scenes.
We negotiated for the film-work to take place on nights and weekends and they used our law library and a partner’s office. Dick Templeman, our outstanding Director of Facilities and Support, remembers the location manager being “pretty demanding” but they left everything in good order, for example, repainting the library after they had transformed it into a color meeting their specifications.
When having preliminary talks with both the NBA and HBO, they advanced the assertion that having these events take place at the firm would enhance the firm’s status and reputation. One has to question, however, whether any potential clients would choose Schwabe just for the potential and unlikely opportunity to ride the elevator with co-stars Ed Harris and Roxanne Hart, both of whom continue to have good acting gigs in their early seventies.
That said, there may have been some clients and staff who would have loved to walk the halls and chat with Clarence Williams III (Linc Hayes of Mod Squad fame). In the movie, ee played D.J. Johnson and the only really memorable line uttered after he was advised he could remain silent, was: ” Fuck the right to remain in silence! Call Silverman!”
“Linc Taylor” passed away in 2021 at 81. *8
I have to admit that I never saw “The Last Innocent Man” (and will put it on my future list after “The English Patient”…), but what kind of critical acclaim did it garner? While getting six ACE (American Cinema Editors) nominations in 1988, it received no awards.
The IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) reviewers were also not overly impressed and it chalked up 6.3 out of 10.0 Typical of the reviews was this 2002 comment captioned “Mediocre Perry Mason Stuff”:
“The Last Innocent Man” is a predictable, by-the-numbers journeyman tv flick with Harris playing a top criminal attorney. In it’s somewhat long two-hour run time, this-jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none flick, manages to squeeze in murder, investigation, trial, romance, sex, dirty cops, a pimp, a sting, a crazed killer, etc. without distinguishing itself in any particular way. Filler for late night cable”.
To show how culture has changed in thirty-four years, it should be noted that one rating database stated, “Warning to the faint of heart, this movie does contain a few nude/sex scenes!”
And if trying to decide whether to view it, I would not be persuaded by this somewhat ludicrous remark from a guy who had a “formidable” bias with his comment captioned, “I Was in This Movie”
“This excellent movie was filmed in Portland……A thriller to say the least with twists and turns. A must see. (I can be seen walking past Meshach Taylor (Crosby) at the motel murder scene, as I walk out of camera, I shun a reporter. I was a plain clothes detective (extra))”.
Now, I’m old enough to remember the comedy (1986-93) in which Meshach Taylor won an Emmy, but those who weren’t, will have to click on this link.
Before devoting the next Beerchaser post strictly to the Spreewell arbitration, I have to add one more story about Phil Margolin. Two years ago, I read Fugitive – one of his novels taking place in Portland that I had previously skipped.
One of the primary characters is a senior deputy district attorney, named Mike Greene – the boyfriend of protagonist, Amanda Jaffe, a criminal defense lawyer. I thought I remembered this character from a few of the other Margolin mysteries.
Mike Greene is one of my favorite Portland lawyers. Now retired, he was a national authority on legal malpractice and diabetes discrimination matters. We go to the same church and based on his work with the American Diabetes Association (Chair of the National Board of Directors from 1994 to 1995 and continued involvement since 1982), I asked him to speak to the firm about the disease.
Greene formed a legal advocacy program to fight discrimination on behalf of people with diabetes. He and former Portland Trailblazer, Chris Dudley, who also is a diabetic and active in this work, gave an impressive presentation. (Dudley also created the Chris Dudley Foundation, an Oregon-based group intended to improve the lives of diabetic children.)
(Greene top and Margolin bottom *10 -11)
Now the Portland Bar is a “small community” and Mike is about the same vintage as Phillip Margolin, so I e-mailed him and told him I was reading Margolin’s book, stating:
“I know that a number of novelists name characters after friends and/or colleagues and this seemed to be more than a coincidence.”
”Phil has been a friend for decades. I purchased at a Diabetes Auction, the privilege of Phil using my name. He liked the name and character he created to use the name. I am now in five of his books. What a purchase? A piece of immortality? It’s fun. I have been asked about this by many people over the years.”
So if you are reading any of the following Margolin novels, look for Mike Greene: Wild Justice (2000), Ties that Bind (2003), Proof Positive (2006), Fugitive (2009) and Violent Crimes (2016)!
