After leaving Money Marketing’s investment patch in April, I moved to Portland on the Pacific North-west side of the US. Since then, I have got married (which, of course, was the best day of our lives) and found “work” as an unpaid intern at an alternative weekly called the Portland Mercury.I am still trying to figure out what “alternative” means because despite the staff all wearing cool shoes into the office, the level of sarcastic banter here is far less than I am used to. On some days, I even find myself missing Jimmie Salmon although it does not last long. They are also a lot more into blogging and web-based stuff at The Mercury, perhaps because their server actually works. The paper is essentially a best of the blog so there is an opportunity to do more writing although quality control can be an issue with the volume. For example, I interview author Augusten Burroughs for a podcast because he was in town for a book reading. Got some great stuff, mainly on why journalists drink so much, then realise the dictaphone battery has run out. Luckily, neither accuracy nor alcohol have ever been an impediment to my journalism so I write it long-hand from memory in the hotel bar. I’m Truman Capote. Perhaps better. Unlike John Lappin, who vicariously enjoys the thrill of chasing a story, they all seem a bit concerned in the newsroom when I say things like “get in” and “have it” while clenching my fists. The editor says to me after cooking waffles to thank us all for our hard work: “We don’t get people here, Matt, we’re nice to them”. That’s right. He cooked me waffles. Since arriving on the paper, I have been given some other interesting assignments. On my first day, I interview an all-girl punk band called The Jolenes, which felt like an omen sent from God himself since I have been listening to the Dolly Parton song on repeat on my iPod for the last six months. The lead singer even had flaming locks of auburn hairâ¦.just like Jolene. Being an unpaid intern does have some perks. I wrote a restaurant review last week and this week I accompanied the fashion writer to a boutique to try on some outfits being marketed to black men. I am not sure why, though. They looked so marvellous on my admittedly fake-tanned body that I nearly bought a pair of jeans. For my next assignment, I am doing a feature on Sumo wrestling since a tournament is coming to town next month. Oddly, there is a long history of it here (by American standards), with the first traditional Japanese tournaments taking place in Portland in 1926, although it all stopped with Pearl Harbour. Note to self: Do not try to make jokes about that in the article. To add color, I am contemplating replicating Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me and tucking into a traditional Sumo lunch of Chanko-nabe. It means going without breakfast and drowning in protein and beer at lunchtime, which of all the things I have done since arriving I suspect will remind me most of covering investment. Talking of which, thanks to eager beaver Jason Hollands at F&C, I still get emails about the markets. Thanks Jason, although the weakening dollar means that I have made 15 per cent on my sterling savings account since arriving, so stick that in your prime fund and smoke it. Or as they say over here: “Have a nice day.” Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: email@example.com or telephone: 020 7970 4776
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