Banned By Bogdanski

Big-time Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski can dish out the criticism but apparently has a thin skin when it comes the other way. I’ve been commenting at his site and submitting topics for consideration (including one that was picked up earlier this month) for several years.

He’s been pushing the story of the recent Reed College heroin overdose deaths and the subsequent warning to the college from federal and local authorities since a letter from President Colin Diver went out last week to students, faculty, staff, and alumni about how Renn Fayre would be impacted.

Reed has had more than its share of heroin deaths. There were a couple around the period I was there in the late ’80s, and there have been heroin overdose deaths in 2008 and 2010. So there’s definitely a subculture of heroin use at the school. But as I pointed out in comments on the posts, smack isn’t exactly conducive to getting through Reed. If you’re smart enough to get in there, you can probably manage to skate through (whether that will get you into graduate school is another story) but if you’re nodding off every day that’s not going to happen. Heroin has a pull for a certain type of “artistic” personality, and those people are going to be drawn to places like Reed more than they are to Lewis & Clark or Linfield.

That, by the way, appears to be where I stepped on Mr. Bogdanski’s toes. Despite my having acknowledged that Reed had a couple clusters of heroin deaths, Bogdanski accused me in one response of denying that Reed had a heroin problem. I reiterated a couple of my remarks disproving that assertion and said that where I disagreed with him was in the size of the problem, then added for comedic effect this comment from a college shopper’s forum that I came across at random, after noting that he worked for the competition (i.e. he is a professor of law at Lewis & Clark)

I’ve posted this before, but it was so strange, I’ll do it again. When we were visiting Reed we called L & C admissions office and asked for directions. The woman at the other asked where we were coming from, we said Reed College, she said, “Oh, that’s a much better school.” It made us wonder what the school really thinks of itself.

And that got me banned. I didn’t realize it right away, because I posted a comment in another, later thread, but when I tried to post something this afternoon on a completely unrelated topic:

Banned By Bogdanski

My earlier comments had also been deleted from the site.

The stupid thing is, the drug crackdown the US Attorney and Multnomah County DA and others want to use to bring Reed under their heel is just about the most inefficient waste of resources I can think of. Sure, they’ll keep people from smoking pot openly at Renn Fayre, but the kids who take acid or ecstacy or some other pills aren’t likely to be sharing them with random dudes showing up on campus who they’ve never seen before — and that stuff can last for hours. I don’t know what Bogdanski is smoking if he thinks that people are shooting up in public on the lawn in front of Eliot Hall, the only place a law enforcement presence is likely to make any difference. The powers-that-be will be able to strut around saying they’ve finally brought the druggie College under control; meanwhile the dealers will be working downtown Portland just like they do every single day. Sometime in the next decade, another Reedie will OD from heroin they bought within a few blocks of the Justice Center and the Hatfield Federal Courthouse. How will the DA and US Attorney pretend they’ve cleaned up the heroin problem at Reed then?

The Small Town People

Felipe (“The Indian Native American”) Rose and David (“The Construction Worker”) Hodo — two members of the Village People — were on NPR’s quiz show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…” last weekend, doing creditable work on the celebrity-appearence segment titled “Really, really not your job.”

Despite their skills at answering questions, I practically fell out of my chair laughing when this email solicitation came through today:

Village People Tickets on Sale Saturday

Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 17, at 8 a.m. for the Blue & White Bash featuring Village People!

The Blue & White Bash will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Dakota Wesleyan University. Tickets are $30 for general admission or $320 for a reserved table of eight; tables are limited. Tickets will be available at the Corn Palace ticket office, by phone at (800) 289-7469 or (605) 995-8430, or online at

The concert will be on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with the DWU alumni quartet from the 1960s, The Highlanders, followed by Village People at 8:30 p.m.

For more information, go to

Dakota Wesleyan — in the small town of Mitchell, South Dakota, a couple hours’ drive from Sioux Falls — is the alma mater of Sen. George McGovern, and the campus I visited when I went to the McGovern Conference several years ago. It’s about as unlikely a place as you might expect to run into the Village People, but you’ve got to give the bookers for the Blue & White Bash credit for thinking outside the box.

Where It All Began

The floor of our old living room

I noticed last week that there was a dumpster in front of the house Barbara and I (and her sister Lori) used to live in, just a few blocks away from where we moved to 20 years ago. It was a small, two-bedroom place, with a tub and no shower, a basement, and a yard the size of a small mattress; wedged between another house and a car battery shop. When I mentioned I used to live there to the guy out front of the place smoking a cigarette, he told me it was going to be back on the market soon.

Barbara and I walked past it on our way to the store on Sunday, and there was an estate sale going on. We hadn’t been in the place since May of 1990, and being snoopy we went in. I went back with her to get a couple of pictures, including this one of what used to be our living room (and where I slept when I first started to come to Portland “for concerts”), and Barbara went back for an additional trip because Lori showed up that afternoon.

The house was packed to the gills with stuff, despite the fact that people were buying things at a steady clip and the sale had been going on since Friday. We looked through omething as a memento of the woman who’d lived there after us for two decades, but the only thing Barbara wanted out of the pile was this “Hagar the Horrible” strip from the window in the front door. She’s not a “Hagar” fan, but she’d put it in the window herself in 1988 and the woman who’d bought the house had left it there ever since.

Very small lot

Becky’s Birthday

I don’t know how long now that I’ve been patronizing Fujin on Hawthorne. Not as long as Barbara and I have been customers at Hunan — because that dates from back when we were both working at Powell’s and I left there nearly twenty years ago — but it’s been a long time and I’ve probably been there more often because it’s close to home and where I had my office. Becky, one of the co-owners, had a birthday on Monday and I took her a card. This was my fortune:

An enjoyable vacation is awaiting you near the mountains.

