I heard it through the grapevine

One of the things we lost when the newspapers started to crash was gossip columns. You may be old enough to remember these. Some writer was appointed to keep an ear open to the latest rumors in local high society. Back in Jersey City many years ago, there was a guy named Nat Berg whose column, deep inside the folds of the Jersey Journal, was a must-read. In New York, there was Walter Winchell, and didn't Ed Sullivan start out as that kind of reporter? There was also a woman named Hedda Hopper, if I'm remembering this right.

Here in Portland, for a good while we had Phil Stanford, whose column in the Oregonian always had the latest dirt. Phil also got into some serious stuff, like who really killed Michael Francke. (I guess we'll never know, except that the official story line, which the Salem powers maintain to this day, is total crap.) There was also a guy named Jonathan Nicholas, whose stuff was lighter weight. I even made it into his column one time, identified as an "├╝ber-blogger," which was kind of flattering.

The heavy hitters in the reporter ranks would sometimes look down on these writers. But looking back on them now, I have to hand it to them. They knew everybody, and heard everything. And they knew when a story sounded right, in which case they would run with it, and when it didn't, in which case they would sit on it.

One thing about their columns was that the local celebs were always named in bold type. But even better was when they left out the name entirely and you had to guess whom they were gossiping about. That kept readers thinking about the latest rumors even longer and harder.

With that, let me play Hedda Hopper for a day. A reader who's in the know told me today that a very, very big name in Portland society has, like Homer Williams, "given up" on Portland and is in the process of selling off his several houses in the area and moving to San Diego. With him will go lots of philanthropy, which has benefited our city greatly over the years. You'd know his name right away if you heard it, but there's no bold type in this column. You have to guess.

Comments

  1. I'm deleting all spoilers! Come on, don't wreck my fun by giving it away.

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  2. If it's who I think it is good riddance.

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  3. It doesn’t matter who it is.
    What matters is that Portland’s upper echelons are thinking about going or deciding to go elsewhere with their money and influence, and the bobble head politicians don’t seem to care.

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    1. It really is over now. Portland was better when it was nowhere than what it’s going to be for the indefinite future. A real shame.

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    2. And it’s not just the wealthy who are leaving or have left. Small and medium sized businesses are fleeing Portland and Multnomah county because of all the taxes, crime, and general difficulties of trying to succeed in business.

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    3. I just noticed yesterday that JE Dunn construction, which had a very visible office in the Pearl, has left that recently and now according to their website is now in Beaverton. Just another on the long list of Portland business exiles.

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  4. If you’re playing Hedda Hopper, will you be turning people into the HUAC?

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  5. Several people, in that economic stratosphere, do the “snowbird” thing. They always have trusted lieutenants to mind the store.

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  6. You’re not talking about Sam Adams are you?

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    1. I said philanthropy, not pedophilia.

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    2. Sam was more on the taking end than the giving end also he drives a pickup truck and cannot even afford pants that fit.

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  7. Throwing Portland onto the scrap heap?

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    1. Don't forget about that donation of a toxic waste site built on a flood plain.

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  8. You're getting warm. Don't get any warmer.

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    Replies
    1. I think I've got it.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. If this philanthropist has rental properties, a sale and move makes sense.

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  11. Is it really philanthropy if the money you donate comes from fleecing the local government on constructions projects? Seems to me that is just giving back public tax dollars (a tiny fraction).

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  12. Not sure San Diego is much better. Bill Walton has been making a stink down there for a few months now.

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  13. “Doctor, doctor, give me the news, has Portland lost that love from you?”

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  14. Seems like a rather harsh reaction?

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  15. Wait, am I supposed to be worried that the Homer Williams class of individuals is bailing on Portland, or happy?

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  16. That person owns a lot of commercial property around Portland and in times past had a lot of power with the local politicians. It will be interesting to see if he decides to sell some of his commercial properties, too. That would be an even more significant indication that he no longer sees Portland as salvageable.

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  17. But don’t worry, I am sure that the usual suspects that show up at every protest in town will help by picking up the slack in giving back to the community. They have, and will continue to, contribute to the betterment of Portland with their good work. In fact, that was their plan all along. Vitality here we come!

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  18. The best one in Portland was always Doug Baker in the Oregon Journal.... was right in the center of what was happening in the town and delivered it with just the right mix of cynicism and humor. Look him up. Doug was must-read.

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