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?

The Truth About Africa and Haiti

What a shit-storm over a question that deserves to be explored. Why should the United States take in immigrants from “shit-hole countries” like Africa and Haiti rather than from places like Norway? It’s hard to know what’s worse – that President Donald Trump was so indiscriminate in front of people he should’ve known would use […]

A Tax Grab For the Neediest

Everybody’s still waiting for the man with a bag. We want stuff all year long, not only during the holidays. We all want more. We’ve got a trillion-dollar national deficit and personal credit card debt, also in the trillions, to show for it. One of the most whimsical – and saddest – sounds of America’s […]

Children’s Hour for the Democrats

After playwright Lillian Hellman was blacklisted as a Communist-sympathizer, she later looked back and wrote: “My belief in liberalism was mostly gone.” In its place, she substituted something she called “decency.” She recalled in her memoir, “Scoundrel Time,” how life changed for her after she was ostracized. People stopped calling. Of those who still called, […]

The Last Days of America

In matters of male-female relationships, my working-class brother is fond of saying, “It isn’t the bulge up front that counts – it’s the bulge in back.” Judging a man by the size of his wallet is kind of like measuring a female by her cup size. Except now it’s a lot easier for a woman […]

The Comfortable and the Afflicted

Dave Miller, the popular host of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud,” was shot to death last night in an apparent road-rage attack. Now that’s the kind of fake news that is not even remotely plausible. Guys like Dave Miller are rarely homicide victims, and they know it. Professional journalists – especially those who occupy […]

A Lesson for Harvey’s Girls

The last thing the Harvey Weinstein Pile-On needs is a mewling #MeToo hashtag so females everywhere can easily climb on board. If women want to be taken seriously, they should turn to the example of someone like Dee Dee Kouns. She learned through the worst kind of tragedy how to fight injustice. Her 26-year-old daughter, […]

Portland’s Twisted Values

New York City has Central Park, and Portland, Ore., has an elaborate trail system that extends throughout the city, from Forest Park in the northwest to the southwest hills. Central Park has its nooks and crannies where homeless can hide, but nothing like the camps found in available green spaces in Portland. Portland’s urban woods […]

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 […]