In anticipation of tonight's big Livewire show at the Aladdin stuffed with loads of local celebs as well as National Public Radio's Ari Shapiro (who supposedly will sing a duet with none other than Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale) I thought I'd share a couple of the most recent PM stories I've heard.
A couple of days ago the band returned home from a very private gig at The French Embassy in Washington D.C. (which begs one digression: will this Portland band play one of Obama's big gig in mid-January? Inquiring minds want to know.) I heard the chi-chi soiree was oh-la-la fantastic. The night before the concert though Thomas, China Forbes and other bandmates gathered for dinner at the home of the Portland-raised Shapiro (pictured above at this year's Fruit Farm Film Festival with Avenue Q's Jeff Whitty). After dining on lasagna, pear tart and a quince martini Shapiro walked the band to it's car. That's when a very large rat went scurrying right in front of their path. "Oh, look," said Shapiro. "There's a night squirrel!"
And from Pink Martini's "#1 Fan" here is what just happened to Metro man, David Bragdon, who (I think) has just returned from the land of the rising sun:
"I was in Kitakyushu, Japan on Sunday. On short notice I was told I could meet the Prime Minister of Japan. Fortunately I was ready for this rare opportunity: I pulled a copy of Pink Martini’s “Hang on Little Tomato” out of my briefcase. (Thomas had equipped me with an assortment of CDs to give as tokens to the Japanese officials I was meeting, mostly mayors – I had no expectation of meeting the Prime Minister.) It could be the first installment of my new global “PM for PMs” program in which Pink Martini albums will be distributed to Prime Ministers worldwide.
I was given precise instructions of where to sit, how to stand up when the Prime Minister came in, and was told I would then be directed to be introduced to the Prime Minister, to bow slightly, shake hands, and then stand on my marks to have our picture taken together.
I showed the protocol officer the Pink Martini CD and asked if I could be permitted to give the CD to the Prime Minister of Japan as a token of friendship between our nations. The protocol officer looked stricken and flew off across the room (with the CD) to talk to a more senior official, and he in turn rushed off stage and consulted someone even more senior. Eventually he came back, gave the CD to the protocol officer, who brought it back to me and apologetically explained that it would not be appropriate for me to give Hang on Little Tomato to the Prime Minister of Japan. In part they were concerned that he had no like gift to give to me, and in part they do not like people handing things to the Prime Minister of Japan. I had created a dilemma in this gift-giving culture.
Should I have done it anyway? Did I lose face? Should I have not asked in the first place, and just handed a Pink Martini CD to the Prime Minister of Japan, inadvertently risking an international incident while just trying to be nice?
Instead, I obeyed. I gave no PM to the PM. But then I gave the CD to Mayor Kitahashi of Kitakyushu a few minutes later. He was appreciative.
Next I am going to try and give a Decembrists CD to Vladimir Putin." —David Bragdon
Last Updated (Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:39)
Just got word that culture editor and writer Audrey Van Buskirk was let go yesterday at The Portland Tribune, hot on the heels of the departure of Phil Stanford. An established editor and one helluva of an amazing writer Van Buskirk has been an editor for Willamette Week, Santa Fe Reporter and Seattle Weekly. Longtime features writer Eric Bartels was also let go.
Pictured above: Van Buskirk and her hubby [and former WW'er] Chris Lydgate.
LATER THAT NIGHT: Van Buskirk's lay-off has been bugging me all day. And it has given way to what I can only call a very "pregnant" pause. I understand times our tough. I understand the media biz is changing. I understand "stuff" needs to happen.
I get all that. What I don't understand is why The Portland Tribune continues to lay off women who are "with child". Let's look at the score card, shall we?
First there was business writer Kristina Brenneman, who according to this Willamette Week scooplet in July of 2005 was let go "the day before she flew to China to pick up her newly adopted daughter." Then, more recently, they laid off copy editor Margaret Davis—during maternity leave. I didn't even know you could do that. On the very same day they let go of another copy editor (and awesome Jeopardy contestant) named Margaret—Margaret Seiler—who was pregnant at the time (I should note other non-pregnant people were let go that day too).
And yesterday, Audrey got the boot. And, oh yes, she's pregnant too.
I can't think of a worse moment to lay someone off: bills, insurance issues, needing to have a place to come back to after maternity leave that can work with your schedule. The list goes on. Not to mention, the whole getting-laid-off-right-before-the-holiday-thing.
So, I ask you Portland Tribune power brokers: Are times really that bad that all the new moms need to go? Really, is that the message you want your readers to hear, especially at this time of year? If so, then you've not only lost valuable members of your team, you've also lost what it means to be a community newspaper and, just maybe, your moral compass, too.
