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Interview with The Oregonian's Ryan White

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The man sits on many fulcrums.  He teeter-totters between sports and music; he writes both in print and on the web; he hosts roasts and does stand-up. And, most importantly, in the wee hours of the morning, he makes time to answer questions from Blazers Edge.  The man is the Oregonian's Ryan White.  Catch him every day over at his Tailgate Blog.  Also, be sure to check out his most recent article for the Oregonian, a look at the reaction to Mr. Oden's endorsement of Barack Obama.

Blazers Edge: New York has "New York, New York" and LA has a million songs.  What is the most PORTLAND song?

Ryan White: This is an interesting question. Though the premise is slightly flawed. New York has two songs, "New York, New York," as sung by a man from New Jersey, and "New York City Serenade," sung by a man from New Jersey. Also, much of Ryan Adams' "Gold." But he's from North Carolina. And any thing from Lou Reed. And anything from about a million others.

Ok, New York's got a lot of [dang] songs. More than L.A., which only has two: Randy Newman's "I love L.A." and Poison's "Fallen Angel." And that Doors song, "L.A. Woman." I guess you're right about L.A.

So New York has a lot of [dang] songs, and L.A.'s got a bunch and Portland's got three that come immediately to mind.

The first is obvious. Loretta Lynn's "Portland, Oregon." Obvious doesn't make it wrong, as it reminds me of the kind of story that could happen
in any of my favorite bars, places where things can go just as well as they can go wrong. That song's about possibility, whatever the
consequence.

The second is Todd Snider's "Rose City Blues," a song that never ceases to capture me when I see him play it. It's far better live than on his
"New Connection" disc, though it's not bad there. In a scene, that song is what happens when you sit in the coffee shop at Powell's on a
rainy Wednesday afternoon and watch the world spin for an hour or two.

The third is called "Wild Mountain Nation," by Blitzen Trapper. Opening line: "Come out from the world and into my arms." They're a Portland
band. I don't know if they meant line specifically as an invitation to come visit or not, but they might have. Toss in the slightest Joe Walsh influence on the song (and, again, I have no idea if they're influenced by Joe Walsh, that's just what I hear on that song), and you've got yourself a good, rockin' local tune.

Blazers Edge: Along the same lines, if you were making the season-end videos for last year's Blazers, this year's Blazers, and next year's Blazers-- what songs do you go with for each for the opening credits and why?

RW: Because I'm going to see Springsteen three times in four days at the end of the month, I'll answer strictly in Springsteen songs, ala that SportsCenter from a week or two ago.

Last season: "Reason to Believe." Steve Patterson out, Kevin Pritchard in. Bradon Roy in, Zach Randolph out. Greg Oden drafted. After all kinds
of wrong, there began to be right. If you were a fan, the faith began to be rewarded:

"Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true
She said "Baby I'll work for you every day and bring my money home to you"
One day he up and left her and ever since that
She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back
Struck me kinda funny seemed kind of funny sir to me
How at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe"

Also applicable: "Better Days."

"Every fool's got a reason to feelin' sorry for himself
And turn his heart to stone
Tonight this fool's halfway to heaven and just a mile outta hell
And I feel like I'm comin' home"

This season: "The Rising." Duh. I honestly can't believe the Blazers haven't latched on to this.

Also applicable: "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)."

Also, also applicable: "I'll Work For Your Love."

Next season: "Growin' Up."

Also applicable (probably): "No Surrender."

Honorable mention, in honor of Darius Miles: "Mary's Place."

Blazers Edge: You can be a contrarian at times-- who's your favorite NBAer that everyone else hates?

RW: This is an interesting question, because I can't think of a NBA player everyone hates. I'm not even sure how you become a villain in the NBA. I guess I have a solid appreciation for Ron Artest's game, but I can't say I like the guy.

I would pay my own money to watch Kobe Bryant play basketball, but, while he might not be popular in Portland, he's wildly popular
everywhere else. And, actually, he's pretty popular here based on the number of Kobe jerseys in the stands at the Rose Garden when the Lakers visit. That Mamba nickname, however, is stupid.

I have absolute respect for Allen Iverson's toughness. Love the way he plays the game, but, again, I don't think he's hated.

I even kind of think Rasheed got a bit of a bad rap here. Actually, that's not true. I think Rasheed dug his own grave, but I think I
understand why he did it. He's tough-minded, stubborn. He needed new scenery and a do-over and he's still got one of the smoothest turn-arounds in the low post we've ever seen. You just have to get him in the low post.

The better question, that maybe someone else can answer is how you get hated in this league? Stephen Jackson went all willy-nilly with a
handgun in the parking lot of a strip club, and then arrived at training camp with a tattoo of a praying hands clasped around a 9mm. In a league
where that can happen, well, I don't know what you do.

Blazers Edge: The Blazers just won the 2010 NBA championship.  Where do you find yourself, what are you doing, and does it involved being arrested?

RW: Ok. It's 2010? In 2008 our deadlines are not what you'd call good. I assume they'll be worse in two years, and if the Blazers are in the NBA Finals, we'll have launched what we used to affectionately call Team Overkill. I'll be assigned something like the 12th sidebar, which means I'll be running around at halftime trying to score an interview with the guy who played Ronald McDonald for the tricycle race in the second quarter. And because he's big time, he'll blow me off and I'll be stuck with, like, Grimace, and don't you get the sense that Grimace would be a lousy quote?

I'll knock that out, and the game will be over and, if we're in Portland, the place we'll be going nuts. What will I be doing? Probably
bringing Canzano a drink and asking him if there's anything else he needs.

Blazers Edge: Do you have a horror story of covering the team or the NBA in general?

RW: I was once told to live blog a February game against the Utah Jazz. That's pretty horrific. Otherwise, no, not really. In my first year at the paper, I was sent to try and interview Wallace, because I was a face he wouldn't recognize. Didn't work.

Shortly thereafter, I ended up in a scrum around Shaquille O'Neal and, trying to hear what he was saying, ended up a little low and a little
too close to a Giant in a towel, but no one got hurt. Not even emotionally.

In general, locker room access is pretty horrible. There's always a wall of people waiting for one person to dress, which has to be terribly
weird for that one individual who is dressing. Once, in a NFL locker room, a friend tapped me on the shoulder and said, "There's the NFL for
you." I looked over, and there was a 320-pound lineman standing in the middle of the room wearing only shower shoes.

Another time, two guys were yelling across the locker room at each other, trying to figure out where to eat lunch.

"How about Benihana?" one said.

"Man, (bleep) Benihana!" said the other. "I'm hungry. I don't have time for some guy flippin' shrimp in his hat."

But that's not a horror story. That's actually a very fond memory.

Blazers Edge: Do you think that, if he put his mind to it, Von Wafer could cure cancer?

RW: Yes. After he kicks Chuck Norris' butt.

Blazers Edge:I'm sure you're all over the "6 word summary" meme started over at Smith Magazine that's been floating around the internet lately.  Give me your best 6 word summary of the Trail Blazers, the Oregonian, and/or Ryan White. (ed. note: mine for the Blazers: "They Should Have Drafted Michael Jordan.")

RW:

Blazers: "Please let the knee be fine."

The Oregonian: "Put together with the best intentions."

Ryan White: "Needs a haircut, and a nap."

There you have it.  Many thanks to Ryan White.

--Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)