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?

Wheeler and the Jive-Talkers

The tidy, black girl didn’t look much older than 10. She was dressed in what looked like, at the time, the standard blue-and-white Catholic school uniform. She sat towards the front of a public transit bus as it made its way through Oakland, Calif. Given the late afternoon hours, she was probably headed home. She […]

‘Report From the Realm of Hell’

You can’t buy love, but in Portland, Ore. the city is throwing money at hate. “GRANT OPPORTUNITY! Stand up against hate and create a more welcoming community for all of Portlanders” says City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s website. The city of Portland is disbursing $350,000 in grants to organizations fighting hate. Hate is very big right […]

High Hopes and Sad Realities

What would Jack and Jackie make of the street scene outside the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Ore. where there’s currently an exhibit devoted to the 35th president of the United States? President Kennedy and the First Lady might be amused by the casual under-dressing in public, the exposed flesh and the tattoos. They would […]

Men and Their Kinks

The mistrial in Bill Cosby’s sexual abuse case was as anticlimactic as his performance in bed. What kind of man needs to drug a woman to have sex with her? Especially when the man is famous and rich? As the president of the United States could have told Cosby, when you’re a celebrity some women […]

Portland’s Brand of Progressive Hate

Years before Donald Trump was elected president, Jeremy Joseph Christian was building a criminal record that included convictions for robbery, kidnapping and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Portland man is now accused of whipping out a knife on a commuter train and slashing the throats of three men, killing two of […]

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 […]