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FEATURES: Intro | the Mt. Hood freeway | city hall of fame | architexture | rhymin' rogues | some of our favorite Portlanders | 25 years of statistics | what ever happened to...| Nike's marketing muscle | The Oregonian's big oh's

1987: the closing of Jazz Quarry | a broken halo at Baloney Joe's | death of an engineer: the murder of Ben Linder | remembering Peter Fornara and Ric Young


Here we go again: Mayor Bud Clark fires his third police chief, Jim Davis, over breakfast at the Fat City diner. At issue: a city audit that finds no justification for Davis' proposal to hire 120 new police officers.

Ex-police chief Penny Harrington files a sex-discrimination lawsuit against the mayor and the city. Meanwhile, the bureau cuts off her disability payments, forcing Harrington and her husband to sell their home and live in a trailer.

Multnomah County District Judge Dorothy Baker grabs national headlines when she sentences convicted child molester Richard Bateman to post signs outside his home and car that read: "Dangerous Sex Offender--No Children Allowed."

The Portland City Council passes an ordinance to ban the firing of city employees because they are gay or
lesbian. Conservative activists Joe Lutz and Drew Davis spearhead a petition drive to repeal the ban. Meanwhile, Lutz begins organizing an obscure
conservative Christian political group known as the Oregon Citizens Alliance.

Timothy Baumel, a disaffected 14-year-old Northeast Portland youth, is shot dead by Portland police after going berserk and firing on them with the family's .22-caliber rifle. Friends say the troubled boy's death was essentially a suicide.

After about $18 million and three design groups, the Portland Center
for the Performing Arts
opens for business. Reaction to the downtown architectural pastiche is mixed. Glass staircases help connect two theaters,
a five-story lobby, a restaurant, a rehearsal hall and a raft of dressing rooms. Unfortunately, there's no money left over to operate the thing.

The boat-shaped brick building that had stood vacant since Finley Mortuary relocated to Sunset Hills in 1979 is demolished to pave the way for a Portland State parking structure.



Jazz has been the city's soundtrack since WW's first issue, but that doesn't mean it's always been a sound financial investment. 1987 saw the closing of the Jazz Quarry, one of the city's most venerable clubs, in part because of a wave of huge liability-insurance premiums that battered the downtown scene. It's certainly in good company--the last two decades have claimed several great venues, including The Hobbit, The Jazz Room and Club No Attitude. The roster of musicians also changes, of course: Gone are Andrew Hill, Dick Berk, Jessica Williams and heaven's timekeeper, Leroy Vinnegar. But the perennials--Thara Memory, Mel Brown, Gordon Lee, Ron Steen, David Friesen and Glen Moore--have kept the city's beat. And luckily, their ranks have been bolstered with fine creative musicians such as Rich Halley, Rob Blakeslee, Rob Scheps and Darrell Grant stepping in to check out the city's groove. Thankfully, the clubs keep opening as well. Some, like Jazz de Opus and the feisty musician favorite Jimmy Mak's, even manage to survive.



By 1987, homelessness had become a major political issue, thanks in part to the efforts of a charismatic grass-roots activist named Michael Stoops, founder and chairman of the Burnside Community Council, which operated Baloney Joe's--Portland's best-known homeless shelter.

A grizzled social worker from a Quaker background, Stoops was the perfect antidote to the materialism of the Reagan era: He drew no salary, favored thrift-store clothes and lived in a skid-road hotel with two broken TVs--one for picture and one for sound. Behind the rumpled demeanor, however,

Stoops was a media-savvy advocate with a knack for publicity: He gave reporters a taste of street life through an innovative "urban plunge" program and organized an annual tongue-in-cheek parody of the Rose Festival to crown the King and Queen of the Hobos.

But on Nov. 19, WW published what was destined to be its biggest story of the decade: a report that Michael Stoops routinely had sex with teenage boys who came to Baloney Joe's seeking shelter.

The news hit the city like a lumbering freight. Stoops hotly denied the charges, and droves of supporters rushed to his defense, bombarding WW with angry calls and letters, complaining, in effect, that the charges were too ugly to be true.

But the collective wall of denial crumbled after the BCC commissioned Portland lawyer Don Marmaduke to investigate the accusations. Several months later, after a brief effort to keep the investigation under wraps, the agency finally released the Marmaduke report, which confirmed WW's story. Stoops resigned the same week.

The story's aftermath continued for years. Stoops left town for Washington, D.C., where he continues to work on homeless issues. The BCC collapsed, and the Salvation Army took over Baloney Joe's and renamed it the Recovery Inn.

Today the shelter stands empty and forlorn on the east end of the Burnside Bridge, its windows boarded up, its walls stained with urine--just another hard-luck story. But a recent visit yielded a surprising memento: Outside the door sits a rusty, battered tin can with the following inscription scrawled on its face: "I don't forget Baloney Joe's and Michael Stoops."



  From the safe distance of our armchairs, the proxy war in Nicaragua always had a touch of the surreal--a nightmarish jumble of masked faces, swollen bellies and Cold War rhetoric. For Portlanders, however, the conflict became real on a single day in April 1987, with the death of native son Ben Linder, gunned down on a remote hillside by Contra rebels backed by the U.S. government.