(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser. If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)
I guess it is appropriate that my 300th post on Thebeerchaser blog be a celebration, of sorts – ten years of this retirement hobby – started in August 2011. My plans for a more formal gathering in the early fall were delayed by the pandemic and will be held in 2022.
After first working in the public sector and then legal management for the the last thirty-years of my career – the final twelve as the Chief Operating Officer at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm – a 150 attorney firm with its principal office in Portland, Oregon, I retired in early 2011.
Since I spent many of my waking hours working, there was some concern about how I would handle retirement. But from the first day, I loved it.
There has never been a boring period whether it was from trying to remaster the oboe – I had abandoned after junior high – with lessons, traveling with my wife of thirty-one (now forty-one) years, playing with the blessings to come – four granddaughters, enjoying the Oregon coast or what became my primary hobby – a blog named Thebeerchaser.com.
The seed germinated before retirement was sown with visits to two great dive bars – The Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley, Idaho and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon. It prompted the crazy idea to personally experience and then tell the story of bars and breweries – initially just in Portland – but shortly thereafter, all through Oregon and parts of the US and even a number in Europe.
The books and bar guides shown in the picture at the start of this post, are some of the references I used in framing my posts.
So Thebeerchaser.com was brewed – starting slowly and with the help of two wonderful and talented friends who created the two logos I’ve used (Teresa Maclean and Jud Blakely), I slowly (and often painfully) learned how to use WordPress to convey the impressions on my subject.
It was not a technical commentary on my favorite beverage, but narratives on the history of the bar or brewery, interviews with the regulars and bar staffs, descriptions of the trappings and what distinguished the ambiance from other watering holes.
Early on, I also decided to relate the stories of individuals or groups (primarily those I knew personally) who may not have had any connection with bars or beers, but had an interesting story and made a notable contribution to society in my humble opinion. These soon came to be “honored” with the moniker of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.
This is an eclectic group and past recipients include lawyers (some worked at the Schwabe firm), authors, athletes, clerics, musicians, environmentalists, military heroes, academicians and athletes.
Also three family members – Janet, my wife, in part, for supporting and joining me on many of my Beerchasing travels, my brother, Rick, for his remarkable career in the Navy which culminated as skipper of the nuclear sub USS Spadefish (SSN 668) and most recently, my Dad (F. Duane Williams – FDW), who although he passed away at the age of 54 in 1973, left a notable legacy.
For a composite list of these remarkable individuals and groups and some additional background, check out the following Beerchaser link for the 2020 post entitled, “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who,What,Why? – thirty-five at that time.
Since I have expanded on my tribute to lawyers with multiple posts and composed several chapters to my Dad’s story in 2021, the count now is thirty-six which I hope to expand more diligently in 2022.
Not once have I considered commercializing this blog – it’s strictly a hobby, so I don’t have to worry about deadlines, number of viewers, etc. That said, since I worked in a law firm for twenty-five years where statistics translated into economics i.e. compensation, I do have some interest in the metrics of my blog.
I will also freely admit that my posts are usually too long – they average 1,677 words for the ten years, but for the last five the average has increased to 2,136 and this one is over 3,000 (sorry!), which discourages most viewers from reading the entire post – even with the pictures scattered through the narrative. But this trend, probably won’t change since I’m writing primarily for my own enjoyment after framing numerous legal management memos during my career that bored even me – the author!
And while Thebeerchaser.com is a hobby, I have been delighted with the additional exposure it has gotten every year which leads to more interactions with people from all over the world.
My wife says I spend more time these days on the computer than when I worked and since my 299 posts have generated 501,485 words, she’s probably right. Unfortunately, the pandemic has essentially curtailed my visits to new locations since early 2020
Up to that time I had visited (usually twice for each one counted) 366 establishments of which 119 were in the Portland metro area and the other 247 scattered through God’s country and beyond. It’s almost impossible to identify a few favorite watering holes, but the photos above show four of them. In reviewing my galleries for this selection, I note with sadness that a number I could have included are no longer in business.
I also state – with disappointment – albeit with some anticipation, that in the last two years because of lockdowns and our own caution in dealing with COVID, I’ve added only nine premises to that total – seven in Portland and two in Bellingham, Washington – a very nice town we visited on a long weekend with lots of breweries, expansive parks and a nice college. At both the Boundary Bay and Aslan Breweries, we were able to eat on decks with plenty of ventilation and mask protocols. We will return!
