I have no idea who controls this crazy little world, but to whomever made it rain and got E Street Radio to play “The Promise” just as I pulled up to my house Thursday afternoon, well, cheers to you.
I tip my hat, my drink, and the seven (eight? nine?) other drinks that followed last night. Fantastic work. Your sense of humor is biting, and perfect. Rain and Springsteen’s best tune about disillusionment. That’s 3-2-6-1-5-3-4-6-8 double play of comedic despair, and I don’t know if that’s a double play that ever actually happened, but I read it on Wikipedia. Right now I don’t much care to fact check.
Yesterday, a lot of good, talented people — friends — were laid off, an act I always suspected wasn’t as gentle as it sounded. I was right.
In September, 1997, I walked into my parents’ house in Ann Arbor, Mich. and checked their answering machine. There was a message from Rachel Bachman, who I’d known at the University of Michigan’s student newspaper, and who I knew was out in Portland.
There’s an opening, she said. If you’re interested …
I was 23 and my life fit in my car. I’m 38 now, with a wife and a kid and a mortgage. I grew up in that newsroom (though I’m sure a few colleagues will read that and say, “grown up?”). I got to write about sports and music. I got to go charging into what everyone else does for fun and call it a job.
I stood behind Tiger Woods in 1999 when Justin Leonard dropped a miracle putt against Jose Maria Olazabal at the Ryder Cup and a golf course made noises I didn’t think a golf course could make. (The same trip where I nearly stepped on President Bush the First, who then looked at me and grinned.) Two years later, working on a story about Notre Dame in advance of the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon State, I got an 8 a.m. wake-up call from former Irish coach Gerry Faust.
What an odd job this is, I thought.
I chased Joey Harrington through his rookie season with the Detroit Lions, where he was damn near killed. I chased cattle with Kellen Clemens, where I damn near killed myself.
Last week, I was forwarded a photo of Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn high-fiving the president, and immediately was transported to the first early-morning Portland Power practice I covered. Walking in the gym just as a player shot yet another three-pointer with her foot on the line, Lin shouted that if said player did that “one more time, I’m going to take that ponytail and shove it up your ass.”
This will be interesting, I thought.
I got to explore logging roads with Willy Vlautin while he told me one of the villains he’d written into a record was originally a hermaphrodite. The guys in the band talked him back from that one. I once had to break it to some poor kid at Coachella that he’d asked the only guy at Coachella who couldn’t get him cocaine, for some cocaine. Todd Snider once offered me a vodka and cranberry in the hallway of a church in Austin.
This is a bad idea, I thought. (It was, but it was worth it.)
And 1,000 other stories hilarious, difficult, heartbreaking, or mundane. It’s daily journalism. There’s always going to be a little mundane.
I will forever be grateful to the athletes and coaches, as boring as some of them were, who stopped to talk, who trusted me with their stories. That’s no small thing. And to the musicians who took time to sit in coffee shops, or bars, or basements, or studios and talk about their art, a million thanks, and then a few more. You’re an impressive, inspiring bunch. The spirit and generosity in this town is something to behold. We might drift toward self-parody sometimes, but we do it with the best of intentions, I think.
Aug. 30 will be my last day, and I don’t know what comes next. Something good, I hope. Something good for my friends who are wrestling with these same foreign emotions this morning. Something good for those who are going to carry on. This town needs the Oregonian — in whatever form it’s packaged — and it needs the talented people who remain in that building. I’ll be their biggest fan (and I may adopt a pseudonym and go raise a little hell with the commenters, like I’ve always wanted to).
I was given a fantastic opportunity for a lot of years. Now we’ll go looking for the next opportunity.
And since I only plan on doing this once, IF any of you happen to be in positions that allow you to hire, AND you need someone who can type, I can type. With both hands. All proper and stuff. None this hunt and peck crap. I mean it. I’m good at the typing.
Today is for the hangover. Monday is back to the office. There’s a Blues Festival special section to produce, and a lot of cool music coming out between now and Aug. 30. After that, I guess I’ll be the guy at the show without a notebook.
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