On the verge of the Feb. 6 release of hotly anticipated "Coraline," Laika has decided to stop production on its next project, "Jack and Ben Animated Adventure" and lay off 65 employees (workers, a friend told me who moved to Portland just to work on this project). Here's what I found out about the lay off on the web: "A studio spokeswoman told The Oregonian that Laika has decided to shelve the film and push ahead on other projects, and expects to have a series of announcements to that effect after the first of the year...The company will be left with 280 employees, and their advertising division will not be affected...In June, Laika announced their long-term slate, which included JACK AND BEN, and two other projects: HERE BE MONSTERS! And PARANORMAN.
ANOTHER MAJOR MEDIA LAYOFF: Goes without saying that this sucks, but just read over at OMI, who got it from PBJ, that Phil Stanford has been let go at The Portland Tribune. A true original and a good reason to pick up the paper every Thursday, recently Stanford has only been appearing in every other issue of the publication. So who is going to write about Nick's Coney Island now that Phil is gone?
IT'S A SMALL TOWN AFTER ALL: Not ones to wallow in the current state of media affairs, fellow laid-off journos, Liz Hummer and her roomie, Nathan Peasley, threw a little birthday par-tay for themselves on Friday night. Mixed amongst the crowd at their spacious Southeast apartment were other media folks as well as Mike Hughes (pictured above). Now, you might know him as one of the 'stached dudes who doles out tasty wings at Biggs Bros. Wing Shack at Southeast Hawthorne Blvd. and 12th Ave. Or you might know him as the son of local living legend Anne Hughes (of Anne Hughes Coffee at Powell's Books). But, come spring, you will come to know him as an "actor." That's because Hughes just finished up his "role" as Larry Hurwitz. If you are new to town you might not be familiar with this infamous fellow. But longtimers will inform you that Hurwitz was the once legendary owner of The Starry Nightclub who was tried and eventually convicted in the 1990 slaying of Tim Moreau (for the latest news on Hurwitz, check out Willamette Week here). According to Hughes, who snagged the job off of Craig's List, his turn as Hurwitz was for The Learning Channel's crime drama pilot "Personal Justice" that will supposedly air sometime in March, 2009. (I don't see the resemblance either).
ANIMATED ANIMATORS A quick note—Portland can look like Hollywood. That is when lovely folks like Gretchen Miller and Jim Clark host a party. And that party is in the midst of their incredibly cool office/production house. Clark and Miller are the sweet couple behind Hive-FX, an animation company nestled in a neat little building in Southeast's Clinton neighborhood. Hive-FX is about to start work on the brilliant-sounding Chihuanhas, a film about an animal that’s “half Chihuahua and half piranha.” And, yes, that is director James Westby's muse and the star of The Auteur, Melik Malkasian, nestled next to Gretchen and Jim.
DRAGTIME: Ritchie Bristol, one of the players on The Rick Emerson Show, made his drag debut as "Ritchelle Kristol" at Southwest Washington's one and only gay bar, The Northbank, in downtown Vancouver, Wash. on Saturday night. And, damn, if it wasn't a good show. With another laid off journo, Tim Riley, as emcee, and plenty of performers from Northbank's "Lipz Cabaret" propping his sorry ass up, it wasn't nearly as embarrassing as I thought it would be. And, guess what, Ritchie makes an attractive laaaaaaady! Who knew?
ROCK AND NOEL: I guess it might be due in part to her name, but Gina Noell (and her hubby Michael Cubbon) really know how to throw a holiday party. I guess that's why everybody in the music industry descends on their house around this time of year. I have to say, one of the best parts of the whole night is just making it passed the doorman. Yes, doorman. How rock and roll can a house party get?
FOODIE FA-LA-LA's: A little snow and ice isn't going to stop the "minister of food" Robert Reynolds from throwing a small dinner party at his intimate and always amazing Chefs Studio. After taking two buses and the light rail we arrived at Robert's place last night and dined on one of the most amazing meals I've ever had. And the biggest thrill? Getting a chance to use his potato ricer. I'd never heard of one before that night. Now, I don't think I could live without one. It's very strange that one of the points of conversation during the dinner was that Reynolds really needed his own fan page on Facebook. This morning, Reynold's emailed me that when he arrived home, after the party, he received a message from a former student who said she had just created a page for him on the site. That guy is a little bit magic.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 16 September 2009 14:14)
I can confirm that my friend, fellow newshound, and the hostess of many of Mediabistro's PDX parties, Stacey Wilson, was let go from her post at Portland Monthly as of Friday afternoon. For the last several months Wilson has been kicking major booty as an associate editor for PM. And Wilson is also one of the Northwest's busiest freelancers. Her work has appeared in several publications including People, where she is a frequent contributor covering some of this regions biggest stories. Although I'm not sure what she will do next, I have a strong hunch that there are bigger and much better opportunties for Wilson in the near future. Good luck, Stacey.
(Photo of Stacey Wilson [right] and her sister, FOX-12 reporter, Jamie Wilson)