Diverted, but not Diminished…
Instead, my blog posts have been devoted to catching up on the narratives of the forty-nine bars and breweries we visited on an extensive Montana road trip in 2019 – six days with Don flying solo and the remainder after I picked Janet up at the Billings Airport to continue our trip through the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho before returning to Oregon.
I also offered reflections on life during a worldwide pandemic, memories from high school and working around lawyers, sarcastic comments about technical reviews on beers, and updates on some of my Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter along with miscellaneous other trivia from my files – those that my wife insisted I clean out during the pandemic.
The blog now has 411 “followers” – individuals who get an e-mail every time there’s a new post. I also realize that my metrics pale compared to some of the blogs I regularly follow and have gotten to know the authors – something I will elaborate on in a future post.
In 2021 Thebeerchaser.com garnered a total of 28,500 views from just over 20,000 “visitors” – up from the comparable figures of 6,800 and 4,800 in 2012 – the first full year of the blog. The majority are people searching the internet and land on “Thebeerchaser.”
Although just over 90% of these views are from the US as one would expect, the exact localities in the 104 other countries where views have emanated in 2021, fill me with curiosity.
This includes three from Iceland – a place I hope to eventually visit and raise a mug of their Kaldi Fresh Breeze beer at the Micro Bar on Second Street in Reykjavik after seeing the Northern Lights.
Besides the opportunity to quaff hundreds of great craft beers (although I will always opt for a PBR Tallboy), the blog has presented many other ancillary benefits. One I’ve written about numerous times is becoming involved in the planning of the Benedictine Brewery on the grounds of the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary and which opened in late 2018.
The Brewery and St. Michael Taproom has since expanded and been very successful – even during a pandemic – under the skillful management and superb brewing skills of Fr. Martin Grassel, who has become a good friend. It also led to my service on the Abbey Foundation of Oregon Board of Trustees for which I just started my second three-year term.
I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking about my Beerchasing journey to four Rotary Clubs in Oregon – West Linn and Lincoln City in person and Lake Oswego and Bend over ZOOM – a new and challenging experience in public speaking – it was hard to tell if anyone was laughing at my bar and lawyer jokes…..During the in-person presentations, I, at least, knew that they weren’t!
Learning a lot of history and geography while researching the places I’m reviewing has been rewarding; however, the most beneficial and lasting aspect of this retirement pursuit (without question) has been the diverse range of people we’ve met while Beerchasing.
I met people ranging from loggers in Wallace, Idaho at the North Idaho Mountain Brew pub; to an Alaska fisherman – a guy in his fifties named Bill – at Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, who in the ’70’s used to transport marijuana in the fenders of his big Lincoln across the country. And there was Irish Mike, who journeys twice yearly on his Harley from San Francisco, to Lincoln City, Oregon.
Irish Mike is a burly, bearded guy and designated the “local ambassador” at one of my favorite dives – The Old Oregon Saloon on the Central Oregon Coast. As I was taking pictures, he motioned me to come over to him, reached in his wallet for some dollar bills and told me to plug the juke box adding “Don’t screw it up!”
Then there was the regular at Eilers’ Place in Pueblo, Colorado, who coincidentally happened to be in the bar with three friends after the bartender responded to my question about the history of the bar. She took out the photo below to demonstrate that the bar has always been a family oriented place and asked:
“You see that mama in the photo holding her baby – second from the end? Well that baby is sitting in the booth right over by the door.”
I went over and introduced myself and he shook hands and he said, “I’m James Mohorcich, but you should just call me ‘Horse.’ I live across the street and I’ve been coming here for at least forty years.”
I’ve met some wonderful bartenders and owners from Phoebe Newcombe – who gave me a baseball cap she autographed on my first Beerchase in 2011 at the Brooklyn Park Pub, to Andre’, from Macedonia, who had an infectious smile, a warm personality and joked with us notwithstanding a very busy bar at the Little Missouri Saloon in Medora, North Dakota.
On one of our East Coast swings we visited the Marshall Wharf Brewery in quaint Belfast. This Maine town of a little less than 7,000 was founded in 1770 and like our Portland, the name (derived from the Northern Ireland city) was determined by a coin toss.
“Smoke on the water! This Bamberg (Germany) inspired smoked ale is Bacon in a Glass (emphasis added). Very polarizing beer – you either like the style and taste or you never want to drink it again…..”
I loved it. Of course, what food or drink with bacon infusion wouldn’t I savor…..?
