Portfolio

A collection of stories I like. 

The Margaritaville empire: Jimmy Buffett fans won’t stop looking for that lost shaker of salt Salon, April 2017

In January 1977, just ahead of the record’s release, Buffett decided to make a run to the Bahamas in his new sailboat, the Euphoria. Strolling about Staniel Cay, Buffett saw the only phone on the island, in a squat yellow building marked by a “Bahamas Telecommunications Company” sign next to the door. Turning to Tom Corcoran, his friend, navigator and a photographer, Buffett said he should probably call ABC Records in Los Angeles. To see if he still had a job.

More than just a job, he was told might well have a hit. A disillusioned-but-sunny track called “Margaritaville” was showing promise, and Buffett needed to get his ass off the boat, back to the States and onto his tour bus. A few days later, a chartered Beechcraft King Air lifted off from the islands en route to a tour that’s never really ended and a career that became a lifestyle that became a brand. And these days, that brand is closing in on $2 billion a year in sales.

The Ballad of Pete Krebs: One legendary musician unites decades of Portland music Portland Monthly, November 2015 (Winner: Best Profile, City and Regional Magazine Association Awards)

Krebs has played a thousand of these nights in a thousand different bars. He played the Portland punk dive Satyricon, and he’s played New Orleans jazz shrine Preservation Hall. He’s also played scores of the local bars, cafés, nightclubs, and restaurants that just come and go. He opened for Nirvana, scraped paint with Elliott Smith, and learned gypsy jazz from actual gypsies. For a snap in time, he and one of his many bands, Hazel, teetered on the next-big-thing precipice, until they tipped the other way.

A career that now touches four decades makes Krebs the human thread that ties bygone eras of Portland music to now: the nihilistic and obscure ’80s underground, the ’90s grunge-rock moment, right up to last night, tonight, and tomorrow—when he’s entirely likely to have some gig, somewhere, playing one of the half-dozen genres of music he’s mastered, for audiences old, young, engaged, indifferent, whatever. Krebs was there as Portland’s music scene became a scene, and he’s remained a constant ever since. Today, he might be the most respected musician in town—if you’re talking to other musicians. “He makes you think anything is possible,” John Moen, drummer for the Decemberists, says.

The energy and anxiety of Oregon football Wall Street Journal, October 2014 (PDF)»

The Hatfield-Dowlin Complex might be the most aggressive salute to Mom ever built.

Paid for by Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny, and named after their mothers, the University of Oregon’s 145,000-square-foot football building features rugs from Nepal, barber’s tools from Italy, a Finnish sound system, German tables, Ferrari-leathered seats and urinals from Turkey.

On the outside, the complex of offices and training facilities is sleek and black—an angular, armored Death Star.

“It is kind of an ominous looking building,” offensive-line coach Steve Greatwood says. “I guess it does send some kind of statement subliminally,” Greatwood says. “Maybe there’s an evil empire in there.” Or maybe that’s just they want us to think.

Daddy Issues: Dancing in the Dark PDX Parent, July 2016

Bruce Springsteen was talking about compromise. Specifically, the type of compromise at the core of, Independence Day, a song at the emotional core of his 1980 double album, The River.

“It’s the kind of song you write when you’re young,” he said in Portland earlier this year, “and you’re first startled by your parents’ humanity. Shocked to realize they had their own desires and their own hopes that may or may not have played out the way they thought they would. And all you can see are the adult compromises they had to make, and you’re still too young to see the blessings that come with compromise.”