Author Archives: Pamela

Pamela Fitzsimmons lives in Portland, Ore., and was a reporter and editor at newspapers in California and Washington state for more than 25 years.

She grew up in Medford, Ore., a working-class town that was once populated with pear orchards and formerly home to lumber mills, fruit-packing houses and excellent public schools (among the required reading in senior year: Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon”). She worked her way through the University of Oregon as a forest fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service, stationed on mountains in the Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman and Willamette national forests.

In the decade of the 90’s, like hundreds of other reporters in Southern California, she wrote about gangs, drugs, deteriorating schools, urban sprawl, poverty and its offsprings: more babies, more poverty, more social problems. In her case, the focus was on San Bernardino where smog obscured the San Bernardino mountains, and there was never a hint of orange blossoms in the air.

By the time she returned to the Pacific Northwest, parts of it were starting to look like San Bernardino, minus the smog. Gangs, strip-commercial sprawl, declining schools, the meth epidemic, illegal immigration – California’s bad dreams had moved north. Didn’t anyone read the news and see this coming?

Korean Lives Finally Matter

Two years after the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, a 24-year-old black man and a 17-year-old black male walked into a liquor store in San Bernardino, Calif., where a Korean immigrant named Bruce Suh worked behind the counter. They stuck a gun in Suh’s face and told him to lie face down on the […]

Political Hands Rock the Cradle

Life begins with somebody getting screwed. Sounds cynical, but that’s how it is. Who’s getting screwed by President Donald Trump’s decision to end federal funding to organizations that provide abortions? Women and children – and, yes, some men. It’s ironic that Trump’s signature on a law targeting Planned Parenthood funding came in April, which happens […]

Get Out — From Under the Past

If Quanice Hayes had been given my brain, he would not have been shot by Portland police. No, if this 17-year-old black male thought like I did, he would have never put a gun to a homeless man’s head, robbed him of his food stamp card and then later, as police tried to arrest him, […]

‘A Huge Rash of Homicides’

Every occupation has its own slang, and for many years “NHI” was cop talk for No Humans Involved, meaning that a particular incident involved only dirtbags. If both the offender and the victim were Adam Henrys (old cop slang for Ass Hole), it was NBD and NGL (No Big Deal and No Great Loss.) Twenty-five […]

Signs of the Trump Revolution

Which pussy, its hour come round at last, marches in the streets, slouching towards Washington, D.C. to get even? Pussies of all colors and undefinable genders. This is not “The Second Coming” that W.B.Yeats had in mind in his famous poem. It’s the Second Coming of America’s feminist movement, and it already has a buzzword […]

A Sexual Sadist Makes His Plans

When he was 24 years old and a strapping ex-Marine, George Nulph saw an attractive older woman who worked at Osburn’s Grocery in Cannon Beach, Ore., and told a friend, “I’d like a piece of that.” The next day he raped and murdered Frances Christians. He stalked her, found her eating lunch in her car, […]

In Pursuit of Assholes

It says something about our times that a book called “Happiness: A Very Short Introduction” includes an index entry for “assholes.” “Happiness” is among the slender paperbacks of Very Short Introductions published by Oxford University Press that focus on specific topics – Theology, Drugs, Computer Science, the Harlem Renaissance, Law, Fungi, the Great Depression – […]

Seeking Justice at the City Club

The City Club of Portland is not where you will find the poor and the destitute. This is a members-only civic organization where you will find community leaders and activists, business owners, various professionals and elected officials who meet for lunch and conversation. Each week they gather at the elegant Sentinel Hotel for the Friday […]

The Cocky World of Sophia June

When she was a little girl, her daddy probably called her “princess.” Or at least he treated her like one. She went off to her first day of kindergarten in clean clothes and a smile of anticipation, captured in a photo by a mother who loved her very much. Her father ran a construction company […]

Media Trumped by Tribalism

There’s an old saying in journalism that a reporter is only as good as his or her sources. What does it say about America’s national news media that they were caught so surprised by Donald Trump’s victory? Perhaps they spend too much time talking to pollsters and each other. Instead of cultivating sources, they cultivate […]