I love the bars in Montana and won’t forget one of my favorite regulars of Thebeerchaser’s Tour – Fritz – who had his own stool at the Antler Saloon in Wisdom, Montana. About fifty miles away from that great bar, I had a long chat while nursing a Miller High Life with Tom Davis, the “seasoned” owner of the Wise River Club.
He emigrated from Scotland in 1964 and told me, “In those days if you had an accent and could sing, you could make some money.” He formed a band and played lead guitar. Tom and his group fronted and toured with Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and Papas and in the Northwest with Portland’s own Paul Revere and the Raiders.
And, by chance, when I walked in one late Saturday afternoon, after reading about them in the book “Montana Watering Holes,” I had a memorable and extended conversation with Dick and Charlotte Sappa, the legendary owners since 1973 of the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls, Montana.
It’s purported to have the longest bar in Montana and is known for its legendary taxidermy including a polar bear. I was fortunate to get a tour of the “Upper Room” – filled with exotic trophies – by their son, Bill – “something we don’t usually do for strangers……”
Three “Unforgettable Characters“!
I can’t end without naming three of the most unforgettable people I’ve met strictly as a result of this hobby – again hard to narrow the candidates down – but they stand out – John Runkle, the late Brian Doyle and Matt Love.
John Runkle, who up until one month ago, was the owner of my favorite and most iconic bar I visited in the ten years – the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana.
I spent two days in Yaak and stayed in the Wolf Room at the Yaak River Lodge which John still owns. (His goal is to move to Texas.) John has charisma and both a personality and heart as big as the Montana sky. (He also claims to be the only sixty-year old with three kids under five (four, two and three months!)
I met the late author, Brian Doyle, in 2013 after I wrote a letter and asked him to meet me at his favorite bar (the Fulton Pub) so I could interview him for Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter honors. To my surprise, he agreed. He was a wonderful human being who left a legacy at the University of Portland, where he was on the faculty, the basketball courts of the Boston City League and most notably fans of great literature. His award-winning books and essays are mentioned in the post I dedicated to him – Brian Doyle – Beerchaser Eternal
Matt Love, is a fellow Oregon City High School grad who lived in Oregon City during his junior high and high school years and graduated from OCHS in 1982. He is a prolific author (nineteen books) who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a small publishing company. His repertoire, to name a few I’ve read, includes Oregon Tavern Age – an exploration of dive bars on the Oregon Coast – something Thebeerchaser relished.
Matt’s writing style, his humor and rich descriptions are especially evident in his 102-page tome on dogs entitled Of Dogs and Meaning.- it’s absolutely captivating – and I make that assertion even though Janet and I have never had a dog during our 41 years of marriage.
Besides Matt’s own heart-warming stories from athletics, teaching and most notably, of his own dogs – Sonny, Bonnie and Clyde, and Tex, he relates canine tales ranging from those involving George Washington, James Madison, John Kennedy, Barack Obama, Winston Churchill and WC Fields. And of course, his years in dive bars yield a few good anecdotes:
“I met a dog in an Oregon Tavern who fetched cans of Hamm’s for humans from behind the bar, but only Hamm’s. Budweiser was out.”
Matt also has a big heart and compassion and respect for others. His latest project is a newsletter entitled “The New American Diaspora.” You can (and should) subscribe by clicking on the link:
“I coined the phrase the New American Diaspora to describe the growing phenomenon of those people living in homelessness and those people checking out of the so-called American dream and taking up residence in the margins.
The focus of this newsletter is on Oregon where I live. I float around the state. I don’t necessarily hold my observations and interactions out as representative of what’s happening elsewhere around the country, but perhaps they are.”
Say Goodnight, Geoff!!
For the finale and to further explain why Montana will always be my favorite Beerchasing state, I have to leave you with a tune by an affable old guy named Geoff at the Yaak River Tavern – across the street from the Dirty Shame Saloon (but no comparison on the ambiance). He was playing guitar and singing – on a bar stool at the bar – nursing one of a number of beers he had consumed that day/night and telling stories.
I told the owner that I was buying him a beer when he came in the next day (he didn’t need any more that night…) and to credit his account. So Geoff sang us his favorite song. This is an excerpt although it essentially captures all the lyrics in 19 seconds…. (When the lyrics have “palm trees,” “banana,” “beach” and “Montana” in the same verse, you know there’s creativity!)
(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.”
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:
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 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.”
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
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.
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.