We’ll see.

Red Cars

Not a picture of another smart car but another odd car that caught my eye: a Citroën Acadiane panel truck. There’s someone with a bunch of Citroëns closer in to the river on SE Belmont, and they were shopping at the Safeway on Hawthorne when this photo opportunity presented itself.


From a McClatchy Network version of a Los Angeles Times story about the coal ship that rammed into Australia’s Great barrier Reef:

Like other coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef was built literally on the backs of small, colonial animals that make formations resembling tabletops, giant brains or elk horns.

Well, not “literally.” Corals don’t actually have “backs” except in the sense that they have a side facing away from you. The Times version currently online doesn’t include “literally.”


Jackie Chan, Tiger Lily, and Jasmine (front)

I wrote a long encomium to Tiger Lily on her sixth birthday last month, and I’d been meaning to do the same for her putative sister, Jasmine, when her turn came up on 26 March. But I failed.

That’s a sad thing, because despite the uninformed meanderings of some writers about how cats are “indifferent” to their owners, the reality is Jasmine is one of the most jealous animals around and would be quite unhappy if she was cognizant of the fact that I wrote about her sister and not herself.

Jasmine on the smart car dash

Though she’s the younger of the two girl kitties, Jasmine is the Princess of the house. In part that’s because she’s the only one who cares about being Princess. Tiger Lily could care less, but Jasmine’s nose gets out of joint any time she perceives a slight. She is the Mistress of Sulk, and we’ve spent more time than I care to think about coaxing her out of her moods.

In this, she takes after one of her predecessors, Manderlea, who, when we lived next to a battery shop on SE 38th & Belmont, would go sit on their roof in the rain to show everyone how disgruntled she was. Jasmine has a lot of Manderlea’s mannerisms (despite the fact that the closest they ever came is the former walking over the latter’s grave in the backyard): a tendency to flounce into the room, a penchant for jumping to the highest point (refrigerator, cabinet, etc.) and perching like a vulture, and an insatiable curiosity that drives her to check out whatever Barbara’s doing. The big difference is, indeed, big: because Jasmine’s about fifteen pounds; twice Manderlea’s size and half again as big as either of the two other cats.

Jasmine in the platter

That makes it all the more impressive (and potentially dangerous to fragile items) when she decides to pop up on top of a cabinet from the back of a chair. Or when she decides to come down. She’s obsessed with the fishing pole toy Barbara made for Jackie Chan back in his youth (his acrobatics chasing after it was what earned him his promotion from “Boy Kitty”). She’ll pull it out of it’s hiding spot four or five times a night, but if one of the other two cats hears her chasing it and shows up to get in on the action, she’ll leave because she doesn’t like to share.

She’s the one who shows up when there’s company. She’s the one who rolls on her back on the sidewalk to get pets from passers-by. It was Jasmine squeezing her body into a tiny basket Barbara was using for tinder that’s led to us having four wicker baskets in the office and living room (for three cats!) Like she was a lobbyist or something. She’s six.

I Didn’t Get An iPad

smart car at Pacific City, photo by Nathan Pryor
photo by Nathan Pryor

It was almost exactly eight years and eleven months ago that Barbara and I went to Amsterdam (after the wedding in Ireland of our friends Annie and Eric) and saw our first smart car.

I’ve never been much of a car guy — Barbara knows more about the workings of an engine than I do, heck, I can barely get the hood open — but I’ve always been attracted to odd cars. I don’t know why, exactly, but I suspect that it has something to do with my folks. Dad says that he taught me to recognize Karmann Ghias at an early age; he had a Chevy Corvair when my brother and I were kids; my first car was a 1975 AMC Pacer that Dad had bought for work. So I didn’t really have much of an option but to be smitten when I saw a smart parked on the street during our trip to the Netherlands in the first days of May 2001.

It was to be a thwarted obsession for several years, though. I read about the smart online. I looked at the various models and used the online configuration tools (in German). I essentially stalked smart. Then I started seeing reports about people bringing them into the US, movie stars ordering them in Europe and having to wait for months for them to arrive, and worst of all, the godawful cost of these “gray-market” cars: upward of $30K for what was supposed to be an economical city car. Way out of my league.

I persisted, however. I was even interviewed by Tom and Ray of NPR’s “Car Talk”, asking about how to get one imported (although they cut me from the show; they didn’t really have any advice to offer). So it just remained an unscratched itch for years. (Meanwhile, on a trip to Germany, Dad had acquired his own hankering for a smart roadster).

According to the Department of Energy, on 2 April 2001, a gallon of regular gasoline on the West Coast was selling for an average of $1.54, which was half again what it had cost two years before. So to my mind, even back then, it seemed like a move to smaller vehicles might not be such a bad idea. Five years later, it cost a dollar more. In the summer of 2008, the price of a gallon of regular on the West Coast spent six weeks above the $4.20 mark, a 175% increase over what it had cost the month before we went to Amsterdam.

smart car's first day at home

But in early 2007, a notice went out to interested parties that there was finally going to be an official importation of smart fortwo models (the roadster had been discontinued) into the US. For a $99 refundable deposit, you could reserve a car. Later in the year, people who’d plopped down their hundred bucks got a chance to choose their options and order up their car. Of course, between the time I put down my deposit and the time I got to configure my smart, I’d been laid off from my job, but I didn’t let that deter me: obsession knows no recession. Red, with red interior and a cabrio top to make the most of the sunny days.

A smart dealership opened up in Portland in January 2008 and they started getting in about 30 or so cars a month. I got the call April, and I picked up the smart car two years ago today.

Barbara and Darrel on the road,