Whoop whoop

Bud Clark, the most colorful mayor Portand has ever had, and in my 40-plus years here one of the better ones, has died at age 90. Many remembrances are being written elsewhere, and Clark's life story is well worth the many pages.

One thing I hope won't be left out is his signature event, the Mayor's Ball. It was held every year at the Memorial Coliseum. The first one was to pay off Clark's campaign debts, as I recall, but it went on for several years thereafter. All the great local musicians played, and there were many. All sorts of people showed up to see and be seen. KBOO Radio covered it live. There was a real sense of community, positive vibes galore. There's never been anything like it since.

Here's a wonderful behind-the-scenes account. 

We gathered at the Coliseum at 10 A.M. The sound guys had already loaded in and Gary Ewing was setting up his light show. As the day rushed on the chaos slowly became order. The mix of enthusiastic volunteers and seasoned professionals worked well together. When the sun started to go down the lines outside started to grow. We opened the doors at 5 P.M. and it seemed like everyone in Portland streamed in. I must have walked fifty miles that day trying to find and solve problems.

It was the largest gathering of musicians under one roof in the history of Oregon.

The first big moment of the night was Bud's entrance. I had to fight very hard for my idea. Most people just wanted Bud to appear on stage and say a few words. I wanted him to walk from one end of the room to the other, through the crowd, greeting the people. Security went nuts! They said they would need a flying wedge to get him through and he'd still be mobbed. That's where the Marine color guard and the bagpiper came in. Maestro James DePriest was on the north stage in the main room and was introduced by Phil Thompson, who stood on the south stage. DePriest said some kind word about Bud, and as the Imperial Brass played its special piece, he directed the now capacity crowd's attention to his right, where a spotlight was focused on the flags of the United States, Oregon and the Marine Corps.

Then, behind the color guard the piper began. Security was trying to move the crowd, but when the Sergeant of the Guard barked his command, "Forward, march," and moved out in a slow, measured pace, the crowd just parted on its own. Bud and Sigrid followed the piper and waved and shook hands as the procession move toward the south stage. When they reached the south stage, Bud made a short speech thanking almost everyone in the world.

RIP, Bud, and let's hope we get some new leaders like you to save our city before it's too late.


  1. Sad news. Portland was so quirky back then. But in a good way and not in some phony, thought out way. Bud was the first person that actually moved me to vote. I was just hanging with some friends over in the Hollywood district in a small house that was removed due to “progress”, walked about a half a block to the senior center and voted.

    I really didn’t think that he would pull it off, but I think that Ivancie was too rooted in old-school Portland politics and he was not the warmest person to put it mildly. I went to high school with his kids and walked past their home everyday and still remember him pulling in with his security detail. A switch from Bud and Vera who were more “of the people.”

  2. ^Don't we always tell ourselves stories to try to make sense of the world tho, whether or not they're true?
    & no one really knows 'when' they are in time / history in live-time, right?
    What's with this idea that things were more honest or genuine, then?

    Portland still had a strong locally owned industrial heart in '84 & was a backwater / no really a real estate investment scam yet like SF, Hell.A & Sleazeattle w/ the big tech jobs &$$$ basically already were.
    It was still a segregated, last frontier alaska-lite backwater w/'Pittsburgh of the west' industrialization & timber wealth concentrated & Ohio liberal-republican politics , really.

    We're late to the party of a lot of urban america's social & environmental ills, have hold-over corrupt largely gilded age city govt. structure that's cheap & easy to buy for the big players & VERY ill-prepared to resist it.
    On the bright side, despite us tending our gardens/performative uh not really scalable or long term viable 'keeping up appearances,' we still have some social time together & 'not the worst' layout for that in the 'built environement' & some community gardens & neighborhood association power (inward looking & reactionary/discordant as they may be at times).

  3. Sad to see him go tho, the mayor was a position that still had *some* power, & in those times, despite high interest rates/early 80s still recession I think people probably also broadly thought things would get better or had some reason to believe that?


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