Linder was a classic peacenik. He grew up in a progressive house in Northwest Portland, where dinner-table talk included debates on socialism. Brilliant but shy, the tall, skinny redhead graduated from Adams High School and majored in engineering at University of Washington. He was a vegetarian, a bicycle nut, a professional clown and a resourceful mechanic: He once made an espresso machine out of a bunch of old pipes, using a sock for a filter. Dismayed by American efforts to topple the communist Sandinista regime by arming the right-wing Contras, Linder moved to Nicaragua in 1983 and dedicated his engineering skills to rebuilding the nation's shattered infrastructure. Moments before the Contra patrol shot him in the head, he had been pouring cement for a test dam to bring electricity to the little town of San José de Bocay. He was 27 years old.

Linder's death made headlines around the world. Not only was he the first American casualty of the war in Nicaragua, he was killed by guerrillas financed by the Reagan administration, in defiance of a congressional resolution.

In Portland, the tragedy seemed to epitomize the moral bankruptcy of Reagan's foreign policy. "This brought it home," says activist Janet Dietz. "It was someone we knew who had tried to do good deeds, and they shot him. People were outraged."

Progressives took Linder's death as a call to action: Mourners filled Schrunk Plaza the day the news broke, and a national conference later drew thousands of activists from across the nation, including Alexander Cockburn, Ed Asner and Barbara Kingsolver, who dedicated her novel Animal Dreams to the fallen engineer. Eventually more than a hundred Portlanders joined Ben Linder Brigades and traveled to Nicaragua to build hospitals, clinics and dams.

As the contorted layers of the Iran-Contra scandal were peeled away, it became clear that Linder--and, in a sense, Nicaragua itself--had fallen victim to the last, paranoid twitchings of the Cold War hawks, who still believed that an impoverished regime in a tiny Latin American country represented a mortal threat to world peace. After Linder's death, Portland could no longer stomach the charade. For years afterwards, protesters mounted such fierce demonstrations against visiting Cold Warriors that George Bush dubbed the town "Little Beirut."




It would be impossible to consider the last 25 years of theater in Portland without Peter Fornara and Ric Young. They were a latter-day Hengist and Horsa who battled against hobbyism in the name of art. Both began their stage work here in the 1960s, becoming the driving forces in the '70s and '80s. Both were visionaries hailed for their originality and innovations, creating work that is still discussed. Both were candid to the point of truculence, perfectionists who thought nothing of closing a show that had already opened to overhaul it. Both had followers and ignorant detractors, and both were famous libertines who died prematurely of AIDS.

Fornara was the brooding, streetwise intellectual who scorned artifice and strove for a naked honesty on stage. He became associated with Shepard's gritty Buried Child and True West and laid bare the unadorned potency of Shakespeare's words. Young, on the other hand, was a fabricator of Decameronic dreams and vaudevillian terrors, an artist versed in fin de siècle decadence, which he expressed in Wilde's Salome and Dumas' Camille.

Fornara refused to use stage makeup, claiming it got in the way of his acting. When asked what a costume design might need, Young would answer, "More jewels, always more jewels." Their approach to casting complemented their philosophical differences. "The first thing I want as a director in choosing an actor is intelligence," Fornara said. "I like to use people I'm sexually attracted to," countered Young, "and I like to work with powerful people."

Fornara was a one-man moveable feast who craved a company. He started many excellent theaters, though none lasted long. Young, on the other hand, became synonymous with his theater, Storefront. To this day, there is nothing in Portland to rival it. Young was the Diaghilev of Burnside who embraced all the arts. He collaborated with Ursula K. LeGuin, Henk Pander and filmmaker Bill Reinhardt while promoting the exceptional work of performers like Wendy Westerwelle and Leigh Clark. Storefront was an intrinsic component in Portland's art scene, so much so that Mississippi Mud's editor, Joel Weinstein, once said, "I'd like to think of the magazine as a literary version of Storefront--biting and provocative." Fornara became Portland's theatrical Jeremiah and the scourge of proud amateurism. "We've evolved somehow to the state where it is morally correct to produce theater without substance," he said. "I'm committing some kind of sin for presenting theater with substance." Would that there were more such sinners today.

Two extensive interviews with the artists appeared in Willamette Week in early 1982, when they were both at the height of their powers. Later that year, the first mentions of AIDS appeared, casting a pall over the theater community. Toward the end, Young, very ill, sat among his fabrics and feathers for his friend Pander, who painted a haunting portrait of him entitled Prayer Before the Night. Fornara was surrounded by colleagues Gaynor Sterchi, Sam Mowry, Michele Mariana and others who joined Fornara in making an audio-tape version of King Lear. After their deaths--Young in 1992, Fornara in 1994--voices rose that the still-unnamed main stage at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts should be named in their honor (the honor finally fell to a wealthy patron). Yet Young and Fornara hardly need static memorials. Their energy and dedication to the art of theater remains in those who worked with them or watched them at work. Shaw once said of William Morris, "You can lose a man like this only by your own death, not by his." Fornara and Young are still very much alive on Portland's stages.


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