Friday, January 11, 2013

Thirsters Gather

Tonight was a who's who for me in that a lot of my favorite characters were present:  Mark Frischmuth of DemocracyLab, Marianne Buchwalter, Allen Taylor, Bob Bjerre and more.

Thirsters had gathered to celebrate and commemorate the life and times of their anchorman Bob Textor.  These were his salon mates, his chat room, of live, here and now people. Both his adult offspring were there and joined in the speech making, spontaneously emceed by Art Kohn (both he and Allen have cruise ship experience as well as classroom and know how to speak in a group setting).

Wanderers has benefited over the years from our overlap with this group.  Our horizons have been expanded.  Don is our principal go-between, as anchorman for Wanderers.

Thirsters is liberal, academic, and strongly steeped in Southeast Asia.  Roger Paget is another founder and will be anchoring the next planning meeting as this 15-16 year old group seeks its way in the wake of Bob's passing. 

This McMenamins was a tavern and pool hall back when Vaughn Street Park, a baseball park, hosted Pacific Coast League games, with Beavers the home team.  Spectators swarmed through around game time, though the 30s and 40s. The park was demolished in 1956, two years before I was born.

Thirsters took root in a later chapter, in an alcove at the east end, and when McMenamins remodeled the place, their new floor plan encouraged the same growth pattern.  The McMenamin brothers have enjoyed and supported this use of the space and their company footed the tab for the evening, with Thirsters leaving thank you tips to the staff.

A more formal memorial service will be held in March.

I won't try to give a bio of Bob here.  He worked on the original architecture of the Peace Corps, as one speaker reminded us tonight.  He made sure recruits got training in the language and culture of the place they were being sent -- you'd think an obvious need, but Washington DC was still pretty green at outreach via this new form of citizen diplomacy.  He had extensive experience in Asia.

The chatter that developed around Bob and his friends is both erudite and worldly and helps define cosmopolitan Portland, an interesting cross between a world capital (of open source for example) and a frontier town.  Lew Frederick showed up, a regular (and member of the Oregon legislature these days) and Sue Hagmeier, sister of my friend Michael.

A great many other important people were present, but I'm mostly confining my account to characters previously mentioned in my blogs.  Portland is small, but not that small.  Elizabeth Furse had appeared here a couple weeks ago, having spoken at Wanderers earlier.

I talked a lot with Allen, who is as busy as ever writing books and helping a South Africa based company expand its market for substance screening and identity verification equipment.

Bob Bjerre talked about his adventures in Kosovo, Macedonia and like that, in the aftermath of the last Balkan War (the breakup of Yugoslavia).  He helped with home building for World Vision and United Methodists.

Marianne expressed her generic hope in young people and their ability to create a brighter world for themselves (her granddaughter is going to work for Intel). "As long as they don't do something stupid" I said sagely.

Michael @ McMenamins
@ Thirsters, from 2007 (click for larger view)